How did this happen?

blonde-1296489_1280Here it is – more than 2 weeks after the end of April.

2 weeks after completing the AtoZ Blog Challenge.

3 weeks… THREE!!!… after participating in an outstanding short story intensive.

And what have I done in the last two weeks? Not write. That’s what I’ve done.

It’s not that I didn’t have very good intentions. There are a couple of short stories that I started and want to finish. There is the novella that began on my blog. I want to keep practicing with the techniques learned in my class so my writing continues to get better and faster.

And I haven’t done any of it.

I could enumerate the reasons. Some of them are actually good.

But I won’t.

Because the reality is that no matter how good my reasons, if I want to be a writer, I need to write. It needs to take priority over Facebook and other time wasters, for starters. It needs to be at the top of my To Do list on a daily basis.

I struggled with that and (mostly) won during the blog challenge. There were days that I had a lot going on, but I’d made a commitment and I followed through.

But as soon as the challenge was over, I gave myself permission to take a couple of days off. A couple of days became a couple of weeks, and here we are, more than halfway through the month and this post is the most I’ve written.

So, effective immediately, I’m making a new commitment to myself. My commitment is to write.

  • I will work on fiction at least 5 days a week.
  • I will post on this blog at least once a week.
  • I will not allow myself to make excuses for putting off my dreams.

I might not always win the struggle… and make no mistake, for me keeping any kind of routine is a struggle. But I will continue to do this thing that gives me so much pleasure. I’ll continue to create and lose myself in interesting worlds filled with interesting characters.

I will write.

And hopefully you’ll be glad I did.

I’ve missed my deadline – here’s your consolation prize

I had every intention of having another collection of flash fiction pulled together by no later than today. It didn’t happen. I got close, but I had days where words seemed hard to come by, and other parts of life sometimes seemed to conspire against me.

I’m still planning to get that collection finished, polished, and ready for sale. But in the mean time, I’m giving you a special treat. This is one of the flash stories I’ve been working on for that collection. And, frankly, it really doesn’t fit the tone of the rest of the collection. I like the story, but I think I’d rather give it away here than try and make it work with other stories that are considerably darker than this one.

Also, tomorrow begins the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. I’m slightly terrified. I had intended to have at least a few stories ready to go ahead of time, and it just did not happen. So over the next month you’re going to be seeing some extremely raw, thrown together writing. I think most will still be fiction, probably flash. But there may be some poetry, microfiction, or just personal writing tossed in for good measure. My blogging challenge will be the basis for publication number 4 of 12 for 2015.  (Publication #3 is the collection that didn’t get published today.)

The best stories from April will get polished, expanded, or repurposed and put in a collection, so feel free to let me know what your favorites are!

Now, without further ado, I give you a flash story.

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, that they had to do kitchen chores and lessons, too. “It’s just not fair,” she grumbled, wandering, as she did, further into the forest.

Presently, as seven-and-a-half-year-olds often do, Dylissa found that she was tired and her feet hurt. So she found a nice pile of leaves beneath a tree, curled up, closed her eyes, and went to sleep.

Dylissa opened her eyes, as a great rumbling shook the woods around her. She sat up and looked around warily, wondering what could have made the noise. It was darker in the woods than it had been, and she noticed an amber light flickering between the trees.

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 it limping on one foreleg.

A cloud of concern crossed the little girl’s face. “What’s ‘a matter?” Dylissa asked. She forgot to be nervous as she quickly swooped forward, lifted the dragon’s foot, and deftly pulled a sizable splinter from between its toes. As the sliver came free, a single drop of the dragon’s green blood smeared Dylissa’s fingers.

Just as she was wiping the mess on the hem of her skirt, she heard her name echoing through the trees.

“They’re coming for us,” she told her new companion. “I won’t let them hurt you.” She scrambled to her feet, picked up a nearby stick, 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. 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 leapt into Father’s open arms.

Please note that this is unedited, raw writing, and that I still fully assert my copyright on this story. If you want to share it, send someone a link. Please do not copy and share the story itself.

 

Published Flash – Full Circle

stephanie casarez / Flickr / CC 3.0

I’m thrilled to announce that a flash fiction story that I submitted to a contest was selected! I guess I could now call myself an “award winning” author… but I probably won’t. Sounds a little too pretentious for a 500 word story. 😀

My story is called Full Circle and you can read it on Reader’s Lane. Go check it out! And if you like it, please share it with others.

And if you haven’t gotten it yet, I’d also love to have you download my short story, Watch Night. To get that one for free, just sign up for my mailing list. I don’t send a lot of email, and I promise you’ll never be spammed.

Now, where was I?

Ok, so I blinked and 2 months went by.

I almost wish I could say I’d been sitting around eating bon bons and just “forgot” to be blogging, writing, and getting on with things because I was having too darn much fun.

And if wishes were pages, I’d have written a whole library by now.

The reality is that my “real job” doing desktop publishing got crazy for a while. Plus I was off the grid for a bit visiting family. Add to that some stress over how I was going to wrap up my work in progress, and you’ve got the trifecta that is the bane of every writer’s existence: unplanned busyness, personal obligations, and writers’ block.

*insert a heavy sigh here*

I do want to say, though, that I was, in fact, having fun. I mean, come on. Creative play on my laptop and a trip to California? How much more fun could I have? It’s just that those sorts of activities tend to sap all my creative energy and there’s not enough left for writing. Especially when I’m trying to figure out some piece of my story. :-/

But that, as they say, was then. This is now. And today I’m here on my blog. Today I have a finished draft for my short story. FINALLY!!! Today I’m really happy with my world. (My story world, that is. Actually, I guess I’m pretty happy with the actual, real world too.)

So yeah. Today. Today was a good day. And very soon, I will have a free story available for you to download, if you so choose. Hopefully that means today is a good day for you, too. 🙂

 

Sign up for my mailing list if you want to be the first to know when my story is finally going to be available.

Watch Night

moongirlI’m super excited about how my current writing project is coming.

I’ve been working on a short story tentatively titled Watch Night which is a fantasy story about a young girl apprenticed to the Temple of the Light. This child will have decisions to make that will affect her entire culture, her entire world. But her day starts in simple contemplation with other apprentices.

It goes to show… you never know what the day is going to bring!

When I’m done, this story will be available ONLY to those subscribed to my mailing list. Make sure you don’t miss out! Join now by clicking here.

Allow me to introduce myself…

Hi. I’m Elizabeth McCleary and I am an author.

You probably haven’t heard of me yet. That’s because I’m really not published yet. But I’m hoping that will be changing very soon.

First, I’ll be participating with some other writers in an Advent Calendar this Christmas. You’ll be able to sign up to receive free stories and other goodies from the first of December through Christmas. I should have a link for that by next week.

Next, I am working on a collection of flash fiction that I’m hoping to have out within the next couple of weeks. It’s not coming together as smoothly as I hoped, but it IS coming together. I will update as I go, and let you know AS SOON as it’s available.

In the mean while, I’d like to invite you to sign up for my mailing list. It will give you the opportunity to learn more about me, to keep up with what I’m doing, and to get some cool freebies that won’t be available anywhere else.

THIS is my year!!! I will write a book.

Photo by: Amy Padgett

I’ve mentioned it to a few people, almost in passing.

I’ve posted about it on the How To Think Sideways bootcamp forums.

I’ve thought about it quite a bit.

But I think, maybe, this is my first public declaration (such as it is with my very limited readership on this blog).

THIS IS THE YEAR
I WILL WRITE A BOOK!

  • I will develop an idea to completion
  • I will write consistently to expand my idea
  • I will create a completed manuscript
  • I will revise and edit judiciously
  • I will release my book into the wild, probably by self-publishing (although traditional publishing has not been ruled out)

I feel a little nervous about the prospect. I feel a little excited.

I’ll admit to being somewhat worried that I can’t/won’t meet my goals. Goals are hard for me and I have often been one to find convenient excuses to avoid them in the past. But NOT THIS YEAR. This year, I will achieve my goals!

Before 2013 is over, I will have written and published a book.

Work In Progress!

El cinco invertido

JOSE VICENTE JIMENEZ RIBAS via Compfight

For the first time in quite a while, I have a work in progress! I am working on a piece of fiction that is actually keeping me interested. It’s only a short story, but even as I’m writing it, I am intrigued by it. I can’t wait to find out what’s next! Is that weird coming from the author?

This particular piece is meant for the HTTS student anthology that is coming out later this year. If you are a member of any of Holly’s classes , you are eligible to submit a short story of up to 2500 words for consideration. The theme of the anthology is, “The Adventure of Creating.”

All the story rules and submission guidelines are on the forum, and you must be a verifiable member of her classes to participate, which means if you’re buying the standalone lessons from Amazon, B&N, iBooks, or in her online store, you’ll need a minimum of a general (free) membership on the forum and you’ll have to indicate which class(es) you’re taking. But if you aren’t already working on something, please note that the deadline for submission is in less than 2 weeks. If you’re going to write something, you better write fast!

And since I’m talking about it, I may as well offer a brief taste of what I’m doing. This is the freewriting snippet that came out of some mind mapping and sucked me in to the story I’m working on…

It all started in a cave, in the dark. Really, really dark. You know how the sun can make your eyes hurt on a bright day? That’s what this darkness was like. It just closed in and my eyes hurt from the strain of trying to see… something… anything….

Anyway, that’s what I’m doing right now.

What are you doing? Any works in progress? Any huge eureka moments in your writing? Inquiring minds want to know!