Link to Briar Rose Excerpt

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Hi there! Just a quick update to let you know more about the anthology I was recently accepted in, and to share a link for you to read an excerpt of my story Briar Rose. I’m still waiting on more info, but I think the anthology, which features 22 fantasy short stories, will be released sometime in May. It’s called Chasing Magic, from Collaborative Writing Publishing and I’m really excited to be included! The other stories sound amazing.

Read story excerpts here. Mine is right after the red curly hair.

Thanks for checking it out! I’ll be posting more info as I know it. In the meantime, I’m super busy editing Beach Glass & Other Broken Things. I got notes back from my editor yesterday AND I got the cover back from my designer! Squeeeee! Now, off to keep working on that. Now, please go check out the snippet of my story! 🙂

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Sonja Uncaged E-book Release

 

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Hi everyone! I am happy to share another short story is available now for you to read. Sonja Uncaged is an 8,000 word story I wrote this fall about a woman who swaps bodies with her bird. Side note: I had someone close to me, who is a great graphic designer, make the cover, but it turns out I’m an incredibly stubborn perfectionist (lol) who wanted something I couldn’t vocalize, so I played with his design and tweaked it a little until it was as close to my imagination as possible. What I learned: It’s NOT easy making a cover, or even changing an existing design (and I’m clearly an amateur!). But, it was still fun! Hopefully it looks okay 🙂 But, back to the story. It’s a fantasy Women’s Fiction, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Here’s more about it:

A short story about a lonely young woman riddled with panic attacks and agoraphobia. Sonja’s only friends are her fat cat Louie, and her new bird Phinny. Despite her crush on her mailman Ben, she is unable to form relationships because of her crippling anxiety. And then one day, everything changes. Sonja wakes up inside her canary’s cage. She and her bird have switched bodies. Sonja is now a human in a bird’s body, unable to speak, barely able to fly. Phinny is mute as a human, even more terrified to leave the apartment than Sonja was, and fascinated and yet still terrified of fat Louie the cat. But before long, the story shifts even odder, and Ben the mailman and Louie find themselves in their own conundrum. Can a cat and a bird fall in love? Can a woman stuck inside a bird’s body learn to love her life in a cage of her own making, or will she force herself to leave it and truly fly beyond what she thought ever possible? Sonja Uncaged is a story of longing, of fear, and the kind of love that makes us spread our wings, and fly.

Read an excerpt:

The bird was a gift. Kind of.

I’d had dogs as pets before, and six years ago acquired a large, gray cat from the animal shelter, but birds were new territory for me.

“You’ll love having a bird,” my neighbor Constance told me. She was a singer—a beautiful singer with tawny skin and lips she painted merlot, which made her teeth flash whiter than white when she smiled. She wore printed dresses and tall heels, and had gotten a gig in a Broadway show. It was her big break, and she was moving closer to the city. She couldn’t bring the little bird with her. When she’d asked if I’d like her, for free, all supplies included, I’d said yes without hesitating. It was very unlike me. Hesitation was my middle name. And if Hesitation was my middle name, FEAR was my first. Capital letters. FEAR Hesitation Morris.

“I’m sad to be leaving her,” Constance said with a sincere frown. “But I know you’ll give her a good home. You’ll love her, Sonja. Sing with her. That’s what I do.”

“Mm.” Nodding in a non-committal way, I tried not to look as though I were second-guessing this all.

I was no singer, and as far as loving a bird went, I had my doubts, though I suspected I’d like her well enough. However, I couldn’t find fault with more company. Besides, I’d always liked birds in nature, and this was a sweet-faced little canary who trilled in her cage. It wasn’t a bad gift…or, um, donation. Scooting a stack of books and squat, green plant to the side, I set the bird’s cage in the middle of the antique pedestal table in my living room. It looked perfectly at home there, amidst the vintage, old-lady chic décor I’d mostly inherited with the apartment.

“Wait,” I said, as Constance left quickly, possibly afraid I’d change my mind and the spontaneous decision to accept the bird. “What’s her name? Does she…have one?”

“Of course.” She laughed. “Her name is Phinny.”

When the door closed, the bird stopped singing, slanted her head to one side, and assessed me.

“Well, hello, Phinny,” I said, awkwardly. And then I laughed. Why was I nervous about a bird? “Nice to meet you. I’m Sonja.”

And she opened her beak and sang again.

* * * *

Sometimes, I called her Phin, and she cocked her head and hopped as if she approved of the plucky nickname. When I opened the door of the cage and let her fly free, she stayed high, near the moldings of my old apartment’s ceiling, afraid to get too close to Louie. He, I watched with caution, lest he somehow manage to catch her, despite being a rather hefty cat with a sagging belly, and, I suspected, less-than-stellar hunting skills.

In time, we fell into a rhythm.

For a long time, it was just the three of us. The girl, the cat, the bird.

* * * *

I quickly grew accustomed to having a bird, and Louie loved to watch Phinny from his perch on the back of my armchair, or from the windowsill. She eyed him warily, and flapped away in fright if he got too close. If he heaved his sturdy self up onto the table where I’d placed her cage, I’d give him a healthy squirt of water from a spray bottle I kept nearby. Not only did I become protective of my little bird, but I looked to her for comfort. When I was sad, or bored, I liked to fold myself up in the armchair next to her table and peer into her cage, watching how she moved and how she watched me in return. Sometimes, she would sing and I’d mimic the tune, although it was just to show her I was listening, not so much to prove my skills at birdsong. Occasionally, when I took my place in the chair with a book or sketchpad, Louie sat on my lap, and I stroked his short, thick fur while he kneaded my chest. But whenever Phinny sang, even Louie stopped to listen, and the whole apartment became quiet. The outside, bustling city stilled, and everything seemed to make sense. The fear in my heart subsided, and I was able to breathe deeply.

I did so love to hear her sing.

* * * *

Like what you read so far? Then please click the buy links to download the full story!

Buy it on Amazon or Smashwords. (It’ll be available from other retailers sometime soon.)

Add it to your Goodreads list.

And finally, TELL YOUR FRIENDS.

Thanks everyone for your support. I couldn’t keep writing these stories without having someone to write them for. As an aside, Sonja Uncaged will not be including in my upcoming short story collection (Beach Glass & Other Broken Things) but it will be part of a future magical realism/fantasy/fabulism collection. But, shhhhh. Not quite talking about that yet…now, go read.

Have a fabulous New Year!

 

How to Get Unstuck E-book Release!

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How to Get Unstuck is the final individual story I’ll be publishing from my Women’s Fiction short story collection Beach Glass & Other Broken Things (announcement coming soon on the collection). It’s new! Never been online or published before, unlike Rousseau, Clementine, and Running*. Reminder: those stories are FREE! Here’s the synopsis for How to Get Unstuck:

A 3,000 word short story about a woman named Marty and how she copes with her break-up from her long-term partner. Will she finally learn to be alone? Or will she inevitably move on to a new relationship— as her ex Raina insists she will because Marty just “can’t be alone”? When Marty runs into a former student, the attractive, tattooed Shae, she has to cross the professional line she’s been so firm on holding, and fight her desire for companionship…right? Perhaps she’ll be better off on her own, or maybe she’ll stop caring so much about what Raina thinks, and give in to what she really wants. Which choice will make her happier? How to Get Unstuck is a story about one woman who loves relationships, hates to be alone, and must either accept or overcome those parts of herself.

Estimated reading time: 15-20 minutes.

I hope you’ll take a little time and spend the .99 to download it from Amazon or Smashwords. At some point it will be up on other sites, too.

Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads list!

Thanks for your support, my pals. Look for my next short story coming, about a woman and her canary and the Freaky Friday-like situation they find themselves in, which will be a departure from the realistic stories I’ve been doing lately. Sonja Uncaged will be “flying” your way in the next week or so (hopefully, just waiting on custom cover art).

But, back to the story of the day. Here’s a short excerpt:

Marty was a stuck woman. She was unsure how to get unstuck. She poured herself another vodka and sat in the vintage armchair in her living room. She’d kept the chair, insisted upon it, even though she and Raina had picked it out together in Chicago, and really, it was because of Raina that they had it in the first place. It was during one of their routine visits to the bustling city that Raina had dragged her into an overpriced boutique where they sold things with hefty price tags and always a “re” in front of the description: recycled, repurposed, reclaimed. Marty had tagged after her around the store, trying not to hover, yet attempting to appear interested whenever Raina looked over with the rapt expression she wore when she discovered treasures to bring back home. Raina liked having Marty’s full attention.

Besides the chair, which Marty had begrudgingly come to love, they’d also brought home hand-carved end tables, which were so “rustic” they appeared to have been attacked by a knife-wielding toddler. Raina had taken those, and good-riddance. Marty thought they were ugly as hell. Raina teased her that she just didn’t have high-end taste like her. But, the chair remained. A parting gift, Marty thought now, both hating the idea, and being rather pleased she’d gotten to keep it. Still, it was just a stupid chair. She swirled the alcohol in her mouth, and swallowed hard. She leaned back and golden strands of her hair fell against the cognac leather of the chair. The apartment was too empty after ten years of Raina’s company. Marty had forgotten how to be alone.

Sometimes it seemed as though Raina had moved out two years ago, and other times it felt like only two days, as if she would walk through the door any minute, throw off her coat, and ask Marty how classes were and what she was making for dinner. Marty had been the one who cooked; Raina had never mastered more than cheese trays for their dinner parties.

Without Raina in the background, the silence was too loud. It wasn’t so bad in the mornings, when Marty was rushing to get ready for work. It wasn’t so bad when she had papers to grade or a good book to read. However, in the time between tasks and pleasures, the solitude was deafening. Marty pushed herself up and walked across the living room, which Raina had decorated, to turn on some music, but the somber verse was too reflective of her mood, and she returned to the iPod dock with a stomp and switched it off right away. Then she slumped back in the chair, and took another long, cool gulp of vodka because she didn’t know what else to do with her dark mood. There seemed a black, cavernous emptiness on the left side of Marty’s chest. She hated it. She took another drink.

Marty knew their relationship hadn’t been perfect lately or even for the last few years. But she’d never been a seeker of perfection, even from her college students. She expected everyone to try, yes. She wanted passion, and interest, and effort, whether it was in her classroom, or in her relationships. Raina had been enough for her, and good in many ways. Marty needed companionship more than she needed perfection. She liked their messy life, with weekends at the farmer’s market, lunches with friends, and concerts. Raina was a music connoisseur. She collected vinyl records and mp3s the way some people collected salt shakers.

It was a Saturday night. Raina was probably at a show for a cool, indie musician (Marty loved The Beatles) or at an art gallery for a new artist’s opening, or out dancing, having a good time. She was only a few years younger than Marty’s forty-three, but much more fun. At least that’s how Marty had always felt. Or worried that Raina felt that way. Even now, brooding alone, Marty second-guessed her coping methods, and wondered if she should call a friend, or book a trip, somehow find something to celebrate. And then she resented that she couldn’t even be confident in her own choices, even now. But she had always cared too much about what Raina thought.

She’d liked that Raina had thought she was smart, funny, interesting. When Marty spoke about historical events—she was a history professor—her face was radiant. She talked with her hands. She made jokes that were actually funny. And Raina did love to laugh.

But then things stopped being funny. Instead of laughing at her jokes, Raina would stare at her blankly, as if waiting for a better punch line. Instead of reaching for her, Raina would turn away. Marty knew it was ending long before it ended.

***

Like what you read so far? Go read the rest of How to Get Unstuck! And happy Saturday!

*Running is free everywhere but Amazon. If you would help me out by “reporting a lower price” they may change it to the correct price faster. Thank you!

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

 

Hurray for Small Victories

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I know this might seem like a lame thing to get excited about. But, I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a big dork, so humor me, huh? ;)I was pleased to see The Peony and the Sun is ranked in the top 100 for Kindle Short Reads this morning! It comes in right at #100, and may or may not rise. But I am happy. It is pretty cool seeing it on that list.

Thank you all for supporting me and my stories. I couldn’t have these geeky moments without my readers ♡♡♡

The Peony and the Sun ended up peaking at #35!

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The Peony and the Sun Excerpt

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Since I just posted an excerpt from Ditch Flowers, I thought I’d also share a short sneak peek at my newest story, The Peony and the Sun, a “commuter fiction” (totally unsexy name for short stories that take 15-30 minutes to read) about a flower and those around her. Please, give it a read 🙂

The Peony and the Sun

 

 

There was once a flower who fell in love.

When she was born, under a flowering crabapple tree near the center of the garden, all the other flowers looked at her in wonder. She was the most beautiful flower they had ever seen. Her petals were as pink as the edges of sunrise; they were perfect ruffles of delicate lace. Her leaves and stem were a rich green, and she moved gently in the wind.

“She’s lovely!”

“Marvelous.”

“Stunning.”

The flowers praised her in awed, hushed tones—which was quite something, since flowers are notoriously vain. They would much rather compliment themselves than one another.

The flower, whose name was Peony, cast her eyes downward, and smiled shyly, but she fluttered her petals all the same, for she quite liked being admired. However, most of all, she wanted to know love. She’d known the longing for it from her first breath.

* * *

Peony grew strong, tall, and curious, and more beautiful every day. Her parents sheltered her at first but as she matured, they allowed her plenty of freedom. It was not unusual for her to talk to the other flowers in the garden all day long, and she even made friends with an insect or two, and once had a particularly interesting conversation with a robin. But still, Peony felt keenly that something was missing. During the days, she heard the laughter of a child nearby and, though she had no cause for unhappiness, she ached to feel that kind of joy—a joy that would come with love. She needed connection as much as she needed sunlight, shade, water, and air.

One day, she looked up to see someone she had never met before towering over her. He was a stranger, but he did not seem strange to her. He had brilliant golden petals and brown eyes.

“Oh!” She gasped. “Who are you?”

“I am Sunflower,” he said, bowing quite majestically.

“You are the sun,” she said.

He looked down at her and smiled lovingly. To him, she was the sun.

Sunflower leaned closer, and Peony stared at him, unable to catch her breath. He uncurled one of his leaves and entwined it with her own. Her heart bloomed, and she laughed out loud. In that moment, she had become pure joy. Her petals turned a touch darker.

* * *

They made each other smile every day. With his rich, contrasting colors, and her delicate softness, they made a handsome pair. He was commanding and powerful. She was the heart come to life—tender, and achingly beautiful. The other flowers in the garden teased them kindly, but let it be known they approved. Sunflower was a fine fellow—a good match for their beloved Peony. She only had eyes for him. Happiness bloomed all around her, but most of all, within.

When she asked Sunflower where he had come from, he said he was born from the sun, and it was clearly true. The sun was bright, and powerful, and sometimes it scared her how much she loved it. Sunflower could be too bright at times, and sometimes the depth of her love for him did scare Peony, but she was young, and out of everything in the whole, great world, she had seen nothing but her sheltered garden. To her, their love was the only love. She looked at Sunflower in a way no one else would look at him for the rest of his life, and he was a lucky flower, indeed.

For a long time, they were happy.

* * *

But, as stated before, flowers are vain creatures. And when an adult human came into the garden, the flowers around Peony preened like birds for his attention. They knew humans, especially the grown kind, could be dangerous, but they seemed to forget momentarily. Sunflower remembered. And he said in a panic, “Look away! Hide yourself!”

The other flowers heeded his warning, and some even cowered in fear as the strange being’s trampling feet came nearer. But Peony didn’t look away. She’d never seen a human so close before.

Her leaves trembled in excitement. The human leaned over her, and she knew with a kind of dazzling fright that he had chosen her. She was the most beautiful flower in the garden, after all.

Sunflower hissed at her, “Stop showing off! Or you’ll be sorry.”

Why should she be sorry? She peered behind the human at Sunflower, but he refused to look at her. Was he envious that she showed her beauty off to a human instead of him? Perhaps even jealous the human preferred her? Or was he actually frightened she would be harmed? If he was really afraid for her, why wasn’t he doing anything? Why didn’t he try to save her, if he loved her so much?

Sunflower didn’t seem so powerful now, and Peony’s heart dropped in disappointment. Why wasn’t he doing anything?

Peony looked toward the human and fluffed up her petals in a bold display. There. She might be the prettiest, most dainty thing in the garden, but she was no coward. She was strong. She wasn’t afraid. Let Sunflower shrink away in fear. When this was all over, she would laugh at him and then soothe his wounded pride—but he would have to apologize first and kiss her gently. He had let her down, after all. But she would forgive him. As soon as the human man left, she would make up her mind to do so.

The man reached out his hand and picked her.

* * *

Like what you’ve read? Buy the whole story here.

Thanks for reading!

Short Story Release!

Today is the day. I’m a bit nervous. Mostly, though, I am happy to share that my new short story is available now on Amazon Kindle! The story is called The Peony and the Sun, and is somewhat of a magical realism/fabulism story. 

It is about a flower, and a little boy, and the relationships in both their lives. The first line came to me out of nowhere, as I mentioned in my last post, and then the story took off from there quickly, with plenty of motivation and passion. I was driven to write it. It holds a special place in my heart, and I hope others will enjoy the story. It is bittersweet, touching, and poignant, and suitable for older children to adults. Plus, The Peony and the Sun is perfect for those who are short on time (who isn’t these days?) coming in at 19 pages total. 

Check out the cover reveal, synopsis and buy link below. Thanks for sharing in my self-publishing debut. It was both easier, and slightly more difficult than I thought. I found it interesting, and almost without stress, though. And I plan on doing it again. Someday. For today, I’m focusing on this:

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“There was once a flower who fell in love.”

So begins this short tale of a flower and those around her. The Peony and the Sun is a story, old-fashioned in its telling, about the ways love can manifest in different relationships. It is a fable, simply told, about the power of actions over words, the beauty of nature, and the tenderness and strength of the heart. Yet, it is first and foremost a love story, between two flowers, between partners who have lost their way, and between the peony and the little boy who saves her—or tries to. The Peony and the Sun is a bittersweet story about friendship, expectation, and above all, love.

Duration: 19 pages

Estimated Reading Time: approximately 15-30 minutes

Buy it now

Add it to Goodreads

See my Pinterest board

Check out my cover designer and editor

Thank you, everyone! ♡

 

 

Another Acceptance

My short story Clementine has been accepted for publication with Portage Magazine. Woot!!! This is one of my favorite stories and I’ve tried different avenues before having luck with Portage. In the next month or so it will be published and I’ll add the info to my Published Work tab. Let’s just say for now, it involves a scorned woman, and citrus cheesecake.

Yay!