Flash Fiction Smashing Pumpkins Edition

pumpkinA story I wrote for this week’s 2-Minutes-Go was partially inspired by actual events. Four years ago, Hurricane Irene wiped out many of the Hudson Valley’s pumpkin patches, among other devastation. Pumpkins float, in case you weren’t aware, and when the flood waters rose in New Paltz, the crop at Wallkill View Farms was washed into the neighboring river, disappointing children and amusing reporters for miles around. On a recent drive, seeing all the jack o’ lanterns on the front stoops, I was reminded of the news footage of the renegade pumpkin flotilla.

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The wind picked up. Eyeing his quarry as he wobbled on the east bank of the Wallkill, Pete threw out his arms and prayed for balance, his slick dress shoes doing a piss-poor job against the wet grass and the mossy rocks. This was supposed to be a quick trip. A fast dash up the Thruway, pick out a pumpkin at the big farm market, return home triumphant. A hero to his little girl, not so little anymore. But the old farmer had just lifted his raggedy eyebrows and laughed at him. “There go your pumpkins,” he said, waving a hand toward the swollen river. “Guess you don’t read the papers much, huh.”

And indeed, there went the pumpkins. A recent flood had turned the Springtown flats into a lake and, lighter than they looked, the gourds had left the building, so to speak, turning the Wallkill into a giant bob-for-produce tub.

This was ridiculous, Pete knew as he stood on the bank, the old farmer’s bark of a laugh piercing his memory, that this rash action would not make her forgive him. Would not erase the narrowed eyes, the huff, the slamming of the door. He’d tried so hard to get to the school in time to see her solo last night, but it was like the world had conspired against him. Meeting running late. Then traffic. And the goddamned rain. Now, silence from his only daughter. Before the divorce, they’d take their yearly pilgrimage to the valley, to the farm market, and she’d delight in picking out her own jack o’ lantern pumpkin. But this year, she couldn’t be bothered. His fault? Her mother’s? The adolescent need to distance herself from her parents? He didn’t know. Maybe all three.

He focused on one of the orange globes, bobbing in what looked like approachable distance. It wasn’t too bad, didn’t look like it had been damaged in its slalom along the rocks. He inched down the slope, knees shaking, his hand going for the security of a fairly strong-looking sapling.

“Come here, baby,” he crooned, stretching as far as he could. His fingertips were nearly brushing it when his feet began to move. As if they were fresh-waxed skis on the diamond slope. He knew he was done. That he was powerless to stop. He knew in that way that lengthened time, that had him windmilling his arms in an ineffectual, cartoonish attempt to change…nothing.

And then all he felt was cold. Cold water, seizing his lungs, pressing against his flailing arms, until his hands hit…something smooth. Something round. Something solid. He hugged the object as if it were his retreating daughter, as if it were the only thing standing between him and that slamming door. When they finally dredged him out, shivering with hypothermia, minus one shoe and laughing maniacally, he was still clinging to the pumpkin.

Halloween Anthology: Boo! Volume Three

Screen shot 2015-10-11 at 6.28.13 PMHappy Sunday! Halloween is almost upon us in North America-land, and with it comes the release of the newest Boo! anthology. Boo! Volume Three contains thirteen Halloween-inspired tales by an eclectic mix of authors, including Ann Cathey, Jen Daniele, Erin McGowan, LB Clark, Mala Rheston, Kristina Jackson, Rich Meyer, David Antrobus, and JD Mader.

Where else can you get that much talent and spooky fun for just 99 cents? Proceeds go to charity, and this year, the DB Collective has chosen The Turtle Island Restoration Project, an organization dedicated to protecting oceans and marine wildlife.

Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy our stories.

 

 

 

Self-Publishing with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Laurie Boris

Where the lovely Stephanie Hopkins and I talk about self-publishing for her Layered Pages blog: “Indies on the whole are a generous bunch, more than willing to share information and resources about what has worked for them and what hasn’t. Just because you’re self-publishing doesn’t mean you have to plunge in alone.”

Layered Pages

Laurie Boris BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Laurie Boris back to Layered Pages to talk with me about her experiences with self-publishing. Laurie has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of five novels. Her sixth, A Sudden Gust of Gravity, will be published in November. When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she’s a freelance copyeditor and enjoys baseball, reading, and avoiding housework. You can learn more about her at website.

Laurie, when did you decide you were going to self-publish?

My first novel, The Joke’s on Me, was published in 2011 by 4RV, a small press in Oklahoma. I really appreciate that they gave me a chance, but as I completed my second novel later that year, I knew I needed to do things differently. Drawing Breath is based on a friend who died…

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Two Minutes Go ROAD TRIP!

Don't worry. I always keep my eyes on the road during this process. Kids, don't try this home. Professional writer on a closed track.
Don’t worry. I always keep my eyes on the road during this process. Kids, don’t try this home. Professional writer on a closed track.

Hi, y’all.  JD had to go do some things to make the world a better place, so he handed me the keys for this week’s flash fiction rave and quilting bee. So make yourselves at home, kick off your shoes, raid the fridge… or, in the man’s own words that I stole from his website:

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON’T IDENTIFY AS ‘WRITERS’ – all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the ‘comments’ section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds … no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send ’em here to read your ‘two’ and encourage them to play. 

Here’s one, a little longer than two minutes, to start us out:

The air teems with humidity, drafted from the open ocean, and the scent of mud. Always the scent of mud. It’s a beautiful aroma, the smell of money in the bank. George fills his lungs with it, presses a hand to his chest and smiles. Some scowl when he takes out his camera to shoot a stranded motorist, a mother risking her life to scoop a bawling child out of harm’s way; when he hands out his business cards, they accuse him of preying on destruction, on distress, to scare people into hiring his company at usurious rates. But he’s performing a public service, really. To repair, you first have to document. You have to show the possibilities, show what can happen if you don’t heed the warnings, if you let your children run around in this mess or don’t buy enough insurance. Mother Nature could be a raging bitch, could snap a hundred-year-old tree like so much kindling. So what if he feels a rush of righteous indignation when it crashes atop a car he could never afford? Hell. Maybe after the season, he’d buy one of those sweet rides for himself. Park it somewhere nice and safe, nowhere near the trees.

He thanks the wisdom of fishermen’s gear as he wades into a street-turned-river, teeming cocoa-brown with that heady aroma of moving earth, aiming for what looks like a good shot of a kitten clinging to a forked branch caught momentarily around the pole of a stop sign. From the roar of rushing water, a cop’s voice barks through, telling him to get the hell out of there. But he doesn’t listen. Just smirks: you do your job and I’ll do mine. Damn, the shot is perfect. Distressed little thing, eyes huge, fur matted. He raises the viewfinder to his eye, already seeing it on the cover of the next brochure, on the home page of the website. Something scrabbles beneath his feet and in the next second he’s off them, and in the sudden movement bobbles the camera, his hands lunging for it like a juggler in a strong wind. A curse is the last thing that leaves his lips as the current sweeps him away, bashing his head into a concrete retaining wall before carrying him downriver. The kitten, finding purchase in his stout back, plunges in her claws and rides his inert body to safety.