Friday Funny with a Birthday and Woot Woo

Happy Friday to one and all!

Well, I had one heck of a distracting week. In fact, I was so busy, I didn’t even get one word written for my manuscript. I didn’t even think about it that much. Eeks!

First off, I had my birthday on Tuesday.

Overall, it was a quiet celebration this year. Actually, most of my birthdays are on the quiet front. Believe it or not, I’m not a fan of the spotlight. Opening presents in front of people, having a group sing happy birthday to me, getting a cake with my name on it…Yeah, I pretty much burst into flames and go up in a flare of mortifying smoke every time. If I could, I’d happily hide in my house all day on August 19th, and then– slowly and cautiously–creep back out on the 20th.

Don’t worry. I didn’t do that. I went over to my family’s after work for my favorite home cooked meal–breakfast for dinner–had some cake (best part of a birthday in my opinion), and opened some great gifts. My family knows me way too well. They gave me a book, gift cards for more books, my favorites snacks (Craisins and granola bars), and a hilarious card.

unnamedI have a few other plans with friends, but they’re aware they’re not allowed to make a big deal about my birthday, so we’ll just be going to dinner and hanging out like we’d normally do…And if my friends are reading this, I mean it. This is your warning: No singing waiters or I’ll put you into one my stories and give you the boot! 😉 )

The other big part of my distracting week was the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. On Wednesday, I received confirmation for my entry, Inevitable, and was able to post it to both my blog and the competition’s forum. For the past couple of days, I’ve been doing nothing but reading and reviewing other people’s stories, and also receiving feedback for my own.

So far, the reviews for Inevitable have been positive!

Here are a few comments from my fellow competitors:

Suspense is right, I actually held my breath at one point.  And that ending!!

Damn! Just…damn.

I felt like I was there! It unfolded like a suspenseful movie, and I was totally on board with being along for the ride.

Amazing! Everything about this moved me.

The biggest compliments I’ve received thus far have been about my dialogue and character development. Everyone seems to agree I nailed both, and that makes me so happy! I’ve been working my booty off lately on improving those aspects in my stories, so it’s awesome to see my hard work paying off.

Of course, there have been constructive criticisms as well–which I’m more than happy to hear. One of the main reasons I do this competition is to learn and grow, and I can’t do that unless I hear what’s “wrong” with my story.

Anyway, that’s about it. Busy week, but a good one. I will be plunging back into my manuscript this weekend to get back on track with that. It shouldn’t be too hard. I’m right at the juiciest chapters of the book, so it’ll be fun once I rev up the creative engines again.

In honor of my birthday this week, here is today’s Friday Funny–well, Funnies. I couldn’t decide, so you get two!

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633d5e26caa8877ac29ef931b73abf3fHow was your week? Distracted? Focused? Anyone else have a birthday? August seems to be a popular month for them, so I’m sure someone out there had one.

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

I Made It – Round 1 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

Inevitable – 1st Round Entry – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Entry

5 Things to Know When Pitching to Literary Agents

Photo credits: 

http://imogenpoots-rph.tumblr.com/post/29738573493/did-i-really-hit-200-followers-within-a-week

http://verymerrydisneybirthdays.tumblr.com/post/28191748051/happy-birthday-alice

http://bitsofada.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/hugh-laurie-at-the-annual-sag-awards/

http://hellogiggles.com/amy-poehler-life-coach-15-things-shes-taught

http://imgfave.com/view/2106241

http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/ae/b9/76/aeb97696b7c0bbe74cd13230d11ead11.jpg

Inevitable – 1st Round Entry – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Entry

Here’s my entry for the 1st round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. If you’d like to read about my experience writing this story, click here! Thanks in advance for reading, and thanks for any feedback you might have.

Reminder, I had 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story based on these prompts:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 8.46.08 AM

“Inevitable”

by Jenna Willett

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: While coping with the tragic death of her husband, Kate travels to Jackson Hole with her son. Along the way, they learn the true meaning of inevitable when disaster strikes.

“Ta-da! We made it!” Kate pulled the keys from the ignition and grinned over her shoulder. “See, I told you–“

Andy stared down at his lap. His pj’s were soaked. “Sorry, Mommy.”

Kate’s shoulders slumped. “Don’t be sorry, Boo. Sometimes inevitable things happen.”

He sniffed. “What’s invetable?”

“In-ev-it-able,” she pronounced for him. “It means out of our control. Sometimes bad things happen when we don’t want them to.”

“Like Daddy?”

Her heart constricted. “That wasn’t inevitable. That was an accident.” She twisted her wedding ring and squeezed the diamond against her palm. The pain felt good. Grounding. Calming. “Come on,” she coaxed. “Let’s clean up and get some food. If we don’t hurry, it’s inevitable I’m gonna eat you.”

Andy wiped his teary eyes. “You can’t eat me, Mommy. I’m a boy.”

“Yes, but you look so delicious.” She snapped her teeth.

He giggled.

Although it was past 8 p.m., Doug’s Truck Stop was bright and alive with families and truckers. Kate draped her jacket over Andy and dug fresh clothes out of his duffle bag. Hand-in-hand, they walked across the oil-stained parking lot.

“It smells weird, Mommy.”

“Weird?”

“Yeah, like–” He inhaled deeply. “Like band-aids.”

Band-aids? What do those smell like?”

“Blood.”

“Gross.”

Andy grinned. “Blood and poop!”

“Ugh!”

His triumphant smile lit up her world. She rumpled his hair and urged him through the door. Before it shut, she sniffed the air: Gasoline, trash, cigarettes, and…corrosion.

She wrinkled her nose.

Inside, the lights above her flickered. Frowning, she herded Andy to the bathroom. After he’d changed, and they’d negotiated dinner–“Snickers if you eat an apple first”–they got in line behind an old trucker.

He pointed at the candy in Andy’s hand. “Hey, that’s my favorite too!”

Andy pressed his face against Kate’s leg.

The old man chuckled. “You know, it’s a fact Snickers is the best candy in the world. If you don’t believe me, ask your mom and dad.”

“My Daddy died.”

Stricken, the old man looked at Kate. She bit her lip and caressed the diamond to fight back the tears. He mumbled his condolences and turned to checkout.

Again, the lights flickered.

“Damn things,” the cashier grumbled. “They’ve been doing that all day.”

“It’s aliens,” said the trucker. “I’m telling you. We’ve been invaded.”

“Bullshit.”

“Aliens?” Andy whispered to Kate.

She rubbed the back of his neck. “He’s kidding.”

“No, I’m not! I saw military movin’ in last night.”

“Zip it, Pete. You’re scarin’ the kid.”

A faint boom rumbled.

The lights winked off…on.

The cashier swore.

Kate tossed a ten on the counter and marched outside with Andy. The air smelled worse than before, like rotting eggs. Sulfuric acid, perhaps? Flashes of lightning sparked from afar, followed by thunder.

“Hurry,” she urged Andy. She wanted to get to Jackson Hole before the storm hit.

Once they were in the car, Andy asked, “Aliens aren’t real, right?”

“Right.” She put the keys in the ignition.

“But monsters are?”

“Of course not, silly.”

“But you told Grandma a monster killed Daddy.”

Her stomach turned. “That was a different kind of monster.” She shuddered and flipped the ignition. It’d been three months since Ryan had been killed by a drunk driver. If it hadn’t been for Andy…

“Don’t cry, Mommy.”

“I can’t help it. It’s inevitable when you’re sad and–“

A sudden harsh alarm blared through the radio.

Kate jumped.

Andy squealed and pressed his hands over his ears.

“We interrupt our programming,” a male robotic voice announced. “This is a national emergency–“

The radio snapped off and the engine died. The lights above the gas pumps went out and the convenience store fell into darkness.

“Mommy…?” Andy whimpered.

“It’s okay,” she breathed. “It’s just a power surge–“

A piercing wail silenced her. It was followed by a deep, bone jarring jolt that shook the car.

Kate gripped the steering wheel. What…What?

Someone slammed their hand against her window. She screamed.

It was Pete.

“Get inside! It’s coming!”

Kate followed his frantic gestures. Across the parking lot people ran, screamed, and clawed at each other to get into the convenience store. One girl stood frozen, her eyes fixed on the horizon.

“MOVE!” Pete yanked Kate out of the car.

The smell of rot stung her nose, making her eyes water. Howls and groans she couldn’t comprehend echoed around her. They seemed to be coming from every direction.

Pete shoved Andy into Kate’s arms. “Run, dammit!”

She hugged him to her and bolted. The sky shrieked with inhuman sounds, and the ground trembled so violently, she feared she’d tumble.

The sky went white.

Blinding, icy, horrifying white.

It was so bright and unexpected, Kate screamed and dropped to the ground to shield Andy. The wind stole her breath and the unearthly shrieks threatened to burst her eardrums.

“GET INSIDE!”

Strong hands heaved Kate off the ground and forced her into the convenience store.

“I’m scared,” Andy sobbed against her throat.

“Me too.”

“What is it?”

She scrambled for an answer. Aliens? Terrorists? A natural disaster? She shrugged. “I don’t know.”

A horrible realization dawned upon her.

They were going to die.

It was unfair and cruel, but it was inevitable. Whatever was happening outside was inescapable. She couldn’t run or hide. Just like her husband, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

She squeezed her ring and hugged Andy closer.

They were all together.

The earth began to convulse and heave. The building groaned and the windows burst. A cloud of ash swirled inside. The crowd screamed. Pete sobbed next to Kate.

Andy was silent in her arms.

She closed her eyes and kissed the top of his head. “Don’t be scared, Boo. It’s okay. I love you. I love–

*

A flake of ash from Yellowstone Park’s catastrophic eruption floated over Doug’s Truck Stop. It drifted down and landed on the only thing shimmering in the ruins.

A diamond.

To read more stories, visit my Jen’s Pen page.