How I Got My Writing Groove Back with Flash Fiction Short Stories

Since I have dedicated most of my writing to nonfiction over the last several years, going back to fiction has been a bit of a challenge for me. I love fiction! After all, I’ve been writing it since I was a young child. I even won a school contest in sixth grade, and I’ve been reading fiction forever. So why did I stop writing and reading it for the past five or six years? I really can’t answer that except maybe I wasn’t challenged.

I am glad to say that my interest in fiction is back, thanks to NPR. NPR ran an article about two years ago on Robert Smartwood’s Hint Fiction – fiction which is written in 25 words or less. Now I am transfixed on very short, short fiction and entering contests.

I entered my very first flash fiction contest from Smokelong Quarterly in which each submission had to be exactly 30 words – no more, no less. I was rejected, but it was another step in my groove. Almost two years later I realize that these could be the beginning of some of my screenwriting ideas.

These were my submissions:

A Haunting Moment
Your cornflower blue eyes told me that the prospect was irreversible. And as you left the area under the exit sign, the doctor emerged from the operating room, looking down.

Four Walls
Been dreamin’ alot lately. Doesn’t make sense – cowbells, clocks, neon lights, numbers. Reach for the pills, swallow down with whiskey. These walls are getting lonely. My pistol stares at me.

Whose hair is that all over his bathroom floor, I wondered. It is dark, not red like mine. This will give me the perfect excuse to take that trip after all.

Gardens of Time Game Addict?

I never thought that at my age I’d be playing video games online. But they are much different now than they used to be, and they seem to be a good way to relax the mind. Maybe.

I recently came across Gardens of Time on my iPhone, and since the screen was too small and I enjoyed the game so much, I searched online and found it on the Playdom website. I’ve been hooked ever since. While I was waiting around for my “energy” to renew I discovered there was another similar garden game on the same website. Of course I had to play it, too.

After reading people’s comments and chatting with others, I realize many of us are in the same boat. What makes a gaming addict? Hmmm… I made this funny little video about it.

Advice from a Friend

My friend told me the greatest quote the other day.  She said her father told her, “You should never play with dead things or crazy people.”

Isn’t that the truth!  After an ordeal last week with a convicted felon tracking where we live, I am convinced that trying to help people probably isn’t my duty anymore. I don’t want to put my life at risk by these people finding out who I am.

I want to live a low-key life. The last half of it was pain and misery and problems. I’m not going to spend the next half like that. I just want to write and be creative and look at the flowers in my garden… and meditate, listen to baroque music – enjoy life. I don’t need anymore health problems from anymore stress. It’s just not worth it.

Birds, Felons, and the Pissing Buddha

I can hear a bird outside. I think it’s a mockingbird. I can see my garden from my window. My table fountain is on. It’s a Buddha fountain, and although it’s seated, it looks like it’s pissing because the water is shooting up like a drinking fountain. I call it my Pissing Buddha. Maybe I should write a story about that.

Speaking of writing stories, the Writer’s Digest competition ends May 2nd. I have a few things started but now that school has taken over everything, I don’t know what to do. I really wanted to enter something. As long as I don’t have anymore surprises from felons or get anymore illnesses, I can be creative.

Obituary Comment – I’m Glad You’re Dead?

I read Marcus’s father’s obit in the paper today. I can’t believe that miserable son of a bitch lived as long as he did. He had cancer at one time but beat it.

This is a man that – I hate to say it – deserved everything that happened to him. He was very abusive to his whole family, beat the kids. He hasn’t spoken to his children in years, and definitely not his grandchildren. I informed my brother that he died, and that he is listed as his grandchild in the obit.

My brother is super pissed. Said he doesn’t want his own father to be associated with his name, nevermind that supposed grandfather of his. He tried posting his comment to the obit, but apparently they have to be approved. His was not approved.

I wonder if anyone else has left comments on people’s obituaries telling them what a piece of shit they were?

Random Thoughts on Shitty Emails

I woke up today intending on actually getting some creative thoughts down instead of venting and ranting about the world around me. I took the dog for a walk, had my coffee, thought about going down to the river to do some hand-written writing with my notebook. But I checked my email and it changed things up a bit. I guess I’m still cleaning out my head in my daily journal writings so I can get rid of all of the bullshit thrown at me.

My brother emailed me. This is the brother that hasn’t spoken to me in over a year, and even before that he had a stick up his ass and didn’t speak to me much. He is very different from me and my other brother. He and my other brother are twins, but very opposite. One is fun and gay, the other is a douche. This morning’s email was from the douche. Although he claims he doesn’t like drama, he manages to involve himself by putting his nose smack in the middle.

In his email, he stated how much he hated me and that he would spit on my grave with a smile. (Such pleasantry, isn’t it?) He also went on to say that I would never meet his wife or daughter, and he didn’t forget to mention that he wipes his ass with my book.

What I did was make him think that I never got the email. I did a fake “undeliverable” message and sent it back to him. He’s not smart enough to figure out it’s fake, but he must have received it, because now he’s sending text messages to my daughter and asking other family what email I’m using.

I’m not going to answer him, at least not directly. Instead, I’m going to do it privately and not send it to him. There is no point in ever answering anything my negative family says, because no matter what, I am always wrong, at fault, the problem, etc… It took me over 30 years to realize that, which is why I wrote the memoir. And even though I changed names in the book out of respect to protect their privacy, I am still wrong. But I’m okay with being wrong. That’s there problem, not mine.

Rep of Large Company Boasts About Animal Cruelty

The last few years have proven to be an age of outing. In recent news, several people in big companies and government agencies are being outed for doing or saying stupid, immoral, or illegal things. No one is perfect, and we all do and say stupid things – but there comes a time when watching what you say may cost you your job, reputation, or company’s reputation.

While I was having lunch in a restaurant the other day, there were two young women next to me that were difficult to ignore. Not only were we sitting close in proximity, one especially wasn’t the quietest chip in the bag. At first glance of the giant yellow company purse bag next to the woman sitting closest to me, I chalked it up to her having a lot of baggage. But then she announced what she does for a living. She represents a very large candy company with two initials – the one that sponsors a racecar driver – the one displayed on her baggage. I will refer to her as Miss Yellow Baggage.

I overheard the women’s personal issues and gossip about some people they knew, workplace drama about people being fired, the slight looks and whispers and giggles in my direction. I had to double check where I was because for a moment it seemed as if I were back in eighth grade.

While I didn’t get a very good look at Miss Yellow Baggage because she was primarily turned towards her friend and wearing a baseball cap, she was extremely loud – the type with a raspy smoker’s voice that certainly does not make for a nice, quiet meal. Miss YB boasted something so shocking and downright cruel that I will never forget: “I hate cats. If a cat is on the other side of the road, I will drive on the other side to hit it.”

I almost choked on my food, and it was obvious that she’d been heard, because Miss YB’s friend had been turned my way, noticed my expression, and whispered something about me hearing her. But Miss YB didn’t care. She just shrugged it off, snorted and laughed.

How could anyone think of doing such a thing to a harmless animal, much less boast about it in a public restaurant? I thought of my own baby kitties and how I had to bury one of them last year when he was hit by a car (perhaps Miss Yellow Baggage was in the neighborhood?). At that point I was ready to leave. My stomach was upset and I didn’t even enjoy the rest of my meal. All I wanted to do was get out of there and away from this big yellow baggage monster, and so I did.

I knew that if she were telling the truth about purposely running over cats, that she is or has broken the law, possibly even committed a felony. I looked up the statutes and I was right:

Florida Statute:
828.12. Cruelty to animals
(1) A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

(2) A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

My entire drive home I thought about how awful that experience was. I wonder what her two-letter company would think about that? So I decided I would out her on my blog.

See, what Miss Yellow Baggage did not realize is that she was not sitting next to some ordinary person eating her lunch. She was sitting next to a cat loving, animal shelter volunteer who also just so happens to be a writer – and one that isn’t afraid to out her.

De-Basing Your Own Self Worth

We often base our own self worth by how the people we love treat us. While I was rummaging through some old journals, I flipped through one of them from a few years ago. In it, I’d been writing some answers to questions from a self-help book. Some of the questions related to describing our relationships to our fathers. I thought I’d share a tidbit of what I wrote at the time:

My father is someone I haven’t spoken to in three years. I am told that he thinks I’m a lesbian. I don’t know what made him think that, but I’m pretty sure some socially incapacitated person in the family started that rumor. He also thinks that I’m going to hell for not believing in his religion, even though he’s never asked me what my beliefs are.

I believe that through my father’s eyes, I am just like my mother (whatever that means), but I believe what my father sees is completely different from the real me, and I believe he bases his beliefs on what others tell him. I wish he’d accept me for who I am and not treat me like an outsider or a bad person – because what I am is spiritual, hardworking, loving and accepting of people that he perceives as different.

He’s always been emotionally distant and has always downgraded my thoughts and feelings. For example, when I had a particular goal in mind for college or a career, he disagreed and insulted my decisions. It didn’t matter what I’d accomplished or how good my intentions were. How could he be so opinionated about what I do with my life? It’s not like he helped me through college, or even came to my graduation for that matter. He never even sent me a card when I got married. 

My father doesn’t even know me – how could he? He hasn’t spent one moment alone with me in over 25 years. Not even a lunch together. Maybe I should have been born a boy named Jesus, as long as it’s not pronounced “hey soos”.

How did the way my father treat me affect my life? Quite profoundly, actually. Before I met my wonderful husband, I had dated my share of emotionally unavailable men. For many years, I couldn’t figure out why. I kept thinking something was wrong with me. It wasn’t me that was flawed – it was my choices. After years of counseling, self-help books, and acknowledging that I am worthy, I finally learned that I do not have to base my self worth on what anyone thinks of me – including my own father or anyone else in my family. I had to change my pattern of thinking and some of the patterns of my actions so that I did not keep repeating the same redundant relationships over and over.

I see so many other women that are just like me, except that they are still stuck in the rut of not recognizing the destructive patterns that debase our self worth. It’s a vicious cycle that must be broken if you’re ever going to find the happiness we all want. It is not impossible to break these patterns, but it does require some work – and it will not happen overnight or in a month. Sometimes it takes several months or even years. It’s all about what you want with your life. Isn’t your happiness worth it?

Keep Your Hate Filled Thoughts to Yourself and Being Anonym-ass

I have to do a little venting, so here it goes.

I love a good joke, and I can handle the ones that are humorously ‘wrong’ in some form or another (i.e. Family Guy), but one thing I don’t care to hear is a person’s hatred towards others. The next time you feel the need to gossip about someone, consider whom you’re telling. Things will get back to others, and unless you’re stating facts about something, your malicious chatter makes you look like a complete obsessed lunatic.

I completely appreciate a good spiritual message or thought of the day. But please refrain from ringing my doorbell and telling me that I’m never going to make it through the gates of Heaven because I don’t go to your church or live the life that you want for me. It’s my life, and I like it that way.

I really don’t care about other people’s political agendas, and more than likely I will never ask you yours unless I feel we are on the same page and can have an enlightening adult conversation. I personally think there are better things to care about in life. With that in mind, please deter from sending me your hate-filled emails about how you think our President sucks because I voted, you voted, but someone obviously lost. Get over it.

While I’m on the topic of our President, I also don’t care to hear your racist attitudes and the use of the “N” word. I find it offensive and harsh, and the funny thing is I am finding more and more people who call themselves Christians using the word more than anyone. I don’t care what color a person is and I don’t think Jesus did either. If you have issues with that, please keep it to yourself. This isn’t the 1950’s anymore, and it makes you look ignorant. I have friends of all colors; maybe you should try it sometime, too.

If you are a homophobe, that is your problem, not mine. I don’t care about your opinions and what gay people do behind closed doors or even out in the open for that matter. So please abstain from ranting to me on how much you hate gays because you are really missing out on having some great friends.

While I also appreciate good, constructive criticism, you can take your anonymous negative comments and shove them where the sun won’t rise. Sitting behind a computer and posting rude things anonym-ASSly is total douchebagism. Grow some nads.

From now on – whether they are known or anonymous – any hate-filled messages will be ignored and deleted. ‘Nuff said.

Few Hours + No Cost = Impact Youngsters Lives with Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program

Marianna Davis was a Big Sister when she was in college. Although she is no longer in the program, she still volunteers her time with children and says her time as a Big Sister was enjoyable.

“I don’t need to get a pat on the back for spending my time with the kids,” says Davis. “It’s the smile from the kids that makes me happy.”

Davis says she thinks more people should donate time with these children because they need someone.

“These kids don’t have a whole lot,” she says.

Davis, who had to move due to a job transfer, says leaving a child is hard to deal with, but she always keeps in touch with her “little sisters”, many of whom lack a role model at home.

Most of the children come from single parent homes or homes in which the other parent is absent due to incarceration, hospitalization or military service. The purpose of a Big Brother or Big Sister? Not to play Santa Claus, but to provide the children with someone who is willing to lend an ear and talk to them. Spending time with these children is valuable.

No matter the child’s economic background, the Big Brothers/Sisters program is good for children experiencing hardship. One former volunteer expressed her surprise when she took her “little sister” to an amusement park and learned that she’d never had a candy apple.

The Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization originated over 100 years ago when a New York City man noticed children in and out of juvenile court and formed the sister part of the organization. An Ohio man who noticed children rummaging through garbage felt these children needed role models and friendship, therefore, becoming the first Big Brother. The two organizations joined in 1977. Since then, there have been over 500 more of these organizations developed throughout the U.S. in all 50 states and 12 countries throughout the world.

According to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters website:

83% of former Littles surveyed agree that their Big instilled values and principles that have guided them through life
46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
27% less likely to begin using alcohol
52% less likely to skip school

No fee is required to volunteer or the child. It is recommended that activities be free or inexpensive. To find out more how to be a Big Brother or Big Sister:

Shopping Sucks

This may come as a surprise to many people, but I am a woman who hates shopping. I would rather be reading a book, sitting at the beach, or writing. Shopping was something I did at the mall when I was a bored teenager. And even then I really didn’t shop because I was broke; I hung out. Today, the mall is one of the last places you’ll find me.

When I tell people I hate shopping – especially men – I get responses like, “What?! You’re a woman! Women love shopping!”

Well, not this woman. And besides, not all women are the same.

Shopping is a chore to me. It’s boring and redundant. The only time I enjoy shopping is at thrift stores because I get most of my reading material at Goodwill for only about a buck.

Shopping? You can have it.