Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Romantic Friday Writers Challenge #46: Birthday Madness

Following is my flash fiction entry (under 400 words) for Romantic Friday Writers Challenge #46: Birthday Madness. (Click the link for guidelines.) Full critique is welcome.

* * *
     Every year my husband Paul’s best friend from high school, Nico Stephanapoulas, throws a birthday bash. This has been going on now for 30 years and they have both developed streaks of gray in their hair and a little paunch. You think time would mellow out Nico, but no, he’s become even more outrageous with age. Let me be clear: I detest this man and I thank the gods we are only able to see him at this annual birthday party. Nico lives in LA and we live in New Mexico. Our relative poverty and his wealth manage to keep us worlds apart for the whole year.

     As always, it’s a lavish party with expensive wine and hor d’oeuvres—one of those dance-until-dawn affairs where Nico gets sloshed, makes passes at other men’s wives, and conducts a brag tour of his “estate.” On the last one of these birthday parties, Nico gives my husband a big Mediterranean hug while he looks over Paul’s shoulder and undresses me with his eyes. When it's my turn for a hug, I freeze.

     “Come on, baby. How about a birthday kiss for ol’ Nico?”

     Paul is drunk and has his silly face on. I feel like decking him for not coming to my aid.

     I begin to search my purse. “Oh, gosh, Nico. I almost forgot. A little present for you. “

     “Hey,” Paul said. “I thought we already gave him a present. I put it on the table over there.”

     “This is something special,” I reply, handing over a tiny package wrapped in gold gift wrap with a white bow. “Not to be opened until later.”

     Nico holds the gift in the palm of his big beefy hand and says “Oh.”

     I give him a wink and let my grin widen.

     “Ooooooh,” he says. “Must be something kinky.”

     I have escaped. I smile innocently at him, knowing inside the box, nestled in fluffy white cotton, are two, long Tylenol tablets that I laboriously painted robin’s egg blue. I wonder which lucky lady he will share these with. Happy Birthday, Nico.


  1. Oh Linda, you evil girl, er isn't your mc evil? Fancy giving that Nico such a present? I thought of all the possibilites and was surprised at the Tylenol, lol! A tale most of us can relate to, with long-standing friendships with partner's friends that you don't particularly gel with.

  2. I was in an ornery mood today. I think editing and working on publishing tasks is frying my brain.

  3. Hi Linda
    So funny! I suspect that Nico will get high anyway since he is so drunk he won't realize they're just Tylenol. Well written.

  4. Linda,

    You made me smile. If only I'd been this smart, I hated the company 'cocktail' parties, and the sleazy business men who used it as an excuse to 'get closer', but had I this little gift, so much fun!'s
    It's amazing, marriage, yours and / or theirs had no effect.


  5. Hi, Linda,

    She has a deliciously wicked sense of humor. I like that in a woman. LOL. Very amusing tale.

  6. Lovely tale of revenge, Linda. I love bold female MCs. I suppose putting in laxatives would have been a step too far! Lol.

  7. Hi Linda, being an innocent abroad I had to look up what Tylenol was used for. I love the way she gets a little bit of revenge, she's a clever lady. A great, well written piece.

  8. Hello Linda,deadly sense of humour your mc has!Your description of the party is something most of us can relate to as well. A tightly written and witty tale.

  9. lovely tale and lovely sense of humour. oh to be a fly on the wall later on!

  10. Dear Linda,
    This was clever, funny and well-written! A delight to read. I like the description of Nico's party: 'it’s a lavish party with expensive wine and hor d’oeuvres—one of those dance-until-dawn affairs where Nico gets sloshed, makes passes at other men’s wives, and conducts a brag tour of his “estate.”' Wonderful story!
    But why the robin's egg-colour painted on the pain-killer? Did she use food colouring or poisonous paint?
    I agree with many of the earlier commenters. You have created a bold female main character who many of us wish we were more like. She must be well-organised in order to make that extra birthday present in time for the party!
    Best wishes,
    RFW No. 46 - 'Birthday Madness'

  11. Oh clever! An excellent back story and character development. I felt her revulsion at the thought of the hug, and cheered for the joke on him. This was marvelous Linda.


  12. I should have been a little more clear about the little blue pills--fake Viagra.