Fiction Friday – Royal Trouble

Well, I got tired of waiting around for someone to create an inspiring writing prompt challenge, so I decided to do it myself! Not to say there aren't good writing prompt challenges out there, but I haven't been able to find any that jive with my brain. Paving the way for example, I'll participate in my own writing prompt, which I've posted HERE on my writers blog. Any of you aspiring writers out there should take a look and get involved! Here's the prompt for this week…

Writing Prompt #1

Use this somewhere in your writing exercise:

Hands trembling, she opened the envelope.

My Entry…

He tossed the letter onto the table before her. “Go ahead. Open it.”

Amanda gawked at the embossed seal with the familiar crest. Picking it up, she turned it over to examine the writing. Fancy script by a skilled calligrapher swirled across the high-quality paper. The return address did not have a name, but she knew it all too well. Hands trembling, she opened the envelope. With her thumb and forefinger, she dipped inside and tugged at the enclosed card. Gold-embossed letters gleamed in the overhead light. Her heartbeat quickened. Her breath caught in her lungs.

The Royal Renaissance Faire Committee
is proud to announce that
Miss Amanda Simmons
has been selected as this year's
Renaissance Faire Queen 

Amanda dropped the formal announcement as if she'd been burned. “No! I'm not doing it!”

The FBI agent frowned. “Nothing is going to happen to you, I promise. You said you wanted to help. Here's your chance.”

She almost choked on her protests. “Not by becoming bait for the killer!”


Doh! That's all I had time for! If you want to participate in this prompt, please visit my writers blog HERE, where you'll see instructions and guidelines. Good luck and have fun! I hope you enjoyed my entry for the challenge.

 

Ray Bradbury Challenge – Week #3

This post is part of my Ray Bradbury Challenge. Click here to learn more! And PLEASE help me spread the word about my writing:

Genre: Paranormal
Word Count: 883

Mystery Shoppers

car_in_the_desertSam's job was to collect souls. Many of them didn't know they’d passed on. It was his responsibility to usher them into the afterlife smoothly enough so they’d go willingly. Otherwise, they would insist on lingering in the plains between the living and the dead.

Sam eased his tow truck to the side of the road in front of the broken-down Ford Focus. Hopping out of the diesel, he grabbed his clipboard and ambled over to the dusty sedan. The couple inside were passed out, shoulders leaning against each other, mouths hanging open, the woman bellowing a hearty snore.

He ran his fingers through his greasy hair, then tapped his ignition key on the window. “Hello?”

They jerked awake. The woman fumbled for her glasses and squinted at her watch. Pressing her mouth into a grim line, she pulled a small notebook from her purse and scribbled. The driver rolled down the window.

“Need a tow?” Sam asked and grinned.

“Well it’s about time you got here!” the blond, clean-cut man man snapped, and pushed his door open so fast, Sam jumped back.

The woman scowled and scribbled some more.

Sam shook his salt-and-pepper head and smirked. Yep, these two are going to need a little convincing. “Sorry 'bout that. If you can take the car out of gear before you step out, that would be great.”

Huffing and sitting back down, the man yanked at the stick shift between the two front seats, jiggling it back and forth to be sure it was in neutral.

And the emergency brake, please,” Sam reminded him.

The cranky man released the brake. Stepping out of the car, he slammed the door and tugged at his grey suit, now wrinkled from sleeping in the vehicle.

Sam handed him the clipboard. “If you wouldn't mind filling this out for me, I’ll get the car hitched up and we’ll be on our way.”

“He wasn't in the mood…to persuade these numbskulls to move on to the sweet by-and-by.” Continue reading

Ray Bradbury Challenge – Week 2

This post is part of my Ray Bradbury Challenge. Click here to learn more!

Genre: Paranormal
Word Count: 691
Update: Edited as of 7/16/2015

Seeing is BelievingThe Path of Dawn by Consuelo Parra

“You won’t believe. You must see.”

Megan Blake lurched upright on the couch, a cold sheen of sweat covering her face and body.

“Meg.” Her name was a whisper, an echo in her mind.

Mouth agape, Meg swerved her head side to side, searching for the source of the voice. “Meredith?” She stood and gawked through the high, floor-to-ceiling windows of their family vacation cabin. At the edge of the forest, the ethereal figure of her twin sister beckoned.

“Come. You won’t believe. You must see.” Meredith turned and glided into the woods.

Merry!” Megan kicked the empty Dewar’s bottle with her bare foot and cursed. Shoving her feet into her sneakers, she grabbed her jacket off the back of the couch and dashed through the glass doors, jumping from the porch and bolting across the meadow.

Trees whipped by. Branches slashed her face as she pursued the ghostly visage, always just ahead, always obscured by lanky trunks or offending bushes. When Meg reached the next clearing, she skidded to a stop, windmilling her arms to keep from falling on her face.

“Come. You must see.” Meredith stood at the entrance to the caves.

“Everyone thinks you're dead!” Continue reading

Ray Bradbury Challenge – Week 1

This post is part of my Ray Bradbury Challenge. Click here to learn more!

Genre: Science-Fiction
Word Count: 464

The Claw

“Ten-time Galactic Champion. THE CLAW!” the referee shouted.

Branford Stanley–The Claw–stomped forward, his arms held high as the crowd roared their worship.

The cheers and applause pierced Henry’s ears and he strained not to cower. You have nothing to lose, he reminded himself, and trembled, sweat gushing from his brow. He flung the salty drips stinging his eyes, careful not to use his right hand.

The referee raised his palm and the volume dropped. “Our challenger…HENRY!”

The wrestling cage filled with riotous guffaws. Patrons clutched and yanked at the chain-link fence, rattling the thin barrier.

Henry glared at The Claw, who laughed.

The ref said, “Winner takes all—one million dukkits!” The crowd cheered. “Come forward, gentlemen.”

Branford stomped his giant frame to the hovering platform at the center of the cage. Henry took three strides on his lanky legs.

“You know the rules,” the referee explained. “Get your grip, nod when you’re ready.”

Arm WrestlingBranford slammed his elbow onto the levitating tabletop, fingers spread wide, a grimace of challenge transmogrifying his face. “You’re mine!”

Henry placed his elbow on the floating surface and a sickening thud rammed into his stomach. Do it for her.

The Claw grabbed Henry’s hand.

Henry winced. “Be sure you give it a good squeeze,” he goaded with a quivering voice.

The Claw laughed. “You can count on it, kid.”

When the referee’s hands covered their clutched fists, they both nodded. “Go!”

Henry squeezed, praying to be able to hold on long enough for his plan to work, and grunted when Branford crunched his hand. Pain sliced through his palm. Yes! Just hang on a little more.

“Not bad, kid,” Branford growled. “But it’s not enough to prove to your mom you’re the man of house.” The Claw leaned closer. “That’ll be me from now on, whether you like it or not.”

Henry ground his palm into Branford’s. Please let the venom micro-bots be worth what I paid.

Branford’s scowl wavered through Henry’s watery gaze. Henry blinked. His face tingled. No! Not yet! Just a little longer! His breathing quickened as razor-like shards slashed through his shoulder. He searched the crowd…and found her face. “I’m sorry, Mom,” he mouthed as she clenched the chain-link fence, tears glistening on her blackened eye.

Branford heaved. His eyes grew wide. He released Henry and lurched, blood streaming from his lacerated palm. Smiling, Henry collapsed. The glass capsule he’d taped to his palm did the trick, just like the smuggler at the spaceport promised.

The referee failed to catch the toppling champion. “Medic!”

“It’s okay,” he mouthed to his mother. He hoped her tears didn't sting her swollen and bruised eye. “Pain is temporary,” she used to say. Now it would only be a memory, since Branford would never touch her again.

—————————

Author Notes

Okay, first week is up!! Feedback is encouraged!!

I wrote this short story in about 10 minutes during Lisa Kessler's Writing Short & Powerful class in San Diego. I spent the first 20 minutes of our allotted time trying to figure out what the hell I was going to write. After brainstorming an old idea and trying to explore a few new ones from Writer's Digest writing prompts, I trashed all my notes and started over. The first thing that came to my mind was, “An arm wrestling match gone wrong.”

This was the first story I “pantsed” – wrote by the seat of my pants. I am NOT a Pantster. I'm a huge advocate of plotting. Plotting just didn't work for this story, though. I had no idea what Henry was up to until Branford crushed his hand. Nor did I know why he was doing it until he saw his mom's face in the crowd. *shudder* Scary experience, this pantsting. I don't know how my friends do it.

Next week, I'll be starting with a fresh idea instead of using the one from my class. Looking forward to seeing how that turns out! Until then…I'd love to know your thoughts on this story. Good. Bad. Caught you by surprise? Predictable? It will all make me a better writer, so please be nice but honest.

If you liked this story, please hit the LIKE button below and use the social media buttons to share! Thank you!

That's my two pence,

Arial 😉

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Ray Bradbury Challenge – Defined

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

A writer pal of mine, Lisa Kessler, shared her experience when she met Ray Bradbury. Working at a writers event, she and several of her colleagues had the chance to speak with Mr. Bradbury about their own works in progress (WIPs). When she asked him if he could give her any insight on how to improve her writing, he answered:

“Write a new short story every week for a year. You'll have ideas to last a lifetime and you'll be a different writer by the end.”

For the purposes of this post and my blog, I'm defining these guidelines (but if you want to do the challenge, you can do whatever you'd like):

  • Word count: 300-1000 words
    • Minimum 300 because for SEO purposes, it is recommended you have a blog post of at least 300 words to increase your rankings.
    • Maximum of 1000 because it fits into the definition of Flash Fiction (see below)
  • Posting Day: Pick a day
    • Pick one day each week when your post is due and try to stick to it!

UPDATE: I failed miserably at this challenge. Got too busy with other things and I didn't make this a priority. BUT I did get a couple of great short stories from it. Join my VIP Club and you'll get them right in your inbox! It's FREE!

What is Flash Fiction?

As I've come to understand, the term “short fiction” or “short stories” is passe. “Flash Fiction” is the trendy term and it's generally 1000 words or less. Anyone can write approximately 2.5 pages of prose. I quote Lisa from her Writing Short & Powerful class, “The challenge is to write a complete story with a beginning, a strong middle, and a satisfying ending in spite of using so few words.” She taught us that a short story should contain…

  1. Hook – You gotta grab your audience from the title or the first sentence. She said statistics show that people will give novels about 20 pages before they'll put one down. Short stories…about 20 words! (I hope I got that right Lisa!)
  2. Character Arc – Choice words to describe the key elements of your character as it pertains to the story. In the short story I'll post (The Claw), I really only share that Henry has lanky legs…indications he's thin and non-threatening. That's also part of my hook…and my…
  3. Twist Ending – That unexpected conclusion that has your readers say, “Doh! That came outta nowhere!” Go for the surprise or the exact opposite of the direction your story might go.

What You Gain

Lisa shared that she didn't take up the challenge immediately. She confessed she thought it was about the money – pumping out product. After a couple of months, though, she caved in and decided to take up the gauntlet. She had so much fun and learned so much through the experience, she did it for 75 weeks! Some of the lessons she garnered:

  1. Quality of Words – She learned to choose her words carefully since short means short. So when on a word budget, pick words that have more impact (e.g., swaggered vs. walked). The more you do it, the better you get at it. (Okay…the erotic author in me just went somewhere else with that…mwuahahahaha!.)
  2. Write Faster – When she first started the challenge, it would take her a few days to generate an idea, write it, edit it and get it posted by her Sunday deadline. By the end of the challenge, she would start the short story on Sunday afternoon and have it polished and posted by Sunday evening.
  3. Working Under a Deadline – As Lisa wrote more, she started gaining a following and she didn't want to let her readers down, so she really learned how to stay focused and committed to meet her weekly deadline. What writer wouldn't benefit from that?

Who's Taking Up the Gauntlet??

So that's the Ray Bradbury Challenge! And I'm doing it!! And I'm starting today! I'm using the short story I wrote while I was in Lisa's short story class called The Claw. So who's with me? Are you going to take up the gauntlet?? UPDATE: Uh…yeah…as I said above, I failed miserably at this. But don't let that stop YOU from challenging yourself!

If you're still wondering how this would benefit you as a writer, consider this…

The side-effect of Lisa posting her weekly short stories was she gained an audience. By the end of the challenge, she'd had over 65,000 collective views on her site and over 500 followers…doing what she LOVES to do…WRITE. She had quality readers already interested in her writing, waiting to buy her books when she published her first novel. Imagine that! And building an audience is important for authors!

Share Your Challenge!

If you're going to take up the challenge, I would LOVE to know about it!! Please go to my Facebook Page and post the permalink of your blog post for your weekly challenge. Please list the following:

  • RAY BRADBURY CHALLENGE (Week #??) – Please put this at the beginning of your post so we know what the link is for and include the week of your challenge.
  • Genre: This can either be the genre of the story you wrote (preferred) or the genre you write as an author (which might be the same…or not)
  • Title: Give the title of your short story.
  • Permalink: Provide the direct link to your short story, not your blog. We don't want people hunting for your story if they want to catch up on your posts.

Here's an example for my own short story:

RAY BRADBURY CHALLENGE (Week #1)
Genre: Sci-Fi
Title: The Claw
Permalink: http://www.arialburnz.com/2013/07/25/ray-bradbury-challenge-week-1/

Woo hoo! Can't wait to see your stories!

That's my two pence,

Arial 😉

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[Fiction] Friday Challenge #199

I'm a slacker! Well, as it pertains to this weekly challenge I keep missing out on. I've been pretty darn busy with hypnotherapy, reading up on being a better writer, and pursuing my dreams. STILL waiting for my revisions for ETERNAL CONQUEST to come in and, sadly, it sounds like my editor is writing up a LOT of mistakes. Just when you think you've ‘nailed” it, you find out differently. GRRRRRRR! Oh, and I spent a little time playing Everquest 2 while recovering from a bout of the flu. >.<

So here's this week's  [Fiction] Friday Challenge #199 for March 18th, 2011:

The one thing your character regrets learning the most is……

Continue reading

[fiction] friday post – 01/07/2011

Again, another long bout of time has passed since I participated in my favorite online writing exercise. I've been occupied getting certified in Hypnotherapy (Need to lose weight or quit smoking? I'm yer gal and we CAN do it over the phone!) and with those skills, I've developed a number of classes called Writing Workshops in Wonderland. Believe it or not, I believe I have found the cure for writer's block and I also do phone consultations to teach you the methods ($25).

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #189 for Jan 7th, 2011 Your character wakes in a circus tent. They are wearing baggy pink pants and a polka-dot frilled shirt. A midget in a strong man outfit is shaking them awake asking if they are all right. Now keep writing.

Um….ok. Continue reading

Fiction Friday Post – September 24th, 2010

Wow! Been a very long time since I participated in my favorite online writing exercise. Been busy with getting married and trying to find a job (collecting unemployment right now). In between all that, we're trying to start our own businesses and make some money from home doing creative stuff. I'll list our web sites below so you can see what we offer and perhaps we can provide something you need!

Now that I'm dedicating more of my time to my own writing, I will do what I can to include “Write Everything“s Fiction Friday a little more often. But on to the Fiction Friday Post for 9/24/2010: Continue reading

Fiction Friday Post for August 21st, 2009

Oh, woe is me! It's been so bloody long since I've posted on one of my favorite online writing exercises. I sporadically participate in this exercise and there are always so many wonderful posts. I love to read every one of the entries. Now that I'm dedicating my Fridays to my own writing, I will do what I can to include “Write Everything“s Fiction Friday. This week:

Start your story with a game of hide and seek.

Continue reading

Write Anything: Fiction Friday Post

writeanythingclipFiction Friday Challenge

I've been out of the circuit for a little while due to how busy I've been, but I'm going to try to get back into it. Here's the Fiction Friday challenge for May 1st:

A secondary character says this somewhere in your story; “He’s the cutest little boy. Makes it that much sadder, doesn’t it?” Continue reading