How ‘FF: Neighbors!’ was born

Posted: December 29, 2014 in On Writing
Tags: , , , ,

Before you become a writer, you’re a reader. Over the years, certain genres become your favourites. If you are a technical author (like me), you write what you have to write about. This really isn’t difficult if you learned how to write for certain reader groups.

When I started writing for the fun of it, I soon realised that my favourite reading genres are not necessarily my favourite writing genres. Nearly two years ago, I started testing. This confirmed that I preferred long stories – at least novella length. Genre-wise I surprised myself: It isn’t crime I love to write about. My tendency is more or less urban fantasy and/or contemporary with a minimum touch of fantasy or crime.

My test phase resulted in this blog. It is obvious that there are short stories and flash fiction. I disliked short stories in the past – they were all rather disappointing. This changed when I read the first short stories by Jessica West and Karen Soutar. Reading their works made me write my own short stories. I learned how immensely difficult it is to write a short story. Due to a full-time job, it is not easy to regularly write a short story. If you have read my ’10 Statements’, you know that I am inspired by nearly everything. I am often inspired by Erin Waldie or her siblings’ photos (e.g. for ‘Hawk at the Harbour’ or ‘Golden Bliss’).

Then I stumbled upon  Flash Fiction Friday. If I liked the prompt and dragon’s bidding – I participated. 150 words (+/- 10) is even trickier than a short story.

This was my contribution for “Flash! Friday-Vol 2 – 24“.

These were the requirements:

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the word “arrears’”):


***Today’s Prompt:


I really liked that! Inspiration led to ‘FF: Neighbors!’.

Thanks to Elaine Canham‘s comment “I liked the message stuck on the cactus. Trouble is, I want to know more.” I knew that I also wanted more.  😀

Suddenly I was writing a flash fiction series. And I loved every bit along the way. I didn’t plan ahead. Sometimes inspiration struck, I noted this for the upcoming instalment.

In addition to all my writing, I read lots of books this year. One of these books had an admirable protagonist: I ‘met’ Lisa Burton while reading ‘Wild Concept’ by C. S. Boyack. I was impressed, she just had to be declared my book character of the year. Craig, her creator often writes about the writing cabin and – Lisa ( I once commented to someone else that it’s a pity that Craig is writing his own fan fiction. Craig told me to give it a go and I decided to let Lisa support Sheriff Jim Burrell.

Regarding fan fiction, you need to know that I didn’t really like it too much – until reading Topaz Winters‘ awesome fan fiction on Sherlock Holmes.

2014 was an important year for my writing. I learned a lot by reading and keeping an open mind. Thanks to you all, dear readers and/or commenters, this year was truly inspiring.


  1. Karen, I’m really curious about what you wrote regarding how your reading genres are not necessarily your writing genres. You often hear write what you like to read but reading your post made me think. Maybe that’s not always true. I wonder why?

    • Karen says:

      Carol, I couldn’t believe it myself. I enjoy reading crime/mystery/thriller the most. The series admittedly comprises a mystery – this is probably the intensity that works for me writing-wise. Despite that I left my comfort zone quite a lot by writing short stories and even flash fiction and a hint of fan fiction. This was important for finding my way as a writer.

  2. Brushing up on short fiction is a goal of mine. I really enjoyed Lisa’s visit to Neighbors. I think she must have stopped off in Vegas for some personal time.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you very much, Craig.
      Lisa showed Jim what she had for you. Perhaps she had to return to get something extraordinary for Bunny! I’ll be thrilled to read what she does on her return to the writing cabin.

  3. Karen Soutar says:

    Wow, thank you for the mention – I’m so flattered! I’m glad I helped a little bit in leading you to write short stories, and flash fiction – which I also love to read and write. Great piece, and I totally agree: if you read lots and keep an open mind, you learn so much. I know I do! xx

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome, Karen. A thank you post was necessary from my point of view.
      It helps to read the right stuff. There are more short stories and authors I really admire. I enjoy what these authors write, they don’t necessarily inspire my writing, though. 🙂

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