Flash Fiction Challenge: My take on horror spam

I see Flash Fiction challenges on blogs all the time and never give them a thought. Then yesterday I saw a Tweet from Chuck Wendig that caught my eye. I went to his blog and read the challenge in full. The assignment? Write a horror story framed as spam.

I was compelled and had to give it a try.  Two minutes into the project I immediately realized how hard it would be and almost gave up.  In the end I’m glad I didn’t.  It is, admittedly, low on horror but high on scam and creating the voice was fun as all get out.  And so here we go.  What do you think?

My dearest friend I write you with most urgent need. I assure you most that this is not much scam as my need is great. I am HRH Prince Dooya Fukguys last remaining heir of the Fukguys Royal Nigerian dynasty.

My need is great as I am currently prisoner to vampire clan in deepest Nigeria. It is a strange and terrible story that you must believe. I was captured by the lead vampire just weeks away and am desperate to escape. They sleep by day and torture me at night staring with their red blood eyes. They get hungry for human blood each day and snack on my neck. The pain my friend! Oh the pain! They keep me trapped in their dungeon with nothing but the internet to please me and feed me rib eye steaks against my most vegetarian pleas. I suffer from the daily torturous pain. It’s true my story is!

I have enlisted the services of a vampire hunter who will kill the horrid vampires but first he must receive his pay. I must send him $1,687.93 from only an American bank. Please my friend can you help me? I can send you today a cashiers check for $1,687.93 that you can use to fund your bank account and wire the money to my vampire hunter by the name of Mr. Phil McKrackin.

It will only take hours for Mr. McKrackin to release me from my captures. He is a reputable vampire hunter who will most quickly work. If you send me today your address where I can mail the cashiers check I will be released by October 31, 2014 when I can wire to your bank a reward of $15,000,000 from my royal Nigerian dynasty bank. I must have your assurances for help immediately my friend as I grow weaker from loss of blood each day.

Please my dearest friend I await your response.

HRH Prince Dooya Fukguys

Sent from my gmail account

*Get your free Oakley sunglasses today! www.vampireoakes.com

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Awaken by Meg Cabot

Good news! I finally finished the Abandon series by Meg Cabot. Even better news? The Awakenbooks get progressively better, so much so that I can honestly say I really enjoyed the final book, Awaken. The best part is I finally got the key story elements I love so much from Meg Cabot: spunky heroine and a good support network.

Awaken starts up right where Underworld leaves off. It is a few hours later and Pierce, having finally embodied the spunky Meg Caboty heroine we all love, is helping out on the docks of the underworld greeting the newly dead. She is already an asset to the place being polite and helpful (unlike John and his cronies) to the confused new arrivals. She even hands out glasses of water.

We quickly learn that Alex and Kayla have been brought to the underground as well and like Pierce we’re not sure how long they are going to stay or what they are going to do next. Unfortunately we don’t get to find out because a couple of fury possessed ships show up ready to reek havoc on the place. Hot hunky John, ruler of the underground and Pierce’s boyfriend, jumps aboard one of the boats to prevent the impending disaster and disappears along with the fates. Now it’s up to Pierce and her friends to bring the fates (and hopefully John) back to where they belong.

A lot happens in this book. Pierce desperately wants to find John but discovers that she is also tasked with having to restore balance to the underworld and save the world above from destruction by the evil furies! Along the way storylines that began in the previous books are resolved. We get the full scoop on Seth Rector, Alex’s dad and Pierce’s parents. We also get a really cool quote:

We do need storms sometimes, because they clear away the bracken so that the sun can shine on flowers that might never otherwise have had a chance to bloom.

I love this quote, which is the theme of the book, because it’s a good message about life as well. Sometimes you have to suffer through hard times in order to get to better times. This is kind of like how I felt at the beginning of this series actually. While I wasn’t a fan of the first book I stuck it out and was finally rewarded with this final one which was pretty delightful! I give it a good solid, classic Mrs. B!

Mrs. B rating classic

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Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

As someone who relies almost exclusively on Hulu and Netflix for her TV entertainment, I know I was late to the “Orange Is the New Black” party. I waited until this summer to finally watch this Netflix exclusive series. The premise, life inside a women’s Orange is the New Blackprison, had me fascinated. When I discovered the show was based on a real life memoir by Piper Kerman I jumped on my Kindle and bought a copy pronto.

As I expected, the true story does not have the sexy drama we see on Netflix. However, I was surprised to see many parallels between the book and the show. Like on the show, the real Piper did become involved with a drug dealer and they led a pretty glamorous life traveling the globe. Also, many of the women Kerman met in jail clearly served as inspiration for characters we meet in the show. The same goes for some of the experiences Kerman had while incarcerated.

I was interested to read about Kerman’s real life experiences in prison. One of the things that surprised me was the kindness she experienced from other inmates when she first arrived. Sensing that Kerman was frightened and alone, many women greeted her kindly and supplied her with toiletry items she would otherwise be without in the first few weeks while her commissary account was being set up. As I read on I found this was customary for newcomers.

Kerman also confirmed that prison could be extremely boring and the most common way to fill the hours was reading. She also took up running and became physically fit. There is a tiny part of me that thinks this might be lovely. However the downside is you need to commit a crime to get there. I also had a hard time accepting the boredom claim since Kerman and her fellow inmates all had jobs assigned to them. According to her story Kerman worked several hours a day as an electrician. That alone seems like a good time filler.

A common criticism of this book is that Kerman came off as snooty since she constantly reminded the reader that she was not your typical prisoner, being white, educated and upper-middle-classed. I didn’t notice this when I read the book. The criticism I have is that the writing was not as good as I would have expected. The prose is a little choppy and Kerman’s attempts at humor failed with me. The story also ends rather abruptly. We get nothing about how Kerman assimilated back to her life after her 14 month sentence.

If you are looking for an interesting memoir or are a fan of the Netflix series, I recommend “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison” by Piper Kerman. Overall I enjoyed the book and give it a classic Mrs. B.

Mrs. B rating classic

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Sunnyvale Public Library

Last month Jerry took me someplace I never thought he would: the Sunnyvale Public Library. OK…it wasn’t completely out of the ordinary. While I’d like to believe he was indulging me in my love of libraries the real reason we were there was to attend an Atari event.

Welcome to Sunnyvale Library

I’ll admit a peripheral interest in video games. They are the source of my livelihood after all. Not only that but Atari was one of the first “high tech” companies in area, before it was even called the Silicon Valley. That’s history! Give me some history and a library and I’m happy.

Atari Party

We arrived at the event just in time to hear Dan “Father of the Trak-Ball” Kramer. Jerry and Dan knew each other when they both worked at Atari and have been friends ever since. Dan’s talk about his days at Atari and how he developed the Trak-Ball was well received by the crowd.

Trak Ball Dan

We had a few hours before the second and main speaker, Al Alcorn, so after a trip to Fry’s Electronics (surprise, surprise) we returned to the library so Jerry could catch up with his old work friends and I could finally explore the library

The Sunnyvale Public Library is in a large, expansive building with plenty of space. This is important since book collections are always expanding and they have a lot of collections. In addition to a big DVD section they also have a lot of foreign language collections including Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. They even have a special section devoted to trademarks and patents. (A nod to high tech industry no doubt and near and dear to my IP heart.)

Patent Bulletin board

The Sunnyvale library also has plenty of room to settle down to read or work which is what I like to do at libraries. There are comfortable chairs placed about and plenty of tables to sit at. There’s even a fireplace to sit by. I finally settled in the quiet area for some precious reading time.

Chair  Fireplace  Quiet Area

I’ve heard that the Silicon Valley has a lot of very nice public libraries due to contributions from the local high tech companies. The Sunnyvale Public Library is one of them. I’m looking forward to visiting more libraries in the area.

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Too Big to Miss by Sue Ann Jaffarian

A few years ago when I stumbled upon a paralegal podcast featuring Sue Ann Jaffarian I stopped in my tracks. At last, I thought, I’ve met my virtual mentor. Sue Ann is not only a full-time paralegal; she also writes mystery novels on the side. I’m not a big mystery fan but when I learned that Odelia Grey, the heroine in Sue Ann’s popular series, was a paralegal I knew I had to give the books a try. I started with book one of the series, Too Big To Miss, and it hooked me right away.

The book opens in the grocery story with plus sized Odelia Grey comfort food shopping. I loved Odelia right away because her voice was funny and real. I could identify with her on so many levels. I could even understand how Odelia gets involved with the murder of her friend, Sophie London.

In addition to the exciting elements you’d expect from a murder mystery, Too Big To Miss has underlying themes about body image and self- esteem. Sophie was a plus sized model and also ran a support group for large people called Reality Check. Even after her death, I saw Sophie as a beacon of strength for Odelia who was determined to find the murderer.

I’ll be honest. It’s been a few years since I read the book and I forgot who the culprit is. What I do remember, however, is the development of Odelia’s character. Throughout the book Odelia comes in contact with people who are outright rude to her about her size. Yet despite this she is able to go on and develops new found confidence. This makes her a hero in my mind. I doubt my ego could ever survive the mental abuse Odelia suffers.

If you are interested in exploring the mystery genre or you like chick lit I recommend you give Too Big To Miss a try. I enjoyed this and subsequent books in the series and look forward to reading more. I give this one 3 and ½ Mrs. Bs.

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Underworld by Meg Cabot

This is book 2 of what I have decided is my least favorite Meg Cabot series. Luckily, I did Underworldenjoy this one more than the first. 

Like the title says, Underworld starts in the underworld where John has whisked Pierce away to protect her from her fury possessed grandmother. Pretty early in the book Pierce learns of her destiny, something that took me by surprise (in a good way). In fact, I may never eat waffles again. She then learns of some disturbing news of what is happening on Isla Huesos and convinces John to take her back.

One of the things I liked about this book is the development of Pierce’s character. While I still found her a tad annoying, I began to see hits on the strong spunky heroine we expect from Meg Cabot. We also meet some fun new characters and begin to see the development of the support network I missed in the last book.

It did occur to me while reading this book that this series would translate well to film. So while I’m not too excited about the book, I would love to see the movie or TV versions.

The improvement of this book from the first in the series gave me a bit of hope. While I would recommend it to fellow Meg Cabot fans I still reserve my editorial comment that “it’s not one of my favorites.” I give this one

3 Mrs. Bs. 

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Changes to the Blog

Notice something? It seems like all I write about lately are books. And now the place even looks different! That’s because I’ve decided to make some changes to the blog.

As you may know, I started this blog years ago when Jerry bought me the domain. I envisioned using it as a tool to get me to write on a more regular basis. The problem, I quickly discovered, was coming up with content. Because the blog has no specific focus anything goes. For my already unfocused mind, “anything goes” can be a struggle.

One day as I was reading the blog of one of my Twitter friends. Petra Grayson loves to read and writes book reviews on her blog, The Theory of Lieto Fine. Suddenly it hit me. I love to read too! Why don’t I write about that? It seemed so simple, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about it before.

The idea seemed kind of boring and impersonal at first, but the more I write about books the more in touch with myself I seem to get and that’s why I wanted to write in the first place. Therefore, going forward this blog will focus on book reviews and other bookish-like topics. It’s what I love. It’s what I do. It’s me.

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The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

The 19th WifeThe 19th Wife by David Ebershoff has two of my favorite things: historical fiction (yay!) and polygamy (wheee!)

I love me some Sister Wives on TLC and was also a fan of Big Love. But even before these shows I was interested in polygamy when Jerry told me one of his relatives is believed to have left his family to help found a polygamous community on the boarder of Utah and Arizona, Colorado City.

Jerry and I have driven through Colorado City. Just like on TV, the women wear long cotton skirts and I Colorado City 4swear a pickup truck followed us. It was a creepy place. When Jerry stopped at outside the general store and suggested we look around I refused to get out of the car. I was brave enough to visit the graveyard though. Sure enough, there are a lot of Jessops who live and lived in the town.

Parts of The 19th Wife is in fact based on Colorado City. The book is actually two stories that alternate. One is the story of a modern polygamous family and the other is the fictitious story of Ann Eliza Webb, Brigham Young’s 19th wife.

In fact, Brigham Young, second president of the Latter Day Saints, did have several wives including Ann Eliza Webb who divorced him and later became a critic of polygamy. Ann Eliza’s story as told by Ebershoff is an interesting one as she was part of the first generation born into the Mormon church. The story, told through fictitious memoirs and college papers, focuses on the incredible faith Ann Eliza and her contemporaries had in their church and its leader. I like to think that the portrayal of Brigham Young as a charismatic leader with a gift for logistics and organization is accurate. Once he begins to promote plural marriage, of course, the reader’s perception of his character begins to sour, as does Ann Eliza’s. I have no idea how accurate the story of how Ann Eliza becomes Brigham Young’s wife is. It borders on the level of an HBO TV series which of course makes the story interesting.

Colorado City 1The modern day portion of the story is a murder mystery. Jordan Scott, a young gay man who was banished from the town when he was a adolescent, returns when he finds out his mother, BeckyLynn, is accused of killing his father. Like Ann Eliza, BeckyLynn is also the 19th wife. As Jordan helps investigate his mother’s case he comes to terms with his relationship to the church and with the people he has in his life. As readers, we get the added bonus of learning what it’s like to grow up in a modern day polygamous/FLDS community.

The ending of both stories are satisfying with Ebershoff cleverly tying them together. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a solid, compelling read. If you are interested in the history of polygamy or the Mormon church, even better!

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Five Literary Characters I would want to have lunch with

Lunch mate: The Dowager Princess Clarisse Renaldo, aka Grandmere

Book: The Princess Diaries Series by Meg Cabot

Menu: Sidecars at The Plaza

Up for discussion: Ettiquette and fashion. Unlike Mia I’d drink in everything Grandmere has to say.

 

Lunch mate: Laurie Laurence

Book: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Menu: Beer and burgers. I know he’s been dying to partake after he promised Meg on her wedding day he would swear off booze. Why would you make such a vow Laurie? That was just dumb.

Up for discussion: Amy? Seriously? We all know, despite her feeble attempts to convince you otherwise, that she clearly married you for your money. If you had simply come home from Europe after Beth died Jo would have ran straight into your arms and we would all be better off and happy.

 

Lunch mate: Melanie Wilkes

Book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Menu: Buttered yams, buckwheat pancakes and ham in gravy; This is what Mammy urges Scarlett to eat before attending the Wilkes barbeque so she will be too stuffed to eat in public and therefore appear more ladylike. I’ve been lusting after this menu since 1982 when I first read the book.

Up for discussion: No need to break the news about Scarlett and Ashley considering she knew all along. I’ll take her thoughts on what makes a true great lady.

 

Lunch mate: Jane Purdy

Book: Fifteen by Beverly Cleary

Menu: Chocolate coke floats at Nibleys

Up for discussion: Hunky boyfriend Stan. I want to know if they stayed together after high school.

 

Lunch mate: Geraldine Porter

Book: Miniature Mystery series by Margaret Grace

Menu: Bagels by Willie

Up for discussion: Tips on how to decorate my dollhouse.

 

When thinking about this list I also considered these characters but decided against them.

The Weasley twins – Who doesn’t love Fred and George Weasley from the Harry Potter books? Unfortunately I don’t think they’d make very good lunch companions. My guess is they are probably kind of annoying to be around in person. Also I’d be afraid they’d try to sneak me something from one of their Skiving Snackboxes.

Kinsey Millhone – I’m several books into the alphabet mystery series by Sue Grafton and certainly growing attached to Kinsey. She’s a recluse who likes her wine so we have that in common. However, she’s also dangerous to be around. There are plenty of innocent people who come into contact with Kinsey who end up getting killed by the latest wacko murderer she’s trying track down. Therefore I think I’ll keep my distance.

Laura Ingalls Wilder – As a young fan of the Little House books one of my favorite fantasies was sending Laura to the future so I could show her what it was like to live in 1970s suburbia. The thought of meeting her now doesn’t interest me so much. I have a feeling she might be kind of boring in real life and also from what I’ve read she was pretty conservative on the political side.

The Dursleys – Also from the Harry Potter books, I’ve always wondered what happened to Vernon, Petunia and Dudley when they are sent into hiding at the beginning of Deathly Hallows. A part of me would like to find out how they are doing and then I quickly remind myself that I really don’t care.

Scarlett O’Hara – I’ve always been fascinated by Margaret Mitchell’s heroine in Gone With The Wind and while I’d love to see what she’d wear to lunch, let’s face it, she’s a racist bitch.

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