Did you know that every Friday afternoon, the awesomeness on a stick that is JD Mader opens up his website to YOUR flash fiction? Yep. Depending on his delightfully evil whim, he’ll set a time limit, but it’s usually two minutes. Don’t worry about editing, spelling, if it makes any sense…it’s a great writing exercise to keep the muscles loose and the words flowing. Here are three that I put up last Friday and here’s a link to all of them. It’s a lot of fun and SO much great reading. If you like to write, come play with us one week! Continue reading “Stiletto Signature: Flash Fiction”
I entered Indies Unlimited’s Flash Fiction Challenge this week because the topic, put up on Mother’s Day weekend, spoke to me: Write a story about your mother. This bit immediately came to mind. And it won, which means the story gets to be in the 2014 Flash Fiction Anthology. You can find the link to the IU page and KS Brooks’ lovely photo here.
My mother owned Thanksgiving. She shooed us from the kitchen to watch the Macy’s Parade, waved off our offers to help, busied our small, sticky hands with gingerbread man production. Her children happily entertained by the Bullwinkle blimp, she made everything from scratch, her mouth growing tense as the oven timer counted down to Norman Rockwell Judgment Day.
Finally a grown woman with my own household, I wanted to ease her burden. Could I take over something? Maybe…cranberries? Several times she denied me. I kept asking. She would allow me to pick up cream on the way to her house. Wash dishes afterward. It wasn’t enough, though. One year, overwhelmed perhaps with stepsons, grandchildren, and family illnesses, she hesitated after I begged for cranberry detail.
“Please. Tell me how you do it.” I thought her magical, how she conjured up the tangy orange cranberry relish. And the sauce! Sparkling in her cut-glass bowls—ruby red and tart-sweet. Surely her cleverness knew no bounds if she could design concoctions so wonderful from a humble bog fruit.
She shrugged. “It’s nothing. I can do it.”
“Seriously. Nothing.” I whipped out pen and paper, prepared to atone for all that I had not learned at my mother’s knee. It had to have been complicated, this secret sauce, possibly requiring exotic ingredients or kitchen gadgetry I had yet to master, but I would do it. “What do I need to buy?”
“And follow the recipes on the bag.”
Sweet! Brand new trailer for The Picture of Cool. If only writing were as easy as making Animoto videos.
The short novella is available from Amazon.com.
Let me tell you about this book. First I need to tell you that Melinda Clayton is a fellow minion at Indies Unlimited. But I’m certain I would have picked up this book regardless, because the subject and the description intrigued me, and I’d heard about her writing talent. I also read a discussion about Appalachian Justice before I read it, mostly concerning the dialect used. Dialect is dicey in fiction. There’s a fine tightrope act between “not enough” and “Jar Jar Binks.” (No offense meant to Star Wars fans.) But dialect can come off a little strong and alienate a reader, sometimes because it can be difficult to understand, sometimes because it can touch a stereotypical nerve. And, I admit that when I started reading Appalachian Justice, it took me a bit to get into the West Virginia dialect used in first person by the main character, Billy May Platte. But after a while, I grew comfortable with her manner of speaking and grew to love her for her quiet strength and authenticity.
The events of the story are not always pretty, but neither is real life, and the author does a fine job portraying these “broken” characters, laying out who they are through their dialogue and actions and allowing the reader to have empathy. I felt so strongly for these characters, the ones who were trying to get on with their lives after some horrifying experiences, the ones just trying do good and right old wrongs, some only going by the limited information they were able to glean from each other. I loved how Ms. Clayton handled Billy May’s sexuality: it was just a fact of the character’s life, although very realistically for the time period and the community, other characters saw it as a threat.
Appalachian Justice is a great example of how a skilled writer can bend writing “rules” and make it work. Ms. Clayton mixes first and third person, employs multiple points of view even for minor characters, goes back and forth in time, and it all works, in my opinion, to give the reader a full context for the core drama that runs through the story. I love how the story builds in tension and how the author metes it out, pulling me in deeper and deeper until I had to stay up far past my bedtime to see how it all came together. Once I got hooked I had a hard time putting this down. Now I’m on the hunt for Melinda Clayton’s other books.