Weekend Coffee Share: Writing Like a Madman

Good afternoon,

Nice to see you all today. Pardon me if I’m a little distracted. I’m at the gym right now and I’m focusing on my steps. As such, I just have water. If you want to jump on the treadmill, by all means join me. 

So, if we were walking—running—on the treadmill, I’d talk about school. It’s in full speed ahead. My wife and I went to Curriculum Night this past Tuesday. I got a lot out of it. I learned about what will be expected of the first graders this year. Long story short, it’s going to be a challenge. But I know Zoe will be up to the task. Also, the teacher spoke to the parents about volunteering opportunities. This is a big deal for me because I don’t get to be with Zoe a lot because of my schedule. But I’m hoping to be more involved in her studies. And I found an area where I can help the students. They have a writing session before lunch. It’s great because I write, obviously.

Little known fact about me. When I started my college career, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I love being around children. And I thought I would be a good role model. Then, when I took a Creative Writing course, I thought it would be a good way to introduce writing to students as a way to express their creativity. But I decided against pursuing that avenue. I kind of regret it in some ways. But I’m happy that I have to way to make that ideal a reality. 

Speaking of writing, I have spent the last couple of weeks writing flash fiction. This has been exhilarating. For a long time—before July—I didn’t have a lot of short fiction to share. But since the Flash Fiction Hive was created, I have found myself writing more. The prompts presented offer a welcome challenge. It’s got me thinking about and actively writing more. My goal is to start posting longer works. I think I’m in the right direction. 

Speaking of short stories, I got an email from The Write Practice about a new writing contest for the fall. I get so nervous about these contests. I feel like I’m out of my element with these contests, so I don’t enter them. But when I read about the theme, I thought it could be possible to create a story. I don’t plan on entering the contest (entry fee too high), but I want to write that story anyway. My goal is to write, edit, and publish a full story by the deadline set by the committee. I might post it on my blog or submit it to another contest where the entry fee isn’t so steep. Wish me luck. 

Well, my time on the treadmill is wearing down, so I’m going to bid you farewell. But I want to hear from all of you. Send a reply in the comments and let me know how your week has been. If there’s any way I can be of encouragement, feel free to let me know. Maybe we can encourage and spur each other on. 

Until next time, take care…

Mix-Up

Courtesy of Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter (@FlashFicHive)

Hi there. 

Before you read my latest flash fiction piece, I want you to know that I enjoy writing these stories. I feel like I’m getting more out of the Flash Fiction Hive challenges this month. I don’t participate in every challenge, but I’m learning to be more creative and think outside the box. 

So, here’s my latest piece. Enjoy. 

Langston rushed to the gate as fast as he could.

“Wait! Wait!”

The receptionist, a petite woman with a brunette pixie cut, stopped the attendant from closing the door. He slammed his duffel bag onto the desk.

“You made it,” she said. Langston pulled his ticket out of his bag and handed it to her. She scanned it thoroughly, then handed it back to him.

“I’m sorry. I can’t accept this.”

“What’s the matter with it?” Langston’s chest tensed as he caught his breath. He peeked behind the desk as the other attendant rocked, holding the door open. 

“I’m afraid this ticket is not any good.”

“What do you mean it’s not good? I bought this ticket yesterday.”

The receptionist grabbed the ticket from him. 

“Let me see what’s going on.”

She typed away on the keyboard. Langston dug into his pocket, rifling his keys. They clanged as he squeezed them together. The receptionist looked at her monitor and then at him. 

“It seems this ticket’s already been redeemed.”

Langston shot a puzzling glare at her.

“Look…” he looked at the receptionist’s name tag. “…Laura. I bought this ticket yesterday. My family is in Hawaii right now, waiting for me.”

He stared at Laura’s icy stare and pouty mouth. Apparently, she’s heard stories like this before. 

“I was lucky to get it for today. How can this be redeemed already when I’m just now getting here?”

“I’m sorry. Let me see your ID.”

Langston pulled out his wallet and handed his license to her. Laura studied the photo and compared it to the fuming passenger standing in front of her. She handed it back to him. 

“You sure you haven’t been here before?”

Langston gawked at her question. “What? I just told you I bought this yesterday.”

Laura stared down at the screen. 

“According to this, you boarded a flight to Honolulu this morning. But I didn’t see anyone else with you.”

He cocked his head like an inquisitive puppy. How was that possible? He looked at the departure time. The time read “7:45am.”

“Hold on. This isn’t right. I was told the only time available was 2:35 this afternoon. Can you check the sales records?”

Laura twiddled her fingers on the keyboard again. She pulled up the transaction and it read the departure time as 7:45am. He waved Langston toward him and presented the results. He shook his head fervently and opened his bag. He grabbed a sheet of paper with a receipt printed on it. He handed it to Laura and she compared the two.

“See?” Langston pointed at the departure time on the receipt. “That’s the time I have on the receipt. That’s the time they told me they had available.”

Laura scanned the receipt. She picked up the phone which automatically dialed the airport office.

“Look,” Langston growled, “I don’t have time for all this nonsense. My family is waiting. Can we please get this sorted out right now?”

“You have to be patient, sir. Just have a seat and we’ll get this straightened out.”

Langston sat at the bench behind the desk. He looked out at the airplane as it stood there, curious about the mix-up. Then something flashed into his head. He walked back to the desk as Laura hung up the phone.

“Sir, I need you to stay where you are.”

“Why?” Langston asked. 

“Don’t worry. We’re going to get this straightened out.”

Laura nodded her head and the attendant closed the door. Langston’s jaw locked as he watched the plane start to back away. Then he saw a pair of security guards enter the terminal. 

“Wait. What’s going on?”

“Sir?” Laura spoke in a firm tone. “Don’t make this any harder than it has to be.”

“Just tell me. Did you see a man with a scar or not?”

She bobbed her head for a moment, recalling everyone who passed her on the last flight.

“Yeah. It was hard to tell, but he had something that looked like a scar.”

“Oh, no.”

Langston knew. He knew the doppelgänger. The security guards approached him, but he stood unwilling to budge. 

“Look, I’ve got to take this flight.”

Laura backed away at his fervent pitch. 

“Listen to me. That man is dangerous. He can’t be allowed anywhere near my family.”

The security guards grabbed him by the shoulders and escorted him out the terminal. 

“You’ve got to believe me,” he shouted. “I’ve got to get to Hawaii. My family’s depending on me.”

Unnoticed


Photo courtesy of Flash Fiction Hive. 

Good afternoon,

As one of my goals this month, I want to start posting more stories onto my blog. Fortunately, the Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter (@FlashFicHive) has been a big help to me. Though I haven’t written a lot of stories based on their prompts, they’ve at least provided the fuel for my creativity.

Today, the Hive presented a “Mix and Match” prompt. Here’s the result. I hope you enjoy it. 
Harold Starks strolled into his daughter’s school library. He brushed his too tight dress shirt and pulled up his wide slacks. As a cable repairman, wearing a uniform was no small feat. But a suit was near impossible. Still, he thought about the opportunity to observe his gifted daughter showing up the rest of the students.

Harold twisted his ring, ensuring the snug fit. The diamond shone in the artificial light. He knocked on the reception desk. The librarian, a dapper man in his late 40s, appeared startled. He looked around, wondering what made the rapping sound. Harold’s mouth froze open. What was the librarian thinking? He tapped on the desk again, and again the librarian turned his attention to the empty foyer. He shrugged and returned to filing the books on the return cart. 

“Excuse me,” Harold said. But the librarian kept working. Harold repeated his request in a more forceful tone. “Excuse me.”

The librarian dropped the books left to be filed. He approached the desk, inquisitive at who could be summoning him.

“Yes, my name is Harold Starks. I’m interested in applying for a position here.”

The librarian tilted his head. There were a pair of teachers behind the door chatting about something. He shrugged again and went about his business. Harold could feel the tension bubbling in him. He slammed his fist onto the desk. 

“Look,” Harold growled, “I know you hear me and I know you see me. Why are you ignoring me?”

Just then, another librarian, a woman as old as Harold approached her co-worker. 

“Who’s making all that noise?”

“I don’t know,” the gentleman replied. A trio of students walked by the back of the desk. The man asked if they were the source of the disruption. They said no and moved along. The librarian switched on the microphone. 

“Attention, students. This is a reminder that the library is a quiet area. There is to be no loud talking. That is all.”

Harold threw up his hands and left. As he left the library, he saw his daughter approach. He kneeled to hug her, but she passed through him. He looked back at her, confused at what he experienced. It was one thing being in an independent state, but it wasn’t like her to just ignore him. He walked to the boys’ restroom. He searched to see if anyone was around. Confirming the coast was clear, he struggled to remove the ring. Once he pulled it off, Harold manifested himself. The diamond lost its shine. His portly body sunk at his disappointment. He believed there was no way anyone would hire him in the shape he was in. 

The DeVille’s Belle

Hope you enjoy my latest piece. 
As I finished the salad, the rain stopped. I was so busy with eating that I hadn’t noticed the sun-yellow car parked beside mine. Curious, I exited the cafe. I paced around the goldenrod beauty, a 1963 Cadillac Deville. I remembered Grandpa telling me stories about owning one in his day. The Deville was more than just a car. It was a symbol of prestige. Especially in the South. I swooned at the sparkly body. The brown leather interior. The shining wheels.

“Excuse me.”

A tender tone underneath the direct command snapped me from my daydream. I turned and a svelte, copper-toned woman appeared. She wore tight blue jeans and a blouse a shade lighter than the Deville.

“I’m sorry. I was just—”

“It’s alright. I get it. People like the car. And they’re shocked when they see a girl like me.”

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. The woman was classy. I remembered Grandpa telling me stories about women like her in his time. That they were the pinnacle of beauty. But they had a side to them that was anything but innocent. At least, that’s what Grandpa told me.

“Do you want to drive it?”

My eyes glistened. I gawked at what she was proposing. 

“S-s-sure.”

I opened the door and sat. In my mind, I drooled over the feel of leather beneath my thighs. I marveled at the smoothness of the steering wheel as I gripped it tight. The woman slipped into the passenger seat. It was like she was teasing any onlooker to approach her. When she closed the door, she held the keys. The Cadillac logo dangling in front of me. I reached for them, but she pulled them back. 

“Hold on, slick. First a few rules.”

I fixed my eyes on her as she spoke. 

“One, you take the route I want you to go. And two, you give me gas money for the trip.”

I opened my wallet. I had a ten dollar bill, which I believed was more than enough to cover the trip.

“Deal.”

We shook hands. Then she let go and I found myself with the keys. I inserted it into the ignition and turned the car on. The engine let out a mighty roar, then hummed. I felt like my face froze after hearing such a wondrous sound. I shifted the gear in Drive. I started to pull out, but hit the brakes as a black car sped past. 

“Sorry.”

The woman gently nodded, then leaned back. I pulled out of the parking lane. I followed the directions she gave. A left onto Johnson Street, then a right onto Barnaby Lane. We went straight for a couple of miles, then turned right onto Axelrod Avenue. I couldn’t help heaving. I was driving the car of my dreams. At that moment, I felt among the elite. I felt I traveled back to a time, though unfamiliar to me, I knew from Grandpa’s tales. I was in the presence of an ageless stunner. 

I stopped at the intersection of Axelrod and Dawson Street. A SUV stopped beside us. The window came down revealing an older man. The woman turned to him and she blew a kiss. I didn’t understand why, but didn’t want to intrude in her flirtation. When the light turned green, the man sped off and I turned right again.

I felt my dream was nearly over. I sulked and dug into the seat. But she stroked my cheek with her feathery fingers. I felt my smile recover. I made the last turn and saw the cafe. I eased into the parking lane, straightening the car as best as I could. I put the car in park and shut off the engine. I felt my breath escape me, but I wasn’t suffocating. I felt the blood rushing back to my hands when I released the grip. The woman stepped out the car. I didn’t want to leave, but I forced myself. When I shut the door, I went into my back pocket and proceeded to give her the ten I promised. But she grabbed my hands and pressed her lips onto mine. She inched away from me, smiling at me.

“Thank you for the drive,” she said. I watched as she waved, blew me a kiss, and drove off. 

Let’s Celebrate: An IWSG Post

Good day,
It’s the first Wednesday of August. (Can’t believe we’re in August already.) As such, it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. Alex Cavanaugh, the fearless leader, spearheads this campaign to encourage writers of all levels with stories from our peers. Those who participate either post a story from their experience or answer an optional question provided by the captains. Any questions or to learn more about the group can be found here.

So, let’s chat.

Camp NaNo is in the books for a lot of writers. To those who participated, I hope you made progress with your WIPs, whether you made your word count goal or not. At the end of the day, I believe that’s what it boils down to. I, myself, have never participated in Camp NaNo, so this is pure speculation. But usually during the camp sessions and the real NaNoWriMo, I have my own writing goals. This month, I made two goals: to write every day in July and to write a short story a week. 

Let’s start with the first. To write every day in July. I admit that there was an alterior motive for this goal. I’m a member of the 365 Writing Club Facebook group. And the administrators award badges for certain accomplishments. From the beginning, I set the goal to write every day. And every month, I fell short. (May was the worst.) Then, over the summer, I found a group on Twitter called the Turtle Writers (#turtlewriters, for anyone curious). So while I was getting more familiar with the group, July came around. And the group discussed goals. One member mentioned that she wanted to focus on writing every day. I jumped on board, thinking that this might give me some reward for writing every day for the month. Soon after, another person joined in on the conversation, and soon enough we had an accountability circle.

So July has passed and I am happy to say that I met the goal. This had been a first for me. And certainly, there were days where I didn’t think I would meet this goal, especially considering my daily schedule. But I came to the realization that if I was going to meet this goal, I had to focus. I had to make the time and spur myself to write something, whether it be a journal entry or a blog post or a section of a short story. I had to be more aware on what time was available to me and use it to write. Like I said, it wasn’t easy. But I felt so better getting something down, even if I fell short of my daily word count goal. 

Now, on to the second goal. And like the first one, there’s a reason behind it. I’ve heard it said from numerous sources that a writer should be able to write a story in one sitting. And for the longest time, I held to that belief. But that’s never been my style. Whenever I write stories, it takes, at minimum, a week. There have been few occasions where I complete a story in one sitting. But I went against what a lot of my writer friends deemed old-school thinking when it comes to the length of time to write a story. I decided to play conservative and write a story a week. And not just write contemporary pieces, but challenge myself to write outside the genre. I created a Twitter poll on what genres I should write one of my stories in. 

Sadly I missed this goal by one story. But it’s still worth celebrating. Yes, I wrote my contemporary story, but I wrote two stories outside my “expertise.” I wrote a fantasy and science fiction story. I have to say that both stories took a good amount of time to craft. The reason being that I didn’t trust myself. I sought approval from those more experienced. But I found myself not being happy with them. I had a good amount of false starts. I shared my grievances with a friend on Twitter and she encouraged me with three words: “Go into hyperdrive.” In layman’s terms, it meant let myself be free. Don’t worry so much about the rules. Don’t be afraid to write what I wanted to write. So I did and I felt much better writing them, even if it took longer than what I anticipated. The science fiction story took two weeks to finish. But in the end, I felt better about it.

So I have three stories I wrote in July. I wasn’t going to worry myself overcpolishing them. There are a lot of inconsistencies, but I went into the mindset of just writing them just to say I wrote them. After some consideration, I decided to edit and make new drafts. And there’s the Flash Fiction Hive group on Twitter. They’re starting a new month of challenges. I will certainly take them up and post one or two on my blog.

So, that’s the summary of July. All in all, I did a great job. But I want to hear from you. What goals did you set for the month? Did you meet them? What lessons did you learn from the experience? Feel free to share. We’re all in this together. 

Until next time, take care…

Independence Day

I read a post where The Write Practice introduced some prompts about Indepence Day. I decided on the second prompt: writing a scene where a character celebrates a holiday or occasion. I figured it would be a good idea to give some insight into Alex Powers, one of the central characters of my short story project.

Here goes:

I don’t do well with holidays, especially the Fourth of July. Dad says it’s just an excuse to be lazy. I find that contradicting as he stands in front of the charcoal grill he’s had for twenty years, roasting hot dogs, chicken, ribs. All the meaty stuff. A couple of his friends surround him, part of the crew from high school, I guess. 

I sit on the patio, a cooler in hand. Tyson plays with the neighborhood kids. Brandy chats with Sean and his latest squeeze, some golden Egyptian girl he met online. I see neighbors across the street with their grills. It’s like a friendly neighborhood competition. Who can snag the most guests?

I remember the Fourth of July when I was ten. Dad and Mom were huddled around the grill she bought for him as an anniversary present. They were so lovey-dovey, kissing each other all the time. It kind of made me sick, but in a good day. 

That evening, we drove to the park to watch fireworks. For some reason, they weren’t speaking. Dad didn’t have the radio playing. I didn’t think anything of it. I doubt Sean cared, either. When we arrived, we grabbed our lawn chairs and just held onto them. All the best spots were taken. That’s when I heard Mom and Dad speak. They were arguing about something. A lot of things, actually. I wondered what was going on, but Sean, being the slightly older brother, stopped me. He told me to not interrupt them. So I didn’t. Besides, the exploding fireworks muffled whatever conversations transpired. 

When we got back, Mom got out the car. Dad stayed in and turned to us. Sean was asleep. I, surprisingly, wasn’t. 

“Boys,” he said. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your mother and I have decided to separate for a while.”

I knew what that meant, what that would eventually mean. But it was the fact that Dad apologized first that threw me off. I had never known Dad to apologize for anything he’d ever said or done. That floored me more than anything else. 

Dad doesn’t talk it much. I think it brings up bad memories, and that’s saying something about him. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Changes in the Air

Good morning. 

Nice to see you guys again. It’s been a couple of weeks. My apologies. It’s been a busy few weeks. I’m quite surprised I was able to get any writing done.

I’ll get to that in a minute. For now, help yourself to some tea and coffee. I’m working on getting back to drinking something other than energy drinks. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. So please excuse my yawning. 

* yawn *

Sorry. Now, let’s chat. 

Like I said, I worked like a madman the past couple of weeks. Not so much on the job front, although that can be taxing. No, it’s been more on the personal front. I’m sure you remember that I got into an accident the Saturday before Memorial Day. (If I didn’t in our previous conversations, now you know.) Anyway, the insurance company marked my car a total loss, given the age, miles, and circumstances of the accident. My family mourned the loss of “Blue Bonnie.” Thankfully, the insurance covered most of the expenses for a rental car. Ironically, I got an updated model of the car I had before. I think it was a way to spend our last moments with her.

But there was no time to really grieve. Since my car was a total loss, I had to figure out what I was going to do to get a new car. The insurance, thankfully, provided a settlement for the loss. It wasn’t what I hoped, but it was better than nothing. In the meantime, my wife and I shopped around dealerships, looking for a new car. And by “new,” I mean more recent used car. I thought I would have more time with the rental so that I could find a replacement. Nope. They shortened the time frame. I had to speed up the searching. I found a car, visiting a dealership in another city close by. I worried, though, that my credit wouldn’t be good enough for a loan. But this dealership has a reputation of getting anyone approved. I did and I didn’t have to make a big down payment. We searched the lot and found two potential suitors. A 2010 Scion xB and a 2013 Nissan Cube. Both had at least 50k miles. Both were roomier than “Blue Bonnie.” I took both on a test drive. They rode smooth. After the drives, I put the Scion on hold. (The Nissan had a hold on it before we arrived.) But, as much would have it, when I called my salesman to ask if we could be put on a waiting list for the Cube, the spot became free, so I jumped at the opportunity.

So while I was shopping around, I had to get paperwork in order and sent off so that they could pay off the remainder I owed. I had to hound them on the process because they were taking their sweet time and time was not on my side. They couldn’t extend the time frame on the rental, so I needed that settlement. I did something that rarely happens with me. I became belligerent with the insurance company, almost hostile. I called them three days straight, demanding they speed up the process. I was focused, determined, ornery. And it worked. They told me I would receive the settlement within two days. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. 


So, enter today. And as you can see, I got my new car. Christened “Silver Bonnie” by my daughter. (The funny thing is that she names every car in my family “Bonnie.” I think it’s cute.) There’s still some matters to take care of with the insurance and tags. I’m hoping this won’t take too long, though.

So, while I was mourning “Blue Bonnie,” our landlord sent us an email. He said that he was putting his house on the market. We have to move out by July 31st. To be fair, he gave us first crack at buying the house. Unfortunately, my credit sucks, so we weren’t even considered. So, Plan B. I went by our old apartment complex to get an application. And my wife looked at another house in our subdivision for rent. She likes the backyard. So hopefully things will work out that we are able to rent the house. 

As you can tell, everything came down on us last week. We’re scrambling to get things in order. So please excuse the mess. We have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in. With all that’s going on, it’s a surprise I was able to get any writing done. Somehow I made it work. Not only did I write a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, but I posted a flash fiction piece I worked on last week. (Thank goodness for Google Docs for smartphones.) I hope you take the time after we’re done to read both. 

Well, that’s all for today. Have to get to work now. But feel free to let me know in the comments what happened with you this week. 

Until next time, take care…