I love writing short stories. You can try new things like genres or techniques without committing for the long haul. And since I like to write surprises and twists, it’s often more efficient to do so in short stories. Honestly, I wish I could earn a living writing short stories, but since I know even most professional novelists still have to have a day job, I imagine I won’t be rolling around naked in piles of cash any time soon. This is just a sampling of my short stories.
Inspiration: Back in the summer of 2007, my brother sent me a link to the CNN story of Oscar the death-predicting cat. I was fascinated with his story, and since my animal-loving grandmother had recently passed away in a nursing home, I started thinking about how she would have reacted, which led me to write the story.
Status: It was named one of the winners of the 2008 SC Fiction Project and was published in the Post and Courier (you can read it online here). It was my first published story, and I was on cloud nine when I held the copy in my hands. Then my brother had the great idea to turn it into a screenplay, and the rest is history.
Seeking a Hidden Hive
Pitch: A terrible drought has struck Guyo’s Kenyan village, and the young boy wants to help his family, but he is too small. Then his grandfather tells him about the honeyguides – birds that lead tribesmen to hidden bee hives. Guyo now has a way to help his family, if only he has the courage to persevere.
Inspiration: My brother and I were talking about something (I can’t even remember what), and he said, “Oh, that’s like those honeyguides.” I had no idea what he was talking about, so he explained how the birds cooperate with African tribesmen so they both get food. At that time I knew the theme for the 2009 Highlights Fiction Contest was world culture, and I thought I could work honeyguides into a fun kids’ story. The result was a short story I called A Little Honey.
Status: To my shocked delight, the story was named one of the winners of the 2009 Highlights Fiction Contest. The title was changed to Seeking a Hidden Hive and was published in the July 2011 issue of Highlights. Since I adored Highlights as a kid, this was a dream come true!
The NYC Midnight group organizes a variety of contests throughout the year, and one of my favorites is the flash fiction challenge. Writers from around the world are placed into heats where they are assigned a genre, a location, and an object and given 48 hours to write a 1000 word story. Judges assign points to the stories, and the top point earners in each round progress to the next one for a total of four rounds. It’s an adrenaline rush for word nerds like me and a great way to challenge yourself and try new genres.
2009 NYCM Flash Fiction contest
Dare to Belong
Pitch: A young pushover is eager to hang out with the cool kids; but when a dare goes too far, will he stand his ground?
Inspiration: genre - drama, location – a penthouse suite, object – a chicken wing
Just One of the Gulls
Pitch: Gracie’s older brother and his friends don’t want her around, so she aims to prove she is one of the guys.
Inspiration: genre – comedy, location – a garbage dump, object – a battery
Pitch: A walk down Santa Monica Pier brings back a flood of memories. Will they save Sonya or destroy her?
Inspiration: genre – drama, location – a pier, object – a putter
Cats for Clunkers
Pitch: Leon desperately needs a new car, but will he sacrifice the life of his only friend to get it?
Inspiration: genre – fantasy, location – a car wash, object – a kitten
Status: With the point accumulation for these stories, I ended up in the finals where I came in 11th place overall.
2010 NYCM Flash Fiction Contest
You Can’t Scurry Love
Pitch: After the murder of her brother, Rochelle turns to his best friend for comfort; but a well-intentioned promise threatens to squash their love.
Inspiration: genre – romance, location – a restaurant kitchen, object – a ladder
Pitch: As the subject of an experiment that could change the world, which improves Bobo’s chances of survival: success or failure?
Inspiration: genre – horror, location – an animal testing facility, object - a trophy
Seeds of Freedom
Pitch: When a downtrodden population is exploited by cruel super soldiers, can one man make a difference?
Inspiration: genre – sci-fi, location – a construction site, object – a cage
Inspiration: genre – open (so I picked ghost story), location – a border crossing, object – a mushroom
Status: With the point accumulation for these stories, I ended up in the finals where I came in 6th place overall. Plus, I turned the story A Spirited Discussion into a screenplay called High Heels and Hoodoo, which has won a grant to fund the production of the short film.