Ah. The blogstreak is officially finished. I’ll wrap up later. Right now, one of the hosts suggested she do a little blurb on flash fiction for me as a guest blogger and I thought it was a grand idea. Gayle Carline is a great twitter and Facebook friend and I’m happy to have her be the first guest after the streak.
First of all, I’d like to thank Thea for including me in what has been a truly fun idea. It’s like playing Telephone, except of course, I can’t mangle the message since it’s been properly written down.
I used to have a love-hate relationship with flash fiction. I only wrote it when prompted by someone else, and usually there was a prize involved. Otherwise, I considered it the verbal equivalent of doodling. It wasn’t “real work”, like writing a novel.
And then one day flash fiction changed my life.
In 2006, I went to my first writer’s conference, in Palm Springs (http://www.writersconference.com). At the time, I wanted to write a novel, but I didn’t know what kind of story I wanted to tell. This particular writer’s conference had a Topic Contest, 250 words of any genre. The topic they chose was “ice.”
I thought it was a stupid topic, but wrote and submitted the following:
He was the kind of man who made you want to disinfect your eyeballs when you looked at him.
“You the private dick?” his voice oozed from the doorway.
“Private investigator,” I corrected him.
The stranger slunk into my office and poured himself into a chair. Pale and thin, his wispy blond hair was pasted against his skin, making his ice-blue eyes look reptilian.
Taking a picture out of his pocket, he threw it across my desk. “I lost something. I need you to find it.”
Picking it up, I studied the picture carefully.
It’s an ice cube tray,” I said.
Not just any ice cube tray,” he told me. “It’s the ice cube tray used for Dean Martin’s drinks on Ocean’s Eleven.”
Clearly, I was not impressed.
It’s signed by Dino! I paid $1500 for it on EBay!”
“Okay, okay,” I said. “I get $100 a day plus expenses.”
“Anything, just find it for me.”
Taking out my notebook, I got to work. “Where did you last see it?”
In my freezer,” he said. “It’s still there somewhere, but I can’t see it for all of the ice.”
Sighing, I reached into the bottom drawer for my travel-sized hairdryer. “Give me your address.”
What the hell, I figured, it’s a paycheck.
Guess what? I won.
One year and one really bad manuscript later, I was thinking about writing a good manuscript instead, and it suddenly dawned on me – why not write a mystery? My girlfriend and I had created a heroine as a joke, Peri Menopause, Private Eye. She solves every case by crying, eating chocolate, and bitch-slapping people until someone confesses. I could use her as the basis for a more full-dimensional character. But what kind of case could she solve?
I thought back to my Topic winner, and had my client, but what else could you put in a freezer? How about a severed hand? To up the ante, I put an expensive ring on one of the fingers.
A year later, Freezer Burn had been published by Echelon Press. People love Peri Minneopa and her friends. I’ve now released a short story about her on Kindle (Clean Sweep), and I’ll soon be self-pubbing my second novel, Hit or Missus. It will be available in paperback, on Kindle, and various other e-reader formats. The plot for Hit or Missus came from a piece of flash fiction, too. You can read it at http://gaylecarline.com/assassin.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start the third book, so I’ve got some verbal doodling to do.
Thanks again, Thea!