in flash fiction

Flash Fiction | Geraldine

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This was a flash fiction that I wrote with my kids. We rolled dice for random ideas we used to create our story. I got:

  • Ugly toad
  • Desert landscape
  • Lost in space

As she searched, her movements were frantic. The ship’s alarms were blaring. The same phrases were ringing out, over and over.

“Fuel levels low. Oxygen levels low.”

Geraldine–oh how she hated the name her mother had given her, 20,000 siblings and she got Geraldine–looked at her scanners. An hour ago her ship had dropped out of the skip lane early and now she was lost.

Well not exactly lost. The ship knew right where it was, in the Epsilon Quadrant of Galaxy 1323. That did her no good though. She was light years from the galaxy that she had been shooting for and Galaxy 1323 was completely unexplored.

A quick look at the monitors told her everything she needed to know. Even if she entered into hibernation she had less than 2 hours of oxygen.

She poured all of the ship’s power into the sensors, expanding their range to their limits. She shot her tongue into her food bag, pulling a couple of insects into her mouth. The one thing she still had plenty of was food.

Thirty minutes later Geraldine had accepted the inevitable. She had broadcast a farewell message to her mate, Xerxes, telling him how sorry she was that she would never return. She remembered the pained look on his face when he had seen her off. The venom glands behind his eyes had been weeping.

After sending the message, and wiping her own glands, Geraldine gorged herself on the rare larvae she had brought to celebrate. Now sated, she sighed, it had been a good life, though rather shorter than she had planned.

A siren sounded. Probably going to tell me that oxygen levels are dangerously low.

“Habitable planet detected. Classification 3-m-h. ”

Geraldine’s eyes snapped to her scanners. A 3-m-h was ideal, almost identical to her home planet. She keyed in the coordinates, set the autopilot and then entered hibernation sleep.

As she faded off into hibernation sleep more warnings played over the loudspeakers, but she was too far gone to hear them.

“Signs of advanced intelligence on all major land masses. Advanced technology present…”

Geraldine woke to crushing pain. Both her left legs, front and back, were pinned and she couldn’t move them. She looked around frantically, trying to get her bearings. It was always disorienting upon waking from hibernation sleep.

Her ship was in complete disarray and the visor screen was visibly cracked. Hopefully the computer was right about the breathable atmosphere.

All the ship’s systems were down.

After a few minutes of moving she was able to unpin her limbs. She positioned herself with her back to the visor and kicked at it with her powerful hind legs. After a couple kicks the screen broke free from its mountings and fell out.

She sniffed at the air experimentally and then flicked out her tongue a couple times. The air seemed safe.

She crawled from the wreckage and was bombarded by a fierce heat. It seemed she had landed in the middle of a desert. The land was barren and parched with little growth.

She looked up at the sky to the sun. It was almost directly overhead. She needed to find shelter soon or she would overheat and die. She climbed back into the wreckage and pulled out her survival kit. She took a sip of water and checked her rations. She had enough food and water to survive for a couple days. That should be enough time for her to find water and maybe something that wouldn’t kill her if she ate it.

She moved away from the wreckage of her ship directly east according to her compass. It seemed that this planet had magnetic poles not unlike those on her home planet.

She had been moving at a brisk pace for less than ten minutes when the ground started to tremble.

Earthquake. Well at least I’m out in the open where nothing can fall on me.

Just then she looked up as a shadow engulfed her. In moments something crashed down around her. She rammed into the sides of it, hoping to break or dislodge it but it held solid. It was clear but surrounded her completely. She was trapped!

“Hey Billy, check this out. I found a frog…and it’s wearing clothes!” Tommy was dancing around the upside down Mason Jar on the ground.

Billy walked over to where his younger brother was dancing and squatted down on the ground to get a better look.

“It’s not a frog Tommy, out here in the desert it’s a toad. But there’s no way it’s wearing…”

Billy’s voice faded off as his eyes grew wider. Under the jar was a good sized toad, wearing what looked like a space suit and carrying a little backpack.

How I Write | Jake Kerr

Reading Time: 1 minute

How I Write is a short segment that lets authors talk a bit about themselves and how they write. Today’s segment features Jake Kerr.


Location:
Dallas, Texas

Mac or Pc:
Mac

Pen or Pencil:
Keyboard

Thick Crust or Thin Crust:
Thick Crust

One word that describes your writing style:
Eclectic

A bit of background about how you got to where you are as a writer:
Lots of reading. Lots of writing exercises. Then writing lots of scenes. Then writing a few stories. And, finally, writing novels.

What software/apps do you use to help with your writing:
Scrivener, Onenote, and, sometimes, Microsoft Word.

What is your office/desk/writing set up like:
I write on a laptop wherever I happen to be. I guess my writing office would most usually be me sitting up in bed writing, while my wife is watching TV.

Are you a planner or a fly by the seat of your pantser when you write:
Sometimes one. Sometimes the other. Usually a bit of both.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received:
You can’t revise a blank page.

What’s your latest published work you want to tell people about:
I released a cyberpunk/virtual reality re-imagining of G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. It’s a labor of love for me, as I’m a huge fan of the novel, and I wanted to bring the book more attention, as the original is very dated.

 

Flash Fiction | Musicians V Superheroes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This is in response to another flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig called FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: X VERSUS Z, REDUX. I hope you enjoy.


Garret leaned forward on the couch and turned up the TV, even though he knew Sally hated it when her super hearing picked up the TV on the other side of the house.

The lead news story was just coming on.

“We’re going live to Lisa Flores-Yao live at the ‘Save Us From Saving’ benefit concert in Daytona Beach. Lisa, what can you tell us about what’s going on down there in Florida.”

The scene switches to a beautiful blonde with blue eyes. She is standing next to a bearded guy in a stocking cap and thick, horn-rimmed glasses.

“Thanks Dave.” She says. “It’s total chaos here at the ‘Save Us From Saving’ benefit concert. Officials are trying to get a handle on the situation and get people evacuated in an orderly fashion but its total pandemonium. I’m here with Kick Spade, lead singer for Pygmy Dip And The Jetpack Witch and organizer of the ‘Save Us From Saving’ benefit concert. Kick,” she turned to the bearded man, “can you tell us what happened?”

“It was them!” Kick shouts. He has a wild almost hunted look in his eyes.

“Them who?” Lisa asks.

“The superheroes! It was them. I know it was! They’re afraid of us!”

“Okay. Kick. Calm down and tell us what happened.”

“We were out there doing the sound check, me and the guys in the band. So anyways, we were just out there, setting stuff up, messing around and then the stage caught on fire, and then the grass in the field was burning and then the shops and stands, everything just went up at the same time. I know it was them, the superheroes. They must have started the fires!” Kick shouted at the last.

“Did you see anyone?” The reporter asked.

“No. But do you think that matters? They’re superheroes so they can like fly, and turn invisible and whatever. I know it was them, they’re afraid of us an what we have to say!” Kick shouts into the microphone and then runs off.

“So there you have it Dave.” Lisa says, looking directly into the camera. “I can tell you that the fires are mostly under control and it seems like things are calming down. There’s a press conference scheduled in 15 minutes where authorities have promised to get us more information. Until then back to you Dave.”

The newscast flipped back to the newsroom but Garret wasn’t paying attention.

He whispered under his breath. “Sally.”

Before the words were completely out of his mouth Sally, his wife of 20 years in September, was standing behind him.

“What is it?” She asked in her no-nonsense voice. She knew that he only called her by her name when something was wrong.

“Is Garret home?” he asked quietly.

“No he’s out with some of his friends, why?”

Garret answered with another question. “Which friends?”

“Sally, Jake, and Jarrett, maybe a couple others. Why?”

Garret looked up at his wife. All superheroes. He grimaced.

“I think we have a problem…” and he proceeded to tell her what he saw on the news.

How I Write | Marshall Ryan Maresca

Reading Time: 2 minutes

How I Write is a short segment that lets authors talk a bit about themselves and how they write. Today’s segment features Marshall Ryan Maresca.


Location:
Austin, TX.

Mac or Pc:
Mac. Much to my father’s chagrin.

Pen or Pencil:
Pen, all the way.

Thick Crust or Thin Crust:
THIN.

One word that describes your writing style:
Active.

A bit of background about how you got to where you are as a writer:
Very much the “traditional” path. Wrote bad novels. Put them away in a drawer. Wrote better ones. Queried agents. Landed an agent. Agent submitted to publishers, one bought the books… and here we are.

What software/apps do you use to help with your writing:
I am a big fan of Scrivener for both planning novels and writing the drafts. I also have Excel spreadsheets, a program called Aeon Timeline, andI used Photoshop for maps.

What is your office/desk/writing set up like:
Mobile. I don’t have a set space or desk, and I move around the house to work in different spaces depending on the situation or my mood. I have a rolling bag for notebooks, laptop, headphones, etc.

Are you a planner or a fly by the seat of your pantser when you write:
Planner all the way. I have outlines within outlines. I have a structure for my outlines.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received:
It’s not, strictly speaking, writing advice, but there’s a quote from a spoken word song from the 90s that keeps coming back to me: “The race is long, and ultimately, it’s just with yourself.” It’s a good thing to remind myself with when I catch myself focusing too much on what other writers are doing.

What’s your latest published work you want to tell people about:
My most recent book is The Holver Alley Crew, which is the first book of my Streets of Maradaine series. Holver Alley Crew follows two brothers, Asti &Verci Ryan, who had retired from a life as thieves to start a new, honest life— which gets destroyed when the Alley they live in is burned down. With no home, no shop and an enormous debt, they have to go back to their old life to make ends meet. When they discover the fire was set intentionally, their original heist becomes a plan for revenge…

How I Write | Cat Sparks

Reading Time: 2 minutes

How I Write is a short segment that lets authors talk a bit about themselves and how they write. Today’s segment features Cat Sparks.


Location:
Last year my partner Rob and I moved from Wollongong to Canberra, Australia’s national capital. Our new home is a stunning three level architect-designed pole house made of jarrah wood, with a definite maritime vibe to it. We refer to it as the Pirate Ship.

Mac or Pc:
Mac all the way! I’m a former graphic designer. The Mac preference kicked in early and I doubt I’ll ever shake it off.

Pen or Pencil:
Pen, and the pen has to be a black Sharpie fine point. I’m kind of obsessive about this. I buy many of these pens and one of our cats always steals them and chews the lids off.

Thick Crust or Thin Crust:
Thin. My life is carbohydrated to the Nth Degree already without going down pan pizza road.

One word that describes your writing style:
Fluid.

A bit of background about how you got to where you are as a writer:
I started off writing short sci fi and fantasy stories. Really, really terrible ones. Took me nine years and a great many writing groups to produce anything remotely publishable. The transition from short form to long was much trickier and more turbulent than expected – I ended up binning at least 300,000 words on the path to publication of my novel Lotus Blue.

What software/apps do you use to help with your writing:
I really like Scrivener. The corkboard and colour coding functions really help me hold each project structurally in my head.

What is your office/desk/writing set up like:
I work at a standing desk, but have taken to sitting down when it comes to writing fiction – and some non-fiction. I’m physically more comfortable standing, but don’t concentrate as well for some reason. A big glass window to my left affords me a view of the Tuggeranong Valley. The comfy reading chair behind me usually has a cat on it.

Are you a planner or a fly by the seat of your pantser when you write?
Planner. Pantsing just leads me up the garden path and off on a series of messy, irrelevant interludes. But if spontaneity happens to strike during a planned sequence, I tend to roll with it.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received:
Artistic integrity is everything. Write what you love, what you read, what you care about as opposed to what you think you might be able to sell.

What’s your latest published work you want to tell people about:
My debut novel, Lotus Blue, was published by Skyhorse last month. It’s an action adventure story with deep themes centered around loss, set in a climate and war ravaged far future Australia. Peter Watts described it as “A Canticle for Leibowitz by way of Neuromancer.” My favourite review to date comes from Gary K Wolfe at Locus. Gary really gets it – there’s not much more I need to add to that – aside from that you can buy the book here.

Wednesdays are for Art | StarKade

Reading Time: 1 minute

I’ve done quite a bit of work as a graphic designer over the years and as such have spent quite a bit of time looking at other people’s [superior — there I said it] art. As I look for inspiration I am constantly amazed at the work that other people do.

In light of that I would like to start high-lighting some of the work that I am really impressed by. Without further adieu StarKade by James White via Signalnoise:

A self-initiated series of mini-prints focusing on wrestlers, cartoons, toys, movies and video games. Each print was released as a limited edition set, and sold through the Signalnoise Store. This is an ongoing series as new instalments are periodically added. Printed by Static Medium, LA.

A few samples are below. For more go here.


How I Write | Jake Bible

Reading Time: 2 minutes

How I Write is a short segment that lets authors talk a bit about themselves and how they write. Today’s segment features Jake Bible.


Location:

Right here, right now. Or Asheville, NC.

Mac or Pc:

Mac

Pen or Pencil:

Pen. Really digging the Paper Mate Ink Joy gel 0.7 lately.

Thick Crust or Thin Crust:

Hand-tossed by me (Ten years of pizza experience, so I know how to toss a crust!)

One word that describes your writing style:

hyper

A bit of background about how you got to where you are as a writer:

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Took some time off to start a family. Got back into it in 2007 by podcasting my first novel (Dead Mech) for free. Got hella lucky and went full time in 2013.

What software/apps do you use to help with your writing:

Pages for novels. Celtx for scripts.

What is your office/desk/writing set up like:

I sit behind a 1955 mid-century modern design desk that is twelve kinds of awesome. It’s a 6ft diameter half circle. There’s an 11ft matching credenza behind me which I’ve already managed to fill with manuscripts. 27″ monitor connected to a Mac Mini sits on my most awesome desk.

Are you a planner or a fly by the seat of your pantser when you write:

Depends on what’s needed to get the job done. I tend to work on the first scene in my head then go for it. But if I have a tight deadline then I’ll do some outlining to make sure I stay productive. Or sometimes I outline the whole novel. I don’t box myself in with labels. A one or the other mindset is ridiculous.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received:

It takes 4-5 years of professional writing before you even have a clue about what you are doing. At that point you realize no one has a clue about what they’re doing and we’re all winging it.

What’s your latest published work you want to tell people about:

EverRealm– a LitRPG novel is my latest release. Mix of fantasy, gaming, zombies, and snark. I also have Mech Corps coming out in May. I do love writing about mechs!