Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Snowflake's Journey

A Snowflake's Journey is flash fiction story that I wrote for a winter themed contest geared towards children.  My mom and I both love the snow and sadly we don't get to see it often enough where we live. So one day as I wished for snow to start falling, I thought about the journey each flake must take to get here and the story was born.  Thanks for reading!

The last of the leaves are finally falling from the trees. This time of year is so hectic. We've been practicing for this for a long time and I'm super excited. My name is Crystal and I'm a snowflake. Most humans have no idea just how much planning goes into the winter months. The rest of the snowflakes and I train very hard for the Winter's Eve Competition, which is about to begin.

The Winter's Eve Competition, you see, is where the snowflakes that trained the hardest get to compete. The best snowflakes are selected to fall during the season's first snow. Father Time and Mother Nature tell us that the first snowfall is the most magical of all. Those that don't get to participate in the first snowfall might be lucky enough to fall during Christmas Eve, which is obviously the next best thing!

How does a snowflake win the competition you ask? That's a good question. The prettiest snowflakes have it the easiest. They usually get picked just because they reflect the faintest bits of light. The rest of us have to work hard to get picked. We have to fluff ourselves out and practice falling in just the right way. The best falls are those slow gentle ones that seem to take ages to complete, almost like floating down to the ground. I think I finally have it just right.

Oh boy! Father Time is calling; it must be time for the competition to start! Come you must watch, it's like nothing you've ever seen before, thousands of snowflakes falling one right after another. I honestly have no idea how Mother Nature keeps up with all of us. It's all I can do to keep my mind on just what I need to do to fall gracefully. We each get three attempts to perform the perfect fall. Mother Nature judges us on our falls while Father Time judges solely on our appearance as we fall. We really have to glitter and shine in order to make it into the first snowfall.

I don't compete until the next round so let's just watch for now. The first round is mostly just for show since they're all pretty much guaranteed to get in. The snowflakes in this round have been around the longest and are amazingly beautiful, but it's still so much fun to see. It helps get the rest of us in the spirit and calms our nerves a bit.

Oh look! The first snowflake is about to fall. Her name is Sparkle and she's the perfect snowflake. Sparkle glimmers with just the tiniest bit of light and always does this wonderful twirl as she falls. We all strive to be like her. She's so nice too, and tries to help the rest of us. Wow! Watch the way the light glistens as she floats down. And just look at the others falling behind her, it's amazing to see.

I can't believe the first round went by so fast. It's my turn now. I have to run and get set up, wish me luck!

Hannah's Lake

Hannah's Lake is a flash fiction piece I wrote for a Halloween Flash contest in 2010. It was one of the first pieces of fiction I ever put out for an audience. While I didn't win the contest, it did give me confidence to continue my path towards becoming a published author. It has also sparked many ideas for future stories :) I truly hope you enjoy the story.

As the fog rolled over the lake the tendrils reached out like a claw searching for a victim. With every passing second the fog got thicker and thicker until she couldn't see the other side of the lake. Shalah felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.

She couldn't shake the feeling of dread that grew as the fog moved closer and closer. She could swear she heard a woman whispering to her from the lake but she didn't see a boat out on the water. Shalah shivered and turned to walk back towards the cabin, pulling her sweater tighter around her body.  As she started walking away from the lake she heard the woman calling for her to come back. 

Shalah glanced over her shoulder one last time and spotted a figure standing chest deep in the water. The woman was wearing all white and the way the moonlight bounced off the fog she appeared to be glowing. The woman held her hand out to Shalah, beckoning for her to come closer. Her long red locks dipped into the water as she moved further from the shore.

"Who are you?" Shalah asked. "Why are you in the water so late?"

"Come, follow me and you will see," the woman replied as she walked deeper and deeper into the lake.

Shalah watched the woman disappear into the fog. As she started to follow the woman, she heard a faint splashing sound as though someone were flailing in the water. She rushed towards the lake, thinking the woman might be drowning. Through the thick fog she saw a figure bobbing in and out of the water, dipping under the surface every few seconds.

When Shalah reached the water's edge, she again had that feeling she just couldn't shake. Something was very wrong but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. As her feet hit the cold water, she awoke with a start. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she realized she was in her bedroom. Shalah used the light of the full moon to look around her room. Though nothing seemed to be out of place she still had that nagging feeling. She walked over to the window gazing out at the lake. There was no fog over the water, just the shimmer of moonlight reflecting on the smooth surface. Telling herself it was just a dream, Shalah went back to bed, tossing and turning in a fitful sleep the rest of the night.

The ringing of her cell phone woke her the next morning with grim news. A teenage girl from town had been found floating in the lake that morning. Shalah thought if she told anyone about her dream they would think she was crazy, but she knew she had dreamed of the drowning. The more she tried to remember the dream, the more the details seemed to evade her.

She decided to fix a cup of tea to calm her nerves. As she carried her cup to the living room she looked up at the picture over her fireplace and froze. It was the woman from her dream. The portrait had been over the mantle since she was a child and she vaguely remembered a story about the woman from the 1700s. She had never really paid much attention to the story, figuring it was just a family tale passed down from generation to generation to scare the children close to Halloween.

The story was of a woman named Hannah Evans who was accused of witchcraft only because she had hair the color of flames. The town believed that if she was a witch her daughter most certainly would be one as well. They decided to tie Hannah's hands behind her back and throw her into the lake to see if she really was a witch, believing if she was she wouldn't drown. Hannah knew that if she somehow survived, she and her daughter would both be burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft. She decided to sacrifice herself and not even struggle against the ropes to save her daughter's life. As she sank deeper into the water, Hannah prayed her daughter would be allowed to live. Her final thought was one of revenge against the town. The rest of the legend goes on to say that every 28 years, one for each year of her life, on the night of the last full moon in October, Hannah claims the life of a girl from the town by dragging her to the bottom of the lake with her.

Shalah went to the computer and searched the archive of the town's newspaper for any drowning deaths to see if there was indeed a pattern such as the legend referred to. She found that the last girl drowned in October in 1982, 28 years ago. Before that there was another girl who drowned in 1954, also in October. The dates weren't exactly the same but all were during a full moon.

As she continued to research the deaths she felt sick to her stomach. So many questions flooded her mind. Could she have saved the girl last night if only she had followed the woman faster? Would she have been the victim instead? Was it all a dream, or was it real?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Sin Collector: Thomas Book Review and Giveaway!

Title: The Sin Collector: Thomas (Short)

Author: Jessica Fortunato

Released: July 20th, 2012

Print Length: ?

File Size: 105KB

Goodreads info here, visit the book's website

Disclaimer: I did receive a free ARC of this book in order to review prior to release. This however did not influence my review in any way.

Here's the official trailer for the book:

Now for the review:

Powerful Struggle Between Love and Duty! 

Stunning Twist at the End!

Shortly after the release of her debut novel The Sin Collector, Jessica Fortunato held a contest asking her readers which character they would like to learn more about. The winning character was Thomas and this is his story.

War always comes at a great price. Thomas knows this better perhaps than anyone. Thomas has seen many wars come and go during his unending lifespan. The death and destruction of war, as well as his lonely existence as a Collector, has caused his heart to harden, but when he meets a fellow Collector named Emmilina his heart begins to open just a touch. Then Lucy, a sweet and beautiful mortal pries it open the rest of the way. But soon Thomas must choose between his duty to yet another war and spending as much time with Lucy as he can. He feels that as an immortal who cannot be hurt, much less killed, it is his responsibility to fight in the war and protect as many soldiers as he can. He also knows that each minute he is away from Lucy is one he'll never get back. No matter his decision, he'll have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life.

Fortunato has definitely mastered the art of drawing a reader into a story with emotions. The characters and their lives are realistic and believable. I felt everything Thomas felt from anger, to happiness, to grief. There is a full array of experiences which kept me from feeling disappointed at the end as I tend to do with most short stories. That's not to say I didn't want more, because I did! It's just that the story felt complete, there were no big questions remaining or confusing loose ends.  I've read this short several times and can see me reading it many more while I wait for the sequel to The Sin Collector to come out!