Writer’s Corner: The Craft of Short Fiction

I’ve recently been working on two different anthologies for my classes, as well as planning two, or possibly three different anthologies, that I want to put out through WordCrafter Press next year, so it’s not surprising that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the writing of short fiction. While writing short fiction presents many of the same challenges as writing book length fiction presents, such as avoiding passive voice, using the correct tense and the right POV, and avoiding repetitive language, it also seems to present challenges for the writer, which are more prominent and more noticable in a short story.

Below is a list of what I see as the top four challenges of writing short fiction. A short story in which these challenges are met and mastered can be a delight to read, but when the writer misses the mark or doesn’t tackle these challenges skillfully, the result can be a story that doesn’t feel complete, leaving readers feeling unsatisfied.

Top 4 Challenges in Short Fiction and How to Handle Them

  1. Abrupt ending: I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read recently that start out wonderfully, promising a killer story all the way to the end and then drop the ball, leaving me wondering where the story went wrong. I think many times authors are at a loss as to how to wrap things up, and with short fiction, where word counts must be taken into consideration, they try to end too quickly, instead of taking a little more time to tie up the details of the story. – To avoid this, take the time you need to wrap things up in your story in a way that will be satisfying to the reader who has stuck with you this far. If you can’t give your story a satisfying ending within the required word count, perhaps it should become a longer work, because there is nothing more frustrating than to read an engaging story that you are really into, only to be disappointed at the end, so this is a biggie.
  2. Shallow, underdeveloped characters: In short fiction, you have a limited space in which to introduce your characters and make your reader care about what happens to them, so it is important to come out of the gate with a good strong voice that grabs the reader’s attention at the very beginning and continue with that all the way through. Making your characters interesting is something you need to do with fiction of any length, but with short fiction, you need a strong voice to bring character traits to the forefront in a succint way. Passive voice in a short story can result in a lack of interest in the reader, causing them to put the story down without taking time to get to know your characters or get into the story.
  3. Head hopping: This is always a problem when it occurs in any length work of fiction, because it tends to pull readers out of the story when they realize that the viewpoint they thought they were in, is really that of a different character. Short fiction isn’t really long enough to use multiple POVs, so it’s difficult to figure out how this even happens, but it does. The author needs to pay close attention to who the narrator is and be sure to not wander into the view point of a different character.
  4. Excessive wording: It’s important to realize that a short story is just that – short. Don’t waste space with unnecessary wording that isn’t needed. Write succintly. Say what you have to say in as few words as possible. While it’s important to paint a vivid visual image for the reader, don’t include details which are not relevant to the story in some way. World building, character development, and plot must all come together in a short amount of space, so choose your words carefully.

I love a well-written short story, and I read a lot of short fiction. When it’s done right, a short story can be every bit as engaging as a good novel. Don’t you think?

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Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet Lynda McKinney Lambert and a review

Today, I am delighted to welcome artist and poet, Lynda McKinney Lambert, to Treasuring Poetry with her thoughts about poems and poetry,

Which of your own poems is your favorite?

I chose a poem on page 127 of my latest publication, Songs for the Pilgrimage, DLD Books, 2021. “Talisman,” is located in Part IV: Landmarks and Landscapes.

“Talisman” (This is a free-form poem)

by

Lynda McKinney Lambert

(written April 30, 2016)

Visualize a talisman-

precious stones and crystals

woven in bold patterns

plenty of Japanese glass seed beads 

tiny drops of perfect symmetry.

I select flawless beads 

stab them onto steel needles

hundreds of stitches.

thrust them one at a time

upwards into the heavens

endlessly.

I plunge my thin needle

deep through layers of stiff cloth

make my stitches sure

hold tight.

I’m a warrior woman

thumping my spirit-drum

made of dappled starlight.

I measure timeless days

counting beads in

a mystical circle

held together

with a bronze toggle clasp.

A Talisman brings

protection from evil

healing for weary spirits

nourishment for aching bodies

courage for new directions

on a pilgrimage

over treacherous pathways

guides my dimmed eyes

and nervous steps.

Black onyx ovals

are like a vintage fan

unfurled with a flourish

or a sacred victory flag

prepared to cast an invocation.

my fingers stroke cold stones

glossy-smooth, polished, faceted.

gifts for a King.

Copyright, August 2, 2020. All rights reserved.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

My Process:

My poems are created in the same way I create a work of art.

First, the studio must be in pristine condition.  I go through this cleansing activity of putting everything in its proper place, cleaning the surface of my working table, and laying out my materials.

Second, I begin to put a few things down on the paper. I may b begin with just a word that has been flashing through my mind for some time. I may begin with an idea or a color, or an object that I want to describe.

I start making a list of all of those things. I also refer to the thesaurus and the dictionary to expand my possibilities and to give me insight into the deeper meanings of words I am working with.  I continue laying this all out on my list until I have quite a lot of information from which to begin the work.  I like to work with at least forty words, phrases, or ideas initially.

Third, I begin selecting from my list. As I select a word, I cross it off my list after I have put it down on the page where I am building the poem.

Fourth, I continue this selection process from my pool of ideas.  As I am working back and forth from the brainstorming sheet to the poetry sheet – I am deleting, moving, or adding in my process. 

Since I am a person who likes to begin with chaos, I continue sifting and sorting and I am actually bringing order to the chaos. 

Fifth, After I’ve laid down a considerable amount of line, I begin the process of deleting and paring it all down to the essential essence. I want my poem to become sleek and spare.  I remove every article that I can in this process. I do not want any extra words.  I consider them a distraction that hides the core of the poem.  I am ruthless at this time in the process. 

Sixth, after I’ve taken away as much as I can and exposed the essence of what I am describing, I call it finished.  I will read it over many times during the process to get a feel for how it will sound when spoken. At this point it passes from an idea to a living sound. The poem is an object that stands alone. It has taken on meaning in ways I could not have imagined when I began the building process. I am satisfied.

I chose this poem for it exemplifies the parallel between writing and making mixed-media fiber art

The focus of my attention for this poem is on the making of the object that will become a talisman.

When I am writing, I am conscious of being a weaver as I move my words, sentences, and punctuation around the page.    When I am making art, I am conscious of how everything fits together as I plunge my thin, sharp needle through tiny faceted beads, Czech and Swarovski crystals, circle around gemstones and capturing found objects. My needle is my paintbrush, forming the shapes and values that take me on a journey.

When I begin to write or make art, I prepare for a journey.  I carefully lay out all of the things I will need for my travels. I expect to reach a destination at the time when I begin to write.  

Photo_ “Evening Vespers,” Talisman
Photo_ I Only Have Eyes For You”  is an award-winning  Talisman.

About Lynda McKinney Lambert

Lynda’s interdisciplinary interests led her to a career in teaching across disciplines in fine art and English literature. She retired from her position as a professor of fine arts and humanities at Geneva College in 2008. Retirement from her international teaching schedule opened the door for her to pursue her love of writing full-time.

Lynda works from her rural western Pennsylvania home in The Village of Wurtemburg. Her five published books are available on Amazon, Smashwords, and other retail book sellers. Lynda’s newest book of poetry and personal non-fiction essays was published in April 2021 – Songs for the Pilgrimage.

 Her second chapbook, Primavera: When Spring Break is Over, is ready for publication.

She is creating a collection of poems for  a chapbook for the summer season and one for the autumn season in the year ahead.

Lynda’s poems appear internationally in journals and anthologies. She lives with her husband Bob and they  celebrated their 60th anniversary on April 14, 2021.

Lynda earned a BFA and MFA in Painting. She also received the  MA in English degree with her focus on poetry.

Lynda – Photo from  August 27,   2021, with a bouquet of flowers she received for her 78th birthday.

 

Purchase Lynda’s books:

My e-books on Smashwords.com

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1080756

Authors Page at DLD Books.

http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert

Learn more about Lynda

Smorgasborg Café and Bookstore – Meet the Authors_Review

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors – #Thriller Daniel Kemp, #Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, #YAFantasy Jean Lee | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine (wordpress.com)

Robbie Cheadle Book Review of Star Signs: New and  Selected Poems.https://www.lyndalambert.com/robbie-cheadle-review-of-star-signs/

Ten Things You May Not Know About Me.

This interview is featured on Marcia Meara’s Blog, The Write Stuff.  September 3, 2021.#TenThingsYouMayNotKnow – About Lynda Lambert | The Write Stuff (marciamearawrites.com)

Showcase: Songs for the Pilgrimage.

Published by Charles Portolano, editor of The Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poetry.https://www.lyndalambert.com/showcase/

NFReads – An Interview with Lynda McKinney Lambert.https://www.nfreads.com/interview-with-author-lynda-mckinney-lambert/

Poem, Photo, and Explication of the work.https://www.lyndalambert.com/autumn-gifts-poem/

My review of Songs for the Pilgrimage

Songs for the Pilgrimage by [Lynda  Lambert]

What Amazon says

From the Prologue and Epilogue of Songs for the Pilgrimage

The word pilgrimage refers to a religious journey. Individuals commit to traveling to reach a predetermined destination, such as a shrine or holy place. The excursion is a trek from one location to another. Pilgrimage has been an abiding theme in my writing for several decades.

My first book, Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage (Kota Press, 2002, now out of print), was inspired by my annual journeys to Salzburg, Austria, where I taught a month–long drawing and writing course. I revised and expanded the previous collection of stories, poems, historical notes, and journal entries for this new book. Songs for the Pilgrimage features writings, drawings, and photographs I created over four decades.

I conclude with an artist’s prayer:

My studio is yours, Lord. Be my welcome guest today. Your goodness and unfailing kindness have been with me all my life. I have tried to make your glory visible in the works of art I have created. Someday I will close the door of my studio for the final time, but I will not be alone. Together, we will go to your home, where we will continue to collaborate on glorious projects throughout eternity. Amen.

May I Serve You?
Here are the stacks of paintings
for you to look at tonight.
I carefully brought them out
of storage closets
arranged them here
in the kitchen—
where my children used to play
games around a square oak table.
Once, food to nourish the body
was prepared here, by my hands.
Tonight, there is an
abundance of food
for your soul.
Come into my kitchen and
taste the world,
prepared by my hands.

© 1997

My review

Songs for the Pilgrimage is an unusual and interesting collection of poems, interspersed with journal entries from the poets annual journeys to Austria where she taught a month long drawing and writing course. The journal entries provide a lot of insight into the poet’s life and experiences during these times and dovetail with the poems which expand on these experiences by vividly depicting the sights, smells, and thoughts of the poet. The poems are mainly freestyle and cover a full spectrum of observations including interpretations of different artworks, songs, and music.

My favourite poem in this collection and the one that demonstrates the vividness of the imagery presented in these poems is called How Vivaldi Learned to Dance:

“Antonio Vivaldi heard a new beat
began to dance inside his soul
Concerto Grosso came to visit him
D-Major opened his eyes at dawn
every set of notes in the strong
foot-stomping beginning
gave his soul a new pair of wings
horns, oboes, 2 violins, Vivaldi cast the spell
imagination approached the heavenly realm
just as his nimble feet urged him to dance on clouds
kicking up his heels, high off the pungent streets
lively staccato andante reminded
Medieval Venetians to stroll on sunny afternoons
narrow passageways, the scent of Italian lilies floats
over cobblestone paths Vivaldi’s thoughts
pulsed cautiously into the Adagio duet
quiet staccato notes changed his rhythm
roaming violin twins began a centripetal dance
slow and steady – up, down, up, down, up
the long final chord ended his journey on
urban bridges of arched stone
violin solos of his butterfly visions soared
where playful frantic allegro takes flight
X is the unknow factor when the master musician
yearns for one more summer day in Venice
Zeitgeist. His presence spanned the Baroque ages.”

I chose to share this particular poem because I feel it represents everything I enjoyed about this book. The vivid imagery is demonstrated in may places with the depictions incorporating the senses of sight, sound, movement/touch, and smell, the references to the music show the poet’s appreciation of Vivaldi, the Italian Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher, impresario, and Roman Catholic priest and her love of all of these things, including her religion. There is a strong theme of faith and religious respect running through this book. There is also a haunting attraction for Venice and all it offers which ties in with the overarching concept of a pilgrimage.

An intriguing and enjoyable book of prose and poetry.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: People Are Crazy

Mind Fields

People are crazy. Many people who are crazy don’t know they’re crazy. They think that they are right, and that their form of crazy should be everyone’s crazy.

That’s crazy. Right? No one is right all the time; not even some of the time. Everyone is wrong most of the time. We should assume that immediately. If we examine the history of human beings it looks like a traffic jam of midget cars where everyone jumps from the cars as if they got caught stealing them. They shout “That’s not my car! I’ve never seen that car before.”

This is not my planet! I’ve never seen this planet before! The very nature of life on this world is that humans get the wrong ideas about things that should be easy to understand. Those who don’t recognize their instability are dangerous. People who don’t recognize their craziness have few brakes. There are not enough forces to slow them down. At some time or place such people can do terrible harm. They harm people who are crazy in a different way. We can inquire about Germany. In today’s world Germany is known as a refuge for the dispossessed, a humanitarian engine of liberal democracy. Eighty years ago Germany was in the throes of a mass psychosis that turned the state into a killing machine.

This form of psychosis is always available to cultures. It’s there, waiting for the right conditions . It will burst forth and flourish for a while as it does its murderous business. Then it vanishes, only to revive in another time and place. Cultural psychosis is part of the human condition; it’s an under current that feeds on poverty and distress. It thrives on income inequality, builds on the resentment of disenfranchised classes.

We’re ripe for another one. God forbid, as my granma used to say. God forbid we should replay genocidal brutality like Nazi Germany, or Cambodia, Rwanda, Armenia, Bosnia… The United States with its native Americans, The Turks against the Greeks. God forbid.  I pray that I’m wrong but I feel that looming presence, that evil spirit that is like a parasite fattening on its millions of aggrieved Americans who have not a single clue that they are insane. They have nothing to complain about. They are housed and fed, they have health plans, the very poorest of them are better off than anyone was a hundred years ago. You can’t convince them that they’ve got a good deal going. They’re certain that they’re being screwed. We sit atop a festering insanity that has been in America since before its founding, when vast crimes by white Europeans were enacted on the whole population of the western hemisphere. 

God forbid. It’s a comfort to think that things have changed, that maybe a threshold has been crossed by human nature itself, that we’ve learned from our past sins, that we have EVOLVED. 

Isn’t that possible?

I don’t know. I won’t pronounce this salvation as a done deal.  Something IS different. Our children are different; they do things that were impossible. They move their bodies in new ways, they think in new ways. I don’t regard myself as a cynic but I am jaded. I’ve seen too much horror. 

It isn’t one thing or another. We’re neither saved nor doomed. We are continuing the story of life on earth. The planet keeps turning and it will turn for another several billion years. The drama of human life unfolds in its many chapters.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – The importance of teachers

The schools in South Africa are racing towards the end of a year fraught with lockdowns, illness and death. My sons have been on-line for long periods twice this year and many of the students have suffered the losses of friends, parents, grandparents, and other important people in their lives. Seeing how happy my sons are to be back at school and watching them forge ahead with their school work as their teachers valiantly try to reteach material and principles that were taught on-line and which the boys have failed to grasp properly, makes me feel more appreciative of their teachers than ever.

Gregory finishes school today. It is his last day of a 14-year journey and it is all rather emotional for the boys and teachers. His preliminary examinations went very well and he achieved an average of 92% for all 7 of this subjects including AP maths. This is partly due to hard work on Gregory’s part, but a lot of credit must go to his excellent teachers who really went all out to help the boys achieve the best they could. Greg attended on-line and in personal tutorials and extra sessions to prepare for his exams and some of them were over weekends during his teachers personal time.

As part of his leaving experience, he was invited back to his old nursery school, which forms part of his current school campus, and his old pre-preparatory school. How lovely it was to walk those corridors again and see the small desks and sinks, the art rooms and to find Greg’s handprint from when he was a 5-year old boy.

I believe that teachers are one of the most important professional groups in our society. They give children purpose, help prepare them to be successful citizens of our world, and help to inspire them to achieve and succeed both at school and in life.

A teacher imparts knowledge, good values, traditions and helps youngsters recognise modern challenges and overcome them.

The role of teachers is often underplayed and misunderstood with parents and others thinking they get lots of free time in the afternoons and during school holidays. This believe is certainly unfounded as every teacher I’ve ever known works a full day and more. They all teach extra murals and many offer extra tuition for students that struggle. Many of the teachers at my sons school are also involved in a community education programme and teach children from less privileged schools and backgrounds during part of their afternoons. Teachers also do a lot of marking and lesson preparation and that takes up a lot of their evenings and holidays. In summary, teaching is not a part-time job.

One of the toughest parts of teaching is teaching children from all sorts of homes and backgrounds about using their imaginations, creativity and challenging them to develop consistency, good work ethics, empathy and emotional intelligence.

I have met a number of wonderful teachers in the blogosphere and I appreciate them all for the wonderful teachers they are. Once a teacher, always a teacher, it’s not really something you stop doing as it is a part of your nature and behaviour patterns.

I am going to end this post by sharing a YouTube video about a special teacher, Jennie Fitzkee, who is a great champion of reading out loud and appeared recently on the Kelly Clarkson show. Bravo to Jennie for helping share the word about the importance of reading and thank you to Kelly Clarkson for raising the reading banner so high.

Here is link to the video: https://www.facebook.com/KellyClarksonShow/videos/1119312005268883

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Writing Challenge: A Fun Exercise in Character Development

This week I thought it might be fun to throw out a challenge to my readers and author friends. When I was earning my M.F.A. in Creative Writing, we were given various writing exercises, of course. To demonstrate an interesting way to develop a character, one of many, by creating a character from the characteristics of an inanimate object. It might sound strange, but honestly I can remember having a lot of fun with this particular exercise. The object I was assigned was a butter knife.

First, we were ask to do a free write about the object, associating it with characteristics which came to mind. Next, we were asked to create a character who possessed some or all ofthose characteristics, using a Proust questionaire, which is a really good tool, but any means of creating a character profile so that you really know your character would work. As always, the more you know about your character, the easier it is to write them in a scene or a story, or maybe even a series. Lastly, we were asked to write a scene that introduces the character.

You’ll find the scene that resulted from this exercise back in 2013, and I’d love to see the results of any of you who would like to accept my challenge and create their own character and scene. I had a lot of fun with this exercise and I think you will, too. My inanimate object was assigned, but you can pick one from the following list or choose one of your own: butter knife, salad bowl, spoon, fork, spatula, plate, frying pan, wine glass, corkscrew, turkey baster, tea cup, coffee pot, dish towel, broom, feather duster, brillo pad. I chose a bar scene for my introduction, but yours can take place anywhere you like. Explore the possibilities for setting as you work through this exercise in character development.

If you are up to the challenge, pick an object and do a free write about it. Then, create a character and get to know them well. You can even make your own questionaire. What are your character’s favorites: food, color, song, etc…? What do they do for fun? Occupation? You get the idea.

Then write a scene that introduces your character and send it to me at kayebooth@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to tell me what your object was. If I like it, I may ask for permission to share it here. Yours doesn’t have to be as long as mine, just keep it to a single scene that tells us who your character is.

My Introduction to Betty Lou (Butter Knife)

“Come on. Don’t be such a stick in the mud!” Christa said, urging her friend to live it up a little. “One drink is not going to kill you. I swear.”

Betty Lou sat on the bar stool with her legs crossed, hands folded in her lap. Her back was as straight and upright as if she were practicing the principles outlined in Debrett’s Etiquette and Modern Manners, with a book perched atop her head. “Oh, all right,” she said. “But, just one. You’re sure it won’t make me look foolish?”

“I’m sure,” Christa said, waving the bartender over. As he approached them, she said, “Two long island iced teas, please.”

“Iced tea?” Betty Lou asked, with a discernible sigh, thinking anything with iced tea couldn’t be too bad.

The bartender placed two tall glasses of tea colored liquid on the bar in front of them. Christa placed some bills in his hand and picked up her glass. “Come on. Drink up,” she said, talking a long swallow.

Betty Lou picked up her glass, sniffing the pungent aroma of liquor in the glass. “It doesn’t smell like iced tea,” she said, wrinkling her nose.

“You said one drink,” said Christa, placing a hand on top of Betty Lou’s, gently pushing up toward her lips, “Now drink up. Go on.”

Betty Lou took a small sip.

“No…, drink,” urged Christa, tilting her friend’s hand up with her own, gently forcing her to take more of the liquor in her mouth.

Betty Lou choked down a swallow, making her eyes water. “That sure doesn’t taste like iced tea,” she said when she had regained her composure. “Yuck!”

“You get used to it,” said Christa, working on her own drink. “Oh good, the band’s getting ready to start.”

Betty Lou took another small sip, wrinkling her nose once more. She doubted Christa’s statement. How could anyone get used to the taste? She watched attentively as the band members came out onto the stage and began tuning instruments. “Remember,” she said, turning to her friend, who perched a cigarette on her lips and was lighting it, “I’m only staying until ten o’clock.”

“Loosen up,” said Christa, offering her a smoke from her pack. “Tonight could be a whole new beginning for you. Relax and finish your drink.”

“Couldn’t I just have a seven-up?” Betty Lou asked, plucking the offered cigarette from the pack. “I just had a rocky ending. I don’t think I’m ready for another beginning.”

“No way,” Christa said, offering her a light. “You agreed to live it up a little, remember? No taking the straight and narrow tonight. Besides, you know every time one door closes… ”

Betty Lou bent slightly to light her cigarette as Christa flicked her Bic. “Okay. Okay,” Betty Lou said. “But, only until ten. I have to debug a new program tomorrow. I want to be alert. I need a good night’s sleep.”

“Finish that drink and you’ll sleep good, I promise,” Christa said with a wink.

A man stepped onto the stage to introduce the band, as the house lights lowered. He was short and stocky, with shoulder length hair pulled back in a ponytail. The black leather pants and vest that he wore made him look like a throwback from a seventies biker gang.

“Good evening ladies and gentleman,” he said. “Thank you all for coming out.” Whistles drifted up from the audience, as he addressed them from the stage. “We have a great show for you tonight. Please allow me to introduce to you, The Ripe Melons!”

As the band began to play, Christa downed the last of her drink and signaled the bartender for another. She began to sway on her bar stool to the beat of Lynard Skynard’s, Gimme Three Steps, which The Ripe Melons managed to do a fairly good job of cranking out. Wisps of bleach blond hair fell over her eyes and she absently brushed them away.

Betty Lou took another careful sip. Maybe Christa was right. It didn’t seem so bad now. She could feel the vibrations from the music in the floor beneath her. “Do they have to play so loud?” she asked, raising her voice to be heard over the music.

Christa smiled at Betty Lou and shook her head. “Lighten up, girl,” she said. “Let your hair down.” She reached up behind her friend and yanked a pin from the tight bun on top of her head.

“Hey!” said Betty Lou, as her bun unwound and her long black ponytail unrolled and hung straight down her back.

“Come on,” Christa said. “You look so uptight.” She reached up behind her friend and pulled the hair tie out, letting her onyx hair fall loosely, softening her high cheekbones and angular jaw. “There,” she said. “Now you don’t look like you’re waiting for your last rites. You have pretty features when you just ease up a bit. You always pull your hair back tight from your face and it makes you look like your spring is wound a bit tight.”

Betty Lou was stunned by her friend’s boldness. Would she be undressing her next? She took another sip of her drink and smiled just a little, as the image of Christa reaching over and unbuttoning the top buttons of her blouse flitted through her head.

But, Christa’s hands stayed to herself as she downed her second drink and crushed out her cigarette in the ashtray. “Let’s dance,” she said, sliding down from her barstool.

Betty Lou shook her head adamantly. “No, you go ahead,” she said. “I’ll wait here and finish my drink.” She looked down at it, noticing to her own surprise, that it was almost half gone.

“Oh, come on!” said Christa, grabbing ahold of Betty Lou’s hand. “You need to get laid. Let yourself go a little.”

It took effort to stay upright on the barstool with Christa pulling on her like that, but she managed to pull her hand away. “No, really, I’m fine,” said Betty Lou. “I’ll just watch you.” She took a rather large swig from her glass as if that might convince her friend to go without her.

“Suit yourself,” said Christa, heading for the dance floor.

Sipping her drink, Betty Lou watched Christa as she approached a handsome guy with blonde, feathered hair, sitting in the second row of tables. She bent down and said something to him, then he stood and walked out onto the dance floor with her. Betty Lou couldn’t believe how bold Christa was. She could never be that forward. Even when she’d been with Matt, Betty Lou had always let him take the initiative. She had always followed his lead. They had been the perfect pair. That seemed like another life now.

A hand on her shoulder startled her out of her reverie. She turned to find herself face to face with the most gorgeous man she had ever seen. He was tall, maybe even taller than her own 6’3’’, with a muscular build that said he didn’t sit behind a desk all day. His brown hair matched the brown eyes that she found herself staring into.

“Would you like to dance?” he asked, smiling a smile that would melt any girl’s heart.

She straightened her back. Her heel began tapping on the rung of the barstool, making her knees bounce. “Uh—me?” she asked.

“Well, yes,” he replied, glancing to either side of her. “You’re the only pretty girl I see in the immediate vicinity.”

“Um…, I couldn’t,” she stammered, “I mean, um, well…”

“You don’t dance?” he asked.

“No,” she said, feeling her face flush. “At least,… not very well.”

“May I buy you a drink then?” he asked, raising a brow.

“Oh,… thank you, but I have one,” she said, holding out her glass, only to realize that it was empty.

He smiled at her again. “Looks like you need another,” he said. “May I?”

How could she refuse? “Uh,… sure,” she replied. How wishy-washy that sounded. She did her best to save face, adding, “That would be nice.” At least, it didn’t sound quite as lame as her stammering all over herself, like a school girl who’s never talked to a good looking man before.

He flagged the waitress over and ordered them each another round. Betty Lou was surprised at how at ease she felt as she sipped her new drink while they talked. Normally, when talking to members of the opposite sex, especially good looking ones, she could feel the tension build inside of her, materializing on the outside as sweaty palms and stiffened muscles through her back and neck, but she felt none of those things now. It must be the alcohol. Up until tonight, the strongest thing she’d had to drink was a wine cooler. She wasn’t used to the strong effects of hard liquor, even in a mixed drink.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to dance?” Kyle, which is what his name had turned out to be, said. “You can step all over my toes, if you like. I walk on them all day anyway.”

Betty Lou started to decline once more, but then his corny joke registered and she burst out laughing instead, the most recent sip of her drink spraying out over his pants. “Oh, fiddlesticks! I’m so sorry,” she said, grabbing her cocktail napkin off the table and dabbing at his pant leg. “This is not a good beginning, is it?”

Kyle chuckled and took it all good naturedly. “It’s okay,” he said, taking her hand in his own and looking into her eyes. “But, now you have to dance with me, even if you have two left feet.”

feltBetty Lou gazed into those big brown eyes of his, noticing a few flecks of gold in them. She’d never seen eyes like that before and now, she never wanted to look away. He offered her his hand, and she took it, letting him lead her out onto the dance floor. He pulled her in close to him and held her there as they began to sway to music. Betty Lou laid her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes, allowing him to lead her. It felt good to be held against him so firm, heat flushing through her body, as she felt his stiffened member pressed against her leg. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad beginning after all.


The Many Faces of Poetry: Poems Never End

The Many Faces of Poetry

Safecracker

The woman is talking to her shopping cart;

or: she’s talking to the stuff IN the shopping cart, it’s hard to know.

She doesn’t have a home.  Maybe she’s talking to her home, that makes

a bit of sense.

I was there, for a part of my life.

I didn’t know where I would sleep. 

An unlocked car or truck, maybe.

It was horrible; I was always scared.

I had a friend, one friend.  You’ve got to have someone

at your back

when you’re low on the pole. If you’re lucky

that person won’t take your stuff

and vanish.

My guy was an ex and future con named Roger.  We liked the same drugs.

If I scored, Roger scored too.

You’ve got to have something to do

when you’re homeless.  Copping drugs

fills the day, occupies the role of job and family.

I was better at copping than Roger.  For him, I was a profit taking venture.

He probably wound up in jail again.  He did time at Arizona State Prison

for cracking safes.  He was bound to get busted again.

I wasn’t. I didn’t.

Photography

“We haven’t earned the right to forget”. Guy Le Cuerrec

IF you think the gate is in front of you

look to the side.

If you think the gate is behind you

look ahead.

If you think a window is closed

in your room, it may be open but

hidden inside the closet.

If you think there is a closet

think again

there is a closet.

Surprised

I didn’t expect

to have to be this brave

to live in the world.

I had no idea.

I didn’t know what I would need,

how much strength it would take,

how deeply I would fail,

how inadequate I would feel.

I’m not ready.

I look at ways out;

I look at death,

I look at drugs,

I use every excuse

to flee.

I do it every day.

I didn’t expect it

to be this hard.

My imagination was not prepared

to encompass the misery,

the sheer strangeness

of what happens,

what has happened,

what I can’t make un-happen.

I thought I would be protected.

I thought it would be pleasant.

I thought it would be okay,

that I would have a good time,

be satisfied, get away free of entanglements,

leave a nice footprint

that could be seen clearly

down through time.

I am surprised by the mud,

appalled by the blood,

angry with god for letting this happen

to anyone, let alone people I know and love.

I didn’t expect to have to be this brave.

I didn’t think I had it in me;

I still don’t.  But I persist

in spite of every difficulty.

I don’t really know why.

It’s not a matter of a foolish belief sustaining me.

My belief is not foolish.  My belief is my survival.

There simply is nothing large enough,

only God the Unknowable

can hold the grand squalor,

the screaming birth,

the wriggling, enduring heart at the center

of this beleaguered world.

I have no strength, no courage,

I have nothing but strategies to avoid

agony, and they don’t always work.

I survive, for a time,

while the world survives

forever, stronger than

I can be, deeper than I can fulfill,

more powerful than my will,

defiant in the face

of my disappointment in myself.

The world and something loving that redeems

all torment,

survives. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Review in Practice – Slushpile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected

Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected

Introducing a new blog series

For those of you that don’t know, I am currently embarked on a journey to earn my masters degree in publishing at Western State Colorado University. Some of you may know this because I mentioned it when I posted the submission guidelines for the Mirror, Mirror anthology that we are putting together for our class thesis project. I was really excited about sharing this paid writing opportunity with all of you and I hope many of you will craft out a story that fits the guidelines and submit it. I was recently reminded that the submission deadline is just two weeks away, so get those stories in.

With work and school and trying to write, I’ve been struggling just to get my Monday blog post out. I’ve been blogging here on Writing to be Read since 2010 and it is important to me and hopefully to my readers, so I can justify feeling a need not to drop the ball here even though I’m extremely busy. My solution, which I thought was rather smart, was to create a new blog series, “Review in Practice”, where you can join me through book reviews that reflect lessons taken from books I read as I work to improve my craft and learn the publishing industry. In this way, the books I need to read in order to learn and improve will do double duty as I share them with you here. These reviews will offer my opinion of the book, and also tell you about my experience with it and share what I have learned. I do hope you will join me.

My Review

Reading Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected, by New York Times Bestselling author, Kevin J. Anderson helped to prepare me for the onslaught that is already flooding the submissions box, because it offered me a better idea of what lay ahead. But, this book was written for authors, to give them an idea of what editors are looking for and improve the chances that your submission will read and accepted. It is a brief book, which doesn’t take long to read and the lessons contained within could prove invaluable. As I have begun working my own way through this year’s slush pile, I’ve already learned that the experiences contained within Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected is spot on.

Of course there’s never any guarantees of acceptance, but there are ways to increase the odds. Kevin J. Anderson relates his own experiences from the last two anthologies the graduate publishing program at Western put together. (Yes, he is really my professor. How cool is that?) If you are thinking of submitting a story to Mirror, Mirror or any other anthology, Slush Pile Memories: How Not to Get Rejected is a must read. I give it five quills.

Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribing to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: A Summer Of Love

Mind Fields

A Summer of Love

or

On The Horns Of A Dilemma

1967.  Muir Beach, California

Robert had taken LSD three hours ago and now he was trapped in the bathroom. It was a small bathroom in a small beach house. The place looked out over the Pacific Ocean and could only be reached by climbing a hundred wooden steps or riding a cable-driven cargo trolley. The place belonged to Linda, Robert’s acquaintance, a woman who made tie dye and batik clothing.

Robert wasn’t a casual taker of psychedelic drugs, but he was with good people: yoga practitioners, Tai Chi enthusiasts. He felt safe. His friend Pam was at the party, and his room mate Steve.

It was an intimate gathering, about a dozen people agreeing to share an experience in a beautiful setting. Linda dispensed a tab of LSD to each arrival. Now it was getting towards evening and the group had settled into serious tripping. There was a bit of talk. Some giggles from a couple on the sofa. It was quiet.

The sound of the surf tumbled in the background.

Robert was hallucinating but when nature called she could not be denied. He viewed the act of taking a shit as a comedic episode, a meeting of the sacred and profane. He made a little mantra from it, mentally chanting the words to a samba beat: how could a thing so huge still have to take a poo. He danced a little samba step as he crossed the room to the bathroom. How could a thing so huge… still have to take a poo. The Huge was himself, in his expanded universe, the hyper-galactic infinite divine. And yet, way way down there in the microcosmic world, his body still had to eliminate the dross from his intestine. It all came down to the most common things.

The bathroom was a cubby hole. It had a toilet, a small window and a wooden stand that held an incense burner and a couple of magazines. An old tarnished mirror hung on the wall opposite the throne.

Before the toilet episode began, Robert had been watching Linda move about, with her bun of blonde hair trailing cute little wisps. She wore a sleeveless batik dress of luminous green and a necklace of silver and turquoise. Robert liked the shape of her. She was well toned, contained in a nice little parcel of soft firmness. Her breasts lifted the neckline of the dress and the effect was mesmerizing. Linda was single, Linda was beautiful, and Linda had given him a smile as she dispensed the tablet of LSD. Robert interpreted this smile as an invitation. He thought Linda was conveying a message. “Ask me to make love,” he thought she was beaming at him, “ask me.”

The problem…. that is, the problem before getting trapped in the bathroom, was working up the nerve to ask Linda to make love. Other couples were pairing up and vanishing into various nooks on the property, riding the sound of the mighty surf into psychedelic splendor. 

The party’s social math, the indices of affinity seemed to put Robert and Linda together. Robert had never done this kind of thing before. He had never approached a woman to ask if she wanted to “go somewhere quiet”. The complexities of an LSD high built a scaffold atop Robert’s shyness. How do I do that? he wondered, how do I come right out and ask a woman to make love? He wondered and feared, and wondered and feared, and tried to engage Linda in pleasant conversation but an acid conversation can be very weird. There are multiple interpretations layered on every word and phrase.

If he said, “Hi,” well, okay, there you go. Was he greeting her or was he making an insipid observation on his state of psychic elevation? 

“You’re beautiful” he said, at one point. “You look stunning in that dress.” That was not ambiguous. Linda merely said “Thank You” and the conversation jumped off a cliff and went splat. If only she would make things easier for him! Maybe he was wrong. Maybe she didn’t send the signal he thought she sent. But her fingers had lingered on his hand as she offered him the white tablet. She had given him a deep soulful look.

Then his stomach sent him another kind of signal. The bathroom was directly off the one large room of the house. The room was virtually the entire living space. There was a counter, a kitchenette, and a short fight of stairs that led to a loft bedroom. A thin plywood door separated the bathroom from everything else. 

Robert’s poo was a loose disgusting mess and he was about to turn the flush handle when the thought occurred to him: what if the sound of the toilet flushing sends someone into a bad trip? Or worse, what if it sends everyone into a bad trip? 

The house was high on the bluff and the toilet flushed with a distinct sound as the water forcefully drained. Sploosh! it said, splodda splodda splodda splodda, and all the pipes in the house rumbled and whooshed for what seemed hours.

Everyone is so high! Robert thought. If I suddenly introduce these sounds with all their associations, they will drown out the Ravi Shankar on the record player and they will enter people’s LSD-saturated inner landscapes as a downward spiral that will carry them into the underworld! People on acid are so suggestible! I’ll ruin the party!

He couldn’t look at the poo. He had closed the lid and was frantically using a National Geographic to fan the fumes outside. He was on the verge of puking, which would add another dimension to his problem. There was a box of incense and a pack of matches, which he now used as he attempted to work his way out of this mess.

What am I going to do? What am I going to do?

Another part of Robert’s psyche was laughing at him, saying, oh this is pathetic, you’re wasting your whole fucking trip on idiotic paranoia. Robert fought back. It’s unselfish paranoia! he replied. I just don’t want to send anyone down the toilet. Acid’s unpredictable. It can be a catalyst for deeply buried psychic material. I can’t take that chance!

It seemed that hours passed. Robert fanned fumes out the window, lit incense, lit matches until the pack was gone. There finally came a breaking point.

Fuck this, Robert decided. It’s inevitable. I have to flush the toilet. He reached out and touched the cold metal handle with its contoured shape. He caressed it for a moment. Then, in an act of passionate courage, he pressed down and released the water.

Sploosh! Oh god it was deafening! Splodda splodda splodda, down down and down into the depths of the underworld. The pipes went Whhhsssssh like Boeing 707’s lining up on a runway before takeoff. There were at least eight people just a few feet away from this sonic pandemonium. They might tear him to pieces when he emerged. He, personally, had bummed their trip! They might ostracize him forever, banish him from other weekend retreats at other beautiful houses full of beautiful women.

His heart was beating frantically. Okay, he decided, let’s face the consequences of my irresistible evacuation. Robert turned the knob and exited the bathroom, closing the door with the barest of clicks.

It was almost dark. Sitar music came gently through the speakers, playing an evening raga. Candles were lit and most of the group sat rocking to and fro, lying on beanbag chairs or prone on yoga mats. Nothing had happened as a result of Robert’s flush. Nothing at all.

A candle had been set in the middle of the room. Linda was alone on a cushion, sitting in yoga posture, meditating on the flickering light. Her eyes were open and appeared radiant and enormous. She glanced at Robert without reproach. The whole episode had passed without a ripple, it was a product of Robert’s self-conscious agony.

What the hell, he thought, just do it. He found a cushion and sat next to Linda, replicating her full lotus, displaying his credentials as a yogi. His feet rested easily on his thighs and his spine straightened as he gathered the nerve to approach this gorgeous woman.

Linda’s shoulder looked velvety in the candle light. Robert gently put his fingers on her body, just the four tips of the fingers of his right hand, touching her oh so lightly. He watched Linda’s response. She didn’t flinch or move away from him. Nor did she move towards him. She was set in her own center. That’s okay, Robert thought. That’s okay. Again, his heart beat fast, his stomach turned over with anxiety. I’ve got to do this, he urged himself. I’ve got to break through my fear. You get nothing when you don’t ask. So just ask while you have the chance.

“Linda,” he said, “You’re beautiful. Your skin is amazing.”

She smiled a subtle little smile but remained facing forward. Robert was about to commit himself but he realized that he hadn’t prepared his words. How should he put it? “Linda, will you make love with me?” Or more commanding. “Linda, make love with me.” That might seem too aggressive. How about “I would love to make love to you, Linda.” Oh, that was clumsy. Love to make love. Oh fuck it. He leaned close to her and quietly spoke into her ear.  “Linda, love make me, oh, uh, you know, I really dig you, um, um, this is hard. What I mean to say is I want you to make love to you. I mean me.. I want.to make love to you. There! Whew!”

Linda’s head turned with agonizing slowness. The huge shining eyes rotated until they met Robert’s eyes. She was a sacred dakini, a deva, a goddess!

“Robert,” she said, “you’re sweet, but you’re just not my type.”

Robert squeezed the pillow, almost pulling it out from under himself. “Okay, okay, that’s cool, I understand that, it’s just that, well, okay… thanks.”

He stood up holding the pillow in front of his body, then dropped it back to the floor and walked onto the deck. He could see the last of the sun’s rays as they vanished into the starry night. His vulnerable heart opened and wept. After a time, as he watched the sky, he realized that at last he was free from all the ridiculous bullshit he had just put himself through. He didn’t have to hook up with Linda. He didn’t have to hook up with anyone.

The Milky Way was alive, writhing with creative force as gods and Buddhas contemplated the infinite void. The sky was the most beautiful thing Robert had ever seen. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Anthology Release, Winner Announcement and Pre-Call for Short Fiction Submissions

Last week saw the release of the 2021 WordCrafter paranormal anthology, Where Spirits Linger. I was pleased with he stories that are featured in this anthology. I had worked with three of the contributing authors in past anthologies, but two were new to me, including the winner of the 2021 Short Fiction Contest, Christa Planko, who sent in a wonderfully eerie piece of flash fiction, “Olde-Tyme Village”, which gives me goosebumps.

For the release, we ran a book blog tour and giveaway, which I feel was a success, resulting in a few more book sales. The winner of the WordCrafter “Where Spirits Linger” Book Blog Tour giveaway was Cindy Georgakas, who commented on Miriam Hurdle’s blog stop The Many Showers of Blessings. Cindy, if you will contact me at KLBWordCrafter@gmail.com to let me know your format preference, (epub, mobi, or pdf), I’ll be pleased to send you your free digital copy of Where Spirits Linger. Congratulations!

If you didn’t win this time, I hope you’ll drop in on our next WordCrafter Book Blog Tour. For now, you can purchase your copy of this original anthology here:

https://www.amazon.com/Where-Spirits-Linger-Lynne-Booth-ebook/dp/B09GNZJVJ5

I want your Visions

Now that Where Spirits Linger has been released, it’s time to gear up for next year’s contest. There were only six contributing authors in this year’s anthology, but next year I’m hoping to be able to include more, so I am planning to broaden the scope of the theme for 2022. In the past, WordCrafter anthologies have had paranormal themes because I’m a sucker for a good ghost story, but for 2022, I plan to broaden that out to include the fantasy, science fiction and horror genres. For Visions, your story can still have a ghost if you like, but it won’t be required. I’m announcing this ahead of time because I want you to have time to limber up your fingers and your minds, and send me your very best stories. What I’m looking for in the 2022 WordCrafter anthology are thought provoking stories that will stay with readers long after they close the book.

WordCrafter will be open for submissions beginning on January 1 through the submission deadline of May 31, 2022. The winner will receive a $25.00 Amazon gift card and their story will be featured in Visions. All finalists will also receive an invitation to be included in the anthology, which offers a small royalty share for your story contribution. My submission guidelines are pretty simple, but they are different from last year, so be sure to read and follow them carefully. Submit your story with a cover letter to KLBWordCrafter@gmail.com with “Submission: [Your Title] in the subject line and pay the $5 entry fee in the PayPal box on the submissions page, which will go up January 1st, 2022, when submissions open.

Visions: Submission Guidelines

Submission Dates: January 1st, 2022 to May 31st, 2022

Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror

Word Count: up to 10,000 words

Rights: First Anthology Rights and audio rights as part of the anthology; rights revert to author one month after publication; publisher retains non-exclusive right to include in the anthology as a whole. 

Multiple Submissions: Yes

Simultaneous Submissions: No

Submit: MS Word doc or RTF file

If you don’t know what standard manuscript format is, review, for example, https://www.shunn.net/format/classic/

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Day 6 of the WordCrafter “Where Spirits Linger” Book Blog Tour

Where Spirits Linger Book Blog Tour

To wrap-up the WordCrafter Where Spirits Linger Book Blog Tour, we have a guest post by contributing author, S.L. Kretschmer about the inspiration behind her story, “The Final Portrait”. I hope you all have enjoyed following this tour with us. Don’t forget to leave a comment. Every comment at each stop earns an entry into a random drawing for a free digital copy of Where Spirits Linger.

Guest post by S.L. Kretschmer, author of The Final Portrait

The Final Portrait evolved from prompts I received in round 1 of the 2020 NYC Midnight Short Story Competition – Ghost story, a monument, deodorant. My mind immediately flew to the Western Front of World War I and the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in Northern France. I was fortunate to have visited the memorial in 2011, boarding a bus in the French town of Lille, and travelling south towards the battlefields. Little could prepare me for the emotion I felt on the trip. The scars across the landscape, now lush and green, could be easily identified, and it was not difficult to imagine the horrific scenes of trench warfare.

Thiepval Memorial

I began to research World War I paintings and came across a particularly moving one by the Irish artist William Orpen. Orpen was an official World War I Artist, and his depiction of a soldier, bloodied and lying in an alien landscape, devoid of nature and pitted with craters and pools of fetid water, was confronting. Orpen struggled with the brutality and grisly sights he documented for those back home and claimed to have been struck by a phantom force while painting in an abandoned field.

William Orpen

These nuggets of information were gelling into a thought. What would those painted in death have thought of the depiction? Of family and friends who might recognize their loved one? Of who they were, compared to how they are remembered in this final rendering? The Final Portrait.

The Final Portrait, by S.L. Kretschmer

S. L. Kretschmer is a born and bred South Australian, recently embracing both a tree change and becoming an empty nester in the beautiful wine region of the Barossa Valley. She has a BA in Creative Writing, and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. Her stories have been featured in the anthologies A Flash of Brilliance and Tales from the Upper Room, and have also been published by Haunted Waters Press, Two Sisters Publishing, 101 Words, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Bluing the Blade and inScribe Literary Journal.

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Where Spirits Linger

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Spirits-Linger-Lynne-Booth-ebook/dp/B09GNZJVJ5

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Thanks for joining us today! And if you missed any of the blog stops along the way, you can find them at the links below. Drop by and catch the ones you missed, and leave a comment to let us know you were there and get a chance for the free didgital copy of Where Spirits Linger.

Sept. 20 – Intro./Enid’s promo – Writing to be Read/Review – Undawnted

https://writingtoberead.com/2021/09/20/welcome-to-the-wordcrafter-where-spirits-linger-book-blog-tour/

Sept. 21 – Guest Post – Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Review – The Showers of Blessings

Sept. 22 – Guest Post – Kaye Lynne Booth – Patty’s World

Sept. 23 – Interview with Christa – Roberta Writes

Sept. 24 – Guest Post – Stevie Turner/ Review – Zigler’s News

https://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2021/09/where-spirits-linger-wordcrafter-book.html

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!