Posted in Friday Reads, Uncategorized

Friday’s Featured Authors: Young Writers Attempt Flash Fiction

Hello! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything different. I’ve had an exciting summer and an incredible fall, full of unique experiences I hope to share with you over the coming months.

cda_imageWelcome to Friday’s Featured Author. This week, I have a surprise for you. One of the best parts of being a teacher is seeing the results that happen when you’ve done your job well. Tracy Champagne, a teacher at Char-Lan District High School and one of my former students, invited me to visit her grade 7 and grade 8 English classes to talk about writing. I decided that while talking is great, doing leaves a lasting impression, and as every aspiring writer knows, publishing is best.  Basically my own variation on Give a man a fish versus teach a man to fish.

So, I promised those aspiring writers, and those who weren’t, that I would publish their creations on my blog and here they are. Some showed more promise than others, but it’s our differences as Canadians that make us great. While we need writers, we need mathematicians and scientists, too. To all of the students I say, job well done!

Flash Fiction was the topic for the day. While you or I can crank out more than 5,000 words a day, I figured a bit less was a better fit for these twelve and thirteen-year-olds.

What is Flash Fiction? Essentially, it’s fiction that is short—anywhere from a few words to 1,000—and is complete. It doesn’t have to resolve the issues in it, but it has to leave you with something.

After making sure that the students understood the difference between fact and fiction, I began my ‘lesson’ with the drabble, an extremely short example of Flash Fiction. This one is credited to Ernest Hemingway:

baby shoesFor sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

What a wealth of meaning can be conveyed in six words. We talked about the piece and what it meant. I must say, I was surprised to see that most of the kids had positive reasons why the shoes might not have been worn—wrong size, wrong color, didn’t fit right, etc.

Then I gave them the opportunity to write their own Flash Fiction—not with six words, since that would be way too hard, but using 50 to 100 words—some gave me far more than that. Since we all know young people get bogged down in the details and need more direction, I gave both word and picture prompts. For the words, the first five of which I’ve underlined in each selection, they had to choose one for each of the six categories:

  1. A color
  2. A time of the year
  3. A word related to weather
  4. The name of a person
  5. A day of the week
  6. Any other word they’d like

 

HelloAgain-ebook-smallAnd here is the picture I gave them. That’s right, the cover from Hello Again. After all, I was there as a writer. They needed to see I’d published something.

The students were divided into groups and told they had 25 minutes. Here’s what they accomplished. Please note, they love cliffhangers! I would love to see what these stories would look like is they were continued. Lots of imagination  and creativity here as well as a little Hollywood Magic—The work has been edited slightly. I’ve categorized them and given titles to those that had none.

To the students, apologies if I misread your words because of spelling or penmanship.

Please note: for reasons of privacy, there are no names on the work. Examples come from both grades in no particular order.

# 1 The Close Call. (Adventure)

Jason, get up! It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means!” Ann shouted up the stairs

“I know, Ann. The big meeting at work,” Jason growled.

“It looks pretty cloudy outside today,” Ann said, sounding quite concerned.

“That’s because it’s spring, honey,” Jason said, coming down the stairs.

They jumped into the car and pulled out of their laneway.

“Can we turn on the radio? I’m getting nervous,” Ann asked.

“Weather Alert! Tornado warning! Tornado warning!” the radio blared.

The winds picked up instantly. Now that she looked out the window, Ann could see the faint outline of a black tornado forming.

“Step on it, Jason!” Ann screamed, panicking.

The tornado zoomed by, but Ann and Jason made it to safety in time.

“That was a close call,” Jason said, relieved.

# 2 Spaghetti Squash (Paranormal)

It rained a lot that fall, especially that Tuesday. I’ll never forget that day. I was wearing my new, blue dress, because I was going out to a spaghetti squash dinner with my friend Berrycloth. Spaghetti squash is our favorite.

But wait! There was a noise. We looked out the window and saw a tornado. No! … Wait! It was a wolf-nado, a tornado of wolves coming right at us.

I turned to Berrycloth and screamed, “What the heck is going on?”

“There’s something I haven’t told you,” Berrycloth answered. “I’ve been cursed by the wolves and now they’re coming after us, but I know how to stop it. Grab the spaghetti squash and follow me.”

I snatched the squash and we darted out of the building, and that’s where our story really began…

# 3 Texas Storm. (Adventure)

It was a special Saturday for the boys that Easter weekend, and they were partying in Texas. Harrison wore his lucky orange shirt, but he wasn’t lucky this time. On his way home, he turned on the radio in time to hear the alert. He was heading into a hurricane. The weather got worse and he started to panic. Suddenly, he swerved and went off the road…

# 4 Icicles and Accidents: (Horror)

One dark and snowy Friday the 13, 1998, during the winter, the cars were frozen solid, their sides white with salt. It was so cold, Terry was crying, and an icicle formed in his nose. He was attacked by Jason who pulled the icicle out of his nose, stumbling back onto the road where he stepped in a hole and was knocked over by a car. Terry ran off but fell going down the stairs.

# 5 The Jumper Zombie (Horror)

In a helicopter, there was a man in a black shirt and a girl in a gray shirt. It was Tuesday, October 11th, 2080 a stormy day, a day to avoid the Zombie Apocalypse. Jimmy had to save her. There was a jumper zombie with a twelve-gauge shotgun on the hilltop. He fired and the helicopter went down. The zombie died from the recoil from the gun and the debris from the helicopter. …

# 6 The Tylers (Adventure)

It was a black, stormy Friday during the summer. Two people, both named Tyler, were chasing a tornado with their wolf named Tyler, too. The woman Tyler was sad for some reason, while the man Tyler was happy-go-lucky. The car got caught in the tornado, and landed on spikes, which blew out the tires and the car fell into the water. Now the woman was happy and the man was sad because the tornado had destroyed his car.

# 7 All About Me (Adventure)

One dark, stormy Friday in the middle of fall, Susanne Matthews was taking out the garbage when she spotted a tornado. It was very gray and was coming closer. Susanne ran inside into her basement and found the safest place to hide while she waited for the tornado to pass…

# 8 Coloured Rain (Fantasy)

One day, there was a boy named Paul whose best friend was Helen. When Helen saw Paul, she said, “Hello Paul, did you hear that it’s going to rain on Wednesday, March 11th?

“What colour will the rain be?” Paul asked.

Blue, of course,” Helen answered…

# 9 Raccoon Snipers (Sci-fi with a touch of Groot and the Guardians of the Galaxy)

It was January second. The New Year’s activities were over. I sat in my purple chair by the window on this snowy Wednesday afternoon. Now that my beloved husband had left, I was alone with my plant, Roderick. My husband had gone to fight in the annual raccoon war. The raccoons had taken over this winter and now I sat inside with only a plant for company. Suddenly, I heard a noise at the window. Raccoon snipers!

“Be brave, Roderick,” I whispered.

I ran and ran while my glorious Roderick battled the raccoons. I never saw him again. R.I.P Roderick.

And that is where my journey began…

# 10 KFC Supper (Romance/Fantasy)

On Friday, September 15, Jeff and Olivia were at KFC having a romantic supper, looking down at the blue chicken It was a very windy day. Later that night, their dog started barking at the window. Jeff and Olivia went to the window and saw a tornado coming at them. They ran to their basement and heard loud noises. Once the sounds stopped, they went up the stairs. Their house was the only one left standing. They were lucky.

# 11 The Last Man on Earth (Sci-Fi)

It is the year 4055 and I am the last person on Earth, with only my pet Roxy for company. I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Edwin Fugerison.

It all started on a cloudy summer day. The radio was announcing that there was going to be a massive storm, but I didn’t think it would get that bad. The sky was light brown, the wind strong and then, all of a sudden, there was a tornado. I ran to shelter and waited twelve hours. When I got out of the shelter, I knew from the destruction around that I was the only one left, I searched anyway.

On Saturday, I met Vironica who thought she was alone, too.  We got together and had a kid named Jim.

That leads us back to today…

# 12 A Scary Pitch-Black Night (Horror)

 On one scary Halloween night, a stormy night, a man named Michael Myers went insane because of a past tragedy. Some of his family died. A few years later, on a Wednesday, he hunted down the rest of his family. He was caught and put in prison, but he escaped and went after the rest of his family. He still roams around, looking for and chasing his little sister every Halloween night to this very day.

# 13 The Last Thing I Saw (Paranormal)

“Help,” I cried out on Friday the Thirteenth. “I’m tied to a tree while a big tornado was going on behind me with lightning crashing into the water.

Oh no. Someone’s approaching me! Good. It’s my best friend.

“Help,” I cried out again.

She ran up to me. “I have to leave before it’s too late.”

“No! Help me first.”

I looked back and saw a giant wolf. She walked over to me, and the last thing I saw blackness…

# 14 Tornado Warning (Romance/Adventure)

One Sunday, driving along in our faded gray car, coming back from our vacation, my fiancé Blake decided to turn on the radio. As he did, the radio warned of an approaching tornado. We acted quickly and hurried through the cold darkness to a gas station bathroom. We waited in there for a couple of hours, then decided to check outside. We realized the tornado had passed, and when we went to our car, we saw that it hadn’t been destroyed. We got in and headed home.

# 15 Halloween Night Walk (Romance/Paranormal)

On Tuesday, Halloween night, Becky and John went for a walk in the woods. While they were walking, all of a sudden, they heard a big bang. The wind started to pick up. When they saw the tornado, they started running imagining they saw a wolf’s head in the tornado. When they got back home, they were so tired, they collapsed to the ground…

# 16 Baby Shoes (Adventure)

One day, in April of 1966, a kid named Glenn went with is parents to a garage sale. They saw a blue pair of baby shoes. They had never been worn. While they were looking at them, it got really windy, which didn’t really surprise them since it was Friday the Thirteenth. Eventually, it got so windy and warm, a tornado formed. They had to run back home quickly because they didn’t want to be pulled away. Glenn ran back for the baby shoes and when he got to them, he saw a wolf standing nearby. Everyone was scared, but the wolf was nice. They took the wolf home and survived the tragedy. They’ve been together ever since. Later on in Glenn’s life, the wolf would save him again.

# 17 The Couple Stuck in the Typhoon (Adventure/Romance)

One day, while we were in Germany, my husband and I went on a hike. All of a sudden, the sky turned dark gray and the wind picked up. It was a Friday evening and the weather had been nice before it changed on us. My husband, Joe, thought it was just cloudy, but suddenly typhoon-like weather struck. I thought this shouldn’t be happening here in December when it was about to snow, but it did. Sadly, Joe and I were separated during the storm. I later learned he’d died. My life will never be the same after that day.

# 18 Cult (Horror)

On a Wednesday night, with a storm blaring outside, Susan was chained to a table. Her eyes fluttered open and she saw some strange people wearing red robes with symbols on them. They probably meant something to the people, but nothing to her.

Then one figure came forward and pulled off his mask. AS he moved toward her, a low chant started. The face behind the mask belonged to her brother, Eddie!

“Hello Susan.”

Before she could answer, pain spread through her starting at her ears and she screamed…

 

There you have it. From the wild imagination of young teens and preteens. Maybe one of them will be an author one day.

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Posted in Friday Reads, Uncategorized

Feel Good Friday Reads: A Taste of Forever and Always

Picture 438

Good morning. It’s a beautiful sunny, if frigid, Friday morning, despite the fact the calendar says it’s March. If my mother-in-law were still alive today, she’d be 100. Since she was a great supporter of my wring talent back when it was in its infancy, before I actually chose to try my hand at writing and was still playing around with poetry, I thought I’d start something different today in here honor.

I blog here every Tuesday in Tuesday Tales, Wednesday in the Midweek Tease, and occasionally on Sunday when I have a Review by Sue. The rest of the week is hit or miss. Once in a while, I’ll have a Throwback Thursday, or host a promo for a fellow author, but I haven’t really used my blog for me or to promote and share my work. So I thought I’d start Feel Good Friday Reads and give myself an opportunity to tell you something behind one of my published works and give you a taste of it.

Since this is my first Feel Good Friday Reads post, I’m going to share my latest release with you.

photo-1446476012059-4f9c278d54d5Forever and Always grew out of a Christmas story I wrote for my blog last year. Originally entitled, Where There’s a Will, it was published as part of the Adventures in Love anthology. I’ve always loved the idea of being a ballerina, even when my father told me I had all the grace and talent of a baby hippo, but like so many other things in my life, I never acted on my desire to learn to dance. As a mother, I made sure my daughter did, spending countless Saturday  mornings at ballet and jazz dance classes, and was thrilled when she qualified for the program of the arts dance courses in high school, but she was an athlete first, and a dancer second, putting all her energy into basketball and perfecting her three-point shots–six of them in her women’s league baksetball game last night! Still,  I’ll never forget that final dance review when she came out on stage in a pink tutu and red basketball shoes.

But my fscination with the dance didn’t end there. I’ve always admired the commitment it took to perfect an ability like that. I know the countless hours that go into writing a book, but dancing like that, forcing the body to move in unnatural ways in point shoes–now that’s dedication.

On Wednesday, Forever and Always was released as a stand-alone book. The 18,000 word novella is perfect for someone with an hour to spare who wants to read a story from start to finish. If you commute by train, subway, or bus, this might be the ideal quick read for you.

When I was contemplating writing a Valentine’s Day story this year, I kept being drawn back to that 3,000 word Christmas story that felt unfinished. There was so much more to Jarrett and Brandi’s story, and I needed to tell it. That fundraiser might’ve brought them together, but we all know  true love is never that easy.

I got to thinking of Brandi and her situation. I’m a sucker for tragic heroines, and  happily ever afters. There’d be very little room in a professional dancer’s life for anything but the dance, but what if that were taken away from her suddenly, leaving her bereft? How would she cope with losing the only thing that ever mattered to her, the ability to dance. Recently, the ability to do what she loves best was taken unfairly from a friend of mine, and I think that’s behind my recent penchant for stories where heroines have suffered tragic loss.

I considered all the ramifications of life as a prima ballerina–hours of rehersals, sacrifices for the art, crazed fans, and the story took on more flesh. A loss that substantial would inevitably be followed by the stages of grieving–denial, anger, depression, and in the end, acceptance, but what if the man who truly cared for her got caught in the grieving process? What if a jealous person stirred the pot and made things worse? And what if something kept him form coming to her as soon as he should have?

So many questions to answer!

When I hurt, I tend to hide myself away. My heroines often do, too. Where would Brandi hide, and if she did, how would Jarrett ever find her?

forever&always-001(1)The blurb:

Ballet is the only thing Brandi Alexandra Jameson has ever known. When an accident leaves her dance partner dead and herself unable to dance again, she tries to accept the situation, but some pain goes too deep to be set aside so easily. Lost, alone, frightened, all she wants to do is hide away, but her family has a different idea.

Jarrett Sullivan has been in love with Brandi from the first day he saw her and blackened a kid’s eye for calling her names. Shy, unsure of himself, he stayed in the background, looking out for her, but before he could make his move, she left Victoria for the stage in Toronto. Now that she’s back, he’ll do whatever it takes to win her heart. After badgering her sister, he earns the right to escort the woman he’s always wanted to the event of the year.

When Brandi discovers Jarrett paid an exorbitant amount for an Alexandra Jameson poster, she assumes he’s lied to her and is nothing but another crazed fan. Her heart broken she flees Victoria and ends up in Geneva where she hopes to learn to cope with what’s happened to her.

Can Jarrett find her and explain what happened or will a spiteful woman’s half-truths keep them apart forever?

Forever and Always is an Amazon exclusive available from all Amazon sites: 

Now, here is a taste of Forever and Always, this week’s Feel Good Friday Reads.

Moving into the kitchen area, Brandi reached for the kettle, almost dropping it when the familiar strains of The William Tell Overture announced her sister’s call. The thought of letting it go to voice mail briefly surfaced, but that would only bring Jane racing across town expecting the worst. Reluctantly, sitting on one of the wooden chairs surrounding the butcher block table, she picked up the phone, dreading the conversation to follow. She’d rehearsed her words declining the invitation to tonight’s charity Christmas party. Jane meant well but she was like a dog with a bone, so insistent at times it felt more like bullying than a loving sister’s concern. She pressed the call answer button on the fifth ring.

 

“Hey, Jane, what’s up?”

“What took you so long?” Jane asked, her voice filled with a mixture of suspicion, annoyance, and concern, but Brandi was certain annoyance would win out in the end.

“I just came inside. I was decorating outside.”

“What? Are you crazy? You know you’re not supposed to exert yourself.”

Brandi laughed. “Obviously, you’ve never seen one of Adrianne’s sessions.”

“Adrienne is a trained physiotherapist. You, on the other hand….”

“I feel fine.” The white lie slipped off her tongue effortlessly. “I suppose you called about the Christmas party tonight. I’ve thought about it, and decided I can’t make it after all.”

“You just said you were fine,” her sister challenged suspiciously. “You promised you’d come,” Jane continued, playing the hurt card that inevitably got her what she wanted.

“I promised I’d think about it. I have, and after careful consideration, I’ve decided I can’t. If it were any other night… I know you’re trying to do what you think is best,” Brandi said. “But I’m not ready to face strangers.”

If she were a turtle, she’d crawl inside her shell and wait until she was, but would that day ever come?

“Brandi, for heaven’s sake.” Her sister’s voice was filled with frustration, the hurt momentarily forgotten. “At this rate, you’re never going to be ready. There won’t be a single person here tonight you haven’t met before. My God, you performed in front of thousands. There’s no way I’ll let you shovel any bullshit about stage fright. You didn’t die in that accident, and there’s no reason to act as if you did.”

“I’m not comfortable driving the car in the dark yet,” Brandi continued with the speech she’d planned, knowing damn well she had nothing to be afraid of. It was sixty degrees outside. There’d be no freezing rain tonight to ruin her life like there had been a year ago.

“Not a problem. Tom’s cousin Jarrett offered to pick you up. You’re on his way. You must remember him. He was one of the ushers at our wedding. I think you two actually went to school together.”

If she didn’t want to go before, Brandi was definitely dead-set against it now.

She remembered Jarrett Sullivan all too well—him and the gorgeous blonde who’d clung to him like Velcro at the wedding and had shot invisible daggers at her from behind venom-filled eyes. But that memory wasn’t the one she cherished deep in her heart.

Jarrett, a grade ahead of her, had been her hero. She’d never forget the boy who’d carried her books home when she’d had her hands full, the one who’d stood up to the bullies who teased her about her hair color and her small stature; the only one who’d asked her to dance at the sixth grade graduation dance, firmly entrenching himself in her heart. But, three years later when she’d moved from middle school and entered high school, the captain of the football team had changed. He still spoke to her, asked her how things were going, but he teased her, calling her names, not realizing how much the loss of his caring concern and friendship had hurt—Hey, Scotch; Saw you dance last night, Bourbon; Looking good, Gin; Did you finish that math assignment, Vodka?; and of course his painful, off-key rendition of The Four Season’s Sherry—he’d called her by the name of every alcoholic beverage but her own, except at the wedding when they’d danced for the second time in eleven years.

You’ve grown into a beautiful woman, Brandi. His words echoed in her head, but then Pavel had claimed her and the blonde bombshell had whisked him away. Now, Pavel was dead as was her career as a ballerina. Her last performance had been as the Sugarplum Fairy. She’d never even finished the run—the freezing rain had seen to that.

“I don’t know. I get nervous in any car, and it’s just worse at night….”

“Brandi Alexandra Jameson, I just knew you’d pull a stunt like this, and I won’t let you ruin this party for me.”

Yeah, it’s all about you, Jane. What about me? What about my pain?

“It’s three o’clock, now,” her sister continued. “He’ll be there to pick you up at five. I suggest you get your ass in gear. He’s got orders to carry you out kicking and screaming if he has to.”

“He wouldn’t dare. I’m not ten anymore. You’re not the boss of me, your majesty, even if you think you are,” she cried, defiantly, tears welling up in her eyes. “You’re not being fair.”

“Fair has nothing to do with this. You may not be ten, but you’re acting like a child, and I for one am fed up with your little pity party. You need to put this behind you before you drown in your own sorrows. It’s for your own good, and Mom and Dad agree, so unless you want to end up here in your pajamas, or worse, get dressed.”

She winced as Jane ended the call with a satisfactory slam of the phone, something impossible to do with a cellphone, and stuck out her tongue, the childish gesture of defiance making her feel better momentarily but, knowing Jane, she’d make good on her threat.

“Damn! I should’ve stayed in Toronto,” she said, aloud, her voice echoing in the empty house.

That’s it. Have a great weekend!