New Flash Fiction

warrior Flash Fiction

Years and years ago I discovered my love of warrior stories. I started reading and watching every warrior story I could get my hands on. I look for moments of strong men standing for what is right, realizing that being a warrior isn’t a bad thing if you’re using it for the right thing. I look for “between” moments when the warrior stands between something evil and the one they love. I look for brotherhood moments.

In the middle of reading a book about WW2 fathers and their Vietnam sons, I came across a scene involving a downed helicopter and a soldier who stood on it to hold off the Vietcong while the other soldiers boarded a rescuing helicopter. The moment blazed with courage. I told one of my dear readers, Deanna, I wanted to write Historical-Fiction short stories about these heroic sacrifices and battles.

A great idea, but I shelved it, busy with stories for my nieces and nephews.

Whenever I read a modern, military book I wonder why we have so many movie remakes. There are hundreds of moving, amazing, self-sacrificing war stories. There are tender stories, hard stories, stories that will make you weep with their beauty. Instead, Hollywood badly retells something done well years ago. Why, when there are a wealth of stories in any given history book, especially military history?

A great idea, but I don’t make movies.

I have, on the other hand, had a certain amount of positive feedback from some of my flash fiction.

Hmmm. Two thoughts. Can I tie them together? Can I do something here?

I recently discovered Strong Men Armed by Robert Leckie. It tracks the Marines as they move through the Pacific during WW2. It’s beautiful. It’s amazing. And so sad. Leckie is a good writer and paints the scenes with a detailed, loving brush. Reading the book, I was moved by a small snippet of a battle Leckie shared to write a flash fiction. I wrote it. I loved it. I was thrilled. I found a way to share something I read, something that really happened, in a new and fresh way. I did what I always wanted: I took a heroic moment in the middle of a messy war and shared it with the world so that these men aren’t forgotten. I sent it to a handful of readers. Their response was overwhelmingly positive. I entered it into a contest and wrote another one. Here is Story 2:

This Way

The small blue and white flag fluttered in the warm, tropical breeze, glowing in the setting sun. Two generals—Julian Smith and Howlin’ Mad Smith—stood, gazing, eyes dimmed by tears.

Bodies lay piled up against the sea wall, some stirred by the still pink waves.

One body topped the pile.

One dead boy reached over the wall.

The flag planted.

The flag that called fellow Marines, “This way!”

Here was the beach to attack. Here was the force before which your lives must be thrown. The pillbox. The machine guns. The mortars. The field of fire. Here. Come this way. Attack here.

One boy on top of others, placed a flag, with his life.

“This way.”

The chief’s eye flashed; but presently
Softened itself, as sheathes
A film the mother-eagle’s eye
When her bruised eaglet breathes;
“You’re wounded!” “Nay,” the soldier’s pride
Touched to the quick, he said:
“I’m killed, Sire!” And his chief beside
Smiling the boy fell dead.[1]

Marines saw the small flag. Marines poured from amtraks and LCMs.

They charged. Slogged. Crawled.

They fired. Tossed grenades. Fought hand to hand.

They died. Cried. Bled-out.

They won.

Days later, the Generals toured the scene of the dance with death. They saw their brave boys mixed with the enemy. They saw courage, sacrifice, and bitter loss. Carcasses of men jumbled with carcasses of machines. But, the day was won. The Atoll was theirs. The Generals toured and toured, measuring the ground gained against the lives lost.

But this. This blue and white flag planted as the last act of a dead boy brought tears to two old Marines’ eyes. This one little flag.

“This way,” it whispered in the evening breeze.

In poured the Marines.

“Julian,” Howlin’ Mad Smith went on in soft amendment—“how can such men be defeated?[2]

—Inspired by Strong Men Armed by Robert Leckie

[1] Incident at the French Camp by Robert Browning

[2] Quote from Strong Men Armed by Robert Leckie

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Quote of the Weekend

 

Benjs quote
Image from Pixabay, edits by me.

This is a quote from one of my oldest stories, by one of my oldest characters, Benj. He’s a saved unlit, and it’s his son that finds the Preacher and stops many evil guardians. Someday I’ll share Benj’s story. Someday.

In all my stories, you will find someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness, but gains it anyway. Undeserved Rescues.

 

Quote of the Weekend

 

“Those who dream Edgar Allen Poe.
Image from Pixabay, edits by me.

As someone who loves to daydream, this is one of my favorite quotes.

 

What are your personal cliches?

Personal Clichés: Characters

 

What are your personal cliches?
Images from Pixabay. Edits by me.

I’m one of those strange writers who doesn’t mind clichés. What I mind is when they’re slapped on because we all know that’s how the story goes, but delivered without conviction or chemistry. I love war movies and action movies. I like cop shows and westerns. Almost all of these stories are just a change of setting and actors, with the same plots, and the same characters. I eat it up. I’ll watch an anti-hero become good over and over. I’ll watch the drifter save the town and get the girl. I’ll bask in the story of the elite team that sacrifices itself for others, each one getting picked off one by one.

“Please sir, can I have some more?”

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Courtesy of Pinterest.

Because I don’t run screaming from clichés, I tend to have a few of my own. Whether I’m working on my YA Epic, one of my Huntsman and HearthKeeper stories, or a fairy tale retelling, I tend to focus in on four types of characters: the warrior, the dreamer, the forgiven, and the ordinary.

These four tend to make up my teams, my crews. They are my main characters and important secondary characters. And they come complete with their own symbols.

See, I’m a doodler. I love to doodle. Set a piece of paper in front of me and the next thing you know it will be covered with light bulbs, trees, swirling lines, mushrooms, antlers, axes and shields, and favorite quotes. It will also have arrows, feathers, tulips, and dandelions lined up in a row. This is my warrior, dreamer, forgiven, and ordinary.

20180524_065425-01.jpeg
A random doodle.

The Warrior: I love humble warriors (proud warriors are dangerous and annoying). I love the broken ones who stand between darkness and the innocent. I love the ones who hunt monsters under the bed, evil, and danger, pouring themselves out for the rest of us. They are often dirty, dark, and cracked. They’re rough. A dull arrow can’t help you. A sharp one, a tested one could cut you, but it can also defend you.
The Dreamer: I love the soft ones who see the joy in life. They’re gentle. They’re quiet. Their strength and power is far more subtle than the warrior. They have seen all the darkness the he has seen, but it hasn’t stolen their laughter. They face the storm with a song and a dance. They’re filled with hope. I often pair a warrior with a dreamer. It helps the warrior not break completely when he has this light-filled creature standing beside him.
The Forgiven: One of my favorite shows is Fringe. It is brilliant, beautiful, funny, painful, oh so very painful. In it they use the Tulip as a symbol of forgiveness. This works for me because not only do I love the show, so me doodling tulip is an ode to my love, but I’m also a 5 point Calvinist. The Tulip is used by us to represent the five tenets presented against Arminianism. One of the beautiful points about Calvinism is that we aren’t good, we aren’t worthy, and we don’t deserve forgiveness. But GOD! God came. God supplied what we couldn’t and forgave us, sinners. Christ came and touched the sick, retrieved the dangerous, and befriended the villain. You will never read one of my longer stories that doesn’t have at least one of the villains being forgiven. I love having someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness on any level getting it from the hero. Each of my forgiven characters represents my own undeserved rescue, because I didn’t deserve to be rescued.
The Ordinary: In our day in age, ordinary is a bad word. If you want to live an ordinary life somethings wrong with you. Suburbia is boring and only for those who have given up on life. And yet, ordinary is amazing. The Bible often encourages us to be ordinary, to live an ordinary life. Don’t get me wrong, I love adventures, magic, and supernatural things. But, I think there is great magic in living an ordinary life, a quiet life. (My hobbitness is showing.) When I have warriors, dreamers, and forgiven characters running around, I will include someone who is ordinary. They aren’t the fighters, the light, or the villain rescued. They’re just a normal boy or girl drawn into an extraordinary situation. This appeals to me because I believe heroes are often ordinary people. Many men in battle are just like you or me with the only difference being that they’ve been thrust into an extreme situation.

I wish I could tell you, dear reader, who these all are in my YA Epic, The Artists Return, but spoilers. I have yet to introduce my “Forgiven” character. Once my patrons receive The Sparrow and the Star, and have time to devour the epic-ness that it is, I’ll be able to freely talk about my four characters. Maybe that will motivate me to finish editing!

As you read my stories, watch for these four characters. Sometimes they merge and blend, a character being both the warrior and the forgiven, the dreamer and the ordinary. Some of my shorter stories will have only one or two of them. But, no matter what I write, these four ideals rise again and again. They take on different skins, different quirks, different plots, but stay essentially the same: warrior, dreamer, forgiven, ordinary.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Quote of the Weekend

 

e945d5b4876b5eab625ade7735613d46
Courtesy of Pinterest.

If you enjoy high fantasy, you must must must read the Way of Kings…and Kaladin is my favorite. I’m sure you’re super surprised. I love him because he is a true warrior. He’s all about protecting those around him.

 

Quote of the Weekend

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Courtesy of Pinterest.

How beautiful is this quote??? And how true is it that we are the beast, and Christ loved us long before we were beautiful. Beauty and the Beast is a wonderful fairy tale that teaches us to be Brave before we have to be.

Quote of the Weekend

Stories can teach us great things!
Image from Pixabay. Edits by me. Quote from Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer.

I love this quote. Stories aren’t about being true. Fantasy is never true. But that doesn’t mean they don’t teach real and good concepts. Stories can build character. Stories can guide us. Stories can help us be brave.