Some newly published fiction: In addition to my novel prequel on Wattpad or Inkittshort story “Fleeting Delights” has been published by Sheepshead Review. You can also find what is perhaps my most controversial story to date, “All About Asses,” online from Every Day FictionDon’t judge too harshly until you consider the ending that all humans share…

MuffinI’ve been interviewed! Visit The Muffin for my views on how silence, Starbucks and being a teacher helped me to write my recently published YA short, Weak as Tissue. I keep reading how teaching doesn’t qualify us to write YA. Really? How could it not? (Also click here for links to other published stories.)

Intruded

Here’s some free fiction! I’m posting this as an experiment; something unpolished that I wrote in an hour, and posted raw. As writers, I think that we focus on editing areas that are important to us, but maybe not to our readers. Comments on how this story could improve are welcome, so that I can compare a list of readers’ editing priorities to my own. Yes, learning can be fun!

Visit my profile page for links to twenty published, more polished stories.

door

“Oh, hey, Dylan,” the stranger said, rising out of Elliot’s favorite chair. “You’re finally home.”

Somehow, my reflex was to explain: to apologize to this intruder for holding up her busy schedule of breaking and entering. “I, uh… had some shopping to do,” I told her stupidly.

She glanced around at the collection of cloth bags near my feet. “Shame,” she said about my motley montage of groceries and toiletries. “I wish you’d called. I could have saved you the trouble.” I could see that this confident stranger was wearing heels, but her steps were oddly silent as they crossed the floor toward me. Kneeling, she started poking through my bags.

Behind me, the open door framed me with the fluorescent glow of my building’s hallway. The buzz from old lights like that drove me crazy; Elliot had always sworn she couldn’t hear them, but I needed to close the door.

I needed to get rid of the stranger, first. Continue reading

Runner Up

WOWWell, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it? If dust could collect on a blog, I’d be having allergy attacks now.

After a busy few months teaching, and travelling, and just basically keeping life afloat, I thought I would check in once in awhile to see what’s happening in the old neighbourhood. Most of the blogs I follow have been very busy, so I’ll only take a moment now to post a link to my Flash Fiction piece that earned runner-up status, also a few months ago. The story, No Chocolate for Gerald, explores the tragic compromises that even the most devout Animal Rights activist might have to make.

Angela and the WOW team have recently begun hosting a creative nonfiction competition, in addition to their Flash comp. A more supportive community you will never find, so I highly recommend that any author visit their website, read their blog, and put them on your list of readers.

It’s good to see so many authors still hammering out their inspirations. We could all use a little of that.

 

Pick Your Comps

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Anyone who has ever written knows the value of story competitions. They are places to send your writing where we can test waters without too much risk of drowning; where we can read the winners to see what others, with dreams just like ours, are writing alongside us. They are places where someone is guaranteed to read what you’ve written.

But how does one choose the best competition among the hundreds screaming “look at me?” Some charge high entry fees for a chance of hefty prizes, while others offer the chance to be in a print magazine—which is still the Holy Grail, for authors like me. One factor that nobody ever seems to consider, though, is the feedback a competition offers… and it’s no wonder, since most offer, at best, the same form-lettered pat on the back that they send to everyone else who enters.

Not so over at Writer Advice. Before my flash story, The Cold and The Dutiful, recently won second place there, managing editor B. Lynn Goodwin did what she does so very well; she gave me insights into the strengths, weaknesses and points of confusion for later editing. If this was even before winning a prize, you might imagine how much more feedback I got when the competition was over… and your instincts would be right. Lynn’s judges also took the trouble to select insightful comments to help me continue working to my strengths, and to improve… you know… that other stuff.

This is what we should all seek in a competition: an experience that is thoroughly rewarding, without necessarily needing to “win.” The last two years have taught me a lot about which communities will take the trouble to support and encourage me as a writer—WOW and Writer Advice now among them—and hopefully, should I return to writing next year, I can wield that knowledge for more years to come. Writing competitions may be the best means available to promote our short fiction to the world…

…but make sure you pick your comp.

(Oh, and read The Cold and the Dutiful!)

 

Snowdance

As the temperature rises to the point of causing slow insanity in the town where I live, people often ask me if I wish I’d stayed in a cooler climate. Sometimes I have to think about it, but my answer is always ‘no.’

Here’s why.

Snowy

Snowdance

It was her dance with this northern land that had kept him here.

He would have sought warmer climates if just for himself, but could not imagine life without her delight over the glittering flakes and various snow-beings: men, angels, and bunnies. She would advance each day into the spiritual winter, then return to him with stories that overflowed him, for that evening, with perfect understanding.

He could not imagine her dance without the winter as her partner. Continue reading

Viewpoint Variation

Recently, I was struggling to distinguish the characters in one of my first-person novels. Every character in the story had their own personality, which I had clearly planned and defined, but I was starting to see that they all behaved too much like the narrator. As an exercise, I recalled an incident that happened to me as a very young boy, then forced myself to rewrite it as it might have happened from the perspective of a teenager—who, at the time, seemed to me like a man—I had encountered.

This is the result. Time will tell if it helps with my novel, but sourcing and rewriting an event from a writer’s own experience can be a valuable strategy. It might even be the best definition of the irritating old adage, “Write What You Know.”

 

Manly Pursuits

By K. Alan

beetleIn summertime, songs would reach Stanley through the fruit vines as he fought to remove an old tree. Every morning, he would arrive to Mr. Greenberger’s ranch-house, wanting to wrangle. He wanted his calluses to come from reins and saddles, not from a shovel. He wanted to be a man for just a few minutes.

Instead, Greenberger would send him in the rusted VW to hack at this stump as its roots clawed the soil. The old oak would have blocked some proposed grapevines; it had to go. Stanley put a sleeve to his brow, and stared along the imaginary line of vines up the hill.

Continue reading