Tag Archives: short short

Flash, Micro, Sudden, 55-Word Fiction–a Mental Disciple


Not many every-day folks know about the world of abridged, compressed or ultra lean writing known to some as the short short story. It is a lovely genre for its intensity, poetry of language, and voice. There are different sub-genres that include exactly 33-word, 55-word or 100-word renditions of a story. A  laxer variation says anything under 300 words qualifies as a shortie.

The concept is to write a story (beginning, middle and ending) with a few, well-chosen words. It’s like smelting ore to refine for gold. Usually, the story, once distilled, packs a wallop.

Practicing writing ultra-short stories is a mental disciple. Take 15 minutes now to try it. Using the words “sentimental,” “pool,” and “sandals,” write a short story of 55-words (exactly).

I did the exercise, too. Here’s what I came up with:

Think of You

by Fay Moore © 2013

 You left. The air is as blistering as my emotions. I turn off the radio as I sit by the pool. No sentimental songs today. Illusory reflections in the water conjure your face. Your sandals, carelessly tossed into the grass, elicit memories of playful times. Damn it. In spite of myself,  I think of you.


Fifty-five word short stories, or shorties, are excellent writing exercises to focus one’s thoughts, word choice, imagery and more. Unlike poetry, a 55-worder must have a beginning, middle and end to the story. Like poetry, the impact is precise.

My fifty-five word stories tend toward the serious. I have a friend who has mastered using the 55-worder to zing the reader with the unexpected ending, using either humor or shock. The 55-worder is his domain.

To tip my hat in homage to him and our friendship, I present you with a symbolic fifty-five word story. It’s about a writer with writer’s block stuck in a desert town wondering if she will ever finish her novel.

Morning in a Desert

by Fay Moore (c) 2013

I awaken to drumming outside the window. It must be the madman across the street on his drum set. He’s getting an early start on  practicing, I think.  I arise and peek through the venetian blinds, wondering, Will it be a good day in this desert town? Yes. In a parched place, it is raining.

Here’s a second copyrighted example on the same theme. I sent an e-mail to my daughter using the following almost verbatim. That was the inspiration for the piece above. It’s funny how inspiration strikes:

It’s raining in the desert. I was awakened this morning to drumming outside my window. I thought it was the madman across the street with his garage drum set. He’s starting early, I thought. I peeked outside. No drummer. It’s raining!  How symbolic. Here I am in the midst of dusty barrenness,  yet there’s rain.

Here’s the Link to Preview the Anthology


http://www.amazon.com/Writers-Desert-Cafe-An-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00ARYTOYC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1356216202&sr=1-1&keywords=writers+of+the+desert+rose+cafe#_

Clicking on the link takes you to the cover and a brief look inside the first few pages of the new Anthology. Coincidentally, my work appears first in the book, so it is my work that is open to be read as part of  a free preview. Talk about pressure. If my work doesn’t nab a reader, then the rest of the authors may never get read. My work has to convince the site visitor to buy the book.

We priced the book at an affordable $2.99 because we want many people to take the chance to buy the book, then read it.

Remember, if you purchase a copy of the book and have constructive feedback for any of the authors, please share it here. The book is the first product of our writers group, reflecting our growing as writers. You, as reader, matter to us and we want to hear what you think, good or bad. Just make the critique constructive so an author can improve based on what you say.

 

 

The Anthology Is Going to Press


Within the week, the Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe Anthology will be in the hands of Acorn Book Services for formatting. Within the month, the e-book will be available for sale on Amazon.com.

The anthology integrates the varied writing interests of the authors into a fast and easy read.  There’s something for everyone: young adult to inspirational to fantasy to adult fiction to poetry to ultra-short story (such as 33- or 55-word stories). Whatever your tastes in reading, the anthology offers enough variety to satisfy.

Sound like an advertisement? It is.

Naturally, I hope you will read the anthology and share feedback with me. Your feedback helps the writers of Desert Rose Cafe to improve and grow. Criticism is welcomed when it is meant to help.

The project itself drove several of the authors out of a comfort zone. Writing within a group setting is very different from writing alone. For a couple of the writers, the process of publication is a first experience. Others have years of creative expertise. One of our own developed the book cover with group input. Members assumed varying responsibilities such as editing, content organization, setting timelines and the like. The satisfaction of bringing the projection to completion is almost at hand.

As an aside, one of our authors has Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disability that affects one’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Can you imagine the huge satisfaction that writer is feeling right now?

Now the marketing begins, along with the next learning curve for some of us. When the e-book is available to purchase, I’ll share where to buy it.

As I learn what works and what doesn’t on the marketing side of the venture, I’ll share those lessons, too.

Later, ‘gator.

High Winds–or A Lot of Hot Air


By now you have figured out that Hubby and I are what some might call hobby farmers: we farm, but at least one of us holds a job to pay the bills. And my husband’s pet project on the farm is hen husbandry–er, I mean, he likes his hens–er, what I really mean is he likes to eat eggs, and he thinks having hens around is comical, and he likes taking care of the chickens.

Anyway, in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, a friend from Arkansas called my husband and asked how his hens were faring. Hubby told the following whopper:

I wrapped myself up, being sure to wear my hard hat in case of any flying debris, and went outside to check on the chickens. Fay, who doesn’t enjoy the chicken chores, forgot to close the side screened window on the chicken house as well as the back hatch door that opens into the fenced yard. With all the wind, I was a bit worried about what may be churning in the hen house. When I opened the main door to the roost area, you’ll never believe what those hens were doing!

The wind was screaming through the house, coming in the open window and blowing out the rear hatch, sending sawdust and feathers flying like a rocket flame. But those hens had it under control. They were flying in place and in formation over the roost bars. Whenever they needed to give their wing muscles a rest, they grabbed the roost bars with their toes, kept their wings spread, and wind surfed.

Why there was so much wind funneling through the house that the eggs were floating in a helix formation in the vortex! I just stuck my goldfish net into the jetstream and nabbed me an egg, one at a time. Those hens didn’t even blink an eye!

And you thought only fishermen told tall tales.

Short Story from Hurricane Sandy


The televisions are blaring in both the bedroom and kitchen with non-stop weather reports as Hurricane Sandy closes the gap between riding north on the Gulf Stream and slamming ashore at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. Outside the kitchen window, wind is howling and rain is pelting the house. Dark clouds obscure nature’s light.

The missus surveys the collection of flashlights, candles, oil lamps, hand-cranked L.E.D. lanterns, matches and other emergency notions lined up neatly on the linen-cloaked dining room table. She is drying her hands after scouring the bathtub, then filling it with water. The water can be used to drink, to flush toilets, to water dogs or wash dishes if the power goes out, taking the well pump with it. In the kitchen, a pot of boiling water cooks spaghetti noodles. Garlic Texas toast browns in the oven. A freshly made pan of homemade sauce steams beside the spaghetti pot. The kitchen timer buzzes, calling the missus to attention.

She spears a noodle with a fork, runs it under cold water to cool, and pops it in her mouth. Perfect al dente. She turns off the oven and pulls the cookie sheet holding the savory bread from the rack, setting it on the countertop to cool. The noodles are draining in the colander when she calls her husband. It’s meal time.

He stands from a reclining position in his easy chair. She sets plates beside the stove and fetches grated parmesan cheese from the refrigerator.

Pop. Blink. Flicker. Whoosh. Out go the lights. It’s not the candlelight dinner she imagined.

Justice, Part Two


Asklotta requested I write Part 2 to 8/23/2012’s short story “Justice.” Your wish, Asklotta, is my command.

I went hunting for inspiration and found it on www.zerohedge.com in Tyler Durden’s 8/23/2012 post titled “JPM’s London Whale May Face Jail Time for Mismarking Billions in CDS.” I hope you enjoy another installment of “Justice.”

Justice: Part Two

by Fay Moore © 2012

 On the 20th floor, night’s blackness is arriving without a sound. Reds, purples and oranges chase the sun out of sight beyond J.R.’s office window.

Late nights are de rigueur at the Wall Street firm, so an analyst knows where to find J. R. when the after-hours news comes across the wire. J. R. is in his office, as expected. Unexpectedly, J. R. is in front of his desk when the subordinate knocks on the jamb of the open office door. The boss is striding back and forth atop a broad gilded stripe on the carpet, as if the line is a runway and his feet, the plane flown by a pilot practicing incessant touch-and-go landings.

The underling centers himself inside the door frame, lowers his eyes and waits politely. J. R. makes two more passes in front of the desk before acknowledging the interruption.

Can’t you see I’m busy?”

You asked me to let you know if anything hit the alternative news wires. Something is up on ZeroHedge.”

The boss swears under his breath and heads for his desk. He grabs the arm of the executive desk chair forcefully, rolling it backwards, and jumps into the leather seat, driving the rolling chair forward. The ricochet reminds the subordinate of the lethal motion of a pistol slide.

The Internet article says J. R., as chief executive officer, and his firm are in trouble: in addition to the uncomfortable news of the firm’s suffering massive losses for the quarter, now comes an accusation that players in the firm engage in criminal mismarking of credit default swaps to boost reported profits with the intent to defraud shareholders and investors.

J. R. knows that regulators are three years behind in following up allegations of wrong-doing. A bigger threat, in the form of bad press, comes from self-appointed enforcers outside the establishment. Envious or angry insiders leak damaging information into the alternative news channels. Internet-based sleuths are busy lifting carpet corners, shining light on hidden filth missed by lazy, stupid or blind regulators. Going from trickles to torrents,  the news leaks push J. R. to make admissions about the bad behavior of the London-based trading office, and name names of guilty parties. To cover his own ass, he denies foreknowledge of the crimes. Then there’s the LIBOR scandal, to which J. R.’s firm is a party–if not directly, then by association.

J. R. belongs to the You-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours Boy’s Club where men help each other evade the law, at least, and commit horrific crimes, at most.

The executive admits to himself that the media snowball is rolling downhill and growing out of control. The bad news, that came in monthly dribs and drabs of disjointed factoids in the beginning,  is coming faster and faster now; from monthly leaks to weekly to daily to hourly ones.  At first, J. R.’s smooth spin paints the Internet newsmongers as “nutters” chasing phantoms. J. R. is a master at disconnecting the dots. His executive board loves him for that quality. But now the fouling of the firm is overwhelming. The big question at the top is who is going down?

J. R. is waiting for a call from his criminal defense lawyer. That’s why he was pacing when the associate showed up in his office doorway. He needs the legal firm’s resources to manufacture an escape route that will keep him alive and functioning. He is trying to keep his neck out of the noose.

The television mounted on his office wall—the one that is always on and tuned to the financial news network with the prettiest broadcasters–sounds a bell. For some odd reason, J. R. mistakes the sound for the peal of the early warning system. He looks up at the screen. The announcer speaks. The news rattles him. The former head of a competing firm is dead, shot today by an unidentified gunman while he and his wife are vacationing in the south of France.

In the middle of a sentence, the broadcaster stops speaking, pressing his finger against the device in his ear.

After a pause, the reporter says, “We have breaking news. The shooting appears to be an assassination. A source inside French law enforcement says the shooting has all the hallmarks of a professional hit. We’ll bring you the details as soon as we know more.”

A professional hit? By whom?” the underling asks his boss.

I don’t know,” he answers, his voice quieter than normal. “Look, I have a call to make. Thanks for telling me about the ZeroHedge thing. That’s all for now.” J. R. walks the man toward the door, shutting the door behind him.

He calls his lawyer again and gets the receptionist.

He identifies himself to her, then says, “This is urgent. I need my attorney now.”

The barrister’s paralegal comes on the line. He recognizes the investment banker’s voice. J. R. gets to the point.

I don’t know if you’ve heard the latest. I fear someone is targeting investment bankers.”

Yes, I heard the French news.”

“Then you understand. I need protection, and I need it tonight. I don’t know who is behind the threat, but. . . .”

A bullet breaks through the office window glass, striking J. R. in the back of the head and blowing a gaping hole in his frontal lobe as the projectile exits the skull. As J. R. falls, a tinny voice calls through the small speaker of the phone.

Hello? Hello?”

In a moment, the line goes dead.

Sudden Fiction: Justice


The concept of justice is the theme of the song prompt “Beer for my Horses.” The songwriter romanticizes the style of justice made famous in the Old West–the noose. My story explores another form: vigilante justice. I decided to set the story in the context of this week’s news to give it a contemporary flavor. I found the perfect villain that everyone loves to hate. His own bad behavior and cavalier attitude toward his victims makes him perfect for the villain character in the  story. The old man character takes matters into his own hands to set things right.

This little shortie is less than 400 words. The names have been changed to protect the guilty, and to cover my ass.

JUSTICE

by Fay Moore (c) 2012

The old man shuts the top on his notebook computer. He removes his glasses and sets them on the lamp table next to his easy chair. The glasses rest atop a pile of account statements and letters. He leans his head against the chair back and closes his eyes. The words he  just read are re-playing in his head.

Internet columnist Ben Protess reports, “After 10 months of stitching together evidence on the demise of MF Global, investigators conclude that chaos and porous risk controls at the firm, rather than fraud, allowed the money to disappear.”

The octogenarian pinches the bridge at the top of his nose, eyes still shut.

More words echo:

“A criminal investigation into the collapse of the brokerage firm MF Global regarding the disappearance of $1.6 billion in customer money is entering the final stages. No charges are expected to be filed against any top executives.”

The paper statements on the lamp stand show the accounting of deposits made by the old man into an MF Global investment account. The letters mixed in with the statements describe the loss of the man’s money because his brokerage firm gambled on Greek debt instruments with customers’ money. The firm’s actions wiped out the old man’s account. Another letter promises to repay a portion of the loss at pennies on the dollar. However, repayment is contingent on court approval. The case is tied up in bankruptcy court and may be for months or years to come.

But worse to the old man than his loss, worse than Johann Corsini and his cronies skating on criminal charges, are the last words the man reads before taking off his glasses. The words say to the old man that there will be more victims. A leopard can’t change his spots.

“Mr. Corsini, in a bid to rebuild his image and engage his passion for trading, is weighing whether to start a hedge fund, according to people with knowledge of his plans.”

These are the words that prompt the man to place a call. He listens to the ringing before someone picks up on the other end.

“Hello.”

“Do it,” says the old man.

“When?”

“Now. I want to see it on tonight’s news.”

He ends the call and leans back in his chair again, eyes closed. He is imagining the news broadcaster’s announcement:

“Johann Corsini is dead, shot today by an unidentified gunman while he and his wife were vacationing in France.”

Why Are You So Mean?


Here’s my response to the song prompt “Mean” sung by Taylor Swift. I hope you enjoy it — well, given the subject matter, perhaps “enjoy” isn’t the correct word to use.

Mean

by Fay Moore (c) 2012

 

“You didn’t do it right.”

 

“Sorry, sir. I thought you said . . .”

 

“I don’t pay you to think. I pay you to do what I tell you to do.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“Now go out there and do it over. This time do it the right way.”

 

“I’m not sure how you want it . . .”

 

“You figure it out. I told you once already. Use your head. That’s why it’s there on your shoulders. Quit acting like an imbecile.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“And none of that silly singing. Who told you you could sing anyway? With a voice like that you should get a job scaring away crows. Your voice reminds me of those damnable noisemakers the city put in the trees to scare off birds. You hurt my ears. No singing.”

 

“Yes.” There’s a pause followed by, “sir.”

 

“Well, don’t just stand there. Get to it. Are you going to make me stand here all day supervising you? You lazy dog. Get to work.”

 

No one could hear the reply muttered under the kid’s breath.

 

“Mean bastard.”

Response to Song Prompt “Give Me One Reason”


Finally, I finished the story prompted by Tracy Chapman’s song “Give Me One Reason.” I hope you like it.

One Reason

by Fay Moore © 2012

Stacy swirled a circle on the steamy mirror with her hand. The skin on the back of it caught her attention, and she stopped moving the extremity mid-circle to push her palm flat to the glass. She studied the way the skin wrinkled in fine lines, sagging a bit. Veins bulged like mountain ranges across a plain. Her eyes shifted from her hand to the face in the mirror. She leaned in to look closer. The marks on her face were more pronounced. Her forehead was furrowed. Using her fingertips, she traced crow’s-feet at the corners of her eyes and  creases across the bridge of her nose. Moving lower, her fingertips rested on her mouth, where she noted for the first time that lines radiated from her lips like sunbeams.

Stacy straightened, realizing her posture was slightly slumped. She pulled her shoulders and head back, forcing the top of her head toward the ceiling. She was shocked that she gained another inch or two in height. Aging was coming on hard.

Still naked from her shower, she shuddered at the thought of continuing the examination. Nevertheless, she wiped away more steam from the glass, then stood to assess herself.

Her breasts, though small, sagged. The skin around her navel frowned at her, the weight of her tummy pulling the edges down. She turned sideways. Instead of the once straight arrow-like body she remembered, she saw a series of S-curves. Dimples pock-marked her hips and thighs. She’d seen enough. She turned away from the mirror and wrapped herself in a terry cloth robe, her hair in a towel.

She moved to her closet, pulling out what she planned to wear. She thought about the work day ahead. She had a full docket of criminal cases. Back to back, she would defend people she disliked–and disregarded in the world outside the courtroom. She hated her job, but it provided her with a good living.

Stacy lived alone. She’d been married once.  The marriage ended in divorce. Finding companions was tricky. All the men she admired were married or gay. That left her with a choice: being alone or sleeping with married men. At present she was in an on-again-off-again illicit affair with a married journalist. She liked him. She wanted him more than he wanted her. That hurt.

It was time to go. Stacy got into her car and turned the key. She thought about her lover as she drove, and she wished her cell phone would ring. She could call him. She had his number. He had hers.

But long ago, she promised herself she would not sell out completely to loneliness. She wanted to salvage a shred of dignity. The rules of her game were that he needed to call her. She wished he’d give her one reason to turn the car around. She’d call in sick.

She wished and wished.