Check it all out:
...The Story Siren called BLUE the "Most Beautifully Written Book in 2010" Now that's what you call ending on a high note. Here I come, 2011!
But...when I'm not writing, I'm a music fanatic of (seriously) infinite proportions. And in my book, "Turning Home" by David Nail (a fellow Missourian, I might add) is the song of the year. I've played this one enough, all my neighbors know the words. Love it, love it, love it...
Rules of the award:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Write 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked to let them know about the award.
Okay. Seven (surprising!) things about me:
1). I met every member of every hair band who played in Springfield, MO in the late 80’s / early 90’s.
2). I end just about every phone conversation with my brother by saying, “Go with eggs!” (It’s a reference from Paul Newman’s NOBODY’S FOOL.)
3). I have a serious love of chicken pot pie. Serious. Serious love.
4). My elbows hyper-extend, bending back the wrong way. Freaky.
5). I have been knitting the same sweater since 2007.
6). My body temperature is actually a few degrees below “normal,” and I have a tendency to get cold very easily.
7). I’ve always loved to dress up—heels, the works. But my single favorite piece of clothing is my twenty-year-old Harley Davidson T-shirt, complete with a giant swirling dragon…
And my fifteen blogs?
One Sparkling Star
…Thanks to The Mod Podge Bookshelf! An award makes a gal’s Friday…
Ta-da! November’s flash fiction’s here! This month’s prompt comes courtesy of Melody at Melody’s Reading Corner…When I asked for objects to write about, Melody suggested magic. Love that idea! Love…
“Free Of Charge”
I’m not a kid person. Not a coochie-cooer. Maybe I don’t have much age on the boy behind the cash box who eyeballs me. Maybe the last time I went in for a haircut the stylist said, “There you go, kiddo,” when I stepped out of the chair. Still. The way the little boy just keeps staring—like he’s about to say something to me—gives me a tight, uncomfortable tug in my gut.
Not sure why I even walked up the drive to their garage sale. It’s not like I have any money in my running shorts. And I’m not exactly presentable. In the mirror attached to a ladder (“only $25!” the tag screams,) I look like some trampled-through, tortured puddle, the way sweat rings cling to my underarms, sweat splatter dots my back and chest. I’ve run five miles—far longer than I’d intended—and now I’m the kind of exhausted that makes me wish I could just flop down on the nearby duct-taped bean bag chair ($2).
Five miles from home—feels like a hundred, but it’s nothing compared to the distance between Missouri and Puerto Rico, where Dad’s dragging me to live.
“Part of the US,” he insisted. “English is an official language.” But Spanish dominates. I’ll learn it, sure, but a word at a time. Casa, I’ll say. Gracias. Si. And nod, a nervous smile on my face because I can’t keep up with full-sentence Spanish. My classmates will avoid me the way I dodge little kids, because talking to someone too inexperienced to truly understand you is just plain boring—and too much work. I mean, a conversation shouldn’t involve heavy lifting.
Folding tables around me support the used-up fragments of life: Frayed sweaters folded into puffy rectangles. Tarnished candle holders. Old cassette tapes.
I’ll be a trinket, too, after I move. A birthday card in the bottom of a junk drawer. A photo yellowing behind fifty Post-its on a bulletin board.
I’ll be some dated, lame thing that eventually gets sold or pitched. Some girl I used to know, my boyfriend will call me, if remembers me at all.
I’m still sweating. Four miles ago, I was crying. Puerto Rico...
The little boy slides off his plastic chair, slips behind his mother, who’s defending the price of a cracked McCoy vase, and reaches into a fish bowl. I see a glass grave. Wonder if they even remember their long-ago pet’s name.
I start to back up, but he rushes, screams, “Wait!” His mother’s watching, too, so I feel compelled to stoop and cup my sweat-sticky hands. The mysterious little creature pours old goldfish tank pebbles into my palms.
“Genuine magic rocks,” he insists. “Free of charge.”
I almost snort a laugh when the pebbles—and a new rushing tide of belief—start to warm in my palm. Calm spreads through my chest.
“Gracias,” I whisper, surprised to find the word doesn’t sound so awkward coming from me, after all.
…Remember, December will be the last month to get in on the Flash Fiction Challenge! I’ll be putting up details soon…
Okay, all you ghouls and goblins, I’ve got a Halloween story to turn your stomachs…I received a super-cool setup from Kate Higgins—she sent the prompt for September’s entry in the Flash Fiction Challenge, remember? I’ve included the original text she sent below; the only change I made was switching from second person to first:
The crescent moon had long since set.
The nearby river’s nighttime gurgle and rush begins to sound like voices, voices talking about you, blaming you. You shut out the sultry, oppressive September night and pull down the shades and turned on your desk lamp.
You adjust the central air to 'cooler' and sit back down to your computer.
The low hissing tone refrigerated air begins to pour out of an ancient floor registers beneath your desk, blowing out new cobwebs and old dust around your legs.
Then a shallow, beseeching, breathless voice, somewhere deep within the register whispers, “Hollleeee………I’m…….here…….here. Holleeee?……..why…...…. why…..….did….......you……... do…….it……….”
…But in order to find out what I did with Kate’s Halloween setup, you’ve got to watch the video. In the meantime, I’ve got to run…Katy Perry called, and she wants her wig back.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
Okay, so I said I wanted scary…but October’s prompt actually made me think of scary in a new way. The prompt comes from Darlene Beck-Jacobson, who can be found online at darlenebeckjacobson.com. She sent this phrase: everyone has them.
…And here’s what I came up with:
…Until The Laughter Dies
I figure we probably look a little like fifty-year-olds in prom dresses, the way we’re clustered on sleeping bags in front of the TV.
I mean, seventeen is way too old for slumber parties. But when Marie flunked the over-the-counter pregnancy test, we all decided to celebrate old-school. Even gave it a theme—80’s night, complete with tightrolled jeans and Mom’s VHS tape of FOOTLOOSE. Mom’s gone for the weekend, after all, and will never know we tunneled through her memorabilia.
“To not being forever linked to Dylan Street,” Marie shouts, and we touch the tips of our unwrapped candy bars in toast.
We laugh even louder than the girls on the tape, rolling into a heap of out-of-date concert T-shirts.
Until the laughter dies, along with the lights.
Blackness saturates my basement.
Lacey and Vanessa laugh again, snickering like the little girls we’re pretending to be.
“…breaker box,” I mumble, but as I grope through the dark, the door to the stairs slams shut. The unpredictable lock clicks.
Snickers again from the cluster of sleeping bags, softer this time. This laughter has a question mark behind it.
“I’ll—just—“ I say, pointing to the door to the outside.
A knock explodes against a window near the ceiling. Vanessa shrieks. I jump, turn, but darkness has dyed the glass, too.
The knock returns. Three knocks, this time. Each. Spaced. Evenly.
I grab a flashlight, fighting the fear that turns my arms slack. I feel every breath in the room being held as I inch toward the window.
When I flick on the beam, the window fills with hunter-orange—a ski mask. And an angry snarl of a mouth.
The basement explodes with screams; I drop the flashlight and the face disappears.
The door to the outside rattles beneath repeated blows.
I try to tighten my trembling fingers around the shaft of the putter Mom left beside the couch.
But I should have reached for the deadbolt instead.
The knob turns; the door creaks. Screams pelt my shoulders like winter rain.
Four against one, I think, trying to lean on odds.
I’ve barely started to lift the club when the ski mask steps in, snatches it from my hand.
I have nothing; I’m absolutely naked with defenselessness. I open my mouth, but I’ve lost my scream.
Moonlight stretches through the open door, lands across the ski mask.
Screams circle like sirens all around me as Marie, Lacey, and Vanessa charge to my side. Screams intensify as the man in the doorway grabs the mask beneath his chin and begins to peel it.
Lights pop, illuminating his face.
And Dylan Street dissolves into gotcha laughter.
The girls at my sides moan. Their laughter returns—staccato, hesitant. Still—laughter.
I try to shrug, playing like I’d suspected as much. I’m humiliated by the goose bumps racing down my arms…until I realize everyone has them.
Even Marie, who already knows that the only thing Dylan’s good at is scaring girls.
See what I mean? Really—what’s the scariest event here…the ski mask or the over-the-counter test? We all face really frightening things in our everyday life…far more frightening than any slasher movie!
Thanks to Darlene for giving me a bit of a fresh take on scary…and congrats to her as well! She’s now in the running for that holiday prize.
…And stay tuned for the details for November—coming soon! (I’ve got a super-fun idea for that one…)
I'm so excited to post this: the first piece in the Flash Fiction Challenge! The first prompt come to us from Kate Higgins (who can be found online at kathleenhiggins.blogspot.com and cedarmoonstudio.com).
Kate sent a collection of randomly chosen words to include in my piece: andiron, hurricane, Novocain, tomato, mustache, nephophobia, and oscilloscope. And I worked them all into my (500-words on the dot) piece you can either listen to me read in the video clip or read below...
Kate's prompt was fantastic, and I can't wait to see what prompts roll into my inbox for the October chapter of this challenge! More details about the October portion of the Flash Fiction Challenge will come soon...in the meantime, congrats to Kate Higgins, who is now in the running for the yet-undisclosed prize in time for the holidays...
The Fear Of Clouds
“Safe,” Mia says, same as she had when we first stepped through the front door five years ago, smelling like a couple gators who’d crawled right out of the bayou.
I’d trusted her, back when summer sweat lay far thicker on my lip than my spindly mustache. Trusted her like boys always trust their moms…Even though she made me call her by her first name, squirming every time I slipped and didn’t pronounce that first vowel. Squirming every time I accidentally called her Ma.
“Don’t know nearly enough to be anybody’s mother,” she’d always said, the way pretty girls roll their eyes at compliments because they already feel beautiful.
She was older than any of the other mothers in my class. And she loved that years had taught her to measure up a situation like an oscilloscope, tracking electrical currents around her. She could sense things no one else could, making decisions and moving forward without any fear she might be wrong.
“Landlocked,” she’d said when we’d first arrived, letting me think of the miles from the shore as an enormous security blanket.
I was safe. Mia said so.
Now, scraggly remnants of last summer’s tomato plants bend the way palm trees had five years ago, when we’d raced from that angry hurricane, that Katrina, who tore our house apart like old rags…just like Mia knew she would. Suddenly, Missouri’s arms don’t feel comforting at all—just hard and cold, like the andiron by the fireplace.
“Maybe we should leave,” I say, my voice buzzing against my raw gums, my sprouting wisdom teeth making me wish for a Novocain-laced milkshake. Were you supposed to run from a tornado? Or fall to the ground and play dead, like an opossum, waiting for the danger to pass? I look to Mia for an answer.
She just laughs, like I’m totally irrational. Like I’m a hypochondriac, or an agoraphobe. Nephophobia (fear of clouds). The word pops into my head. But don’t dark, churning clouds make everybody’s mind wander into a hundred murky directions? Is it a phobia if it isn’t really irrational? What’s wrong with her?
A lawn chair does summersaults. Gusts throw pea-sized hail against the glass door. This storm is a late-night invader with a gun. My heart begs my feet to move.
But Mia keeps laughing, the wrinkles around her eyes turning to ditches.
“We’re safe,” she insists, but my worry stretches. I grab Mia’s elbow as a cloud begins to grow its own black arm—a funnel.
“Hey,” she snaps as I push her into the basement. Storm sirens shriek like a wounded dog as I lock the door; the floor above us rattles beneath the angry wind. Mia’s shocked eyes hit me as glass shatters upstairs.
I push her into the corner and huddle over her like a human security blanket. She yelps when my chin rubs her cheek. A surprise to us both that suddenly—and after all this time—my beard is rough as coarse-grit sandpaper.
"...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve." – Kirkus
"Axioms like 'One man's trash is another man's treasure' and 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' come gracefully to life in Schindler's tale about the value of hard work and the power of community…Auggie's enthusiasm and unbridled creativity are infectious, and likeminded readers will envy her creative partnership with [her grandfather] Gus." – Publishers Weekly
“Determined to save her home, Auggie [uses] pottery shards, vivid glass, and metal sculptures [to] transform the house’s exterior into a vibrant expression of the love within its walls. In Auggie, Schindler creates a spunky, sympathetic character young readers will engage with and enjoy.” – The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Book Studies
“The protagonist perches in the reader’s heart as she goes about trying to “‘discover her shine.’” - NY Journal of Books
“A delicious, tantalizing love story that will captivate you until the final, satisfying sigh.”—Kristin Walker, author of A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL