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 – 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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Pseudo Moving

I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to make the move permanently to Blogger. Some friends in the industry have told me I should stick with WordPress because of it’s flexibility and it’s ease in integrating with your web site. I haven’t moved my blog to my web site yet, so that doesn’t really matter to me now. However, I may do that in the future. Hence why I am reluctant to make a complete move.

I will keep this blog, but put my full posts on Blogger for now, linking from this blog to that blog. Confused yet? 😉 I will keep you posted.

If you’re interested in seeing the new blog, click here.

If you’d like to argue why I should stay with WordPress or complete my move to Blogger, I’d love to hear your comments.

That’s my two pence…

[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

10 Ways a Writer Can Take Advantage of Today’s Technology

I LOVE technology! It’s made my life so much easier as a writer…among other things. I remember the days of writing my novels on yellow, lined legal pads or typewriter (yes, I know, I’m dating myself) and then came the awesome personal computer: My first being a Tandy 1000. Sure, it was DOS based and monochrome, but HOLY COW, no more white-out or retyping a page!

Then the development of the Internet and WHAM! the world of writing exploded in so many ways. The best part about the Internet, as far as I’m concerned with writing, is E-MAIL SUBMISSIONS!! The days of packaging up that 250+ page manuscript are over! YAY! The latest technologies of tablets and eBook readers just makes my head spin when I think of all the possibilities! Apple announced it’s two newest features for the iPad, and it inspired me to write this blog entry to chat about ten things writers can do to take advantage of today’s technology to either write or promote their writing. E-mail, computers, and the Internet in general are givens, so I’ve thrown out some options that incorporate those. Here they are (in no particular order): Continue reading

Writing Updates

Eternal Conquest - by Arial BurnzEternal Conquest – Revisions Finished

Taking a break from the horrible situation happening in Egypt and from my Twitter and Facebook pages, I’m happy to say that my major revisions for ETERNAL CONQUEST are finished! These were the revisions I needed to make AFTER I was offered the contract from The Wild Rose Press in their Black Rose line. I met my deadline and had the changes into my editor before the end of December 2010. However, my editor had an unfortunate accident with her computer, and though she thankfully recovered, she is a little behind schedule. Which means she won’t be able to get to ETERNAL CONQUEST until the end of this month. That’s okay! I have lots of other books to write! 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

Novel Updates for MIDNIGHT CONQUEST (ETERNAL CONQUEST)

Whew! Been busy and haven’t had time to do much of anything but working. So much for writing, huh? As promised, here’s an update to what’s going on with my book – MIDNIGHT CONQUEST. Continue reading