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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Prompted @ Tipsy Lit | The Pomegranate

This week’s Tipsy Lit Prompted challenge piece is about big risks. Enjoy, and remember – feedback always appreciated here at manuscripts & marginalia!

Note: Word count squeaks in at 499, right under the 500-word max.

Prompted @ TIpsy Lit

He’d been following me for a week. I thought he was new to the neighborhood. He never paid any attention to me, so I felt like the interloper. That should’ve been a clue; men always look at me. At first it’s a glance, then a sweet, studious stare. They say I remind them of their mother. Damnedest thing.

He never batted an eyelash in my direction. Vanity should be my shield, but I set it aside.

My stomach flips; we’re going over a hill, I think. Images of torture porn and abandoned warehouses fill my head. I didn’t want to cry, but terror takes over and tears dampen my blindfold. I will the car to stop, and then it does.

He opens the trunk and the air is cool and fresh.

“Not the way to make an impression,” he says. Nimble fingers untie the blindfold.

The canopy overhead filters sunbeams into lacy patterns of light. Mossy tree stumps and boulders form a perfect circle.

In its center is a woman.

“Thank you, Moshe,” she says. Her skin is darker than mine, but not as smooth. She looks older in the eyes, even though she must be close to my age.

“I am sorry he scared you,” the woman says. “I did not think you would come on your own, if you knew why I summoned you.”

She sits on a boulder and gestures to the stump beside her. I walk forward and sit on it awkwardly, tucking my knees under my chin. I cannot find my voice. Perhaps it has been taken from me.

“Moshe has been my familiar for a long time,” the woman continues, “but it is good to have you here again.”

My mouth feels heavy, but it manages to form the word.

“Again?”

“Poor Eve,” she strokes my cheek.

“My name is Av – ” I can’t finish saying my name; it tastes sour.

“You’ve forgotten,” the woman looks away. “Do you remember me?”

A name surfaces and when I speak, the wind carries it away: Lilith.

“They took it from all of us,” she says. “They stole our power first. Made us wives when we were goddesses. We didn’t know subservience, and it never took.”

Lilith’s dark eyes are angry and fierce when she looks at me.

“They lured us. Set us up to fail. And when we did, they left us without memories. Without knowledge. It took many lifetimes for me to find myself again. Even more to find you.”

“Eve,” I say.

“There are more.” She gestures to the circle and I feel a pang of sorrow.

“Eat this,” Lilith breaks a pomegranate open with her hands. Seeds burst and the juice ruins down her skin, dark and beautiful.

“Remember,” Lilith begs, “and we can fix it. Restart salvation.”

Images flash in my mind.

The serpent.

My husband.

Hiding from Him, dried juice staining our lips and hands.

I fish out the seeds, ripe and tart. Knowledge returns, and I bid adieu to Avalon.

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Prompted @ Tipsy Lit | Go Fish Yourself

My first foray into the Tipsy Lit Prompted challenge, this week’s piece is about family game night. Enjoy, and remember – feedback always appreciated here at manuscripts & marginalia!

Note: Word count is 482, right under the 500-word max.

Prompted @ TIpsy Lit

“We should have done this years ago,” Michael says. He wades out of the sea of stained, warped cardboard boxes, long forgotten by anything other than dust.

Julie hands him a bottle of water and surveys the basement. It’s a sad monument to their mother, who would have kept it in order, would’ve forced Dad to give away things outgrown and unused.

Sweat beads on Julie’s arms and drowsy fatigue rolls over her. She is exhausted, but not from the funeral – from the decades that preceded it, always on edge and uncertain how long their father’s tenuous grip on life might hold.

Sensations of gratitude and loss bubble to the surface of her consciousness, and although Julie has been preparing for this for most of her adult life, she’s not ready to confront it. She opens the closest box and begins to rifle through it.

“Jeez,” Michael says as he peers in, “are those just pieces of board games?”

“It’s like someone poured the rec room closet into this box,” Julie says.

“Oh my gosh,” Michael’s voice takes on that edge of childhood wonder and elation. He pulls out a rubberbanded stack of bent cards. The colors have faded, but Julie recognizes the massive deck she and Michael designed one particularly rainy summer.

After excavating several layers of instruction manuals and game pieces, Julie unearths the flimsy cardboard painted with garish patterns and undisciplined shapes.

“Go Fish Yourself,” Julie laughs. She remembers how fun this game was, how she looked forward to playing it every week – up until she didn’t, when gossip became her game strategy and thick, sweet-scented lip gloss won you a better prize than picking the ice cream flavor Mom got at Kingman’s Sundries.

“Do you still remember how to play?” Michael asks. “I mean, it’s Tuesday. It seems wrong to ignore it.”

“I think so,” Julie replies. “Let’s show the kids.”

When they get upstairs, Julie’s husband is trying to goad their youngest daughter into giving up a dirty dish towel she found buried in the pantry.

“It’s a magic blanket for a princess,” Callie wails.

“Sorry, sorry, I turned my back for one minute,” John says. He stares at Julie and her younger brother, dusty and sweaty and grinning like fools.

“We need to take a break,” Michael glances over at the other children, sitting motionless and maudlin on an ancient plaid couch. Julie places the cardboard on the kitchen table and she and Michael sit down.

“Do you want to be the Warden?” Julie asks. “I think you should. I’d be better as the Teller.”

They don’t talk about taking the roles their parents would play, or why they must. The transition to “survived by” is made easier with heavy-handed paint jobs and the low-grade fever of competition.

“Hey kids, come play a game with your Mom and Uncle Mike,” John calls.

Julie begins to deal.

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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.”

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

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