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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Fortune Teller and Writer's Block

I have been tweeting a little bit about my serious case of writer's block.  I can usually come up with several ideas for short stories and flash fiction but for the last three weeks, nothing.  NOTHING!!!  So, here is what I am going to do.  Below is what I had hoped would be a fun flash fiction story.  What I propose is you read it and give me suggestions on the ending.  If I use your idea, I'll gift you a copy of one of my books (your choice).  Or you can feel free to just leave a comment on the story, or writer's block in general.
Thanks for playing!

The Fortune Teller

“C'mon, it'll be fun,” Beth said, tugging her best friend, Audreys' arm.
“A fortune teller? Really?” Audrey said.
“Sure. I did it last year and everything she said came true.”
“First, no one can see the future. They use your responses to figure you out. Second, even if she was really good it's unlikely to be the same woman. This is the carnival. They probably pick up whoever they can along the way. In fact they probably just rotate out the jobs. She gave you a fortune one day, then was working the ring toss game the next.”
“No. The lady selling tickets heard me telling Robert I wanted to go to the fortune teller and she said their lady is the real thing. She's been with them ten years. When people find out she's coming they line up to see her.”
“Whatever,” Audrey smiled.
“Well, we're going. You need some fortune telling.”
“It sure couldn't hurt,” Audrey said. Her business was failing and she had some big decisions to make. Not that she would listen to a stranger, but still, it could take her mind off her troubles for a little while.
To Audrey's surprise there was actually a line to see the fortune teller. She had no desire to wait, considering it was hot and crowded but Beth bought them some soda's and let her use her smart phone to play on the internet so she agreed. It's not as if she had anything better to do anyway.
Thirty minutes later they entered the fortune tellers tent. It was really small and dark, with just a little round table surrounded by three chairs. The only light came from a round clear ball on the center of the table. The ball wasn't in any holder and Audrey wondered what kept it from rolling off the table.
Sitting in the chair opposite the entrance was a small woman dressed in a black caftan dress. Her hair was black and long with streaks of gray, but it was her eyes that kept Audrey from moving forward. They were black and cold and seemed to pierce through Audrey.
“Don't worry,” the fortune teller said, smiling.
Beth took Audrey's hand and pulled her to the empty seats.
“It's your fortune you want told then,” the woman said to Audrey. It wasn't a question. She laid her right hand on the table, palm up, and indicated Audrey should take a hold. Beth nudged her and she grasped hands with the woman.
“Ah,” she said looking into the crystal ball. “You're business is failing and you are thinking of closing it.”
Audrey pulled her hand back. “ could you know that?”
“It's what you paid for, isn't it? For me to see things.”
“But, it's impossible!” She looked at Beth. “You told her. You came here earlier and told her.”
“I didn't!” Beth said.
“My dear, I have people waiting. Do you want your fortune read or not. It doesn't matter if you believe it.”
Audrey looked at the woman, then back at Beth.
“C'mon Audrey. It's harmless.”
Audrey reached out and took the woman's hand again.
“You need to keep your business going,” she continued, looking back into the crystal ball. “If you can just hang on a few more months, everything will turn around.”
Audrey thought of the big contract she had been waiting on. She was sure it had fallen through and they had gone with someone else but what if...
“And, oh, how nice. You will meet the love of your life in the next twenty four hours.”
This time Audrey smiled as she pulled her hand back and stood up.
“Thanks anyway miss, but now I know you're a fraud.”
“Oh, and why is that?”
“Because I am already married.”

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sample Sunday October 2 Love Thy Neighbor

Today's sample is part of a fun Halloween short.

Katy Ross and Missy North
The 2011 Halloween Costume Party
The Most Killer Party of the Year
October 31
8493 Silver Dollar Lane
No children allowed

You will come, won't you JoAnn?” asked Katy, JoAnn's neighbor. JoAnn looked at Katy and was reminded again of that woman in those 70’s Vidal Sassoon commercials. The tall, lean woman with the long silky black hair. The hair JoAnn had always dreamed of having instead of her own stringy blond. On top of that Katy’s skin was so perfect it seemed unreal. JoAnn really wanted to ask what kind of makeup she used but was afraid the response would be none. And it just wasn't fair to be so effortlessly perfect.
Yes, you will, right?” said Missy, JoAnn's deceivingly southern belle-like other neighbor. Missy was, well, Missy. Physically she was easy to describe, of course. She was quite petite, not an inch over five feet and not a pound over one hundred, with waves of thick brown hair and large hazel eyes. But to describe her personality, that was difficult. At first, she seemed the picture of a southern lady, all soft spoken and sweet. But two weeks ago JoAnn heard her tell Sam, who lives around the corner, that if his dog poops on her yard one more time, she would cut him. And from the way he scrambled off, he seemed to believe her. Maybe it was just because she was holding a freshly sharpened pair of yard trimmers, or maybe it was because she just seemed quite serious. There was no doubt she knew how to use garden tools, pruning away at the bushes like they had offended her by daring to grow out of sync.
No, there was definitely something more to Missy, thought JoAnn.
We are so sorry for the late notice but, we forgot you didn't live here when the invitations were mailed.”
But I've lived here for two months. How early do these invitations go out?” JoAnn asked. JoAnn and Jay had barely opened the first box when Missy and Katy had showed up at their door. Katy lived to the right and Missy to the left. They brought a basket of treats, asked a few general questions, then left with a promise of getting together when they were more settled.
After watching them walking back and forth between their respective homes nearly every day JoAnn bit the bullet and invited them over. But after that morning of coffee and gossip they'd hardly spoken to her, despite JoAnn's attempts to get together. She'd replayed the conversation in her head for weeks, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. I mean sure, it was painfully obvious they didn't have much in common; Katy ground her own flour for goodness sake! Who did that? But JoAnn was a live and let live kind of person. They were neighbor's after all. They should be looking out for each other.
This is the party of the year! We send these invitations out four months ahead of time.”
Though it's hardly necessary. No one would miss one of our parties,” Missy said, laughing. Katy put her arm around her and they laughed together.
You don't have plans, do you?” Katy asked.
Nothing you can't change, anyway, right? I mean this is the neighborhood party. You can't miss the neighborhood party!”
No. No, we don't have any plans. I's going to be hard to come up with a costume on such short notice. I mean, today is Halloween.”
Oh, you can come up with something. I'm sure it will be fine,” Katy said, patting JoAnn's hand.
Well, we have to go. Lots of preparing to do. See you tonight.” And off they went, arm in arm, not an easy feat considering the height difference.


Look at this,” JoAnn said, handing Jay the invitation. “Katy and Missy caught me outside. They apologized for the late notice. Said we weren't here when the invitations were mailed.”
Weren't here? Well, how early did they send the invitations?”
Four months. It's the party of the year,” JoAnn said in a poor imitation of Missy's light southern accent.
Jay laughed. “Sounds like a big deal.” He looked right at her. “Sounds just like what you've been waiting for.”
Yes, it does,” Jo Ann smiled. “I am surprised though. They’ve been giving me the cold shoulder since we had coffee that morning.”
Ever figure out what that was about?” Jay said.
Nope,” JoAnn said shrugging.
Well, what does it matter anyway? They're a little...”
Little what?”
Intense if you ask me. I was out washing the car the other day and they both came up asking me all kinds of questions.”
Yeah, like how did I like the neighborhood? Was my job working out? Did I think we would be staying here very long?”
JoAnn laughed. “They're just trying to make small talk.”
It wasn't the questions. It was their tone. I don't know. They’re just...”
Intimidating? Yeah, they come on pretty strong. The only time Katy speaks to me is to give me recipes, even though I told her I don't like to cook. And Missy gave me the name of her yard guy.”
Three times.”
Oh. Maybe she's forgetful.”
Well, at least they invited us. This will give us a better chance to all get acquainted. But what about costumes? The party's tonight. Oh, I'll bring some of those TGIF appetizers. You know, they sell them in the frozen section now.”


JoAnn, what an interesting costume,” Missy said. “Katy! Katy! Come over here.”
Despite the crowd, Katy had no trouble hearing Missy and came right over.
Well, isn't that...interesting,” Katy said.
That's just what I thought,” Missy said.
I just threw it together,” JoAnn said, laughing.
Yes, I see. Now what are you exactly?” Missy asked, giving JoAnn the once over.
I'm Jay. See the pocket protector, the glasses. I mean, I'm not really Jay, but an exaggeration. You know, the stereotypical computer geek. Though what does it say that he had all this stuff just laying around?” JoAnn laughed again.
Katy and Missy exchanged a look.
But, wow, you guys look amazing,” JoAnn said. “Where did you find such elaborate costumes?”
They were both wearing witch costumes. Not like the bad witch in the Wizard of Oz either. No, No. These were a fabulous display of black velvet lined with silk, red for Katy and purple for Missy; tall pointed hats with delicate lace draped down to their shoulders. And makeup that only enhanced their natural beauty; no green face with strategically placed warts for them.
Find?” Katy said.
We made them, of course. Like we do every year,” Missy said.
Sounds like a lot of work. You know the price has come way down on costumes lately. You can pick them up for like twenty bucks now. Plastic, easy to clean.”
Twenty...” Katy said. Missy grabbed her hand and squeezed. They did that a lot. “Yes, yes. But we enjoy the process. Now where is Jay?”
He’s coming,” JoAnn said looking back toward the door. “Oh, there he is.”
Where is his costume?”
He’s dressed as Jay also,” JoAnn said laughing. “Sorry, costumes just aren’t his thing.”
Not his thing!” Katy said.
And what are these?” Missy said quickly, changing the subject again.
Oh,” JoAnn said holding out the tray she'd brought, “they are those little TGIF quesadillas. Have you seen them before? In the freezer section. I just love them. Friday dinner has never been so easy, huh!”
Oh my God-”
You didn't have to do that JoAnn,” Missy said, cutting Katy off mid sentence, “we have all the food taken care of already.”
Oh, it was no trouble. Really,” JoAnn said holding out the tray. “I know you guys make food all the time, what with an organic food business. You know I didn't realize you two were the owner's of Cassie's All Natural Pies until just two weeks ago.
Well, thank you. I'll just put it over here,” Missy said taking the tray and placing it in the butler's pantry.
How about a drink?” Katy said.
The adult magic words,” JoAnn said. “I’d love one.” She took the skeleton hand cup from Katy and tried a sip.
Mmm what is this? Kool-Aid and vodka? No, tequila?”
Katy choked on her drink. “Are you making a joke? This is a blackberry thyme margarita. The thyme is from my garden and I hand crush the blackberries. It’s all natural.”
Well it's good,” JoAnn said, taking another drink. “Maybe a little sugar would sweeten it up a bit. Oh, I see Eliza's here. I'm going to go say hello.”
Kool-Aid...really...” JoAnn heard Katy say under her breath to Missy.
Don't worry. It will all be over soon,” Missy replied softly.


You can find the rest of this fun story for free on Smashwords