Announcing Flash Fiction Friday. This Week: Water’s Edge

So I will post more on my trip to NYC tomorrow, but today, I’m introducing a new weekly feature I like to call Flash Fiction Friday. These will be very short pieces just to give you guys a taste of my writing in hopes you’ll want more. Consider it an appetizer. Just a little something to whet your appetite for something more substantial.

Or for you more cynical types, consider it that free sample the drug dealer gives you to get you hooked so you start jonesing for more.

This week’s story is not for the kiddies. Or maybe it is. I happen to think kids can handle a lot more than adults give them credit for.

Anyway, this week’s offering is a nasty little story I call

Water’s Edge

She knelt down at the edge of the hidden lake, hoping to see her reflection in the crystal water so she might check her hair. Billy would be there soon and she wanted it to be perfect. She gazed deeply into her makeshift mirror and nearly screamed. Looking back at her was not the freckled, yet blemish-free face she had seen a million times in her bedroom mirror. Gone were the perfect button nose and brown eyes flecked with gold.

Instead she saw something green. Something scaly. Something with gills and row after row of razor teeth. It stared back at her with eyes like black holes. Before she could scream, a green hand, the fingers webbed together, shot out of the water and grabbed her by the throat. She could feel warm blood trickling down her neck as the claws at the end of its fingers dug into her perfect skin. There was a sharp crack as the immensely powerful fingers crushed her windpipe, silencing the scream that might have been as she was dragged beneath the water.

Moments later, Billy stepped out of the forest. He looked around, expecting to see her waiting for him, but was greeted with nothing more than the wind blowing through the tall pines and making ripples on the otherwise glassy surface of the lake. “Girls” he thought, as he stripped his clothes off. He stopped at his underwear for a moment, wondering if he should leave them on, but then decided it would just be the two of them. Besides, that would mean walking home with wet skivvies. He quickly shed them and ran as fast as he could toward the water. As the dirt of the forest floor turned to sand at the water’s edge, he leapt high into the air executing a perfect dive in hopes she might be watching from the trees. He barely made a splash as he broke the surface.

.   .   .

So there you have it. I don’t write a lot of horror, but this idea came to me as I was trying to fall asleep the other day. I grabbed my phone and typed most of it right there before the story could get away from me.

If you’d like more, check out my links below. There are more short stories on the way as well as a couple of novels. Check back here regularly for updates.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

It’s March Already?!?!?!? My Trip To NYC For Thrillerfest/Pitchfest 2016 part 1

Are we really already two full months into the year already? Say it isn’t so. Well, I guess it’s better late than never.

So here it is, my first blog post of 2017.

A lot has happened between my last post and now. Unfortunately, not much of it has been writing related.

Actually, looking back at my last post, I realize that a lot has actually happened both in my personal life and my career. I’m just now realizing that I haven’t posted since May of last year. I truly am ashamed. Well, no point crying over spilled milk. I’m not going to promise to do better. I know I’ve made that promise over and over in the past and haven’t delivered. So this time, rather than tell you I’m going to post more regularly, I’ll just have to show you.

So as I was saying, a lot has happened in both my personal life and my career since my last post. The last time we talked, I was getting ready to go to Thrillerfest/Pitchfest in NYC. I went, and it was an absolutely amazing experience. Sandra Brannan, author of the Liv Bergen mystery series, and a personal friend of mine, runs Pitchfest. When she invited me to come, she described it as speed dating with agents. I couldn’t have been more excited.

Upon arriving in NYC, a city I haven’t visited since a class trip in seventh grade, I was amazed. I have spent my share of time in big cities, but none of them are quite like New York. Just the sheer press of people at all hours of the day and night is enough to make you claustrophobic. I climbed into my first New York taxi, and he dropped me off in front of my home for the several days, The Jane Hotel.

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It’s an awesome little throwback hotel complete with a staff dressed in classic bellboy uniforms. Everyone there was extremely helpful. They quickly checked me in without an issue and I took the elevator up to my room.

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That’s it. That’s the entire room. Actually, believe it or not, the picture makes it look a little bigger than it actually is. Apparently, when it opened, it catered to sailors who were used to tiny berths. Still, I was in The Big Apple to meet with publishers. I didn’t plan on spending much time in it anyway. Besides, at less than $100 a night for a guy flying solo, it was a great deal.

The next morning, I was up early, jumped in the communal shower at the end of the hall before most of the other guests were even awake, put on my best suit, and was out the door ready to make the long walk to the nearest subway station. I quickly rethought this when I was greeted with a blast as if from a hair dryer as I opened the doors. Knowing I was going to be meeting with agents, the last thing I wanted to do was walk over a mile in near 100 degree weather in a suit. I quickly slipped back inside and did the only sensible thing. I called myself an Uber.

Before I knew it, I was walking through the revolving door of the Grand Hyatt, NYC, ready to meet with agents. I did my best not to look like a tourist, but it’s hard when 1. you’re walking into such an enormous and beautiful lobby (They call it the GRAND for a reason), and 2. you have no idea where you’re supposed to be.

Fortunately, I noticed several people with badges around their necks who told me where to go. (No, not like that.)

Upon arriving on the proper floor, I was immediately starstruck. There were famous authors such as Lee Child, Heather Graham (the writer, not the actress), Gillian Flynn, and R.L. Stine, just standing around mingling with everyone else just like they were regular people.

As it turns out, they really are, but more on that later.

Luckily, I was brought back to earth by a familiar and smiling (if somewhat frazzled) face. Sandra Brannan quickly ran me through the registration process before bustling off to continue getting everything set up for Pitchfest.

I wasn’t expecting all the swag they gave me. Books by authors in attendance that hadn’t even been published yet. I believe one was a galley proof. I made sure to get as many of them signed as possible. There was also a baseball cap, my id badge, which came in a neck wallet which came in handy during the rest of my adventures in New York, and of course, itineraries, programs, and a map so I didn’t get lost.

And I think that’s where I need to stop for the day. I’ll post part two tomorrow, but unfortunately, there’s just too much to tell in one post.

I swear I won’t leave you hanging for too long.

Can Genre Fiction Also Be Literary?

When it comes to my writing, I’ve always had a bit of a dilemma.

Like a lot of writers, I have a fantasy in my head of being the modern era’s Hemingway or Faulkner. Perhaps sitting in a small cafe in Paris, dutifully punching out literary masterpieces that will be cherished throughout the ages. After all, isn’t that at least part of why people write? So that while we may pass from this earth, at least our thoughts and feelings might become immortal.

Still, while I do love reading the classics, I have to admit that my favorite books have always been in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres. Particularly fantasy. It probably won’t surprise most of you to find out that I’m a big nerd. I love nothing more than reading fantastic tales of swords and sorcery. Maybe I’ve always dreamed of being the valiant hero who saves the damsel in distress, (please forgive my chauvinism,) or maybe I just long for a time when courage and chivalry counted for something. Whatever the reason, I’ve always loved medieval history both factual and fictional. I still hold out hope that some day, an archaeologist will discover evidence of dragons. I’m such a fan of the genre, I’ve even taken up amateur blacksmithing as a hobby.

Because of this, I’m afraid I’ve developed a bit of a split personality when it comes to my writing. I switch from being the serious author who wants to immortalize his thoughts and feelings in print, to the writer who just wants to play and step into the shoes of his characters to live out the lives of people he will never be.

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about this recently and have come to a conclusion. Who says genre fiction can’t also be literary? Why can’t one piece of work be both entertaining and meaningful? Of course there are examples of books that, were they written today, would be pigeonholed into a specific genre but have still managed to become literary classics. Books such as The Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, and Robin Hood. The question is, Can it be done today?

I guess there’s only one way to find out.

So I suppose the point of this rather rambling post is this. I’m going to be true to myself and write what I enjoy. Hopefully my more literary personality will be able to reconcile with my other side and I can find some peace. Or at the very least, I’ll be able to finish a project without questioning whether it’s really what I want to be writing.

Of course, the fantasy bar has been set fairly high by certain contemporary writers, (I’m looking at you George Martin,) but I think I’m up to the task.

One other perk of being a successful fantasy writer, if I get popular enough, I might be invited to Comic Con.

What do you think? Can a work of fantasy, sci-fi, or horror also be literary?

Leave your answer here, or on Twitter @JustinMKelly1, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60. Also, please visit my website at http://justinmkelly.com/ (I have plans for a major overhaul but I’m concentrating on the writing itself right now.)

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