Tag Archives: writing life

The Other Side of Deanna is back! And she even has a name….. #fridayflash group

Hi everyone. Some of you may recall that I had two separate blogs, The Life of a Working Writer Mommy for my nonfiction, and The Other Side of Deanna for my fiction. A little more than a year ago I combined those blogs into This Side Over Yonder because I was posting mostly fiction and felt it was cumbersome to maintain two sites. I also wanted the URL to reflect my name, which This Side Over Yonder does.

Now, since I am fortunate enough to have more time to write, and because I will be posting more nonfiction articles, I have built a new site for my fiction, The Tale Well: Stories by Roslyn Fain.

TTW header 1

Years ago I wondered why anyone would want to use a pen name; now that I’m building my freelance career. yet still want to write fiction, I understand. Although Deanna and Roslyn are one-in-the-same, there is a vast difference in their personalities…..did I just say I have a split personality? Well, I am a writer!…..there is the business side of me (Deanna) and there is the playful side (Roslyn) and I feel they both deserve their own place.

Why the name Roslyn Fain? Fain is my mother’s maiden name and Roslyn was the first thing that popped into my head (which I always go with). It is apparently an old-fashioned name, had its peak in the 1940s, and fell off the “popular names” list in 1978. My family tells me I do look like a Roslyn, so there you go. I hope you’ll stop by The Tale Well and enjoy Roslyn’s first story, Those First Nights.

What about you? Do you use a pen name? What is it, and how did you hit upon that particular name? (If you’re using your pen name be brave and tell us your real name). 🙂


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The Package #fridayflash #fiction #webfiction


Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

The Package is rated PG by my standards.

The Package, by Deanna Schrayer

Jack bit the tip of his tongue and stared at the cursor blinking on his screen. His eyes crossed as, over and over again, he read the one sentence he’d typed: Orangebeard sprouted his wings and flew across the ghost ship, raising his machete as he took aim at his enemy….

“This is so boring!” Jack thought, “What does this guy want me to say? Who is his enemy? What is Orangebeard’s story?” After rubbing his chin stubble almost off, Jack pushed the laptop away and threw his hands up in defeat. “What makes me think I can write?” he asked the air of his kitchen. He lit a cigarette and stepped outside. He’d walk to the mailbox, clear his mind for a minute.

As Jack neared the end of the driveway he saw a package setting beside the mailbox. It was so big it looked as if it should have been delivered to the zoo instead of his little trailer. The only thing he’d ordered was a book on writing query letters; surely it wouldn’t come in such a huge box. He tossed the cigarette butt in the ditch and stooped in preparation to heave a massive weight. But the box wasn’t heavy at all; it didn’t even feel like it could contain a book, much less something worth the trouble of such an awkward shipment.

Jack balanced the box on his shoulder and jogged back inside, curiosity growing like a pirate’s treasure. He placed the box on the kitchen table, grabbed the scissors and sliced the seam open. Inside was a treasure chest, one of those cardboard deals like you get at a party supply store for a kid’s birthday.

Feeling a bit cautious now, Jack checked the outside of the box. No return address. He took a step back and stood staring at the dull gold chest, unease creeping up his stomach into his throat where it lodged in a tight knot. “You’re being ridiculous, Jack,” he told himself, “It’s just a kid’s toy box, nothing sinister about it at all.”

He pushed his fear aside, barked a short laugh at himself and opened the chest. It contained an eye patch and a scroll of yellowed paper, torn and burnt around the edges, bound with a piece of frayed rope. A treasure map? He untied the rope and a note rolled open.

the package

Jack saw no ‘X’ marking a spot, (or any spots for that matter as it was not a map, just the short note). He scrunched his eyes up as if that might help him understand who the note was from. And it did – he remembered. Captain Delaney, the sailor he’d asked to interview a couple weeks before. Jack recalled him seeming eccentric, but he hadn’t realized the old man was going senile.

He glanced at the clock – if he rushed he could make it. He grabbed his keys and voice recorder and ran out the door, then rushed back in and got the eye patch. He jumped in his barely-still-yellow Volkswagen and headed for the marina.

As Jack parked near the dock it began to rain. A rumble of thunder rolled across the darkening sky. He glanced around before putting the eye patch on; he could just imagine the razzing he’d get if one of his tavern buddies saw him. But there was no one around. No one at all.

Jack stepped onto the deck of The Coral Treasure just as the sprinkles mutated into colossal drops of hail that stung his bare arms like sharp wasps. Thunder boomed louder now and the sizzle of lightning came closer and closer. Jack held his arms out for balance as the wind picked his cap up and sent it sailing into the tall waves slamming the boat. The hair on his neck stood to attention, a cold chill scampering across his bones.

“What’s the matter with me?” he thought, “This is just an interview for Pete’s sake.” But his steps were slow and cautious.

The cabin door creaked ajar and Jack eased it open. “Captain?” he said, “Captain Delaney? It’s me, Jack Preston.”

“Come on in Jack!” a gruff voice rebounded off the cabin walls. It had been a couple of weeks since Jack had talked to Captain Delaney on the phone, but he didn’t recall him sounding so…lively.

Jack walked through the pitch black corridor holding on to what he hoped was rails on each wall as the vessel rocked beneath him. “Thank you for taking the time….”

It was more than the thunder that stopped him cold.

“I’ve been waiting for you, Jack.” The man smiled, his beady eyes almost disappearing beneath thick crinkles of gleaming fat flesh.

Jack stood agape, shivering as he stared at the giant before him, the very monster he had created himself. Orangebeard.

The pirate stomped into the trembling candlelight, and Jack realized where the thunder had been coming from. “I’ve been waiting….and waiting.”

Jack froze, yet sweat popped out on his forehead like glittering beads of mercury. He grew faint.

Orangebeard sprouted his wings and flew across the ghost ship, raising his machete as he took aim at his enemy….


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A proper post…..er, really…..


Just before I started This Side….Over Yonder the wonderful Steve Green presented my former fiction blog, The Other Side of Deanna, with a Liebster award and the lovely Estrella Azul gave me both the Liebster and a Sunshine award. I was going through a Major Life Change at the time and neglected to post proper acceptance. Now the talented John Wiswell has graciously given me a Liebster award, a different one, and that prompted me to get with the program. Thank you so much Estrella, Steve, and John, not only for feeling I’m worthy of the blog awards but also for not forgetting about me when I was AWOL for a while there. That means more to me than I can tell you.

So, on with the acceptance. The “official rules” for the Liebster Award are:   

1. Link back to the person who nominated you. 
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator. 
3. Nominate a few other bloggers who’d enjoy it. 
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer. 

Of course since this is for three awards I have to shake things up a bit. Let’s answer John’s (thought-provoking) questions first.

1. What is the hardest you’ve laughed in the last year? It may be that I laughed harder at some point this past year but the one that’s fresh in my mind is when, about a week ago my youngest son, Noah was playing some game on his phone as I drove. He was making these maddening rackets – “arg! ah! Ack!” – so much that my oldest son, Jimmy, finally asked what the problem was. Noah was playing a game called Flappy Bird, he said, and he commenced to explaining how supposedly simple but truly hard it was. When Jimmy, who, at 16-years-old is developing his own software, held out his hand and asked if he could play, Noah, still playing the game, told Jimmy he wouldn’t like it and went on to tell him that the graphics were crummy and there was really no point and yada, yada, yada. Jimmy just looked at him and Noah said, “It’s just for fun, Jimmy, it’s not like a real game.” As if “real games” aren’t supposed to be fun. I cracked up it was so funny but truly it’s not funny at all because he’s right – the computer games kids play today are so advanced and so life-like that it becomes more, well, like life, to them and takes all the fun out of it……and, okay, now maybe you know a small reason why I’m a writer.  🙂

2. What theme do you wish more fiction tackled? I’m a literary fiction fan and a ghost story fan, so what I’d like to see is more supernatural themes crossing over into the literary genre. Maybe there is more like this out there than I’m aware of (because the stories are labeled so specifically I’m overlooking them – ?) simply because I wouldn’t pick up a book in the “aliens invade Earth” genre. One author who weaves ghost stories into literary fiction superbly is Joyce Carol Oates. Hmmm, maybe I just wish more authors wrote like JCO.

3. What was the last time you envied another writer’s work? First, let me state the obvious: there is a fine line between envy and admiration…..yet, when I got to the ending of A Fair Maiden, by Joyce Carol Oates, where there was twist after twist after twist, and within just a few pages mind you, I found myself thinking “Why can’t I do that?” Indeed, most all her work leaves me with this sort of reaction – the stories are exactly what I want [from reading] yet they also plant that little rotten worm of jealousy in my gut.

4. What’s the next book you’re planning to read and why? Right now I’m reading The Big Book of Ghost Stories, edited by Otto Penzler and I am loving it! There are tons of not only classic but also modern spine-tingling tales by some of the greats and some I’ve never heard of. Reading these has led to a couple of (thankfully inexpensive) Kindle purchases so I’ll be sticking with the ghost/horror kick for a while with my next read being Voodoo Tales: The Ghost Stories of Henry S. Whitehead. (Check out my bookshelf for short reviews of other recent reads).

5. Does anything in fiction routinely scare you or creep you out? Whether it’s werewolves or doctor visits. What gives me a great fright more than anything is when the writer describes the dark and gloomy atmosphere so perfectly that I can feel the absolute hush about the character who is walking through total darkness all alone just before we discover that he’s been watched for the last several pages. Great chills!

6. If you could spend an afternoon hanging out with any villain, who would it be? Definitely Count Olaf from Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, just because he’s so darn funny!

7. If you could delete any character from all of fiction, such that no one would remember it had ever existed, what character would it be? Easy one – Edgar Sawtelle. Never have I had a more violent reaction to a book than I did to The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I had heard so many great things about it that I felt, even though I was bored to tears with the painful turn of each page, I had to finish it. When I finally became halfway interested, (about 95% in), the ending was horrible; in fact it was the ending that made me throw the heavy tome against the wall.

8. What’s your favorite nickname you’ve ever been given? Slim – as a child I was so skinny if I turned sideways I disappeared. My dad called me Slim from the cradle until I was about six months pregnant with my first son. He still calls me Slim now and then but, unfortunately, it’s more out of habit than anything that defines my physical attributes.

9. Do the last ten books you read have anything in common? At least eight of the last books I read had something to do with the supernatural. [See question #4].

10. By a unique snafu of publishing, you are legally obligated to write a crossover between two popular franchises of your choosing. Which two are they? Batman (with the Joker) and Toy Story, hands down.

I’m so late in accepting the awards that I dare say these folks may have already received them, but I want them to know I think they’re terrific anyway:

The Liebster Award goes to:

Eric J. Krause 

Sonia Lai

Adam Byatt 

I’m shaking things up with the questions for Eric and Adam by incorporating (okay, stealing), some of Steve and Estrella’s original questions. My questions for you, Eric and Adam, (and don’t worry if it takes months to post acceptance, I’ll be in good company):

  1. What year should you have been born? Why?
  2. What will you be doing in seven years?
  3. Does the description of your astrological sun sign match your personality? If not, what sun sign should you have been born under?
  4. What odd fact about you would people be most surprised to learn?
  5. If you could come back in another life as an animal, which one would you choose to be?
  6. Where is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
  7. Which do you prefer, the quiet of the countryside, or the hustle-bustle of the city?
  8. If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
  9. Have you ever had an experience with ghosts/spirits? (We’d love to hear about it!)
  10. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Join in the fun! Anyone who’d like to answer the questions in a comment please do – we’d love to hear it! (Do all writers say that or is it just me?)

Click here to follow me on Facebook,and here to follow me on Twitter.

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Thank You, Mrs. Barrett ~ Celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week #teachers #writing

Image via Country Home Learning Center
Image via Country Home Learning Center

Most all of us artists recall the time in our lives, if not the exact moment, when we decided to be an artist. Although I’ve written for as long as I can remember, there was a pivotal moment when I had an epiphany, if you will, (though it came to me slowly), one that kindled my creative side so thoroughly I would never recall a time when I didn’t write.

This epiphany wasn’t a sudden, fully-formed story magically appearing before my eyes, I had not been wondering what I’d do with my life. I was 17-years-old, a senior in high school, when my English/Lit teacher, Mrs. Barrett, asked me to stay after class one afternoon.

I knew I wasn’t in trouble, I didn’t sit through class trying to figure out what she wanted. It was near the end of the school year, I’d be graduating in a few weeks. Throughout my last year of high school I’d assisted the junior English/Lit teacher and the drama coach with whatever they needed – grading papers, planning lessons, coaching freshman on acting. I expected Mrs. Barrett wanted to ask me to help one of them.

But when the students filed out that day and I walked to Mrs. Barrett’s desk she jumped out of her seat, and her round face shone a broad smile as she exclaimed, “Oh! Deanna! Oh Deanna, Deanna, Deanna!”  She bounced around on her little feet while shuffling through stacks of papers on her desk. Finally she found what she’d been looking for – my Stories and Poems notebook for the year. It was bright orange and held so many loose papers the spine had torn. Mrs. Barrett must’ve been the one to tape it back together for I didn’t remember doing that. She held it to her chest with the cover facing me. Throughout the year as I added more and more pages, I also applied various stickers to the cover, whatever caught my eye at the moment. Now a goofy-looking monkey, pouting, presented an empty banana peel to me.

“Deanna!” Mrs. Barrett said again as she sat the folder on her desk and riffled through the papers while I stood bewildered, wondering what on earth I’d done to cause such excitement. Maybe she was just celebrating the fast-coming end of the school year? But no, in a moment she pulled a page from the notebook, a poem I had written the previous week called Strawberry Fields. I saw a long note in red ink written down the right side margin, taking up every bit of white space I’d left. Now I was nervous, licking my lips, beginning to sweat.

Mrs. Barrett handled the paper carefully, as if afraid she might tear it, and as she presented it to me she leaned towards me and took hold of my forearm. I felt she was about to tell me the secret to a long life. This is what she said: “Not just this poem Deanna, which is beautiful, but everything in this notebook, everything you’ve written this year is proof that you need to reach out and pursue a career as a writer.”

I stood dumbfounded, staring at my favorite teacher with my mouth hanging stupidly open. She moved her hand from my arm to my shoulder. “Just think about it,” she said, “we all have the opportunity to follow our dreams and do what we want to do. I know you have several career ideas in mind right now,” (I’d expressed interest in becoming an interior designer, among a few other occupations), “but,” she went on, “you are destined to be a writer Deanna, I can feel it in my bones.”

I glanced down and saw that she now held my wrists in her warm hands and she was gently shaking them with each word. “You are very talented. Don’t let anything stop you.” She dropped her hands to her sides and stood back, looking over me like I was her little angel she’d just dressed up for a party. I was so touched, but I had never been very good at taking compliments and I had no idea how to respond. I felt anything but intelligent in that moment. Eventually I stammered a ‘thank you’ and went on to my next class.

In the nearly twenty-five years since that conversation I’ve thought often of Mrs. Barrett, especially when I have one of those “Oh, yes!” moments that sends me flying to the keyboard or the notebook to record the idea before I lost it. My senior English/Lit teacher is by far the greatest reason I felt confident enough to pursue writing, I will forever appreciate that she took the time to talk to me that day, that she felt strong in her conviction that I should write, and that she cared enough to share that thought with me.

Mrs. Barrett passed away last week but she will always be close to my heart. As we celebrate the superior teachers of our nation during National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6th – 10th, (National Teacher Day is May 7th ), remember not only to thank your children’s teachers, but also to thank the teachers who have guided your life in significant ways.

Who was, or is, your favorite teacher? What makes them so special to you?

Thank you to all my sons’ teachers and thank you to Mrs. Barrett and the many other teachers I had the privilege to learn from throughout my life!


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The fat lady is holding her breath! #smallstone #poetry #amwriting

small stones badge

Although today, (or what’s left of it), is “officially” the last day of the small stones mindful writing challenge, so many of us bloggers have enjoyed it enough that the challenge will continue throughout the year as small stone Sundays. That’s right, the fat lady ain’t sung yet!

I missed two days of writing my small stones because I was trapped sick inside the house. But a strong storm moved through last night and granted me a deliciously eerie observation; therefore, both to honor that observation and [attempt to] make up for the couple of lost days, I’ve morphed the small stone into a poem called Flock.

Most of you know I am as far from being a poet as any creative writer can get – I know nada of rhythm, rhyme, pentameter, etc., etc. – zilch! But here lately I have been more drawn to writing poetry and since I’m trying to allow my creativity to do whatever the hey it wants, I intend to let the words [even the ones that are making no sense to me whatsoever] spout forth and be.

I appreciate your constructive, (read: gentle and knowledgeable), critique. (The formatting is not as I’d like it, too much white space, so please excuse that). Thank you all very much for reading!

Flock, by Deanna Schrayer

Freakish winter thunderstorm rushing

eastward in fear of being

blasted by arresting snow

hot on its tail,


a nightmarish flock of squawking

fat crows diving frantically back

and forth between dying oaks.


The rain/sleet/hail goes: splat! ting! bam! against

darkened basement window from

where I spy the liquid mutations.


There may as well be a rabbit-

eared TV set two feet

from my face, reflecting

Hitchcock’s The Birds

off my eyeballs.


Did you write small stones this past month? What is your favorite, (of those)? We want to hear it so shout ‘em out! Be sure to visit Writing our way home and read others’ small stones as well. What is the best one you’ve come across? One of my favorites (quoted from Fiona Robyn’s site, a handful of stones), is by Glenn Halak:

“Twilight rain washes
yesterday’s paper.
Those people aren’t coming back.”

Those few words are chock full of mystery aren’t they? My own favorite small stone is one of the shortest, written on January 24: “Ring of shiny icicles grips streetlamp in the night, looking for all the world like a postcard made in 1942.” Maybe this one is a favorite because the memory of the moment itself is beautiful….which, I believe, is the point. 🙂

Let’s tie that fat lady up and shove a sock in her mouth! Write your small stone every  Sunday or, better yet, every day. And keep in mind, April is National Poetry Month.  

Click here to read my small stones.

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