Monthly Archives: August 2012

Third Thursday Flash Edition Two: “Beneath the Waves”

Welcome back! It’s time for the second edition of Third Thursday Flash!

Every three weeks, I am crafting a 500 to 1,000 word flash piece with a theme suggested by you, my fantastic blog readers. If you’d like to participate, keep an eye out for a theme submission call in about two weeks.

Today’s theme is brought to you by Sue W., a wonderful woman I know not only as a blog reader, but also as a friend and colleague. Sue watched a Discovery Channel show on the potential reality of mermaids, and the effects of naval sonar on their existence. I thought the idea sounded great! I’m also a little bummed I missed the show!

But without further ado, thanks to Sue for inspiring…

 

Beneath the Waves

Annie swept her hair aside, letting it float around her shoulders. The strands followed her like a gentle mist, waves of color that drifted within the lull of the ocean’s whisper. The only break in its sweet hum was the echo of sonar in the distance.

“Will he find us, mama?”

Annie ceased her strokes. She kicked her fins just enough to roll onto her back, then floated in the cloudy depths while Kata took her hand. Her daughter had started to form in the subtle ways of a young woman, her torso growing shapely and her cheekbones more defined. Kata’s lips puckered as she watched the whale pod swimming nearby, their small grey eyes pained by the sonar vibrations that increased each passing day. It would not be long before the noise grew close, driving them from the water as it had the creatures of the past.

Annie tugged Kata’s hand, then used her tail to drive them forward and up. They broke the surface beside the ridge, where the waves crested against the algaed rocks in a white roll of foam. This spot was safe, a place that only she and Kata knew.

And of course Davad.

Day-vad, he’d told her then. His name, like his story, was a mystery that swayed her whenever he reappeared.

Kata folded her arms over the rocks. She laid her chin on her forearms, her eyes bluer than the ocean as she gazed across the endless water surface. “He will, right, mama?”

Annie trailed her hand along Kata’s shoulder. The girl’s chest heaved slightly until her gills tucked themselves closed, allowing her to breathe the salty sky air.

“I hope so,” she said. She remembered the day Davad’s giant ship arrived. The moonlight had shined high above them while they anchored, and when he peeked over the edge, she’d known that he was hers to hold.

Once his mates fell to sleep, he’d crawled down to the surface of the reef. There he swung his feet in the ripples of the water, singing a tune so foreign and sweet that Annie had been compelled to surface alongside him.

“You are the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen,” he’d said.

Under the moonlight, they told each other stories of their lands—or in her case, of the deep waters, the others of her kind, and the torturous sounds of the sonar that ripped through their ears, threatening to send them to the surface.

Where we would not survive.

Davad swore he would find a way. He had promised it every time he came to her, meeting her in the moonlight until her belly swelled high and slowed her strokes in the water. She’d been vulnerable at the depths, but she had survived, as had their beautiful daughter, Kata.

They returned when Kata was old enough to swim the distance and found a bottle caught in the rocky ridge. The note within bore five simple words that she could read.

“I will find a way.

“We’ve come here every week for years. How many weeks until he comes?” Kata tilted back her head and stared into the sun. “What if he never comes? We will need to find a better place, away from the—”

“He will come,” Annie said. She peered at her daughter. The girl deserved to know the human who had stolen her heart from the warm watery depths.

She flicked her tail repeatedly, sending a spray over their heads until Kata’s stern frown broke into laughter. The sound came out a lovely melody, the same pitch that Annie once used to draw Davad into her arms.

Kata ceased her laughter and pressed her hand to Annie’s cheek. Her eyes reflected the sun setting far away on the horizon. Nothing floated around them save for the driftwood that bobbed as quiet as the looming night sky.

“We will wait as long as you like, mama. But if I have you, I could live beneath the water forever without him.”

Annie squeezed her daughter’s hand.

Together, they waited for the ship that never came.

 

***

Thanks for reading the second edition of Third Thursday Flash. The next edition will be in three weeks, so start thinking of your suggestions. In the meantime, have a great Labor Day weekend! 🙂

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The Liebster Blog Award!

 

I’m delighted to have been nominated for another award by fellow blogger Nathan Payne! Nathan runs The Writer’s Codex, a site following his journey through the writing process. I enjoy Nathan’s blog because he manages to share his real feelings on the writing process (gut wrenching and all!), while also posting some helpful and thought-provoking info on the field. In addition, he posts impressively often (go Nathan go!). Nathan has been following my blog for a few weeks now, so I am flattered that he thought of me for the Liebster Blog Award. Thanks, Nathan!

Pursuant to the Liebster Blog Award rules, Nathan has provided eleven questions designed to “get to know me” outside of my blog. After I answer Nathan’s incredibly challenging questions (he even stressed he wanted his recipients to think hard—geez, Nathan! :)), I will be providing my eleven nominees with eleven new questions to answer.

First, the answers to Nathan’s questions:

1. What prompted you to start your blog?

A little over two years ago, I found my way back to writing. In the summer of 2011, I decided I was serious about doing what I’d said I wanted to do my entire life—be a writer. I set to work on a plan of action, booking a conference, writing regularly, and even getting an English credential (both because I wanted a change, and because I wanted my job to more closely align with my love of writing). Then in March, it was time to launch my website and blog. I was ready to share my writing journey with the world and to finally live my fantasy.

2. What is one life event/decision that you didn’t expect, but made your life what it is today?

I would say the terrible torn wrist cartilage of 2009. If I didn’t hurt my wrist, I wouldn’t have had some serious time to ponder my aerial antics (find out more here). That pondering led me to the reality check that I really wanted to write, and though I still practice for fun, massacring my wrists while performing would have destroyed any hope of writing. That was something I simply couldn’t do!

3. Do you have any regrets in life? If so, are you doing anything to resolve them?

I try to live a life without regrets. I fret about things excessively sometimes, but I believe that all the things that have happened in my life happened for a reason, even if they were horrific, traumatic, or hard. In some cases I would choose differently if I had the opportunity to go back again, but I think of that less as “regret” and more of “reliving with more life wisdom.” In addition, I would rather “regret” things I’d done than things I’d never even tried, which tends to nullify the concept of regret in my mind. 🙂

4. What specific tasks are you doing to achieve your goals right now?

My goals are to write often and more, and to work on getting published. To do this, I have been getting up extra early (hello, 5 a.m. alarm clock chime!) and putting in about 45 minutes every morning before I leave for work. I try to get more in at night, and have restructured my evenings a bit to make it happen. I’m also aiming to hone in on the plan to write and submit a short story every week—I haven’t gotten there quite yet, but I’m working on it!

5. What one thing do you wish people would remember you for after you’re gone?

My optimism and loyalty. I would do anything for most of my friends and I try to be everybody’s cheerleader! Finding the silver lining is extremely important to me, even if it takes some real searching.

6. What do you enjoy most in life?

Most? (Seriously, Nathan?) I enjoy life the most. Everything about it!

7. If you could make one decision that would change your life forever, what would that decision be?

To become a full-time writer. I’m not even close to there yet, but hey, a girl can dream.

8. What is it about books that draws you them?

The fantastic stories inside. The smell of paper. The black print on white (or cream or beige or tan) background. The way they look stacked up on my coffee table. But mostly, just the words and the stories contained within.

9. Describe your favorite movie in terms of what makes you love it so much.

My favorite movie has been Dangerous Beauty for about ten years. The movie is a biographical drama/romance starring Catherine McCormack and Rufus Sewell, directed by Marshall Herskovitz. It follows the life of an Italian courtesan who falls in love, and I’ve adored the movie since I first saw it. (I own it too, though one of my friends has it now and I don’t know which one. Grr!) The movie is filled with exquisite costumes and set pieces, and of course the sensual nature of the story is smashing too. Honestly, I’ve always liked movies about courtesans, and I’m not sure why. It’s a bizarre and lovely profession, all at the same time. Catherine McCormack is sensational in this role—if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it.

10. Think of a loved one, what one question do you want to ask that person?

Can you live forever, please?

11. What would it take for you to make friends with an old enemy?

I have made friends with many old enemies, some who were worthy, and some who sadly proved again that they were not. It depends on the circumstances, I suppose, but mostly it’s showing that he/she has a good heart.

**

Okay, now that I’ve answered all of Nathan’s heavy questions (!), it’s time to nominate eleven bloggers and give them my own questions. Poking around the internet, I’m finding most Liebster nominees had much easier questions, so I’ll provide my nominees with a mix of hard and easy. 🙂

The questions are:

1. What prompted you to set up a blog?

2. When did you discover you liked to write, and why?

3. What is your favorite writing setting? (Coffee shop, office, etc.)

4. What is your favorite time of day? Least favorite?

5. If you could have anything you wanted, at this moment, what would it be?

6. What is your guilty pleasure?

7. If you were trapped on an island with only three things, what would they be?

8. What is your favorite animal?

9. How would you describe yourself in five words or less?

10. You are offered $100,000,000, but you may never write again. Do you take the money? (Crazy question, I know!)

11. What is your favorite television show, and why?

Somehow I think my nominees will have a much easier go with their questions than I did with Nathan’s! 🙂 Now for the nominees, and I encourage you to seek all of them out. They are:

  • Jessica Vealitzek from True Stories – My favorite blog subscription! Realistic, heart-wrenching, fun, and definitely a great blog to read.
  • Rebecca Lane Beittel at Rebecca of Tomorrow – Her site is a mix of writing insight and maternal joys. Rebecca’s posts make me smile.
  • Anna Meade at Yearning for Wonderland – Whimsical and demonstrating a real gift with flash fiction, Anna’s posts make me think of fairies and butterflies. Unless she’s posting about her new Zombie Apocalypse fitness program, in which case I’m thinking of zombies and running.
  • Regina Swint at Write on Time – I met Regina on SheWrites and have considered her a mentor ever since. She’s thoughtful and kind, and you can hear these traits in every one of her blog posts.
  • Marylin Warner at Things I Want to Tell My Mother – I’m a new follower to this blog, but the concept is beautiful. Marylin focuses on the effects of Alzheimer’s on her mother’s memories and writes a journal to her mother in her honor. It is incredibly striking, and a real emotional journey that moves me through every post.
  • Mike Manz from The Blog (of Destiny) – Mike formerly ran a blog at http://lived-inlife.blogspot.com/ but left it behind to start a more story-focused site. I followed Mike then, and I’ll follow him now. Though I enjoyed his snappy posts, I’ve appreciated the stories I’ve found by him much more, so I’m excited to see where his new blog leads. Congratulations on the change, Mike! 🙂
  • Catrina Barton at Kitty’s Inner Thoughts – She’s fun. She’s peppy. She has intel. Check her out.
  • Daniel Swensen at Surly Muse – Daniel is a whippersnapper, and he can write, too. I enjoy his posts tremendously.
  • Angie Richmond at Write Me Happy – Angie has a good spirit and a warm blog. I like it here.
  • Angela Goff at Anonymous Legacy – I’ve been following Angela for a while on Twitter, but she posts some lovely fiction pieces on her blog. I’m sorry I didn’t start following her blog sooner than I did!

YES, I was supposed to choose eleven, but here are ten. Ten wonderful bloggers that I think truly deserve it and whose work I admire and enjoy! Be sure to check them all out. And once again, thank you to Nathan for the nomination!


Last Call for Flash Fiction Topics!

Just a quick interim post…

Haven’t had a chance to get your theme suggestion in before tomorrow’s 8 p.m. (PST) deadline? Don’t miss out!

This Thursday is the second edition of Third Thursday Flash, when I’ll write a 500 to 1,000 word flash fiction piece based on your idea or suggestion! Send an idea, a couple of words you’d like mentioned within the piece (or tied together for a topic), or a prompt. The idea may be zany, cute, fun, wild, comedic, or intelligent—whatever you wish, and I’ll try to put a sci-fi or fantasy twist on it! The person whose theme I select will also get a shout out to celebrate his or her awesome theme (unless you prefer otherwise).

Please send your suggestions to me by email at evariederauthor@gmail.com, or you can also use the handy contact form on my website. Submissions will remain open until tomorrow (8/27) at 8 p.m. PST. Also, be sure to let me know if you would prefer I keep your name anonymous.

You can click here to read the first episode of Third Thursday Flash.

I can’t wait to hear your idea suggestions! Thanks for participating. 🙂


Roller Coasters, School Starts, and Call for Flash Ideas!

They say when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade, but this particular week I’m working on my one-woman ten-lemon juggling act. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me (start of work, blown head gasket on my ten-year-old Honda, gluten allergy testing, apartment hunting madness, insomnia, and terminal illness of a family pet, just to name a portion). As usual, I’m trying to see the bright spots in a bizarrely heavy last three days.

So the good news: work has been a breeze! Even better, I taught English for the first time on Wednesday—three wonderful sections of Freshman English and you know what? It felt completely natural. Hurray! I enjoyed my Math sections, of course, but I have to say I’m pretty excited to continue on this big English teaching journey!

Other fun news—Nathan Payne over at The Writers Codex nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. I’ll share more about it in my next post but in the meantime, thanks so much, Nathan! 🙂

And now…start your engines! There is exactly one week until the second edition of Third Thursday Flash, when I’ll post a 500 to 1,000 word flash fiction piece I’ve written based on your idea! Please pass along whatever idea you like (it can be a theme, a sentence, a prompt, a couple of words you’d like me to incorporate or use as background—your choice). Send your suggestions to me by email at evariederauthor@gmail.com, or you can also use the handy contact form on my website. Submissions will remain open until Monday the 27th at 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, when I will pick one of your great ideas and craft a piece! In your email, please let me know if you would prefer I keep your name anonymous should I pick your idea. You can click here to read the first episode of Third Thursday Flash.

Thanks to everyone who participates, and of course, to all for reading!

And don’t forget, when life gives you lemons… _________ (Fill in the blank in the comment section below!)

🙂


Juliet Dark’s THE DEMON LOVER

Oh my goodness, am I excited to tell you about this book!

For years I’ve loved Carol Goodman‘s work. You’ll even find her book, The Lake of Dead Languages, listed as one of my favorites on my Links page. Ms. Goodman’s stories usually fall into the genre of contemporary/mainstream literature, and her style is quite gothic and eloquent. So, suffice it to say I was delighted to discover she’d made a crossover, writing a gothic paranormal romance under the pseudonym of Juliet Dark.

And what a read it was! Goodman/Dark’s prose is enchanting, and her imagery is mind-boggling and rich. Every time I read her work, I find passages to read over and over for their lush beauty.

The same held true in The Demon Lover, in which a college professor with a background in the supernatural—vampires, fairies, incubi, and the like—found her way to an unusual college in the remote town of Fairwick, New York. Callie McFay has spent her life sharing her knowledge of supernatural creatures in literature, and something about the town draws her in. She is also captivated by an old Victorian home in the area, but soon finds there is something more to her love of the house than she realized. Callie has a demon lover, a man made of shadow who comes to her in her dreams and sucks her life breath in exchange for the love they share, and while she realizes the danger of their affair, she must find a way to separate her heart.

What I found delightful about this book—besides breathtaking love scenes and settings filled with beautiful detail—was the collection of other mythical creatures Callie finds in Fairwick. Callie learns a lot about herself as well as her supernatural studies through these people, and the relationships between the characters are natural and well-portrayed. In truth, when I finished the book and realized it was the start of a series, I decided I might very well have found my next Sookie Stackhouse collection. The difference between Charlaine Harris and Juliet Dark, however, is tremendous. Callie’s tale sits closer to the dark, gothic world of Thornfield Hall in Brontë’s Jane Eyre (another favorite!) than that of Sookie’s Louisiana world, and her story is far more serious.

I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved it. I am a slow reader, but I found myself reading it everywhere—on the cardio machines at the gym, at stoplights, standing in lines, and for an hour or two every night—because the world Goodman/Dark creates is so detailed. She is an author able to make characters out of setting, breathing life into things as simple as snow, wind, and plant life, and thus it is no wonder I found myself as seduced by the shadowed incubus as poor Callie.

I highly recommend this one, folks. For now, I’m off to pre-order the second book.

Happy reading! 🙂


Where Do Ideas Come From?

To write a story, you must first have an idea—a kernel of imagination that blooms from something simple into a whole tale. The real work, of course, comes after the idea, because ideas are abundant in most writers’ minds.

But where do they come from?

I’ve always found it fascinating to hear how other writers form ideas for their stories. Like learning styles, ideas are unique to their bearer; they can come from a visual source, a written source, or even an auditory one. Some will find them in the natural scenes around them, whether it be during a leisurely stroll or standing in the grocery store checkout lane. Others will discover them in the speech of friends, family, or children. A few will lock themselves in a room, letting the quiet that surrounds them swarm their thoughts until nothing becomes something and they’re typing away on the computer. I’ve known some to do random associations, picking words off a page and stringing them together in a theme for their next work. Still others are veritable idea machines, as if a running scroll of them simply churns through their minds.

Sometimes, ideas are past experiences, tweaked just enough to add some creative flair. Others are tales of what could have been instead of what really was. No matter what, though, each writer has his or her own way to light that clever spark and create a story from it.

While my ideas come to me in a variety of ways, I’ve noticed two methods are the most prevalent. The first is through dreams. I’ve been blessed (and sometimes cursed) with extremely vivid dreams for the majority of my life; often they are fantastical in nature and come to me in full color, and fortunately I am able to remember them upon waking. If they aren’t nightmares (that would be the cursed part), they usually provide me with images of creatures or scenes that I am inclined to jot down and save for a later piece.

More common, however, is the method I refer to as the “one liner.” It sparks from something I see or hear around me, a line that forms in my head that will not, for the life of me, go away. Each time it is one single line, whether it be a reaction to what I see, a sentence that will later serve as dialogue, or a clause of imagery. I’ll carry this line with me wherever I’m at—even if it means repeating it to myself the entirety of a gym workout—until I can get in front of a piece of paper or computer. There, I’ll write that one line and run wild with it. This method is the one that’s been the most effective, for me, something that comes blindly out of the air and smacks me with a whole run of a tale.

We all have ideas that we like to use in our writing, and usually we’ve been carrying around a bounty of them over the years. I’m sure there’s some scientific explanation for how people form them, but I’m curious—where do your ideas come from? Please share! 🙂


Thank You

Today I wanted to take a moment to say thank you.

I have always been an optimist, finding delight in the simplest of things. My thinking is that if one can find joy in these simple things, then it makes the great things that much more amazing. This is why I’ve often said, “Forget glass half-full! I have a glass! Awesome!”

Sometimes, things get complicated. Our day-to-day lives get filled with frustration, illness, difficulties, or even just a plethora of mundane and exhausting things we have to do. Optimism can get lost in the shuffle, leaving us hurt, angry, miserable, or complaining. I’ve been guilty of all of these at one point or another, because sometimes, it’s easy to forget how spectacular life really is.

But somewhere amidst this cloudiness, something happens to make me realize just that: life is good. This weekend was one of those moments for me. I walked around with a smile on my face the whole time. I did things that gave me happiness, talked to people who bring me joy, and enjoyed every little thing that crossed my path. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, wonderful friends and family, and so many things that I get to do that make me happy.

And in the last six months, I’ve been able to add even more to this list of greatness: you.

Starting this blog has been one of the best developments in my life. I’ve connected with many amazing thinkers, and have heard feedback and comments from inspiring, wonderful, and kind people all around the world. I’m delighted with the connections I’ve made with all of you, and I can’t wait to continue this blog so that I can keep enjoying another aspect of my life that puts a smile on my face.

So, for all of you out there reading this now, thank you. You’ve made my day. 🙂

Have a fantastic week, everyone.


New Blog Feature

I learned a lot at the Cascade Writers Workshop last weekend, but one of the most important things I picked up was the necessity of writing more. This is helpful for the obvious reasons, of course—but perhaps the reason that hit me hardest was that to be a successful writer, you must learn to write enough that no one piece becomes your heart and soul. Sure, you can love a piece, but in reality you have a next piece, and a next piece, and then that very next piece, all of which are equally worthy of your attention and love until you write the next one.

I love my first book, Kyresa. I spent many years on it, a fact due largely to a series of breaks that lasted for years at a time. Because of this, the novel became my “baby” of sorts, and sending her off to college (aka sending her out to agents) was a huge deal. But here’s the truth: I am certain that none of my next books will take that long, and I’m delighted for the experience. Will they be just as important to me? Absolutely! Will I pour my heart and soul into them? Yes! But do I need to get so attached that I spend years and years (and years and more years) on them?

That would be a big fat no.

The reason is that writing more will make me a stronger writer, eventually making it easier and faster. This is why I’ve decided that for the next six months, I’d like to devote most of my writing time to crafting short stories. In this way, I will have the experience of starting and finishing, repeatedly, at a quicker pace, before I start my next novel. Will every one of these shorts be amazing? Certainly not. Will they all be good practice in improving my art? Totally, and for that I’m quite excited about this plan.

That said, I’m introducing a new blog feature called THIRD THURSDAY FLASH. Every third Thursday, I will post a flash fiction piece—but there’s a catch.

YOU, dear readers, will be suggesting the themes!

It can simply be an idea, a couple of words you’d like mentioned within the piece, or a prompt, but every time, one of you will suggest it! I think it’s a fun twist on writing flash, and I do hope you’ll participate. 🙂 The person whose theme is selected will also get a shout out to celebrate his or her awesome theme (unless you prefer otherwise). I will put out a call for theme submissions the Thursday before each flash week and will select one from the bunch for the Thursday that follows. The ideas can be zany, cute, fun, wild, intelligent, or whatever you wish, and I’m going to try to put a fantasy or sci-fi spin on them in 500 to 1,000 words.

For the first edition of Third Thursday Flash, I opened the theme up only to my newsletter subscribers. (Not receiving the newsletter yet? You can do so by sending a blank email to EvaRieder-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.) Only one person was brave enough to submit a theme, but it was a goodie. So, let’s get on to business!
 
Thanks to Mari Naomi for the theme of Maliciousness and Road Rage (and what an interesting theme it is!). Here’s what I put together for the first edition of Third Thursday Flash. I hope you enjoy it!
 

DADDY’S BOY

 
Clara popped the bottle back into Max’s tiny mouth, his long-eyelashed blues blinking in forgiveness and his cries quieting to long slurps on the nipple.

She turned forward, the crawl of traffic slow enough to justify her movement. Max had a pair of lungs that could blow an eardrum, and with the toll plaza approaching, she couldn’t handle more than five seconds of it. The sound was a gift from his father, and she shuddered every time Max wailed with the same sentiment of burning rage.

Clara turned the radio dial until she found some music, then took a quick glance in her rearview at the child’s shifting eyes. They’d changed from blue to red and back again in an instant, and she only calmed when he soothed himself on the bottle. She’d made a deal with his daddy, true, but she hadn’t anticipated Max would inherit the same temper.

A sharp sequence of tones broke into the song before a newsflash.

“Traffic alert! Three left lanes of the eastbound Rainen Bridge closed due to an injury accident…”

“Oh you’ve got to be kidding me,” Clara muttered. She glanced at the traffic ahead—all three lanes appeared to be blocked about a mile in front of them, leaving only one lane for every car to funnel into.

She was already late for Max’s daycare drop-off. Late for work, late for her meeting, and now she’d have to explain it all over again. She’d only gone back to work four months ago after a rough first year—how else could she explain the experience with a child like Max—and her boss definitely wasn’t thrilled. This single parent thing meant nothing to him except that she was late all the time.

Late and covered in spit-up and mashed sweet potatoes. And of course paranoid about when Max is going to—

Max let out a wail and Clara spun her head to catch him dropping the bottle on the floor. It rolled under the passenger seat.

“Crap,” she said.

When she spun forward she nearly collided with the blue Dodge in front of her. She shrieked and slammed both feet on the brake, the man in the truck throwing a middle finger out the window.

“Eff you, lady! Don’t you see the traffic? Watch where you’re going!”

“I know, I know!” Yelling probably wasn’t the best option with her window open, but the man kept waving his finger in the air. Max began to howl.

Clara peered into the mirror again, her precious little boy shaking his fists and beginning to remind her even more of the man who’d fathered him. Max’s eyes flashed red and wrinkles formed around his rippling lips. For the millionth time she wished she’d had the sense to say no to his father.

But how could she have? A lifetime of happiness if she’d do him this one little screaming favor….

“Shh, honey, it’s okay.” The traffic continued to merge into the single lane, a ruckus of honks spreading across the freeway. A small crack opened up in the lane beside her and Clara managed to move alongside the Dodge. The man waggled his finger at her and the hairs on the back of her neck prickled.

Didn’t these people know better than to throw their rage around at other drivers? It wasn’t a good idea, especially with Max able to see it all.

But they don’t know that, Clara.

“Shh, baby, come on,” she said, eyeing him. Max’s eyes widened as he cried, his sniffles turning into huffs and snorts. If she couldn’t calm him down, this wouldn’t end well.

A bolt of lightning zipped across the sky. It dipped close to the merging traffic, and when she sucked in a breath, another snapped above the blue Dodge. “Max,” she said, refusing to face her son. “I know you understand me. Don’t you do it. You keep yourself calm, sweetheart.”

She looked over at the Dodge driver and yanked her cheeks up in a bright smile, hoping a little flirtation would work its charm and calm him down.

That’s how I won Max’s father over.

Another bolt ripped inches above the Dodge, and the man threw his head out the window. “What the heck?”

“Hey, look sir, I’m sorry about earlier!” She hated apologizing, but if Max didn’t notice him calm down or hear him apologize…. Clara leaned toward the window. “Really sir, I’m so sorry!”

The man waved her off, distracted by the lightning. He spoke loud enough for her to hear him but kept his focus on the plume of black fog that rolled in over the water. “It’s all good, lady, I’m over it. What’s with this sky? Really, it’s no biggie. Just pay attention, you hear?”

“Of course!” She smiled in the mirror and Max’s cries stilled. “See, honey, he said he was sorry. Take a deep breath. No need to protect mama today.”

Max coughed one last gasp of anger before sticking his finger in his mouth. He suckled it all the way down to his knuckle and the sky turned right back into the sunny skies they’d had five minutes prior.

The radio crackled back to life. “All lanes opening on the Bridge! Great work to the fast clean up crew.”

Clara breathed a sigh as she eyed her child.

***

Thanks for reading the first edition of Third Thursday Flash. The next edition will be in three weeks, and I’ll put a call out for themes a week in advance. Start thinking of your suggestions now! 🙂


Metamorphosis of a Reader

Or perhaps I should say Rieder (yes, it’s pronounced Reader 🙂 ).

I’ve decided that my To Be Read (TBR) stack has grown up to a height mighty enough to rival Jack’s beanstalk. At first, this alarmed me—but then I found myself ordering more books, so I figure the momentary fright was more akin to temporary insanity. 😉

My reading has transformed quite immensely over time, but one thing has remained the same: I love to read. In my preteen years, I devoured books by V.C. Andrews, Christopher Pike, Susan Cooper, and Andre Norton. These authors took up the majority of my focus, though I did pick up various others along the way. No matter what occurred in the surrounding world, my nose remained firmly in a book because reading was my passion. I still remember a plethora of camping trips with my dad and sister, where I shooed them away while I stayed back in the camper, quietly reading until dinner.

In my teens, my interests changed and I fell in love with books by Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Margaret Atwood. I also found myself delighted with almost anything assigned in my English classes, simply because each book was something new that I might not have found on my own.

In college I discovered works of a more literary style, something fostered by a slew of contemporary literature courses. I loved the anthologies we covered in these classes, and had I not donated all my texts, I would still read from them today. Short stories became a new favorite, both for their brevity and for the craft involved in telling so much in such a small space.

After college I opted for lighter reads, switching into the type of books I referred to as “those smutty-looking crime books you see in the checkout aisle at the grocery store.” This style came mainly through the work of Erica Spindler, stories where clever heroines played detectives hunting serial killers, yet the killers often ended up playing their boyfriends (yikes!). I loved these books because they took me on a wild journey with murderers, strong women, and plot lines that could, in theory, be real (they also made for a long run of really bizarre dreams). The first book I picked up by Spindler was Shocking Pink, and I still have not forgotten how its plot sucked me right in.

Later I started reading more contemporary and mainstream novels, many of which were by Carol Goodman. She stands out as an incredibly talented literary writer—her novel The Lake of Dead Languages remains one of my most favorite books of all time. I recently learned Ms. Goodman had slipped into the paranormal romance genre under the pen name of Juliet Dark, and The Demon Lover is what I’m thrilled to be reading now (beautifully written and a paranormal romance!).

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Just a small portion of the full TBR stack decorating most of my side tables…

These days I find my favorite books are a mix of genres, either contemporary works, or fantasy works, or even a few from the YA shelves. I read slowly but thoroughly; rarely do I not finish a book, even if I don’t like it much. There are few books I’ve read more than once, but they stand out: Jane Eyre, anything by Christopher Pike, and I’m sure, in time, Anne Bishop’s entire collection.

Clearly, I have some reading to do—but what about you? What are your favorite genres and authors? What are the books you love to return to, or even books you’ve read recently and can’t stop talking about? I’d love to know. Please share!

And of course, happy reading. 🙂


Stephen King’s ON WRITING

The road to hell is paved with adverbs. —Stephen King

About a month ago, my friend loaned me a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing. The friend, Mari Naomi, is a brilliant San Francisco based graphic memoirist and cartoonist, whom I look to as a mentor. The book—well, it is a genius piece of insight that I think every writer should look to as a mentor of sorts.

In my younger years, I read a lot of Stephen King (fun fact: I originally wanted to write YA horror). I tore through his tales because I found his work riveting for content, but also because he used blatant and perfectly concise language. Cut to many years later, and Mr. King completed a book about the craft! It took me a long time to stumble upon it, but thank goodness I did.

Besides a compelling section on the path that led to the King of Horror becoming such, the book contains a thoughtful and articulate take on the writing craft. King shares his views on the “writer’s toolbox,” as well as clarity on things all writers should avoid (for example, excessive use of adverbs or passive voice). His is a lesson in get to the point, and one warranting of every writer’s attention.

Personally, I’m delighted I found the book just before I tore my own apart for its final edit a couple of weeks ago. The advice is invaluable, and it would be a shame to not have checked it out.

I think non-writers can also enjoy the book, both because it reveals some of the work and secrets behind the craft, and because King’s distinctive voice is present throughout—the same clever master of horror we all know and treasure, but this time talking about something personal and craft-based instead of purely fictional.

So, in summary, if you have not yet read this book, I suggest you rush right out to grab it and start. 🙂

Happy reading!


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