Protected: The Blue Divide – 1st Round – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Smooth Sailing – Round 1 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge

Let me start off by apologizing to my regular blog followers. I have been completely negligent of my blog the past few months due to some personal matters. But, my life is gradually returning to a new, steady rhythm and I hope to begin blogging again soon. Thanks for your patience!

For today, I’d like to share my most recent experience from the first round of this year’s NYC Midnight (NYCM) Flash Fiction Challenge (FFC). As a quick reminder, the NYCM FFC is a writing contest where writers are given three prompts (genre, location, and object), and then 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story. It’s always crazy! But fun.

Round one kicked off last Friday night at 10 p.m. (MST) when I received my assignment:

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 10.34.05 PM

First impressions: 

Drama

A corporate conference room

A baby rattle

…Yeah.

No joke, I wanted to go to bed right then and there. Talk about BORING! I’m used to off the wall prompts (like an action adventure that has to take place in an underwater cave and incorporate a dumbbell). I was also a touch nervous because drama tends to mean literary, and I’m much more of a commercial writer. Ugh.

I allowed myself about 15 minutes to absorb the prompts and get over my “I don’t wanna” attitude. Then I hunkered down with my favorite brainstorm buddy and personal Simon Cowell (my mom) and contemplated what to write about.

19389796-7f37-4854-addd-e76189e4b0f0

I instantly assumed many of my competitors would take the corporate conference room and baby rattle prompts and write a story about a custody battle. So, I wanted to stay as far away as possible from that sort of plot line. For a few minutes, I considered writing about a plane crash involving a woman who smuggled diamonds via baby rattles. But, even that wasn’t thrilling me.

Without knowing it, my eyes drifted to my nephew’s water bottle sitting next to my elbow. While gazing at its green space shuttles and yellow stars, a new idea struck me.

IMG_20160722_235130

Space! Astronauts! Exploration! I pitched the idea to my mom, and she instantly said, “Yes! I love it.” Suddenly, my prompts were no longer boring.

After another hour of contemplating and brainstorming (about characters, conflict, plot, etc.), I packed up my computer and went home to get some much needed sleep.

On Saturday, I spent most of the morning watching documentaries about outer space, debating various routes to take with my characters, and helping fellow competitors (and friends) brainstorm ideas for their own prompts/stories. Around noon, I realized I better start actually writing. The clock was ticking!

I whipped out an ugly first draft in about an hour. After a quick break, I whipped out a second draft. Then a third. By 6 p.m., I was ready to share it with my first and most critical reader: my mom. I went over to her house and let her read it.

Her response? “It’s so good!”

I was stunned! It’s pretty rare for my mom to like my first attempt during these challenges (i.e. during last year’s first round of FFC, she basically told me to trash my entire concept and start over).

Filled with giddy relief, I proceeded to revise and edit my story until I had a beta worthy draft. Before bed, I sent it out with the hope I’d have more critical feedback by the time I woke up on Sunday.

To my delight and utter disbelief, I awoke to more positive reviews. Everyone really liked my story. Like, really liked it. I was shocked. In 15 rounds of NYCM, I’ve never had a story receive such a positive reception during its infancy.

Feeling calmer than I’ve ever felt during FFC, I decided to set aside my story and focus on helping other writers for a few hours. I beta read, assisted those still struggling to find their groove, and offered general support.

Around 11 a.m., I shifted my focus back to my story. Although my betas liked it, it still had quite a few problems. So, I called my mom and asked her to come over to help me polish things up.

By 3 p.m., I had a final draft and was ready to submit. Yay! I triple checked my story for errors, loopholes, and weak spots, and then sent it off to NYCM.

All in all, it was an exhausting, yet smooth weekend. By far the smoothest I’ve ever experienced during any NYCM competition…Hmm, I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad sign. But, whatever. I’m going to go ahead and celebrate the fact I survived and came out with a story I’m proud of!

In the past, I shared my story publicly. However, I’ve begun sending my work to publishers, so I’m no longer posting them here for any and all to read. Sorry! If you are interested in reading it, please send me a message and I’ll provide you with the password. For now, here’s my title and synopsis:

“The Blue Divide”

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The countdown for Lorna to decide between her family and her dreams of deep space exploration has begun. Ten, nine, eight, seven…

Congrats to all those who participated and submitted a story for NYCM’s Flash Fiction Challenge 2016!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 454 other followers

Photo Credits: giphy

 

The Accidental Fall – 3rd Round – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

I present to you–reluctantly–my 3rd round entry for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge 2015. I’ll admit, this isn’t my finest piece of work, but I’m proud to have finished a story within 24-hours. I’m also proud to have completed all three rounds of the SSC. Each challenged me in different ways and taught me how to be a better writer.

Congrats to everyone who participated in this year’s SSC! And congrats to those who survived the third round. It wasn’t easy, so you deserve a giant pat on the back. (If you’d like to read about my experience with the final round, click here!)

Reminder, I had 24-hours to write a 1,500 word story based on these prompts:

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 1.38.00 PM

Thanks in advance for reading, and thanks for any feedback you might have!

“The Accidental Fall”

By Jenna Willett

Brief Synopsis: How could two happy accidents lead to one so tragic? That is a question Beth Haynes must answer.


“We’ll be back in ten minutes.”

“Hold on.” Beth knotted a pink balloon and tossed it into the air. “I’ll get my purse and go with you.”

“No, stay put.” Jacob picked up their daughter. “Miss Maggie can keep me company, can’t you?” He nuzzled her neck.

Maggie shied away. “Can Lady Lulu come with us?”

“I’m afraid Lady Lulu had a little accident, sweetie.” Beth smirked at the raggedy doll in the kitchen sink. Its pink dress was soaked from taking a dive in the toilet earlier.

“Will she be okay?”

“After a bath she will be.” Jacob kissed Maggie’s cheek and looked at Beth. “So, vanilla? Chocolate? Both?”

“Both.” Beth began blowing up another balloon. “And get some candles. I forgot those too.” As the front door slammed shut, she called, “Love you!”

She wasn’t sure if they’d heard her.

#

“Are you okay?”

Beth’s eyes jerked up from the rushing river. An old man stood on the footbridge a few feet behind her. She forced herself to nod. “I’m fine.”

He tilted his graying head to the side and dropped his concerned gaze to the doll clutched in her hand. “Are you sure?”

She nodded. “I’m fine.”

The old man looked unconvinced. Beth didn’t care. She turned away and stared down at the frothy rapids. She couldn’t remember how she’d gotten there. She couldn’t even remember grabbing Lady Lulu from its box in the garage, or putting on Jacob’s wool coat and leaving the house. All she could remember was seeing the date on her phone when she’d woken up: May 14th.

Beth’s legs weakened, and she leaned against the bridge’s rusted railing.

Seven years ago today, she’d met Jacob when he’d accidentally walked in on her in a Starbuck’s bathroom. She’d called him a jerk. He’d asked her out. Three months later, they were married. He’d vowed to always knock first.

Five years ago today, she’d given birth to their “oopsie” baby, Miss Maggie. Jacob had forgotten to buy condoms at the store. Beth had convinced him they didn’t need one…Oops.

One year ago today, she’d forgotten to buy ice cream for Maggie’s 4th birthday party. Jacob had taken Maggie with him to the store to buy some. They hadn’t come back.

They were never coming back.

Her therapist, family, and friends had convinced her of this, and she’d thought she’d accepted it. But…she hadn’t. How? How could two happy accidents lead to one so tragic? How could fate be so cruel as to give her so much and then take it all away?

A ragged sob erupted from her throat and, without pausing to think, she tucked Lady Lulu into the crook of her arm and climbed over the bridge’s railing.

“Whoa, wait!” The old man shuffled over to her.

“Please, don’t,” she whispered. “I’m doing this. You can’t stop me.”

His response came slow and gentle. “The fall won’t kill you, if that’s what you’re hoping for. The bridge isn’t tall enough.”

Beth glanced down. Even in the early morning sun, the water looked as black as night. A chill tiptoed down her spine.

“You’ll drown or freeze to death,” the old man warned. “And you don’t want that. You don’t want this. And—And neither would your husband or kid.”

Beth cringed. Of course he would know who she was. Everyone in town did. She was the poor woman who’d lost everything she’d cherished in a matter of ten seconds. She should’ve left Eagle after the accident—left Colorado completely—and moved back to Chicago to live with her parents. But she couldn’t do it. Moving away would’ve meant leaving Jacob and Maggie behind, and she couldn’t leave them. Not then, not now, not ever.

A tear trickled down Beth’s cheek.

But home wasn’t home anymore. Home was a never-ending nightmare. She couldn’t handle the silence, the lingering scent of Jacob’s cologne, the empty bed, the useless tea set, the random discovery of a lost pink sock.

She hugged Lady Lulu to her chest. “Mr…?”

“Eli. My name’s Eli. I’m the head janitor at Brush Creek Element—”

“Would you tell my parents I’m sorry, Eli?”

His calloused hands rested on the rail next to her. They trembled ever so slightly. “Mrs. Haynes—Beth—you don’t want to—”

“And that I love them very much?”

“Your husband and daughter wouldn’t have wanted you to—”

“And I wish…” She closed her eyes. “I wish I could go back and change what happened. I wish I’d bought ice cream. I wish I’d kissed Jacob goodbye. I wish I’d hugged Maggie. I wish,” her voice cracked, “I wish I’d gotten in the car and died with them.”

“Don’t say that. You’re here for a reason.”

A bitter laugh slipped from her lips. If life had taught her anything, it was that there were no such things as reasons. Only accidents.

Eli touched her arm. “If you jump, you’ll—”

She let go of the bridge’s railing and jumped.

The janitor’s bellow for help faded as she plummeted toward the river. The icy air stung her cheeks, tore at Jacob’s coat, and stole her breath away. She clutched Lady Lulu closer as she struck the water.

Everything went black.

For a moment, she thought she had died from the fall. Then the powerful currents ripped Lady Lulu from her arms and panic brought her back to life. Beth made a mad grab for the doll. Her fingertips brushed against its arm at the same time she struck an underwater boulder. Agony exploded through her shoulder and a scream started in her gut and rose in her throat. She opened her mouth to release the bloodcurdling wail and water poured in. The taste of ice, fish, and dirt choked her, while the unforgiving currents tossed and kicked her to the surface.

She sputtered, gagged, and drew in a lifesaving breath. “I’m sorry!” she screamed. “I wish—” The river sucked her back under. She struggled to reach the surface again, but the weight of Jacob’s coat dragged her down, down, down…

She had to get it off—let it go—let him go if she wanted to live. Beth fumbled with the buttons, frantic and out of breath, suddenly certain Jacob and Maggie’s dying wish would’ve been for her to live. To fight.

She shimmied, shrugged, and wriggled out of the coat and popped straight to the surface. Along the way, a tree limb scraped against her cheek and another boulder cracked against her knee. She hardly felt the pain this time. She was so cold.

Eli had been right. She was going to drown or freeze to death. Or both.

“Swim!”

The sharp order came from her left, in the woods. Shivering and gasping, she searched the trees until she saw a cyclist screaming at her. “Swim towards me!” She blinked at him, baffled by his appearance.

Who—How—Who?

Her sluggish mind refused to connect the dots. Instead, it zeroed in on something pink floating by the shore. Beth couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t be. Fate had proven itself too cruel to give her such a perfect beacon. And yet…She bared her teeth and swam toward it, her movements jerky and clumsy, but determined.

The stranger leaped from his bike and sprinted into the shallows up ahead. “Grab my hand!”

Beth ignored his command, her attention focused on the pink object. She had to reach it. It was safe. It was hope. It was home. It was all she had left of her baby girl.

“Come on, lady!” The stranger waded deeper into the currents, all the way up to his waist. “Grab my hand!” He reached for her as the river carried her closer and closer to him and Lady Lulu. The doll swirled around and around until it lost its fragile grip on the tree branch.

Beth cried out as it floated away.

“Grab my hand now or I can’t save you!”

The stranger’s words echoed through Beth’s dazed mind, piercing the sorrowful mist that threatened to consume her all over again.

She’d let go of Jacob. She had to let go of Maggie too. Because she now realized the moment she’d jumped, was the moment she’d finally touched down. She now understood life was full of both accidents and choices.

And this was her moment to choose.

“Lady!”

She pursed her lips, looked away from Maggie’s doll, and lunged for the stranger’s hand.


Round 1: The Ark 

(Assignment: 2,500 words, 8 days, horror, medical tourism, 50-year old woman) 

Round 2: The Darkness Whispers

(Assignment: 2,000 words, 3 days, ghost story, a statue, a waitress) Please note:  Since I’m planning to expand this story into a full novel, I have added a password to protect it. If you would like to access it, please send me a message and I will provide it to you.

To read more stories, visit the Jen’s Pen Page.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 454 other followers

Top 2014 Posts – #8 – Music Monday – Love The Way You Lie

To end the year, I’ve decided to spotlight my top 10 blog posts from 2014. I went into my stats page and looked up those articles, stories, and other published pieces that had the most number of views. Some surprised me, others did not.

Today, we move up the list to #8: Music Monday – Love The Way You Lie – Eminem and Rihanna

IMG_4138I wanted to try and schedule this one for a Monday, but alas, no can do. The timing simply didn’t work out. Oh well! “Love The Way You Lie” was one of my favorite songs I chose for a Music Monday feature this year. In fact, I still listen to it often while working on my more intense scenes. So check it out if you haven’t yet and see if it inspires your writing!


Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicThis week, I will be working on some of the most intense, emotional scenes in my manuscript. In preparation for writing these heartbreaking chapters, and dragging my characters through the mud and turning their worlds upside down, I’ve been listening to Eminem and Rihanna’s powerful hit, “Love The Way You Lie”.

Eminem-Love-the-Way-You-Lie1This song is packed with conflict, pain, and all of the emotions I need to feel while writing these explosive scenes: betrayal, fury, heartbreak, fear, regret…I also love the lyrics and music video. Both help me tap into my dark side and go to places I don’t want to go–but must.

tumblr_ly5q65ZGOP1r9n7rxo1_500So, if you’re looking for a song that touches upon heavy topics, and inspires intense emotions, check out “Love The Way You Lie”.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Previous Top 10 2014 Posts:

#9: Operation Disney

#10: Over The Edge

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 454 other followers

Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://www.free-youtube-mp3.com/eminem-rihanna-love-the-way-you-lie-download/

http://www.wattpad.com/43557165-lyrics-and-quotes-love-the-way-you-lie-eminem

Music Monday – Tomorrow Belongs To Me – Cabaret

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicFor quite some time, I’ve debated about sharing this week’s Music Monday choice with you. It revolves around a controversial topic that I’ve been scared to connect myself with in any way.

However, I’ve realized many songs are controversial in their own way, and just because I like one doesn’t mean I agree with its message. In fact, I so strongly oppose this song’s message, it’s exactly why I love it. “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” from the musical Cabaret makes me angry, sick, and horrified…which, let’s face it, is an excellent combination of emotions to feel when creating a villain and/or conflict, right?

10278_show_portrait_largeTo put it simply, this song is evil. It might not sound like it. Actually, when you first hear it, you’ll likely think it’s beautiful and sweet–motivational, even. But once you stop and listen to the lyrics, you’ll quickly realize what’s being sung about and your stomach will drop and your heart will sink.

The babe in his cradle is closing his eyes
The blossom embraces the bee
But soon says the whisper, arise, arise
Tomorrow belongs to me
Tomorrow belongs to me

cabaret_tomorrow_belongs_to_meYes, this song is about the rise of The National Socialist Party before World War II, and yes, it’s downright horrible.

“Tomorrow Belongs To Me” drips with supremacy, arrogance, and bloodlust. What makes it even more disturbing is the actor who performs it in the video below. The fact that he basically has the voice and face of an angel makes it a hundred times creepier and sickening.

So, if you’re looking for a song to inspire the evilness and corruption in your story, listen to this one.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/studio54/cabaret.php

http://cinema-fanatic.com/2013/02/04/oscar-vault-monday-cabaret-1972-dir-bob-fosse/

Music Monday – Mornay’s Dream – Braveheart

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicLast week, while reading and critiquing stories for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge, I found myself explaining to a few writers how I believed a suspense should be written. I couldn’t always find the right words to support my tips and advice, so I decided to send them one of my favorite songs from the Braveheart soundtrack: Mornay’s Dream.

Braveheart-Soundtrack-from-the-Motion-Picture
To me, this song is suspense. It starts with a boom!, and is followed by some tense “dun, dun, dun”s before taking a small breath…and then going! And it builds and builds and builds to a climatic ending.
writing-suspense-michael-regina
As I explained what a great illustration of suspense “Mornay’s Dream” was to my fellow competitors, I found myself listening to it over and over again. After focusing all week on the lighter genre of political satire, I needed a song to get me back in the right frame of mind for my suspenseful manuscript. And this one did it.

So, if you’re looking to listen to a song that’s all about suspense, give “Mornay’s Dream” a listen.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://alexdang.info/2013/01/james-horner-braveheart-ost-itunes-plus-aac-m4a-1995.html

Music Monday – Set Fire to the Rain – Adele

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicAs I mentioned on Friday, I planned on being a big ol’ hermit this weekend to catch up on my manuscript. Well, I succeeded! After I got home on Friday night, I locked the doors and hunkered down for two straight days of writing.

To be honest, I didn’t listen to much music the past couple of days. When I write, I need absolute silence. And the only time I broke the silence in my house this weekend was to take breaks to eat and watch an episode of The Mindy Project (FYI: Funniest. Show. Ever!).

However, on my way to work this morning, I set my iPod to shuffle and stumbled across Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”. And I fell in love with it–er, more than I already was. It’s perfect for the chapters I’m currently working on.

adele21To me, this is a cinematic type song. It’s dramatic and grand, and overflowing with emotions. Plus the lyrics are amazing and offer up their own serving of inspiration.

As I listen to “Set Fire to the Rain”, I “see” my characters moving, talking, reacting, and feeling. And the setting around them is there, bold, colorful, and believable.

So, if you’re looking for a powerful song that gives a writer a paintbrush and a thousand colors to create moving, vivid scenes, then check out Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://reddebtedstepchild.com/blogging-hermit/

http://prettymuchamazing.com/music/stream/adele-set-fire-to-the-rain-lovesong 

https://www.tumblr.com/search/Adele%2021