#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: S for She stood at the crossroads


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: She stood at the crossroads

Provided by: Vidya Sury, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge : S for She stood at the crossroads

#atozchallenge : S for She stood at the crossroads

They had walked together for five weeks and four days, but it felt like months, decades.

        As if all they had ever done was walk, him leading the way, her following, a little resentful she couldn’t take the lead, and sending up a prayer of thanks she didn’t have to.

         And now, he’d left her standing in the blinding morning light, on the bridge that would take them to the next town. He’d walked away from the bridge, round the bend, and up the hills beside her.

 

The first time they met, she felt a spark somewhere inside her clothes, her stomach, and he felt it too. She saw it in his eyes. But they did not refer to that spark, except in the most roundabout of ways like when he asked if she liked the way rain-soaked earth smelled, and what it reminded her of. She told him it depended, and when he asked the obvious question, what, she pretended to have fallen asleep.

          They talked about Socrates in the beginning, and the death of Camus, and how the large hadron collider would fail. Slowly it became about what rations to buy. She paid for bars of chocolates which she could not eat, because of her stomach ruined by weeks of drinking roadside water, but she had to carry them. After a while each bar seemed like a brick inside her backpack.

           He made plans, drew lines on maps by torchlight, lying inside the tent. She’d put up that tent, while he’d sat on a nearby rock slapping mosquito repellant on his neck and arms. She worked so she didn’t have to watch him. She wanted to watch him all the time, each flex of his shin as he walked, the way his perfect, round butt fitted his shorts, so she kept her eyes to the ground instead, and kept her hands busy. She felt overworked, her body hurt, but she kept at it.

 

Now, she stood at the crossroads, watching the way he’d gone, the shallow slopes that would lead to steeper ones.. He had no time for this he’d said when she complained of backache, wanted a day of rest.

               She could follow him, catch up, say sorry yet again for a tantrum she hadn’t thrown, spend more nights waiting for him to touch her, on his terms, the way he stopped by in the red light areas they’d crossed in the shanty towns on their way. Relieves my tensions, he said, to nothing and no one in particular, when he came back from one of those evening jaunts.

               But she wouldn’t. Nor would she wait for him to come back and find her. When backpacking, you meet people and pay your debts. When the debts get paid off, you part, and that’s that. She flinched at the weight of her pack as she strapped it on. She would walk. Each day, you wake up and walk, putting one foot after the other, he used to say, you make your own way, alone.

               Maybe that’s the lesson she needed to learn. Her back cramped, but she took one step, then another, away from him, towards the lighted bridge.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Ever been backpacking? Had a fallout with a friend or a significant other?

If you could give just One #blogging tip, what would it be?


Blogging tips

Blogging questions

I have spoken before on this blog about making bloggy friends, and commenting on blogs, and signing up for support groups.

But I’m tired of my own voice, a little exhausted and don’t feel at the top of my game.

I haven’t been visiting back regularly, and that’s something I plan to change in the next few weeks before the A to Z challenge begins. (Sign up, if you haven’t yet! Want to know more? If you’re on twitter, drop by for the #AZchat where we discuss why A to Z Challenge is good for bloggers, and how to reap the most benefits! Pam Margolis will be hosting the 1PM EDT chat, and #teamdamyanti will be hosting the one at 8PM EDT. )

So, I’m opening the forum to my visitors and blog friends: If you could give just One #blogging tip to a new blogger, what would it be?

Calling for #bloggers to help form Team Damyanti for the #atozchallenge


As in the last two years, I am co-hosting the A to Z challenge 2014If you haven’t done this before, I recommend checking it out. Here’s why you should join, and here’s what will bring you the most benefits as a blogger. Its founder Arlee Bird says:

The premise of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is to post something on your blog every day in April except for Sundays.  In doing this you will have 26 blog posts–one for each letter of the alphabet.   Each day you will theme your post according to a letter of the alphabet.

You will only be limited by your own imagination in this challenge.   You can post essays, short pieces of fiction, poetry, recipes, travel sketches, or anything else you would like to write about.  You don’t have to be a writer to do this.  You can post photos, including samples of your own art or craftwork.   Everyone who blogs can post from A to Z.  You’ll find the sign-up list here, and the list already looks long!If you sign up, help us spread the word on social media.

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

2014 A to Z Blogging Challengerd on social media!

Now for the part where I need your help in co hosting the A to Z April Blogging Challenge:

Co-hosts have a long string of behind-the-scenes duties, and last year we sought help from within the blogging community.
So assisting a co-host is good way to prove your mettle, and who knows, you might get invited to co-host next year. One of my team last year, Pam, is a cohost this year. As is AJ who helped Tina last year, and MJ, who helped Nicole. The only condition of applying for Team Damyanti is that you should have participated in AZ before, because participating the first time is quite a job in itself! 
As an AZ assistant, you also get the following perks:

  1.     You’d get a special badge emailed to you to display on your blog showing your status. Most of the co-hosts have their own, personalized badges displaying their assistants, and we all stick them in our sidebars too, so everyone would know whose assistant you’d be.
  2.      You’d also be listed as an assistant on the A-Z Challenge Blog and that would probably bring you more traffic since a Lot of people read that blog.
  3. Summed up– expect a jump in followers and traffic if you join as a volunteer.

Consider joining a co-host, either Team Damyanti, or any of the others whose teams you’d like to be part of, and take your A to Z Blogging Challenge to the next level! Drop me a comment or an email at atozstories (at) gmail (dot) com. I already have two fab assistants for 2014, looking for 3 more.

My team is now filled up. If you want to volunteer, comment on this post, and you might be chosen by one of the other co-hosts!

Arlee Bird : Tossing it Out                              : @ArleeBird 
Ninja Captain: Alex J. Cavanaugh                : @AlexJCavanaugh
Author Stephen Tremp                                    : @StephenTremp
Tina : Life is Good                                            : @TinaLifeisGood
Damyanti Biswas: Amlokiblogs                      : @damyantig
Jeremy : Being Retro                                       : @iZombieJMH
Nicole Ayers : The Madlab Post                      : @MadlabPost
M. J. Joachim: MJ Joachim’s Writing Tips   : @MJJoachim
Heather M. Gardner                                         : @hmgardner
AJ : Naturally Sweet                                         : @ayjaylauer
Pam : An Unconventional Librarian               : @Pamlovesbooks

The Challenge also has a Facebook Page.

Email address is infoatoz2014@gmail.com,Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge, and the twitter id is @AprilA2Z.

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Are you going to blog for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge? Have you participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge before? Want to be part of Team Damyanti?

Top Ten Movies Blogfest


Alex J Cavanaugh is hosting the Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest today, and all we have to do is list our top ten favorite movies!
I don’t watch many movies, but I love a good story, so here are a few of my favorites (with a lot of help from my husband, the resident movie buff, who encouraged me to watch some of them):
TOP TEN MOVIES

TOP TEN MOVIES

  1. Shawshank Redemption
  2. Cloud Atlas
  3. Schindler’s List
  4. The Dark Knight
  5. In the Name of the Father
  6. Lord of Rings Trilogy
  7. Cinema Paradiso
  8. Wall-E
  9. Usual Suspects
  10. Life is Beautiful
I realize they cover a wide spectrum, everything from Fantasy to Political to Experimental, to Animation, and even a movie about movies. I’m an omnivore when it comes to books, and also to movies (when I manage to watch them)– and my husband’s tastes in movies are pretty eclectic as well.
What are your fave movies? Have you watched any of the movies on the above list?

Does Your Story Choose You?


Vrishchik Chaturvedi: Character Storyboard

Vrishchik Chaturvedi: Character Storyboard

The last few days, I’ve been researching my latest project, (I dare not call it a novel yet) and some of it has been nauseating.

I had to figure out everything possible about flaying  (don’t ask me why) and I was a little apprehensive–material like this would be hard to find, I thought. Apparently not. When I fed various sadistic keywords related to skinning a human body into Google, I was shocked to see the graphic details available on certain websites.

I have now borrowed books from the library which have diagrams and descriptions, and am making notes in between drinking camomile tea to keep myself calm. It is kind of hard to comprehend what humans are capable of doing to other humans.

All this begs the question (which someone asked me yesterday) : why do I have to write on a subject I can’t study with a straight face?

Because, like I told my questioner, I can’t help it.

The story has been haunting me for a while, three years, to be exact. It started with a voice that wouldn’t be denied, a character who spoke first in my notebook at a group writing session, then at a blogfest, and several times afterwards, including this week at another blogfest. His name is Vrishchik Chaturvedi. He is real now and has known it for a while– has said so, too. And his story is now taking shape, and tormenting me while at it.

I’m in control in the outside world, but he’s the lord of the world of my writing, and that is why I find myself, a girl who is afraid of the dark, who cannot sit through gory movies (not even relatively non-heavy-duty, harmless ones like I Know What You Did Last Summer), now writing about this guy who scares the living daylights out of her.

My story has chosen me, and I’ve decided I might as well get it out of my system.

So my question to the writers amongst you: Do you choose the story you’re going to write, or does the story choose you?

Paying it Forward, Author Interview and Call for Guest Posts


Writer E J Wesley has asked me a few questions about writing and  A to Z Stories of Life and Death. Please come and chat with me there. Also, I’m guest posting at Kelly McClymer’s blog today, talking about reading, writing and reading like a writer. Join the conversation and pencil in your opinions.

Now for the Pay it Forward blogfest by Matthew at the QQQE and Alex. J. Cavanaugh. This is their requirement:

In your post, we would like you to please list, describe, and link to three blogs that you enjoy reading and know that others would enjoy as well.

So here are my faves:

Mostly Bright Ideas: I’ve never met a blogger who combines humor and philosophy quite this way. If you haven’t see this blog, you’re missing out big time. Follow this blog and it will lighten up your darkest hours.

Tale Spinning: If you like fiction (which I do, obviously) this is your blog. I love the whimsical stories, the elements of fantasy, and the vivid writing. Follow this one too.

The Task at Hand: For the simple, lingering joy of reading, this blog has few equals. I taste each word as I read it, and so should you.

Call for GUEST POSTS:  I’m taking a sort of blogcation in November and December. But since this blog  and Amlokiblogs are both doing quite okay, and have a good reach on Triberr, seems a waste to leave them in suspended animation.

Some of my amazing writer-friends have offered to guest for me, but I’m still looking for more posts, because 2 months for 2 blogs equals almost 50 posts! Feel free to suggest posts about books you have published.

If you’d like to do a guest post, please check the guidelines, and write to me at atozstories at gmail dot com if you’re interested.

So far, so good. Now, I hope you’re clicking away only to check out the links in this post. Have a good weekend and happy writing, everyone!

Bad Movies Give Birth to Fiction


Alex J Cavanaugh decrees in his blogfest:

On Monday, September 19, post a list of up to ten of the worst movies you’ve ever had the misfortune to watch. Films that just oozed awfulness and featured plot holes so big you could drive a bus through them.

Worst Movies Ever Blogfest

Alex's Worst Movies Ever Blogfest

So without further ado, I present the 10 worst movies ever, imho, but instead of writing about them, I’ll use as many of their titles in a piece of flash fiction (that would hopefully make more sense than the movies it was inspired by, lol.) Hopefully Alex forgives the liberty I’ve taken…(* I’ll run hide under the table right after posting this*

So here are my 10 worst picks:

1.   Heaven’s Gate (1980)                           2. Mommie Dearest (1981)

3. Showgirls (1995)                                     4.   Battlefield Earth (2000)

5. Sweet Home Alabama (2002)              6. Gigli (2003)

7.   The Room (2003)                                 8.   Derailed (2005)

9.   Alone in the Dark (2005)                   10.  I don’t know How she does it (2011)

So, ahem, now for the flash fiction:

Mommie Dearest, M.D.

Mommie Dearest, M.D.

Mother to Son, Mary Gallagher Stout

I don’t know how she does it, but Mommie dearest manages to derail my life every time she steps into it, which is often. By Mommie dearest, or MD (as I call her when I’m alone in the dark), I mean my wife Gigli’s mother.

Mine, bless her, gave up the ghost when I was still a fairly runt-sized boy, and just about the only thing I remember of that woman is the smack of her hand on my bottom.

MD uses big words like Heaven’s Gate, Hellfire, the Earth as a Battlefield Between Good and Evil. I’ve grown up with small words like cold, hunger, roof, money, food, knife, rain, dark, sun, blood, water, hate, winter, and done just fine.

So MD’s words are lost on Gigli and me, who, unknown to her mother, is a showgirl at a gig I got her in the next town, Muck City, in our sweet old state of Alabama. Gigli is what they call her there, and what I call her ever since I married her ten years ago. MD calls her Gertrude.

Just yesterday, MD stopped by, and tried yet again to take me to church, being Sunday and all. She calls herself my soul-doctor.  It has always been like that in my marriage; me, Gigli, and MD makes three.

I left, of course, so Gigli could deal with her mother like she always does. I got drunk as a skunk, and came back home hoping MD had left. Not.

So I went to The Room, where I take all ladies who remind me of MD, to be alone with them in the dark. Knife, blood, Heaven’s Gate, we did it all, as usual—me and the woman I found. I left her in a trash bag, the letters M and D scrawled on her pitted bottom.

I’m tired now, and if you know me, you’ll know I’m a man of few words. I like it straight and narrow. So the next time MD stops by, she comes with me to The Room, and I don’t care what Gigli has to say about it. I’ll make an honest, spiritual M.D. out of her yet.

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A to Z Stories of Life and Death

A to Z Stories of Life and Death

If you liked this piece and would like to browse through more of my work, check out  A to Z Stories of Life and Death, available on Kindle and Smashwords.

P.S: The story came from the movie titles and the picture, and I took it down as it came. It is not meant to offend sensibilities.