Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nightmare on Bibliophilic Blather Street





You bolt upright from a restless slumber, perspiring despite the slight chill in the air. Your heart racing. Your awareness altered. Pulling the covers over your head, you attempt to fall back to sleep, but cannot shake that image now burrowing itself into your consciousness.

Get ready for October... Nightmare month is coming to Flash Fiction Fridays.

Please send in your microfiction pieces, 500 words or less, on your interpretation of Nightmares to karen@karenberner.com. Remember to put Flash Fiction Fridays in the subject line and to include a bio and author links. Please sign up to follow Bibliophilic Blather so we can build up our online writing community.

Nightmare flash fiction is due Monday, 10/3, and will begin running on Friday, 10/7.


Coming Up Friday

Free-for-All Month continues Friday with a great story by Beverly Diehl. You won't want to miss it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Playboy Club? No Thanks.












I contributed a guest post about NBC's new fall series, The Playboy Club, on Marina DelVecchio's fantastic blog, Marinagraphy.

Please check it out and let me know what you think. Here's the link.

http://marinagraphy.com/playboy-club/


Friday, August 26, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays

Free-for-All month continues today with a great piece by Cleveland W. Gibson. Enjoy.


Death in The Moonlight
By Cleveland W. Gibson


As Moonlight falls upon the castle walls, and when the weak must seek
some peace in prayer, only then the Lady in White will walk quite
beautifully tonight.

See her calm, her face so fair as the wind ruffles, softly surreal the
Moonlight shines upon her hair. But grasp the majestic nature of what
you see for there beneath the proud chin shows only air; gone cut away,
the wretched body full of despair.
















So now she walks at midnight to the clock tower chime, it's on me I see
she casts a spell so tender and divine. Those, others like me, who see
her often cry, perhaps talk of her and how she came to die.

No simple plot of love gone wrong or bitter sweet the sound of song,
rather think of crime and wine, and there in perfect moonlight where she
walked for the last time.

Close she comes to pass me by, chilling me again as I heard her
anguished sigh. “Moonlight. Oh, Moonlight, must it always be. Wait my 
lover , my child, my dear. Halt the dagger. First, kiss me. Kiss me.“



This story first appeared on Bewildering Stories.com in 2011 and also in The Dreamweaver Chronicles in 2011, for a Lebanese-based film production company.


Cleveland W. Gibson is the author of Silver Wolf, Remains, and Only the Best, all of which are available for Kindle e-readers. He was born in colonial India in an atmosphere of colour, mystery and intrigue. In the UK, he worked in the government, trained as a life guard and was a road race director for over ten years. Since taking up writing he’s published over two hundred short stories, poems, and articles in over eighty-five countries. His current project is a fantasy novel, House of the Skull Drum. To learn more about Cleveland, visit Bewildering Stories.


Photo courtesy of bethtrissel.wordpress.com.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Follow Me?

I joined Twitter today, god help me.

I have been holding out, not because I am a technophobe, but because my life is not that interesting that any of you would want to read a daily update. But then, Richard Bon of Liminal Fiction, friend of the blog and all-around great guy, suggested it might be beneficial for me to gain some more exposure for Bibliophilic Blather, Flash Fiction Fridays and my work in general, so I caved.

Would anyone like to follow me? I promise to only tweet newsworthy items.

Click on the link to the right, or here. Thanks.

Please join us tomorrow for a great story by Cleveland Gibson on Flash Fiction Fridays.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Let's Get to Work

School is back in session for many across the United States. That harbinger of fall, pre-season football, has reappeared. Summer is over. Time to get back to some serious work.

I like to attack this time of year with gusto, making all sorts of lists and attempting to organize my various projects. Then I sit back in my office chair, while a sickening feeling creeps into my stomach as I gaze, mouth agape, at the enormity of the tasks at hand.

This is usually followed by a quick trip to Starbucks, from which I return, chai in hand, butterflies gone and ready to begin.

I am working on several things right now, including finishing my WIP for a late fall/early winter release, editing one guest blog, conceptualizing another, writing and editing copy for my freelance account, marketing A Whisper to a Scream, and soliciting for Flash Fiction Fridays submissions.

How about you? What are you up to this fall?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays: Let the Free-For-All Begin



No themes. No word count. Open prompt. Are you ready? The Flash Fiction Fridays Free-for-All will run from now through September, beginning with this fantastic piece by Mary Langer Thompson. Enjoy.



Bridges
By Mary Langer Thompson


The wedding soloist sings, “Wither Thou Goest, I Will Go.”

Third row. Perfect. I’m tired after the flight from California. There wasn’t much time to spruce up in the hotel. The green on this Oregon hilltop is calming. I see a covered bridge from here.

There are white roses on a front row chair to honor Dee. After all these years. Well, she was Molly, the bride’s, mother. And my best friend. In eternal time, it hasn’t been that long. In real time, twenty-five years. Bridesmaids are wearing blue, Dee’s color. The color we buried her in.

I hear “Procession of Joy.” 



“Here she comes, Tom.” I elbow my husband, and we stand.

Molly’s beauty takes my breath away. She has Dee’s smile and eyes, but dark hair, not blonde. Thirty years ago, I was in Dee’s ceremony and she in mine. We had a date to be little old ladies together.

There’s Reggie, Molly’s father, on her arm. Still rakishly handsome, and today in a tuxedo. Like a young Johnny Cash, but with a touch of gray in his hair. He sees me and gives me a wide grin. It’s his doing they all live here.

After the funeral that long ago August, he sold their house and moved with Molly, age six. He wrote me the following February. He was remarrying on Valentine’s Day. Too soon. Too soon.

“Her mother and I do.”

Dee’s replacement was a teacher, like she was. She was Molly’s first grade teacher, and Molly introduced her father to her on a hot Back to School Night. Odd, but her birthday’s the same as Dee’s. Same strange religion, too. I remember hoping if Priscilla used Dee’s lesson plans, she gave Dee credit.

Several years passed before Tom and I met Priscilla. We hadn’t said we were coming, and arrived on Molly’s thirteenth birthday. Priscilla baked a cake and set extra places at the table.

Reggie was a successful realtor, and they lived in a large house on a huge lot. By then, Dee’s mother was living with them. She’s sitting next to Priscilla. Still pretty. How old must she be now?

“For richer or for poorer,”

That day, Reggie took me to see the far end of their property with the swing he had hung from a tree for the girls. He said, “She’s a good woman, but she isn’t Dee.”

“In sickness and in health,”

After Dee’s death, I got emotional one day on the way to work in my 1969 Karmann Ghia, the car Dee said looked like me from the back. All the songs we used to listen to jolted me, especially “You Are So Beautiful to Me.” Heart palpitations sent me to the nearest emergency room. A doctor said, sort of nastily, “What were you doing driving a car?” Another younger doctor asked if I was stressed. I told him how I had lost my best friend. He said, “You look it.” I finally get to talk to a professional and I meet House before he’s famous.

I told him Dee and I had grown up next door to each other since I was in the fifth grade and she in the seventh, our bedroom windows across from each other, only side yards separating us. I used to wait for her light to come on at night, Noxzema smeared on my face, and whistle across to get news of a date. Now there’s only silence between those side yards.

“For better or for worse,”

I was better, after that talk, although there have been crazy dreams where I run after her to ask her where she’s been. She can still run fast. I remember that P.E. teacher in high school that made her cry when she forgot her gym clothes. That teacher’s now teaching remedial reading.

One day I visited Dee’s grave. Only the years were on the stone, not the actual dates when she was born and died. Details, details. And getting to the spot? The woman at the gate told me to go to the first trash can and turn right.

“For as long as we both shall live.”

When Molly was sixteen, she wrote me a letter. Reggie had left Priscilla for another woman. He was not providing support. Priscilla adopted Molly. I wonder if Reggie brought the new woman today. Did he marry her, or is it over? 


“Kevin, you may kiss your bride.”

Soon, a letter from Priscilla. She wrote, “When one door closes, another opens.” Sure, but look to see there’s a floor on the other side. She was dating Dee’s divorced brother, Harry. Harry who used to scream at me to shut up when I practiced my trumpet. He’s sitting next to her in the front row. If Priscilla marries Harry, Molly can call him “Dunkle,” Dad/Uncle for short.

“And now I introduce to you, Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Smyth.”

“That was a short ceremony,” I tell Tom as the newlyweds go down the aisle. Dee would have liked the groom, his clean-cut, handsome looks.

“Not so short,” says Tom. “What did you think of those hocus pocus vows? I wonder where they found that minister?”

I should have paid closer attention. Tom hands me a tissue.


**********************************************************************


“Thank you for flying United. Relax, and enjoy the flight.”

“Tom, did you take your medications this morning?” I have to make sure he takes them. His meds keep his condition stable. Getting old isn’t for sissies.

“Yes, dear.”

Tom and I should sell those plots we bought in Hollywood Hills and move closer to Dee and my dad into the Glendale Forest Lawn. Except there’s that trash receptacle issue.

Priscilla promised she’d update me regularly on what’s going on. Who’d have thought she’d be my bridge to Dee’s family?

Tom and I join hands across the aisle as the plane takes off. We always join hands for take-offs and landings.



Mary Langer Thompson's articles, short stories, and poems have been in numerous anthologies and journals, most recently J Journal, Silk Road, Potshots, and Quill and Parchment. She lives in Apple Valley, California, where she moved six years ago to open a new school as principal. She likes to spend time in Big Bear Lake with her husband, Dave, and is a proud member of the High Desert branch of the California Writer's Club. To learn more about Mary, please visit her website.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Appreciated Follower Award

A lovely surprise came my way yesterday when Fiona J. Phillips, playwright and future novelist, presented me with an Appreciated Follower Award. She writes a great blog, Fi's Magical Writing Haven, which provides wonderful pieces of inspiration for writers. I particularly enjoy when she posts five or so photos and challenges us to write a story about them. Usually, they are lovely shots from the U.K., which satisfy both my writer curiosity and my rampant Anglophilia. Thanks, Fi.



The rules of the award are as follows.
  1. Thank the giver, and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
  2. Reveal your top five picks, and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
  5. And most of all, have bloggity-blog fun.
The Appreciated Follower Award provides an opportunity for me to tell all Bibliophilic Blather readers how grateful I am that you have joined me here and how much I appreciate our conversations. You all rock, of course, but here are the five people who stop by and comment most often.

Thank you, top five, and everyone who stops by.


Greetings, SheWrites Blog Hoppers

Welcome to anyone who is visiting from the SheWrites Blog Hop. Glad you have stopped by, and I am looking forward to checking out your sites.

For those of you who don't know, SheWrites is an online organization for women writers. The Blog Hop helps members get to know each other and discover new blogs.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Haddad Releases Debut Novel



Friend of the blog and Flash Fiction Fridays contributor Stephanie Haddad has released a contemporary romance novel, A Previous Engagement.

Stephanie calls herself a full-time mom by day and a writer by nap time. She lives in the Boston area with her husband, toddler, and dog. While her short fiction has appeared in several online publications and won a handful of contests, A Previous Engagement is Stephanie’s first published novel. 







Here is a short synopsis of Stephanie's novel.


Tessa Monroe may not be able to operate a toaster oven safely, but she sure knows how to create and execute a marketing plan. All that time spent climbing the corporate ladder hasn't left her much time for anything else. Christian Douglas, Tessa’s best friend since eating paste was in vogue, is a wedding photographer as romantic as his craft. Though they've technically been engaged since third grade, there's never been anything more than friendship between them... Or has there?


It is available in paperback at amazon.com and as an e-book at Smashwords. To learn more about Stephanie, please visit her website



Monday, August 15, 2011

Editing for Grammarphobes: Homophones Revisited


I like to bring up homophones at least once a month, because they are the bane of many writers. As you probably recall, homophones are words that are pronounced alike, but have different definitions or spellings.

Here are two more word sets sure to throw off your spell checker, courtesy of The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law.


Palate, Palette, Pallet 

The palate is the roof of one’s mouth.

A palette is an artist’s paint board.

A pallet is a bed.


Pedal, Peddle 

Bicycles have pedals.

To peddle means to sell something. 


Free-for-All Flash Fiction Fridays

Thanks again to all who have sent in their work for Flash Fiction Fridays' Free-for-All month, which now is scheduled to run through September. We are still in need of two more pieces, so if you have anything you would like to submit, please send it to karen@karenberner.com and put "Flash Fiction Fridays" in the subject line. Remember, no themes, no word count, open prompt. The deadline is August 29. 






Friday, August 12, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays: Dog Days of Summer


Happy Friday! We have one more Dog Days of Summer story and then, the Free-For-All begins next week and runs through the month of September. Open prompt. No word counts. I hope you join us. It is going to be great fun.



Dog Day Afternoon 
By Libby Heily


Alfie wasn't aware of the exact moment when he became prescient.

It was an experience that lingered on for a bit. The molecules inside his balloon body heated in the muggy summer air, until they reached a point of near combustion. The heat and speed of the molecules resulted in a force, much like the Big Bang.

His first thought was "Who am I?"

His second was, "Why is my front paw so wet?"

There are a few advantages to being a balloon animal. One is that you are nice and light on your feet. Alfie found this out as he bounded out of the arms of the three-year-old that had slobbered all over his front paw.

He hit the pavement running, little legs squeaking as he sprinted away.

There are also disadvantages to being a balloon animal. One is how you interact with grass. To Alfie, it was a patch of luscious green, a brand new color he had never encountered.

One step into the thicket of grass, and BAM! 

Little bits of balloon lay scattered on the field.



Libby is working on her debut novel, Tough Girl, which she hopes to have out in early 2012. You can find a book of her flash fiction, Twist Turn and Burn, for free on Smashwords.com. To learn more about Libby, visit her blog

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Silkstone Releases New Book


Friend of the blog and Flash Fiction Fridays contributor Barbara Silkstone has a new novel out. Wendy and the Lost Boys is the second in her Fractured Fairy Tales by Silkstone series.

Here is the description.

When a deathbed promise to one of her agents leaves Wendy Darlin, feisty Miami real estate broker for billionaires, trapped on a super-yacht with Ponzi-king, Charlie Hook, she’s forced to join him on a quest to recover his hidden treasure.




Along for the danger-filled adventure are an undercover SEC Investigator, who kindles a spark in Wendy with his "Johnny Depp" eyes, and Hook’s young female helicopter pilot who befriends Wendy as they sail the high seas, one step ahead of modern day ruthless pirates.

A laugh out loud whodunit… kidnapping, revenge, and a little murder on the side.

It is available on amazon.com.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?


As you know, I put out a call for flash fiction last week, abandoning August’s theme and opening it up as a Free-for-All month. The response has been magnificent. So great, in fact, that I am tossing out September’s “Getting Schooled” theme and making it an open prompt as well.

A big thank you to all of the writers who have submitted. Readers, some great stories are coming your way within the next several weeks. I’m so excited to share these pieces with you.

Keep them coming.There is always room for more.

And while I am delirious with joy, I want to say how much I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and/or comment on this blog. Recent estimates put the number of public blogs at a staggering one hundred and fifty-six million, with thousands being added every week.

One only has so much time, so thank you for spending a little of it with me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays: The Dog Days of Summer

Welcome to Free-for-All month on Flash Fiction Fridays. It's all about a little of this and a little of that. Today, we have a wonderful piece of microfiction by Eileen Granfors. Next week? Who knows? You will have to check back and see. That's the fun of a free-for-all.



In the Shape of Shep
By Eileen Granfors

Orville opens the door, and Shep bounds out to dig a hole by the evergreens, mossy dirt flying behind him. Muriel steps outside like a sleepwalker, holding herself together by crossing her arms against her bosom. The dog’s frantic digging claws deeper wounds in her heart.

Muriel looks at her good shoes, the sod from the graveyard stuck here and there, the grassy, swampy smell overwhelming to her. She frowns, and her eyes fill.

“Every time I smell that dog, I’ll think of Buddy.” She pushes back hair straying from its bun.  “I don’t want him here.”

“He’s a good dog.”

Shep’s ears cock as a car crunches on the graveled road to the house.

Shep barks, a joyous, welcoming bark. Orville doesn’t move. Muriel retreats to watch from the kitchen window.

Orville waits for his oldest son, Vern, to get out of Buddy’s banged-up Pontiac. Vern’s five kids press their faces against the back window and wave as Shep bounds over to the car, cavorting and twirling.The kids laugh until their mama tells them to hush. She puts the car into gear and drives away. Shep whines.

“Take the dog, Vern. I’ve got my hands full,” says Orville.

Vern follows the car’s trail down the road, gravel flying up, his skinny, sullen wife driving too fast. “Can’t. We’d have to find him a home.” Vern yanks his tie loose at the neck. “You keep him, Dad.  He’ll be good for Mom. Let me talk to her.” His boots knock loudly on the stoop as he pushes into the house.


“Don’t count on it,” Orville says to the trees and sky and Shep.

Still perking his ears, Shep nuzzles Orville’s chin. Orville pushes his hands into Shep’s deep, silky fur. “C’mon, Shep.” The dog trots after him to the barn where Orville fingers the shotgun’s barrel, cold against the empty stall.  

“The readiness is all,” Orville murmurs,“The readiness is all. If it be not now, yet it will come.”

 He looks into Shep’s golden eyes and leans down to rest his head on Shep’s gold-and-white shoulders. Shep smells of dog shampoo and of wild thyme from the garden. Only his feet bear the muddy, earthy smell.

Orville walks Shep behind the barn.

There, he rinses all four paws with the barn hose, drying each paw with a rough rag.

Orville’s heart releases like fingers stretching open from a closed fist.

 “A dog’s good for filling a grief-dug hole,” he says, his soft voice lifting. Shep wags his tail and races out the barn door. Orville follows him into the warm house.



Eileen Granfors lives in Santa Clarita, California. A former army brat who was born in New Orleans and lived in Germany, she and her family settled in Imperial Beach, California, where her mother’s love of body surfing turned her into an avid surfer girl. Eileen is a proud UCLA alumna.  In July, she published her second novel, set in Imperial Beach, Stairs of Sand.

Her first novel, Some Rivers End on the Day of the Dead, is a coming-of-age multicultural look at the Hispanic tradition of the Day of the Dead. She is working on its sequel, So You, Solimar, and a volume of historical fiction, a prequel to Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. She also is the author of a flash fiction anthology, Flash Warden and Other Stories.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's a Free-For-All in August

I've been thinking about what to do about Flash Fiction Fridays this month. Thanks so much to everyone who commented on last week's post about this topic. Your input is much appreciated.

Let's scrap the old theme and re-christen August a free-for-all flash fiction month. No word count mandates. No specific theme. No restrictions. Send in whatever you want. It can even be something that has been published somewhere else, as long as you provide the proper attribution information (where it first appeared, date, etc.).

Have something in your desk drawer? Send it in. Have a fragment of a scene you have been working on? Send it in. Don't be shy. This is a friendly place.

And for those who might need a little inspiration, here is a writing prompt. This is actually something one of my Facebook friends wrote as her status a few weeks ago. It was too good to pass up.

Writing Prompt

A man in a mini-van pulls into a spot and parks. A woman, also in a van, parks right next to him. She jumps into his van and is SO happy to see him. He hands her a bag from Target, and she proceeds to hold up the contents of the bag: a red thong and a bra. Lots of giggling. Do you think single people with no children drive mini-vans?

C'mon, you know you want to write this couple's story. Besides, I hear people who contribute to Flash Fiction Fridays earn a special place in writer heaven.

Send all free-for-all submissions to karen@karenberner.com and please put "Flash Fiction Fridays" in the subject line. Don't forget to include a bio and links.

I think this is going to be lots of fun and a great way to wrap up the summer before we start our "getting schooled" flash fiction theme for September. 

Let the writing begin!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Editing for Grammarphobes: Killing Granny


“Every woman artist has to kill her own grandmother. She perches on our shoulder whispering, ‘Don’t embarrass the family.’” 

— Erica Jong, in Writers on Writing
eds. Robert Pack and Jay Parini


Writers hear voices. That is a given.

Whether it is a heated argument between your protagonist and her husband or a secondary character and his landlord, we all have our consciousness invaded by those we create.

But, have you ever imagined your mother’s potential shock when she reads a certain chapter? Did the thought of that disapproval cause you to rewrite it and take it down a notch?

Say you are writing a scene in which your main character is severely displeased, no, really angry, no, totally pissed off, no, so infuriated she wants to scream (INSERT YOUR FAVORITE EXPLETIVE HERE). Did you pause, even for a scant second, before dropping the F-bomb, wondering what your grandfather would say?

How about sex scenes? Are you comfortable writing them, or does the notion make your squirm and giggle?

Creation demands freedom — the freedom to communicate whatever you, as the author, deem necessary to properly convey the story. This freedom threshold varies from writer to writer, which is perfectly acceptable, as long as you are the one in control of your parameters.

Not a family member.
Not a religious advisor.
Not your readers.
You.

Writers have a responsibility to be true to their stories. Period.

I think women, especially, need to be reminded of this. So many things were considered unladylike when I was growing up.

Do not offend anyone.
Smile, dear.
Be a good little girl.

F**k that.