Flash Fiction(s) – The Smudge & Ashes

The following are two flash fiction stories written using one word writing prompts: smudge and ash. I’m putting them together for two reasons. One, they are both very short. Two, I don’t want to overload everyone with too many posts.I intend to write a new story almost every day so hopefully they will add up and putting them together seems more reasonable. There will be no planned themes for the pieces I put into each post. As you’ll see these two pieces couldn’t be more different.


The Smudge

There it was – the smudge. She’d known the risk, yet convinced herself the precious work was safe in her betrothed’s hands.

As Frederick read the words she’d painstakingly set down on the thick parchment she fidgeted and fretted.

When he handed it back he praised her lavishly. She could see the pride in his eyes; he meant every word. Her heart swelled with love for him. But the smudge drew her eyes.

Later she rewrote her poem from memory. Regret filled her. It would be impossible to salvage the original. The blood would never come out and parchment was expensive.

Rough draft: 100 words


Ashes

Aur stood over the ashes of her lost home. Together, her and her life mate had built it with hard work and love. Zef selected only the highest quality materials and she brightened it with the finest decorations. It had been strong and beautiful. She hadn’t been dissatisfied to see the envy in her neighbor’s eyes when they admired the home’s perfection.

Now as Aur surveyed the destruction she couldn’t help but miss it. She turned, expecting Zef to be there to commiserate with her but he was somewhere in the ashes.

So, even though it saddened her to think of how things were before the fire, she stayed, and waited. Today was the third day and her patience would soon be rewarded. The ashes stirred and she could see a hint of light peeking through. Aur moved back quickly; she knew from long experience what would happen.

The remains of the nest exploded, debris barely missing her. Zef rose out of the ashes and spread his fiery wings. Aur stared in awe, as she had countless times before.

Zef shook himself and turned to her. “You look beautiful, my dear.”

She rolled her eyes. They both knew she looked a mess so close to her time. “Always the funny guy. Now, it’s my turn. Only the best wood, mind you. Go,” she said and shooed him away. With a beaky grin he flew off to fulfill his mate’s request.

Aur flew down to her stash tree and retrieved the silver thread, colorful buttons, and bits of shiny metal she kept there. This will do nicely, she thought. Then she prepared to die, yet again.

Rough draft: 275 words

Write Anything Wednesday

Write Anything Wednesday – January 18, 2017

It’s a great day to write something, anything! Try your hand at flash fiction or write a poem. Create an outline or character sketch. Write a chapter, or as many chapters as you can.

Nothing to write about? Try making a list of ideas or free-write. Grab a timer and experiment working in 10 – 25 minute increments until you find an amount of time that works best for you. Take small breaks in between to make efficient use of your time while not overwhelming yourself.

Make Wednesday your weekly no-matter-what writing day. If this isn’t a good day, pick another. Give yourself permission to do what you want at least once a week. Don’t feel guilty for prioritizing your passion. Write your heart out!

If you would like a prompt:

  • Write a story about someone getting in trouble by telling the truth.
  • Most people like bowling but I hate it. What is something you despise that others like?
  • What happens when your best friend (or your character’s best friend) stops trying?

Happy writing!

158h

Flash Fiction – The Cycle – (and a short writing update)

Thunder always brought the pain. The agony let her know she still existed so she welcomed it. She had lost herself, that much she knew, but little else.

From her high perch she would see the parched ground and exult. It seemed her exultation somehow touched the clouds. They would gather near her and loosen their heavy burden on the earth below. As her delight grew, the clouds shared her excitement and become massive storms. Then with each lightning strike she would scream in empathy for the stricken ground.

For a time she would remember she was the thunder, the lightning, the clouds – all of it. Then the skies would clear and she would be lost, forgetting her nature. So she would resume her vigil and wonder when the thunder would bring the pain again.

Rough draft 134 words


The above piece is a result of one of my goals for this year. My plan is to use various writing prompts to write something everyday. Well, it’s more accurate to say every day I write since I’m not always able to do it daily, though I intend to try.

My prompt sources are numerous. I have a couple of books, tons of blogs to draw from, and the prompts I come up with for Write Anything Wednesday. There are also many different types of prompts to use. One word, a phrase, character ideas, settings, even picture prompts. I have no interest in the ones requiring me to use several words in a story. If this kind sparks an idea, I’ll write it but I won’t force myself to use the actual words. I won’t be searching for these.

For the flash fiction I wrote today (in eight minutes), I used a one word prompt meant to get you warmed up. It’s not much of a story but it woke up my muse so I have no complaints. The story I wrote on Sunday was also the result of a one word prompt. They are working for me so I will keep trying them first before moving on to other types.

I will probably post most of these efforts, even when I don’t love them, because it serves as self-accountability for me. Perhaps I’ll group them up in twos and threes and post them together so I don’t overload everyone.

Any thoughts about any of the writing I post are always welcome.


Photo by Ryan McGuire

Flash Fiction – Peaches

She was perfect. Her beauty turned many heads. With bright green eyes and lustrous and long brown hair it was no surprise. Long legs always shown to her best advantage and an hourglass figure insured she kept the attention.

However, her looks were only a bonus. The true beauty was her mind and heart. I’ve never met a more brilliant person. She could do complex math in her head and her problem solving skills were near legendary. There was nothing she didn’t excel at. Painting, writing, sculpting – she could do it all.

Even better, she had a kind word and a smile for everyone. She was caring and just temperamental enough to keep life interesting. In return she was well loved.

The aroma of peaches always surrounded her. The fruit matched her personality: overly sweet, cloying, and pervasive.  I could still smell it as I pushed her body into the hole I spent an hour digging. What else could I do after I discovered she stole my boyfriend?

I always did hate peaches.


This story came from a writing prompt I didn’t expect to work for me: Peaches. Normally single word prompts do nothing for me. In fact when I first saw it, I thought I wouldn’t be able to use it. My second thought was I had always hated peaches and suddenly a story seed was planted.

It didn’t take very long for it to grow. I wrote down everything that came to me in a spiral then put it away for a day. This morning I started typing it up and it evolved into its current incarnation.

I’m so glad I didn’t let my bias against this type of word prompt stop me. I’ll still always despise the prompts that require you use a list of 3-5 words!

To any peach lovers out there, no offense. It turns out I’m allergic to peaches so it was justifiable that I hated them my whole life.

Rough draft 174 words

WR

Write Anything Wednesday

Write Anything Wednesday – January 11, 2017

It’s a great day to write something, anything! Try your hand at flash fiction or write a poem. Create an outline or character sketch. Write a chapter, or as many chapters as you can.

Nothing to write about? Try making a list of ideas or free-write. Grab a timer and experiment working in 10 – 25 minute increments until you find an amount of time that works best for you. Take small breaks in between to make efficient use of your time while not overwhelming yourself.

Make Wednesday your weekly no-matter-what writing day. If this isn’t a good day, pick another. Give yourself permission to do what you want at least once a week. Don’t feel guilty for prioritizing your passion. Write your heart out!

If you would like a prompt:

  • If you could take a class in anything, what would it be and why?
  • Samuel’s horse spoke to him. After the week he had, he wasn’t surprised.
  • Your character has a get out of jail free card, how will he/she use it?

Happy writing!

Write Anything Wednesday

Write Anything Wednesday – January 4, 2017

It’s a great day to write something, anything! Try your hand at flash fiction or write a poem. Create an outline or character sketch. Write a chapter, or as many chapters as you can.

Nothing to write about? Try making a list of ideas or free-write. Grab a timer and experiment working in 10 – 25 minute increments until you find an amount of time that works best for you. Take small breaks in between to make efficient use of your time while not overwhelming yourself.

Make Wednesday your weekly no-matter-what writing day. If this isn’t a good, day pick another. Give yourself permission to do what you want at least once a week. Don’t feel guilty for prioritizing your passion. Write your heart out!

If you would like a prompt:

  • The entire office knew there was trouble when Clint cleaned off his desk.
  • Dez knew he was busted, but why did it have to be the humans who caught him?
  • Why is there a straw sticking out of the trunk of this tree?

Happy writing!

New Year, Same Me (But With New Goals)

So it’s 2017. This is a time of making resolutions and writing the wrong year on everything requiring a date. Lasts year sucked so we all hope this year is a fresh start. I keep seeing posts about a ‘new year and a new me.’ I wish I could say that but the only real change for me is a new deductible for all the potential medical junk coming up.

Did any of you make resolutions? I didn’t, not exactly. I have goals and hopes but New Year’s resolutions are too easily said and broken for me to go that route.

I do intend to make this a better year. It’s as good a transition time as any. A couple of good things have already happened. I won the scholarship to the West Texas Writer’s Academy. I’m not sure anything can top this one, except actually attending. I hear it’s a great writing recharge, which I desperately need.

The other good thing has to do with a free car. It’s a long, complicated story but boils down to a temporary fix to a major problem my family has dealt with for a while. It’s a used car with many problems and eventually will go to one of my adult children, if they ever decide they want to learn to drive (I’ll never understand).

Onto my plans for the year. I’m calling them goals because, as previously mentioned, I feel resolutions are too easily broken. It’s easy to not take them seriously. Goals, on the other hand, especially writing goals are important enough to try my hardest. They are more permanent (until completed), more real.

Goal time. Most of these will be writing related but not all, here goes:

Writing:

  • Write often. I want to say write every day but with all my back problems I don’t think it’s feasible. So I will write as often as I can. If it ends up being everyday then I’ll mentally jump for joy.
  • Revise/edit. All of them. I have five finished novels (first drafts) and two almost completed ones. I want to take the time to fix/rewrite what needs it. I included the two partials here because I need to revise some of what I’ve written to fit in some side story, which both desperately need to be full stories.
  • Write books two and three of my fantasy trilogy. I have the first one done, minus revisions. My plan is to revise book one before I write the other two because it makes sense not to waste my time writing something that could/will be changed. I believe it’s possible to get both first drafts completed. I don’t know if I will be able to revise both this year with all the other projects in line before them.
  • Blog more often, and read (and respond to) other blogs more often too. I love reading others’ work but with all the stuff I’ve been through this last year, I’ve barely been able to keep up. I read them as much as I can but haven’t been able to comment very often. Still, I want to get back on track. As for my own blog, expect some changes in the next couple of months!
  • Write a lot of short stories. I intend to write as much flash fiction as I can but I also want to spend some time crafting longer short stories. It’s one of my weak points. I can write really short stuff with little in the way of details but longer stuff I struggle with. It really does come down to description. I despise reading pages worth of how a forest looks and it causes me trouble in my own writing. Once I have my mental image I don’t need any more words on it. I feel like too much is boring and too little doesn’t give the reader a clear enough picture. The trick is to find the happy medium. Unfortunately my medium is too close to not enough. I’m working on it.
  • Finally put together a collection of flash fiction and publish it. I need at least three more stories I love for it. I’ve written many pieces but only some have made the cut. As any other writers out there know, it’s hard being your own worst critic.
  • Also finish up another project for publication. I’ll explain this one at a later time.
  • This one requires a confession. I want to write on Wednesdays again. It was always my day to write, no matter what. Then life happened. I generally don’t write when my husband is off. Not only would I rather spend time with him but also I’m easily distracted when my family is around. So my day off from writing is whatever day off he has. It was never Wednesdays, until it was. His schedule changes every six months or so. When he eventually got ‘my’ day off it really messed me up. So I haven’t been writing on Wednesdays. Then I got used to it. He went to Thursdays off and I still couldn’t write in the middle of the week. That made two straight days when I wasn’t getting anything accomplished. Now he’s changing back to Wednesdays off. My goal is to write a little in the morning, then spend the rest of the day with him. I know it sounds complicated but the real goal is to teach myself to write even when there are a lot of distractions, just like I advocate on this blog.
  • The most important goal I have is to break out of this writing funk I’ve been in. I will find a way.

Everything else:

  • Work out regularly. I mostly do this one now but I’ve found when things go south it’s too easy to let it slide for a while. Getting back on track is hard so I’m going to try to not mess this one up.
  • Get back on the physical therapy wagon. I’ve been neglecting my home exercises and yes I’m an idiot.
  • Watch more TV with my husband. Odd? Well, I’ve never been the type to spend every evening parked on the couch. I don’t want to become that person but I do miss the weekly TV times with my honey. It will be easier when the shows we watch aren’t on break.
  • Read the books on my to read pile, while not adding to it for a while. Is that laughter I hear? Maybe I should just say I’ll read as much as I can and leave it there.
  • Bring my bags into the grocery store. I wish Texas would pass a law banning the use of plastic bags. If I was required to use my own then maybe I would remember to grab the twenty or so bags in the back of my car when I go shopping.
  • Make more lists and look at them. I’m a list person. I need them and love them. The problem? I write things down because my memory is shot after all the pain meds I was on and hormonal changes (damn thyroid and all the rest) but I also forget to look at some of the lists. I need to come up with a system. Maybe have a spot specifically for my multitude of lists so I always know where to find them. I don’t know how to force myself to remember to look at them though. I’ll figure it out though. I have a thing for clipboards too so I imagine they will be part of my solution.
  • My desk. This one is too complicated to explain but I’ll say I need to keep my desk(s) tidy.
  • Talk to my doctor about my allergy issues. Shots will not be allowed.
  • Cook dinner more often.
  • Yell at my offspring about the kitchen table daily. For some reason the table is a catch-all. NO MORE!
  • Ditto on my daughter’s bedroom.
  • Eat a bit more healthy.
  • Cut back on iced tea. Don’t ask.
  • The typical lose weight thing needs to make the list.
  • More date nights.
  • No more getting on the floor with the dogs. It hurts, I do it anyway, it must stop.
  • Photography, period.

 

I’m sure I could add a million more things to both lists but I don’t want to overwhelm myself. I wish everyone well with their goals or resolutions. All it takes is belief and effort. We’ve got this!


WR

Write Anything Wednesday

Write Anything Wednesday – December 28, 2016

You know the drill, write something. Why? It’s a great day to write and I say why not? Write absolutely anything. Try your hand at flash fiction or write a poem. Make an outline or character sketch. Write a chapter, or as many chapters as you can. Nothing to write about? Try making a list of ideas or free-write.

If you feel stumped grab a timer and do ten minute sprints. The first time you do this might not garner great results but you’ll write more after you get used to it and your muse will shine.

Make Wednesday your weekly no-matter-what writing day. If this isn’t a good day then pick another. The important thing is to simply write.

If you would like a prompt:

  • Make a list of realistic resolutions, then make another list of unrealistic ones.
  • He wished he could tell them the world ended back in 2012…
  • She smiled when she realized she messed up again.

Happy writing!

Everything Update

Everything Update – 12/26/2016

Writing #1 (the bad stuff): Apparently my muse is a Grinch. I’m sitting in my favorite writing spot trying to find some inspiration for flash fiction stories. Nothing came to me at first so I looked at writing prompts. That was when my muse made her true nature clear.

All the prompts in the reader are Christmas related. UGH! I like the holidays and all but I don’t want to write about it. I already wrote a Santa story (click here to read it). I’m ready to move on!

My real problem is a bad case of writer’s funk. It’s different from writer’s block because I can write, but there is nothing I want to write about. I’m not even sure I want to write. I know I should so I keep trying but I only have tiny spurts of creativity. Otherwise, my muse is hiding (and waiting for the holidays to end).

This is not to say I’ll have better luck once all the decorations are taken down and everyone stops blogging about Christmas. This funk won’t simply disappear on a certain date.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to do, what I want to do. My plan for now is to try to write flash fiction. No ideas have hit me so far today but I’ll have some eventually. Or I’ll make them. Ideas are cheap when it comes down to it. I just have to find a way to make some work for me.

What I’m really fighting is apathy, brought on by burnout. I know I’ll get through this but for now it sucks!

Writing #2 (the great stuff): I will be attending the West Texas Writer’s Academy (WTWA) next year. I’ve wanted to go for a long time now and finally it will happen. In October they offered a chance to win a scholarship. I had to write an essay, under 200 words, on why I wanted to write.

The essay was so hard to write! If you’ve ever read anything on my blog, or even just this post, you know I’m wordy. The idea of keeping it so short terrified me. Then came the fear i wasn’t saying anything right. I wrote one and thought it was silly, then changed it. The next attempt was too serious, more changed. Finally I simply started over.

I wrote about the things and people who stopped me from writing for too many years. I spoke about how my experiences, especially the bad ones, made me more determined to write now. I called those years my writing boot camp. Then I said nothing would stop me now and I want to learn everything I can and add to my toolbox as much as possible.

After I wrote it, I edited the hell out of it. I remember at one point I hit undo a bunch of times and in the end, most of this third attempt stayed intact, with only minor changes. I was surprised but shouldn’t have been since it came from the heart. The words poured out with no fears or concerns. I emailed it then sat there and cried and shook, in the middle of Starbucks haha.

My nerves were a wreck! Not once did I think I would win the scholarship but I desperately wanted to. So I spent the rest of the day freaking out then tried not to think about it much. The deadline was December 15 (my birthday) so I had plenty of time to ‘forget’ about it. There was no sense in stressing for almost two straight months.

On my birthday I thought about it for a moment then shut it away. I knew by this point they weren’t announcing the winner until January so I tried not to get worked up.

The on December 20 I got an email. The notification popped up on my screen. It showed a small portion of the email and who it was from. I thought my heart would stop. My hand hovered over the mouse, too afraid to look at it. Logically I knew what it said and why I received it but I was too busy calming my nerves to be logical!

As you’ve probably guessed, I won the scholarship. I read the message at least ten times before I moved. Then I burst into tears! I took a picture of the email and sent it to my husband because for once I didn’t have the words to tell him what happened. I sat there crying for a few minutes then went into the living room and told two of my kids. They didn’t know what to do because I was crying and laughing and trying to explain. They got the explanation but they rarely have seen my cry so didn’t know how to handle it, haha.

When I started talking I was having difficulty. My sixteen year old daughter was staring at me with a look of horror/concern until I said they were good tears. It made me laugh when she visibly relaxed. I must have looked like I was having some kind of breakdown.

They congratulated me and I left the room but I couldn’t sit back down, I was too…something. Excited isn’t quite the right word, though I felt it too. Shocked is a closer description.

My other daughter heard the story shortly afterward, once I realized she was awake. I guess I didn’t say it very quietly because my oldest son heard it at the same time, as I woke him up talking near his door.

Eventually I told the people in my writing group and called my mom. I know I talked so fast she barely understood me!

As I came down from the high of finding out I won, weird things started happening. I wondered if I deserved it. I kept thinking my essay wasn’t good enough for me to be picked. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I tossed those stupid, destructive thoughts out the window! I didn’t just win, I earned it! I wasn’t about to let anyone, not even myself, ruin it.

So next summer I’ll attend a week-long intensive writing class. I know how to write, but like I said earlier, I’m eager to add to my writing tool box. I can’t wait!

Medical: My back hurts, so nothing new. On Friday I’ll have the second procedure I’ve talked about before. A couple of weeks ago they did the right side, now they’ll do the left. There has to be eleven days between the two procedures and my doctor was on vacation for Christmas week. Otherwise I’d already be done. Thankfully this one is happening this year so I don’t have to mess with a deductible.

This won’t be a permanent fix but any relief is welcome at this point. I’m sure this is part of why I’m in my writing funk. Chronic pain drags a person down. It doesn’t matter how sunny your personality is, eventually it all gets to you.

Hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon. My mother (and the rest of my family) would laugh at me using the word ‘normal’ to describe myself so maybe I should say I’ll get back to myself again.

Reading: I’m doing this a lot more than I planned on lately. With my back giving me so much trouble, I’ve been forced to spend a good portion of every day lying down, which I hate. So I read in twenty-minute increments then get up.

Also, hot baths help relieve the massive muscles spasms my back gifts me with so I read in the tub too. This I don’t mind at all!

I’m re-reading The Sword of Truth series. It’s not my favorite but I’m enjoying it anyway. It’s so complex, with a million side stories and enough twists and turns to make your head spin. Just how I like it. I feel like I’m learning a lot from how the author writes.

His transitions are really good (so far) and most of the time his descriptions are delightfully sparse. Unlike this blog post, he doesn’t overdo it with adverbs. I’m not sure how I feel about his characterizations but overall I’m glad I chose to read this series again.

I’m afraid to read anything new since I’m already having trouble writing. If this were a new to me series, all I would do is read it. Books are my catnip (I can’t say they are my drug because I hate drugs).

Everything else: Christmas was good. We went to my mom’s house on Christmas eve for lunch. It was nice because there was family there I see only once a year or less. The rest of my extended family I only see a few times a year because I’m a homebody these days.

My husband had to work that day, which sucked. He was off on Christmas day though. It worked out that the kids went off elsewhere at lunch so I spent the whole day just hanging out with the hubby. We did a whole lot of nothing and it was perfect. I needed a nice relaxing day and so did he.

Right before Christmas I saw Rogue One. My review is simple: I loved it.

My youngest daughter (my clone) got me into watching Chuck so I think it will be my new binge. The first day of her vacation from school I sat in the living room for hours watching it with her. My back was killing me but we were both happy.

There’s nor really anything else to tell for now. I’ll post an update again after my procedure. Not that day, as I’ll probably be asleep. Hopefully I’ll have a writing update, or new piece of fiction posted before then!

 

 

Flash Fiction – Morning Chores

Breena loved fetching water every morning. The river called to her. When she was a child, her mother got the daily water, but she developed a limp and the well got fouled.

Momma couldn’t walk the quarter-mile to the river’s edge without pain so Breena took over the chore. She was young and strong so she didn’t mind the extra distance. Besides, once she rounded the first bend no one could see her daily commune with the water spirits.

She didn’t want her mother to know everything she did. Life was hard enough since Poppa died. The older woman didn’t need her oldest daughter’s future worrying her. At least they got by, Breena thought. Life wasn’t full of luxury but in the ways that counted, their lives were far better.

That morning as she gathered mud in the pail she made especially for the job, she thought back to the night they were forced to stop using water from the well. She could remember Momma screaming, nothing new when Poppa came home after drinking with his friends. This time the yells were different. She never knew why, but Breena raced into the kitchen to find her mother unconscious on the floor, with her leg twisted under her.

Uncomfortable with the direction of her thoughts, she shook them off and finished up her first bucket. She filled the second with water and headed back home. She stopped only to dump the mud into the well. Silently thanking the water spirits for the gift, she looked down into the deep hole and reflected on her part in ruining it.

She smiled when she realized Momma never once asked her what happened to Poppa.

 


Rough draft 281 words

WR