Big Enough–Blog Hop April 2019

This month–heck, this whole year–has gotten away from me without much productivity to show for it. So far.

I looked at the calendar and realized that, oops, the Blog Hop was upon me and I didn’t have a story ready and no chance at all that I’d have time to pull one together. So I went prospecting. I found this story that I wrote several years back and decided to re-use it here. It’s not available in print anywhere–it was a blog exclusive.

So here it is again.

For those who have been following me for some time, please note that I have a new email server. Only a handful of you have signed up to my new list, so if you want to get occasional updates from me in your inbox, please join me!

And please, think about clicking through to the other stories by the other writers on the hop. You might find a story that changes your life. Seriously… you never know! 😀

Big Enough

“I’m not a baby.” Dylissa muttered to herself as she stomped through the woods. “I’m seven-and-a-half years old, and I’m BIG ENOUGH!” She shouted the last two words at nobody in particular.

In fact, Dylissa being big enough was, in large part, what she was proving to everybody by running away. At seven-and-a-half, Dylissa was braver than many who were twice, or even three-times, as old and as big as she was.

The problem, in her eyes, was that nobody ever let her do anything. When her brother Alpin went to sword practice, Dylissa was sent to the kitchen to help Cook make biscuits. When her sister Lexine trained on horses, Dylissa was sent to the governess to practice her reading.

Dylissa found the differences in their training hugely unfair, despite the fact that everyone told her that when Alpin and Lexine were seven-and-a half they had to do kitchen chores and lessons, too. “It’s just not fair,” she grumbled. And as she grumbled, she wandered further into the forest.

Presently, as seven-and-a-half-year-olds often do, Dylissa found that she was tired and her feet hurt. She found a nice pile of leaves beneath a tree, collapsed onto it, and felt tears sting her eyes.

She scrubbed at her cheeks, willing herself not to cry, when a great rumbling shook the woods around her. She looked around warily, wondering what could have made the noise. In the dim light of dusk, a flicker of amber light between the trees drew her gaze.

Fire? She decided she should go check; fire could destroy the entire forest. dragon-29761_1280

Hurrying towards the light, Dylissa soon found herself in a small clearing, facing the smallest dragon she could imagine. The beast shimmered a shimmery red over its green scales, and it blew small but intense flames out it’s bulbous nose. It was about the size of her father’s hunting dog.

Covering her mouth to stifle a nervous giggle, Dylissa inched closer to the fearsome creature. She couldn’t resist–it was just too cute.

When she was close enough, she reached over and gingerly patted the tiny dragon’s back. The animal turned yellow eyes toward her, causing Dylissa to take a step backwards. But as it moved towards her, she noticed that it had a limp.

A cloud of concern crossed the little girl’s face. “What’s ‘a matter?” Dylissa asked. The dragon held up a forepaw with a thorn wedged between two scaly toes. She forgot to be nervous as she quickly swooped forward and deftly pulled out the splinter.

As the sliver came free, a single drop of the dragon’s green blood smeared Dylissa’s fingers. She felt a tingle as her hand warmed. The dragon pushed it’s forehead against her arm and she was sure she could hear it… Thank you.

Just then she heard her name echoing through the forest.

“They’re coming for us,” she told her new companion. “They’re bigger than me, but I won’t let them hurt you.” She snatched up a nearby stick, held it aloft like a sword, and prepared to stand her ground against all foes.

“Dylissa!” Her father nearly ran to her, but stopped short as he noticed the weapon she held.

Frowning at her father, who was now surrounded by Alpin, Lexine, and several members of the household staff, Dylissa stood as straight as she could. “You can’t take him,” she said.

“I can’t take who?” Father’s eyes widened in shock as the mossy rock behind his youngest daughter lifted its head and blew a tiny spurt of flame in his direction.

Lexine screamed. Alpin drew his dagger. Someone collapsed in a heap; Dylissa suspected it was her governess.

“You can’t take him,” she repeated, brandishing her stick.

Father stared at her a moment, no longer looking surprised. Dylissa could tell when he decided. He got that look.

“Dylissa,” he said, “you are seven-and-a-half and I believe you’re big enough to train this beast. If you’re brave enough to try, we will call down the Beast Master and you will begin lessons next week.”

A smile split her face as she ran to her Father’s open arms, the miniature dragon on her heels.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.
>> YOU ARE HERE << Big Enough by Elizabeth McCleary
Grumpy Old Demeter by Vanessa Wells
Say Please By J. Q. Rose
Provoking the Muse by Moira K. Brennan
It all Started… by Bill Bush
Zombies by Barbara Lund
Before The Dreams by Katharina Gerlach
To Wake A God by Juneta Key
The Sprite In The Well by Angela Wooldridge
Something  Different by Karen Lynn
0 – The Fool by Raven O’Fiernan

Duty–Blog Hop January 2019

This month’s story is shorter than my usual. Sci-fi this time around. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Duty

Klaxons blare. Red lights flash. The sound of running feet echoes from every direction.

Over the public address system, a gentle female voice speaks in tones completely at odds with the urgency of the alarm.

This is not a drill. The ship is under attack. All hands, please report to your designated duty stations.

I step out of the room and glance in both directions. Then I begin running, too. This is no time to be caught standing still.

This is not a drill.

At the intersection of each corridor I slow to be sure I’m not going to collide with someone, then continue running.

The ship is under attack.

My route would  seem random to someone not familiar with the ship’s architecture. Right. Left. Left. Straight. Right. Right. But I’ve been trained in the extensive security measures on this vessel, which include intentionally confusing layouts for crew quarters, work spaces, and even engineering access.

Saboteurs can’t damage what they can’t find.

All hands, please report to your designated duty stations.

After several minutes, the alarm stops sounding, though the lights continue to flash. The voice keeps repeating her message.

This is not…

I keep moving. Left. Left. Right. Straight.

…a drill. The ship…

Now I have the corridors to myself—all hands have presumably arrived at their duty stations.

Everyone but me. I am still making my way to the launch bay.

I’ve only been onboard for a week.

…is under attack.

I run, my breathing heavy. Up two decks. Through an access tube. Left. Right. Right.

All hands, please…

Crews are getting ready for multiple launches. They are preparing a return assault on enemy vessels.

…report to your…

I board a small ship. A shuttle, not a fighter. This vehicle was never meant for battle.

It doesn’t matter. I may as well be invisible for all the attention I get. They only see their own jobs.

…designated duty stations.

I’m in the silence of space when it happens–my shuttle suddenly surrounded by debris when an explosion tears a hole in the command module of the ship I’ve just evacuated.

Mission accomplished.

But I… I am still running. Back toward my designated duty station.

Running back home.

 

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. Duty, by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. The Footnote, Karen Lynn
  3. The Monster Under The Bed, by Nic Steven
  4. Field Trip to the UFO Museum, by Bill Bush
  5. Scary Monsters and Other Friends, by Lisa Stapp
  6. Morning Has Broken, by Katharina Gerlach
  7. Good Honest Work, by Chris Wight
  8. Bad For Business, by Gina Fabio
  9. The Last Friday, by Raven O’Fiernan
  10. Lost And Found, by Angela Wooldridge
  11. Bia Trevi’s Worldly Eats, by Barbara Lund
  12. Hunting Bob, Vanessa Wells
  13. Don’t Drink The Water, by Juneta Key

 

The Ghost in My Yard–Blog Hop October 2018

Who doesn’t love a good, spooky story? I remember being a kid at sleepovers, trying to tell scary stories, but mostly just dissolving into giggles.

So for this installment of the Blog Hop, happening on Halloween, no less, it absolutely had to be something a little on the spooky side.

Lucky for me, I just submitted a story for Holly Lisle and Rebecca Galardo’s podcast, Alone In A Room With Invisible People. They took flash story submissions that had to be Halloween themed and 500 words, max. The two of them, plus Holly’s son, Mark, have recorded the best they received, as many as they could fit into a podcast episode. If the Halloween episode isn’t live yet, do check back. I’m expecting there to be some great stories there.

For your reading pleasure and chills, here’s the story I submitted. You’ll have to listen to see if it was selected, but you should probably listen anyway because it’s an awesome podcast!

 

The Ghost In My Yard

I first seen it when I was eight-years-old. It was after Mama got sick and died.

I was sitting on the front porch swing at Granny’s house and there it just was, over by the camellia bushes. There weren’t no camellias at the time, being that it was the cold days after the new year. That’s where it was all the same, looking grey and dim and tattered around the edges.

I didn’t know then what it was. Wouldn’t for a long time.

I sat there with a hole in my heart and a heaviness just about pulling me over. Somehow it got my attention so as I just couldn’t look away. I was sure it was my Mama come back to say goodbye.

After that, things got bad. Me and Daddy, we moved in with Granny since Daddy needed someone to watch me and Granny had extra rooms.

We was only supposed to be there for a little while; just until Daddy quit his sadness about Mama. I guess he kinda did that after Miss Natalie moved in with us, but she wasn’t no help. She and Daddy shared a taste for the sour mash, and when they was drinkin’ it, things was a whole lot worse.

 

I seen it again when I was eleven, a little clearer than the first time. I was standing in my room looking out at those same camellia bushes after Daddy and Miss Natalie wrecked the truck. We couldn’t have no proper funeral on account of they were pretty smashed up, but the minister said some words at the church.

I knew it couldn’t be Mama that time ‘cause Mama was long since gone. I went down to get a closer look, but it left before I found it. I just stood in the yard and smelled the camellias. Their scent hung in the cool spring air like a cloud.

 

The year I finished high school, Granny was old and tired. I was doing more for her than she was for me, by then. But it seemed right, somehow.

When I got home late from working at the filling station, I saw it again, hovering white and clear by those same bushes. The humidity didn’t break despite the dark, and the camellias smelled almost sickly sweet. Their scent followed me into the house where I found Granny. When they took away her body, they told me her heart failed.

 

Now the chill of the hallows is setting in and I finally understand.

The porch swing is old, it’s once white paint grey and chipped. I can still see the camellias from here, but they’re already turning brown.

I finally recognize what I always missed before. It’s there, by the bushes, near as bright as silver and wearing the face I see in the mirror every day.

My ghost is finally come to claim me.

Its’ no surprise. Not really.

I been dead inside a long time.

 

 

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. The Ghost in My Yard, by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Her Majesty, by Katharina Gerlach
  3. A Show Of Support (No story, just the links, but go say hello anyway!) Chris
  4. Black Moon, by Lauren M. Catherine
  5. Poe’s Heart, by J. Q. Rose
  6. Hanks A Lot, by Joe Bouchard
  7. In The Gray Lake, by Karen Lynn
  8. The Right Honorable Brotherhood of Spirits, Poltergeists and Ghosts, by Vanessa Wells
  9. Life of a Pumpkin, by Bill Bush
  10. Why Should I?, by Gina Fabio
  11. Reaper, by Juneta Key
  12. Snow White Tabloid Style, by Fannie Suto
  13. Starving Artist, by Samantha Bryant
  14. Halloween Dance, by Barbara Lund

Want to participate in a Blog Hop?

[​IMG]
GENERAL SPECULATIVE FICTION
OPEN CALL
NEXT HOP: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31st, 2018
STORY LINKS DUE: JANUARY 20th*

We currently have an ongoing open call to all speculative fiction authors each blog hop. Story links always due on the 20th of the month* of the hop. You post your story on your blog and send the link to the host. The hop occurs four times a year on the last Wednesday of the month. You can read more about this in the RULES & GUIDELINES​ (on my friend Juneta’s website).

This is Storytime blog hop’s third year featuring speculative fiction flash stories of 500-1000 words (give or take) from authors all over the world.

For anyone unclear on the definition of “speculative fiction”–our intent is that every story will fall, one way or another, into the sci-fi/fantasy/horror or related genres. It doesn’t have to be extreme, but if everything in your story is firmly grounded in reality you aren’t understanding the term “speculative.”

*PLEASE NOTE: Just because the link is due, doesn’t mean your story has to be finished. You have until the hop goes live to finish and polish your story. We just ask for a link in advance so whoever is acting as host/hostess can build a link grid and get it to all the participants. We do ask that all participants include the link grid on their story pages, splicing the list so their own story is at the top. That, hopefully, means the greatest number of reader will click through to the greatest number of stories.

If you decide to join us, let me know! I’ll make sure you have the info you need to get your deets to the right person. 😀

And if you want to see the kind of thing I’m talking about, here are links to some of my previous Blog Hop stories.

Sanctuary (October 2017)

Freeman (July 2017)

Reflected (January 2017)

And then…

Well, here I am. Two and a half months later.

NaNo was a bust. I wrote about 5000 words before tossing my hands up in disgust. I know I should not do these things… a finished terrible story is better than no story at all. sigh

Anyway, so I flaked out for the remainder of November. Plus most of December. This blog ignored Christmas. And New Year’s.

However…

Starting on January first, I have written at least something every day. Not always big. Not always good. But words on the page.

And I’ve already reached “The End” on three short stories so far this year. No kidding.

Two of them are currently marinating and will need revision in order to be fit for public consumption.

The third? It’s a flash-ish fiction (a wee bit over 1000 words) that will be appearing right here for the next Blog Hop on Wednesday, January 31. Woo Hoo!

So, yeah. I wish I hadn’t not done more at the end of 2017. But I’m pretty happy about where I am so far in 2018.

Sanctuary–Blog Hop October 2017

I actually wrote this story a couple of years ago. I had intended to find somewhere to submit it, but never did. So here it is for your creepy enjoyment.

Fair warning… it is considerably darker than my usual fare and some may find it unpleasant or offensive. It’s horror, after all. Sue me. 😉

Sanctuary

He pushed through the entryway, his face hot with exertion and fear. Dear God, he was getting too old for this. Already exhausted, he blinked sweat from his eyes as he struggled to swing the heavy oaken door closed behind him. The grate of the hinges belied the frequency with which the door’s mass was moved. When he finally turned the lock, he allowed himself to collapse against its reassuring, worn surface. His breath came in ragged gasps.

The dark of the night is when the affliction of this city was illuminated most clearly, the unholy dead rising from their graves. And he—he alone—must hold them at bay.

“Bishop?” His heart raced at the voice. He hadn’t realized he wasn’t alone. “Father, is something wrong?” The Abbess had always unsettled him, more so since the creatures had come. He wished he understood why.

He took a moment to compose himself; tugged his frock into place, wiped at his forehead before noticing the grime on his sleeve. “All is well.” He couldn’t bring himself to say more. Despite his unnatural dislike for the woman, he had no intention of subjecting her to his terrors. God gave him this burden. The visitation. The instruction. He would continue to bear it alone. He knew in his heart the dead could not harm him. Surely God would protect his chosen? He only wished his experience… well…. He shook his head. These past months had been a nightly trial.

And yet he stood. That was something.

She rose, gliding toward him across the ancient stones of the floor. “Come,” she said. “I will bear you up.” She maneuvered to his side. “My lord has strengthened me.” She gave him her arm which he accepted without thought, relaxing slightly onto her surprisingly sturdy form. She smelled of soap and orange blossoms, but that was overlaid with something more foul. The creatures, he thought. Have they followed me here? But, no. It had always been safe here.

The linen of her sleeve was rough against his fingertips—his long years had calloused neither heart nor hands. She brushed his hand with her own—he was glad to note he was not trembling overmuch as she guided him into the Nave, tracing steps he had taken countless times before. She guided him toward one of the long, hard pews that would be filled with supplicants come morning.

Discomfort pricked at him. Has God not set me apart? A voice full of certainty whispered in his mind, insisting that he must not acquiesce to this woman, no matter how slight the circumstances.

She grimaced as he dropped her hand and took a step back. “Not here!” he said too forcefully. He saw something in her eyes then that increased his disquiet. Frustration? Anger? His own anger flared then. After all his years of sacrifice, he would not be judged so casually. He pulled back his shoulders and stepped aside. If he could face the non-living, he could face this lone woman. “Give me the strength, Lord.” He whispered it quietly, not wanting her to hear his weakness.

A chill ran through him. The Presence. I still walk in favor. But what kind of favor leaves me battling the dead?

She smiled at him, but he did not return it. Was there falsehood in her meekness? His own uncertainty rankled as much as anything. He drew a breath, flinching at the fetid scent that still lingered, and walked past her toward the front of the cathedral. Her footsteps echoed a few paces behind. Reaching the dais, he paused, not trusting his strength, but unwilling to be weak. He did manage the stairs, albeit slowly.

He trailed a finger along the edge of  the altar—the place he’d sacrificed so much. Finally he turned, leaning on the cold marble, and stared at the Abbess. She climbed toward him until she, too, leaned on his sacred table.

“Woman!” He gasped at her brazenness. “You presume too much.”

The corners of her mouth played into a cold smile. “You,” she said, “have no idea what you are dealing with.”

He growled. “You are the one who doesn’t know!”

“I know dead men walk.” She leaned closer. “I know not every resurrection is sacred.”

His head spun as realization crashed in on him. How long had she known? His prayers were what was important. His dedication. His authority. He would not tolerate her insolence.

“I WILL NOT BE OVERCOME!” he shouted. Spittle foamed at the corners of his mouth; his eyes wide. Wild. Staring.

He felt every one of his endless years in that moment. Tearing his eyes from her, he let his vision stray to the image of Adam holding an apple, the serpent coiled at the feet of his temptress.

He knew, then, the truth of it.

“You.” He jabbed a finger toward her even as his voice lowered. “You caused this. You brought in this evil.” The bitter taste of bile rose in his throat. Oh, God! Why did you not reveal your path sooner? A single bark of laughter escaped him, the sound entirely without mirth. “I will send you to settle your own kind.”

“Good.” The smile the Abbess showed him chilled him to the bone, even as he rounded the altar to settle his hands at her throat. “My Master will be happy to see us both.”

Insensate, he tightened his grip around her slender neck. Choked laughter rolled out of her.

The Bishop’s screams echoed in what was once his sanctuary.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. Sanctuary by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Till Death Us by Fanni Sütő
  3. The Cloud by Karen Lynn
  4. Data Corruption by Barbara Lund
  5. Wish Granted by Kami Bataya
  6. The Witch of Wall Street by J. Q. Rose
  7. Grim Reapers on a Field Trip by J Lenni Dorner
  8. Unwelcome Vistors by Bill Bush
  9. A Writer’s Morning by Katharina Gerlach
  10. Unverified by Erica Damon
  11. Tito’s to the Max by Chris Makowski
  12. The Boon by Juneta Key
  13. Recommended Reading @ Raven O’Fiernan

 

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Freeman–Blog Hop July 2017

It’s that time again! I hope you enjoy not just my story, but the stories of the other writers involved in the hop!

Freeman

Martin sat peeling the jenfruit, silently waiting for whatever would come next. People he didn’t know had been coming and going. He heard the commotion elsewhere in the house. He was told to wait.

He’d only been a freeman for a short time, but it was enough to know how these things worked. He wouldn’t interfere. He would only wait.

“Go outside. Take a walk.” Charel’s voice sounded stern, but her face held traces of a smile. “You do no good just sitting here. Your nerves may as well be poison in the air. Go. Go…”

Martin stood, gathered the sections of purple jenfruit, and went without a word. He knew better than to argue with Charel, even though he had no place to go.

Outside, Martin paused in front of the building. Charel told him to go, but as a bondman he’d never had the right to simply wander. Finally he chose a direction and began to walk, eating wedges of fruit as he did.

As he passed the park he heard children laughing. The sound drew him closer. He’d never been around children—not since the collective anyway, and that was not the same. It was so strange to see these little ones running and playing, their mothers watching close by.

A little one in a red romper ran up to him and squealed. At a nod from his mother, Martin handed over the last of his jenfruit. The boy stuck it in his mouth as he ran off, purple juices dripping down his chin.

They live their freedom not having earned it. I paid for mine, yet still I’m bound.

He started walking again, so caught in his own thoughts that he didn’t realize where he was until he looked up.

His bond yard looked as it always had. Bondmen lifted and worked and hurried. Some he recognized, but none paid him any attention. No bondman would look at a freeman unbidden. Certainly not during a laboring day.

Martin was surprised to feel emotion rising in his chest. He did not miss this labor. Those men were no longer his brothers. And yet…

He leaned forward, hands on the fence, as he watched a pair of grimy hands cutting a board held in place by strong arms dripping with sweat. Martin had known who he was in the bond yard.

He turned and walked quickly back the way he had come. He no longer belonged in this place. He suddenly wanted to be no place but back in that kitchen Charel had shooed him from.

He didn’t run. Freemen don’t run. But he wasted no time. If he was told to go again, he would refuse—that was his right, now.

The door opened to a silent room. It surprised him considering the earlier activity. Is something wrong, he wondered. He stood frozen, not knowing what to do.

Then Charel was there, tugging at his sleeve. “Where have you been, Martin? Gemma is asking for you.” The woman smiled now, showing every crease in her worn face. “It’s time for you to go in.”

Martin let himself be led to his wife and freeborn son.

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note, if you find links that don’t work, try again later. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the gremlins worked out.

  1. Freeman by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Hell’s Play by Juneta Key
  3. The Token by Eli Winfield
  4. Moshe by Chris Makowski
  5. To The Moon And Beyond by Fanni Sütő
  6. Surprise by Katharinia Gerlach
  7. In A Picture by Erica Damon
  8. The Past Tastes Better by Karen Lynn
  9. Revealing Space by Barbara Lund
  10. The Rose Tender by Raven O’Fiernan
  11. The Last Sleeping Beauty by Tamara Ruth

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What’s coming up?

I say this entirely too often around here: I need to be more consistent in what I’m posting.

I always have the best intentions to post regularly and be witty, creative, and interesting. And, as someone once said, “How’s that workin’ out for ya?”

Ahem.

Obviously, it’s kinda not.

That said, I do have some specific goals at the moment and for the rest of the year, so here I am to talk about them. Yay.

A to Z Blogging Challenge

For the last couple of years, I’ve had a lot of fun participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Basically, you write/post on your blog every day during April. Sundays are an off day unless one is needed to hit the 26 total posts required to round out the alphabet, as is the case in 2017. As I’ve done before, I will be endeavoring to post a flash fiction story daily throughout the month of April.

As I’ve done before, I will be endeavoring to post a flash fiction story daily throughout the month of April. I will NOT, however, do what I did last year and try to make all those stories scenes of one larger story. While I was really happy overall with the idea I got last year (an Android raises a human boy for a science fair) the story I ended up with is such a disjointed mess that it will probably take a near-complete rewrite to pull it together into something useful and cohesive. So yeah, not doing that again. Two years ago I went in with no plan and ended up with a near-even split between sci-fi, fantasy, and magical realism stories. I will be going in with no specific plan again this year.

If I try to give myself some direction and create a theme, I’ll let you know.

Camp NaNoWriMo

April is also the month of the first 2017 Camp NaNoWriMo event. Unlike November’s full-blown NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo allows for flexible goal setting. It also lets you have smaller groups, or cabins, of like-minded writers cheering each other on. It’s a great introduction to the NaNo lifestyle, as well as a way to build some accountability if you’re challenged in the completing things department.

My goal for April’s camp will be a combination of the above-mentioned AtoZ challenge and the continuation of my in-progress revision of last year’s AtoZ mess. What that looks like for goals is roughly 13,000 words of new fiction (500 words x 26 flash stories) PLUS about four lessons completed on my HTRYN revision. I don’t know that there’s a good way of distilling the revision down to a word count, so the 13,000 is probably all I’ll put on my NaNo page, but I’ll be working on both so feel free to poke me and ask for an update if you’re curious about my progress.

Story Time Blog Hop

This has become one of my favorite ongoing challenges over the last couple of years. Some other author friends and I each post a story on our blogs four times a year, with links to all the other authors participating in the hop. It’s a way to get a few words out for our own fans, and maybe introduce our followers to other authors they will enjoy.

The upcoming Blog Hop will take place on April 26th, right in the middle of the AtoZ Challenge, so that day’s post will be doing double duty. That makes it easy. Except I need to have that post ready a week in advance so the links can get all sorted out ahead of time, that adds a layer of challenge.

The fun part about the Blog Hop, though, is that we are open to other authors participating. So, if you write speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, paranormal, magical realism, etc.3) and want to participate, let me know and I’ll get you the deets. Or you can click here and discover the details for yourself.

On Beyond April

So beyond April and all its deadlines breathing down my neck, I do have some other things planned for the year, although the specific goals are somewhat more nebulous at the moment.

  • Finally get a novel written. Preferably before my next birthday since this will be the half-century milestone for me. The full-spectrum goal is to plan, structure, write, and publish a long-form work of fiction. But “write a novel” is good, all-encompassing shorthand.
  • Write, polish, and submit at least 12 short stories. The intention was to do one a month throughout the year. That hasn’t happened – I’m currently three behind. *insert eyeroll here* But there is still plenty of time to fulfill this goal… I just need to get started.
  • Read. Specifically, read as many books on the writing craft as I can get my hands on. I currently have roughly 90 such books in my personal library, either on a shelf or on my Kindle. Clearly, getting them into my hands is not a problem. I’ve actually read about 12 so far this year, according to my GoodReads log. That comes out to about 4 per month. I’ll be pretty happy if I keep up that pace. And then, duh, apply what I learn, because isn’t that really the point?
  • Complete the revision that I mentioned above. Right now I have a roughly 13,000-word incomplete mess of a story written haphazardly during the 2016 AtoZ Blogging Challenge. I’m not sure yet if I’ll be expanding the story into a full-blown novelette, or paring it down into a more focused short story. I’m still trying to figure out what the story wants to be, and I’m using Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel to get through it, step-by-step. Because I expect the end result to be significantly different that the original draft I did here on the blog, I plan to leave those posts live so people can see where it started and what it becomes. At the moment you have to hunt through the AtoZ tag to find the pieces of the story. If… No. When I get the revision done and either sell the story somewhere or self-publish it, I’ll make sure I pull those posts together in one location to make it easier to find them.

Anyway, that’s about it for now.

What… isn’t that enough for you?

Reflected – Blog Hop January 2017

“I want this. I can do this. Nobody can stop me.” She stared at unblinking eyes. Hard eyes. Dark eyes. She focused so intently on those eyes that everything else seemed to fade.

The effect was ruined as a grin crept across that face.

Alice leaned toward her own reflection. “You’ve got this,” she reassured herself one more time.

She’d always known if she played her cards right she’d be in a position to make changes. Now here she was.

She squared her shoulders as she turned from the mirror, then flicked off the light and left.

rainy womanAlice took the number 10 cross-town bus and walked the remaining six blocks to her destination. She was glad for a few minutes in the rain-washed air—her confidence had slipped a little as she bounced along on the less-than-pristine city bus. Staring at her own bulbous reflection in the driver’s security mirror had her questioning reality.

Her thoughts tumbled end over end as she walked, and she wished she didn’t feel like shrinking. But fear didn’t stop her. Her glossy Oxfords swung out rhythmically, followed closely by the pin stripes of her trousers. The slight reflection in the wet pavement of the sidewalk followed her precisely, clicking along at an identical energetic gait.

When she reached 1832 Duchess Avenue, she paused to again check her image in the wide brass trim beside the door. She looked warped around the edges, but not overly flushed from her walk. Good.

Alice tugged at the heavy glass entry and stepped inside. Mr. White nodded absently from behind the security desk as he tucked away his pocket watch. The affectation didn’t seem out of place considering the man’s tidy whiskers.

A green light dinged on, and she took a deep breath as she boarded the elevator. She counted the floors as they passed like a school girl reciting her lessons.

The plush carpeting of the 14th floor absorbed the sound of her footfalls when she stepped out toward T & T Enterprises. The silence tried to make her feel insubstantial, but she shook off the sensation as she approached the receptionist.

“He’s expecting me.” She didn’t wait for an answer from the mousy woman, merely turned toward the gilt-framed mirror on the wall.

She swallowed her nervousness as she eyed her reflection. There would be no going back. She turned when the door opened.

“Alice,” Lewis greeted her with a warm handshake. “You’re early.”

“I’ve made my decision,” she said as he led her past the heavy walnut door into his office.

Once they were alone she spoke in a rush, fearing that any delay might cause her to lose her nerve. “Tell Mr. Hatter I’m going, Lewis,” she said. “Through the Looking Glass. Into Wonderland. I can’t just see the other side and not act.”

From the corner of her eye, she thought she saw him smile.

“I won’t let that woman win. I need to take down the Red Queen.”

 

 

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

  1. Reflected by Elizabeth McCleary **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Veronica by Jessica Kruppa
  3. Last Stop by Erica Damon
  4. Jesse and Tyler by Bill Bush
  5. The Poisoner of Time by Karen Lynn
  6. New Stork Inc. by Katharina Gerlach
  7. Pocket Heart by Juneta Key
  8. Oh Baby! by J. Q. Rose

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Over James Henry Wilcox’s Dead Body – Blog Hop October 2016

Over James Henry Wilcox’s Dead Body

key-252231_1280The large brass circle of keys clattered against the door as Daiyu locked the shop on the edge of China Town. None would come for her herbs tonight. In truth, none came much anymore since her YeYe was gone. Grandfather brought her across the ocean. He taught her his trade. But he couldn’t keep from the drink, and he left her little legacy but his debt. If she couldn’t do this, she would lose both shop and home.

Turning, she settled a heavy cloak across her shoulders. The San Francisco fog and her destination tonight meant she would be more comfortable if she stayed covered. She paused for a moment to breathe deeply. The evening’s wood fires and the familiar scent of spices that reminded her of home mingled with the city’s salt air. Daiyu squared her shoulders and strode up the street.

The click of her low, wood-soled shoes on the cobblestones echoed between the dark buildings that surrounded her. Most people avoided the alleys and byways where Daiyu spent the majority of her time. But she would never fear the dark—she was named for black jade. The dark was a friend that kept her secrets.

Tonight, the dark hid her form as she passed by banks and businesses that would not welcome her in the daylight.

After a quick, twenty-minute walk, Daiyu pulled open the ornate wrought iron gate. Brambles tugged at her wide, silk trousers as she stepped lightly between the shadowed stones. She muttered apologies to the departed. She would never understand this lack of respect for the dead. Then again, what did westerners know about venerating the deceased? Would their dead even care about nettles and vines? Those buried here were not the ancestors who would be called on for guidance.

Most were not.

Finding the grave she sought, Daiyu retrieved a small box of sulfur matches from the folds of her cloak. She cleared a small patch of earth in front of the stone in which she placed a few dry leaves, then struck a match. When the flame rose, she added herbs from a small clay jar and spoke, her brittle words sounding loud in the gathering fog.

“James Henry Wilcox, I call you forth by rightful charge. You will come and give me the answers I seek.”

Her skin prickled and a shiver ran through her. She tugged at her cloak, now stirring in a sudden wind, and repeated her call.

As she spoke the words for a third time, the small fire she had ignited blinked out, leaving only a curl of white smoke against the night’s darkness. “I am here,” said a voice. “Why do you disturb me.”

“I am resuming our negotiation,” she said. A cold smile slid across Daiyu’s features. “I told you, you owe me answers,” she said. “I promised I would haunt you. Here I am.”

The ghost of James Henry Wilcox faded into view like a reflection on imperfect glass. “I thought ghosts were meant to do the haunting,” he said.

“You’d think that, but I’m the one with the unfinished business,” Daiyu replied, crossing her arms. “Where will I find it?”

A suggestion of a scowl crossed his non-corporeal countenance. “Where will you find what?”

“The deed. You promised a guarantee of my home.” She crossed her arms as another chill gust swirled around her.

Daiyu jumped as the ghost of James Henry Wilcox laughed. This was not what she expected, but it made her smile. She liked a ghost with some spirit.

The ghost circled her once and then spoke again. “As far as I’m concerned, you got me killed. I think that makes us even.”

“I took you to where you wanted to go and you got yourself killed. You still owe me what was promised.”

“Over my dead body,” said James.

Daiyu clicked her tongue. “And here we are.”

“Yes,” he said. “Here we are. There’s nothing left that I need. You have nothing to negotiate with.”

“Except,” said Daiyu, “maybe I do.” Her fingers closed on another item hidden within her cloak.

A blurring caused by the shake of a head obscured the ghost’s features momentarily. “How could you?” he said. “I’m dead. I followed you into that den, and now I’m dead.”

“But your sister… she is still alive.” Daiyu finally drew out a photograph showing a sad-looking young woman with vacant eyes. James Henry Wilcox reached right through the picture before remembering he could not take it. “Give me what you promised,” Daiyu said, “and I will take care of her.”

“Take care of?” Worry creased Wilcox’s transparent features.

chinese-998917_1280“I will rescue her. Train her. Teach her what I know. She will be able to summon spirits.” Daiyu paused as realization dawned on the specter’s features, then continued. “She will be able to summon you.”

“I’d be able to see her again? I had hoped,” he said, “but I never thought…”

“You never expected I could actually help you.’

“The opium? Can your skills really overcome that?”

Daiyu stared at him for a moment then nodded. “I can break its spell. You will have what we agreed on after all.”

“Then it is decided,” James said. “I’ll help you get the deed to your building, and you’ll get my sister out of that viper’s hands.”

“Good,” said Daiyu. “It is decided.”

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Links

perpetualbloghop

I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.

Please note: The links should finally be all sorted out. If you find any errors, please let me know!

  1. Elizabeth McCleary – Over James Henry Wilcox’s Dead Body **YOU ARE HERE**
  2. Canis Lupus The Picture
  3. Peg Fisher All In the Fall, a Fractured Fairytale
  4. Bill Bush Trapped
  5. Crystal Collier Emily’s Ghost
  6. Viola Fury 911
  7. Benjamin Thomas Autumn Cascade
  8. C. Lee McKenzie Beautiful
  9. Erica Damon Penance’
  10. J. Q. Rose Sorry
  11. Elise VanCise Lady In The Woods
  12. Barbara Lund Spooky Space
  13. Angela Wooldridge Quiet Neighbours
  14. Katharina Gerlach Australian Dream
  15. Karen Lynn The Waves at Midnight
  16. Sherri Conway Ants

 

 

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