#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: P for Postponement is not an option


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: P for Postponement is not an option

Provided by: Jemima Pett, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge: P for Postponement was not an option

#atozchallenge: P for Postponement was not an option

     I sit on me front porch, thinkin’ Sunday morning thoughts, when they drive up, the two fat coppers.

     Where’s Moses?, the taller of the two hooks his finger on his belt, and don’t waste our time.

     Only Moses I know, I tell them, parted the Red Sea.

      No punchin’ the toadstool around me. Moses he turn me ‘to a fairy if I squeal. Better put out for coppers than Moses.

       My nose bust next second, one long whine in me ears, blood on me mouth, warm ‘n icky. Usual stuff.

       The other copper, sliding behind, he throw me against the porch wall. You wan’  to do them Moses you’self? Where’s you’ gi’lf’iend?

           Why cops look more ‘n more like we these days? This one got a missing front tooth. It make his words come all funny.

            He take Angela, Moses do, I want to tell them, ‘n she go with him.

        Every Sunday Angela she take me to church, Be a good man, Jerry, she say, let the Lord save you. You ne’er took a life, the Lord He forgive you, ask for His mercy.

 

Last night she run, not with a good man, but Moses. Moses of stick-ups ‘n blagging, pimp, cop-killer, Mac daddy that drive around Sunday e’enings high on shrooms, or eatin’ coke, lookin’ for bitches to rape.

         Postpon’ment is not an option, Moses say, his big fancy words, you got one life. Take what you want.

         I wanna tell these coppers all that. But what’s the point? She make me wear the mushroom suit every time I do her, there’s the truth of it. Angela want his big brawny spawn, not mine. I’m puny, she say. Some more, these coppers don’t do their jobs, oughta patted me down before slammin’ me.

         I pull out the nine Moses thrown at me last nite, laughin’ in my face, ‘n I fire, once, twice. I fall back, more whine in me ears. The nine it hit me back, but it drop them sure. Then I sit me down, and watch the red slide outta their mean little heads. Ne’er bust a cap, and now this.

        Moses he got it right. Always a first time, and live only once. I’m havin’ me some different Sunday morning thoughts. With a nine, I’m as tall as Moses.  The Lord can save me no more, Angela. I’m comin’ for you.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? What associations do mushrooms have for you?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: I for It was too good to be true


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: It was too good to be true…

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

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#atozchallenge :I for it was too good to be true

#atozchallenge :I for it was too good to be true

            That year Sam found his first grey hair, he picked up the habit of talking in phrases he’d read in books.

         A man can be destroyed but not defeated, he would say, or Your children are not your children, or, God never made a promise that was too good to be true; as if those phrases would fend off the years.

            His wife wondered if had taken up with a girlfriend. He practised yoga, downed wheatgrass and celery juice, gave away his bottles of expensive wine, turned vegan.

              He sat entire evenings in his study, the lights ablaze, staring at the paintings on the wall: amorous couples, flowers, children. So much life, such beauty, and there he sat, not growing any longer, decaying that very moment.

When his wife asked him why he sat so quiet, It’s called meditation, he said, you should try it some time. The best things in life are free.

The year they diagnosed him with diabetes, he did not speak to his wife for a week.

In three words I can sum up everything I know about life: it goes on, he said afterwards,  and doubled the exercise, halved his food. He soon looked like his shadow self. His wife protested. It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not, he said, and munched on more lettuce. His eyes sank into their sockets, ready to go to sleep, his skin wrinkled like of a man twice his age and yet he ploughed on.

I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens, he said to anyone who asked how he was. But you’re not dying, they said. You begin to die the minute you’re born, Sam withdrew into his study, where a treadmill now took pride of place.

That day they took him to the hospital, short of breath and chanting, Death is nothing at all, it does not count, he had jogged ten kilometers. His wife walked with him as they wheeled him into surgery, Do shut up, Sam, she said.

If you want me again, look for me under your boot soles. He closed his eyes and smiled. Play it, Sam, his wife said, Play it again, but he did not hear her.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Do you ever wonder about aging, death? Why, why not?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: D for Damnation awaited her, if…


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: Damnation awaited her, if…

Provided by: Mary Wallace, friend, fellow blogger, and one of the Magnificient Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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Damnation awaited her, if...

Damnation awaited her, if..

     When Lilith opened the door, she wished she’d worn a better dress. The paisley she’d saved for the New Moon Day perhaps, cinched at the waist and flared below, which made her look delicate, a woman a man could smile at, ask out. Marry, even get with child.

What else was a man good for, besides making a woman with child?

He stood, left thumb hooked in the pocket of his jeans, smiling down at her. It fit him well, as did the smile on his shapely lips under his cowboy hat. Who wore cowboy hats these days? Lost wanderers in open-topped blue Mustangs, apparently. She saw it parked outside the gate. It stood like an obedient steed, shiny, as if it had just rolled out of the workshop. A car from another age, just like the man, who asked her whether he could use her phone.

They had those cellphone things these days, not that she had used them, but youngsters like him did. Odd. Not many lived in the old ways. It suited her though. She had just taken a bath, the house smelled good, of soup and incense, and her own fragrance.

She invited him in, giving her hips that subtle, extra, swing. Even in her plain cotton skirt, the drab garb she wore to hide her true self, she knew how to make male eyes stare– her long, shining hair that stroked her hips drew their gaze, and once they looked at her, they did not resist. Could not. Her body retained its shape from centuries ago, that was the way of her kind, and she was the mother of her kind. The Baalat.

Damnation awaited her, if she gave in, did not resist the call. But too long in her exile she had waited for just such a one.

After she was done with him, she would build another wall behind the house, lay him there in splendor, and build around him. She would give birth right outside the new wall, and her daughters would rise to fight again. She would not return to Adam or Eden, she had never bowed to an Adam’s son, would not start now. She would not bow to God’s will. God was a man, was he not?

 The farm boy stood making his call. Behind him, concealed with heavy drapes, loomed the old wall, its bricks gaping, mortar cracked in places. Lilith grinned, coiling her hair into a black-gold snake, waiting to strike.

She didn’t see that the man smiled too, into the phone. She didn’t see that his palm held a fist-sized, sapphire-colored, glittering rock. Lot’s salt, large enough to turn an Angel or Demon into a pile of ashes.

She did not know, and refused to accept, man’s dominion over woman.

And like all women, she paid for it.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Have you read of the legend of Lilith?

What Makes An #Editor publish a Short Story in a #Literary #Magazine?


A Character's Writer's Block?

Publishing Stories in a Literary Magazine

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog,  Suchen Christine Lim, one of Singapore’s best known authors, spoke to us about her writing journey  before the holidays. Today, Scott Bryson, the editor of Cigale Literary Magazine answers questions on what leads him to choose a short story for his publication.  Feel free to leave your questions for him in the comments section, and he might stop by to answer them.

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1.      What led you to establish Cigale Literary magazine? What are your plans for its future?

I hoped to connect readers with new and emerging writers and to help those
writers begin a career in the literary arts. I saw a need for a publication that emphasized literature as a tradition, where writers who are also avid readers could contribute to a literary conversation. In the future I hope to publish translations and maybe poetry. I also hope to go to print and pay my authors.

2.      What do you look for in a story you accept for publication?
I look for good writing and an interesting tale. I like works that expand my perspectives on humanity and look out to a wider world.
3.      What would you like to see more of in the submissions to your magazine, and what would you like to see less of?

I would like to see more writing that is challenging and shows an urgency
in speaking about universal human themes. I would also like to see more
writing from a third person narrative and some that is genre bending.
I would like to see less writing told from the first person and less that
is the author’s personal history, unless that personal history reveals
some wider truth about the human experience.

4.  To a lot of readers, literary fiction is boring writing. How can
writers engage more readers with their literary work?

Literary fiction is meant to provide perspective and challenge the reader.
It is meant to be difficult. But the more you read it the more enjoyable
it becomes.

5.      What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story published in a magazine?
  • Keep polishing your work, as it might not be ready when you first finish it.
  • Make sure you follow the submission instructions from the magazine.
  • Have a general understanding of the magazine and what they usually lookfor. Even magazines that say they don’t look for anything in particular have something in mind.
  • Read, read, and read.
  • But mostly, getting published is luck.
6.      Name 5 short stories that are your absolute favorite.

1. The Spider Thread – Ryunosuke Akutagawa
2. Poor People – Fydor Dostoyevsky
3. A Hunger Artist – Franz Kafka
4. The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl – Ray Bradbury
5. Frost and Fire – Ray Bradbury

7.      What was the last book/ short story you read? Would you recommend it to my readers, and why or why not?

I recently finished A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Yes I would
recommend this to your readers as a classic of English Literature. In many
ways it is like some short stories I receive but Burgess makes a larger
point than showing the reader violent acts of a youth.

Cigale Literary Magazine

Cigale Literary Magazine was founded in September 2011 as an online literary magazine to publish the works of new and existing authors. It is a quarterly online literary journal featuring powerful new voices in the genres of short fiction, flash fiction fiction, and literary criticism/reviews.

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Have you sent you stories for publication in a journal or magazine? What has been your experience of publication? Do you have story submission questions for Scott?

A Short Shrift to the Short Story?


I have written and had a few short stories published in various anthologies, but am yet to finish a novel. Often, I’m told I would never arrive as a writer if I stick to writing short stories—a novel is the true test of a writer’s mettle.

When I look at my novelist friends, I tend to agree. Some have been writing their novels for over an year. Others, much longer. The plots are long and convoluted, the character arcs difficult to keep track of, maintaining timelines and consistency nothing short of a nightmare.

But be as it may, I do think the short story gets a short shrift.It does not receive  major awards, nor recognition. To write a short story may not take as much physical and mental energy as a novel, but it needs a different kind of skill. Sometimes, I begin to write something one year, don’t seem to get it right, and then have a moment of epiphany an year later (because the story keeps simmering at the back of my mind), when I finish the draft. There are stories I’ve written and got accepted for publication in a matter of two weeks, but they’ve required a tremendous intensity of effort.

I think the following excerpt from an article by Chris Power in Guardian last year sums it up well:

“The short story…acknowledges the vastness and diversity of life by the very act of focusing on one small moment or aspect of it. The story is small precisely because life is so big. Novelists are expected to tie up loose ends, whereas the short story writer can make a virtue of ambiguity. The short story is fundamentally different from the novel; not better, just different.”

Where do you stand in the novel vs short story debate? Have you written more short stories or novels? Which do you prefer as a writer, and as a reader?

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.

Show me a Rhythm and Love me a Dance


Crystal Blue Angel Wing by Shadoweddancer

Crystal Blue Angel Wing Copyright Shadoweddancer

Each morning I write, sometimes days based on word prompts,  picture prompts on other days. Here’s the picture and the piece I wrote in the last ten minutes:

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Show me a rhythm and love me a dance, he said to her, his feathers ruffled against the cold breeze.

Now why did he say that? He had forgotten sensation in the time he had spent away from the human world, which could be an year, an aeon, or a few seconds in the silly vocabulary they use to measure the immeasurable, which is a point, after all, a line, a circle, a sphere, a spring all at the same time.

They sat suspended between times, between worlds, and it is this that intrigued him, that he could feel it all–how cold it was outside the cave, the softness of her skin embedded on her soul, the taste of her last meal of asparagus and wine, just before she left her world in his arms, this famous singer-dancer-entertainer.

He sensed it all, but could not decide if he liked it. He had moved so far away from like and dislike, from the polarities of that world.

But there was nothing for it, he had to wait before the gates opened again, and in this wilderness between worlds, this cave was all he could manage. Not much harm in letting the sensations take him for this breath of time, and then he would carry her to the gates, and return to pick up his next charge.

But that is not what happened.

The singer-dancer-entertainer woke up in her home, a few seconds later, coughing up wine, startling her guests who had begun to mourn her.

He found himself in the dark, reduced to a dot of existence, a cellular tissue of awareness. A mistake. All angels knew feeling was a mistake, they’re not supposed to feel, just be.

Now he must be born into this human world. Must learn, through pain and sensation, to rise above both. He must remember.

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A to Z stories

A to Z stories

If you’re intrigued by this story, look up A to Z stories of Life and Death,my ebook of short stories just like this one. Many thanks to Rachel Morgan and Alex J Cavanaugh for featuring this book on their blogs. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of the blogging community, and would like to thank all those who visit my blog and cheer me on. Writing is sometimes a hard, lonely job, and I’m happy that other than the satisfaction that comes from the process of writing, I’m fortunate enough to be given so much love.

Should I withdraw my story from the Colonial CCC Press?


CCC Press: Colonial, Czarlike, Covetous

Critical, Cultural & Communications Press/Colonial, Czarlike & Covetous Press?

I have been agonizing about removing my story from the CCC Press anthology.

It is supposed to be “post-colonial” literature from Singapore, but the behavior of the the CCC Press shows it might be stuck in colonial times. I’m not sure, but seems like that for now.

They want to retain the right to abridge my work and to continue to publish it not just for one year, but till they decide to let it go out-of-print.

And in the meanwhile, they are going to charge sub-licensing fees to any publisher who decides to publish the story again , including, hypothetically, my own anthology!

None of the other publishers I’m working with which include Monsoon, MPH and Marshall Cavendish have such rules.

I’ve never really thought of making money from my writing (or I wouldn’t be writing fiction at all), but it is the the attitude of CCC press that is making me re-think my submission.

So far, two people in the publishing world whose opinion I respect have weighed in, advising me to withdraw.

I’ll have to take my time over this one, because I want to be professional, not precocious. I’m a beginner writer, and do not want to shoot my mouth in an unbecoming way. At the same time, I’m not over-eager to publish “under any circumstances”.

The give-back of writing is in the process of writing—if it were in publication, I’d stop after my first book. So, is CCC Press really being unfair, or am I being sensitive? Time will tell.

Update: I’m still looking for advice on this. There is further discussion on the CCC Press contract problems issue here and here.

Writing about Luigi Pirandello, English, Italian


Eleven Short Stories- Undici Novelle- Pirandello

Eleven Short Stories- Undici Novelle- Pirandello

I’m reading Eleven Short Stories or Undici Novelle by the Nobel Laureate Luigi Pirandello. It is a dual language book, and for a lover of Italian and of short stories, a rare piece of indulgence.

What I love about the book is not just Pirandello’s masterful storytelling, somewhat reminiscent of Chekov, but also the lyrical quality of the Italian, when I read it just after the English version. With English you have to make an effort to make your lines sound lyrical, spoken Italian is music itself.

Here’s an excerpt from the short story Citrons from Sicily, or Lumie di Sicilia:

He leaned his head forward so he could observe the illuminated room at the far end, and he saw a great number of gentlemen in tailcoats talking confusedly. His sight grew dim; his amazement and agitation were so great that he himself didn’t realize that his eyes had filled with tears; he closed them, and he shut himself completely in that darkness, as if to resist the torment that a long ringing laugh was causing him. It was Teresina laughing like that, in the other room.

Sporse il capo a guardare in fondo la sala illuminata e vide tanti signori in marsina, che parlavano confusamente. La vista gli s’annebbio': era tanto lo stupore, tanta la commozione, che non s’accorse egli stesso che gli occhi gli si erano riempiti di lacrime: li chiuse, e in quel buio si strinse tutto in se’ quasi per resistere allo strazio che li cagionava una lunga squillante risata. Teresina rideva cosi, di la’.