The NovelNook Flash Fiction Writing Contest Winner IS…

Our First Ever Flash Fiction Writing Contest Was a HUGE Success!

Winner

It was a real battle!

We had a number of fantastic entries and it took every minute of the time we had allotted to come to our decision. In the end, our first place winner was a clear victory. Second place required several heated debates and will be announced on August 26, 2013.

So, without further ado…

Our Winner is?

Susan Pawlicki with her story, “A Change Is As Good As A Rest”.

The judges felt that Susan’s story captured the theme of – A Victory at Work, and, A Defeat at Home with the most creativity. We felt that her entry presented the strongest voice, both her own author voice, as well as her character’s voices. We also liked the subtlety of her plot and the reveals within it. Many of our entries were kind of “in-your-face” with the theme and didn’t allow our reader’s imagination to kick in. Susan’s story revealed some highly creative thinking, and we liked her plot twist. Her story was also one of the best edited entries that we received. All-in-all, we found it an entertaining read.

Congratulations, Susan Pawlicki!

“A Change Is As Good As A Rest”

by Susan Pawlicki

 
“Really? I get a day off?” The apprentice fought to keep his face sober and not break into a smile.

His mentor, who had much experience on the job, looked sideways at the beginner’s eager face and thoughtfully thumbed through the red spiral notebook in his hands. “Well, ‘day’ is a relative term.  You get a break from what you’ve been doing, anyway.” The teacher’s lips moved silently as he counted with his finger down a column in the notebook.  When he reached the bottom of the column, he tapped his finger twice on the paper.  “After all,” he said slowly, “you’ve done so well, bringing over forty potentials to the Organization this month alone—and in such unexpected and original ways….If anyone deserves some time to think away from work, it’s you.”

 If the apprentice could have blushed, he would have. “Wow….I never expected….I mean, I thought once the Organization took you on, you didn’t get time off.  And you came all the way to my place to tell me.  I never thought that was even possible.”

 “Well, nobody ever knows quite what to expect going to a new job.  I mean, no one ever really understands what he’s getting into, does he?”  The trainer looked up. “Even with all that instructional material out there—new stuff year after year, books and magazine articles, lead after online lead, videos, CDs—and everyone thinks he understands how the Organization works…but until you’re out in the field, you just don’t know.”

 “That’s the truth if I ever heard it.”  The words were out before the apprentice thought, but he heard them as he spoke.  His eyes widened, betraying the fear and dismay that sprang up in his stomach.  He looked down quickly, aware his face would give him away.

 “Pardon?” The teacher continued thumbing through the notebook without looking up.  “They’re really quite amazing, your numbers.  And your originality—seeing that woman’s potential and nabbing her in the bakery, for example—well, you’ve given all us senior personnel quite a lot to think about. You show incredible promise.”

Maybe he didn’t hear what I said, the apprentice thought. “You’re right,” he tried.  “What you said before, I mean—that’s right.  No one is ever fully prepared and all that, no matter how much you’ve read or watched and think you know…”

The trainer closed the notebook thoughtfully and turned to face his employee.  “Yes… and I do appreciate your attempt to cover your own lack of preparation in such a simple yet effective way—just a lie, an unpretentious untruth to calm waters that may be less quiet than they appear…to calm me, in fact, after I’ve heard not just an unpleasant word, but a rude one.  A forbidden one.  One that merits notice… and punishment.”

 “I’m sorry!”  The apprentice took a step backward.  “It’s hard to stop using words you’ve used all your life! You know I didn’t always recognize the ‘Truth’­­­­ when it was put before me in the past, but I always recognized the truth when it worked in my favor, when what it said was right for me, like I recognized the truth of what you just said!  What you said is true, even if you said it! No one ever is prepared, especially for a job like this one!”

“Please, don’t make excuses. It’s unbecoming.”  The mentor reached out for his apprentice’s arm.  “Given your numbers, I’m surprised you didn’t bother to ingrain the list of unspeakable words into your being a little more firmly.  What if you let that word slip with a potential Organization member?  It might undo all the work you’d done for us, and we’d lose that person Forever.  Don’t you understand that?  And Forever is a very long time here.”

 The apprentice stared at his forearm, where his teacher held him.  “Please let go,” he said, trying not to jerk his arm away.

 “Does it hurt?”  His mentor’s face was blank, but he tightened his grip slowly.  “Does it burn?”

“Yes!”  The apprentice gave up and began trying to wrench his arm away.  “You said I got time off to think!”  His voice took on the high pitch of desperation.  “Does one slip take away forty victories?”

The triangular tip of his teacher’s tail began switching back and forth with increasing speed.  “Oh,” he crooned, “you get time off from work.  You get time to think.”  He picked up his pitchfork.  “I’m just going to give you something to think about.”

The End

Great Story, Susan!

novelnook flash fiction writing contest

A Devil of a Tale

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “The Time Machine”, by H.G. Wells.

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

           

 

 

 

 

Mastering The Written Word

I want to Master the Written Word!

mastering the written word

Illustration by A. Skripin

Do you?

The idea of mastering the written word takes a lot of time and effort. My belief is that anyone – you, me, the guy down the street, that has an aspiration to be a great writer – must study the written word of others who have blazed a path before us.

I’m sure each  of us has our own plan of attack on achieving a level of success with our writing.

This has been my plan.

  1. I took online courses to make sure that I knew, understood, and implemented, the basic building blocks of good writing: punctuation, grammar, plot, dialog, etc.
  2. I began to volunteer (and become active) in various writing capacities around the internet. I wanted to learn from my peers. This effort resulted in landing me a position at Every Day Fiction as a slush reader. My experience there has been immeasurable in helping me grow as writer. I have learned from the mistakes and triumphs of other writers. Plus, I get to see first hand how real editors react to a story. I get to hear their ‘real’ thoughts; the thoughts that never make it into most rejection letters.
  3. I enter every contest that doesn’t try to take advantage of me as an aspiring writer. What does this mean? I don’t expect to pay an exorbitant entry fee. I don’t expect to give up my rights to my work. I don’t expect to have to keep my work in limbo for any longer than four months. Read the fine print on contests. The biggest career advancement (that I have achieved) through a contest entry was this – I placed 4th in a short story competition with Boroughs Publishing Group. As a result, they published my entry in E-book format. But that wasn’t the big deal as far as I was concerned. I got to work with a top-notch editor at Boroughs, for free. I learned the EXTREME value of a good editor to the final product (even a short story).
  4. I study the work of authors that I admire. And when I say study their work, I don’t mean that I just read their stories. I mean that I analyze their stories line by line. I look at every word. I try to figure out why their sentences, paragraphs, and ultimately their story move me so much. I’m especially attracted to writers from Latin America. They visualize the world and transfer it to the written word so eloquently. I don’t want to write just like them. But I want to incorporate their style into my writing. This is my goal.

Julio Cortazar

mastering the written word

Photograph by Modern Review.

Julio Cortazar is one of my favorite Latin American writers. If you haven’t read any of his works, I highly suggest that you read it, and study it.

To tantalize you a bit – I’m including one of his short stories, here today, in this blog.

The Continuity of the Parks

By Julio Cortazar

He had started reading the novel a few days before.  Urgent business made him abandon it for a time; but he returned to its pages while on his way back to the farmland estate.  He gradually let himself become interested in the plot, in the characters.  That evening, after writing a letter to his representative and discussing a matter of sharecropping, he took up the book again in the tranquility of his study which gazed out upon the park of oak trees.  As he lounged in his favorite chair with his back to the door that would have bothered him with the irritating potential for intrusions, he let his left hand stroke the green velvet once then again, and he began to read the final chapters.

His memory retained with no effort the names and appearances of the main characters, and so the novelist illusion came upon him almost immediately.  He took an almost perverse pleasure in letting himself tear through line after line of what surrounded him.  All at once he felt his head relaxing comfortably in the velvet of the old recliner, cigarettes persisting within reach of his hands, and, beyond the large windows, the evening air dancing below the oaks.  Word for word, absorbed by the heroes’ sordid dilemma, he cast himself adrift towards the images which concerted and acquired color and movement, evidence of the last meeting in the mountain cabin.  First the woman came in, mistrustful.  Then her lover arrived, his face hurt from the whiplash of a branch.  Admirably she clotted the blood with her kisses, but her caresses were rejected: he had not come to repeat the rituals of a secret passion protected by a world of dry leaves and furtive paths.  The dagger grew warm against his chest, and below beat cowering liberty.  A breathy dialog ran through the pages like a stream of serpents, which felt as if it had always been so.  Even as these caresses swirled around the lover’s body as if trying to hold him and dissuade him, they drew at the same time the abominable shape of another body which had to be destroyed.  Nothing had been forgotten: alibis, mishaps, possible mistakes.  From this hour forth, each moment would have its use, minutely detailed.  The merciless re−inspection was hardly interrupted for a hand to caress a cheek.  It began to get dark.

No longer looking, bound rigidly to the task which was awaiting them, they separated at the door of the cabin.  She had to follow the trail that led north.  From the opposite trail, he turned for a moment to watch her run with her hair flowing loosely.  He then ran in turn, taking shelter beneath the trees and hedges until, in the mallow mist of twilight, he was able to make out the avenue that led to the house.  The dogs were not supposed to bark; and they didn’t.  The majordomo (master of the house) would not be in at this hour; and he wasn’t.  He climbed the three stairs of the porch and went in.  In the blood swishing between his ears rang the words of the woman: first a blue room, then a gallery, then a carpeted staircase.  Upstairs, two doors.  No one would be in the first room, no one in the second.  The door of the living room, and then the dagger in his hand, the light of those large windows, the old recliner with green velvet seat, the head of a man reading a novel.

The End

What did you think of this story?

I love the way the words flow, the unusual use of description, and the hidden plot.

I would love to hear your thoughts! I would also love to hear what steps you’re taking to advance your writing career.

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

The Wacky World of Literary Devices!

You Have Now Entered the Wacky World of Literary Devices.

For the grand prize you have 60 seconds to answer the following…

(Disclaimer – This is just a joke folks)

What is Hyperbole and name one famous story that makes use of it?

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock…

You learn forward, grab the microphone, your eyes stare unflinchingly into the crowd as you say –

Hyperbole is the use of over-exaggeration for creating emphasis, or humor, but it is not intended to be taken literally. One example of this story telling technique would be, The Tales of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

the wacky world of literary devices

Photograph by The Arches

Yeah! Excellent Answer!

This idea of looking into literary devices came to me the other day when a companion asked me how to spell allegory. I spelled it out for her flawlessly. But the next question was the one I was dreading…

“What does allegory mean?”

Ummm… ummm…

I didn’t know what it meant.

She giggled at me. “And you’re a writer?”

the wacky world of literary devices

Graphic courtesy of myteachingspirit.blogspot.com

Well that was enough to make me go look it up. But, I would have done that anyway, because I am an extremely inquisitive person, and I love to learn. So, for those of you that don’t know what the literary device, allegory, means –

Here you go!

An allegory is a symbolism device where the meaning of a greater, often abstract, concept is conveyed with the aid of a more corporeal object or idea being used as an example. One famous example of allegory is the book, The Lord of the Flies. This story features a group of schoolboys stuck on an island, and the novel had allegorical representations of rational mind, democracy, order, civility, and many other such abstract terms.

the wacky world of Literary devices

Cover photograph by lordalford.com

I’ll be the first to admit it to anybody. I didn’t go to college for writing. I was born into a working class family. I’ve learned what I’ve managed to learn in life through dedication and hard work.

Many of the literary devices were familiar to me by word, but I didn’t really understand what they meant until I dove into this investigation. I was amazed at how many literary devices exist. There are dozens of them! Just reading through the list and their descriptions got my creative juices flowing.

I want to share some examples

along with their definitions

And some literary works that made use of them

Bildungsroman – This is a very popular form of storytelling whereby the author bases the plot on the overall growth of the central character throughout the timeline of the story. As the story progresses, the subject undergoes noticeable mental, physical, social, emotional, moral, and often spiritual advancement. A very famous example of this literary device is, Gone With The Wind, which was published by Margaret Mitchell in 1936.

the wacky world of literary devices

Photograph by stuffforcrafts.com

Litotes – It is an understated expression where the idea to be expressed is quite significant. Litotes, are defined as ‘an ironical understatement where the affirmative is expressed by the negation of the opposite’. To put it simply, in litotes, instead of saying that something is attractive, you say that it is not unattractive. Litotes are often used to mimic speech, since we lazy humans tend to drop words to make things quicker. Here are some examples:

  • The food is not bad.
  • She is not as young as she was.
  • He is not unlike his dad
Father & Son

He is not unlike his dad. Photograph by Tony Alter

Hubris – Hubris is another way of saying overly arrogant. You can tell the difference between hubris and regular arrogance by the suggestion that the character has seemed to allow reality slip away from them. Hubris is the buildup of arrogance and pride and is generally followed by a catastrophic fall at the end of the story. An excellent example of Hubris is the story, Arabian Nights.

Caesura – involves creating a fracture within a sentence where the two separate parts are distinguishable from one another yet intrinsically linked to one another. The purpose of using a caesura is to create a dramatic pause, which has a strong impact. Finding out about this device means a lot to me personally, because I use this a lot. Here is an example of Caesura; “Ludwig – How your music makes me soar!”

the wacky world of literary devices

Photograph courtesy of parentpreviews.com

Polysyndeton – is a sentence construction in which multiple conjunctions are used in very close succession to infuse a sense of exaggeration. In other words, you use a lot of ‘ands’ to emphasize a point by stretching the sentence out. Here is a great example from Ian Fleming‘s novel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:

‘Most motor-cars are conglomerations of steel and wire and rubber and plastic, and electricity and oil and petrol and water, and the toffee papers you pushed down the crack in the back seat last Sunday.’

I’ve had a lot of fun studying up on literary devices

And I bet you would too!

Here’s a challenge for you. I’m going to list some literary devices that I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the term. Could you define that term? Could you point to an example that uses the device? Do you use it in your own writing? Might you consider doing that now, after reading this article?

Here you go-

  1. Allusion
  2. Antithesis
  3. Cacophony
  4. Deus ex Machina
  5. oxymoron
  6. simile
  7. syntax
  8. verisimilitude
  9. juxtaposition
  10. epithet

There will be a test on Tuesday.

(Just kidding!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion. I would also like to encourage you to comment. Tell me if there is any subject matter that you would like me to weigh in on. (what literary device was that?) Keep writing friends!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Unexplained Mysteries of World War II”, by William B. Breuer

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

Authors Allow Yourself to Let Go and Fly Free

I Want To Let Go and Fly Free

authors let go and fly free

Photograph by Matt Preston

But it’s a difficult task for me.

Today, I want to talk about something that is a personal issue when it comes to writing my manuscripts.

I suspect that I’m not alone in this dilemma.

Perhaps, we could consider this group therapy

authors allow yourself to let go and fly free

Group Therapy Illustration by Daneel Ariantho

The group moderator points at me. He says, “Will you please stand, tell us your name, and why you’re here today.” I stand on wobbly chicken legs, steady myself, and trudge to the front of the group. I spin around and see forty-eight pairs of accusing eyes burning a whole in my spirit.

I clear my throat.

“My name is Kent, and I’m a… a… well, for lack of an official term, I’ve made up my own. I’m a revisionist, an over-editor, a re-writer, a chronic restructurer, a plot replacementist, a text evangelist, a perpetual fixit monger, a do-over demon, a prose replenisher-” (I pull out a hankie and blow my nose).

I know it’s wrong to do these things. I’m well read in the reference books for writers.” (I blow my nose again.) “But sometimes, I just can’t help myself. When I begin writing, I try to go back to the place where I left off in the manuscript- And then some line catches my eye. Some perverted, twisted, little fiend of a sentence that calls out to me from two chapters back. It’s seductive, luring me in.

I know I can make it better, I tell myself.” (I’m now in a full-blown cry.) “I tell myself, just this one. I’ll fix this one line! And then I’m going straight to where I left off.”

The Moderator asks, “And do you Kent? Do you fix the one line and then go straight to where you left off, so that you can move forward in your story?”

No! You idiot! That’s why I’m here!

(A murmur rises from the group.) (I’m sobbing.)

No… That one sentence leads to another, and then another, and then… before I know what’s happened, It’s been a month or more, and all I’ve done is rewrite Chapters one through six, several times!

(I’m gasping. It’s getting messy).

The moderator hands me a box of tissues. “Is there anything else you want to tell us, Kent? Is that the extent of it?”

My bulging red eyes are so full of tears, I can barely see him. He looks straight at me, and asks, “You’re a manuscript regurgitater aren’t you?”

I bite my lip Hard before responding, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that name; that’s a good one.”

“Answer the question please. Confront your demons, Kent. Confront them, and it will allow you to let go and fly free.”

His straightforward pushy attitude emboldens me. I straighten up and look defiantly into the eyes of my accusers.

“It’s true. I am a manuscript regurgitator. I’ve fought this… this weight upon my shoulders for a long time. But recently… recently… it’s turned into a real battle. A story that I wrote two years ago.” (I’m blowing my nose.)

“I put the finishing touches on that manuscript two years ago. But, I keep going back to it, and I read it.

AND EVERY TIME I DO- I WANT TO CHANGE IT AND MAKE IT BETTER! I can’t stop myself. I’ve been working on it for months- A story I finished two freaking years ago!”

The moderator put his hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay, Kent. That’s enough for tonight. Sit down, and the group will show you that you’re not alone.”

I sit down in the back row, bring my knees together, and let my head hang. But, I’m still peeking from the corner of my eye.

The moderator clears his throat. “Is there anyone else here tonight who is a perpetual fixit monger?” Hands went up. “Do any of you battle internal do-over demons?”: I raised my head- more hands went up into the air. “Okay, how many of you are manuscript regurgitators?” Almost all the hands drop.

I sneer. (Whatever)

The moderator points at me with one hand, and another person (whose hand is still raised) with the other.

“I’ll bet one hundred dollars, right now, that you two are perfectionists. Just shake your head, yes.”

We did.

The moderator continued, “Listen to me, and listen to me good.

There is no such thing as perfection. You need to learn to let go and fly free!

If you can’t return to the point in your manuscript, where you left off writing, without starting another rewrite-

Then have someone else get the manuscript to that point for you!

Reward yourself for success! And punish yourself for faltering!

Stick a piece of paper on the wall behind your desk that says, ‘Don’t you dare go back and look, Stupid!

Then, tape another sheet to the wall. On this one write on many edits you think you need to produce the best product possible!

How many edits, Kent? Tell me right now!”

“I need… ten… ten edits.”

“That seems excessive. But we all know you have a problem. So, Kent needs ten edits! Now Kent, you write one through ten on that piece of paper. Every time you edit through your story, you cross off one number until you hit zero. And when you hit zero, you NEVER go back and edit that story again.

Capiche? And if you do- You’re going through the spanking machine! Got it?”

blurry birthday spankings

Group Session Over

Any of this sound familiar to you?

All of this came to a head for me the other night when my wife and I went out for dinner. We were sitting in one of those sports bar type places, where you order burgers, fries, and a beer. Big screen TV‘s splashed with the noise of sports action encompassed us on all sides.

authors let go and fly free

Photograph by The Cable Channel

I was sipping my beer and looking at the screen above us. This particular television had the European Stunt Motocross Championships on it. I watched with mild interest, as I saw a young man fly up over a very large hill of dirt. His motorcycle jettisoned from the peak and flew thirty, maybe forty, feet into the air.

He then did something that made my jaw drop. He let go of the motorcycle.

The television cameras immediately switched to slow motion. I could see the wheels of the bike spinning. The man flew several feet above the motorcycle, his arms spread back into a V shape – like he had wings. He looked like, Superman, flying through the sky.

He sailed above the bike for what seemed like a very long time, then just before the arc finished, and the bike was about to descend, he gently reached down, grabbed the handlebars, and pulled himself back onto the motorcycle. He performed the stunt flawlessly.

Instantly, I wondered what it must have felt like the first time he attempted that stunt.

After a few moments of thought,
I knew the key that would unlock the door to my writing issues.

I visualized that stunt driver’s attitude on life. I discovered that I need to believe in my ability to perform, just like he did. I must have the strength, and courage, to let go and fly free, confident in my ability to land and perform again.

That moment changed my outlook.

All of us, here at NovelNook.com, want you to succeed. Write your best stories possible, edit them to the best of your ability, and then let go and fly free!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Unexplained Mysteries of World War II”, by William B. Breuer

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

Bellakentuky