The Space Between

The truth is, between the holidays, traveling to Yosemite for 5 days and Michigan for 10, and getting knocked out for a week and a half by the flu, I haven’t been writing. I don’t mean just not working on the novel, I mean not writing at all. Not even journaling.

I’ve written a ton of thank you notes, sure. This does not count.

thank you notes

For the first week it was nice. A well-deserved, much needed break. By week three I was starting to get the itch. And now I’m on the verge of despair. What’s happened to me? What am I doing? Why am I not doing this?

This morning, at the suggestion of a member of my writers’ group, I wrote a 100-word flash fiction entry for a website that features, you guessed it, 100-word stories. Oh, it felt good. The usual voices were there – This is crap! What are you doing? You call this writing? You call this fiction? You call this a story?? The voices are always loudest when I go back after not writing for a while. They’re loud, too, when I start something brand new.

But the loudest voice of all? That was the one that screamed, One hundred words? Good job, good start, but not enough! KEEP WRITING!

Flash Finalist

The Writer Unboxed Flash Fiction contest has completed. One of the members of my writers’ group (Andrea’s blog here) won second place! I have been kicking myself for not posting on my social networks, asking people to vote. While previous weeks’ winners were determined by votes and judges, the final round was votes only. My excuse is I was too busy finishing draft 3 of my book (and then reveling in having finished it). When I decided to become a writer, I thought I would sit by myself in my room at my computer all day. I discovered that writing, like many professions, is buoyed by community. As a fellow writer friend said, “You can’t write in a vacuum.” I did, however, place as a finalist in the contest! Big thank you to those who “liked” the story below, based on this image:

Wool reached out, like fingernails scritch-scratching, irritating the back of her neck. The long jacket served her purpose tonight. She made her face pretty, so they would choose her from among the wandering hookers, wearing little in the cold.

She undid the man’s belt buckle in an alley. She opened her coat so he could see her, bare, before he went. Humans. The looks on their faces when they could not understand. Rancid sores, oozing, trailed over her. Buboes, ruptured. When closed, the coat covered the stink.

A little nibble. Small bite? She sank thirteen rows of tiny, pointed teeth into his earlobe while he screamed. Soon his whole ear was gone. He bled out.

No matter. He would serve her just as well dead.

The sickness she left in him would spread. Corpses, souls, waiting for Him, yearning for Him. She would deliver this world to Him.

Death would be proud.

Perhaps He would take her in His arms, tell her that she was His favorite. Hunger, whose kills were slow but many, and Despair – the suicide rate arced ever up – would no longer satisfy Him.

But when she returned home, Love was in His bed.

“Darling,” He said, running thin bone fingers along her cheek, “Without Love to couple the humans, there would be no souls to take.”

She wept. He said, “Balance, my dear Pestilence.” He returned to bed Love.

The look on her face was much like that of the man, when she opened her coat.

Flash Fiction: Like

Ladies and Gentlemen, another honorable mention in the Writer Unboxed flash fiction contest! Thank you so much for all the support!  See my story from last week, and Debbie Ohi‘s prompt image, below. To help me in this week’s contest, go here, scroll to find my story (under Taylor Ross, begins “Wool reached out, like fingernails scritch-scratching…”) and hit the “like” button! Thanks!

 

“Why?” Amanda flung her hand out across the counter, swiping everything to the floor. Six beer bottles shattered.
Why was her husband in a coma? Or why did he drink and drive? Or why did he drink at all?
His daughter had married an alcoholic. Nathan blamed himself for that, as he did every hardship in his daughter’s life.
She put a hand out to steady herself on the tiles. The other went to her face. The short, wracking sobs were almost silent.
Nathan walked over, rested a calloused palm on her delicate sweater. He knew when he lifted his hand the fabric would cling to the rough edges of his skin. Her sobs quieted.
“Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise,” Amanda said. Her voice was low, bitter. “Do you know my friends keep saying that?”
Nathan stood still, waiting. The man had only been in a coma for three days.
But good things did come out of bad, sometimes.
“When your mother…” Nathan cleared his throat. His Mirabelle. Amanda had never known her mother.
“It’s okay, Dad.” Amanda brushed her tears away before his could start. She knelt to pick up the broken glass. He felt her sweater tug at his skin.
Amanda put the biggest pieces in the garbage, fetched the dustpan, and began to sweep the smaller pieces. She brushed most of it into the bin. Nathan caught her hands as she turned back to get the rest.
“You wore a good disguise.”

 

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.

First Stories SOLD


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I am extremely pleased to announce that I have recently sold two short stories! A friend of mine is starting a company for the production and sales of designer flasks, and he’ll be promoting the hand-painted, etched pieces with creative content. Anything from short fiction to recipes, or so I hear.
            I wrote a few stories and sent them to my friend. His editor picked up one of them for the site and commissioned another piece. I am officially a contributing author for flasking.com, and have been paid for fiction. My dreams are coming true. My stories will appear when the site launches in the next few months – check back for further details!