The Illuminating Blogger Award!

Today I’d like to share exciting news—I’ve been nominated for two blog awards! Wow! These nominations come from fellow bloggers Michelle Ziegler and Katherine Checkley. Michelle nominated me for a new one, the Illuminating Blogger Award, while Katherine nominated me for my second Liebster Award. Thanks so much, ladies, I’m honored! 🙂

Since each of these awards has different requirements—the Liebster’s are quite thorough—I’ve decided to address them in separate posts. For now I’ll say another quick thanks to Katherine Checkley for the Liebster, and I’ll elaborate more on it next week! Now for…

The Illuminating Blogger Award

The rules for the Illuminating Blogger Award are as follows:

  • Visit the award site at http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/ and leave a comment indicating you were nominated and by whom.
  • Thank the blogger and include a link back to their site.
  • Share a random thing about yourself.
  • Select 5 or more nominees and notify them that they’ve won the award.
  • Put the award on your blog somewhere.

Michelle, my nominator, is a romance writer who posts as she makes her way along the writing path. Her posts are fun and informative, whether about writing or the world in general. Thanks for the nomination, Michelle!

Time for a random fact about me…hmm…I love fun socks! This is particularly random since I’m always warm and wear flip-flops most of the time—but around the house I love short or knee-high socks with some variety of silliness on them. I own a lot of striped, polka-dotted, and zebra-printed ankle socks. I have knee highs with stripes, others with skulls and crossbones, and some with both! I also have pairs that tote some verbal hilarity all over the feet that I’ve owned for many years (“Diva,” “Sassy silly flirt,” etc…seriously, who buys these for me?!). My new house has bamboo floors, so I have an excuse to wear my socks more—and slide across the surface a la Risky Business!

My five nominees for the Illuminating Blogger Award are:

  • Jessica Vealitzek at TrueSTORIES: this award is intended for illuminating, informative bloggers, and Jessica is just that. Her posts involve real stories from real people, and they’re all beautifully written. I love finding her posts in my inbox!
  • Mike Manz at Stories for the Masses: Mike restructured his blog to focus on his fiction, and it’s exquisite. In addition to posting his work, he creates a companion podcast every time (wow!) and has a special feature showcasing other story-based blogs. Love it!
  • Anna Meade at Yearning for Wonderland: Anna runs flash fiction contests and posts her own work. She is a social media guru, managing to rile up participation like none other! The themes she creates for her contests are inspired—I plan to enter more!
  • Rebecca Lane Beittel at Rebecca of Tomorrow: Rebecca’s posts are playful and clever, often full of facts about authors of the past or present. Sometimes she sheds light on the season (she posted a fun series on Halloween), and others on writing in general.
  • Shay Fabbro at Dr. Shay West aka Dr. Shay Fabbro aka Dr. Fab!: Shay posts author interviews and book reviews, but also posts about fabulous science topics! Shay is a Biology Professor with expertise in the field, and as a former biology student, I get a kick out of her posts.

So there you have it—five awesome nominees. Great work, everyone! And thanks again to Michelle for the nomination! 🙂

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New Digs, New Desk, New Dreams

Over the last month and a half, I’ve been moving. It’s a slow process—this is the first time I’ve ever moved during the school year in a long while, and I am now officially in awe at the rest of the working world for doing this all along. While I moved my bed in three weeks ago, it wasn’t until this weekend that the place started to feel like a real home. Sure, there are still curtain rods and picture frames that seem to come to life and jump right where I’m stepping every time I walk down the hall, but for the most part it’s coming together! 🙂

My running trail along the bay!

In this short time, I’ve also already fallen in love with the place. I lived in my old house for seven years, so it was hard to leave. Sadly, the neighborhood had grown increasingly more uncomfortable (read: neighbors breaking into condos in the complex, a jewelry store hold-up at gunpoint two blocks away, and various other violent and/or creepy oddities) and I had also become the fishbowl for the neighborhood (bottom floor, center unit; gazebo smokers watching the Eva Show daily). It was time to go.

I found a condo in one of the safest neighborhoods in the vicinity, a beautiful space that almost feels like an entirely new county. It’s filled with trees, clean areas, and neighbors who so far seem to look out for one another in a respectful way. A bonus to this whole event is that the place is along the water where I’ve come to run for the last seven years. Just a two-minute walk through the complex and I’m on my favorite trail, breathing in the fresh smells of the ocean and observing the beauty of the waves as they roll into the shore…and if I turn right instead of left out of the gate, I get to watch the sailboats coming into the port!

Score for me, right?

Now, when I packed up my old place, I decided it was time to give up my desk—the desk being a beat-up old table I picked up on the side of the road when I moved in. It served its purpose, for sure, but I wanted to buy an actual desk for my new office. Nothing fancy and certainly not expensive—I have no qualms with buying furniture at Target at this point in my life, honestly, if it looks nice enough and does the job—but something that would make me feel at home and ready to pursue my writing goals in my comfortable new condo.

So, I did. I bought a lovely little desk and assembled it last weekend, and while I still have yet to fill the drawers, I plopped my computer right on top of it with a delighted squeal. In addition to the desk, I bought two (more) bookcases so I could officially begin forming a wall of books (more squeals). It finally feels like I have a real office, and I’m looking forward to spending every day writing in here!

Sometimes a change of location means the world. For me, the change signifies safety, happiness, and a new boon in creativity. And with this great new desk under my computer—well, I think some new dreams are about to form. If you could see me now, you’d find a big smile plastered across my face!

I’m off to continue my unpacking bonanza now. Next post, I’d like to talk about the two awesome blog awards I received from Michelle Ziegler and Katherine Checkley. Until then, have a great week, everyone!

—Brought to you from the new desk in the new place of one newly happy Eva Rieder 🙂


Third Thursday Flash Edition Five: “Spider”

Happy belated Halloween! I hope yours was filled with spookiness and fun!

Before we dive in, I’d like to send out a quick thank you to Katherine Checkley and Michelle Ziegler for nominating me for two blog awards—thanks so much, ladies! I’m honored. 🙂 I’ll post more information about these awards next week…but for now it’s time for the fifth edition of Third Thursday Flash!

Every three weeks, I craft a 500 to 1,000 word flash piece with a theme suggested by my fantastic blog readers. In honor of yesterday’s holiday, I requested Halloween-esque type themes. The charming and talented Jessica Vealitzek over at True STORIES suggested today’s idea. Jessica apparently had a creepy spider dream [shiver] about one giant spider crawling off a branch and onto the web of another giant spider before eating it. Ew!

Despite my intense arachnophobia and various screams emitted from one little ole me as I looked up a couple spider details, I went for it. So, thanks to Jessica for helping me creep everyone out this week! 😉

Here’s…

Spider

Spider crawled along the branch, his limbs aching and tired. It had been so long since he’d fed.

Yesterday? The day before?

Too long in a spider’s world, and his felt too soon to end, too far traveled to go much further.

The wind kicked across the marshy field, threatening to pry his legs from the bark on which he balanced. Only under the jagged wood edges could he hook his legs to this tree, the one he’d climbed since the cursed wind blew his web apart two falls of night before.

So hungry. The wind smacked at him again, a tremble humans would only faintly notice but which he could feel all too well. Not as much as the lesser spiders—the Wolves, the Widows, or the Tarantulas. He was far bigger than all of them combined, a distant cousin to the Daddy with his long legs.

Spider’s legs were long, of course, but it was his size that left him traveling alone as the biggest predator. Always fed.

Not this time.

Spider weaved down the branch, the wind threatening him like Death itself. If he fell the marsh would swallow him up, and he knew this because the mud below wrapped its clutches around items even smaller than him, things that humans called fruit and squirrels, and boxes and dolls; each of these things stared up at him now, their size half-buried beneath the muck and sinking slowly under the shriek of the wind until no being would know they existed.

“Mama, mama look!”

Spider directed his eyes at the child, the tiny blonde thing that tugged the female’s hand and pointed up into the tree. His quiet cry would be lost to any others, but Spider could hear it.

He heard it all.

“Mama, is that a raccoon?”

“No baby, it’s a—oh my god! Stay away from that!” She scooped the child up and ran. “Arnold! Honey, in the tree! We need a rake or…I don’t know! Eek!” She barreled through the marsh, its moist tentacles hardly catching her feet as she ran.

But it would catch me if I’m weak enough to fall.

The wind hit Spider again and he struggled to crawl forward. Then, he saw her at the end of his branch. She huddled on her web as if she thought herself impervious to the wind. Her thin layer of fur rustled against the blows, shaking her on the web until she bounced with the orchestra of sound that howled across the marsh. She was the reason he hungered. She was the one who stole his prey, catching the rat in her web and wrapping it with the same care he would—a feat considering it was one-third her size.

And she let the wind carry him away.

Spider snuck to the end of the branch. Somewhere within him he knew it was wrong, that what he would do next would break every code of their kind. They were the last two, but he was hungry. So hungry.

And she’d stolen his food.

Spider waited on the edge of the branch and watched her. She’d looped her silk to the web in an attempt to hold on during her slumber, and while she’d prepared for the wind’s attack, she hadn’t prepared for his. When the gusts subsided he scurried forward, creeping off the branch and onto her web. He lifted his fangs before she woke and sank them into her.

She cried out as his venom coursed through her, traveling around her large belly and down her legs. She was almost as big as him, but not quite. He remained the largest spider of all.

The last of his kind.

She shivered while his toxin softened her body, but he couldn’t wait.

He swallowed her whole.

***

Thanks for reading the fifth edition of Third Thursday Flash!


Here Comes Halloween, Halloween, Halloween…

It’s that time of year again—time for all the children to dress up in their spookiest, scariest, and most creative gear before trick or treating around their neighborhoods. It’s also the time when we grown-ups enjoy a good excuse to wear costumes and have a some fun as we attend Halloween parties or answer the door for the children who come by.

Halloween has always been special to me because it involves two of my most favorite things: eating candy and dressing up. While I’ve attempted to subdue my love of candy all these years (or not), I still can’t seem to get enough of the dressing up. Back in my pseudo-seamstressing days, I made a new costume every year. Now, that endeavor [obsession] has established an actual Costume Closet in my house. Sure, it could be a bigger collection, but for now it contains everything from Renaissance Faire costumes to disco gear, red devil pants to cat dresses, and of course the legendary arctic raver meets unicorn meets My Little Pony ensemble (it’s a long story). These are just a few that I still have, though there were some from the past that were just as fun and exciting to throw together and wear (Mata Hari, Cleopatra, and the Madonna Montage, to name a few).

Saturday night I went to a friend’s Halloween party, and while I took the “easy” route for me—the disco dress seemed more suited to a three-hour round trip car ride—I still enjoyed a lengthy costume try-on session before I left. Each costume represented a different year of my Halloween adventures and ambitions, and all of them made me feel a like a kid again. The holiday is a mix of fantasy and magic to me—the day we get to let our imaginations run wild and dare to dress in the most unusual of costumes.

So in honor of Halloween I wanted to ask all my readers—what are you planning to don this year for Halloween? Or, what’s your favorite past costume?

In other words, what fantasy will you live on All Hallow’s Eve? Please share below!

Also, don’t forget to send your Third Thursday Flash Halloween-themed ideas by 8 p.m. PST tonight (to evariederauthor@gmail.com). I’ll be creating a Halloween inspired edition for Thursday’s post.

Until then…have a safe and spooky Halloween!


Third Thursday Flash (Halloween!) Submission Call!

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Well, Evie’s pointer fingers are still pressed tightly together until next week (see my last post, I’m Putting My Pointer Fingers Together And…, for more info), but that can’t stop the Third Thursday Flash idea submission call!

As a reminder, every three Thursdays I’m posting a 500 to 1,000 word flash fiction piece I’ve written based on your idea! Submissions are now open for theme ideas you’d like me to craft from for next Thursday’s post—but this time, Halloween themes and monsters are encouraged! Please pass along whatever idea you like (a theme, a sentence, a prompt, a couple of words you’d like me to incorporate or use as background—your choice, but ghouls, goblins, ghosts, vampires, witches, and other creatures of the night are HIGHLY encouraged). Send your suggestions to me by email at evariederauthor@gmail.com; submissions will remain open until Monday the 29th at 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, when I will pick one of your great ideas and craft a Halloween-themed piece! Also, be sure to let me know in your email if you’d like to remain anonymous; otherwise, you’ll be getting a shout out for your great idea if it’s chosen!

I can’t wait to hear your ideas! In the meantime, you can find out more about Third Thursday Flash and read past editions here.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


I’m Putting My Pointer Fingers Together And…

Dear Readers,

Do you remember the 80s show, Out of This World, in which a half-alien girl named Evie could freeze time by putting her pointer fingers together? Well, my father nicknamed me Evie long ago, and I always believed that one day I could put my pointer fingers together just like her to pause everything.

That said, due to a somewhat crazy last two weeks (at work and home), which culminated tonight in a (second) flat tire (in three weeks) at the house I just moved away from (one week ago), I’m going to request that you play along and imagine that I can freeze time too—thereby putting tonight’s blog post (and potentially Thursday’s) on hold for just a wee bit. My apologies, but I’ll return very soon.

After all, next week is Halloween, and I do write dark fantasy.

Thanks for your patience, and I’ll be back soon, folks!

-Eva Rieder (in her debut role as Time-Freezing Evie)

Watch Evie Freeze Time!


The Art of Narrative, Part Five (Finale): Resolution

All tales must end…and of course, so must our study of the Art of Narrative! Today’s final post of the series focuses on—you guessed it—resolution.

For the last several posts I’ve explored the narrative, starting with point of view, then leading into the stages of the narrative arc, from exposition to conflict and rising action, then to climax and falling action—and just like the end of any narrative, this final piece is designed to tie everything together in a cohesive fashion.

So what exactly forms the resolution stage of a story? Often referred to as the dénouement (from the french word desnouer which means “to untie”), the resolution typically starts during the falling action stage to carry the reader through the narrative’s end. All conflicts are resolved, and the action slows while the characters’ lives return to normal (or close to it). Here the plot tension boils down, the protagonist having faced the conflict and changed the course of his/her life or situation, and thus leaving the reader with a sense of peace or catharsis.

Two alternate situations can occur in the resolution stage. In the case of a quick resolution or a more catastrophic ending, the reader may not feel a sense of closure at all, the narrative’s finale meant to draw a more shocked reaction from him or her. In other narratives such as serial fiction, the author may have used more of a cliffhanger technique to end the story in a moment of suspense or ambiguity designed to draw the reader forward. However, even cliffhangers usually have a resolution of the current plot, leaving the reader satisfied yet questioning of what’s to come.

In this post, I brought back the image of the narrative arc that I originally showed my Freshmen English classes—where I drew the resolution stage higher than the exposition stage. This change in height represents a character’s growth because, good or bad, the protagonist tends to undergo some sort of change throughout the course of the narrative. This is the very reason we keep reading—we want to see what’s going to happen, how the protagonist will face and address the issue, and what will result from the choices he or she makes. Every once in a while, we come across a book in which the character didn’t change at all; this experience can at times be disappointing, for what did we learn if the character ends up exactly where he or she started?

While readers look forward to the change of the protagonist in the narrative, we as writers naturally tend to write toward some sort of conclusion (even if it’s ugly or our characters barely change). But what about those times we want to convey a character hasn’t changed? Is it possible to provide a resolution without actually showing any character growth?

Can you think of a book you’ve read where nothing changes, and yet you still felt closure on the story? In those that I’ve read, I’ve usually chucked the book across the room—yes, literally. What about you? Please share below.

Thank you for following my journey through the Art of Narrative! It’s a concept we all use in crafting stories…and now that I’ve exposed everything behind the curtain, I think it’s time to close it to work the [not so secret] magic behind it again. [She says, rubbing her hands together. *Buah-ah-ah!*]

🙂

Happy reading and writing to everyone, and have a great weekend!


The Art of Narrative, Part Four: Climax and Falling Action

It’s been a long intermission, but…welcome back to the Art of Narrative! Today we’ll continue our series of posts dedicated to the exploration of narrative craft.

Before discussing the next stages—climax and falling action—I’d like to briefly revisit the parts covered so far. First was the narrative arc itself, as well as the four main types of point of view—first person, second person, third person limited, and third person omniscient. (Click here to read about point of view types.) Next we discussed exposition, which included setting, character details, and mood. (Read about exposition here.) After that followed a segment on the three types of conflict—man against man, man against nature, and man against self—and the secondary conflicts that occur in the rising action stage (read more on conflict and rising action here).

So now that we’ve met the scene and the characters, in addition to the issues our protagonist must face as the stakes are raised—where does all this action inevitably lead?

To the climax, of course! It is the moment the reader anticipated for the entire narrative, the actual peak of the reading adventure where our protagonist’s conflict culminates and he or she is forced to face the issue head on. Good or bad, the climax serves as a true turning point for the story—and for this reason it becomes the most dramatic piece of the journey. Here the story brims with all the tension, intensity, and action necessary for the protagonist to find a solution.

In some cases, an author may choose the route of an anti-climax, providing a seemingly trivial solution to a significant conflict. This choice is sometimes employed to add humor to the narrative, but in other situations might be the result of poor planning (or the discovery that the original solution no longer works for the story). Readers often have mixed feelings on the employment of the anti-climax, which may or may not lead into the next stage of the narrative arc: falling action.

The falling action stage represents the series of events that will help the protagonist address the climax aftermath. In short, it is a slow unraveling of the conflict. In the case of an anti-climax, this stage might be missing entirely or may not wrap the story up as coherently as the reader might hope.

Either way, the falling action stage ultimately leads the narrative to its resolution. Stay tuned for the final installment of the Art of Narrative series, when we’ll explore this more fully.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on pieces that intentionally use an anti-climax? In stories that follow the traditional narrative path, do you prefer a quick tie-up in the falling action, or a more extended run before the resolution of the tale? Please share your thoughts below!

And of course, happy reading! 🙂


Third Thursday Flash Edition Four: “Bathe Me Away”

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

Every three weeks, I craft a 500 to 1,000 word flash piece with a theme suggested by my fantastic blog readers. A theme submission call will come around again in about two weeks if you’d like to participate.

Today’s theme is dedicated to and inspired by…my mom! 🙂 She sent along the following: I was looking forward to a bath in my spa tub, long day, boring conversation. As I leaned over to turn on the fountainhead, I noticed there was a vine growing out of the drain… A bit of a writer herself and an illustrator and designer, my mom definitely struck an idea with this one. So, without further ado, thanks to my mom for inspiring…
 

Bathe Me Away

Arianna fell back in the tub, the water splashing around her body as she dipped herself low.

“Dear gawwwdddd….” She closed her eyes and pressed the wet cloth over them, the scent of cinnamon candle filling her nose in the tiny apartment bathroom. She’d been looking forward to a bath in the spa tub after a long day at work with her troll of a boss, and as if that hadn’t been enough, her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend called her the moment she got in the car—commencing forty-seven minutes of boring conversation.

I really have to dump that guy. Stat.

“Tomorrow,” she muttered aloud. She frowned and sank deeper under the foaming bubbles. It had been a while since she’d cracked open the lid to the bottle, but she remembered loving the scent when she was a kid. Her mom ran her a bath almost every night of her elementary school years, the gesture accompanied by a dramatic reenactment of the 80s soap commercial.

“Take me away!” Arianna said, giggling. The sound echoed off the tiles. “Seriously, anytime. It’s all a little intense right now.”

Pressing her palm against the washcloth, Arianna shoved her foot on the fountainhead. Her five foot nine inch frame surpassed the length of the tub, so as usual she slipped her calves out of the water to make the most of it.

Maybe a new apartment, too?

Something scratched her calf and Arianna jerked her leg back. She tugged the washcloth off her eyes and examined her skin—no mark. A quick glance across the edge of the tub revealed her childhood paranoia of floating spiders was still not anything she should take seriously.

“Phew,” she breathed. But as soon as she did, something green snaked its way beneath the surface. Arianna swept the bubbles aside. “What the—”

A small vine traced a path from the drain and up the edge of the tub, coiling itself around the fountainhead. Flowers broke from its stem as it spread across the metal and along the rim, and as the vine grew out and down the support legs of the tub, the drain snapped with a loud pop. The plant sucked the water straight out from under Arianna, leaving her shivering.

“You’ll like it here, Arianna.”

The voice bounced off the tiles of the bathroom, belonging to no one she could see and yet continuing in the most melodic of tunes. “Away from it all,” more voices said. Arianna yelped, the vines growing behind her back. She tried to lift herself but they slipped around her ankles, circling them like soft hands. They reached her hips and covered her body, soothing her skin as warmly as the bath water had done moments before, and enough to make her want to melt deeper into it.

“What is going on?” she whispered. She fought for a moment, but the texture felt so warm, so gentle…

The vines grew higher. They traveled up the tile of the bathroom walls and back down the corners of the room. They spread over each other, the flowers covering stems, the stems covering flowers, and the voices chiming in together as Arianna sank into the tub.

“Away, away, away…”

The vines laced themselves into her hair, then caressed her shoulders. They embraced her in foliage as she slipped lower, nothing but green comforting her skin, filling the tub, and overtaking the room before Arianna gasped aloud.

“But I—”

The vines circled her neck and crossed her face, smothering her in the green burst of plant life before it took her away.

***

Thanks for reading the fourth edition of Third Thursday Flash. We’ll return to The Art of Narrative series on Monday, and in the meantime, have a great weekend! 🙂


The Art of Narrative, Intermission (The Tease)

Happy Monday, everyone!

As you may know, I’ve been focusing a series of blog posts on the Art of Narrative. So far, we’ve covered point of view, exposition, and the conflict and rising action. Next up: climax. Except for one small catch…

The next episode of Third Thursday Flash is this Thursday, creating an awkward break in our examination of the narrative path. Because of this, I thought it best to call a brief intermission in our series.

While you take advantage of this time to stretch out your legs, grab some popcorn, and prepare for the next stage of the narrative arc, don’t forget that you still have until 8 p.m. PST tonight to submit any idea (a theme, words, intro sentence, or general topic) that you’d like me to use to craft a 500 to 1,000 word piece for Third Thursday Flash. Please send your idea to evariederauthor@gmail.com, and thanks for participating!

As for the narrative arc—what better place to pause than right before the peak? We’ll resume with The Art of Narrative, Part Four: Climax on Monday, and until then, I leave you with… ***Click here!***

🙂


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