New story and Weekly Challenge

I was walking through the park with my son the other day and he was so excited to run through the grass and look for dandelion seeds. Except he didn’t call them that, he called them “blowing stones.” He may be behind verbally, but he comes up with some really interesting ways of describing things. Dandelion seeds are round like stones and you blow on them – blowing stones. Duh Mom. Of course. Naturally, I’ve forgotten the other interesting descriptions he’s made. Oh well.

So I was watching him and it struck me how innocent children are. When did adults lose their innocence? When did we stop feeling the joy of simply running through the park? Playing hide and seek behind trees and look for flowers to make flower chains? Run for the sheer joy of running till your out of breath and then throwing yourself down onto the grass?

I cringe when he does that last part because all I think when I see him throw himself on the ground is,

POOOOOOOOOP!!!!!!

Rotten people don’t pick up after their rotten dogs.

Scoop the Poop, People! So kids can play in the park without worrying about stepping or lying down in a pile of dung.

When I could finally tear him away from this wonderful park of scarce trees and a never-ending expanse of grass containing hidden treasures of dog poop, I sat down to write a new flash fiction story entitled “The Blowing Stones.” I wanted it to convey the wonder and innocence of childhood and how we somehow lose it as we grow into adulthood. Considering how often I was interrupted by that same annoying little boy I marveled at merely 10 minutes before, I don’t think I succeeded in my goal. But I’ll read it over later and try again. That kind of writing really isn’t my forte but I’m trying to expand my boundaries.

Everyone should try to break out of their box. I’m going to start giving out weekly challenges. Anyone who wants to try them can. I’m going to practice what I preach and try them myself as well. Next Sunday I’ll report on how well it went.

WEEKLY CHALLENGE:

  • Break out of your box and write something you wouldn’t normally try. It doesn’t have to be long. Maybe you’ve never tried poetry so write a poem. Maybe you’re used to writing horror like me so try to write a different genre or go genre-less. Only write contemporary? Try literary. Only write fiction? Go for non-fiction. What you try is up to you. Anything goes.

Whatever you do, have fun with it!

Good luck!

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Where do I get my ideas?

Many writers will tell you that the question they’re asked the most often is, “Where do you get your ideas?” I don’t believe I’ve ever been asked that particular question.

So where do I get my ideas?

Pretty simple. Most of my short stories come from either daydreams or real dreams from my slumbering hours. My novel ideas come from daydreams. Quite frequently it’ll start off as something concerning X-Men or Thor or whatever else I’m into at the moment, then when it’s still in my mind it’ll start to mutate and by the time it’s done it doesn’t (or shouldn’t if I’ve done my job properly) look anything like the original fantasy.

Unfortunately, then I begin to write and heaven only knows where the story will really end up. “Night’s Treasure” took about 4 complete go-throughs that had me changing nearly every single detail each time. The manuscript looks nothing like the original attempt at it much less the original mental idea.

Subconscious Dreams…

These are much easier. My subconscious can whip up some real doozies while I’m asleep. The trick is not forgetting them after I’m awake. Many I do forget because they’re forgettable. Others, like last night’s, I do not forget. I dreamt I had been captured along with a young version of Arnold Schwarzeneger (he was in character, not himself). They separated us and stuck us in a mountain prison-type place with a bunch of other people. Space was extremely limited so there were times I couldn’t move from where I was lying. Then they left us without food or water. Arnold escaped and I hoped he’d come back for me. People devolved and began eating each other. They became sub-human monsters (at least mentally). Others in order to avoid the fate of being eaten or starving to death, threw themselves off cliffs. I was starving. People began eating my feet but I couldn’t move from where I was lying because there wasn’t room. I gave up waiting for Arnold and threw myself off the cliff next to me. I hoped a broken neck would end things quickly but my conscious mind couldn’t bear it so I just kind of skidded and floated down. Then I knew Arnold was coming for me but it was too late.

The dream changed after that into some kind of ghost dream because I’ve been reading lots of ghost stories lately. It was interesting but not like being eaten and throwing myself off a cliff.

Getting a dream to stick…

So this is the dream I take with me. I don’t have time to immediately write it down when I wake up because I have to get myself and my kid ready for the day so I mentally review it over and over while I’m getting ready. This helps the dream stick till I have time to record it. I’ll add it to my list of short story ideas. Maybe I’ll use some version of it as flash fiction. The details of the dream aren’t all that important to me in this particular case; it’s the idea I want to capture. Being closed in, eaten alive, maybe buried alive. Captured or abandoned with no hope. Death closing in.

And already my brain is whirling around these concepts. I think i may just do a flash fiction piece from this dream.

Save Your Dreams!

You can get tons of great ideas when you’re asleep. If you think your dreams are boring, influence them by reading or watching lots of interesting or weird things. I’ve been reading about ghosts a lot lately and last night I dreamt about ghosts.

Try it. After awhile it may work for you too.

Submission guidelines

Have you ever come across  funky submission guidelines for magazines? Or maybe they’re not weird but they’re weird for you because you’ve never seen them. That’s what happened to me this morning. I submitted two stories – one is a short story, Terror in the Dark, and the other is a brand new flash fiction, Ghostly Visit.

Funny story behind that one. I thought the listing said the magazine was looking for “paranormal experiences” for their non-fiction section. I was so psyched to be able to write one of my own accounts. Then I looked at the listing again when I was writing the cover letter and found it said “personal experiences.” Needless to say, I felt like an idiot. They were looking for seasonal scary pieces for their Fall issue so I mutated what I read in the non-fiction section.

Dork.

But I still thought it was a good story and it was short enough so I deleted the non-fiction essay parts, tweaked the story, and voila! Flash fiction. About 1-2 hours later, I had submitted Terror to one magazine (the second is closed now so I’ll have to wait. Hate that!) and Ghostly to two more magazines. Two of those magazines pay while the 3rd (IdeaGems, lack of funds so they can no longer give monetary payment) does not.

If you’re looking for a magazine that caters mainly to flash fiction, I’d try visiting Vestal Review. They have a huge archive and the stories are so entertaining!

http://www.vestalreview.net

Anyway, the submission guidelines at IdeaGems was extremely unfamiliar to me and it made my story look super weird. I hope I did it all correctly or, if I didn’t, that it doesn’t make the editor throw my submission into the virtual trash. I’d hate to be rejected because I didn’t understand unfamiliar guidelines rather than on the merit of my work.

Keep your fingers crossed for my new submissions and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for all of you!

Introduction to Kathryn St. John-Shin

Many days I find myself wondering what on earth I’m doing. This applies to pretty much everything in my life with very few exceptions. I could be an adept wizard at what I’m doing and still sometimes wonder what I’m doing. My life as it stands right now can be broken down into three sections. Only three, I know, very sad. In no particular order they are:

1. Fitness. My own fitness because I have yet to be qualified to help others with their personal journeys.

2. Writing. I work on novels and short stories.

3. Motherhood. I have one son who’s four years old right now.

Really, as a mother, I should have listed Motherhood first in that list. It does come first because I would drop everything else in my life for my son. Is my son always the center of my world and thoughts though? I’d be lying if I said he was. I’d also be lying if I said I would be happy about dropping everything else in my life for him should the need arise. But I would still do it. Some people would say this was un-motherly of me. I say, “It takes all kinds.”

Because being a mommy takes up a gigantic chunk of my life, I mention it here now but, really, this blog isn’t about me being a mommy. Only parents/grandparents are truly interested in their own kid/grandkid.

I’ll have a fitness blog up soon so I can share my other passion. I’ll even link between the two from time to time…most likely. This first post is really just to introduce myself and give the main areas of my life.

My name is Kathryn St. John-Shin and I am a writer. I’m also a mother and into fitness. Put it all together and perhaps I can run my own lunatic asylum. How fun would that be!