Today we are celebrating Beth Blaha. Since 12 Short Stories started in 2017 we’ve seen many of our writers go on to publish and accomplish great things with their writing. The Prompt to Publication emails are all about celebrating these writers and their wonderful stories.
I hope these interviews will help you and teach you how to use Deadlines for Writers to build your author platform.
Author feature: I’d like to introduce Beth Blaha.
Beth has been a member of Deadlines for Writers since it was just a Facebook page. She completed the 12 Short Stories Challenge in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. She will complete the challenge again in 2022.
The link for the video interview is at the end of this post.
What have you published?
Beth Blaha: I have published flash, two shorts, and now a YA novel.
Has 12 Short Stories helped you as a writer?
Beth Blaha: Absolutely. I needed some low-pressure structure to get myself to start producing. Winning coaching sessions from Mia in the first short story contest got my novel off the ground in a way it wouldn’t have without her help and guidance.
What did you learn that you applied to your novel?
Beth Blaha: It helped me condense a beginning middle and end into scene-sized chunks. It helped me play with pacing and how much of a story can fit into a word count.
Did the feedback and discipline help at all?
Beth Blaha: Discipline was key. I found the challenge on pure luck right at the time I decided it was time in my life to get back writing: I had my degree and I’d had my family. I fully believe that 12 Short stories came into my life to get my writing world on track again.
What is your favourite story you wrote for 12SS?
Beth Blaha: One of the ones that stand out as a favourite is Mrs Popple. It’s been edited since and I also chose it because it feels similar to my novel.
Beth Stillman Blaha is a clinical psychologist who works with children and families. She lives in the foothills of the Adirondack Park in upstate NY with her husband, son, a rescue dog, a sphinx cat, and chickens. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, knitting, or reading tarot. But she can sometimes be seen regretting her life choices while competing in a half-marathon or triathlon.
Read an excerpt from Beth‘s story.
I slip into my healing room in the Complementary Therapies wing of the hospital, shutting the door behind me. A woman in her thirties is splayed out on her back, her eyes closed.
“Is it warm enough in here?” One of the few things I’m allowed to say.
“Just get it over with, please,” she says.
“This won’t hurt.” I suspend my hands inches above her body.
I close my eyes with my hands out, tuning in. Images of the inside of her body play like a movie in my mind, the patterns of her energies pricking my palms as I search for spikes and flow. Hot spots. Cold spots. Energy too sluggish or rapid. Places where I can realign the body’s balance. What do you need from me?
A hot, bouncy ball bobs in the energy above her neck, damming the flow of energy. I visualize the gummed-up sphere of heat and then imagine a flow of golden light coming in, engulfing it, then crushing it. The ball of heat implodes, freed energy surging past. The woman bursts into tears, jolting me out of concentration, and I pull my hands back.
“I’m sorry.” She opens her eyes as I scramble to get her a tissue. Her tears gather speed, growing to body-racking sobs.
I take a deep breath to slow the thud of my heart as I tentatively place the tissue box beside her on the table. What is protocol for this? She cries for what feels like ten minutes but is probably only a few. I slowly back toward the door, closing my fingers around the handle, contemplating my escape.
“Wait, don’t go.” She catches her breath, wiping her eyes. “Please. I’ll stop.” She holds out a hand and, when I don’t take it, beckons. I approach her, but her intense energy flows, back in balance. I’ve completed today’s task.
“You look so young,” she says, sitting up. “What are you, eighteen? You’re tiny.” I nod to be polite, but in truth I don’t know for sure. “I’ve been so curious about these Complementary Therapies. Whatever you just did—I feel amazing. I can’t remember the last time I felt this light.”
“Didn’t anyone tell you the rules?” I don’t want to be confrontational, but it’s worse to get in trouble.
“The rules?” She giggles. “Was that what I signed without reading?”
“We can’t talk. I’m supposed to be a shadow, in and out. No relationship.”
“Well, I don’t work like that. I talk to all my people. What’s your name? You don’t have a badge like everyone else.”
“They aren’t my rules, but I still have to follow them.” I approach the sink to signal the end of the session, even though technically she has more time.
“Yeah? What’ll they do if you don’t? Refuse to treat you? Kick you out?” she says to my back over the running faucet. I cringe. She must have read at least some of that form before she signed it. Enough to know I’m on an inpatient stay here with an undetermined discharge date. Just another inconsequential ward of the state. Too delicate, too useless, to be out in the world.
When I turn back around, she’s looking into her compact and smoothing down her perfect hair. Her makeup is undisturbed by her tears, and a giant diamond glints on her left hand in the half light of the room. She meets my eye and closes the compact, smiling with a row of perfect white teeth, making me feel even smaller in my scrubs, knitted hat and fingerless gloves.
She reaches out and cups my cheek in her hand, breaking another rule of no physical contact. I have a feeling she’s a woman used to getting what she wants.
“I’ll be back next week,” she says, and walks out.
Buy the book.
PATIENT: Neve XXX
UNIT: Traumatic Brain Injury
NOTE: KEEP UNDER SEDATION
Neve can’t remember a time before the meds.
But when a new patient arrives, Neve’s quietly ordered world turns sour. Tiana brings rumors, secrets, and a promise to unleash Neve’s dormant powers—powers Dr. Gerard told her were a figment of her imagination.
Unearthing her telekinetic abilities launches Neve into grave danger. She must leave the only home she knows, and fast, if she wants to survive.
Watch the interview
Well done, Beth!
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