Flash Fiction–Paradox

Paradox

On a day when divorce was distinctly possible, she threw up, went to work, then to her son’s baseball game. For one moment, breeze, sun, voices combined and something utterly inexplicable occurred: she felt purely and completely happy.

by Louise Kantro
Modesto Branch, CA

Flash Fiction–Too Fat to Fit

Too Fat to Fit

We drove 300 miles to the Iowa State Fair–Ian, Leo and me. Planned to stay with Sis, so we did. Next day we walked. Ate things on a stick. Grandsons kept walking as they ate –cotton candy, pork-chops, funnel cakes. Tried midway rides, some twice. Sun warmed farmer caps and strollers, as we listened to horse-drawn wagons and talent scouts.

Packing for home next day, Sis rushed super-mega toilet rolls to my back seat.
“Why we taking these to Wisconsin?” asked Leo.

“They’re too fat to fit,” Sis said, “my toilet holders.”

“Why not just stack them on the counter?” he said.

Linda Newman Woito
Iowa City Branch, IA

From the author:

I still am laughing out loud, to this day, when I think of Leo’s obviously ADULT rational response. I think Leo wins the day, and for me, the story is about him, not the sister.

Reader response?

And happy, belated Valentines day:

“FRAME”

Oh you’re so pretty!
I think you’ll fit just fine!
I might have to hang you
and call you my Valentine!

Dianne Lynn Benanti
Palm Springs Branch, CA

Flash Fiction–The Ring

The Ring

Traffic whizzed by; she waited at the café table. Running her fingers through her gray hair, she recalled.
“You’re so beautiful,” Angelo had said, frowning. “Why do you look so young? You deceive me.”
It was one of those smack-in-your-face moments. She loved him. He loved her.
She shook her head. He’s not coming. Rising she crossed the street. In an instant, brakes squealed. She was on the ground – pain, blood. Someone picked up her head, cradled it in his lap. In that moment she looked up, a death smile on her lips.
It was Angelo, fingering a velvet ring box.

Christina Laurie
Cape Cod Branch, MA

A conversation with two collaborators

Why be a Pen Woman? This conversation with two Iowa Pen Women who wrote Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink together, says it all!
mary & me cover

The length of the friendship never brought astonishment. After all, the majority of Baby Boomers could likely claim a long-standing friendship in their lives. No, it was always the letters: the-pen-on-paper, inside-a-stamped-envelope, mailed-in-a-mailbox letter that was awe-inspiring. “You’ve been writing a letter every week for almost thirty years?” The question always evokes disbelief, particularly since the dawn of the Internet and email…
…This book explores a friendship that began in June 1986 and will most likely not end until “death do us part.” The fact that one of the women in this relationship had never really had other female friends outside of her sisters, while the other woman had too many to count, is all part of the story.”


—-Excerpted from the introduction of Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink, co-written by Iowa City Branch Pen Women Mary Potter Kenyon (Letters 2014) and Mary Jedlicka Humston (Letters 2007). Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Familius Publishing. (http://www.familius.com/mary-me)

The following article “A Q & A Conversation with Two Collaborators” details how these two Pen Women coauthored a book and what they learned in the process.

Q: What was the most difficult thing about collaborating with another Pen Woman?
A: Mary Potter Kenyon: I admit to being a control freak, and so there was that to overcome when working with someone else on a project. While Mary and I had been friends for years and were used to critiquing each other’s writing, I had the most experience working with a publisher. There were occasions when I felt a little bossy, nixing her ideas. When we decided to work with each of our strengths, it was easier. I’d sold three other books through book proposals and had been teaching community college classes in proposal writing, so it made sense for me to write that. Mary was the better editor, so I relinquished a lot of that to her.
A: Mary Jedlicka Humston: Distance. Living 90 miles apart required extensive planning for face-to-face visits. Busy schedules as well as snow, ice, and blizzards occasionally hindered our work sessions. When the weather cooperated, we accomplished amazing results. Frequent emails and phone calls became crucial.

Q: What was the thing that surprised you the most?
A: Mary Potter Kenyon: Because I shared the work with a coauthor, and other women’s essays were also included in the book, I was surprised how little of the manuscript was solely up to me. I’d just completed three non-fiction books in the previous three years, with two taking more than a year to finish. With Mary writing half of each chapter, and essays filling in pages between each topic, we were able to complete the book in a few months.
I was also surprised to discover many similarities between Mary and me that hadn’t been fully revealed through all those years of letter-writing.

A: Mary Jedlicka Humston: Two things. I knew that communication would be crucial, but I didn’t realize its true importance. Communication created an environment of openness which allowed us to be creative and provided a great working relationship.
Bellevue event
The other thing? Writing Mary & Me deepened our already strong friendship. I thought I knew a lot about Mary, but I learned even more about her in our collaboration.

Q: What are the differences in the way the two of you work? Do you have different styles?
A: Mary Potter Kenyon: Mary revises much more than I do. I relied on her to be the one to repeatedly go over everything with a fine-toothed comb, but there were times when it was a little frustrating for me when a single word or phrase would bother Mary to no end. I don’t rely on other beta-readers as much as Mary does, perhaps to my own detriment, but it works for me when I have to meet a deadline. Now that I’m a newspaper reporter I believe it is a saving grace. No one sees anything I write until it ends up on the editor’s desk. For our coauthoring project, however, it was Mary’s endless revising that caught several serious errors.

A: Mary Jedlicka Humston: Mary wrote chapters in order. I did not. I am an editing fiend and have a hard time letting a piece go. She helped me know when “enough was enough.”

When we arrived at the speaking stage of our book journey, we realized we had totally different styles. Mary has an outline and can speak from it with ease and comfort. I like to have everything written out, so I don’t forget key points. I practice voraciously so my delivery appears natural and not stilted.

Our bios:
Mary Potter Kenyon graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and lives in Manchester, Iowa. She is a reporter for the Manchester Press newspaper and author of five books, including the award-winning “Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace.” She is widely published in magazines, anthologies, and newspapers and teaches writing courses for community colleges. She is a popular speaker on the topics of grief and writing. E-mail: marypotterkenyon@gmail.com

Mary Jedlicka Humston, a former high school teacher, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in English education. Her poetry and essays have been widely published, both nationally and locally. She has presented programs on cancer, dealing with chronic illness, prayer, writing and the Little Free Library movement. She resides in Iowa City, Iowa. E-mail: maryjedhum@gmail.com

Flash Fiction–In Justice

In Justice

Sally runs to playground. Sally swings on swing. A group of schoolyard bullies beats up Sally and steals her lunch money. Sally organizes a team of avenger-nerds, chases down thieves, retrieves lunch money, and is elected class president. Chastened bully ring-leader grows up to write redemptive novel that wins Pulitzer for its realistic portrayal of criminal reform. Sally writes flash fiction, laughing out loud.

Question: Did you assume the bully was a boy?

Treanor Baring
Bayou City Branch, TX

Editor’s Note: I’m hoping to be able to publish a chapbook of Flash Fiction October through Pen Women Press. This will be a small, limited project, a small way of getting our members’ work in print. In the meantime, I’m posting the accepted flash fiction submissions in the order that I received them. The Poem of the Week feature will return in November, so poets, please keep those submissions coming.

Here’s a draft of the cover of the chapbook–I’m working on getting a cost estimate for 100 copies. flash!coverIf we can get donations, we can distribute free of cost! The photo on the cover, which I took in St. Pancras train station in London, represents for me what makes flash fiction so appealing. It’s a quick spiral to personal moments and insight about people. Keep writing, Pen Women!–Treanor Baring, Poetry Editor, Website Content Editor, NLAPW

Flash Fiction–Savannah’s Solution

Savannah’s Solution

Both moon and stars are dependable touchstones, glittering night sky jewels, delivering the sweet startle of childhood awe for Savannah, nascent astronomer, precocious three year old. One night, after the new moon, Savannah and her grandmother begin their ritual sky watch. As the sliver lunar crescent eases above the horizon, thin as a curved potato chip standing on its side, Savannah, surprised by the moon’s shape gasps, “Grandma, the moon is broken! What happened to the other part?” Then, before grandma can explain moon phases, Savannah pats her hand whispering, “Don’t worry Grandma, my daddy can fix it!”

Lynn M. Hansen
Modesto Branch, CA

 

Flash Fiction–Serial Killer

SERIAL KILLER

The punk behind the register snorted when Dave dropped his grocery bag.
Dave picked it up and then looked the chain-wearing youth in the eye. “What’s your name?” he asked.
“Rick Stone,” the kid sneered. “Why?”
Dave left the store without replying.
That night, Dave wrote a graphic short story about the murder and dismemberment of a teenaged punk named Rick Stone.
On Thursday evening, he read it to his writers’ group. The newest member was the first to comment. “Sounds like you’re struggling with some adolescent angst,” she said.
“What’s your name?” Dave asked.

Kathleen Powers-Vermaelen
Suffolk County Branch, NY

Flash Fiction–Chance Meeting

Flash Fiction October is here! Need I say more?

Chance Meeting

Elizabeth and Bob shared good years together until he reveled in his success as a plastic surgeon. Then he developed an inflated ego that affected their marriage.
When she turned fifty, Bob began a series of affairs that led to an eventual divorce.
Six months later, Elizabeth saw him in Starbucks. Bob’s dewy-eyed companion looked half his age. After looking her over, Elizabeth strode to their table to make the kill!
“Bob, I see you’ve switched your practice to pediatrics.”
He was definitely not amused, but revenge is sweet. Elizabeth felt better than she had in ages.

Marlene Klotz
Boca Raton Branch, FL

 

Poem of the Week–Differences

Differences

Don’t divide the people, we insist…
There is a way, to peacefully coexist.
But still I see two sides concerning this.
What is power up to will they tell?

As mountain peaks await the sunset bell
and darkness captures either side of dawn
the sun appears alternatively gone;
night and day change sides and disappear
for us to follow, in our wake of fear.

Sophie Barnes
Connecticut Pioneer Branch, CT

Poem of the Week–Joshua Tree

JOSHUA TREE REVISITED

Ageless rocks stand like desert monuments,
Trees with spiky arms reach toward the sky.
Roads snake into endless wilderness
Distant views bemuse the eye.

Sandy trails slice through unyielding brush
Where shy inhabitants slither, crawl and run,
Bold wildflowers in radiant colors
Lift their heads to the relentless sun.

Vast and wild, the park calls to adventurers
Who roar along its roads in fearless quest.
While those who come to look for sanctuary
Soon discover gifts of beauty, peace and rest.

Some say this place is where the spirits dwell
And who’s to know who has not felt its spell?

Dawn Huntley Spitz
Cape Cod Branch, MA