Overcoming Adversity: The Jungle Crocodile

February 5, 2013

Hey, everybody! As promised, I have returned with a ~500 word flash piece for Nick Wilford’s Overcoming Adversity blogfest. This was a fun challenge, and I wish all the best to Nick and his family.

There's ants

Overcoming Adversity blogfest

Nasir saw an opportunity and he ran for it. It was just a moment, when only one of the corporals was in sight – far away, and facing in another direction. In a few second Nasir had slipped between two trees, his bare feet squishing in the muddy water, climbing through the undergrowth and hoping that he could find a clear trail before anybody came after him with a gun.

Nobody seemed to have followed him. He’d wondered about the other kids with him, knowing that he wasn’t the only one who longed to be free, or was tired of carrying a gun when they told him to carry one and pointing it where he was told to point it. Surely once he’d shown there was a chance to escape, somebody else would have taken it too…

But Nasir found a way to look on the bright side, as he hurried through the likeliest gap in the trees. So he was alone. That would make it even harder for the corporals and sergeants to track him.

He picked up the pace, and immediately tripped on a thick arching root, landing in the muddy water with a quiet splash. As he climbed up, he realized that he was not alone. A handful of paces away, the long triangular head of some fearsome beast rose out of a patch of deeper water – a triangle as long as Nasir’s thigh, with a fleshy nose close to him and two large beady eyes further back. Further back, a string of backbone spines broke the surface of the water, but the rest of the creature was invisible in the liquid murk.

Nasir froze for a second, and the beast drew closer to him. “I am not to be trifled with,” Nasir whispered to it. “I am a fierce warrior myself, and if you seek to prey on me, I shall drag you to that world beyond with me.”

The predator hesitated for a second, then lifted its nose out of the water, showing a row of dozens of sharp teeth, each one curving back in the direction of the eyes – pointing, Nasir was sure, to its unseen throat.

Boasting and bluffing hadn’t worked. Nasir ran. He ran faster from that reptilian monstrosity than he would have fled an army of a hundred thousand. He lost count of how many times he tripped, stumbled, fell, or ran into trees. Actually, he probably never started counting at all. But every time he got up and started running again.

And then, just as the pain in his side felt as if it would split open, he looked around. There was nothing following him in the water – no eyes, or nose, or teeth, or spines.

He wasn’t sure what direction to go to find shelter, but Nasir smiled. He had run from the soldiers who had taken him from his family, and he had outrun the swamp beast. For this moment, at least, he was free.

Thank you for reading, and check out some of the other participants!

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Nanowrimo Spotlight #5: Martha Bechtel

October 22, 2012

Are you asking, who could I possibly spotlight next? No? Well, anyway, the answer is, Martha from Martha.net…

What’s the most unusual part of your writing process?

I dunno, the silly hats I wear to write-ins or maybe the MuseFic I write when I’m stuck?

I used to think my addiction to index cards and colored markers for plotting was unusual, but the more I get out into the NaNo universe the more I realize that ‘normal’ has a new definition. I’ve been reading a lot more this year than in prior years (books, blogs, etc.) and everything I always assumed was odd turns out to be a technique someone else uses as well.

Except for the silly hats (and possibly the MuseFic).

Where are your backup files?
I post everything to my blog, so it exists on the netbook, the USB stick, the blog, and my desktop. I also have the database setup to email me weekly backups, but that WordPress plugin seems to be on the fritz now. *pokes plug-in*

I used Google Docs for a while one year, but I had problems with the formatting changes since I use Word for most of my writing. I’ve also poked around at other online storage options, but my blog seems to be the easiest solution.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
Don’t be afraid to fail! 😀

If an idea isn’t working, backup to where it was working and start over again (but keep the wordcount). Retcon’ing is a valid writing technique. *solemn nod*

Or try your hand at some MuseFic and see if you can’t sort out why things aren’t going well– maybe you just need a change of POV to get things rolling again.

And if all else fails, pull a ‘it was all a dream the MC had right before he woke up and the real story started’ or even a And then there was Thor! 😉

Sneaky Ninja Question! When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
Thanks to my Dad and his drive to finally clean out our accumulated horde I can say with 100% certainty that I was well into my storytelling habit by the time I could hold a pencil (but not spell, apparently). Prior to that I drew a lot of silent movies…

There are horse stories (LOTS of horse stories) and serials about anthropomorphic Gumballs and Pumpkins. Heck a little later on I did a whole series on Mr. Electron where I taught the basics of electricity to third graders.

Mind you, all of these were typed out, illustrated, and staple-bound into actual books because, lo, I get art in my peanut butter– err, writing all the time! 😉

Someday I need to start scanning those in– I’d say for posterity’s sake, but mostly just my own amusement.

Lots of people will tell you that NaNo is not for being perfect, that you need to keep writing, even if it is crap– but that’s a lot harder when you’re actually shoveling the stuff.

So try this if you’re feeling like giving up: write fan fiction of your novel.

Take a minor character or an off-scene event and pause for a moment to spin some flash fiction about them/it. Sometimes the best stories are the ones hiding in the cracks of the larger ones. 🙂

Thanks for coming to visit, Martha! Oh, and I think that everybody should make a point of checking out Martha’s Saturday Story Prompts.


Flash Fiction Blogfest time

May 22, 2012

I found out about this Blog-fest very late, because I happened to drop in on a Ninja who was participating. Luckily, I was up to the challenge on very little notice too! 😉

1. Entries must begin with the two words: Lightning flashed.
2. Entries must be 300 words or less and be in prose. I’m not versed enough in poetry verse to judge it properly.
3. Entries must be posted on your blog between May 21 – 23.

Lighting flashed against the horizon, a tiny fork of it in the flat distance. Robert noticed it out of the window at once, and hope leapt inside his chest. With lightning, there was rain!

By the time he’d run downstairs, the hope was quietly taunting and jeering at him. There was more lightning, and a faint rumble of thunder, and a fresh breeze blowing, but the only arcs were from that one spot in the sky. How far away was the thunder – and the water? He could wait for it – but what if the storm was moving in a different direction?

His drive all used up, Robert lay in the dust, face up, and dreamed of the patter of water droplids on his eyelids.

When the water actually came, it was in a torrenting splash, and hope fought briefly with alarm. In a downpour that heavy, would there be flooding? Would the crop be washed away, or the farmhouse?

Then the splash eased away, and he realized that his pant legs were completely dry. Robert sat up, rubbed his eyes, and saw Mary holding the garden hose. “Aww, whatcha go wasting the wet stuff like that for, watering me like I’m one of your garden projects?” he complained.

“It’s a traditional way of waking up somebody who’s making a nuisance of themselves,” Mary complained. “What did you pass out in the front lawn for, anyway? Were you out drinking at Joe’s?”

“No, I ain’t touched a drop since the last time it rained,” Robert said. Maybe that was part of his problem. “It rained last night.”

“Did not.”

“Did too – somewhere over yonder.” Robert tried to point where he’d seen the lightning, but the memory was already faded. “If it doesn’t rain here soon, the bank gets everything.”

What do you think?


My entry in the first Campaign Challenge of 2012 – Attack of the Shadows

February 23, 2012

A little housekeeping, first – I still have some openings for my Campaigner Spotlight series, so let me know in the comments if you’re interested in doing an interview on the Kelworth Files, or email me at chrisken zero at gmail dot com . And happy 450 posts to me!

So I actually finished my flash fiction for the Campaign Challenge ahead of schedule! Rules and bonus conditions follow:

  • Required – Post by Friday, February 24th (at 11.59pm EDT). DONE!
  • Required – Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. DONE!
  • Required – Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. DONE!
  • Bonus – End the story with the words: “everything faded.” (also included in the word count) DONE!
  • Bonus – Include the word “orange” in the story. DONE! (though it feels a little forced to me.)
  • Bonus – Write in the same genre you normally write. DONE! I write in a lot of genres, but this is fantasy, which is certainly a familiar wheelhouse for me. It also features Justin, who was a character in my modern fantasy story ‘Lesson One.’
  • Bonus – Make your story 200 words exactly! DONE!

So here it is:

Attack of the Shadows

By Chris Kelworth

Shadows crept across the wall. One jumped onto the table, skittered to the flickering candle, and threw itself into the flame. Light and darkness met; then both were no more, and the other shadows grew thicker and larger in response to their brother’s sacrifice.

Justin woke in the dim room, with the shades dancing in the corners of his eyes. Without the candle lit, he’d have only one chance to escape this place where the shadows dwelled. He cursed himself for a fool, thinking that he had the energy to come down here and work his spell without sleep getting the better of him. From his pocket he pulled a small gilded orb, the size of an orange. With his other hand, he pushed himself up from the table.

The shadows moved in at once. Justin spoke a word, and the orb flew into the air above the table, and glowed like a miniature sun. The shadows scrambled for cover, and Justin made a break for the door.

Unfortunately, he hadn’t noticed that one shadow had hidden and used his body for cover against the light. Now it tripped him, and Justin fell hard against the stone floor. Everything faded.

If you enjoyed this story, (and you’re in the Campaign,) go over to the Campaign Challenge page and click ‘Like’ under my name! I’m 185 in the list. Then go read some of the other entries. 😉


My flash fiction for the first Campaign Challenge

September 8, 2011

I think that I’ll reverse the usual pattern that I’ve seen before, and give you my story first, and then the challenge rules:

The door swung open, and a beautiful girl hurried inside, her finger held up to her lips and her eyes asking me an urgent question. For a second I was confused, and then I lifted the far section of the sales counter to let her come back behind. She crouched into the storage cubby under the cash register, and I was just starting to get naughty thoughts about the whole situation when a hand reached out to stop the door from quite closing.

The man who came in next had periwinkle blue eyes and his feet didn’t seem to quite touch the ground. “Excuse me, sir, did you see a…”

“She went out the side door, didn’t even close it behind her,” I blurted out, realizing that I could use the fact that I’d left the door open for the summer breeze to the girl’s advantage. “Why are you looking for her?”

His eyes rested on me for a moment, but he didn’t answer, and took a moment to close the front door behind him, then stepped calmly over to the side exit. I busied myself with an order form to avoid giving the girl away. The door swung shut.

 

First Campaigner challenge:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: “the door swung shut.” (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

(And just for the record, I achieved the highest level of the challenge – at least, according to MS Word’s wordcount.)


My entry, the second Crusader Challenge.

March 23, 2011

So, here’s my entry in the new Crusader Challenge, which is to write a flash fiction of 100 words or less, starting with a particular phrase.

How Ralph got his Fish tank.

The goldfish bowl teetered as Peter thumped his hand down on the table. “Nobody should ever keep a fish in a bowl,” he said. “It’s the equivalent of a prison cell, in terms of livable space.”

“Yeah, okay,” I said. “I’d never really thought about it, but..”

“And the narrow top doesn’t let much air in,” he continued, thumping the table again – and Ralph’s bowl fell off entirely. I dived for the kitchen and started filling up the largest beer mug I had with cold water.

“Are you happy now?” I asked Peter once Ralph seemed okay for now.


A good review from fellow writers…

October 8, 2010

There’s nothing like hearing some positive feedback to lift your spirits.

I took the flash story ‘The onus of Grace’ to the Hamilton Writer’s meeting on Tuesday, and mentioned that I was thinking about expanding it into a longer piece for National Novel Writing Month. All the responses I got were really impressed and encouraging – a few questions about the setup of the characters, but also tons of praise about how the dialog seemed more natural and conversational than some of the stuff that I sometimes bring, and how the setup was a good way of introducing the idea that my main character had paranormal powers while still ‘hooking’ the reader with a bit of a mystery. In fact, I’m left with the idea that this scene, or some version of it, would be a good way to start the extended version, which wasn’t what I had planned, I’d meant to go back further to what I thought of as the beginning of the story. Hmm…

One of the other writers read a short essay about critique groups, how to tell when you’ve found a good critique group and make the best of it, and that sort of thing. Everybody liked the overall thrust of the article, though we had some minor polishing notes. I’m hoping to get her permission to repost it up at Stringing Words when it’s finished.

And that’s about all for now. Still looking forward to Nanowrimo, busy with work and driving lessons, made a Whedon Halloween Scavenger hunt video that I’ll probably put up on Youtube soon. Also have been working on proofreading one of my older Roswell fan fiction pieces, “Runaway with you.”


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