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Daily Archives: February 3, 2012

Flash Fiction Friday 020: ‘The Red-Haired Girl’ by Smoky Zeidel

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the twentieth piece in this series. This week’s story is a 100-worder entitled ‘The Red-Haired Girl’ by Smoky Zeidel.

The Red-Haired Girl

You climb on the back of the enormous black horse, his rear-end looks like an ebony drum. He’s skittish, finding your seat is difficult. Your long red hair glimmers in the sun, his black mane in stark contrast. The camera and I are one, as are you and the horse. I start shooting until, exhausted, I race into town; I cannot wait to see the photos. The printer tells me all the pictures are of an elderly, white-haired lady on a dappled grey. But I see my red-haired girl as she once was, sitting on the back of a horse.

I asked Smoky what prompted this piece and she said…

I used to teach fiction writing workshops at my local community college, and one of my favorite writing exercises was to have my students write a short story in exactly 100 words. Not 99, not 101–100 words exactly. I got some of my best stories out of my students with this exercise!

One semester, my students insisted I write one, too. I asked the class to give me an animal, a color, and an electronic device. They shouted out all sorts of suggestions, but I chose the first I heard, which ended up being horse, red, and camera. These three words, then, had to be used in the story. I gave them twenty minutes to write their stories.

This exercise taught students the value of each word used in a story. It taught them to write tight stories, and how to edit out the superfluous. It remains, to this day, my favorite writing exercise.

Thank you Smoky. I loved it, especially being so short, and second person viewpoint, my favourite. It’s an exercise that we do on a Monday night except we have five keywords (I’m mean) and a 60, 100 or 150 limit gets brownie points. :)

Smoky Trudeau Zeidel is the author of two novels, On the Choptank Shores and The Cabin; a recently-released collection of stories, Short Story Collection Vol. 1; and two nonfiction books on writing which have recently been combined into one book, Smoky’s Writer’s Workshop Combo Set. She is the author of Observations of an Earth Mage, a collection of prose, poetry, and photographs celebrating the natural world. All her books are published by Vanilla Heart Publishing.

Smoky lives in California with her husband Scott (a college music professor and classical guitarist), her daughter (a college student and actress), and a menagerie of animals, both domestic and wild, in a ramshackle cottage in the woods overlooking the San Gabriel Valley and Mountains beyond. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time hiking in the mountains and deserts, splashing in tide pools, and resisting the urge to speak in haiku.

If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with murder mystery author Jean Harrington – the two hundred and sixty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in ebooks, short stories, writing

 

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Writing rituals – you’re a writer but do you actually write?

During one of our Facebook (or it might have been Twitter) conversations, guest blogger and author Ditrie Sanchez said she’d like me to write about writing rituals. I’m hoping that she wasn’t meaning mine specifically because I’m ashamed to say (maybe I shouldn’t be) that I don’t have one.

I have a routine because my life is fairly structured (blogging twice a day, the day job, my writing groups on a Monday night, another on the first Tuesday of every month, another every other Thursday, dog, house, Red Cross volunteering and so on) but I don’t write enough. Some would say that it’s not surprising because I have so much going on but I want to be a writer… for a living – I’m escaping the day job shortly… so it should be my number one priority, shouldn’t it?

So I guess I have a writing-related ritual. The alarm goes off at 6.28am. I snooze it for 10 minutes (sometimes more than once) and get up. I wake up the computer (which is on all the time; it’s a Mac, it can handle it) while I make a cup of tea, let the dog in the garden and feed him. Then back to the computer in time for the 7am interview to go live (I’ve usually scheduled it the night before but not always, sometimes it’s there and then) when I then email the links to the interviewee and update the blog interviews and contributors pages. If it’s a working day I scurry around as most people do, giving the dog a quick walk round the block. If it’s a day off then we go to the park and I’m usually armed with some editing, a magazine or (once so far) my Kindle. Then the day is spent either at work’s computer or in front of mine, dealing with emails. Most of my free time is spent blog-related rather than writing, and whilst I don’t resent it one bit I do wonder where the time goes.

Every November for the past four years I’ve found time to write more than 50,000 words in a month (117,540 in 2009) for NaNoWriMo and in May 2011 I wrote a story a day (31) for StoryADay. Most recently I’ve been invited to join http://tuesdaytales1.blogspot.com (you can read one of my stories there already) and with my Monday night workshops, I’m gradually upping the pace, albeit a slow jog in comparison to the mad sprint that I should be doing. In other words, give me a deadline and I’ll write what you want, when you want. I’m a secretary, I can organise. Or at least I’m good at organising other people’s lives. I just need to start working on mine.

There’s a great list of weird and wonderful rituals at http://www.mastersdegree.net/blog/2011/20-acclaimed-authors-and-their-unique-writing-rituals which makes me feel very normal, almost dull by comparison: No.2 (CS Lewis) seems the most logical (if not bordering on obsession). I’ve tried no.5 (Wordsworth) but just get Shrek’s Puss’ eyes back at me. Being a morning person I can relate to no.8 (Toni Morrison) but I’ll definitely be giving no.17 (Demosthenes) a miss. Like curing writer’s block, whatever works for one author is certainly worth another considering. Ultimately, whatever gets your bum in the seat (whether it’s armed with a pen and paper or with a screen and keyboard) it’s what we’re after, and whether you’re writing for pleasure or to be sold if you don’t write, you may call yourself a writer but if no-one else sees it, they can’t.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with romantic suspense, mystery novelist, short story and writing guide author Chelle Cordero – the two hundred and sixty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in writing

 

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