Today on the blog, I'm introducing a new type of reading material for you—flash fiction! Flash fiction is an extremely brief story form, usually between 300–700 words. It's an incredibly succinct way to tell a story, and an even better story creation exercise for writers. I'll be featuring my original flash fiction works on this blog every once in a while; I hope you enjoy today's selection.
You’d think that, after being dead so long, Gerard would have just left him alone.
Francis sat in the basement, hiding behind boxes of musty books. He thought that, if he sat down there long enough, perhaps Gerard would lose interest and go away.
“He always was a stubborn thing,” he thought coldly.
Upstairs, items shifted as the dead man bumbled upstairs. Francis heard the shatter of his decorative plates falling to the floor—crashing, one after the other.
How Gerard resumed animation baffled him. Once the dead were dead, they ought to stay that way.
Gerard’s rotting feet shuffled across the boards of the kitchen floor, inching closer to the cellar entrance. Francis thought he heard Gerard call out, but the voice was too muddled by his molding throat.
“The least he could do is speak clearly,” Francis said to no one in particular. The books looked at him silently.
Their relationship had not always been so contentious, back when they were both living. In fact, they’d been best friends growing up—playing together after the school bells chimed, spending weekends chasing stray dogs around Gerard’s family farm. They seemed inseparable.
Francis smiled warmly for a moment, and then frowned when Gerard’s green fingers appeared beneath the cellar door.
“Honestly, Gerard, can’t we discuss this like adults? Once you’ve calmed down, I think you’ll realize how silly you’re being,” Francis called out.
But Gerard didn’t consider this. For Gerard was dead and without a functional brain. The worms had gone after that first.
Francis rolled his eyes toward the ceiling and crawled to the farthest corner of the room. He supposed that, even without a soul, Gerard had every right to be upset.
Not even a week after his dear friend’s death, Francis awoke in the bed of the dearly departed’s wife.
“Gerard, I didn’t want poor Elise to be left alone once you had…well, once you had gone,” the shaken man explained, “It wasn’t right, leaving her in that drafty house. Someone had to look after her. So, you see, I think we can agree that this is quite a misunderstanding.” Stuttering, Francis looked toward the cellar door, where moments before, the Corpse tried to pry it open with disintegrating fingers.
The air shifted, moving dust particles along with it.
Francis heard nothing. The hearts of dead men no longer beat.
“Gerard. Come out and talk like a man—enough of this foolishness!”
The dead man looked around the room with one good eye, and upon seeing his traitorous friend skulking in the corner, descended upon him.
Francis closed his eyes, prayed to God, pleading to be saved, but when he opened his eyes again, all he saw was Gerard—poor, dead Gerard—sitting on the floor with him. He sighed, looked at his former friend, and rummaged around until he found a bottle of whiskey.
“Well, if we must be in this pickle together, the least we can do is have a drink—right, old sport?”
And the two ghosts drank in silence, letting their hatred fester unspoken between them.
Hell is full of words left unsaid.
Hey, you. It’s a Saturday morning, and I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee, my pup snuggled on my lap. And as I often do when surrounded by Cosmo cuddles, quiet, and warm beverages, I’m thinking.
I’m thinking about the novel I should write, all the research I need to do for it, the book of poetry I need to keep working on, and the list goes on and on. There are so many boxes to check off in my “Writer’s To-Do List.”
Whatever it takes to accomplish that dream, right?
But before my coffee grows cold, here’s my main thought of the day for you to consider:
We all have goals and dreams in this life—aspirations and passions that keep us chugging along when the minutiae of it all threatens to drag us down.
Not only that, this world is trying so hard to make you fail. It doesn’t matter if you’re a singer, writer, artist—there are so many people out there, doing the same thing you do, probably just as well, and they’re all trying just as hard to achieve success. Plus, on top of working to meet your goal and rise to the top of the crowd, we have families, work responsibilities, and the hard work of simply staying alive on a day-to-day basis.
How do we rise to the top of a sea that never settles, constantly threatening to toss us overboard?
It’s simple--believe in yourself. It’s half the battle.
C.S. Lewis once said, “We are what we believe we are.”
We can’t control the actions of everyone else trying to be better than you, nor can we control the context in which you’re attempting to thrive—life has its own agenda. But you can control your own circumstances and attitudes.
If you want to be a writer, you need to say you’re a writer. Dream about it, declare it, write constantly, and wear that title on your sleeve. You want to be a great parent? Do you what you need to do to live up to your own guidance of that. This works in literally every situation. If you believe you’re amazing, then you’re just one step closer to actually being there.
But don’t doubt yourself, don’t knock yourself down, don’t believe you’re capable of anything short of greatness.
The rest of the world will do enough of that for you.
If you believe in yourself and the quality of your work, everything else comes more easily.
It’s a hard battle, full of obstacles and doubt, but it’s necessary to realize the best version of you possible.
For what it’s worth, I believe in you, too. Now go out there and make something beautiful.
I'm here to let you in on a little secret: this world doesn't want you to be yourself.
We live in a confusing, change-encouraging society. In the midst of chaos, surging emotions, tense political battles, and the like, it's far too easy to forget who we are—to lose our grounding on a shaky sea.
And in this hurricane, I'm sometimes left shivering and wondering: who the hell am I?
Maybe you're like me and sometimes forget the things that make you you--your goals, what you find funny, the silly bits that enjoys watching cat videos for hours on end, your idiosyncrasies, and so on.
Just calm down, take a breath, and use these seven tricks to try to reconnect with You:
Above all else, remember this: when you lose yourself and all feels hopeless, you will always be there. You might be hiding in the very crevices of your soul, but all of your hopes, desires, and dreams remain.
And there's nobody better than you, you authentic, wonderful thing.
This is not a lecture.
This is not a history lesson.
This is an ode to those who came before me. Those that are still here and fighting with every breath.
Those women who fought endlessly for my right to vote, for my voice to be heard.
For those who took us out of the kitchen and into the real world. Who made it known that we would not be reduced to a set of duties or the names of our children.
Who tirelessly questioned their positions in life, a body used as a vessel, wife a word only uttered after husband. Somehow they knew it didn't feel right—a peacock caught in a canary cage.
For those women who burned their bras in the darkened eye of the Establishment and watched them blaze along with centuries of propriety.
For those women who took their rightful place next to men in the courtroom, the office, the fields. Who created opportunities for us decades down the road in whatever-space-you-want-to-work-you-can...because of them.
For the authors who picked up their pens and wrote their truth, even when the ink was slowed by the choking grip of male privilege. The artists whose brushes stayed wet in the light of drying criticism. The singers whose voices never wavered, though the air was filled with disapproval.
Thank you for your words and songs and actions, especially when they felt too heavy to release.
Thank you for blazing a trail, even though the path was dark and fraught with abuse.
This is an ode to those still fighting today to preserve our progress;
let it be known that our worth is not automatically assigned at birth, and that we will do
wondrous and amazing things
with or without your approval.
For those since gone and for those still breathing, thank you for giving a name
to our mission of equality--
Feminism is not a dirty word but a love poem with four syllables.
Happy International Women's Day! To learn more about this day, check out the official website. Looking for more information on the awesome contributions throughout history by women? Click here.
Connect with me!
One of my favorite things about a well-written story is its ability to quietly sneak into your brain and never let go. It burrows in, makes itself comfortable, and doesn’t allow you to ever fully leave the world the author created for you. It’s an exhilarating and wonderful thing, not being able to stop thinking of a story once you’re done with it. After finishing a book or poem that I love, I often find myself scribbling lines onto sticky notes and hanging them around my office, house, or car so I may momentarily leave reality and rejoin the wonderful, enchanting land in which my head still frolics.
The greatest privilege of a writer is the responsibility to take words in their most basic formula (Noun Phrase + Verb Phrase = Sentence) and craft them into something entirely bewitching—something that automatically transports readers into an otherworldly place.
If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you’ve no doubt noticed that I love posting great lines from literature. I feel it’s important to recognize and share excellent writing. For today’s post, I’ve captured 12 passages from novels or poems that take my breath away. What about you—what quotes from literature leave you speechless?
Do you have a favorite line you’re dying to tell me about? I’d love to hear it! Please share with me and your fellow readers in the Comments section below or on my Facebook page.
It's official. There's just too many good books in the world.
If you were to ask me my 10 favorite books, I'd stumble for a bit, and then sheepishly request a few more hours to give you a proper answer. Even within one genre, I can think of 10 books that I love and would reread to the point that their spines gave way.
And that's the beautiful thing about books. The magic that one book contains differs greatly from another written by the same author or about the same subject.
So instead of taking on the impossible task of listing my favorites, let me tell you about the ones that inspired my writing in one way or another. I hope that some of you out there have read and enjoyed these as much as I.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Seriously, guys, if you haven't read this book, drop what you're doing and go get it now. Okay, well maybe wait until you're done with this post, but seriously, get it. Just Kids is the memoir of famed queen-of-punk Patti Smith. The book is a beautiful mix of memoir and poetry. Smith, a poet herself, masterfully weaves together stories in a way that's minimalistic but rich at the same time.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I'm going to be honest and say that I'm actually still in the middle of this one. How I've made it through an entire liberal arts education without picking this up is beyond me. Despite the fact that I've yet to complete it, it absolutely warrants a spot on this list. King uses the book to provide advice to writers the best way he can---by telling stories of his own life. Never have I wanted to pick up a pen and start writing so badly as during this book. As a hardcore fan of King's books, it's also thrilling to read the origins of some of his biggest hits, including Carrie. It's an enriching reminder that some of the best stories originate in your own experiences.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Okay, this might seem like a little bit of an odd choice, but I read this book so quickly, I felt like the pages were going to catch fire. Rubin's book focuses on a self-discovery project where she tried to make herself as happy as possible for one year via measurable standards and tasks. The reason I find this book inspiring (besides the fact that I'm a sucker for a good self-improvement tale)? Rubin manages to take scientific thoughts, statistics, and methodologies and make them addicting. That is a skill to be admired.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
I won't bother to summarize this classic, as I'm sure (and hope) you're all familiar with it. Besides the fact it's simply a great piece of children's lit., I admire Sendak's ability to succinctly create a world and fill it with lovable monsters. There are no good guys or bad guys---we're all just Wild Things at the end of the day.
Helter Skelter : The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry
Helter Skelter tells the story of the famous Sharon Tate murders by the notorious cult leader Charles Manson. Written by the lead prosecutor on the case, Vincent Bugliosi presents a horrific event in a very detailed, enthralling light that reads almost like a novel. Bugliosi's true-crime narrative was my first venture into crime writing, and I often return to it when I'm in need of a little spark.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
I feel like any of Mary Roach's books belong on this list, but Stiff in particular deserves recognition. Roach manages to write about a normally squeamish, taboo subject in as normal a manner as talking about your weekend plans. This book made me think that I could be a non-fiction writer, and also convinced me to become a whole-body donor through the University of Minnesota (also, PSA: Save lives and be an organ donor, folks!)
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
As with Where the Wild Things Are, this pick doesn't require much introduction. Seuss was an immense talent at crafting stories using bizarre sentences, words, and rhymes. The Lorax happens to be my favorite of his, and it began my fascination with children's literature.
Hart Crane: Complete Poems and Selected Letters by Hart Crane (Author), Langdon Hammer (Editor)
During college, I took an American Poetry class that changed my life. Our professor journeyed with us while we read some of the great American poets---Dickinson, Whitman, Ginsberg, and the list goes on. None, however, opened my eyes to the beauty of poetry like Hart Crane. Immediately after our session on Crane ended, I ran to the library and picked up this behemoth of a collection. For my love of reading and writing poetry, Crane deserves credit.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
True story: I actually started a list while reading Lolita of all the words that I had never heard before. This list is extensive, and I still don't know what most of them mean. Nabokov's controversial book uses some of the most beautiful language I've yet to read, as well as the greatest opening line in literature. One of these days, I'll revisit that list and learn all of those lovely words.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Okay book snobs out there, hear me out on this one. Yes, I know that the story is eerily similar to Battle Royale, but I'm asking you to ignore that for the time being. The Hunger Games made the list simply because it had all the ingredients of a bestseller: complex yet approachable writing, an epic battle, and engaging characters. Collins creates intricate worlds and complex human and social dynamics, and does so it effortlessly.
My list of inspirational books could go on forever, but I won't bore you with that. Instead, I'd love to know what books inspired you in any aspect of your life! Please leave me a comment with your thoughts.
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Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.