Today I am shining the spotlight and sharing extracts from Laura Stamps The Way Out (40 Empowering Stories). This was released on the 14th of February, published by Allen Buddha Press.
The Way Out is a marvelous ode to women everywhere. Featuring a series of delightful flash fiction stories and a powerful novella, this collection is filled with bite-sized brilliance, whip-smart dialogue, and profound wisdom. Stamps’ ability to give her characters such depth in so few words is nothing short of astounding. An intelligent depiction of women struggling to accept or defy what limits them, The Way Out is yet another golden string to add to Stamps’ already impressive bow.
-HLR, author of History of Present Complaint
In the 39 flash fiction stories and one novella featured in The Way Out, Laura Stamps plucks ordinary people out of ordinary situations and introduces them to the reader at the exact moment they decide to take ownership of their lives and make decisions that will bring them the power and happiness they deserve. The result is an empowering must-read, a delightfully uplifting collection from a joyfully bad-ass author.
-B.F. Jones, author of Artifice
Forty different women. Forty different lives. Forty different situations. All told in Laura Stamps’ unique whacky and snazzy voice. The Way Out tells not only what happens when these women want to change but also how they do it. Together this collections of stories is empowering and uplifting. Not to be missed!
-Laura Besley, author of (Un)Natural Elements
Laura Stamps’ prose in The Way Out reads like sunshine shimmering from a puddle after a rainstorm. She brings out the truly poetic in everyday occurrences and then weaves them into beautiful snapshot stories.
–Stephen J. Golds, author of Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once
Does life feel overwhelming? Are you totally stressed? Is the craziness of the world getting to you? Help is on the way in this new collection of 39 flash fiction stories and one novella! Humorous, serious, or heartwarming, there’s something for everyone in this empowering book. After a terribly stressful week, one reviewer said to me: “I just told my husband this is the best self-help book around.” No matter what you’re facing today, you can rise above it. Allow these 40 entertaining stories to remind you that you’re always stronger than you think!
So I’ve been listening to Wayne Dyer seminars on YouTube this week, and I’ve decided to recreate my life because I’m tired of my old life, and if Wayne Dyer says I can create a new life, then I can, right? I want to be someone with a calm, quiet, serene mind. I’m tired of my old mind. It won’t shut up. Especially around negative people. They drive my brain cells crazy. So I’ve decided to become someone with a quiet, calm, serene mind, someone bothered by no one. A new me. I had planned to cut all the negative people out of my life, and be done with it. But then Wayne Dyer said negative people come into my life to teach me a valuable lesson. He said the new me should seek the lesson and learn from it. Bummer. Okay. If Wayne says that’s what I should do, I’ll do it. And I’ll start with PetSmart. I love PetSmart. I’ve shopped there for years. But now the crankiest employee in the store runs the cash register. I call her Grumpy. She’s. Pure. Torture. The old me had already decided to take my business down the street to Petco. But Wayne would disapprove. I know he would. So the new me will seek the lesson. And that’s why I’m at PetSmart today, walking through the door, watching Grumpy snarl at me. I grab a bag of cat food and stand in line. “What’s your phone number?” Grumpy growls when I reach the register. I tell her, and she enters it. “Tina Robinson?” she asks, checking the computer screen. “That’s me,” I say, smiling cheerfully. “Somebody killed my neighbor’s dog,” she says, glaring at me like I’m the murderer. “How awful,” I say when she hands me the receipt. I give her my best smile, and I’m out the door. Wayne was right. Grumpy did have something to teach me. Life is short. Too short. Off to Petco I go. Sorry, Wayne. I tried.
Jacqueline is tall. But not that tall. And her arms are long. But not that long. She’s at Lowe’s trying to reach a stack of roach motels shoved to the back of a high shelf. There are only 4 packages upfront. She grabs them. But she needs more. At least three more. She looks around. No Lowe’s employee in sight to help her. But there is a man pushing his cart toward her. He stops to study bags of fire ant killer. Pamela studies him. Yes, he will do. “You’re tall,” she says. He looks up, a blank expression on his face. Not the reaction she usually receives, but she’s desperate. “You’ve got long arms,” she says. Now he looks frightened. Before he can wheel his cart around and bolt for the door, she continues, “Can you reach that stack of roach motels in the back of this shelf for me? I need three more, and my arms are too short to reach them.” He still looks uncertain, so she stands on tiptoe and points to the stack. Hesitantly, he moves out from behind the safety of his shopping cart, easily reaches the roach motels, selects three, and hands them to her. “Thank you so much!” she exclaims. Still not a peep out of him. Not even a smile. No problem. She turns and heads toward the registers. No one can dampen her spirits today. She just moved into a new apartment in a new city to start a new job on Monday. She may be fifty, but it’s never too late to start over. To leave her hopelessly troubled marriage behind. To create a new life from scratch. Walking across the parking lot to her car, Pamela looks up at the mountains that frame the city, still tinted blue with morning mist. “I think I’m going to like this place,” she says. She begins to laugh. She can’t help it. This must be what it feels like to finally be released. No longer frightened. Free. At last.
When Rothko Called Brenda, Or Something Like That
I’m an art collector. Abstract art. That’s my thing. Nothing beats going to the MOMA in NYC and surrounding myself with paintings by Klee, Kandinsky, Pollock, Mondrian, Stella, and Diebenkorn. Not that I collect those paintings. Are you crazy? Do I look like a millionaire? Of course not. No, I buy art on Etsy. Hey, don’t knock Etsy if you haven’t tried it. Anyway, the minute I hear the Rothko Exhibition is at my local art museum I’m in my car and down the driveway. Thirty minutes later I buy a ticket and enter the Main Exhibition Hall. The first painting I see is mammoth in size, a seamless blending of alizarin crimson, cadmium orange, and lemon yellow. Wow. How did he do that? I rush toward the painting for a closer look, but not before the museum guard intercepts me. “Move back, ma’am,” he warns. What? Can’t he see I’m an art collector? After I walk through the entire exhibition, I sit on a bench to feast my eyes. All those giant Rothkos. Together. On every wall. And that’s when I feel it. The positive life force pouring out of these paintings. It’s like they’re living, breathing beings. No kidding. But what kind of sense does that make? Everyone knows Rothko suffered from depression. I mean, the man committed suicide. Yet these paintings vibrate with happy, joyous energy. How crazy is that? After a while I grab my purse and stand up. Poor Rothko. Obviously, he’d never heard of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. Especially the first one. No, I’m not a Buddhist, but I learn things every day. I’m on Facebook, okay? “Life is suffering,” I say to the guard on my way out the door. He nods. “Yes, ma’am,” he says. And it’s true. Knowing that there’ll be ups and downs. That it’s normal. Especially the downs. It gives me peace. Too bad Rothko didn’t have my cell number. I could have told him that. And I would have too. I mean, really.
Let’s Get to Know Laura Stamps
Laura Stamps is a novelist who loves to play with words and create new forms for her fiction. She is the author of 30 novels, novellas, and short story collections, including her latest novella, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RIDE: CAT MANIA (Alien Buddha Press).
Winner of the Muses Prize. Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Fiction and poetry published in over 1000 literary magazines worldwide.