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As part of The Adventures of Tequila Kitty, an interview with each writer will appear within a few days of their chapter being posted. Christopher Chik, an emerging and very talented author, is currently working on his Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. His work has previously appeared in One Forty Fiction and also at his blogs Chasing Dimaggio and Occupy Mars.

Q: Tell me about the novel you’re working on. When did you originally start the story? How did it evolve? What was the original kernel or acorn that became the story?

It’s the story of a baseball pitcher’s struggle with autism from childhood to the major leagues. I started the story around 2007 as a collection of my own autistic thoughts and tendencies fleshed out in awful scene snippets which would make even a bad experimental novel cry. The story was really born when I started the low-residency MFA at Southern New Hampshire University and my mentor, Wiley Cash, showed interest in the idea and pushed me to try other narrative approaches. I suppose the kernel was own experience growing up in an era when autism spectrum disorders were a relative unknown combined with my family’s history in baseball, particularly pitching.

Q: Give me a brief bio of your life:

I grew up and still live just south of Los Angeles and remember writing little stories of my daydreams since about second or third grade. As a child I loved sports, especially hockey and baseball and going to games with my Dad and Uncle David. I did a lot of camping and hiking with the Boy Scouts on my way to Eagle Scout. When I got older I took interest in philosophy which took my writing in a different direction for a while before I found my way back home to fiction again.

Q: What would you say are your strengths as a writer?

Most importantly, I take criticism well. I also read everything as a writer and editor, trying to dissect it and see what makes the heart beat and see how that applies to my own work, my own projects; to that end, I take a lot of notes while reading any book. I’m never satisfied and always try to learn and keep honing my craft.

Q: What are you working on now?

The novel for the most part, but I’m also working on some short stories, in particular a satire of the recent rash of American gun violence. My big project for the year, though it’s likely to take more than one, is a non-fiction effort about my favorite musician, Chuck Schuldiner, who was the front man for and creative force behind the band Death.

Q: What publications has your work appeared in?

OneFortyFiction

Q: Who are your primary influences, or inspirations, as a writer?

One of my best friends from high school has pushed me to write since I’ve known her, but I first got the idea of writing in my head at my local branch library. My parents left me there to read while they attended to something, and I found Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles and saw how a man put his daydreams, his fantasies, to paper. I was sold; I started dreaming of typewriters and, some years later, laptops. I’d have to sit around my parents’ offices a lot after school as well, so I’d find an unused typewriter and plot out my daydreams—at least, when I wasn’t making colossal paperclip chains. My mom has an English degree and got me to loving books real young. Seeing her write, even to little or no acclaim, gave me the affirmation I needed. Kids are so often short on confidence and long on doubts, it was nice having that as a beacon growing up.

Q: How has your upbringing influenced your work, if at all?

Being autistic obviously affects my WIP, the baseball novel, but having a physical disability probably had more influence. It hardened me, made me stronger, and gave me a more adult perspective to weigh my writing against. In elementary school, instead of stories about GI Joe and ninja fantasies, I’d write detective stories about serial killers and horror stories about things that go bump in the night.

Q: What inspires you the most (e.g. music, landscape/nature, written word, life, etc.)?

I’d have to say life, because I don’t really know otherwise. Sometimes you can’t sleep and are in bed watching Demolition Man for the five thousandth time, when epiphany strikes and the what-ifs start rolling around; sometimes a conversation sparks an idea for a story; sometimes the loathing of some existing aspect of human culture does it, especially when I get to writing satire.

Q: What are you reading right now?

Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris and What We Saw at Night by my current and rocking mentor, Jackie Mitchard. The latter is really cool because the main characters have a genetic flaw that they don’t see as this big setback. I can really empathize with the way they think, that no holding back mentality. I’ve never had characters be so close to home for me.

Q: What authors, when you read them, make you think, “I’m giving up writing because I will never be as good as them?”

Raymond Carver comes pretty close. My writing mantra is “WWRCD?” Less is more, lean is mean, and all that jazz. Sometimes, though, a little poetry-spiced prose really lets that daydream form, and Toni Morrison weaves that into narrative with beauty and tension in the same breath. I try to strike a balance between the two.

Q: I know this is the hated and borderline unanswerable question, but it has to be asked. Why do you write?

I daydreamed a lot as a kid. Writing them down as stories was a way to share the process of make-believe outside of the playground. More than anything else, writing is a way to give the daydreams a reason to be, like an action figure is a reason to be talking to yourself, belly-down on the carpet.

Q: If you weren’t writing, what else would you be doing?

Playing and teaching guitar probably. I used to be on track for a career in law, but I wouldn’t trade writing for that ever.

Q: Name your top five favorite books and/or top five favorite authors?

In no particular order: Brave New World, Aldous Huxley; To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee; What We Talk About when We Talk About Love, Raymond Carver; anything by Ray Bradbury; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig.

Q: What is your non-writing claim to fame?

I got my picture in the paper as a kid for being a wicked awesome Push-Cart Derby driver who could make the Kessel run on a wooden palette in under twelve Parsecs.

And now we get into the non-writerly, more silly-ish questions of the interview, as paraphrased from James Lipton of Inside the Actor’s Studio:

Q: What is your favorite drink?

Rum and Coke with a lime twist.

Q: What is your favorite curse word?

Asshat, though my favorite cursing of all-time is the chained diatribes of the dad in Christmas Story. That guy could out-swear two sailors and a pirate with mere gibberish.

Q: Favorite food.

Pepperoni, black olive, and roma tomato pizza with Newcastle or Longboard beer, and I’m a big fan of Señor Fish’s fish tacos.

Q: What is your most vivid memory?

I’m not sure I have a most vivid memory, but I can remember almost everything since age three. My second earliest memory is dancing around in my parents’ living room to Michael Jackson’s Bad playing on a little Fisher-Price tape recorder.

Q: What is your favorite sound?

Ocean waves lapping on the beach, that steady rhythm of the Earth’s pulse.

Q: What is your least favorite sound?

Dog alarms, like people mount on their fences. Any real high frequencies like most people don’t hear really. Forget ADT, I can be stopped dead in my tracks by a dog alarm.

Q: If heaven exists, what do you think god will say upon meeting you at the pearly gates? What would you want it to say?

Probably, “I told you so, jackass.”

I’d want a god to tell me the journey isn’t over yet, that I was interesting enough to merit a sequel. Truth be told, I’d like to make the Singularity and live forever. Wouldn’t it be cool to see the Sun eat the Earth from the safe distance of some colony on one of those Kepler planets? What happens when the universe ends or does it?


 
 

That’s how I’d met him really: drinking games. We’d both been at the local watering hole, challenging the other patrons to drunken games of chance and making a clean sweep of it. A few guys, figuring themselves for alpha dogs, had Teqs cornered after he’d taken them for about a grand combined. I grabbed up a bottle and got ready for some smashing action, when a few ladies diffused the situation with their, “Aw, but he’s so cute,” and, “look at his little sombrero.” Before the petting turned heavy, he bolted out the door with his winnings.
I followed him down to a dive bar just outside Hollywood. Inside, I spotted him paying his tab with the misfortunes of others.

-excerpt of Chapter One of The Adventures of Tequila Kitty.


Today marks the first installment of The Adventures of Tequila Kitty, an exquisite-corpse collaborative novel. A much longer explanation and introduction will be given in the near future, but here is the Cliffsnotes version.
Thirteen writers were recruited to write one chapter.  The rules were simple: one week, 3000 words (more or less), any style. There were two conditions. The chapter had to involve the cat in the above photo (since named Tequila Kitty, or "Teqs" for short) as one of the characters; and each writer could only see the chapter written before them.

For the next few months, the next chapter will be released the following Sunday on this website and many others. An interview with the author of each will be posted the following day.

The first chapter was written by my good friend Christopher Chik.
As always, thank you. And enjoy.



Picture
Chris Chik (left) and I moments before our obligatory tequila shot.
Chapter One: The Tequila-Mockingbird Incident

We were in a Geo Metro convertible somewhere outside the Barstow freeway when the catnip started to hit.

“Birds, birds everywhere.” My companion was pawing at the sky in fits, claws extended.

I had told him not to open the bag with the top down. The stash had blown across the freeway into the setting sun, a puffy trail of green leaves and stems spattering the trailing cars with the mess. He was relegated to huffing what he could out of a stitched up tie-dyed mouse.

“Caught the bastard trying to steal my sand.” He had the mouse between his paws, back legs kicking and pushing, trying anything to get at the catnip.

Poor bastard, I thought, but I had my own problems. He’d put all my weed in the trunk with my bong and suitcase. In his haste to get at the catnip, my companion only thought to throw my rolling papers in the glove box. Not sure how he planned to roll joints with those paws of his—at least not without shredding the papers to bits. Without my grinder, all he was good for was dicing up the nugs anyway. We would need to pull over; I needed my weed, and if I didn’t get to a pet store before they closed, this hip cat would start clawing at more than a stuffed mouse. Say what you want about a Geo Metro, but it was mine and got fifty miles to the gallon at a time before they’d invented hybrids.

I took the next exit into a little patch of concrete, just outside the true desert of Joshua Tree.

“Coronas, they’ve got Coronas!” he said.

“Corona’s the town you idiot,” I said.

“Well, every town’s got Coronas.” He was huffing at the stuffed mouse and reeking of desperation.

I pulled into a gas station to ask where the nearest pet store was. The sun was nearly gone and with it had to be most of the store clerks around town as well. Inside the station’s little convenience store, the lone attendant fussed with dispensing cigarettes and one person who still paid cash for gas. He didn’t seem too interested in my questions at first.

 “We don’t need your kind around here.”

“Just trying to find a pet shop, man,” I said.

“Everyone comes through here on the way to Vegas; stuck in traffic; just want to use the bathroom or get directions.”

“Relax, meow.” My companion tipped his sombrero forward on his furry head with his free paw, the other clutched to a case of Coronas; I hadn’t even heard him come in.

“No pets,” the cashier said.

“Name’s Tequila, but you can call me Teqs,” he said, flashing his fangs.

“There’s a pet shop two blocks over.” The cashier rang him up.

“Told you they had Coronas.” Teqs winked at me and smoothed his whiskers.

He slinked through the doors and left me to settle the tab. When I got outside the crazy feline was already six beers deep into the case. Since I’d met him, he’d been into something: booze, catnip, empty boxes. More than anything, he loved getting waist deep in people’s dirty laundry. Spend your days in the desert scratching in the sand, and you’ll dig up all kinds of dirt.

The pet store was just as run down as the rest of town. Before I could even pull into a space, he’d leapt over the side. I managed to make half a loop around the aisle when he burst through the door with cans and bags of catnip clutched to his chest, a bird between his teeth. I wished so hard for a string to be attached to the feathered mass, but when he loosed his fanged grip from it, I could see the blood trickle out. I gunned the engine when I saw the store clerk running through the door behind Teqs.

“Get back here you furry little drunk,” he said.

Teqs leapt up toward the car as I sped past. His front paws tumbled his swag into the passenger’s seat, but his legs weren’t strong enough to get him over the edge. He latched onto the top of the door with his claws, and with him hanging from the Geo we escaped into the night.

“What’d you go and do that for?” I asked.

“He was mocking me, dude.”

“The clerk? I mean, you are wearing a sombrero, man.”

“The bird.” He sat there batting at it.

I looked down to see a gray-white bird with soft orange and baby blue patches.

“We’ve got to make a run for it, ditch the body somewhere. I can’t take another murder rap.”

“Petty theft. Birds aren’t people.”

“Next you’ll tell me cats aren’t people.” He hissed and arched his back.

“I’ve probably got the only yellow Geo in Corona, you know.”

“Maybe we should ditch the car, too.”

“You buying me a new one?” I asked.

“Suggestions?”

“Lay low for a while, then book it to the Nevada border.”

I drove until I found a quiet, dark neighborhood and packed a bowl. Excitement was well and good, but if you weren’t paying for it up front, with cash, you’d get billed for it in the end. Nothing calmed me quite like smoking a fat one. Why he couldn’t just wait for me to park and go in with him is beyond me. Maybe he’d thought every second counted, that they’d close before I could park and get in. He never did have much sense of time; maybe that’s why I understood him better stoned—that total imperceptibility of the passing minutes. In the seat next to me he’d shredded open a pilfered bag of catnip and dumped it all over the seat.

“This is enough to last me a lifetime.” Teqs was writhing around in the seat, purring and rubbing his cheeks into the folds of the cushioned surface.

“Oh yeah, you’re really rolling in it now,” I said.

When we got back on the road, the sun was completely gone and my sense of direction failed. We drove around for blocks and blocks looking for the freeway. Teqs seemed more docile by then, just batting at the bird and muttering about getting locked up. He had a bad experience with a cage once and some folks in the Deep South who didn’t take well to his kind, but it wasn’t something he made a habit of talking about. The thought of answering for his crime of haste had him stuck back in that place, like a hairball he just couldn’t cough up. I’d have done anything to drag him out of that funk.

We passed a parking lot I’d seen a few times before. How long had we been dancing circles in the Corona concrete? The lot had been empty the first couple times we passed, but this time was filled with cars and a smattering of people; a number of them had mohawks and looked to be rather crusty—our sort of folk. Teqs was coming out of his comatose state by then and was burying his face in a fresh can of the ‘nip.

“Think you ought to slow down there, Teqs?” I asked.

He was oblivious.

“Wouldn’t want you so out of it you couldn’t run the hustle with me.”

His ears perked up and he quit wriggling in the passenger’s seat.

That’s how I’d met him really: drinking games. We’d both been at the local watering hole, challenging the other patrons to drunken games of chance and making a clean sweep of it. A few guys figured themselves for alpha dogs had Teqs cornered after he’d taken them for about a grand combined. I grabbed up a bottle and got ready for some smashing action, when a few ladies diffused the situation with their, “Aw, but he’s so cute,” and, “look at his little sombrero.” Before the petting turned heavy, he bolted out the door with his winnings.

I followed him down to a dive bar just outside Hollywood. Inside, I spotted him paying his tab with the misfortunes of others. He was so skilled he’d almost never taken a sip, while his opponents grew wearier with each slug. After I’d watched for a while, I made my challenge.

“Bet you can’t even hold your liquor,” I said.

“How’s that, meow?”

“Haven’t even seen you take but two drinks, man.”

“How’s about a drinking match, straight up?” Teqs asked.

“Name your poison.”

“Patrón.” He smoothed his whiskers. “Stakes?”



“Everything you’ve won tonight.”

Teqs slid his pile of cash across the bar.

“From before, too.”

“Meow, that’s my kind of scalawag.”

Saying Tequila was half my size would be generous, and still he had me beat. I’d had to stop somewhere after the first bottle, but he kept going. He’d spent my money on three more bottles before he finally passed out. Part of me wanted to take my money back, like there was no way anyone could drink that much and not pull a John Bonham. I’d thought about it for a few minutes, standing over him laying there on his back, all four appendages up in the air and kicking at dreams. He awoke with a fit, though. Seeing me standing over him, I expected Teqs to tear me a new one.

“How’d you do it?” he asked.

In his celebration, he’d drunken himself clean of the memory of his victory. I thought about claiming otherwise, telling him the truth of the situation, but before I had time to weigh on it, he made me an offer.

“Meow, I tell you what, we could clean up on a drinking game hustle; never met a man could outlast me.”

After we’d cleaned up from the Patrón binge, we went to a little coffee shop down the street. It was a lot like a first date, learning what my new shill was like. As partners go, this guy had a puss could squeeze a dime out of a miser and get him to smile while he did it.

“Name’s Tequila,” he said.

“How’s a guy come upon that name?”

“I guess since we’re partners, meow, I can tell you.”

I wondered if he thought I was a fink; I mean, he’d caught me standing over him at the bar and all.

“Tequila’s the only drink gets me fuzzy anymore.”

“So you’re a ringer?” I’d wanted to tell him he’d beaten me at the bar, but that early on, our partnership hinged on my established mythos.

“My kind is everywhere on the internet; I made my fortune there; CERN, DARPAnet, videos of me in different hats, that sort of thing.”

“Guess the sombrero stuck.”

“Blew it all on catnip, the good stuff, imported straight from Colombia, dude,” he said.

I started to think about all the greens I could buy with that kind of Silicon Valley dough.

“When I snapped out of the haze—”

“When you went broke,” I said.

“I tried to drown myself in bottle after bottle of booze, but nothing got me drunk anymore, except tequila.”

“Tequila—”

“Call me Teqs.”

By the time we’d hit Corona, our game was on point. Teqs was like a walking Konami code for the drinking hustle. Corona was just a detour along our path to Vegas drinking glory. We wouldn’t have been stuck there waiting out the heat if Teqs could go an hour without a sniff or wait two minutes for me to put the top back up. He was a cool cat, but I’m almost certain he had an attention disorder. He thought the world owed him something, too.

The kids in mohawks were starting to line up around a small brick building at the end of the shopping center. Some had wild liberty spikes; a number had patches sewn into denim jackets or jeans; a few had leather jackets; a couple even looked more like greasers. The music pouring out the double door entrance had an edge to it, the kind of rock that wouldn’t just cut the powder, but the mirror underneath it, too. A punk club with a live band was just what we needed.

I pulled into a space and started rolling some joints for the show. Teqs managed to stop rubbing his face around inside the catnip jar long enough to stash some in a baggie for inside. No one seemed to mind when we played a game of puff-puff pass with a few crusty kids ahead of us in line outside the club.

“We been squatting this trailer in the desert,” one of the kids said.

“Yeah, I came down from Fresno; met this guy at a show, he said he was squatting this place, and I could stay there too,” the other said.

“I love a good squat out in the sand,” Teqs said.

“Where you guys from?”

“L.A.,” I said.

“Come out here for shows a lot?”

I looked down and realized I’d worn my Leftover Crack t-shirt.

Teqs tugged at the stash he’d tucked away in his sombrero, but didn’t take a sniff just yet.

“Well, hey, thanks for the rips,” one of them said.

“Say meow, you fellows happen to have some extra space out there, I could do some scratching maybe?” Teqs asked.

I elbowed him a little.

If Teqs would keep his cool, we could make some real scratch and be on our way to Vegas without any guff over the pet store mockingbird. Inside the club, a mosh pit was raging in front of the stage and the bar was stacked three people deep. Somehow, Teqs always managed to wriggle his way up to the bar and set up shop. Once I’d even seen him hang onto the bar top with one paw while dropping shot after shot with the other. He got us in at the bar next to a shapely blonde in a studded jacket and ripped jeans. He had a way with the ladies I never did. The guy could just rub up against a girl and she’d just nuzzle him right back. That sort of thing would get me slapped for sure.

After a few drinks we’d found our mark. Some fish with short spiky hair, the kind has those frosted blonde tips—Zach Morris of the punk scene. Teqs put him away with a game of one-man relay flip cup. They threw the kid out when he puked along the side of the bar somewhere after beer eleven, but not before Teqs relieved him of his cash.

“Nine hundred bucks will get us a great start in Vegas.” Teqs slapped a stack of bills into my hand.

Before I could say anything, he was on top of the railing between the bar and the dance floor mosh pit with one paw in the air. He did a back-flip into the pit and floated around on top of the crowd, once in a while getting tossed up into the air some. At one point, he was pushed onto the stage. Security tried to grab him and throw him back in, but he darted every which way across. When they had him cornered, he leapt atop one of their heads and back into the pit. Through it all, he managed to keep the sombrero on his head.

When the band was called back for an encore, we decided to make our run for it. Cops would be lurking everywhere when the club let out after the show. Getting pinched now was the last thing we needed. I’d just gotten Teqs back in a more stable frame of mind—a scary enough proposition itself. At the door, the blonde in the studded jacket stopped us.

“I like your style,” she said.

“That a fact, meow?” Teqs asked.

“I got an empty box just for you.” She smoothed Teqs’ ruffled fur with an outstretched hand.

As I leaned against the brick wall watching them, I sparked up my last joint.

“Like to come back to my place?” she asked.

Women always wanted to take care of him. I could be eating soup with the broth dribbling down my chin and a waitress wouldn’t bother to say a word to me. They’d brush the burrs out of his fur, bathe him, or even pick up his tabs, though. For a guy who’d blown his bankroll on Colombian green, he lived pretty well between his hustle and the love of women. Could be that meal ticket puss of his kept me from coming clean that day at the bar.

“We’re headed to Vegas,” Teqs said.

“Oh, that’s too bad.” She leaned on a black Corvette.

“Nice ‘vette. Yours?” Teqs smoothed his whiskers.

The blonde beeped the alarm; the doors popped open and the engine started.

“How’s about a ride to the strip?” Teqs asked.

She got in the car but only closed her door.

I grabbed the suitcase, bong, and what was left of the Coronas, while I let Teqs handle the rest of our gear. It was a gamble, but the encore was tapering off and the cops would show up any minute. A safe getaway trumped ensuring that daffy tabby remembered everything I didn’t. I stowed what I was carrying in the trunk, except for the bong, and told Teqs to make sure he had both our stashes up front this time. With me sitting shotgun, Teqs circled around himself in indecision. The blonde noticed and tapped her thigh.

“You can ride in my lap,” she said.

I decided to take a little nap since I didn’t have to drive. When I woke up, I saw the approaching sign for Vegas zip by. I looked around, but the blonde wasn’t in the car. Teqs was behind the wheel, doing something like one-thirty, though.

“Where’s the blonde?” I asked.

“Got off in Barstow.”

“The car, though.”

I still don’t know how he did it, but he talked that blonde right out of her car. My bong was behind my seat, so I hoped this time the silly bastard remembered to pack my weed in the glove box like I’d asked. When I opened it, my stash was there and right next to it that damn bird.

“The hell is this here for?” I asked.

“Lot of sand out here, dude.” With one paw on the wheel, Teqs flashed a set of claws.

 
 
“There must be a time
Between the well meaning
When the good will come out
And start the healing
You won't know
How well you've played
Until you've won

And if at first you find
You can't imagine
How good can heal
When you've got nothing worth healing
You won't know
How well you're made
Until you're done”

-          The Good Will Out, Embrace

            ***                                            ***                                        ***

I don’t want to write right now. I want to be on my couch watching something non-Boston Marathon related; or lying down attempting to fall asleep reading, only to find upon waking up the book bent backwards beneath me; and I want to be drinking something alcoholic while I do any of these.

But instead I’m writing. Because my brain won’t shut off. Because I feel compelled to try to write some kind of decency and humanity and kindness into the world.

Today, two horrific explosions happened in Boston, two blocks away from my office building, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, one of my favorite events, in front of thousands of innocent, happy, cheering, supportive people. A close friend, who also happens to be a runner, wrote me, “I feel a stronger desire to run than I have in a while, maybe to center myself, maybe in defiance.” Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, in reaction to the former director literally trying to drag her out of the race at mile 5 famously said, “I could feel my anger dissipating as the miles went by — you can’t run and stay mad!”

These may seem like runner-centric quotes...and they are. But to me they represent more: our inherent strength and perseverance as humans. People train eight months just to finish a marathon to prove their own strength to themselves and nothing more. To the “human insect or poisonous mass of broken sociopaths" (to quote Patton Oswalt) who orchestrated this, by choosing an event that is inherently inspiring to show your depravity and abject fear of humanity, you already lost. Goodness and decency always win out. People ran to the destructed areas to help those who were fallen; strangers and spectators dragged runners and fellow humans to safety; stranded runners and family are staying in homes of people who are acquaintances of acquaintances of friends. The Red Cross’ web site crashed because of an outpouring of donations and people wanting to contribute.


Yes, today was horrific, especially for those who were witness to it all. And there will be fears, anxieties, and traumas that may take years to unfold and recover from. But if nothing else, let today also be a reminder of the compassion and humanity and perseverance that we all have.

There is a lot of good in the world.

 
 
It's been a few weeks since I last posted an Audience Participation Twitterstory. Heck, it's been a few weeks since I last posted anything at all. This isn't due to any life changes or major catastrophes: it's entirely due to laziness and neglect. I do apologize for the neglect.

That said, I will be attempting to post these twice a week instead of the usual once, perhaps even posting two at the same time.

For those unfamiliar with the Audience Participation Twitterstory, here is how it works. Submit a word, any word, and I will use it in the body of a Twitterstory, with full acknowledgement and linking to your website, blog, twitter page, or where people can purchase your book.

This week's word is "Apropos," provided by my good friend Dan Klibanoff.


(character count, including title: 125)

Hopeless Romantic

"What's the title of your new story?"

"I Want My Heart to be Broken."

"Well, knowing you, that's very apropos."


 
 
Another installment in the Audience Participation Twitterstory. This week's word--minimum--provided by writer and friend Sherry Lynn Meeks, author of Reading Tambri.

(with thanks to Devotchka for providing the inspiration)


(character count, with title: 113)

But You Said

A decade, at minimum, was how long their notes had transpired.
Still, they all knew how it would end.


 
 
Continuation of the Audience Participation Twitterstory: send me a word and I will use it in a story.

This week's word is 'skankalicious' provided by my friend and soon to be extremely successful writer Jason Korolenko, author of The Day I Left and the forthcoming Relentless - The Book of Sepultura. (Don't forget us when you're big and famous.)


(character count: 154; without title: 135)

Ear of the Beholder


“We need to talk” and “skankalicious” were deal breakers for Marie. Yet, that Bobby used both in the same sentence endeared him to her.

 
 
Another installment of the audience participation Twitterstory.
This week's word--taxidermy--was provided by legal assistant extraordinaire Danielle Murphy.


(character count: 149; without title: 135)

Where They Met

She put Nana’s gift—taxidermy lessons—in the box in the way back of the closet. After Nana’s funeral (dementia), she decided to use it.


 
 
We continue on with the audience participation Twitterstory. For those wishing to participate, send me a word through any social media forum, email, or carrier pigeon. I will include that word in a Twitterstory and link to your website, Twitter and/or Facebook page, or any other site of your choice. If I receive 140 suggestions, a second collection of Twitterstories will be released.

This week's word is 'buffed,' provided by writer Christopher Chik (@g1mpy), purveyor of all things baseball and space at his blogs chasingdimaggio.blogspot.com and occupymars.net. He is also the writer of the first installation of the forthcoming Tequila Kitty Project, and is hard at work on a novel about an autistic baseball pitcher and his struggles to succeed.

(character count: 147; without title: 136)

Role Models

He buffed the hood of the remote-control car to a shine and drove it into some books: stand-ins for a fence. Just like Daddy really did.

 
 
This is the second installation of audience participation Twitterstory. This week's word --'pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis'-- was provided by Timothy Woodward, author of If I Told You So, an LGBT Young Adult story about coming out in rural NH. It was recently listed on the GLBT Round Table's Rainbow List. (A review will be forthcoming.)

The audience participation Twitterstory is fairly simple: send me one word, any word, and I will write a Twitterstory with it and will link to your website, Facebook page, or site of your choosing. If you wish not to include a website, you still receive credit for having provided the word.

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(character count: 154; without title: 140)

Cause of Death

“You sure?”

He nods.

“Maybe it was pneuomonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.”

Flash of a smile, sobbing laughter, like an abandoned seal.

 
 
Today marks the beginning of a new phase of the Twitterstory: audience participation.

After A Little Soul was released, a friend read the book and decided to have some fun both at my expense and with my cooperation. "Let's see you write a Twitterstory about mayonnaise... in two minutes." Condimental was the result of this challenge. Frustrated and intrigued, she continued to hurl words to me, and I would attempt to write a story with them, with varying degrees of failure and success.

But now I call on you, dear readers, to be active participants in the Twitterstory project: provide a word in the comments below, in an email with the subject "Twitterstory word", through the many social media outlets I utilize (Twitter with the hashtag #TwitterstoryWord; my Facebook page; LinkedIn; Fictionaut); or via carrier pigeon, smoke flares, or Pony Express, and I will write a Twitterstory using that word. You will also receive credit in all the media forums where the story is posted.

A few parameters to avoid confusion:
1. No word is off-limits except indefinite and definite articles (a, an, the).
2. If the same word is provided more than once by different people, that many stories will have to be written.
3. There is no limit for how many words one person can provide.
4. Stories will still be posted once a week.
5. If you have a website or any social media page you want me to link to when the story with your word is posted, please let me know.


The first installation of the audience participation Twitterstory is below. The word was "weeping willow." It was provided by Erica Dorsey, the same person mentioned in the mayonnaise anecdote above.

As always, thank you.

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(character count: 146; without title: 132

Weeping Willow

She lay down, wishing its branches were hands, pushing her down
                                                                                                                 down
                                                                                                                          down

to the roots. There, she could start over.