Turn, Turn, Turn

My name is Lee Sheppard. I am a writer, teacher and father. I’ve been at the-story-a-week/52-story-challenge since last May. While related to Bradbury’s challenge, my project is a slightly modified version. If you are interested in the whole story of why I got started, or at least a longer version of it, you can read about it on my blog, notknownotice.blogspot.ca. For our purposes here, you just need to know that I ask people to submit a sequence of emoji to me and I interpret these emoji to create a story. “Turn, Turn, Turn” was inspired by a sequence provided by my friend and fellow writer, Frances Luongo, whom I met through brokenpencil.com’s “Indie Writers’ Deathmatch.”

I hope you like “Turn, Turn, Turn.”

—Lee Sheppard 
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Moderator’s Story Corner: “The Composer’s Son”

ParlorPiano

By:  Kevin Wallach

In 1939, on their first wedding anniversary, my Papa gave my Mama a piece of music he’d written just for her.  He titled the instrumental piece “Melodie für meine Liebe,” but years later it would come to be known by my sisters and me as “Mama’s Song.” That music represented one year’s work, something he had written in secret whenever there was time.

Between Mama being pregnant with me and all the struggles of that first year I don’t know how he managed to find a piano or a few minutes alone.  Only months after that first anniversary, they left Germany for America, for a chance at life.  Each of them knew that the loved ones they’d left behind in Europe were facing the worst of times, and yet they knew they had to leave when the chance arose. Continue reading

Moderator’s Story Corner: “In Print”

BlueMacaw

By:  Kevin Wallach

On a messy workbench crowded with computers sat a printer with a secret inside it.  The small, white, rectangular thing looked much like the dozens of others around the dimly lit repair shop.  Most of them had been accumulated for the purpose of being sold, used, in the shopfront.  But as is often the case in life this printer was more than what it seemed and now was waiting for the right person or perhaps just the right time to reveal its hidden treasure. Continue reading

Moderator’s Story Corner: “The Library on 12th Street”

Magnolia

By Kevin Wallach

Introduction – I wrote this in 2013 when I spent my 52 weeks pursuing writing short stories.  Back then I wasn’t looking to be published.  Instead, I was seeking a revelation I believed Ray Bradbury had intended for those he advised to write one short story per week for one year.  I believe I found something, although I suspect the real benefit of the 52 week short story challenge differs from one writer to another.  For me, the resonating feeling I took away from that year of writing is that writing is a process of self realization.  You come out gradually in your works.  That baring of one’s soul can be unsettling for some.  It was certainly that way for me.  And so sharing my short stories was extremely difficult for me to do.

This is one of the longest stories I wrote that year.  I share it here in the hope that others experiencing paralyzing self doubt will find the courage to show their stories to others.  You may find that your most valuable lessons are learned when you open yourself up to criticism.

Part 1 – The Funeral and the Quiet House

The dirt on Timothy Goode’s hands smelled of sun and sea water.  He held his fingers to his nostrils and breathed deeply as he watched the last of the dirt pushed onto his uncle’s grave by the noisy machine.  Now alone among the folding chairs and the mound of freshly moved earth, Tim could grieve and think about his uncle.  He looked up at the slate gray sky and wondered if any of that stuff he’d been filled with as a kid was true.  Was Uncle Vernell watching him from heaven?  He remembered he had asked his uncle about faith and God once. Continue reading

Using an Outline to Stick to a Deadline

In the last few posts I’ve begun to offer my own experiences as a helpful guide to tackling the 52 week short story writing challenge.  Though that last sentence was a bit of a mouthful, the next one is short enough to make up for it.  Today’s post is about using outlines.

Finishing one short story per week is challenging, even in a good week.  My greatest struggle was sitting down to write, often with very little time to work within, and finding myself unable to compose my thoughts.  Even with notes I would fumble with where my story should go next, how to end it or when to introduce a character.  Only in the cases when I had an outline did I seem to finish a story on time.  The outline, it would seem, was an integral part of making the most of each day’s writing time. Continue reading

Inspiration never sleeps

One of the most consistent challenges I faced when attempting to produce a short story each week was keeping track of my ideas.  It seemed inevitable that when I sat down to write my mind would suddenly lock up tight.  To get around this problem I began jotting down my ideas as those popped into my mind.  Doing this, in my opinion, can save you from weeks without finished stories, if you can only stick to the practice.

My advice to anyone attempting the 52 week short story challenge is to keep pen and paper, or whatever you prefer for making quick notes, nearby as much as possible each day.  And nighttime is no exception.  If you get an idea in the middle of the night, as inconvenient as it may seem, that idea may prove to be your story for the week, the following week or possibly the last touch on a story you’re already writing. Continue reading

How long is a short story?

This blog is dedicated to the idea that a writer or would-be author can’t write 52 bad short stories in the span of one year.  Ray Bradbury suggested it to be true.  And if you love Ray’s work then it’s tough to question his wisdom on the subject of writing short stories.

But what is a short story?  I mean, how long should it be?  Is there a magic word count, pass that number and you’re writing a novella instead of a short work? Continue reading