When you have just a moment

Sometimes you have just a moment to read … enter the world of flash fiction.

Sometimes you have just a moment to write … enter the world of flash fiction.

Flash fiction is awe-inspiring … like a lightning flash.

I have been over on the Seriously Write blog, writing about how to write flash fiction. [Click here].

Don’t forget, one of my favorite things to do is to write a flash of fiction, myself. Here, on this blog. 🙂 Check it out below (search for “flash fiction” on this blog for more.)

Flash Fiction: Bucket List

Flash Fiction Friday: That’s All It Took?

Flash Fiction Friday: The King’s Things

(I featured some flash fiction from some of my favorite authors, as well)

FLASH FICTION FEATURE: Amanda Holland

FLASH FICTION FEATURE: Amryn Cross

FLASH FICTION FEATURE: Kelli Hughett

FLASH FICTION FEATURE: Heather Gilbert

BLESSINGS!

Voni

Alexis Goring: The intersection of the arts and faith

Christian author Alexis Goring is here today, sharing her faith, her heart, and her novella, A Second Chance.

Voni: Thanks so much for coming on my blog, Alexis! I’ve been excited for you to show off your new novella. The cover is just all-out fun…what can you tell us about the story itself?

Alexis A. Goring, April 2017

Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

Alexis: Thanks, Voni! I’m happy to be here. A Second Chance is an inspirational, standalone novella. It’s a contemporary romance about characters that are in need of a second chance in life and at love.

The story features Marc (the hero), Traci (the heroine) and Gina (Marc’s sister). Marc is a newspaper journalist who keeps getting burned by women. So before he meets Traci, he’s ready to give up on love. Traci is also a newspaper journalist. Her fiancé left her at the altar on their Wedding Day and ran off with her Maid of Honor who she thought was her best friend. Needless to say, when readers first meet Traci, she is knee-deep in debt from the wedding that didn’t happen and her heart feels wounded beyond repair. Gina becomes quite the matchmaker in this story. But you’ll have to read it to find out why and how.

Book cover

Voni: How do Traci and Marc meet up in your story? What connects them?

Alexis: Traci and Marc’s meet-cute takes place inside a fancy restaurant. They connect later on when their best friends prompt them to give love a second chance. Working as newspaper journalists gives Traci and Marc immediate common ground. It also gives them a competitive edge because they both know when they’re “on to something”. You’ll have to read the story to find out what I mean by that phrase.

Voni: Common ground…just what people need when they’re on to something! On your Facebook page, you say “I’m a storyteller with a passion for the Arts & Entertainment industry and a heart for Jesus Christ!” What drew you to the arts and entertainment industry?

Alexis: Movies and music! Together along with amazing acting, these elements make movies memorable. I still listen to movie soundtracks when I’m writing a new fictional story. Movies always felt like home to me. Music has soothed my soul and inspired me on so many occasions. It was only natural for me to want to work in the Arts and Entertainment as a career professional. So I pursued it and graduated from college with a B.A. in Print Journalism and grad school with an MFA in Creative Writing. Waiting on the Lord to see what He wants me to do next.

Voni: Movies and music are a natural pairing, for sure, tied together with passion. How does your heart for Jesus intersect with this passion for the arts?

Alexis: My faith informs my viewpoint on life. As a believer in God and a follower of Jesus Christ, I consult them first before I make a career move. I go to God for every issue, praise, problem and concern for whatever happens in life because He is the only One with the answers that I need. It’s amazing how He places people in your life to connect with and help you in your time of need. I love how God works through people to accomplish His kingdom purposes. Since faith informs my viewpoint on life, it’s easier for me to stay motivated and bubbly because I’ve got Heaven on my mind. I know that Earth is not our home so that helps me to choose my battles wisely. When it comes to writing fictional stories, I always pray about it first and I ask God to guide me in every aspect of the creative writing process. He never fails me. As a writer of faith-based stories, my hope and prayer is that God will speak through my stories to help my readers find Him. I hope that each story is like an altar call, leading people closer to the heart of Jesus Christ who loves them with His Life.

Voni: Absolutely! How could your faith not be a part of all the stories you create? Thanks for letting us get to know you, Alexis. Congratulations on your book! Blessings!

(Alexis and I are having fun trading places today. Check out my turkey story on Alexis’ blog!)

Judging

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This could be Epic, one of the family dogs of my childhood.

My favorite story about Epic (short for Epictetus) is that my sister won a prize with him at a community pet show. She asked him to do a trick for the judges, and he did so perfectly. He was taller than she was at the time, because she was only around four, if that old! He loved her that much. All of us, really.

I told a story about how Epic taught me about being who you are, deep down, soul level, truth level on Jennifer Slattery’s blog, Jennifer Slattery . (click here) What a pleasure that was. Enjoy!

 

 

When the dog obeyed

02ed71835b650bc03097776c75c5599dThis is not the Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog) I had growing up, because we didn’t have cell phones, much less cell phone cameras back in those dark ages. Ha! But she looked similar to this dog. Her name was Honey, and before us, she lived in the kennel where she was born, her only consistent human interaction being with the teenage girl who fed and watered her daily. She was sweet as honey, but struggled to bond with anyone but me, since I was a teenage girl.

We did 4-H obedience dog shows together, spending many happy hours training. She would refuse to “talk” to me when I gave her a bath. She would throw up in the car unless we were on the way to a dog show. But, it was as though she read the dog training manual before each training session. Smart pup!

She slept on my bed at night.

One day, my Mom happened to open the garage door just as the newspaper boy came by. Oh, no! Not the dastardly newspaper boy!!! Honey dashed out of the garage to get away from this terrible, fearsome creature.

Couldn’t find her. Just couldn’t find her. About a week later, Dad was driving down a major, busy road two miles away (the one shopping mall in town), and saw her running back and forth in a panic, trying to cross the road. She almost got hit a couple times.

Dad pulled over.

Just as she almost dashed into traffic again, he yelled, “Honey, SIT!”

She recognized his voice and froze. Just long enough Dad was able to grab her and bring her home.

She didn’t sit, but her obedience training had kicked in to save her live.

Makes me wonder…how much obedience do I have in my relationship with God?

Do I hear and recognize God’s voice as Honey recognized my father’s voice?

And when I do…

Do I obey?

In John 14, Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”
(That’s in response to a question about how the world will learn about Jesus, by the way, but that’s a different blog post.)

Did Honey obey to make my Dad happy? No. She obeyed because she recognized his voice.

Do we obey to get on God’s good side?

No, God’s love is unconditional. Our obedience comes because we recognize His voice.

A voice we trust. And love.

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10)

Oy! Now I’ve got “Trust and Obey” that won’t get out of my brain!

Blessings,

Voni

Movie Review: La La Land

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We saw La La Land last night, and it was great, if…

…if you like musicals. This is not deep drama. It’s a musical. With people out of their cars and dancing during rush hour, with people breaking into song. You know, the things that make the old-fashioned musical fun. I was told that this movie was about song and dance, that the plot was unnecessary, and I have, in the past, condemned stories with no deepness, no real artistic value. That is not the case, here (but it IS a musical). To me, the music pervaded the story, rather than the story being a flimsy vessel for the music. I left inspired. And sad. Too bad I don’t do spoilers, or I would explain what it is that bothered me about the story but yet I wouldn’t change.

…if you like a sweet love story. There is no deep conflict between the two lovers, but rather between their love story and their dreams. They live in Los Angeles, the city of dreams, after all. That’s the feel-good, inspirational portion of the story; each of them was encouraging the other to be the hero of his/her own life story. When I think about it, that makes each of them a hero in the other’s story. See? Feel-good. Such an interesting and difficult-to-pull-off concept that their love and their dreams are the enemies of each other, while also motivating the other. What’s more important? Romantic love or dreams? (Christian note and perhaps spoiler: There is no sex in this story at all—again, it is the characters’ La La Land dreams that is the story’s focus—however, the couple does live together.)

…if you like jazz, or would like to learn to understand its musicians.

…if you ever had a dream you feared was only a pipe dream.

Otherwise, you won’t like it. 😉 The secondary characters are kind of placeholders, not bringing much to the story. And there is the odd part I wouldn’t change (no spoilers). BUT it is a musical. Some of these things take a back seat or happen because of the music. Which was enjoyable.

So enjoy.

Blessings,

Voni

When Dad was Wrong

Most of the time, my father was right …

Even if I didn’t realize it till later. Or much later.

Even if he took whatever it was more seriously than I thought it was worth.

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But there was one time when he was just plain old wrong.

I was a teenager, and my job was to work in the family rental property over the summer. Didn’t get paid in money, but I got a boatload of new clothes come school time. At any rate, my friend was having a party at her place (her dad was an ATF agent, so there was just clean fun). I went to Dad a couple weeks ahead of time and got permission to go, and to drive two of my friends. They had been giving me free rides all over the place, so Dad complimented my desire not to be a mooch friend. Yes, he used the word mooch. He told me I could have the car for the night.

However, when the day arrived, it was also carpet-laying day in the rentals.

Dad had never laid carpet before, but he was confident.

Would we be done in time for me to still take my friends to the party?

He was sure we’d be done by early afternoon. Absolutely positive. Absolutely, absolutely positive.

This was summer, so it had been several weeks since we’d had any friend time like this. I was excited and talked Dad’s ear off about it all day. Probably drove him nuts, but he was a good sport.

But come about 3:00, it was clear we were not even going to be done in time for me to give my friends a ride to the party.

Could I go call my friends and tell them I couldn’t give them a ride? (Dating myself, here. It was days long before cell phones…I would have had to drive to the diner two blocks away and use a pay phone.)

Nope. He wouldn’t let me even do that.

I realize now, even more than I realized then, that it wasn’t really the sort of job you could leave in the middle. And I realize that Dad had overestimated himself on a job he’d never done before (and no YouTube to learn from).

And I realize now that he was (internally) frightened about what the failure of the rentals would do to the family finances.

However, he was in the wrong. When we FINALLY finished and got home, Mom told me my friends had called an hour earlier, and she told them they should go ahead to the party without me. I was so furious over ditching my friends that, in my self-righteousness, I stomped around the house like a crazy woman as I showered and got ready for the party.

He didn’t didn’t punish me for my attitude. He didn’t even say a word.

Don’t get me wrong, my Dad was a good man, a strong man.

But there was a reason why, even before this, if he said something would take a certain amount of time, I would double the time and add an hour. He was no good at time.

And there is a reason why now, at the age of 50, I want to have a writing career, yet I am afraid. If I get a contract, there will be a deadline on that contract. A legal deadline on that contract.

What if I misjudge my capabilities and agree to a deadline I can’t meet? I already mostly don’t meet—self-imposed deadlines. I am like my Dad in this way.

Yet, I am also like my Dad in another way. I will not make a decision out of fear. As he did when he purchased the rental property, I will follow my dreams.

I will learn the art of fiction writing, as he learned to lay carpet.

As Dad moved from idea to landlord, I am moving from hobbyist to “real” writer.

I will write. And, eventually, I will sign a writing contract. (traditional or self-published)

And … hopefully … I will meet said deadline.

Blessings,
Voni

PS … Also like my father, I will make—and be forgiven for—parenting mistakes.
Because LOVE. Right, Leah?

The Wedding Rings–True story

We were like most people first starting out. When we got married, we were at the beginning of our careers. In other words, we couldn’t afford an expensive wedding ring, just an awesome one. It was a small marquis-cut diamond with rubies on either side. Beautiful. Both traditional and unique. I loved it.

Wish I had a picture of this ring, but this happened long before cell phones and phone cameras.

 

Six years later, we adopted our daughter. Beautiful. On my first Mother’s Day, she was ten months old. My husband, who loves me, handed me a ring-sized box. “Leah got you this with her allowance,” he explained.

My heart melted.

It melted again when I opened the box: A ring with a ruby in the center and diamonds on either side. The perfect companion to my wedding ring. Wife and Mother.

The two rings reminded me every day of my love for Rich and Leah, and their love for me.

Perfect.

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Then we attended the Navy Bean Festival in Rising Sun, Indiana. Yep. It’s a thing. A cool thing. It was a great time, enjoying the Indiana Fall and all the creative crafts and events. It was time to sit down for some bean soup and cornbread for lunch, and we found our place at a long, crowded table with open windows to let the gently brisk fall air stir our senses. Who knew bean soup tastes and smells like home? The inviting smell of the soup wafted out the windows.

Attracting wasps.

One of which made his way into the building, where my left-hand ring finger apparently bothered him.

So he stung it.

The paramedic hated telling me he was going to have to cut it off my poor swollen ring finger.

I did, too.

Rich did, too.

But that’s life.

 

We couldn’t afford to replace the ring, but I wanted a ring so we went to Walmart and got a cheapie, planning on buying a good one later. It was pretty. However, it didn’t take long for a prong to get messed up and get caught on everything; a diamond chip disappeared. I had to quit wearing it.

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Fast forward several years later. My husband, who loves me, decided enough was enough. He was on a trip to Juneau and decided to surprise me with a new ring.

Yet another melt-my-heart moment.

Only I am just 4’6”. The ring needed to be sized. Our local jeweler couldn’t do it, as he knew it would end up almost a square shape, as far down as it needed to be cut. The jeweler in Juneau said he could do it, but he was preparing to close up for the winter, so I had to make haste. We mailed the ring along with my old high school class ring which did fit, insured and all, to Rich’s co-worker in Juneau, who took the ring to the jeweler and returned it to us when he finished sizing it. Yeah, it’s the slightest bit square-ish. But not really. It fits. And I love it, and it reminds me of Rich’s love for me every time I put it on.

Perfect.

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Fast forward a couple of years. We were at the movie theater, and my hands were dry. As we waited for the movie to start, I took off my rings, put my lotion on, settled in to enjoy the movie…

And I noticed later…at home…No ring.

My heart dropped. I took it off for the lotion. But it was also cold that day, and I took gloves on and off as we went to and fro. It could have fallen anywhere. Especially with be-lotioned hands.

My husband, who loves me, did not get upset.

My heart stayed in my stomach for the next couple of days until the movie theater was open and I could call. But I didn’t need to call.

Someone responded to my Facebook message asking people to watch for it. That someone was the manager of the theater.

A teenage boy had found my ring when he went to watch the late movie that night.

And turned it in.

Hope for the world.

And my heart returned to its rightful place, beating away in my chest.

 

As our pastor reminded us yesterday, a wedding ring isn’t a marriage. It is just a symbol, just a thing.

So why have my ring(s) meant so much to me?

The same reason why stomping on a flag is more than stomping on a piece of cloth.

The same reason why a cross is more than just a decoration or something pretty to wear.

It’s the meaning behind the symbol.

A cross is not my faith, but it is a symbol of my faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. That sacrifice is why the cross means something.

The American flag is not my country, but it is a symbol of my country and its history and its rich legacy of democracy. That history and legacy is why the stars and stripes mean something.

A wedding ring is not love. But love is why my wedding ring means something.

I love you, too, Rich.

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What symbols mean a lot to you? What is behind the symbol? I’d love to hear!

Blessings,

Voni