writing prompt

flash fiction challenge: diseased horror

Hello, folks! It’s been a long weekend of putting together Ikea furniture here. Not to brag, but I think I may be the best hammer- and mallet-wielder among us. Unfortunately, that means I haven’t had too much time for sitting, thinking, and writing. I have started my next flash fiction challenge from terribleminds, however. The challenge is as follows:

“Last week: horror as spam.

This week:

The country’s in EBOLA PANIC, going so far as to elect an Ebola Czar. (Did you know that vending machines kill 13 people a year? I look forward to our new Vending Machine Czar to address this grave concern.) Disease of course freaks people out. And next Friday? Halloween. The time of horror!

Which means it’s time for you to freak people out with disease.

Write 1000 words of flash fiction.

It should be horror.

It should feature disease as an axis of that horror.

That’s it. That’s the mission.

Write it at your blog or online space.

Link back here.

Due by Halloween, noon, EST.”


I thought I might skip out on this one as I’m not much of a horror writer or reader. I did get an idea, though, that just might fit the criteria. I’m still working on it, but the first paragraph is below. I should have the draft complete by Friday. Here’s the opening bit.

The day dawned through weepy fog, blinding in its whiteness but empty of warmth. In the early morning light, Eloise dressed in yoga pants and an oversized sweatshirt. The formerly tight pants slid down her hips, sagging and bunching along the length of her body. She shuffled past the mirror with her eyes on her worn running shoes. Her lean fingers traced over the letters embroidered on her sweatshirt, the initials of her former university. Once she had been so proud to wear them, before appearance and prestige had ceased to matter. Many of the threads hung loose, stained brown in areas where the tips of her fingers had bled as she picked away at the letters until they were indecipherable.


flash fiction challenge – spammerpunk

Ok, I decided to go for a quick turnaround this week. The flash fiction challenge at terribleminds is as follows:


“So, I’ve been getting some weird spam comments and emails these days.

They are vaguely tinged with horror.

Goofy horror. Worthless, not-scary horror. Poorly-written horror.

But horror.

For instance, a strong vampire theme runs through, as in this one:

My name is Clavin.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email: [redacted] or phone number +[redacted]

No, I have no idea.

What I do know is that I enjoy when you can take one mode of communication and turn it to use in storytelling. (Example: HORRORSTOR, a recent horror novel that is framed as — no, really — a catalog from an IKEA-esque store. Or! HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY, an anthology of stories written as crowdfunding campaigns — which, not coincidentally, features a story of mine.)

So, what I want to see from you is:

A horror story framed as a spam email.


Take that assignment, run with it as you see fit.

How scary can you make a spam mail? That’s the challenge.

I’d keep it to the shorter side — 500 words or so.

Post at your online space.

Link back here.

Due by next Friday, noon EST.

I’ll pick three entrants randomly to get some free e-books from YOURS TRULY. (Though as I’m gone next Thurs – Tues at the Surrey Writer’s Conference in Vancouver, I won’t pick the random winners until Wednesday or so.)”


Now, in case you haven’t guessed, this is a challenge well outside my usual writing, or reading, genre. I thought of a horror-y concept, which is hopefully executed in a non-scary horror spam fashion. It is extremely short, but I think it suits the style. Let me know what you think…




Hello,please to meet (again!!). I know makes sad,so sorry to remember you. I was brother to you before born. You know when their has more than one babies in Your mom’s stomach, he can eat his brother (not with knifes and forks haha!!). We was together but you eat me so it’s only you born. Probably mother is sad so no talking about it. It is sounding so crazy!!but it is truth. Baby with no body needs new home,so I’am finding Mr. Norbert Jones. Two souls in one body is so many, you are agreeing I think, so Norbert hope I am leaving to you. I am to learn for making a jump to you (you are able learning everything on the internet!!haha). But Mr Norbert is saying I can stay when you are sending your bank details for having moneys to support us. Please for sending your informations to {email redacted}. Else I coming to you soon. Please to respond soon. Love from your brother

flash fiction challenge – apples

Howdy and hello. I’m posting a (much less) late response to this week’s flash fiction challenge at terribleminds.com. My internet doesn’t much feel like letting me access the site at the moment, so a link is not available just at the moment.

In short, the challenge was to choose three names of apple varieties and incorporate them into a flash length story. My varieties, chosen by a random number generator, were Brown Russet, Lord Lamborne, and American Beauty.

Now, here’s the thing. I wrote this story because I want to get back in the practice of writing regularly and the flash challenge is a good way of doing that. I had some ideas about this story, a bit of something to go on. But. Well, I could be more pleased. I find the story (admittedly, a first draft) clunky and ham-handed and not very successful. Feel free to join the chorus of criticism. On the other hand, I wrote something. So we’re going to chalk it up to practice, and post it, warts and all.


Flash Fiction Challenge 17 October 2014


Belinda fussed with the blankets around her granddaughter. “Young Mary rushed through her chores. She longed for a glimpse of the handsome Lord Lamborne.”


Mel smiled, remembering the fairytales of her youth. Belinda continued to draw the beautiful Mary and her gallant Lord Lamborne closer together in her narrative. At last they met again, by the kind of luck engineered by two people in love.


“The girl felt ashamed of her brown russet clothing in the face of the nobleman’s finery,” Belinda said. Mel’s smile flickered at the image of the powerful man and the poor girl, with her shabby clothes and low opinion of herself. Belinda’s tale continued. “But Lord Lamborne saw past her drab clothes to see Mary’s beauty.”


Mel crossed her arms against her stomach as poor old Mary and the dazzlingly wonderful Lord Lamborne, against all likelihood, grew ever more in love. The nobleman fulfilled his role as the eldest son in his family, while courting the humble girl in secret. He worked and planned and sacrificed for his love. Mary, meanwhile, sat around fretting over her coarse clothing and looking pretty. Only consideration for her daughter, the eager audience, prevented Mel from snorting at the conclusion to the story.


“And they decided to run away together,” Belinda said. She brushed Jeannie’s hair back from her face. “They sailed away together to a new land, where Mary would be his wife and his American beauty.”


With Jeannie down for the night, Mel followed Belinda into the kitchen. Belinda set a kettle to boil and pulled a mug from the cupboard.


“Well, that Lord Lamborne sure sounds like a catch,” Mel said. Her mother smiled at her as the water warmed in the kettle. “Miss Mary, though, she could use a bit of personality.”


Belinda turned away to fix her cup of tea. “Oh, it’s only a story,” she said. She didn’t turn around to say goodnight as she retired for the night with her cup of tea.



Mel kept track of the next several nights of stories. Miss Mary ended up having a surprisingly glamorous life in the colonies. Timid Violet was rescued away from her dreary existence by a dashing young lad who turned out to be a prince. The lovely, though dull, Sarah became a princess by marrying a dashing young man, who apparently had low expectations in a partner.

One night before story time, Mel pulled Belinda aside. “Mom, can we talk about the stories you’re telling Jeannie?”
Belinda folded her hands on the table in front of her, her composure becoming absolute stillness. The frown lines between her eyes appeared.


“I love that you are staying here now and I love that you are spending that time with Jeannie, I do,” Mel said. In her avoidance of an accusing tone, she sounded pleading. “I just wonder if we could mix them up a bit. You know, not all princesses and falling in love.”


“Jeannie likes princesses,” Belinda said. Her hands remained clasped in front of her.


Mel nodded. “I know she does, but she would like any story you tell her. She used to like bugs and paperclips and tea parties with Ninja Turtles. It would be nice if she thought about girls going on adventures or doing experiments or becoming president,” Mel said.


Belinda’s eyes swept up Mel’s body, taking in the sneakers, jeans, and sweatshirt. Her glance traveled to the spartan living room. “I think she gets rather enough non-princess girl reality in her everyday life,” she said. “Wouldn’t you like her to have a more happily ever after than you?”


The comment turned Mel cold and sparked an argument that led to a ban on bedtime stories. Mel wondered how much concern for Jeannie, sting from her mother’s criticism, and her own insecurities went into her decision.



Jeannie tugged at Mel’s hand as they entered the craft store, dragging her toward the patterns. Mel held Jeannie in her lap as they flipped through the glossy pages of the pattern books.


“How about a turtle?” Mel asked. She pointed to the sketched image of an elementary school kid wearing a stuffed green velour turtle shell. Jeannie shook her head and turned the page.


Mel advocated for several costumes, from cowgirl to mummy, astronaut to pumpkin. Jeannie kept turning the pages. Finally she came to a stop and her finger landed on a picture of a princess.


“I want to be a princess,” Jeannie said.


Mel bit her lip. “Why do you like this costume?” she asked.


Jeannie put her hands on her hips. “Because princesses are pretty and they get married to princes and they live in castles.”


“You know, real life princesses-” Mel paused, trying to think of what a modern day princess might get up to. “Real life princesses do charity work and help people.”

Jeannie shrugged.


“We’ll come back to this one,” Mel said. She marked the page with the princess costume.


Jeannie’s enthusiasm waned to the point of becoming grumpiness. Mel’s patience wore to the point of transparency. Eventually she bought the pattern and the shiny, netted, lacy fabrics to go with it.


In line to pay for the makings of her pretty princess, Mel said, “You know, princesses nowadays can go to school and get a job if they want to,” Mel said.


Jeannie shrugged. “I’ll probably be a princess that’s also a fireman and sometimes a ballerina,” she said.


Mel laughed and squeezed Jeannie in a quick hug. She wondered again if she had overreacted or corrected course just in time. She wondered if mending her other relationship would be so straightforward.

My notebook

I bought a notebook to carry with me in grad school, when I was thinking about writing more but not actually doing it. For some reason, I still have this 1/3 full Moleskine notebook. It made the move with me between two different apartments in New York and now to my second (soon, third) place of residence in England. I dug it out this morning to facilitate note-taking and idea-jotting while I’m away from my computer.


After a quick flip through, it occurred to me that this notebook may be useful to me now in a couple of ways. Although I didn’t do any fiction writing back when I bought it, I did use the notebook. I wrote down phone numbers for babysitting jobs, addresses for sending items I sold on Etsy or postcards while I was traveling, and recipes. There are many random tidbits in that book, which give little glimpses into what was happening in my life.


The notebook is like a very sporadic, mini diary. And, now, those almost cryptic names, reminders, and appointments are great fodder for writing. Thinking about who or what I was referring to is tickling the little bits of my brain that come up with story ideas. More than that, imagining a similar diary or notepad for a character would be a great way to get a feel for his personality and habits.


Of course, there is also the original intent of the notebook. I wrote several pages of a new story in it today. I’m hoping that will become a regular occurrence. I’m still planning to use it to keep track of random details, as I previously used it. Perhaps it can be a mini incubator of current stories and those yet to materialize from the inspiring, mundane details of my life.

One “amazing” sentence

Just a day or two ago, I posted a link to a flash fiction challenge at terribleminds. Now, the instruction was to post an amazing sentence. I’ve aimed, at least, to craft a sentence that provides a sense of who is doing what where and how she feels about it, with a hope to pique the interest of a reader to know a bit more about all of those facets. Although I usually fall more into the contemporary fiction category, I like the idea of playing a bit with genre fiction in these writing exercises. Setting aside the expectation of amazing, here is that sentence:


Del’s stomach roiled as she accelerated away from the research ship, toward the long-abandoned Earth and the legend of the Steadfasters.


Here’s hoping the sentence accomplishes a bit of what I set out to do. Have a look at some of the other interest-piquers at terribleminds, and let me know if you’d read on in the comments.

terribleminds flash fiction challenge

Chuck Wendig’s blog has provided a lot of the motivation to start writing again. I found it originally by using StumbleUpon, killing time while I was supposed to be writing my dissertation. If you haven’t been to his site yet, check it out. He’s funny, profane, and full of interesting words- in both his fiction and writing advice.


The challenge this week is as follows:


“This week’s challenge is deceptively simple.

I want you to write one amazing sentence. A sentence that is part of a larger story but is not itself a story — a sentence that makes you want to read forward and backward, but is itself a capture of the tale. Just a slice.

(And then, next week, folks will choose a sentence to build an entire story around.)

Write one sentence — no more than 100 words, please.

Drop it in the comments below.

And that’s all you need to do.

But make that sentence as amazing as you can make it.



I will post my sentence back here, as well as in his comments. Let the musing begin.