Flash Fiction Friday - Cappuccino for the Coroner

This week's prompt: She dropped the children off at daycare, picked up a cappuccino at the coffee shop and headed for the morgue. (Prompt is from my new book Wake Up Your Muse.)

Lexie patted herself on the back for thinking of this errand-running business. 
She dropped the children off at daycare, picked up a cappuccino at the coffee shop and headed for the morgue. Strangely enough, it was one of her favorite stops. Old George was always ready with one of his sick autopsy jokes, which cracked her up.
The traffic was light, so she made good time. If the rest of the day was like this, she would be finished by noon.

“Here’s your double-shot cappuccino, George,” she said, pushing through the heavy glass doors of the Coroner’s office.

The venti cup of steaming liquid hit the floor when she saw George slumped over his desk. She scanned the room, her eyes flitting from the ugly red wound on George’s head, to the open file cabinet with it’s contents strewn across the floor and finally to the phone receiver in George’s hand.

She had to call the police, but that meant taking the phone from George’s grip.

Preserve the crime scene, she thought. Running to the lab, she grabbed a pair of latex gloves from a box on the table and pulled them on, then returned to George’s office.

He must have been dead for a while, because she had to pry his stiff fingers from around the receiver. Her hand shook as she dialed the number.

“911, what is your emergency?”

“Put the phone down, now!” demanded a deep and ragged voice behind her.

She lowered the phone slowly and turned around.

He was a big man with a ski mask on his head and a gun in his hand.

“You got a car?” he rasped.

“Yeah” was all she could manage.

Five minutes later they were speeding toward the airport.

This was NOT the next errand on my list, she thought.

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Be Content – Filled with the Fullness of God

I just read the following excerpt from The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, by Jeff Gerke.  It really gave me something to think about.  Maybe it will speak to you, too as we get ready to move into the new year.

We are like Adam and Eve, complete in the Garden. As Christians we are like springs of living water welling up to eternal life. We have the powerful, loving, guiding Spirit of God. What more do we need? What more does God have to add for us to be content?

Perhaps it’s time to do some meditating of your own. Ask God to change your perspective from one of always looking at what you feel you lack, to gratefully remembering all He’s given. He hasn’t ripped you off.

2011 - The Year of Contentment????

Flash Fiction Friday - Spelling

Today's Prompt: He leaned forward in his chair, raised a crooked finger to my face and said, "_______________________."

My Story: Spelling

The antique bookstore smelled like leather and licorice.  It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to the dim light. Behind the desk sat a man who looked like he had been there before any of the books in the store had even been written.

“May I help you?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m looking for a book of spells,” I said.

“You want a spelling book?” he asked.

I rolled my eyes, “No, I want a book of spells, you know, like witchcraft, black magic - spells.”

He leaned forward in his chair, raised a crooked finger to my face and said, “Young lady, you don’t want to mess with that stuff.”

“Please,” I said, trying to be patient with the old guy. “just tell me if you have any or not.”

“I have one,” he said, pulling an enormous book from under the counter, “But I warn you - be very careful. It was the incantation on page 173 that has kept me a prisoner in this store for over 200 years.”

I didn’t know whether I believed him or not, but I left the store without the book!


(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction Friday - Letters

I missed writing with my Flash Fiction friends today, but decided to write a story from the prompt anyway.  I didn't do it in five minutes, so I guess technically it doesn't fall within the parameters of FFF, but I'm posting it anyway.
Today's Prompt: She stood in the rain at the bus stop holding a suitcase and a newborn.

My Story: Letters
She stood in the rain at the bus stop holding a suitcase and a newborn. The letter from Thomas tucked securely in her pocket for quick reading in case she began to doubt her good fortune.

It had been six months since the heart-wrenching telegram had come:

Dated: Washington DC, 8/17/44
To: Mrs Abigail Wagoner
The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your husband, Capt. Thomas Wagoner has been reported missing in action since 2nd January in France. If further details or other information are received, you will be promptly notified.

Signed: Adjunct General – not even a name, just Adjunct General.

How ironic that it had come on the very day she had sent Thomas a letter to let him know that he was going to be a father.

She had taken to her bed for weeks after receiving the news, crying out to God, first in disbelief, then in despair and finally in anger. Her parents had tried to comfort her, to encourage her with the scriptures, praying and reassuring her that God would walk through this trial with her, but she had never felt so alone in her life…until the night she had the vision.

A voice had broken through her troubled sleep.

“Get up!”

She opened her eyes to see Thomas lying on the ground, two soldiers leaning over him.

“Get up!” they said again and Thomas began to stir.

She saw one of the soldiers take a letter from his pocket and hand it to Thomas. She recognized it as the letter she had written days ago.

Thomas glanced at the envelope, then seemed to look directly into Abby’s eyes.

“Habakkuk 2:3” he said, and then the vision faded away.

She sat bolt upright in the bed, switched on the lamp and picked up the Bible her mother had left on the night stand.  A shiver ran through her when she read the verse…

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

She remembered the look of sympathy in her parents’ eyes when she had told them about the vision the next morning, but she didn’t let that deter her. Thomas was coming home and she must be ready.

Throughout her pregnancy she held tight to the hope that God had birthed in her that night and during the delivery of little Thomas Allen Wagoner, Jr. she had repeated the scripture over and over again.

Then, just two weeks after the baby was born, the letter came. Her husband had been found and was on his way back to the States.

In just eight hours, Abby would introduce Thomas to his new son and share with him the vision God had sent and the grace and peace He had given to sustain her through it all.

Tears of gratitude and joy mingled with rain drops on Abby’s face as she boarded the bus that night. She found a seat and hugged her baby close to her breast.

“You can always trust God, little one,” she said, snuggling her baby. Then she pulled the letter from her pocket and read Thomas’ words again.

“You won’t believe this Abby, but after I had been shot down, I had a vision. I saw a letter from you saying we were going to have a baby and I knew I had to live.  The soldiers found me the next day.”

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Not a Creature was Stirring?

The wooden stairs let out a creak. Four pajama-clad children froze in place. It was still dark out, but it was Christmas morning and we wondered if Santa had come yet.

Father had warned us that if children happened upon Santa as he was making his delivery, the jolly old man would pack every last gift back into his sack and take them right back up the chimney.

Never mind the fact that we didn’t have a fireplace with a chimney. We did have a wood burning stove with a chimney and we figured that if Santa was clever enough to get down it with the presents, he could get back up it with them, too.

Bobby gave me a little shove, “Hurry up.”
Photo courtesy dyet, rgbstock.com
Being the oldest child and the only girl, which I thought made me superior in every way, I turned to him and said, “Shhh, I think I hear Santa in the living room.”

We all held our breath. When no further noise was heard, I led the way once again down the stairs.

We reached the landing and peeked around the corner. The room was dark except for the Christmas tree at the far end of the room. Its large multi-colored lights glowed softly behind the angel hair Mother had so carefully swirled around each bulb. Cherished glass ornaments with glitter and intricately cut designs hung sparkling from each branch.

Our eyes were instantly fixed on the pile of gifts at the base of the tree. Santa had come!

I dropped to my hands and knees, all three little brothers following my lead, as we crawled toward the tree, being ever so careful not to wake our parents. Once we reached it, we lay down on tummies, spread out before the gifts like a peacock’s tail.  We dared not touch the gifts, but fantasized about what the colorful paper packages might hold.

Then in the stillness we heard it…

“HO-HO-HO,” roared a voice behind us!

We were goners – knowing that every gift was about to be repossessed by the big man, himself. Terror welled up in four little hearts until we heard our Father’s deep laughter coming from the sofa.

Our parents had been sitting there in the darkness the whole time and had witnessed our excruciating decent down the stairs and crawl across the floor.

The four of us tumbled onto their laps laughing and begging to open our presents.

“In just a minute,” said Father, “I need a glass of water.”

He went to the kitchen, drew a glass of water from the tap and took a long drink. Suddenly he pointed out the window above the sink and called, “Come quick, there goes Santa!”

Four pairs of feet ran across the wooden floor to see, but before we could reach the window, Father shook his head and said, “Aw, you just missed him. He dropped behind the trees was gone in a flash.”

We drew deep breaths. Our Father had actually seen Santa and we had just missed having our gifts repossessed. Had we come down the steps five minutes earlier, we surely would have interrupted his delivery and suffered the dire consequences!

Next year we promised ourselves, would sleep in.

(Copyright © 2009 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Sending off my Query Letter to Writer's Digest Books

After careful consideration, I believe the best fit for my new book, Wake Up Your Muse would be Writer's Digest Books, so I've just prepared my query letter and I'm about to send it off via email to Kelly Nickell, the Executive Editor.

Fingers crossed, prayers said, I'm hoping that it will be accepted for publication. Now, the waiting begins.

(Did I mention my heart is pounding?)

Oh, how I wish I had been there!

Ran across this video of a flash mob invading the food court of a mall. What a powerful event!

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction Friday - The Thrill of the Kill

Prompt: "It was a horrible scene and yet his eyes were drawn to it like a magnet. "

Bobby sucked in his breath and slowly raised his rifle to his shoulder, being careful not to make a sound. Everything his father had ever told him about deer hunting ran through his mind.

Don’t make a sound, pay attention to the direction of the wind, make sure you have a clear shot, aim for the heart, squeeze the trigger gently, watch which direction it runs, you’ll have to follow the blood trail and haul it out of the woods.

He counted the points – 6, maybe 8. The buck pawed at the ground and moved a few steps behind the brush.

Bobby held his aim. His arms were beginning to ache from the tension in his muscles. He shivered, but not from the cold. His hands were sweaty.

The deer snapped his head up and looked in the exact direction of the deer stand. It was a stare-down and Bobby was not about to come out on the losing end of the contest.

Finally the buck relaxed, took a step forward and began eating again.

Bobby felt his finger curl tighter around the trigger. He squeezed, heard the blast and felt the recoil of the gun all at the same time.

It was a perfect shot. The deer dropped to the ground, twitched a bit and didn’t move again.

Bobby climbed down from the stand and made his way to his kill. Standing over the beautiful beast, he stared at the large pool of blood forming under the deer’s neck.

It was a horrible scene and yet his eyes were drawn to it like a magnet.  He hated seeing the magnificent animal lying dead, but he felt the thrill of the kill.  He had bagged his first deer and he was hooked on hunting!

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)


“There you will be together with the Lord your God. There you and your families will eat, and you will enjoy all the good things for which you have worked, because the Lord your God has blessed you.” Deuteronomy 12:6-7
Photo courtesy  Ayla87, rgbstock.com

I can’t remember a year when we have been so tight on money. We made out the grocery list last night for Thanksgiving dinner, knowing full well that we didn’t even have enough in the bank for the turkey. It was a startling reality, but I have to say, I feel an overwhelming joy in my heart.

For the first time in many, many years I will have my cousin and my brother sitting at the table with us on Thursday.  Both have moved to Arizona from back East this year and we’ve spent the past couple of weeks reminiscing about the Thanksgiving holidays we spent together as kids. We talked about who brought what to the dinner and what kind of pie was our favorite and how stuffed we always were after the meal.

We’ll be spending the day at my daughter and son-in-law’s house. The kitchen will be full, the grandsons will be loud and we’ll be tripping over each other as we all work to put the feast together.  TV’s will be blaring as floats and balloons parade down the streets of New York City and Xboxes will be blasting aliens from the screen.

It will be chaos and food and family and fun. At some point I know that I will take a moment to pull back and survey the scene with a heart that is overflowing with happiness and thanksgiving to God. Breathing a prayer of gratitude for His provision over the previous year I will be confident that although we are going through a rough time right now, He is faithful and will provide for our needs in the year to come.

Oh, and by the way – my husband just called to tell me not to worry about the turkey. He is going to find a way to get us one today.  He wouldn’t tell me how, but I loved the “hunter/provider” tone in his voice. It reminded me of years gone by when my Dad would go out and shoot a couple of rabbits and a pheasant to be cooked on Thanksgiving.

Thank you, God, for providing one of my greatest needs…a wonderful husband!

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction Friday - Darn Daniel

Today's Flash Fiction Prompt:  She had been in bed for an hour and a half, but she couldn’t fall asleep. All she could think about was how different her life was going to be after tomorrow.
Darn Daniel

Suzanne turned over and slammed her fist into the pillow.  She had been in bed for an hour and a half, but she couldn’t fall asleep. All she could think about was how different her life was going to be after tomorrow,

She had thought about it for months, weighed all the pros and cons and explored all her options. That’s what a business woman does, but when it’s a matter of the heart it’s more complicated.

Jack was a great guy and he’d always been good to her.  He loved her, she knew that and he was prepared to spend the rest of his life loving her.

Suzanne had always dreamed of being a wife and of what her wedding would be like and Jack had agreed to every aspect of her dream ceremony.  Nothing mattered to him but her happiness.  So, why was she laying awake at 2:15 am trying to figure out how to tell him she didn’t want to marry him?

It was all Daniel’s fault. Darn Daniel anyway – darn his wavy black hair and darn his crooked little boy grin. She wasn’t in love with him. In fact, they had never even spoken, but every day since he had hired on with the firm, Suzanne couldn’t get him out of her mind.

If one man – albeit a really handsome man could distract her this much, then she knew in her heart that she was not ready for marriage.

She punched the pillow again and wondered how in the world she was going to break the news to Jack.


(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction Friday - Without Reason

Today's Prompt: She liked to think that there was a reason for everything, but no matter how she twisted this around in her mind, she couldn’t come up with a reason why God would allow this.

Without Reason

Sylvia had been a normal 11 year old until her family had moved from their small hometown in Ohio to Phoenix. Within weeks she had become sullen and withdrawn.

Alma, Sylvia’s mother tried to find out what was going on, but Sylvia wasn’t talking.  She would just shrug her shoulders and closet herself in her room most of the time.

It was Sylvia’s brother who finally spilled the beans while his mother was making him an after school snack.

“Mom, the kids at school are picking on Sis,” he’d told her.  “They call her fat little red-neck and hillbilly hick.  Today, they poured milk all over her lunch. Everyone laughed.”

Alma immediately felt deep concern for her daughter and intense anger toward the kids that were bullying her.

"Why would they do that, Josh?" she asked her son, knowing full well that an 8 year old couldn't answer that question..

"No good reason," said Josh as he took a big bite of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, "They're just mean."

Alma liked to think that there was a reason for everything, but no matter how she twisted this around in her mind, she couldn’t come up with a reason why God would allow her daughter to be bullied.

She tapped softly on Sylvia’s door before opening it.

“Honey, Josh told me what’s going on at school.  I’m so sorry,” she said, taking her daughter in her arms.  “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It’s okay, Mom – it will pass and besides, if the kids hadn’t made fun of me, I wouldn’t have met Tammy,” said Sylvia.

Alma pulled back and looked Sylvia in the eyes.

“It’s never okay for someone to be a bully, Sylvia, but who’s Tammy?”

“She’s a real shy girl in my class.  The kids used to pick on her until I moved here, now they pick on me.  At least it gives her a break and together, we are learning to ignore them and just be friends with each other.  I’ve been telling her about how much God loves us both. 
Sylvia's eyes opened wide, "She never knew that, Mom."

Alma felt tears of pride sting her eyes.  Sylvia had found the reason.  She had taken a bad situation and allowed God to use her to help someone else who was going through the same difficulties.

She fully intended to speak with the principal the next day, but tonight she would let her daughter know just how proud her mother was of her over a triple hot fudge sundae.

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Win a FREE copy of my new book!

Do you like to write short stories? Really short stories? That's what I call Flash Fiction.

If so, then you could win a free copy of my new book, Wake Up Your Muse - 1001 Story Starters for Fiction Writers.

Each week I post a prompt from the book. All you have to do is write a 150-400 word story based on the prompt and submit it. The winning entry will receive a PDF copy of the book and have their story posted with a link to your web site or blog.

Get the full details at http://www.wakeupyourmuse.com - and HAVE FUN!

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)
I just finished reading Home Another Way by Christa Parrish and all I can say is...WOW-Christa, you can write, girl!

The characters in this story were fascinating - not at all predictable, but so well written, that they are alive in my mind. The story is compelling, but the characters are the main attraction, here. This is definitely not your typical inspirational romance and that's why I love it so much.

I could give you a detailed review, but the trailer for the book does it so much better than I can, so I'll just post it here for you with a hearty, two thumbs up and a strong recommendation that you get the book and read it ASAP.

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction Friday - The Unexpected Miracle

Our prompt for today was:
He paced the hospital hallway praying for a miracle even though he didn’t believe in them.

Photo courtesy  RWLinder,
We set the timer and wrote for about 10 minutes.  Here's my story:

The Unexpected Miracle

He paced the hospital hallway praying for a miracle even though he didn’t believe in them.

She had said “no” every time he had proposed to her in the past and he had no reason to believe she would say yes this time.

It was always this question of faith that stood between them.  She had it and he didn’t.  He couldn’t understand her belief in God or her explanation of what it meant to have a “personal relationship” with him.

Jack believed there was a God, but that belief didn’t have any impact on his life, He really hadn’t thought about God at all, until now – until God started coming between he and Ann.

He was head over heels in love with the head nurse of County General and he was convinced that she felt the same way, but she refused to take their relationship any further because of her obsession with religion.

Well, he would try one more time and she had to say yes, because he couldn’t live without her.

At that minute, he found himself outside a room with a little sign that read “Chapel”.  He pushed the door open. It couldn’t hurt to go in and actually say a real prayer..

The room was quiet except for the soft music playing in the background.  The room was furnished with a few rows of small pews and a wooden cross on the front wall, framed by a fake stained glass window. Jack took a seat on the back row and bowed his head.

“God, if you’re there and if you’re listening,” he stopped.  Could you really ask God to do you a favor when you had ignored him for so long? 

He stood and walked to the front of the room where a large Bible lay open on a podium.  He glanced down the page and his eyes stopped on a familiar verse…

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever shall believe would not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Something stirred in Jack’s heart.  He did believe.  He didn’t know how to express that, but he knew he did believe.

He read the verse again and felt something welling up inside him. He’d never felt like this before.  Tears came to his eyes.  He knelt down like he had done as a little boy saying his bedtime prayers with his mother, and closed his eyes.

“God, I do believe.  I want to be a Christian, but I’m not even sure how to do that. Can you teach me how? And when I’m ready…when you think I’ll make a good husband, can you please let Ann say yes? Amen”

Something stirred behind him. He turned to see that Ann had slipped into the chapel while he had been praying.

With tears in both their eyes, they embraced, knowing that God was performing a miracle in both their lives.  They would wait until He let them know the time was right, and then they would become man and wife and serve God together for the rest of their lives.

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The Underbelly Project

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Hebrews 4:13 (NIV)

I read a story in The New York Times this morning about a group of 103 well-known graffiti artists (or "street artists" as they prefer to be called), who covertly created a gallery of their work on the walls of an abandoned subway station far below the busy streets of New York City. (Read the story.)

The site was discovered by one of the artists when he was led by a friend to a hidden entrance and through a series of dark and dirty passageways into the abandoned section of the city's subway system. The artist was drawn back to the site many times after that initial visit and he eventually led another artist to the site. Together they hatched the idea of an a hidden gallery that would feature the works of the world's most famous street artists and dubbed it The Underbelly Project.

They didn't want to be arrested for defacing public property or worse - be mistaken for terrorists, so they made a careful study of the best times to slip from an active station into the hidden entrance undetected.

Over the next 18 months, they invited artists from all over the world to participate in the project, escorting them, one at a time to their underground studio. Each artist was allowed just one four-hour visit to complete their work. They packed in their supplies and worked in damp and dirty conditions by the light of camping lanterns, then packed everything back out again in the hours just before dawn.

At the completion of the project, the organizers selected a handful of people to view and photograph their work, including the reporter who wrote the story for the Times, but only under the condition that the real names of the artists not be revealed. They wanted their work to be seen, but they also wanted to avoid prosecution.

After their one night showing, they destroyed the entrance to their graffiti gallery, closing it off to the public forever or at least until some other underground explorer discovers another way in.

There is a certain something that drives a rebel to risk arrest, financial liability and physical danger for the thrill of doing something they know they should not be doing.

Isn't that the way it works with the spiritual rebel, too? We know the "rules" we are to live by – the boundaries God has outlined in His Word, but sometimes the temptation to live on the edge of danger seems just too hard to resist.

We act in secrecy, hoping we will not be found out, but God says that nothing is hidden from Him and that everything will be uncovered and laid bare before Him. He says that someday we must give an account for our actions.

So, the next time you feel the rebel in your itching to explore some forbidden place, remember that Jesus came to set us free from the power of temptation and that everything done in secret will eventually come to light. Pray for strength to overcome temptation and you will never have to look over your shoulder wondering when you will be caught.

Prayer: Father, help us to resist the seductive call of sinful behavior. Teach us to walk in the light as you are in the light. Show us how to live so that when the time comes to give an account to you for how we lived our lives, we can hold our heads high. And when we fail...and we know that we will occasionally fail, remind us that you are willing to forgive the sins of a repentant heart. Amen

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Great First Lines

They say that your first sentence, paragraph, page...should capture the reader's attention and make them want to read more. That made me curious about how some of my favorite authors start their books, so I've developed this quirky habit of checking out the first line of books when I'm in a bookstore.

Covenant Child by Terri Blackstock is one of my all-time favorite books. The first line of the book is...

"There's a question that haunts me in the blackest hours of night, when wasted moments crowd my dreams and mock the life I know."

Is that a great first line or what? You know you just have to find out what the question is that haunts this character and the rest of the book is just as intriguing as the first line. I highly recommend it.

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Win a FREE copy of my new book!

Writing Contest!

Like to write short stories? I'm holding a weekly writing contest and giving away one copy of my new book, Wake Up Your Muse each week.

All you have to do is write a 150-400 word short story based on one of the prompt from the book.  Come on over and join the fun!  GET THE DETAILS

Five Minute Flash Fiction

Today's Prompt was: They had only met once, but it was a meeting neither would ever forget.

Not a Chance Meeting

Photo courtesy  arinas74, rgbstock.com
They had only met once, but it was a meeting neither would ever forget.

Jen stared out the window of the plane. It had been a difficult visit with her parents. They didn't understand the break up and couldn't comprehend that Dale would no longer be their son-in-law. In their eyes, he had been the perfect husband.

She hadn't been able to bring herself to tell them about the affair or that Dale had been fired from his job and that he blamed her. They wouldn't understand.

Tears slipped down her cheeks.

“Are you okay?” said the man in the seat next to her.

Jen brushed away the tears and shook her head.

“Not really”, she said.

“Want to talk?” he asked, “It's a long flight and I'm a good listener.”

She had no idea what made her spill everything. The long hours of work that had kept Dale away from home. The important events he had missed in the kids' lives, and the eventual breakup when Dale blamed her because his boss found out about the affair with his secretary .
The man listened quietly. That was all, but it was enough. Jen had needed to unload it all and a stranger was the perfect choice. She would forever be grateful that someone had cared enough to listen.

The plane landed and as they gathered their things the man reached out and gave her a hug.

“You just saved my marriage,” he said, then he stepped into the aisle and made his way to the front of the plane.

When he reached the concourse, he pulled his cell phone from his pocket, dialed a number and said, “Honey, I'm cutting my trip short. I'll be home on the next plane I can get out of here. What time is Timmy's birthday party?”

*This one took more like 12 minutes to write.

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction Friday - A Missed Opportunity

Flash Fiction - Start with a prompt, set the timer to 5 minutes and GO!
Today's Prompt: When he got there her desk was in disarray and the phone was off the hook.

A Missed Opportunity

Jack ignored the waiter's obvious stare and dialed Sylvia's number again. He had been trying to reach her for an hour, but all he got was her voice mail.

He fingered the ring in his pocket and thought again about the words he had rehearsed all week.

This wasn't like her. She always called if she was going to be late.

He finally gave up, paid for his drink and drove over to her apartment. When she didn't answer the door, he used his key.

When he got there her desk was in disarray and the phone was off the hook. The room looked like a war zone.

They had talked about this...what they should do if either one of them were ever found, but now that it had happened, all the plans they had made went right out the window. Jack was not going to leave town on the next plane, he was going to find her...and he was going to kill the man he should have killed three years ago!

 (Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Your turn - why not give it a whirl and then post your story as a comment.  I'd love to read it!

Wake Up Your Muse!

I’m so excited! I’ve just finished my latest book and I’m offering it as a PDF book online. Here’s the story behind the book…

As a writer there have been times when I’ve sat staring at a blank page, unable to think of a single word to write. I’m not sure if I buy into the whole “muse” thing – you know, a mythological being who whispers words of inspiration to you. But I do believe in an inner ability to write. I consider it a God-given gift and that’s what I call my muse.

Unfortunately, this gift didn’t come with an on/off switch. I find myself flooded with ideas and wishing I could get away and write when it’s most inconvenient (like when I’m supposed to be working or cleaning house) and unable to find any words to write when I finally get the time to practice my craft.

It’s at those times that I wonder if my “muse” is off somewhere taking a nap.

I know all it takes is an intriguing sentence or thought to get my creative juices flowing, so when I’m drawing a blank, I search online for a good writing prompt, only to come up with nothing but prompts for teachers to use with their students or prompts that just don’t make sense, like…”Write about a purple alien driving a Mercedes underwater.”


I realized that if I needed creative prompts to jump start my writing, there must be lots of other writers out there that needed them, too, and that’s how Wake Up Your Muse was born.

Sometimes all it takes is a little spark to ignite your creativity. With 1001 prompts, Wake Up Your Muse has enough ideas to keep you busy writing for a long time. In fact, if you used one prompt every day from Wake Up Your Muse, it would keep you writing for over 2 years!

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction Friday - Losing Lisa

Today's Prompt: I reached blindly for the phone. "At 3 am, either someone better be dead or this better be Lisa."

What I wrote:

Lisa had stormed out of the house right after dinner. All I had done this time is asked her to do the dishes. Lately anything I did sent my fourteen year old into a fit. We had words and before I knew what was happening, she was gone...again!

I called every friend of hers that I could think of and then jumped in the car. I had been driving around looking for her for the past seven hours. I finally gave up at 1:00 AM, and came home.

In the morning I would have to call my ex-husband and tell him that once again, I had lost total control of our daughter. I was not looking forward to that call.

I had just fallen into a fitful sleep when the phone rang. I looked at the clock.

I reached blindly for the phone. "At 3 am, either someone better be dead or this better be Lisa."

The truth is that I was afraid it might be someone calling me to say that it was Lisa who was dead.

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

I Took 3rd Place in the FaithWriters Monthly Challenge Contest

A while back I entered my first writing contest through FaithWriters.com and took 3rd place in the Advanced Category.  I was so excited because it validated my writing ability.  FaithWriters is a great Christian Writers' site. It's free to join, has tons of great writing and publishing info, monthly writing contests, and forums for getting to know other writers.  Check them out when you get a chance...FaithWriters.com

Here's my winning story:

Death of the Spartan Seven

Truth or Dare – it’s a stupid game and why I had agreed to play it is beyond me. I could blame it on peer pressure, but that’s a crock. I’d never cared what others thought.

I’m not even sure how I wound up at a slumber party with the Spartan Seven, a chic clique of nauseating high-school fashionistas.

I’d never been part of that crowd…or any crowd, for that matter, but there I was, surrounded by cutesy girls in cutesy pajamas about to play the dumbest game ever invented.

Maybe it was the prospect of embarrassing the crud out of Jamie Lynn Walters or putting a few S.S. brats in their place that pulled me from the corner where I was sulking to the circle in the center of the floor. I don’t know, but it was about to get ugly.

Things started out pretty silly.

Did you ever…?
Would you ever…?
Have you ever…?

Blah, blah, blah.

A few answers, several dares and way too many giggles later, it was my turn. I looked directly at Jamie. I didn’t like her, never had. She was too perfect. Gorgeous hair, killer body, genius smarts and a great personality - yech.

Everyone liked Jamie Lynn. Everyone, including Jake, my next-door neighbor and best friend. Hanging out with Jake was the only decent part of my rotten life. At least it was until he fell head over heels for Jamie.

I’d heard the recent rumors. I knew they were lies, but I couldn’t resist.

“Jamie, truth or dare?” I asked.

Jamie Lynn giggled, “Truth, I guess.”

“Is it true that you had an abortion last year?” I challenged.

As soon as the words left my mouth I regretted them. Probably because I knew that Jamie Lynn would tell the truth. Any other person would lie through their teeth, but not Jamie.

While every girl in the room glared and wished me dead, Jamie lowered her head. Tears filled her eyes and dropped on her pretty pink pajamas.

Softly she said, “Yes, it’s true. I was raped while walking home from cheerleading practice. When I found out I was pregnant, my parents gave me no choice. They were afraid of what people would say and afraid of how it would mess up my life.”

“It was awful,” she continued, “and I can’t get it out of my mind. I killed a baby and I don’t know if God can ever forgive me.” Jamie sobbed.

The Spartan Seven closed ranks, surrounding Jamie in a soggy group hug that totally shut me out.

I said the only thing I could say – the one thing I swore that I would never say.

“Jamie, I’m sorry. I had an abortion, too and I know exactly how you feel.”

A collective gasp went up from the huddle. All eyes turned toward me and I wanted to throw up.

“Six months ago…only I wasn’t raped. I was just stupid and I thought it was the easy way out.”


I continued, “It wasn’t easy, though. I thought I could just go on like it never happened, but I couldn’t. I was so ashamed, I quit going to church. I couldn’t sit there, knowing that God probably hated me for what I’d done.”

Jamie broke free from her cocoon, put her arms around me and for the first time in six months, I cried. We all cried and when our tears were spent, Sarah Matthews spoke up.

“The truth is that we’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of. We can’t change that, but isn’t that exactly why God sent Jesus? Isn’t that why Jesus died, to forgive sin?”

She paused. “So here’s the next dare, I dare us all to get real with each other and then get real with God.”

What followed was unbelievable. One by one, those girls I thought were so perfect began to share things that proved they were just like me. Young, confused and scared most of the time.

We talked, we cried, we hugged, and then we did something I had never done before with a group of girls. We knelt in a circle, held hands and asked God to forgive us.

The Spartan Seven no longer exists. It died the night we played Truth or Dare and in its place is a group of girls who will be friends for life…and I am a part of it all.

How amazing!

(Copyright© 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Call Me a Rebel

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. “ Romans 12:2 (NIV)

I have a favorite t-shirt that shows a fish swimming upstream. The shirt says, “Go against the flow.”

I've never been one to conform. In junior high school English class we read The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. The last sentence of that poem struck a chord in my heart...

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

I knew then that I would always take the road less traveled. I wanted to be different, to think for myself, to do what I thought right no matter what everyone else thought or did.

That resolve has taken many forms. It led me to buck the system, rebel, be adventurous, be independent...some of these things were good, some landed me in hot water, but I was always my own person.

When I came to Christ, I committed myself to him wholeheartedly. I fell in love with God and with His word. I wanted to live the rest of my life the way He wanted me to live it.

Unfortunately, in those early days of faith, I had no idea how God wanted me to live my life, so I decided I should probably conform to the model of Christianity I saw at church; first to the dress code of the church, then to the behavior of those in the church and finally to all the rules and regulations of the denomination.

I played the game, not understanding all the rules, but fully recognizing when I fell short by the looks of disdain on my fellow Christian's faces. I didn't really fit the part, didn't look the part and often didn't behave the part.

Just about the time I was ready to give up, I read this...

“continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-18 (NIV)

The King James Version says “...work out your own salvation...”

This passage set me on the path to an exciting and adventurous life with Christ. First I noticed the words “your own salvation” and realized that I was on a personal journey. It was my walk with God, not someone else's and that I was to work things out between me and God, not follow the rest of the crowd.

And second, it taught me that it's God who works in me to bring me to the point that I want to behave according to His will and to want to follow His path for my life. I didn't have to do the work myself, I just had to stay plugged into Christ and obedient to His word and cooperate with Him as he made the necessary changes in me.

This brought me full-circle. Once again I find myself on an adventurous path, not worried about where the rest of the world wanted me to go, but following the road less traveled.

Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

I don't want the well-traveled road, the wide gate and broad path that most of this world follows. I want the narrow gate...the one that few find...the road less traveled, for it's on that road that I walk with Jesus and find peace and joy for the journey.

So call me a rebel – I'm proud to be one.

(Copyright© 2010 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction Friday - Bait and Switch

Flash Fiction Friday (5 Minutes of frantic writing from a prompt.)
Today's prompt: The young executive stood in front of the large picture window, biting her nails.

The young executive stood in front of the large picture window, biting her nails  So far, no one was suspicious, but Jessica didn't know if she would be able to fool Robert.

Her twin sister, Cassie and Robert had been having a flirty little law clerk/boss relationship lately and he might see right through her.

Jessica and Cassie had switched places before, to fool a teacher, take a test for one another, things like that, but this was different. Cassie's call last week was a desperate plea for help. She had sounded terrified when she begged Jessica to fly to New York and take her place at the firm.

She wouldn't tell Jessica what was going on, but she had said it was a matter of life and death and that she would be back in a month and explain everything. They had spent the next hour or so going over things in the office. Cassie filled her in on who was who and what clients needed what, then she had said she had to go and hung up abruptly.

Jessica had caught the first plane out, to New York City, hoping to catch her sister before she left, but no such luck. Now she was on her own.

(Copyright© 2010 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Flash Fiction Friday - The Bracelet

Flash Fiction - Five minutes of Frantic Writing!

Today's Prompt: She was speechless. This was the exact same bracelet he'd given her for Christmas last year.

She was speechless. This was the exact same bracelet he'd given her for Christmas last year.

Not that she didn't love it - she had loved it when he gave it to her a year ago, but the same present two years in a row?

Photo used by permission
of SomewhereInTyme

Kathy didn't want to start a fight on Christmas Eve. This was a running argument that neither of them ever won. It usually went something like this...

“Oh, thank you, honey.”
“You like it?”
“Of course.”
“No you don't. I can tell.”
“No, I really do, it's just that....”

And what would follow would be an attempt to tactfully explain why a three foot ceramic statue of an owl that he'd bought from a guy on a street corner wasn't exactly a gift that thrilled her heart. Or why a giant box of chocolates weren't a great Valentine's gift for a diabetic.

His goofy gifts proved that he just bought whatever struck his fancy...whatever was the easiest thing at the time, not that he ever gave any consideration to what she really liked or wanted, although she had dropped plenty of hints.

No, she wasn't going to let this happen this time. Instead of making a fuss, she thanked him, slipped the bracelet on her wrist and then pulled her gift for him from under the tree.

He opened it and said, “What the heck? You bought me a purse?”

“No, it's a “man bag”.
“Oh, thank you, honey.”
“You like it?”
“Of course.”
“No you don't. I can tell.”
“No, I really do, it's just that....”

(Copyright© 2010 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)
Would love to read your story using that prompt.  Just leave it in a comment.
Have a great weekend!

Flash Fiction Friday - The Dive

Today's prompt: The diver entered the hull of the ship through the gaping hole that had sank her.

I swept the murky seaweed aside and entered the hull of the ship through the gaping hole that had sank her.

She was the Sea Princess and she had gone down twenty years ago in the Caribbean, taking a crew of twenty and 117 guests with her – one was my father.

I had started looking for the wreck one week after the funeral and had spent the better part of those twenty years searching the ocean floor before I found it.

A school of fish looked at me curiously as they swam past. They were no more curious than I was. I wanted to find my father – to know what his last minutes were like. Did he go down with the ship or did he swim for hours before the sea took him? Did he think of me before he died?

In the inky blackness, I knew that my head-mounted light may be the only thing that would shed any light on the matter, but all that changed when I spotted the small, rusted metal box with my father's initials on it.

(Copyright© 2010 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Today's prompt was a hard for me.  I had to go back and work on this a bit after the 5 minutes were up, so I guess maybe that's cheating a bit.  (grin)

Flash Fiction Friday - 9/11

Our prompt for today was: Tim would never forget where he was when he heard planes had crashed into the Twin Towers.

Photo courtesy hisks,
Tim stared out the window at the New York skyline, nervously tapping his pen on the desk. Today was big. He was going to be presenting his ideas for the new ad campaign in just 15 minutes to all the company executives. He didn't know if he had ever been more scared in his life.

Suddenly the roar of a jet engine shook the building and Tim watched as it slammed into the other tower of the World Trade Center. He jumped to his feet, but stood paralyzed in place.

Sandy ran into his office and yanked him into action. They joined their co-workers heading for the stairwell and spent the next hour making their way to the ground floor, then tripped through the rubble strewn chaos toward safety.

Tim would always remember where he had been on the morning of 9/11.

(Let's never forget those who lost their lives, families who lost their loved ones and those who have given their lives fighting the war on terrorism. And let's never forget that no matter what tragedy we go through, God is with us.)
(Copyright© 2010 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)
Where were you on that fateful morning and how did you hear about the attack?

Flash Fiction Friday

Okay, so it's not Friday, but Flash Fiction Thursday doesn't sound as catchy!  I think I will make Flash Fiction a regular part of my Friday blog, though, so for once, I'm early, not late.

Flash Fiction is 5 minutes of timed writing.  I use it to get the creative juices flowing.  Here's today's exercise (with just a little editing).

Today's writing prompt: "Alice tried to remember who had given her the key."
Photo courtesy costiq,
Alice tried the door, but it was locked. Just one more thing that made her feel shut out of life.

Her parents died when she was 9 and she had been at the orphanage ever since. Then suddenly, last week, they had shipped her off to live with a distant relative in this big old house down south.

The only thing she had been brought with her was her clothes, sparse as they were and her childhood jewelry box, which had been locked up for the 3 years she had been at the orphanage.

She opened the box and fingered the skeleton key while the ballerina spun lopsidedly in place. The music had died a long time ago. How appropriate, thought Alice. She tried to remember who had given her the key, but no face came to mind.

The chances of it opening a locked door in a strange house were remote, but she gave it a try anyway. She was surprised to hear the click of the locking mechanism as she turned the key.

She pulled the creaky door open to reveal a rickety set of stairs leading upwards to an attic.

And....TIME'S UP!

(Copyright© 2010 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

I would love to read your Flash Fiction using the same prompt.  Just click on "comments" at the bottom of this post, set a timer for 5 minutes and write away.  You can clean it up just a little after the timer goes off, then click on "post comment" to share it with us.

Has anybody seen my muse?

I said I'd write and write I will
when I think of something to say
I tried last week, but words wouldn't come
I tried yesterday and today
Maybe tomorrow the words will flow
profound from the tip of my pen
In the meantime, I'll have to be content
with this pitiful poem instead.

Where does the time go?

I can't believe I haven't posted since the of November, 2009!

I was mid-way through Nanowrimo and writing my first novel, Vintage Roses the last time I posted.  I did go on to finish the novel, but still have to revise it and Nanowrimo is almost here again.  For this year's novel, I'm  planning to write a sequel to Vintage Roses.

In the meantime, I intend to get back to the daily process of writing, so look for more short stories, devotionals, flash fiction and poetry here soon (like, starting tomorrow)..

I am reminded of the quote that inspired this blog...

She fancied herself a writer, but she found that she had not engaged in "writer-like" behavior in weeks. You know, actually writing.