Saturday, January 4, 2014

Happy 2014, from The Joy of Story

Happy New Year, and welcome to my blog, “The Joy of Story,” which I post almost every Saturday. Each month, I try to offer:
• one opinionated essay about the craft of good writing;
• one book review based on what I’ve been reading;
• one guest post by a writer colleague who has ideas to share and a book or two to promote;
• and one showcase of 99-word stories sent to me by writers who read  this blog.

If you’re a writer with ideas about “the joy of story,” and if you’d like to share those ideas and promote your published work, I invite you to contact me by email at

If you’re a writer who enjoys pleasure of turning out short-short fiction, I invite you to send me your 99-word stories. All writers are welcome to contribute. Please send me your stories, and please spread the word to make this monthly feature a notable showcase for talent! Complete and simple rules and procedures appear at the end of this post.

At the end of my post for December 2013, I asked folks to send me words to play with. I received five good ones: “Mystery” from Pat Gligor, “Imagine” from Pat Shevlin, “Students” from Eileen Obser, “Excellent” from Jerry Giammatteo, and “Enormity” from Joe Bonelli. I tossed these words onto my desk and came up with this dactylic ditty:

Imagine the mystery
In all its enormity
That students come forth with
Such excellent words!


And now allow me to present two 99-word stories sent to me by Jerry and Joe:


by Jerry Giammatteo

     The men exited the strange craft that looked like the Space Shuttle. They were good looking guys wearing nice polo shirts and khakis.
     “How’s it going fellas?” one asked, laughing at our amazed expressions.
     “We pictured you differently,” I said.
     “You earthlings always expect little green men,” one chided.
     “Nice clothes.”
     “Thanks. Got them at Brooks Brothers last year for Christmas.”
     “Wait till our friends see this,” I said.
     “We’ll be here.”
     Our friends thought us crazy, but returned with us the next day. The spacecraft was missing.
     “They’re gone,” I said.
     “Of course they’re gone,” our friends snickered.


by Joseph M. Bonelli

Carol and Laura spent their winter vacation in Miami Beach with husbands Alan and Bob.
Laura wore the crystal earrings Bob gave her for their fifteenth wedding anniversary.      
Alan packed his graded baseball cards to show Bob.
After check-in and dinner, the couples carried pastries back to their suite for morning coffee.
The foursome went out to walk around the Eden Rock complex. Meanwhile, housekeeping turned down the beds and placed mints on pillows.
When they returned, Laura called out, “Oh—they’re gone!”
“The earrings?” Carol inquired. 
“Not my cards?” Alan exclaimed.
“No,” said Laura, “someone took the pastries.”


Attention all writers—
Next month’s prompt: Write a story with the following title or first line: "I promised my parents I would never tell this to anyone."

Here are the rules:

1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot, characters, and conflict.
4. The deadline: the first of the month.
5. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to:


  1. Love the little ditty you came up with using our words, John. Your posts are always so fun-filled.

  2. I always enjoy the 99-word stories, John. It proves a story doesn't have to be long to be good.

  3. Love the poem and love Jerry's and Joe's stories. Happy New Year to you and yours!