Friday? It’s Friday Fictioneers!

I love it when people buy your book then send you an e-mail telling you they love it. That made my writerly week, I tell you. My collection of short stories is almost twelve years old, but the stories still resonate. That’s what every writer wants, to have people find their work meaningful. I’ve recently transcribed that book, Rarely Well Behaved, so that I can publish it on Amazon as an eBook. My proofreader had a wonderful suggestion: break it up into two or three eBooks with stories of the same genre in each book. What a great idea. I got started on it right away.

At my local writers’ group (SWAG Writers) open mic on Wednesday, I read a short piece which was a flash fiction exercise to write a story about an article of clothing. As soon as I saw the exercise, I remembered my mother complaining about the prosthetic bra she was supposed to wear after her mastectomy some thirty years ago, and the story happened. After I read the story, women in the audience, and a couple of men, came up to me to tell me how meaningful it was to them.

So, all in all, a good week for the writer-me, and now it’s capped off by Friday Fictioneers!

Here’s this week’s inspiration photo:

And I’m sure you know where I’m going with this story:

Appearances are Deceiving

He lured the child into the tunnel with the promise of Harry Potter.

“It’s like the train station. You go through the wall to get to the Hogwarts Express,” he said. “Come on, if you want to see.

He knew she followed him without question; he was her father’s friend.

“You’re not afraid of the dark, are you?” he asked, midway through the tunnel, where no one would see.

“Not at all,” she said.

He spun around at the sound of an adult’s voice.

She willed the disguise spell away and stood before him, a warrior now, with a blade.


If you want to read more 100-word flash fiction by other Friday Fictioneers, go to Madison Woods’ blog.

Another Friday Fictioneers!

And Friday rolls around again, and it’s a busy day. Friday Reads, a hair appointment (yeah, I’m hiding my age as long as possible), and–drum roll–Friday Fictioneers! After a lifetime of working, Friday was always my favorite day of the week. Friday Fictioneers is just icing.

I’m sure a shrink would have a field day with my psyche, given the fact that Madison Woods posts these beautiful pictures of nature, and my mind immediately goes to the Apocalypse. It has to be all those sci-fi B-movies I saw as a kid, but today’s 100-word fiction will just prove I’m eccentric. In a good way.

Here’s the lovely photo:

And here’s yet another end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it story.


The beauty of the sunrise let him ignore reality.

Inside his cave, he had supplies to keep him for months, perhaps a year, and the river meant fresh water.

He wondered how long before survivors made it this far. By the time that happened, starvation and survival at all costs would have rendered them something less than human. That thought made him check his weapons and ammunition again.

But he would have some time before he had to face the inevitable. Until then, he had the murmuring river, a soft wind rustling the leaves, and the beauty of the sunrise.


I’m really not a survivalist, and I don’t really think we’re doomed. Honest. Anyway, go on over to Madison Woods’ blog and read some 100-word fiction from normal people.

Friday Fictioneers–Yay!

Friday again, and that means Friday Fictioneers–a great reason to look forward to the weekend.

This week’s story is more personal than my usual fare, but the picture connected precisely with an event in my life that happened thirty years ago. Here’s the photo:

And here’s the story, which, technically, is fiction:

The Last Place Father Was Alive

The Irish in her made her walk the land one last time before it sold.

Liam was at her side, where he always was, camera in hand so she would have memories.

She stopped when she rounded the bend and saw it. Liam jogged ahead, camera up and snapping. He shifted to shoot from different angles.

She thought that damned truck had gone to the junk yard. If she’d known they’d just hauled it down here where she would find it…

“Take a look at this,” Liam called to her.

The shake of her head was slight, and he knew.

A little cryptic, I know. If you’re curious, contact me by e-mail, and I’ll explain.

In the meantime, check out more Friday Fictioneers at Madison Woods’ blog.

Friday Fictioneers – I’m Back!

As much fun and as much as I learned at the American Writers and Writing Program Conference last week, I really missed doing my 100-word story for Friday Fictioneers. Moreover I couldn’t wait until Wednesday rolled around to see the picture, and, wow, the story popped right into my head. I almost couldn’t wait until Friday.

For a review of a chapbook I purchased at the conference click on: Book Review – Betty Superman.

Here’s the inspiration photo from Madison Woods:

The following story is dedicated to friends who served in Vietnam. By the way, in the story I use a term which some may find offensive, but it is a historically accurate term used by U.S. soldiers in that war.

Reluctant Sojourn

I never liked working on the plumbing in an older house. The cellars and crawlspaces were damp; their fetid smell stirred memories best kept hidden. I needed this job, so I went in.

The day was cold. Fear made me sweat, and the corrugated ceiling put me back in the box where Charlie kept me during my reluctant sojourn in the Hanoi Hilton, the old one, not the Hanoi Hilton Opera there now, a real hotel.

I kept my eyes away from the air hole. If I looked, Charlie would be looking back, like he does in my dreams.


For more 100-word stories by Friday Fictioneers, go to Madison Woods’ blog and have a read.


The interview question a writer of any renown hates to hear is, “Where do you come up with your ideas?” or some variant thereof. That’s a process difficult to explain, so it’s easy to say, “From my family,” or “From life.” But those answers are a bit glib, perhaps disingenuous to someone who sincerely wants to know how you do it to enhance their craft.

Every writer has to answer that question–or not–from his or her own background. When I was getting some counseling after my father’s death, the therapist suggested journaling. Yes, I journal-ed before journaling was cool. She told me to, as one presenter at AWP advised, “vomit words on the page.” Many of those journal items became stories in my collection of short stories, Rarely Well-Behavedwhich was published in 2000. Other stories in the collection, however, just “came to me.” Yeah, that’s a technical term.

When I write short stories I’m a bit of a seat of the pants writer. I start with a picture, a word, or a snippet of conversation I’ve overheard and expand on it. I let it go wherever it wants, and sometimes that works. My short story “Trophies,” published in the February issue of eFiction Magazine started out as a writing exercise inspired by hand-fishing–from the fish’s point of view. Then it moved to a character with aspects of my brother and my father, and that character did something that a friend’s stepfather did years ago. In the end, the catching-fish-from-the-fish’s-POV got canned (a good thing), and the story got refined and published.

Sometimes the seat of the pants approach doesn’t work. Last year, I wrote a short piece about a tree that falls on a house, in response to a writing prompt from a magazine. The tree’s falling brought out pent-up emotions in a suburban community not unlike where I lived in Northern Virginia. Those hidden emotions boil over, and a slaughter occurs. I workshopped it and got some good feedback, then one person just went off on why I’d written such a “stupid mess.” I was going for quirky, psychological horror, but he excoriated the story, me, and why I’d ever thought I was a writer. Threw me for a loop, I’ll tell you. I haven’t been able to look at the story since, even though I thought it was a good piece of flash fiction. Who knows? Maybe I’ll overcome the clench in my stomach and have a second look at some point.

Almost every Friday, I write a 100-word story inspired by a photograph posted by Madison Woods, and since I’m a more visual person, I generally get more inspired by looking at something than by a word or a phrase. When I see the picture, the story plays out in my head, which is cool, but my mother used to think it was weird.

I’ve learned a lot about craft from the workshops I’ve attended at writing conferences, including the recent AWP conference, but I’ve also filed away conversations I overheard in Kitty O’Shea’s, physical descriptions of some of the unique people I observed, and a great talk I had with a cab driver on the way to O’Hare on Sunday. All fodder for the imagination.

Life, death, friends, family, your physical surroundings–all of them can have a story that needs to be told, so tell it.

What inspires you? Are you a story planner or a seat of the pants writer? Do you see the story in your head, or does it just come from the fingers on the keyboard?

Second Post of the Day! That’s a Record!

You didn’t think I’d forget Friday Fictioneers, did you?

Here’s the inspiration photo. I’ll admit nothing came to me right away, then, duh, it was obvious.

And here’s the story.

Nut Case

Perfect disguise, they told me. No one will ever notice you, they said.

And I bought it. I put the cynicism aside and went along with our astro-geeks’ plan for observing the bipedal, indigenous life on the exo-planet they found. Their arguments were convincing, I’ll admit, but I should have listened to the little voice in my head that said, “What? Are they nuts?” Uh, no pun intended.

I mean, I understand you can’t land the mothership in someone’s backyard and do the “Take me to your leader” thing. I get that.

But why didn’t they notice the damned squirrels?

Want more 100-word fiction? Go to Madison Woods‘ blog and have fun reading them.

Friday Flash Fiction Returns!

I took a little break from Friday Flash Fiction last week to do a Veterans Day tribute, though I had some great ideas for the inspiration photo of a budding corpse flower.

Today’s inspiration photo is a subject close to my own heart. The picture evoked great memories of idling summer Saturdays away on horseback or riding the farm with my Dad. So, here’s the photo:

And here’s the 100-word (exactly!) story, which I call, “Constancy.”
Her loyalty had no end. It would transcend death. Always at my side, ready when I’m ready, rests when I need it, offers kindness. We complete each other. We are extensions of each other by choice not demand.
We can have companionable silence, or we can communicate without words, with a touch, a nudge. And, oh, how we’ve traveled. Uncountable miles, over stream and hedge. Fences do not stop us. We love the open field best. Speed, and the desire for it, is the gift we share.
Still, I can’t help wonder how she manages on just two, spindly legs.
Questions, comments? To read more 100-word stories, go to Madison Woods blog,