Reading in the New Year

I spent a great deal of my 2017 Christmas break organizing books in my library, and winnowing things I’ve read or never will read out of the pack and donating them to the local used book store. I have more books in my “to read” queue than I can possibly get through in 2018, so I have firm plans to go on a book diet and not buy anything new in the new year other than books we need for book club. Firm plans.

I have a stack of books to read from friends and people I know. I have a remarkable number of friends who have finished and published their books. It’s both exciting and irritating at the same time. I need to finish something. Seriously.

I have a stack of mystery novels to read that I anticipate will be easy to get read and get through. These will be what I pick up when I get stuck on something else.

I have a stack of books to read that were well-reviewed and lauded in the last couple of years. These are the books that I secretly would like to get completed but probably won’t.

I have a stack of graphic novels to read as well.

I’m seriously hoping people will not write anything exciting in the new year, so I can catch the hell up. But I’m sure that will not happen. People will write cool stuff. They always seem to.

Iron Writer 2015 Spring Equinox Open – She Couldn’t Find How To Push Through

I did not win my bracket for the Iron Writer Challenge and won’t be advancing forward in the competition. But I did win the popular vote in my bracket. I just didn’t wow the judges. Below is my entry for the The Iron Writer Challenge 2015 Spring Equinox Open — The Kurt Vonnegut Bracket. Entitled “She Couldn’t Find How To Push Through” my entry is a continuation of the story I started with “Carried Away By a Moonlight Shadow” which was the winning story for the Iron Writer Challenge 102. You might recognize the titles of these stories as the lyrics of a song…I do plan to continue the story on from here; I have an outline that will eventually be a longer short story.

The Required Elements

  • Artemis
  • A Dilettante
  • Jello Wrestling
  • A Moon Rock


She Couldn’t Find How To Push Through

When the ghost that lurked in her home was eaten by shadows, she began to doubt she had ever seen him at all.

The quiet old house became alien. She couldn’t make the finish on the second floor bannister match and three posts had to be re-turned. She began to doubt herself; she was a dilettante. Her plaster work was uneven, and she couldn’t sand and smooth it properly. Maybe seeing him was mold-induced madness from this house. Weeks passed. In frustration she left off restoration and began cleaning out the attic. She daydreamed of a beach somewhere warm.

It was April when she saw him in the mirror above the fireplace, when the moonlight hit it from the plate glass window in the parlor. Her own reflection was missing. His pale face was pressed against the glass; his expression one of terror, body hidden behind the fireplace as though it were a wall. She touched his hand against the glass and felt it give. She could feel him for a moment, until the shadows in the room behind him came to life and dragged him away as they had that night in the kitchen. The next night the same thing happened, and every night until the moon waned. Her reflection reappeared.

In May she was ready. The jeweled pin he left behind had no reflection either. She pressed it through the wavering glass, and he took it, but he couldn’t use it to banish the shadows. They swallowed him up each night, until the moon waned.

In June she used mirrors to direct the moonlight and saw him for five days instead of three, but couldn’t save him. She found his trunk in the attic. An army uniform, a sword, a photo and papers. His name was Delias. His sword had a reflection; he could not grasp it.

In July, she discovered a marble statue of Artemis from the attic had no twin on the other side. She placed a lunar meteorite in the parlor and the statue glowed an unearthly blue in the amplified light. She touched the huntress and fell inside her, and the statue grew and molded to her like armor. The air around her was thick, like wrestling through jello, but she forced her way to the mirror. Her face was unseeing stone. Catching up his sword, she heaved herself over the mantle and through into the mirror room beyond.

The shadows leapt forth immediately in response to her arrival. She stepped in front of him, brandishing his sword. A voice in her head said the weapon was wrong; Diana preferred a bow. But she did her best, cutting through the dark like fire. She banished the shadows back to where they belonged.

Danger past, she turned to him. “My darling!” he said, and put his hand to her face, but it passed through her skin. On this side of the mirror, she was the ghost.

“I’m afraid you’re trapped,” he said in sorrow.

Judge’s Feedback

Here is the spreadsheet of rankings for my story (judges names are blacked out) and the written feedback I received.

2015 Spring Open Rankings

2015 Spring Open Feedback

I’ve posted several questions about the spelling/grammar scores, given that I had the piece professionally copy edited, but I haven’t received any response about why they marked down to 9 what should have been 15. Lots of vague answers, but nothing specific, and a lot of deflection of my questions.

The Iron Writer’s Challenge is a flash fiction writing competition where you construct a 500 word story using 4 assigned elements. Your story competes against 4 others and is judged by official judges and also voted on by the general public. Winners compete in a tournament and stories are gathered in a published anthology each year. It’s a fun challenge to get you to flex your writing fingers, learn how to make your writing as lean as possible, and work with some potential obstacles. I wrote about my planning for the challenge here