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Urban sky. Photo courtesy of David Mark, Pixabay, via Flash! Friday
I’ve developed a new passion, and it’s one that doesn’t threaten my hubby in the least. Whew!
I’ve discovered I have a passion and somewhat of a knack for Flash Fiction, and I wanted to share some of my stories with you here.
There are several opportunities I’ve come across via Twitter, and in fact Twitter itself is a good exercise for tightening up your writing, let me tell you! I’ve never been someone with a shortage of words (probably why my hubs is more the strong, silent type), and you really discover what’s necessary and what isn’t in 140 characters!
Same is true of Flash Fiction. The requirements are varied depending on the contest holder’s prompt or not and set word count, but therein lays the fun. To discover whether you can tell a complete story with rich, sympathetic characters in a finite number of words is great practice even for longer novel writing, and maybe particularly for longer novel writing.
My creative writing professor, Don Matson, PhD, of the University of California San Diego, tasked us to read many Flash Fiction pieces such as Ernest Hemmingway’s, “Hills Like White Elephants,” Raymond Carver’s, “One More Thing,” and Robert Parker’s, “The Professional.” Of course we wrote some of our own, though it was a process I didn’t appreciate or enjoy very much until recently, when I began to see more of it done by women.
According to Wikipedia’s description, Flash Fiction seems to have been a craft made most notable by men. O. Henry, Bradbury, Kafka, Vonnegut, and other greats share a reference with short, short fiction, so perhaps you can understand my hesitation to attempt to join their ranks. Thanks to social media and outlets like those I’ll share below, however, many women are quite successfully trying their hands at the art of less is more. I’ve found it a great way to get your feet wet, to practice restraint, and to exorcise those little bits and pieces that swim around in your brain, or that might prove to be sprouts of bigger stories one day.
It’s a process I’m delighted to participate in whenever the moment inspires, and I find it’s usually a knee-jerk reaction or image that pops into my mind, based on the topic or prompt. It’s like something comes over me, and that is perhaps the best lesson of all. It’s absolutely delectable to follow those little seeds wherever they take me, especially as a mental break yet mental exercise from working on my Novel In Progress, Bluebirds. I find that each little success I have makes me feel only more validated to call myself a writer, which is in itself a gift beyond measure.
Capbreton. Photo courtesy of Makunin, @ Pixabay via Flash! Friday
If you are a writer in your deepest of hearts, and wish to take a crack at some Flash Fiction yourself, I encourage you to start reading it first, and to give it a try through one of the many outlets available today. Win or not, I’m always delighted with my results, and the pace of the contests often frees me from procrastination and the compulsive and usual need to rehash, review, tweak and perfect each little word. It’s kind of a skinny-dipping-under-a-full-moon approach that I find deliciously freeing (cause Lord knows I don’t do THAT anymore…if I ever did…. I’m not telling!!)!
Flash Fiction is often dark, but it doesn’t have to be, as you can see from my first win with @99fiction, Never Dreamed:
[Posted here as ever so slightly edited, still 99(!) words or less]
My second win was with Mary Papas for, The Dinner Date, I believe we had to be between 300 and 500 words, this is 409, and I hope you’ll give Mary’s books of flash fiction a read:
[Posted here as since slightly edited]
The Dinner Date
And I’m deeply honored to have received an Honorable Mention for Retribution, in the most recent Flash! Friday Contest that occurs weekly, amid some very tough competition (I love that Rebekah works so hard to find us great photo prompts like the two above, and that our micro fiction is entered as comments under the prompt to be enjoyed and commented on by all). It is 272 words:
[Posted here as ever so slightly edited, same word count]
Last but not least, it didn’t win or earn a mention, but just because I loved it, here’s another 209-word example of one of my Flash! Friday entries, Impasse:
Oh yes! I’ve enjoyed another amazing success! I’m attending BlogHer ’13 in Chicago at the end of July, because I’ve recently learned that out of the hundreds of thousands(!) of blogs posted to BlogHer in the last year, I’m a top 100 VOICES OF THE YEAR HONOREE for my second featured post, “The Enlightened Middle Majority and Why the Sides Are Alienating Us.” Enlightened Middle Majority is the same post that has been adapted for inclusion in the book, 51%: Women and the Future of Politics, that’s due out sometime in 2013.
I hope my stories will convince you to try Flash Fiction yourself, because you just never know where it might lead...and what the hell...why don't you enter a little below in the comments!!
I'd love to read 200 OR FEWER WORDS OF FLASH FICTION OF YOURS about FOLLOWING A DREAM--any sort of dream! If you have a Twitter handle, please include it and your word count.
No contest, no deadline...just challenge yourself, ENJOY and be inspired!
Yours truly, WRITER, and author:
--Kim Jorgensen Gane
Guest Post by Heather Greenwood Davis, aka Globe Trotting Mama, aka Sheila the Great: Long Lost Letter to Judy Blume
In Grade 4, I was Sheila the Great.
I’m not kidding.
Despite my fuzzy hair and brown skin, I was convinced you had me in mind when you wrote the novel.
I was also Margaret and Tony and Peter.
I started a newspaper at my school in grade 4 because of your books. I dreamed of being a writer because of your books.
And because at first I wasn’t sure how to do that, some of my earliest writings are letters to my grandmother that were copied almost verbatim from various pages of your novels.
Yes, I plagiarized you at the age of 10.
But I’m not sorry because those letters were never sent and 30 years later, my mother delivered them to me along with a host of other childhood silliness and the joy and tears that resulted from reading my words – your words- are worth any sanctions you may have to take.
What you gave me was a gift; an outlet.
I was a first generation Canadian kid with Jamaican parents trying to find my way through the school system. I didn’t understand cliques or bras. I didn’t know what questions to ask until you came along.
You gave me a guideline to being normally abnormal that has guided the rest of my life.
When my mother bought me “Letters to Judy: What your kids wish they could tell you.” I was insanely jealous of the fact that these kids had written to you and that you were responding.
I was far too in awe to have thought of sending my thoughts as well.
So now that I have the chance here’s what I’d like to thank you for:
Are you There God It’s me Margaret : It led to an awkward conversation between a father and daughter when I snuck up behind him to ask what a “period” was and “how I could get one.” Good times.
Forever: The sneaky way you didn’t announce that this book wasn’t like the others, allowing me a full fifteen minutes of jaw-on-the-ground reading heaven before my mother came bounding up the stairs after getting a tip off from another parent. I’d also like to thank my mom for always hiding the “not until you’re older” book in the same spot allowing me to continue my reading on the sly.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing: For giving me insight into the world of a boy, giving me something great I can share with my sons so they can get to know you too and siding with me in the acknowledgment that baby brothers were put on this earth to test your sanity.
Thank you for Iggie’s House that had a character that looked like me, and for Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Blubber, Then Again Maybe I won’t, Tiger Eyes and all the others that kept me up way past my bedtime, flashlight in hand.
All those years ago when I thought there was no one who understood me, you popped in with characters that have stayed with me my entire life.
I’m so glad to have the chance to finally write the letter I couldn’t all those years ago.
aka Sheila the Great
Heather Greenwood Davis is an award-winning feature writer with more than 20 years of journalism experience. Her stories have appeared in numerous publications including most recently the June issue of "O" The Oprah Winfrey Magazine. A yearlong trip around the world last year with her husband and two sons (ages 6 and 8) led to the family being named National Geographic Traveler Magazine "Travelers of the Year." Stories of their travels and lessons learned also appear online at www.globetrottingmama.com.
Heather thanked US for the chance to purge her soul, but we couldn't be more grateful to her for sharing her memories of growing up with Judy Blume. I couldn't be more grateful that she permitted me to share it with you as a guest post on my blog, and it ain't over, folks! We welcome you to do the same or to participate via your own blog! UPDATE: Find out everything you need to know to participate ON THE #JudyBlumeProject PAGE!!
Copyright © 2013 Heather Greenwood Davis. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the author.
Enjoy this moment in time #JudyBlumeProject piece by Denise DiFulco, writer/editor/author, at denisedifulco.com.
It’s the period book. Everyone calls it that. They never say its awkward, seven-word title. But also, that’s what it is: the period book. The one where the girl gets her period. And a bra.
I am 11 years old. I have neither my period, nor a bra. But I want to read the period book. Everyone is reading the period book. All they talk about is the period book. If I don’t read the period book, they certainly will talk about me.
Mom hasn’t yet pulled me into the basement, as she one day will, to talk about “it.” Not the just small “it”—the period “it”—but the big “it.” After a conversation where I declare I know what “it” is, she won’t say we need to talk about “it.” Instead she’ll tell me, “We need to talk about the birds and the bees.”
I know nothing about birds and bees and what they have to do with “it.” What I do know, I’ve learned from the other book. “The Book.” The one about the big “it.”
Finding “The Book,” the big “it” book, isn’t so easy. It’s not in the school library. It never would be in the school library. There are two copies at the public library.
This I know.
They sit atop a revolving rack—steps away from the librarian’s desk—some corner of their covers shorn away, spines bowed into an arch. On the front, a picture of a locket, suggesting the secrets within. I spin the rack, inspect the book about the fat girl, glance toward the desk. She’s looking down. Another turn. The locket reappears. A second check to be sure, only this time she smiles. I walk away.
Weeks pass and the girls at school are whispering and giggling in the halls. I, too, want to trade in whispers and giggles. I want to know what they know.
One day as I arrive at my fifth-grade desk, a friend shoves her hand into my knapsack. “Here,” she says. “Don’t tell anyone.”
I peer inside. It is “The Book.” The book about the big “it.”
The locket is half torn from the cover, but the contents are intact. I tuck it inside my desk to read the first page, then the second, then the third. Class has begun. I draw my loose-leaf binder over the lip of the table, the bottom edge of “The Book” resting on my thighs. The teacher is speaking, and the class learning something, I am sure. I am learning, too.
Next day I re-establish my cover: Binder pulled out, book beneath, resting on the edge of the tray. Its spine is so well-worn pages seem to unfold themselves. I am opening with them— following the words into another room—so when the teacher calls on me, I don’t answer. She walks around my desk, and as I realize this, I allow the binder to slip over my lap. She does not see.
Yes, I am learning.
Next time I’m more careful. I raise my hand. Answer questions. Look down thoughtfully. Continue my education.
By the time the bell rings, I, too, can whisper and giggle, trade in information so precious and rare no one dares speak its name. Somehow I am changed, though real change is far away. Many questions answered and so much yet to know. Like the noises. What are the noises?
I know they are important. There is no one to ask.
Denise DiFulco is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, Martha Stewart Living and numerous print and online publications. She currently is working on her first novel—loosely based on family history—which chronicles the life of a Jewish man who leaves Nazi Germany and renounces his identity only to find he can’t escape his past. Denise is blogging about her fiction writing at her recently launched blog, Setting Anchor, Setting Sail: A Writer’s Journey.
I'm SO very grateful to Denise for allowing me to share her story here!
Copyright © 2013 Denise DiFulco. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the author.
You know you're tired when you scroll down to see how long a post is before you decide whether you'll read it.
You know you're tired when you can hear your eyes blink.
You know you're tired when you look in the mirror and see yourself yawn and it makes you yawn again.
You know you're tired when the dust bunnies are so big, the dog thinks they're new toys.
You know you're tired when you can still fall asleep immediately after your second cup of coffee.
You know you're tired when you fall asleep at your desk, sitting up, with your fingers poised over your keyboard.
You know you're tired when your eyes burn so bad, you can't read more than a paragraph without falling asleep.
You know you're tired when you find your keys in the fridge and the cheese in your purse.
You know you're tired when you can't retain a thought long enough to write a complete sentence, let alone a paragraph.
You know you're tired when the only thing you seem to be able to write is a ridiculous post about how tired you are.
Though Kristen Lamb, guru, incredible WANAMama to all things WANACon (online writers conference of her creation), says here that Being Tired Can Make You a Better Writer...I may have gone beyond that point, and am looking forward to a coaching conference in San Francisco this weekend to re-energize me and help to recharge my batteries.
My point? The Judy Blume Project is far too big for two moms from Colorado and Michigan to do justice to in a mere month (without child protective services being alerted, and husbands complaining loudly about there being no clean underwear), and Judy deserves SO much better than sleep-deprived zombies for partners.
Dana and I are delighted to report that we've gotten so much terrific feedback, we feel compelled to expand the project and extend the deadline. We are STILL ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS!! ...Maybe it even remains a living, breathing thing...who knows?
So visit your local library. Re-read your favorite Judy Blume books, enjoy the memories they spark, and let us know what a wonderful and necessary contribution she made to your pre-adolescent and adolescent survival.
For many of us, Blume's characters and their life events allowed us to experience scary things without actually having to suffer the consequences. She helped us to feel normal, to understand things we couldn't speak to our parents about, and to understand that we were perfectly acceptable amid a persistent fog of zit-infused angst and uncertainty.
You can review our submission guidelines here, as well as check out all the other fabulous pieces to date. WE HOPE YOU'LL JOIN THEM. Established or not, young or old, student or teacher, mother or daughter or father or son; all the above, or none of the above--this means YOU. Let us know you're getting to work on your Judy Blume Project Anthology submission, thanking and honoring the fine lady for her amazing contribution to MG/YA fiction.
Some of Dana’s readers said SHE should be the next Judy Blume. I agreed, and suggested she create an anthology in Judy Blume’s honor. Because of that brief exchange, Dana and I are collaborating on this crazy, beautiful Judy Blume Project (#JudyBlumeProject), for which, I have a feeling, we will forevermore be grateful.
Judy Blume: prolific and iconic author, surrogate mother, surrogate best friend and confidant to women and men in the most difficult of their growing up years, through many of life’s most tumultuous situations. Who knows what the real Judy is like, but between her pages, she offers a soft breast to rest your troubled head upon, like the grandmother you miss so desperately. She offers a kick in the pants like the best friend who always tells you the truth; honesty, always honesty, without restraint or judgment. And most importantly, Judy always lets you know that you’re perfect and normal, and perfectly normal, just the way you are. The same stuff your mom always told you, but you didn’t believe because she had to love you, she was your mom; and no one else ever would.
No one’s likely to tap you on the shoulder to tell you flat out that this is the magic you’ve been waiting for. When it comes, you’d better believe in it; believe in yourself and believe in the possibility that it could happen to you, on a regular old Tuesday. This could be your Tuesday…your moment.
If you’re lucky, you know when you come upon your destiny—you know when someone is meant to come into your life, and that something beautiful will happen as a result. I don’t know whether there will ever come a penny from this project upon which we’re embarking, but I do know that it will be life-changing in ways that transcend the concrete. I can’t thank Heather enough for being her Extraordinary Ordinary self and providing a platform for something like this to happen. And I can’t thank Dana enough for taking me along in this dust-kicking convertible that could totally be headed off a cliff.
What a ride it’s sure to be. I’m leaning in. With everything I have, I’m leaning in.
Follow along to see what happens on The Judy Bloom Project Facebook Page.
Guidelines to SUBMIT YOUR OWN PIECE can be found on the #JudyBlumeProject WEBPAGE!
...This could be YOUR Tuesday.
Please tell me in the comments what Judy Blume meant to you, and consider throwing in your proverbial hat.
[UPDATE: !!NOW -- ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS -- NOW!!]
Magic can materialize in a breath...you're going about your day, you happen upon something that might be remarkable, make an innocent comment and wheels start to turn on a regular old Tuesday, if you're open to it.
Magic is exactly what happened yesterday between The Kitchen Witch and I, when I linked my Beauty of a Woman post about The Beauty of Women Friends to the Extraordinary Ordinary's weekly Just Write exercise. My moment, trying to write while waiting for my dear friend to come through her surgery to remove a cancerous breast, totally fit with the spirit of the exercise...write from the heart, "from a free heart-gut place," says Heather, and don't stop, Just Write. So you post your moment, and others post their moments, you read each other's blogs, maybe laugh, maybe cry, but above all, you appreciate the craft of real writing that comes from the heart. Soon you find it changes the way you write for the better. You come to seek out moments to write about; beautiful moments, poignant moments, moments to appreciate, to savor or just to mark.
I was reading some of the other blogger's posts, and The Kitchen Witch's was about Judy Blume (please take a moment to pop over and read it), bemoaning the absence of new MG/YA fiction for her daughter's generation from Blume, and acknowledging how the author's works had impacted her own life. She wondered where the next Judy Blume would come from, which clearly struck a nerve with several of the commenters. So today, she writes:
What We Want to Say, March 6, 2013
Hi, you lovely, big-hearted Readers,
I was Gobsmacked at the volume of personal emails I recieved from you, telling me how much Judy Blume has meant to you, and how pivotal she has been to your (and so many of our) growing-up years. So often she’s been a steady, reassuring voice whispering in the dark.
A friend of mine, Kim and I were talking yesterday about Judy Blume, and we thought it would be so interesting and beautiful to hear the stories/memories/musings about Judy’s work and what it meant to you, as a young woman navigating that twisting and hard road between girl and womanhood.
Our ultimate goal is to compile an anthology in her honor, full of colorful, vibrant voices. A book chock-full of writing by women (or men!) who have heartfelt and honest things to say.
If you’d like to submit a piece for consideration, [PLEASE VISIT OUR #JudyBlumeProject WEBPAGE]. It [may one day] be a belated Valentine to our Judy, but one that is long overdue.
So, Dana and I started hashing it out. She's taking it on through her channels, and I'm taking it on through my channels, and we're going to put our heads together, pick through the many inspiring and heart-felt submissions we're sure to get, and come up with something brilliant to honor Judy and her many inspiring works for young readers.
So dig in. Dig deep. Send in your submission by the end of [June], and maybe you could find yourself a published author (newly or again) in the near future! We all have a story to tell, if Judy has inspired the landscape of your life in any way, maybe this is a beautiful place for you to begin telling yours.
FIND EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW INCLUDING SUBMISSION GUIDELINES & CONTRIBUTORS RIGHT HERE!!!
Due to SPAM, I've had to delete the submission form. Please find email button above. Sorry for any inconvenience. Thanks!
At the start of one of the last couple sessions of my Creative Writing class, one of the few men in attendance asked me to sit next to him. I didn’t want to offend him—because I was raised that way; to be polite at all costs—I said, OK.
“Wait, are you single?”
I showed him my ring, “Nope, sorry. I’m married.”
“Oh, well leave that seat open then.”
K. Thanks. EVER so.
He then went on to ask whether another female in class was single, and lament how he just wanted to meet a nice woman who wasn’t crazy.
Er, reap what you sow, much?
And then his writing was really genuinely funny and entertaining, so I had to forgive him, and even like him just a little bit.
Fast forward a few weeks to the first meeting of our invitation-only writers’ group…and there he is. And my project, that I will have to read aloud, is smut-filled. ***Warning, warning, Will Robinson! You may want to stop reading now, daughters & nieces.**** It isn’t really. But by way of introduction to the characters, it’s kind of right there in your face in the first two chapters. Sex is a part of life; an important part of life. Do I relish the idea of reading it aloud to a mixed group? Nope. Not one bit.
In this age of tablets—which have changed EVERYTHING about the Publishing Industry, including a rapid growth in women’s erotica, because no one knows what you’re reading or downloading—and Fifty Shades, however, I want to write a better version of the sexy novel. I want to tell a great story, with dynamic characters who engage in believable dialog and who appropriately engage in consensual, grown-up sex. I don’t wish to glorify the sex, or gratuitously slather it all over every chapter, but it’s an important part of all our stories.
It’s how we all got here, whether we like to think it of our parents or not.
Sex is how partners connect and remember they love one another, even when life gets all other kinds of messy and sometimes ugly, in between. Americans don’t easily acknowledge sex and its appropriate place in our collective rites of passage growing up, and they don’t like to talk about it much. Even grownups snicker and laugh about it behind their hands, and we’re too often mortified at the idea of discussing it with our kids.
While I don’t see myself reading the Fifty Shades series, due to the many reviews that suggest it may be poorly written and filled with too much purple prose, the fact that I just don’t enjoy the S&M (nope, not taking any chances linking to that!) idea myself and I don’t really want to read what I’ve heard referred to as “wall-to-wall sex,” I must allow that perhaps it’s had an important place in modern literature if it’s gotten people to talk and read about sex more freely, and thus created more opportunities for its consensual enjoyment. I’m all for that.
I still find myself mortified, however, at the idea of reading aloud in [a mixed] ‘Group’ next week—and I will likely request an all female escort to my vehicle at the end of it.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
If I don’t die of embarrassment, that is.
A couple of years ago, my then thirteen-year-old niece told me about the book she was reading, "The Hunger Games," by Suzanne Collins. She absolutely loved it, and even my brother was reading it. Still, I was a little dismissive about reading a book whose intended audience was initially middle schoolers and up. As hungrily as both of my girls read the entire Harry Potter series and have eagerly awaited every movie, I've yet to read the books. I believe all the hype; I'm certain they're as wonderful as everyone says they are, but I guess I'm waiting to experience them for the first time with my son. Unfortunately he's still absorbed in the Beast Quest series, by Adam Blade, and he's not quite ready for demons and parents dieing. Which, by the way, is a great way to get a little boy who is a reluctant reader off and running.
Flash forward to all the hype surrounding The Hunger Games series recently, and the fact that the movie is being released on March 23, and I finally got on board. And I'm so glad I did. I finished the first book into the am hours last night, and immediately got the second one and can't wait to begin reading it tonight. Even though this series was conceived or at least marketed for young readers, it is so tightly written, and the story develops so well through the action, you won't feel at all like you're reading one of your kids' books.
I always try to read a book before I see a movie, because I think the best thing about hunkering down with a truly great book is the part my own imagination plays in the experience. And in my imagination, my amazing niece was Katniss Everdeen herself. She is one of the strongest young ladies I know. She's a competitive gymnast and an archer, and I could clearly see the determination she shows in her sport in every one of those pages. I imagined Rue as a blend of my three younger nieces, and saw the admiration they have always had for their big sister in Prim. All my nieces are feisty, fierce and admirable in their character, strength and fortitude, both on the mats and off, and I certainly wouldn't bet against any one of them in any game. And from now on, I'll keep an open mind when they recommend a good book.
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On a recent visit with her family to San Diego, my girlfriend, Anna, shared a great book with me; "The Happiness Project," by Gretchen Rubin. I've only read the first couple chapters so far, but perhaps you've noticed in my blog that I've been conscious of making the best of being so far away from family, longtime friends and what will always be home. Let me tell you, spending the afternoon with newer friends, sitting beside a pool on March 4 was definitely a good reason to be grateful and happy today.
I just love pools, beaches, and activities of any kind on any body of water. Growing up in a resort town on the shores of Lake Michigan has made me a water child, for sure. Plus I'm a Cancer, which is a water sign. I also love books. One of my favorite things to do while relaxing by a pool is read a great book.
I dearly miss books, in fact. Good old-fashioned, curl the pages back, dogear them all you want, paperback books. I love to display hardcover books; the colors of the jackets and the art are pleasing to me. I have books out in my guest room in case my guests can't sleep. And once upon a time, I even had two large library shelves filled with books in my living room. My children have all had vast book collections; even Aidan, who is coming of age in the tablet generation.
I've been trying to get accustomed to reading e-books, but it's just not the same. I miss hungrily turning each page. I miss the smell of books; ruffling the pages so the smell wafts up on the breeze it makes. Books feel warm and like things to be treasured, tablets seem cold and impersonal. Most of all, I miss passing along a book to a good friend, and receiving one in return.
I'm trying to be hip...after all, I'm writing a BLOG, aren't I? But let's just say that I'm not in love with my tablet just yet in the same way that I've always enjoyed a love affair with a great book.
Author|Award-Winning Essayist|Freelance CommercialWriter|GANE
Kim was selected as a BlogHer '13 Voices of the Year Honoree in the Op Ed category for this post, an excerpt of which has been adapted for inclusion in the book, 51%: Women and the Future of Politics, to be released late 2014. Visit her Wordpress About page to see her CV.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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