Well, it's official. Probably. We've all got so many other creative projects, like our novels (yay!), and life things that we're either taking a hiatus or retiring this blog for good. We just don't have the time that we did when we first started playing the flash fiction game.

I hope you can understand.

Thank you for reading. We loved having you. You can still find us on the interwebs.

Mwah.
Magical Frog Kisses,

Denise, Sarah, Rachel, Sapphire








“Aurin!”

Kayla pulled him out of the hallway and behind the metal shipping crate she hid behind for cover. Aurin pressed the heels of his hands against his temples. Beneath his hands, blood fought to push through his skin. His body knew it was dying, but he wouldn’t let go without a fight. Only the fight was killing him. Being shot hurt less than the pain in his head.

“Aurin, let me help! Uncurl!”

Kayla’s hands pulled at him. Uncurl? When had he done that? Synthetics curled into the fetal position when they were injured or shutting down. He’d fought hard to break the habit, but in death instinct won over training.

“I can help you!” She sounded desperate, her voice a rough whisper.

Aurin clenched his muscles. He pushed against his instincts, pushed against the fear that kept him immobile. Against everything.

“That’s it, Aurin. Hold there. I need a moment.”

He struggled to keep his body obedient. Kayla needed to hurry. What could she possibly have that she thought might help—A sharp pain in his chest over his heart and its staccato beats stuttered down to a more normal pace. He could catch his breath again. Only one thing worked like that on synthetics.

“An Epi-pen?” They were beyond rare. And for her to have used one on him… There was no way for him to make it out of there in time. She’d wasted it.

“I have a source. Lie still. I need to check your vitals.”

“They’re normal as they can be.”

“I need to know how bad you are.”

“So you know.”

“The lab sent me the blood work. It’s yours, isn't it? Why didn’t you just tell me?”

"You needed to owe me a favor. Your clinic doesn’t treat mercs or cyborgs.”

A moment of tense silence. “Who told you that?”

“It’s not true?” He laughed and felt his heart stutter up a speed. Aurin took deep breaths. "That fool. He's killed me. If only I could return the pleasure.”

“Who?”

“Cable. He works out of the Luminat Inn two streets south of you. Sells drugs and information. Make sure to get him in trouble for me.”

“You aren’t going to die. I can get you out of here, if you’re willing to fight for it.”


He doubted it. Two noncombatants, fleeing a military facility with no weapons? They would never even see the main hall.


Wordage: cyborg, flee

Genre: Science Fiction
Word count: 403
National Science Fiction Day is unofficially celebrated on January 2nd every year in honor of Isaac Asimov’s birthday. Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He wrote or edited more than 500 books and is best known for his science fiction Foundations series. In fact, he was considered one of the ‘Big Three’ science fiction writers during his lifetime, with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke as the other two

We thought it might be fun to try our hands at some science fiction! So you’re going to be seeing that this month!

In the meantime, I plan on brainwashing you (very sci-fi of me) into consuming my favorite SciFi stories. ~~Go forth and watch/read/love!~~ (Is it working?)




MOVIES
Star Wars IV,V, VI – Classic space opera. Lifechanging. Of course I wanted to be Leia, but I also wanted to be Han Solo! And dammit if I'm not the rightful pilot of the Millenium Falcon.

The Matrix- Sleek, cool, and a bit of a conspiracy movie. Add in seriously cinematic, kick-ass fight scenes and I am hooked.

Back to the Future 1,2,3 – A classic! Time travel, skateboards/hoverboards, a DeLorean, having a mad scientist as your best friend. So much fun!
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century


TV
The X-files- Best monster of the week show plus a crazy [alien] abuduction mystery/conspiracy mythology. I want to believe! This show has the honor of being my biggest obsession ever.

Battlestar Galatica- The new one. I hated Starbuck in the pilot movie the first time I watched it. I tried again a few years later, and boy did I fall in love. Hard. Starbuck became one of my all-time favorite characters. So did the Chief and Helo.

Firefly/Serenity – Surely everyone in the ‘verse has seen this by now? Space Western. Captain Tightpants. “I’ll be in my bunk.” Love the characters and dialogue in this series so much. I can’t watch the movie very much because …well, bad things happen.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – Such campy goodness. A space pilot from the 80s accidentally cryogenically freezes himself and is rescued in the 25th century where he becomes something of a starfighter pilot and covert operative.


BOOKS
The Rowan
by Anne McCaffrey
The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey- The first in a series. Cats, space travel, aliens, telepaths! For almost a decade, I was determined to name a daughter after Damia, a character in the sequel.

The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis – Time travel to the past during the bubonic plague? Sold. I'm really keen to finally read, To Say Nothing of the Dog, which takes place in the same universe.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – I read this one just about a year ago and really liked it. A young kid goes to battle/command space school after Earth’s war with aliens. (Please don’t buy this book and support the author and his hate-ivism. Support your local library instead!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So what recommendations do you have for us?
Nag.

Nag.

Nag.

“Alright, dad. I’ll go out and shoot the fucking bird. Just shut up.”

Ethan finished lacing his boots and walked out into the snow. The bite in the air made his foul mood even worse and the fact that he had to spend the afternoon with his father…

There wasn’t enough game in the woods to satisfy his rage.

“Do you even re-remember how to shoot that fuckin’ thing?” said his old man.

Christ.

The bastard was drunk already.

It wasn’t even noon.

Ethan clenched his jaw and nodded.

 “Good, because that pheasant isn’t going to just walk over and off itself in front of you.”

No, but I wish someone else would.

The gun shook in his hands.

Would mom care? Would she even notice? Ethan touched the bruises on his face and held the gun a little tighter. He was sick of the charades. Tired of the bullshit. This whole act like a family thing…it was a joke. And everyone was laughing at it but him.

The bird stood a couple yards in front of him.

His heart pounded.

“Don’t be a pussy,” said his dad. “Kill the fuckin’ thing so we can get out of here.”

Ethan took a deep breath.

Dad was right.

He needed to stop being afraid.

So Ethan took the shot.

And then he walked out of the woods alone.


Words: 230   Noun: pheasant   Verb: nag




Stephanie M. Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, a book reviewer for Nameless Magazine, and a well-known coffee addict. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and a graduate student in Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her poetry collection, HYSTERIA, can be found at www.rawdogscreaming.com. Follow Wytovich at http://stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com/ and on twitter @JustAfterSunset.
I love steampunk covers, the muted palettes, copper and iron, dramatic skies, ladies in corsets, what's not to love?

But sometimes I wonder what the design briefs must be like. "There aren't enough cogs and gears. More stuff needs to glow. What about a clock? There should a clock, maybe two clocks. Maybe a blimp? Maybe two blimps? This castle doesn't have enough gears. All ladies must be wearing tiny hats or goggles. Maybe you should put some goggles on the hat just in case."

Because when it comes to Steampunk you can never have too many clocks, cogs, and dirigibles.


Check out these Steampunk reads on Goodreads
Gareth grabbed his fishing net and canvas bag from their hooks beside the door. Gray predawn light filtered through the curtains over the kitchen window, just enough to see the tin wash basin below.

He tip-toed toward the door and wrapped his free hand around the knob.

“Gareth!” Nerra’s harsh cry drifted from their bedroom. “Don’t forget the bait.”

Gareth froze. If she thought he’d already left.

“I know you’re out there.” Or not. “Don’t you dare leave that bait behind.”

He sighed. “Yes, dear.” No getting out of it now. He scooped the silver-painted marbles from the counter and shoved them in his pocket. They were supposed to attract animals with magic powers. What a joke.

“Attaboy. Holler when you get back.”

What else would he do? He pushed the door open and stepped outside. Nerra had the best of intentions, but the woman nagged him almost to the breaking point. As if a dozen silver balls could help break Derin’s fever.

He gripped the sack’s handle tighter and lumbered into the woods. Who was he fooling? If carrying around two dozen marbles would save his baby girl’s life, he’d do it.

Beneath the trees, bird songs and squirrel chitters bounced from branch to branch. Gareth followed his well-trodden path to the stream. If any of these animals were magic, they certainly didn’t show it. He dipped half the net into the crystal water and waited. The sun’s rays played through the canopy now, shimmering like gold.

The net shifted. A small school of fish butted against the webbing. Gareth brought the second half of the net to the first and scooped the entire thing clear of the stream, dumping the fish into the sack. He repeated the process for two more catches and then stood. Now to check the traps.

The closest stood beneath an old oak. Gnarled and twisted, the ancient tree stretched to the sky, its branches full of colorful birds. A good-sized nest of eggs would feed his family for a week, and eggs were good for illness. If the traps didn’t yield enough, he’d go climbing.

He rounded the tree and crouched by the first trap. Within, a pheasant struggled for freedom.

Gareth blew out a sigh. Well, food was food. A pheasant wasn’t the best catch, but it would do. He reached for the trap.

The bird wilted back, squawking at his hand. The tone was low and the tempo slow, almost sad?

“What’s the matter, girl?” At least, it looked like a girl.

The pheasant cooed, pointing one wing to a cluster of leaves.

Gareth crawled toward the bundle and held his hand over it. The pheasant made encouraging sounds, so he brushed the top layer of leaves aside.

Inside, a baby pheasant lie, not moving. Something was wrong with the little thing. Its eyes were half closed, and its breaths came shallow. It squeaked and shook, a cough.

Gareth withdrew. The pheasant was a momma, and its baby was sick, maybe dying.

He crawled back to the trap. “Well, I’ll be.” His heart cracked. He worked with the mechanism until it clicked open. “Go on, girl. Take care of your young.”

The pheasant gazed up at him with wide, brown eyes. Then, it shimmered and grew. “Gareth Wellben,” it said. “We all make choices. Your family is in need, but you chose to protect a creature unknown to you. It is more than any other man might do, and for that, I will grant you one wish.”

Gareth put a hand to his heart. There really were magic animals in the wood, and it didn’t take silver marbles to find them. One wish…as if there was a choice. He opened his mouth to ask.


Words: 623   Noun: pheasant   Verb: nag


Mary DeSantis is an –ism—enough said—currently living in North Carolina with two parents, no dogs, no cats, and one constantly playing mental soundtrack of Disney music.
Find her on at her personal blog, her book blog, on FB, on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Goodreads.

[image credit]
Each soft tick of the bronze automaton’s clockwork heart echoed in the room. Eve watched as the mechanical maid tossed another log into the fireplace. The orange flames hissed and crackled in protest.

“I’m not going, Mother. You may nag all you like, but you won’t change my mind.” Eve sat at the foot of her bed, arms cross over her chest, and refused to so much as glance at the dress her mother held.

“Evelyn, it’s the Christmas Ball. What would everyone think if our daughter refused to present herself?” Eve’s mother, Lady Graylake, laid the emerald gown on the bed. “I ordered this dress special for tonight.”

“Then perhaps you should wear the satin monstrosity.” Eve stormed past her mother and stood at the frost covered window. The sun eased itself below the horizon, and cast a warm red glow over the snow-covered garden below. It seemed to Eve that the whole world should be cover in white. Surely, everyone felt the effects of this ceaseless winter. The coldness, which held Eve’s heart in an icy grasp, could not be affecting her alone.

“Duke Huntsworth and his wife are on their way. Lord Edwin will expect to see you.” Her mother pleaded.

Eve spun around and her auburn locks flew over her shoulders. “That is exactly why I refuse to attend!” Fury built inside her until it leaked from her eyes and her body trembled.

“Darling, don’t cry.” Her mother’s attempt to sooth only angered Eve more.

“I’m not crying!” Her voice was shrill and caught on a sob. She rubbed the back of her hand over her cheek. “I can’t believe you and father went behind my back to set up a betrothal. I hardly even know Lord Edwin.”

“That’s not true. Remember I asked what you thought of him last week. You said--”

“That was before I knew you’d planned to marry me off to him.” Another angry tear escaped. “Evelyn--” A knock on the door interrupted her mother. “Come in.”

Letty, the young chambermaid poked her head into the room.

“Begging your pardon, Ma’am. The first carriage just arrived.”

“All right.” Lady Graylake sighed. “What will it take for you to go downstairs, and smile for our guests?” Her mother’s calm tone grated on Eve.

“A miracle.” Eve stared at her mother. The woman who raised her. Loved her. Betrayed her.

“What if we give permission to enroll in the Academy?”

“Princess Charlotte’s Academy? Do you mean it?” It felt as if a spring in Eve’s heart snapped back into place.

“Attend the ball. Smile. Eat some pheasant. Be courteous to all our guests, especially Lord Edwin, and you shall have my word that you may attend for your final year of schooling,” Lady Graylake said.

“Letty, I need your help.”

Eve dressed quickly, but the entire time her mind clung to the knowledge that she had one year. One year at the academy to change her fate and escape the arranged marriage.


Words: 500   Noun: pheasant   Verb: nag


In elementary school, Symantha Reagor spent recess reading or writing in journals, creating poems and short stories. She never dreamed that she could make a career from the dreams and random thoughts in my head. She became the first in my family to attend college and graduated from Grand Canyon University with an English Literature Degree and went on to earn a Master degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and a Certificate in Copyediting from the University of California, Los Angeles Extension.

Find her on twitter and facebook.

[image credit]
Sasha answered the Craiglist ad, not daring to believe that it could be true. Since the accident, she’d lost the use of her legs and nothing but bad news came from her multiple doctor visits. So she ventured out into the cold, took the train downtown by herself, knowing her roommate would nag at her if she found out.

When she arrived, a forty-ish woman answered the door, looking nothing like the old-world fortune-teller Sasha expected. The woman’s living room held no jars of herbs or New Age books. In fact, the only weird item that Sasha saw was a stuffed pheasant.

"The contents of this bag will grant your wish, but only between the hours of two a.m. and dawn. There is something else. During these times you will see other things as they truly are. Some of these things may be unpleasant.”

Undeterred, Sasha paid the woman and headed home. The bag contained a twist of wick that the witch instructed her to attach to a piece of wood. While it was lit, full mobility would be returned to Sasha.

When her phone alarm chimed two a.m. Sasha scooted to the edge of her bed and grabbed the rudimentary torch. She lit it, watched the strange green-yellow light for a moment and then gasped as pins and needles shot thru her lower extremities. She swung her legs out of bed and stood with the aid of the torch. Then she ran out the door, mindful not to light her hair on fire.

Once outside, Sasha’s laughter steamed out of her into the freezing pre-dawn air. She walked. The street was dark aside from dim porch bulbs and twinkling Christmas lights. Her next-door neighbor had an inflatable snow globe in her yard attached to an air pump. Earlier that evening, this globe contained a smiling snowman and some cheery penguins. But now, a small, dark figure pressed its face against the inside of the plastic. Then it stomped around in the fake snow and appeared to be feeling for a seam. It tried to puncture the plastic with its claw-like fingers and then tilted its head back and screamed in frustration.

Sasha froze on her still shaky legs, hoping not to be noticed. But then the thing’s rheumy yellow eyes fell on her and it opened a black maw in what might have been a smile. Sasha backed away and ran the other direction. Two doors down had a snow globe too. Inside was a similar snarling, black figure.

The next day, Sasha returned to the witch’s apartment. She smiled slightly as she took the bag back, reminding Sasha that there were no refunds.

At midnight, Sasha wheeled herself out into the chill of the night, a large pair of sewing shears on her lap, the blades long enough to penetrate the heavy plastic and impale the demons within. She had to work fast, her wheels would leave tracks. But snow was in the forecast.


Words: 496   Noun: pheasant   Verb: nag


Tina Wahl is a writer of speculative and horror fiction. She's been published in Midnight Screaming magazine. She lives in Glendale, Arizona surrounded by books, skulls, and rescued dogs.


Image: Snowman by hotblack
Hey everyone! If you're in the U.S., I hope you enjoy your holiday! Remember to be safe (moderately so), eat good food (in great quantities), and enjoy the company of your favorite people (for hours and hours)! If you're not in the U.S., I wish the same things for you as well :)

This time of the year is super jam packed for me. Work schedule aside, I'll be taking two weeks in December to travel through Japan. For some, being booked so tight they can hardly breath is a place where they thrive. Me, not so much. I stop being creative, stop being social, and just sleep. But sleeping is not writing, despite what your subconscious may argue. So I'd like to share a couple things that can help kickstart those creative engines and keep them churning,

Prompts

I know, I've said this before. But really, a well worded prompt can be the difference between a hundred words and noting at all. I love visiting Martha.net and checking out their Unquiet Bones section. Every week a new set of prompts go up. They're fantastic! Better, there's almost always something for every genre. I highly recommend trying them on for size!

100 Themes Challenge

I discovered this lovely list around the beginning of NaNoWriMo this year. Originating from a meme on DeviantArt, it gives you 100 themes to base a chapter/book/scene/etc around. As the website explains, you pick a theme and write based on your choice. Some clever people have even used the list to make an outline for their books. I like having direction when I write. This helps with that, or at least sparks an idea interesting enough to get the words flowing again.

I hope these help! Does anyone have a favorite website or technique to keep moving forward?

Nancy Drew

I recently posed the following question to a Facebook comic book/writers group I belong to, and now I want to ask YOU!

If you could write any already established pop culture character for a comic book or graphic novel, whose story would you want to tell? 

And now I'll share my answer(s).

It's tough for me to decide. But I narrowed the list down to a few. And I focused on female characters for sure.

Surprise! It's not DC's Wonder Woman, though I love her and I am a big fan. I would definitely prefer my own superheroine creation inspired by her, but not Princess Diana of Themyscira herself.

The same goes for Marvel's Psylocke. I love her but... Part of the problem is both of these characters live in a complicated world with rules, other superheroes they interact with, and mega canon. It's tough to negotiate that!

So...
Here are a couple of characters that I feel need more of their own stories and/or I would love to write them.

NANCY DREW

She was my first favorite character and I'm still not tired of her. But, A LOT of people have written Nancy Drew stories. Across a  wide variety of formats. So she's tough to find new stories for, but easier to negotiate than a Marvel or DC character.


VERONICA MARS
Veronica Mars














But when it comes down to it, I prefer the updated noirish spin on a Nancy Drew-type character that is Veronica Mars. And if not Veronica or Nancy, I'd definitely be inspired by them to do my own version of a teen sleuth character. I think Veronica is my number 1 pick for already existing characters in pop culture. She is clever, sassy, independent, and exerts a little bit of vigilante justice. What a magical combination!


TEELA from He-Man & the Masters of the Universe
Teela




The Sorceress

Too often a damsel in distress in the original series, I would want to change Teela to how I see her, how I always imagined her to be: the star and able to rescue herself. I want to experience Eternia from her point of view, as the major protagonist and He-Man as a supporting character. For that matter, I would love to write her mother, the Sorceress. I always thought she was full of secrets and stories, AND sacrifice. Those are good elements right there.

Yeah, there are a lot of red heads on this list. Not on purpose.

So what about you? If you knew you could do the story and character justice, who would you want to write about?
You know how you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover? Let's throw that to wind and live dangerously for five minutes. Call me shallow but the first thing to pique my interest in a book I've never heard of, by someone I don't usually read, is the cover. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one, and I'm dead certain the marketing companies are onto us.

Sometimes I browse Goodreads for nothing else but the cover designs. Today was one of those days so I thought I'd make you a wintry mosaic of lovely blue toned covers. I mean we can't read all the time right? 

What your top picks be based on nothing but looks alone? 


I don’t know about you, but I love deadlines. In theory.  Sometimes, they’re downright magical things.

Sometimes they’re the only reason why things get done. Homework. Readings. Writings. Craft projects. Celebrations. There’s nothing quite like a deadline to inspire a massive swath of productivity.
Since it’s November, and since we’ve officially crossed the starting line for NaNoWriMo, I can’t help but think about deadlines. And not just because I missed the one to get this post up in time.

I don’t know how many of my blog followers also follow The Word Wood, but while I’ve been crazy busy uprooting my life since midsummer, I’ve been massively productive editing my heart out, all thanks to the power of deadlines. And yet, for each of the four I had for this semester in my writing program, I missed all of them.

Every. Single. One.

Even my last deadline—which was technically really, really due yesterday—I’m still short about 12-13 pages. And yet, this last semester, despite all the insanity, all the heartache and stress, I had one of my most productive semesters ever.

See, I don't know about you, but I'm horrifically avoidant in just about all things, especially writing.  And I know me; I know if I don't tie the knot on my noose tight enough, I'll find a way to slip out of it. Sometimes I'm just too crafty for my own good. So for this last term of my MFA work I deliberately tied the rope tight and bumped up my minimal 80 semester contract to 240 edited pages.

I've been suffocating ever since.

While I both fear and dread the deadline here and now, and even though I'm past my last, and still short my last requisite 12 pages, I can look back at all of the results for my struggles this semester and find 228 of them in my most up to date word doc.

And that does feel pretty damn amazing.

So even though Denise Ganley here calls me one of the best binge writers she knows and even though the stress of it almost never fun, but as exhausting as it is, at least things get done. 

Maybe this is why I’ve never gotten further than halfway through NaNoWriMo, though. Dashing for 30 days in a row is too soul-crushing with my schedule.

How do you find deadlines? Helpful or horrible? And I'm curious, how do they impact your view of NaNoWriMo? Or are all of you out there are doing it this year?
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