I fell in love with fiction long before I started writing.
My mother and I would make a weekly trip to the Sun Valley Library and come back with stacks of books. I always had Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden books, because I liked the idea of solving mysteries, but I ventured into Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov with the discovery of Star Trek.
I started writing fiction when I was eight years old, inspired by a friend who was writing a school play. My stories were wanted I wanted to see in books: people like me–girls–having adventures. That’s in my stories today: women having adventures.
Maybe even solving a mystery.
Private First Class Linda Maye Adams, U.S. Army
And I’ve had adventures of my own. I enlisted in the Army and ended up going to war. Story adventures are much more fun!
I just follow the front of the story like an explorer and see where it takes me.
Contact me at LindaAdams900 AT outlook dot com.
It sounds simple. Add details. Be specific. It’s not. It’s an incredibly hard skill to learn, especially when writers a cultured to treat description as boring.
An officer talks about resiliency and failure, plus being a woman in a male-dominated place. Most notable is this quote about the culture for women:
”… It is a culture shift but it has to come from the top down because that is how the military works. It can’t be organic and it has to be the men who are taking the responsibility because the women can’t change it in the very small numbers that they are in.”
When memberships in the VFW or the American Legion come up, women say they don’t feel welcome, and they’re told to join and fix it. ^^ That’s the reason that suggestion doesn’t work.
My experience with seeing the flag folded is from NCIS and other TV series where the soldiers or Marines in their crisp uniforms and white gloves precisely fold the flag, then hand it to the family member at a funeral. Scroll down past the image for a text version of the image describing what each of the folds means. Link from my reunion cabin mate Lila Sise Spurgeon.
A lot of writers gravitate to movie writing advice to write novels. This link above shows why that’s not a good idea. There’s value in studying movies, like I’ve been doing Die Hard as part of the Novel Structure workshop. But it’s easy to veer away from the other senses and visceral reactions when trying to write a like movie, and have POV problems.
And, finally a quote I ran across at work this week, perfect for indies.
“If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.”
– Donald Trump
Nikki’s knees gave out. She would have fallen to the sidewalk, but Randy caught her arm and held her up. He was a warm, comforting presence.
Which wasn’t much out here. The portal in the street glared back at her like it was an eye of evil.
But the sliminess had receded. Now she felt the coldness of satisfaction emanating from the portal.
“What do we do?” she asked. “How do we fix that?”
Randy’s face was as pale as she thought hers was. His words were drawn tight. “I don’t know. We need to leave.”
“Leave?” Nikki’s voice sharpened.
Randy leaned in close, his breath hot on her ear. “It might be able to hear us.”
Her mouth turned dry. “What about Brian? The others?”
There were at least five people who had come outside, frozen in place. Why wasn’t she frozen? Why wasn’t Randy?”
She’d ask that later. She circled around the front of the truck. Heat rose from the idling engine. She felt eyes on her from the portal, watching like a cat stalking prey.
The door opened easily enough, so it wasn’t frozen. She touched Brian’s arm. Still warm. But he didn’t respond to the touch. Not even a twitch.
“Brian, can you hear me?” she asked.
She tried again. “Brian, if you can hear me, I’m going to try to fix this. I’ll going to leave, but I’ll be back.”
She reached across his lap to turn off the engine. He’d be mad if his truck ran out of gas.
A laugh rose in her throat. It was a wrong kind of laugh. Not for something funny, but for hysteria bubbling up from her belly.
Randy was right. They needed to get out of here.
It was all she could do not to run away.
My flash fiction story “The Library Patron” is out in a new anthology! This was a fun story to write. I saw a prompt that said “Neighborhood Zombie,” and the story simply happened.
Fabula Argentea: 5th Anniversary Anthology
To celebrate the first five years of publication, we have selected stories that we feel exemplify the spirit of the magazine and the variety that it offers our readers. These thirty-four amazing stories, from both first-time and established authors, will take you on unforgettable, and sometimes unexpected, journeys to places real and imagined. They will take you to the past, the present, and the future. Some will make you laugh; some will bring tears. And some may call up memories from your own past. We hope that you will find these stories as enjoyable and memorable as we have.
Available on Amazon
Nikki couldn’t see the hunger. But she felt it. Cold and slimy. Thick with darkness.
It was interested in her.
She could sense its curiousity. Like she was a piece of food, and the hunger was poking around it, seeing if the food was tasty.
Her body was rigid. Sweat prickled down the hollow of her back. Her breathing stuck in her throat.
The music swirled around her, and she thought she heard a voice chiming in with the notes: I want to help.
And then someone was behind her, a warm presense. Hands touched her shoulders. Warm breath puffed on the back of her neck.
She allowed the music to pull her in, and Randy came with her. The music was like an old tapestry with holes in it. The hunger snuffled along the holes, trying to find the biggest gaps.
To get through.
“Take the lead,” Randy murmured.
To do what? Fear jabbed at Nikki’s chest. She didn’t know what she was doing!
The hunger pushed at the music’s barrier again. Its strength horrified her. The music wasn’t strong enough to keep it out.
Fear rose up from her belly, coppery and bitter. She didn’t think. She just reacted.
Bouncing along in the flow of the music, she found the biggest of the holes. In her mind, it was gaping, and black. Dead.
It was from the house on the other end. It had been gutted in a remodel. Nothing left.
How could she fix this?
She felt the hunger grin. It could get through here.
It pressed against the gap. Too big. But it could work at the hole. Make it bigger.
“Spackle it,” Randy murmured. “Like mortar.”
Nikki’s mouth had gone dry. The need to hurry pressed at her.
She pictured the wall of the house with the lines of bricks, the overlapping rows providing support. Spreading the mortar in the cracks.
Randy squeezed her shoulders. She was trembling with exhaustion.
Breathe, breathe, breathe!
The world titled sideways. Nikki fell away from the music. The sidewalk bounced up to her face.
Her chest locked up tight. For a terrifying moment, she couldn’t breathe.
Randy pulled her up into his arms, wrapping them around her.
Better. She could breathe.
The hunger had receded from the air. But its satisfaction tinged the air.
Bit by bit, she took in her surroundings again. Brian was still frozen in his truck, reaching for the passenger lock. A neighbor across the street was stuck in mid-step.
Randy? He was moving, alive, resting his chin on her shoulder. But his eyes were alarmed.
She’d been avoiding that thing in the middle of the street. Now she looked.
Her breath caught in her throat, souring. The edges of the portal had solidified.
She’d made it worse.
The Washington Post published the Five Myths about Female Veterans today, and unfortunately, all of the are true.
When I came home from Desert Storm, I was hungry for something that explained how I was feeling. China Beach had just been cancelled and gone into reruns. I devoured it.
I also read and reread A Piece of My Heart, which is a book of stories of women veterans from the Vietnam War. It was just about the time when the Vietnam vets started telling their stories, so there were a lot of books coming out. I read all of them, because, other than Pieces of My Heart, there wasn’t anything representing the voice of the women.
I even went to the Veterans of Foreign Wars down in Tacoma, Washington. I walked in and there was a bar with a bunch of old men sitting at it. I might as well have been asking directions.
That’s still a mixed bag for the women. Some have great success at their local organizations. Others come in and are told to apply for the Women’s Auxiliary.
I’m also on a Facebook page for Desert Storm Combat Women. Many of them report going to the Veteran’s Administration, and their civilian male spouse is addressed as if he is the veteran. Or they have to prove they are a veteran while the male veteran standing next to them does not.
We have a local grocery store in Washington, DC that gives veteran parking. For the overseas people, it’s not a disabled slot or has any legal requirements; it’s merely something that a store does as courtesy, like the slots for pregnant women. Two women have come out to find nasty grams on their windshields. I park there myself, so I’m expecting one day for someone to do the same to me.
There’ll be an article in the Washington Post on something like PTSD, disabilities, or problems with the VA, and the reporter gravitates to all the men, unless it’s about a woman’s issue.
As a writer, I’ve submitted to a lot of veteran anthology calls. I was often the only woman veteran. Usually they got a wife or daughter talking about a family member, but even there wasn’t many women’s voices represented.
Obviously, the women need to speak up more, but at the same time, it gets old hearing the same stories again and again.
Just remember that there were 40,000 women in Desert Storm.
Desert Storm war veteran Linda Maye Adams shows the diversity of what war is like for the women who deploy in this collection of short stories and poetry. The stories run from “First Night,” and “Between Black and White,” because war seldom ends when the war does. The poems include
“A Woman Goes to War,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Only Questions,” “Little One,” “The Lonely Sounds of War,” “No Safe Places,” “Just Like Me,” and “That Wish.”
On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Within twenty-four hours, he controlled the entire country. Five days later, the United States was deploying soldiers and had named the military operation Desert Shield.
This would be the largest deployment of women at the time. Over 40,000 women went to war. It was so new that people questioned whether women should be there, and what would happen to the families they left behind.
Linda Maye Adams was one of those soldiers. Soldier, Storyteller is a rare inside look at war from a woman’s perspective.
Her memoir answers the question: “What was it like?”
Even as we celebrate the return of our military from wars in the Middle East, we are becoming increasingly aware of the struggles that await veterans on the home front. Red, White, and True offers readers a collection of voices that reflect the experiences of those touched by war-from the children of veterans who encounter them in their fathers’ recollections of past wars to the young men and women who fought in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The diversity of perspectives collected in this volume validates the experiences of our veterans and their families, describing their shared struggles and triumphs while honoring the fact that each person’s military experience is different.
Leila Levinson’s powerful essay recounts her father’s experience freeing a POW camp during World War II. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder provides a chilling account of being a new second lieutenant in Vietnam. Army combat veteran Brooke King recounts the anguish of raising her young children by day while trying to distinguish between her horrific memories of IED explosions in Baghdad and terrifying dreams by night.
These individual stories of pain and struggle, along with twenty-nine others, illustrate the inescapable damage that war rends in the fabric of society and celebrate our dauntless attempts to repair these holes with compassion and courage.
It was unnaturally warm in Philadelphia last week. For Veteran’s Day, we’re getting cold and blustery. Down into the 20s. The fall colors are finally coming in, but largely pretty washed out. Not the vibrant ones that are so pretty.
Writing can be pretty sedentary, so it’s important to not park in the chair for hours on end and never get up and move around.
Ah ha! A story about a woman Desert Storm veteran. But scroll all the way to the bottom for a slideshow about more women veterans.
Got this one from the BookBay conference. You can plug in another writer’s site and see what kind of traffic they’re getting.
Also from the conference, if you want to try dictating stories. Being handy too if you wanted to give your hands a break.
Daylight Saving: The Movie Trailer
This is hilarious! Last year, I showed up at the farmer’s market an hour too early. This year, I worried about missing my train (which showed up late). From Piper Bayard.
Randy took off at a run, headed back to the Chandler house.
Fear pounded in his throat and face and chest. It pushed at him from behind and came at him from all around.
The day had grown distressingly dark. He could still see the sun through the trees, but it seemed dimmer.
He ran past neighbors coming out of their house, shadows in their eyes.
Was it his imagination, or did they all seem to moving unnaturally slowly?
Up ahead, the sight of a big portal sitting in the street made him gasp.
It looked wrong. Inside out. And why were all the houses feeding into it?
None of the other six worked any more. Too many rennovations.
The music notes wrapped around him, asking, pleading.
What did they want? The music was part of the portal.
He looked around, casting about for an idea. Any idea.
Cold chilled him. His neighbors had come out of their houses to see the portal. They were motionless.
One man had his foot in the air, about to take a step. Another was in the middle of a run.
It was eeriely quiet, except for the music. No lawn mowers. No cars driving. No children’s voices.
It was like the world had stopped.
Why was he able to move?
Then he caught a flash of movement up ahead. Nikki.
Relief flooded through him.
Lights sparked around her. Yellow, with bits of black and red.
She needed help.
It was like time had gone into slow motion. Brian reached across the front seat. His fingers fumbled at the lock.
He might have said something.
Shimmering light drew Nikki’s gaze. Like a rainbow that had been scrunched.
Light shot from her house, and the other six houses, seven beams that intersected in the middle of the street.
Where they intersected, an irregular shape formed. It glowed yellow, but red and black floated in it. She could see the street through it.
And something else.
Foulness rose in her throat.
Another…something was coming visible inside the shape.
She stared. Tried to make sense of it. Failed.
It was silver. Geometric shapes. Like a child had stacked blocks in a messy pile.
Music thundered in her ears.
It wandered, as if the player, was trying to figure out what he was playing. But there was desperation to it as well.
This wasn’t supposed to be.
Nikki didn’t know how she knew that, but she knew it as surely as she knew the fingers on her hand.
The music tugged her along.
Chaos was around her. Notes crashing into each other. Others broken. Damaged.
She felt the neglect of the houses…it was a sharp pinprick of pain in her throat. A parade of owners. Some respectful, some not caring, some angry.
The music stuttered.
Something reached for her.