9 May 2014

Published May 7, 2014 by rochellewisoff


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Genre: Hysterical Faction

Word Count: 100


            Through hours of research I’d found the perfect subject for my weekly flash fiction—a family’s battle over wealth with a tragic end.

            I posted it to good reviews. But months later, a venomous barrage of remarks sent shockwaves through my world.

            “I hate your writing, you ignorant slut. It’s all lies. My father was murdered.”

            “I’d take down the post,” said a friend. “But don’t let her anger rent space in your head.”

            I learned that day about the power of friendship. I also learned when fictionalizing recent events, it’s best to change real names to protect the guilty.


131 comments on “9 May 2014

  • Rochelle,
    I really hope this isn’t based on actual events, although I could see something like this happening, conceivably. These days with everything online easily searchable and archived for eternity, it takes a lot of foresight when posting anything. Great job.

    • Dear David,

      I believe there’s a story to be told in every life experience if you look for it. While not at liberty to say which flash fiction, suffice it to say you won’t find it anymore. Yes, it’s almost all fact and it was devastating.

      Thank you.



      • That would be rather devastating, especially out of the blue like that. I have had people think some of my fiction was truth before, but nothing like this, luckily. It’s a good warning to all of us to be careful.

      • Like Dave, I find this deeply disturbing– especially in light of the true and good heart I know you have, Rochelle. Your friend’s words are wise (and poetic) “don’t let her anger rent space in your head…” So much easier to say, than to do sometimes! This story moves me on many levels… thanks for sharing it, and I hope you have let that ugliness go. There is are all kinds of people in the world… hold tightly to those who are kind, honest and real, and who have your heart in mind, at all times. Shalom.

  • Rochelle, Good story as usual and a warning to all authors to change details and names enough so that no one will have a reason to get angry and/or sue an author for something they’ve written.


    • Dear Patricia,

      It was certainly a lesson for me. ;) I was sweating for a bit thinking she might take legal action. Fortunately the whole thing seems to have blown over.

      Thank you.



  • “Hysterical Fiction” is the perfect name for the genre. I definitely laughed out loud when I read the last line. And I agree 100% — not only because it protects the guilty, but, more importantly, it protects you.

    When I read that last line, I couldn’t help but think about a good friend who does the court reports for one of our local papers. She has to report all the legal activity of the area, and that includes the names of the people charged and found guilty/innocent, etc. She invariably has people calling her on the phone pleading with her to keep their names or their relatives names out of her report. She can’t comply, of course, but after reading your story, I just got to thinking about what could happen if she made up names instead of using the real ones. Frankly, I think so few people read those things that it might go undetected forever, but the whole idea makes me want to sit down and start a story.

    • Dear Sandra,

      I was just on the verge of emailing you! I haven’t seen you around lately and I’ve felt that Sandra shaped void.

      I wondered if anyone would catch my “genre.” ;)

      It just never occurred to me when I wrote the story in question that it would have such repercussions. Truly, if a couple of dear (more so now) friends hadn’t been online I would’ve curled up in a fetal position and sucked my thumb.

      I’d think a court reporter would have all kinds of fodder for stories.

      Glad you dropped by. Thank you.



      • Hey, thanks for letting me know I was missed. Huge changes in my work situation and some dear friends going through a rather traumatic illness situation have taken most of my focus and energy lately. Maybe things will get more normal soon.

  • Even worse is if you think up something of your weird fantasy and it actually happens… That would be even worse.. but yes I could see this happen. Probably one reason to go to a publisher at some point… Hmm maybe mine is a little bit dangerous..
    In Sweden there is a long tradition of never mentioning the names of the guilty.. at least till after they are found guilty…

  • Oh I laughed and laughed! I wonder where and how this story came from! I like this ‘theatre of the absurd’ style of writing very much, one does not see much of it unfortunately – its very hard to do. Well done.

    • Dear Patricia,

      It was a night from hell as it was happening. Alas, I’ve taken down the story to cover my buns. ;) Trust me, I won’t stop writing and the whole thing has blown over, but I’ll be cautious from now on if the history is more recent than a hundred years. ;)

      Thank you,



    • Dear Zanab,

      This happened on 1 March. I apologized in an email and took the story down. I guess it was somewhat terrifying. It certainly was distressing.

      Thank you for commenting.



  • Its a nice thing to learn from a bad experience and move on. You learned so many things and I learned from you. A good friend is a blessing indeed.

  • Whoa. I’ve been away too long. What has happened here? This intimidation of my friend is unacceptable. So sorry someone said this to you, Rochelle. Hopefully I will be back in the loop soon. Until then, peace.

  • What a horrible feeling that must have been! But how brave of you to step out and write a 100 word hysterical faction (hehe) about it… please know that for every one person like this there’s a thousand who love what you do!

    • Dear Jessie,

      It was a horrible feeling. I went through a whole gamut of emotions; shock, despair, self-loathing and flat out anger. On the flip side I did learn from this. It never occurred to me that being history as recent as 1995 there were still open wounds left behind where family members were concerned. I think I’m safe with Chopin and Florence Nightingale. ;)

      Glad you caught the genre. And thank you for your kind words and support.



  • No participles were dangled, no grammar was skewered, no-brass-no-ammo, Drill Sergeant and NO authors were brutalized in the writing of this story … so far.

    “Count it all with joy, brethren (or cousinren) when you experience various trials …” ;)

  • For once, Rochelle, I can see how you got from picture to story (irrelevant, but exciting for me). I enjoyed the genre title and I hope writing the story this way gives you a bit of distance – definitely don’t let it rent your head OR stop you writing.

    • Dear Jenn,

      I’ll admit to having brief (very brief) thoughts of chucking the whole writing business. Luckily, I had a dear friend online to talk me out of that.

      It does help to write about it, actually. You’ll notice no names are used. ;)

      Thank you.



  • As I was reading this, I had a sinking feeling it actually happened, and I”m sorry to hear that it did. I doubt I’d be brave enough to post something based on real life for this very reason. I’m glad it turned out okay in the end for you!

    • Dear Jennie,

      It was a lapse of judgement on my part but certainly a huge dose of reality check. It won’t stop me from writing more stories based on real life and events but it will make me think more than twice about the names I use.

      Thank you.



  • Screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke, but I guess of course of them wasn’t a joke. Good lesson learned. I liked this post a lot. Checking to see if I have a story somewhere.

    • Dear Alicia,

      It turned out light-hearted, but was not a happy moment at the time. Fortunately I’ve heard nothing more from her and my friend is still one of my dearest friends ever.

      Thank you,



  • That must have been truly horrifying, Rochelle. I would have been extremely upset too! Great little piece that gives me pause for thought. Well done.

    • Dear Sandra,

      It was a waking nightmare. I’m fortunate to have close faraway friends in different time zones. Not sure I’d have made it through without them. A lesson that won’t soon be forgotten, that’s for sure. ;)

      Thank you.



  • Whew, that’s a scary situation with a valuable lesson! It makes me wonder exactly how that particular person came to find your story. It’s funny because I decided to follow your footsteps (or at least try to) this week by tying in some history. I used the exact first names, and I didn’t think there would be any defamation of character issues, but after mulling over your story for a while, I decided to change them. Great advice and a very entertaining, albeit stressful, story.

    • Dear Adellie,

      First, I really enjoyed your story. My mistake was not only using the actual names but putting them in my tags. All of this made it easy to find on Google. Don’t know the woman’s reason for searching but once she found the story she was vicious. Not an experience I ever want to repeat if at all possible.

      You were probably safe with first names, but one never knows. I did write a story a while back about Bob Moog, the inventor of the synthesizer. It was about an incident with his little girl Laura. I’d sent her the link to the story and she praised it. But a different scenario. The one I wrote that was attacked didn’t put the people in a positive light.

      A lesson learned. If it helps others, it’s worth it.

      Thank you



    • Dear Anne,

      Glad you like it. It could be classified as meta-fiction if it weren’t so factual. ;)



      PS I had to look up meta-fiction. Always in need of an education.

  • Sorry to hear what happened to you, Rochelle. It’s hard to receive nasty comments like that when you weren’t trying to harm anyone. Changing the names a bit is a lesson I think I will pay close attention to going forward. Good thing you had friends to back up in a tough time.

    • Dear Eric,

      It was a hurtful experience for sure, one that I learned from. It’s certainly a good idea to change names if the history is recent and the story isn’t exactly complimentary. I don’t know what I’d have done without those friends that night.



  • Oh, my! I live in fear that one day, I will be leave too much of reality in a story and have that happen. Unfortunately, some people just have no sense of humor :) I’m happy to belong to a family who sees existence as one long practical joke. I’m sure however I die (if, in fact, I ever do) they will enjoy telling the story of it at cocktail parties and as they stand in line at Taco Bell and will be thrilled if someone else finds it interesting enough to write about.

    I’m glad you did not put down your pen when this happened.


    • Dear Kay,

      For a few minutes there I had thoughts of putting my pen to rest but couldn’t do it. It was a learning experience at the very least. It just never occurred to me this could happen to “li’l ole me.”
      As for me, I want “There’s a joke in this” etched on my tombstone.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting. :D



  • I particularly like that last line. I’ve used that particular turn of phrase in conversation a number of times, and its even more true in blogging than in any other venue, I believe.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  • Hi Rochelle. They say life is stranger than fiction. You’ve got another great story out of that situation, although it was a scary experience. I also loved the last line. Cheers, Karen

    • Dear Karen,

      I even knew at the time that when the dust cleared and I regained a semblance of composure that it would make a good story…without real names of course. ;) It was a frightening though. Not an experience I want to repeat.

      Thank you for your comments,



  • Jeepers Creepers Rochelle – did this really happen? Never mind, because it COULD happen. I have thought about that a few times so I’m reluctant to leave too much information although, I know I have and I wince each morning when I open my computer. Rochelle, you can’t stop all the nuts out in the world and you sure can’t give up your right to living and writing. You have so much to say and write about – besides you do it so well!

    • Dear Nan,

      Yes, it did happen. She may have been a bit off center but I was the one who made the story accessible. Hopefully I’ve learned to be more cautious when I write historical fiction when the history is as recent as twenty years ago.

      Not to worry. Writing is my passion. No plans to stop anytime soon. Thank you for your comments and constant encouragement.



    • Dear Jan,

      Fortunately this happened a couple of months ago so I’ve been able to distance myself. I’m glad you caught the genre. I wasn’t sure how many would.

      Thank you.



  • Dear Rochelle,

    What a great icon picture!

    And a lesson well learned. You can still get the story out there, but watch out for the nut cases. Sometimes the squirrels have rabies. Nice robe.



  • I remember when you added the instruction on being careful about historical fiction, and wondering if it was because of anything in particular. I would find it incredibly upsetting, but I’m very glad that you shared the experience. Now we all know to be more careful.

    • Dear Lauren,

      You’re an astute young lady. I was pretty rattled by the experience. I often wonder how much is noticed in the burgeoning list of instructions. Yet, I was once accused by one would-be FF’r of not having enough instructions. I think she didn’t know how to scroll. ;)

      Thank you for coming by and commenting.



  • Oh, Rochelle! A most interesting take this week. I understand there is a lot of truth behind this one. I can see how this happens. On the one hand, it’s a testament to how powerful a story can be. On the other, maybe a reminder to be cautious. I loved the phrase about anger renting space in your head. Brilliant. Well done!

    • Dear Amy,

      I saw the shopping cart and I knew where I was going with it. It was a valuable, if not painful, lesson.
      And the renting space line is really what my friend said to me that night. (He is brilliant).

      Thank you,



  • Rachelle: so sorry you had to go through this…a hard lesson. Although I do remember the article and the reaction seems a bit much…but emotions are a hard master at times. Thanks for the warning. Georgia

    • Dear Georgia,

      I’m not sure what article you mean unless you’re talking about the warning I posted for a few weeks in the rule block.

      It was a tough night. Not one that I want to repeat anytime soon. Glad I can share now without the pain.



      • Dear Rochelle,

        perhaps I was mistaken, I was just remembering an post written a while back that involved a supermarket trolly.
        In any case, it’s immaterial, I’m only sorry that you had such a painful experience.
        Everything I’ve ever read by you has been even-handed and sympathetic.

        With a warm hug of affection and admiration…

        cordiali saluti

        • Dear Georgia,

          Actually you are spot on as far as which story. It was my story that went with Janet’s shopping carts in a flood photo in October of last year. My post is no longer there. It just never occurred to me that a family member would be around to find the story and then take issue. Lesson learned.

          Thank you for the hugs. Always accepted.



          • Dear Rochelle,

            That post impressed me at the time, well written, well balanced and sad. I can imagine that you’ve taken it down, though there didn’t seem to be anything in the article that would have warrented the reaction, that I remember. Anyway, I suppose it’s a useful lesson for us all.
            Have a great week.

  • Wise words indeed – I see from the comments that it’s based on real-life events. Sorry that happened to you but lesson learned.
    “Genre: Hysterical Faction” – ha ha :-)

    • Dear Ali,

      There’s a story in everything if we just open our eyes to it, isn’t there? At the time it was devastating. The woman was relentless in her attack. An experience I don’t want to repeat but in retrospect I’m grateful for it.

      Thank you.



  • Hi! Your words have made me recap that’s for sure. I think certain characteristics need to be changed too – just enough to throw away the scent. I will say that there are many characters based on real life persons I’d like to use. But it would be a case of step carefully.

    Well Rochelle, it’s been a while but I managed to get inspiration for this weeks story and it came out quite easily, unlike the past few weeks – back to that old chestnut of writers block again. Thankfully it left me alone for this one! :)

    You delivered very well on your story. Thank you :)

  • Dear Roseanne Rosannadanna,
    I remember that post and heard of the onslaught you withstood. So far, no one has threatened to have me drawn and quartered, but it could happen. As you are fond of saying “It’s always something.”
    – Gilligan

    • Dear Little Buddy,

      When we spoke at the conference in AR the experience was still fresh in my mind. At the same time, it’s a great story. What writer can resist that?

      Going to go tease my hair now.


      Roseanne Rosannadanna

  • I remember reading that story Rochelle. I’m sorry you had such a tough time over it and decided to take it down. If you ever need an ear, feel free to use mine. It’s an old one, and I’ve got Tinnitus, but I can still hear with it. :) I’m having a tough time too at present; if I were to paint it, I’d paint a black ragged circle with me in the middle – dancing the Highland Fling around the jagged bits – and I wouldn’t be wearing any knickers under my kilt, either!

    • Dear Ann,

      Your comments make me smile. Not because I laugh at your tough times, but because of the way you paint the picture. I promise not to look up your kilt. ;)

      Thank you for being a listening ear.



    • Dear Patrick,

      Compliments don’t get much higher than having someone reblog. Thank you.

      Sorry to say, it’s not fiction. It really did happen 1 March. But I learned a good lesson and it provided a decent story.



  • Hi Rochelle,
    this obviously affected you deeply. I’m sorry you had that experience. I loved the title and ‘don’t let anger rent space in your head’ is a brilliant little nugget of advice.

    • Dear EL,

      It’s a night I’ll never forget, that’s for certain. At any rate it was grist for the mill. ;) And yes, my friend gave me great advice, didn’t he?

      Thank you.



  • I’m not sure the guilty should be protected. This is a salutory lesson, but you found out what friendship is as well as how some people throw the ineffective but noisy punches. Great line about renting the space – don’t let them do it.

    • Dear Sarah Ann,

      I’m not sure they should be protected either, as much as we need to protect ourselves from them. It was a tough lesson but I was able to take comfort in a great friendship. He was in the right place at the right time and for that I’ll always be grateful. Leaving a “no vacancy” sign in my head.



  • first, sorry you had this tough lesson, Rochelle. ouch. or maybe that should be OUCH! but on the good side you gained a great story from it. i also love the title and the genre label…Hysterical Faction. :)

  • Indeed. I have written several pieces in which I have not changed the names because, quite honestly, those stories included me so I felt not one of us was an innocent. The ones who complain the loudest: “protest too much” and only advertise their moronic guilt. Lucy

    • Oh dear – I didn’t realize this was something that really happened to you! And I have to agree, nothing could make her look guiltier than throwing a fit at you for using the incident.

      • Dear Sharon,

        It was an experience. Made for a good story but it wasn’t pleasant at the time. I hope to never encounter the woman again. I’d say she has some serious issues and given her family history I understand why.

        Thanks for commenting…twice ;)



  • I prefer fictionalizing to the point of barely being recognizable as a real event. I believe I heard a saying somewhere that the best stories have a hint of truth. No need to have anything more than a touch of reality, not for my stuff anyway.

    • Dear Adam,

      If some of your stuff was reality, I’d be hiding under my bed with a bunch of garlic around my neck. ;)

      I have gone back and changed the names in the story. It doesn’t quite have the same historical impact, but it works. Perhaps I’ll used it for something else some day.

      Thanks for commenting.



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