CNF Entry Shortlisted for UK’s Creative Writing Ink Journal Competition

 

My entry Old Shoes a creative non-fiction flash piece was shortlisted for the UK’s Creative Writing Ink Journal competition in December 2016. This was a piece I developed in Professor Lee Martin’s weekend flash class last year.

Congratulations to winner M. T. Ingoldby and the other shortlisted entrants. Read the winning entry here:

http://www.creativewritingink.co.uk/journal/

 

“World’s Greatest Grandpa” Published

My flash fiction story, “World’s Best Grandpa” has been published at Brilliantflashfiction.com yesterday. Many thanks to them for the publication opportunity.

If you’d like to read it and give feedback, I’d appreciate it. The story is midway in the publication. View it at: https://brilliantflashfictionmag.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/issue-11-september-2016/#more-1548

Thanks!

Karin

 

“Life Preserver” Published in the Flash Fiction Press

Hi there. I’m proud to announce that my flash fiction piece “Life Preserver” was published by The Flash Fiction Press on September 18. Please give it a look. I’d love to have your feedback. The URL is http://www.theflashfictionpress.org/2016/09/18/life-preserver/

Thanks,

Karin

 

 

Two Flash Fiction Pieces Coming in September

Hi everyone. Welcome to my author website. This has been a busy year.

Last month, my short story, “Heirloom” appeared in the anthology “Tomato Slices.” The anthology contains stories, poetry, art, recipes, and other tidbits all relating to tomatoes. It’s available on Amazon.

I am currently working on book 1 of a mystery series, “All In.” I have completed the draft of Book 2, “Operation Bingo.” Don’t ask me why I wrote book 2 first. It just worked out that way.

I’ve also started writing a series of humorous essays that will be collected into a book.

Finally, two flash fiction stories will be forthcoming in September of this year. The first is “Life Preserver” in Flash Fiction Press, and the second is titled “World’s Best Grandpa” which will appear in Brilliant Flash Fiction.  Thanks to both of these great magazines!

Keep writing.

Karin

Musings – A Day in the Life of a Writer

Flaubert Quote

The spring flowers are bright and welcoming as I drive down the gravel driveway to the detached garage in the back of our 100-year-old Victorian home. Medium-size pea gravel crunches beneath my Sonata’s tires. Maverick geraniums dot the flower beds. Scarlet, white, and rose-colored flowers stand among the landscaped flower beds that surround the wrap-around front porch.

I’ve just returned from the local diner after gobbling down a half an omelet wrap. An omelet wrap is just what it sounds like—sausage gravy and shredded home fries enclosed in eggs that have been beaten until frothy and then cooked until set. I admit that I also ate the homemade biscuit. What a wonderful way to start the day.

I park the car in the garage and walk to the back door. I put my key into the lock and open the door. I’m greeted by Smokey II, a short-haired black feline beauty who doubles as a friend and muse. She cocks her head as if to say, “Finally. It’s about time. Ready to work?”

We climb the stairs to my second-floor office. I race her to the top of the landing, but I always lose. I turn on my Alienware computer and arrange my two monitors while Windows boots up and the word processing program opens. The monitors must be just so. I tweak them this way and that, forward and backward.

All the while, my mind is climbing upward preparing itself to receive direction from on high. Who knows what paths we’ll explore today?  It’s all part of being a writer. Each experience is different—some resplendent with hope and achievement—others with frustration and rejection.

Tomorrow will be another day—the same but different. We’ll rise, Smokey and I, and start the process all over again. We’ll keep doing it until we get it right.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations

The recent measles outbreak at Disneyland reminds me of an incident that happened when I was younger. I was in my late twenties, and working as a secretary for the Ohio Department of Education. I was married and expecting a baby. I had been married for almost ten years, and the baby was highly anticipated and planned. I was in my first trimester and following the doctor’s dietary restrictions closely. I was also taking prenatal vitamins and going to the ob-gyn on a regular basis. So when my boss called me into his office with a grave face I wasn’t prepared for what he was about to tell me.

“Carol has the measles,” he said. “Her children all had the measles and now they have scarlet fever.”

Carol was a single mother who worked in our office. She was on public assistance because the father of her children had abandoned the family both physically and monetarily. I felt bad for her, but at that moment her actions or rather inactions were sinking into my brain.

“You’re kidding,” I said. I stared at my boss. My mind started whirling.

I had pointed out to Carol in previous conversations that the State Health Department gave free vaccinations for the measles, mumps, and rubella commonly called a MMR vaccination. They also gave the DPT shot to prevent Diphtheria Tetanus and Pertussis. I had a cousin that had five children and poor health insurance, and he had mentioned that he had marched all five of his children down to the Health Department to get vaccinated free of charge. Carol’s response to my advice was to shrug and say, “So, they’ll get the measles or whooping cough. Big deal.”

My boss held his hands out in supplication. “I suggest that you go back to your desk and make an appointment with your doctor immediately,” he said.

“I’ve never had the three day measles,” I said, after searching my memory. I’d had chicken pox, the ten day measles, and whooping cough. I’d almost died from whooping cough. But I had never had the common measles.

My boss looked sympathetic. His wife had recently lost triplets so he had an idea of what I could potentially go through.

A visit to my doctor the next day confirmed what I suspected.

“Even though you’ve been vaccinated you could still get the measles. We don’t really know how long the vaccination lasts. If you get the measles,” he said, “we’ll have to abort the baby. It almost certainly won’t be normal. You’re young. You should be able to have another child,” he said, patting my hand.

But the doctor didn’t understand something. I’d had a bad childhood, and it had taken me several years to decide to have a child at all. If I had to abort my baby, I didn’t know if I could get over the loss. The doctor sent me home with the advice that I take the next week off from work so that I didn’t endanger others if I happened to get the measles. I could be in an incubation period.

From what I remember, I stayed home and prayed that I didn’t get the measles. I restricted my movements so that I didn’t go out in public and potentially expose others.
That why today I have a real problem with people that refuse to have their children vaccinated because they say they fear the potential consequences. Not only can other children get the disease, but pregnant mothers and people with compromised immune systems can get infected too.

I was born in 1950, and I had a cousin that contracted polio. Polio is a horrible disease to have. We still don’t know what causes it. Jonas Salk developed and tested the first polio vaccine in 1952 and Albert Sabin developed a polio vaccine that was licensed in 1962. I remember when I was in junior high school that we all had to line up in the auditorium to take the oral Sabin vaccine. After seeing my cousin walk with a leg brace when she was a child and others enclosed in an iron lung when I was younger, I had no problem taking the vaccine.

And now we get into people’s rights in this country. I guess someone has a right not to be vaccinated, but they don’t have the right to infect hundreds or thousands of people due to their neglect. If they live on an isolated mountain top and never leave it and have all their supplies and food delivered, then maybe don’t get vaccinated. But I don’t want to see them in the general population again until they come to their senses and get vaccinated.

Last summer, the Ohio Department of Health had a series of public announcements about the MMR and DPT vaccines. They offered vaccinations to the public free of charge whether they had insurance or not in order to avoid an epidemic. It’s been determined that being immunized as a child does not provide lifelong protection. Since I planned to attend some writer conferences, I hauled myself down to the Health Department and held my arm out for the needles.

If you’re wondering what happened with my pregnancy, I did have unrelated complications and had to stay home from work an additional week. But I didn’t get the measles. That December, I had a healthy baby girl. She’s an adult in her thirties now. I hauled her butt down to the Health Department too. She hates shots with a passion, but she’s not selfish enough that she’d risk getting or exposing others to a disease as deadly as the measles

No one should have the right to put other lives at risk for contracting diseases that could be prevented with a couple of shots. You’re going to have to come up with a lot better excuse than “I’m afraid of potential side effects” to convince me. How dumb can you get?

Sources:
Wikipedia article on “Polio Vaccine”
Merck Manual “Home Edition” article on “Common Vaccinations”

Antioch Writers Conference in Yellow Springs Rocks

I recently attended the Antioch Writers Conference in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The week long conference was packed full of lectures and workshops. Yale professor and writer Andre Dumas III, who recently published a memoir titled “Townie,” was the featured speaker. He also gave a special workshop for all attendees. Tara Ison and Matthew Goodman lectured on fiction and non-fiction techniques each morning.

Afternoons consisted of workshops specializing in various genres: fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. I chose non-fiction where I presented the first 20 pages of a spiritual memoir that I recently completed. I received helpful feedback from non-fiction workshop leader Eileen Cronin, who recently published her memoir “Mermaid,” as well as other conference participants.

The conference also included an appointment and technique lecture from Crown Publishing Group editor Nathan Roberson. Mr. Roberson volunteered to review and critique a potential query letter for individuals that signed up for appointments with him. Additionally, Agent Hannah Brown Gordon of Foundry Media was on hand. She explained the process for obtaining an agent and also took appointments.

I pitched my completed memoir to Ms. Brown and received very promising feedback and a referral to a fellow agent that specializes in spiritual memoir.

The conference allowed me to hone my writing skills and make a ton of new friends. I highly recommend it for anyone planning to attend a workshop in 2015.

 

 

 

The Pet Butler

by Karin Britt Gall

My daughter, Kristin, greeted me from her usual spot in the coffeehouse, waving at me with one hand and drinking what looked like a hot chocolate with the other.

“Hey, what happened to the décor? Looks like they redecorated,” I said.

She frowned. “Yeah, I asked Julian, he’s the manager, what happened to the green chair in this corner and he said it was too far gone. Couldn’t be saved. But they reupholstered the rest of the stuff.”

I smirked. “So, your heart is broken?”

“Hey, lots of people liked that chair. I usually have a hard time snagging this area for you.”

Since she’s seldom on time, I ignored her remark. “Look, today I want to talk about a new business venture.”

“Yeah? You getting tired of writing?”

“No, I thought you might want to start a little business. It would help you on your income taxes.”

“Look mom, I already make so little with my customer service job that it’s next to impossible to get into a lower tax bracket. Any lower and I’ll be on welfare.”

“All the more reason for you to expand and become a business owner. Jack says he saw the perfect thing,” I said, referring to her stepfather.

“Where is the old fart anyway?”

“Golfing.”

Kristin made a rude noise. “I can’t understand why grown men follow little balls across manicured grass and call it a sport.”

“Exercise.”

“Right.”

“Anyway, he says that the sales manager in his office pays over $60 a month for a service to poop scoop his yard.”

Kristin’s hand shook almost spilling her hot chocolate. At first I thought she was clumsy, and then I realized she was laughing. “You’re kidding. Someone pays money to have their dog poop picked up? How lazy can you get?”

“Well, busy working people hire maids and lawn services and things like that.”

She giggled. “What do they call it? We be dog poop removal and stuff?”

“Animal Waste Removal. It’s a niche business. A legitimate need.”

“I’ll say. Okay, lay it on me. How much do I need to invest? Do they sell franchises?”

“Umm, I’m not sure.”

“That’d make sense. They could divide it up according to zip codes or suburban territories.”

“It would be a low investment, work for yourself business. All you need is a pick up truck and some tools like shovels and scoops.”

“Shovels? What the heck am I picking up after? Horses?”

“No, but some dogs are bigger than others,” I said, visualizing Great Danes and St. Bernards.

“I have to tell you that $60 a month sounds kind of low when you consider what you’re dealing with.” She wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“Not really. You’d go once a week, clean for a few minutes and go onto the next place. It’d be easy money.”

“If it’s so easy and so great, then how come other people aren’t killing themselves to do it? I mean there is rampant unemployment out there.”

“I suppose the messiness and subject matter has a lot to do with it. Remember George Jefferson from the TV sitcom The Jeffersons? He ended up owning a string of dry cleaners. He dealt with people’s dirty laundry.”

“Yeah, well he didn’t offer to clean their toilets did he?”

She had me there. “Cleaning toilets is honest work.”

“I know. Thanks, but when I said I wouldn’t mind a second job, I was thinking about doing some silk flower arrangements or crafts. Something fun.”

“I just thought this would be good to do in your spare time. Since you work second shift, it’d be ideal.”

“No thanks. Let’s see, how I would list that on my resume? Pooper Scooper Extraordinaire?”

“Okay. Okay. It was just a thought.”

“And just think about if I expanded the business. I can just read the wording in the classified ad now. ‘Hard-working person wanted. Musn’t be afraid to get hands dirty.’”

“I’m sure you’d want to wear gloves.”

“Oh yeah, and boots. Hip boots, in case I have a client with a Great Dane.”

“It was just a thought,” I said, defensively.

Kristin took her last bite of brownie and chased it down with her drink. “This has been fun but I need to go clean my apartment. Uh, is this a plot for your next book? You are making this up right?”

“I’m dead serious.”

“I’d have to research it. Just think of all the diseases and stuff you could get.”

“Just think, you could have your own business. Your name could be in neon lights. How about ‘Kristin’s Pet Waste Removal,’ or ‘Kristin’s Pooper Scooper Inc.’ Your tagline could be, ‘We scoop poop.’”

“Mom, calm down, and do me a favor. Don’t have the sign made yet.”

Kristin gathered her napkin and plate and cup and headed towards the collection receptacle mumbling, “Disgusting. Can’t believe I’m talking about this crap at breakfast.”

“I think you’re missing a great entrepreneurial opportunity here,” I called, wanting to get in the last word.

“Goodbye Mom,” Kristin said, shaking her blonde ponytail from side to side as she walked out of the café.

The End