Short Kindle Story Release – The FURLOUGH

I’m excited today to share the release of a Kindle short story.

Check it out on Amazon!

This is a story I’d been sitting on for a while, as I wasn’t completely sure what to do with it. I finally decided to give it the Kindle Direct Publishing treatment, both to get a little historical fiction of mine into the world, and also to learn how to navigate Amazon’s self-publishing process.


Three Minute Fiction – Not My Cup of Tea

My husband and I were driving to Syracuse yesterday and, since he can’t stand the over-used techno-pop beat of most mainstream radio stations, he switched over to NPR.

It happened that they were discussing All Things Considered‘s current round of Three Minute Fiction, a bit of a contest for authors of all ages, backgrounds, and publishing credits (or lack thereof), to come up with a short story, 600 words or less, on a given theme or with specific plot parameters. For example, Round 7, which ends at 11:59pm on September 25th, requires the author to have one character leaving and another character arriving.

That’s basically it.

So….  I’m not good at short fiction, particularly this type of short fiction, which is often referred to as micro fiction. The idea behind the “three minute” thing is that you can read it aloud in three minutes or less.  Either way, I’m less than awesome at short fiction.

This isn’t necessarily due to a lack of effort or interest. My problem is that I’m verbose.  Really, really verbose.  I got a 730 on my SAT verbal for a reason.  I’d get so caught up in a description that I’d blow the word limit out of the water in no time flat.

The other big problem I run into is my love of character development.  I’m used to writing longer fiction, such as my novel, which requires a rather detailed and in depth run of character development.  With fiction limited to 600 words, you have to plunk characters down without any introduction or development of any sort.  Somehow they have to grow, change, capture and entice a reader in what amounts to a page and a half of double-spaced 12 point font.  It’s definitely a challenge to come up with a character so intriguing that he or she sucks the reader in from the first sentence.  Don’t you have to give something up in that process?  You have to work physical description in snippets of conversation and action.  Same with motivation.  Somehow all that goes into character development has to be woven into this tiny smattering of fiction.

It’s not my cup of tea, frankly.  There’s something inherently beautiful to me about weaving something of a saga around my characters, their trials, tribulations, and triumphs.  Maybe I’m short-changing myself, denying myself an opportunity to grow as a writer.  And I’m certainly the sort to dabble in other forms of fiction in order to stretch and strengthen my writing muscles.  But I doubt I’ve ever produced anything in the short fiction genre, particularly the micro fiction sub-genre, that warrants allowing anyone with a brain and a sense of self-preservation to read it.

Still, for those of you out there who love writing short fiction, the Three Minute Fiction contest is on.

The Twinkle

Once upon a time, there was a man and a woman whom the Lord had made one.  They loved each other very much and were very happy.  Their love for each other, having been blessed by the Lord, grew so great that it overflowed and they longed to share it.  So they began to pray for a child.

The Lord was pleased by this and so He called one of His angels to Him.  This angel was the keeper of a very special, very important box, one the Lord only opened when the time was right.  The angel brought the box and set it before the Lord.  From within the box, the angel heard the sound of laughter, like the peal of a million tiny bells, and with great care the angel opened the lid of the box for the Lord.  Beautiful golden light shone from within, and the Lord smiled fondly as He peered inside.

Saying nothing, simply smiling, the Lord reached into the box and lifted out one tiny item – a Twinkle – and cradled it gently in the palm of His hand.  Nodding to the angel, He closed the box.  The angel, who also had another very special job, came before the Lord and held out both hands.  “Take great care on your journey,” the Lord told the angel.  “This little Twinkle is beautiful and fragile, but greatly longed for.”

The angel nodded, accepting the delicate Twinkle from the Lord, and promised to be careful.  Then, seeing that the Lord had prepared everything for the Twinkle’s journey, the angel took leave of the Heavenly Father and proceeded to Earth, where the man and woman waited in hope.  The angel brought the Twinkle directly to the woman and saw that it was made comfortable and safe before returning to Heaven.

The Twinkle immediately knew how special the man and woman’s love was, for already this love engulfed it. Very quickly, the Twinkle grew attached to the woman, hugging her tightly from within, listening to the steady beat of her heart that always told the Twinkle the same thing:  Love you, love you, love you.  And the Twinkle’s little heart began to beat the same litany, knowing the woman could hear.

But soon, the Twinkle realized that something was not right.  As much as the woman loved the Twinkle, as carefully as she protected it, the Twinkle could not seem to grow.  Sometimes the Twinkle grew frightened, and sometimes the Twinkle fought bravely.  But the Twinkle was too small and too fragile and too delicate, and it began to cry, because it realized it would not be able to stay with the man and woman as the Lord had intended.

One day, the angel came back to get the Twinkle, who begged not to go, for the woman cried and cried and her heart was breaking.  “It will be alright,” the angel promised.  “The Lord loves the man and woman very much, and He will help them.”  So the angel gathered the little Twinkle and returned to Heaven.

The Twinkle wondered tearfully if it would be returned to the box where the other little Twinkles waited.  But the angel brought the Twinkle not to the Father, but to the Son, who gathered the Twinkle in His arms and held on tight, humming a soothing tune while the Twinkle cried.  After a while, Jesus set the Twinkle on His knee and said, “You must have many questions.”

“Only one,” the Twinkle said.  “Why did I have to leave the man and woman?  They loved me very much and wanted me so.  Why did the Lord send me to them if I could not stay?”

Jesus smiled kindly at the Twinkle.  “It is one of the great mysteries of life,” He said.  “The Lord, my Father, gave you to the man and woman because they praised Him and prayed for you, so they could share their love with you, for their love is a gift from the Father as well.  But sometimes, when the Father sends one such as you, it cannot be for always.”

“Will I ever return to them?” the Twinkle asked.

“I’m afraid you can never return to them,” Jesus told the Twinkle.  “Those such as yourself can only be given once in eternity – it is a gift that, even if it cannot be kept, can also never be given again.”

“What will happen to me now?” the Twinkle asked.

“You will remain here in Heaven, with me and with my Father, and with all the angels, and with all the other Twinkles who, for one reason or another, could not stay with those for whom the Lord chose them.  And at night, you will have a special place in the sky where you will be able to see the man and woman. You will be able to watch over them when they sleep, and sometimes they will feel your love so strongly that they will dream about you.”

“But they will be alone,” the Twinkle protested.  “Who will they share their love with now?”

Jesus hugged the Twinkle more firmly and rested His cheek upon the Twinkle’s bright head.  “Do not fear for them.  My Father’s love is very great, and he will tend them in their sorrow.  Someday, when the time is right again, the Lord will ask you to help Him choose another Twinkle to send to the man and woman, for you are their first Twinkle and so will always be.”

The Twinkle began to cry again and clung to Jesus.  “But they will forget me,” the Twinkle said.

“No,” Jesus whispered.  “No, I promise, they will never forget you.  True that they hardly knew you, but they loved you too much to ever forget you.  As you watch them over the years, even after they have been blessed with another Twinkle, perhaps more than one, you may start to feel they have forgotten you.  But it will never be so.  You will always be part of them, and your memory, though it may not always be as brilliant as it is now, will never fade away.  And someday, when the man and woman come home to my Father, you will meet them, and they will know you as if you had been with them all the time, for indeed you will have been with them forever.”

Then the Son of God brought the Twinkle all over Heaven, revealing all the beautiful places the Lord had made for those who would share Eternity there. He then took the Twinkle to the Heavenly Father, and the Lord embraced the Twinkle and whispered words of love and comfort.

Then, to make it easier to travel between Heaven and the place in the night sky from which the Twinkle would be able to see the man and the woman, the Lord gave the Twinkle a set of tiny, gossamer wings, for the Twinkle was now an angel baby.