55 Word Rapture

Sometimes I write very (very) short stories. Today is one of those times.

Jefferson Harris’s private rapture happened at 4:17 on Friday, at the corner of Lakewood and Broad. He was waiting to cross the street, hurrying to get back to the office, when the clouds parted and God spoke to him. “It is time.”

Afterward, people sometimes remarked on the small scorched spot on the sidewalk.

I am thinking of putting together a chapbook of these very short stories, and possibly some of my other work. Would anyone be interested in such a thing?

We Are Unable To Pay Authors At This Time.

Dear Editors,

I am unable to submit to you at this time.

I spent four hours working on a story that spilled from my fingers as though they were suddenly possessed. I typed through countless distractions as this story forced its way out of me. My daughter interrupted me every four minutes the entire time I was working. That probably sounds like an exaggeration. I will be honest with you: it was probably more frequent than that.

I don’t have any lack of ideas. But it takes a long time for me to figure out how to tell a story. Once I edited a story for at least five years before I realized it needed to be switched to present tense if it was ever going to work. This one, though? Less than a week from inspiration to draft. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. It really was like something had taken over my body.

When I was done, I felt like I was worth something for the first time in four years, which is coincidentally how long it’s been since the last time I wrote a story.
You cannot have my self-worth in exchange for a contributor copy.

Yours Sincerely,
Annika Barranti Klein

I wrote this last fall, and am reminded of it as I look for markets to publish the story I refer to. The options are awful. It is astonishing how many people seem to think it is okay to build a business based on a product they do not value.

Overthinking Character Names

I started a writing project that is set in 1880. I am still working on a lot of details but I’ve got a good idea of my main character, and I am trying to name her and the other important character. The problem? SSA baby name records begin in 1880. When they are already in their 30s or 40s.

If I assume that names generally cycled through every two generations, as they tend to now (people in my age group frequently name children after their grandparents, who tend to be born about 70 years before the baby in question), and if I also assume people had children earlier, then I might look to names being given to children 20-30 years after my story is set. Does that make sense?

Of course, then my preferred name for my heroine is nowhere to be found. Which doesn’t mean I can’t use it, but it bothers me.

The other thing I’d like to find is a breakdown of the immigrant population by nationality, to find names that perhaps were not popular on the SSA list but might have been common in particular areas. (I’ve read a lot of Willa Cather. I want to use names like Alexandra and Antonia. But, like, not those exact names.) Of course, I can’t find that information. I’m pretty sure it exists, but it’s not a quick google search away.

And finally. Let’s say you were naming a not-great husband in a western. You’d name him Frank, wouldn’t you? I thought so. Trying to come up with another one.

Twitter Poetry (Twittertry? Poetwit?)

I wrote this little poem on Twitter last night, and I like it so much that I am copying it over here for posterity.

The children asked me
To play Hide and Seek.
So I hid.
But they forgot to look for me.
It was the most peaceful
Five minutes of my day.

I could maybe get into poetry if it’s limited to 140 characters.

On Writing

Delay is natural to a writer. He is like a surfer—he bides his time, waits for the perfect wave on which to ride in. Delay is instinctive with him. He waits for the surge (of emotion? of strength? of courage?) that will carry him along. I have no warm-up exercises, other than to take an occasional drink. I am apt to let something simmer for a while in my mind before trying to put it into words. I walk around, straightening pictures on the wall, rugs on the floor—as though not until everything in the world was lined up and perfectly true could anybody reasonably expect me to set a word down on paper.

~E.B White, Paris Review

It’s who you know.

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Funny story: when Will moved to Los Angeles, he got a job as the second assistant to the producers at a movie star’s production company. He worked there for 6 years. The reason he got the job? His mother’s boss’s college roommate’s ex-husband’s neighbor was in charge of hiring. (Actually, that’s why he got the interview. He got the job because he is awesome.)

While he worked there, he worked with some writers. A lot of writers, actually, but two in particular who are relevant to this story. He worked with this writing team for the better part of a year, until the studio finally passed on their script, much to everyone’s annoyance and disappointment. We liked the writers a lot, and had them over for a barbecue and I think at least one other time. One of them, Mike, moved to Las Vegas. We’re friends on Facebook.

Mike sent me an email out of the blue in January. He’s the assistant editor at a local magazine now, and was looking for a writer for an article on blogging. Was I interested?

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(Yes.)

And thus concludes my tale of how, despite “who you know” being the most important thing ever, there is NO WAY ON EARTH to control it because you just never know who will be important.

I guess it’s worth a picture and some change.

I wrote 1,012 words on Friday. Actually, I’d already written something like 78 of them, back in June when I had the story idea. Friday morning, though, I sat down and typed until the story (admittedly a short one) was finished. I like it. It is direct, the voice is about what I wanted, and I think it is kind of funny. Maybe I shouldn’t say funny. It is sort of horrible, actually. But aside from needing a little work (what story doesn’t?) it came out about how I wanted it to and Will liked it so I am happy.

The rest of Friday was AWFUL and I blame my story. I had post-writing crash, and I happened to be in Target when it happened so it was really wretched. I don’t know if I want to keep up this writing business if it’s going to ruin my days like that!

But writing hangover aside, it feels pretty good. At least, I am glad to have written.

Now I just have to show it to someone other than my husband. Eek!

Inside the Writer’s Studio: Mindi Scott

I’ve been friends with Mindi for about… um… seven years? She stayed here six years ago next month, so longer than that. Last month, her debut novel was published. Freefall is, no lie, one of the best books I have ever read. She answered some questions for me this week.

In general, what do you write?
Contemporary Young Adult Fiction

What are you working on now?
A dark YA novel about a girl who can’t tell the truth out of fear of what it will cost her.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing with publication in mind for over six years. I’ve been writing just to write since I was a teen.

Have you written other genres/mediums/etc.?
I wrote a LITTLE MERMAID fanfic when I was thirteen. I’ve kept lots of journals both paper and online. Also, my second novel attempt was a fantasy novel with a portal to another world (of course!).

Where do you write?
I occasionally write rough drafts in journals while riding the bus. The rest of the magic takes place at my desk on my computer.

Who is your first reader?
My husband. He reads every scene as I finish it. At times when I’m feeling especially needy, he’ll read scenes still in progress.

Where can we see something you’ve written?
I have a novel out! It’s called FREEFALL and was published by Simon & Schuster this fall. You can read an excerpt on Amazon.com or a longer excerpt at my website.

And to borrow from James Lipton (please imagine that I have a full beard and am strangely affable), please answer these in one word:

What is your favorite word?
Lover

What is your least favorite word?
Cream (when used as a verb)

What turns you on?
Catalano

What turns you off?
Leto

What sound do you love?
Waves

What sound do you hate?
Loogies

What is your favorite curse word?
Mutha-vucka (Okay, not really. But close.)

Other than writing, what profession would you like to attempt?
Editor

What profession would you not like to do?
Carpenter

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“OMG!”

I should tell you guys, she is JUST AS ADORABLE as she seems.

Inside the Writer’s Studio: Will Klein

This will be a series for the rest of November, or as long as I can find writers who want to talk to me. If you’d like to participate, hit me up.

First up is my husband. Hi, husband!

In general, what do you write?
words. That is so dickish, I know. Screenplays, novels. Role playing game scenarios. My blog, though now that October has passed that has kind of run out steam–I’m a terrible blogger without a concrete goal.

What are you working on now?
I’m sort of revising a YA novel. It’s contemporary fantasy–someone asked me if it was Urban Fantasy and I had to say that it was mostly Rural with a little Urban towards the end…

How long have you been writing?
My earliest memories don’t involve writing, but my mother still has stories and plays I wrote when I was six or seven.

Have you written other genres/mediums/etc.?
We were talking about genres? I, uh, I don’t know what genre I write in, honestly. I think all of my stuff is pretty funny, but it isn’t a broad humor (Except when it is). Also bloody. I write a lot of death, sometimes played for laughs, sometimes heroic sacrifice, sometimes tragedy… I write darkly comic horror action? Except when there is no action or horror….

Where do you write?
Mostly on the loading dock at work. I’ve written three and a half novels there–can you believe that shit? I think two, maybe three screenplays. A lot of bloggy shit. I used to write at the bar at home in the wee hours, but my computer is very old and my wife’s sister lives in front of my TV now, and I don’t get any sleep because of the children and the blood and the guy screaming down on the corner about his tumors–so I really only write at work now.

Who is your first reader?
My wife (Ed.: That’s me). She is also, on most of my screenplays, my writing partner–which makes them Our Screenplays. We’ve discussed collaborating in other endeavors too, but we have a hard time endeavoring. It’s her fault, really, that I’m trying to be a novelist. Because she needed a break from all the creative screaming and the whiskey madness and couldn’t devote time to any of the projects I wanted to work on, so she suggested I go off and be a good quiet boy and write a novel by my ownself. So I did, and I loved it, and it stuck.

Where can we see something you’ve written?
Well, at my blog–but that is all very unpolished, I use it as a Journal (a live journal?) really. I don’t bother doing much more than a perfunctory spell-check–sometimes not even that. My polished stuff, you have to ask to see that, but I’m such a slut at heart–I’ll show my goods to anyone who asks.

And to borrow from James Lipton (please imagine that I have a full beard and am strangely affable), please answer these in one word:

What is your favorite word?
Go

What is your least favorite word?
No

What turns you on?
Thoughts

What turns you off?
Stress

What sound do you love?
Bottle cap

What sound do you hate?
Shredder

What is your favorite curse word?
Fuck

Other than writing, what profession would you like to attempt?
Park Ranger

What profession would you not like to do?
Office job

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
There is beer in the fridge. Wait, why God? Whatever happened to St. Peter? I mean, if we’re doing Pearly Gates.

If a pearl necklace is when the guy ejaculates on the area between neck and breasts, is pearly gates when the ejaculate is on the inner thighs, outer folds of the vagina?

Er… I do not know the answer to that. Anyone?