"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

Happy Halloween! I hope this day brings plenty of mystery, magic and delight for all of you. And to help celebrate, I've written a special piece of flash fiction just for you! Enjoy!

Trick or Treat

I sort the candy, dividing it between the two bowls until they are both heaping. The orange bowl is for the children, gleaming brightly with multicolored candy wrappers, begging to be devoured. I place it neatly on a small table by the front door.
The second bowl is black. I carry it down into the cellar where I keep my more temperamental ingredients. A dash of that, a pinch of this, I set about my work whistling as I go. I chant quietly under my breath as I bring it back up the stairs and set it carefully and distinctly away from the orange bowl. 
The sun is beginning to set and the yard is glowing merrily with the light of several jack-o-lanterns. Cobwebs are stretched over every knook and cranny and the graveyard I set up in the yard is looking distinctly creepy now that the light is gone.
Soon the children begin flowing through the neighborhood, banging joyfully on each new door as they go. I can't help but laugh with delight, cooing over their lovely costumes and flushed faces as I dish out candy from the bright orange bowl.
As the night goes on, there comes a loud banging on my door. When I open it there's a group of obnoxious teenagers standing where only delighted children should be. None of them are in costume and all are lugging pillowcases bulging with candy. One of them is tall and lanky, with a small amount of peach fuzz on his upper lip and a bright yellow jacket with black trim. 
Without a word I go and pick up the black bowl and dish handfuls of candy into their open bags. I don't mind that they don't say thank you. Instead I watch their retreating backs, shaking my head at their foul-mouthed loudness and shut the door.
At the end of the night, when at last I've given away all the candy, I turn out the lights and crawl into bed, pulling the covers up against my chin.
In the morning I get up and get dressed, pulling on my coat as I step outside and begin taking down the decorations.
A group of small children wearing clothes far too big for them come shuffling by, dragging pillow cases of candy behind them. Their heads are lowered and they're muttering quietly, but I can see one has a bright yellow jacket with black trim. 
I pretend not to recognize them as they stumble by, calling out a cheery "Happy Halloween!" as they pass.
I skip back into the house with glee, cackling as I close the door and peer out from behind the curtain. I watch them until they turn the corner and disappear from view. They wanted to act like children and now they got their wish.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The New Website!

I don't know if you remember, but several months ago I talked about moving this dear little blog and creating my own website. Well, that moment will soon be upon us. I've had my website for quite some time now without doing anything with it, and this weekend I decided it was time I finally worked on actually getting it up and running. So, I've set the date for the grand opening to be on Thursday, November 1st. Why Thursday, November 1st? Because I have a fondness for starting things at the beginning, and the first of the month is almost as good as the first of the first month (aka January 1st), but of course I didn't want to wait until the new year to have it up and running.

I sincerely hope that you will all join me at my new website, as I dearly love your visits and comments. You (my beloved readers) are what make it all worthwhile, and I will admit that I've put off the move this long because I hated the thought of losing some of you in the move. But I think the website will be the start of many exciting things, and I look forward to sharing it with all of you. I will, of course, post the link to the new site once it's up and running.

But until then, there's still Halloween to contend with, and I'm busy writing an extra special piece of flash fiction to celebrate. So stay tuned!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Potions

It's here. The final Friday before Halloween. And to help you get in the spirit, Lillie McFerrin has come up with a really great prompt for this week's edition of Five Sentence Fiction. The prompt is potions. If you'd like to learn more about Five Sentence Fiction, or give it a try yourself, just visit Lillie's website. Enjoy!

I'd done it. I'd actually done it! 
They'd all laughed at me when I suggested the potions in the old spell book we'd found might actually work, but now as I held the bubbling vial aloft it was I who was laughing. I'd show them, I'd bring them all to their knees. They'd be sorry they ever laughed at me. 

Of course, you know I'll also have a special piece of flash fiction for all of you on the actual day as well, but hopefully this spooky bit of fiction will keep you inspired until then. If you're still jonesing for more Five Sentence Fiction, just follow the links below. If you like what you read here, I hope you'll follow this blog, as well as come find me on twitter @MelanieKCole. Have a great weekend!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Flawed
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Detour
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Tattered
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Devotion

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Rant on Ranting

Can I be honest? I love rants. I love indulging in them, I love hearing them and I love reading them. I know there are quite a few naysayers out there who'd like nothing better than to squash the rant, break it down into constructive pieces and turn it into an unwanted therapy session. They want to dismiss it. Neutralize and imprison it. They want to hunt it to extinction. And by God, they're getting close! The rant has become an endangered species. Once, sought after for its comedic value, its purest of ingredients: sarcasm, rage, and pessimism, it finds itself now lingering in the shadows, treading carefully lest someone spot it and shoot it dead.
But why? Why has the rant fallen from grace? Most would say it's because it's rude. Which is true. The rant does not concern itself with manners. It does not carefully censor itself for political correctness, nor does it care how it looks in the eye of its beholder. The rant is an obese woman in scandalous underwear, declaring, “Here I am world! You may not like it, but I'm comfortable with who I am!” It's in your face with its robust flavour, full of zest, coming on too strong for the mild mannered to take.
Some say that the rant is a sign of bad character. A person who rants is selfish, bitter even. Well, that may be true, but in a lot of cases the rant is a sign of vitality and health! Those who rant do not squelch their feelings down into their guts. They let those feeling out with explosive vigor! They do not become moldy with politeness, dry up in the desert of their manners. They are robust in their hatred of people, situations and opinions. They have been wronged, inconvenienced and Goddamit! The world will feel their pain!
“A person who rants is boring!” I've heard said. To which, I can only laugh uproariously, singling them out in my mind as an idiot and avoiding them thereafter.
A ranting person is not boring. They are an utter delight! I've spent many a splendid evening in the company of maniacally ranting soul, munching on snacks as they unleash their diatribe of woe, listening to the perfect poetry of their expletives, stoked by the fires of their rage as they tell of the sheer injustice of their mother in law's unannounced visit, the vile horror of their ex-boyfriend's bacne and the miserable bastard that dared cut them off in traffic. There is nothing better!
Strip a person down into a rant and you are sure to get at the heart of the matter. There is no truer honesty, nor a more unashamed self pity than in someone who's given in to the rapturous joy of the unsolicited rant. I can think of no better way to unload toxic sludge, be ruthlessly self aware and magnificently entertaining all at once.
I tell you, the rant is not an ugly spewing of self indulgent rage. It is a thing of beauty. To hate the rant is to hate your very core. Because in each and every one of us, a truly splendid rant is already brewing. Don't fight the coming storm. There is no escape. It's far better to batten down the hatches, light some candles and embrace it! Release it from its iron shackles, tear down the walls of propriety and show the world your own naked truth. For the only way to rid yourself of a rant, is to let it out. And as it comes cascading down your tongue, rippling through the air, an iron spiked verbal assault of justice, you will feel the very weight of your discontent lifted, traveling with your words, out into the world. And if you're very lucky, it may just knock a few people down with it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Beauty of Being Concise

I've been thinking a lot lately about the six word story. It started in a bar, where a man bet Hemingway that he couldn't write a story in only six words. Without a moment's pause, he replied, "For sale. Babies shoes. Never worn."

There's a beauty to being concise in your writing. I've never enjoyed flowery, run on sentences. Sure, poetic prose is lovely, but when it comes to telling a story, I find it often gets in the way. It's the same with Lillie McFerrin's Five Sentence Fiction, where every week she gives a prompt and challenges writers to write a story in just five sentences. (If you'd like to read last week's edition by yours truly, go here). Some come back with whole paragraphs, their sentences long and packed with description. These, are not my favourite. My favourites are the short ones, those that have been boiled down to the essence of the story. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that most stories could be boiled down not just to five sentences, but to six words. Let me give you a few examples.

Snow White

Lust for beauty kills a stepmother.

Sleeping Beauty

Love's kiss wakes the sleeping princess.


Wooden boy lies, dies, is redeemed.

See how it works? It's actually kind of fun. And I think it could be useful for our own writing. Look at your own work in progress. What does it boil down to? What is at the essence of your story? Try compacting it down into just six words. You might be surprised at what you find. I know it's often an eye opener for me.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Flawed

It's Friday! Which means it's time to return to the charms of flash fiction. The prompt for this week's edition of Five Sentence Fiction is flawed. If you'd like to learn more, or give it a try, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. Enjoy!

The box was marked 50% off, where it lay in the dusty corner of the otherwise immaculate shop. I was settled on my knees in front of it, pawing through its contents, looking for something special. Everything was flawed in some way or another, but perfectly so. Near the bottom, I found a slightly chipped magnifying glass that caught the light and made it twinkle. I bought it with the change in my pocket and left, although if they'd known how special it really was, I'm sure they never would've parted with it.

If you'd like to read more Five Sentence Fiction, just follow the links below. If you'd like to make my day, you could follow this blog, or come find me on twitter @MelanieKCole. Have a great weekend!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Detour
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Tattered
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Devotion
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Zombies

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Treasure Trove of Procrastination

One of the things I love most about Twitter and Facebook are the links people post to various articles and news items. They spark debates, make me laugh and fill countless hours I would have otherwise spent writing or cleaning my house. That's right. I particularly love them for procrastination. Which is what I'm doing right now.

I'm behind on my submissions, so naturally I decided to peruse the internet before getting started. You know, just to get my brain going. And what delightful, tantalizing items have I found? Well, first of all, it appears the publishing world just got a little sexier. It seems that Johnny Depp is starting a book imprint. Yes, the Captain of Quirky is dipping his toe into the world of publishing. I know I wouldn't mind if he was my publisher. Personally, I'd love the chance to pick his brain. If you'd like to read the article, just click here.

And what else did I find? Well, a visit to the internet just isn't complete without a visit to Writer's Digest. With Halloween coming up fast, you might be interested in reading their article, Top 5 Books for Halloween, And What They Can Teach You About Writing. I kind of wish I'd done my own reading list for Halloween this year. It would have been nice to burrow into some horror and get in the spirit. But time is not yet up, so if you'd like to find a creepy read, just check out the article.

I know what you're thinking. Do I realize I'm just instigating more procrastination from all of you? Yes. Yes I do. Misery loves company and so does procrastination. If I'm not going to get anything done, than neither are you! Enjoy!

(Evil laughter)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Must Submit... Must Submit...

Due to last week's abundance of flash fiction, I'm going to try and keep things a little more real this week. Although as soon as I wrote that, a quote by Ray Bradbury shot into my head. "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." I love that quote. It's on the wall in my office. Nevertheless, I feel it's important to change things up, keep it fresh.

It's been a rather tiring month so far. I've been keeping up with my challenge for Submit-O-Rama, although I'm a little behind. I'll have to submit twice today to be where I should be, and it'd be nice to submit more to be ahead for the week. Between housework, taking care of the dog, a full time job and trying to commit ample time to writing, editing and submitting, it's been a bit much. Not that I'm complaining. This is what I want. This is what I have to do if there's ever going to be a hope in hell of writing being my full time job. (Ah! How glorious that would be!)

And to be honest, I've really enjoyed the Submit-O-Rama challenge thus far. It's really forced me out of my shell. I've had to scour the depths of my writing for good material, had to bend, twist and cut it into presentable pieces and send it out into the world. I've had to research markets, read past issues of possible publications, write queries and pitches. All things I'm out of practice with. After all, the writing is the easy part. It's fun, imaginative and a great source of entertainment and soul searching. The editing, research, pitching and inevitable rejection, those are the hard parts. The parts we all want to avoid. The more I do them, the more practice I get, the easier it'll become. I'll get better at it and (hopefully) increase my chances of success.

I particularly like these challenges in the winter. The weather is already cold and it's just October. These challenges make the months fly by, give me a source of ambition and determination when I'd otherwise just stay curled up in bed, miserable and waiting for spring. I've even been thinking about competing in NaNoWriMo again in November, although in a different way. I've been slowly editing my book since the middle of August, but I was thinking I might use NaNoWriMo as an editing marathon rather than a writing one. I respond really well to deadlines and word counts, especially when they're online for all to see. It might just give me the kick in the pants I need to really give my book the attention it deserves.

But in the mean time, I'm all about submitting. And I plan to finish the month triumphant.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Detour

Welcome to Friday and this week's edition of Five Sentence Fiction. This week has been rather heavy on the flash fiction, so I hope you're still in the mood for a little more, cause it just wouldn't be Friday without Five Sentence Fiction. This week's prompt is detour. If you'd like to learn more, or give it a try, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. Enjoy!

The sign is old, faded and weather beaten, but I could swear I've never seen it before, despite walking this way every evening. It hangs above a stairwell, with an arrow pointing down to a big black door, the words Fortune Teller written in red and a picture of a palm with an all seeing eye at the center. I know I really shouldn't stop, I'm already late as it is. But the sign is waving gently in the breeze, beckoning. Surely one little peek couldn't hurt...

I hope you've enjoyed this week's excess of flash fiction! And if you still haven't had enough, check out the links below for more! As always, your comments are welcome in the comments section below.

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Tattered
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Devotion
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Zombies
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Awkward

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Behind the Curtain Flash Fiction Contest Entry

Welcome one and all to my continued efforts with Submit-O-Rama and my contest entry for the Behind The Curtain Flash Fiction Contest. So far, I'm on track with submitting once a day and today's no different. So, without further ado, I give you today's submission: my entry to the contest. Enjoy!

Behind the Curtain
The theater is filled with fog. It spills out across the stage, falls down into the orchestra and reaches out across the seats until every thing is cloaked in mist. The dancers pirouette in perfect unison, graceful limbs eerily white against glittering costumes.
They are too far away to get a good look at their faces, painted like porcelain dolls. But I watch them move, bending and twisting to the music. It seems impossible, such graceful dancers, their movements so in sync.
The music is as ephemeral as the fog, creeping through the dark theater, filling my ears. It circles the dancers like a nest of serpents.
At the end of the show, applause erupts from the audience as though they just woke up and found themselves standing and clapping. I stay behind when they leave, flattening myself against the ground and crawling beneath the seats as the janitors start cleaning up.
I climb down into the orchestra pit, pushing against the big black door that leads backstage.
The musicians are gathered on the other side, clutching their instruments in skeletal hands, blank featureless faces staring at one another despite their lack of eyes, as though chatting after the big show.
I creep past, staring back at them in fear, but they don't seem to notice me. I should leave now, but I have to see the dancers. I want to know how they can move so beautifully, in such perfect unison.
I find them behind the curtain, just off stage. They stand motionless, as still as the furniture around them. I approach, despite the hairs raising on my arms, and gently tap a dancer's alabaster arm.
She doesn't move, doesn't flinch, her flesh icy cold. I come around to peer at her face, but there isn't one. Her make up wasn't done up to look like a doll. She is one. They all are. And on their limbs are thousands of delicate strings, disappearing up into the rafters.
I turn and leave as quickly as I can, anxious to avoid meeting their puppet master. I don't breathe until I'm safely outside in the fresh air, striding away. I don't look back and I never return.
It's never a good idea to peek behind the curtain.

Contest entry details and other entries can be found below. And as always, your feedback is always appreciated in the comments section below. 

Monday, October 8, 2012


Today is Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada. Which means I have the day off; just one of the many things I'm grateful for. No, that doesn't mean I'm going to bore you with a superficial rant about being grateful, making lists of happy things like so many people do on Thanksgiving. That's not to say that I'm ungrateful for all that I have. I'm very grateful. I just don't want to bore my faithful readers. Because let's face it, those posts suck.

Instead, I'm here to give you a bit of fun on this happy holiday, something to guide you into your naps with that stomach full of turkey and mashed potatoes. I've come today to give you a piece of flash fiction. Enjoy!

The thing people had trouble understanding, was that she was as cruel as she was beautiful. They saw her perfect bow lips in that vivid shade of red, her ginger hair in its intricate braids piled high upon her head, and they didn't see anything else. They missed the coldness in her eyes, the cruelty in her perfect smile. She led and they followed. Without ever knowing where she was taking them. 

They say it's a lot like boiling a frog. You stick it in temperate water and then slowly turn up the heat. The frog doesn't realize it's in boiling water until it's too late. The same happens when you're in her grasp. You don't realize you're doomed until you already are. If only they'd known she needed the sacrifice to be willing. They might have resisted. But then again, who knows? She was awfully beautiful...

I hope you've enjoyed this latest edition of flash fiction. I found the picture on pinterest, it comes from Lime Crime Makeup. I will see you all on Wednesday, and in the mean time: Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Tattered

Are you getting sick of me yelling "Happy Friday!" at you every week? I'm trying to come up with new and exciting ways to say it, but let's face it, I'm basically saying the same thing. Yay for the weekend. Thank God it's Friday. But as old as the words get, they're still true. This weekend is extra special, because if you're up here in Canada (where it's already getting quite chilly!), then you know it's Thanksgiving this weekend! Which of course, really isn't that big of a deal here, not the way it is in the states, but nonetheless we all get together to binge on turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and pie. And that, I can get behind. So it's with an extra special wish for your happy weekend that I present this week's edition of Five Sentence Fiction. If you'd like to learn more, or give it a try, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. This week was our choice of any of the previous prompts. I chose tattered. Enjoy!

She saw it hanging in the corner, its tattered edges and dusty fabric swaying gently in the breeze. It was ancient, echoing with past lives and adventures. Making her way through the lonesome racks, she reached out and let the delicate cloth slip through her fingers, coughing once or twice at the dust. It was beautiful, calling to her despite its age, waiting for her to take it down from the rack. She would breathe new life into this long abandoned dress.

And there we have it! If you'd like to read more Five Sentence Fiction, just follow the links below. Have a great weekend and Happy Thanksgiving!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Devotion
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Zombies
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Awkward
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Memories

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


One of the hardest parts of being a writer (at least for myself, but I assume I'm not alone in this), is submitting your work. I never feel like it's good enough and I get insecure the second I start scouting for publications. My queries and cover letters feel contrived and poorly written and despite my research I never feel totally certain that my writing really belongs anywhere. To make a long story short, I find myself avoiding it at all costs. But not anymore.

Three days ago I saw a link posted on twitter for Submit-O-Rama. Intrigued, I followed it and decided to give it a try. Basically, there are a few different options, letting you choose your level of participation. I'm going for the Uber Challenge, where you must submit at least 30 times in the month of October. So, pretty much once a day right up until Halloween. But you can knock out a couple a day and give yourself a head start.

Why am I being so ambitious? Because last week was one of the worst weeks I've ever had at my job. And don't get me wrong, my job is a good one. I work with great people and the work itself is fine. But it's not the goal. It's not how I want to spend my time for the rest of my working life. The goal has always been to live off my writing full time. And that's never going to happen if I don't start submitting my work. I'm not saying it'll be easy. I think I have quite the blizzard of rejections waiting for me this month. But it's an important first step. Hopefully, I'll get some helpful criticism and learn a few things along the way.

As of today, I'm on track. We'll have to see how the rest of the month plays out. I encourage you all to give your own form of the challenge a try as well. I'll keep you posted on my status and hopefully we can all cheer each other on. Good luck, my friends!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Holy Crap, It's October!

Can you believe we're in October already? OCTOBER! I was just starting to get used to the idea of September and here we are, already in October. Which is not a good thing. And I'm not just talking about winter coming. Sure, I love the idea of October, with pumpkins, Halloween, and if you live in Canada - Thanksgiving. It's great! But this year, it's a little different. For one, I'm ignoring Halloween. Yes, even though I usually rate it as my number two favourite holiday, I'm just not in the mood. I'm skipping the pumpkins and candy this year in favour of peace and quiet. The thought of lugging up the giant bins full of decorations, only to have to undecorate everything and lug it all back down to the basement makes me cringe. The same goes for Christmas. I'm just not doing it this year.

That doesn't mean I'm off the hook for Christmas though, which brings me to my next point, the other reason it's bad news for it to already be October. This year, my family is doing a homemade Christmas. All the gifts we're giving each other must be homemade. Which is fabulous, we get to be creative, more thoughtful about what would really make our loved ones smile, and save money while we're at it. Except, it takes a lot more time. And effort. And it's officially October and I haven't really started yet. Which gives me a stress headache. And indigestion. It's not to say that I don't have plans. I do. But those plans require a lot of time. And effort. And it's already October.

So, while the rest of you are planning for Halloween, I will be planning for Christmas. It's time I got my butt in gear, because next thing you know, it's going to be November, and then it will be Christmas. Oh Lord, winter really is coming this year, isn't it? I would have much preferred to escape to somewhere hot this year and pretended that Christmas doesn't exist (bah humbug!), but at least if I get on it now, I won't have a lot of stress. And that's the best present I think I could give myself. (Although next year I think I'll upgrade to a plane ticket and a nice hotel somewhere warm)