The Candle

Another WWAT flash fiction. This time a tale for Halloween. My words were hand-picked and candle.   Thrift stores are a trove of the undervalued, unappreciated, and unwanted treasures of the world – kind of like me. I used to love them. As the middle daughter of three girls, I was invisible. My oldest sister was the valedictorian. My younger the musical prodigy. I was nothing. My parents barely noticed me. When they did, it was to reprimand me for not being like my sisters. That was my life. My life before last October. “Hello Ophelia.” Beatrice, the wrinkled shopkeeper’s thin lips curved upward. She was bundled up as if she were on a trek through the great white tundra. It was the warmest October in history. “A brand new donation came in today. I saved it for you.” “Thanks, Beatrice.” The bell on the door jingled with the arrival of other teen girls. I knew their faces. They went to my school and, like everyone else, they never noticed me. Beatrice welcomed them. They ignored her and moved toward the wall of costumes. Amateurs. I knew the best stuff was past the out-of-date prom dresses and never re-worn bridesmaid gowns. In the far corner of the shop, behind a gingham curtain was a room lined with dusty old books and shelves of cracked porcelain curios. I smiled at them like old friends. Then, I saw it. Not the typical cardboard box donation, but an ornate black lacquer trunk. The silver clasps were cool to the touch. My mind fantasized about the hidden treasures inside – precious jewels, ancient tomes, gold coins. The lid lifted with ease. My heart sank. A cheap rubber clown mask stared up at me. The hideous face sat atop a trunk of equally ugly costumes. I dug through them, looking for anything of interest until I reached the red velvet bottom. “Anything good,” Beatrice’s voice startled me. Before I could say no, she clapped her hands. “Oh how fortunate. Costumes!” She bundled them in her arms and shuffled out of the room. I sighed, “At least the box looks nice.” I leaned over the side of the trunk. My eyes caught a glimpse of a black satin ribbon poking up from the side of the velvet. It beckoned me to pull it. The bottom popped up, revealing a secret hiding place. I gasped. A black candle carved with roses and thorns was nestled in... read more

The Summer of Something New

This was the summer of fantasy – with the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson.  I thought it might be fun to try something different, because that is how we grow both as writers and as people.  There are plenty of reviews out there, so I won’t repeat that information beyond a basic premise; rather, I’d like to explore what I learned from reading these books and how they affected me as a reader and, ultimately, as a writer. Mistborn was one of Sanderson’s first books, and, in it, we find our protagonist, Vin.  She is a thief, scared and friendless, but she will discover not only a hidden power but also learn much about herself and the very essence of trust and friendship. What struck me about this book (well, actually, 2 books – I just started reading book 3 in the series) is just how true the characters are.  Great characters are so important to a story.  Can anyone forget Gollum in Lord of the Rings or Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet?  But characters can be tricky.  I see so many writers fall into the trap of making a character fit into their plotline, but a character should live and breathe and be alive.  They should above all else be true to who they are.  Sometimes, that means that they do things as characters that we might not like as readers, and that is ok.  They can change over time, but only in believable ways and usually only gradually. In this, Sanderson excels.  His characters sometimes leave us wishing we could whisper to them through the veil of the page, but they act in exactly the way that someone in their situation would act.  This gives them not only believability, but, as a reader, I found myself hoping that they would not only survive and thrive but also find those qualities that they most needed – qualities that would allow them to redeem themselves. Another thing that struck me are some of the twists.  They caught me by surprise, and surprise is the delight of the reader.  That said, I hate when the twist is really convoluted, and here, also, I found them surprisingly deft.  Things unfolded naturally (with one notable exception that Sanderson explains and handles explicitly), and when the author threw absolutely everything he could at the protagonist, I found myself rooting all the harder for her to succeed.  Even with the twists, the book is... read more

Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Humor

What would life be without humor? Boring, drab, depressing. The same goes for books without humor. The key to great writing is creating an emotional journey for our readers. Part of that journey should be to make them laugh, so here are a few tips on adding humor to your novel. DO learn from the world around you. Some of the best material comes from life. What makes people laugh? When do people laugh? Be observant! People laugh when they are happy. People laugh when they are amused. People even laugh when they are sad. Jesse Andrews book, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, deals with a heart wrenching topic, and yet it is filled with humorous moments. Andrews uses the drudge of everyday high school and an awkward main character to relieve tension in what is a depressing situation. DON’T force bad jokes on your readers. Let’s face it we all know that one person who thinks dumb one-liners are hilarious, but unless you’re writing a crazy uncle character who loves knock knock jokes… don’t do it. Most of the things people find funny come naturally. Have you ever been in a room with someone who had a great laugh which causes the whole room to laugh? Real laughter is always better than canned laughter. DO use characters and setting to get the laughs. The plucky comic relief characters are some of my favorites. Take Ron Weasley, from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. He’s not the most intelligent of the three, but he plays an important role in the story. He makes us laugh. (At least he made me laugh.) He was the comic relief, which brings me to my next tip… DON’T shortchange your comical character! Ron was an integral part of the story. He wasn’t filler. None of your characters should ever be cardboard. Ron had tender moments, sad moments, and even the occasional romantic moments. (Although, I admit, I’ll always remember the hilarity of him burping up slugs.) I could go on forever. But since this is a blog post and not a book, I’ll stop here. The main take away is that laughter is an organic reaction and should always be part of the emotional journey a reader goes through. Even if you’re not a naturally funny person, there is always humor to be found in the... read more

Inspiration for the Uninspired

The muse is a fickle being. She/He/It doesn’t always want to come out and play. Sometimes you’re on your own. I could give you the usual (and useful) tips – brainstorm, lists, and journaling – but what fun is that? Instead, here are some out of the box ideas to rev up your neurons. People Watch Yes, I know that sounds a little weird. (But aren’t all writers a bit weird?) What better inspiration for new characters than real life strangers? Much to my husband’s embarrassment, I often talk to random people and ask them about their lives. I’ve even been known to take their picture (with their permission.) I always let them know who I am and what I do. Most people get excited at the prospect of appearing in a novel, although I never use real names. So if you need an idea for a new character, try watching the people you meet every day. Artwork Music, paintings, or even photographs can inspire an entire story. (Just ask Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.) Go to a concert. Go to an art museum. Or, if you’re a cheapskate like me, look stuff up on the internet. Monet is a personal favorite. You never know when an impressionist Water Lilies might strike the next great American novel. Talk to a Child As a mom to three wonderful kids, I can honestly say that children come up with the best, craziest, nonsensical ideas. Have you ever watched a kid play? They can create an entire universe out of a stuffed animal and a box of crayons. For a children’s author, speaking to a kid is gold. If you don’t have one of your own, try borrowing a friend’s kid or go to a park. (It’s best to get the parent’s permission first lest you end up behind bars, although I’m sure speaking to fellow inmates would spark a whole new series of stories worth writing about!) The next time you find yourself uninspired try thinking outside the box. Whether you watch the world around you, stare at a painting, or listen to children play, find inspiration through someone else’s... read more

LM Fry’s Wicked Secrets Cover Reveal

Coming May 27th, 2016! When Emily Brent, a 15-year-old city girl with a sarcastic edge, moves to the remote town of Carrsville Oklahoma, ghostly visions of a teenage girl haunt her day and night. The visions are a warning against the dark secrets of Carrsville’s past. The clock is ticking, and Emily has to find the truth before she becomes the town’s next victim. Available for preorder on Amazon and... read more

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