Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm Over At Luke's... and Other Doings - Personal Post

Hi all! Luke Wortley invited me to write a guest post about flash fiction (not that I'm an expert), so you can pay both of us a visit here ! Be sure and browse around his blog, there are some great stories there.

For some fun reading, check out Golden Eagle's Evil Genius Blogoversary Fest.

In other news, I have one item being considered for publication some time within the coming year at Media For Living (apparently they're backlogged right now), one flash/memoir subbed for a newspaper column, and one flash fiction subbed.

I've also been MIA. I was felled by a particularly virulent gastro bug going around - I'll spare you the details. :-)

Looking forward to turning the clocks ahead - spring is in the air!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

She Smiles - Flash Fiction

The bus door opens, and Becky smiles.

I am tired and cranky because my hair just wouldn't behave this morning.  The bed had been warm and inviting on this bitter winter day;  after begrudgingly rolling out, I had scoured the kitchen for something more appetizing than toast and jam, but found nothing.  Even the coffee was stale.  Now my phone is filled with calls to return and emails to answer. There never seem to be enough hours in the day.

The weekend beckons with the promise of sitting around and doing nothing.

Pulling my scarf tighter against the biting wind, I inwardly curse the fact that it's itchy against my skin.  I rush Becky into the school, blonde hair flying;  her coat is thin and she has no hat.  She's probably freezing, but there isn't anything that she can do about it.

Once inside, the others greet her and she grins happily, delighted to be here and patiently waiting for someone to attend to her.  We lift her onto what looks like a gurney;  wooden-backed and covered with hanging straps, it resembles an instrument of torture.  Her legs are gently yet forcibly straightened and immobilized, and she cries a little as we crank her into a vertical position.  Yet seconds later, Becky once again looks upon us with joy and even laughs out loud when one of us sneezes.

Let me tell you about Becky.

She cannot put on a coat if she is cold or ask for a toy that she wants.  She cannot brush a fly from her face. She is completely at the mercy of everything, and everyone, around her.

She cannot walk, nor stand, nor move her legs except in a sort of reflexive kick.  She does not eat or drink by mouth, but rather through a feeding tube.  She has little control of her arms and hands;  she has never spoken a word.  She cannot tell us when she hurts or what she wants.  She communicates with her eyes as best she can.

And yet...

She is one of the happiest people that I know.  Look her way and she will meet your gaze with perfect charm. Laugh, and she will laugh with you, kicking her feet at the joke.

Just as I'm grousing about what's on the menu for lunch, I turn around and see Becky scanning the room.  I give her a little wave, and that tiny movement, that split-second of attention, is all that she requires. Her face lights up, in the truest sense of the word.  I have paid her some attention.

She smiles. 

Author's note:  Composite character sketch. Any resemblance to an actual child named Becky or Rebecca is a coincidence.

Also, technically I don't consider this to be a true "flash" since it isn't really a story, more a vignette.  But hey, it's MY blog and I'll do what I want. Mwah ha ha ha ha cough cough 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Flight/Space Magazine Interview - Chat With A Cosbolt Pilot

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Flight/Space Magazine. Packed with photos, stories and interviews covering topics of interest to the flying community. Our first interview is with former Cosbolt pilot Byron.

1.) Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What kind of kid were you?

I’m a pilot, certified on four different spacecraft, and one of the best in the fleet. (At least that’s what my ego keeps telling me.) I grew up on Cassa and spent most of my childhood at a secure learning facility. Hated it. I was labeled a trouble maker with a bad attitude. People kept prying into my mind, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. It helped foster the sparkling personality I have today.

2.)  Did you always want to be a pilot?
I just wanted my freedom. When it became apparent I had the aptitude, coordination, and ego to be a pilot, I seized the opportunity.

3.)  How tough was the training program?  Did you ever think you might just give it up and do something else?
Give up and do what? It was my only option. Didn’t matter how tough the program – I had to finish at the top, damn it.

4.)  Tell us about the Cosbolt. What sort of handling characteristics does it have?  Are there any new upgrades or new craft on the horizon? (Or is that top secret?)
The Cosbolt is the workhorse of the Cassan fleet and always first into battle. She doesn’t bank like the Darten, but her power is incredible. I haven’t flown one in twenty years, and while I’ve kept track of the changes, I’m not at liberty to discuss them.

5.)  Be honest. Do you ever think of yourself as a hero? Ever fear dying in battle?
When I started on this path, I wanted to be a hero. I wanted the glory and honor. When that moment arrived though, it was the furthest thing from my mind. I wasn’t afraid of dying, either. I was just doing what needed to be done. If I died in the process, so be it.

6.)  What do the next few months hold in store for you?
Our exploration vessel is en route to the desert planet of Tgren. The Tgrens are a young race and have only recently taken to the skies. Add the discovery of alien ruins and the Tgren’s growing mental powers and this assignment promises to be interesting.

7.)  Last, I have to ask this on behalf of an interested portion of our readers; anyone special in your life?  Is romance on your screen?
Probably not. I like my privacy, and women are few and far between out here on the fringes of space. Besides, a mate would only complicate my life. I don’t need that right now…

Author's note:  Flight/Space Magazine is a fictional periodical, which I created to showcase the main character in the upcoming book CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh.  Below is a full synopsis and details to pre-order. 

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities. 

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available February 28, 2012
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, EBook available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

You can visit the author’s site at

Catch Fire! Blog Party February 28 – join the fun for your chance to win one of five copies of CassaFire -

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Brought To You By ..." - Friday Flash - Fiction

Roger Showem, CEO of the start-up ad agency PickMe!, coughed and brought the brainstorming session to order.

“Gentleman, the new Honesty In Politics laws have landed an opportunity of historic proportions in our laps. As you know, all candidates must now wear either a shirt or jacket emblazoned with the corporate logos of their top five campaign contributors. In addition, most have opted to choose specially created insignia to advertise the main tenets of their platforms. I wholly support this move, not only because it will generate business for agencies such as ours, but because it allows our worthy citizens to better grasp the implications of their vote. After all, nine out of ten citizens cannot name more than one of a candidate's stances on current issues, but they CAN readily identify the Bullseye and the Golden Arches. In addition, it will curtail waffling; with logos visible to all, it will be difficult for them to claim that they do not support a company, Super PAC, or lobbying group. The insignia which we design will be seen by billions, and could very well be instrumental in the choice of a new world leader. And so, gentlemen, let's see what you've come up with.”

He clicked on the first screen.

“Hmmm, simple, clean. An oil derrick gushing - beer? Yes? Excellent. That covers two lobbies in one. Very nice. I see you have Big Pharma here – the capsule is sufficient; lose the syringe, or people will think he's aligned with the Legalize Heroin movement.” The next screen appeared.

“Oh for – seriously, Hubert? SERIOUSLY? A tattooed rabbit?”

Hubert squirmed and blushed. “Not tattooed, sir. It's a white rabbit with black markings in the shape of the universal male and female signs.”

“And so our candidate supports the hermaphroditic rabbit lobby?” There were guffaws around the table.

Hubert blushed further. “I wanted to symbolize the man's dedication to family issues. Marriage between one man and one woman, fertility and birth without restrictions – you know, rabbits were once used for pregnancy testing...

Design something simple – a heart with stick figures, Mom, Dad, a dozen kids, plus a dog. Oh, and a cat. Never make the mistake of leaving out the cat people.”

Margot, eyes glittering, leaped into the discussion. “Honestly, that dig wasn't necessary. It isn't as though any of us ever bring up the reptile people.”

Maybe a snake swallowing a cat should be OUR logo,” replied a voice from the far end of the table.

CAN WE PLEASE STAY ON TASK”, the CEO thundered. He hated the fact that his cohorts looked down on him for treasuring his cold-blooded friends. The idea of the snake swallowing the cat was, admittedly, a pretty good idea......he shook his head to clear it.

A walker surmounted by dentures is just what we're looking for. Doughnut with a red band across – too ordinary, but I get the idea. Try again. gods, Jonathan, what in hell is this supposed to be?”

Candidate X has been bought – I mean is represented by – the fracking people. It's a pipe going into the ground, but since the frackers want to be seen as environmentally sensitive, I made the earth in the shape of a heart.”

Roger took a deep breath. He flipped the image 180 degrees.

And now what does it look like,” he said flatly.

Eleven sets of lips twitched.

Bear in mind that youth supporters are inclined to look for ways in which to exercise their juvenile humor.”

Twitching lips broadened into grins.

Youth supporters. That gives me an idea for the environmental candidate,” exclaimed Margot. “A globe, emblazoned with the old ecology flag, cradled in a jock strap.”

The room erupted with laughter, releasing some of the tension, and even Roger had to smile.

Alright, we've got some workable ideas here. Our deadline is still a month away, so I want you all to get back to work and come up with at least a dozen more designs each. Bear in mind that the chosen logos and designs will be worn on the first broadcast of Ovation! and have the potential to garner us millions of dollars as well as worldwide exposure and future contracts. So let's put every ounce of effort into this and make a final push for excellence. Remember, the choice of a future world leader may very well rest in your hands.

Meeting adjourned.”

I find writing humor rather difficult, so I hope that you enjoyed this flash.

New Bloggers on the Block:

Two new bloggers I'd like to introduce (and hope you might consider following):  Luke Wortley is a talented young writer and new member of the community over at Friday Flash. His blog contains a lot of flash fiction and short stories as well as general posts on writing. (And he's a super nice guy.) You can also find him via Twitter as @LukeWortley .

Steph at People Do Things With Their Lives - this is a spankin' new blog with an eye towards making the world a better place.  Steph shares personal experiences and thoughts as well as highlighting exceptional people and the lives which they lead. She's a reader, writer, and becoming a good friend.  You can also find her via Twitter as @B4Steph 

I'll be spending the weekend in non-internet pursuits, so I'll see you all Monday.

Happy blogging!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest - Nonfiction

 Today's post is part of the Origins Blogfest, created by DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude, co-sponsored by Alex J Cavanaugh along with Katie Mills aka Creepy Query Girl and Matthew MacNish at The QQQE. 

It's all about our origins as writers, how we chose, fell, or were dragged into practicing the Craft :-)

This was a story I shared on Stuart Nager's blog Talespinning during an interview a few months ago.

I started writing when I was kid. As a matter of fact, much of it would be referred to as fan fiction, a term I didn’t even know existed until a few years ago. My best friend and I would write our own stories based on TV shows (M*A*S*H*, How the West Was Won) or favorite songs (Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, Kansas’ Dust In the Wind). One event that stands out in my memory: in the 5th grade, we were each asked to write a short story for English class. The day after I turned mine in, the teacher called me up and gave me a note to take home to my mother. When I got home, I discovered that the teacher had written her that my story was “far too advanced” for my age, and suggested that it was plagiarized. I was horrified, and my mom was set to storm up to the school and confront the teacher. I begged her not to.
Instead, Mom came up with a better idea.

“Sit down at the table. Write me another story; I’ll enclose a note to your teacher telling her that you wrote it while sitting here at the kitchen table right under my eyes. Then she can judge how well you do. That’s fair.”
I thought she was brilliant. (I still do.)

“But what’ll I write about?” I asked. The other story had been produced after a few days of thought. How on earth would I think up something in just a few hours?

Mom glanced over at our German shepherd, peacefully snoring in front of the fireplace.

“Write about the dog,” she said, turning back to dinner preparations.

My first writing prompt produced “On Thin Ice”, about a girl who is unjustly accused of a crime, runs away in the middle of an ice storm, and is found and saved by her heroic dog. The story won me a prize, but even better was an apology from the teacher and a glowing recommendation for inclusion in a class for “gifted” students (which I unfortunately later came to loathe).

So that was sort of a beginning. I wrote off and on for most of my life, but never took it up seriously until a few years ago. This blog is part of the ongoing process of learning to write, exploring different genres, and honing my skills. If you're new here, have a browse...about 75% of my posts are some sort of fiction, with a few creative nonfiction pieces or interesting photos thrown in the mix. And by all means check out the other Origins blogfest participants.  I think you'll find a wealth of talented, imaginative and supportive people there.

Also, I've added a Featured Authors/Books page (tab at top of blog) if you want to check that out.

I haven't been around much;  been working, doing some research for one or two stories, etc.  Hope to catch up with everyone the end of this month, as I have 2 guest posts coming up in support of the Catch Fire launch.  See you around the blogoverse!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Shot Tower - And A Featured Authors Page - Nonfiction

Photo credit:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, PA,51-PHILA,195-1 via Wikimedia Commons

Members of my family were famous for spinning tales as we traveled down the Interstate. The tower in the picture can still be seen from I-95 near Philadelphia.  At various times I was told that this behemoth was:

A tower used to train firefighters. They had to practice running up and down the inside stairwell with their hoses and equipment, and rescuing people from the (now bricked up) windows in the sides.

A tower to train parachute jumpers. Even as a kid I was suspicious of this one;  it was too high to practice hitting the ground properly, but didn't look high enough to deploy a parachute before the jumper splatted on the ground.

A spotting tower to look for enemy aircraft during war. Plausible, I guess...

A prison tower.  What, Rapunzel was from Philly?

The Truth: It's the Sparks shot tower. Standing 142 feet high, and with a base diameter of 30 feet, the brick tower was built in 1808 for the manufacture of lead shot.  Molten lead from a reservoir (under the circular roof) dripped through mesh, forming into balls as it fell and landing in water to solidify.  The tower produced shot used during the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

The Mystery: I have yet to find out how they got a large quantity of molten lead to the top of the tower.

And that's today's fun bit 'o history.

Housekeeping stuff:  thank you for everyone who commented on the Trestle Press/Small Doses kerfuffle. As usual, you all came through for me with moral support. Now I intend to move on with writing. Next move?  You'll be the first to know  :-)

Also, check out my new and updated Featured Authors/Books Page (tab at top of blog).  I hope to introduce you to some new books and authors you might not know - but should!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Book of Angels - Bluebell Short Story Slam - Friday Flash

The flash which appeared here has now been  included in the anthology Love In Creativity Project .

Written for Bluebell Books Short Story Slam 20 . Write a story, any theme or genre, exactly 55 words in length.

Previous short story slam entry Storm Chaser
is still available to read here on the blog. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Trestle Press: Why I'm Pulling My Book

It is with great sadness that I am requesting the withdrawal of "Small Doses" from the ebook market. Apparently, Trestle Press, the publisher, has been accused of plagiarizing artwork from various sources to use as covers for some of their books.  I don't know, at this point, if it includes mine. But after a lot of thought, heartache and disappointment, I have decided that I don't wish to be affiliated with Trestle.  There are several blogs which make a very good case against Trestle, showing covers in question alongside images from some movies and video games, as well as one or two artists whose work was used without permission or credit.

Covers In Question

I have sent the following email to Trestle Press:

"In light of recent events, I wish to have the following book which I have authored, and was published by Trestle Press, removed from sale, that copyright revert back to me, and that any sales proceeds which I have accrued be disbursed in a timely manner."

Small Doses by Lisa Vooght

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 116 KB
  • Publisher: Trestle Press (January 13, 2012)

Several other authors have pulled their work as well.  My own dealings with Trestle have been fine; nonetheless, I feel as though this is the right thing to do. 

And I feel miserable about it.  Although the authors are supporting each other, there are other commenters around the 'net who seem to feel that we, as authors, should have known better, should have seen "red flags", and are a bunch of naive, desperate, and shoddy writers.

I submitted work to Trestle just as I have to other newspapers, magazines, journals, and publishers.  As a novice writer, I decided that I would be better off to get my feet wet by sticking with small entities first and building a body of work before querying the big publishers.

So I didn't get my feet wet on this first foray:  I drowned.

I have to admit, I feel disappointed and depressed.  At some point, I'm sure I'll submit something again elsewhere, but not for a while.  Maybe I'll just stick to blogging.

I will always write.

My heartfelt gratitude goes to those of you who purchased Small Doses, and those who left comments or reviewed it.  I hope you enjoyed it, and thank you to all of my readers here on Flash Fiction. I appreciate the time you spend reading and commenting.

Feel free to comment on this post, but it will be a few days before I come back to it.

Now for the tiresome and embarrassing task of deleting stuff.