October 26, 2015
I'm not a big fan of flash fiction--generally stories of fewer than 300 words. But, when it comes to writing, I'll try anything (at least once). So, I took a shot at writing flash fiction, and even what I've written is not quite short enough at about 340 words. Still, see if this passes muster ...
by Weldon Burge
There was snow on the beach, dunes upon dunes, and the ocean, pissed at the world, clawed at the surf with icy fingers.
James gazed out over the bitter Atlantic from his 10th-floor, hotel room window. He’d checked into the hotel the previous evening, in the middle of the worst nor’easter to hit the Northeast seaboard in decades. The trip from Atlanta to Atlantic City had been pure hell.
James could see white caps on the waves as far out as he could see. The wind howled like a demon outside the window. He wanted to see dolphins. Even seagulls. Any form of life. But the water and the beach were barren.
He wanted summer again.
Hard to believe that, only months before, James had brought the family to this very hotel, this beach, for a week of sun and fun. He remembered Luke and Matt, six and eight, helping him build an enormous sandcastle, then gleefully pounding it back into the sand with their bare feet. James could hear Matt laughing as they both attempted to boogie board on the chaotic waves, often tumbling together in the surf and chasing their boards in the wet sand. He remembered telling both boys to stop throwing potato chips to the hordes of raucous gulls that surrounded their bleach blanket.
Most of all, James remembered the distinct aroma of cocoa butter, the sweet suntan lotion on Lori’s bronze skin as she soaked up the sun, stretched out next to him on the blanket. She turned to him, a magnificent smile for him, a gift. He so loved this woman. She was beautiful beyond description, beyond imagination. James felt like the luckiest man on the planet, right at that moment when she smiled for him.
Was that really the last time she smiled?
James wanted summer again.
But seasons change.
There was snow on the sand, dunes upon dunes, and James was due in divorce court at noon.
So, what do you think?
February 23, 2011
A common question writers are asked is, "So, where do your story ideas come from?" Stephen King, on his official Web site, answered the question in this way: "I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it's seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question 'What if?' 'What if' is always the key question."
I totally agree. Ideas come winging at me like missiles from anywhere and everywhere--overheard snippets of conversations, newspaper items, TV commercials, even graffiti on a city wall! There are so many ideas that I couldn't possibly write all the stories that occur to me. I have notes everywhere, jotted in moments of hot inspiration. Writer's block? What's that? The trick is just being open to whatever occurs to you, and then asking that magic question, What if?
November 12, 2010
I've always loved horror movies and horror fiction, going back even before I learned how to read. I remember my Uncle Donald and his box of EC comics, which he shared with me despite my mother's admonition, "Don't show him that trash! You'll ruin his brain!" Too late, too late. I was probably 4 or 5 at the time, and I came to love those comics filled with the walking dead, vampires, and gruesome death.
I also remember going to the Everett Theater in Middletown, DE every Friday night. The theater often showed Hammer Film double-features and many other horror movies in the late '60s (yes, I'm dating myself!) that scared the crap out of me. I loved every minute of it. I read every ghost and eerie story I could get my grubby hands on.
But, I was experiencing horror only as entertainment.
I can pinpoint one story that changed my life and inspired me not only to read horror, but to write
it. This happened in 1969, when I was 13. I can thank Anthony Vercoe, the author of "Flies," for starting my freelance career.
The story appeared in the fine little anthology, 11 Great Horror Stories
, published by Scholastic Book Services. That's right, I now write nasty stories thanks to Scholastic! The book contains mini-classics like "The Dunwich Horror" by H.P. Lovecraft, "The Oblong Box" by Edgar Allan Poe, "The Judge's House" by Bram Stoker, and "Thus I Refute Beelzy" by John Collier. What 13-year-old wouldn't be impressed?
But Vercoe's story was unlike anything I'd ever read before, it was so in-your-face, so no-holds-barred when it came to the gross out. I've certainly read stronger stories since then, and there were many other pulp stories of similar caliber, but "Flies" made a difference for me.
August 9, 2010
I've always been a fan of themed anthologies, particularly collections of horror, suspense, and mystery stories. It's not surprising, then, that I enjoy writing short fiction in the same genres.
One of my stories, "Welcome to the Food Chain," was recently published by Static Movement in the anthology Don't Tread On Me: Tales of Revenge & Retribution
. The story is about a hit man, a particularly nasty couple, and crabs caught fresh from the Chesapeake Bay. The story has never been published anywhere else, so I was happy it finally found a home!
But mine is only one of 30 stories in this fine anthology. You'll also find:
- "A Small Sand Storm" by Kenneth Goldman—offers a different take on the bully-on-the-beach, kick-sand-in-your-face confrontation
- "Angela's Rising" by Kevin Brown—a rape victim who takes revenge a little too far
- "Inheritance" by Matt Carter—has a Saturday afternoon "Creature Feature" feel to it
- "The Impact" by Jim Bronyaur—a disturbing attempt at double revenge, involving adultery and speeding cars
- "The Shock Value of Bad Magic" by Mark Anthony Crittenden—a party magician's act goes horribly awry, leading to a bloodbath
- "Good Morning" by Jessy Marie Roberts—an especially sadistic breakfast
One of my favorite stories in the anthology is "Wood Smoke" by the editor, Greg Miller. Short and supremely subtle, the story is about an old man who is semi-swindled out of his farmland by a conniving grandson, and Grandpa's sweet revenge in the end. I saw it coming, but it brought a smile to my face nonetheless.
There are some formatting issues and grammatical errors in the book, but the overall content is superb. As one of the writers included in this anthology, I'm very proud to share the pages with such a wide range of talent. Some stories are subtle, some slam you in the face. There's something here for everyone looking for vicarious thrills!
If you enjoy "tales of revenge and retribution," you can't go wrong with this selection of wonderful stories!
March 11, 2010
Let me tell you a story--a history, actually--of a story.
Back in 2004, I decided to write a short story about a hitman, from the hitman's POV, that takes place in the Chesapeake Bay area. I ended up with a nasty little story titled "Welcome to the Food Chain." I had just sold a story, "Another Highway Fatality," to the Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine
, and the editor at the time was pulling together an anthology. I sent along "Welcome to the Food Chain" and, after a slight rewrite, the editor accepted the story.
Then, about four months later, Futures Mysterious
folded its tent; the anthology would never be published. My story was homeless!
I threw "Food Chain" in a drawer for about a year, letting it "ripen." I do this at times so that I can, at some point, resurrect the story and examine it with different eyes. On second perusal, I thought the story still had legs. So, I rewrote it a bit more, then sent the story back to market. (more…)