Saturday, July 4, 2020

Two neighbor ladies rockin’ on the porch…

Janet Reid is runnin' another Flash Fiction Contest!
My clients have learned to fear email from me that has the subject line: I have this idea! I revised that from "I have this great idea" several years back when I realized I should let them decide if it was great or not.

So, I have this idea! Instead of prompt words, how about a choice of three prompt sentences? (great, right??)

These rules apply:
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.
2. Use one of these prompts in the story. It does not have to be the start or the finish, BUT the words must be in order. You don't need to include the author of the phrases.
1)  when you spot an orchid cactus at the grocery store, you bring it home.—Luralee
2) "Do the laundry or die!" —french sojourn (Henry) 
          3)  holy cow, that's a lot of empties. —nightmusic (Althea)

3. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

Contest opens:  9am, Saturday, 7/4/20  ~~ Contest closes: 9am, Sunday, 7/5/20

Two neighbor ladies rockin’ on the porch…

Mable: “Sweet Jesus, you killed another plant.”

Erline: “Luralee bought it at the Piggly Wiggly, claims I tol’ her when you spot an orchid cactus at the grocery store, you bring it home. I never said no such thing. She’s just tryin’ to wiggle out of doin’ the shoppin’.   Pardon me… HENRY,  DO THE LAUNDRY OR DIE!

Althea lugs a basket of bottles to the curb. “Recyclin’ things are out, Mama.”

Mable: “Holy cow, that’s a lot of empties.

Erline: “Raisin’ three youngins is hard work. Is it any wonder I drink?”


No winner yet -- Janet wants the Reiders' input first -- but I did get Kudos for using all three prompts

Friday, February 8, 2019


I was ensconced with Her Grace the Duchess of Yowl for three weeks, and then with Intern Ty for this past week. Needless to say, I'm quite blue at the prospect of being furrless after Sunday. Thus, a writing contest is needed. Nothing is more fun than seeing what you guyz do with prompt words.

The usual rules apply:
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.
2. Use these words in the story: cat claw hork purr  snore
To compete for the Steve Forti Deft Use of Prompt Words prize (or if you are Steve Forti) you must also use: calamity
3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards. Thus: cat/catchy is ok, but cat/cast or cat/tacky is not.
4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.
5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.
7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

Contest opens Saturday 2/9/19 at 9am ~~ Contest closes: Sunday 2/10/19 at 9am

Cabin Fever Catastrophe On A Winter’s Day           
She sat on the couch
with Her Grace, D of Y,                                                                   
when out of the blue
She said with a sigh,
“I wish we had something to do!”

They did nothing at all
but sit sit sit.
They did not like it,
not one little bit.

“You claw the couch
and hork up your fur.”
“You snore all night
and drown out my purr.”

“I'm putting an end
to this calamity:
Cream for you,
Macallan for me.”

They lounged on the couch,
their worries were few,
no longer caring
they'd nothing to do.


Saturday, June 30, 2018


Janet Reid's There's a Unicorn in the Barn! Contest 

what do you do now!?
Tell us in 25 words or fewer what you would do if you heard that sentence.
Post your answer in the comment column of this post
 (Steve Forti must include the words angioplasty and pseudophedrezone in his answer.)

My Entry

“There’s a unicorn in the barn!”

Nurse: “What the… Who’s that?”
Doctor: “Steve Forti. He had angioplasty. That’s the pseudophedrezone talking. You should have heard what he said during the procedure!”


Saturday, June 23, 2018


Long time blog readers may remember Adib Khorram, a regular commenter and contest entrant from several years back. If you're wondering what happened to him, he was busy writing a novel. Let's just say, I'm not surprised Adib wrote a great book, not surprised at all. But I'm totally in awe of his story telling skills, his command of craft, and how real yet entertaining this book is. In other words, this is a total sox knocker for 2018. I'm not alone in my opinion: Darius the Great is Not Okay was also a BuzzBook pick at BEA this year. That's a pretty singular honor: only five or six books are chosen. It goes on sale in August, but I'm glad to start talking about it early AND give away this purloined ARC to the winner of the flash fiction contest this weekend.

The usual rules apply:
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.
2. Use these words in the story:  Iran  Adib  tea  dad  great
Steve Forti must also incorporate this prompt word: infusion
3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards. Thus: tea/teal is ok, but dad/dead is not.
4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.
5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.
11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.
12. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: 6:43am, Saturday, June 23, 2018 * Contest closes: 9am, Sunday, June 24, 2018

My entry:


Y’know I’m great at crossword puzzles, right, boss?

Go on.

Well, I was waiting for the train, doing a puzzle and got really stumped. Six letters. Starts with “t.” ‘Not infusion tea.’ Then I ran into this egghead. He said, “Tisane.” He said he’s applying for a job here.


And I missed my train as I was writing tisane.

Did you get his name?

No, sir.

Egghead? I bet it was Steve Forti.

You know him?

As of this morning, Steve is our new copy director.

But, Dad, that’s MY job!

Not anymore. Steve was on time.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Janet Reid’s Laura Lippman libs

Here's the contest: replace "missing credit card" with a new three word phrase, and "the filter in the dishwasher" with a location (word count not specified.)

My entry

I knew that I would find my mother’s antediluvian morals somewhere in my house, but I had no money on the hunky underwear ad sleeping in the guest room.


Saturday, May 5, 2018


Janet Reid's  Pitch Me Your Book 5/5/18

Q: I don't understand what the 100-word paragraph is.

A: It's the first paragraph of your query I think. It's intended to give me fodder for understanding the pitch and helping you pick out details that might be more helpful to include in the pitch.

Target audience:  adult

Genre: commercial fiction

Paragraph (100 words or fewer):
Susie’s son told his teacher he didn’t do his homework because his mother had died. Susie’s daughter is a perfectionist who chugs Maalox. Her husband’s indifferent, her mother’s cold, her grandmother’s dying, and her passive-aggressive psychologist Eugene refuses to say her name. She quits Eugene and vows to never return. When Eugene ends up in traction from a seven-story fall, while counseling a suicidal patient, Susie goes to see him. He’s helpless and depressed. His wife had left him and he has no visitors. Susie takes pity on Eugene and visits him daily, and that’s when the real healing begins.  (100 wds.)

Pitch (30 words or fewer): 
When my psychologist told me, “Susie is a cutesy name… for your mature years,” I vowed I’d never return. Then he ended up alone in life and in the hospital.  (30 wds.)


Saturday, April 7, 2018


People of a certain age, myself included, can't hear Chappaquiddick without thinking of Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne and how she died.  Is this history or his story?

After seeing the movie Chappaquiddick, the Kennedy clan is lucky.  Over the years I've heard the stories of how the Kennedy clan becomes a well-oiled machine to protect their own when scandal strikes.  Read Dominick Dunne's A Season In Purgatory: A Novel and you'll understand. Instead, the family was almost nonexistent in director John Curran’s graceful Chappaquiddick.” Only Ted's tyrannical father old Joe, the family patriarch whose gnarly looking body is wheelchair bound from a stroke, was given a few minutes of screen time for the sympathy ploy: he slapped Ted and tried to tell his pathetic son that he'd never be great like his dead brothers.  {sniff sniff}  Ted's long-suffering beautiful wife Joan, who was pregnant at the time and later miscarried, got to tell him to go "f" himself while they were on their way to Mary Jo Kopechne's funeral.  And his mother Rose Kennedy, the family matriarch, wasn't even in the picture.  The beautiful young woman who cared for gnarly Joe appeared in many scenes, including sitting on his bed and holding his hand as they watched TV, and she had several lines of dialogue. And, yet, I have no idea who she was, but she sure wasn't Rose because Rose isn't listed in the extensive credits.

His cousin Joe, however, played a major role as pathetic Ted's conscience.  Joe Gargan was Ted's cousin who felt like his brother. More importantly, Joe Gargan was Ted's lawyer who "was able to slip away without hardly anyone noticing.”  Joe came across as needy, wanting the love of Ted and the family. Yet it seemed to me that he was never considered a true part of the family. He was used, as a lawyer, as someone with connections, as someone who could, and would, clean up Ted's messes. It was Joe and Paul Markham, the State's Attorney General, to whom pathetic Ted turned right after the accident. And according to the movie, it was faithful Joe who was told to get on his knees and hold Ted's cue cards as he read his televised Chappaquiddick explanation from the comfort of the Kennedy home. 

I said that the Kennedy clan is lucky because, aside from veiled references, you don't see the family in action coalescing into their infamous scandal protection mode. They were ruthless and would do anything to save one of their own. And they did.  Instead, the movie eliminated their input and put their team of handlers ~~ lawyers, police, clerks and doctors ~~ into action planning the strategy to protect Ted's political viability. They knew he would never be president, not after the accident, but they didn't see why Ted's senate seat should suffer. And it didn't.

The movie treated Ted Kennedy with kid gloves for the most part. According to the movie, Ted dove underwater and tried to find a way to rescue Mary Jo. When he couldn't, he walked back to the cottage to tell Joe and Markham.  All three men returned to the accident, and Joe and Markham stripped down to their underwear and dove into the water. Their attempts to rescue Mary Jo were futile. Joe begged Ted to report the crime, and Ted said he would.  As far as I can see, the most egregious thing he did, morally speaking, was to wait ten hours to report the accident. He admitted he was driving under the influence with an expired license, both of which are illegal. However, it has been stated that had he reported the accident immediately, Mary Jo could have been saved. I'm not a lawyer so I could be wrong on the legalities of Ted Kennedy's actions, or lack thereof.  Instead, after he left Joe and Markham to clean up his mess, Ted went back to his room at the inn where he was staying and took a bath. Then he called his father from the phone booth outside; can't go through the inn's switchboard, y'know, in case the operator hears.  His father said "alibi," so Ted made certain someone at the inn saw him. Ted asked the man the time ~~ 2:25 a.m. ~~ and told him he was having trouble sleeping.  Then Ted returned to his room and slept. When he awoke, he walked to the police department, and while he waited for the chief he called the Kopechnes to tell them, then he wrote out his statement.  He blamed his "negligence," which resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, on his supposed head injury which caused confusion and some memory loss. He did admit, however, that his delay in reporting the accident was "indefensible." 

Ted Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, received a two-month suspended sentence, and had his license suspended for a year.  Judging by the smile on his face, seen as he exited the courthouse, Ted Kennedy was pleased with the outcome of the inquest (January, 1970).  Although Chappaquiddick stuck to Ted Kennedy, like toilet paper to his shoe, he was re-elected again and again, becoming known as The Lion of the Senate for his oratory and influence. Apparently his well known excessive drinking and appalling behavior towards women did not bother his constituency. 

CHAPPAQUIDDICK  4 stars: The movie was very well done: the acting and direction, the location, the pace which some reviewers found slow but I didn't. Even the actors looked like the real people they portrayed. Everything was great ... except the kid glove treatment of Ted's character. Yes, they highlighted his spaghetti spine and his drive to protect himself at the cost of Mary Jo Kopechne. And they touched on his drinking, although I can't recall if they mentioned his womanizing. In my opinion, Ted was treated gently while the family was left unscathed. 

And yet questions remain...

According to the movie, Mary Jo Kopechne was sitting in the front seat next to Ted, who was driving. How did he escape but not her? He could have grabbed her hand, since she was next to him, and pulled her out with him, or at least show her the way. He dove back down to the submerged car, with its lights still on (but not for long), and tried to open a door. Btw, why were the doors and windows closed begging the question again: How did Ted escape?  He banged on the car, so why didn't Mary Jo answer that by banging on the car, too? Or maybe she did? Or maybe Ted never dove down to the car?

Why wasn't there an autopsy? 

There is a new book out called Chappaquiddick Speaks, by Bill Pinney, "a life-long Chappaquiddick resident and former investigative reporter," who "introduces the first new witness who has stepped forward in almost 50 years."  (Pinney self-published his book last July.) I understand that, according to that book, the accident was staged, although I'm not sure why. What was so damaging that Ted was willing to say he was the driver?

Maybe I'm just being cynical, but TMZ has this very convenient story with unnamed sourcesTED KENNEDY: CIA Operative Says TED KENNEDY DIDN'T KNOW MARY JO KOPECHNE WAS IN THE CAR   
"The operative says cops immediately knew the politician's wife was in the car, because she had left her purse on the front seat. The operative says so began a cover-up to protect Kennedy.
A second person, who was close to Ted and the Kennedy family in '69, confirmed the operative's story."
However, this version does answer the question of why Mary Jo was found in the back seat. And if it's true that Mary Jo was asleep in the back seat and Ted didn't know, why not simply say that he went driving and had an accident?

Most of us will never know what happened.

The sad part of this whole mess is that Mary Jo Kopechne is nothing more than a footnote to a philandering drunk's political career. She will be remembered not for her life but for her death.  You can see from the picture at the top that Mary Jo was lovely, but this is the one you should remember, because Mary Jo Kopechne didn't drown, she suffocated.