Travels Abroad

My response to the Ragtag Community prompt: DAMP

Dear Cousin Francie,

Well, Lily and I arrived back home yesterday from our two-week trip to the South seas. I know you would have loved it! I can’t tell you how many times Lilly and I said we wished you were there sharing the great times with us.

We boarded our boat on a lovely, sunny day. For the first couple of days we were travelling not far from a gorgeous luxury yacht.
Wet 8

Lilly and I chose the economy package, so our boat wasn’t as high-class, but we managed quite well, though it was a little more work. We had all the showers we wanted, but washroom facilities weren’t the best.
Wet 9

At times the wind picked up and the seas got a bit wild, which made the voyage an exciting challenge for our captain and crew.
Wet 8

We expected a shower or two even in those tropical climes but we were prepared for nature’s surprises and enjoyed our trip in spite of the occasional sprinkle.
Wet 6

We visited the local markets and chatted with the vendors:
Wet 5

And stopped at other tourist spots in the city:
Wet 1

Some of our mates managed to get some unique selfies.
Wet 7

On days at sea with nothing else to do, we invented a fun guessing game. We called it, “Who’s behind the door?”
Wet4

And of course we were delighted to catch glimpses of the creatures playing in the sea around us:
Wet 3

Oh, yes, dear cousin, you certainly missed the thrill of a lifetime —and  all because you weren’t willing to leave the comforts of home. Baah! Next time we go, you’re coming along and no excuses.

Affectionately yours,
Cousin Twyleen

 

Attractive Offers

Parking

As you can see, parking was tight in front of the Haggleburg General Store two days before Thanksgiving.

The reason for this was obvious to everyone who lived there. On the Monday before the holiday Geordie MacLellan, a poultry farmer west of town, would butcher his young turkeys. This gave local cooks time to choose their birds and get them in the oven for Thursday’s Thanksgiving meal. On Tuesday morning Geordie’s three teenage daughters came to town and set up a table beside the General Store. Here they would sell fresh young turkeys all morning.

Everyone knew Geordie’s birds were attractive, plump speciens with nicely toned flesh and exquisite drumsticks. In the heat they’d toast up to an appealing golden brown. The street by the store would be crowded as young bachelors from the surrounding area came to eye Georgie’s birds and dream of home- cooked feasts.

Of course they planned to do a little visiting with Geordie’s daughters, too, the girls being quite attractive in their own way. Seasoned cooks sorting through the poultry would wink at each other as some young blade let it be known, in forlorn tones, that he had no plans for a Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone knew the girls were allowed to invite guests — but no more than a dozen! — for the day.

The MacLellan girls were reputed to be as good cooks as their mother. And the MacLellan men liked to eat. An invitation to join Geordie’s family for a holiday meal was the ticket to a day in gourmet glory. Young men made sure they got to town very early that day to do their shopping.

So now you know, too, why parking spaces were hard to find on Main Street in Haggleburg on the Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving.

I really went to town with Fandango’s prompt today: PARKING

Flashes of Fantasy

The grass was white with frost this morning, but the sun’s still warm enough to dry it up fast. The temp today is supposed to reach 12 C. Nice!

Re: Techno-troubles I mentioned yesterday

Same story, sad to say. This morning Fandango’s blog came up squashed left, but a click on the title brought it back into normal focus. Word of the Day prompt came up just as it always does. Clicking on the Ragtag Community e-mail got me nothing. The link appeared in my browser strip, but a blank screen. I tried three different ways to access it and got a blank screen each time. Just now when I clicked on the e-mail notice again, the blog came up fine.

So I never know whether Word Press and my computer will cooperate or not. I’m thankful I can still post, but this situation may well require a trip to some t-expert for an internal exam.

Of Flash Fiction and Fantasy

As I mentioned before, I’ve been working at compiling a book of flash fiction stories. But perhaps I’m laboring under a false ILLUSION that my JOVIAL, “happy-ending” stories will sell in today’s market? To study the competition out there, I’ve downloaded several e-books of short stories and read a number of flash fiction tales online. Judging from what I’ve read so far, I’ve concluded:

— Flash fiction stories today are, for the most part, NOT upbeat.
Yesterday I read one tale about a ragged, grizzled fellow sitting in a bar mumbling to an imaginary friend. (Himself in the mirror, I guess.) He rehashes his guilt because he’d ignored his father’s middle-of-the-night moans — the dad was often moaning — and the father died. He sits there until the bartender tells him to go home, so he goes back to his empty apartment. The end.

—Endings are often tragic. Sweethearts walk away. A loved one dies.
Like the one about the guy sitting in a café half-listening to the general BURBLE around him, when he sees a woman walk past the window. There’s something about her… It’s love at first sight! He follows and catches up to her just as she’s standing in front of a store window. She turns and smiles. He smiles back. A terrorist bomb explodes. He comes out of it with minor injuries; she’s killed. It ends with his wondering “Why do things happen this way?”

—There are often fantasy or supernatural elements.
This is getting to be quite common all across the board. Like someone in a coma after an accident, sent off in body (and perfect health) to accomplish some goal. Strangers/angels appear and disappear. That kind of thing.

—There’s often a reverse twist to the tale.
A technology wizard is feeling bored one morning, so he finds an ingenious way to hack into the city’s traffic signals system. He turns all the lights green and is entertained by the resulting chaos. After awhile he finds the repetition of car crashes and sirens so boring.

A fellow driving home from work sees a beautiful rainbow and thinks of the old story of “a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” He pulls out his phone to send his wife a quick picture, loses control, his car crashes and he dies just a few feet from a shining pot of gold. Talk about heartbreaking!

My Well Dressed Hamburger’s Adventure

This morning my mind’s been spinning out a story that will incorporate a lot of these elements. Because I’d rather see upbeat endings for people, I’ve been working on a tragic ending for the “well dressed hamburger” I mentioned in my last post. A lachrymose tale indeed! (For those who like obscure words.)

Yes, total fantasy — but it’s given my imagination a good workout. Plus, no people have been injured or depressed in the weaving of this tale. Mind you, some younger folks may find my sense of humor deplorable or laughable. (Pardon the pun.) 🙂

Have I made you curious? Another element of flash fiction can be an unsatisfying ending, one that leaves you hanging, not knowing how the situation turns out.

Fandango’s Prompt: ILLUSION
Ragtag Daily Prompt: BURBLE
Word of the Day Challenge: JOVIAL

Heart’s Ease

The HeartsEase Tea Shoppe was almost deserted when he stepped inside that morning. Lianne, who was filling salt shakers, looked up when the little bell at the door tinkled. She rolled her eyes when she saw the hopeful smile Mike beamed at her.

“Is it just happenstance that he shows up now, or has he been watching for a slack time? Persistent he is.” Lianne grabbed her order book and walked over to the table he’d chosen.

“May I take your order, sir?” She felt the corners of her mouth wanting to curve into a smile, but she ordered herself to smarten up. She was not falling for this guy’s charm.

“Hello, Sweetie. Fancy meeting you here.”

“I doubt if there’s anything fancy about it. I’m thinking just plain persistence. Weren’t you in here last week, too?” She glared at him sternly. If only the corners of her mouth would stop trying to turn into a grin! She waved her pen at him. “May I take your order please.”

He put on a dejected look. “Do I dare order coffee in a Tea Shop…since I’ve dared to come in here in the first place? The waitress doesn’t seem friendly.”

Lianne glanced at the only other occupied table, where two elderly ladies were having tea. She saw one of them adjust her hearing aid. “All the better to hear you with, my dear.” She tried to hide the smile that came with that thought.

When she looked back at Mike, he was grinning mischievously. “Can you find me a sweet cookie with a heart on top,” he asked her, giving a wink to the tea grannies.

Lianne heard a little twitter from the other table and heard one woman say, “We’d be able to see out the window better if we moved over a bit.” Both ladies slid their chairs over as far as they could in the direction of Mike’s table.

Lianne rolled her eyes. She gave Mike an exaggerated frown. “Can you hurry up and order.”

He chuckled. “Now, Lee. Is that any way to treat a paying customer? Why, I might even buy a cinnamon roll and leave you a big tip when I leave.”

“Perhaps I should leave you a big tip, too.”

“If you can tell me how to impress a girl I’m madly in love with.”

She slid into the chair across from him. “We have a special Healthy Harvest whole grain bagel with low-calorie spread. It has no sugar, no cholesterol, no spices, no cream cheese. It’s perfect for people with heart problems.”

He sighed and put his elbows on the table. “I was hoping for something with dates in it.”

Lianne laughed in spite of herself. “You’re a nut.”

The two old ladies at the other table giggled between sips of tea.

“Just think of me as a big teddy bear with a huge attraction to a certain honey tree. I can’t help myself; I just keep coming back, hoping. If you give me some heart’s ease here, I promise I’ll straighten up and make something of myself. And I’ll always treat you right, Lee.”

“So you say. But what if…”

A shrill voice from the next table interrupted her. “For pity sake, young lady, give the man a chance!”

Lianne grabbed a white napkin off the table and waved it in the air. “Alright, Mike. Let’s talk about it.” She glanced at the two ladies, both of them nodding and wearing big grins. “After work,” she added.

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Fandango’s challenge word for today: HEART

Inspired Thoughts

Today’s Ragtag Community prompt word is INSPIRE. Such a nice, neat word. What better prompt to inspire a blogger to write a post?

I will confess, I haven’t been greatly inspired today, having gotten back some negative critiques on the short story I posted yesterday over at the Critique Circle. Not that I think the critiquers were wrong or unfair, but it hits me that I’ve been estimating my writing skills higher than they merited. My stories have flaws, too, and three people now have said there are just too many characters in this one to keep them all straight.

It’s kind of like having your manuscript returned by an editor with the standard form letter. Welcome to the wonderful world of writing: all your darling’s shortcomings pointed out. Critiques are good for a writer, I know. Kind of like a padded cell is good for you when you’re feeling like you can fly like the birds.

Oh, hey. I’m supposed to be talking about inspiration here!

I was inspired yesterday as I looked through Pixabay for a suitable image to use as a cover on my next book. I was all enthused about Fine Details and the cover I’d picked — and posted last week — but thumbs went down when I showed it around. “Too plain,” said some. “Too different from the norm for flash fiction covers,” someone else explained. So I searched Amazon and concluded this was true.

Back to my inspiration. I came across the following picture and since my granddaughter, age twelve, was sitting nearby, I called her to have a look. Somehow this scene just begged for a tale-spin, so between us we started imagining a story around it.

Reading

Pixabay photo

What might this unique creature be reading? Maybe he gets interrupted, a pal phoning or UPS ringing the doorbell. Who — and why? What does he do next? Or maybe his mom is calling him, but he want to finish his story.

This is what inspiration is all about. I saw another picture today that likewise inspired me. There must be something really witty one could think up to go with this upside-down bird. Nothing has come to me yet, but maybe it will inspire you.

Macaw

Pixabay photo

Mini Fiction Mix

For the past few days I’ve been choosing stories for my next book of mini fiction tales. Yesterday I applied for the ISBN. As soon as I get that lined up I’ll announce the title.

Some of the stories that appear in the fiction section here will be included in the book, such as the one about the Multi-tasking Motorist. And here’s one of my Friday Fictioneers posts that I’ve reworked and plan to include in the upcoming mix.

Harbour

Image from Pixabay

Harbour Secrets

From the third storey of the Customs Office Marv Sallens stared down at the busy harbour scene below, watching ships of every size streaming in and out of the busy port. “I wonder how many ships down there are running drugs,” he muttered.

Andy turned to his senior manager standing by the window. “What makes you…. Oh, hey. I’m really sorry, Marv.”

Marv gave a quick nod and turned to go, an icy anger replacing his usual grin. Stepping through the exit door he suddenly stopped and slammed his fist into the door frame.

Chance, the junior clerk looked up, shocked. Marv flexed his hand and walked out without another word. Chance turned to Andy. “What was that all about?”

“Last week they found Marv’s grandson and his fiancee dead in his apartment,” Andy explained. “They’d taken that new street drug…the one cops have been warning the public about.”

Chance swore softly. “I’ve heard about that one. Powerful…but I’ve heard it’s pretty risky. So that’s why Marv’s so torn up.”

“His grandson got his PhD this spring and just landed a great job. Apparently they were celebrating.”

Chance shook his head, seeing again Marv’s hand hitting the frame. He thought of his own parents, imagined how they’d react to something like that. A few minutes later he headed for the toilet…and flushed four white tablets.

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Comments and critique welcome. 🙂

Mashed Up Musings

Rambling Thoughts on Genre Mashups

Puzzling.jpgYesterday over at The Write Practice, the subject was genre mashups, something I’d never hear of before — at least not by that name. The concept of taking a story and retelling it in another genre is familiar. For example, telling the story of Cinderella as a news report.

In this Write Practice post “The Magic Violinist” is suggesting mixing genres like fairy tale + sci-fi, romance + thriller, classic + contemporary. Oliver Twist meets his Mafia Godfather. That type of thing.

I read a book recently where one of the main characters is an author and in her novel Jane Austen is captured by space aliens. The title of the book will give a clue as to how successful she was at getting it launched. The Rejected Writers Book Club (Southlea Bay) by Suzanne Kelman is a funny, though none-too-believable, tale with a mixture of zany and normal characters. I found it delightful.

Mixing genres is an intriguing thought. Even in straight fiction, there are some tales I think would benefit from a dash of something else thrown in. For example, Wuthering Heights — one book I disliked extremely. I read the thing all the way through, hoping poor Heathcliff would get a grip, but there was just no improvement.

It’s billed as a romance — but I saw no actual love anywhere in its pages. Jealousy, greed, snobbery, obsession, fury, cruelty, revenge, yes. Love, no. I think Healthcliff might have benefited immensely by a visit from those three Spirits of Christmas who brought Ebenezer Scrooge to his senses in A Christmas Carol.

I think a lot of mashups of the old classics have already been done a zillion times. There are many contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, and western versions of Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Pride + Prejudice, Romeo & Juliet, and Hamlet floating around.

Just for the fun of it, here are a few mashups I came up with:

Lord Peter Wimsey is sent to investigate the assassination of the King of Scotland and the murder of Banquo. He deduces from various clues that MacBeth is the guilty party…
or
Miss Marple, a good friend of Banquo’s widow, does some snooping and uncovers Lady Macbeth’s duplicity in the assassination of the king.

The Three Musketeers could be three university roommates who join together to prove their favorite professor, accused of being a spy, is innocent.

I’ve never read The Great Gatsby, and the synopsis doesn’t at all inspire me to start. However, one of the three male characters could meet up with the three spirits of Christmas and come to see the error of his ways, improving the sad outcome of that story.

On the humorous side, Bertie Wooster could meet up with Ebenezer Scrooge’s three Christmas ghosts and resolve to atone for his former self-indulgent lifestyle. He tries in his inept way to donate time + talent to some worthy cause, but Jeeves has to sort things out when they go awry.

Notes:

Cinderella, an old fairy tale, was recorded by French writer Charles Perrault
Oliver Twist is a classic novel by Charles Dickens
The Little Mermaid was a Hans Christian Anderson tale
Wuthering Heights was Emily Bronte’s only novel
Ebeneezer Scrooge is Charles Dicken’s notorious curmudgeon and tightwad
Pride & Prejudice was penned by Jane Austen
Romeo + Juliet, Hamlet and MacBeth were written by William Shakespeare
Lord Peter Wimsey was Dorothy Sayers’ famous detective
Miss Marple was Agatha Christie’s very successful sleuth
The Three Musketeers was written by Alexandre Dumas
The Great Gatsby was an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel
Bertie Wooster + his valet, Jeeves, were created by P. G. Wodehouse