Posts Tagged short stories
With a sigh, Josephine dropped her head on the chest, hoping to catch a little of the jasmine scent Grandmother Rose used to wear, and feel again her grandmother’s kindness and love. She imagined burying herself in the old woman’s arms. If she could only bring her back to life, she would stop being so lonely and upset. But that, of course, was impossible.
The lid lifted easily, its leather hinges still intact. Velvet skirts covered in beads and mirrors filled the top tray. Again, she was a child. Her mother walked in the front door at Grandmother Rose’s in one of these outfits, her arms loaded with presents. Josephine ran to her, and she swung her around and around. Then Josephine ripped the paper off one of the presents to reveal a baby doll in a pink dress with a matching hair bow, exactly liked she’d wanted. She squealed and hugged her mother.
Her mother hadn’t stayed long, maybe a few days. After her mother left, Grandmother Rose held her while she cried herself to sleep. How many times had that happened before she’d learned not to get excited when her mother visited? The last time, the day of Rose’s funeral, she’d seen her mother park in front of the house, and she’d gone into her room and closed the door.
That’s an excerpt from my short story, Heritage. The full story can be read by downloading Mosaic, a Compilation of Creative Writing, by the Cartel Collaborative. The book is free, and you can get it on Amazon by clicking the link below. Or go here to find other formats.
If you’re curious about the story behind the story, here’s a little bit about how I wrote Heritage.
This story was born out of a writing prompt in my local writing group. I no longer remember what the prompt was, but I remember what I free-wrote in our twenty minutes; Josephine took a necklace she’d found in her mother’s home to her aunt. I opened with Josephine driving up to her aunt’s home in a downpour.
With this, I had two themes: cleaning out the home of a mother from whom she had been estranged; and a beautiful old necklace found there, which belonged to her aunt.
The rewriting started immediately. At first, I attempted a very short story, which I took to my writing group. They found it too complex for something that short. It must be a novel, they urged. I went home and tried expanding it, adding a father, two brothers, and a host of relatives. It grew into a childhood of gypsy wanderings, with all kinds of complexities, but I couldn’t make it work. I researched old necklaces, trying to build a story around the one Josephine finds. Eventually, I abandoned the enterprise, but my subconscious kept the ideas alive, and the files stayed on my computer.
Along came James Lee Schmidt, with his suggestion to compile a book of stories. With a short deadline, I scanned back through my computer and found my abandoned novella. Why not pare it back to its origins? Goodbye brothers. Goodbye wandering childhood, and so many other unnecessary bits and pieces. Josephine, though, needed expansion. She was a cardboard character in my original story; she had to come to life. With more years of writing experience since the initial version, I knew this was key. Who was she – not just what she looked like, and what she did for a living, but what was her character like? What made her that way? I don’t want to give too much away, but I made her a high school physics/math teacher. To match that, she’s introverted, a bit intimidating, a bitter loner who takes refuge in numbers, yet she’s sweet underneath the hard crust.
This may sound like an awful lot of modification, but I think of a story as a wad of wet clay. So long as you keep it wet, you can create a bunny rabbit, wad it back into an amorphous form, make a horse, add a saddle, then change it into a donkey. Until it’s dried, it can become anything, and that’s half the fun.
Once I liked my story, I sent it my co-authors for critiquing. There were a few comments which were along the lines of “what are you talking about?” If a reader says that, I know something needs fixing, even if it isn’t the spot they marked, so I made a few more significant modifications — adding cousins, for one—and sent it back to them. There were far fewer instances of “huh?” this time. After that, it went to a professional editor. By now, I was pretty tired of this wad of clay, and it was getting dry, at least in my mind. Mirel Abeles, my wonderful editor, suggested brown eyes, longer ears, and a larger saddle. I saw the wisdom of most of her words, so I dug in hard one last time. Finally, came the day when she gave me a thumbs up and it seemed I had a nice tale, free of extraneous commas and other bloopers.
Now comes the hard part, at least for me, which is asking for your feedback. Please read it and leave a review on your favorite retailer (or all of them). Reviews are the only way we, as independent authors, get found. Thank you so much!
Here it is, guys, in all its glory! I feel as if I’ve talked about it enough. You’ll find the links below to get it FREE. Here’s Christy’s synopsis:
Mosaic is a collection of short stories and poetry ranging from serious to light-hearted. Follow Leonardo as he learns what his inventions have inspired. Wyatt finds hope in a time of darkness. One man learns that even in death his loved ones aren’t really gone. Josephine learns about a mother she hardly knew. Jane attempts to heal from the loss of her father during 9-11. Griffin learns about life on his journey to become a leader. Tracy learns something about the past that leads her to the future. Daniel’s magic pencil makes his drawings come to life. A child is haunted by the thoughts in his head. Zac finds exactly what he needs during an afternoon at a theme park. Sprinkled throughout is a collection of poetry sure to stir up emotions. Inspired by The Story Cartel class, each author brings their own unique style, offering something for everyone.
To find out more about us and the project, go to our WEB site: http://thecartelcollaborative.com
You can get it in just about any electronic format you want – .pdf, kindle, ibook (sorry, I don’t have the ibook link), nook, whatever your heart desires. It should be free on all of these sites (please let me know if it isn’t so I can fix the issue). Click your favorite link below:
To get the .pdf, click the book cover. Otherwise, click on the logo for the site.
Over the past three days, I’ve brought you to the point where the stories were finished. Margie Deeb took these and created a beautiful .pdf for us, which you’ll be able to download for free (yes, FREE!) on Wednesday. She chose an elegant style, with black and white graphics for each story, sort of a wood-block look, times new roman font for the text, and a modern font for the story titles. She also set up a table of contents, to ease moving around in the .pdf. We each wrote bios for the end of the book. I can’t even imagine all of the hours which she put into this. She caught typos, and sent our chapters to us for proof-reading, link-checking, etc. This was all volunteer, guys!
James Lee Schmidt, with our input (and a lot of that!) wrote an introduction. He helped Angie with the cover, and Margie put it all together into the document. Finally, we proofed it, and we had a product!!! Yippee! But we weren’t done, yet. I’ll talk about that tomorrow. Right now, though, it’s time for you to meet James.
James Lee Schmidt
He looks awfully serious, doesn’t he? This photo could be a Rembrandt, or some other Dutch Master, like Vermeer, especially with that hat….
Anyway, Mosaic was James’ idea. We were all enrolled in The Story Cartel Course, sending stories back and forth, and chatting, when he asked if anyone wanted to put together a compilation. A few of us signed on, and the book was born. He took the lead in setting up ground rules and making decisions. He was also a great cheerleader and techie support.
James is the author of Strange Tales of the Oskaloosa Oddities Society. He wrote a story for Mosaic about re-finding one’s inner child and understanding that succeeding at work isn’t everything. The story centers around an uncle taking his niece to a theme park, when he doesn’t want to. You can find him at jamesleeschmidt.com
As James says “it takes a village to raise a writer.”