Tag Archives: flash fiction

How I Got Back On Track With Writing Resolutions

My quivering computer awaiting my first words of 2014.  (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

My quivering computer awaiting my first words of 2014. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

At the end of 2013, I am sitting at my computer, wondering how to sum up the year and whether or not I should set some goals for 2014.

Why did I fail to reach so many goals in 2013?  Was it because I took too big a bite, trying to do NaNoWriMo, and an online magazine column, two novels, three blogs, and a book of flash fiction stories?

Was it because of my body betraying me in a number of poor health ways?

Was it because I couldn’t get organized and had a mess on my desk and a clutter in my head?

As I ponder, I decide that each of the above reasons had something to do with falling woefully short of my goals. A small something.  How did I arrive at that somewhat startling conclusion?  Because I have really wanted to accomplish something in the past…a number of somethings…and ended up finishing them ahead of time.  Each of these goals had been as big as 2013’s targets.

"Witchcanery" by Sandra Bell Kirchman, First Editiion, pub. 2007 by FantasyFic

“Witchcanery” by Sandra Bell Kirchman, First Edition, pub. 2007 by FantasyFic

The key here was “wanting.”  I really wanted to accomplish them.  So did that mean I didn’t want to accomplish my writing goals for the past year?  No.  I definitely did want to finish my Nano entry and ended up in emergency instead.  The entry was the sequel to my published novel Witchcanery.

I had, in the past, had customers (fans) who made me promise that I would write the sequel to Witchcanery before they agreed to buy it.  They had read the dust jacket and wouldn’t even start such a “fascinating book”–their words, not mine–unless I agreed to do the sequel.

So the sequel had been in the works for several years and I had promised myself that 2013 was the year Witchcanery, Baby! would explode into being.  (As you probably know, you have to complete 50,000 words before you achieve the NaNoWriMo goal.) I got as far as 22,000+ words before Mother Nature pulled the plug on me.

And seconds after writing those last words, I received an epiphany.  There is a difference between “wanting” and “being dedicated to.”  And therein lies the difference.  I have been dedicated to accomplishing many things in the past, and EVERY SINGLE ONE was accomplished.

These goals ran from marrying the man I love, to finishing, editing and publishing my first book (which happened to be Witchcanery).  I have wanted many things in the past (and many of them were important) things like pierced ears (ouch!), continuing my volunteer work, losing weight…some I achieved or received…others I did not.

What's my priority?

What’s my priority? Photo credit: Stuart Miles | Freedigitalphotos.com

Now, here’s the kicker.  I felt fulfillment for EACH dedicated goal I achieved. Not many of them gave me real satisfaction if I achieved them.  I wanted a couple of writing courses, which I acquired after a small struggle.  I was sorry I had spent my money on them.

So what does this discrepancy mean to me?  It boils down to one thing for me.  It’s the difference between needs and wants, as simple as that.  And something I have know about since I was in my 20’s.  If I perceive it as a need, even subconsciously, then, being the survivor that I am, I will make sure I accomplish it.  If it’s only a want, I will prioritize it as to how badly I want it.  Even then, there is no guarantee I will get it.

So I’m sitting here, feeling a tad smug for having figured out what went wrong in 2013 (and quite likely how I messed up with my goals in other years).  I have a chance to right all the wrongs, like Ebenezer Scrooge after the visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Proposed bookcover for "Witchcanery, Baby!"

Proposed bookcover for “Witchcanery, Baby!”

So the first thing I will put on my list for 2014 is completing Witchcanery, Baby! You want to know what happened there?  I was trying to complete it in 2013 for the wrong reasons…because fans wanted this sequel, because I had written in some parts for friends whose husbands had passed, and it was very comforting to them.  So I had to finish it, right?

Wrong!  It’s like dieting.  If I try to lose weight because my husband wants me to, or my kids, or my best friend (for some strange reason), then it’s not for me.  Body weight is personal…so is writing.  If I finish a story because I NEED to, then I have the write…er, right…of it.  And now, all the other reasons don’t matter.  I know I need to finish this story.  I can hardly wait for Dec. 31, 2014 to find out if it worked.  I’ll keep you posted.

So, how about you?  What keeps you from accomplishing your New Year’s Resolutions or any goals you decide to earmark for completion?  Here’s a post by Daphne Gray-Grant that I just read about using the right word when making goals.  I think it might help.

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Farewell, Dolly, My Love

This is Day 3 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers workshop.  We were to get up two hours earlier than usual and write non-stop–no reading email or scanning news, just write.  It’s a lucky thing my dogs woke me at 6:15 am because my husband forgot.  I dragged myself out of bed, then remembered why I was getting up and got all happy.  I couldn’t wait to get to my computer because, for once, what I was writing was just for me. 

We could write anything we wanted, and I decided it would take too long to sort out my long-neglected WIP, so I wrote a flash fiction story instead.  It took me 1.5 hours to write it and proof it.  It is just under 1,000 words, and I thought you would like to see it.

~~~

Farewell, Dolly, My Love

by Sandra Bell Kirchman 

Sighing, Benny walked up the steps of his front porch and sat down at the top.  She’d said no.  How could she have turned him down?  After all the practising he had done, the right way to court a lady, the affection he had showered her with.  Surely, she had known his intentions.  How unkind of her to keep on receiving his suit and his little presents, then rejecting him.  Anger stirred briefly.  She’d said she was considering her options but had decided to eliminate Benny as a prospect.  He was too short, she’d said.

Anger dissolved as fast as it had come.  No use getting mad.  She was right; he was short…she was taller at the shoulders than he by a couple of inches.  Height or lack of it never mattered to him, but he guessed females were different.  He stared across the park to her house, wondering what she was doing now.  The sun shone like a beacon of hope, ignoring his broken heart.  She was probably sunning herself in her backyard.  She loved finding a good sunspot to lie down in and let the heat bake her bones.

The favored suitor was likely that Frenchie down the street, what was his name?  Monsoor Pee-air?  Some silly thing like that.  Benny had seen him running in the park, quite the athletic jerk, always running and jumping and showing off.  But he was taller than Dolly.  Such a shallow thing to break his heart over.

Used under CC license from Roland’s Photostream – Roland Tanglao

He got up, shook himself to clear his mind, deciding against going into the house just yet.  He didn’t want to face anyone, least of all his family.  If they sensed he was going through some kind of crisis, they would turn themselves inside out trying to help.  He couldn’t face that sort of sympathy right now.

Trotting around to the backyard, he found his quiet spot under the burr oak tree right at the end of the yard.  The property backed onto a golf course, separated only by a chain fence.  Fortunately, no one was playing.  Too early on a Monday morning probably.  He was surrounded by quiet green, which soothed his spirit.

He sat and tried not to think of Dolly, the way her eyes shone when she was happy, the blonde sleekness of her, the cute uptilt of her nose.  He shook his head.  This was not what he wanted to be contemplating.  People who noticed said it was puppy love and how cute was that?  Benny knew differently.  Puppy love, be darned.

And now his heart was in two pieces, still beating in his chest but leaving him less than fully alive.

Mom appeared on the back step and called, “Benny, come here.  Mom has breakfast for you.”

The last thing in the world Benny wanted was food.  He considered not going in.  Without her glasses, Mom was nearsighted as three blind mice and wouldn’t see him if he stayed still.

“Benny, where are you?” Mom called again.  Benny heard the irritation in her voice and remembered she had an early doctor’s appointment that morning.  He didn’t want to upset her.  Even if he had said goodbye to Dolly’s feeble “I hope we can still be friends” speech, he still had Mom and Jeff and Chris and his friend Angus a few doors down.  Well, Angus was just Angus, and Jeff and Chris were still kids, but Mom was the best person in the whole world.

Slowly, he got to his feet and shook himself, then ambled up the path to the back door.

“There you are!” Mom exclaimed.  “You haven’t been out all night, have you?  You look bedraggled.”

Benny didn’t say anything.  He walked past Mom into the house.  He walked passed his breakfast and into the living room, reached the couch and lay down.  Mom followed him and stood in the doorway for a few moments watching him with a worried look.

Then, grabbing her purse, she hurried to the back part of the house.  Benny lay still.  He could hear her talking to Jeff, the oldest boy.

“You’re in charge for a couple of hours, honey,” she said.  “Make sure Chris eats his breakfast.  And keep an eye on Benny, will you?  He seems out of sorts…hope he’s not coming down with something.”

“Sure, Mom,” Jeff replied.

Jeff was a good kid.  Benny had helped raise him the last few years.  Mom needed lots of help, because Dad had been really sick at the time.  He knew they all sort of depended on him.

As if he knew Benny had been thinking about him, which was a relief from not thinking about Dolly, Jeff came into the living room.  He patted him on the back and murmured, “What’s the problem, old fella?  Got spring fever?”

Old?  Him, old?  It hadn’t occurred to him that people might view him as old.  Maybe that’s why Dolly had spurned him…but no, she had said he was too short, not too old.

Jeff scratched behind his ear and Benny couldn’t help wriggling with pleasure.  His ears were nearly always itchy because of the hair that grew inside them.  He loved having them scratched.

“You’ll be all right, Benny,” Jeff assured him.  “Just relax and have a nap.  Your breakfast will still be there when you get up.”

Benny sighed, sat up and scratched a rib itch, then stood and circled for a moment, looking for the perfect spot.  He found it and lay down, nose tucked neatly under his tail.  He could not think of Dolly later.

Copyright © 2012 by Sandra Bell Kirchman
All rights reserved.

Despair

Oatmeal and cornflakes Christmas cookies

"So I make him cookies when my husband is gone..." Image via Wikipedia

Once again, Fantasyfic writer Eric Esteb has written a chilling flash fiction story that still gives me the shivers.  He has kindly offered to let me post it here for him as a guest writer.  Thanks, Eric.

* * *
Despair

by Eric Esteb

Despair is a man who lives on my street.

I believe in being a good neighbor, and my husband is gone on business a lot, and toddlers aren’t the great company you might expect. He seems lonely, when I see him (which isn’t often to be honest) I feel his nature wash over me. It drives the others on the street away, even the local teens, bored and wasted on hormones leave him alone, but it just makes me want to talk to him.

Despair is middle-aged and lives alone. I’ve never seen a woman coming or going, early in the morning when the sprinklers run, and when it’s day time he only ever wears the same ratty looking robe and unkempt, spotty beard. At night he wears an old black suit but the beard stays.

He’s the kind of person you might worry about… you know when you read in the paper about a neighbor noticing a funny smell coming from someone’s garage. Sometimes I worry I’m going to be that person, telling the paper, “I’m as shocked as anybody! I thought he was just quiet, if I had known he was in such a bad way I would have helped!”

So I make him cookies when my husband is gone and leave them on his door step with his paper (which I pull out of his unwatered rose-bush) on the weekends.

Only recently has he started taking them. He leaves the platter on my doorstep when he leaves his house late at night. I seem to be getting through to him, and im happy but there is something else. Something in the pit of my stomach twists, when I drop my son off at day care, or make love to husband or have tea with my girlfriends it’s like a part of me isn’t there any longer.

I don’t know if I’m going to keep making the cookies to leave the man named Despair just a few doors down from mine.

People say cookies are made with love. I know this is going to sound crazy but it’s almost like he’s taking that little bit of myself that gets baked into those little cookies and taking it for himself. What would the reporter from the paper say when someone complains of a bad smell and they get around to asking me why I quit. “It was your cookies keeping him going Debra.”

“It’s what he lived for.”

So I guess I can spare a little more of myself. I want to be a good neighbor.

428 words
Copyright (c) 2011 by Eric Esteb
All rights reserved.

Dark

The Cave

Image via Wikipedia

We have a guest blogger today who has become fascinated with flash fiction.  His name is Eric Esteb, and he is a screenwriter by profession.  He is also a member of the writers at my FantasyFic forum.  Two of his wonderful stories were accepted as part of the anthology, Birth of a Unicorn and Other Stories, edited by me and published by FantasyFic Publishing.
This is Eric’s first foray into our blogosphere, so please make him welcome.
* * *
Dark
by Eric Esteb
“There are spiders in there.””So? Are you scared?” Erin asked mockingly.

“No, I’m not scared,” Arnie swallowed hard and looked into the darkness of the hole under the old dead tree. He was smart enough to know that Erin and her friends had brought him here to torment him, but he’d come because he had always fancied her, throw in the fact that she had developed earlier than all the other girls in his class and…

His current predicament was a foregone conclusion. He turned and looked at Erin; she nodded for him to go.

“If you’re just gonna chicken out Arnie, tell us now so we can get out of the sun.”

“I just need to bring out a rock?”

The girl smiled. “Yep! To prove you went all the way in.”

It was dark in the cave, too dark to see after Arnie had gone around a bend in the path. The air was humid and heavy, somewhere, deeper within the cave it sounded like the earth was breathing.

Hands slick with mud Arnie groped his way along the sweating walls of the narrow cavern. After a few minutes the ground evened out and the path widened. Suddenly Arnie’s hand fell upon a sturdy wooden fence. The wood felt old but strong.

He felt his way along the fence until he came to a gate barred from his side. Arnie hesitated a moment at the gate but thoughts of Erin’s T-shirt cascaded into his head. Arnie hefted the heavy plank barring the gate, let it fall to the muddy ground and opened the gate with a creak. He winced, but after nothing bad happened he continued on through.

The breathing stopped but he felt less alone than he did a moment ago. He continued on into the absolute blackness until he found the far wall. He still needed a rock, though now it felt like something was watching him.

He blundered along until his feet fell on stone. He stepped up onto an altar and felt around in the darkness for something to take up to the girls.

“Ouch!” His voice sounded far away in that dank cavern. His hand fell onto something sharp. Something metal. Arnie touched it more carefully and realized it was a sword buried in the ground. He wrapped his hand around the grip and the blade began to glow blue.

He looked about, sensing something had been living there and, with horror, that it was no longer in its prison.

Outside, far away Arnie heard the girls scream.

Something deep down within him told him what to do. Part of him, the reader, the geek, the outcast always knew.

Arnie pulled the sword from the bed rock and rushed through the darkness to the light.

465 words
Copyright (c) 2011 Eric Esteb.  All rights reserved.

She had been warned, but now it was too late…

This is in response to a challenge by Haley Whitehall – to write a flash story in 500 words or less.  Unfortunately, I forgot one of the rules, which was to start the story with, “She had been warned, but now it was too late.”  So I used it as the title.  No way was i going to write another 500 word story (this is 497 words *pant pant*).  Fortunately, the title IS relevant to the story, but you have to read it all to find out.

This is the shortest story I have ever written, and it was indeed a struggle, the next shortest being 1,000 words. It is sort of a dark fantasy, but I hope you enjoy it.

~~~~~

She Had Been Warned, But Now It Was Too Late

The boy was 12. His slender frame stood defiantly, facing the other kids. The black patch over his right eye contrasted starkly with his pale face.

 “Nyah, nyah, sissy Kevin, on his way to heaven,” a big boy said.

 The rest of the kids picked up the chant, “Sissy Kevin, on his way to heaven.”

 Kevin’s face flushed, but he kept silent.

 “Cat got your tongue, Heaven Kevin?”

 That was too much. A name like that would stick for the rest of his life.

 “No,” the younger boy said softly. “My name is Kevin Shawn O’Reilly.”

 “Folks’s saying you was given some gift by Irish fairies when you was a baby,” the older boy, whom everyone called Viper, said.

He glared at Kevin’s eye patch. “You hiding something gross behind there?” he growled. “Let’s take a look.”

 The younger boy backed away desperately. “You’ll be sorry if you take my patch off.”

 “Who’s gonna make me sorry?” Viper sneered. “Your piss-ant dad ain’t here no more.”

 A tear slid down Kevin’s cheek. “Why are you doing this to me?” he cried. “I never did anything to you.”

Viper

Viper - © Willeecole | Dreamstime.com

“You’re different, see?” Viper said, advancing on the younger boy. “We don’t like piss-ants who pretend they’re better ‘n everyone else. We don’t like pukes with pussy secrets, like your bad eye here.” He leaned over Kevin.

 Viper grabbed for the patch just as Kevin bobbed his head out of the way. Impatiently, Viper smashed Kevin in the face. The boy sagged and Viper snatched the eye patch. Triumphantly he turned and held it aloft. “Behold!” he cried, like he’d seen in the movies. Kevin tried to cover his eye with his hand.

“No, you don’t,” Viper said prying Kevin’s hand away. The younger boy quickly closed his eyes. The glimpse Viper saw puzzled him. The eye looked normal. Maybe it had to be open for pus to start oozing. Maybe that was what was making him feel nauseated. Yeah…the hidden pus.

He threw Kevin onto the ground, forcing his eye open. The boy was no match for Viper.

“NOOO!” he howled. Curiosity pulled the other children closer. For a moment Kevin kept his eye rolled back into his head, just showing the white.

“Good trick, piss-ant,” Viper snarled. He jogged his knee hard into Kevin’s stomach. The breath whooshed out of him as the eye flew open.

 Viper stared at it. “It’s just the same as…” He never finished the sentence.

 His limp body collapsed on top of Kevin, who was crying now in earnest.

 The rest of the children screamed and scattered.

Kevin finally stopped crying and wiggled out from under the body. Gently he pried the eye patch out of the boy’s hand and slipped it back on over his right eye.

“It wasn’t a gift,” he told the empty schoolyard. “It’s why Da died. It’s a curse on the O’Reilly men.”

He plodded home and opened the door. “Momma,” he called tiredly. “We have to move again.”