Friday Funny with Writing and a Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

It’s Fridayyyyyyyy!

So, is it just me, or did every day this week feel like Friday? Seriously, each morning my alarm clock went off, I thought, “Yippee! It’s Friday–No, wait. It’s not. Not even close. Beepity-beep!”

I was very happy when I woke up this morning and realized it was Friday–for real. Woo-hoo!

Anyway, it was a busy week for me, but a productive one. I’m proud of myself for not getting too caught up in the mad dash of life and focusing hard on my manuscript. Since last weekend, I’ve knocked out four new chapters, each one approved by my beta reader.

If I keep up this pace, I might finish my second draft by November 1st. Which means I’ll have two months to edit a third draft. Which means I just might have a presentable draft done by my deadline of January 1st.

*fingers crossed*

Besides writing my booty off this week, I had some fun too. I celebrated my dad and sister’s birthdays (back-to-back days), and then put together my costume for my family’s Disney-themed Halloween party this weekend. I had wanted to go as Ursula from The Little Mermaid (you know, do my hair all crazy like octopus tentacles), but my nephews demanded I go as Elsa from Frozen.

Okay, my costume won’t be nearly as glamorous as Elsa’s, but people will get the general gist–er, hopefully.

I also spent some time this week shooting photos and video clips for my friend’s latest film for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. These films are silly, but I love contributing to them. They’re a great way to bring the NYC Midnight writing community together, build friendships, and have fun. Oh, and laugh at myself.

A lot.

JennaDisney1Like the last round, I needed to use the story I wrote for round 2 as my inspiration. Since Operation Disney revolved around the recent debacles of the Secret Service Agency and Julia Pierson’s absurd Disney quote (“We need to be more like Disney World. We need to be more friendly, inviting…”), I decided to dress up like Mickie Mouse and wave around a toy gun while singing/dancing to “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”.

Here are just a couple of the clips I took:

(And, yes, feel free to laugh/shake your head/mock me. I don’t care–ha!)

I know I look ridiculous, but I actually had a blast while filming. Sometimes it’s therapeutic to let go, act like an idiot, and laugh at yourself, you know? And I laughed at myself a lot. There were many blooper moments, one of which included me accidentally hitting the trigger on the toy gun and dropping it in surprise when it made that motor-like sound. I wasn’t ready for it!

Anyway, here is today’s Friday Funny. I thought it was fitting after taking those pictures and video clips for my political satire piece. The day I wrote Operation Disney, I did quite a bit of research and Googled a variety of things, including Secret Service Agency, Air Force One, Obama, attack, guns, Russia…By the end of the day, I said, “Well, that probably put me on the NSA’s watch list.” 😉

Enjoy!

10671284_10152514271928432_1697126134585438931_nHow was your week? Busy? Calm? Do anything goofy and silly? I know many of you are preparing for NaNoWriMo. How’s it going? Are you ready for it?

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

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

Music Monday – Explosions – Ellie Goulding

You Know You’re a Writer When…Awkward Introductions

Yes, Agents Google Writers

Photo credits: 

http://giphy.com/gifs/DImeco37S0Fl6

http://ynaija.com/teen/these-are-the-problems-of-todays-social-media-girl-her-facial-expressions-are-just-too-funny-look/

https://www.tumblr.com/search/self+five

http://tatara94.deviantart.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ericjodomfb/photos/pb.195590938431.-2207520000.1414167501./10152514271928432/?type=3&theater

Friday Funny with Lots and Lots of Stories

Look at that! We made it to Friday.

So, I don’t know about you, but this week flew past.

Er, actually, I’m suddenly questioning whether it is, indeed, Friday. Hold on…Okay, double checked. It is. Phew!

Overall, my week mostly revolved around the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. I know, I know. Bad Jenna! I’m supposed to be working on my manuscript, not reading my competitor’s stories and critiquing them. But…ugh.

Okay, this is what happened.

On Wednesday, I received the green light from NYC Midnight to post my story publicly and on their private forum. The forum is where all of the competitors get to connect and read/evaluate each other’s work. Really, it’s one of the main reasons I even participate. Not only have I learned so much about my writing from the valuable feedback I’ve received there, but I’ve also made some great friends.

On the forum, there’s an unspoken rule: If someone reads/critiques your story, you should read/critique theirs in return. No, not everyone does this, but most of us consider it a basic courtesy.

So, usually, after I get the go ahead from the competition to post my story on the forum, I like to block out a few days to hunker down and read/critique as many stories as my eyeballs and brain can handle. I do this because 1) I enjoy it, and 2) I hope to drive people to my story to receive feedback. Give and take, right? I read yours, you read mine. Win-win.

Well, this round I decided to approach things differently.

With my manuscript “yelling” at me to finish it, I decided I couldn’t be proactive on the forum and read people’s stories unless they read mine first. So, when I posted my story, I wrote a disclaimer that basically said, “If you read my story, I’ll read yours.”

HORRIBLE IDEA!

By Wednesday night, I had over 20 stories to read and critique. By yesterday, near 35.

It’s like people freaked out I wasn’t going to be seeking out stories like I normally do, so they made sure to read and comment on mine so I’d read and comment on theirs.

Doh!

I decided to the best way to deal with the overwhelming situation was to barrel my way through the towering stack of work yesterday and today–you know, the whole pulling off the band-aid strategy. That way I can go into the weekend focused completely on my manuscript.

I made it over halfway through the stack yesterday, so hopefully I’m able to finish things up today!

As for my entry for the Flash Fiction Challenge, the feedback has been surprisingly positive so far. Although most people don’t seem to know exactly what qualifies as political satire, they think Operation Disney is funny.

Now, to be honest, I think most people are probably being nicer with their reviews than usual. Most everyone knows by now how much I dreaded writing a political satire and how little faith I had–have–in my story.

Yes, yes. Despite the nice words I’ve received about Operation Disney, I’m still not sold on it. I’ve read it a couple of times this week and every time I’m more and more bothered by it. Ugh…I know I’m being hard on myself, and I know I did an okay job considering I was way out of my element, but I just can’t bring myself to love it like I’ve loved my other stories.

Oh well, oh well. I’m going to let it go and move on.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 😉

 Anyway, in honor of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge, and the political satire I had to write, here is today’s Friday Funny. I’m sure I’ve posted this one before, but I had to use it again since it’s exactly how I felt while penning Operation Disney. Enjoy!

1013603_290902797768942_2264126418497184260_nHow was your week? Anyone else finding themselves buried in piles of work?

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on Operation Disney. I know I might sound like I’m complaining above, but I value each and every piece of feedback I’ve received. Thank you, thank you!

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

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

Disaster Strikes – Round 2 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

You Know You’re A Writer When…Frustration

Operation Disney – 2nd Round Entry – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Entry

Photo credits: 

http://www.celebuzz.com/2013-06-15/20-high-five-gifs-for-neil-patrick-harris-birthday/

http://gifrific.com/did-we-just-become-best-friends-step-brothers/

http://blog.wedeliver.us/wedeliver-news/5-reasons-you-didnt-get-into-techstars-y-combinator-or-any-other-accelerator/

http://armenatoyan.buzznet.com/user/journal/8187041/liz-lemon-gif-party-tina/

http://s284.photobucket.com/user/Bigsteve87/media/Gifs/HighFiveSnowWhite.gif.html

http://rebloggy.com/post/1k-spoilers-disney-spoiler-myedits-5k-frozen-let-it-go-disney-frozen-elsa-frozen/69317844213

http://www.funniestmemes.com/funniest-memes-the-writer-haha-this-is-funny-maybe-not/

Operation Disney – 2nd Round Entry – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Entry

Below you will find my 2nd round entry for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. You will also find a perfect example of trying and failing–ha! As I explained in a post earlier this week, I received the number one genre I DID NOT WANT: political satire.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even share this story with you because it’s not representative of who I am as a writer. However, I’ve decided the true failure for this story would come from stuffing it in a drawer and forgetting it ever happened. I might as well post it and learn from my mistakes. How else will I improve if I don’t open myself up to criticism, right?

So, with that all said, here you go! As a reminder, I had 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story based on these prompts:

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 8.38.53 AM

*Since not all of us are political gurus, I wrote out a brief explanation about my chosen topic. If you’d like to read it before or after you check out my story–click here and scroll to the bottom 🙂

“Operation Disney”

by Jenna Willett

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: It’s the 21st century and time for a new, inviting strategy for the Secret Service. But Director Peterson’s plan might be too Disney for special agent Prouty.

*

“My, oh my, what a wonderful day!” Director Judy Peterson clapped her chubby hands and hitched her bulldog-like face into a smile. “Remember, everyone: be friendly and inviting. Understand?”

The group of black clad Secret Service agents shifted uneasily. Agent Prouty glanced at his colleagues. They wore varying expressions of alarm, amusement, and indifference. Behind them, Air Force One glimmered in the setting sun of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the “happiest place on Earth”.

“Come, come. I wanna see smiles. Lots and lots of smiles!” Director Peterson nodded her approval at each agent. “Ah, yes, there you go. Very good. Yes, yes–No, no. Prouty!” she barked. “You’re not smiling!”

He clenched his jaw and twitched his thin lips into a smile.

Fuck, this was ridiculous.

Satisfied, Director Peterson motioned across the tarmac to the VIP passengers being herded out of the airport to the final security checkpoint. “Smith, check IDs. Phillips, run the metal detector. Halloway…” As she rattled off their individual assignments, Prouty studied the approaching passengers: congressmen, media clowns, a few invited guests.

“…yes, yes, Halloway. That’s a great smile. Just like Prince Charming.” Director Peterson’s praise drew Prouty’s attention back to her. The evening breeze hardly ruffled her stiff chocolate brown hair. “Prouty, you’ll oversee the baggage scanner.”

He nodded dutifully.

“And, don’t forget, everyone,” she trilled. “I want smiles and magic–“

“Director?” Prouty blurted. “Who’s on Air Force One with the First Family?” Hell, the last thing they needed was an armed lunatic running up the plane’s stairs, barging through the door, and mowing down the President of the United States.

She waved a dismissive hand. “Eh, they’ll be safe on board. The attendants can keep an eye on them.”

Oh, dear God.

Prouty bit back his angry retort and did as he’d been trained to do: follow orders without argument.

“Now, let’s hoppity-hop to it!” Director Peterson fluttered her fingers towards the security checkpoint.

Prouty and the rest of the team obediently took up their positions. From his perch behind the baggage scanner, he watched Director Peterson stroll behind the other agents, urging them to maintain their delightful facades while greeting passengers. “Welcome to Air Force One. Anything your heart desires will come to you. If you want a cognac, you got it.”

How the hell did she get her husky voice to sound like a chipmunk?

Prouty shook his head and focused on scanning the luggage contents. The shape of a gun appeared.

What the–?

“Is there a bluebird on your shoulder today, agent?”

He jumped and glared behind him. Director Peterson leaned in close. Her cotton candy perfume gave him an instant toothache. “Director, we have a serious problem.” He pointed at the screen.

Her beady eyes narrowed. “Well, that’s obviously a hairdryer, silly.” She winked and tapped him on the nose. “But, good eyes. Keep them sharp.”

“But–“

“Ooh, look! A Birkin bag.” She bounced over to a busty blonde hanging on the withered arm of an ancient congressman.

Oh for shit’s sake. Prouty swallowed his outrage and continued checking bags.

A few minutes later, a hefty man plodded past holding a map of Washington D.C.

“Sir?” Prouty stood and squinted at the map. The White House was circled in red.

Holy hell.

“It is fine, da?” the man grunted in a thick Russian accent while puffing on a cigarette.

Prouty coughed and tapped his headset. “Director, I have an issue–“

“An issue?” She skipped over to him, her jowls wobbling with each heavy jolt. “Well, well, well. Who’s this handsome man?”

“Vlad Bukavitsky,” the Russian sneered. “And I not like dis treatment by your countryman. I good man. Loyal man. See?” He flashed the Russian flag pin on his lapel.

Prouty scowled. “Sir, I need you to hand over that map–“

“Agent Prouty!” Director Peterson gasped. “Don’t discriminate against our international friend.” She smiled apologetically at Bukavitsky. “I’m so sorry, sir. We’ll make sure you get a souvenir.” She tapped on her headset. “Halloway? Yeah, I need a coffee mug…”

Prouty’s jaw dropped. “But–“

Suddenly, a man wearing a yellow construction hardhat appeared. “Hiyah, folks.”

“Hello there!” Director Peterson chirped.

“Got a call about a broken TV on the plane. Mind if I hop on real quick to fix it?”

“Of course not. Go ahead.” She waved him past the security checkpoint. “And thank you. I know how much the President wants to watch those Steelers.”

“Best damn team ever,” the construction worker agreed. He tipped his hat, and whistling, strolled off to the jet. Prouty caught him snapping a selfie on his way up the steps.

Good God!

Unable to contain himself any longer, he rounded on Director Peterson. “With all due respect, this is bullshit. None of this is protocol–“

“My dear agent,” she sighed, impatience lacing her sugary tone. “How many times must I tell you? This is the 21st century. It’s time for a new attitude and a new approach to our tactics. Lowering our guard might be the best thing to raise–“

BANG!

Everyone screamed and ducked.

BANG–BANG–BANG!

Prouty spun around, gun in hand, ready to fire.

BANG–BANG!

“Someone get to the President and his family,” he shouted.

“How dare you, Prouty!” Director Peterson cried. “I’m in charge here. Stand down, team. I repeat, stand down.”

He gaped at her. “Director, someone shot–“

“Nobody shot anything! It was just the luggage trolley backfiring.”

“Backfiring?”

“Obviously.” She clucked her tongue. “Haven’t you ever heard a car backfire?”

“But six times?”

“Hush, hush.” She patted him on the arm. “And for God’s sake, smile. You’re scaring our poor passengers with your unnecessary panic.”

Unnecessary? Are you out of your–“

“The last passenger has been processed, Director.” Halloway ran up with his Prince Charming smile.

“Well, my, oh my.” She clapped her hands. “Great job, team. Let’s get this show on the road.”

Prouty glared from them, to the President’s plane. Slowly, he exhaled and muttered, “Ah, fuck. Let it go.” 

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

Disaster Strikes – Round 2 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

Well, it finally happened, everyone. The worst case scenario struck this weekend. I received political satire as my genre for the 2nd round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014.

As usual, I went to bed on Friday night without looking at my assignment–the last thing I needed was to be kept up half the night with swirling ideas. Around 4:30 a.m., my nerves woke me up. Unable to stand it, I turned on my tablet to find out what my new prompts were:

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 8.38.53 AM

Blank.

My mind went blank.

Then it quickly screamed:
Ugh, I had so been hoping for comedy or sci-fi. Or, heck, even romance. ANYTHING but political satire, because 1) I don’t know jack about politics, and 2) I’ve never tried writing satire.

I ended up throwing myself back into bed, curling up in the fetal position, and battling between despair and anger for a solid hour. It. Was. A. Disaster! In fact, for a serious moment, I even considered throwing in the towel and giving up…

But, darn it, I’m competitive. And I wasn’t willing to just roll over and die. So I got over myself, and I went to work.

Thankfully, I happened to overhear a rant about a current event the day before, so I had a topic to use as my story’s inspiration. I pulled up Google and began educating myself on it. I spent most of Saturday morning reading articles and watching a Congress hearing on C-SPAN.

I know, it sounds borrrring, but surprisingly, everything I read and heard was fascinating. Better yet, it was mockable. There was one particular quote that inspired my story’s entire theme. Hint:

After a wicked case of Distractionitis (Facebook, Twitter, chores, etc.), I battened down the hatches and whipped out a first draft.

Now, normally I will revise a first draft at least a couple of times before I send it to my mom, AKA, Mrs. Harsh Beta Reader. This time, however, I broke tradition and asked her if she’d come over to my house to read it/help me revise it. I didn’t want to waste time revising a story I had zero confidence in.

To my complete shock, she loved the first draft. In fact, she was crying she was laughing so hard at some of my jokes. I cried with her, but I think that was more out of relief than humor 😉 We edited the story to a semi-solid draft and I sent it off to a couple of other beta readers, one of whom had way more experience in political satire than me.

Their critiques came back positive, but the one who had political satire know-how said my story was too funny. Satire is supposed to suggest, not slap the reader in the face with comedy.

So, I revised it and tried to tone things down.

Tried.

Honestly, I would’ve needed to start completely over to make my story more “satire” funny than “HAHA!” funny, and I wasn’t going to do that. It was late and I was exhausted. Plus, I liked my story–for what it was–and I figured the chances of getting any points for it in the competition were slim-to-none. So why not write a story I liked–even if it didn’t meet the traditional standards of satire?

On Sunday morning, I sent my beta readers a polished version. One of them still thought the humor needed to be toned down and a specific aspect needed to be deleted, while the other thought the story wasn’t as funny anymore and thought that specific aspect needed to be emphasized.

So, I decided to leave the story as is. HA! I ran through it once more and submitted it. Done and done!

Now, is this the best story I’ve ever written? NOOOOO! Will it get me points? NOOOOO! Am I proud I sucked it up and wrote a political satire? YES!

One of the main reasons I do this competition is to push my boundaries and experiment with various genres. And although political satire wasn’t one of the genres I wanted to experiment with, I’m glad I did. It challenged me in ways I’ve never been challenged before. Plus, I learned a lot about a current event I wouldn’t have known much about otherwise.

Hopefully people will read my story and enjoy it, even if it doesn’t fit the traditional political satire standards. I plan to post it here in a few days. For now, here is the title and synopsis:

“OPERATION DISNEY”

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: It’s the 21st century and time for a new, inviting strategy for the Secret Service. But Director Peterson’s plan might be too Disney for special agent Prouty.

***

Okay, normally, I don’t offer explanations for my stories. But since this is a political satire and not all of us are on the up-and-up of various current events, I wanted to give you one to–hopefully–improve your reading experience.

Operation Disney is based off of Julia Pierson, the recently resigned Director of the Secret Service.

APTOPIX-Secret-ServiceSince she was hired back in 2013, there have been multiple security breaches. Some of these include: An armed man hopping the White House fence, running across the lawn, and entering the property through an unlocked door. A construction worker/felon being allowed to share the same elevator as the President (and snap photos of him with his phone). And, finally, a series of gunshots echoing outside the White House that were blamed for a car backfiring (five days later, a maid found a window in the President’s private residence damaged from bullets).

On top of all of that, Pierson made this comment (and it’s this comment I based the tone of my story off of):

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 11.49.17 AMHopefully that explanation helps some of you enjoy Operation Disney more! Thanks in advanced for reading and providing feedback. I appreciate it.

Photo credits:

http://www.omgfacts.com/lists/7722/A-man-survived-the-Hindenburg-disaster-by-bailing-out-the-window

http://www.studentbeans.com/mag/en/campus/the-25-stages-of-writing-an-essay

http://gifsb.in/will-ferrell/

http://torimac.tumblr.com/

http://dailycaller.com/2014/10/02/julia-pierson-on-secret-service-we-need-to-be-more-like-disney-world/

http://www.i-am-bored.com/forums.asp?page_num=1&action=read&q_id=71067&ct=10

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/10/02/fired-secret-service-directors-strategy-for-the-agency-we-need-to-be-more-like-disney-world/

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2014/10/01/APress-Secret-Service-chief-Julia-Pierson-resigns-after-security-lapses/stories/201410010204

Friday Funny with a Side of Wonky and Flash Fiction

Attention, everyone! Attention, attention: It’s Friday!

So, to be perfectly honest, I spent the majority of my week doing this:

Daydreaming. Pondering. Staring off into La-La Land…

I’m not quite sure if I’m so tired I couldn’t focus on anything, or if I’m so focused on everything, I couldn’t focus on anything. Wait, that didn’t make sense. Let’s go with the first thing I said…

Yeah, yeah. I know. I need a vacation. But that isn’t happening, so let’s move on, shall we?

On a positive note, my life was much calmer than last week, and I no longer feel like I’m on the verge of a royal meltdown.

I spent all last weekend hermit-ing it up to regain my footing and get back on track with my manuscript–which I did. Phew! Better yet, I sent my beta reader new chapters, and her feedback was positive. Her exact words were: “All I can say is WOW!!!!!!!!”

I’m hoping to send her one more chapter before tonight, when the 2nd round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge begins.

Dun, dun, dun…

Yes, yes. It’s time for another round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. Buckle your seat belts!

So, yesterday I received my results for round 1. I don’t want to bore you with the details of the competition’s point system, so I’ll just say my story, Inevitable, took 11th out of the 40+ writers in my heat. Yeah, not too shabby, though I’d kinda hoped to crack the top ten. But whatever. For me, it’s not really about winning. It’s about challenging myself, improving my writing, and connecting with other writers.

Plus, I have to admit, Inevitable isn’t one of my favorite pieces I’ve produced. I’m proud of it and everything, but I wish I’d dug deeper and pushed myself harder. Suspense is one of my favorite genres to write, so I’m disappointed I didn’t try to take things to the next level.

Oh well, oh well. Onwards and upwards!

Round 2 begins tonight. At midnight, I’ll receive a new assignment (genre, location, object) and have 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story. Since I received suspense in round one, I’m betting I’ll receive comedy, romance, or–God forbid–political satire as my next genre.

Seriously, if I get political satire, I’m doooomed.

Anyway, in honor of my…hmm…I don’t know how to categorize this week. Wonky? Ha! Yeah, let’s go with that. In honor of my wonky week, here are a few random Friday Funnies. Enjoy!

033347dfdbe2bc8a03c75f4be6a73f37

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10257893_288674234658465_2390867437885549490_nHow was your week? Anyone have fun plans for the weekend? If I finish my writing contest early, I might crack out the Halloween decorations and gloom up my house a little. Of course, that means I’ll need to enter the dreaded Crawl Space of Spiders…Nope. Forget it. I’m not decorating this year 😉

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

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

Music Monday – Set Fire to the Rain – Adele

You Know You’re a Writer When…Dishes

10 Questions Your Readers Shouldn’t Have to Ask

Photo credits:

http://partyofoneblog.com/2013/07/finally-friday-is-funny.html

http://www.rowdychicken.com/media/19-dilemmas-every-book-lover-has-faced-at-least-once/

http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/86751220.html?page=2

http://reactiongif.org/gifs/gif-cry-crying-lose-meltdown-sad-wine-work-gif/

http://www.urbansmoothie.com/2013/10/the-devils-reprise-devils-2-by-karina.html

http://hollygrass.blogspot.com/2014/05/hallelujah-its-friday.html

http://graphitedoll.tumblr.com/post/30306748060/everything-i-do-this-is-no-different

http://www.pinterest.com/slynnk94/i-want-to-be-a-writer/

http://thepeopleproject.com/writers/wine%20quotes

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.