Category Archives: Right Back at Ya!

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.

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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! 🙂


How I Edit

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you.  And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.  ~Arthur Polotnik

An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.  ~Adlai Stevenson, as quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs

If I don’t answer my phone today, it’s because I’m editing. Or, I jumped out the window. ~Me
As many of you know, I’ve been on a mission to edit my work in progress, Kyresa. There are some steps left before I can actually call the book “finished,” but I am pleased to announce the editing stage is officially done! Woo hoo!

Editing is a funny thing—it is imperative for crafting a quality piece, but it’s also a grueling, tedious stage that must usually happen several times. While every writer edits, I don’t believe every writer edits in the same manner. Today I thought I’d share the process I used for the most recent edit of Kyresa.

First of all, this last edit was more of an edit/rewrite/edit mashup. I had an idea that I might potentially want to change the ending, but I knew that I couldn’t make that decision until I re-immersed myself in the story. When I started, Kyresa was 111,400 words. That’s about 404 pages, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font. I printed it out 2-sided and put it into a binder that I could tote around wherever I went. I armed myself with three goals:

  • Cut the crap.
  • Cut the crap.
  • Cut the crap.

Then I set five more goals to work through as I edited:

  • If there’s a simpler way to say it, find it.
  • Lay off the dialogue tags if the speaker is clear. (“You sure do talk a lot, Eva,” THE BLOG READER SAID.)
  • Keep an eye on adverbs, because Mr. Stephen King thinks they’re the devil and he probably knows his devils writing horror and all.
  • Don’t rob the reader of the right to come up with her own image of the person/place/thing by giving too many showing details. (I am a control freak, so over-explanation can happen.) (Like that last parenthetical comment.) (Sorry.)
  • Decide if I want to change the ending. (I wrote a note to myself about 20 pages after where I thought I’d like to end it that said, “Are you feeling an ending change, Eva?”—and yes, this is actually written on the page.)

So, I went through the whole book this way, marking all over it with a variety of pens. Some pages were just a little marked up, and some looked like I had a blue/green/red pen party and just dripped the ink everywhere like a crazy person. And when I made my way to the moment of ending-change decision, I opted to go for it!

This is where the “rewrite” part of the mashup happened. I pulled all the scenes I wanted to delete out of the binder and tucked them in the back, but kept the scenes between that I thought were useful. Then I blared Clannad’s “I Will Find You” two times as theme music before setting off to write the new ending. (I generally do not write to music, but sometimes I will listen to it and run it through my head as I write. Or blurt out singing. Either way works.) I then printed out the new scene and stuck it in the binder, and went back to fix the story where necessary to accommodate my new ending. This involved a lot of scrap paper hole punched and stuck in where appropriate, and lots of lines written over entire margins. I also seriously edited my new scene, since it was freshly written and needed some heavy tuning.

Once I got to the last page, I started to tear up. In fact, I get teary-eyed every time I get to the end of this book. (This means either it’s moving or I’m a complete sap, only time will tell.)

After that, I watched a movie and then cleaned up my office (please reference Clean Space, Fresh Perspective for more info on this, and if you’re feeling a tad more voyeuristic, you can learn about and see what my office space looks like in a guest post I did here), but from then on it was business. I proceeded to enter all the changes into the computer. This took a loooonnnggggg time (days), because along the way I found other little changes, and of course I did all of this knowing there were more to come. Over and over again. And again.

After the changes were in, Kyresa was down to about 101,000 words—I’d say half of this was due to the ending change and the other half to my aforementioned goals. But I still wasn’t done!

Now came the “find and replace” (F&R) game.

I did this with every word I’d noticed as an overused word when I edited, and with others I found through the SmartEdit software I mentioned in my last post. I searched for repeated actions (sighing, for example), passive voice (was, were, to be) and for words we humans tend to overuse without realizing (that, so, few, really, very, just, even, like, and many others). Changing these words didn’t always entail deleting or the simple use of the “replace” function; sometimes the whole sentence needed restructuring. In addition, I went through Every.Single.Adverb that SmartEdit recorded and evaluated its purpose, and ran the dreaded F&R one more time for the word as (which, by the way, I am now seeing everywhere, and it makes me want to throw things).

All of this cut Kyresa way down in unnecessary wordage—to 93,400 words, as a matter of fact!

(Oh my gawd I said “as” and I think I’m going to scream!)

After that, I did a happy dance. This was both to celebrate and to cheer me up, because every time I did the F&R function I went from the beginning to the end of the novel—meaning there were a lot of teary eyes again. Geez…

Lastly, I ran a spellcheck and a computer-version of proofread (which is hilarious for a fantasy novel, by the way: Wench. “Sexist expression. Avoid using this word.”), printed it out, and set it aside for a few days to stew before I proofread it for any glaring grammatical errors, typos, or other oddities that need cutting.

Another thing of note—and I want to mention this because I think it’s important no matter what you’re writing, be it a book, some poetry, or a paper for school—I resave about every 10 minutes, and each day I save the file with a new name. “Kyresa(updated 7-1-12),” then “Kyresa(updated 7-2-12),” etc., so that I can always go back if I change my mind on cutting a scene. And though I have a backup drive, I also email the file to myself every few days (because a backup drive is no good if your house burns down).

Sooooo…there you have it, my editing process. 🙂

Now I’m curious: what’s yours? Please share in the comment section below! I’m sure many of you have some great ideas that the rest of us would like to [steal] know about! Thanks for sharing, and happy editing!


More Seniors Moving Along…

Just a short one today.

It is 3:30 p.m., and I am on a bus with 52 seniors (of a total of 250+) on our way back from the Senior Trip to Great America. No injuries, no trouble, no drama, and the kids are nice and calm after a fun adventure with their classmates for what will be one of their last times together.

I’m not going to lie–I love a break from campus here and there, but the main reason I asked to chaperone this trip is because this group of seniors has been my favorite, hands down, in ten years of teaching.

Some of them inspired me, others just worked really hard in my classes, and some were truly exceptional kids that I am proud to usher out into the world. Life is a great big opportunity they’re about to embrace, a chance for them to flourish and grow, and to demonstrate how much they’ve learned in their four years here at Tam High.

Awesome work, kiddos. I am so grateful to have met you, honored to have taught you, and delighted to see what you become.

Congratulations, Class of ’12!


Join My Newsletter…and, From Math to English

Two topics for today.

First up: I’ve officially launched my e-newsletter!

The e-newsletter will be used as a way to announce publications and news related to my writing, and in time, it will provide information on appearances and events. It will be sent out about once a month to subscribers and is hosted by Yahoo groups.

To receive the e-newsletter, please send a blank email to: EvaRieder-subscribe@yahoogroups.comYou will receive a confirmation email with instructions shortly after. (Be sure to check your spam folder if you don’t see it within a few hours.) If you have a Yahoo account, you can also go directly to the group to join on-site by clicking here. Please join! You can unsubscribe at any time.

Next up: From Math to English!

While many of you know me as an author, you may not know that I am also a teacher by day. A high school Math teacher, to be precise. However…next year, I will finally make the transition into teaching English! For most of my friends and family members, this information came as no surprise—and more with a stream of comments along the lines of “Well, geez, Eva, it’s about time!” 🙂 While I’ve always been comfortable with and good at Math, I also tended to morph into “English girl” the moment I climbed into my car and drove home to write. So, becoming a hybrid teacher seemed like a good next step.

But how did this decision finally come about after ten years of teaching Math?

I suppose the idea bounced around in the back of my mind rather indirectly over the years, but in truth I believe it came largely from the inspiration I found in my Precalculus students last year, and most heavily from my fourth period class.

Engaging and fun, lively and clever, the class was one of my more memorable ones. I’m still not sure how it happened, but somewhere early on in the year they learned I had written a book. What delighted me was that their interest seemed beyond the traditional distract-the-teacher-from-the-lesson maneuvers when several of them kept asking me about it outside of class. I was honored to know they were interested! After many requests and conversations, I promised my fourth period class that I would have a “book jacket” for them to read by the end of the year.

These students were so enthusiastic—they checked in every few weeks and rooted me on. Having them interested in Eva Rieder the Human as opposed to Eva Rieder the Math Teacher was incredibly flattering and sweet, and so I did indeed share that jacket with them at the end of the year, and their excitement warmed my heart.

Then came the final seal: I had all of my Precalculus classes do a short writing activity to reflect on their experience in the course. In Math, we talk formulas, procedures, strategies, and applications, but we never really get to just talk. Reading the reflections of my four classes—their musings, their interests, and their challenges—was so extraordinarily inspiring; I remember reading them on a bike at the gym (no kidding) and thinking, “THIS! This is what I want to hear from my students. I want more of this!”

The very next day I decided to move over to English, a career change that would allow me to learn more about my students and the way they think, and that would also partner smoothly with my writing passion.

Teaching something so dramatically different will certainly require some adjustment; nonetheless, I am thrilled for the change. To be clear, I would never have gotten to this decision as easily as I did if it hadn’t been for about 92 wonderful, inspiring Precalculus kids.

So for all those students, I would like to send out a giant thank you. I’ve never felt so lucky to have such great kids in my classes!

Wishing everyone success with all their reading, writing, and number-crunching! 🙂

***

To subscribe to Eva Rieder’s e-Newsletter, please email: EvaRieder-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


It’s Voting Day! Which OUAT Flash Fiction Piece is YOUR Pick?

Well, the time has finally come—Voting Day of the four-day blog series!

For the past three days, I’ve been sharing the pieces I created for the “Once Upon a Time (OUAT) Flash Fiction Writing Contest” in honor of National Flash Fiction Day. The contest required the story to be no more than 350 words on the theme of “Unexpected Fairy Tales,” and today I am asking YOU to place your vote for the piece you would like me to enter into the contest.

If you are just joining or would like to review the stories, you can check them out at the following links: Henrietta’s Love Song, Rapunzel Had a Bad Hair Day, and Prince Charming Has My Shoe. Then please cast your vote below. The poll will remain open until 6 p.m. P.S.T. on Saturday, April 21st, and on Sunday the 22nd, I will post the results as well as my official entry.

Thank you so much for reading and for being a part of this vote—I’m excited to see which piece is your favorite, and I am also looking forward to entering it into the OUAT contest! Also, thank you to those of you who have commented on the stories. Feedback is always appreciated and welcome.

And now…<kazoo sounds here>…time to cast your vote!

Thanks again for participating!


OUAT Flash Fiction Entry Possibility #3…Vote is Tomorrow!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today is the third of a four-day blog series to determine which flash fiction short I should enter into the “Once Upon a Time (OUAT) Flash Fiction Writing Contest,” in preparation for the first National Flash Fiction Day. OUAT expectations are simple: no more than 350 words on the theme of “Unexpected Fairy Tales.”

I crafted three pieces and—heavy in the throes of indecisiveness—decided that I would leave the choice of which story to enter up to YOU, my wonderful blog readers! The pieces have been posted daily, and tomorrow this site will be hosting a vote for you to pick which story should be used as my entry. Monday’s story was Henrietta’s Love Song. Yesterday brought you Rapunzel Had a Bad Hair Day.

Please be advised, today’s story includes some PG-13 content, but without further ado, here is…

 

Prince Charming Has My Shoe

 

So I left my shoe at the friggin’ ball.

My step-mom’s freaking out and the steps are driving me mad, and all I’m doing here is scrubbing the floor to shut them up but I really wish I could get my shoe back.

I worked out a deal with that nasty fairy and she’s going to come to collect, all bibbety-bobbety-boo like, and shit’s gonna go down if I don’t have that shoe.

When the spawn girls leave the room to pick their zits I rummage through the closet again to see if maybe I misplaced it myself, but I clearly remember getting home lopsided—one foot cut up from hikin’ it through the forest and the other cramped tight thanks to those godforsaken heels.

Of course…I was a little drunk, so it’s hard to remember exactly what happened after that sweet ass prince handed me the spiked punch.

I think we danced a little. There may have been some fireworks. I don’t really recall, but I think the step-mom might be onto something those times she’s called me a floozy.

The good news is that the girls are all squawking about the Prince showing up, because apparently he thinks the love of his life wears the damn shoe. Please. That would be me, and I don’t really care, but I definitely could use that shoe back.

“Cinderella,” the godmother says, but I wave her off and run out to greet the Prince at the door.

“Try me first, Charming,” I say. The godmother fairy has started hovering in the doorway behind him. Can he smell that?

He slips the shoe over my toes and starts crying like a baby in delight, so I smack him and run. When I get to my room I chuck the glittered shoe at the nagging fairy and knock her out cold.

I’ve already got a bad rap in this town so who cares? I’m free and clear and can get back to my work, so they can talk all the talk they want; I’ve still got my soul.

Sweet deal.

 

***

 

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of this post. Don’t forget to come back by tomorrow to vote for your pick.

You can check out other participants’ entries by scrolling to the bottom of the page at Yearning for Wonderland’s OUAT Contest. There are many fantastic stories to read!


Once Upon a Time Flash Fiction Entry Possibility #2

Welcome to Day Two of my journey into flash fiction! For those of you just joining, I am participating in the “Once Upon a Time (OUAT) Flash Fiction Writing Contest” in honor of National Flash Fiction Day. The contest theme is “Unexpected Fairy Tales” and there is exactly one rule: the entry must be no more than 350 words.

Since I had so much fun with the challenge, I ended up writing three pieces. I’ll be posting them daily through Wednesday—but I can only enter one piece, so I am leaving the decision up to YOU!

On Thursday, please be sure to vote for your pick; the story with the most votes will be my entry to the OUAT contest. Yesterday’s blog entry contained Henrietta’s Love Song. Today’s story is…

 

Rapunzel Had a Bad Hair Day

 

They say Rapunzel had the longest hair. What was she in? A tower of some 73 feet?

Well naturally, I found my way to that tower, chest puffed and neck straining, and stared on up that ungodly height to the little face peering out at me. I slayed the witch yesterday, so it seemed I had a fair chance of making it up to my Princess.

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your—”

“Got it,” she screamed, and down came the tangled mess of hair.

I suppose I should understand that a gal trapped in a tower with a mane almost 73 feet long is worth waiting for, but that’s a pretty long climb on a lot of split ends. I didn’t really believe it until I started climbing, Rapunzel bitching almost the entire time.

“Ow. Ow. That really hurts.”

“I’m the Prince, Rapunzel!” I said, but she kept on whining.

When I approached the top, the tension grew ever tighter, and her bemoaning of the situation ever louder. I had to ask myself, what kind of Princess gets herself trapped in a tower?

And did she bathe?

So it was as I tossed myself over the window ledge that I slowly peeled open my eyes, Rapunzel cranking her hair back onto her head with some sort of pulley system and fussing as if she had a head big enough to house this dreadlocked mess. But really she had a pinhead. A pretty little pinhead, but not one befitting that length of hair. She smoothed her hands along her dress and smiled—you know a girl trapped in a tower hasn’t seen a dentist, right?—and I just scoped it all out with a sigh.

“I’ve come to rescue you, Rapunzel.”

“Oh Prince!” she squealed. She looked a tad on the old side, really, but I guess she’d have to be to have that hair. She wrapped her gnarled hands around my neck, and when she planted her kisses over my face I resolved first thing we’d get her teeth cleaned.

“You saved me!”

Oh yeah, I sure did.

 

***

 

Thanks so much for being part of the vote on Thursday, and please feel free to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of this post.

There are many great authors entering this contest, and you can check them out by scrolling to the bottom of the page at Yearning for Wonderland’s OUAT Contest. Happy reading everyone, and thanks for participating!


Once Upon a Time Flash Fiction Entry Possibility #1 (The First of a Four Day Blog Series)

Generally, I try to post about every three days—but today will be the first of a four part, four day series…with a twist!

I found the “Once Upon a Time Flash Fiction Writing Contest” last week, gearing up for National Flash Fiction Day over in the UK.

THE THEME: “Unexpected Fairy Tales.” THE RULES: 350 words (or less) of flash fiction about an “unexpected” fairy tale.

I decided to go for it…however, me being me, I had so much fun I couldn’t write just one! (Read: I like to have options, hence the five different types of lotion in my bathroom vanity and three different shampoo types in the shower at all times. Go figure.) So I wrote three. Three quick little tales to debate over for entry—but here’s the fun twist: I’m going to let YOU decide which one I should enter!

Starting today, I will post one of my entry possibilities each day. Then on Thursday I’ll post a vote box and you, wonderful you, can help be part of my decision process for which piece to enter.

I’ve never really tried my hand at flash fiction before—it’s short, sweet, and oh.so.rapidly to the point. I had a great time with it, and I hope you enjoy the pieces I created. All three are extraordinarily different, and for lack of a better plan, I will simply post them in the order I wrote them. 🙂

Thanks so much for being part of the vote on Thursday, and please feel free to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of this post. Also, I have included a link to other entries if you’d like to check them out. They’re quite entertaining!

All right, here goes (and I better start before the length of my intro exceeds the piece!). Today’s possible entry, the first of three:

 

Henrietta’s Love Song

Henrietta was a pianist.

Or at least, she thought she was a pianist.

Really what this meant was that on any given day, she would rush home with the faintest red tinge across her puffy cheeks, her breath caught in her throat from the frantic run she’d endured all three miles from the prison she called her high school, and then, throwing herself through the front door with a half-grin at her tired mother, she would drop her bag and plop down in front of the piano.

And then she would play. Long, careful strokes across the freshly polished keys, her raggedy voice tuning in here and there as she pressed the notes that sounded like a fairy tale to her, the whimsical melody that played all day in her head as she stared at him.

Him.

Charlie.

Her buddy on the track team, the most handsomest beautiful boy on the planet that she couldn’t stop thinking about ever!

“Henrietta!” her mother shrieked from the kitchen. “Do we have to do this? Again?”

Henrietta closed her eyes and played, her eyes pinched so tightly shut as she played blind—yes blind, for she didn’t need her eyes to see Charlie’s melody in her head!—and she played until her fingers blistered, that image of him in her mind.

“Seriously, Henrietta, this has got to stop.”

But Henrietta ignored her mother, playing the same song for what would be the twenty-seventh day in a row, some Bach piece that she hummed when he passed her on the 100 meter stretch of the track… “I really like your shoes, Henrietta.”

“Your phone, Henrietta!”

She paused, her fingers folded ever so gently, frozen.

“Caller ID says ‘Charlie,’” her mother said.

Henrietta slammed her hands down on the keys, her breath tight in her chest as her mother thrust the phone against her ear.

“Henrietta,” Charlie said, his voice trilling like the notes of her song. She leaned into it, sighing, delighted, hoping…

“I think you left your shoes in my bag. Come and get them.”

***

Feel free to share your thoughts, and thanks for voting on Thursday!

To check out other fantastic entries, be sure to head over to the OUAT website and scroll down to the bottom of the page.


This One’s for the Kiddos!

Recently, it came to my attention that several of my students caught wind of my website. I thought this was just a random mention by a few kids, and then I checked my website stats for the day the word spread. As you can see, the results were a little more staggering:

After I saw this, I felt like my life had been written into a Gossip Girl episode for a day, and I decided it was high time to dedicate a post to my awesome kiddos. 🙂

Now, I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but I suppose it could have come about for one of two reasons: genuine enthusiasm for what’s happening on this blog—which is what I’m inclined to believe because, quite frankly, I have some seriously amazing students—or perhaps just a general desire to catch me saying something naughty.

I have heard a few rumors about this idea that would make such a desire understandable. I’m pretty sure the concept of my alleged dirty writing originated last year, when I mentioned in class that I wrote an adult fantasy novel, as in, not young adult fantasy, and somehow this translated into the idea that I write erotica. (Whoopsy! Epic teacher fail moment…)

Sadly, this is not true, but I’m also not going to lie: I write adult fiction, which is to say that within the course of the story, there may be some graphic material (violence, language, sex, overtones, etc.) that may be deemed inappropriate for young adults, just as a TV-MA show might be. In my humble opinion, this sort of reading decision is something teens make everyday, and hopefully this level of reading has occurred with appropriate discretion, parental or otherwise. As a young girl I read far past my age level, but I also knew what was fictional versus appropriate behavior in real life, as I’m going to assume any teen readers have the capacity to do, as well.

So what do I write? I write fantasy, contemporary, and just about anything else that springs into my thick and somewhat pinhead-shaped dome. And since you like to read, I thought it would be fun to know what type of book YOU prefer to curl up with on a lazy afternoon. Adult or young adult, click on your preference below!

Whether you are indeed a student or another reader, young or young-at-heart, thanks for sharing your reading interests back with me and other blog followers. Expect to see more polls and surveys on your interests in the future from time to time, and thank you for participating in this poll!


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