A Sudden Gust of Giveaways

GravityBookcoverSmallFebruary can get gloomy up here in the Northeast. There’s too much winter left, and baseball season is still too far away. Rather than wallow in my February-ness, I’m taking the advice of a wise friend, who says that doing something nice for someone else makes her feel better. I’m starting by giving away a few copies of my new novel, A Sudden Gust of Gravity.

There are two ways you can win. The first is from Goodreads. You can enter here to win one of four signed print copies. Giveaway ends February 13.

For the second, if you head over to this page and follow me on Amazon, you can click on the cute little treasure chest for a chance to win a copy of the book. This giveaway is for the US only (I do hope they change that soon) and ends when one of you hits the lucky number.

I hope your February stays bright, and thank you for reading.

12 Blogs of Christmas: How Mrs. Claus Got Her Groove Back

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How Mrs. Claus Got Her Groove Back

A fresh log glowed red in the fireplace; garland and twinkling lights lined the mantel. A most cheerful picture, normally, but the yuletide trappings still left Emma Claus cold. She’d tried everything to awaken her Christmas spirit: hitting the Black Friday sales online, reading letters from the children, baking tray after tray of cookies. Even the sappiest of holiday movies failed to lift her mood—even the ones with Colin Firth.

Just to make sure she’d given Hollywood a fair shake, she clicked the remote to the Hallmark Channel, which was showing the same snowed-in romance brewing at the same over-decorated country inn. Emma merely clucked her tongue. “Fools,” she said. “Do those innkeepers ever sleep? All that work! Cooking and cleaning! Sweeping up pine needles, drizzling everything with tinsel just so, tending the fires in every room and dusting twice a day from all the ash…what kind of life is that?”

And then her gaze fell to her own labor-roughened hands, still clutching a dishtowel, and she wept. She hadn’t even heard Santa walk into the room. “What’s this?” he said, voice so kindly that she cried harder. “Tears, Mrs. Claus? During the most magical time of the year?”

She shook her head and dabbed at her eyes with the cloth. “Oh, it’s just the story.” Emma gestured to the television. “This one makes me weepy every time I see it.”

The lines in his face softened. She could never get away with lying to him, the man who’d patented the Naughty/Nice meter. “Don’t you dare say it,” she squeaked out. “Don’t you dare say the same old things about bringing joy to the children.” Granted, it was an admirable mission. And she was grateful. Decades earlier he’d rescued her, a poor orphan girl from the village, and found her a job in the factory. Then, when she reached marriageable age, he’d made her the beloved bride of the most generous man in the world. But clearly, something was missing.

He nodded once, and then twice, and then muttered, “I’ll be in my workshop.”

She sucked in a few deep breaths and made a deal with herself to hold it together, for his sake. She’d done this forever, after all. Sat by the fire on Christmas Eve monitoring the sleigh’s progress on NORAD, fed the hungry elves, met him on the launch pad when he returned. And then endured the silence and loneliness when, exhausted, he collapsed into bed and slept for days. The sleep of a man happily consumed by his work.

Somehow, Emma managed to get through the long, bereft days leading up to the Big Night. Santa had to have noticed the misshapen cookies, the lackluster dinners, the depth of her sighs. Smart man that he was, though, he said nothing. Just made himself a sandwich and retreated to the company of his elves.

Then Christmas Eve came. As she’d done for more years than she could count, she pressed his velvet suit, polished his boots, and left him to dress while she prepared his favorite pre-flight meal. But he didn’t come down. She called for him, and he answered in a deep, wrenching moan.

Emma sprinted up the stairs and gasped when she saw him. In bed, clutching his belly. “Oh. Oh, my dear,” he said. “I don’t think… I don’t think I’ll be able to make it. Just the thought of… Call the elves…” And then he passed out.

Her eyes widened and she rushed to him, pressing a hand to his less-than-rosy cheek. Still breathing and heart strong, thank God, although clearly he was in no state to travel. He’d never missed Christmas. There were emergency provisions, of course, in the event that NORAD had to alter his flight plans, but it had been such a long time and all had gone so smoothly that she didn’t even know where the binder was. She managed to calm herself enough to make the call. Doc Elf was on his way, and the other elves had been alerted, but there was still the matter of distributing the presents.

Emma took a few steadying breaths. The elves were good, and the factory ran well, but how could she trust them with this most important task, which she and Santa had magicked together from the very beginning. She eyeballed the red suit hanging in the corner and felt a shiver sweep down her spine.

She would do it herself.

With wobbling hands she dressed in the velvet coat and trousers, with shaky fingers adding the belt and cinching it tight. “I don’t want to leave your side, Mr. Claus,” she said to the prostrate, bearded lump of man on the bed as she smoothed the white hair from his forehead. “But we don’t have Amazon drones and these Kindles aren’t going to deliver themselves.”

As she fit the cap over her silver curls and strode for the door, a bit of the process started coming back to her. By now, the elves would have already assembled the sleigh and the reindeer; on many occasions of late, Santa had waved off praise for his efforts, saying that he had automated the practice so well that basically all he had to do on the Big Night was sit back and let Rudolph’s GPS guide the way. And thanks to her good cooking, she’d grown as well padded in the belly as he, so she doubted that anyone spying them from a distance would notice it was not Saint Nick at the reins.

Still, she allowed the air traffic controller to help her into the cockpit and nodded as he rattled off a list of instructions, a mix of excitement and dread spiraling through her stomach. Finally, with a last wave from the ground crew, she was cleared for takeoff. Emma gulped as the sleigh began a vertical ascent from the launch pad. She grabbed onto whatever was handy, bracing herself to be jostled about, but she soon discovered that there was no need. Even when they zoomed off into the night, climbing higher and higher, there was not a bump or a jolt to be felt. And soon she released the death grip she’d had on the upholstery and the dash—she’d even put down the reins and whooped like a giddy child on an amusement park ride.

The radio crackled, and a small voice cleared its throat. “With all due respect, Mrs. Claus, we need to focus on the task at hand. Just follow the coordinates on the monitor and you’ll find the addresses—”

“Oh, pish on that,” she said, emboldened by the magical ride and the power of being in the driver’s seat. “This was meant to be a labor of joy, not one for the auto-pilot. I’ve read all the letters; I’ve followed the radar maps for years; I know where the children live.” She laughed as she clicked off the radio, imagining all sorts of fright going on at headquarters, the gossip among the elves: The missus has gone rogue. “Hit it, Rudolph.” She flicked the reins. “It’s you, me, and your eight buddies tonight. Just the way it was supposed to be.”

And, following the stars, they flew from the North Pole all around the world, landing on rooftops of the good and the naughty, for she believed everyone deserved a little magic on Christmas. When every last gift was delivered, she directed Rudolph to take them home. She was still giggling with delight when nine sets of hooves touched down lightly on the launch pad. For a moment she sat, laughing up at the stars as a gentle snow began to fall and the sleigh’s bells jingled to a stop.

“Santa!” she gasped, remembering his state, and leaving the reindeer to the stable master, rushed into the house.

And there, playing video games, all manner of junk food spread before them, sat her husband and three of his elves. The old sod had never looked healthier in his life. When he noticed her staring, he gave her a slow grin and a wink. “Red is definitely your color, my dear.”

She pressed her fists into her hips. “You conniving b—”

“Ah. Language in front of the elves.” He jammed the joystick forward and digital explosions blasted from the speakers. Then he let loose a jolly ho-ho-ho. “Come on, admit it,” he said. “You’ve always wanted to drive that sleigh. And you’ve never liked auto-pilot.”

A blush overtook her face at being found out. And then a smile. “Can I do it again next year?”

He lifted his shaggy white brows. “If you always come home to me looking so happy, you can take the reins for the rest of our lives. Although we’ll have to fashion you a fake beard.” He patted the cushion next to him. “Now park it and let’s celebrate a job well done. I saved you some pizza.”

—-

Thank you to Martin Crosbie for pulling this holiday event together. I hope you’ll join us tomorrow for Heather Haley.

Miss one of the days? Here are the blogs posted so far:

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

Dec. 14   Sarah Lane

Dec. 15   Keith Baker

Dec. 16   Virginia Gray

Dec. 17   Gordon Long

Dec. 18   RJ Crayton

Dec. 19   Jennifer Ellis

 

The 12 Blogs of Christmas: Sarah Lane

Sarah Lane photoWelcome back! Today’s blogger is Sarah Lane.

Sarah Lane is the author of The God of My Art, the story of a young woman’s journey to become an artist, and a quarter finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Lane’s short fiction and poetry have also featured in a number of literary magazines, including The Antigonish Review, Roar Magazine, and Quills: Canadian Poetry Magazine.

Lane’s upcoming young adult novel is a psychological read about a cerebral seventeen-year-old who struggles to learn salsa dancing only to be shown up by her doppelgänger. (You can sign up on her website to be notified when it comes out).

Sarah Lane hopes you will enjoy listening to this reading from her young adult crossover novel The God of My Art. This chapter is taken from near the end of the book, when Helene visits her mother over the winter holidays. Watch the video here. Or view on her website.

(Next up: Keith Baker)

Miss one of the days? Here are the blogs posted so far:

Dec. 13   Ellen Chauvet

 

Two-Minutes-Go Extended Road Trip

file0001863294772Well. Apparently I failed to break the blog last week, so while JD is giving Santa Claus a lift to the North Pole on his motorcycle, I felt duty-bound to step in again. That’s the new cover story for the NSA. Don’t tell them I said that.

Or, in a passage 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 to start us off:

Ezra barely slept that night. The decision had been forming and unforming in his mind, sparking him out of fitful catnaps as he weighed the consequences of each choice. As he slurped coffee and stared into his squinty-eyed reflection the next morning, he knew he couldn’t leave it to a simple coin flip. There was right, and there was wrong, and he might lose his job or worse, but when he laced up his boots and ground step after step into the frozen earth on his way to the factory, he knew what had to be done. He was careful to greet his coworkers the same way as always, with smiles and backslaps and the same, tired jokes. Pushing out enthusiasm that he didn’t feel, because if they sensed anything was different, they might suspect. He might be called out to face the Big Boss, who surely would ask why the change in attitude. And then he could not lie. He was not bred for lies. When he took his place at the assembly line, he had to crush his hands into fists to hide the shaking, and when the aproned worker to his left seemed to notice this small gesture, he laughed and said, “Must be the cold,” and she handed him a pair of fingerless gloves. He would probably miss her the most.

The bell rang, signaling the start to their shift, and the conveyor belt began to move. Ezra sucked in a deep breath and steadied himself on increasingly unsteady legs. Heart pounding in his oversized ears, he let the base assembly pass him by. And then another. He knew it wouldn’t take long for them to notice; one elf not doing his or her work was bound to gum up the operation and fast.

A light flashed. The line supervisor called his name. The room went silent. Ezra waited, hands raised, as if in surrender. He cleared his throat and swallowed, then spun to face the head elf.

“I don’t care,” he said. Forcing more strength into his words. “Put me on dolls or trains or teddy bears. Or banish me from the workshop. But I’m not making toy guns anymore.”

Two-Minutes-Go Road Trip

writerWhile JD is wading some mountain stream in search of Moby-Trout, or at least that’s what he told me to say when the FBI come by asking questions about him, he’s entrusted our Friday flash fiction fandango to me. No Black Friday crowds here. Just a place to share some words.

Or, in a passage 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 to start us off:

The air cooled a few degrees, and that’s when I knew she’d arrived. So I snuck up the back stairs, and at a safe remove on the balcony, I readied myself to eyeball the intruder. Rumors had been flying about her—her beauty, her feline grace and charm that belied a volcanic temper. But before any polite introductions could be made, before we could circle each other and stake our claims, I had to see for myself. Evaluate the potential trouble.

And she looked like trouble. Green eyes widening, she flattered the hosts while scoping out the room, hunting her next mark. I knew that game. My muscles went on alert, a ripple of tension beneath my skin, tiny hairs standing on end like tiny field agents reporting to command. No. Boundaries must be set. There could be no room for misinterpretation, here. This was my turf. I’d been deftly ingratiating myself to these people for years. I had them just where I needed them, each step of the plan clicking neatly into position, and I could not allow some slick interloper to get between me and what I deserved.

They were calling for me. I set my expression. Welcoming, but cool. Calm, but alert. One that spelled delighted to meet you, my dear, but no need to make yourself comfortable, because I’m sure you won’t be staying long enough to even learn what kind of soaps are in the powder room.

Ready, finally, because I would not be rushed, I sashayed down the stairs. And on the second from the bottom, I froze. She had her nose in my food dish. In. My. Food. Dish. The hairs on my back shot to attention. I did not care a whit how lovely she was. This meant war.

Gravity Drops on Amazon!

Gravity_coverart_1bHi, everyone! I just wanted to share the news that A Sudden Gust of Gravity is now live on Amazon. This is a story that I’ve wanted to tell for a while, and I’m so excited that it’s finally published.

A little more about the novel:

Christina Davenport, waitressing to pay the bills, has abandoned her childhood dream of becoming a magician—until she meets the mesmerizing Reynaldo the Magnificent. He hires her as his assistant for his magic and juggling show; she hopes she can play the role without cutting his giant ego in half.

Devon Park, a surgical resident, is escaping his own problems when he visits the street performers in downtown Boston. But the young doctor worries that the bruises beneath Christina’s makeup go deeper than the training accident she professes.

Convinced the doctor’s interest is more than clinical, the mercurial magician attempts to tighten his grip on Christina. Now she needs to decide—is the opportunity Reynaldo offers worth the price of admission?

A little sneak preview:

Chapter 1

The box arrived on a Tuesday and sat on the kitchen table for three days before Christina could bring herself to touch it. She’d assumed her father’s things had been tossed after all these years, but no—this remained. Mom had found it in the attic and decided that his last surviving possession would make an ideal twenty-fifth birthday present for his only daughter.

She almost sent the package back. But then she didn’t.

“Get it out of here, already,” one of her roommates told her. So she took it off the table, stuck it in the corner of her bedroom, and covered it with a green pashmina.

As a child, she’d memorized the contents of the tarnished metal case engraved with her father’s initials: three silver cups, a half-dozen red sponge balls, five decks of cards, a few magic quarters, a selection of spring-loaded wands, and various other doodads and thingamabobs handy for a close-up magician to have up his sleeve.

Pick a card, Chrissie.

She itched to hold the decks, palm the tiny objects the way he’d taught her, but another part of her wanted nothing to do with it.

She thought about it on the way to yoga, and on the way home, and after her long shift at the restaurant. And her sleep fractured, leaving her as wide-awake as the thrum of Boston outside her window.

This went on for another week, until she got the call that her boss, Rosa, was in the hospital, and the restaurant was closed. Now there was nothing to think about but the box, and what it contained. And the truth was, no matter how great her anger at her father and herself, her desire to open the box was greater. She craved the comfort of those old, familiar objects.

Christina surrendered.

Swallowing the knot in her throat, she flipped the latch. It sounded louder than all the traffic on Commonwealth. Her fingers once again tasted the textures—the foam of the sponge balls, bits of red crumbling into dust; the shiny silver cups; the decks of cards engineered for tricks.

Pick a card, Chrissie.

Shuddering, she snapped the lid shut.

It was too late for her. Too many years had gone by, and her skills were shot. She might as well give the box away—to the owner of the magic store she passed on her way to yoga class. But she didn’t.

—–

The paperback version is in the works—Art Husband is putting the file together—and it should be available soon. When that’s ready, I’ll set up a giveaway on Goodreads, where you can enter to win a signed copy.

Thank you for your time, and you may now return to your regularly scheduled Internet programming, already in progress.

What IS Flash Fiction, Anyway?

IdeaI’ve been writing flash fiction for a while now, and I love it. I began with Indies Unlimited’s weekly flash fiction contest and really enjoyed the writing challenge of winnowing a story down to the required 250 words. Then JD Mader was cool enough to open up his blog on Fridays to anyone who wanted to set a timer and try a little spontaneous flash. (Okay, sometimes we forget the timer.) I was hooked. I was so hooked that as the stories piled up, I thought about putting out a collection.

But based on some of the reader response, and a question from my father, I realize I left out one very important component: What the heck IS flash fiction, anyway?

Because she’s so good at explaining things (and because she wrote a really succinct post about the five elements of flash fiction), I’m going to leave it to one of my fabulous Indies Unlimited fellow minions, Lynne Cantwell.

As a general rule, flash fiction is considered to be less than 1,000 words long….Flash is a recognized format for fiction, with elements that each story ought to include.

1. A plot. To be clear, a flash fiction piece is a complete story. Just like a longer piece of fiction, your flash piece needs a beginning, a middle, and an ending. I saw one website that recommended writing an outline for each flash story. I think that’s going a little overboard; your outline could end up longer than the story. But if your story doesn’t have an ending – if, say, you find you’ve written a scene that could be part of a longer story, or even part of a novel – then it’s not technically flash fiction.

2.  Characters. You don’t have a lot of space to describe your characters, obviously, but readers should still be able to tell them apart. Use telling details that you can describe in a few words. Keep your character count low, and stick with one point-of-view.

You can read the rest of Lynne’s post on Indies Unlimited.

Here’s an example of one of my flash fiction pieces. I’d never written anything science-fictiony before, so this was a fun challenge.

Fitting Rooms

She strolled past a sign that read “Fitting Rooms” and caught a glimpse of the engineer’s handiwork in a reflective surface.

They’d done a good job.

She looked like most of the other human females she’d passed in the shopping mall. Hair like the others, a suitable length, the same vacant stare she’d emulated with the help of the simulation program. Now all she had to do was keep fitting in, and wait for the signal to start the next phase of her mission. They hadn’t told her what that was, and despite her queries, they still would not explain.

In fact, her trainer had taken her aside and said it was dangerous to ask twice, so she’d stopped.

Her attention was drawn all of a sudden to the collar of her shirt. Her reflection’s hand rose to straighten it, and she noticed that it was a different style than the type worn by the two females who’d just exited the rooms. That didn’t seem right. Maybe the engineer had made a mistake and had given her the wrong simulation.

She glanced up again at the sign on the wall. Perhaps this is where you go to be more fitting. So, following the lead of another, she grabbed a garment and disappeared behind the curtain.

That was when she felt the vibration. The chip implanted in her brain had been activated. Finally, she would know her purpose and how she could help her planet—but why was the vibration so loud? And that whine? It hurt…hurt…so sharp she gasped and dropped to her knees. The human females began to circle her, eyes questioning, hands reaching out, and as her consciousness ebbed away, the edges of her vision going black, she heard the faintest of voices in her mind: Independent thought detected…independent thought detected…indepen…

——-

Have a great weekend!

Laurie Boris has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of five novels with another on the way. When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she’s a freelance copyeditor and enjoys baseball, reading, and avoiding housework. Want to join the mailing list and learn about special deals and upcoming releases? You can do that here.

Falling in Love with Characters in Cars

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.

An interesting post by Martin Crosbie on Indies Unlimited this week spurred a few thoughts about my own relationships with my fictional characters.

When I’m writing, they have to feel real to me, as real as someone who might walk into the room and sit beside me. I have to fall in love. Or at least find some empathy. So I get pretty deep with that universe of people in my head. Over the years, I’ve taken a few of my writing teachers’ suggestions for ways to get to know these folks better. Guided meditations. Creative visualization. Imagine the shoes the character is wearing. Imagine slipping into their bodies. Light a candle and invite them in, as one writer famously advised. Once I got over the “are you kidding me?” factor, some of those devices worked pretty well.

Lately, I’ve been taking my characters for car rides. I don’t know why it took me so long to try this. When I was a kid, we lived thirty minutes from almost everything. The car was the venue for parental face time, for solving problems, for just looking out the window and getting a break from the routine of school and homework and piano lessons and Girl Scout meetings. And now? Okay, I like NPR, but do I really need to listen to it every time I get behind the wheel? Allowing more silence into my life has opened up that mental bandwidth for the characters to start talking.

So when I need to go a little deeper with a character, I invite him or her to come along for the ride. “Invite” being the operative word. Some are more willing than others; some play their cards closer to their chests and require a trust zone, a safe space. Or just some time.

I might have fallen in love with Charlie, my last protagonist, when he flopped down in the rocking chair next to my computer and poured himself a virtual scotch. But my new guy, a surgical resident, likes to ride shotgun. He has to push the seat back to make room for his legs, and he advises me that I’m overdue for my next oil change, but he’s really good company. He was recalcitrant at first, but he grew more comfortable with me, and when early critiquers suggested the story needed more of him, that it would only make the readers feel more invested in his journey, he was happy to oblige. But only because he believed it would help others. And now I’m totally smitten.

I used to worry that other drivers would look at me strangely when I took my characters out for a spin, but I got over that. Most people probably think I’m talking on my (nonexistent) hands-free cell phone arrangement. Thank you, modern technology.

Have you fallen in love lately, while writing or reading?

——–

Laurie Boris has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of five novels with another on the way. When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she’s a freelance copyeditor and enjoys baseball, reading, and avoiding housework. See what’s on sale this month here.

Want to join the mailing list and learn about special deals and upcoming releases? You can do that here.

Viewfinder

640px-FirstChurchofChristScientist2One summer I took a photography class at the Art Institute of Boston and spent most of my free time roaming the city for interesting shots. During this week’s 2-Minutes-Go flash fiction fiesta at JD Mader’s blog, I remembered one of my favorite places, and this story popped up.

——

Viewfinder

A tiny finger poked my shoulder. “What are you doing?”

I’d been as still as one of the stones in the Christian Science Center’s courtyard for so long that it took a moment to remember. An even longer moment to figure out how to explain it to the pixie-faced girl who’d asked the question, then peered at my camera. “Watching the world go by,” I said.

She wrinkled her small nose. Obviously, I’d chosen the wrong words. “I’m taking pictures.”

“Why?”

I pegged the girl at about five, the perfect age for her spongy brain to fill up on information about the big issues, even if she couldn’t catalog and analyze them yet. I didn’t think she’d be interested in knowing that it made me feel connected to humanity, or reduced my stress level by giving me an outlet for my frustrated creative impulses, or even because I liked the way the waning sunlight played on the reflecting pool and the smooth, polished metal surrounding it. Or because I couldn’t bear to be in the house when he came by for his things so he could move in with his new girlfriend. “Because it’s fun,” I said.

“But why is it fun?”

That one stopped me. What was “fun” about staring into a postage-stamp-sized pane of glass, lining up a shot, waiting for the right moment when the beautiful man turned his head just so as he walked beside the sentry of streetlights guarding the pool? Satisfying, maybe? But fun?

“Do you want to take a picture?” I made room for her to slip between me and the tripod.

Her eyes swept to the cobblestone, a finger pressed to her lower lip. Of course. She might think I’m some kind of freak. Stranger danger. “Or not,” I said.

She glanced up at me, and I could imagine the calculations going on in that spongy mind. If I was safe. If taking pictures of essentially nothing looked like fun.

“Can I take a picture of you?” she asked.

I looked like crap; I’d escaped the house to make way for him, so I was still wearing ripped jeans, grubby old flip-flops, and a stained T-shirt, my hair in the roughest excuse for a ponytail I could beat it into as I walked from the subway stop to the reflecting pool. But the light in the giant eyes made me melt a little, gave me a glimmer of hope that the world I’d been watching through my viewfinder still had some life in it.

Adorably self-important, as if she were a miniature Hollywood director, she told me where to stand and how to hold my arms. I did everything she asked. And as I was waiting for the shot, she tightened her hands on the camera and tripod and took off at a dead run.

Fuck.

I sprinted off after her, but in my ratty flip-flops, I couldn’t keep up, and she disappeared.

I stopped, staring off in the distance, my shoulders sagging forward. Oh, well, I thought after a while. At least it wasn’t my equipment. And knowing that was kind of fun.

——–

I hope you have a great week ahead. Just to let you know, most of my titles are on sale this month. Check here for the details.

Flash Fiction, Freelance Edition

file0002054526820Poor, sad, neglected blog. Today I want to share something I wrote for “2 Minutes. Go!” on JD Mader’s Unemployed Imagination website. I love our Friday flash fiction fiestas. Maybe next week, you’ll come over and play with us. Here’s what we wrote this week—great, short entertainment for nada! Nothing. Zip. Just your eyeballs. Bwa ha ha.

——

The Freelancer

After typing “I didn’t know how else to tell you,” no more words would come, no matter how hard Delilah pressed that mental pencil against the cells in her brain that were supposed to perform those functions.

Maybe there was something wrong with her. Maybe in her sleep, the karma skulking around her corners had unhooked her battery, cut her brake lines, slashed her tires. Because she cranked out assignments like this every damned day. Okay, it was a strange freelance gig, but she thrived on the strange, the out-of-kilter, the anything-but-normal. In this world of have what you want when you want it, why not throw down a few bucks on PayPal and hire someone to write that break-up letter, to give that bad news, to tell that idiot who won’t leave you alone to take a hike? They were even fun, mostly. How many people were paid, and paid decently, to exorcise the vitriol out of their heads? Her husband didn’t make much; it was nice to have a few bucks of her own; and because she’d never see her clients, or the results of her work—all was carefully monitored to shield the writers’ identities—it was relatively easy. But the screen where she was supposed to load her latest assignment remained blank.

Hoping for another blast of inspiration, she reread her instructions: “Want to ask my wife for a divorce, she’s always working, I fell in love with someone else, really crappy with words.” Yeah, that didn’t help. In fact, it just made Delilah angry. The light stuff, the snarky stuff, the hey-roomie-take-a-shower-once-in-awhile stuff, that was fun. It was an act of kindness, if you looked at it a certain way. But when it got heavy like this? Now it just felt wrong. Damn it. She’d already claimed the assignment, so she had to file or lose her five-star ranking. But this was the last one. She’d be happy to write about bad breath and chewing with your mouth open and PDA, but no more missives about shit getting this real.

So she sucked in a breath and began typing a version of Breakup Template #3. When it shaped itself into something she could almost live with, she pressed the submit button and went straight for the wine.

Two glasses later, her husband working late, she followed up to make sure the deposit had gone into her account. Then checked her email.

The first message began, “Dear Delilah, I didn’t know how else to tell you…”