How writing flash fiction helped me write a novel

Published February 7, 2017 by rochellewisoff

If you think that Friday Fictioneers is just a diversion for those who have nothing better to do, read this by Louise Jensen. 

fabricating fiction

the-sisterWhen I started writing in earnest two years ago I created this blog and stumbled across a weekly flash fiction challenge called Friday Fictioneers. A photo would be posted each week and participants were invited to use the prompt to create a hundred word story.

It sounded fun and a good way to kick off my blog. Writing the first story was difficult. It took me ages to edit it down to 100 words. It was nerve wracking sending my first story out into the world but if I’m honest, I didn’t expect anyone to read it, but read it they did. I was enveloped into a supportive writing community who have critiqued with kindness, encouraged and soothed every step of the way on my journey to publication, commiserating with every rejection and celebrating my first two novels hitting No. 1 on Amazon. I am so grateful to those bloggers…

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AN AUTHOR IN PARADISE – AN INTERVIEW WITH C. E. AYR

Published February 6, 2017 by rochellewisoff
C. E. Ayr

C. E. Ayr

C.E. Ayr has always been somewhat nomadic, fairly irresponsible and, according to his darling daughter, a bit random.
His work history ranged from
selling programmes at his local football club to running his own company which supplied IT solutions to the retail sector.
He has now discovered Paradise in a small town he calls Medville on the Côte d’Azur.
Hence the title of his recently published book of Sound Bite Fiction, MEDVILLE MATTERS.

medville-matters

Your Bio was written a few years ago, has anything changed?

On the surface, not much.
I am still, to my surprise, in Medville.
I am, rather sadly, happier than I have ever been in my life.
I am relaxed and creative, I write Sound Bite Fiction of 100 words and novellas of 20,000 words.
I write poetry and, arguably, song lyrics.
I have heard very different versions of my stuff produced in very different ways by very different musicians.
Yep, Bluegrass to Heavy Metal.
I have seen Carolina Sartor, a Canadian artist of exceptional talent, translate a children’s poem into twenty-two breathtakingly beautiful images well beyond the scope of my imagination, culminating in the creation of The Famous Green Hunchback Turtle of Béthune, my latest book for children.

he can sky dive

he can sky dive

I have met some interesting guys and some beautiful ladies.
And, most amazingly, I have found the best friend I have ever had in my life.
I have grown up and become sensible.
Did I mention that I write fiction?

What made you decide to be a writer?

I grew up in South Africa at a time when there was no television and very little English-language radio, so I became a voracious, almost compulsive, reader.
So story-telling has always seemed natural to me.

What is your favorite genre? Why?

I read across-the-board fiction, enjoying anyone who can tell a story.
I would say I am not a big fan of horror, but I am a huge admirer of Stephen King, or of Westerns, but I love Elmore Leonard.
I am also not too keen on Science Fiction, but I am impressed by Wells, Asimov and Clarke, and the dystopian works of Orwell, Bradbury and Huxley.
I devour the crime stories of quality writers like Michael Connelly, John Connolly, Robert Crais, and Scotland’s Ian Rankin.

Who is the author who inspires you the most?

I guess that John Steinbeck is top of that list, his seemingly effortless prose creating works as diverse as The Grapes of Wrath and Cannery Row. His writing always seems to have a power unmatched by anyone else.
But I have to give honourable mentions to Franz Kafka and Hermann Hesse, along with more modern authors including Paul Auster, Sebastian Faulks and Iain Banks.
Apart from Rankin and Banks, I am also inspired by other compatriots, from Robert Louis Stevenson and Lewis Grassic Gibbon, through Alasdair Gray to Irvine Welsh and A L Kennedy.
And, of course, I pay homage to the genius who is Dr Seuss!
I apologise to other favourites who are temporarily hidden in strange dark corners of my mind.

How often do you write?

Pretty much every day, but times vary.
Typically the afternoon is my leisure time when, depending on season, I walk or swim. This is when I am most creative, and I constantly make notes of thoughts and ideas, no mean feat when I am up to my ears in my beloved Mediterranean Sea.
Then I draft stories on paper, longhand, while I relax at the Little Café in the Square or the Little Café  at the Port, both of which I feature in my tales.

'tis a hard life

’tis a hard life

The following morning I input these to my laptop, filling in the blanks and trimming the redundancies, before emailing them to my friend and first line editor Emmy L. Gant for her critical analysis. And as a backup in case of natural disaster, which I can be!

Do you have any major projects in the works?

Most importantly, I am currently looking for a publisher for The Famous Green Hunchback Turtle of Béthune, as mentioned above.
I have two novellas at the finishing stage, with no clear idea of what I will do with them.
I rarely write with a market in mind, I produce just what the muse says at the time.
Occupation tells of a small group of resistance fighters in a land occupied by The Creation, while Abduction is a tale of vengeance, where one man pursues the organisation who kidnapped his girl.
They are very different in content but, like my previously published e-book, The Second Request, are written in my trademark short line style.

the-second-request-image
I am, of course, thinking about a second book of Sound Bite Fiction, but living in a non-English speaking country makes marketing difficult at a personal level.
I certainly have enough material, in fact probably enough for three books, I am nothing if not prolific.
My recent stories are generally slightly longer and, I believe, even more personal than Medville Matters.

In what way is your writing becoming more personal?

Ah, good question!
I find it an interesting paradox that the more fiction I write, the more of myself I expose.
But we create using ideas from within ourselves, our imagination, our dreams, our memories.
And not just our successes but, more pertinently, our failures and losses.
Some stories are pure fantasy (I kill far fewer folk in real life), but in others I feel that I have stripped my soul naked.

You say you also write poetry and songs. Who are your inspirations here?

Again, they are many and varied but, as a Scot who did several years of schooling only a couple of miles from his Ayrshire birthplace, I have to say that Robert Burns stands alone.
Outwith his work, my favourite poem is probably The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde.
And I am in awe of Leonard Cohen.

What are your writing goals for the future?

I don’t make goals, I rarely make any plans, I tend to live in the moment.
A few years ago I sold, or otherwise disposed of, everything I owned.
With my worldly possessions in two suitcases (one summer, one winter) I took a coach 500 miles to the English Channel, crossed to Calais and rented a car.
Other than the offer of temporary accommodation at Emmy’s home a further 750 miles to the south, I had nothing fixed in my mind.
Every day is an adventure.
Or, as Robert Heinlein (I forgot him earlier!) said, life is short, live wide.

What advice would you give other writers?

As Shakespeare says, advice is free and that’s all it’s worth.
But I do make a plea to everyone who tries to write.
Please, learn some basic grammar, and use a spell checker.
Okay, two words of advice.
Read.
(Not Tweets or the Sports pages, but real books by decent writers.)
Write.
(All the time.)

HATH NOT A JEW EYES?

Published February 5, 2017 by rochellewisoff

Hammerfest, Norway

This location was suggested by the talented Alicia over at Up From the Ashes . Thanks Alicia!

Feel free to stroll around using the Google street view and grab any picture you choose to include in your post.

To enjoy stories inspired by the What Pegman Saw prompt or to submit your own 150-word story, visit the InLinkz button:

For guidelines and rules for the What Pegman Saw weekly writing prompt, visit the home page.

I’ve gone ‘there’ again. It’s what I saw. Thanks to K Rawson for hosting this group. Below is the photo I chose from Pegman’s Buffet.

My Chosen Prompt

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Word Count: 150

HATH NOT A JEW EYES?

            Do you know the word “Jew” is a common insult among Norwegian teens? Should this bother me? After all, I am a Norwegian Jew.  

            “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”

            Reptilian? I’ve been called this. Do people seriously believe this mishegoss—that Jews are lizard creatures from another planet?

            “If you tickle us, do we not laugh?”

             I will never forget holding my father’s hand as we strolled along a mountain path. Two youths shoved him and shouted, “Child murderer!”

             The memory of warm spittle dripping down my face sickens me still.

            “If you wrong us, do we not revenge?”

            Not in Norway. Instead, we hide in plain sight.

            Last summer a group of Hasidim invited all of us to a Jewish gathering in Oslo. We cranked up the music and danced in front of Parliament.

            I’ve heard that work makes us free, but we’re not falling for that again.  

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Here is a link to the video that informed my story. It’s over 20 minutes long so I don’t expect everyone to have the time. However, if you do…

 

3 February 2017

Published February 1, 2017 by rochellewisoff

Blue Ceiling FF

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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

A WEAVER OF DREAMS

Not even a light breeze blew through the open window. As it did every night, sleep eluded Myrtle Reed. Sweat oozed from skin-folds under her ample arms.

“Why doesn’t this so-called windy city offer some relief from this fiendish heat?” She glared at the clock. “Eleven-thirty, August 17, 1911.”

She searched the street below for James. “He’s probably passed out drunk somewhere. I was so wrong. Love is not an orchid which thrives on hot air.”

Raising a bottle of sleeping powder to her lips, the young authoress swallowed disappointed dreams. “Insomnia be damned—forever. Happy anniversary my ‘model husband.’”

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portrait_of_myrtle_reed

a-weaver-of-dreams-front-page

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SWING SHIFT

Published January 28, 2017 by rochellewisoff

Wonder of wonders, I’m back for another round. 😉 It must be the lure of those fifty extra words. Here are the simple directions:

Today, Pegman visits Buffalo, NY.  Thanks to Prior for this week’s location.

Feel free to stroll around using the Google street view and grab any picture you choose to include in your post.

To enjoy stories inspired by the What Pegman Saw prompt or to submit your own 150-word story, visit the InLinkz button:

For guidelines and rules for the What Pegman Saw weekly writing prompt, visit the home page.

Many thanks to K Rawson for hosting.

ivy-street-in-buffalo

The following story is a rework of an old story. I thought perhaps the addition of fifty words might help it along. I also think this one will be lengthened at a later date. Still rolling it around my head.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 150

SWING SHIFT

            On Black Tuesday Pop lost his Wall Street job.

             He sold everything of any value except Mom’s prized antique vase, our phonograph and his clarinet.

            We moved from our Park Avenue apartment to a shabby house in Buffalo. Pop found employment as a night janitor.   

            One Sunday afternoon, drawn by phonograph music, I wandered into his room.  Hunched over, he held a gun to his temple.

            I screamed and knocked it from his grasp.

            It discharged. The bullet ricocheted off the wall, whizzed through my hair and shattered Mom’s vase.

            “Forgive me.” He crushed me against his chest. “I’ve forgotten what’s really important.”   

            After that Pop found solace playing his “licorice stick.” He delighted our neighbors at backyard barbeques.

            At Mom’s urging, he auditioned for a local swing band. From 1935 to 1962 they toured the Borscht Belt.

            His zest for life was contagious.

            Incidentally, Mom never mentioned her vase.           

 

Borscht Belt

Probably not Pop’s band, but thrown in for flavor.

27 January 2017

Published January 25, 2017 by rochellewisoff

Undersea St. Thomas 4 Meme

Note: You can call me crabby or controlling if you like, but…over the past few weeks some writers are going way over the word limit. No one will be kicked out for doing so, but the challenge is to write a story in 100 words or less. While I don’t take issue with a word or two over, last week one of them went over 200 words. 

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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Al Forbes

PHOTO PROMPT © Al Forbes

Think you’ve seen this photo before? You have. It’s been pointed out that I posted this prompt in February. 😯  A repost was unintentional, but is what it is. If you have a story for it you were happy with, feel free to use it. 😉 Thank you Dawn and Suzanne for pointing it out. This is a first. What was I thinking? 

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

Not exactly a flash fiction and not exactly an excerpt. Here’s a scene from AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN. 

OLIVE BRANCH

            Nikolai Derevenko and his father had hardly spoken in twenty years so Sergei’s sudden appearance in Kansas City for his grandson’s graduation mystified him.

            Sergei rotated the crank on the front of the car, starting the motor, and climbed into the driver’s seat. “It’s a Ford. Almost new—Model N, made in 1906,” he shouted over the clatter. “My gift. Tomorrow you learn to drive it.”

            Nikolai scowled. “Thanks, but no thanks. God gave us legs and there are streetcars. With all of your frivolous spending you won’t have enough for your fare back to Russia.”

            “I’m not going back.”

*

*

nikolai

Dr. Nikolai Derevenk0 © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Sergei Derevenko © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Sergei Derevenko © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Vasily Derevenko © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Vasily Derevenko © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

***

If you’ve made it this far down the page I hope you’ll take the time to watch the short video. Perhaps this is the reason I’ve been impressed of late to write so many Holocaust themed stories. I plan to post my picture on Twitter and Facebook. When push comes to shove there is one race…THE HUMAN RACE #WeRemember

FACE TO FACE

Published January 23, 2017 by rochellewisoff
Theodore Roosevelt portrait

Theodore Roosevelt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Several times over the past few years, as I’ve painted “portraits” of my characters, someone has asked who I used for models. As a rule the answer is, “no one in particular.” In fact, I’ve often thought if I ever need a regular job, I could apply for one as a police sketch artist since I’ve become adept at composites: the eyes from one model coupled with a nose and mouth from another. “Oh, and that’s the perfect hairstyle.” I admit to using a few celebrity photos, although I try not to make them look like portraits. On the other hand, if it’s meant to be a portrait I’m a little more particular. 

        Google images and Pinterest are wonderful places to find vintage photos for the dress and hairstyles of the day. All great fun for the girl who used to get in trouble for daydreaming in class while drawing pictures. Of course those daydreaming episodes were practice for my future storytelling career. 😉 

        From my first chapters of PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME I’ve had a mental image of Havah Cohen. 

havah-at-16

Havah at 16 © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Havah in her 20's © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Havah in her 20’s © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

Last week I had lunch with some friends. One of them brought an American history book he thought would come in handy for my research. It’s a lovely hardbound coffee table book with lots of pictures. 

He opened it to a bookmarked page and pointed to a photo of a young Russian Jewish immigrant and said, “I thought you might know this lady.” 

I suddenly felt like Karen Eiffel, (Emma Thompson) the author in the movie “Stranger than Fiction” coming face to face with Harold Crick (Will Ferrell). There she was, the girl whose voice I heard in my dreams. Do you agree? 

i-know-this-lady

 

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