1:1000 | Yellow Door

1:1000 is a website that pairs photography with 1,000-word prose. Sound like your cup of tea? Go to Pinterest and select an unclaimed photograph, then write your 1,000-word piece (fiction or creative non-fiction).

When I realized that I probably couldn’t get away with writing a dark, twisted tale a week and some change before Christmas, I freaked out. Actually, I was originally set to publish something 12/23 and I wracked my brain coming up with a pseudo-solid concept I could make work for Christmas Eve Eve.

When I read Dot’s “The Star,” I burned with envy. It was beautiful, seasonally appropriate, and layered. It was a touching story, one we all loved. It features a sweet moment between two sisters, and I knew my idea of Christmas bonding between two young brothers was not gonna fly. “The Star” was better than the best version of my idea, and it was back to the drawing board.

And then my publishing date moved up to the week before Christmas.

You can do it, I told myself. This is just the push you need. Start from scratch.

Saturday morning, draft past due, I accessed Pinterest and scanned the images.

What do you want to write?

The answer was a love story. The result was “Yellow Door.” Ivy League rivalries, dating in a digital age, looking for home.

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1:1000 | The True Test

1:1000 is a website that pairs photography with 1,000-word prose. Sound like your cup of tea? Go to Pinterest and select an unclaimed photograph, then write your 1,000-word piece (fiction or creative non-fiction).

I consider myself a solid fiction writer, with fantasy and horror as my primary genres of choice. I had an idea to write a futuristic story about a young boy being tested for gender equality (um, it made sense in my head), and it somehow evolved into this sci fi piece I didn’t even know I was capable of writing. Seriously, I read this and it doesn’t feel like me, but in the best way possible. Does that even make sense?

Anyway, “The True Test.” Go read it, because I really like it and it’s up there in my favorite stories list, and there will definitely be more of the Academy in the future. Probably more Ren, too.

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WCFC| October 31, 2014

Writer gonna write. Fighter gonna fight. Can’t we do both? Use your words at Write Club Fight Club.

Happy Halloween! Today is my Write Club Fight Club premiere. Head on over to check it out and vote! I’m battling Tracy Cembor, one of the original combatants. She’s crazy talented and also a fantasy author. Our rules were simple:

  • A Halloween Premier should be about the undead in some way, shape or form
  • The starting line must read, “The lights flickered overhead”
  • OMIT using the words: very, often, almost, nearly, barely, and suddenly
  • The protagonist in the story has to scream at some point

I went through several iterations of my story, “Freed,” before finishing the final version. I’m pretty happy with it, but as always, feedback encouraged here at manuscripts & marginalia.

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1:1000 | Coven

1:1000 is a website that pairs photography with 1,000-word prose. Sound like your cup of tea? Go to Pinterest and select an unclaimed photograph, then write your 1,000-word piece (fiction or creative non-fiction).

Check out “Coven,” my 1:1000 piece for October. I wanted to write something both seasonal and sensory. I don’t tend to be so descriptive when I’m writing, especially not in smaller pieces, but I loved this. It may be one of my favorite 1:1000 stories.I tend to shy away from descriptive writing – it’s virtually absent from initial manuscript drafts because I’m so focused on character interactions – so this both reinforced that it’s fun to write and I can write that way, if I so choose.

Bonus: no death! I don’t promise a streak of “happy” stories, but this one is adorably, appropriately dark.

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1:1000 | Paloma

1:1000 is a website that pairs photography with 1,000-word prose. Sound like your cup of tea? Go to Pinterest and select an unclaimed photograph, then write your 1,000-word piece (fiction or creative non-fiction).

Check out “Paloma,” my 1:1000 piece for September. Incidentally, it’s also the last entry in my loosely joined Tequila Trilogy. Linked by characters and an exploration of love and acceptance, the Tequila Trilogy is a larger (and in my opinion) more successful version of the Journey experiment I did earlier this year on my blog. “Paloma” centers around the forever-altered relationship between an aunt and a niece set against the background of a morning park excursion (with promises of hot chocolate!).

Paloma” is my favorite entry in the series, and per usual, a better piece because of the perspectives and feedback shared by the 1:1000 team. Initially, it felt like a rehash of its immediate predecessor, “Salt on the Rim,” with female friends supporting each other during a hardship. But with this piece, it was almost like I needed permission to take it further, like I couldn’t trust my instinct that it didn’t need to be so concrete, and that the trilogy didn’t need to follow such a straight and narrow path (an interesting revelation, given that the middle section takes place before the first one does!).

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1:1000 | Famine and a 1:1

1:1000 is a website that pairs photography with 1,000-word prose. Sound like your cup of tea? Go to Pinterest and select an unclaimed photograph, then write your 1,000-word piece (fiction or creative non-fiction).

Check out “Famine,” another 1:1000 piece for July. This piece was such a challenge for me – I had this idea percolating and when I saw the image, it just clicked together. What ended up on the page…not so much. I really struggled as I did my revision, and once I hit the slash-and-burn phase I knew I had to get more eyes on it. Slash-and-burn, incidentally, is when I just start hacking away at entire paragraphs until I have an irredeemable sliver of a story, with a wisp of a character left. The good thing was that I wasn’t wrong – the piece needed some work. In fact, it still kind of does – I’m considering a Part II, just to wrap up what I think may be some loose threads and to play around with an idea that I couldn’t capture in 1,000 words. It’s ambitious for me, but I liked getting out of my comfort zone.

In addition to “Famine,” there’s a pretty rad interview up about yours truly. I give another shout-out to this book, talk about inspiration and storytelling, and have an open forum to muse on writing, words, and voice. I find personal pieces some of the most difficult to write, but Dot had wonderful questions and that makes such a difference. Anyway, check it out.

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1:1000 | Salt on the Rim

1:1000 is a website that pairs photography with 1,000-word prose. Sound like your cup of tea? Go to Pinterest and select an unclaimed photograph, then write your 1,000-word piece (fiction or creative non-fiction).

Check out “Salt on the Rim,” my 1:1000 piece for July. This piece is the second in my Tequila Trilogy (yeah!), and acts as a prequel for a character I wanted to spend more time with. Sometimes, you just gotta write what you want.

Don’t forget to check out the latest July posts:

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1:1000 | New American Dream

1:1000 is a website that pairs photography with 1,000-word prose. Sound like your cup of tea? Go to Pinterest and select an unclaimed photograph, then write your 1,000-word piece (fiction or creative non-fiction).

Check out “New American Dream,” my 1:1000 piece for June. This was my most challenging piece to date, because I really went out of my comfort zone. It’s second-person, very stream of consciousness-driven. It’s also, essentially, nightmare fuel borne out of rereads of The Hot Zone and The Stand. I’m proud of it, but to be brutally honest: this one probably won’t be a “fan favorite.”

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Speakeasy #166 | Grandfather’s Advice

He taught me how to read people’s eyes.

Brown for sorrows,
Blue for gold,
Hazel for gallows,
Green for lies told.

I didn’t understand until I was older, coming home on the heels of heartbreak.

“What color were ‘is eyes?” Grandfather asked.

“Brown,” I sobbed, but understood.

My friends thought it was crazy advice.

“Only sadness, riches, death, and deception – what about love?”

“Not for me.”

It could never be that simple.

I met him at the pool, his lean mahogany body slicing through the water next to me.

“You’re fast,” he said when he got out. He wore sleek black swim shorts and goggles with mirrored lenses. The reflection of my towel-wrapped figure stared back at me.

“So are you,” I smiled. My prayer was one word: Blue.

The goggles slipped over his head.

Hazel.

When I emerged from the locker room, he was waiting for me. We walked through campus together. His name was Demetrius, but everyone called him Meter. Studying to be an architect, he pulled out a notebook with things that inspire him: lots of Stanley Kubrick sets and Frank Lloyd Wright, and a surprising M. C. Escher print with a waterfall and steps and layers. He has a flair for the dramatic and innovative, the type of design that would inspire someone to stand still and appreciate a building.

“I never got your name,” Meter said. His hazel eyes mocked me with their happiness. My stomach flipped, and I’ wasn’t sure if it was because of my attraction or my fear of the fate those golden eyes foretold.

“Delaney,” I said. “My friends call me Lane.”

“Meter and Lane, meeting at a pool,” he chuckled. “I better give you this.”

He jotted his phone number on a page in his notebook, and with a gentle tear it separated and I found myself staring at it, taking it, and writing my own number on the now-damaged page.

Meter called me that night. And the next. And the next.

Now we’re swimming by day, dating by night, and I wait for Death.

I feel like I’m wading into the water by Grandfather’s house, where the bank is soft and the river calm. When I leave the ground behind, the river surges around me and I have to stand strong and solid to keep from slipping and floating away in the strong current. I’m like a rock planted, forcing the water to flow around me, but time may loosen and free me.

“Hazel for gallows,” my roommate sing-songs when Meter comes by to study. She sashays out of the room on a cloud of perfume and “I told you so” glances.

“Is she…okay?” Meter tips his head back and mimes pouring one back. I can’t laugh. I have to tell him.

“It was something my Grandfather said about eye color,” I reply.

“You have one of those, too?” Meter says. “My grandmother had a thing with hair color.

“Red is shallow,
Brown is fun,
Blonde is fallow,
Black’s the one.”

“That can’t be true!” I laugh. My hair is like autumn leaves.

“Neither is your grandfather’s rhyme,” Meter kisses me slow and soft. “I love you, Lane. Even if you’re shallow.”

“I love you, Meter,” I say and blink back happy tears.

In the morning, my mother calls. I listen to her as I fight back sobs and scribble times and instructions. I sit on my bed and cry. Meter arrives, worried I missed our daily swim. He sees my face and the shaky scrawl on the notepad. He pulls me into a hug and I am silent as he packs my suitcase, escorts me to the student parking lot, drives to his dorm, and comes back with his duffel bag.

I sob the four-hour drive from school to home, and the only smile I see when I get there is from my mom, realizing that this man I love has taken great pains to get me here.

My eyes are red and puffy on the day of the wake. Meter holds me up as I walk to the coffin.

I’m not prepared for it: his supine state, the fancy suit, his pale cold skin. Worse is the picture of him, ringed by memorial flowers. He’s young and handsome, full of life and so different from the man I knew, with milky eyes and liver spots, hunchbacked and hobbling.

That’s when I notice Grandfather’s eyes were green.

This piece was written for the speakeasy #166 challenge. Word count is 740, under the 750-word max. As always, feedback is appreciated!

1:1000 | Tequila Sunrise

1:1000 is a website that pairs photography with 1,000-word prose. Sound like your cup of tea? Go to Pinterest and select an unclaimed photograph, then write your 1,000-word piece (fiction or creative non-fiction).

Check out “Tequila Sunrise,” my 1:1000 piece for May. This one was a lot of fun and work. It really shifted focus as I wrote it – going from a liquor-fueled spring break swear-fest to something more restrained, tender, and character-driven.

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