Wednesday, July 19, 2017

NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Round 1

Hi All,

I'm at it again...two years later. I decided last minute I'd compete in this year's NYC Midnight's Flash Fiction Competition. Last weekend was round one and my topic was:

Group # 78
Genre: Sci-Fi
Location: Man-Made Island
Object: Skeleton
1000 words max.

I'd love any feedback in the comments.

Here's my story.

The Island

            It’s time. I’ve had 14 years, 364 days to make this decision, and now on my 15th birthday, I’m forced to make a decision that will control the rest of my life. It’s so not fair. The ignoramuses who destroyed the actual planet five hundred years ago had no idea we’d be this limited with our resources and forced to move to space, but now we are, so I’m forced to choose between work and marriage. Awesome, right?
            I have to get ready for the day, so I throw my hair into a pony before asking my bot to spray on my face. The spray hits quickly, making me flinch. I know I should be used to it, but I haven’t been using it for long. Mom laughs when I jerk away. “You’re so innocent,” she tells me, but today, she’s not here. Instead, she wants me to reflect before going in. Whatever that means. I mean I’ve been ‘reflecting’ on this for as long as I’ve known about it, which is pretty much my entire life. I give myself a final look and shake my head. “It’ll have to do,” I say and leave my bedroom.
            “Hey Mom,” I say as I walk into the kitchen.
            She looks up from her reading screen and stares at me. “I can’t believe today’s the day. I’m so excited for you,” she says and smiles. “Honey, aren’t you excited for Iris?”
            I look to Dad and just laugh. He doesn’t even look up from his screen. As always, he’s watching some live feed, this time it’s about the discovery of a skeleton somewhere on the “Island.” Though it sounds interesting, I wish he’d for once pay attention to us. “Dad, did you even hear Mom?” I ask knowing it will piss him off.
            “Yeah, yeah. Excited. Choice,” he mumbles without glancing up.
            This is what I have to choose? Getting married tomorrow and having a kid within the year, or having a career and staying single. My mom obviously chose marriage, but she’s practically alone, and once I leave, she will be. I read in my school screen there was a time when there was equity between the sexes, but when the world went to shit and surviving meant creating the healthiest possible people, 15 became the magic age. The roles regressed. Now women are either workers or birthers. You can’t be both, but I’ve heard rumors about workers having babies. They got ejected back to the planet below. It sounds horrible.
            “Dad, can you look at me?” I say attempting to get his attention.
            Finally, he looks up. “What’s up?” He’s totally oblivious.
            “Um, not much other than I’m choosing my future today. That’s all,” I say with my hand on my hip.
            He turns to my mom. “Claire, is that really today?” She nods and rolls her eyes, and he looks back to me. “Happy birthday, Iris. It seems like yesterday you were learning to walk and now you get to be married and make one of your own.” He’s actually excited about this.
            “Um, who says I want to get married?”
            My mom’s coffee cup crashes to the floor and Dad chokes on his own spit. “Excuse me?” Mom barely gets out.
            I know this irritates them; they’ve told me dozens of times how they can’t wait to have grandchildren. “All I’m saying is I haven’t made my choice yet. That’s all.”
            They look back and forth at each other and back to me before proceeding. Great. They’re pissed and I know it. Working women are disgraceful, to them, and I could be one of them.
            “Iris, we’ve talked about this. I thought you wanted to get married,” Mom says and cleans the cup up from the floor.
            It amazes me how much we look alike. We could be twins if we were the same age - same dark hair and same light skin - but now she looks old. 33 years old, married with two kids, and her life’s practically over. She could get sick at any point and the government would put her in her own room of choices. I shake my head trying to get rid of the thought. It’s too depressing. “Mom, I know you’ve talked about it, but I’ve never actually chosen. Seriously, you’re asking me to let a computer choose a guy for me to marry tomorrow and have kids. It’s totally barbaric. What’s wrong with me using my brain and working? I mean, I could totally be the person who figures out how we could heal the planet and move back.”
            Dad laughs. “Not likely,” he mutters.
            He’s a dick.
            Mom looks at the clock and lets out a soft yell. “It’s time, honey. We need to take you to the Room.”
            Together, all three of us, step into a tube that moves us through our metal and glass island to the Room. When we arrive, they both give me a hug. “Good luck! We know you’ll make the right choice,” Mom tells me and ushers me through the airlock.
            It’s cold and sterile, possibly the most uncomfortable place ever. I’ve seen pictures, but nothing matches the terrifying reality. There’s a small white table with two buttons: the left is white with a yellow ring - marriage. The right is black with a red ring - work. Neither is very appealing, and I don’t want to be in here longer than necessary. This shouldn’t be this hard. On one hand, I could be a mom and have a family. It would be nice to have people to share my life with, but on the other hand, I could be known for my mind. I could change the world. I want to push both, but I’m scared one will choose for me. I shake my head, angry at the situation, but step forward and reach for the button I feel the strongest about. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

            The door opens and I walk out. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Aspiring Writer"

Aspiring Writer. I see this term all over the Internet, on TV, in movies, everywhere, and it always carries such a hopeful, yet negative connotation. I admit there was a time when my profile description on Twitter read aspiring writer. I have since changed that.

According to Webster, aspire means to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal. As an aspiring writer, it would then mean to seek or to accomplish being a writer.
A writer is someone who has written something. It is also defined as someone whose work is to write books, poems, stories, etc.

Based on these definitions, it is safe to say that someone who writes, is no longer aspiring, but rather is someone who is in fact a writer.

All that being said, there is some unknown reason that writers believe that unless their works are picked up by an agent, editor, publisher, etc., their work is of little value and therefore, drops them back into the aspiring category. I find this to be cruel and unfair.

The writing world has been evolving since the beginning of the Internet. I can remember querying my first work through the mail. There was quite a few photocopying, envelope licking, and stamp sticking. It was quite the process. But when email picked up, it made the whole thing so much easier. Easier doesn't mean better, though. Email made the querying so much faster and accessible that I imagine agents became inundated with queries, which in turn muddled the process. Now, the agent world is incredible subjective, and with so many more queries this meant that the odds of getting an agent decreased exponentially. More and more writers switched to aspiring because there were no words of affirmation.

Then the indie world blossomed into something I don't think anyone could have imagined. It is now possible to write a book one day, publish the next. This definitely doesn't mean the quality hasn't decreased, but it has given authors a chance to see their words in the world. It means more eyes can see the work of the masses who were passed in the subjective world.

I would love to say that everything I write is good, but the reality is that it probably is not the best it could be. I am trying though. I've put out two books via create space and I have the pleasure to see dozens of kids reading my work. Even if it's only local, I am making a difference in kids' lives. Because of this I am not an aspiring writer. I am a writer.

I hope that more writers start to see themselves in the same light. We, as a collective, need to stick together and build each other up. We need to stop the self promotion and start promoting each other. I am not saying to stop querying agents at all. I do believe that if you want to see yourself in the major distributors that is the path you want/need to take, but I also believe that if you choose to go on your own, you are still a writer. We all are. I say no more to the "Aspiring Writer" tags so many want to use. Drop the "Aspiring" and keep the "Writer" because that's exactly what you are.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Back in the Writing World

I've crossed the threshold and my books are moving into print. I never thought I'd see one of my books in the physical hands of people around me, but in August, I stepped into the publishing world with Keridwen. Yes, it was an ebook for years, but after even more editing and revising, I opted to get it to people who don't want to read on readers. It's been quite the ride. Now, Keridwen can be found on and, as well as multiple other online vendors. What a trip! My school library has two copies and it has a wait list for kids to check them out. Caitlyn and her Druid friends are becoming a part of dozens of teens' lives. I love it! I have conversations with kids about the book daily. There are amazing questions about druids, and even more about when Guardians is coming out. I've now vowed to release Guardians before Thanksgiving. I have some serious work to do, but it will get done.

My latest book is Ticket to Heaven. After a tragic texting accident, Maddie Jones finds herself stuck in her hometown with no idea how to move on to Heaven. All she knows is that because of the world’s overpopulation, Heaven can’t handle the influx of the dead, so a new process has been established. The dead must have a bus ticket to Heaven. With little to no knowledge on how to obtain this ticket, the only companion she has is her elderly deceased neighbor, Mr. Fowler, who acts more as a mentor and guide than a friend. Matters get worse when Aaron DeCann, the star quarterback from her high school, joins her in their purgatory town. As a ‘hipster’, she hates everything he represents, but Maddie must learn to look beyond her preconceptions in order to work with Aaron to earn their passage to Heaven. Together, they discover that everyone there has a story and each person has a unique lesson to learn, but it isn’t enough. Maddie and Aaron must figure out what they each have to learn to get their own tickets to Heaven without killing each other first.

Ticket to Heaven was a labor of love, and I'm very proud of its unique tale of love lost and love found. I hope that many get a chance to read it.