Reblog – WAYNE GRAVEL & HIS MAGIC CEMENT MIXER – mikesteeden.wordpress.com

Honestly, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t wish for the girl first…

A nice little piece from http://mikesteeden.wordpress.com, showing just how quirky and fresh one can get with an old idea. I’m glad I’m following this blog – I really like what I’ve read of it so far.

- MIKE STEEDEN -

cement mixer

“Excuse me squire but I take it that this is the builder’s merchants what sells cement mixers for our old one is knackered beyond repair?”

“Certainly is mate. What kind do you want?”

“Fucked if I know if the truth be told – the boss just said go and get a new one and have them put it on the account.”

“Well when purchasing a device that homogeneously combines cement, aggregate such as sand or gravel, and water to form concrete it is always advisable to make sure you end up with the one that is right for you. I mean in these days of short mixing times of ready-mix concrete one cannot be too careful.”

“What do you recommend then?”

“Um…..I mean you could have a twin-shaft or maybe a vertical axis although being as you are in the construction game I’m thinking a drum mixer probably fits the…

View original post 776 more words

“She Never Left Her Coffee” Writing Exercise

I’m going to try to do more writing exercises right here on this blog in the following weeks.

Today’s attempt is taken from a prompt in Chapter 1 of Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich. It’s on Page 22 in the Second Edition, Exercise 7: “Write ‘My mother never …’ at the top of a page, then complete the sentence and keep going.

Here’s what I came up with:

—-

My mother never left her cup of coffee unfinished. Steam still rolls up from it as I pace around the coffee table. The moment replays countless times – I try to get Dad to let me ride with him, and he makes me stay home with Steve. Despite all the worlds my mind makes for my toys and daydreams, it won’t create one where I stay with her. Dad closes the ambulance door every time, leaving me to care for my brother.

Steve is just sitting there, though. Not even really watching the cartoons endlessly fight on the TV screen. Where else will he go? He’s not causing trouble now! I should be with Mom.

I pace. I replay. I wait.

A ring breaks the silence. I run to the stand next to the sofa and snatch the phone from the receiver before the first ring finishes.

Dad’s voice is calm. He says he won’t be home for a long time. He tells me to get Steve to bed. He doesn’t even tell me about Mom. He doesn’t have to. I remember when Grandma was in the hospital, and how he talked then. Grandma didn’t come back.

I hang up the phone. I look back to the steaming cup, and Mom is there. I jump, but she smiles at us, and I feel calm. Steve turns off the TV, and we both watch her silently.

“Thank you,” she says, “I know you wanted to come, but really – it’s quite boring. A lot of people asking questions, papers to sign – nothing you kids would be interested in.”

She takes up the cup of coffee, taking a long sip.

“Mom,” I ask, “You won’t come home?”

“No, dear. I’m going away. Dad will be alone – don’t let him cry too much.”

“Will we… will we see you again?”

Mom takes another long sip. She holds the cup low – one more sip left.

“I think so. Not for a long, long time, though.”

Steve and I both watch her. I see for the first time that Steve is crying, then I realize that I am, too. 

Just then, a headlight shines in through the living room window. The car stops, and Dad walks up to the door.

Mom takes the last sip, and then she’s gone. The door opens, and Dad walks in to see us before the empty TV screen, crying in our dazed stupor. 

“I’ll have to go back out,” Dad says, “I had to check – had to see how you were.”

He hugs Steve first, but stops as he reaches me. He points to the empty cup clasped in my shaking fingers. I notice that my lips and throat are burning with dull pain.

“Mom finished it. She always does. Right Steve?”

Steve nods silently. He turns his lip in the faintest smile, and I know he really did see her too.

Dad’s eyes narrow. Slowly, carefully, he nods. Steve takes the empty mug, and I hug Dad tightly.
 

Free eBook!

My eBook is now free at Smashwords and Lulu.

It’s still listed at $0.99 at Amazon, but I’ve notified them that it’s free elsewhere. If they keep with their price matching policy, it should eventually become free there.

I hope you enjoy this sampling of my fantasy and science fiction – see this page to find out more about the book.

Reviewing my Commentors – Stöberhund by Sarah Crysl Akhtar

Welcome to the first review of work by people kind enough to comment on my story. As a beginning author with a small number of readers, I’m able to connect with readers and look at their works – It’s one of the few things I’m going to enjoy about starting out!

First up, Stöberhund by Sarah Crysl Akhtar, published on EDF on November 13, 2013. She’s been published on Flash Fiction Online and several times at EDF.

This story was clearly written with the intent of capturing a fairytale or mythical atmosphere. Unfortunately, the language seems forced at many points, and makes the story difficult to follow. A good example is near the start, with the line “I was green with retching and sick to be caught this way now my man was dead.” I took this to mean that her sickness from getting handled roughly is another insult to the injury of her baby’s father’s death. It’s an awkward, forced connection in my mind, and distracts from the story at hand.

I followed the narrative well on the second and third reads, and a reply by the author in the comments helped clear a few things up. The Main Character made a deal to give up her baby, and now it’s time to pay up. The final line reveals that the father of this child must be a son of the King. As far as I can tell, the reader learns of the King (he sleeps around a lot, has many bastards), but nothing about the King’s Son except that he’s dead. A little information about how or why they met would have helped.

Rather than a traditional conclusion, this story ends with the drama between the cheated Queen and the pregnant peasant. It leaves the reader wondering, which can be good, but it also feels like a longer story was chopped up to meet word count.

My take:

I can appreciate the moment of drama as the payoff  – a hard choice, left unresolved, can be as satisfying as a definite conclusion. In this case, though, the difficulty in understanding the piece takes away a lot of the punch. I think the prose would work well in a longer story, where the reader would have more time to “get into” the world and the language. I’d love to see more work written in similar language, but simplified just a bit so that the overall story is more clear.

What my writing can get from this:

The story shows how choices in prose define the overall character of a story, but also shows that getting too complicated with language can be off-putting to some readers.

One-Minute Writer – Ancient Life

This prompt over at One-Minute Writer asks about the job you see yourself having if you had lived hundreds of years ago.

My answer:

I could see myself as a travelling merchant. Wandering into shoddy inns and taverns, seeking the local gossip and learning which wares are most needed or popular.

At the same time, I’d take in so much of common folks’ lives. I’d have tales to share, which might even get me in good with the managers of the taverns I patronize. If I could read and write, I’d be writing up my tales on the side of all my work. If I couldn’t, I’d seek out the scribes of all the cities I visit – perhaps they’d find some interested eyes for my tales.

Today’s Author – Write Now Prompt for November 12

Today’s Author, todaysauthor.wordpress.com, has been featured on “Freshly Pressed”, and I really like the layout. They have a pretty big team of writiers, and they’ve gathered quite a following. Along with prompts, they’ve been giving out a lot of useful information, especially now, during NaNoWriMo season. I certainly be reading up on that, as I will indeed attempt NaNoWriMo a 3rd time (probably next year). Since I’m choosing to focus on flash & short fiction this year, it’s their prompts that I’m most interested in.

Here’s their prompt for November 12. I played loose with it, and this came out:

Joe, being who and what he is, sipped at ice cold milk while I heated up my heart with sweet caffeine.

“Storm’s a coming.” It wasn’t any question, but Joe nodded anyways.

“Should start Monday, right before dawn.”

“Won’t be all bad as the ice of ’97 or the snap in ’05, will it?”

He sighed. Edna popped over, topped up my cuppa, and I tossled her sweet grey curls, in that way only I can get away with.

“It’ll be a big one. I’ll need your help spreading the word.”

“I can get out all the old generators too, make sure all the big houses got one.”

Joe nodded. “Yeah. We’ll have to make sure Ol’ Saint Mary’s has at least three working. Going to need lots of beds too.”

“Sounds like ’97 all over again. Well, thanks to your warning, I reckon we got outta that a lot better than most.”

“Wish I could stop it. It’s all part of Mother’s cycle, you know that Miles?”

“You are what you are. I’ve known ya long enough to see that.”

“A very Old Man,” he said, getting up from his empty glass. Edna came over, and Joe put a fair wad of bills in her wrinkly old hand.

“Oh, Joe Snow!” She smiled, bless her heart, but she couldn’t hide the shiver that came with touching Joe. Joe looked at her sheepishly.

“It’s enough for all you’ll need to get through. Least I can do.”

Joe and I left Edna’s little place in town square behind, walking out in the middle of the street. This time of day, in our little old town, there ain’t no one who’s going to run you over or even complain.

We stood in the street, our grey hairs blowing about in the breeze building up. We looked out toward the low sun, away from the wind.

“I’d offer you a place to stay for the storm, but I reckon you don’t need it.”

“My home’s coming here. You’d best get to yours, Miles, and give your wonderful Delilah a good kiss. There’s time yet afterwards to get ready.”

“You do your best to tone down the winter, Old Man. Give my regards to your Mother – hell, give Her all of our regards.”

“I’ll shorten it, soften it as much as She’ll let me. Least I can do.”

More One-Minute Writing, and a Friday Flash Fiction contest entry

Over at One-Minute Writer, a Friday Flash Fiction Contest came up, along with prompts for Saturday and Sunday.

I e-mailed in my entry for the Contest – I won’t share that just yet. I liked the prompt, “Conversation Piece”, and I think I got a nice 800(ish) word piece out of it. With a bit of polishing, I think I could get it published on one of my other favorite Flash Fiction sites if it doesn’t win this contest.

Saturday’s prompt was simply “I don’t know” – and since I tackled it just after waking up, you get this response:

Where do dreams come from? Those ephemeral visions that play out through my mind in the hours of subconsciousness. Often pieces of stories jumbled into nonsense, but sometimes with narrative strands complete with climaxes and resolutions.

If I can remember long enough, I can understand what waking events led to some elements. Most parts are a complete mystery, pieced together by some deeply hidden facet of my sleeping mind.

Alas, as the dreams fade with the creeping in of sunlight, “I don’t know” is all that remains.

Sunday’s prompt was “Book”, and challenged the writer to describe a favorite childhood book. I wrote:

A Great Big Ugly Man Came Up and Tied His Horse to Me. What a great name for a book, and what wonderful flights of nonsense it bore for my childhood. I read that book far more than any other, almost from the moment I could read. I can still remember two bits from it.

The title poem, about some poor bloke minding his own business and poof, he’s a post for some brute’s horse. The other was a bit about the Slithergadee, a sea monster terrorizing a beach full of cartoon animals. One confident rabbit says, “No you won’t catch me, old Slithergadee. You may catch all the others but you wo-” Great way to end a poem for kids!

Shortly after writing this, I discovered that the above poem was from none other than Shel Silverstein! The book A Great Big Ugly Man … is no longer in print, sadly. Old copies of it circulate, and they are not cheap – especially not if I order from here in Korea. Still, I may break down and splurge on it for my kids. It is a really funny and memorable book!