Of a book I’m in!
Necessary Fiction review by Brenna McPeek.
Of a book I’m in!
Necessary Fiction review by Brenna McPeek.
Beautiful day on Little Grassy Lake, some gorgeous rolling waves. I did not account for the wind. And how it would make it impossible to hear anything I said.
At least my phone did not fall in the lake this time…
I just found out yesterday was National Hummingbird Day. So I’m a day late with this, but if you know me, you will not be surprised by that.
This story was a fun one to write. It was partly inspired by a photo prompt, but also by the great success former neighbors had with their hummingbird feeders. They did not, to my knowledge, do any of the things you’ll hear in this story! I hope you enjoy.
The story appears in Ghost Parachute online, and also in the Ghost Parachute: 105 Flash Fiction Stories anthology.
So… I was trying to make another kayak reading video on Devil’s Kitchen Lake. The lake was a little bit choppy, not bad, but not smooth. And I was trying to use a tripod. I had just said to myself, “This is a disaster waiting to happen,” (which is really what I said to myself) when it happened. The tripod fell over and bloop! the phone went right into the water. I’m guessing the water is about 6-8 feet where I was. Of course I made a grab for the phone, dropped my paddle. Which, fortunately, stayed right next to the kayak. There was no easy place to pull up the kayak, and anyway, 8 feet of water and about a foot of silt and low visibility — there’s no way I’d have found it. I figured I’d better just go in before I went and lost my truck keys too.
I ordered a phone from ebay. And a protective case AND a waterproof, floating cell phone bag. And a floating key chain since, now that I’ve publicly expressed a fear of losing my keys, you know it’ll happen.
I’ve had a week without a phone. A week without checking the weather for where I live multiple times during the day, and checking the weather other places just out of curiosity. A week without Google at my fingertips. A week without ready communication. And I’ve learned something.
I really don’t like not having a phone!
Here’s an older story, first published in Clamor Magazine in 2015. I thought it’d be fun to read a 3-parter in three different places.
I read part one — my favorite part of the story — at White Sands National Park. White Sands is other-worldly. It’s miles and miles of white dunes. It’d be easy to get lost there because there are so few landmarks. I guess you could keep your eyes on the distant mountains and keep walking in one direction — but that could be a very long way.
Part two is on the deck of the cabin we stayed at in Ruidoso. It was a super-cool cabin. Vrbo and Air BnB are the salvation of people like me. If I’m stuck in a hotel, I just wanna go-go-go. I can relax more at a Vrbo or Air BnB, making it easier for people to tolerate me. Anyway, here is part two, in which the narrator is a little bit mean and a lot frutstrated.
Part three is on the mountain slope behind the cabin where we were staying. It might not look like it, but it was hard setting up! The slope was pretty steep — a hike, not a climb, but still.
I am so incredibly honored to be included in both Best Microfiction and Best Small Fictions for 2021.
I’ll talk about Best Small Fictions too, but for now will focus on Best Microfiction 2021. The anthology, edited by the amazing Meg Pokrass and Gary Fincke, with guest editor Amber Sparks (I know!) has received some really outstanding reviews, such as this one from Cultured Vultures, and this one in Trampset. I am thrilled and humbled both to have a story in this anthology with some of the very best writers in this genre of tiny stories. I love the wild variety and the cascading range of emotions these stories conjure. You won’t be disappointed if you order this book, I promise!
Here is a link to the book launch readings for both volumes. I read “Places I Have Peed,” which first appeared in Miracle Monacle. Hearing these stories read is an experience unto itself. Enjoy!
It is a tremendous honor to be included in the National Flash Fiction Day 2021 anthology, Legerdemain, edited by Nod Ghosh and Santino Prinzi. This year’s theme was Magic. I’m blown away, reading these stories and listening to them. This is such a wonderful anthology, it really is. There are authors I know and authors I’m reading for the first time. The book launch readings are so much fun, too. I love hearing writers read their own works.
Here’s me reading my story, Renaissance.
Renaissance is one of my oldest stories. The original version was much different. It was longer, less focused, unsure of itself. The micro-flash format was a much better fit for it.
I was a horse crazy kid. I will say, in fact, that I was born loving horses. I grew up on Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion series, and Marguerite Henry’s great books about horses in history. Like many horse crazy kids, I dreamed of taming a wild horse who would love and trust me and our inseparable bond would be legendary.
As my experience with real live horses grew, my expectations became more realistic. I gained a better appreciation for the hard work that goes into bond-building, the number of spills that occur along the way to improved riding and horsemanship, the unglamorous chores like stall cleaning, fence fixing and water hauling that are part of horse ownership.
And I also experienced the addictive magic of a forest gallop on a fast horse, the companionship of hanging out while horses graze nearby, the thrilling moment of perfect sync between horse and rider.
But despite all that, I never lost that romantic notion of a close, voluntary encounter with a wild horse.
The wild horses around Ruidoso, New Mexico are a mixed lot of recently feral and born wild. They are accustomed to people. Like suburban deer, they don’t spook at the sight of people, they don’t worry too much about being in plain sight of a house… or a baseball diamond with a game on.
My first sight of the bay stallion’s Ruidoso herd had me breathless. As they were at the entrance of the mountain cabin community where we had our Air BnB, I got out of the car, assured my family they could go on without me when they were ready, and settled in to observe.
I had no intention of approaching. A bay mare was particularly curious and seemed to respond when I talked to her. I moved for a better view, and the horses came nearer. The bay mare was within 10 feet of me.
When they moved away toward our cabin, I chose a route that took me close to them but not directly in their path. I paused a few yards away, watching. A roan foal and a bay foal paired up to come closer to me – clearly expecting me to give them something. I reached out my hand and they nuzzled my palm, both of them – and a third foal that crept up during the encounter.
I told them I didn’t have anything, but if they followed me to the cabin, I had some carrots. I turned from them, rolling my shoulder in the horse person gesture of “follow me.” The little stinkers did!
When I was below our cabin, my partner Tim and our boys, Dylan and Will, were on the deck watching the whole thing. They tossed carrots down for me to feed the three foals and also the curious bay mare. I kept my eye on the stallion in case he didn’t like the situation. We had a moment when we regarded each other, and he decided I was no threat.
I confess I got a little bit weepy here and there during the encounter. The flash of understanding with the stallion, the friendliness of the mare, the frank curiosity of the foals – it was the sort of interaction I’ve had with horses plenty of times. But these guys were wild ones. Not mustangs, necessarily. But wild all the same.
This little apocalyptic story first appeared in Ghost Parachute, one of my favorite journals.
It seemed appropriate to read it on the forest-fire-blasted landscape on the slope behind the AirBnB we stayed at during a family visit to Ruidoso, New Mexico. I’m in the Lincoln National Forest for the reading.
Normally I pan the camera a little bit to show where I am. I couldn’t this time. It doesn’t look like it but I’m balanced on a slope and was afraid I’d slide if I moved too much!
I tried to get the local crows and / or ravens to participate. The photo is the best I could do.