Flash.Fiction: Potion

This week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction challenge is:

Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

He wondered if it could be true. Could some potion be the answer to all his problems? Could he capture Vanessa’s heart? Were fame and fortune within his grasp?

He forked over the wad of cash. The old woman jutted a crooked finger at him and uttered an admonition…

And my response is:

The wizened crone shoved the money into her bosom and pushed a tiny blue bottle his way. “Watch what you wish for.”

He cringed as she croaked out the words. Watch. He didn’t like looking at her. Something about her made his skin tingle and not in a good way. Not the way Vanessa did. The crone’s hands reminded him of desiccated tarantulas, and her face… Oh god, her face was enough to put the fear of God into the most hardened criminal. He wanted to get away and write about it. She’d be the perfect character for his work in progress.

A laugh emerged from her hideous visage. “I hope it’s worth it.”

* * *

Within six months, his first novel, the one he’d written during a long week of seclusion at the Motel Six after visiting Madame Marie, was the NYT #1 Bestseller. Three more had followed in quick succession. Each one longer, more complicated than the previous. He was an international sensation. His books were leaping off the shelves. The money was pouring in.

And Vanessa was his bride.

But his fingers itched only for the smoothness of the keyboard, the solid click as words formed on the virtual page. Words filled his brain, putting so much pressure on his skull that he lived off Advil. Words, sentences, dialogue, demanding they be written.

He hadn’t eaten in two day.

Hadn’t slept in three.

Hadn’t made love to Vanessa since their wedding night.

He had to write.

Not the She’s Got Some Scary Sh*t in Her Head Part

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is A Bookish Choice: A literary-minded witch gives you a choice: with a flick of the wand, you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?

First of all, I’ve know a few real witches in my time, been to the sabbats and such. I can just picture a couple of them in their faded jeans and t-shirts–no pointy hats allowed, except maybe for Halloween–making me that offer like it would be a huge decision to make. I suppose it could be difficult for the right person, but not for me. You see, I’ve already tasted the shiny red apple of the first choice. I already am an obscure author who has a small but loyal following. And as much as I’d love to be snooty about my work, I know that I won’t ever write true literary fiction. Didn’t you read my post? The one about how I just figured out that I write romance. Who knew? Apparently everyone, but me.

On top of all of that, my goal is to supplement my retirement income from my publishing, which means I need to sell sell sell.

And I like the idea–call me self-indulgent if you wish–of giving reading pleasure to millions of people. It totally strokes my ego. I absolutely want people to feel about me the way I feel about Stephen King. Ok, I admit that I don’t want to meet him, ever, because he’s got some scary shit in his head. But you know what I mean. I enjoy reading his books, can’t wait for the next one to come out. And I would love to know that someone felt that way about me. Umm, not the she’s got some scary shit in her head part. The I enjoyed reading her books part.

If that makes me shallow or lesser, then bite me!  Just kidding. I want you to read my books.


Ask the Author: Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

Goodreads goodreads_icon_100x100-86359711e159b24740d60683e79eec45recently added a feature called “Ask the Author”.  To get the author started, the Goodreads Team listed some typical questions. Prompts like “How do you deal with writer’s block?” and “How do you get inspired to write?”

I thought I’d start with an easy one. “Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?”

Everyday I see something or read something, and I think, that would be a great story. For awhile I kept a list of story ideas, but it got to the point it was frustrating to note down another idea and not do anything with it. I’ve sat in movies and halfway through thought, if this doesn’t end the way I think it’s going to end, then I’m going to write that story.

With Couillon, I was under pressure to write a short story for a literary fiction class I was taking. On the web I had recently seen an image of Jesus and Mary painted in DayGlo colors, and in my head, I immediately saw that painting hanging in a voodoo shop in New Orleans. I love all things mystical and spooky. That image of the voodoo shop gave me the theme and led me to write the first section [20 pages or less for the class], the scene where Janice purchases the voodoo doll. I later turned that short story into a novella.

An Untold Want had no such immediate inspiration, no ah ha moment. I had finished my literary fiction class and helped form a short-lived writing group with some of the members of said class. They were all working on A Novel, and I thought I should be working on a novel too. Again, I love anything arcane. But for me, a novel can’t just be about witches or spooky stuff. Yes, there are a lot of novels out there about witches and ghosts, but I don’t write urban fantasy. I’ve tried to write genre, because it sells better, but I just don’t think that way when I’m writing. Then I thought about Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, and I decided to try my hand at a story like that. It ended up being nothing like Practical Magic, except it has witches, but that was the key factor in how An Untold Want started. I pulled the last name from one of my favorite songs, Ode to Billie Joe, but spelled MacAllister differently. I took the setting from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. You don’t get spookier than Savannah. And from those key factors, I built a small town and an unhappy woman who is a bit too much like me.

For my latest project [working title: Twin Story], I decided that I did not want to invent another small town. It’s a lot of work to create a world, from the street grid to the geography [Is it a swampy area? What are the trees/flowers like? What does it smell like? What are the buildings like?] to the town’s personality/attitude. I’ve lived in Seattle long enough that I thought I’d try my hand at writing a novel based in Seattle. But my novels have to have that bit of the esoteric, or they wouldn’t be mine. So I decided to incorporate Native American mythology into it.

But the key factor, what really started the project was an article I read in the Weird News on some newspaper website. I can’t tell you what the news story was because that would give away a large part of the story I’m working on. But those three things — Seattle, Native American mythology, and weird news — gave me the premise for my new novel. I’ve since read a lot about Native Americans, about the residential schools [which disturbs me greatly], about the different tribes, and about the myths especially those of Raven. I didn’t realize how different the Pacific Northwest tribes are, but I’ve grown to love the Native American mythology. I’m still not sure how I will pull it all together, but I’m working on it.

With that said, I should be writing the book instead of writing about it. I wish it were as easy as writing a blog post.