Friday, January 27, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Petty Annoyances

Rounding out January is a great piece by Richard Bon. Next up, get in the mood for Valentine's Day with romance month.




The Little Things
By Richard Bon

Lots of times the little things bothered him.

She’d leave a room for the night without shutting the lights. She always left retractable pens around the house without retracting the pen. She’d call him in the middle of the day for no reason when she knew he was too busy to talk. Well, the truth was he loved receiving those calls from her; he only acted as if they annoyed him.

Of course he did his share of little things that got on her nerves too: rarely hanging his coat in the coat closet, stacking books beside their bed instead of on shelves, leaving his morning dishes dirty in the sink. He knew of these complaints she had, but didn't change.




Work and parenting were enough to fill their days and they never had the time or energy or money for anything else.

“Join a gym,” their friends advised.

“Take a vacation.”

But they kept going as they always had. There was no shortage of love but also no shortage of bitching.

After he was diagnosed with lung cancer and realized all those little things didn’t matter so much, he still yelled at her for leaving the hair dryer plugged in and hanging from the wall outlet to the floor, but he did it more out of habit than true annoyance.



Richard Bon lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter.  He posts a new micro story (flash fiction) of his own or by a guest author every other Monday at LiminalFiction.com.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Editing for Grammarphobes: Let's Play!

I love word games. Crossword puzzles. Word searches. Scrabble. Hurray!

So today I thought it might be fun to play a matching game.

Can you pair up the correct archaic word with its definition?

Don't cheat! Since Blogger does not an upside down typeface option, the answers will be at the end of the post.

Have fun!


BIBLIOPHILIC BLATHER ARCHAIC WORD CHALLENGE


1.  dasypygal                                  a.   fear of excrement
2.  gynarchy                                   b.   fear of relatives
3.  saprophilous                              c.   living in rotting waste
4.  smellfungus                               d.   the feeling one gets when a limb "falls asleep"
5.  galeanthrophy                            e.   a person who will not stop talking
6.  scatophobia                                f.   having hairy buttocks
7.  blatherskite                                 g.  a government consisting of women
8.  obdormition                                 h.  the delusion that one is a cat
9.  syngenesophobia                        i.  a person who finds fault in everything
10. gynecocracy                              j.  rulership by women






Answers

1) f  2) j  3) c  4) i  5) h  6) a  7) e  8) d  9)10) g.



Monday, January 23, 2012

Show of Hands. Who Loves Words?




I came across two great websites while researching this past week, Grandiloquent Dictionary and The Phrontistery, both of which feature obscure and long-lost words. I could not help but scan their pages, delighting in the treasure trove I had found.


These sites will come in very handy when I begin writing Thaddeus and Spring’s book in a month or so, because our dear Bibliophile Thaddeus is a rampant anglophile who delights in using archaic words.


Here is one to whet your appetite.

Q: Can you guess what redactophobia is?

(Here’s a hint. It is something quite a few writers suffer from.)

A: The fear of editing or editors.

Wish I would have known when I was working in magazines. I could have gotten a lot of mileage off of it.

Please join me Wednesday when our word fun continues with a matching game featuring some awesome locution.


A Reminder


The deadline for romance flash fiction is coming up on 1/30. A sweet love story or Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"? Whatever your interpretation is, we would love to read it.

Send your submissions to karen@karenberner.com. Put "Flash Fiction Fridays" in the subject line and include a short bio and links (bookseller, blog, website, etc.) with your story. Please sign up to follow Bibliophilic Blather, so we can build our online writing community.

Thanks!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Choices

Here is a great piece from a new Flash Fiction Fridays contributor, Jack Urquhart. Enjoy.


Mister Courtman Heads Home
By Jack A. Urquhart


He runs in circles, a miles-long loop through town, up into the foothills, back to where he started. As always, the last two hundred meters he takes at an arse-kicking pace —panting, arms pumping, a flat-out sprint — running for his life.

Because he is.

His wife has seen to that.

“We can’t go on this way. I’ll give you a week to decide, Mister ‘C’,” she’d said.

He’d flinched, been taken off guard by Linda’s unruffled tone, by her appearance in the kitchen at an early hour.

“After fifteen years, I think that’s long enough.”

Clearly she’d been standing there a while, watching him lace up his shoes, waiting to be noticed.

“Enough time to get your priorities—‘straight’?”

Impossible to ignore the humiliating pause or the emphasis she’d imposed on the word, much less her stoical smile — as if it were all so sadly funny.

Straight, indeed! So like Linda to condense even disaster to a single syllable.

It had taken all his will power to resist bolting past her down the hall. Out onto the street.

“Seven days,” she’d reiterated, heading over to the counter, rummaging in the dishwasher for her favorite mug.

So ordinary her behavior — like out of a movie; the scene where the long-suffering spouse calmly declares, “it’s over,” and then proceeds with an everyday act: pouring coffee, stirring in creamer.

“It’s simple,” she’d said, pausing for a sip. “You’ve got to decide, Mister ‘C’: where is home? Where do you want to sleep? Here or with him?”

Again the smile — surely not accidental.

No mischance either, the way Linda refuses to name names anymore — the way she reduces even the third party in their little triangle to a generic pronoun.

Him.

“And if ‘home’ isn’t here,” she’d thought to add, “you’ll need to hit the road.”

And so he has—six days running now.

Setting off before sunrise, he pushes himself faster, farther each time. At forty-two, the effort requires fantastical incentives:

If I break under an 8:40 mile, I’ll stay with Linda, he tells himself.  If my last split makes 8:50, it’ll be —Him.

Disaster may be postponed, he had almost convinced himself.

Until this morning.

“What about Uncle Paul?  How come he’s stopped coming ‘round?” she’d asked—his daughter, slumped at the kitchen table, watching as he stooped to double knot his running shoes. “How come Mom never mentions him anymore?”

The sound of Annie’s voice, splintered at the edges, had shattered the vision of the run already unfolding in his head.

“Sometimes I think being dead would be better,” she’d said. “Better than waiting to see how things’ll turn out.”

The sudden chilblains, like a burst of dread stippling up his legs, made his calves cramp. Bolting upright, he’d tried shaking out the knots, certain he’d not forgotten to stretch, that his daughter’s emphasis on the honorary ‘uncle’ was unintentional. Then again, how to downplay anything so fundamental as Annie near tears?




“No, you’re wrong,” he’d said at first, still clinging to the notion that she was just a child, barely twelve, still chewing at the frayed ends of her hair, still too self-absorbed to notice anything that didn’t register on her cellphone screen. Yet there it was — adult-sized despair on Annie’s pinched face. Too much knowing for a little girl.

“It will turn out okay. I promise,” he’d said.

Such a hypocrite. Such a fraud of a father, a shambles of a man heading nowhere at a steadily improving pace.

For a moment he’d thought to say so, thought to confess how lying alone in his study night after night, he’d been thinking the same as she, wondering if oblivion might be better than the shame of being ashamed, than the terrible fear of longing to be somewhere else — longing to be with P__.

He’d almost spoken to unburden himself before thinking how unfair that would be.

Instead, he’d gone running. And now, in a full sprint, he wonders—to what end?

If I break under 9:15, Annie will be okay, he tells himself, setting more reasonable odds; 9:30 or better, and she’ll be fine.

It is the last thing he thinks before it is upon him — a calamity only three strides removed.

The cyclist, the local paperboy, swerves in front of him from behind a parked car so suddenly that veering toward the curb can’t be avoided. Neither his stumbling somersaults across the median, nor his arse-slamming, leg splaying sidewalk landing.

It is over in a heartbeat.

For a moment, he sits on cold concrete, strangely clear-headed — thinking it would be just as appropriate to laugh as to cry.

But now someone else is making a fuss.

“Jesus!  Are you okay?”

The McFarland boy is yelling at him, scrambling up from his bike, tripping over the handlebars, spilling newspapers everywhere.

“Oh Shit! I’m so sorry! Is that you, Mister Courtman?”

Yes, that’s me, he thinks, standing slowly, laughing, brushing the dirt from his knees and elbows, wondering where all the new aches and pains will bloom.

“Christ, Annie’ll kill me if you’re hurt! Should I go for help?”

“I’m fine,” he answers, testing his footing to be sure. “Still alive,” he says.

“Can I help you make it home, then?”

A good kid, the McFarland boy. All gangling, legs and arms.

“No. I’ll get there on my own,” he decides, thinking for the first time that he can, that he knows where that is.

“But first, let’s deal with this mess,” he says, indicating the boy’s papers. “Get you back in business,” he thinks to add, wondering if that’s really all there is to it?

© 2011 By Jack A. Urquhart



Jack Andrew Urquhart is the author of So They Say, a collection of self-contained, inter-connected stories. He also wrote Irises, Purple Irises, a novella. Urquhart holds a Master of Arts degree in English, Creative Writing, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was the winner of the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Award for Fiction (1991). His work has appeared at Clapboard House literary journal, Crazyhorse literary journal, and Standards: The International Journal of Multicultural Studies Online. Formerly a writing instructor at the University of Colorado’s Writing Program, Urquhart was, until recently, a senior analyst for the Judicial Branch of California. He resides in central Florida.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

And, I'm Spent

Whew! My WOW! Women on Writing blog tour is officially over. It was a great experience, and I was able to do many things I have not done before, like my first podcast interview, but, I have to confess something. I'm tired.

Writing twelve+ original articles, doing interviews and commenting on everyone's blogs, all while getting ready for the holidays, has left me a bit drained. I mean, after all, being that amusing and witty takes a lot out of a lady.



Most of the time, my life is write, do laundry, write more, edit, make dinner, repeat. Not do a phone interview, write multiple articles, and make an appearance at a book club meeting. Oh, hey, did I tell you that? Last week was my first book club appearance at an Irish pub down the street. It went well, and I had a lovely time. Even got a black and tan out of it, so it was all good.

However, there is no rest for the wicked. I am writing my posterior off, finishing the second book in the Bibliophiles series for a spring release. It is going really well. Stay tuned for more details.

So, what are you working on this month? Any new release news you would like to share?

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Day, 2012

I was told I was stupid so many times in grammar school, I cannot even begin to estimate the number. Polish jokes were big where I grew up, in a neighborhood of first-generation Italians. Apparently, everyone thought they were true.

That and the fact that I was female.

I worked harder, developing a sharp tongue that could fire back a devastating insult guaranteed to shut up even the most annoying harasser.

In hindsight, I guess I should thank them all. Formulating those insults helped me to realize how much I loved words and their combinations.

But still.


These were the days of the women’s movement. Television newscasts aired footage of protests and marches. Oh, how I wished I was old enough to wear a bra so I could burn it!

“What do you know, you’re a girl?”

When I was old enough to study Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work, his messages struck a chord. Obviously, my inconveniences were nothing compared to what he and his people had endured. Dr. King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial still gives me chills.


“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”



When Barack Obama was elected president almost four years ago, I thought maybe the United States had finally become enlightened and could see past someone’s skin color to respect the person within.

I was wrong.

It seems the hate only intensified, lashing out at Muslims, gays and so many other targets.

I did not understand it as a child, and I still don’t get it. Who cares what color someone is? What gender? What sexual preference? What religion? We are all richer for knowing many kinds of people, from all different backgrounds and perspectives. How lucky are we to have that experience?

We are all souls on our journeys, trying to navigate life the best we know how. It’s not us versus them. Him versus me. It is “we.”



Dr. King’s message reminds us of this. Today, I honor his memory and his message.

I hope you will, too.


Beverly Diehl over at Writing in Flow has organized a blogfest to promote a discussion on discrimination in our times and encourage some honest conversation about it. Please click on the link and see what other bloggers are saying. Thanks.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Frustration

I recently became acquainted with John's work through his wonderful blog, The Bathroom Monologues. Enjoy.


Shameless
By John Wiswell


They had to be newlyweds or serial killers. Cheryl preferred them to be newlyweds, two kids who had never experienced the carnal and found it extremely to their liking. When they finished, she'd knock and ask them to please move the bed six inches away from the wall. She couldn’t nap with all that unnecessary shared thumping on her bedroom wall.

An hour of unnecessary shared thumping later, she wondered if it was a couple at all. Perhaps there was a washing machine up against that wall, one that squeaked like two pairs of panting lungs. She turned up her surround sound and attempted to lose herself in a blockbuster movie of swords and stubbled men.

Two hours of unnecessary shared thumping later, she questioned how many washing machines had such a long cycle. What kind of stains would require that kind of intensity?

Three hours of unnecessary shared thumping later, Cheryl had a mindful of stains that might require that intensity. She clutched her aching back and banged on the wall with a broom. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t seem to hear.

She banged on their door. The bedsprings were audible from the hallway. They didn’t cease. The next door down opened and wrinkled Mr. Parkins squinted out, glaring like he didn’t want her to ruin this stereophonic delight for him. Mr. Parkins was a widower, and the only one who buzzed her up when she forgot her keys.




She hung her keys on one of the coat hooks. They bounced to her new neighbors’ tempo. Cheryl stared until she considered calling Mike. See what he was up to tonight.

Or who he was up to. No, she wouldn’t give in to that son of a bitch. He owed her the apology. Besides, her back was killing her. She rubbed at the pinched nerves.

Halfway into The Two Towers, Cheryl wondered if they weren’t escapees from a nymphomania clinic. Around when Gimli said to toss him but not to tell “the elf,” she thought better of it. No, given how many hours it had been, she doubted they could have mustered the will to run this far before crumpling to the grass and rutting.

Around when Ian McKellen saved the day, there was a minor miracle. She realized she was more annoyed at the idea of the inconsiderate lovers than the noise. In fact, it fit very nicely into the beats of the soundtrack. It was as good as white noise.

So she did something stupid. Something Mike would have called stupid, but he was the sort to get caught in the dish room with a waitress. Bracing her back for the pain, she pushed her bedposts flush against the drywall. It commenced trepidation immediately. The mattress felt like a hundred vibrating fingers under her aching spine.

It was the best sleep of her adult life, and the next morning her neighbors were whisper-quiet. Either that or she’d built up a tolerance.




John Wiswell writes humor, horror and anything that fits in-between. He has been published at Weird Tales, Flash Fiction Online, Enchanted Conversation and Untied Shoelaces of the Mind. He writes daily for http://johnwiswell.blogspot.com and is currently seeking representation for his first fantasy novel.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Sad Day

I received word today that LC Evans, one of our Flash Fiction Fridays contributors from last March, passed away from cancer last night. She wrote "The Toughest Kid in Town," remember?

I met Linda through Kindle Boards awhile back. She was a talented writer and extremely supportive of all of us on the boards. When I was putting together comedy month last year, I knew there was no one better to contact than Linda and her cohorts over at A Moose Walked into a Bar. She graciously consented.

Her bio states "L.C. Evans began her writing career with short stories and essays before branching out into novel writing. More than a hundred of her stories and humorous essays have been published in such magazines as Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Woman's World, Horse Illustrated, and Ladies Circle among many others. Over the years Ms. Evans has won awards in writing contests and has kept busy honing her craft by taking writing courses and attending writing seminars. She was recently a featured presenter at the Carolinas Writers Conference in Wadesboro, North Carolina. After traditional publication of Talented Horsewoman, the first of her Leigh McRae horse mystery novels, Ms. Evans decided to take control of her career by trying her hand at indie publishing.

'All this means,' she says, 'is that I pay for my own editing, proofreading, cover design, formatting, and all the other publishing expenses. However, I also get complete control over my books, and that means I can keep the price low. Readers on a budget will still have access to my books. I care deeply about all of my readers and I take great joy in the many fan letters readers send me.'"


Her most famous novel is We Interrupt This Date, which came in at number three in the Romance/Chick Lit category of the 2010 Red Adept Annual Indie Awards and made the Final Four in the March Madness poll at Daily Cheap Reads.

Her latest was My Planet or Yours? Other LC Evans books include The Witness Wore Blood Bay, Talented Horsewoman, Night Camp, and Jobless Recovery.

If you can, please purchase one of Linda's books today as a tribute to her and to help her family pay medical expenses.

Rest in peace, Linda.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Opulence, Sex...and Murder

Flash Fiction Fridays contributor and friend of the blog R. Doug Wicker has released a new novel of intrigue aboard a luxury liner.




Here is a little about some of the main players.

The Globe —38,500 tons of ocean plying opulence housing in its fabulous apartments some of the wealthiest people on the planet.

Reynard Chevalier—The Globe’s security officer. An expatriate American with a new name, a new country, a new life, and a past that is rapidly catching up and threatening to destroy him.

Staff Captain Katarina Giordano —Reynard’s boss during the day, his lover at night.

Jane Hanover —The Globe’s latest resident. The fiancĂ©e from Reynard’s previous life. The woman who has sent Reynard’s past careening on a collision course toward his all too vulnerable present.

Charles Hanover, III —Jane’s philandering husband. A man who rationalizes his infidelities by demanding that his wife also find solace outside their marriage.

Security Officer Sarah Brighton —Reynard’s amorous Number 2. A woman too young for Reynard and too determined to accept no for an answer.

Sterling Heyward —The Globe’s reclusive owner and Reynard’s best friend and employer. A man whose enormous wealth was built spilling the blood of others.

The Globe Slasher —A sadistic sociopath with a very large chef’s knife and an insatiable blood lust for the rich and beautiful. A serial killer who has reached into the distant past to find inspiration for his perverse grotesqueries.

Louis Guignard —The French police captain. A man stationed in Saint Barts, hundreds of miles from The Globe. A man walking Reynard through his investigation via a very tenuous internet connection. A man who knows that it is only matter of time before the Globe Slasher turns on the one person aboard The Globe who can stop the slayings—Reynard Chevalier.

Sounds interesting, doesn't it?

The Globe is available at amazon.com.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Romance Flash Fiction: Who's In?

This Monday morning, I am looking forward to February, when a jaded writer's mind turns to thoughts of...love?

It is time to think about romance flash fiction to get us in the mood for Valentine's Day, which, despite all of its nauseating, flowery pink, is a lovely idea at its core. And who doesn't enjoy a good love story?




So, please send your submissions (1,000 words or less) to karen@karenberner.com by 1/30. Put "Flash Fiction Fridays" in the subject line and include a short bio and links (bookseller, blog, website, etc.) with your story. Also, if you haven't done so already, please sign up to follow Bibliophilic Blather, so we can build our online writing community.

Thanks so much.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Winter Strikes

Welcome to the first Flash Fiction Fridays of 2012. Here is a poignant piece by Brittany Pedersen.


The Loss
By Brittany Pedersen


Mitchell set his wrinkled hand on the kitchen counter. He studied the mica top, searching in the counter's design for his purpose. Why did he go to the kitchen? His frown deepened, revealing worry lines etched on his brow. For an instant, he forgot completely where he was and who he was. Scared, he shifted his aging body to the dining table and sat down. A tear formed and escaped down his cheek as he realized something. He was more afraid of slowly forgetting everything and everyone than he was of death.




Brittany Pedersen currently resides in the Portland Metro area. She recently graduated from PSU, but is taking a year off before beginning the publishing program at Portland State. To learn more about Brittany, visit her blog.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Special Thursday Post





Fellow bloggers Kelly Hashway and Fiona J. Phillips have both passed along "Versatile Blogger" awards, which was a very nice way to get back into the swing of things this week. 

The rules of this award are that I should mention the blogger who gave the award, tell you seven things that you don't know about me and pass on the award to five other bloggers.

So, without further ado, seven things you probably do not know about me.

1. My favorite color is green, but I enjoy watching people's faces when they ask what my favorite color is and I reply "black." It always throws them and makes me chuckle inside. But since black is technically the absence of color, I go with green.
2. I am eagerly anticipating the return of Downton Abbey Sunday on PBS. Whoo Hoo!
3. My guilty pleasure is watching any of "The Real Housewives" franchise, except for Beverly Hills, which is altogether too much for anyone.
4. To get psyched up for work lately, I have been playing Florence + the Machine's "Dog Days are Over." They are my new favorite group.




5. I like to listen to classical music when I write. There was a study done quite a few years back about it opening up brain cells or something like that. Whether it does or not, classical music works for me.

6. I love twilight, not the books or movies with sparkling vampires and buff werewolves, but the time of day when my family comes together to have dinner and share how our days went. 

7. King Lear is my favorite Shakespearean tragedy, and I love a good tragedy.

Okay, enough about me. Here are five blogs deserving of many accolades, including this award.