Tag Archives: inspirational

Motley Microfiction: The Toymaker’s Dilemma

In the North lives a man, a giver of gifts, a Saint. He spends his days making toys and brooding over the airwaves, which bring in affirmations from around the world. Out there, they believe in him. So the songs say.

But as he broods and makes toys, he has his doubts. Who knows if they exist at all, out beyond the endless snowstorms? Their faith has never been a problem, but he’s not sure he believes in them.

Once a year, he rises, dons his red coat, and goes to find out.

He brings the toys– just in case.

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English: Thomas Nast's most famous drawing, &q...
He goes into the world with arms full of toys. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello, friends! Sorry for the long absence – I’ve had my hands full with a lot of stuff for the last several weeks, and as a result, the poor blog got neglected. But I’m back, and for the next several days, I will be posting reams of Christmas-themed flash fiction to gear up for the holidays!

Today’s piece was recently published on the Drabblecast Episode# 305, and now I’m happy to present it to you on my blog as well. I would highly recommend listening to the episode, because the production took the story to another level.

One theme I love to explore in my writing is radical acts of faith in the face of the unknown, and this story is an example. Santa is famously connected to the idea of belief. I’m reminded of The Polar Express, where those who believe in Santa can hear the bells of his sleigh, while those who have lost their faith can’t. In this story, the choice to believe in Santa shapes your external reality.

Well, what if belief were a two-way street? What if Santa, in the isolation of the North, isn’t sure whether he is just making all of us up, because we’re equally wonderful and magical to him?

I like to imagine that if we were to pick up where the end of this story leaves off, everyone involved would be pleasantly surprised. Santa would find the children waiting for him, after all. The children’s faith would be rewarded. A long hoped-for relationship, a source of deep longing, would finally come to pass. That’s the essence of faith, and the essence of Advent.

Of course, it could all go the other way. Santa might find nothing but endless snowstorms. But I think there’s still something to grabbing that bag of toys, going outside, and taking a look.

Summer’s End

Summers end. (Photo credit: Rachael Jones)
Summers end. (Photo credit: Rachael Jones)

Today, friends, marks a transition point for me and this little blog: next week, I resume my schedule of full-time classes as a new semester begins. It’s one of those bad news/good news deals. The bad news: depending on my work load, I might not be able to keep up my current posting schedule of a story per day. The good news: my new science classes are sure to be a source of inspiration to draw upon as I craft new tales.

I’m amazed how far my blog has come since it began in May. In that time I’ve made 81 posts, most of them short stories. I’ve gained several hundred followers and had the pleasure of discovering many of your blogs in return. I’m humbled by the kindness, thoughtfulness, and care you have shown me by taking the time to stop by, read, and comment.

After he published his first book, my father mentioned that it’s important to celebrate the small victories. Time passes day by day, but rarely do we stop and recognize how far we’ve come. I realized this week that the last two months have been filled with such small victories. I hope you’ll indulge me as I take a moment to look back.

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Here’s to the small victories!

I wrote every single day. Sometimes it was pages. Sometimes 100 words. Sometimes only 10. But I produced something creative every day, proving to myself once and for all that creativity is like a river, and that the water will always be there if I reach for it.

I edited every day, both my own stories and the stories of my beta readers who also write. I identified some personal weaknesses in my own writing and have begun to push past them.

I got published on my favorite podcast, the critically-acclaimed Drabblecast, not once, but four times: Three pieces of twit-fic and a 100-word flash fiction story.

In my quest for paid publication, I racked up a small pile of rejection letters, a huge spreadsheet of market research, and a ton of good advice. I’ll be pressing onward with this goal in the fall, and will keep you posted!

I ran every other day throughout this Georgian summer, a goal I’ve never met in Georgia because of the heat. The unusually rainy weather helped enormously. Thanks to kicking off the summer with Creeper Guy’s pestering, I also discovered some great new running routes.

I made new friends, both offline and online. I also spent lots of wonderful time visiting with beloved old friends.

I volunteered several times!

I joined the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

Jam Session (Photo credit: Rachael Jones)
Jam Session (Photo credit: Rachael Jones)

Jason and I made several gallons of homemade jam in four flavors and gave most of it away. A new summer tradition.

I listened to a ton of podcasts. I read some good books. I lost count of how many a long time ago.

Jason and I put on a “Summer of Sci-Fi” movie lineup to watch all those movies we’ve been meaning to see for years. After seeing everything Stanley Kubrick ever made, I feel educated. And mildly disturbed.

We took a road trip to Mammoth Caves National Park. Note to self: take more road trips.

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A toast to the small victories, my friends, both mine and yours! Today I invite you to celebrate with me: share your small victories down in the comments, or if you blog, make up your own list.

Motley Microfiction: Life’s Short, So Write Verbs

There’s a saying: “Life sucks, and then you die.” But for Marvin, this truth was made more bitter by how it monopolized 10% of his lifespan. How unfair! Getting stuck in a short story sucks, sure, but it happened to lots of people, and they managed to accomplish something anyway in their brief lives. But Marvin had the misfortune to land in a drabble, and his writer had already wasted most of his precious 100 words on too many adjectives and adverbs.

“Please, lady!” Marvin begged as his death approached. “Let me do something before I die! Write verbs! Verbs!”

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Daffodil - happy flower
Pretend this daffodil symbolizes your dreams. (Photo credit: garrellmillhouse)

For those of you who write, do you pity your characters, knowing they got the short end of the stick by landing in your story? As in, you know their lives suck, and it’s your fault as the author, and you wish you could promise them a nice retirement in Tahiti when the story’s over? I had a conversation like this with a writer friend of mine I’m novel-swapping with. The characters in her novel have it bad. She writes about dysfunctional family dynamics and the way that problems like abuse are passed down and perpetuated through the generations. It makes for a great story, but I like to tease my friend that I’m going to stage a rescue: import her characters into my current novel (a fantasy/comedy), which will feel like an oasis for those poor souls.

Still, I’m serious when I say, “Life’s short, so write verbs.” A few years ago, I found myself sitting in my cubicle wondering what I was doing with my life. I’d never intended to wind up there. I had dreams, but those dreams seemed to be getting farther off, not closer. I’d gotten caught in that painful cycle that’s all too familiar: working, sleeping, and working some more.

I don’t object to the “working” part. Most of us have to work, and few people are lucky enough to have a choice in what they do for a living. I object to the fact that there’s only two verbs on that list: “work” and “sleep”. If I want to live life, I’m responsible for picking the verbs. So I took up running. I wrote my first novel. I began volunteering. I stopped wasting my time waiting for things to happen to me.

If we only have 100 words in our story, let’s make them count.

What are your goals, creative or otherwise? What verbs do you want in your story?

Medical Microfiction: Arachnoid

In the Shelter of Each Other

Wanda found a spider in the shower one morning. No surprise; it was an old house, full of cracks, leaks, drafts, and squeaks — much like Wanda herself.

“Let’s get you out of the steam, little friend,” said Wanda. She trapped it in a Mason jar and freed it in the attic, where there were abundant insects to eat.

That winter, the house somehow felt a little warmer. The gas bill dropped and her arthritis eased.

In spring, Wanda checked the attic. Her friend had been busy. Carefully overlapped leaves wrapped in spider silk patched each hole in the roof.

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The arachnoid: proof we all have cobwebs in the brain.
The arachnoidea: proof we all have cobwebs in the brain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arachnoid means spider-like. In anatomy, arachnoid specifically refers to one of the three membranes that cover the brain inside the skull. The first membrane touches the skull directly and is called the dura mater, which is Latin for “tough mother”. This awesome and hilarious name came about when Greek medical words were mistranslated into Latin. The second membrane, the arachnoid mater or arachnoidea, underlays the dura mater. It’s named for its thin, weblike appearance. The third membrane covers the brain directly and is called the pia mater, or “pious mother”. Once again, that name came from a translation error by way of Greek.

Meninges of the brain
Meninges of the brain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Together, these three membranes protect, anchor, and cushion the brain and spinal cord so they don’t spend all day getting knocked against the inside of your skull. If you experience a head injury and the doctor puts you on concussion watch, it’s because they’re worried about bleeding in between these membranes or meninges. The disease meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes in either the brain or spinal cord due to a viral or bacterial infection.

So much relies on this delicate trio of tissues. Good thing they’re one tough mother.

This is another story I wrote for the Drabblecast’s ongoing flash fiction contest, this time on the theme “Good Samaritan”. Have you ever had a stranger do something particularly kind for you?