Monday, February 8, 2016

Janet Flash: "Orefan"

by Michael Seese

In case you had not heard, there was a football game on TV yesterday. So between getting the house ready for friends to come over, and a birthday party my kids were invited to, and the game itself, it's not surprising I forgot to post this last night.

So on Friday, Janet Reid posted one of her 100-word contests. We had to incorporate

ore
fan
ex
her
wits
 

in a complete story. Mine was called "Orefan."

Mrs. Guilford didn't know which garnered more pathos. The girl's doe eyes, or the hand-scribbled note she held out.

“Please help. I am an orefan.”

A sign from God, she thought, touching her barren belly.

“Come in, child. What’s your name?”

“Aurora.”

Mrs. Guilford fed, bathed, and dressed Aurora in warm nightclothes before tucking her into the bed meant for another.

This is how it should have been, she thought, kissing the girl's forehead.

The next morning, examining her empty jewelry box, Mrs. Guilford wondered whether the note's solecism stemmed from her marionettist's ironic illiteracy, or wicked sense of humor.


As I write this (a while before posting and the evening's kid activities), the results have not been posted. Cross your fingers, and please share your thoughts.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Damn it! You're a writer!

by Michael Seese

It's been a while since I've "written about writing." I truthfully don't feel as though my writing is in a rut. But I have developed a certain routine. I have several novel-length works in progress that I try to make progress on. Then I occasionally get "sidetracked" to either polish a completed novel, or work on a short story.

Last month I sort of did both.

I'd spent the early part of the month expanding a Middle Grade book I had written a year or two back, trying to take it from 11,000 words (which I learned is too short) to 20,000 words (which I learned is about right) based on an agent's feedback.

But in the back of my mind, I had the Nelson Algren contest. Each year, the Chicago Tribune sponsors a short story contest in Algren's name. I entered two years ago, then somehow forgot about it last year.

This year (though technically in calendar year 2015) I resolved to submit something for 2016. I came up with the idea... over the summer, perhaps. I'd jot down little drabbles here and there. But I couldn't seem to find the unifying voice to keep it all together. Suddenly it was January, and the aforementioned MG book had my attention. 

But I resolved to spend the last week-plus before the contest -- the due date was 1/31 -- on the piece.

Then life got in the way that week, and I couldn't garner the time to focus on it. When I went to bed Thursday night (bear in mind, it was due Sunday; but with the kids, it's hard to write on weekends) I'd all but resigned myself to having to pass this year.

When I woke up Friday morning, feeling guilty over my slacker attitude, I shook it off and said, "Damn it! You're a writer! So write it."

I knuckled down, and started wording away. 

Friday...

Saturday...

Sunday...
 
When I made my "Damn it" resolution, I figured I could get in a big chunk of writing Sunday night. Then I realized that my wife and I were going to the Jake Shimabukuro concert. 

(Quick aside: if you have a few minutes watch the video. You won't be disappointed.)

Great! But bummer!

The show started at 7:00. So we were home by 10:00. The deadline was three hours away, since it was due by 11:59 CST.

Write.

Write.

Write.

I finished with literally five minutes to spare.

Is it good? I don't know. Will it win? I really don't know.

But the point is...

Damn it! I'm a writer! And I wrote it.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Funny Foto #70

by Michael Seese

Yesterday when I parked outside the office, I peeked into the car next to mine.



At least now when my kids ask, "Dad, where does all our garbage go?" I can show them this picture.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Janet Flash: A New Life

by Michael Seese

I didn't get a chance to submit anything to Cracked Flash this week. I had to wrap up a submission for MASH Stories on Friday. Then Saturday, I worked on my latest Janet Reid piece. This week, we had to use the words.

The words we had to work with were:

Scat  
Bob
Diddy   
Cool
Snap


I did something different. Knowing that "diddy" would be tough -- but that the rules allow us to divide the letters consecutively across words -- I came up with the sentence for that. (It's tough... you'll have to look for it.) Then for some reason my mind changed "snap" to "snag." So I built a sentence on that word. (When I realized my error, I was able to alter the sentence to make it work.) With the idea for the story in mind, I wrote the other three sentences and connected them. 

Naturally, the result was too long by about 50 words. So I had to cut an entire paragraph that I loved. Oh well.  I think it still works.

Below is "A New Life."

After a year, they'd given up hope. The search went from methodical to scattershot to cold case. Then one day Crazy Jake snapped his rod while fishing in Lake Bobbitt.

It made the national news.

At the funeral my parents cried like nothing I'd ever seen. Not counting my father's tears of remorse after yet another of his unspeakable acts.

I know.

I was there.

I'd gotten her passed-out drunk. Before the body had cooled, I put her in my favorite sweatshirt. And I'd dyed her hair to match mine.

Once they buried that hitchhiker girl, I was finally free.


Please share your thoughts. 

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Statement SPAM

by Michael Seese

It's been a while since I'd gotten a good SPAM. But here we are, two weeks into the new year and I received not one -- but TWO -- emails attempting to separate me from my data.

And part of the problem, as I have mentioned in the past, is that those two emails came within one minute of each other.


The emails themselves are pretty pedestrian.



"Hi there, a54fee8@michaelseese.com. Here is your statement from that well-known company, 163.com, courtesy of Elvira Wake, whose email address is the ever-so-logical meian401862ox@163.com...."

When are these guys going to come up with something new? 

As always, my friends, stay safe and smart out there.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cracked Flash: A House Divided

by Michael Seese

So on Saturday I popped over to Cracked Flash to see what the prompt would be. I went a little outside the box by taking the prompt line, "I can't answer that--you'll beat me up," and making it the second sentence. (Though I haven't seen it written, I think the implication is it's supposed to be the first.)

Well, if I was wrong, I'm sure the Cracked folks will tell me. In the meantime, here is the creepy "A House Divided."


“It's a simple question, really. Just tell me where you hid the body.”

"I can't answer that. You'll beat me up."

Another stalemate. At times like these I could never tell if he truly was psychotic, or merely toying with me.

“And it's plural.”

“Pardon?”

“Bodies. You should have used the plural,” he said, grinning deliciously.

Toying it is.

We'd been playing this game -- he and I -- for so long that we'd become like an old married couple, carrying out conversations for which we already knew the endings. Though I suppose a better analogy would be two aged chess masters, who had squared off so many times over the years that they merely flipped through their mental Rolodexes and referenced the appropriate match.

December 12, 2011. Pawn to Bishop 4. How pedestrian.

Perhaps this time I could elicit an error in his game.

“Let’s talk about you. Have you done anything interesting of late?” I asked.

“No. Other than trolling the brothels down in the East End.”

“You enjoy frequenting establishments such as those.”

“You would know as well as I.”

I grew weary of the conversation, and punched the mirror, superstition be damned. Shards of glass rained to the floor in advance of several drops of my blood. I bandaged my knuckles with the pair of woman's panties that just happened to be in my pocket.

I sighed.

Now I guess we'll never know where the bodies are.

The clock on the mantel chimed. It was time to go to work.

As I slithered into my vestments, I prayed that one day he would come to the confessional. It would end so much pain. So much suffering.

But he never did. And so, I remained relegated to levying “Hail Marys” on the true sinners.



As always, I welcome your comments.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Janet Flash: Driven To Lie

by Michael Seese

After an absence of several weeks, Janet Reid is back with another flash fiction contest. This week, we had to incorporate the words:

absorb
execute
bold
shim
chill
 

I started with the derivation of "shim," and came up with "Driven To Lie."

It was a lot to absorb, given my present state. The bright lights. The harsh hardness of the chair. The chilling blast from two fronts: the open window, and their reproachful glares.

The document before me bore no signature.

Yet.

I tried to execute a bold plan of escape. My tongue stumbled over the words.

“I shimply can't shine anything now,” I said as the pen hit the floor.

“Let's wait until morning. Sunlight brings out the truth.”

But the truth would remain buried. Just like that poor girl on the bicycle.

That I was sober as a judge. And that it was my wife driving.


We'll find out Monday what Janet thinks. And please come back tomorrow. I have a wicked story for Cracked Flash that I just posted.