Flash Fiction Friday: Out of the Flames

She sat in a heap next to the smoking embers of what used to be a cabin.  Her face was black except where the tears had run down.  Her dress streaked with black had some holes where the fire had grabbed it but she had managed to extinguish those flames.

A rider came into the yard.  She didn’t even look up.

*  * * * *

He was too late.  He had seen the flames from a couple of miles away and smelled the smoke as the wind carried it to his homestead.  He had ridden as fast as he could in hopes of helping whoever was in trouble.

There didn’t seem to be anything left.  Two buildings lay in smoking embers.

His heart lurched.  Was that a woman?

He rode a bit closer, then dismounted.  Yes, it was a woman, but she didn’t move a muscle, didn’t even seem to be aware that he was there.

He stepped closer.  “Ma’am?”

No response.

He squatted and touched her arm.  “Ma’am, are you okay?”

When her eyes met his, his heart plunged into his stomach.  Her eyes displayed emptiness.  A couple of stray tears trickled down her cheeks.  She seemed unable to speak.

She appeared to be a few years younger than he.  Her empty eyes were smoky gray and her brown hair lay in tangles on her shoulders.  He was certain that cleaned up she’d be right pretty.

One thing was certain, she was alone and needed help.  He wasn’t about to leave her here.

“Ma’am, my name’s Joshua Collins.  I live just a few miles from here.  I’d like to take you home with me.  I promise no harm will come to you, but you can’t stay here.  Can you stand?”

He took her hand and placed his arm around her waist to help her to her feet.  She didn’t appear to have any injuries aside from some blisters on her hands he reckoned she got from trying to stop the fire.  He led her to his horse and helped her mount.  He climbed up behind her and headed back to his homestead at a much slower pace than when he was trying to get here.

At his homestead, he got some cool water and cleaned her hands and face.  He put some ointment on her hands.  She was exhausted and hadn’t spoken a word.  He let her have his bed and he slept on a chair in the living room. He’d see about getting her some things tomorrow.

He had just dozed off when a woman’s scream startled him awake.  He went into the bedroom to find the woman sitting up in the bed.  She was screaming, “Clint, no, Clint don’t go in there!  The barn’s too far gone!  Clint!”  Then she started sobbing.  He sat down and held her in his arms.  “It’s okay.  You’re safe.  I’m so sorry about Clint.”

When her sobbing quieted, he told her to lie back down, covered her with the blanket and went back to his chair in the living room.  This poor woman had a long road ahead.  He would do whatever he could to make it easier for her.

One-Day Super Saturday Writers’ Conference

A writers’ conference is a great place to learn more about writing techniques and marketing and publishing opportunities and possibilities.  It is also a great place to meet other writers and make connections and form bonds, which is a wonderful thing since writing is a lonely business.  You can make lifelong friends who can help and encourage you and you can do the same for them as you walk your writing journey.  I attended this event last year, and cannot wait to attend this Saturday.  If you are anywhere near Lancaster County, I invite you to come and see what this one-day conference has to offer, and if you like, I can meet you face-to-face if you let me know you are coming so we can connect.

LANCASTER CHRISTIAN WRITERS HOSTS ONE-DAY CONFERENCE ON APRIL 11, 2015, AT LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE

For a bargain of excellence and price, no writer, whether beginning or advanced, within driving radius will want to miss Lancaster Christian Writers’ Super Saturday 2015!! to be held April 11th, 2015, from 8:30am.-4:30pm at Lancaster Bible College, 901 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA 17601.

This one-day writers conference offers a full slate of workshops taught by top industry professionals in both fiction and non-fiction fields. An early registration price of $50 is due by Wednesday, April 8, and includes soup/sandwich buffet lunch (think Panini!) and LCW membership. Registrations after April 9 and walk-ins day of the conference are $60.

A fiction track will be taught by award-winning novelists Dina Sleiman and Kelly Long along with children’s author Brenda Hendricks. Non-fiction faculty include TV/radio speaker, marketing expert, award-winning author of 19 books Karen Whiting, professional memoir and ghostwriter Shawn Smucker, journalist/social media experts Lisa Bartelt and Alison McLennan.

Keynoting the opening session will be linguist, missionary, and author Grace Fabian. Workshops cover such topics as: 

Market Yourself Now! Learn Tools to Develop Press Kit, Bio, Website, and Other PR Products.

Writing Blockbuster Scenes: How To Keep Readers Flipping Pages and Asking For More.

 Transformed Manuscripts: Repackaging Your Ideas (Sold or Rejected) to Expand Marketability.

 The Unfortunate Truth in Fiction: Addressing Hard Issues Without Pulling Down Your Story.

 A Story To Tell: Surefire Do’s and Don’ts to Write a Gripping True Life Story or Memoir.

 Myers-Briggs for Your Protagonist: Applying Personality Types to Create Characters with Distinctive Qualities, Motivations, and Voices.

 Let’s Ride the Seesaw: Recruiting Your Inner Child to Communicate with Young Readers.

 100% Guaranteed (Oh, Yeah?) Secret to Blogging Success Beyond Your Wildest Dreams!

A conference bookstore will offer a wide variety of writer resources and faculty titles. Conference attendees can get personal consultations with faculty on a first-come, first-serve basis. Lancaster Christian Writers welcomes writers of all churches and denominations, all levels and genres. Monthly meetings offer opportunities for manuscript critique, networking with other writers, workshops and guest authors.

Having Fun Experimenting

I am still working on the story that I am still outlining.  I am also working on some nonfiction short pieces to submit to some magazines.  I have also simply been “pantsing” a story just to be consistently writing something.

For a while I struggled in trying to decide on what genre I would write.  Then a wonderful writer advised me to write what my passion is and to feel free to try several genres.  It has also been suggested to me that I could write more than one genre, as many other writers do.

So, what I have found is that every story I write seems to have some romance in it.  I have decided that is my passion; clean romance, of course.  I have also found that there is a need for good fiction for boys ages 10 – 12, as well as for Young adults.  Therefore, the story I am outlining is geared for young adult girls.  The story I am simply “pantsing” is for adult women, although I’m not sure what will become of it.

However, this week I was helping my ten-year-old son with a story he was assigned to write for the Writers’ club that he and seventeen-year-old brother participate in.  They were assigned to write an Historical Fiction story, and I have to say that helping him with an Historical Fiction story began some wheels to turning in my brain, and I now have ideas for three Historical Fiction stories — one for adult women; one for girls ages, 10 – 12; and one for boys, ages 10 – 12!  I’m so excited, but I really need to get writing!  With all of these ideas, I’ll be writing for a couple of years without having to worry about finding some ideas.

I never would have thought that I would enjoy writing Historical Fiction.  I never liked history when I was in school, though I enjoy it much more now that I am homeschooling my own children.  I never thought I’d want to do a lot of research before writing something either, but all that research entails is reading (which I love to do) and taking some notes for what I want to write.  I’m looking forward to trying this new genre.

How about you?  What genre do you have a passion for?  Do you write more than one genre or for more than one age group?  Leave a comment and let me know about it.

Plot and Structure

The last workshop I attended at the writers’ conference was presented by Tracy Higley.  She did a fantastic, fast-paced presentation on plot and structure, based on examples by Christopher Vogler who wrote Writer’s Journey and Michael Hauge of storymastery.com.

Tracy explained that plot is critical to keep readers moving through your story because even if they like your characters, if nothing is happening, you’ll lose them.  You need to have a story goal for your protagonist and it can be either a concrete,visible goal or an abstract, inner goal.  She gave examples:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — story goal — defeat the witch and The Wizard of Oz — to go home; abstract goal — learning to be content at home.

When the story goal is reached, the story is over. 

Your story needs an obstacle and conflict.  An obstacle — something solid that’s trying to keep your character from reaching his/her goal.  Conflict — needs to be significant.  Your character will have to go over, go through, or go under the obstacle to reach the goal.  Create story goal, obstacle, and conflict over and over again, scene by scene with each ending being a disaster/failure and use your character’s reaction to connect these.  Scene and chapter endings fade in the middle of the conflict or right after the disaster or right after a new goal is made.

This pattern should be followed for each book you write with an overarcing pattern for a trilogy or series.

Tracy suggested reading Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler (there are several editions available); Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and check out Michael Hauge’s website and his book Hero’s Journey, which is available through his website:  http://www.storymastery.com/.

Tracy writes wonderful historical fiction and you can find her at:  http://tracyhigley.com/.

I love to read historical fiction, and though, I like to do research occasionally, I don’t think I’d want to write a genre that would require me to do extensive research for every book, so I’m glad we have authors like Tracy who do the research and write the wonderful historical stories.  I love to read so many types of fiction, I think that is why it was difficult to decide what type of fiction I should write.  That’s why I’m so glad I have a loving God that I can turn to for guidance.  I am also very blessed and thankful for a supportive husband and an encouraging oldest son.  I know the writer’s life can be isolated and that not every writer has supportive friends and family, so I hope that if you are one of those writers, you can visit my blog and find support and encouragement here.  Feel free to comment if you want some personal support and encouragement and I’ll be happy to be your support and encouragement.