Monday, November 16, 2009

WOW! Summer Fiction Contest - Honorable Mention

So, after winning 2nd Place in the first WOW Short Fiction Contest, I decided to try again during the summer contest. I just found out I won Honorable Mention in this one! Whooohoo! I am very excited. Enjoy the story below!! Thanks for Reading! ~Laurel

Rat Trap

I struggled to think of an answer to his question as rows of sweat dripped down my chest underneath my shirt. The air was sticky with grime. He was supposed to change that damned fuse in the basement, but of course, he didn’t. Now the air conditioner was out. I swear, worryin’ over that ancient fuse box was gonna be the death of me. One day soon, I’d have a new one put in - a real snazzy one where ya had a switch to flip instead of screwing in fuses.

The blast of cold air cooled my face as I put the lemonade back in the fridge. He rocked back and forth on the hind legs of his chair as I set the glass in front of him. His eyes followed me across the table.

“So?” he asked again, his chair landing with a thud. “Would you do it? I mean, if you thought you’d never get caught? Could you kill someone?” He squinted, waiting for my answer. Looking away, I wondered if his question was a coincidence. I choked on that thought as I went over my actions in my head. I had been so careful hiding the evidence.

He took a long sip of his sugary pink lemonade. I hated that stuff. Ironically, it was so icky-sweet that he’d never even notice I’d mixed it with half a box of rat poison.

My first instinct had been to attack him with my endless questions about her. About them. But confrontation would have been too easy for him. He would have been ready with remorseful lies and promises to “do better.” Men were all the same, either bullies or cheats. I had learned my lesson, time to teach him his.

“Now sugar, what kind of question is that to ask your lovin’ wife?” I pushed a strand of sticky hair behind my ear and forced the same devoted smile onto my lips that I had been showing for weeks – the mad weeks since I had discovered them.

He didn’t answer, just stared at me same as I stared at the sweat beads drippin’ down his glass. The chaotic rows shimmered when the sunlight caught them just right. Each strand of liquid diamonds dribbled down the glass to the table, leaving a puddle around the base. The clock ticked. He breathed. The chair creaked again. My mind burned with frustration as I tried to decide if he actually knew. He took another long swig, finishing it off. The ice clinked to the bottom of the glass, sounding a lot like justice.

Shouldn’t be long now.

His eyes twitched. My forehead clenched in anticipation, damp with the same sweat beads tricklin’ down his glass. All his bulging muscles trembled and his breathing hitched. I stood up and leaned across the table as the poison spread through his body. I moved close enough to whisper in his ear.

“Darlin’, to answer your question, guess I would do it. As long as no one would find out.” I dug into my pocket and pulled out two pieces of paper. I slid the Quick-Crete label across the table so he’d know my intentions. “And it would have to be for a really good reason,” I added, waving the photograph of them in front of his face to make my point. The flicker of understanding flashed in his eyes just before he slumped over in his chair. I waited a few seconds to make sure it took.

Gone at last. It was time to celebrate.

I searched the cupboard for the fancy bottle of champagne – a sparking memory from our wedding – that I had been savin' for a special occasion. I popped the cork and took a long gulp right out of that twelve-dollar bottle. I wiped the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. The heat was almost more than I could stand. I took another swallow before I decided to finish his job in the basement.

As I removed the dead fuse, something scurried across my feet. Thinking it was our cat Whisper, I glanced down. To my utter horror, a value-sized rat looked back at me. I jumped forward and felt a sharp electric jolt as my hand slipped into the bare fuse socket.

Dying by electrocution didn't take long, but it was just long enough for me to believe in karma. Rats!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2007, we had over 100,000 participants. More than 15,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.

Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Still confused? Just visit the

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spring Fiction Contest at WOW - 2nd Place !!!

So, to my utter amazement, I actually placed in the contest I entered at the end of May. I took 2nd Place out of about 300 entrants. I was shocked as this was my first writing contest entry ever!!! (well, unless you count the one I won a few years ago when I worked at Travelers. It was on customer service - exciting stuff!)
I am honored to share the story with you here. Once the page loads, please scroll downto "2nd place winner" to read my story! Feel free to leave comments here on what you thought! Thanks for reading. :)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bliss & The Naivety of Writing

So I find I am faced with a bit of a conundrum in regards to my writing. It seems the more knowledge I attain on the craft of writing, the less eager I am to do this professionally – at least for any kind of “living”. Unfortunately, gone are the days of naivety in my writing.

The times when I could sit down, punch out a horde of words, and think to myself: WOW! This is really good stuff here.

The times when I thought “editing” meant using spell check on my first (& only) draft.

The times when I considered what I had to say might in any way be the slightest bit unique.

HAHA. I must now laugh out loud at those ludicrous views. My overloaded brain now contains multitudes of articles screaming the how’s & what’s and the do’s & don’ts of writing. Making me understand that I am but a tiny seed in the garden of writing and leaving little doubt I may never flower into adulthood in said garden.

Reading author after author talk about how “I was born to do this and would scratch my prose on the walls of caves if I had to,” doesn’t make things any better. Sure, I LOVE the art of writing. More specifically, I should say, I love the art of storytelling, but writing is a totally different beast. I hear all these writers say things like --- "the voices are in my head all the time and HAVE to come out onto paper". Am I an awful writer if that’s NOT the case?

Because it's just not like that with me most of the time.

My characters come out when I want to play, but not often on their own. Sometimes, I even have to coax them out. But then the fun starts, and when they do talk to me and tell ME where the story should go, I really feel like a writer. Artistically, I see things and get story ideas all the time now, but I think it's because I am tuned in to that creative part of myself. A part that wasn’t visible to me before --- before I allowed this portal inside my head to open. I have always loved stories, escaping into other worlds, other lives -- but never really thought about writing them down so much. Until I started that pivitol story that has changed everything for me.

So far on my journey, I have loved every aspect of writing my stories out and it has really helped me through a very trying time in my life. I love that I can write whenever I want ... there are no deadlines and no one is paying me to finish it and move on to the next one.

On some cosmic level, I know this is a very special time for me. And I want to enjoy it. I also know that if I ever DO get published, without a doubt, things are going to change. I hope I don't ever end up hating to do this...I don't ever want writing to become my daily grind. I want it to always be my passion.

Until then, I will write on, somewhat blindly, with my trusty sidekicks drive and ambition along for the ride. Maybe, just maybe, with a little bit of luck sprinkled in, it will get me where I am headed. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

3 Months

3 little months. I was positive I could avoid them for 3 tiny months, right? I swear I tried, I really did.

But they were there…staring at me from behind the glass at work. Every. Single. Day. Watching me, taunting me - each time I walked through the room. I couldn’t think of anything I had done to deserve this cruelty. I am a good person - I mind my own business – I do nice things for others. Yet, there they sat, day after day, mocking me. I was at my wits end. Not sure how much more of this I could handle before I lost my mind.

I started staying in my office, cooped up like a hermit crab. I could avoid them at work, but now they had begun following me all over the place. They showed up at sporting events I attended, concerts, even at Wal-Mart. Trying to humiliate me in public.

Finally, I had enough! I was going to do something about them once and for all! I plotted my revenge with endless possibilities. Each idea making me giddy with anticipation. The surge of excitement I felt demolished the anxiety over what I was about to do! So unlike me. I didn’t care if it was premeditated or not, as long as they were gone from my life, and everything could get back on track.

Shooting them wouldn’t work - it was too messy and would draw too much attention.

I could drown their little round heads, but not enough suffering in that!

Yes! I could go all Manson on them, chopping them into tiny little pieces, then feed them to the rats. THAT would make me feel great. Watching each and every last one of them suffer at my hand, while the others, lined up in a row, would have to watch!

It’s what they deserved after all. For making me suffer. All I had asked was 3. Little. Months.

I walked to the break room, making sure no one was around to witness my insanity. I slipped the gleaming butcher knife out of the drawer.

I waited for Ed to finish at the vending machine.

My heart sank as he turned and walked out of the room. The plotted vengeance would have to wait. Ed had the last of the bright yellow packets firmly in his tight little grip.

The M&M’s would not die by my hand this day.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Too Many Rules

I discovered, very late in life, that I have many talents I never knew existed. OH! The clues were there in childhood, I just never picked up on them. My parents would say it was because I was "obsessed" with all things music. My life revolved around the "record player", hundreds of 45's (Google it) and my love for hunky teen idols (OK, I admit, Rick Springfield was far from a "teen" when I fell in love with him! Whatever!). At the tender age of 16, I discovered LIVE BANDS and became,, OK, OK...a groupie. I detested that word and went to great lengths to persuade anyone (mom, dad, sister) from thinking I fell into that category. I went to concert after concert after concert, my snazzy 110 camera in hand,taking pics of everything. Later, I would cut those prized photographs into funky shapes and glue them into my scrapbook with the collected memorabilia associated with each event. Next, I would add the "official" reviews from the local papers and MY very own personal review as well. I still have that scrapbook, and all its wonderful memories!

Ya' think I might have picked up on a few things I loved back then. NOPE.
Not until I was much, say 20 years, older would I figure it out; my passions for photography and writing.

I have been practicing my love of photography for over 10 years now, and I am still obsessed. Anyone who knows me will tell you, if you see me, you see my camera around my neck - or at least in my hand! My daughter thinks I am the paparazzi!

More recently, I had this crazy idea in my head and I decided to write it down. One sentence lead to another, two pages bloomed into 20 and voila, the next thing I knew I was writing a story. The ideas kept coming and coming and I kept writing & writing. At first, I was embarrassed to tell my friends, knowing they would think me crazy. Why would a 30-something, mother and wife think she could write a novel?

Well, why not? I mean, SRSLY, who is to tell me what dreams I can aspire to reach?

One of the best things I have gotten out of this experience is to realize that MY FRIENDS believe in me, and so should I! Not one person has told me I was "crazy" or "delusional" for attempting to write a novel at this stage in my life. Just because I didn't realize this gift until now, doesn't mean I cannot attempt to take it as far as I can!
I've got a lot of learning ahead, might as well jump right in!!
You can follow along if you like, as I record my journey to becoming a published Author!

To quote a teen pop princess:
There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I'm gonna to have to lose,
Ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side...
It's The Climb
~Miley Cyrus