Getting My Flash Fiction On

A good friend and member of my writers’ group, Andrea (her blog here) introduced me to an ongoing flash fiction contest at Writer Unboxed. Seven weeks of mini-contests, where writers have 72 hours to generate a 250-word (or less) story based on a visual prompt created by Debbie Ohi. Winners of each week will be entered in a final round, from which three finalists will be selected toward 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Last week, I received honorable mention! Big thanks to all those who “liked” my story. Visual prompt and my story below. To help me in this week’s contest, go here, scroll to find my story (under Taylor Ross, begins “‘Why?’ Amanda flung her hand out across the counter…”) and hit the “like” button!

When you are a little girl, you’re afraid of simple things. Spiders, the dark, monsters. You are afraid of your parents dying and your brother putting a snake in your bed. As you get older you are afraid of things that are more complex. Like what will happen if the girls at school decide you’re not popular, or if the boys decide not to like you. Or what will happen if they do decide to like you. All of your relationships are complicated. Your friendships, when you have to decide whether or not to tell your best friend what your other best friend did with her boyfriend. Your relationship with your mom, whose hugs you used to love, but who says, “Honey, are you putting on padding?” when she hugs you now. Your relationships with boys, which becomes your relationships with men, even though you think they will probably always be boys, when you go through break-ups and wonder if it will ever work out. When you are grown up you are afraid of being alone. Even when you find someone and he is not a boy but a man, the man of your dreams, and he loves you. You are afraid you will never love yourself enough. And you long for those times when you were a little girl, afraid of simple things, and you curled up and tried to fit yourself in the space where the floor met the wall.

If You’re Going to San Francisco

At the beginning of this month, I took a fabulous road trip to San Francisco with my sister – we took her car, because it has an iPod jack, but we spend the entire 12 hours talking.

We’d both been to SF before, so there was no pressure to see and do everything. We also have similar tastes, so we enjoyed visiting the City Lights bookstore and eating a lot of delicious food.

Often I purchase used books, but I wanted to support City Lights, a female author, and I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while.

At Tartine Bakery, we had a croissant with Niman Ranch ham and cheese, the Idiazabal & Membrillo hot pressed sandwich – that’s lightly smoked sheep cheese with quince jam – and a coconut cream tart. …I’m making myself hungry.

When we walked into Humphry Slocombe, my sister and I had the same thought – what if I don’t/Taylor doesn’t like anything here? Of their exotic flavors, Secret Breakfast is one of the most popular. Bourbon and cornflakes. Am I weird for liking normal *classic?* flavors? We tried almost every one and finally, thought I’d first turned my nose up at it, discovered that the Oolong was incredible. We both the got the same thing – a scoop of Oolong on a brown sugar cone. YUM.

Not surprisingly, I did not get any writing done while I was there, though I visited a friend in my writers’ group. On the way home from SF I stopped in SB, however, where I had a wonderful day of writing and visiting the beach. The third draft nears ever closer, especially since I’ve got a deadline – I’ve told my readers I’ll be done by the first week in August, at which point I will send my manuscript to them. So far, everyone has agreed to read the draft and write notes within two months, and then attend an online critique, to take place by mid-October. Suddenly I realize I have less than two weeks to finish!

There is an underlying terror – what if I don’t finish, first of all. What if I “finish” and it’s terrible. What if the pride I feel at finishing this draft is short-lived, because I’m soon to discover that I have to go back and revise it at least 15 times? I have to let all this go and simply keep working.

There is always more to change, more to add, more to cut, the “better level” I wish for – but I will finalize an acceptable draft in the next 11 days.

A Trip to Seattle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just returned from a wonderful vacation in Seattle. The “good” weather there made me appreciate living in LA, but aside from the grey it is a great city. Very nice people – a random man stopped my boyfriend on the street to tell us we were a beautiful couple, some of the best smoked salmon I’ve ever had (and let me tell you, I like my lox), and a raving glass arts scene, thanks to Chihuly. And of course, the Space Needle!

I went for my writing mentor’s wedding, which was beautiful. As wedding favors, he and his now-wife, who is a successful romance fiction novelist, gave the guests copies of their favorite books. Each volume included a bookmark designed by the couple.

Photo Credit: Christopher Carlin
One of the grossest attractions I’ve ever visited (we didn’t plan to see it; it was on the way to the aquarium). As the guy at the Tourist Info booth said, “Put your gum on the wall – but don’t take any off!”

 

 

 

My other favorite spots were the used book stores we visited (in the exasperated words of my boyfriend: “You came all the way to Seattle for more books?!”),

especially this great find –

Volume 25 of McSweeney’s, which is a hardcover edition of the literary journal, and includes stories by Joyce Carol Oates, Padgett Powell, Steven Millhauser, and eleven beautiful horse drawings by Amy Jean Porter.

I brought both a laptop and a tablet, neither of which I used. However, the much-needed vacation fueled the writing fire. In the days before, I worked in a frenzy as the ending of draft three finally started to come together. The “pantser” method worked. Upon return to Los Angeles, I was ecstatic to set my fingers to the keyboard, and away I went. I drafted the final chapter today. Now there are tweaks to be made and transitions to smooth, but guess what, Ladies and Gentlemen – the 3rd draft is nearing completion.