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HERDING CATS

Published February 13, 2017 by rochellewisoff

HERDING CATS

The Joys of Hosting a Blog Challenge

A few weeks ago former Friday Fictioneer  Karen Nelson invited me to write an article about my experience for her new online magazine entitled

literary-citizen-cover

Click here to read the rest of the magazine.

To learn more about the editor click here to read an interview with another former fictioneer and fellow author Jan Morrill.

Karen Nelson

Karen Nelson

Following is the article as it appears in the magazine. Warning! It’s longer than a flash fiction. 😉 

HERDING CATS

            Four years ago, as a newly published author of a short story anthology, writing and rewriting my first novel, I didn’t have much of a direction for my blog. The few articles I posted were met with overwhelming disinterest.

One April day I noticed a Facebook post by someone named Madison Woods on the Ozarks Writers League page announcing the time had come for Friday Fictioneers. I found the title intriguing so I asked her about it.

She explained that every Wednesday she put up a photo and each participant was to insert it into his or her own blog page and write a short story to go with it. I decided to try my hand at it. From the first hundred words, I was hooked. I quickly learned that less really can be more. This revelation spilled over into my longer pieces.

Even more addicting than the writing was the interaction of an international group of writers. Although it took me a few weeks to catch onto comment protocol, I soon learned how to give and receive. I was fascinated by the variety of stories and poems one photograph can inspire. The themes range from light and funny to dark and sinister.

Soon, I developed close friendships with some of the other writers. I looked forward to my weekly serving of magic until one morning my friend, Doug, on the Big Island asked, “Are you going to take over Friday Fictioneers?”

“Why would I do that?”

“Didn’t you get Madison’s email?”

Sure enough, I found an email from Madison saying it was time for her to move on. She offered Friday Fictioneers to anyone who might be interested in taking over after October. I felt like I’d lost my best friend.

When I shared the news with my husband, Jan and cousin, Kent, they, too, encouraged me to bid for the facilitator role. Never one to take on leadership roles, I couldn’t see myself in that position.

“Why not you?” asked Kent. “You know the ropes and you have the chops. I think you should go for it.”

Jan agreed with Kent.

I bounced the idea around in my head for a few hours. Nothing will change. I haven’t missed a week in six months. I’ll still post my stories. The only difference will be that I’ll be choosing the photos.  

Apparently the impassioned plea I sent Madison convinced her, too, for she announced my adoption of her baby that very week. The photo prompt she chose was of a bus and I knew I was in for an exciting ride. Here’s the story I posted:

FRIDAY’S BUS

Apprehensions whelmed the new driver. How could she steer this behemoth? Her feet barely reached the gas pedal.

A lithe maiden with pointed ears and iridescent wings floated past her.  Next was an imposing man whose black silk cape skimmed the floor. One by one, diverse passengers stowed their baggage and found their seats.

“Welcome,” said the last in line. “I’m Russell.”

Warmed by his congenial smile she tried not to stare at his plastic clown nose and grasped his offered hand.

Zzzzzzt! His joy buzzer sent shockwaves to her shoulder.  

He chortled. “Are we there yet?” 

Here’s a link to that post complete with comments from my fellow fictioneers. https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/fridays-bus/

Russell Gayer, FF Class Clown

Russell Gayer, FF Class Clown 

***

            The first month or so went smoothly. I received a lot of support from other members and quite a few offers of photos for potential prompts.

As with any group, even those online, personality quirks and conflicts arose. One fictioneer I’d considered a friend, lashed out at me in a scathing email in which she accused me developing “an over- inflated Friday Fictioneers Ego.” Without going into detail about the situation, suffice it to say, her words stung like needles.

Another memorable time came when one member decided to use my page as a platform to preach her religion. This sent a flurry of complaints to my inbox.

I tried, via email, as diplomatically as possible, to persuade the would-be evangelist to confine her proselytizing to her own page. She never replied but, eventually disappeared from our midst.

Occasionally, a zealous blogger will link his unrelated blog to the Friday Fictioneers’ inLinkz in order to draw traffic to his site. In those instances, I will notify the person to let him know I’ve deleted his link and why. Most of the time there’s no response but in a few instances I’ve been called a control freak or worse.

For the most part, I enjoy the interaction and have learned from other writers. As a child I had a few pen –pals, one in Wales and another in South America. It was so much fun to get those letters and feel like I’d, in some way, traveled overseas. To me, Friday Fictioneers is akin to having pen-pals on steroids.

To my amazement, Friday Fictioneers has gained popularity and has been featured in three separate WordPress articles about blog writing challenges. Each time my following increased exponentially and participation has topped out as high as 100 writers in one week.

Pet Peeves

            In the beginning, I felt it my responsibility as facilitator to read and comment on each story. After a couple of years it occurred to me that I had neither the time nor the stamina. Perhaps it sounds selfish but I’ve come to the point where I mostly comment on stories of the writers who most often comment on mine. I understand we live in busy societies and not everyone has time to read every story. As I tell folks in the rules, reciprocation is half the fun. Some are great participants while others merely link their pages and neither comment nor reply. To those I return the favor.

And in the end, the love you send…

            An article about Friday Fictioneers wouldn’t be complete without a few examples. I’ll begin with the photo submitted by C. E. Ayr, who describes himself as a Scot who has discovered Paradise in a small town he calls Medville on the Côte d’Azur in France. The following five stories were inspired by this single photo.

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAYR

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAYR

 

HERO

By Himself, C.E. Ayr

Times change.
The floodlights still illuminate the night sky.
The crowd still roars as once it roared for me.
But no more.
The sound echoes across the water to where I sit, feet wet, in my little boat.
I think back to the good times when I was the city’s hero.
When everyone loved me.
When she loved me.
As the dampness reaches my knees I recall faces smiling, doors opening.
And I remember the mistakes that were made.
Followed by scowls, and impassable barriers.
And she said goodbye.
The lights go out abruptly.
The darkness closes over my head.

***

LONG DISTANCE CALL

by Margaret Leggatt – Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia

‘Hello. Zack speaking.’

‘Hi, honey. It’s me. I’m going to be late.’

‘What’s happened?’

‘Well, I had such a long list of pickups. I travelled miles. The professor’s so particular about what he wants, but I did my best, and I’ve collected some great specimens. I’m sure he’ll be satisfied.’

‘So what’s the hold-up? You haven’t lost a specimen again, have you?’

‘Oh no – all sedated and secure. The problem is, these streets all look the same at night; I can’t remember where I parked, and now the portal’s closed and I’ve missed the last transporter beam out of here.’

***

THE MEET-UP

By Dale Rogerson – Boucherville, Quebec

It was supposed to be for a light lunch. Neither was hungry, so they had a drink: water for her, soda for him.

They sat at a table and exchanged pleasantries. He asked questions, his gaze intense and she felt like he was reading more than her words. She felt the tension build and squirmed in discomfort, feeling totally exposed, yet strangely excited.

Before she knew how, he made her feel things she never imagined.

As he left her, dazed, yet lit up, he said, “You’ll see, this will play out in your head all day.”

He was not kidding.

***

I SAW IT

By Kent Bonham – Olathe, KS. USA

My last trip to Spain won me a date with Alicia, an actress-model I had been trying to go out with a long time.

We walked arm in arm through the dark streets, like in the movies!

Pigeons flew from the ground, almost on cue.

I turned to kiss her lovely face.

A pigeon swooped down, pooped a nasty on my white pants.

Startled, I spun around, knocked Alicia into a fountain. Her skirt flew over her head … and “Victoria” shared ALL her “secrets!”

“C’est la vie,” I said.

She slapped me.

She thought I said, “Se la ví.”  

***

Lastly, another one from the author herself.

SWINGJUDEN

            In 1969 my mother packed me off to my aunt and uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin.

“But Mom, Uncle Otto’s weird. That eyepatch and those scars—ick.”

***

            One night he took my Jefferson Airplane record from the stereo and replaced it with his own 45.

“You tink das ist protest music? ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,’” He sang. “The SS ransacked our nightclub, but I danced all the way to Buchenwald.”

Uncle Otto taught me more than the jitterbug that summer.

***

            At his funeral last year I saluted my favorite uncle with, “Swing Heil!”
 

28 October 2016

Published October 26, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Ellehcor Banner 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. 

NOTE ON THE GREAT PROMPT FIASCO: When this went up this morning (02:30 my time) the prompt did not appear. I’ve now fixed the problem and you should be seeing the prompt. For those who wrote in its absence, kudos. For those who are coming in later and can see the prompt, it is NOT OK to choose a different photo. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Peter Abbey

PHOTO PROMPT © Peter Abbey

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Four years ago, this week, Madison Woods, the creator of Friday Fictioneers turned her baby over to me. Becoming the FFF – Friday Fictioneers Facilitator is one of the best things I’ve ever done. A rousing THANK YOU to all who faithfully participate.

Shalom,

Rochelle

***

Busy-ness abounds this week. Therefore, I’m cheating. The following story isn’t exactly a story, but the opening paragraphs, as written, of the first chapter of AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN. Naturally, I hope this might whet your appetite to read the rest of the book. 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

BREATH AND SHADOW

Afternoon sun streamed through the tall classroom windows and cast long shadows across the dusty floor. On the chalkboard in rigid script was written, “9 October 1907, Wednesday.” Arithmetic problems in childish scrawls covered another blackboard on the opposite wall.

Behind her desk, the teacher sat with rawboned fingers clasped on top of her attendance book. Her hair was parted down the middle and pulled back from her face into a severe bun.

Under the teacher’s spectacled glare, Havah fidgeted on the hard chair. “What did my Reuven do that was so terrible?”

“He gave another boy a black eye.”

.

.

.

MISS KLINE Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

MISS KLINE Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

REUVEN - Original Artwork ©Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

REUVEN – Original Artwork ©Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

 

 

 

 

HAVAH -Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

HAVAH -Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

 

 

 

 

the proof is in which means more editing. Release date to follow soon.

The proof is in which means more editing. Release date to follow soon.

8 July 2016

Published July 6, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Summer Showcase

Summer is the time for vacations, picnics on the beach and reruns on the telly. For me it’s a time to meet a deadline in July for my third novel in my series entitled AS ONE MUST ONE CAN. Many thanks to those of you who responded to my plea for your favorite reruns. 

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The following photo is the PROMPT. This week’s retread request is from Sandra Crook. If you’re one of those who wrote a story for this prompt feel free to re-post it and enjoy the respite. Remember that all photos are private property and subject to copyright. Use other than Friday Fictioneers by permission only. 

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Marler Morrill

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Marler Morrill

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Genre: Speculative Fiction

Word Count: 100

This story is from the week of 12 October 2012 when Madison was still Chief Fictioneer.

EIRONEIA

            Summer 1969, an American sailor stationed in Greece, I went on leave to Santorini.

In Pyrgos, I met sable-eyed Melina.

We drank each other. Her fragrant breasts welcomed me home.

“Marry me,” I whispered.

“I can’t.”

After that I never saw her again.

Summer 2010, I returned to Pyrgos.

On the street I stopped a silver-haired woman. “Melina Dimitri? Do you know her?”

“Why?”

“I love her.”

“Impossible! She was my great-grandmother. Died in childbirth in 1869. Here she is with my great-grandfather.”

When the woman flipped out an old photograph I gasped at the youthful images of Melina and…me.

3 June 2016

Published June 1, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Summer Showcase

Summer is the time for vacations, picnics on the beach and reruns on the telly. For me it’s a time to meet a deadline in July for my third novel in my series entitled AS ONE MUST ONE CAN. Many thanks to those of you who responded to my plea for your favorite reruns. 

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The following photo is the PROMPT. This week’s retread request is from Sandra Crook. If you’re one of those who wrote a story for this prompt feel free to re-post it and enjoy the respite. The photo is from Piya Singh for whom I have no link. Remember that all photos are private property and subject to copyright. Use other than Friday Fictioneers by permission only. 

Thanks to Piya Singh for this week's photo prompt.

Thanks to Piya Singh for this week’s photo prompt.

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Here’s my story, first posted 7 September 2012 when Madison Woods was FF Queen. I’m really appalled at how lax I was in replying to comments. I apologize to those of you to whom I didn’t reply. How rude was that?

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

CEASE-FIRE

             Despite his outspoken arguments against the Confederacy, to please Father, Amelia’s twin brother James enlisted. A year later he perished at Clark’s Mill.      

            Afterward she spent afternoons in the abandoned slave quarters reading Andrew’s letters in secret. The last one came seven months ago. 

 “When the war’s over we’ll live in New York…”

            Had she lost him, too?

            From the corner of the shack a Union soldier stumbled toward her, his face chocolate brown beneath his rumpled cap. Her knees buckled. He caught her and crushed her against his broad chest.

            Breathless, she devoured his bronze lips. “Andrew. Dearest Andrew.”

 

22 April 2016

Published April 20, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Another Hightway

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The following photo is the PROMPT. Keep in mind that all photos are the property of the contributor, therefore copyrighted and require express permission to use for purposes other than Friday Fictioneers. Giving credit to whom credit is due is proper etiquette.

Best wishes go out to our friend CEAYR and hopes that he’ll be without pain very soon. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Madison Woods

PHOTO PROMPT © Madison Woods

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This month marks my fourth Friday Fictioneers Anniversary! To commemorate it I’m posting a rerun. At least the photo’s a rerun. If you already wrote a story to go with this prompt all those years ago, feel free to take a breather and re-post it. 

As I reread the story I posted four years ago this week, I decided it needed some updating. It was, after all, the third flash fiction I ever wrote. If you’d like to read the original click HERE 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

IN MEMORY OF 24682

Between barbs and twisted wire the sun had the audacity to shine.  Marushka’s stomach howled in outrage as she licked the dregs of a discarded sardine tin. She stretched her skeletal legs and longed for silk stockings to hug her once shapely calves.

She took a cracked mirror from her pocket and winced at her bald reflection. Murderer!

“I couldn’t let them hear you.” Memories of her baby gasping for breath under her palm haunted her. Employing the jagged glass, she slashed from her wrist to her tattoo. Relief flooded her as her life pooled in the grass. “Mama’s coming.”

 

23 October 2015

Published October 21, 2015 by rochellewisoff

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*****

**MESSAGE FROM ROCHELLE **

            This past week marks my third anniversary as Friday Fictioneers Facilitator. To celebrate I’ve taken the liberty of rerunning a photo prompt and my story from the week Madison passed the baton to me. If you were part of the group at that time feel free to rerun your story as well.

            I’d like to share some thoughts with you as I go into my fourth year as your “Fairy Blog Mother” (Thank you, Vijaya). I’ll begin by saying that I appreciate those who were part of the group before me and have stayed on the bus. Your encouragement has helped me through some difficult times as I’ve learned there’s more to facilitating than simply posting and hosting.

            The discipline of writing an entire story in a hundred words has done wonderful things for my longer pieces. I’ve also experienced the joy of watching growth in other writers and I love the diversity and cultural exchange as we represent different parts of the world. I’ve made some delightful friendships that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

            Since 2012 participation has doubled.  I make it a point to at least read every entry. That being said, I’ll admit that serials that require my having to refer back to a previous story frustrate me. If you must write a serial, please make sure your entry stands alone. As one writer said recently, I can barely remember what I wrote last week.

            My other pet peeve is the multiple prompt stories.  I find these pieces that try to shoehorn three to four challenges to be stilted and confusing. Mind you, no one will be expelled for posting them. Everyone has preferences and I’m no exception.

            I’ll end here with a hearty thank you for indulging me more than a hundred words. And THANK YOU FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION!!!  

*****

Now it’s your turn. What do you like about Friday Fictioneers? How do you feel the discipline helps you as a writer? What are your pet peeves, ie what don’t you like?

*****

The next photo is the PROMPT which first appeared in October 2012. 

copyright-Ron-Pruitt

PHOTO PROMPT © Ron Pruitt

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Genre: Para-Abnormal

Word Count: 97

FRIDAY’S BUS

              Apprehensions whelmed the new driver. How could she steer the behemoth? Her feet barely reached the gas pedal.

             A lithe maiden with pointed ears and iridescent wings, floated past her.  Next was an imposing man whose black silk cape skimmed the floor. One by one, diverse passengers stowed their baggage and found their seats.

            “Welcome,” said the last in line. “I’m Russell.”

             Warmed by his congenial smile she tried not to stare at his plastic clown nose and grasped his offered hand.

             Zzzzzzt! His joy buzzer sent shockwaves to her shoulder.  

             He chortled. “Are we there yet?”

.

.

.

You can find the original posting of this story here. 

I hope you’ll read the message before the prompt and take some time to give me feedback. Thank you. 

Shalom,

Rochelle 

14 August 2015

Published August 12, 2015 by rochellewisoff

Flowers from the Hill Thoreau

Erie Canal

FF copyright banner finalThe following photo is the PROMPT. Again, this is another blast from the past which, to most of you, will be a new one. 

PHOTO PROMPT - © Madison Woods

PHOTO PROMPT – © Madison Woods


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There are some flash fictions of mine that I like better than others. This remains one of my favorites. It’s one of the first ten that I wrote when Madison was the chief cat herder. 😉 You can find the original post here. 

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Word Count: 100

RENDEZVOUS

            Golden arches and a drive-through replaced the baroque beacon on the hill. The French restaurant where we often met is long gone.

            At our special table we shared crème brulée, class notes and anecdotes. Our careers left no room for marriage. He went his way and I went mine.

            Two years later the embossed invitation came. Birth announcements and commencement notices followed me around the world. 

 Thirty summers passed.

            When I read his wife’s obituary I wept.

***

           I reminisce in McDonald’s parking lot. Someone taps my windshield.

            Ink-black hair turned bone-white, Bordeaux in hand, he grins. “You saved our table.”

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