Sweet Little Nothings

After every storm chocolate

Buck Rich had sought his fortune
with 2-dimensional kings & queens,
rich & desperate old dowagers,
drunken bar bets,
the dogs & the ponies,
& numbered balls that went pong-ping.
But it wasn’t till he started his YouTube channel—
“Buck Naked Rich,”
based on the Prosperity Gospel—
that he became the morning & the evening star,
for there was no surer bet than those who sought
to buy their way to heaven
while being entertained about it.


Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: On Reading


In reading my old posts, I’ve seen how much I changed my mind was because life changed it for me. That’s what makes more personal posts like a time capsule—a polished journey entry or historical document, depicting not just my life but how I saw my life and where I saw myself. https://sarahleastories.com/2018/05/19/ill-take-two-of-everything/

Know your intended audience. The only way to do this is to read back issues of the publications you are submitting to.

Even if I don’t read an author’s books, I will read what they write (and heed some of their advice) on the craft. https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/conferences-for-writers/100-writing-tips-publishing-tips-from-authors-agents-and-editors-at-the-2018-writers-digest-annual-conference

If it’s hard finding the time to read, put your phone away during “waiting times,” such as waiting to see the doctor, and open a book. A book should be your constant companion.

The first (and best) book I ever read on editing was Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Dave King and Renni Browne. It helped me turn long-winded narration into scenes with lively dialogue (i.e., how to show rather than tell). But, like a newspaper reporter, know what to quote directly and what to paraphrase (as too much showing can exhaust your reader).


As much as I love book series, I find my brain stagnates when I read the same type of book (especially by the same author) for too long. Rereading books I cherished as a child has been a delight.

Sometimes, it’s not the content itself you learn from but the idea behind the content. https://sarahleastories.com/2018/06/09/book-review-the-arrow-finds-its-mark-a-book-of-found-poems/

If you’re a romance novel writer and need help with plot lines, go to the Harlequin romance website and find books written several years back; read the synopses, and make them your own.

Read at least one book about writing per month—in addition to all the other reading you do—and take notes. If there are writing prompts, do them, and never stop brushing up on the basics with the help of online tutorials: https://pensacolastate.instructure.com/courses/1325752/modules

Reading about how to write a certain type of book isn’t the same as reading those certain types of books; I start with the instructions, and then I read the examples.

Minnesota Burning


From the Greece of the South,
the privileged princess fiddled with her phone
while the Rome of the North burned,
for she was physically,
if not socially
from the inferno—
a charcoal mask she deemed necessary
to cleanse the pores of injustice—
for it wasn’t her community,
or job
being torched,
reduced to burning rubble,
or put on the back burner.
Those were just big-city problems,
happening to those who should pay
for someone else’s crime.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Writing Truths


Too many characters will spoil a plot.

Writing well is a skill; writing an engaging story is a talent.

You will never have enough time to write. You just have to make the most of the time you have.

A compelling plot will keep readers reading, but compelling characters will keep them rereading.

Know what to show, and know what to tell.

Reading, writing, and editing your own work is the cake but professional development, such as attending (and participating in) workshops, seminars, and conferences is the icing.

Creativity sometimes has to be managed, but it must never be stifled.

The writer’s life should consist of reading, writing, reading about writing, and writing about reading.

If you reveal everything about a character, they’re like a solved crossword puzzle.

Imitation is a form of admiration; plagiarism is not.

Sweet Little Nothings

Be good or be good at it

She sucked at numbers
but not doing a number on people.
She sucked at formulas—
unless it was using one to write a book.
She sucked at statistics—
unless it was calculating what percentage of time
her husband effed up,
so rather than be a good little mathematician,
she just painted by the numbers
& did a number on anyone . . .
until her number was up.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry Based on the Book


My agreement to an interview,
which I suspected would be an audition
to become a member of this Church family,
began my vow of being true to the Church in this life,
only to be shackled to in the next.

My baptismal outfit
was neither a costume
nor a uniform,
but a sackcloth of humility,
for it shielded the world
from my femininity.

To the boy I loved,
I confessed my lack of sin,
finding it ironic that being a good Catholic girl
had prepared me to become an even better Mormon one.
When it was over,
he gave me a weak smile,
& I felt I had not only passed
the pre-baptismal test,
I had passed his marriage qualifications test as well.

I had been brought up to wait for marriage,
just as my Mother had often said she’d waited
for my father,
but it was different for widows,
for their virginity had already been claimed.
Though she had often said that she & David
were in a committed relationship,
I believed there was no greater honor
than to be called wife,
for the covenant had not only been bound
by the state,
but by God.

Elder Roberts looked at me in a way
I realized just then
that David had,
at times,
looked at me.

Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.

When Culture Shocked Her Back


The so-called culture of the big city,
with all its restaurants, museums, & theatres
weren’t worth the price to live near them,
for eventually,
they, too,
would be destroyed.
this girl from Poplar Bluff,
who found felicity in simplicity,
could be found under a peach tree,
reading books,
not burning them,
painting scenes,
not spray painting obscenities,
building things,
not destroying them.
She had the freedom to believe,
& express belief,
in order & reform simultaneously—
living not in The Twilight Zone
but The Outer Limits
in a part of the world
that hadn’t been beaten all black & blue
with red all over.

Sweet Little Nothings

Things have to fall apart for them to fall together

At the age of 5 & 30,
she married the 1 who didn’t make her life easier
but made her better—
a man who called himself not the black sheep
but the stray sheep—
a man who had a place at every card table
because he believed that was the only way
he could ever surpass their circumstances.
He lost as much money as he had jobs,
but when he met her,
he felt he’d won the lottery—
only to continuously pay taxes on her by
doing everything in his power to keep her.
And she saw beyond their limitations
to their possibilities—
with him giving things up
& she,
taking things on.
She thought she’d found that in STEM,
but it turned to be the A in STEAM.

Fiction Friday on Saturday: Amazon Kindle Storyteller Contest

The Mormon Missionary's Mistress

My 19K word novella.

This novella has been in my cache for almost twenty years. As there isn’t much of a market for novellas (or novelettes), I decided it was time to give it a final edit and get it out there (but not for free). Even if I don’t win the contest, it’ll feel good to have finally made this available somewhere. Rereading this was like reaquainting myself with an old friend. 

Though I usually post short poems based on my book, Because of Mindy Wiley, this novella stars one of the minor characters (who has a major impact on the protagonist in the book; after all, her name is in the title), so it is related to my other Fiction Friday posts.

From the glacial terrain of Bear Creek, Idaho, to the lush landscape of Deep South, Florida, Elder Cather, a Mormon missionary, meets Sister Wiley, a three-time divorcee, current temple wife, and mother of a teenage daughter. At the risk of being caught with their temple garments down, facing excommunication by the Church and shunned from the only life they know, they fight against the rules imposed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by living life on their terms. However, Elder Cather will learn a heartbreaking, coming-of-age lesson from the fickle one who accepted his greatest gift. The Mormon Missionary’s Mistress is a hypnogogic trip with a heavy hit of magical realism and a dose of spiritual occultism. It is a Southern Gothic horror with shades of Shirley Jackson, laced with the absurdity of extreme religiosity prevalent in the American Deep South. It is the story of the sexual fever that grips young men who must think only of God, the sexual frozenness that grips middle-aged women who must think only of their husbands, and the dire consequences that can result when these two forces meet.

Keywords: magical realism, Gothic horror, Deep South, coming-of-age, Mormon, LDS, Bible belt

For more information about the contest: https://www.amazon.co.uk/b?ie=UTF8&node=12061299031&fbclid=IwAR2HcEbfeepSgy5MlM1OLrfwpAPzu047MMfU5T7GAQHsj9ZPJG0yVqD8-2w