J's Page

Originally established for times when I needed more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing or media.


‘A Plea to Michael’s Maid’ on Doorknobs & BodyPaint

I’m so happy to report my short “A Plea to Michael’s Maid” won first place in the Doorknobs contest at Doorknobs & BodyPaint. Check it out here.

The story had to be about a saint and the miracles they call for. The Doorknobs contest had the following restraints, er, guidelines:

1. Maximum length: 250 words.
2. The sub-theme is: miraculous.
3. The year is: 1943.
4. Within the story, this text must be used: exceptional deeds.

The hoops were especially daunting this round, and I wasn’t sure I was going to enter. But inspiration struck over pizza and beer the night before the contest deadline. What saints did I know? Was Teresa a saint yet? Wait, I knew a saint! I’d write about Joan of Arc! Of course!

As a kid, I was fascinated by the story of St. Joan of Arc, the girl captain who led France to several victories during the Hundred Years’ War. I can’t tell you when I first heard or read about her: Saints and their miracles, for the most part, were lost in my Protestant upbringing, but as an eager reader in fourth and fifth grades, I learned as much as I could about her through young-adult fiction, dusty biographies, home’s World Book and the library’s Encyclopedia Britannica. For a fifth-grade history project, I made a presentation dressed up as the Maid, complete with a sword and breastplate made out of cardboard and Reynolds Wrap. Somewhere in my basement, or perhaps in my parents’ attic, is a black-and-white photograph of a gap-toothed me — in full homemade armor — looking every bit as distressed and frustrated as a 10-year-old wannabe warrior could look when she finds out that she’s not nearly as cool as her favorite heroine.

Skipping forward 30 years, a sausage slice and a refreshing Kölsch helped me remember a saint, now I just had to figure out what to do in 1943. Joan was the patron saint of the French army, so I’d write about a French soldier in 1943.

“The French were getting their asses kicked then,” my husband, the historian, reminded me.

Even better. All the more reason for St. Joan to call for a miracle.

And so she did. And you can read all about it here.


Flash forward

This is a bit of a departure from my usual advertising/marketing posts, but it’s in the interest of self-promotion, so it’s not completely from left field.

I’m happy to report I’ve kept up my writing habit over the summer — despite not taking a writing class during the summer sessions. I’m even happier to report that my flash-fiction piece “Tokyo Exchange” was selected for Doorknobs & Bodypaint’s August issue, along with another short, “Crib Notes,” which is part of a much longer work in progress.

For “Tokyo Exchange,” I had to use the following prompts: 1) a theme of treachery 2) a sub-theme of restraint 3) setting is Tokyo and 4)  the phrase “of an emulsion” must be included. Oh, and it had to be 450 words or fewer. We meet Jamie from “Clocked In” again, 10 years after we last saw her. She’s a computer analyst who is living in Tokyo temporarily and suffering from a serious case of homesickness.

In “Crib Notes,” which was written for the Dorsal contest, someone had to act treacherously to take something that isn’t theirs. It’s 1996, and we meet Sean, a once-gifted journalist who has squandered his talents. He’s a first-class shit, and he’s loosely based on a journalist I knew back in the early 1990s. This piece surprised me: I felt angry and sad and completely disgusted. I hope the reader feels that way, too.

Speaking of writing, I have daily pages and classwork to do, so this self-promotional post will end awkwardly — like this.