Flash Fiction Friday (again)

Hope you like my new story ♡ The word prompt was “Vanish”

A twig snapped beneath her shoe, the ivory kid-leather boots already scuffed with dirt. The luminescence of the tiny mother-of-pearl buttons dotted up her ankles was mirrored in her dangling opal earrings, in the almost colorless-blond of her hair, the slight sheen of sweat on her furrowed brow. Despite the chill outside, her skin burned.

“I…I thought this time…” She took another step, dropping her skirts from her hands, uncaring that they’d soon be soiled. Broken branches, dead leaves, and dried mud littered the area she knew should be pristine. Her breath blew out in a hazy plume of exasperation. “It should be here.”

Memories swirled over her: the velvety feel of rose petals beneath her naked fingers, the taste of oddly-flavored teacakes: jasmine peppercorn, dark chocolate with birch sap frosting, or blood-orange and thyme, a half-moon smile, the soft, downy fur of a rabbit…

“Come now.” Her fiancé Edward tugged at her arm gently. “Let us go.”

She wanted to whirl around and argue, wanted to run her fingers through her curled coif and unthread it all, wanted to scream that this was not right…none of this was right! But she nodded, followed him to the waiting carriage. The driver snapped his whip. Her betroved didn’t show his impatience in the same manner, but she knew. They were sick of accompanying her here.

“Alice, my dear.” Edward lifted her hand, brushed his lips against the gloved-knuckles. “Can we move past this, now? There is nothing here to see.”

She turned from his searching eyes, the expectation pressing around her. To be simple, and meek, and normal.

Nothing here to see.

But there was. She screamed in her head. But there was.

***

“…hallucinations have to stop.”

“But electrotherapy…”

The voices weren’t quiet enough—Edward, her parents, the doctor. Alice pressed her hands against her ears, and tried to shut them out. As sure as she was of her self, the constant doubt was wearing her down.

The memories had felt like a dream for years. A full decade had passed while she thought her fanciful imaginings were simply that…imaginings. Then, four months ago, she caught a glimpse of a snow-white rabbit outside.

“How strange.” Her mother had sipped her tea, one eyebrow raised as she glanced out the window at the stretch of green grass and the animal in the middle of it. “A white rabbit, this time of year?”

Alice had looked, and it had winked at her. Winked!

That’s when, like lightning shot through the sky, the reality had slammed into her. Wonderland had been real. As that truth became clear, so did the location of how to get there. A half-days ride away, set in the middle of a faerie circle in the woods, was a door to the magical land.

But now it was gone.

And nobody believed her.

They would erase the illusions from her mind, they said. Before the wedding. A fresh start.

Soon the memories would do the same thing Wonderland had… vanish.

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Flash Fiction Friday

Hi there! I’m participating in a fun flash fiction challenge on Instagram, and I wrote up this 499-word story this morning, inspired by the prompt “Wicked”. Let me know what you think! 💅

Tittering at a worn, wooden table in the middle of a cottage sat two sisters. A third young woman, the eldest of them, Sulea, stood in a haze of fragrant fumes as she mixed drinks. The scent of juniper, bitters, and burnt marshmallow hung on the air, and the clank of spoon against glass rang out. Outside the moon was sickly-white; the light shone through the windows. Sulea’s hands were steady as she stirred, yet her stomach coiled with anticipation.

“Did you see their faces?” The youngest, Fehna, giggled and wiped tears that had spilled onto her acid-green skin. “Those idiots never saw us coming!”

“I love how that one was just so surprised. His face…” the middle snickered. Her skin was the darkest shade of green, and it couldn’t be exaggerated that she was the most wicked.

The three broke into laughter again.

Sulea set the glasses down and took her seat at the table. She raised her own drink triumphantly, the billowing black of her sleeve hanging off her cuff with an elegant—if threadbare—fall. They’d never been wealthy, but that was about to change. “We got what we went for. It’s only a matter of time before we rule all.” With that rule would come not just wealth, but power.

Without mentioning it, the three synched their glances into the other room. On a crude, handmade bench sat a pair of glittering slippers, sequins winking in the moonlight.

“So beautiful,” Fehna whispered. She pushed up from her chair, just a little, as if she were going to rise.

“Don’t,” Sulea snapped. “You know how dangerous they are. Don’t weaken yourself.”

I’ll have to watch her carefully. Sulea thought. She’d already allowed herself to weaken, already let her foolish heart soften for another, let her power dwindle with her vulnerability. Letting yourself be mesmerized—by lovers, or even enchanted tools—was the surest way to suck your magic dry. Her throat clenched with hatred, and she forced a smile on her face. “Now, let’s drink to us.”

“The wickedest sisters of all!” the three said in unison, clinking their glasses, and downing a long pull of the cocktail.

After a minute, the middle sister said sharply, “What’s in this?” Her skin appeared to be lightning, her chest rising rapidly.

Fehna’s eyes slid to Sulea, wide, but with an admiring glint within. “Did you poison us then?”

“Of course not you.” Sulea scoffed, jabbed her green finger—still caked with blood to her left. “Her.”

They both looked at Glinda, whose skin was smudging out at the sharp edges, turning as milky as the moon. Her hands wrapped around her throat as her wickedness choked out of her. “Why?” she managed weakly.

“Him.” Sulea said. Her heart thumped inside her chest. Revenge would make it harden again. “Get out.” Before I kill you.

And Glinda did, escaping into the moonlight, tripping as she ran out into the woods. Leaving two sisters, laughing at the worn, wooden table.

Running E-book Release!

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I once awoke from a dream.

In the dream I was desperate to escape an abusive husband. I had a very short window of time in which to run—in fact, I had to climb through a literal window in a back bedroom, and set out on foot before I was discovered. Panic and adrenaline rushed through my body as I scrambled to gather a few necessities for the journey. It was incredibly vivid, you know, one of those dreams that feels like being awake. Luckily it was only a nightmare, and not reflective in any way, of my real life.

I woke with my heart racing.

At some point, I found a pen, and wrote down a scattered few sentences for a story. That became the original story Running, which placed as a Runner-Up in the WOW! Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest in 2013. Their blog, The Muffin, said it “packed a powerful punch”. When a friend read it recently, she told me she wanted more, and so I have obliged, adding to the original 500 word story bringing it to about 2,500 words. You can read the most recent version for FREE on Smashwords, where you can download to read on multiple devices! Soon it’ll be up on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Amazon as well.

And don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads list, pretty please!

I’ll be back with more releases in a couple weeks, when I’ll have another two stories up—they are brand new! And I am really excited to share them. One is about a woman who swaps places with her bird, and the other about a woman coming to terms with the end of a long-term relationship. Enough about those, though. Now go read my story! ::wink wink::

Thanks everyone,

Amanda

 

 

Clementine E-Book Release!

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Today is the release of my new (old) e-book short story Clementine!

Let me tell you a little bit about the story. It began as a short flash fiction assignment in a Creative Writing class which I took as a returning adult student. I had never heard of flash fiction before that.

I am beyond bummed that I can’t find the original story, but if I recall, it was something like:

Frances walked in and saw her husband tangled up with another woman. She dropped the bag of oranges at her feet, and turned around and ran, slamming the door behind her as she went.

Very brief, huh? Ha, if memory serves it was a 35-word challenge, and that comes in at 34 words, so it’s probably fairly close to what I had.

Obviously, if you’ve read the version that was published with Portage Magazine then you’ll see it changed quite a lot since that mini challenge (including the main character’s name). In the last week, I’ve given some more love and attention to the story, and it has gone from about 1,000 words to almost 3,000. I also hired an editor, had formatting done, and got a cool cover.

Here’s the synopsis:

In this short story, Clementine makes an unfortunate discovery, and takes the ultimate sweet revenge on the one who betrayed her.

Please download it out for FREE on Smashwords, where you can read it on multiple devices! I’ll update my Store tab once I can list it on Amazon free, too.

And also, don’t forget to add it to Goodreads and leave your rating, or review! It means so much to me to have your support!

MWAH!

Amanda

Rousseau E-book Release!

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I had a little bit of an ah-ha moment the other day (again?? What’s with all these ah-has lately? Not that I’m complaining…) It’s not all that huge, but still pretty neat for me. Back in 2012 I had my first flash fiction piece published online, actually, I think it was my first fiction piece whatsoever, when I placed as a runner-up in the WOW! Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest. It was a wonderful boost for my confidence, and helped me to continue submitting other work. That story was Rousseau

Just a couple days ago, I decided that to boost visibility I would publish it as an e-book story. Perhaps some readers will come across it on Amazon or other channels who wouldn’t normally find my work. If nothing else, it was fun giving this older story a little love and attention! I went ahead and purchased a cover, had it formatted, and most importantly, revised the story, so it is slightly different than the original. Since I have the full story already linked in my “Published Work” tab, and you can read it for free on the internet, I’m not charging  (except temporarily on Amazon just until I can get them to lower the price!) so please pick up a FREE copy to read on your tablet, phone, whatever, through Smashwords.

I’ll add it to my store tab as soon as it’s up on all channels (Amazon, Kobo, etc) at the correct price (free!). Until then, please go check it out through Smashwords, and then please get thee to Goodreads to add your rating, and review! 😀 The best part is Rousseau is only about 1,000 words and is a very short read. A little bit about it:

Rousseau is the story of an overweight girl who finds, and loses, love on the internet, but may end up finding and loving something even more important- herself.

(Fun fact! Rousseau was daydreamed up in a college class, when I saw a pretty, zaftig girl who exuded so much confidence (I was quite jealous!). As someone who struggled with body image, especially at a younger age, I really wanted to explore the idea of confidence, and how it can evolve over time. The original was under 750 words. This newer version is over 1,000.)

Thanks for supporting me, and my work. Happy Friday, ya’ll.

Amanda

 

For the Love of Shorts

Short stories, that is.

You see, I sent off my collection of short stories, 25 to be exact, to one of my BFFs the other day. I care very much about her opinion and am so glad she’s agreed to be a beta reader for me. The problem is, since sending, I am incredibly antsy. I’ve had people read a few of my stories, here or there. I’ve had a couple published online. But sending the whole thing together is somehow scarier. What if she hates it? What if the stories just don’t seem cohesive, yet distinctive? What if the theme is a no-go?

I decided to keep busy by writing about short stories. Why I love reading them, and why you should too! And, definitely why I love writing them.

I’ll backtrack a bit here. I started reading short stories before I wrote them. The Interpreter of Maladies is one of my very favorite collections. I recently posted my review of Women With Big Eyes. There’s many more. I’ve read collections, and short stories alone. Here are the reasons why I love reading them, let’s focus on whole collections for the moment:

  1. They are short. Well, yeah. Duh. Let me elaborate. I work at a library. I’m surrounded by books all the time. There are many a novel I have picked up and felt weighed down (literally)! Some of those bad boys are heavy. And my time these days is precious. I love reading. I do, but I don’t have time to always devote to huge books. I read fast, but I never have more than an hour at a time to read. It’s usually more like 20 minutes. So when I am considering reading a book, I have to decide if I’m going to commit many days of my life to reading just one book. I’m sure there are some short story collections that are large as well, but most of the ones I’ve seen are slim, perfectly sized books for someone lacking tons of time. You say you don’t have time to read? Rent, or buy a short story collection (further shortened to SSC here) and read a couple stories in one sitting!
  2. They are varied. What I mean by this is exactly that. Generally when you read a novel the author’s tone, style, voice are consistent throughout. Sure, they can have multiple narrators or points-of-view, but overall, I’d say the majority is kind of consistent through the entire story. If you pick up a book of an author whose style you like, or more hopefully love, then yay! If not, you kind of have to push through. If you’re not willing to chance your precious reading time on an unknown author’s novel because you’re for some reason worried you won’t like it, you may just feel more comfortable with an SSC. Because most collections I’ve read vary widely from story to story. There’s always some I love in each collection. A few I really like. Maybe one or two I don’t love. But that’s why I enjoy them so much. I know there will be something in there that is exactly what I’m looking for, without even knowing it.

 

So, that’s only two reasons, but they are two very good reasons why I love reading SSC. Why do I love writing them? And why should you consider writing some short stories? Never even mind an SSC, why not just start with a single story? Here’s why you should think about it:

 

  1. See number one above. They are short! Yes, that’s a wonderful reason to write a short story today. I have written shorts in as little as five minutes. Were they my best work? No. But, they were fun, freeing, and inspired me to either work on something else, or continue working on that story.
  2. They are fun. I already said that, but it deserves its own number. Short stories are FUN. They are fun to write because some of the pressure is off. There’s limited word count, limited world building, limited background, limited everything. But you shouldn’t feel limited writing them. Let yourself play with the form. Take a chance on less information. Less is more in the case of short stories.
  3. They push you. I really mean this one. Writing short stories pushes you as a writer. If you’re entering contests you very well might have a word limit. Try coming up with a wonderful idea and then finish the story, realizing you’re 500 words over your 750 word limit. It’s difficult cutting. It is difficult fitting in everything you need to tell a complete story in few words. They push you to know your characters, know your conflict, know your resolution. You don’t have pages and pages and pages to let your reader figure shit out. You have to know it, and they have to know it.

 

I started writing short stories as an adult student back in 2010 or 2011. I took a creative writing class which I loved, and we had a 25 word flash fiction prompt. That’s right. TWENTY FIVE WORDS! To tell a whole story? Impossible! Well, no. Just really hard. For those who don’t know the difference between Flash Fiction and short stories, flash is just a shorter form. It can be up to about 1,000 words, but most contests I’ve seen top it around 750. Flash happens to be what I enjoy writing most. My shortest flash fiction is about 250 words. Clementine, the story that began as a 25-word-prompt in my writing class, now is around a thousand words. In that case, I wrote the prompt and it was a complete story, but I wanted to lengthen it. I got it to a thousand, then began cutting away at it because I wanted to enter it in a contest with a 750 word limit. But the story lost a lot of its strength that way. That’s one important thing to understand about stories. Not every story can or should be short. Some lose something getting cut down. Not every story works as a novel either. You have to decide what form your story will take. Maybe it’s long. Maybe it’s short. Maybe it is actually a poem.

Try writing a short story this time. Get an idea, find the conflict. Then write. Your story needs an arc just like a novel. And then extra-push yourself. Have someone read it. Enter it into a competition. Just Google “Flash Fiction Contests” and see how many pop up. I placed as a Runner-Up twice in the WOW! Women on Writing contests (see Published Work) They hold it quarterly. There’s so many other options out there as well. Practice. Hone your skill. Read other short stories online, and in books, and in newspapers, and magazines. You may just find your new favorite form to read, and/or write. Here’s a few contests to get you started. But don’t forget about non-contest subm

WOW! Women on Writing Quarterly Flash Fiction Contest

Fiction Attic

Fish Publishing

Gemini Magazine

Tell me below- do you like writing short stories? How about reading them? What’s your favorite resource for short story writers?