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Friday Flash: "Burning Books"

It's that time again for my bi-weekly feature, "Friday Flash," featuring flash fiction stories that I've written either in the past or that are brand new, depending on how I'm inspired. Many of the stories were originally written on the (now gone) story-sharing site storypraxis.

I plan to have these stories on the blog for 2-3 months and then move them over to Free Reads so that you can easily find them all in one place.
Burning Books

There are three things I know I should never do:

  1. Murder
  2. Marry for love
  3. Burn books

Apparently these things lead to the ‘destruction of civilized society.’ It’s not what nice girls do: kill people, or marry someone who can’t advance their social standing, or set fire to literature.

So why am I standing on the parapet of this tower, my skirts kissing the zephyr, my hands trembling and clutching the mismatched objects I hold as if they’re the only thing that matter?

Perhaps it’s because they are.

One thing after another is all it took. My mother arranged the meeting with Thomas. Second-cousin twice removed, all very legal and very good for our family’s position. Family be damned. He stunk of herring and tobacco, and his doublet smelled as though he’d just slaughtered the creature and thrown its hide across his expansive girth.  

My weak ankle wavers and my breath catches as I thrust my arms out for balance.

A few moments more are all I need.

Thomas. He was nothing like Henry. Poor Henry, whose deep brown eyes I wanted to swim in for the rest of eternity. Eternity. What does that even mean? How could we ever know?

I should be concerned about this, as an active contributor to the destruction of civilized society. But I don’t care.

I hope Henry finds someone worthy of him. I no longer am. I hope he learns the truth and does what I cannot. He deserves to marry out of love, and nothing more.

Over the edge of the tower, I can see the shadowy outline of Thomas’s body, splayed on the smooth, cobbled path that leads to this place. Romantic, they call it. How little they understand.

No future. No love. No hope. My soul is already damned, if that means anything.

Two objects in my hands. I place the heavy book on one of the crenels, bracing myself between the merlons. A tiny box of matches in my other hand slides open. One match is all it will take.

I strike it against stone, and a flame flickers to life. The book beckons to the flame, but now is not the time. I have committed Sin Number One. I almost committed Sin Number Two. I will not commit Sin Number Three, but allow this book to rest here, my words within, in desperation that someone—anyone—will follow the instructions within. Henry needs to know.

I touch the flame to the hem of my dress. I step forward and the air rushes around me, its caresses turning to anger.

I will not burn books. I will not marry for love.

But I’m done with civilized society.

Besides, two out of three isn’t bad.   


"Waiting On" Wednesday: "Ashes in the Sky"

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly feature started by Breaking the Spine blog, where upcoming and anticipated books are spotlighted -- there's a massive sign-up list where you can visit all the bloggers who are participating in the event, so if you want to check out more up-and-coming books, do head over there and take a look! 
Typically, only one book is showcased at a time, making it incredibly difficult to choose which one to talk about...but I'm going to go ahead and start this off with one of my publisher sisters' books that I can't wait to read. 
I read the first book, Fire in the Woods, a few weeks back in anticipation of this new release. If you like YA science fiction with a contemporary bent, this might be right up your alley. :D
*WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead for the first book, Fire in the Woods, so if you haven't read it and plan to, just head HERE for its GoodReads page and start there!*

Ashes in the Sky (Fire in the Woods, Books #2) -- Jennifer M. Eaton

Releases: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC
Description from GoodReads:
After inadvertently saving the world, eighteen-year-old Jessica Martinez is ready to put adventure behind her and settle back into the familiar routine of high school.

Though when she's offered an opportunity to photograph the inside of an alien space ship, Jess jumps at the chance. After all, she'd be crazy to turn something like that down, right?

Spending time with David on the ship has definite advantages and the two seem to pick up right where they left off. But when Jess discovers a plot to sabotage David's efforts to establish a new home for his people on another planet, neither David's advanced tech nor Jess's smarts will be able to save them.

ASHES IN THE SKY is an action-packed, romantic Sci Fi adventure that will leave readers screaming for more.
Want to learn more about Jennifer's work and stories? Head to her website right here and check it out!
Reminder: Book #1 is Fire in the Woods

5 Things to Do With a Shiny New Idea (#TBT)

Today I'm going to share with you a post that I originally wrote up in 2010 for my old blog, Literary Coldcuts on Toasty Buns. I'm hoping to one day transition this author blog over to that same title, but for now, I thought that in honor of "throwback Thursday" on social media, I'd share this post that I think is still pretty darn relevant today (and, uh...possibly right this very moment). Here we go! Writers, this one is for you.

5 Things to Do With a Shiny New Idea

So you’re working on your latest project, just humming along… until suddenly, out of nowhere, lightning strikes.

It’s a SHINY NEW IDEA. And it’s the BEST IDEA EVER. But you have something you’re working on right now, and you need to get it done… but you don’t want this idea to disappear forever. I’d venture a guess that if it’s an idea you really love, it’ll stay with you even if you try to forget it, but if you don’t want to risk it but want to stay on track with your current project, what are you supposed to do?

First, find a blank piece or paper. Or a fresh page in your idea journal. Or a new, clean document in your Word processor. Grab a pen. And maybe a cookie (I find cookies definitely help with creativity).

Set a timer for 20-30 minutes — you don’t have a lot of time to spend on this, because you’re supposed to be working on your other project!

Now, bring that Shiny New Idea to the forefront of your brain, and start the timer.

5 Things to Write Down So That Shiny New Idea Sticks Around for Later


1. Where does this idea take place, and when?

You probably can envision something about the time or place of this new idea, so jot that down. A quick date or a location will work to bring it back to memory later. If you see something specific in your mind, like a lake or a road leading into a city, write that down. Don’t know what city it is? Then it’s not important right now, because it won’t help you recall the idea later. Write down what you see in your mind, and move on.


2. Who are your characters?

Maybe only one person came to mind. Write down who she is, what she looks like to you right now, and everything that matters about her at this very moment, according to your new idea. Don’t develop new things about her, all you want are the key points that will help you recall this particular figure. If several characters came to mind, write down what you know about them too.

Remember: You don’t want to build them right now, just write down what’s in your idea. You have another project that needs all your focus and attention, and getting caught up in new characters could take you away from the current ones. We’re using key points here.


3. What are the stakes?

This is your conflict. Your idea. The thing that makes the Shiny New Idea wonderful.

If you’re the kind of person who starts with a character and then develops a plot, no problem — here’s where you’d make a quick observation about a conflict that your character could get into. If your New Idea MC is a dragon-hunting feminist priestess from the Order of Voluminous Tomes, she might get into physical conflict (dragons), social conflict (feminism), or religious/political conflict (priestess). You probably have some sort of very basic inkling of conflict for your characters, even if you’re not 100% there yet. That’s okay. That’s why you’re just writing this down now, so you’ll be able to recall and develop things later.

If you’re the kind of person who starts with an idea and develops characters around it, this will be the easiest step for you. Write a very, very basic & bare-bones outline of the idea that came to you. Do it in point form, so you won’t be tempted to sit there and elaborate on things.


4. Pick a genre.

This is quick. Just jot it down, somewhere on your page. If you’re not certain of the genre, pick a few and write them down.


5. Walk away, and allow your brain to get back to the task at hand… your current project.

Once you’ve written the Shiny New Idea down, you should feel a sense of relief. You’ve purged the idea from your head, and your brain no longer has to hold all these details close to the front of your mind out of fear that you’ll forget something. You can focus on your current project without worry.

You’ll probably find that something amazing happens now. Even though you’ve written your S.N.I. down, your Muse still flits back to it now and again, without you even trying to think about it. Your brain takes the idea and lets it heat up — like a slow cooker — making it better and better without even trying. Connections will be made. Conflict details will arise. Characters will start whispering to you about their favorite sweater, or what they always wanted to be when they grew up, or who they have a serious thing for.

And you didn’t even have to try. Write these things down if you want to, as they come to you, but set a timer each time. Stay focused. You don’t want to be the person that flits from idea to idea and never finishes everything! Which, admittedly, I often struggle with as well. (What writer doesn’t, at some point?

Now you’re free to come back to the Shiny New Idea when you’re ready for it. And, for that matter, when your current project’s characters tell you it’s alright!