Flash Fiction Chain #6 Round 2 (The Wedding Bells Part 18)

All right everyone, here’s the deal. This is round 2 of a sweet Flash Fiction chain hosted by the amazing, international man of travel and the Art, Jithin, over at Photrablogger. The basic idea is we take the photo and then we each get a turn at writing a piece of the story; it is amazing fun!

So please, go back to my original post here. Read all those sections. Then read all these sections:

10. Soul-Spirit

11. Phaena Says

12. The Stardust Elephant

13. Sona

14. Click Here

15. Hidden Stars Fiction 

16. Itchy Quill

17. Dr. KO *!!!!! (So a bit of egg on my face, I missed this section before I started writing my section, because of this my passage may seem a little out of place, I tried to smooth that out, but I hope in the spirit of the chain it can still work, if too many of my coauthors disagree I would be open to changes)

And then enjoy my new section here, The Wedding Bells Part #18:

Sara ran the now familiar halls in the dark. It had been such an eventful weekend. She couldn’t believe how much fun she was having. She heard about the halls under the Blackwell estate almost year ago to the day. Another one of her parents’ friends had dragged her out here, dolled her up and made her walk down the aisle, with all those faces staring at her, smiling, full of teeth, tossing those stinky petals.

She had been chasing some other kids around, dodging Grandmas with strong fingers and adults wobbling about drunk sloshing their glasses, when she saw a group of suspicious teenagers making a break down the hall of the labyrinthian estate. Her parents weren’t really paying attention to her and before she knew it, she was following behind the group, eavesdropping like a spy. They were joking amongst themselves, and then one of them mentioned the riches which were alleged to be under the mansion. She hadn’t known what “alleged” meant then, but she had known words like “riches” and “treasure.”

She dreamt about the Blackwell treasure for the next year. Her dreams became better than the books her parent’s read before bed each night. To the point where they stopped reading to her and she would just snuggle up and drift off, and she would dream about running through the Blackwell estate.

In the dreams, she would find a bureau, with a giant mirror. It was beautiful, heavy, and serious. Nothing like the plastic thing she had in the corner of her room. No, this was a Princess–no, a Queen’s bureau. There were all sorts of wonderful powders, makeups, and shiny rings and necklaces, and in her dream she would sit before the mirror, and attendants would appear around her and began to prepare her and then she would just look perfect, way better then she ever looked as a flower girl.

Then, strangest of all, she would see herself in that mirror older now, with long hair flowing down her shoulders. She looked so proud and stately, that she barely recognized herself. It hurt when her parents would rip her from it and she would be forced back in the regular world.

She made a hard turn in the dark, ran down a short hallway and things changed. She didn’t like this part of the hallway. It got distinctly colder as she walked and ever so slightly descended as you walked. You walked this hallway until it ended abruptly and then you had to take a hard right. Then it was a steep set of steps and then you were on the rock.

She waited for months for some word from the Blackwell estate. There were vague guarantees about their ability to get back and get more apples and pears, but she feared she may never really get to explore under the place. But then her Mother had said that sweet, wonderful word, “Wedding.” Exactly she said, “That’s unless Mel’s pulls the triggers and get’s married. She swore you had to be her flower girl in her wedding.” That sealed the deal. Sara had known her fate.

She waited for weeks, for some movement on the wedding. She would watch Mel and her boyfriend every time they were around for some sign of their impending marriage. She never saw it though. They didn’t seem the marrying type, too distracted or something. She gave up, left with her dreams and some vague promises of fruit in the fall.

Finally, she got word. It was no big deal to her Mom, tossed out over soggy Cheerios one morning, but Sara had cried. Her Mom had thought it was bit of an over reaction, but you know “kids”.

She made it to her hard right and stopped. She couldn’t believe she was coming back here, not after what had happened since last time. Hadn’t she caused enough trouble by now? The wind pushed up the stairs and hit her with a wet coldness.

She couldn’t believe her luck when she got the details about the wedding. They would be spending the whole weekend at the estate. Her and her parent would have their own room. She would have a couple days to do nothing but peek around the place.

Her dreams had been incredible then. She should have taken that as a warning, that maybe something strange was afoot, but she had been just a child. She dreamt about all the hallways and turns she had to take to make it to this hallway, to make it down the stairs, to make it to the cave.

She never got a sense of how big the cave was, she was much too frightened to go exploring. No, from the dreams and in reality, she knew that after she walked down on to the rock, that she was in a giant cave. There were a dozen poles, bolted in to the rock, that had lights on top of them. A sensor made them lit up as someone began walking past. They lit the way to a large airplane hanger, which stuck out like a sore thumb in the cave, but in there was her bureau and a hundred other things, including a large plane.

It had all been exactly like that when she finally snuck down there. It was the night of the bachelorette party. Her Dad had taken a nap, while her Mom was out. He wasn’t close enough with the groom, or anyone else really to go along, so he volunteered for kid duty and then had fallen asleep. She had been extra content reading her books and then curling up and watching a movie. Second he was out, she went for a glass of water and began to mosey about the place.

She found her first stairway, right where she had dreamt it, tucked into the corner of the kitchen. There was a short hallway at the bottom, then a large door, which could be locked from the house side, and then she was in the tunnels. She had ran through the tunnels so excited to get to the hanger. She made it to her hard right, and then she was flying down the stairs, she slipped for a second on the damp rock and had to brace herself. There was the hanger from her dreams!

Sara realized now standing in front of the hanger, after everything that had happened, how silly she had really been. Things had been different then in her dreams. The hanger was old and unused, it seemed. She figured everyone had forgotten it.

The plane was there, dirty with huge cobwebs dangled from its wings. She went right for the back section, expecting her bureau, and she had found it, but everything had been cleared off it, even the giant mirror was gone. It was all dusty, yellow and faded. Nothing like she had imagined.

She wandered the hanger for sometime that night. Even tried opening the door to the airplane, but she got horribly messy in the process, and found the door locked. She found a stockpile of ammunition and a pile of old rifles, that looked dangerous, along with a pile of camping gear, tools and rations. She was just about to start crying and run from the place, when she noticed a door, which had never been part of a dream. She found a padlock on the door, it was shiny and new, and she recognized that it showed someone had been down here recently. She contemplated it for a while, walking around the hanger, looking for anything else of interest, but she kept coming back to the padlock door.

She realized she had crossed a line, in coming down here; she needed to go back, but something was bugging her. Her dreams had been so great, and the table had been so gross and nothing was quite how it was supposed to be, but she still sensed that there was something magical in the place. Which is why finally, she had taken a large crowbar and wrenched the padlock right of the door; she busted her knuckles in the process and began to cry and for the first time she felt scared in the whole thing.That seemed like ancient history now.

Door opened, a light clicked on and it was like finding the inside of a genie’s cave. There were piles of money stacked up, a veritable rainbows of colors, bricks of shiny gold, more weapons, rifles and pistols, all shiny, new and deadly dangerous.

There was a finished wood bar at one end and on top of it there were five bottles; five bottles that had in her dreams. There we lit up, on display on top the bar. But unlike her dreams there was very little liquid left in each bottle. The shiny red bottle that was in the shape of heart held the least fluid. She knew from her dreams that was a love potion. One bottle was like a tall slender diamond and had the most liquid still in it. One was tall, glossy black and rectangular and made her feel like she was going to throw up. The last two were simpler glass vials, but they both had ornate stoppers on top of them. One of them was a brain, caste in nugget of gold, and the other was a thick red bull, horns and all. This was the magic; she was sure.

As she sat in the room, that night, she began to feel lightheaded, dizzy, and then it seemed like the bottles started calling to her, reminding her of the dreams, offering her a taste of them again, which they promised would be so much more incredible in real life. Unfortunately, she knew now, she decided on one, the Brain vial, which was the only voice which seemed to make any sense really, but when she reached for it, she stumbled and the vial went spilling all over the counter top. In her panicked state, she began to try to wipe it up with her hands, in some weak attempt to put some back, realizing as she did that she’d made a grave mistake. As the cold liquid spread on her hand and she began to tingle, the dangers of the whole affair pressed in upon her and she succumbed to it and collapsed to the floor.

She panted now in front of the hanger. She wondered if they were still chasing her. She felt like she had lived seven lives in the last two days. It had all been so much fun. She wished she could start it all again.

She had woken up, sore, scared and something else. Words and ideas were just pouring in upon her mind. She had never thought like this before. It was like she had woken up a complete adult, that was still trapped in a child’s mind and body. Every memory she did have in her little brain was compounded on itself a million times, until they all took on greater and greater significance and explanatory value, with that she began to realize how much she did know, now that she thought about.

All the hours of Pastors talking on Sunday, music on the radio, deep discussions between her parents and their friends, everything she had ever seen on the television and movies (which she now considered a distraction), all of it was right there at her disposal. She knew now with certainty that she could play a number of instruments, write books, sing, paint, direct and make films, etc. Anything she put her mind to. Sure, she had to get by her parents and the adults she had been manipulating in the mean time, especially that nice lady Anna, but after that Sara had a world to conquer!

She realized then, she need a little bit from each fluid for her plans, obviously. She searched the hanger for some jars. Miraculously she discovered a set in a cupboard and went back and poured a little from each into four new jars.

She needed a test run with the rest of these potions, to see there true effects. And boy had she seen them now! She’d hit a number of people with the love juice in the ensuing days, and its effects were obvious. She had tried the bull juice on Anna first hoping that her calmer nature, would be a good balancing to whatever the bull meant. After hearing about Anna’s assault, she realized it was dangerous stuff. But then orneriness had gotten the best of her and she had wanted to check if the bull juices effects were consistent on all sorts of people and then things had gotten out of hand…

That’s why she was back, she needed a bit more of each juice for her bigger plans. She felt so guilty about everything. Ah poor Anna, her mind pushed. She shouldn’t have run from her like that, that was dumb. She had watched the woman spiral out of control, her boyfriends too. But it was the price to pay for knowledge wasn’t it? Sara wouldn’t be ashamed of her experiments!

A voice broke into her panting reverie, “You are having quite the time aren’t you?” She spun around and there was Toby standing with his arms crossed…

Snippets #24

Francine Prose-Reading Like a Writer

In general, I would suggest, the paragraph could be understood as a sort of literary respiration, with each paragraph as an extended–in some cases, very extended–breath. Inhale at the beginning of the paragraph, exhale at the end. Inhale again at the start of the next. But by introducing some element of unease, Babel’s paragraphs makes us catch our breath in the final sentence, so that we are still a little breathless in the midst of that rhythmic change, that shift in perspective. (66)

Snippets #23

Francine Prose-Reading Like a Writer

I’ve heard the way a writer reads described as “reading carnivorously.” What I’ve always assumed that this means is not, as the expression might seem to imply, reading for what can be ingested, stolen or borrowed, but rather for what can be admired, absorbed, and learned. It involves reading for sheer pleasure but also with an eye and a memory for which author happens to do which thing particularly well. Let’s say you are facing the challenges of populating a room with a large cast of characters all talking at once. Having read the ballroom scene in Anna Karenina, or the wild party that winds through so many pages of William Gaddis’s The Recognitions, you have sources to which you can go not just for inspiration but for technical assistance. (31)

Snippets #22

Tom Reiss-The Black Count

At one point, his horse was shot out from under him. But Dumas rose, found another horse, mounted, and continued slashing away at the Austrians. A cannonball landed directly in front of him, his new horse fell, and he went down a second time, only to rise again. By the end of the morning Dumas was still cutting down enemy troops without having sustained a single serious wound. His combined forced succeeded in driving the Austrian columns back–not only out of San Antonio but down the lakeside, across the bridge, and back through the gates of the citadel they’d just escaped. (203)

5 Tips For Rewriting (On Writing & Editing)

I suffered from a misconception with writing. I thought that more or less you would write one thing and then carefully patch that one thing, until it worked, a paper mache concept perhaps. But writing, and rewriting, are more akin to building a massive mansion with Lincoln Logs and then kicking it all over the place and then building a new version of the place with Legos. I lost you, didn’t I?

If you are serious about your writing, you want to not suck, so you are going to have to rewrite. The first draft is like the crumbs you leave on the ground to find your way home, or if your’e are more prudent the twine you would wrap around a branch to not lose your way. The first draft is a stake in the ground of your artistic creation, but everything that pops up around that stake will require just as much effort as placing that stake.

Okay enough with the metaphors and analogies. Here are some real tips for rewriting.

Don’t Rewrite in Begging to End Chronology. Mix it up. Maybe rewrite the climax portion first, then go back to the first chapter and then hop to the end chapter. Rethinking critical stages in the work will make the in-between portions much easier to write too. Also, these big exciting scenes are really what you need to get your head around to have the basic structure of your story.

Don’t Get Bogged Down in Your Suckiness– Rewriting will show you how much you suck, because you will probably have to rewrite a lot, but this is actually awesome once you embrace it. It sort of like any great passion, you have to take pleasure in the practice of the craft/skills. Writing ends up being less about having a good time and more like work once you really start trying, so embrace and develop your own Warrior Code to deal with your INFERNAL WEAKNESS! Oh sorry my inner Warrior Master came out there, I apologize.

Prime the Pump with New Creative Activity. Write scenes and backstory material that won’t even make it into this book, but will give you greater insight and let you have a little bit of fun. And don’t be scared to write something totally new too, or journal or hell don’t write, practice that guitar or paint, but once you have had your fun, go back to rewriting!

Read to Rewrite. Any time you lose enthusiasm in rewriting, it is time to jump back in the reading pool. No matter what genre you write in I highly doubt you have read as much of that genre as you should have and there are always new books coming out and new genres to explore. So get reading and pay attention to the mechanics of the writing as you do.

Seriously, Scrap It and Start Again. This is the hardest thing to get I think. All that effort you just put into that monstrous first draft, take it and shove it in the recycling bin, because that’s probably where it belongs! Wait, don’t do that, that was the Inner-Warrior Voice again, I apologize. Take that manuscript out. Find the delicious pieces, carefully excise and remove them, and smash them to a pulp and rebuild your story! It will get better in the rewrite but you better be ready to cut, and you better be ready to work, get going!

Ebooks and self-publishing trends may not encourage an emphasis on the rewriting phase and I think that would be a disservice to all. The rewrite is the most important tool for the independent writer because it is the stage when we will build our writing abilities. Your skill are the part of your success which is within your control, so take it seriously. Good luck!

Snippets #21

Tom Reiss- The Black Count

The detective also brought the interesting news that Antoine’s fourth child, a boy who was said to be his favorite, had not been sold along with the others. This boy was “a young mulatto who, it is said, was sold at Port au Prince,” Chauvinault wrote, “conditionally, with the right of redemption, to Captain Langlois, for 800 livres, which served as the passage of Sir Delisle to France.” (55)

10 Rules For Writers (Via Jonathan Franzen, via Wikipedia, via a blog by Susan Lerner)

So I was reading this blog, Booth, about Jonathan Franzen, who according to the author of the blog, is “arguably the best living American writer”, and I believe I had read a book by him called Everything Is Illuminated, that is incorrect, that is written by Jonathan Safran Foer, and wait a minute…I apologize for the atrocious grammar here, but those names are oddly familiar! Anyways in searching Franzen’s bibliography, I had never in fact read anything by the author (unfortunate indeed),  I found this great list of his rules which I thought I would share with you writers out there. Here they are copied and pasted for your pleasure. (Again sincere apologies for the bad grammar. I was feeling ornery, I guess.)

1. The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.
2. Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money.
3. Never use the word “then” as a conjunction – we have “and” for this purpose. Substituting “then” is the lazy or tone-deaf writer’s non-solution to the problem of too many “ands” on the page.
4. Write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly.
5. When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.
6. The most purely autobiographical fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more autobiographical story than “The Metamorphosis”.
7. You see more sitting still than chasing after.
8. It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction [the TIME magazine cover story detailed how Franzen physically disables the Net portal on his writing laptop].
9. Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
10. You have to love before you can be relentless. (Goddamn is this one a home run!!!!!!!)

Source for List:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Franzen

Source For Ranty Introduction: Jane McNamara, John McMulin, Fish Oil, Ginseng, 8 cups of Coffee, French Toast, a Turkey Sandwich, Yogurt, Free Time, Austin McMulin

The Wedding Bells; Part 9 (Flash Fiction Chain #6)

All right Artists & Audience, I am trembling with excitement, that may be the coffee or the romantic story I just got done writing. I think its the coffee, but yes still, here is an installment in a Chain Fiction enterprise that is being facilitated by the wonderful genius of Jithin over at PhoTraBlogger. Check him out, get on the chain gang (that doesn’t sound right) and let’s have some fun with writing!

The exercise…

Be inspired by the above image.

Read these previous Links of the Story:

Part 1. Sona

Part 2. Yinglan

Part 3. Priceless Joy

Part  4. Frenesthetist

Part 5. Dr. KO

Part  6. Sweety

Part 7. Quill

Part 8. I-Read

Now enjoy this Author’s contribution to, The Wedding Bells:

“Anna? Toby? What are you doing here? Besides the obvious,” Alex asked.

“Running from a felony assault I think,” Tobias said.

“Shut up,” Anna said, hitting him with an elbow. “Things have gone off the deep end Alex. Freaking Mel forgot her ring, then it got stolen, then that expensive and shiny hunk of junk Toby had broke down and then we were running–”

“Oh that is just perfect. They are meant for each other,” Alex said. “Harris forgot to bring the check for his ring at the scheduled meeting with Ms. Beaumont. Expensive as it was, there was no way she was releasing it on a promise. Harris had so much going on that he sent me down to get it.”

“Ms. Beaumont?” Tobias asked.

“Tell me she’s not a blond,” Anna said.

“Yes she is. Beautiful too, Harris informed me,” Alex said.

Apologies were poured upon Ms. Beaumont, who agreed to settle the whole matter privately. Anna dreaded if the story got out. She had fought the “bitch reputation,” her whole career. She didn’t need to inflame the rumor mill, with dreadful assault charges.

Though it was a miracle Alex was there with his car, it was going to be an awkward ride to the venue. Anna and Toby had done a weird shuffle about who ended up in shotgun. Anna gave up to his insistent offers and hopped in.

She regretted it instantly, but she whispered an apology to Alex. He ignored it. Toby hopped in the back and started rambling. This seemed to distract Alex in his driving and it was obvious he was frustrated by the whole situation. After a short pause in his monologging Toby tried to get the conversation going again. “This just goes to show you, all that glitter is not gold, and all that.”

“You got to say the whole thing,” Anna said. “All that glisters is not gold; Often have you heard that told; many a man his life hath sold But my outside to behold; Gilded tombs do worms enfold,”

“Ah a thespian,” Toby said. “you grow more intriguing every moment Anna. Could I be your Romeo?”

“She did her Master’s thesis on Shakespeare.” Alex said.

“I’m no pleb myself you know,” Toby said. “Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs, oh or how about She’s beautiful, and therefore to be wooed; She is woman, and therefore to be won.”

“Or,” Alex said, “how about, Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

The course of true love never did run smooth,” Anna said. That seemed to shut down the car for a second. She needed the breather.

This was all too much, riding in a car with both of these men. She felt so strongly for both of them, but it was so stupid, so god awfully Petrarchan. One hadn’t worked out and the other wasn’t interested in anything serious; Anna was getting to old for games.

“So Alex my boy,” Toby said. “Looks like Blackwell estate should be host to yet another thrilling and tumultuous matrimonial ceremony. Think we will see anything the likes of the Rumble of the Mother In-Laws of 92 or even better the Wine Apocalypse of 09”

“Stop it Toby,” Alex said.

“Wine Apocalypse?” Anna asked. “I got to hear this.”

“No, you don’t,” Alex said.

“Sure she does Alex ol’ boy,” Toby said. “So imagine our dear little Alexy boy here, just a ripe young man of seventeen. It was a very special occasion. Family from over seas, cousins or something. It was supposed to be the biggest affair ever. And it was! Preparations lasted for weeks, the whole place was cleaned and cleaned and cleaned again, until it was sparkling. It had to be. There were just so many important guests, senators, governors, artists, famous people, just everything you could want. Well, little Alex boy here decided he was in love, what was that lassie’s name?”

“Jennifer,” Alex said, through gritted teeth.

“Ol’ Jenny girl, that’s right,” Toby said. “Parents owned a strip mall or something, if I’m not mistaken. So sweet, Jennifer sneaks two bottles of wine, one for each of them. A very courteous and ambitious lover, no doubt. Would you like to finish the tale Alexi?”

“No,” Alex said, griping the wheel tighter.

“Well anyway, the party is just a ripping and a roaring, when out of nowhere–” Toby exploded with uncontrollable laughter.

“Dammit Toby,” Alex said, “its not that funny. I had never been drunk befo–”

“When out of nowhere,” Toby interjected, “there is just this awful scream, that started coming from somewhere deep inside the mansion. Everyone and I mean everyone stopped. The music stopped, the waiters stopped, the dancing stopped, everything stopped. And this scream just keeps getting closer and closer and then these side doors are thrown open” Toby again busted out in laughter, “the doors are thrown open and there was Jennifer just covered in a purple slime of red wine. All down the front of her dress! AHAHAHAHA”

Anna tried and failed to suppress her laughter, but Toby was just rolling around the back seat, cracking up. Alex’s face didn’t help things. He was so embarrassed and angry about the situation. “I tried to stop her,” he said.

“Oh you bet you did,” Toby said, still dying. “Alex ran up right as she opened the door, face still purple and drunk. Ah it was the best AHAHAHAHA.”

“God I hate you,” Alex said.

“Oh stop,” Toby said. “It was absolute madness. You’re a freaking mad man, that’s all. Ah Anna, you should have seen this poor girl as her parents led her away from the party. It was just the sorriest sight ever!”

“Let’s talk about your love affairs Toby,” Alex said.

“Go right ahead,” Toby said, wiping the tears from eyes. “I have nothing to hide.”

“What about Lisa?” Alex asked.

“Lisa, yes, what about her? She’s a lovely girl.” Toby said.

“She left you by post-it note, cleaned out your apartment, and stole five thousand dollars from you,” Alex said.

“Spirited girl, that’s all,” Toby said.

“She accused you of sleeping with two of her friends,” Alex said.

“You mum’s been gossiping hasn’t she?” Toby asked.

“Unbelievable,” Alex said.

“You know that’s your problem Alex? You are just too needy. That doesn’t work, not in today’s world,” Toby said. He straightened his tie and smoothed his jacket. “I understand the perils and traps of monogamy. The world is a beautiful amazing place. We shouldn’t put a chain around our hearts and demand that our emotions behave. I won’t live like that; you agree, don’t you Anna?” He placed his hand on her shoulder.

Anna watched Alex, as his focus jumped from the rode, to her, to Toby’s hand. “I think,” Anna said, “I think. Hmm, I think that…shoot, I don’t know.”

“Ah don’t believe her Alex ol’ boy,” Toby said. “She cares too much for you to side with me in this discussion. But trust me, sweet Anna knows very well what I mean. She is much too fierce to be tamed, especially by any suffering sense of duty.”

Anna was more than happy to see their exit. “Honestly,” she said. “I think that, lovers ever run before the clock, so we better pick up the hustle here; we got a wedding to get to.” With that encouragement, Alex hit the gas and tore down the road, headed for the Blackwell estate…

Will the trio make it to the wedding? Will the wedding take place as planned? Will Anna find her love connection? Will Alex hold his liquor? Will Toby turn the whole wedding into a freak fest? Stay tuned for the next link in the chain!

So now go wait for the next link and while you wait, go bug Jithin and join the greatest literary movement on planet Earth!!!!!

P.S. Source for Shakespeare Quotes (I am not that good!)

Snippets #20

Paris Review-The Art of Fiction No. 200, John Banville

I especially love Emerson. Each of his essays is a collection of impassioned sentences. It seems as if there’s a sense of order in the usual sense, but in fact there are just wonderfully rich congeries of sentences. I am inclined to think that the value of a philosopher’s thought is always reflected in his style—mind you, where does that leave Kant and Hegel?


Snippets #19

Burning the Page-Jason Merkoski

Of course, in all likelihood, the minds of wealthy entertainers or technology early adopters will be digitized first. Theirs will be the minds available a hundred years from now as public domain recordings for people to download for free. And while theirs will be the first minds to be digitized, the quality will be poor, like that of wax cylinders or early ebooks. (228)