Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On Getting Published

Of course I knew getting something published wasn't as simple as sending it off and waiting for it to appear in print. I hadn't realized, though, the extent to which I would be involved in the process for just a short piece of 930 words. There was a contract to read and sign. I had to write a bio (always a troublesome thing for me). They wanted a picture, so I had to get my husband to take some, select the least bad and then review the final copy. I was asked to make several edits to my story, and then there was a final proof to review.

I learned a lot and am very grateful for the experience. They're real pros at Flash Fiction Online, and I'm impressed with both the quality of their zine and the care they take with their contributors.

My story should be up on Friday and I'll post a link. I hope my friends will take the time to read all the stories and maybe submit something of their own for a future issue. If you can't submit, leave a little donation in their virtual kitty. They work hard to put out a professional product and they deserve it!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I sold a story!!! My first real publishing cred! Go, me!

More later, after I get all the details!

UPDATE: Got my contract, everything looks good. I need to make a few small changes to my story and then sign and return the contract. Once all the ink is dry, I'll be good to go and my story "Masquerade at Well Country Camp" will be appearing in Flash Fiction Online's February issue.

I expect it to be officially official no later than Tuesday!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

An Award!

Recently my friend Susan at West of Mars gave me a nifty award from the Shameless Lions Writing Circle!

The instructions include mentioning three things necessary to make writing good and powerful. Here are my thoughts:

1. Compelling characters. I like characters who live, breathe, and do. I want to fall in love with a character, and that won't happen if they're endlessly ruminating without actually doing anything.

2. Believable dialogue. When a character's word choice or mode of speaking doesn't sound right, it ruins the credibility of the character and sometimes the entire story. I want to know a character's voice by the words they speak. Great dialogue is such that I would know that character if they came to life and called me on the telephone or whispered in my ear.

3. What I need to know, when I need to know it. Nothing kills forward momentum like a few pages of backstory. Much of what a writer needs to know to accurately portray a character is totally unimportant to the reader. The writers I love tell me only as much as I need to know and only when I need to know it.

Okay, I'm also supposed to pass this award along, but it's been in motion for awhile now and I'm having trouble remembering who has gotten it and who hasn't. I think Thomma hasn't gotten it yet-- a shameful omission, if so. Therefore, if you haven't been awarded the Roar for Powerful Words yet, Thomma, you're it! (And yes, I know I still owe you a meme. I'm so backlogged on these things it isn't even funny.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Something Old, Something New

(A Will and Diana Adventure)

Will was walking back to camp after watch duty when he came upon Diana and Sachi leaning on the corral fence, talking and sipping coffee.

“What’s up, ladies? Nice morning.”

“I guess.” Diana frowned, her thoughts elsewhere. “Mouse isn’t happy, and the wedding is tomorrow.”

“She thinks she’s cursed,” Sachi added.

“There's no such thing as curses.”

“Oh, yes there is. She’s supposed to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue,” Sachi said. “She doesn’t have a ‘something new.’ Her marriage is doomed.”

“It was probably doomed anyway,” Will said. “She’s been fighting longer than any of us. No way is she going to enjoy living in town playing stepmom to some Resource War vet’s brats.”

“And mom to her own,” Diana reminded him.

“Well, there you go. The baby is something new, isn’t it?”

Sachi sighed. “It has to be something you wear. Carrying it in your belly doesn’t count.”

“What about her wedding dress? It’s new.”

“No, it’s old. Mouse bought it from a used clothing vendor.”

“It’s new to her.”

The girls shook their heads as if he was stupid.

“How about some new socks? Mother gave me some and I haven’t worn them yet. I’d be happy to—”

“Wool socks?” The girls looked at him as if he had lost his mind.

“Believe me, the last thing her husband will a damn about on his wedding night is what’s on her feet.”

“Never mind,” Diana said. “Forget we said anything.” She slipped through the bars of the fence and went to check on her horse.

Sachi made to follow, pausing to add, “Weddings are girl stuff, Will. Don’t even bother trying to understand.”

At lunchtime, Diana noticed Will talking to Boeing, but didn’t think anything of it. Sachi saw them ride away in the afternoon but it didn’t seem noteworthy. The young men returned at suppertime, smug and smirking, and sat near Mouse, teasing her about the wedding. Mouse picked at her food, then gave her plate to a camp supporter and walked away.

After supper, several girls congregated in Mouse’s tent for one last night of girl talk, reliving old raids and spy missions, and offering encouragement for her future. They were asking for stories about her husband-to-be when Will and Boeing burst in.

“Break up your little hen party,” Boeing said. “We’ve got business with the bride.”

“Go away,” Sachi said, “We don’t need more bad luck by having men around.”

Diana and the other girls agreed, but Mouse waved them away. “I’m tired. If they want to talk to me alone for a few minutes, let them talk. I’ll see you in the morning.”

The girls filed out, whispering and casting suspicious glances over their shoulders. Sachi and Diana ducked behind a nearby creosote bush and waited to see what would happen next. Will and Boeing didn't stay long, and soon they emerged from the tent and began walking up the path, apparently pleased with themselves.

Sachi wanted to ask Mouse what happened, but Diana stopped her. “We don’t want her knowing we spied. I’ll ask Will when we’re alone. He’ll tell me.”

To Diana’s surprise, he didn’t. Although she pouted and pestered, the most he would say was, “We gave her a wedding gift. If you want to know more, ask her.”

When the girls showed up at Mouse’s tent the next morning, they found her already dressed, humming a cheerful tune.

“What happened with Will and Boeing last night?” Sachi asked.

“Will said they gave you a present,” Diana added. “What was it?”

Mouse gave a mysterious smile. “Let’s just say my wedding’s not cursed any more.”

“Will didn’t give you his socks, did he?” Diana asked. “Let me see your feet.”

Amused, Mouse lifted the hem of her skirt. “No new socks. I swear.”

“Then what—”

“Come on, help me with my hair like you promised. There isn’t much time.”

The girls hurried to get Mouse’s hair arranged and were helping with her borrowed turquoise jewelry when the cart pulled up, ready to take Mouse to the church. Some of the other girls had decorated it with ribbons and desert cactus blooms, and everyone from camp who could be spared waited on horseback, ready to provide an escort for her final departure from their unit.

Will handed Diana her horse and she swung into the saddle, still no wiser about the change in Mouse’s mood. As the procession started toward town, she pulled in close to Will. “What was it you gave her?”

“You didn’t see?”

“If I had, I wouldn’t be asking.”

“I thought you girls showed off those sorts of things.”

“Quit being mysterious. What kinds of things?”

“You know Boeing’s been seeing that girl in town. . .”

“He sees lots of girls.”

“The one who does fancy lace stuff.”

“Mouse wasn’t wearing any lace.”

“You know,” Will said, “You’re the smartest girl I ever met, but you’re still pretty dense sometimes.” While Diana sputtered for an answer, Will jerked on the reins. Just before he kicked his horse into a trot he added, “She makes lace stuff for the girls at the brothel. And if you can’t figure it out now, you’re hopeless.”

Diana watched him move ahead and pulled her kerchief over her nose and mouth, not because of the desert dust but to hide an attack of giggles.

Sachi trotted up. “What is it? Did he tell you?”

Diana nodded. “He told me. And it sounds like Mouse’s marriage will be lucky, after all.”

Friday, January 04, 2008

Flash Fiction Interlude: The Telephone

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This one is for Susan, who just returned from a vacation at Yellowstone. This is a new story featuring one of her favorite characters from my book, My New-Found Land. Welcome home, Susan! Enjoy a little light reading!


“What do you think?”

The young woman stood up, a shock of white-blonde hair falling over one eye. “It seems to be a good cable. The problem is probably in the wall. Or maybe in the line running to the building.”

Vince slumped into a chair and rubbed the blue stripe on his face. “It would be so fucking pre to have a working telephone.”

“It's not like it doesn’t work at all.”

“Just not when I want it to.” He was about to say more, but a jangling from the refurbished analog phone made him jump. He lunged for the receiver. “Hello? No, you’ve got the wrong number, but can you—” He held the phone away from his ear and examined it in bewilderment. “Why do they keep hanging up on me?”

“Wrong number.”

“Come on, Three. They could at least tell me what they dialed so I’d know what my number is.”

“It would be nice.”

Vince grabbed Three's wrist and tried to pull her into his lap. “Well, since we’ve got a little time to kill before our gig with the Catorces. . .”

She pulled away. “It hasn’t even been a month.”

“I’m sure he wouldn’t have wanted you to never have fun again.”

“Maybe some other time.”

“Okay. I’ve got some calls to make, anyway.”

After Three scooted out of his office, Vince picked up the receiver but found the line dead. It didn’t really matter, since he didn’t know any of his contacts’ numbers, or even if they had phones, but it might’ve been fun to dial numbers at random and see what kind of people answered. He’d had such high hopes when he moved his gang into this abandoned warehouse and found the old non-electric phone plugged into the wall. In a world gone mad after decades of wars and resource scarcity, he was finally on top, one of the privileged. He had a telephone! Wasn’t it just his rotten luck it hardly ever worked?

He heard a tap on the door and looked up. Speedball stood there clenching his big hands, his eyes darting nervously. “Quix is here from the Catorces.”

“Well, don’t just stand there. Send him in.”

Speedball stomped away, grinding his teeth, and a few minutes later Quix appeared, dressed in black, with an oily fringe of red hair peeking from beneath his leather hat. Vince jumped up and shook his hand. “Quix, buddy! We’re gonna do some business tonight, right? Looks like you brought us some already, by the way Speedball’s acting.”

“Your man can’t keep out of the white stuff, that’s for sure.”

“Takes all kinds, mano. Have a seat.” Vince pulled a stained chair on rusted casters from a corner, then went behind his desk and fumbled with a mis-aligned drawer. “Whiskey?”

“Don’t mind if I do.”

Over good Kentucky bourbon, the young men settled into a discussion of logistics for the evening’s “gig,” a heist of pharmaceuticals from Chicago. “My boys north of town delayed the train as much as they could,” Quix said. “Unless an unaffiliated derails it, we should see it pull in around eleven, and they'll be shipping the goods to the east side warehouse no later than one.”

The phone rang, bursting in on their plotting. Vince tried to stay cool. “Excuse me. I’ve got a call to take.” He picked up the receiver. “Vince, here. No, not Brian. Look, can you tell me. . . dammit.” He threw down the receiver.

Quix stared in wide-eyed admiration. “What happened? Nice phone.”

“Yeah. Uh. . . line went dead. El Duque hasn’t done shit for city services, you know.”

“If he had, we’d be out of business.”

“Right. Now, as you were saying. . .”

They quickly wrapped up their plans and shook hands. “I appreciate you taking this gig,” Quix said. “If you ever think about selling that phone. . .”

“Not happening. Plastic pickers love these things. Top dollar on the black market when they work.”

After Quix had gone, Vince spent a few minutes making notes about the evening’s plans so he could have his thoughts in order when he held the strategy meeting. Then he turned his attention back to the telephone. He played with the buttons, especially the one the receiver rested on. He unplugged the cord from both wall and phone, reversed it, and plugged it in again. Same result. The line was dead, with only a faint hiss of static.

After about an hour, Three poked her head around the door. “We’re waiting on you, boss.”

Vince grunted in answer, still absorbed in the workings of the phone.

“No luck?”

He slammed it on the desk in disgust and the bell clanged faintly. “Only time the fucker works is when someone’s got a wrong number.”

“Well, it is free, you know. It’s not like you’re signed up with the city for any kind of service. We just found it here.”

“With the kind of crap services El Duque provides, he ain’t getting a nickel out of me.” Vince grabbed his notes. “Let’s go.”

“Pay’ll be good for this one, right?”

Vince wished Three would walk ahead of him. She looked deliciously fuckable in those leather pants. He would have to think of an assignment that would put her in them more often, but in the meantime. . . “Sounds like Quix laid the groundwork pretty good and all we have to do is collect.”

“Works for me.” They were entering the main room of the warehouse and now she moved in front of him, giving him a nice rear view before she found a place to sit on the rat-eaten sofa.

While she checked that her Glock was loaded and the safety set, Vince suppressed a sigh. Nothing like a pretty girl with a gun. He pulled his notes out of his pocket, called the group to order and began giving out assignments.

Unheard and unanswered, the phone on Vince’s desk rang and rang.