Tag Archives: short story

Sowing Some Song Seeds

Many thanks to d. ellis phelps, who has just published my personal essay, Song Seeds, at formidablewoman.org. The website is a sanctuary of poetry, essays, creative nonfiction, art and photography by women for women on the act of becoming formidable.

Song Seeds is a story about how I came to write a prize-winning song about a cat … and also about my dad, and … well … you’ll just have to read the story.

The song itself (My Name is Romeo) can be previewed and downloaded here.

That’s enough shameless plugs for one post.

But one more thing: I can now proudly display my new formidable woman badge, as seen below!




Better Odds

In my recent post, Rejection’s Silver Lining, I whined a bit. Correction. I whined a lot. But can you blame me? I’d just received THREE rejections in one day. I felt like I was swimming against the current.


But my whining was fake news. In actuality, I’d only received TWO rejections. Rejection number three turned out to be a MISTAKE!

It’s time for me to eat some crow.


Here’s what happened:

As you may recall if you read Rejection’s Silver Lining, four days ago I received an email from the judges of a short story contest I’d entered. The subject line, “Contest Finalists!” kind of got my hopes up. But upon opening the link in the email, I discovered that I was NOT among the 100 contest “finalists.” I was surprised that there were that many finalists. And, as all writers with low self-esteem can understand, I convinced myself that there had been only 101 entries.

But, two days ago, I received another email from the contest judges. “New Finalists!” was the subject line this time. And the message began, “WE GOOFED!”

It turns out that there’d been a “technical glitch” and “several of the wonderful stories we selected as finalists did not properly post.” The new link opened up a list of only 30 finalists. My entry was among them.

So I hereby take back all of my previous whining about the contest. It is now my favorite contest, ever.

My odds of winning are only 1:30, but that’s a lot better than 0:100. And, speaking of math, the first prize is $1234, so I’m pretty excited. I just hope they didn’t have a technical glitch with the decimal point.

P.S. Even if I don’t win, the contest has given me something just as important: a topic to write about today. I really needed one, since I’m in the middle of NanoPoblano2018 (daily blog posting throughout November) and I’m already a day behind.



A Nine-Word Story

What’s the shortest story you’ve ever read?

This week’s challenge at Carrot Ranch Literary Community was a doozy. I needed to shave my shrinking story, Mudslide, down to 9 words! (It’s already gone from 297 to 99 to 59.) Not only that, but I was required to write an emotion into the story.

A 9-word emotional story? “Nein!” I insisted furiously. But since I don’t speak German, I ignored my outrage and took up the challenge, using the following 9-step program:

  1. I told myself I could do it. (Critical step!)
  2. I made a first draft and thought I was done:

SLIMDUDE’s call had turned Rachel’s life into a MUDSLIDE.

  1. I re-read the rules and smacked myself in the forehead. “You forgot!” I scolded myself. “The challenge was to write two stories, and they each need to include an emotion!”
  2. I then wrote this version (emotion shown in brackets):

SLIMDUDE’s call turned Rachel’s life into a disappointing MUDSLIDE. [disappointed]

       I could see now that, by comparison, my first emotionless version was pretty boring.

  1. I rewrote the sentence using a second emotion:

SLIMDUDE’s call pushed Rachel’s life down a disgusting MUDSLIDE. [disgusted]

       I couldn’t stop there.

  1. I changed it again:

SLIMDUDE’s devastating call swept Rachel away in a MUDSLIDE. [devastated]

  1. I tried making it even more emotional:

SLIMDUDE’s haunting call hurled Rachel down an infinite MUDSLIDE. [terrorized]

  1. Then, just for fun, I rearranged the structure and ended up with:

Rachel was shocked by SLIMDUDE’s call. Welcome to MUDSLIDE! [shocked]

  1. I took 9 minutes to reflect on how many different ways there are to write a 9-word story, and how important emotion is in writing.

I wonder if anyone’s ever written a 9-word novel. Just think of the trees that could have been saved by editing War and Peace down to these 9 words:

“War: What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Peace.”