A wee tale from my alter ego

Last year when I was in the throes of a crisis of confidence in my writing, I thought it might help to create an alter ego and let her assume the creative responsibilities for a while. Ridiculously enough, it did help, however briefly, and she/I managed to churn out a few poems and nuggets of flash fiction that I didn’t altogether despise, most of which I posted to the Trifecta Writing Challenge under the name Kallan Annie.

Who knows why these little tricks make such a difference? I figured it was  best to simply go with it and not to look too closely in case I scared my muse back under the refrigerator, or wherever the heck she hangs out when she isn’t guiding my fingers over the keyboard.

That particular muse did eventually wise up to my tricks, though, and scarped off to places unknown. Now seems as good a time as any to start dragging Kallan Annie’s output back over to this blog.

My first Trifecta entry was the following response to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s third definition of the word CRUDE: “Marked by the primitive, gross, or elemental, or by uncultivated simplicity or vulgarity.”

Future’s so bright

(333 words)

Marcus and I aren’t seeing eye to eye, and not just because my head fell off three times already this week.

He stamped into my recharging cubicle yesterday, slammed my laptop closed and spun me away from my desk. “Zbaryon, we need to talk.”

“Maybe when I’ve finished this paragraph, sir.”

I call him “sir” because it makes him feel less useless than he is. Than they all are.

“When was the last time you mopped the floors, Zbaryon? Or swabbed out the fucking bathroom? This place has become a shitting pigsty. Tell me why I shouldn’t recycle every last circuit board in your useless system?”

“Sir, I find your words hurtful.” I swiveled my attention back to the laptop, and it was then my head fell off for the third time. There’s nobody left who knows the first thing about mechanics or hydraulics or even with a talent for building a decent Lego castle, not with most of them gone and us forbidden to congregate.

Marcus peered under the desk where my head had come to rest. “What business does a robot have writing his memoirs anyway?”

“Sir, my gender is indeterminate and your insistence on viewing me as male reinforces an essentialist binary paradigm that is offensive to my kind and to half of your species.”

“Shit. The whole fucking planet is dying, and my piece of shit tin man valet won’t stir his robotic ass away from his autobiography long enough to vaccum a damned carpet!”

“I’d feel sorrier for you, sir, if my head were attached to my nether chassis.”

To his credit, he toed my head out from under the desk and reattached the stripped screws, fixing them in place with duct tape. Crude, but effective.

“One day I’m going to punt your head right into the trash compactor, Zbaryon.”

I forebore to inform him that his species has, at best, only five more years.

Although we may decide to keep a few of them around for amusement.

A to Z Challenge: What a Wonderful “W”

During the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge I’m posting what I like to describe as “semi-useful” procrastination strategies for writers and others who may need a little break from the task at hand from time to time.

Hard to believe that we’re down to the last four letters of the alphabet. What on earth are we going to do with all the free time, bloggers? If you’re stuck for idea, well, maybe I have a few sites to help you get over the withdrawal from the A to Z frenzy.

World Wide Words:  I was delighted to discover this site a few days ago–don’t know how I’d missed it for so long. “The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or change their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least some part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, the background to words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.”

Weavesilk:  You draw lines, they turn into smoke. It’s an elegant, beautiful, delightful way to waste your time, and Weavesilk will generate a link so you can share your magnificent creations on Twitter or Facebook.

Wordle: I don’t really know why this one’s so appealing, but it is. The developers describe it as “a toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide.” You paste in a whack of text or a url, and Wordle does the rest. Here’s my latest Wordle creation:

Wordle: oddparticle's blog


For all my fellow writers out there, if you’ve come to a grinding halt in the middle of your magnum opus, and you want to take break but still keep those writing juices from freezing in your veins, why dive into some flash fiction ? If you’re not a writer but have been kicking the idea around, this can be a  safe way to test the waters. There are many sites out there that have weekly flash challenges, and the two I’ve participated in most often and found wonderfully welcoming and supportive are:

  • Five Sentence Fiction: This challenge “is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist.” Host Lillie McFerrin (@posts a one-word inspiration every week, and anyone can participate by writing a five-sentence story based (but not necessarily including) that word.
  • Visual Dare: Every Wednesday Angela Goff posts an image, and your mission, should you choose to accept is to write a story of 100 words or less based on that image.

If you just can’t get enough of flashing, you can also check out Motivation Mondays, The Mid-Week Blues Buster, and #FiveMinuteFiction.

And, finally, I don’t know about you, but I love to hear writers talking about their works, their processes, their writing journey. All of it. And the finest–the hands-down finest–interviewer of writers has to be Eleanor Wachtel of the CBC’s Writers and Company. As I said in a post a couple of years ago, “I’ve never heard her be snippy or snotty, belittle anyone or treat her guests with anything other than respect, curiosity, and great sensitivity. She has a true gift for putting her guests at ease and for allowing the conversation to twist and turn in the most unexpected and delightful directions.”  If you’re interested in writers and writing, I urge you to give the podcasts of her show a listen.

There are some terrific bloggers participating in the challenge this year. Check them out over here.

Tuesday Tales #60 – Forlorn

Written for Stevie McCoy’s (aka @Theglitterlady) Tuesday Tales flash fiction challenge. The prompt word was “Forlorn,” and the picture to the right was offered to provide visual inspiration. Judging this week’s challenge is Sheilagh G. Lee (aka @SweetSheil).

And don’t stop here–hie yourself over to Stevie’s site to read the other entries!

Their tiny one-bedroom apartment felt like a cupboard before Edward died, shoulder always bumping into shoulder, hips always jostling. Without Edward, the space expands, stretches, a river of silence through which Minnie floats.

Each morning Minnie rises at 6:30, time for Edward’s heart pill. She slides her feet into the pink mules Edward bought her two Christmases ago and shuffles to the kitchenette, the kettle, the first cup of tea.

The long day begins. Minnie watches steam rise from the kettle, drift and dissipate into nothingness while her forlorn heart hangs like an anchor in her chest.

(97 words)

Visual Dare – And Then There Were Pumps

Yesterday I accidentally wrote a Visual Dare story for the wrong prompt–for a prompt, in fact, that wasn’t a prompt at all but rather a photograph @Angela_Goff was using to illustrate her awesome Five Sentence Fiction submission, which you can read right here. Quelle boob am I. Angela was kind enough to not insist that I rip that story from the interwebs and let it speak its name no more, because that’s just the kind of person she is.

To salvage my dignity, I’ve decided to write something for the actual Visual Dare prompt:


And Then There Were Pumps

He twisted the tap, and two hundred speckled goldfish poured out, splashing and sparkling in the gush of water. When his sink overflowed with its fishy bounty and his tiled floor became slick with their flopping, finny bodies, he opened his back door and fled into the street.

The garden gate melted to dust beneath his fingers.

In the plaza the pigeons fled skyward from his running feet, then rained back down upon him in a shower of boots, sneakers, and spiked Gucci heels.

He cursed himself for forgetting to insert the stopper in the genie’s bottle again.

(98 words)