Monthly Archives: June 2012

I Like Flash Fiction

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I like flash fiction. I didn’t know how much I would enjoy it when I started writing two years ago. I’ve had people tell me how much they enjoy reading flash fiction and then I’ve had a few that couldn’t get past the shortness and crispness of the story. I believe they are the one’s who are the flowery writers. They use lots of adjectives or whatever it takes to add description.  I figured out many years ago, I’m not a flowery writer. Maybe that’s why I like Flash Fiction, because it is very straight forward.

An example would be, “Walking down the stone strewn path, I can smell the wonderful aroma of the large honeysuckle vine. It’s vines turning and wrapping themselves though the spaces in the fence.” For flash fiction you could write something such as “Walking down the path, the odor of  honeysuckle filled the air. The vines wrapped themselves around the fence.”

The first example had twenty-nine words in the two sentences. The second example  had eighteen words. They are very concise, and crisp. Flash Fiction uses limited words.  I’ve written from 100 word stories to a 1000 words and it still be termed Flash Fiction. Any number you use requires a complete story. Sometimes it’s difficult to do.

Three days ago I wrote a Flash Fiction piece and entered it into a contest on FanStory. It’s called “The Letter”. I won the contest and I want to share it with you.    This is the instuctions I was given.

Write a scene in which your main character receives a strange looking letter beat up with stains on its cover. The letter has no return address. What’s in it? How does your character react to the contents once it is opened and why? This story should not be any longer than 1000 words but no shorter then 800 words.

Shirley

The Letter

 France, June 16, 1944
Rifle shots are randomly going off around Dan as he sits in the bombed out building. He’s writing a letter that he’s put off writing, because he knows it will break a girl’s heart back in Oklahoma. If you were to see his face, you’d think he’s about to cry tears. His heart is heavy.

Dear Janell, I really don’t know how to start this letter, but it is something I have to do. Sitting in the middle of this rubble, which was once a small town, probably a lot like our home town of Stuart. I’ve spent many months here, crawling through the mud and blood, and thinking of you and getting back home.

Two months ago, the French underground put me into hiding. There was a girl there by the name of Angelique. I called her Angel for short. I have to tell you, we have fallen in love, and I’m going to marry her. You know I never intended to hurt you, but I have to follow my heart. I only wish you the best with your life.
Dan

***

 “Mama, would you like a cup of hot tea and a muffin? You haven’t eaten a thing since we got back from the cemetery this morning.”

“Sally, I’m not hungry. Just leave me alone.”

“You have to have something. How about that cup of tea? I’ll get you the tea, then walk down to the mailbox and get the mail. Maybe there’s a letter from Aunt Hattie. She always cheered you up when you read one of her letters.

“Mama, here is some Earl Grey. It’s hot, so let it sit a couple of minutes. I’ll be right back.”

The mailbox was sitting at the intersection of the two dirt roads that ran by the house. How many times had she walked to this mailbox over the years? Today was different because she helped bury her father this morning.
When she opened the mailbox it contained one letter.

The envelope was yellow with age, and had a couple of dark brown spots on the front. The strange thing was the name on the envelope. It’s addressed to mama using her maiden name, Janell Griffin. You couldn’t tell who sent it, because there wasn’t a return address. This is a mystery, Sally thought. I wonder who sent this.

Janell, sitting in her rocking chair, with her eyes closed and a slight smile on her face. She’s remembering the first time she saw her Daniel. We were at a church picnic and began talking. It was if we’d always been together. We spent all the time together we could. In 1943, Dan joined the Army and was shipped overseas. He was there over a year. The letters came regularly at first and I answered each one promptly. I tried to write about everything going on and the people he knew. I knew his loneliness would be terrible. Then the letters stopped coming. I thought he’d been killed. Several months passed with me mourning the loss of my love, Daniel. I went to the drug store for Mother one Saturday morning. When I came out of the drug store, the Grey Hound bus was unloading passengers at the depot next door. When I looked at the unloading passengers, I saw a solider with a cane step off the bus. I screamed and began running and yelling Daniel at the top of my lungs. Daniel was alive and home. I was hugging him and kissing him with tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t believe my love was alive and home. He acted very strange at first. It was as if he wasn’t expecting me to hug and kiss him. He felt stiff when I touched him. He must have been through hell.

                                                                                     ***
“Mama,” Sally called out as she came through the door. “Wait till you see what we got in the mail.”

Janell opened her eyes, stopping the thoughts about her beloved Daniel. “What do you have?”

“It looks like a very old letter. It’s addressed to you but using your maiden name.”

“My maiden name! I haven’t used that name in almost sixty years. Let me see it.” Janell straightened her glasses as well as herself in the rocker.

“It’s post marked from France and I can see the number forty-four.”

“Well, let me see it.”

Sally handed the old letter to Janell. When Janell looked at the envelope, she began to cry.

“Mama, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

Janell sat very quiet holding the letter in her hands for a few minutes. When she was able to speak, she put the letter up to her heart and looked up at her daughter. “Sally, this letter was written by your father. I would know his hand writing anywhere. He was in France during the war. I actually thought he’d died, but God sent him back home to me. I can’t believe I got this letter on the day we buried him.

“Open it up and see what it says.”

Janell slowly opened the envelope with her arthritic fingers. She unfolded the paper and read the letter. She folded the letter and placed it back in the envelope.

“What did it say, Mama? Was it from Daddy?”

“No dear, it wasn’t meant for me. I think I want another cup of tea and I’m going to fix it. Would you like one?

“Yes, I would.”

“Sit down and I’ll call you when it’s ready”. Janell walked slowly to the kitchen and directly to the stove. She turned on the front burner for the tea pot and the flame started. She stuck the corner of the letter into the fire watching it burn and dropped it into the cast iron skillet sitting on the stove. While it burned to ashes she spoke softly aloud, “It wasn’t for me.”

200 Word Flash Fiction (The Rent)

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 Hello everyone, today I am publishing a 200 word flash fiction story which I won a contest with. I was given a specific list of words to use in creating the story. The words are in bold print. I do hope you enjoy reading it and please let me know how you would improve it.   Shirley
 
The Rent

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The forecast for the day is cold with a winter storm warning. I don’t want to get out of my nice warm bed, but I know I have to. There are many errands to run, and I have to do them before the storm hits.
 
Why Mrs. Flannigan has me pay my rent in person, I’ll never understand. It would be easier if I put it in the mail with my monthly bills. There isn’t any use crying and whining about it. That’s the way it is.
 
I back my car from the drive for the ten-mile trip to Mrs. Flannigan’s. Myphone is in my purse for an emergency. The sleet and freezing rain are  already falling. The radio announcer tells everyone to stay off the roads. I’m not the smartest person, because I’m driving. I can’t drive fast because of poor visibility.  My hands are gripping the  wheel and my knuckles are white. Relax, Sally, you can do this.
 
The bridge over the lake is icy. What is that idiot doing? He’s going too fast. I’m in the middle of the bridge. I can’t scoot over. No, oh God help me.
 
Paper reads: Trucker and young woman join fatality toll.

200 Word Flash Fiction ( The Rent)

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Today, I decided to share with you a flash fiction piece which won a contest. I was given a specific list of words to use. They are in bold print and told to write a story in under 200 words.  Let me know ways you think you’d improve on this story. I hope you enjoy it.    Shirley

The RentImage,

The forecast for the day is cold with a winter storm warning. I don’t want to get out of my nice warm bed, but I know I have to. There are many errands to run, and I have to do them before the storm hits.
 
Why Mrs. Flannigan has me pay my rent in person, I’ll never understand. It would be easier if I put it in the mail with my monthly bills. There isn’t any use crying and whining about it. That’s the way it is.
 
I back my car from the drive for the ten-mile trip to Mrs. Flannigan’s. Myphone is in my purse for an emergency. The sleet and freezing rain are  already falling. The radio announcer tells everyone to stay off the roads. I’m not the smartest person, because I’m driving. I can’t drive fast because of poor visibility.  My hands are gripping the  wheel and my knuckles are white. Relax, Sally, you can do this.
 
The bridge over the lake is icy. What is that idiot doing? He’s going too fast. I’m in the middle of the bridge. I can’t scoot over. No, oh God help me.
 
Paper reads: Trucker and young woman join fatality toll.

Attention Writers: Flash Fiction Contest

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I thought we could have some fun writing a Flash Fiction story of no more than 400 words around the topic of July 4th.  It can be any genre you wish, any topic, but keep it clean.  All entries must be submitted by June 30th to shirley_mclain@yahoo.com. The winner will be announced on July 3rd.  The prize is two ebooks of your choice from Amazon.

Please submit title and author of the books you would like as well as the address where you want them sent.  The story I posted called Angie’s Secret is for a flash fiction contest. You can read it and then try to do better.

Here is a YouTube video that explains flash fiction a little further. I hope you enjoy it. I look forward to reading what you come up with.  Happy writing.

Angie’s Secret 400 word Flash Fiction)

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This is a story that I’ve entered into a flash fiction contest. Tell me what you think about it or how I can improve it. Remember you have to get a beginning, climax and ending within 400 words.  The instructions were to write no more than 400 words concerning a secret. I hope you enjoy.

Angie’s Secret

“Are you going to tell him?” Mattie asked.

“Heavens no, this is my secret. I told you because you’re my best friend, and I know I can trust you.” Angie sat at the table with her cup of tea.

She was pale around the eyes and mouth. “I am doing this on my own. I’m thirty-four years old, and I know this is the right thing for me.”

“It may be right for you, but girl you look like crap. Do you want another cup of tea?”

“Sure”.

Mattie went to the stove and brought the teapot back to the table. She asked Angie if she eats enough food.

Angie replied, “Yes, I am. I can take care of myself. Stop worrying about me.”

“How do you think you’re going to pull off leaving, when he barely lets you out of his sight?”

Angie thought of the days ahead with John, as she sipped her tea. Her excitement showed.

Mattie looked at her, seeing the smile, said, “Ok, girlfriend, spill the beans. I want to know what’s making you smile.”

“I have to go home.”

“Angie, remember, no matter what, I’m your friend.” Mattie grabbed Angie hugging her tightly.

“I’ll be in touch, and don’t worry,” Angie said as they broke apart. She walked back to her house. Her bedroom light was on. Crap, he must know I’m not in my room. I’ll walk through the front door as the grown woman I am.

After she entered the house, she almost made it to the stairs before she heard her father’s harsh voice.

“Angie, is that you?”

“Yes, father, it’s me.”

“Come here immediately,” her father bellowed.

Angie walked into the library ready for battle. Her father, kicked back in the recliner with a drink in his hand, asked “Where have you been?”

“I went to Mattie’s for tea. I left your dinner on the table.”

“It was cold. You are one lousy cook.”

“Yes, Father. I’m going  to my room, goodnight, Father.”

***

The clock advanced slowly, but two a.m. arrived. She pulled her suitcase from beneath her bed, took one last look at her room and left. Her father appeared to be asleep when she opened the front door. As she stepped out into the night air, she took her first deep breath of freedom.

She whispered “John, are you here?”

“He’s not here,” her father whispered back.

To do, or Not To Do, that is the question??????

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It finally came and I was so excited to see it.  When I opened it and saw all the marks I panicked. Being in the middle of unpacking 200 boxes from my move, I now have my book to edit. As much as I love my book, I don’t want to even start on it yet. It’s sad because I have been chomping at the bit for almost three months to get it back from the editor. Dobyns Chronicles was and is a work of love. It’s a story based in the 1800’s about my great-grandfather. I called it a historical fiction but it has a lot of truth threaded throughout the story.

How do I even begin. I think I’m going to leave it alone for awhile so I can finish unpacking boxes. That way I won’t have  things hanging over my head.  What ideas do you have for me, about getting started on what seems like a daunting task to me right now?

Tastes Like Chicken

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Today is the day I’m going to start my blog again. I’m buried alive by moving boxes but I’m not going to let my blog go any longer. Today I’m going to tell you a story about my dad. It came to my mind when someone a couple of days ago blogged about thier mother not cooking wild meat.

My mother and father lived about four miles north of highway 270 west of McAlester, Oklahoma on land where my great grandparents lived. There is a quarter mile drive off the main road to their house. When mama was a little girl her and her grandfather planted a pine tree at the corner of the main road and the drive. That pine tree remains alive and well to this day.

Back in the 1980’s my dad worked at the Navy Ammunition Plant at Haywood as a truck driver and forklift operator. He drove on and off the mountain at least five days a week. Mom would pack a lunch for him every day, which he would put in the refrigerator at the work office.

Everyday someone would get into the lunches in the refrigerator and eat things out of people’s lunch sacks. They thought they knew who the fellow was, but they couldn’t prove it. Everyone was frustrated with this guy.

One evening when dad was coming home, he got to the pine tree and thought there was a big limb in the road. He opened the truck door and that big limb coiled. Having a pistol under the seat he proceeded to shoot and kill a seven and a half foot diamond back rattler. He brought it to the house and skinned it out. Mom took the back bone meat and cut it into chunks and fried it. That’s what they ate for dinner that night. My sister said it was good eating and tasted a lot like chicken.

My dad decided he would take some to work the next day for his lunch. He never told a soul about killing the snake or what he had for lunch. He put it in the refrigerator as he always did and went out to the docks to unload a truck.  Noon rolled around and all the guys were sitting at the table eating.  Daddy’s lunch had been gotten into and about half of the meat had been eaten.

Dad began talking and telling the guys about the big rattlesnake he had killed the night before  and how mom had cooked it up for him. He even brought some for his lunch.  Dad said the man accross from him, who happened to be the man who they thought was getting into the lunches, choked on his food. His color turned pasty white and then he turned green and had to leave the room.  They could hear him retching outside and all knew he was throwing his toenails up.

Everyone had a great laugh and guess what else. No one’s lunch was ever robbed again. The man got cured.

Daddy had that snake skin mounted and it hung over their television set for over twenty years. He would still laugh when he told that story about his big snake.