Tag Archives: fiction

The Annual Biggleton Boat Race

Rocky the Referee stood on the Biggleton Bridge, where he could oversee the annual boat race. No one else was allowed up here during the race to influence him with their pleas and tears. The winner would be determined by a combination of skill and luck, helped along by the ephemeral hand of fate. If there were any shenanigans, Rocky was in control of the distribution of the proper penalties. Several years ago, someone had tried to rig the race, but Rocky had dealt with them harshly, though fairly, and nothing similar had happened since.

Naturally, it was understandable that people became a little emotional over the annual boat race. The losers were promptly killed and eaten at the Annual Biggleton Barbecue.

~*~

I was tagged by Tao-Talk for this challenge, which originated at Nova Namaste. Hope it’s okay if I don’t tag any more peeps. 🙂

Song Lyric Sunday ~ Cards

Jim gives us a gambling theme this week (lots of great songs to choose from!), and I went with cards and the Van Morrison tune “These Dreams of You.” This song was written by VM for his 1970 album Moondance, one of my top fave albums of all time, and was inspired by a dream he had about an assassination attempt on Ray Charles.

I dreamed you paid your dues in Canada
And left me to come through
I headed for the right way
I knew exactly just what to do
I dreamed we played cards in the dark
And you lost and you lied
Wasn’t very hard to do
But hurt me deep down inside

Mmmm, these dreams of you
So real and so true
These dreams of you
So real and so true

My back was up against the wall
And you slowly just walked away
You never really heard my call
When I cried out that way
With my face against the sun
You pointed out for me to go
Then you said I was the one
Had to reap what you did sow

Mmmm, these dreams of you
So real and so true
These dreams of you
So real and so true

And hush-a-bye, don’t ever think about it
Go to sleep don’t ever say one word
Close your eyes, you are an angel sent down from above

And Ray Charles was shot down
But he got up to do his best
A crowd of people gathered round
And to the question answered “yes”
And you slapped me on the face
I turned around the other cheek
You couldn’t really stand the pace
And I would never be so meek

Mmmm, these dreams of you
So real and so true
These dreams of you
So real and so true (but hush-a-bye)

Hush-a-bye, don’t ever think about it
Go to sleep don’t ever say one word
Close your eyes, you are an angel sent down from above

Then hush-a-bye, hush-a-bye, don’t ever think about it

Waiting

I wait for the one who waited for me.

Darkness comes so early
The restless nights grow cold
My spirit sinks down weary
How bereft my tortured soul

I wait for the one who waited for me.

I know now he took no other
His true heart was mine alone
Still, the jealous monsters hovered
And the waves are washing home

I wait for the one who waited for me.

Our love floats on, a ghost
Like the eternal crashing sea
Sirens rage up and down the coast
As we all wait
For the one
Who waited
For
Me.

~*~

Carrot Ranch 99 Word Flash Fiction

PFF3: POV PP

Paula’s Friday Flashback this week is a post from June 21, 2013, wherein I rant about point of view switching within scenes. Enjoy!

Minor peeve. I was careless with “only” in my post. Sorry about that.

Point of View

Sorry, got distracted.

One of my huge pet peeves while reading is a mid-scene POV switch. This shouldn’t be a problem in a first-person novel (one would hope), but writers will switch deliberately or sloppily while writing in third. Grrrr! In olden days, it was acceptable to write in scattershot POV, but the contemporary way is to keep to one character’s viewpoint per scene (and sometimes per chapter).

This makes a lot of sense if you think about it. The reader can relax and trust the writer to put you inside one character’s head at a time, with sensory data and thoughts being processed by him or her (or it, if non-human). You only know what that character knows during this time, feel what she feels, etc. If the story is a romance, you’re there with her wondering if the hero will ever return from his quest. If the story is a murder, you’re right there with the detective putting the clues together.

I recently read a short story in workshop where two men were involved in a tense situation, involving a possible murder, and the POV flipped from one to the other. It was difficult to get “into” the story fully because of this and it also led to confusion about who was thinking/feeling what at times. When we know the writer has stuck us inside only one character’s head, these problems are mitigated simply by the fact that anyone’s thoughts or feelings are THAT guy’s. We don’t have to wonder.

Someone said that wrt to a novel you should write a scene from the POV of the character who has the most to lose at that point. I’d like to say this is a Jennifer Crusie quote, but I can’t remember and CBA looking it up at 5:30am. It makes a lot of sense and doesn’t only apply to romance novels of course. Though I find it the most irritating when a romance novelist (either deliberately or stupidly) has a switch in a sex scene. It’s so distracting. This is the perfect example of a time you need to stay inside one character’s head for the duration of a scene and not mess up. I think this is why I had to give Animal Attraction only two stars on Goodreads. That just bugged the hell out of me. And Shalvis is not a beginning writer, so no excuses.

I’m not sure how any of this applies to second person. I haven’t written anything that way, too annoying, nor did I read BLBC. I think second is like first though, but with this hipstery distancing thing going on, right? I don’t know. Can’t deal with it.

Whatever. DON’T SWITCH MID-SCENE. Ever. This is one of those rules that you don’t break even when you are all jaded and above following rules.

What A Deal [flash 184]

George nodded as Shanna showed him the seashell magnets. “These souvenirs will go like hot cakes now that tourists are flooding the town,” he said. “I’ll take three dozen.”

Shanna smiled. “Thank you, George. We always appreciate your business. I just wish I could unload these pretty silkscreen canoe tee shirts. They only have a slight defect.”

George laughed. “Missy, you have a thing or two to learn about sales! Never point out a defect. Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed. What is it?”

Shanna pointed to the edge of the sleeve. “The printer mistakenly got a droplet of blue right here on every shirt. I can give you twenty cents off each.”

“That doesn’t even look like a mistake!” George said. “But since you think it is, how about thirty cents off each, and I’ll take the whole batch?”

“I guess so,” Shanna said.

“Hah.” George grinned. “You’ll learn. Chalk this deal up to your lack of experience.”

*

The moment he had paid and left, Shanna ran into the back and crowed to her boss, “I just sold all those misspelled canoe shirts, wahoo!”

Networking [flash 360]

“Let’s all toast to another great quarter!” Mitch raised his glass. “To Global Imports.”

Wendy smiled and raised her water glass. She was new and hadn’t made a sale yet, but their confidence was infectious.

Bob frowned at her. “You can’t toast with water. It’s bad luck.”

“I don’t drink,” Wendy said. “But I’m really happy to be here at Global, and in fact I have a couple leads to follow up on next–”

“Why don’t you drink?” Larissa asked. “Are you in AA?”

“You can’t ask her that!” Mitch said. “It’s a human rights violation or something.”

But they all stared at her anyway, and Wendy felt obligated to say something. “I’m not an alcoholic,” she said. “But I just don’t feel well when I drink.”

Bob laughed. “You’re obviously not drinking the good stuff! This is top shelf bubbly, Wendy. C’mon, just have half a glass.”

She waved his offer away. “No really. I’d rather not. Thank you though.”

Larissa rolled her eyes. “Whatever. No point in inviting you to come to the picnic on Saturday. People will think you’re weird and snobby if you’re not having beers like the rest of us.”

“Unless you’re pregnant,” Bob said. “Are ya?”

“Bob!” Mitch admonished. “I told you guys ixnay on the personal questions.”

Wendy felt uncomfortable with the group but gamely stayed until they finished the bottle, which was only another few minutes. She walked slowly to her car, wondering what her future was going to be like at Global Imports. Short, most likely.

“Excuse me,” a man said.

Wendy turned around. “Yes?”

“Hi, I’m Tom, and I’d like to give you my card. I know your coworkers and I couldn’t help overhearing a bit of the conversation where they were pressuring you to drink.”

“Oh, well, they were just being friendly.” Wendy didn’t want to badmouth her new company after only a week of work.

“I’m sure. But consider calling me for an interview. We sell non-alcoholic cider and would love to have you aboard, Wendy. Ask for me.” He smiled. “I’ll remember you.”

“The girl who rejected top shelf bubbly.”

“Has a nice ring to it.”

~*~

Fandango’s Flash Fiction 18

PFF2: Crabby Book Review

Welcome to the second edition of Paula’s Friday Flashback! For this one, I present a crabby book review I wrote on June 14, 2013. What makes this funny (to me) is that just yesterday I was defending the entire romance novel genre from that twit Nicholas Sparks, but here 6 years ago I was disgusted with it myself! Hah. That’s probably because I was dating back then and trying desperately to blame my poor choices on anything other than my own bad judgment. Oh, it must be because I was overly influenced by romance novels. Sure, Jan.

Or maybe I’m just inconsistent. Whatever!

*

Animal Attraction

By Jill Shalvis. I gave this book a 2-star rating (“it was okay”) on Goodreads even though I enjoyed it for the most part, but I’ve given better books a 3-star, and I want to have some sense of fairness in my ratings.

As I thought objectively about AA, and disregarded the fact that I ripped through it because it was fun and sexy and had a kitty (and lots of other aminals too ~ hero Dell was a vet), I realized it had one of the Fatal Flaws of romance novel writing. The “plot,” such as it was, hinged on the premise that there was an End Date looming, a date at which our heroine Jade absolutely had to leave Sunshine, Idaho and return home to Chicago, therefore preventing Jade and Dell from becoming emotionally entangled, which they would resist in any case since Dell was one of those emotionally unavailable kind of guys we all break our hearts over in real life though in RNs they always become available which upfucks the brains of women who read these STUPID BOOKS but I digress, and they both knew this. (Of course Jade tried not to become physically involved with him either, but that didn’t work. Obviously.)

But as it turned out the End Date was totally arbitrary ~ Jade didn’t have to leave. She had made a promise to her family she’d come home, mostly because they’d been nagging her unreasonably, and since she was a 30 year old woman, it would have been totally acceptable, if not downright advisable, for her to tell them, dudes, I found a good job, a cool apartment, and a great boyfriend here in Idaho, so BACK OFF, I’m staying indefinitely. And so basically there was no plot if you discount this made up out of thin air date. If you do discount the date, then the whole story becomes this whiny thing of ermahgerd I gotta go, can’t let myself fall for hunkyvet, and him thinking why must she go, everyone abandons me just like mommy. Bleh.

Plus there were sloppy POV switches within scenes (annoying and unforgivable!) and missing quotation marks, super-distracting. Upside, the dialog was great and witty, and there were fun minor characters. Shalvis has a ton of books available and I can tell from the blurbs and reviews (however positive) that they’re all gonna be about the same. But one was enough for me.

~*~

Check out Fandango’s FF, where this whole idea originated. It’s all his fault! 😂

We Don’t Want Him

Nicholas Sparks is trending because he refused to accept an LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 club in the Christian school he founded and there’s some ongoing litigation yada. Apparently part of the case has been settled, and he has the legal right to be intolerant, so that’s cool. I more or less support keeping it legal for private clubs to arbitrarily let in and keep out whom they please, as opposed to landlords, employers, public schools, etc. (Whether they should get tax breaks is a different issue.)

Just because something is legal however doesn’t make it good or right. It’s also legal to cheat on your wife. But that’s not what I came here to discuss today. If you don’t already know, Nicholas Sparks is a writer, a hugely bestselling writer. His books have been made into movies. You’ve surely heard of The Notebook? Well, there you go.

In the frenzy to bash Sparks, people have been conflating his books with romance novels and dumping on the whole genre. Now, I don’t mind bashing Sparks ~ I made a yucky 🤮 face on Twitter myself. I can’t stand his sterile prose ~ and that was before I knew he was super religious. Now my review of Safe Haven from 2013 makes a lot more sense.

But let’s be clear: Nicholas Sparks is not a romance novelist. He says himself he isn’t one, and he is correct. He writes general fiction (“love stories”) with romantic elements. It’s an important distinction, peeps! To be a romance novel, a story must have a Happily Ever After ending. If you want to bash the genre, go ahead. If you want to rag on Sparks, for his politics or his writing or both, have at it.

But please don’t lump Nicholas Sparks in with romance novelists. Cuz that just pisses me right off. 😡💥🔥 He’s not welcome in our club. On the whole, you will find the protags in romance novels to be a tolerant lot, or they become tolerant as the story progresses.

I note that in The Daily Beast article I linked in my first sentence, Sparks bags on the whole romance novel genre because he’s a stupid ass who has read none of the books he’s criticizing. Romance novels are not about “the taming of a man” ~ if anything, they err on the side of misogyny, even though they are written largely by women and mostly from the POVs of the female protagonists. What they are, are fantasies of what it would be like if an alpha hero fell in love with you and wanted you more than anything on this earth, and indeed would do anything on this earth to make you his own. And he succeeds. That is what romance novels are and why those of us who love them, love them. ❤️❤️❤️

Sparks can stick with his yawningly vanilla pudding Ken-doll heroes because there is obviously a market for bland safe smooth love too.

^^^ The sexual excitement level in a Sparks’ novel goes from zero to pudding.

Neoma 2.0 [flash 160]

Neoma waited for further instructions. She gazed out at the harbor as dawn turned the dark sea to turquoise and illuminated the commercial boats, few now, more later. The man she’d been assigned to seduce was showering in the bathroom. Now she registered that he’d turned the water off. Soon he would emerge and likely inquire if she desired breakfast. It was possible she would be told to kill him.

The moon tattoo on her wrist emitted a slight vibration. Neoma glanced at it, interpreting the numerical code. She was to leave here immediately and locate a new target, abandoning this one.

“Where are you going?” the man said as Neoma put on her shoes. “Don’t you want coffee?”

He grabbed her arm as she reached for the door handle and she shoved him away, just hard enough that he was only airborne for a moment before landing on the floor.

She turned and left, heading for the yacht club.

~*~

Written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge 17

Conversation Overheard

At the dim sum café express.

“Did you exchange your walk-on part in a war for a lead role in a cage?”

“No.”

“What then?”

“I did the hustle.