"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Owl and the Compass (Flash 55)

With bloodied hands and twilight gathering, he lost himself on a road without name. Gnarled roots of ancient hemlock clogged the ditch like Gretel’s wood, and the dashboard compass spun like a weather vane. A shadow separated itself from the spinning dial and buried itself in his neck.  An owl watched from above and blinked.


The above is flash fiction in fifty-five words for the G-Man. Visit his site for more Flash 55's, and if you write one, let him know.

TGIF and Good Friday to you all.

Happy Easter.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dust It Off and Send It In

There's a feature in Poets and Writers called "Ask An Agent" wherein they pose questions to some of the best literary agents in the business. I've seen a lot of my questions answered in this forum, especially in regards to the all-important query letter.

Do you write short stories? There's a great contest at Narrative you might want to check out, but you only have until the end of the month. Ploughshares is also taking submissions for their Emerging Writer's Contest until April 1st. Write in the winter, submit in the spring, eavesdrop in the summer (and take notes), and travel in the fall. (The kids are back in school and the tourists are gone.)

Wouldn't it be nice to stick to that routine? Well, if you have a short story you never quite finished, dust it off, wrap it up, and send it in. Listen in on the world around you and write it down.

Seems March is going out in these parts the same way she came in-like Old Man Winter with a toothache, a bad attitude, and an ingrown toenail.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Demon Query

When you begin to query agents, it’s much like starting your own seedlings.  Some seeds sprout quickly, like kale (four days!) and some are slow and can take two weeks or more, like onions and parsley. Some are finicky and require perfect conditions, like peppers. 
I worry about my seeds almost as much as I worry about my query letter. I check them daily. There's so much to worry about. Did I use the right medium? It there enough light? Heat? Water? There are mistakes, like dropping a flat of newly planted basil seeds upside down on the floor. Will they ever recover and find their way up to the light?  When the fragile shoots first break the surface, you feel a joyous delirium. Your time and effort has been rewarded. To see the spindly stalks grow and develop their first set of true leaves is like developing your manuscript to a publishable level.
You don’t think you’re every ready to query. You wonder if you’ve done enough agent research. Does your hook hook? Will they like the premise or hate it?  Is your protagonist unlikeable? Your finger hovers over the send button.You pull it back and breathe. How could anyone not like him? Your finger finds the send button. You do it.

Then there is the glaring error you discover after you’ve sent out your first round of queries. You played with your first essential five pages, because you can't leave them alone. You fooled around with the first page and changed a phrase. Then changed it back because it was really, really stupid. But you forgot to save the correction. You sent the really, really stupid first page. You go to bed, happy, not knowing how stupid you are.

You awake and drink coffee and go to your other job, knowing you'll soon be a full time writer. You come home and open your documents, check email and drink something. You open up your sent folder and browse your amazing query and your agent-grabbing first pages and you see what you’ve done. The all-time most stupid phrase is right there on page one. You lean over your screen like a surgeon over the operating table. You can't believe what you see. Now what? Should you send a quick apology and explanation to the dream agent? Should you leave it alone and think they won’t notice the all-time most stupid phrase on a first page ever? 
You send the follow-up email. You kick yourself and go to bed. In the morning you soak parsley seeds in warm water. You turn on the computer and you wait.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Campfire People (A Fri. Flash 55)

The buzz of the chainsaw
interrupts her bird watching.
They cut down the woods
so they’d have a meadow.
They build fires at night and
move trees by day,
plopped here and there so prettily.
Buildings she never wanted to see
emerge through the trees.
They invite her to their campfire.
They built a meadow.


The above is 55 words for the G-Man's Friday excercise.  If you write one you should let him know so we can all read it. The sun is shining, the snow is melting off the sunny side of the porch, my basil on the windowsill has germinated, and the puppy is eating my socks and chewing on my electric cords.  Life is full.

TGIF!!