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Round 2 of the NYC Flash Fiction contest is under way! Here is my entry ... I've had 2 challenging settings, a corn field and an orange grove. I think that someone who could write about one, probably couldn't write about the other, but I gave it my best go.

My prompt was this -- the style was "Drama," the setting, an "Orange Grove" and, in an ever so Anton Checkovian way, had to include a "shotgun." We had only 48 hours to do write a 1,000 word story and have it make sense. And I slept through the first 8 hours.

If I had it to do over, I'd set it in a carton of Orange Grove OJ. Yes, I would. There I said it.

Honey Tangerine

Synopsis: Irene, the 12 year-old granddaughter of Holocaust survivors takes some risks in an orange grove with a boy named Jesse.

oranges


“Opa, what’s under that blanket?”

“Vat, dis? Here?” Opa pulled back a corner of the blanket, showing a wooden handle, worn smooth, and a trigger, like one from a Western.

“Is that a gun?”

Opa pushed his sleeve up revealing 3 digits of a black tattoo. “Shotgun, nu sure, your Oma’s, nicht wahr. Trusts no one to keep her safe. Why a shotgun?” Opa shrugged, “Who knows. Now help me lift the bait and poles into the trunk, Irenya.”

I handed Opa the yellow and white plastic bait bucket, fishing poles and then his tackle box while the April sun burned through my rainbow t-shirt.


* * *

Spring Break in Florida, every year with the grandparents. Not a choice. As Holocaust survivors, they didn’t feel I was safe home over Easter. Mom said that dad’s family had been through too much to argue. We Jews were snowbirds solely to avoid the post-passion play attack that never actually happened in suburban Philly.

My dad didn’t talk about it. My mom, after taking Oma Bettina to tea once, told me never, ever, to talk about orange marmalade --- and some story that couldn’t possibly be true about her surviving, and saving them all because she broke down and ate orange marmalade on toast with the Nazis at the camp. Mom’s straight line lips stopped just short of it all making sense. At twelve, I guess was too young to hear it. Something bad, though, I could tell. She broke, she gave in, she saved them, but she maybe did stuff she wasn’t proud of.

Dad simply said, “Survivor’s guilt.” Whenever Oma or Opa talked about the Nazis they just cried out and said, “those bastards.” That’s how I knew we were done. “They took our guns. Those bastards.” “Took out your father’s tonsils without anesthesia. He was just a Junge, a boy. Those bastards.” “Those Hunds, those dogs, those bastards.”

* * *

Inside the white Ambassador, I asked, “Opa, can we stop at the stand?”

Nur, sure, just don’t tell Oma! She’ll be having schvitzes already we are so late for dinner. We don’t want she should hunt us down mit her gun!” He smiled.

Inside the orange stand, I wandered around the necklaces that all cost 96 cents (4 cents sales tax in Florida), while Opa talked to the man behind the register.

“Hey, I bet you’ve never had a honey tangerine!” – a tanned boy with the sleeves sliced off his grey sweatshirt had slid next to me while I tried on a turquoise ring, also 96 cents. I had, but I just looked at him, wondering where this might be going.

“Why?” I swung my hair over shoulder and ran my tongue over my braces. I rolled my Lip Smacker between my fingers in the pocket of my cutoffs.

“The best ones are still on the tree,” he lowered his voice, “and the best tree – I know where it is.”

I loved honey tangerines samples at the stand and Oma would never buy them. “Fancy-schmancy oranges,” she’d say. “For fancy-schmancy people. Not refugees. For us, oranges are plenty fancy.”

I glanced over at Opa still talking to the man behind the register. I could hear, something about President Carter and protecting Israel. They argued – I heard him “Ich weiss schon! I know it already! But Israel, it’s the only place where we will never be the foreigner, the outsider.” Opa loved President Carter, even though he called him the peanut-eater. I turned to the boy.

“So where’s this tree?”

He was half way out of the stand before he waved “C’mon, I’ll show you.”

I followed the boy down the path and didn’t look back once; we wound our way through the sweet smelling orange grove, and he ducked through rows of green and orange trees– I glanced back and couldn’t see the stand.

“Hey, Are we getting close?” He smiled, showing a greyish front tooth. How had I missed that? “What’s your name?”

“Why, are you going to write me a letter when you go home?”

“Maybe,” I said. “You never know.”

“Jesse.”

“I like the name Jesse.”

“I bet.”

“No, really.”

“I bet I know some other stuff you’d like.”

I looked at him hard, wondering why we’d stopped walking. “So where’s this tree?”

“Over there,” he jabbed his thumb over his shoulder. “Why, you getting tired? You need a rest?”

“No, it’s just,” I ran my tongue over my braces again, “I probably should get back.” A vision of Oma wringing her dishtowel haunted me.

“NO!”

I was started by his tone.

“NO! You came this far! Come, it’s amazing, I promise. The juice from this tree. You must see it.” He lowered his voice, “You must taste it.”

My feet seemed to think enough was enough, but my mouth was watering. Oma always worried. There was
nothing to worry about! It was 1978! America! “Okay, but let’s do this thing; I have to get back.”

“As you wish, Irene”

“How do you know my name?”

“You think you are invisible? How often do you come to the stand? It’s just blocks from your
grandparents, right? They talk about you.”

“Maybe I should get back.”

“Maybe. But you won’t.”

“What?”

Jesse had backed me into a tree; his hips were against mine, and even though I was scared, I had never kissed a boy before, I didn’t fight to get away.

“Irene,” he started and pushed his whole body next to mine, and reached up and grabbed a tangerine. Still against me, he thrust his thumb in and broke it clean in half then squeezed so the sweet honey juice ran down onto both of our faces. I barely got a taste before –

“Ireneya! Ach du lieber! Halt! Get away from her!” Oma’s voice as I never heard it before, loud and broken, “Boeser Hund! You bastard!”

“Bettina! Nein! Nein! Bitte nicht!” Opa was racing to catch her.

I barely heard the crack.

blood-orange

Surprise


This is my story for NYC Midnight's Flash Fiction 2014 -- Round One. We were given 48 hours to craft a story with 3 elements -- a "Romantic Comedy" -- a cornfield -- a bowling ball. My original version of this story was 1700+ words -- I'm just hoping what is left at 1,000 words will make sense. Thanks for stopping by.

Surprise


Lost in a cornfield beside his mother’s broken down car, a boy befriends a young girl on her birthday. As the two search for meteors in the dirt, they connect in many ways.



“Are you my surprise?”

The boy stared at the girl, different than the girls back home.
“Are you?” she peered at him; she carried some contraption, a thing that swung from a string. It looked like a cup. “Well, I guess if you are, you can’t say. That’s how surprises work.”
“What’s that?”
“Oh, I’m looking for meteors.”
She didn’t exactly answer, but he was curious. “Meteors?” But what he was thinking was here? In a cornfield? By the highway?
“You know. Shooting stars.”
“Can’t really see so many regular stars in the city. Sometimes we go up on the roof of our building. But there’s a couple stars. The Big Dipper. I can always find Orion’s belt.”
“So, here, we can see so many, I can’t really pick out the constellations. But if one tears across the sky, like a bunny chased by a fox, well, that I can see.”

The boy glanced back at the road, he’d been told to stay put, but, it was hot, and he wasn’t that far away.

“How old are you? I’m seven?”
“I’m, well, as of today, I’m eight.”
“So, these meteors. Why are they here in the cornfield. Is it safe?”
“Oh, yes, it’s safe. I guess.” She closed her eyes almost all the way, tipped back her hat a little, and looked at him – like, like a girl he saw in a grownup movie once when he woke after a bad dream and stumbled into the living room and his mom was still up watching TV. Old black and white movies. She likes those. Dad hated them. “Are you scared of a little danger?”


Maybe she wasn’t so different from the girls back home.

“So these meteors, these shooting stars, they fall from the sky right? They fall everywhere, little pieces of them, for years, just waiting to be found.”
“Then what?”
“You wish on it, silly.”
“So, I swing this,” she swung it back and forth slowly, like the thing on a fancy clock, “and if it pulls then we look for the star.
She started swinging and they walked up and down one row and the next. He was getting bored when she said, “There!”
He looked at her, she pulled off her green 4H backpack and took out at a large metal spoon and a glass jelly jar. She handed him the spoon.
“What?”
“Dig!”
Seriously!
“Okay, I’ll do it, but I keep the treasure!” and she started digging. Wasn’t long before she found what had set off her – thing – a rusted screw.

He looked at her – expecting a reaction – but she just got up and started swinging the thing again. At one point they thought they heard a voice call – and both of them tried to hear. “Just the dumb rooster,” she said. “Crows all day. Granddad says he’s too old and tough to even make a good soup.”

They were at the top of a new row when she let out a gasp and got down on her knees. This time, the boy knelt beside her and put his hand on hers, she looked up at him and smiled – and she let go of the spoon and he dug. This time they found an old metal tag that said, “Pepper.” The boy immediately thought it was from a space salt and pepper shaker – maybe even off that shuttle that exploded.

She smiled kindly and leaned forward and kissed him. KISSED HIM, on the forehead, like his mom did if he was sick, to see if he had a fever.

“Pepper is our dog-- he must have lost this,” and tossed it into her bag.
“What’s in the cup?”
“It’s just a magnet.”“It’s just going to find metal!”
“Well, yeah, and shooting stars.”
“Why would you believe that?”
Her eyes looked full and shiny. “Because it’s true. I read it in a magazine. And I’m going to find one. Why don’t you go back – to wherever you came from.”
The boy looked quickly over his shoulder. “I probably should.”

And he started to walk back to where the car had broken down, or run out of gas or whatever. To where his mom had left him, just a week after she’d left his dad. This was a delivery for Aunt Betsy – that’s what she does now. He walked a ways before he realized he couldn’t hear the road and he was lost in the cornfield with the magnet girl on her birthday.

And she screamed.
He ran, ducking the nasty catepillers.

“I found one! It’s huge!” She already had her spoon out and it was hitting something as they dug together, nearly cheek to cheek. He gave up on the spoon, and was using his hands – dirt was flying.

They stopped to catch their breath, he looked at her – and that face straight out of the that old movie, he leaned forward and kissed her.

“I have to find this star. Today. I have to wish on it because I didn’t wish on it last night and my” she couldn’t finish – he pushed her hair out of her face – “grandfather is really sick and we’ve been waiting for his medicine all day. If it doesn’t come . . .”.

He looked at the girl – and did the only thing he knew – started digging again. Dirt got knocked in her eye and she looked like she might cry but she threw dirt right back at him – and they laughed and the nearest corn stalk fell on them, -- they laughed more as she picked a green caterpillar out of his hair.
The thing, it was round – and it had three holes in the top. Black.

They pried it up out of the ground. She wished. He never told her it was a bowling ball. Or about what was in the car. That his mother had probably delivered it, an hour, two hours ago.
Because it was her birthday, he gave her this gift.

Stop by the new website!


The new website and blog are up at
www.hildieblockworkshop.com

Stop by and say "Hello!"

--hildieblog

May Prompts


Checking in for prompts?

1) Two people just ended an argument -- what is chasing around their heads?

2) It's May Day -- may poles, rebellion, "help!" -- what's it mean to you? Write a story that includes a "May Day" image.

3) Muse on the idea of birth, or rebirth, or animal babies. Your choice.


Have at it!


--hildieblog

PS == Taking deposits for the year long class as we speak!!!!

SO how hard is it to create a Kindle book?




Hildie Meets Guttenberg



So, if you've been hanging out with me on Facebook, you probably know I finally grabbed the bull by the horns and epubbed a story.



Here's the backstory --
*My story "People" won the 2nd prize from the DelMarVa Review -- a really nice and happy thing. I was thrilled to let folks know. But DelMarVa only publishes the first place win (I really need to read the fine print!). And people kept saying "when can I read it?" So I thought about sending it out and about. I did, but that would take a year probably until folks had a place where they could go read it.

And I'd really been meaning to try that epub/Nook/Kindle thing. If for no other reason than to be able to speak of it intelligently.

So I did.

you can download the nook or Kindle version of "People" here:

for Kindle
and
for Nook

(no, you don't need a nook or Kindle to read this story -- you need only download a nook or Kindle FREE app to your computer, Ipad, or phone.)

Was it easy? Yeah, it was.

Super easy? Not sure I'd got that far.

Fun? Yeah! Hell yeah!

Groovy cash flow?

Not what you'd think.

So here goes how to:

And before I start -- a huge HUGE HUGE thank you to Raima Larter for paving the way. Bloody feet, sisters, has worn smooth the path which you come up hither. That's all I got. Gratitude.

ONTO THE GOOD STUFF --


STEP ONE:
First you have to format your publication. This is the most time consuming part, assuming you do it right.

I watched youtube videos that walked you through the process. I used ones by a writer and former editor named Jill Williamson whose YouTube user name is Jwilliamsonwrites.

There are a series of 4 minute long videos on how to "format a manuscript FOR SUBMISSION" -- start there. Then on how to format for nook and Kindle (it's not the same. Of course.)

this is the first one -- part 1 of 5 of formatting . Keep your manuscript open in a window as you go through these steps. Just pause the video, do the advised action -- "search and replace tabs" or whatever -- and then unpause the video and go to the next thing. It starts off simplistic, but trust me, if I found it worthwhile, you will, too.


STEP TWO:
You need to go to the Amazon and Barnes and Noble sites to get accounts on "PubIt" for Nook
and
Kindle Direct Publishing for Amazon.

side note: Nook files use Word .doc -- Kindle uses HTML files. No biggie -- just know you have to go through both processes -- and save them with different names on your 'puter.

As you go through Jill Williamson's steps to formatting for Kindle, she will suggest you download free software called MobiPocketCreator to help you do this. HTML can be tricky, if you aren't used to it and I did it this way and it worked out -- okay -- not perfect but definitely serviceable. There are page breaks I don't love in the beginning that I COULD NOT FIX, but that's life. Maybe folks didn't notice? Maybe?

Covers???? -- yep, you'll have to design your own cover. It HAS to be a .jpg. If you design it in WORD, you will have to convert it to a .jpg by copying/pasting into Publisher or Powerpoint and saving as .jpg. Or you can do this crazy thing in Paint. Don't. Better to just create it in Powerpoint.

And you have to own the art. Remember that. I used a photo I took at the National Aquarium last summer.


EXTREMELY IMPORTANT INFO:

**if you agree to be exclusive to AMAZON for the first 90 days you can get a higher royalty rate.

HEY! Is she talking about money?

Yes, I am.

If you go in do it too fast and don't pay attention -- you miss it.

Nook pays 40%, and Kindle 35%, unless you agree to certain exclusivity rules with Kindle, then it can be 70%. But they might also give it away free.

That sounds kinda evil, right? I didn't pay too much attention to all this because I did Nook first because it was easier, so by the time I read this, I could no longer offer it exclusively to Amazon.

Also, an interesting non-scientific note -- 5 times as many people have downloaded "People" onto Kindle than onto Nook.

On a more money related note, you don't get royalties paid until you have $10 in royalties (and then it's 60 days after the end of that month). At 35 cents royalties a download for a short story, you have to sell a bunch to make anything at all.

Yeah.

So there you have it.

Easy, but . . . Questions?

It's Over



*No one writes in December

Okay, folks, it's mid-December. If you haven't written it this year, it isn't going on to happen. No one writes in December as the saying goes, so I give you the next 2 weeks off. Go eat a cookie, sip some nog, toast the incoming New Year. Stay up and watch the Geminid Meteors tonight. Don't send out, it will come back unopened. If you must charge on, just to prove me wrong, focus on planning, queries, synoses, and other silly things that matter. And send out holiday cards. You never know what might unlease new ideas.



*Funniest Book EVER (and it came out in 1889)

My gift to you this holiday season, is this book, if you haven't read it. It was written in 1889 by Jerome K. Jerome and could have just as easily been penned by Ricky Gervais yesterday. I laugh, belly laugh, hard, til tears well up, every few pages. I hesitate to say much, but I will give you this -- it's about 3 men (first person by one of them) who decide to go on holiday in a boat up the Thames. But that's like saying The Office is another workplace sitcom. You can download it for as little as 99 cents -- probably find it in print for less than that. For those interested in writing "funny" -- this is clearly the British humor primer.


*New Year's Resolves 2012

Yes, friends, it is that time of year, to make your Writing Resolutions. Do NOT resolve to write more, you will never write enough. Resolve to write one sentence on Wednesday! Resolve to meet a goal each month. Break down a big goal (I want to write a book) with smaller goals. If you only write a page a day, or 7 pages each weekend, you can easily crank out a 365 page book in a year. Use our friends, Dr Wicked's Write or Die and the lovely 750words to support you in this mission. Tools, people. Scrivner! white boards, bullentin boards, the filing box! What do you need? Did you as for a weekend at a hotel to write for the holidays? It's not too late . . . Let me know how it is going!

Nov. 19th, 2011





As 2011 winds down, as you finish your NaNoWriMo's, as your New Years Resolutions become one for the record books and December the MONTH WHERE NO ONE WRITES looms large --

I'm gonna depress you more

REJECTION

There, I said it.

It has nothing to do with what you've written, given up to have the time to write, or the quality or future of that writing.

Remember, writing is the fun part.

Sending out what you've written is:

Giddy
Hopeful
Depressing as Hell

You will get rejections. From people who didn't read the end, or even the first page, or perhaps even the query letter.

Yes, you.

And it will have NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT YOU'VE WRITTEN.

(you want to know what it has to do with?)

*the agent is at a conference and the assistant is just cleaning up

*they had a book that sounded a bit like that 5 years ago and the author was a severe pain the posterior

*the last novel they picked up is awesome and they couldn't sell it and now they are rethinking everything

*they realized just now, today, that they can't possibly do justice to their current clients and maybe they shouldn't take on another one

etc
etc
ad nauseum

Imagine you are trying to sell your house and you send letters to everyone in your neighborhood, in fact everyone you know, to see if anyone wants it. Would you be discouraged by every person who said it wasn't right for them? Would you?

And you've heard all this before from me -- but last week, NPR did a little piece on it I think you all need to listen to -- so click the link and I'll wait.



Rejection Doesn't Stop Successful Authors from Morning Edition.

Books rejected and rejected . . .




"dozen rejections"




28 rejections




60 rejections




Nanowrimo book, now bestseller . . . .but . . . more than 2 dozen rejections and . . .


Okay?

Now back to the keyboard. Only 10 days left of NaNoWriMo.

--hildieblog

NaNoWriMo starts Tuesday




Sunday is the Marine Corps Marathon. Thousands of lycra and mylar clad humans will disrupt traffic to trapse around Arlington and over bridges to DC in search of running's holy grail, to survive 26.2 miles of sneaker thumping running.

Tuesday begins the Marathon of the year for Writer-folk, NaNoWriMo, when thousands and thousands of writerly people take to their keyboards throughout November, National Novel Writing Month in a keyboard thumping attempt to crank out 50,000 words (about 200pp) by November 30th.

You know who you are.

Think you haven't trained enough to attempt NaNoWriMo?

How about a HALF-MARATHON? only say, 800 words a day, for 30 days, 100 pages, instead of 200pp. Think of it as 13.1 miles. Nothing to sneeze at mind you?

Yes, join me in a HALF-NaNo this November.

Post a comment if you are in!

Buy the Nobodies Album





Yes, there it is, I said it.

Buy it, read it , and if you don't like it, I'll buy it from you.



Last night, I managed to steal time out of my crazy schedule to go hear my old friend Carolyn Parkhurst read from her book -- just out in paperback The Nobodies Album, at the awesome new bookstore by the East Falls Church Metro, One More Page.
Please don't read the descriptions on Amazon, or on Carolyn's website or blog . They are the reason I didn't remember to buy it until it was in paper back. Sometimes "saying what a book is about" doesn't ever convey why it should be read. I heard her read a couple chunks last night and couldn't put it down after I got home (and got the kids to bed) until I finished it.

Let me tell you that this is an intense, beautifully crafted read that is nothing short of stunning. That the interweaving of the main character's inner world and struggles with personal demons play out so perfectly in her attempt to rewrite the endings of her own personal novels (both the original endings and the new revised endings perfectly inform the action of the novel), is the beauty of how she can truly weave a tale on so many levels.

Just buy the thing. Seriously. This is one you won't regret.

BE THERE AT THE BEGINNING . . .



Of something really special . . .



During the week of September 21-25 there are many literary events in the Washington DC area -- the week long Fall for the Book at George Mason University where Stephen King and Amy Tan are receiving awards along with many of others, as well as the weekend long National Book Festival on the Mall which is sponsors readings and activities with over 100 authors, poets and illustrators and cohosted by the First Lady and President Obama.


I'd like to invite you to something a little different.


BE THERE AT THE BEGINNING

Sunday, September 25

6:30-8:30

Shirlington Library

2200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA 22206

Next to the Signature Theater



Eight alumni of the year-long Write Your Book workshop will read from their completed manuscripts. These manuscripts represent some of the best of the last 5 years and are currently unrepresented and unpublished. They include women's fiction, mystery, middle grades, and literary fiction. You will have an opportunity to hear opening pages, and meet the dedicated authors in a pleasant low stress, friendly environment (with snacks!).



I hope you can join us!

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