Flash Fiction Fun

Today I visited a fun writer's group. One of the exercises was to pull a title from an envelope and pull a picture of your main character from another envelope. We then had 5 minutes to write. I had so much fun with this.  The title I drew was "Today I Got Fired" and the picture I drew was a 20 something young man with tousled hair, wearing a black T-shirt, hands on hips and a look that said, "What?"

Here's what I wrote...

Today I Was Fired
Who knew Mondays were mandatory or that t-shirts and holey blue jeans were not proper attire?
Who knew that flirting with the boss’s daughter was in poor taste or that her husband might object?
Who knew that sleeping on the job, leaving several hours early or playing solitaire online during work hours was frowned upon?
Who knew that borrowing money from petty cash, eating co-workers lunches from the fridge or putting a whoopee cushion on the dweeb in accounting’s chair was a no-no?
Who knew?
Charles Newton Hollingsworth, President of Newton Enterprises knew…and now I know, too.

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Writing by the Seat of my Pants - Paris Mystery Chapter 1

As you could probably tell from my sparse posts on the blog, my writing has been stalled for a while. Yesterday, however, I ran across a prompt that sparked my imagination, so I started writing a story from it. I finished just a short portion of chapter one and posted it on Facebook. The response was surprising and has encouraged me to keep going with the story. Here's the first part of the story that was posted on FB yesterday...



Tears filled her eyes. She kissed me softly on the cheek and with that, she walked into the rain and didn’t look back. That was the last time anyone ever saw her. Until now.
Even half a block away, I knew it was her. The walk, the way she carried herself. My heart beat faster. My mind resisting the hope welling up inside me. It was her and she was looking straight at me. Closer now, no smile on her face and a hardness in her eyes. No recognition on her part, but I knew. I had finally found Lizette.
I stopped. My feet refusing to take another step. She drew closer but averted her eyes, and when she reached me, she just walked on by without so much as a nod of acknowledgement. I turned to see her cross the street and take a seat at one of the sidewalk bistro tables outside of my hotel.
I stood staring, waiting for her to look up. She never did. Was it really her or did I just want for it to be her so badly that my mind wouldn’t let go of its surety? I crossed the street and took a table next to her. If I heard her speak I would know for sure. When the waiter came to take her order, she didn’t say a word, just pointed out what she wanted. I ordered a coffee and nursed it while she ate her meal. Never once did she look my way. I shoved hope back down inside me. It wasn’t her.
When she rose to leave after she finished her pastry and coffee, Her heel caught in the grate and she stumbled. I jumped to my feet and caught her around the waist. She turned in my arms, a feeling so familiar that it set my heart racing again. It had to be her. Her name slipped from my lips, “Lizette.” 
A flicker of recognition sparked in her eyes, then disappeared just as quickly. She shook her head, pushed herself out of my arms and walked away.
I sat back down, ordered a sandwich and something a little stronger to drink, unable to shake the feeling that it was Lizette. Thirty minutes later, when I reached into my jacket pocket to pay for my meal, I found a key to room 221 at Hotel Miteux, a seedy little hotel on the shady side of town. She must have slipped the key into my pocket when she stumbled into my arms. “Lizette – finally, I had found her and finally I would get some answers!”

That's were I stopped yesterday, which did not make people happy. They wanted more.  Today I finished chapter one. I'll post it below and post subsequent chapters as I write them. I have no title for this story and I have no idea about what will happen next. I'm letting the story and the characters reveal it to me as I go.  We'll see what happens together. Now, here's the rest of chapter one...


As I made my way toward Hotel Miteux, it started to drizzle. I pulled the collar on my jacket up around my neck and picked up the pace. I hate rain. You can imagine why. My thoughts were on the day she left. There had been no indication that she was unhappy. No quarrels, not even any disagreements. We were just finishing up a two-week vacation in Paris where we had fallen in love all over again. Our engagement had been too long and had plateaued the relationship, but Paris sparked it again. At the foot of the Eiffel Tower, in the pouring rain, I proposed to her a second time. Cliché, I know, but the moment was right and my heart was so full of longing for her.
Waiting had been hard, but we both wanted God’s blessing on our marriage, so, we resisted intimacy. She threw her arms around my neck. “Yes, silly, I will marry you.” I kissed her. A kiss that left both of us breathless. In the emotion of the moment, Lizette said, “Charles, let’s not wait.” I swallowed hard. She continued, “Let’s get married here in Paris. Right away. Today!”
She didn’t have to ask twice. We returned to our hotel and I left her at the door of her room. “I’ll find out what we need to do and be back as soon as possible.”
A quick kiss and I was off.
I returned an hour later with disappointing news. To be married in Paris, at least one of the parties must reside there for a minimum of 40 days. I wasn’t sure how to break it to her. I didn’t want to break it to her. I wanted to be married now.
In the end, it didn’t matter.  When I knocked on Lizette’s door, there was no answer. I knocked several times until I got worried that something had happened to her, so I went to the lobby and convinced the desk clerk to send someone with a key to check on her.  When they opened the door, I was stunned. The room was empty. Not only was Lizette gone, so was everything she had brought with her. Clothes, jewelry, suitcases…everything.
I went back to the lobby and asked the desk clerk if she had checked out. “No, sir.” He hesitated, then added, “But when she left, she did ask for directions to Gare du Nord.”
The train station? Why would she have asked for directions to the train station? Was she going home to London? What had happened in the hour I had been gone?
I caught the next taxi I saw and spent the 40 minutes it took to get to the station going over every possible explanation for Lizette’s disappearance. When the cab came to a stop I paid the driver and sprinted toward the door of the station, but stopped short when I spotted Lizette walking down the sidewalk away from me. I called out her name and she stopped, but didn’t turn or look back. I ran to catch up to her, wondering where her luggage was, because she wasn’t carrying it, and why was she walking away from the station?
Once I reached her, I threw all those questions and more at her, but she didn’t answer any of them. She simply put a finger to my lips to stop the barrage of questions. “Charles, I can’t marry you and I can’t explain why.”
My brain felt like a tornado was whirling around in it. Nothing made sense. “What? Why? What’s happened?” I stammered.
She interrupted. “Charles, if you love me and if you want to keep me safe, you will let me go. My life depends on it. If and when I can explain I will. Until then, you must forget about me.”
Tears filled her eyes and it was then that she kissed me softly on the cheek and whispered, “Pray for me,” then walked away into the Paris rain. She didn’t even look back.
I was too stunned to go after her. Frozen in place by the possibility that if I did, it might bring her harm – injury – even death. That was the last anyone had seen of her. She had never returned to London and in the many trips I had made to Paris looking for her, I had never been able to find a trace. Until today.
I finally arrived at Hotel Miteux, drenched to the bone, but excited to see her again. Standing before the door of room 221 my heart pounding in my chest, I took a deep breath and knocked. No answer. I knocked again. Still no answer. The hair on the back of my neck began to prickle and a vivid sense of déjà vu swept over me. At least this time I had a key. I inserted it and let the door swing open on its own.  What I saw there nearly knocked me to the floor.

More to come as Charles and Lizette let me in on what's happening.


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Adventure at the Library - no, really!

Today, I want to write for the fun of it! I won't worry about the writing rules. I'm just going to start writing and see where the words take me. An adventure awaits - new worlds, new characters, new discoveries. It will be a fantastical, rollicking good time - a journey of amazement. I'll be hanging out at the Glendale Library if anyone wants to join me. Wish Me Bon Voyage!

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I begin my journey at the library. I haven’t been here in a long time and I had forgotten how much I enjoy being surrounded by thousands of books – each one boasting of adventure within their covers. Places I have yet to visit, people I have yet to meet, stories I have yet to step into.

Around me, people quietly peruse the rows of books or sit silently hunched over their keyboards, while a cacophonous din of voices call to me from between the covers of surrounding books. Whether it is the voices of the authors or the characters they've created, I cannot tell. All are clamoring for my attention. And then, one rises above the rest. Not in volume, but in mysterious seduction. A whisper, really - enticing me toward row 37 of the fiction section. ERD-FOE says the label at the end of the aisle. I feel myself being pulled toward something. I know not what, but I cannot resist. I recall a quote by John Muir, “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” Yes, a forest of long-ago felled trees that have been transformed by imagination and story, yet they still retain the magic and mystery of the forest. 

And into the forest I go. Past Fleming and Fitzgerald, Fielding and Fitch, past Bridget Jones and Fanny Flag, deep in conversation. I long to eavesdrop, but the voice calls me onward. A faint glow draws me deeper into the wood. The path grows dim and narrow. Underbrush snags at my legs. The canopy above weaves its branches together and blocks out all but sporadic flickers of light.

The greenish glow intensifies as does the voice, now raspy and crow-like. An apparition forms in the shadows – a tall form with sinister good looks. A black patch covers one eye and a rattlesnake tattoo curls around his right wrist and onto the back of his hand. “Welcome,” he breaths, and the stench of his fetid breath churns my stomach.

 A novel near his shoulder slides half-way out of the shelf. “Take it,” he croaks.

 The title jumps out at me; You Don’t Scare Me by John Farris. I feel a faint bit of courage well up within. “No. I will not.”

Slowly, his claw-like hand reaches up to take hold of the patch over his eye. He rips it off to reveal a smoldering eye with a lightning bolt where a pupil should be. An involuntary gasp escapes my lips. 

Again the title calls to me, “Be brave.” It dares me to stand up to the evil force that’s sucking me into its darkness. I mustered all the courage I can. My sweaty palms clench into fists. The back of my neck stiffens and my face flushes hot. I will not let this entity ruin my adventurous day. You don’t scare me was on the tip of my tongue, but what came out was, “You scare the crap out of me!”

I take a step away from him. “This is not the adventure I had planned and I will not let you pull me into your vile world!”

At that moment a delicate, shimmering blue light illuminates the path as another novel slides from its place on a shelf near my feet. I pick it up. Kissed by Shadows, by Jane Feather, reads the cover. A calm sweeps over me, replacing the jitters Farris had caused. “Now, this is more like it.”

The darkness fades and takes the apparition with it. I flip open the cover of Kissed by Shadows and read the promise of sizzling seduction, dangerous intrigue and passionate adventure. Heat rises in my throat and quickly spreads the blush to my cheeks. “Oh, my.”

Miss Feather, while I’m sure this in an intriguing tale and while I am sorely tempted, I'll pass. Otherwise I will need to take a cold plunge into the waters of repentance in order to wash away guilt from my seared conscience. I re-shelve the novel and push on.

Sunlight breaks at the end of the tunnel where large picture windows open onto the desert landscaping. A peacock struts regally through the shade of ironwood trees. It stops, turns and looks directly into my eyes. It fans its tail into a brilliant display of shimmering emerald and cobalt.

The glass between us begins to waver and swirl into a pulsating circle, “Come,” beckons the peacock. With heart pounding, I step through the portal, feeling a bit like Alice stepping through the looking glass. I know not where this might lead, but if it was adventure I’d wanted, it was adventure I’m getting.

The scene before me morphs into color and warmth, light and melody. A breeze caresses me as my feet leave the ground. I am in flight, soaring over vast valleys and mammoth mountain ranges. Beyond them, a lush forest spreads before me and when I reach the edge of the forest a small village nestled beside the waters of a wide, but gently-flowing river appears. Thatched-roofed houses and green pastures come into view. Flower gardens dot the landscape, boasting a patchwork of various colors.

 As I descend, a marketplace comes into view. People are bustling…no, rushing…no, fleeing from some unknown disturbance in the middle of the town square. As well as I can calculate, the trajectory of my decent will put me smack dab in the middle of the melee.

I don’t know what’s next and I momentarily question my desire for adventure, but whatever lies ahead, I’m sure it beats sitting at home wishing I had something fun to do, so bring it on! 

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Woman's World Magazine - My New Goal

Someday you'll see my stories
published in Woman's World magazine!
I love the short romance stories published in Woman's World magazine. I also love writing short fiction, so this is a marriage made in heaven, right?

My new goal is to get my stories published in this weekly magazine, so I've made up my mind to submit one story a week from now on.  Last week I submitted my first story - a sweet vacation romance and this week I submitted my second story about a writer who learns first hand all about happy endings.

Can't wait until I make my first sale to Woman's World!

Happy Writing!
Jan

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What does God think of your writing?

I feel so challenged right now by an article by Allen Arnold. that I just read on Novel Rocket..  The title of the article is "What Does God Think of Your Writing?"

What?

I mean, I don't write erotica or anything remotely like that, but still, I've never stopped to really think about that question.  As I scanned the article, I quickly realized that this is one blog post that needs to be printed out and taken into my quiet time with the Lord.

The author challenges you to take 7 soul-searching questions to the Lord and seek his answers to them.

I know what I'll be doing in my next quiet time!

Here's a link to the article - http://www.novelrocket.com/2015/04/what-does-god-think-of-your-writing.html

I'll be posting what I learn from this exercise and I'd love to hear what your comments if you take this challenge.

Happy Writing!


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3 Acts 9 Blocks 27 Chapters - How to Outline Your Novel

I just watched a fantastic video by Katytastic, explaining how to outline a novel, step-by-step.  This is an easy to understand process for someone who writes by the seat of their pants (a pantser), like me.

I can't tell you how many books I've started, but somewhere between the 4-7th chapter, I get stuck. I don't know where to go next. I've finally realized that I need a road map that points me in the right direction, so when I found this video, I watched it, then watched it again, taking down notes almost verbatim and printed it out so that I can use it for all future novels.

Here's the video.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


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Reading Leads to Writing

The more I read really great Christian fiction, the more I want to write really great Christian fiction. Fiction that tells the story of characters who loose their faith, then find their way back to God. Characters who don't preach to their friends, but live out their faith in a way that speaks so loudly of God's love and faithfulness, that those around them can't help but yearn for a relationship with God. Characters who, no matter what they face, are strengthened and lead by a God who loves them without condemning them for their mistakes and doubts.

I love the settings, the conflicts, the romance, the adventure, but mostly I love how authors allow their own faith to color the character of their heroes and heroines so that their writing glorifies God and points readers to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thanks to all you Christian writers for allowing God to use the talent He's given you to bless others!

I pray that God will use me to bless others, too.

From a grateful reader and aspiring writer.

PS - the same goes for all those great Christian non-fiction writers who help me grow and grow in my spiritual walk with Christ!


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