Category Archives: short stories

Ingredient 9 of Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno! EMPATHY by Queen of Spades

Day 9 of the Concordant Vibrancy Blog Tour.  The final is author Queen of Spades.
The Kindling
The creation of my submission for Inferno stemmed from an unusual place. Unusual in that I was working on a different story for this project. While working on the original story, an event occurred that I concluded only took place in the thick of my poetry writing—I lost the frequency that the story coasted on.
In order to better understand this, I must give a glimpse between what my approach to writing poetry is like versus essays and story writing.
When I write poetry, it’s an unplanned thing. It’s uncaring of the time of day or what else I have going on. When the inspiration strikes, I have to get the words down right at the moment. Flow, meaning, and rhythm can get lost if I don’t complete the process right then and there.
Typically, with essays and story writing, I have an outline and set rhythm in my head. One that I can return to whenever I get ready. All I have to do is sit down and get the words down. I never had to worry about the algorithm going awry … until recently.
It’s comparable to a GPS malfunctioning when one is halfway at the destination. No matter how many times one re-calibrates the machine or how many time it recalculates, you’re stuck with nowhere to go.
On top of that, the area lacks WiFi and one’s cell phone has just two bars.
For the first time in my short story writing career, I declared the original story a no-go but didn’t have a backup on hand to take its place.
This was around mid-April. Mid May arrived. Still no spark to guide me to an answer to the theme question:
What are the ingredients to a sustainable blaze?
In late May, I went on a personal sabbatical to Ocean City, Maryland. Solo vacations serve to be inspirational as well as invigorating. I read a lot of Michelle Obama’s book Becoming. I did some personal journaling, awaiting the arrival of the short story muse.
He (I only call the short story muse He when I’m annoyed) was being ornery.
One June day—Juneteenth to be exact—an image formed in my mind. It was of a person sleeping on his back. The ceiling had a water spot. Condensation was forming.
I opened my word processing application and typed. It came out in present tense, one I had never dabbled in but felt right for what was developing.
Not too long after, a name. Keller.
Up until I finished the story, the working title was Keller. Another staple for me is to already have the title either near the beginning or in the middle.
Nothing about this was my signature.
After doing a preliminary read—immersing in the words as a reader not an author—I thought, “This is a pretty insightful work. Keller experienced varying degrees in his perception of himself and other people.”
Insight … Insight … Insight. That could work as part of the title. Keller’s Insight? It was better than Keller but I still believed there was something missing. I wasn’t accounting for the temperature of his thoughts nor the heat of them.
Hence The Calefaction of Insight.
The Accelerants
 
 
The Calefaction of Insight is told in present tense by the main character Keller with bits of independent narration interwoven. Keller is a man who struggles with his weight. He is part of a group whose goal is to encourage him to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
An initial accelerant is “Mr. Jack Off”. A disagreement between Keller and “Mr. Jack Off” is where Keller’s tale begins.
What starts off as an activity challenge blossoms into much more when Keller encounters a woman at the park he refers to as “Goddess”. His interactions with her bring forth positive changes that are noticeable to everyone.
These positive vibes are met with negative accelerants. Some are external forces while others are of his own manufacturing.
The Fuel Which Binds
 
 
Overall, The Calefaction of Insight is a mirror on modern day issues (fat acceptance vs. fat shaming, illness and the surrounding stigma, perception of self vs. perception of others) and an ongoing battle of the mind, heart, and spirit.
No matter where one is in life, the presence of empathy is the differential between keeping one’s flame going and having one’s fire dissolve into embers.

Ingredient 8 of Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno! CONVICTION by Da’Kharta Rising

Day 8 of the Concordant Vibrancy Blog Tour.  Next up is author Da’Kharta Rising.
What’s good? The SASS here. I normally don’t get out of my cave but when I do it’s for a good reason. Also, when my publisher dictates I have to make an appearance.
However, I do like to talk about myself. Simply because I write pretty kick-ass stuff. Yes, it’s for a specific audience but it doesn’t make it any less killer.
Out of all the Concordant Vibrancy themes, this one spoke to me the loudest. Not because the title is “Inferno” but because it deals with fire. Fire is my favorite element, which you didn’t even know about me.
When it came to my response to the question, I originally concocted a literal perspective, dealing with a dragon and phoenix. Well, it wasn’t any dragon and phoenix. They were very entertaining characters, and the story was a mix of drama and humor, which would have been a big out-of-the-box leap for yours truly.
However, my main characters were getting off track and trying to steal my thunder. Therefore, a quarter of the way through, I abandoned those noisy, wayward animals. Not to say they won’t get their own independent spotlight a bit later, but they did not suit the succinctness I was going for.
You know me by now. I’m the type of writer that is like a strong drink. Little to no ice and no extra stuff to cut through the potency of the main integrant. Or for those who don’t drink alcohol, like a piece of lean meat. Little to no fat, although I think fat is yummy.
If you don’t like meat … um, then I’m all out of comparisons.
Let’s move this along, shall we?
Axing the idea so close to the deadly was a risky move but I was convinced that it would pay off.
See what I did there?
That is the thing about conviction. It is a powerful ingredient in the human existence. It acts as pliable clay, possessing the ability to warp perception and reality. The foundation and steadfastness of conviction marks humanity’s temperature. In my analysis, it is why there’s ease in starting an inferno but challenge in dousing the flames.
My contribution to the anthology, “The Chronicles of Aidan”, begins when Aidan starts speaking on the sad condition of the world to anyone who hears. Fearing that his opinions are signs of a mental break, Aidan is placed in a facility that’s supposed to tackle his ailment.
Dissatisfied with the bleakness of his surroundings, Aidan receives permission to decorate the walls by convincing the facility’s board and psychiatrist Dr. Deitrich that it aids in his therapy.
Through Aidan’s day to day, several events happen which makes one question the power of a mind’s conviction.
Find out more by reading “The Chronicles of Aidan”.

DR

Ingredient 7 of Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno! RISK by Synful Desire

Day 7 of the Concordant Vibrancy Blog Tour.  Next up is author Synful Desire.

Hello Awesome Visitors!

 

I am very glad you could join us on the Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno tour. It is an honor to be featured in a collection with such wonderful talents and that you have gotten a chance to learn about their craft and their stories in this anthology.

 

 

Please, if you have not already done so, take a gander at some of the authors which have come before me. You definitely will not regret it!

 

Today is my feature day and I’m ready to dish on all things risk in my story “Antipode”.
Awesome visitors, the first question you probably have is “Why?”. Why did I select Risk as the ingredient to sustain humanity’s blaze?
When one is in a holding pattern in life, sometimes it takes the unusual to light the fire in one’s belly.
This is my philosophy. Contentment and happiness are not necessarily the same animals. If they were, why are flickers of happiness so intense that they are blazes, but flickers of contentment are so calm that they are nothing more than candles, just to light the way to another path?
The focal point of “Antipode” is a man named Carsen Mulligan. He’s presented as an unassuming, kind man. A man who doesn’t require much to be content. A man who tries to keep the peace and eliminate or avoid conflict as much as possible.
All appears to be going well for him. He’s with a woman (Chelley Priestley) he’s head over heels with, in line to be his life partner. He’s in the running for a promotion at his job at Amphere Museum. He works at the museum with Morton Yang, who he’s been friends with since childhood.
What could possibly go wrong?
As “Antipode” demonstrates, every flipping thing.
An unsettling revelation comes about involving his love Chelley. This causes what should have been a joyous celebration into disappointment, as reflected in this segment:
Carsen was so fixated on Todd and Chelley that he hadn’t noticed the silence of the restaurant or the manager and two additional men surrounding him, ready to pounce at the first sign of trouble. On the outside, Carsen projected an eerie, almost admirable sense of calm in the wake of this betrayal. Inside, his spiritual temperature was dropping, as were bits of his heart.
Then, the promotion Carsen believes is a shoo-in falls through, with an extra insult to injury in regards to who received the job instead, as depicted in this exchange:
The intensity of Carsen’s emotions suffocated his calm. Agitated, he loosened his tie while rising from the opulent seating. Carsen was unsure which bothered him the most—the decimation of Mr. Deschand’s role in Amphere, the allusion to his romantic mourning somehow affecting his job performance, or the betrayal of Morton.
 
“Carsen, this doesn’t have to affect our friendship. I talked to Mr. Toler, and Falcourt Museum has an opening. They would love to have you onboard.”
 
Morton’s suggestion was met with wearing the remainder of Carsen’s fizzy drink. “Then you should have gone to Falcourt. Being the curator of Amphere was my dream and you knew it! You’re not only disloyal but a thief. My moral compass won’t permit me to be friends with either.”
These tribulations put Carsen on a path that catapults him to the verge of madness.
Just when Carsen is at his breaking point, Miles, his next-door neighbor, presents him with a solution that could turn his life around. All Carsen has to do is risk breaking from his comfort zone to try something different. Taking this chance morphs Carsen’s life in ways he never could have dreamed.

 

Find out if the fire of risk consumes Carsen in a positive or negative way by reading “Antipode” by yours truly.

 

Ingredient 6 of Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno! TENACITY by Y. Correa

Day 6 of the Concordant Vibrancy Blog Tour.  Next up is author Y. Correa.
To describe “Moxy” is to say that it is a mesh of science fiction, comedy and fire. And if that wasn’t enough to explain the essence of the story, I could add “fun” to that description.
When I started writing for Inferno I had something entirely different in mind. Never did I plan on coming up with the impromptu story that eventually became “Moxy”.
As a matter of fact, the initial idea was to write a follow-up story to my contribution to “Concordant Vibrancy 3: Lustrate”, “Twin Planets”, which I’d left as a cliffhanger on purpose. But, as luck would have it, fate chose differently. It was a combination of things. At first I was having trouble figuring out how to continue “Twin Planets” and when I finally did, the story went completely array. Something that I didn’t notice until well into writing it. Of course, this stopped me dead in my tracks and the only other option would be to come up with another story altogether lest I have no contribution to a collection that I was a pivotal part of. How embarrassing would that be?
Hence, “Moxy” was born.
You see, the thing is that most people consider me to be some sort of grim and serious writer, but the fact of the matter is that I have a great sense of humor. So I dared myself to do a little something different. I dared myself to tell a worthwhile story about tenaciousness and continuity through a science fiction tale drenched in comedy.
The first character to pop his head up and say hello was Joe, the alien. At first glance, Joe is just a funny, interesting and witty character who sort of pops up out of nowhere, but we quickly learn that he is a major player in this story. Ultimately my favorite character of the story, Joe is the catalyst to Melissa’s self-discovery.
Melissa is a headstrong person with her own understanding of how the world works, and frankly, she had no interest in investing her emotions into a world that she thinks is shallow and unfair. Furthermore, life’s struggles have inadvertently taught Melissa that avoidance is sometimes the best policy. Joe comes to challenge her views in a way that Melissa would have never expected. Truthfully, in a way that no one could ever expect.
Taking Melissa on the trip of a lifetime, Joe teaches Melissa what it is to put forth a little effort, tenacity and, well, moxy.
Now, for your entertainment, let me share a small excerpt of “Moxy” my short story contribution to “Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno”.

 


 

 

 

Excerpt:
 
The man continued waving as Melissa got closer. The luminosity practically blinding her, Melissa cupped her eyes trying her hardest to see better. The closer she got the more she could make out the man’s features. He was an older gentleman with a salt and pepper beard and dressed awkwardly. He wore tattered khaki cargo pants with an opened red and blue plaid shirt with a polka-dot t-shirt underneath, an aviator jacket and striped bomber hat. Most peculiar of all were the Gladiator style slip-on sandals and bright neon green fanny pack.
“There she is!” he said with a chuckle. “I thought that would catch your attention.”
Melissa’s mouth fell open in shock.
Snapping his fingers, the parabolic aluminized reflector lamp disappeared to which Melissa immediately took note and jumped in astonishment. As if by instinct, that light was replaced by the moonlight’s glow. Melissa looked at him, then looked at the floor where the lamp used to be, then back at the man.
“They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Well, whoever ‘they’ are … they’ve never seen that look on your face. Ooph … if eyes could talk.” The jolly old guy chattered as he chuckled. “Alright. No time to waste, let’s get on with it.”
“Bu- bu- I- I mean- Whaaaat?” Melissa stammered still in unadulterated stupefaction.
“Come on, come on, come on, young lady. I just said we don’t have any time to waste. Time is money, or so the proverbial ‘they’ say.” Throwing his arm around Melissa’s shoulders, the old man coaxed her forward. “You’ve got some learning to do and I’m just the person to learn you something.”

 

 


 

Well, thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed the baby snippet of the fun adventure that is “Moxy”. Until next time, y’all.

Ingredient 5 of Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno! REINVENTION by C. Desert Rose

Day 5 of the Concordant Vibrancy Blog Tour.  Next up is author C. Desert Rose.
The Wagon Wheel Watusi …? But, WHY?

Let me ask …
Can we really dance to the beat of a new tune and in so doing find a new way of life?
What brings out the best in people if not the ability to overcome adversity and in the process discover the things that we had inside us all along?
Inner strength, I believe, comes from the opportunity to find that which is hidden inside and bring it to the surface for all to see. But I think I am getting ahead of myself.

 

First let me introduce you to Calliope.
Calliope is the everyday girl that we all know. The fun, funny, awkward, kind but not stupid girl next door. She is confident in somethings and a hot mess when it comes to other things. She is quirky, aloof, but loves who she loves. Calliope is you and me.
More than that, Calliope has a unique way of looking at the world. She sees it through the lens of Dante, the famous poet who wrote “Dante’s Inferno”. This is how Calliope assimilates the world, how she processes things, events, and more than anything, the people she loves. Her eternal besties.
After breaking up with her long-time boyfriend Calliope finds herself in that mental limbo that we all know very well. That place of, “What the hell am I going to do with myself now?”
Throwing caution to the wind in a moment of asinine misadventures—or so she believes—Calliope joins a dance class. This is something she regrets deeply after the fact but now it’s too late and, well … c’est la vie.
What Calliope doesn’t expect is the outcome of such a rash decision to be exactly what she needed all along.
“Calliope’s Inferno” brings you a fun cast of characters, an upbeat and down to earth story, and something that we can all relate to.
If the theme question is “What are the ingredients to a sustainable blaze?” I believe that Calliope answers that question in the form of a relatable and idiosyncratic tale that’ll keep you hooked.
Now, without wanting to ruin the story for you, I’ll leave you with a tidbit of an excerpt for your enjoyment.
Toodles!

 


 

Excerpt:
It had been approximately six months since I’d broken up with Thomas Mason. Thomas and I had been together for three years. Those were the best and the worst three years of my life. Our union was the existential “vicious cycle”. We fought, we made up, we had makeup sex and we did it all over again the next day for three whole years.
Finally, I had enough.
I haven’t the faintest clue what our last fight was about but not even the makeup sex helped anymore. I felt empty. Like, I had nothing left to give. And so, deciding that throwing in the towel was more of a life saving factor then continuing to brawl, I said “enough”. I packed Thomas’ things, put them on the curb, changed the locks and left him in Fate’s deserving hands.
There was, however, a downfall to not having a poisonous relationship to occupy your time.
I was bored.
With nothing to do other than work and talking to the girls I opted to join dancing class. The dance of choice? The Wagon Wheel Watusi.
PS: Thank you, “Burlesque”. Oh, dear God.
The facepalm that inevitably followed was out of my control.
Dante, for the love of God, please help me out of this one.
Why that particular class appealed to me, I could not say. I think it was the combination of the image of Christina Aguilera at her finest along with the sound of the catchy name, if for no other reason.
Low and behold, I was caught off guard with a surprise that almost made me want to drop the class altogether. A couple of my classmates were none other than the Ricci twins. Stefania had regrown her luscious locks by now and Stefano had grown into a muscle-bound meathead.
“Oh my God, Cal! Look at you all grown up!” Stefania said as she swept her hair from her shoulders. The fake smile did little to divert my attention from her toned body and long legs. It only reminded me of how much I hated her.

Ingredient 4 of Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno! LOVE by Beem Weeks

  Day 4 of the Concordant Vibrancy Blog Tour.  Next up is author . . . Me, Beem Weeks.
     It is such an honor to be invited to participate in this newest All Authors anthology. That I’ve been asked to contribute to three editions at this point truly humbles me. The topic of choice for Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno offers a myriad of possible directions. Inferno suggests fire. And fire, to me, presents a variety of representations. We know its warmth is vital for survival in those cold winter months—without it, we would freeze to death. Fire’s orange glow chases away the darkness, offering sight and comfort in the dead of night. But there’s a dangerous side as well. It takes just one stray spark to destroy a forest, to wreck a home, to snuff out life.
     In addition to that which I’ve mentioned above, fire also represents passion. This is the angle I decided to pursue in my contribution. But even the subject of passion isn’t a fixed item. We humans develop many and varied passions over the course of our lives. We nurture passion for a spouse or a mate. Passions form for a much-loved job or hobby. I’ve been quite passionate about the sports teams I’ve followed over my lifetime—both college and pro teams.
     Passion often ignites a deep focus in the individual stoking its fire. It’s a drive that will block out the world around us while we engage in that which has captured us. My story, entitled “The Complications of Fire,” tells the tale of a young woman who suddenly finds herself in a tug-of-war with a new passion that competes with a long-standing one. This leads to serious—and even deadly—consequences. We all face these conflicts at various junctures in our lives. Perhaps it’s an innocent flirtation with a co-worker that ignites into a blaze that destroys a marriage and rips apart a family. Maybe a friendly wager on opposing football teams weakens a long-standing friendship. Passion and fire are the very batteries that keep life moving forward; both carry positive and negative charges.
     The POV character in my story is a young woman named Judith Zot. Her lifelong passion is archery. And having been born into a traveling circus family, Judith has become quite famous across the country for her marksmanship. Even President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself is in awe of the woman’s prowess with a bow and arrow—he’s had her as his guest at the White House. So, what might stand a chance to wedge itself between Judith and her passion for archery? Well, that would be an age-old accelerant known as lust. When the bombing of Pearl Harbor pulls her young husband into battle, Judith finds herself attracted to another man recently hired by the circus. In a rare show of weakness, she gives in to this competing passion, allowing her focus to drift away from archery—if only for a moment. And that’s all it takes—a single, solitary moment. Life changes for everybody in the aftermath of the ensuing inferno. Nobody walks away unscathed.
     What I find to be a truly amazing aspect of the All Authors anthologies is a prompting of new stories from the authors involved. Give us a topic and see what we can do. As a writer, I enjoy these sorts of nudges. I find deep satisfaction in this challenge. Once again, I am truly grateful for the honor and privilege of contributing to another incredible volume in the Concordant Vibrancy series.

Ingredient 3 of Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno! CONSEQUENCES by Harmony Kent

Day 3 of the Concordant Vibrancy Blog Tour.  Next up is author Harmony Kent.
Hi everyone. Harmony here. I’m getting so excited about the upcoming release of Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno. Today, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the inspiration behind my short story contribution, The Fireman.
At just 10,000 words, it packs a lot in. This is a cautionary tale that unfolds backwards rather than forwards. I’d never written a timeline backwards before and wanted to challenge myself to achieve that. Additionally, the anthology theme of Fire/Passion and the theme question of “What are the ingredients to a sustainable blaze?” grabbed my imagination by the throat and held it hostage until I’d finished the story. The result was a gripping thriller and tragedy in classic cautionary tale style with a definite modern (or futuristic) twist, all told in reverse time order.
It also gave me much entertainment to change the definition of the three elements of fire, which in this story have become:
Fuel: Someone ready to combust
Heat: The desire that must be present for a catastrophic inferno to take place
Oxygen: An ill will that blows no one any good
And the tale grew from there.
In this fun bit of fiction, we meet a character who craves the very thing that will destroy him if he’s not careful. All of this lays alongside a future world where buildings float above one another due to a housing crisis and a ballooning population … which, of course, has great implications in the event of a catastrophe.
Imagine a blaze severe enough to cause a floating apartment block to come unmoored. Now, picture yourself trapped in that inferno. You’re faced with a choice: burn or jump—what would you do?
What if you found out that the fire had been set on purpose? And then who was responsible … what might you do then? Would you want to get even?
A few well-worn “morals to the story” thread their way throughout this short story, such as, “Don’t play with fire.” And, “Revenge bites the hand that wields it.”
While I wrote, I held a question in mind: Can we rebuild ourselves from the ashes? It is my hope that I’ve answered that question for The Fireman and his friends and co-workers.
Here’s an excerpt from the tale:
Not Quite The First Act
 
I’m locked in. Can’t get out. No matter how hard I slam myself against the obstacle, it won’t budge. It’s solid. Immovable. Impervious to my rants and raves and assaults. Meanwhile, the flames lick and lap greedily at the door. They call to me. They scare me. They draw me. They repel me. My erection bulges. I rub at it. The smoke, which curls at the window, looks beautiful. My breath comes in short gasps. Is it the thrill? The fear? The fast-failing oxygen? I can’t tell. It doesn’t matter; I can’t get out.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been trapped in a burning building. Likely, it won’t be my last. People will insist on playing with fire.
I’m a fireman by name and by nature. I couldn’t have found a better-suited job. I’m so fortunate.
In this wing, at least, I’m the sole survivor. Those who didn’t flee all perished. Not much I can do about that. My priority has to be me. I have a job to do. A job to finish. Until then, I can’t let go. I’m sure you understand.
Have you ever been fascinated by fire? I have. As a small child. Once upon a time, my mother set fire to a chip pan by accident. The whole house burned to the ground. We lost everything. Well, my brother and I did. Mum burned to a crisp, along with the curtains and furnishings. I’ll never forget the stench.
I suppose that’s why I became a vegetarian. Haven’t touched meat since. My brother survived, but it scarred him for life. He was a couple of years older than me, and it hit him hard. He spent the rest of his short life in an institution much like this one. That place burned down too, just like home. I always wondered whether he started it. Fire’s a funny thing, you see. It’s beautiful and comforting, but it also destroys. Talk about a two-edged sword.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little about The Fireman and Inferno today. Don’t forget, the book goes live on January 14th, 2020!
About Harmony Kent
 
After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.
Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her adorable husband, ever-present sense of humour, and quirky neighbours.
Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.
 
 
Universal Links
 
Harmony’s Books: author.to/HarmonysBooks
Twitter: @harmony_kent