Family Values (flash fiction)


Family Values

by Amy Hunter

Recklessness. Capitalism. Greed.

Last winter, I traveled sixty-three miles to locate an open diner—one whose managers hadn’t given its workers the day off or allowed their bleeding hearts to buy into religious propaganda. I expected empty booths and a bored wait staff, but the place was crowded with families shoveling scattered, smothered, covered, and who-the-hell-knows-what-kind of hash browns into their bulging faces.

I took a seat at the counter and ordered coffee. Disgusting coffee. The shit had actual sediment. But, I hadn’t forgotten why I’d come. I finished the cup and smoothly removed the nine-millimeter pistol from my leather jacket.

“Empty the safe and no one gets hurt.” I didn’t stutter, but the ginger-haired cashier froze like an SUV stalled in traffic. I aimed the piece at his face, forcing him to hurry.

“Yes, sir.” He completed the job in twenty seconds. People accomplish great things with the right incentive, and I have a talent for exploiting a person’s desire to live.

Voices from the kitchen filtered in just as I opened the door to run. Someone even threw a skillet, narrowly missing my head.

Thirty-six was too old to roll businesses. I should have organized a replacement before, but that  job was important, unlike my others.

Once mobile, lights from cop cars flashed in my rear view mirror. My heart pounded. I stepped on the gas. The chase was my game, not the money. The cash was for those who needed it the most. I wasn’t wealthy by any measure, but I wasn’t destitute.

Fear. Misery. Hunger.

The road curved, so I steered along the dotted lines. Within the forest was a private lane, so I veered right. The cops kept going, and I proceeded until I arrived at a pink single-wide trailer that housed a widow and her four children.

“Ben! You’re back!” My seven-year-old nephew ran to the car as I stepped out, hugging me around the waist.

His mom, Gina, wouldn’t accept money from me, so I paid her bills. I hired her to tidy up my apartment and overpaid, asked her to dog sit and wrote an extra zero on the check, etcetera. Gina was proud, but she was hungry. We’ve all been there to some degree.

At any rate, this is what we do for the people we love. One day I’ll be arrested and sent to prison, but until then, I’ll make damn sure my brother’s family has what they need. Happy holidays.

Learning From Music

Have you ever listened to a piece of music and been moved by the story? Gotten chills? I strive to write like that. Many authors have moved me to chills and tears as well.

I was listening to a piece of music from Buffy the Vampire Slayer – now hear me out – and was reminded why I watched the show. The artist, Christophe Beck, truly showcases why I watched the show at all in his pieces, “Close Your Eyes” and “Sacrifice”.

Why? Because you can feel every beat in his outline… everything from the intro to the climax to the dénouement.

We could learn a lot about outlining by listening to music. I’ll post the vids to these songs below. Listen to the music. Feel the beats. What are your thoughts?

The Southern Language

As a Southerner, I’ve often wondered about our speech; words we say that others don’t, like “bust” and “cuss”. As a writer, I know these words are wrong. Naturally, I say them anyway, because I’m from the South, and screw grammar.

Anyway, bust and cuss. And these are just examples. There are many.

The verb bust is actually burst. So, next time you hear about someone “busting a move”, or the next time you travel back in time and hear about someone busting a move, you can say, “Hey, don’t you mean burst?” Okay, no one would ever say that, but what about the phrase bust my bubble?

Cuss is actually curse. As I said, there are more, but this is a short blog entry, so I’ll keep this brief.

But why do Southerners speak the way they do?

A theory proposed by linguists is that English settlers brought back southern r-lessness  in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. And they probably did understress the hell out of syllables, like morphing better into bettah. This accounts for cuss and bust as well. So, their ways of speaking probably caught on.

Makes total sense to me.


100 Twitter Hashtags Every Writer Should Know by Aerogramme Writers’ Studio

Hashtags are one of the most important elements to successfully using Twitter to enhance your writing practice and profile. In fact, the importance of hashtags generally was recently demonstrated when the American Dialect Society recently named hashtag as the word of the year for 2012.

Hashtags allow you to find new readers, connect with other writers who share your interests and to find out about new opportunities such as writing competitions. They can also help to raise your writing profile to attract interest from publishers and editors.

You need to be smart when using hashtags – don’t overuse them (never use more than 3 hashtags per tweet), be natural and never spam people. But when used selectively and cleverly, hashtags can be of great benefit to your writing career.

Below are 100 #hashtags that every writer should know:

Books and Reading Hashtags

Book Industry News and Publishing Tips Hashtags
#IAN1 (Independent Author Network)

Hashtags to Connect With Other Writers
#1K1H (write one thousand words in one hour)
#MyWANA (writer’s community created by Kirsten Lamb)
#NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month is held every November)

ePublishing and eBooks
#KPD (Kindle Publishing Direct)

Genre and Specialty Hashtags
Find readers and other writers who share your interests
#MGLit (middle grades literature)
#PoetryMonth (Each April in the USA)

Promotion, Networking and Marketing Hashtags
#99c (to offer or pick up an eBook bargain)
#Novelines (to quote your own work)

Twitter is always evolving. If you spot any new relevant hashtags, or if we have forgotten one your favorites, please add it in the comments.twitter-hashtags-for-writers-100


“Queen of the Waves” Excerpt

7123344753_3f62fd25ca_zDementia burned through Olivia Coyle’s mind, like flames to dry leaves. She was a fighter, but no amount of watered-down faith could stall oblivion.

“Nana?” A redheaded woman hurried into the room, struggling with a fire extinguisher. With her free hand, she turned a knob on the range and yanked open the oven door. Thick smoke billowed and curled toward the ceiling.

“Stay back!” She sprayed inside the stove using a sweeping motion.

Olivia coughed so violently, she dropped the laundry basket and stumbled sideways until her curved spine collided with the refrigerator. Homemade magnets dropped to the floor, shattering. She glanced up from the broken glass, “Who are you? Why are you in my house?”

As a lady, she took no pleasure in raising her voice, but she didn’t abide strangers in her home uninvited.

The redhead’s expression deflated. She placed the extinguisher on the counter and covered her face with her palms. After a moment, she wiped runny mascara on her sleeve and forced a smile through tears which had carved premature wrinkles into her skin.

“I’m Mara, your granddaughter,” she said.