New Fiction: Anyone But Me

I get to live forever…well…for a really long time. That was, after all, the crux of the deal. It’s why I sought Jonas out. And like the fool he knew I would be, I hadn’t asked him what the catch was. Don’t get me wrong – there would have been a catch even if I had asked. I know what happens when you make deals with the devil, ask favors from genies,  wish on a Monkey’s Paw. But that’s part of their magic – they make you think you’re the one – the one person in all of history – who could game the system.

“Ugh. Are you thinking about our deal again? Boring!”

I hate him.

Jonas circles around me again. “So, who’s it going to be this time, Shalini?”

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New Fiction: Anyone But Me

Writing for Readers vs. Writing for an Audience

I’ve started writing short stories and reading them at an open mic. I’m becoming aware that there can be a difference between writing a short story that I would like to be read by a reader, and writing a short story that I intend to read out loud for an audience. I find myself trying to  balance two competing urges: Writing a story and writing a script. I want to write a story that can be read on its own, and I want to perform a story for an audience.

For instance, today I struggled with wording that went something sorta kinda like this:

“You don’t have to do that.” His voice dropped lower. “I could make it go away.”

If I was writing that for a reader, stating that his voice dropped lower is essential – I’m not aware of many ways to tell you that his voice dropped lower without telling you that his voice dropped lower.

But I was writing this knowing that I would probably perform it, and I don’t want to say “his voice dropped lower” – I want to actually drop my voice lower when I’m reading his line. To help me remember to do that my short story now has notes that I’ll want to rewrite after I’ve performed it.

“You don’t have to do that.” (drop voice lower) “I could make it go away.”

I want that visual cue, because if I forget to lower my voice during the reading, I might deliver a different message to the audience than I intended when I was writing it. Which probably wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Or – also from a performance/live reading perspective, I could just leave it as the original:

“You don’t have to do that.” His voice dropped lower. “I could make it go away.”

…and then fluctuate my voice to drop lower as I’m reading “His voice dropped lower.” I’m guessing this is how audiobooks and author readings work.

I do actually find this all to be quite exciting and fun. It’s not stressful; this is more like:


Image is the "do ALL the things!" meme (allie brosh - excited cartoon person holding a broom and punching the air in excitement) with the text "Play with all the possibilities"

Any of you writer-type people run into this? If so, what have been your thoughts?

Writing for Readers vs. Writing for an Audience

Fiction: First Kiss

Random flip through the writing prompts book landed  on “What was your first kiss like?” I don’t like writing romance, so I twisted it through the lens of speculative fiction, but still ended up in the middle of a love story. I let it sit for a few weeks on my hard drive, unattended, unloved (take that, romance story!). But tonight I’m going to a speculative fiction open mic and I wanted to have a story completed for that, so last night I threw on some headphones and made it happen. Still not sure if I’m in love with my romance, but the story has been told.

First Kiss

Michael smiled when he saw him. Jim was everything he could want for his first conshare. They say the melding of minds can’t be described – that it has to be experienced – but Michael had spent countless hours imagining what it would be like when he would finally take Jim into his arms. There would be no awkwardness or hesitation, just a soft kiss that would deepen until they began to fall into each other’s thoughts and dreams. He wondered how far he and Jim would allow each other to go. Jim usually displayed a cheerful optimism, but Michael sensed a sadness in him, a complexity that would paint their conshare with a rich velvet undertone that could stay with him for days afterward. Or perhaps longer.

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Fiction: First Kiss

Storytime: Rift Park

From my 500 Writing Prompts bookWhile at the beach you decide to write a message in a bottle. What would it say? Who would you like to find it?

“It’s just over this hill.”

“How can you be sure, Michael? It looks like the last eighteen hills that we passed.”

“It’s only been three.”

“Felt like eighteen.”

“There! Jeff – do you see it? Oh, Jeff, we’ve really found it this time!”

“Well hell, Michael. We could have found it a heck of a lot sooner if we’d taken the map at the entrance. The ranger said it showed walking paths and a parking lot just a half mile from here.”

“Whatever. This was more fun. An adventure for an adventure!”

“You’d think speaking to people on the other side of the world by bottle would be adventure enough.”

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Storytime: Rift Park

Writing for Fun

Tonight I went to Barnes and Noble and brought home quite the diverse haul: a collection of Lovecraft stories, a SparkChart on the Bible, a book of origami paper, one of them trendy “adult” coloring books, Carl Zimmer’s Science Ink. And this:

A simple red book entitled "500 WRITING PROMPTS"

I’ve recently attended several fiction-focused conventions and have been talking about writing and thinking about writing and social media-ing about writing. And so maybe I’ll do some writing.

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Writing for Fun

From the Draft Bin: Moving Mom

It’s amazing to me how much writing I do that gets thrown out, abandoned, forgotten or taken out back with a shovel and buried. I have written volumes will never, ever see the light of day or be stored anywhere on a computer. These are the cathartic writings, the nonsensical, the mopey drunk poetry, the overly passionate or sappy, the erotic, the angry screaming devoid of logic, the hurt, pathetic whining. The ugliness, the ecstasy, the doubts, the fragile dreams, the hate – these that are or have been part of my human experience have lived here. These are mine – creations that are rarely revisited, if they are saved at all.

I have a relationship with writing – it is there with me through the good times, the horrible times, and the bored, listless times. When I don’t know where to turn, I have writing. When I am in agony I can write, and almost blindly the pain flows from my fingers onto the page. Afterwards I still hurt, but the pain is now a thing that can be examined from an outside perspective. I have wielded my writing skillfully and clumsily; it has been my salvation, and once my damnation. I love writing – and just now I refuse to not be romantic about it!

But there are also the more generic false starts – or the true starts left incomplete. There are articles started with the best of intentions that grow obsolete in the fast-paced environment of instant communication. There are events that I have attempted to describe, but upon editing I felt that I failed to capture them adequately, truly or objectively. There are writings that I have doubted would be well-received in a public venue. There are articles that I wanted to write, started to write, but in the end was unsure of how to bring everything together.

What I’m saying is…I have a lot of shit in my draft folder.

And while I was digging around in there, I found this one about the first leg of last year’s adventure in moving mom out to Maryland. I like the photos of the planes. I think it stayed in draft because I had lofty dreams about capturing the entire move. But that’s okay.


Last Wednesday began the great cross-country adventure of moving Mom to Hagerstown, Maryland. My contribution to the entire process was pretty minimal. Mom had nearly everything packed by the time I arrived on Wednesday, and she had hired movers to pack everything in a truck, get it to Maryland, and bring everything into the new house. I showed up on Wednesday, did some light cleaning at the old house, helped wrangle animals and drive the 13 hours east, ran some errands in Hagerstown, hung out with Mom and my sister, gave my brother-in-law a hug and then flew back home on Sunday.

That’s the TL;DR version. On a more leisurely note:

I flew down to southern Illinois on Wednesday morning. The waking up at 4:30am for the 7:05am flight kinda sucked, but I enjoy plane travel and being in airports so the suckiness was offset by travel excitement. There are no direct flights to Carbondale, IL. When I have flown down in the past, I have landed in St. Louis, Missouri and then either driven a rental car from the airport or been picked up by Mom. However, the drive from St. Louis to Carbondale is about two hours, and because time and resources were precious this time I did something different.

Cape Air runs a short distance plane service between St. Louis and smaller airports in Illinois. For $50 I was able to book a flight on a “puddle jumper” from St. Louis to Marion, Illinois, which is only a 20-minute drive from Carbondale.  It was a neat process. When I exited my plane from Minneapolis, I had to find a courtesy phone and let an agent know that I had a Cape Air connection. A driver was sent over to where I had made the call, and then I and one other person were escorted down to a shuttle on the tarmac and driven over to the Cape Air gate. We had a chance to see parts of the airport that I usually don’t see.

Cape Air Cesna planes
The planes parked outside of the Cape Air gate.

The plane that I would board, headed for Marion, Illinois
Look at this little Cessna! It’s cute ‘cuz it’s tiny!

Flying in the Cessna was a blast. Only I and one other passenger were on my flight. When it came time to board we were led across the tarmac and climbed on board the small plane. The captain said to sit wherever we wanted in the eight- (or was it ten?) seat cabin, so I sat in the row directly behind the copilot’s chair and was able to see the entire instrument panel. This was the first time I have seen someone actually fly a plane. It was awesome to watch the pilot steer with the yoke and rudder pedals, move the throttle levers during takeoff, and to see the controls and indicators adjust with the movements of the plane when we were in the sky.

When we landed in Marion I was met by my Aunt and Uncle, of whom I see far too little. They drove me directly to Carbondale and delivered me to the chaos that was churning at Mom’s soon-to-be-sold house. They left almost immediately, and I promised that we would stop by their house to say goodbye before we left town. The atmosphere at the house was explosive. Four moving people were hauling the last of boxes and heavy furniture to the moving truck. Mom was rushing to pack the last of the recently-used necessities, and all of the rooms contained bits and pieces that needed to be collected – the detritus that is unearthed when one moves furniture that hasn’t been moved in years: paper clips, lost storage bin lids, an old photo, loose change, dust bunny-covered pens, and so on.

I began collecting and sweeping and mopping. The owners did their final walk-through, but last minute packing and cleaning kept us much later than intended. We had to leave from the house and drive directly to the next town over for the closing, which meant we ran out of time for goodbyes to my aunt and uncle. *sniff* We left from the title company and immediately began the road trip east.

From the Draft Bin: Moving Mom