FLASH FICTION, WITH A TWIST

If you’re into flash fiction, here is a prompt for you.  It is being sponsored by my publisher over at bardandbook.com, and, can you believe it, they asked me to write the prompt for this month!  I know, right!

The way we intend this to work is different from your usual flash fiction.  Instead of each participant writing a whole story of 500 words or so, each participant will contribute a paragraph or two (or even a tweet or two) and then when the story gets up to around 3000 words or so, we will cut it off.  Let’s see how this works.

To find out more about bardandbook, read some wonderful short stories, books, and participate in the scavenger riddle hunt (where you could win $100) just click HERE.

So, here is your prompt:

Sarah and Chloe played with dolls, crayons, and a vast array of colorful toys.  Time stood still for them, until there was a knock at the door.  “No one else is supposed to be home,” Chloe said to her friend Sarah, her eyes widened in fright.  Sarah, though, had already turned the knob to open the door.  What happened next has been a matter of debate for some time.  

 

Scroll down and use the comment thread below to contribute.  It is found at the top of this blog under the title.

Enjoy

I TWITTERED YOU A STORY

On Thursday a tweet came through my tweet machine that said something like, “Can you write a story in 140 characters.”  Of course, it didn’t mean 140 different characters in some kind of sprawling story with all these different people in it.  It meant a Twitter story with only 140 spaces.  Here is the tweet.

download

I was immediately hooked.  I like a writing challenge.  I have written before on this blog about the greatest and shortest story ever written, and have always been intrigued by brevity.  My feeling is that most contemporary authors use far too many words, which is evidence of an undisciplined mind and an even more undisciplined keyboard.

So this is what I wrote.

download

I liked my story because it has a certain romance to it, an implied double entendre that is neither vulgar or even immoral.  It also engages the imagination, which is what all art seeks to do.  What was it they did?  How do they know each other?  Where did the cab take them?

I liked my little Twitter story, and I hope you did too.  Of course, I’ve also written longer stories that you can read.  Click on the ‘Buy Jamie’s Stories’ tab above.

VOICES OF THE DEAD ON YOUR PHONE

When people die, it is tragic.  Sometimes there are events that happen after a loved one dies that almost seem as hard as the original pain of loss.   My newest short story features that kind of event–the ripping away of the scab that has barely begun to heal.  It is available right now for only 99 cents at Amazon and comes in at about 4000 words.  Click the icon below to purchase (I would love you forever if you did!) it for your Kindle reader at Amazon.  It is also available at bardandbook.com and smashwords.com if you don’t have a Kindle and want to print it or read on your computer.

The Last Message
The Last Message–My New Short Story

I have not written anything this short in a while because I’ve been working on my new novel, the thriller The Little Girl Waits, which will be released in May and other longer short stories, The Land Begins to Heal and The Deep Cove Lineage (both available at Amazon.)  Getting back to the traditional short story length was actually difficult.  I kept wanting to elongate the story and go deeper into the back story, however you can’t do that too much with a short story.

The key inspiration for the story was a newspaper article from our local paper back in October of 2013.  I was intrigued and cut it out and stuck in my ‘write about this’ pile.  It is an AP article (click here to read it) that described the heartbreak of people who had lost the voicemail or greeting message from cell phones from people they loved when the cell phone company made upgrades.

Technology has given families like the Moores a way to hear their loved ones’ voices long after they’ve passed, providing them some solace during the grieving process. But like they and so many others have suddenly learned, the voices aren’t saved forever. Many people have discovered the voices unwittingly erased as part of a routine service upgrade to voice mail services.

Often, the shock comes suddenly: One day they dial in, and the voice is inexplicably gone.–From the AP Article that inspired me

It was a very sad piece that captured my empathy and imagination.

I wanted the story to be almost Rod Serling-like–just enough like our everyday world to seem very, very real, but then a twist that made us realize something unusual was at play.  Of course, for me the ‘unusual’ or ‘paranormal’ event is motivated by my faith convictions about the Lord.  This led me to the second main thought for this particular story.  It has a large pastoral quality to it in that a major character is the pastor for this family and her compassionate tough-love.  It is also her prayer that seems to set up the twist ending, but I don’t want to give away too much.

I hope you enjoy it.  By enjoy it, I mean I hope it makes you cry your eyes out or at the very least go check your voicemail.

THE MONSTER STORY

“Well, that’s mostly true, and I know who and what you are and what your expertise is,” he picked his teeth with his fingernail, “But we’re not going to beat the Russians with rockets and Buck Rogers alone.  We need more.”  Then the President paused and looked away, as if suddenly saddened.  “We are going to lose Vietnam.  There is no way we can win.  What is worse is that it is only a matter of time before they will be in France, Saudi Arabia and even California for all I know.  We need more than troops and firepower too.  We need something else, and your job is to provide that something else no matter what the cost.”

“What exactly are you asking me to do, Mr. President?”

“I want you to work at militarizing wildlife . . .”

From The Deep Cove Lineage

My first book, The Haunting of Pastor Butch Gregory and Other Short Stories, was a mostly spiritual endeavor, as are most of my short stories such as Speculation and The Land Begins to Heal.    To be a writer, though, I think, means in part that I am able to tell stories that don’t necessarily carry a spiritual message.  To that end, I began working on a purely secular plot revolving around a monster.  I chose the monster/horror/science fiction milieu because I personal enjoy these types of stories.  What resulted was The Deep Cove Monster.

I published the first short story last summer and then followed that up with the second one in the winter of 2013.

Last week the third, and by far the longest installment of the series was released by my publisher, bardandbook.com.  It is available at their website or at amazon.com, smashwords, bardandbook.com and it should be available at other outlets soon, such as barnesandnoble.com.  Click on the image below to buy from Amazon.com

Newest Release--Third installment in The Deep Cove Monster series.
Click To Buy

Title--The short story, about 12,000 words, is titled The Deep Cove Lineage.  In essence it is an origins story so I almost titled it Deep Cove:  Origins or maybe Deep Cove Beginnings but decided that both of those seemed a little too copycat.  One of the elements in the story is the successive generations of monsters that are bred in captivity, hence the word lineage.  I decided that I liked that idea better and it felt less used.

Horror--I believe that the horror genre is over populated with mass murderers or homicidal paranormal creatures.  What I wanted to do was bring elements of the horror story motif in a more realistic and less personal environment.  I don’t know if I achieved true horror story status, but there are some scenes I wrote that felt, well, gruesome.

Science Fiction--Somewhere along the way, and we can probably blame Star Trek for this, science fiction turned into outer space.  However, the origins of science fiction are not really outer space as much as scientific innovation that leads to disaster or danger.  It was this concept that I worked on in The Deep Cove Lineage–science that has gone too far and caused a dangerous situation.

Period Piece--I am still intrigued by working on a period piece.  I was not born until 1971, so the 60’s and 70’s are in my thoughts but I still have to work on it.  The Deep Cove Lineage begins in the late 1960s and ends where the first two begin, 1978.  It is fun to think about music, food, and fashion and the way people might think about life a generation ago.  One of the ways I did this was to emphasize the formal feeling of the lab–everyone is required to wear their white lab coat.  No one in my generation would think of enforcing such a rule, but in the 60’s that might be something people are sticklers for.

Sex and Violence--There is sex in this story, but it is not graphic and more suggestive than actual.  The violence is tough though.  People die an alarming rate once things heat up.

Changing Attitudes--Without giving anything away, I worked very hard to drastically show, and hopefully not over explain, how the scientists change in their attitudes toward human beings as their work progresses.  Most of the change is influenced by the villain, Dr. Sleeth.  People change as we slowly warm up to ideas that are convenient.  There is a little political commentary in that concept.  We accept things today we would not have accepted 12 years ago because it is convenient.

The Monster--In the first two stories all we see of the monster is its destructive power.  In this origins story, we learn why the monster is the way she is and who is to blame.  I think, maybe, I might have even been able to build a little empathy for the beast.  Maybe.

I hope you enjoy the story.  If you haven’t already read the first two, you can buy them from my Buy Jamie’s Stories page at the top of this blog.  Thanks for reading.  I really do appreciate it.