A New Year for Fantasy and Sci-fi

Hey guys! My most recent blog post has gone live on the Almost An Author website! Check it out here. What fantasy or sci-fi websites help you when crafting your manuscript? Feel free to leave a comment below!

~Laura

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Photo by Max Felner on Unsplash

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Flash Fiction: Birthday Blues

“Happy birthday!” Jesse’s sister stood outside his bedroom door.

He rubbed his eyes. “How long have you been standing here?”

“Who cares?” She grinned. “How does it feel to be sixteen?”

Jesse rolled his eyes and headed to the bathroom. “Very funny. I’m seventeen today.”

“Whatever. Joke all you want. Happy Sweet Sixteen, bro!” She bounced to her bedroom.

Jesse shook his head and continued down the hall.

His mom was just exiting the bathroom. “Happy sixteen, buddy!” She kissed his cheek and he grimaced.

Then he frowned. “Wait, don’t you mean—”

“Can’t talk now, hon.” She slipped a sweater on as she started down the stairs. “I’m late for work. Have a great day. We’ll celebrate later.”

Jesse’s shoulders slumped as he locked himself in the bathroom. What was with everyone? He was seventeen today. Not sixteen. He flipped on the shower and grabbed his cell to check his texts.

His jaw dropped.

The screen read the correct date, but the year reflected the previous one. His phone had the same kooky idea that his sister and mom did. He yanked open the door and almost ran his dad over.

“Whoa there,” his dad chuckled. “I know you’re sixteen but take it easy son.”

“B-b-b—”

His dad patted him on the back. “I know it’s hard to believe you can drive now, but slow down. You’ve got plenty of time.” He punched him in the shoulder. “Have a great day, Jess. See you tonight for your birthday dinner!” Then his dad disappeared in the same way his mom had.

Jesse gulped. Then ran to the TV in his room and turned on the news. Sure enough, displayed in the bottom corner was the correct month and day but with the prior year listed. He raced to his computer, scrambling to find the day’s date. Again his suspicions were confirmed. It really was one year ago.

What was going on? This was far too elaborate a hoax for his family to pull off. There was one person left to ask. A shiver fell down his back as he jumped to his feet and sprinted down the hallway.

His twin brother, Jeremy, was just coming out of his room, face ashen with shock. “Hey! What’s going on? I just checked my phone and my laptop and they both say—”

“That it’s one year ago, I know.” Jesse exhaled. At least one person was in their right mind. “I don’t know what’s going on but everyone believes it’s last year.”

“How’s that possible? You and I still have our memories.”

“No clue but that’s not what has me worried.”

Jeremy lifted one eyebrow.

“You and I are repeating the same year, right? The question is, what happens next year?”

“I guess we’ll find out in three hundred sixty-five days.” Jeremy’s eyes narrowed. “In one year we’ll know. Will we be older or will we be sixteen forever?”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2018

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Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash

Flash Fiction Friday: The Hike

“Careful. Not too close to the edge,” Danny’s mom said from the safety of the hiking trail.

Danny nodded and stepped back from a large rock. This wasn’t the normal hiking trail he and his mom usually took. This one had a big drop off with a deep valley that looked like it stretched on forever.

“I like this place,” he said.

His mom nodded. “This was one of your father’s favorite places to go, even as a child.” She smiled. “I remember a story he told me once, about a time he went hiking when he was just about your age, eight or nine. He’d dropped something important to him.” She creased her brow, pain in her eyes. “I can’t remember what, now.”

Sadness flooded Danny’s chest. He hated seeing how much his dad’s death still affected her, even a year later. Especially as the memories faded.

He swallowed back tears and glanced down. A small section of flat ground jutted from below the rock he was on with just enough space for a person to get a better view. There were a few pieces of trash strewn about and footprints from previous hikers. “Can I climb down?”

She blinked and looked up. “Are you sure you won’t fall?”

“Yeah. There’s a little spot down here where I can stand. It looks like lots of people have gone down.”

“Be careful.” She pressed her lips together.

He uttered a little whoop and strategically placed each foot until he stood on solid ground, then looked up. He was right. The view from here was so much better.

“Hey, ma! You should come down here, too! It’s really cool.”

His eyes fell on a small rock tucked just under the larger one on which he’d stood. It was smooth and had an odd bluish hue to it. It would make the perfect addition to his growing rock collection he had at home.

He bent to retrieve it but found something else underneath. The object was small, square and looked like it might be leather. He cracked it open. “Look what I found! It’s a wallet, I think.”

Danny climbed back up to the hiking trail. His fingers flipped through old baseball cards and a wooden coin with a stamp of a local business printed on the front.

“Is there any identification?” His mom stood close to inspect his new treasure.

He slipped his fingers inside the front flap and pulled out a yellowed card with a child’s handwriting. “Daniel Harding.”

His mom gasped.

The boy’s eyes went wide. “Mom. I think we just found dad’s wallet.”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2018

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Photo by Callistus Ndemo on Unsplash

Power Words, Resolutions and a New Year, Oh my!

FINISH

Hey y’all! (I’m in the south now, so I think I might need to stop with the “you guys” thing. *wink, wink*) I’ve seen a ton of people sharing their New Year’s Resolutions and Power Words for 2018 and thought I’d chime in with my personal goals, as well. What better way for accountability than telling the whole world, right? 

So, if you haven’t guessed, my Power Word for 2018 is written above! Yep! FINISH. Sounds so simple yet this is definitely something I struggle with. In fact I’m sitting down right now to work on my novel that I began in August with the intention of finishing by September 30th. Which didn’t happen. *blink, blink* So I then moved the deadline to October 31st. Which again didn’t happen. *ducks head* So I moved the deadline…uh, yeah, I think you’ve got the picture. Sooo…FINISH. That is my goal for many things this year. 

If you’re interested in other goals I have–(I hate to use the word Resolution, since I always make multiple yearly goals and like to think the word “goal” means I’ll stick with them!)–check out my list below. I’m positive I’ll add to it as time goes on, and most assuredly a few of these might be revised or drop off, but hey, at least I’ve got some direction!

  1. Submit at least one flash fiction piece to a contest or publication each month.
  2. Submit at least one devotional for publication each month.
  3. Finish re-writing/editing/revising KEEN by the time the Realm Makers Conference rolls by so I can pitch it!
  4. Revise/edit a book I wrote in 2013. (Yes, it still floats around my head torturing me to bring it to a close!)

What about you? What are your NY Resolutions? Or do you have a Power Word you’d rather stick with? Feel free to leave a comment below!

~Laura

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Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

Flash Fiction: New Year’s Resolutions

A noise pulled Sophia from her dreams. She grabbed her blankie and toddled toward the soft glow that came from the kitchen.

“Daddy?” she said.

The figure behind the refrigerator door jumped. “No, sorry ‘bout that, Little One.” He finished chewing the bite of corndog he held. “Didn’t mean to wake you. Go back to bed.”

Sophia crinkled her forehead with lots of lines, just like Mama always did when she was angry. “Who are you and why’re you in my house?” For some reason she still kept her voice soft.

The man’s mouth made a perfect circle. “Oh, I’m Baby New Year.” His smile had chocolate in one corner and there was hotdog stuck in one tooth.

The six-year-old looked him up and down. He wasn’t tall but definitely weighed more than her Daddy. His belly hung low over his sweatpants and his shirt was two sizes too small. His face had stubble and his hair stuck in strange directions.

He lifted his shoulders in embarrassment. “Oh, well, see…I was a baby yesterday, but ever since I’ve been making my rounds, I’ve grown a little.” His laugh sounded hollow.

“But why are you here?”

“Oh! I’m here to help you with your New Year’s Resolutions. It’s my job.” His grin was back again.

Sophia crossed her arms. “Oh yeah? What’re you doing eating all our food?”

His eyes went wide. “This?” He held up the tub of ice cream that melted on the countertop. “I’m helping your mom out with her resolution to lose weight. If there isn’t any junk food in the house, she won’t be able to eat it, right?”

The girl twisted her mouth in thought. “Okay. What’s with all these books then?” She pointed to a mound of reading material that covered the dining table.

“That’s for your dad. He wants to read more in the New Year.” The man leaned in and lowered his voice. “Although, just between you and me? He won’t even get past book three before he’ll fall off the wagon.”

“The wagon?” Sophia scrunched her face up but the man just waved the comment away. “Well, what about mine?” She straightened her shoulders, her face bright.

The man took another bite of donut. “Depends. What’s your resolution?”

“Not to fight with my sister anymore.” Sophia lifted her chin a little higher. She felt quite grown up thinking so responsibly.

He nodded. “Done. Now run on back to bed so I can finish helping your mom out.” His gaze was on the leftover cupcakes.

Sophia did as she was told and fell right to sleep.

The next morning she awoke to someone screaming in the bathroom. She jumped from her bed and ran to see what could be wrong.

“What happened to me?” But instead of her sister, there was a boy in her place.

Sophia gasped. Baby New Year had done quite a job!

She would never fight with her sister again!

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Flash Fiction Friday: RED ALERT

RED ALERT! RED ALERT! STAND CLEAR OF THE LOADING DOCK DOORS. SANTA’S SLEIGH HAS CLEARANCE FOR TAKE OFF!

A whirl of wind swept through the dock before the metal doors slammed shut, plunging the room into silence. Two elves crouched low in the corner, hands above their heads to protect against the elements that had blown in from the outside. Now that the coast was clear, they stood and dusted themselves off.

“Another successful year, Herbert,” one said, a lopsided grin in place.

Herbert nodded. “Yep. Let’s grab some eggnog, Twinkles. We’ve got a few minutes to celebrate before we need to begin preparations for next year.”

They turned in unison.

Their faces fell.

“Herbert?” Twinkles said with a gulp.

“Do you see what I see?” Herbert’s voice wasn’t quite steady.

Twinkles nodded. “One of Santa’s bags of presents. It got left behind!”

Tears sprang into Herbert’s eyes. “What are we gonna do? All those kids without presents! Christmas will be ruined!”

Twinkles flexed his jaw and straightened his back. “Not on our watch, it’s not!” He hopped on his toes. “It’s time we called for reinforcements so we can get this stray bag to Santa’s sleigh in time for delivery!”

Twinkles squinted his eyes, that lopsided grin back in place. “It’s time we called the Unicorn Pegasus League for a ride. It’s time to save Christmas!”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo by erin walker on Unsplash

My Big Idea.

How many caught my latest Flash Fiction yesterday? It wasn’t a Friday but it made for a good intro for today’s post. *wink, wink* Recently I mentioned that I had a big idea for the New Year that I would share at a later date. Well, today is the later date! *Cartwheel*

So, just what is this big idea, you ask? Well, it’s actually rather simple…

My goal for 2018 is to submit at least 1 Flash Fiction piece to a contest or for publication every month of the year! 

Okay, it may not sound like much to you but for me this is big. Like, big big. See, I’ve had these grand ideas in the past to submit more often than I do, but then I’ve gotten waylaid and the whole plan has gone to the side.

Enter, YOU!

This is why I’m posting this here–for all your lovely eyes to see–so that I can be held accountable. *gulp* Yeah, it’s a little scary that I totally might fail and will miss submitting for a month (or six.) But my writing won’t get published unless I’m submitting. And nothing compares to a nice slice of humble pie if I fail, amiright? I figure I’m more likely to submit if I know you all are watching. And waiting!

Here’s to swallowing some pride and getting some writing done for 2018! 

Feel free to check in and ask me how things are going. I’d love the accountability and promise I won’t get miffed with you for asking. *insert cheesy grin*

That is all, my friends. I hope you’re having a productive and peace-filled week before Christmas! 

~Laura

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Here is a picture of my kitty in reindeer ears to make you smile. Did it work? 

Flash Fiction: The Battle of the Tree

“Have the reinforcements arrived?” The fairy’s voice wobbled but he tightened his grip on the tree branch beneath him. He’d just received this promotion and his first mission was under way.

“No, Commander Winter,” Lieutenant Snowflake yelled from a nearby branch. The tree swayed slightly under the weight of her fellow soldiers as they took their position.

Winter swallowed the panic that rose in his chest. “We have no time. We’ll have to protect the Sacred Treasures alone.” He turned to the unit that surrounded him, faces hidden in the shadows of the tree. “Fairies!” he yelled. “This is what we’ve been trained for! We’ve waited all year long for such a time as this! Defend the Prize with honor and bravery!”

Three or four heads nodded in response to his speech, bows lifted and arrows nocked.

The Commander narrowed his eyes and focused in on the enemy that already had them in their line of sight. “We defend this tree no matter how hard they attack! The ornaments will remain untouched! The lights unscathed! The presents beneath without a scratch!” He raised the sword in his fist in victory. “Tonight the cats will fail! They will not undo what the owners of this house have worked so hard to create!”

A mighty meow rang out over the echo of fairy shouts before the army of cats leaped into the fray and the battle for the Christmas Tree began.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit Laura L. Zimmerman

Blog Posts and Interviews

So, I’ve got a couple fun things that just came out. First off, my monthly article for Almost An Author posted a few days ago. This is a good one if you’re a writer struggling to nail that first page of your manuscript. You can check it out here.

Also, I had the privilege of being interviewed for Serious Writer, Inc in a new feature called Genre Chat. You can find the YouTube link here. But be forewarned, I literally blacked out during this thing. *Insert awkward smile here* No, I’m not saying I passed out, but I might as well have. I’m telling you, I was so nervous for this interview (the first one I’ve ever done on writing, E.VER.) that I swear my mouth got on a bus and rode to Florida and I seriously have no clue what I said. Zero. Clue. And no, before you ask, I haven’t watched it yet, nor will I likely ever watch it. *cringe* See, I grew up doing theater and eventually became a singer. I don’t watch myself on camera. Like, ever. And I don’t intend to start now. But you can see how the interview went if you’d like!

In the meantime, I’ve got some ideas for new direction with my writing that I’ll be sharing with you soon. See you tomorrow for Friday Flash Fiction. Have a great weekend!

~Laura

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Photo Credit Unsplash by Caleb Woods

 

not all those who wander are lost…

Hey there. It’s me.

Yes, the really real me. I am here. Which is different because I haven’t been here much lately, I will admit. There are so many different reasons, that I haven’t been (and still am totally not) sure where to begin. So I’ll just ramble for a minute and maybe some of you will be able to identify with how the last few months have gone for me.

I haven’t been here much because, all those things I used to write? Yeah, they all left my head. Really. They did.

Over the past few months, I haven’t had many thoughts on things to share. Which is weird because I always want to talk and I always want to share. But nothing has been in my head. Not even for fiction-story-writing purposes. My daily let’s-write-this-many-words-per-day routine all but walked out the door. And it slammed on its way out. *Ouch*

But why, you ask? Yeah, me too. 

You see, I’m in a place with my writing that I’ve never been in before. Back in 2013 when I decided I would truly give this let’s-get-published thing a chance, I gained a burning desire to write that has never wavered. Ever. Even in the weeks/months where I had very little time to actually write, I always had that nagging in the back of my brain–or shall we say, screaming?–that I needed to sit and write at least some of the words–if not all the words–so my brain didn’t explode. Literally. (Okay, fine. Not literally, but still…) But something happened this past summer that changed things. And the crazy part is, I don’t know what that thing was.

To sum it up, I went to a writers conference back in July. Realm Makers. (*sigh, swoon, cartwheel*) Remember me talking about that? Yeah. And it was amazing! Really, it was. I met crazy amounts of people that are all super weird like me and I learned so many things that really made me want to make my writing the best that it could possibly be. Really.

But then, it also didn’t. See, while there, I met with a mentor and told her of my anxiety over the fact that I feel like I have so many things I need to do on social media every. single. day. and that I’m not sure what the purpose is since I’m not even a published writer! I mean, who’s reading my stuff anyway, right? And why would I talk about my books that aren’t coming out when I don’t know if-they-ever-will/when-they-will-be coming out? She agreed. It’s tough for a non-published writer to gain a following and excitement over their writing when they have nothing to show for it. (In print, anyway.)

So, I decided to take a small break and then come back with renewed interest and ideas of things to blog about. Except that during that time I reflected on the pressures of being a writer and all the things I’m supposed to be doing daily, and watching all the things that all my other writing friends must do daily, and all the things that I might someday have to do daily once I actually for really real become published and–CRASH! I hit a wall. No, not literally, but it sure felt like it.

I got so overwhelmed with all the things I had to do or I might have to do or I wasn’t doing that everyone else in the universe was doing, that I sort of froze. And felt sad. Very, very sad. (St. John’s Wort has become my bossom buddy.) And the words just sort of, went away. *sniff, sniff* All my words–those lovely words that I adore putting on the page and am eager to twist into different worlds and stories, they all went away! Yes, I prayed for God to give me direction. In fact I begged him, seriously begged him for words. But I had nothing. And then I’d meet people and they’d be all, “Oh wow! You’re a writer! Awesome!” and I’d be all cringy inside because, if I’m supposed to be a writer, then shouldn’t I be doing that little thing called writing? 

*Sigh* So there you have it. The truth is out. And is hopefully setting me free (right Anne with an “E”?) The truth is I’ve been depressed and confused. That’s where I’ve been. Wallowing and wandering and pondering and seeking. 

The good news is, I think I’m finally climbing out of my slump. I’ve had stories popping in my head lately and some of them I’ve actually written down! Yippee! I woke up this morning and all I wanted to do was sit in front of my laptop for a few hours before going to church! Yes! And through the counsel of a very good writer friend, I think I’m getting my head on straight with what I actually want my writing to be and the future that I hope to see for it.

Things are different now. My perspective of writing and the writing industry is different and I think even the way I write might have changed. (We shall see.) But that’s okay. This is a good thing. Life is about change. Sometimes that change comes out of the blue and smacks you upside the head. Sometimes you don’t know how to handle that change and you sit frozen for a few months. But on the other side of change, good things can happen. Good things will happen. I need to believe that. 

A brand new year is around the corner. 2018 looms like the shadow of a toddler standing outside the bathroom door waiting for mama to be done already. And I’m excited. Really excited this time. Throughout the past few months there were times I thought I was excited but I hadn’t fully worked through emotions and deep seeded stuff that needed worked on. But now I have and I’m ready. Ready to see where my writing takes me and what that means for this blog.

So stay tuned. I can’t promised my posts will be timely or frequent but they will have new direction, new life. That’s for sure. Thanks for hanging in there with me, friends. It means a lot that you’re even reading these words. 

Merry Christmas. Go bake a batch of cookies and take them to a neighbor you don’t know. It will do amazing things for your heart. I promise. ❤

~Laura

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Photo credit by James Pond via Unsplash