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Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black

#FFRodeo Contest: Twitterflash Stories

For #FFRodeo contest #5, C. Jai Ferry provided a #Twitterflash story. Participants were asked to write a complete 99-word story using Twitter. Every #Twitterflash story also had to be 11 sentences with exactly 9 words each.

The results were interesting!

Winner of Flash Fiction Contest #5

For my entry, I explored a bit more of the complicated relationship between Erin and Marlin, the main characters in my Middle Grade novel WIP, Mae in May.

#FFRodeo

Erin’s Diary

Erin seethed. “Don’t you dare open that book, Marlin!”

Marlin’s mouth twisted bedeviled innocence. “And why not?”

He held her diary over his head. “Whatcha hiding?”

Marlin laughed as she leapt to retrieve her book.

“Give it back now, Marlin!” Mirth bubbled from him.

He stretched, using his height to advantage, and read.

“Mom gave me this to keep track of thoughts.”

“Please! I’m not kidding. That’s private.” Erin pleaded, hot-faced.

Marlin’s eyes sparkled with mischief. He pushed Erin back

He spoke in falsetto. “So much of life’s changed.

She kicked his shin and scooped the dropped book.

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However, I first wrote an exploration for another of my WIP’s, Wolves at Bay. I usually write late at night, and when I wrote it, I must have been a bit blurry in my Swiss cheese brain, because I misremembered the rules. Instead if 11 lines of 9, I wrote 9 lines of 11. (sigh.) This is the product of my sleep-deprived imagining.

Nina’s Courtroom Entry:

They dragged Nina into the courtroom, twisted legs sprawled behind her.

Dried blood marred her too-pale skin, and her sparse hair tangled.

Guards thrust her onto a stool; Ward sickened; he’d made it.

Just as his father’d taught, he’d whittled delicate but sturdy legs.

At home, the utilitarian piece would never have served for Nina.

Her muscles knotted and her nerves spasmed, and she bolted sideways.

Nina’s head lulled, and her eyes rolled like a painted saint.

Feelings of suppressed protectiveness rose like a fever in her brother.

Ward balked, long accustomed to disgusted embarrassment of his disabled sister.

 

 

 

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#FFRodeo entry: Invisible Scars

Irene Waters designed #FFRodeo contest #4 to expose scars. The winners’ heartbreaking stories are posted here: https://carrotranch.com/2017/11/28/winner-of-flash-fiction-contest-4/

Follows is my entry.

Invisible Scars

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Some scars are invisible.

Three-day Labor Day weekends break Kayla. The change of the air rouses latent fears. The scent of blooming chrysanthemum and backyard barbeques inspires panic. She scratches skin grown feverish, leaving bloody tracks. Her head pounds with remembered shame, and she battles a torrent of emotion. Anger. Fear. Revulsion. Her eyes grow wide, not seeing the world of that day, plunged into reliving an abuse that left lasting and invisible scars.

A man Kayla trusted betrayed her. When visiting her father, he violated what should have been a loving relationship.

She fought disgrace and disclosed the act to her mother, to her doctor, to any teachers who would listen. CYF sent agents. She answered their questions, ignoring the mounting stomach sickness caused by reliving. She endured forensics exams, psychological consultations, and police interviews. In the end, CYF and the state dropped charges against her violator.

She railed. “This is wrong. Why isn’t he punished?” Her mother plead with the courts to help protect her daughter. They put small safe-guards in place. With a PTSD diagnosis, she entered a weekly therapeutic program.

The strangest little things trigger reactions to unresolved memories. These invisible scars demand acknowledgement.

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My First Writing Rodeo

In October, Carrot Ranch ran a series of contests instead of hosting weekly prompts. Judging for the events is completed, and the result of the interesting challenges are posted. Please take a moment to read them here: www.https://carrotranch.com/events/

For my part, I entered all of the contests, and in light of the high-quality stories from all the entrants, I’m thrill to have won one! I posted the winning entry in an earlier post. It’s title is “Like Retribution.” However, I’ll post my other entries here now that the judging is completed. 🙂 Below is my entry for #FFRodeo #3 designed with a magical twist by Jules Paige. Find the rules and winning entries here: https://carrotranch.com/2017/11/21/winner-of-flash-fiction-contest-3/

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Winner of Flash Fiction Contest #3

My septolet-containing entry was Russet Leaves Jacob found the scrap of parchment while raking Oma Rochinka’s yard. In shaky handwriting were the words:

Russet leaves

Reveal skeletal keys

Otherwise hidden

Toadstool rings

Powdered, infused, consumed

Discover

doorways

 

He slid it into his pocket. Maybe Oma’s writing poetry.

He raked and wondered which of the leaves qualified as russet. He picked a couple, sniffing their elegant decay, and slid them into the warmth of his hoodie’s pocket. Music crooned from his left earbud, but he left his right ear music-free to enjoy the last autumn bird songs. Red-capped mushrooms made a circle at the foot of the maple tree. Wonder if that’s russet? He picked a couple and slid them beside the leaves, determined to ask.

Jacob tapped the song’s back-beat. He played with his high school band, but he aspired to create a country music group. Trouble was, nobody around wanted to put in the work required to make a go of such a thing. When people heard about his dream, they laughed and said, “Better have a back-up plan.”

After Jacob bagged the leaves, the old lady beckoned. Inside a small room crowded with old-world charm, delicious baking smells enveloped him.

“Good work, Jacob. Have some cobbler.”

Oma always baked something delicious for him. As he tucked in, he handed her the note. “Is this yours?”

Her eyes twinkled behind chained spectacles. “No, it belongs to you.” She produced a mortar and pestle. “Well, let’s have them.”

He knew Oma too well for surprise. He set the mushrooms and leaves on the table. “Are they russet?”

“Near as I can tell. Crush them into a powder.” She dropped the results into a bottle of rosewater. “When you’re ready, you drink. This’ll guide you.”

Jacob never questioned, but accepted the bottle and its future.

 

 

 

Ninety-nine

Ninety-nine

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 She commands I capture a story using ninety-nine words, but I have lifetime to present. I chafe at the confines, yet by honing the message and pruning the words, I achieve brevity. Brevity is beautiful, right? I strive for beauty. I face doubts and strike blows at fear. A story has an arc, and mine begins with an idea. I face adversity in a stifling word count, fail, edit, and at last reach my goal. In only ninety-nine words, I present a baseline, a struggle, a resolution. It may need flesh, but it is there, only in ninety-nine words.

*Written for the weekly challenge presented by the supportive writers’ group https://carrotranch.com headed by the amazing Charli Mills.

If you’re interested in honing your writing, I recommend you mosey over to the Ranch and check it out. Everyone is welcome to participate!

Bucking Bull Go Round Contest

https://carrotranch.org hosted a “writing rodeo” with weekly contests in October. I entered them all. In November, the judges announced the winners with what seemed agonizing slowness. I read the winning entries of the rounds, engaged by their mastery. I enjoyed all I read and applauded their victories. All that remained was the final round called “Bucking Bull Go Round” designed by D. Avery. For this round, writers were assigned two random words (which became the writer’s Bucking Bull) and limited to 107 words to write a compelling story. (My Bucking Bull was called “Law Dog.) Twenty-five writers stepped up to the gate. All held on with tenacity, but only one would emerge victorious. Having read the previous winning entries, I anticipated a story from another talented Buckaroo would win. I visited https://carrotranch.com/2017/12/12/winner-of-flash-fiction-contest-6/, and to my great delight, the winner was my story.

I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Like Retribution

Written by Kerry E.B. Black 

Jeb often ran afoul of the law, so he knew they’d be releasing the dogs. Shaking them took skill. He leapt into the water, waded deep into the reeds where the bullfrogs mated, and with his granddaddy’s pocket knife, cut a hollow stalk to use to breath.

Howls announced their arrival, and Jeb slipped into his camouflage. He positioned himself so he could see through the lilies to the shore. The dogs circled, frantic, unable to pick up Jeb’s scent. The posse threw their hats on the ground and spat.

Jeb’s jubilation turned to terror, though, when a cottonmouth snaked through his cover and closed like retribution.

_FFRODEO 1st Year Badges(4)

Happy Birthday, Shirley Jackson

Happy Birthday, Shirley Jackson

I wished to share my enthusiasm for an amazing, versatile author, Shirley Jackson.
Her amazing short story “The Lottery” provided my introduction to Ms. Jackson’s writing when I was but an enthusiastic junior high student. Setting a brutal ancient rite in small-town America haunts me to this day. “The Lottery” appeared in the “New Yorker” in 1948 and created an unprecedented stir. It was named the O. Henry Prize Story in 1949.
hill houseShirley Jackson’s body of written work is varied and plentiful. Her hundreds of short stories found homes in most of the magazines of the time. Subject matter varied from “real life housewife” stories to thrilling horror tales. “Louisa, Please Come Home” earned a nomination for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1961. In 1966, she won Best Short Story from Mystery Writers of America for “Possibility of Evil.”
She penned children’s literature including The Witchcraft of Salem Village (1956), Nine Magic Wishes (1963), and The Bad Children, based on Hansel and Gretel, which was adapted as a play. She wrote what she called “disrespectful memoirs of her children” called Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons.
Her novels include The Road Through the Wall, Hangsaman, The Bird’s Nest (1954), and The Sundial. Her We Have Always Lived in the Castle garnered the accolade “One of ‘Time’ Magazine’s 10 Best Novels in 1962.” The story was successfully adapted for stage.the lottery
Stephen King and Neil Gaiman acknowledge her influence on their work. Mr. King calls her novel, The Haunting of Hill House (published in 1958 and adapted for the silver screen at least twice) “one of the best ghost stories.” It was nominated for the National Book Award.
On 14 December, 1916 Shirley Jackson was born in Burlingame, California. She attended school in Rochester, New York, where she met her husband, literary critic Stanley Edgar Hayman. The couple moved with their family to North Bennington, Vermont. She died on 8 August, 1965 of heart failure at the age of 48.

Nativity Play

Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com challenges us to “present a performance in 99 words.” Mine is based on a true story which still makes me smile. I hope it will bring you a giggle, too.

Nativity Play

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

In the church nativity play, Matthew portrayed Shepherd Two, though preferred staying close to his best friend, Buddy, who was cast as Joseph.

The boys fidgeted.

Matthew chewed his headrail. “Who’s Baby Jesus?” Their Sunday School teacher remained sketchy on casting details.

Buddy shrugged. He stepped into the lead of the procession with the girl cast as Mary.

 Matthew took his position behind shepherd one and three sheep. As the choir sung, curiosity overtook him, and he ignored the stage blocking. He edged closer to Buddy. “Who’s Jesus?”

They leaned over the manger and giggled. “Jesus is a doll?”

manger scene

The Ghosts of Winter

VGS 2The Ghosts of Winter

written by Kerry E.B. Black

*First published at Halloween Forevermore

At this “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” such crooners as Andy Williams promise “scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”. Certainly, Charles Dickens in the Victorian era put his pen to good use, writing fictions including his beloved “A Christmas Carol” peopled with ghosts and spirits, but he followed ancestral examples in so doing.

Washington Irving mentioned listening to tales of “popular superstitions and legends” in his 1819 “Sketchbook.” William Shakespeare incorporated the supernatural into his theatricals. In his “Winter’s Tale,” it is said, “…a sad tale’s best for winter; I have one of sprites and goblins…” (Winter’s tales are sometimes synonymous with ‘old wives’ tales.’) Christopher Marlow’s Barnabus in his “Jew of Malta” from 1589 said, “Now I remember those old women’s words, who in my wealth would tell me winter tales and speak of spirits and ghosts that glide by night.”

Some scholars point to telling such supernatural stories as echoes from ancient times, when rituals and rites shaped the activities of the midwinter. Ancient Celts and Northmen set fires and scared one another with their mystical adventures.

Perhaps something in the deeper and longer periods of darkness of the season inspires writers toward Gothic sensibilities and Romantic inclinations. H.P. Lovecraft wrote an account of Yule horror called “The Festival.” In 1904, “Ghost Stories of an Antiquary” was published by M.R. James. The impeccable “Turn of the Screw” by Henry James begins with a recollection at a holiday gathering. “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You,” “A School Story,” and “Number 13” all have aspects of the festive season involved as well.

Victorian ghost storiesI’ve recently heard of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, with its religious recitations and occult rituals. Richard Darby edited “Ghosts for Christmas” in 1988, Peter Haining “Christmas Spirits” in 1983, and Horrified Press just released “One Hell of a Christmas” in 2014.

“There must be something ghostly in the air of Christmas, something about the close, muggy atmosphere that draws up the ghosts…” rightly said Jerome K. Jerome in his preface to “Told After Supper.”

So perhaps is behooves us to pull a chair close to the hearth, snuggle together with a hot cuppa, and nod to our ancestors with a spooky remembrance. Thus I wish you Happy holidays to all, and to all a good fright!

Mom’s Me Time

Charli Mills at https://carrotranch gave a task. In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes self-care. Here’s mine.

Mom’s Me Time

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 Moms don’t usually get “me time,” so when the opportunity presented itself, Kaylee almost did not recognize it. Her husband and her in-laws took the kids to a matinee. Kaylee stripped the beds and threw in a load of laundry before it dawned on her. She had the house to herself. She could operate the television remote control without hearing groans. A bubble bath surrounded by scented candles could be hers. When she set the kettle on, she ignored the dishes in the sink and steeped a cup of tea and enjoyed an uninterrupted date with a long-neglected book.

bubble bath

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