Writing Really Short Stories

September 19, 2014

I’m writing short stories. I wrote both stories for the Exquisite Quills’ Halloween and Holiday  Anthologies and I’ve just kept going with these little winter holiday themed shorties.  I’m not even certain what you call these tiny shorties. They are smaller than a novelette. So I’m calling them quickies.

Are they fun to write? Yes! But there is little room for character development and all those things that make for really great stories. I think the trick is to create a complete episode. Just like a long story it must have a beginning, middle, and an end. I give all mine a happy ending. Can’t say for certain that each has a HEA (happy ever after) but each has the hope of a HEA.

Seriously, how much can you pack into 2000 word quickies? Not much. I figure it’s just a glimpse into the love life of two people. Just something to make the reader feel good.

I love a good story. The kind that you lose yourself in for hours. But like many readers, I don’t have the time to devote to it. (I’m a fast reader!) So when I do have some free time, usually imposed on me for some odd reason, I look for something that I can read during that time frame. Then we all have those little moments where we’re stuck someplace or on a break at work so the idea of reading a quickie that doesn’t require a lot of attention or serious involvement on the part of the reader is ideal.  But the HEA of a romance does have a way of lifting our spirits.

Life is chaotic! I’m crossing my fingers that a dozen little quickies will be accepted and enjoyed. I’m certain that I’m not alone in wanting something I can read in a few spare minutes. candyCaneTree

 


The days are flying!

September 12, 2014

August seemed to have come and gone so quickly and now we’re almost halfway autumnLeavesthrough September! Remember being a kid and the school year seemed to last forever? To get from the start of the school year to Halloween seemed like the longest wait in the world? So what the heck happened? Am I going to wake up one day, a few days from now, and discover that Christmas is almost here? Yes!

That means I’ve got a lot to do in a short amount of time. I am writing, not editing. Yet, I have plenty of things to edit. I have wonderful story lines running in my head and characters begging for keyboard time that won’t make it there for a while. I’m working on a bunch of shorties. The only way to explain them is they are just short enough to read while waiting for the kids to get out of school or activities.

The Exquisite Quills decided to get together and do two anthologies this year. One for Halloween/Fall and one for Christmas/winter. We have to write a story in 2,00o or less! These are really short-short stories! But they can be loads of fun to write and to read. I write both of mine this week so they are just there on my hard disk in need of a little tweaking  before they go to my editor.

We (the Exquisite Quills) did one last year for the winter holidays and it’s free on Smashwords. I wrote The Kissing Ball for that anthology and I’m going to be nice and post that story here on my blog. Or click Smashwords or the book cover for the complete book.

Writing those made me think about what plans I had for the next few months. When I looked hard, I decided my plate was overly filled. I have a few personal things going on this fall and they are eating into my time. Plus I still need to redo my website and fix my book on this blog. See? I’m overloaded. So realistically I need to cut back. But part of me doesn’t want to reel in all my great plans, so I tweaked them. My new plan is…file0001277603822

How does a bunch of these short-short stories all centered around the winter holidays sound? I think it sounds like fun! And they should be fun to write, while taking  a lot of self-imposed pressure off of me.  So that is my new plan for this fall. All little shorties that are fun easy reads. No half stories, no hooks just sweet snippets of romance to make you feel good. I’ll bundle them all together for you at a super price.  :-)

Are you ready for some winter romance?

 

 

 


Just Bits and Pieces

September 8, 2014

file7691286497067Fall is here and I’m loving the cooler temps. Goodbye blistering hot days and hello to cooler evenings.

Did you know Tuesday is supposed to be some sort of super moon? Apparently it will be close to the earth and a full one so it should be a beauty as it rises. Is your camera ready? Looks like we’ve got thunderstorms predicted so I’m don’t think I’m going to have a very clear view.  Darn! But if we have a break in the clouds, I know the perfect spot!

I don’t work for tourism but if you live on the east coast, September is a wonderful time to vacation at the beach. One – the water is warmer, two – the hotel rates have dropped, and three – no crowds! I’m lucky, it’s just a short drive to a lovely beach where I can stick my toes in the sand and really enjoy the experience. (Just be very careful because, in most places, the lifeguards no longer are there to protect you.)

MFU0916I’ve been working hard. I’ve got stories in my head and I’m very anxious to start writing, but I also have some smaller obligations for a couple of anthologies and I’m determined to fix my pitiful website and finish the “other” pages on this site.

I’m on Twitter. Again, maybe not as much as I should be. Social media is not my forte, but I’m forced to do something, so I do that…and this and some other blog stuff. But the reason I’m telling you about Twitter is because in October I tweet a Halloween joke twice a day. I try very hard to keep them family friendly. Some are corny but that’s okay. If it makes you smile or gives your children a good giggle, I’ve done my job. You’ll find me @ayersbooks

Now you are wondering why I tweet Halloween jokes.  It started several years ago. A ASAHDsmSkeleton at Her Door was brand new and I was trying my best to let people know about the book. Well, my hope was that maybe people would buy my book(s).  I have no clue if it works. But I love Halloween. It’s just fun. There’s nothing serious about the holiday.

I love the pumpkins and all the autumn decorations. Even the food is wonderful. Freshly picked apples that really crunch as you eat them. And after avoiding the oven like the Black Plague during the summer, there’s all those pies and homemade bread. Yeah, I definitely like the food!

I’m ready for Autumn!

(And my friends on the other side of the equator, I’m sure you are ready for spring!)


Sharing

September 2, 2014

My friend, M. S. Spencer, has a new book releasing today. Sounds intriguing.

I’ve enjoyed reading international best-selling author M.S. Spencer, and I’m looking forward to this one, too! It’s a beautiful cover! And from what she’s said, it a little sexy but not hot. It’s a full-length novel so don’t expect to read it in a hour. (I’m a fast reader, and I know it’s going to take me a few hours.) Sounds like a fun get-away complete with pirates!

WhirlwindRomance_MED

In the aftermath of a hurricane, Lacey Delahaye finds herself marooned on the Gulf coast of Florida with a mysterious man. They are immediately drawn to each other, but before Armand can confess his identity, they are kidnapped and taken far from civilization to a tiny, remarkable island in the western Caribbean. With the help of her son Crispin, a small, but proud young boy named Inigo, and a cadre of extraordinary characters, Lacey and Armand must confront pirates, power-mad ideologues, and palace intrigue if they are to restore the once idyllic tropical paradise to its former serenity and find lasting happiness.

Amazon

If you grab a copy, let me know what you think! And if you love it, don’t forget to leave a review. It’s the nicest thing you can do for an author and I promise they love it! So make their day!


Good Writing

September 1, 2014

Good writing is good writing no matter what the form. I usually talk about books and, in particular, romance books. But the truth is a well-written book will draw you in and keep you there, be it a memoir or a factual account. I recently listened to a snippet from a book about one of baseball’s original stars.

I happen to like baseball. At least, I can understand it. The batter is supposed to hit the ball and then run around the diamond. He gets to mess up twice and if he does it again he’s out. But if the pitcher messes up and the batter doesn’t swing, then the pitcher gets to mess up three times and the fourth time he does, the batter gets to walk to base. It’s very important for the pitcher’s team to try to keep the batter from running around the diamond so people throw the ball back to the diamond and try to block the batter, who is now called a runner, from running. See, simple! Don’t ask me to explain football.

The early days of baseball were very different from what they are now. I was kind of excited to hear about this “famous” guy who was more infamous than famous. I knew almost nothing about him. But I did know bits and pieces about the early days of baseball before it became glamorous and the guys traveled to every po’dunk town across the nation.

Okay, we all do lots of research for our books especially for a historical. Obviously the man had tons of research and had made an amazing list.  He sort of compiled the list and left it, calling it a book. Uh-oh! Sir, you made a list. That’s not a book. There was no hook, nothing to draw anyone in, no story, just a timeline of facts. He might as well have listed each event.

I’ve seen that sort of thing with memoirs, biographies and other non-fiction as well as fictional stories. The truth is we have to care about the characters or love hating them. You certainly wouldn’t want to read the biography of Ted Bundy and fall in love with him. You might be fascinated by his criminal mind, but he’s a character that you love to hate. There have been many high-profile cases over the years and, going one step further, wars fought because of them. (Hitler) That means the facts can be presented in a way to draw us in and keep us there.

I’ve never sat and analyzed what makes a good biography, I just know when I’m caught in a story, I will stick with it. If it’s boring, I’m onto something else. There’s not enough time in this life to read a bad book or a boring story.

I belong to a local writer’s group. It’s a rather mixed bag of writers which includes several poets. I envy people who can write poetry. It’s so succinct. When done well, it can express so much emotion. I started a blog for them and you can find their stuff here.

I wanted to share a poem with you that came from a friend who is not part of  my local writer’s group. I started to read it and realized that it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It brought tears to my eyes.  I’m sure you can see the old homestead because it draws you in and keeps you there.

porch swing

 Porch Swings and Grape Kool-Aid

by Peggy L. Mott

Went back to the old home place today.

 

Looking across the road, I see the carefully tended graves

where Grandpa and Grannie and their children rest.

And I remember Grandpa showing Brother and me

how he forged the iron angels that guard the gates

of the family cemetery.

 

Scuffed by years of West Texas weather the old house

shimmers in the August heat like pewter reflecting candlelight

The tin shingles hammered by hail are rusted and bent.

 

Grandpa’s porch swing, with one arm missing rests wearily

on the trunk of the big cottonwood that still shades the porch

where the swing sat for so many years.

The swing has a broken seat and chains so rusty

that a gentle push causes a shriek like the call of a screech owl.

 

The yard still shows faint traces where flower beds

once were full of day lilies, zinnias

and Grannie’s prized Rose of Sharon.

 

The hot breeze stirs up dust bringing the rank smell of Jimson weed

as memories of childhood summers Brother and I spent here

rush back like creeks flooded by Spring rains.

 

I remember a red checked oil cloth on the table

and spoons standing in a jelly jar.

I can smell the chicken and dumplings and the vinegar pie,

and taste the tang of grape Kool-Aid—-

always grape, because Grannie didn’t like any other flavor.

 

I can see her faded starched calico sunbonnet

hanging on the nail by the back door

and feel the handmade lace trimming her feed sack aprons.

 

In memory I hear the creak of the porch swing and

the rhythmic thump of Grandpa’s feet all those nights

he spent swinging Brother to sleep

after he broke his arm jumping from the barn roof.

Brother was convinced he could fly!

 

Turning to ask Brother if he recalls these things too

the crushing sorrow reminds me that today

I brought Brother back to the old home place to stay.

And I am convinced that now Brother can fly.

 


Breathing Life into Words

August 22, 2014

As so many children go back to school, there’s been much discussion about it on the web. My days of sending children off are long gone but not the memories of their days in school. Combine that with some poetry discussions and one of those old school memories emerged. But I’ll get to that later. The truth is poetry surrounds us. From the the youngest of children’s books to the songs that we love to sing, there is poetry.

But for some reason, if you say poetry to most school-aged children, they will shriek, cover their ears, and close down their brains. Maybe because they’ve never been shown how much poetry touches their lives or how exciting it can be.

My daughter decided to whine one night at dinner about how boring it was to study Edgar Allan Poe. (OMG! Can you hear my deep sigh? I knew what was coming.) My husband almost jumped on the table. How could anyone call Poe boring? The man was a genius!

My daughter prepared to defend her position – she lost before she had a chance. My husband began to recite The Raven. Both our girls sat stunned at their father’s rendition.

The next day, my daughter told her English teacher that her dad loved Poe and could recite The Raven. The teacher asked if he’d do it for the class.  My husband said surely and then asked me if I’d get some black material and make him a grim reaper-sort-of hooded thing.  At seven o’clock, I’m running to the local hobby store to buy a few yards of black material. The next morning, he left for her school expecting to do his thing and go to work. The surprise was on him.

The teacher politely introduced him to the class. There he was in dress slacks and a white shirt, looking very much like a father who worked in an office. (He was a computer guru…um, developer/programmer.) As he donned his black (think pillowcase with arms and a hood – I had two hours to buy the material and make this) costume, he told them a wee bit about Poe. Then he started.IMG_9896

Low and slow he began to recite The Raven. He was such a darn thespian/clown. No one stirred. The whole high school classroom sat glued to his every word. And when he had finished he told them don’t just read it, READ it, breathe life into it. Get caught into the emotion of the words, because poetry is a form of expression, it will make you laugh, sing, cry, sway, dance, think, wonder, or fall in love.

He never did go to work that day. He was passed from one English teacher to another, each clamoring for him to recite The Raven to the students.  He wasn’t certain how many times he recited that poem, as he lost count along the way. But the effect was always the same.  To the students, this was just another dull piece of literature and Poe was just another boring author, until someone breathed life into it. To hear it with emotion, changed their perspective. (I can picture him flapping those long sleeves and making other dramatic moves. His voice rising and falling depending on the line.)

The teacher called at the end of the day to thank him and then called back much later to tell us that every class he had visited and changed. A noticeable change in attitude towards the classics and literature in general. They were seeing things with new eyes, looking for those sparks and ways to breathe life into it.

If you’ve not read The Raven recently, you’ll find it HERE. Take a moment and see if you can breathe life into it. Can you find the deep despair and torment of a man who has lost a lover? Writers write and good writers breathe life into what they are writing. Poe breathed life into what he wrote.

There are many greats in the arts. Some have done it with paint or stone, others with film, and some with words. Today there are plenty of talented writers who write poems or stories that touch something inside of us. Is there someone you love to read? Do you keep a few authors in your watch box and wait for their next book? Tell us your favorites.


Story Starts

August 15, 2014

Ever get stuck? Apparently it happens all the time to some people. They pull up a blank word document and stare at it, waiting for words to appear.  If that ever happens towhirlpool me, I’ll probably go into panic mode. Story starts rumble through my brain constantly. I will be driving down the road and six of them will form. And since I have a this crazy mind that that tosses this stuff out like lottery tickets, I figured I’d share them. I’m going to insert [***] for names. You get to pick those. Maybe you’ll find one that’s a winner.

[***] stared at the pen in his hand. The imprinted name on it meant nothing.  How did it get here?

[***] walked out of the room leaving the sweet scent of [***] in his/her wake. [***] loved/hated the delicious/cloying smell/bouquet.

At least the tether locking the tiny computer to his/her wrist would keep [***] from losing it.  This was the third computer he/she’d bought this month and it was an unnecessary expense.

Raindrops hit the glass window and slid down the pane, gathering others with it, yet leaving trails of water in their wake. There was nothing to see beyond the glass and only the sound of [***].

The newspaper/article/Internet revealed nothing he/she didn’t already know.

From this vantage point, the ocean appeared to be a calm endless blue slab, yet the secrets it held were beyond the imagination and more turbulent than life itself.

Darkness broken only with specks of twinkling light, a slight hum, and the scent of [***].

[***]  hadn’t seen [***] in years, but there was no mistaking that face. Why was [***] here? Of all times, why return now?

Cold wrapped [***] in a numbing blanket. The desire to stay awake ceased. He/she only needed to close his/her eyes.

[***] jolted awake. With heart pounding, he/she sat up. Something was very wrong.coffee

Hey, if you use it and it turns out to be an international best-seller, you can send me a note of thinks along with a Starbucks gift card for a cup of coffee.  :-)

If you want more of these let me know.  My brain is filled with this stuff and it’s useless to me. I have way too many bits and pieces that I’ll never use.


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