Tag Archives: Short story

Stories Horses Have Told My Cousin

Although I have been working on and off for years on a family history and photograph project, I don’t bring it up too terribly often over here. I have collected antique and vintage family photos from many branches of my family–once I showed an interest to my grandparents years ago, the whole family has been directing heirlooms my way. It’s very time-consuming, and I’ve had to do a lot of genealogical research to put information in order.

Through my family history blog, The Family Kalamazoo,¬†and Ancestry.com I’ve met (online mainly) soooo many people who have helped me. It’s astonishing. I now have friends in Europe, as well as the United States who are relatives, distant cousins, or related by “someone-somewhere’s” marriage. These are all such special people. And they all have fabulous stories.

I was introduced to my cousin Jeane by a genealogist friend who I met through The Family Kalamazoo. Her father and my father were first cousins, but they never met, to my knowledge. Her father was older than mine and the families had become more distant as years went on. I hope I can meet Jeane in person. She lives in the east, on a lovely horse farm (a post-retirement project), and loves–get this–animals and writing. She is also involved in animal rescue. ūüôā

When Jeane was a girl she dreamed, as so many girls, of having her own horse. She imagined riding the horse and the bond they would have. But after she retired, and after years of dog rescue, she fell in love with a horse named Virgil that had been abused. Jeane had to board him as she had no place to keep him. Eventually, she and her husband got their own farm because of Virgil and other horses. Through him, Jeane began to learn how difficult the lives of horses can be. She also learned to place a high value on communication with horses.

Jeane has written a collection of short stories called Stories My Horses Have Told Me. The background of each horse that Jeane adopted is detailed in these stories. After adopting four rescues, Jeane tells us:

 

After five years of dreaming and searching, we arrived at our farm in the middle of June 2004 with four horses.  As each horse stepped off the trailer they were led to a stall and allowed to rest.  Each had hay and fresh water.  All were anticipating their first turn-out into their new fields.

Although the four horses all came from different families, they bonded immediately.  They were now a family.

What we didn’t realize is that our herd was not complete yet.  Star was waiting for us . . . .

We swore we would never buy a horse.¬† There are horses needing adoption or rescue and that was our focus ‚Äď until Star.

Jeane has had a couple of wonderful horse whisperers helping her to communicate with her horses. One of them was able to communicate with Star.

Star talked about being cold.¬† She said she never wanted to be cold again.¬† We didn‚Äôt understand then that she was talking about her sale in January, being shaved, with no shelter or blanket in her new home.¬† That information came in a conversation with her previous owner.¬† I asked what time of year he bought her and under what circumstances.¬† Then I asked if she had been shaved.¬† When he said ‚Äúyes,‚ÄĚ I asked had he blanketed her.¬† ‚ÄúLord no! She‚Äôs a horse.‚ÄĚ

To sum up Star’s previous life:

What we know about Star’s previous life is that there had been seven owners in her short five years.  Her owners had not been kind, treating and riding her roughly. Her winter coat had been shaved off in January 2004 so she would present as sleek and shiny for a horse sale.  Her new owner didn’t have shelter and did not offer her a blanket to protect her from the sub-freezing temperatures, and she was cold.  She also endured being stabbed with a pitchfork, a broom handle broken over her head, and her halter used as a weapon to make her obey.  She had little patience, and no trust in humans.

There was more, much more, to Star then met the eye.  She was not a happy horse.  She was a loner, not wanting to interact with any of the herd.  Something about her made you feel so sad.  There was someone special she was searching for.

That someone special was not to be Jeane, but it’s a tribute to Jeane’s love for animals that she recognizes that every horse is different and with different needs. Star was determined to be a highly intelligent horse.

What an extraordinary horse.¬† But her trust in humans remained unchanged regardless of our efforts.¬† She would leave the barn as we entered, wanting as little contact as possible, but that didn‚Äôt happen the day a friend arrived for a visit.¬† Their eyes locked, Star walked up to her and life suddenly had purpose.¬† Michele is a professor at a university in Washington, DC.¬† Star sensed the intelligence ‚Äď an equal.¬† The connection couldn‚Äôt be denied and Star soon went to live with Michele.

###

We don‚Äôt always have control over the destinies of our horses.¬† We always hope we are making the right decisions.¬† Often there are difficult choices, but if we learn to listen to them it will make their lives, and ours, better.¬† They are always talking ‚Äď take the time to listen.

Michele is a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  From England, she now calls the US home.  An accomplished equestrian, along with many other talents, she continues to ride and train in dressage.  Michele and Star make an incredible team!

Heroes for the animals come in so many styles. Jeane’s has been to make her home a refuge for all manner of needy animals (including cats :)!). Obviously, I’m thrilled to find this cousin of mine and hope we get to meet before too long.

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing

Where to Find a Parking Lot Superhero

Just realized that my flash fiction piece “Parking Lot Superhero” was published by¬†Story Shack¬†two weeks ago! Yikes, how did I lose track of time? Speaking of time, the magazine gives an estimate of five minutes to read it ;).

PARKING LOT SUPERHERO

The story was illustrated by artist Hannah Nolan.

Thanks so much to the editor Martin Hooijmans and to Hannah.

This is my first attempt at flash fiction. ¬†I like how fiction gives me more freedom with structure than nonfiction does, and the flash length is fun to work with. It’s challenging to be concise but also rewarding to complete a story that is this short.

Do you read and/or write flash fiction that isn’t serialized? Where the whole story has to be read in five minutes? Do you prefer flash fiction or the traditional short story length and why?

####

Pic of a vintage police car found just outside the Grand Canyon. With a character like Jack (in my story), the protagonist and her friend didn’t need the police.

 

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Filed under Fiction, Flash Fiction, Literary Journals, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Crack the Spine Interviews Luanne

Mid-September my story, “Small Solace,” was published in¬†¬†Crack the Spine Issue 163. Some of you read it at that time and those of you who commented helped get me an interview with the journal, so thank you!

The interview was published today. You can find it here.

A big heartfelt thanks go to the editor, Kerri Farrell Foley!

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Fiction, Interview, Literary Journals, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Adding Fiction to My Poetry and Memoir Resume

You know how I’m always yammering about poetry and memoir? Well, darned if I didn’t get a short story (fiction!) published today in¬†Crack the Spine.¬†Called “Small Solace,” it’s a little bit weird. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please go to one of the magazine’s sites and post a comment of some sort about it. That’s because they use feedback to determine what pieces go into a print issue and which writers they do a Wordsmith interview on (they only choose one author each issue).

Here is the issue–look for page 27: ¬†Crack the Spine Issue 163

I did warn you that it’s a little weird. Yes, the wallet image here is a clue as to the subject.

Here are some places to leave feedback:

Comment form below issue link

Facebook

Twitter

Crack the Spine website

Or email them at contact@crackthespine.com

Thanks so much, peeps!

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Filed under #AmWriting, Fiction, Literary Journals, Publishing, Reading, Writing

You Did It

I experimented with something new in my writing. I wrote a poem and a story in second person. Everywhere I wanted to say “I did” this, I wrote “you did.” It’s not a point of view that would work for every piece–and it has to be used sparingly–but it really got me out of my writing ruts (craters, according to the mean editor in my head).

EWE WITH WRITING  OR  WRITING WITH YOU

EWE WITH WRITING
OR
WRITING WITH YOU

In the story, writing about “you” instead of “I” gave me that needed distance between the me of today and the me of 1979. The two women are barely the same person.

Here’s a sample from the story:

Not that long ago, you’d partied in your college town with a friend and her boyfriend, an ugly drunk. When he got you alone in the kitchen, he’d blown rum breath in your face and fingered your long brown hair, the hair you straightened with giant rollers . . . .

Here it would be in 1st person:

Not that long ago, I’d partied back home with a friend and her boyfriend, an ugly drunk. When he got me alone in the kitchen, he’s blown rum breath in my face and fingered my hair, the hair I straightened with giant rollers . . . .

There’s nothing wrong (in my estimation haha) with the second one, but writing in the “I,” I need to show more introspection and accountability for myself. In the “you,” I don’t need to do so and that forces the reader to read more sharply and pay attention more closely. For a short piece like this (500 words total), that’s the reading effect I wanted. Notice that I also felt funny about saying “long brown” about my hair. Too many adjectives about the self. But in 2nd person I can get away with it.

In the poem, experimenting with 2nd person added a mysterious layer that lends depth and texture.

In both pieces, the reader is approached more intimately and encouraged to participate in the birth of the piece (writing + reading = birth).

If you feel that you’re in a rut with your writing, why don’t you give it a try? Either write a story or poem from scratch in the 2nd person point of view (POV) or take an existing draft and change it. But when you revise into the new POV, be sure to keep yourself loose enough to make other changes as you go. Once you change POV you are changing the story in more ways than you can imagine.

 

Write a story or poem in 2nd person point of view. Or revise a 1st person story or poem into 2nd person.

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Editing, Essay, Memoir, Memoir writing theory, Nonfiction, Poetry, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing prompt

The Winners Are . . .

The results of the creative nonfiction contest are in!!!

Thank you so much for your submissions. There were so many wonderful stories that it truly was difficult for the judges. After reading them all, I was so glad that I was not judging!

As you know, we asked for your best work in your best style and had no preconceived ideas of what type of stories would take first, second, and third places.

The judges used a system which ranked them in order.  I then took their ranking and assigned a number to each ranking, added and subtracted by two (judges) to average the scores. This turned out to work very well because their results were so similar.

Amazon.com gift cards will be winging themselves through cyberspace to the three winners!

Here is the list of the winning stories:

  • FIRST PLACE: ¬†“The Lady’s Coat” by Lynne Nielsen
  • SECOND PLACE: “Waste Not Want Not” by Lisa Ellison
  • THIRD PLACE: “So It Happened Like This” by Mike Durr

Here is the list of honorable mentions in no particular order:

  • HONORABLE MENTION: “The Relaxation Group” by Jackie Dinnis
  • HONORABLE MENTION: “For Ian” by¬†Regenia¬†Spoerndle
  • HONORABLE MENTION: “Water Droplets” by¬†Enrique Guerra-Pujol

The judges provided comments about the winning stories:

THE COAT

This essay possesses mystery and imagination. [It] has resonance and a sense of wholeness. The prose is appealingly lyrical with compression of images and feeling.

This story‚Äôs use of sensory details and description works well to set the stage for the coat to become a central character of its own ‚Äď the vehicle that serves to transport the narrator back in time.¬†¬†The many references to time help the reader to become even more aware of the passing of it.¬†¬†The overall story premise is very unique and the sense of mystery created draws the reader in immediately.

WASTE NOT WANT NOT

This writing has much to recommend it. There is a sense of a past, present, and future, where lives are blighted as a man refuses to tell his child and grandchildren that he loves them. The irony is that the man clearly loves his family, showing his affection through care and self-sacrifice. Still, he considers saying ‚ÄúI love you‚ÄĚ to anyone but a spouse a waste of words. While the reader does not know why the man‚Äôs daughter turned to alcohol and, possibly, drugs or why his grandson will eventually kill himself, these acts seem tied to the man‚Äôs refusal to ‚Äúwaste‚ÄĚ words of love.

The sustained metaphor of the weekly meal as mass is captured well with unique imagery.  The grandfather/granddaughter relationship is demonstrated well by showing the two of them interacting together. The well-crafted dialogue helps to develop these characters on the page. The overall message of love being shown rather than spoken comes through clearly. I particularly like the subtle  example of the young girl having to walk to the edge of the kitchen as a means to protect her from being burned.

SO IT HAPPENED LIKE THIS

Obviously the start of a longer piece, this writing can stand alone. Precious freedom is its focus. The narrator is haunted by the ghosts of slaves who tunneled beneath the Ohio River to flee north. They ask, ‚ÄúWhat will you do for your freedom?‚ÄĚ

This writing is vivid, from the dripping tunnel, to the cracked and peeling Naval Training Center, to the sweltering jungles of Indochina, where ‚Äúevery day spent outside a body bag‚ÄĚ is a good one. And always, there‚Äôs the heartbeat of What will you do for your freedom?

Wonderful opening line. It hooked me right away.

The use of detail to place the reader in scene is employed well. Many of the descriptions evoke not only a clear image of a place, but also a sense of what it felt like.

The universal theme of seeking freedom is woven throughout the story relative to history and geographic elements that leads the reader on a journey alongside the narrator.

###

I wanted to make one other comment about the submissions in general. With the exception of only a couple, the submissions could all have used an outside eye reading for typos and grammar errors. I bring up this point because before you submit to journals, magazines, and agents, find a friend you trust to read over your work and search for missing words, misspellings, and grammar errors. My judges ignored these issues (within reason), but some professional readers will not do so.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR STORIES . . .

It was such a gift to be entrusted with these stories to read. Thank you for allowing the judges to evaluate them and for me to post them on this blog.

I will begin posting the winning stories on Monday!

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing contest, Writing prompt

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO SEND US YOUR STORY!

THE DEADLINE TO SEND US UP TO 1000 WORDS TO WIN AN AMAZON GIFT CARD IS TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT, PACIFIC TIME!!!!

 

WHAT TO SUBMIT:

A short memoir story of 1,000 words or less.¬† We are looking for submissions in the genre of Creative Nonfiction–stories about events which actually happened to you and which are told with artistic flair.¬† We don’t know whether we’ll prefer strong technique or powerful natural storytelling ability. A clean, clear-cut plotline or a slow meander through a lyrical garden of metaphor and description. ¬†Just show us your best work in your best style. We have no preconceived ideas of what will be awarded first, second, and third place.

The story should not have been previously published anywhere online or in print–not even on your own blog.¬† Writer Site reserves the right to publish your story on its website. After that, rights revert to the writer.¬† The three award-winning stories will be published on Writer Site.

Please submit a Word document without your name or identifying information.

WHERE TO SUBMIT:

Email your stories to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com.

WHAT YOU CAN WIN:

  • $25 first place
  • $15 second place
  • $10 third place

Prizes will be in the form of Amazon gift cards by email.

WHEN TO SUBMIT:

Email your submission by September 16, 2013.

WHO WILL BE JUDGING:

I will be involved in the judging process, but the final decisions will be made by two guest judges, Wilma Kahn and Kimberly Keating Wohlford.

CONTEST JUDGE BIOS:

Wilma Kahn has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, as well as a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany. She is the published author of poems, short stories, essays, and a detective novel, Big Black Hole. Wilma has led writing classes for adults in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, since 1987. In her spare time she tends a little wildflower garden with ironweed seven feet tall.

Kimberly Keating Wohlford is a writer in Charlotte, NC where she free-lances for the arts community.  In 2011, she left an established career in newspaper advertising, to pursue a dream to write her own stories.  Kimberly is currently working on a memoir that follows her journey to Glastonbury, England where magical things happen to redirect her path in life.  She will receive a certificate in creative writing from Stanford in March 2014.

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing contest, Writing prompt

TWO MORE DAYS TO SEND US YOUR STORY!

THE DEADLINE TO SEND US UP TO 1000 WORDS TO WIN AN AMAZON GIFT CARD IS MONDAY!!!!

WE CAN’T WAIT TO READ YOUR STORIES!!!

WHAT TO SUBMIT:

A short memoir story of 1,000 words or less.¬† We are looking for submissions in the genre of Creative Nonfiction–stories about events which actually happened to you and which are told with artistic flair.¬† We don’t know whether we’ll prefer strong technique or powerful natural storytelling ability. A clean, clear-cut plotline or a slow meander through a lyrical garden of metaphor and description. ¬†Just show us your best work in your best style. We have no preconceived ideas of what will be awarded first, second, and third place.

The story should not have been previously published anywhere online or in print–not even on your own blog.¬† Writer Site reserves the right to publish your story on its website. After that, rights revert to the writer.¬† The three award-winning stories will be published on Writer Site.

Please submit a Word document without your name or identifying information.

WHERE TO SUBMIT:

Email your stories to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com.

WHAT YOU CAN WIN:

  • $25 first place
  • $15 second place
  • $10 third place

Prizes will be in the form of Amazon gift cards by email.

WHEN TO SUBMIT:

Email your submission by September 16, 2013.

WHO WILL BE JUDGING:

I will be involved in the judging process, but the final decisions will be made by two guest judges, Wilma Kahn and Kimberly Keating Wohlford.

CONTEST JUDGE BIOS:

Wilma Kahn has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, as well as a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany. She is the published author of poems, short stories, essays, and a detective novel, Big Black Hole. Wilma has led writing classes for adults in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, since 1987. In her spare time she tends a little wildflower garden with ironweed seven feet tall.

Kimberly Keating Wohlford is a writer in Charlotte, NC where she free-lances for the arts community.  In 2011, she left an established career in newspaper advertising, to pursue a dream to write her own stories.  Kimberly is currently working on a memoir that follows her journey to Glastonbury, England where magical things happen to redirect her path in life.  She will receive a certificate in creative writing from Stanford in March 2014.

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FIVE MORE DAYS TO SEND US YOUR STORY! and TAKE MY POLL ABOUT WP ADS

I just noticed a little box at the bottom of my post; it said that some of my readers might see an ad in that box. My options are to either run my own ads there or I can pay $30 per year for an upgrade to keep out the ads.

I am wondering what others have decided to do about this and why.  Please take my poll and let me know!

CONTEST INFO

THE DEADLINE TO SEND US UP TO 1000 WORDS TO WIN AN AMAZON GIFT CARD IS MONDAY!!!!

WE CAN’T WAIT TO READ YOUR STORIES!!!

WHAT TO SUBMIT:

A short memoir story of 1,000 words or less.¬† We are looking for submissions in the genre of Creative Nonfiction–stories about events which actually happened to you and which are told with artistic flair.¬† We don’t know whether we’ll prefer strong technique or powerful natural storytelling ability. A clean, clear-cut plotline or a slow meander through a lyrical garden of metaphor and description. ¬†Just show us your best work in your best style. We have no preconceived ideas of what will be awarded first, second, and third place.

The story should not have been previously published anywhere online or in print–not even on your own blog.¬† Writer Site reserves the right to publish your story on its website. After that, rights revert to the writer.¬† The three award-winning stories will be published on Writer Site.

Please submit a Word document without your name or identifying information.

WHERE TO SUBMIT:

Email your stories to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com.

WHAT YOU CAN WIN:

  • $25 first place
  • $15 second place
  • $10 third place

Prizes will be in the form of Amazon gift cards by email.

WHEN TO SUBMIT:

Email your submission by September 16, 2013.

WHO WILL BE JUDGING:

I will be involved in the judging process, but the final decisions will be made by two guest judges, Wilma Kahn and Kimberly Keating Wohlford.

CONTEST JUDGE BIOS:

Wilma Kahn has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, as well as a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany. She is the published author of poems, short stories, essays, and a detective novel, Big Black Hole. Wilma has led writing classes for adults in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, since 1987. In her spare time she tends a little wildflower garden with ironweed seven feet tall.

Kimberly Keating Wohlford is a writer in Charlotte, NC where she free-lances for the arts community.  In 2011, she left an established career in newspaper advertising, to pursue a dream to write her own stories.  Kimberly is currently working on a memoir that follows her journey to Glastonbury, England where magical things happen to redirect her path in life.  She will receive a certificate in creative writing from Stanford in March 2014.

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing contest, Writing prompt

EIGHT MORE DAYS TO SEND US YOUR STORY!

THE DEADLINE TO SEND US UP TO 1000 WORDS TO WIN AN AMAZON GIFT CARD IS A WEEK FROM TOMORROW!!!!

WE CAN’T WAIT TO READ YOUR STORIES!!!

WHAT TO SUBMIT:

A short memoir story of 1,000 words or less.¬† We are looking for submissions in the genre of Creative Nonfiction–stories about events which actually happened to you and which are told with artistic flair.¬† We don’t know whether we’ll prefer strong technique or powerful natural storytelling ability. A clean, clear-cut plotline or a slow meander through a lyrical garden of metaphor and description. ¬†Just show us your best work in your best style. We have no preconceived ideas of what will be awarded first, second, and third place.

The story should not have been previously published anywhere online or in print–not even on your own blog.¬† Writer Site reserves the right to publish your story on its website. After that, rights revert to the writer.¬† The three award-winning stories will be published on Writer Site.

Please submit a Word document without your name or identifying information.

WHERE TO SUBMIT:

Email your stories to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com.

WHAT YOU CAN WIN:

  • $25 first place
  • $15 second place
  • $10 third place

Prizes will be in the form of Amazon gift cards by email.

WHEN TO SUBMIT:

Email your submission by September 16, 2013.

WHO WILL BE JUDGING:

I will be involved in the judging process, but the final decisions will be made by two guest judges, Wilma Kahn and Kimberly Keating Wohlford.

CONTEST JUDGE BIOS:

Wilma Kahn has an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, as well as a Doctor of Arts in English from SUNY-Albany. She is the published author of poems, short stories, essays, and a detective novel, Big Black Hole. Wilma has led writing classes for adults in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, since 1987. In her spare time she tends a little wildflower garden with ironweed seven feet tall.

Kimberly Keating Wohlford is a writer in Charlotte, NC where she free-lances for the arts community.  In 2011, she left an established career in newspaper advertising, to pursue a dream to write her own stories.  Kimberly is currently working on a memoir that follows her journey to Glastonbury, England where magical things happen to redirect her path in life.  She will receive a certificate in creative writing from Stanford in March 2014.

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing contest, Writing prompt