I am thrilled to announce that my flash fiction contest entry “Meira” was accepted and is one of the five finalists at The Untold Podcast (untoldpodcast.com) in the Untold Picture Contest.

This story began as a simple tale of noble self-sacrifice but somehow became much more.  After receiving the random photo per contest rules, I spent weeks pondering a variety of story elements and ideas before settling on Meira, a feminine version of the Hebrew name Meir, which means “one who illuminates” or “to shine light”.

I wrote the story while I was in Iceland in April for a chess tournament.  That trip, to compete in an international tournament in Iceland, had been a bucket-list item for me since my third brain surgery.  After the tournament I had two extra days due to a Delta Airlines schedule change, so I spent one of them writing and revising my story.

At the time, I felt it was a decent attempt, especially since I am a new author, and better than my prior year’s submission.  After harshly cutting in several places to get it under the strict 1,000 word limit, carefully wordsmithing elsewhere, and several re-readings, I finally felt ready to submit.

A few moments later, I felt strangely compelled to read my story again.  This was after submitting it … why would I do this?  So I did, and was astonished at how the text (miraculously?) was laced with metaphors for Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and His victory over sin and death to set His children free.  I don’t recall being aware of all my word choices or imagery I placed in the story.  I credit God for this, not myself.

At the time of this blog post, my story is the third of five stories being published in the contest during August 2019.  Voting opens after all five stories have been aired.  Only time will tell if my entry garners any further accolades.

Thank you God for an opportunity to shine the light of Christ in this fallen world!

I awakened to find the great cleansing had begun. Mountains of the unfamiliar surrounded me. Frightened animals too, complaining in their anxiety. How long had I slept? I heard labored coughing nearby, erased by the screeching of an alien machine. My heart raced. It had come exactly as foretold.

Spring cleaning.

I don’t understand it myself.  Midlife crisis perhaps?

Here I sit, a family man in my early fifties, follower of Christ, happily married to an amazing woman, with two incredible teenage sons, successful in my career as a data scientist at a major U.S. corporation, and comfortable by middle-class standards.  Yet I am restless, plagued by a je ne sais quoi that eludes me.

About a year ago, my pastor and friend Nathan James Norman opened a flash fiction writing contest over at The Untold Podcast.  On a whim I decided to enter, and although I didn’t make the shortlist, some creative power slowly awakened like a muscle atrophied from disuse and straining to flex.

“I’m a numbers guy!  I’m not the creative type!” I have told myself countless times.  Upon introspection, however, I admit that I have always been attracted to epic fantasy and sci-fi genres.  I know way more about Star Trek than is healthy.  I’m still dismayed that ABC cancelled Legend of the Seeker, a decently good adaptation of the Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind, after only two seasons.

So here I am, believing that I am called to find some creative outlet for my strange talent.