Monday, October 7, 2013

Small Things That Matter...

Today a friend of mine linked to an article by a local sports writer about a boy who played a single, magical season of T-Ball.

The writer's name is Jenni Carlson. I'll let her writing speak for itself:

Hugh, who was buried in his No. 10 Blake Bell jersey, made lots of people smile, but never did he smile bigger than when he was on the field with his T-ball team. As much as he loved watching his Sooners and his Thunder and his sister, he loved playing even more.
That's why Rick sat down amid the worst grief that a parent can feel and wrote that email to the parents of the kids on Hugh's T-ball team.
He wanted to thank them for the gift that they'd given their family.
Read the article here
(Yeah, it's sad. But I didn't start crying until Carlson told about the stranger showing up at the funeral and explained why.)
Whatever piddly problem I think I'm dealing with today, my kids are healthy and happy and fed, and I need to be damned grateful for that small gift. When I forget, life hands me an uncomfortable reminder that we're here for a wink of a celestial eyelash; a tenth-of-a-millisecond in a history too large to measure.
Am I doing everything I can to make my millisecond count?
Cheers...and nice job, Jenni Carlson.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ready for Creepy Flash Fiction?

A couple of months ago an agent posted the following writing prompt: Construct a hundred-word story featuring the words hammer, full, claw, coop, back, and ratchet.

I considered passing. But I was at an impasse on my current story, dribbling words on the page at a frighteningly slow pace. The problem was I dreaded putting my hero through the hell I'd set up for him. He's a really good guy. In real life I'd hope he'd find peace and serenity and fulfillment and live happily ever after.

But in the story I've torn away everything he loves and forced him to confront his deepest fears. And that's tough to do to a person you genuinely like.

So I decided to jump in on the writing prompt. As an exercise, I challenged myself to spare my character no pain. Here's the result:

“Close your eyes, Evie,” the angel says. “I’m here.”

I turn my head. Blink away dripping blood. He’s dazzling, familiar. Blond hair. Dimples. Green eyes shining with love and untold jokes.

The haze clears and I’m on my back, alone. Moths dash against the fly-spotted bulb in our chicken coop.


My mouth is full of cloth. I gag. Ratchet a breath.

In the doorway, a human monster. Blond hair trails from the claw of his hammer like blood-soaked algae.

“I’m here, babe.” The angel’s breath is like cool water on my cheek.

The hammer lifts, and I close my eyes.

The exercise was fun (and damned hard, let me tell you. A hundred words...sheesh) and the piece received an honorable mention out of about sixty entries. But I'm not sure I met my challenge; even though I killed my character I still couldn't leave her without comfort.

Maybe I should write about people I don't like.

Cheers...and Happy Writing!