April’s First Friday Fictioneers

Friday Fictioneers LogoA short post today because I’m off to Lexington, VA for the annual Tom Wolfe Lecture series. Legendary author Tom Wolfe introduces another author of note, and faculty from Washington and Lee University provide scholarly lectures on the author’s work. This is all interwoven with great food and interesting company, and this year the featured author is Pulitzer prize winner Jennifer Egan. Her featured work is A Visit from the Good Squad.

I’m looking forward to some in-depth study of another writer’s work–and to having my copy of Goon Squad signed by the author herself.

Today’s Friday Fictioneer’s story is a prose poem–yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment–in honor of National Poetry Month. Last night we had a great, SWAG Writers poetry reading, so I must have been inspired. Poets, be kind to “Life, a Cliché.” If you don’t see the link on the title, then scroll to the top of the page, click on Friday Fictioneers. You can select this week’s offering from the drop down list.

#VaBook – Gone but Not Forgotten

Virginia Festival of the Book is aptly named, but after this, my third year of attendance, I think it more apt to title it “Virginia Festival of the Book–and Writers and Readers.” Though considerably less populated than the 12,000-person AWP Conference just two weeks before, the enthusiasm about books and their authors was just as intense. In truth, you don’t get many “readers” at AWP, but #VaBook (its Twitter hashtag) is the rare opportunity for writers and readers to mingle. In some cases, you’re a writer for one panel’s presentation then a reader for another. It’s a great showcase for writers across the country who have or whose books have Virginia roots.

My festival started on Wednesday evening with “The Ties That Bind: Family in Fiction.” Authors Wendy Shang, Lydia Netzer, Camisha Jones, Mollie Cox Bryant, and Cliff Garstang combined a discussion of this year’s The Big Read book, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, with their own works. I read that book before it was a best-seller on the recommendation of a co-worker, who is Asian and said it was as if Tan had written the friend’s biography. I found it a fascinating glimpse into a culture I knew little about, but the sometimes bizarre behavior of mothers was something I completely understood. The authors on the panel compared and contrasted how Tan used family to their use of family in their own works.

Thursday’s only session for me was “Fiction: The Art and Craft of Short Stories,” which I wanted to attend because I keep trying to convince myself there’s a future for short stories (why I’ve published three volumes of them). The panel members–Robert Day, Cliff Garstang, E. J. Levy, and Kurt Rheinheimer–are convinced the short story is undergoing a revival. Their various definitions of a short story were compelling:

“A short story is a piece of geography that spawns a character.” (Rheinheimer)

“A short story is a bomb going off.” (Levy)

“A short story focuses on a moment in time with a zoom lens.” (Garstang)

“A short story is a piece of prose fiction that has something wrong with it.” (Day)

The latter was intended to show that even short stories are never finished in the sense of revision and rewriting. The panel went on to discuss the writers who influenced them, the how and why of linked short stories, first person versus third person, and if an MFA helps your progression as a writer.

Friday was a full day for me, beginning with “Fiction: Forbidden Attraction.” Authors Maryanne O’Hara, Erika Robuck, Margaret Wrinkle, and Bill Roorbach discussed how they used captivation in each of their novels or were captivated themselves by the subjects they wrote about. In Robuck’s case, a photo of a young, Cuban girl on a dock where Hemingway hauled in his fishing catch prompted her to write Hemingway’s Girl. For Wrinkle, it was literal captivation–a novel about the taboo topic of slave breeding in the ante-bellum south. A wonderful discussion and great insights.

Next was “Fiction: Parallel Stories,” featuring authors whose novels involved two different but related timelines. I particularly wanted to attend this panel because a novel I have in rough draft involves stories in the present and in the World War II era. Dana Sachs, Tara Conklin, and Sarah McCoy discussed what compelled them to construct their works this way and the joy–and pitfalls–of research.

“Fiction: Journeys” was a panel on novels featuring road trips or metaphorical journeys by Sharon Short, Sheri Reynolds, Kathleen McCleary, and Kimberly Brock. They discussed the apparently insignificant germs of thought that inspired them, and the chemistry among these authors during discussion was fascinating and hilarious.

Unfortunately, I had to miss two other panels on Friday (“Science Fiction and Fantasy,” featuring the phenom Hugh Howey of Wool fame, and “Crime Wave: Friday Night Thrillers”) because I needed to go home and pack for an unexpected trip to Northern Virginia for a funeral. That also meant Saturday’s panels and the Book Fair I missed as well, but friendship supersedes all.

I was back Sunday in time for the only panel on which I was actually a participant–“The Magic of Words,” which was the launch event for the Blue Ridge Writers 2013 Anthology. My story, “Mourning,” appears in the anthology. Rita Mae Brown was the keynote speaker, and she gave an amazing off-the-cuff, quarter-hour dissertation on language. Fascinating. Then came the time for readings. I was fourth on the schedule, so enough time to work up a good set of nerves. Fortunately, Brown had been amusing as well instructive, so when I got a laugh out of her at the first comedic point in my reading, I relaxed. After the event, Brown came up to me and said, “Please tell me you’ll continue to write.” Yeah, floated a few inches above the ground all the way home.

I came away with a lot of good information and way too many books. Add them to the stack I brought home from AWP, and I’ll still be reading them by the end of the year. But that’s a good thing.

I can’t wait for #VaBook14! And who knows, maybe there’s a panel out there with my name on it!

AWP13 – Day Two

Boston’s snow today (eight to ten inches) was beautiful–from the inside looking out. I was ever so grateful that AWP is all in one building and I can walk to Hynes convention center, about a block and a half away from my hotel, entirely on sky-walks and through shopping malls. There’s something efficient about the states in the northern latitudes–by the time the snow stopped this afternoon, the roads and sidewalks were clear.

I started the morning off with “Purpose and the Practical in Historical Writing,” something of interest to me because I write the historical thriller, or so genre assigning says. The planned moderator Anne Keesey got held up by the bad weather, so Marshall Klimasewiski (Tyrants: Stories) managed the panel of Peter Ho Davies (The Welsh Girl), Emily Barton (Brookland), and Zachary Lazar (Sway). A great discussion of how they became interested in historical fiction, how to define it, and when to stop researching and write.

I slipped from the first session during the audience Q&A to head to a craft panel called “Art of the Ending,” or bringing your work to a successful conclusion. The room was already so full, the fire marshal once again wouldn’t allow anyone inside until some people left. That wasn’t happening, so I moved on to “This is Your Brain on Fiction.” This was an excellent discussion of how the human brain processes fiction. It turns out when a writer has done a good job, the brain reacts as if it’s seen something real. The moderator and panelists (Susan Hubbard, Brock Adams, Hillary Casavant, John Henry Fleming, and John King) gave their opinions on this, and where it was more for the neurologists in the room, it was food for thought. The brain just skips over cliches, for example, but describe something texturally, and it lights up.

As I walked to meet some writer friends for lunch, I passed Seamus Heaney in a hallway. He gave me a nod and a great Irish smile, and I think I kept my composure. I’m sure he nods politely to every middle-aged woman who gawps at him, but I’d like to think he saw the Irish in me. Still, it was the highlight of the day.

After lunch I dropped some things (translation–went shopping in the mall) off in my room and fully intended to head back for “Story Autopsy: How I Wrote a Novel in Three Days and Adapted It into a Movie,” but, well, I fell asleep. I did make it to “Style and Story: Balancing Form and Content in the Short Story.” The planned moderator, Jessica King, was also absent because of weather, but her replacement moderator never introduced himself. However, he did introduce the panel, Ted Sanders, Josh Cohen, and Susan Steinberg, all authors of short story collections and whose style has been deemed “experimental” by critics. The discussion of which comes first–form (chicken) or style (egg)–was lively and provocative, and each author read a bit from their work.

A little more shopping and it was back to the room to prep for tomorrow’s sessions:

0900 – 1015     A Room of Our Own: How to Make the Most of (or Create) a Writer’s Workspace
1030 – 1145     Women in Crime
1200 – 1315     Career Suicide
1330 – 1445     Numbers Trouble: Editors and Writers Speak to VIDA’s Count
1500 – 1615     Master of None: Surviving and Thriving without an MFA
1630 – 1745     Shadow Show: Writers and Teachers on the Influence of Ray Bradbury

Friday Fictioneers – In Like a Lion?

Friday Fictioneers LogoIt’s the first day of March, which is the first day of meteorological spring, and at least in my part of the world, it hasn’t come in like a lion. However, there were snow flurries last night. Welcome to the world of climate change.

But coming in like a lion is today’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. As you’ll see it’s unusual, but certainly thought-provoking. I can’t wait to read other Friday Fictioneers’ creations.

Early March does mean the AWP Conference. (AWP is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.) This year it’s in Boston, MA, one of my favorite U.S. cities, and, like Chicago last year, I’ll be among 10,000 other writers. Since I’ve made a nice group of writer friends on-line, from conferences and workshops, and from AWP last year, it’ll be a great time for a reunion, not to mention some chowdah!

Next Friday will be the peak of the conference, so I hope I can find some time for Friday Fictioneers. It’s a tradition now, and who likes change anyway?

Today’s story is “Eye of the Beholder,” and if you don’t see the link on the title, scroll to the top of the page, click on the Friday Fictioneers tab, and select the title from the drop-down menu.

Oh, and back to the stretching yourself as a writer I posted about on Monday? Today’s offering is another first for me–young adult.

Roanoke Regional Writers Conference – Part Two

On Saturday, after the great Friday evening social hour and opening events, we got down to the nitty-gritty. The first session started at 0830, and there were three possibilities to choose from: “Ten Things You Can Do Now to Promote the Book You Haven’t Even Sold Yet,” presented by Gina Holmes and River Laker; “Why New Media Changes the Way We Write and What We Can Do About It,” presented by Bill Kovarik from Radford University; and “Writing Cookbooks,” by Waynesboro, VA, author Mollie Cox Bryan.

I chose Kovarik’s presentation on New Media, which was a brief primer on social media. We introduced ourselves and told how involved we were in social media, which ones we used, etc. I was surprised by the number of people much younger than I who were terrified or who lacked knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. So much for the Gen-Xers and Millennials who are supposedly the most cyber-smart of us all. Kovarik did a fascinating measurement of the number of monks it would take to produce the amount of information moved about in one day on the Internet. He used monks because they were the ones who first delved in media by reproducing by hand the Bible and other, then-rare books. Basically, it would take billions and billions (sorry, Carl Sagan) of monks to generate the information we have access to today, but it was a fascinating way to show how media have grown over a couple of millennia.

We got into a debate about whether we, as writers, adapt to technology or whether it adapts to us and concluded it was probably a little of both, but Kovarik got the point across that today’s social media “has changed the way we write, publish, and promote,” and that we definitely need to adapt to media as they evolve.

The second morning session offered “Refining the Pitch for Your Book,” presented by Neil Sagebiel; “Writing Humor,” presented by Michael Miller; “Legal Protections for Writers,” presented by Roanoke attorney Erin Ashwell; and “The No B. S. Guide to Networking,” presented by Sarah Beth Jones, a freelance writer.

Because I’m in the process of developing a query letter to obtain an agent, I opted for “Refining the Pitch for Your Book.” This was perhaps the only disappointment for the conference. The conference brochure clearly said, “Refining the Pitch for Your Book,” but the presentation itself was “Refining the Pitch for Your Non-Fiction Book.” And the presenter noted the process was somewhat different, namely when you’re pitching a non-fiction book, it doesn’t really have to be completed. The agent bases his or her decision on  a lengthy and detailed proposal. Why didn’t I leave? Well, climbing over a row of people in an auditorium would have been too obvious, and Sagebiel had an interesting story to tell of how he turned his love of golf into a best-selling book about a little-known but significant event in golf history.

In the third and final morning session, we could choose from “Marketing Your Own Work,” presented by Kathleen Grissom; “Self-Publishing How and Why,” presented by Brooke McGlothlin; “Memoir: What’s So Important about Your Life?” presented by Judy Ayylidiz; and “Making Your Photos Better,” presented by Christina Koomen.

I’d enjoyed Grissom’s keynote address from the evening before, I attended her session. Grissom indicated after she finished a draft of her novel, The Kitchen House, she set out to understand “the business of publishing.” Through trial and error, she learned that one of the most important aspects of that business is “don’t send a manuscript out too soon,” which she sees as the reason for all her early rejections. By chance she encountered another writer in the town where she lived, and that writer became her mentor, assisting her with a re-write and a second, successful agent-querying round.

However, Grissom may have a leg up on the rest of us: She had previously worked in marketing and promotion and had built a career doing that. She did, though, explain to us how she took that knowledge and applied it to marketing and promoting her book. For example, once she developed a list of bloggers who reviewed books, she familiarized herself with the blogs, contacted the blogger directly and sent review copies, then followed up. When she got a review, she sent a thank-you to the reviewer, whether it was a good review or not, and she followed any comments on the review–and responded to them.

Grissom also made personal contact with independent book stores and libraries within a three-hour drive of where she lived, i.e., she went to those places and gave a copy of her book, then set up a reading or signing event on the spot. She also emphasized the use of social media– “Make sure each book has its own Facebook page”–and drove home the importance of positive interaction with commenters on social media.

Yes, a busy morning with lots of note-taking, discussion, and great ideas. In Part Three, we’ll move on to the equally busy afternoon sessions.

A New Book Review

It has been a while since I’ve found an indie-published book I wanted to read, much less review. I started out doing that last year, and, with a few exceptions, it was so dismal, I gave it up.

I’ve reviewed one of those exceptions, All That Is Necessary, by Jennie Coughlin, here. If you don’t see the link, click on the Book Reviews tab above and select it from the drop down list.

I hope you’ll agree this is one indie book you’ll be hard-pressed to differentiate between it and a traditionally published one.

Oh, and look for an author interview with Ms. Coughlin here next week.

Let the Querying Begin

This, the first full week of the new year, I go down a new path on the journey to publication–querying an agent. Yes, I hyperventilate a bit at the thought.

Well more than a decade ago, I thought I had a manuscript in good enough shape to query agents. Armed with my copy of Writer’s Digest’s guide to literary agents, I made a careful selection of about ten who accepted work in my genre (historical thriller), who would look at the work of unpublished authors, and whatever other criteria I thought would make us a good match.

Since these were the days before electronic submissions and Submitable, I dutifully made ten copies of the first thirty pages of the manuscript, and I wrote a query letter (based on samples I’d seen in Writer’s Digest and other writing magazines) individual to each prospective agent. I prepared ten self-addressed, stamped envelopes with the correct postage and ten envelopes for each query package, again with the correct postage. The clerks at the Kingstowne, VA, Post Office got to know me well.

The now-ex and I spent a Saturday morning stuffing said envelopes, and we were rather giddy as we trekked to the Post Office and dropped them in the mail box. The now-ex was always very supportive of my writing–seeing as how a lot of my non-fiction had bolstered his career a few times–but he was also good at bringing me down to earth when I needed it. “Don’t expect an answer from anyone on Monday, or Wednesday, or Friday,” he said. “You said yourself, these things take time.”

Good advice, which, of course, I ignored when I eagerly checked my mail box upon returning home from work each day. I think it took about two weeks for the first reply to come in–of course, blah, blah, be happy to represent you, blah, blah, blah, for a fee.

I was a novice in the getting fiction published market at that point but not so ignorant to know that agents who expect fees up front are not being ethical. I went back to the literary agent “bible,” and this particular company did not indicate that it wanted an up-front fee. I tossed the response and considered it a rejection.

Of the ten queries I sent out, I got responses from six, all rejections. Of them, only two used the SASE to return the manuscript sample. Those two arrived within a day of each other, each with a hand-scribbled “No Thanks” at the top of the page. Both had a note: one said, “Like your writing, hate the concept,” and the other said, “Love the concept, dislike your writing.” Helpful. Not.

That exercise was so ego-bending–but necessary–that it put me off querying until now. However, I look back on it and realize it happened just the way it should have. That manuscript was in no way ready for anyone’s consideration and, in fact, has gone through so many revisions and reorganizations it’s unrecognizable as the draft I thought was a gem.

Time passes, I’ve educated myself better about the querying process, and now it’s time to try again. I have, however, been to enough agent panels at writing conferences to know it’s all subjective. It all depends on the agent’s mood on a particular day, whether he or she has had a fight with a spouse or child, whether he or she has had a spate of great queries or horrible ones, and many other conditions the writer has no way of knowing.

In other words, it’s a crap shoot. An agent described it that way at a “First Pages” workshop I attended last year, and it was a relief that an agent was so honest about the process.

So, why bother? Well, because I want to give traditional publishing a good chance before I go completely over to what some would characterize as the dark side of publishing. I have published on my own three collections of short stories, mainly because I know querying a collection of short stories, and in particular genre short stories, is almost a guaranteed rejection. My novels, however, are a different matter. I want to give them a try at traditional publishing.

This year, then, will be the year of the Query Letter. I’m not going to do a ten-agent blast mailing this time, mainly because most queries are now electronic, but I am going to do a lot of careful research and select two or three at a time to query. And this time, I do have a manuscript, which has gone through two revisions and my critique group, in really good shape. It’s not the one from all those years ago, which morphed into a trilogy (I know; yikes), but it’s one I’m proud of and willing to toss into the consideration pool.

You won’t ever win the pot unless you roll the dice.

Countdown to NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month begins in just under nine hours where I live, but it’s already kicked off in other parts of the world. For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month–or NaNoWriMo–is a pure fun project where you write a 50,000-word novel draft in thirty days. You “win” by reaching at least 50,000 words on or before 2359 on November 30. You can download web badges, get pep talks by video, enjoy local write-ins, and generally have a good time writing.

The Office of Letters and Light is the non-profit that sponsors NaNoWriMo to highlight the art and craft of writing and to raise money for school programs to encourage kids to write.

An excuse to write and donating to a great cause, and NaNoWriMo lives up to its tag line: “Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon!”

Many writers have turned their NaNoWriMo novels into published work–after editing and revising, of course. Some, unfortunately, have self-published their work immediately after writing and omitting the key steps of editing and revising, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact it’s very liberating to sit down and just write for writing’s sake for thirty days, knowing revising and editing can wait for a calmer time.

I almost didn’t participate this year because I’m prepping two other manuscripts–one for a contest and one to publish in December–but I managed to get both MSS ready ahead of schedule, despite having a cold.

So, I’ll have leftover Hallowe’en candy for snacks, plenty of coffee, a fully charged laptop, and an idea I came up with back in the spring that I can now flesh out. I’ll crank Sat Radio or my iPod up to full volume and put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.

And I’ll write, and it’ll be fun, until the end of the day and the word counter hasn’t hit 1,667. (To get to 50,000 words in 30 days, you have to write at least 1,667 words per day.) Plus, I’ll be an election officer on November 6, so no writing that day, unless it’s all over quickly and the poll numbers add up.

If you’ve never NaNoWriMo’ed before, give it a try. It’s never too late to subject yourself to such exquisite torture.

 

James River Writers Conference 2012

As with anything that’s successful and grows, change can be upsetting to some. James River Writers had held its annual writers conference at the Library of Virginia for several years. As a first-time attendee at last year’s conference, I saw it was obvious the conference had outgrown the Library, wonderful venue that it is. Last minute room switching because some presentations were more popular than others meant clogged hallways and confusion.

The Greater Richmond Convention Center hosted this year’s James River Writers Conference (the tenth!), and I was pleased. Light, roomy, airy, the space almost made the conference seem small, but the meeting rooms were larger, as was the exhibit space. The conference fee this year included lunch for both days of the conference, which was very convenient, and the food wasn’t too bad either. Also, the conference was part of the Virginia Literary Festival this year, and it’s a good fit.

Still, there were plenty of people who lamented not being at the Library of Virginia, but some people just can’t handle change. I, for one, am pleased to see the success of James River Writers’ annual conference. It has the potential to be a showcase event for the Commonwealth–and heaven knows we need to emphasize our contributions to the arts since we’re stuck back in the 19th century in so many other areas.

I attended a total of six workshops over the two days, all good, but one in particular stood out: Writing Diversity. I almost didn’t go to this one, and am I glad I changed at the last minute. I had slated myself to go to “Publishing Industry Issues Demystified,” but when I arrived at the conference on Sunday morning, I realized this would probably be repetition of several articles/blogs I’ve already read on the publishing industry. “Your Day Job and Your Book,” wherein you learn how to apply project management concepts to writing, seemed too much like my old job, and “How to Survive a Plot Collapse” just didn’t sound appealing. So, “Writing Diversity” it was.

The description didn’t do this workshop justice: “Panelists discuss the importance of diversity in fiction and nonfiction, issues of cultural appropriation, and ways they write people of many ages, ethnicities, classes, and more.” It was a powerful discussion of why literature should reflect the make-up of society and a challenge to writers to write outside the boundaries we find so comforting.

The panelists were Jonathan Coleman, Camisha L. Jones, Malinda Lo, and Lila Quintero Weaver. They are, respectively, an older white guy, an African-American poet, an Asian who proudly describes herself as “queer,” and a Latina, who lived the life of a South American immigrant in rural Alabama. That’s probably the most diverse panel I’ve encountered in two years of attending writers conferences.

The panelists told us that by sticking to characters who reflect us (in my case, a middle-aged white woman), we limit our focus as writers, and in that aspect we limit our voice. There was understanding of the reluctance to write a character who’s gay but you’re straight, who’s ethnic but you’re not, but, as Malinda Lo said, you can overcome that by “doing your research.” Lo emphasized that the overall civil rights struggle is ongoing, especially for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people. “There is a need,” she said, “for stories where it’s okay to be gay, stories that normalize what we now consider the ‘other.'”

Most of the panel directed their remarks to writers of young adult or middle-grade fiction with an emphasis on showing those age groups strong characters who are like them. Jones said by doing this, writers “help people see one another’s humanity” through their stories.

A question from the audience encompassed what many of us were thinking: If you write about a character you’re not, will you be taken seriously? Coleman replied, “If your writing is good, if it’s your best work, you’ll be taken seriously. Just don’t over think it, and take a risk.”

Jones added, “Just because you’re white doesn’t mean you can’t write about diversity. I would like to see stories by white people about the pressure on them to conform to racism. That’s an important story to tell.”

Weaver said, “When you don’t see yourself reflected in literature, it’s not interesting to you. You have to have characters who look like all your potential readers.”

The final question engendered a passionate response from Lo. A writer indicated that she deliberately wrote characters for her middle-grade books so their gender and ethnicity were “ambiguous” and asked if that weren’t the better way, so any child could see themselves in the story.

“Say what a character’s race is,” Lo said, “because ambiguity reads as white. A character should not be a blank person.”

I could have gone to a day-long workshop on this subject with these panelists, and this was one panel whose challenge I’ve accepted. This panel and these writers, more than anything, made this conference a complete success for me.

Spy Flash – Week 25

Within the next week, I’ll have accumulated half a year of stories in response to Jennie Coughlin’s Rory’s Story Cube Challenge. (I got behind and combed two weeks into one story, which is why there will be twenty-five stories instead of twenty-six.) About three months into the Challenge, I decided I’d amass the stories into a collection and publish the collection via Kindle Direct Publishing. Short story collections are notoriously hard to be picked up by publishers, and add in the fact that these short stories are flash fiction and mostly fall in the “thriller” genre, and Kindle Direct was the only logical answer.

But Kindle Direct has helped in a revival of short stories for both traditionally published writers and self-published ones. Kindle Singles started out as essays, but many publishers, and authors, saw it was an easy to get a short story published. Many traditionally published authors come under pressure from their publishers to keep their name before the reading public between books, and Kindle Singles fit that bill as well.

But I digress. Once I started putting together the manuscript, I saw it had a certain incoherence if I left the stories in the order in which they appeared in this blog. I spent some time deciding when each occurred. For a few that was obvious because the story wouldn’t have context without the date. One story’s title is a date, after all. Once I assembled the stories in more or less chronological order, they had a certain flow. Good decision, that.

The novel in stories is quite popular lately. From Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad) to Molly Ringwald (When It Happens to You), novels in stories have made a mark. Writer friend Cliff Garstang’s new book, What the Zhang Boys Know, is another example of a novel in stories. Basically, each story can stand alone, and, in fact, most of Garstang’s twelve stories in this book were published separately in literary journals before the novel came out. For the work to be considered a novel in stories, each of them has to be a piece of a larger or overarching story arc.

Can you have a novel in flash fiction stories? We’ll see.

This is last week’s roll of the cubes: 

This is what I saw: l. to r. – ringing a doorbell; a hand; a UFO attacking (this one was tough); gifting/giving a present; a water fountain; a tree; the letter L; clothes drying/clothes hanging on a line; falling.

As a lot of my fiction does, the story, “Closure,” involves a recent historical event, which becomes obvious early if you remember your recent history.

As usual, if you can’t see the link on the title “Closure” above, go to the top of this post and click on the Spy Flash tab then select the story from the drop-down menu.