Apr 17 2019

Occurrences #AtoZChallenge #Writing #BookReviews as an #Author and #WEPFF Jewel Box


What is in your Jewel Box? Join @TheIWSG @DeniseCCovey for 2019's second challenge #WEPFF #amwriting #flashfiction

Writing Book Reviews As An Author

Inspiration To Make It Easier

By: J Lenni Dorner

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter O
is for Occurrences

What occurrences caused you to read this book? Did something, or someone, specific motivate you? Perhaps you read a blog post, a book review, or were told about it by a friend.

How did you get a copy? Bought, borrowed from a friend, loaned from a library, Advanced Reader Copy possibly given in exchange for a review (ALWAYS mention if this is the case), found on the bus, given as a gift, etc. Sometimes the occurrences that led you to a book make a difference.

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JEWEL BOX PARK

by J Lenni Dorner

Peanut shells crunch under my feet. I know it’s a carnival here today, but it will be a public park again tomorrow. Who will clean this mess?

“Step right up! Knock down the bottles, win a prize. Three balls for a dollar.”

Why did I come here? What about the bright lights and annoying sounds drew me out of my cool home? It’s sweltering out. The sun is sinking, yet I swear it’s getting warmer.

“How about you? Three balls for a dollar. Easy game. A child could win.”

I shake my head at the bearded man running the game. Triple braids coated in wax make his facial hair look fantastical. Costumes and make-up never did it for me. Why am I here?

“You there, Slugger! Win a bear for the lady. Step right up. Three balls for a buck.”

Cotton candy melts on the nearest bench. On pleasant days in autumn, I sit on that bench. Will someone clean it? Does the charity carnival come with mops and buckets?

“Oh, nice try. All in the wrist, you know. Two balls to go!”

I wish the library just asked me for a check. Be so much easier, so much quieter and cleaner, to pay for their renovations.

“Another miss. One ball to go!”

I nearly fall over, my ankle turning in, as someone crashes into me. A mother yells at her child to be more careful. The child ralphs on the grass beside me. As I step backward, my ankle burns. Of course I’d be injured at the carnival outside my door! I stumble back until I hit the booth.

“Strike three, you’re out. Sorry, pal. Try again? Another dollar, another three? No? How about you?”

I glance at the prize box. There are books? One I must have. I look to the bearded man.

“Something caught your eye? Ah, not just teddy bears today. Three balls for a dollar! Knock down the milk bottles, win a book.”

I had no intention of spending any money here. Wouldn’t want to encourage this carnival, lest it becomes an annual event. But one dollar wouldn’t make much difference. The prize is worth more. I shell out the cost of the balls.

I feel the first one. My fingers run over the stitching. It’s older, fraying. The ball hasn’t been cleaned between uses. How many grubby hands have clutched this thing? I set the ball down, shaking my head.

He looks at me like I’m the one wearing a tie-dye shirt under a red and white striped vest.

I pull a packet of wet wipes out of my pocket. After cleaning the next ball, I take my place. There are three stacks of milk jugs. Only one has been placed with enough care to be even. Sloppy. I hate the look of the uneven two.

The ball soars from my hand. An ugly sound smacks my ears. I turn around, only to have my nose assaulted by the smell of vomit. Blazing heat has cooked it. I want to run home.

“Very good, very good! Take your next shot. Three balls needed for the prize you want.”

What cruel joke is this? Shouldn’t hitting the jugs with one ball be enough? I have to touch another of his unwashed things?

I take out another wipe, eyeing the bearded man as I clean. How much would I pay to throw these balls at a dunk tank target? To see his wax wash away? Oh, if only! The library would be larger than the stadium thanks to my funds. I could dunk this man as the sun goes down and repeat again and again until the rooster wakes.

He doesn’t know who I am.

Peanut shells crunch under my feet as I take a step back. My ankle stings, but I’ve had worse. Sweat teases my face. Dirty, filthy, stinky sweat. I need to bathe. The milk bottles are keeping me from a cool shower.

Another burst of sound as the ball hits. Both uneven stacks are down. My ears ring. The park spins. Too many lights! I should have stayed in.

“Well-done, well-done! Just get the third and you’ll have won.”

I stare at the bottles. There’s one that isn’t quite right. Ah, so the game is rigged. My aim needs to be more to the left. I look at the ground. A puddle of soda blocks my spot.

Too much litter! Someone sneezes. I shouldn’t have left home.

More blinding lights pop on as the sun vanishes. People cheer in the distance. Someone yells about hotdogs and beer. The park reeks of pine and popcorn.

I look at the booth. How did I not see it before? Green paint. I shouldn’t be here.

“Go on now. Throw your last one. I’ve wiped it off for you.”

Monster! The Green Monster has come to call on me once more. Does the bearded man know? As he hands me the ball, does he know who I am? Has he ridden the Green Line of the T?

I shouldn’t be here. Too dirty, too bright, too loud. Just knock them down. One more time. Then I’ll go home for good. Away from the balls, the crowds, and the vicious Green Monster of that Jewel Box park.

The sound isn’t as loud as my ball collides with the target. One milk jug teeters. It isn’t meant to go down. Food for the monster, no doubt. It knows who I am. It remembers.

But the jug falls at last.

“Here, old timer. You’ve earned your pick.” The bearded man holds up the box of books. “Unless you wanted a teddy bear?”

I shake my head and take the book. “The Fear of Fenway.” A biography about me. No one fears me anymore. They’ve forgotten who I am. I thought I bought all the copies of this blasted book already to ensure it.

WEP WEPFF critique preference

FCA: 984 words
JEWEL BOX PARK by J Lenni Dorner

Fenway is a jewel box park, and is the oldest active ballpark in Major League Baseball. The Green Monster is in Fenway. The Green Line of the T refers to Boston’s public transit, particularly the route one uses to reach Fenway Station. “The Fear of Fenway” is a non-existent book, as is the main character of this story.


#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge
In the Flash Fiction story above, and in an example review in Writing Book Reviews As An Author, someone wins a book by knocking down milk jugs at a carnival.
Question: What is the most unusual or interesting reason or way you’ve ever gotten a book?

— J, Co-host and Team Captain #AtoZChallenge


~ GIVEAWAY! Click here. ~


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UPDATE:

THE ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD FOR THE 2019 WEP APRIL CHALLENGE JEWEL BOX goes to @JLenniDorner #WEP #WEPFF

46 comments

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    • Pat Garcia on April 17, 2019 at 7:29 AM

    Hi,
    As I read your story, I was thinking about baseball and pitchers who become very successful and then retire. People forget them and their strong pitching arms.
    Excellent writing. You really had me and I thought it was a true story.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat #G
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    1. Glad you enjoyed it!
      I actually wrote a second version of the story, in the comments, using a cake decorator instead. Some commenters were thrown off by the baseball. (Jewel Box is an architectural term for some of the older parks. That’s why I used it. But a Jewel Box is also a style of cake, so I switched for the non-sports fans.)
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  1. Reminded me of a joke:

    How do you deal with an elephant with three balls?

    You walk him and pitch to the giraffe.

    For a long time, the oldest ballpark in the majors was Comiskey Park in Chicago, where the White Sox played. I spent many happy hours there. It’s now the parking lot for “new” Comiskey, which is across the street and has had several names. I’ve been to Fenway, which was newer than the old Comiskey Park, but for some reason Fenway seemed older…
    John Holton has this post to share Oxymoron #atozchallengeMy Profile
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    1. It does, doesn’t it? Just something about the magic of Boston.
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    • joy on April 17, 2019 at 12:17 PM

    most interesting reason i’ve gotten a book. hmm.. probably in university when i wrote a short story anonymously that was published in an anthology of student to student stories. my professor gave me a copy with a wink so even though my name wasn’t in the book it was our little secret. 🙂

    Joy at The Joyous Living
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    1. That’s awesome!
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  2. Your character in this story is exquisitely developed from beginning to end. I love that he just wants that book, that the prize of hiding it from the world is what he wants most, that he struggles to triumph over his disorientation.
    Nicely written!
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    1. Thanks! Glad you liked it.
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  3. Such a great story! I can just see him taking out the wipes and eww the smell of vomit. Glad that he was able to overcome and get his book.
    Janet Miles has this post to share A to Z Challenge – 2019 – O is for Overlay and OwlsMy Profile

    1. Glad those came through for you.
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  4. I wonder who this guy is. A former athlete, aged and forgotten? I never followed baseball, or any sort of sport, in my life, so sadly, all the sporty reference are a mystery to me. I don’t get the significance of the term ‘ball park’ either, but the bitterness of the one who was once, long ago, but isn’t anymore is unmistakable.

    1. I actually wrote a second version of the story, in the comments, using a cake decorator instead. Some commenters were thrown off by the baseball. (Jewel Box is an architectural term for some of the older parks. That’s why I used it. But a Jewel Box is also a style of cake, so I switched for the non-sports fans.)
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  5. Oooh.
    I was caught early, and stayed hooked.
    I am so glad that he was able to win his prize – and hope that the Jewel Park returns to its quieter beauty, and he retains his peace.

    1. Glad I hooked you!
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  6. This story was very well-crafted! As mentioned in an earlier comment, I too thought this was a true story at first. Well done 🙂
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    1. Glad it seemed real to you.
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  7. Nothing more poignant than a recognized has-been, and carnivals of any kind always add the creep factor for me. Great job.
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    1. Glad I was able to creep you out a little. 😉
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  8. Great story! I really bonded with this main character… mm… must be the books, it can’t be the lack of cleanliness and the need I feel to start cleaning up the park.
    As for an interesting reason for getting a book: I have several. This year I ordered a book online after reading an author interview (loved the premise of the book, but I still have to read it). I once read an article about a book in a magazine and got the book because of it. And a few years a go a school cleared out its library to make space for more classrooms (sad, but an accepted fact in my country as far as public schools go) and I got a good haul from them (most of which I took to our public library to fill their shelves — we do what we must to share books with everyone).
    Ronel Janse van Vuuren has this post to share The One… #AtoZChallenge #AuthorToolboxBloghopMy Profile
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    1. I bought a book because of a magazine suggestion too. Haven’t gotten around to that read. Need more hours…
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  9. Brilliant take on the prompt. I really liked the characterisation and the development of this flash – excellent work. I wouldn’t have known the character was fictional if you hadn’t mentioned it – why does he want to be forgotten? why is he going round buying up copies of his biography to make sure no-one reads it? did he do something wrong/illegal in the sport? I don’t come from a baseball culture so I can’t follow the baseball references, but that didn’t really hinder my enjoyment of the story – the bitterness and reclusiveness of the character come through beautifully.

    I also liked how your A-Z theme has been woven into this WEP+IWSG challenge. The most unusual way I’ve ever got books is through the A-Z! – I won a pile in the 2016 Challenge. Funnest thing of all..

    1. I’m glad you liked the story and ended up with so many questions. Winning books is awesome.

      I actually wrote a second version of the story, in the comments, using a cake decorator instead. Some commenters were thrown off by the baseball. (Jewel Box is an architectural term for some of the older parks. That’s why I used it. But a Jewel Box is also a style of cake, so I switched for the non-sports fans.)
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  10. This is certainly an interesting and unusual reason for getting a book. You wrote such a vivid tale here! Your descriptions made me feel as if I was really there at the carnival, and you portrayed this man’s personality well in a short amount of time. I want to know more about this guy. Why does he want the world to forget him? What kind of life has he lived? Excellent!
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    1. Lots of great questions that I hoped readers would have. Thanks for enjoying the story!
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  11. The starting of this story seems really familiar to me… 😉
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    1. Okay. I’m not sure why. But thanks for stopping by.
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    • Hilary on April 18, 2019 at 12:56 PM

    Hi JL – fascinating how he managed to get his book eventually … but he only wanted it so he can hide it away and it’s never to see the light of day or be read by anyone. I wouldn’t have known it was to do with baseball … but then that’s understandable … but the abuse of a park when Carnival comes to town … yes that I can imagine. I enjoyed it – cheers Hilary
    Hilary has this post to share Write … Edit … Publish … Bloghop: Jewel Box …My Profile

    1. It wasn’t much to do with baseball. I wrote a second version in the comments. Same story, just different background.
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  12. I’m familiar with Fenway Park but only because I’m a baseball fan. I know what the green monster is, too. Hubs and I watch baseball every season. This post was a great way to twist the prompt. A fun read. Especially the lines about the dirt, the mess. Well done!

    1. Glad someone else knew the setting from the character’s memories. Thanks for the comment!
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  13. Here. Same story. No baseball. A Jewel Box cake instead of a Jewel Box ballpark. Same word count. Just a different character background.

    —————————————————————–

    Peanut shells crunch under my feet. I know it’s a carnival here today, but it will be a public park again tomorrow. Who will clean this mess?

    “Step right up! Steady hands win a prize. Three tries for a dollar!”

    Why did I come here? What about the bright lights and annoying sounds drew me out of my cool home? It’s sweltering out. The sun is sinking, yet I swear it’s getting warmer.

    “How about you? Three tries for a dollar. Easy game. A child could win.”

    I shake my head at the bearded man running the game. Triple braids coated in wax make his facial hair look fantastical. Costumes and make-up never did it for me. Why am I here?

    “You there, slim! Win a bear for the lady. Step right up. Three tries for a buck.”

    Cotton candy melts on the nearest bench. On pleasant days in autumn, I sit on that bench. Will someone clean it? Does the charity carnival come with mops and buckets?

    “Oh, nice try. All in the wrist, you know. Two tries to go!”

    I wish the library just asked me for a check. Be so much easier, so much quieter and cleaner, to pay for their renovations.

    “Another buzz. One try to go!”

    I nearly fall over, my ankle turning in, as someone crashes into me. A mother yells at her child to be more careful. The child hurls on the grass beside me. As I step backward, my ankle burns. Of course I’d be injured at the carnival outside my door! I stumble back until I hit the booth.

    “Buzz three, you’re out. Sorry, pal. Try again? Another dollar, another three? No? How about you?”

    I glance at the prize box. There are books? One I must have. I look to the bearded man.

    “Something caught your eye? Ah, not just teddy bears today. Three tries for a dollar! Steady hands trace the wires, win a book.”

    I had no intention of spending any money here. Wouldn’t want to encourage this carnival, lest it becomes an annual event. But one dollar wouldn’t make much difference. The prize is worth more. I shell out the cost of the tries.

    I feel the first wand. My fingers run over the handle. It’s older, discoloring. The wand hasn’t been cleaned between uses. How many grubby hands have clutched this thing? I set the wand down, shaking my head.

    He looks at me like I’m the one wearing a tie-dye shirt under a red and white striped vest.

    I pull a packet of hand wipes out of my pocket. After cleaning the next wand, I take my place. There are three steady-hands wire games. Only one has been bent with enough care to be tricky. Sloppy. I hate the look of the other two.

    The wand eases in my hand. A dinging sound smacks my ears. I turn around, only to have my nose assaulted by the smell of vomit. Blazing heat has cooked it. I want to run home.

    “Very good, very good! Take your next try. All three completed for the prize you want.”

    What cruel joke is this? Shouldn’t completing the maze of one game be enough? I have to touch another of his unwashed wands?

    I take out another wipe, eyeing the bearded man as I clean. How much would I pay to paint dainty flowers on his face? To trade beard wax for icing? Oh, if only! The library would be larger than the stadium thanks to my funds. I could paint his face as the sun goes down and decorate away his false facade until the rooster wakes.

    He doesn’t know who I am.

    Peanut shells crunch under my feet as I take a step back. My ankle stings, but I’ve had worse. Sweat teases my face. Dirty, filthy, stinky sweat. I need to bathe. The electrified wires are keeping me from a cool shower.

    Another burst of sound as my wand wins. Both easy games are complete. My ears ring. The park spins. Too many lights! I should have stayed in.

    “Well-done, well-done! Just get the third and you’ll have won.”

    I stare at the wires. One twist isn’t quite right. Ah, so the game is rigged. My aim needs to be more upward and quick. I look at the ground. A puddle of soda blocks my spot.

    Too much litter! Someone sneezes. I shouldn’t have left home.

    More blinding lights pop on as the sun vanishes. People cheer in the distance. Someone yells about funnel cake. The park reeks of candy and baked goods.

    I look at the booth. How did I not see it before? Painted flowers. I shouldn’t be here.

    “Go on now. Take your last one. I’ve wiped it off for you.”

    Monster! The little flowers have come to call on me once more. Does the bearded man know? As he hands me the wand, does he know who I am? Does he know of that baking show?

    I shouldn’t be here. Too dirty, too bright, too loud. Just twirl the wand around. One more time. Then I’ll go home for good. Away from the wires, the crowds, and the dainty, tiny flowers of that Jewel Box cake.

    There is no sound as the wand slides to the end. The winning alarm doesn’t sound. It isn’t meant to go off. Flowers took too long to paint. It knows who I am. It remembers what I didn’t decorate.

    But then the alarm triggers at last.

    “Here, old timer. You’ve earned your pick.” The bearded man holds up the box of books. “Unless you wanted a teddy bear?”

    I shake my head and take the book. “The Fear of Baking Shows.” A biography about me. No one fears me anymore. They’ve forgotten who I am. I thought I bought all the copies of this blasted book already to ensure it.
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    1. https://amzn.to/2Pic3YR Steady Hand game kit.
      http://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/bake-offs/dolina-rumbold-jewel-box-cake/ Jewel box cake on a baking show example.
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  14. I’m not a germophobe, but there are few things skeevier than a carnival midway. Usually, there’s vomit on the ground, probably the result of an adult man who had too much to drink.
    I sympathized with the green monster.
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  15. Wow! So much going on here. Wonderfully realistic descriptions, made my skin crawl. I loved that the prize was a book and the character, himself, was a great mystery until the end. I know very little about baseball, but I got the Fenway reference from a movie I watched a long time ago. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Excellent entry.
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    1. Thanks! There’s also a baseball-free version in the comments, for anyone who prefers a jewel box cake to a jewel box park reference.
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  16. Love this, J Lenni. I love the slow reveal. I love his OCD or whatever it is that makes him so particular about filth and cleanliness. . Made it a very enjoyable read. The ending was great. I’m left wondering why he wanted all the books about him destroyed. Thanks for the clever use of the prompt.
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    1. Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
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  17. Very descriptive and tense. I’m a Brit so baseball is alien. But I knew enough to get the gist of your clever story. More than about cake decoration. Field of Icing?

    https://rolandclarke.com/2019/04/17/o-for-obstructions-azure-spark-part-15/
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    1. And congratulations for winning the Encouragement Award. There were some amazing entries and a few like yours that made me feel, “I’d do that” – if I sold enough books to worry. 😉
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  18. You are such a gifted writer. I thought your story was true for a moment. Sadly, my own entry is true, and its tragedy delayed my posting it with the names changed to protect the guilty. Have a lovely Easter. https://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/2019/04/weprif.html
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  19. An unusual story. Your character has so many fears it’s a wonder he made the park at all. I love all the sights, smells and sounds. You capture the worst essence of a fair in detail. Well written.
    Nancy

  20. I thought this story was true.
    Really well-written and I loved the descriptions, the atmosphere and the way it unfolded.
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  21. Loved this story! I could smell the carnival – peanuts, popcorn, burning sugar, sweat and vomit – feel the heat, and sense the frustration your MC felt as they walked through it all. Nice little twist at the end too!
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  22. I like that you created two stories. You know me though, I love Boston. So I totally got it. Really enjoyed it. Both versions.
    Jamie of uniquely maladjusted but fun has this post to share #WEPFF #WEP Jewel Box Sci-fi humor flash fictionMy Profile
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  23. Great stuff! As well as summoning up all the confusion, the sights, sounds and, mmm, smells of the fair, you created an interesting premise with the monster. Definitely would like to know more.
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  24. Congratulations on your WEP award.

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