A to Z Blogging, 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - april

It’s official!A to Z Blogging Challenge 2016

I did this last year and was really pleased with my results, so I’m going to do it again. I have joined the A to Z Blogging Challenge for 2016.

What this means for me.

Between now and the end of April, I’ll be writing and posting at least 26 stories to this blog… one for every letter of the alphabet. All the posts will happen in April, but hopefully I’ll get at least some stories pre-written this year (I didn’t last year) so April won’t sneak up on me and stress me out. All of my stories will be at the Flash Fiction length (under 1000 words… my goal is to be as close to 500 as I can). Most will probably be speculative fiction – sci fi, fantasy, magical realism… possibly horror although that’s not my favorite. Other genres may show up, but I expect the majority to fall within my usual preferred genres.

What this means for you.

Come to my blog (almost) daily in April to be entertained (I hope) by new flash fiction stories. Last year the blog posts were basically Monday through Saturday with Sundays off. I haven’t looked at the calendar yet, so I don’t know if that will be exactly 26 days again this year, or if there will be minor adjustments to that schedule to make it come out right. Either way, you’ll see lots of stories from me.

What if you want to join?

I would welcome anyone to join the challenge on your own blog, if you’re interested! I’m doing stories because that’s what I do. But if you don’t want to write stories you can write any kind of blog posts you want, at any length you want. Generally, there should be an A to Z element to the posts, but I know not every blogger strictly follows that guideline.

If you plan to join me – especially if you’re a fellow author who will be posting stories – let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to follow along with your posts!

As one of my heroes always says, you can do this!

Write on!

Essence – Blog Hop January 2016

lublin-712028_1920“Please, you can’t do this.”  Tara pulled against the binding on her wrists to no avail. “Please, you don’t understand!” The panic in her voice sounded shrill to her own ears, but seemed to have no effect on the man shoving her into the back of the transary.

She cried out again, louder this time. “Please!” It was almost a shriek. She wondered why the street seemed so empty.

This time, the man turned his head. Not enough to look at her. Not enough that he could see her, she was sure. But she knew he was listening.

“My magic,” Tara continued, her voice slightly more controlled. “It isn’t what you think,” she said. “It won’t do what you want.”

The big man grunted in a way that made his shoulders jerk. “It don’t matter. Tek tells me get a magic wielder, I gets one.”

“But I’m not even in the guild. How…”

“Better for me. Easy,” he said, cutting off her protest. “People know who ain’t guilded, and most don’t like you much. They point the way if you ask right over a pint.” He grinned with broken teeth over his shoulder at her. “Plus, you can’t access Essence much without the guilds. Less chance you’ll turn me in ta somethin’.”

“But that’s what I’m trying to tell you. The Essence. It…” She stopped talking again, breathless with fear as the big man put up a hand.

“Don’t matter,” he said. “Tek has all the Essence you could hope for. Just needs someone to shape it.” He glanced at her again. “You’ll do.”

Tara slumped back and screwed her eyes shut tight, whimpering at the thought of what might happen to her when they realized her gift was worse than useless.

It seemed like hours before she felt the momentum of their transary slow and then stop. Tara opened her eyes again only as the door lifted with a hiss and a large hand encircled her arm.

The man who had taken her was surprisingly gentle as he helped her from the transport and led her toward a low brick building. Tara thought it looked like a warehouse, but who would build a warehouse this far from the city?

The brute – had she really been kidnapped? – led Tara past a contingent of armed guards at the entrance. She could see several more farther down, she assumed at another entrance. More voices echoed from the surrounding hills. Each of the men she could see was tall, broad, and thickly muscled. Every one looked unobtrusive yet deadly in their plain brown uniforms.

Inside the warehouse she was hurried past crates labeled in a language she didn’t recognize. More guards watched as she was ushered through a door clad in unblemished copper.

Behind the door was an office where a smaller man sat behind a cluttered desk, his back to them. Tek, Tara thought, but her attention was drawn to a dully metallic device laid on the desk. She was sure it was magic, but could not imagine its use. Without Essence she couldn’t read magic. But with it…

The door banged shut, her head whipping around to see that her captor had left. Alone now with the other man, she turned back towards the desk to see green eyes staring at her. It took another moment for her to realize they belonged to a woman with close-cropped hair – not a man at all. That fact terrified her more than being kidnapped, Tara realized. She could not have said why.

A cold smile played across the woman’s features as she stood and leaned across the desk. Her eyes never left Tara as she reached down and lifted the metal object from the desk.

“Do you know what this is?” she asked, then continued before Tara could answer. “It’s an Essalyst. Once you power it for me, I’ll be able to use Essence for myself. No magic wielder required.”

Tara gasped, feeling a shudder of fear course down her spine. “I… I can’t,” Tara stammered.

“You will,” Tek responded. The woman reached under her desk and Tara heard a soft click. Tara felt a flush rise to her cheeks as Essence began to flood, unseen, into the room.

“You don’t have to do much,” Tek said. “Simply hold the essence and channel it here.” She indicated a dark receptor on the side of the device. “Even an untrained, unguilded wielder can do that much.” Her voice was crisp with disdain.

cat-746242_1920“But the Essence,” Tara started. “You don’t understand. I can’t…” Tara felt the tears welling in her eyes just before her entire being convulsed with what she had always thought of as a sneeze, though it was nothing so ordinary. She opened her eyes to see a green-eyed kitten on the desk, rubbing its chin against the Essalyst.

“I can’t control Essence,” she whispered. “I’m allergic.” She wondered whether Tek would enjoy being a cat.

 

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.

 

I hope you enjoyed my story! I often surprise myself with how things come out, and this one was no exception. Especially considering that my initial idea was a blind girl. 😀

If you liked it and aren’t yet on my mailing list, please consider joining to receive a free short story.

And for more reading goodness, please visit the stories from the other authors in this hop:

Elizabeth McCleary – YOU ARE HERE
Katharina Gerlach – Scars
Karen Lynn – My Story
Angela Woodridge? – Uninvited Guests
Barbara Lund – New Space
Kris Bowser – Smithereens
Justine Ohlrich – Two Deaths on My Birthday
Rabia Gale – House Bound
Juneta Key – Untitled
Mel Corbett – If It’s Not Yours

 

These were the stories from the last hop… just in case you missed them.

Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog
Thea van Diepen: Are You Sure It’s That Way?
Paula de Carvalho: Body Double
Kris Bowser: Tantrums
Virginia McClain: Rakko’s Storm
Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl
Elizabeth McCleary: The Door
Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box
Katharina Gerlach: Canned Food
Karen Lynn: The Family Book
Rabia Gale: Spark
K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel
Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue
Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate
Cherie “Jade” Arbuckle: After I Died

The blog hop cometh…

It’s almost here!perpetualbloghop

I will be participating in another blog hop that will go live this coming Wednesday, January 27th.

Sort of.

Since we have authors from around the world participating, we’ll all be going live on or around midnight, UTC. For me, that’s 6PM on Tuesday, local time.

So if you’re interested in speculative fiction, flash fiction, and emerging authors (and if you’re on my site you probably are) check back here next Tuesday evening to check out the free stories!

In the mean time, feel free to peruse the sites of the other participating authors.

Katharina Gerlach
Juneta Key
Karen Lynn
Angela Woodridge
Barbara Lund
Kris Bowser
Justine Ohlrich
Rabia Gale
Mel Corbett

The Door – Storytime Blog Hop

door-5316_1280Jeremy knew it wasn’t going to work, not this time, but he had to try something.

The door had given him everything he wanted—everything he needed—for years. All he had to do was ask… imagine… believe… and then go to the door. He had no idea how it worked; magic he supposed. But that part didn’t really matter. What mattered was that it worked. Whatever he wished for, if he really, really meant it, when he opened the door, there it was.

He smiled as he remembered his grandpa showing him the door for the first time. Make a wish he said. All your dreams will be fulfilled. But even then, it wasn’t exactly true.

At ten, he had the best bike on the block; the envy of the neighborhood. That bike was cool. It sparkled in the sunlight with its red paint and blue flames. Nobody had a bike that looked like that.

And it was fast. Seriously fast. He could beat even most of the highschoolers, racing around the neighborhood.

That bike made him awesome. Even now, the memory made him smile.

But not everything he wished through that door was so cool. He learned quickly why grandpa told him never to wish for anything alive. He cried for weeks about that puppy, and even now the thought of it sent chills down his spine.

No. The door had limitations.

But the door also lived up to his expectations is so many ways. The guitar he wished for when he was 16 was directly responsible for his career. He played that thing for hours, shredding his fingers as he learned to play shredding leads.

Because of that guitar, he started a band.

Because of that band, he met a girl.

Because of that girl… that beautiful, perfect girl…

Jeremy scrubbed tears from his cheeks as he remembered the way Melissa’s eyes lit up when she saw that ring. He thought that might have been the best thing he’d ever wished for. The best thing the door had ever given him.

Because of that ring, he got the girl. That beautiful, perfect girl.

Then she got sick. Cancer.

Melissa always wanted kids. She would have been such a good mother. But the surgery stole that from her, and still it didn’t stop the disease. Jeremy sat by her side as months slid by and his beautiful girl disappeared before his eyes.

It didn’t occur to him until the end how much he had been looking forward to making wishes with his children. Their children.

Now there would be no more bikes. No more guitars. No more perfect rings for perfect girls.

Jeremy stared at the door, Melissa’s ring held tight in his fist.

He knew what he wanted.

He didn’t know if it would work, but he had to try something.

He wished harder than he had ever wished, for all the things that would never be.

Then he opened the door, and walked through.

bloghopI hope you enjoyed this! I certainly enjoyed writing it.
If you aren’t yet on my mailing list, please consider joining to receive a free short story.

Also, please take some time to visit the other stories that are part of this Blog Hop, and if you enjoy their stories, join their lists too. 🙂

Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box
Katharina Gerlach: Canned Food
Rabia Gale: Spark
K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel
Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue
Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate
Cherie “Jade” Arbuckle: After I Died
Karen Lynn: The Family Book
Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog
Thea van Diepen: Are You Sure It’s That Way?
Paula de Carvalho: Body Double
Kris Bowser: Tantrums
Virginia McClain: Rakko’s Storm
Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl

Hello again…

OK. I’m here.

I have not been here as much as I would like. But life happens and busy happens and time sneaks away to canoodle with focus, leaving me to my own devices. That’s never a good thing.

Anyway, here’s hoping I get back on a regular schedule around here.

Blog Hop

bloghopIn the mean time, I’m happy to tell you that I plan on participating in a blog hop on August 26th.

What’s a blog hop, you ask. Well, a bunch of authors will be writing flash fiction or short stories and posting to their blogs, along with links to everyone else who is participating in the hop. If you follow me, you’ll be able to come read my story, and then follow links to read the stories that other writers have posted. If you like their stories, you might choose to follow them, too. Hopefully, some of their fans will also choose to follow me. But either way, there will be a bunch of new, free stories available to read!

Free stories are always a good thing.

All the authors posting will be writing in the speculative fiction arena… sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, maybe even horror. But there will be no graphic sex or violence, so this should be safe for a PG-ish audience to read.

So don’t forget, join me on August 26th. Maybe you’ll find you next favorite author … after me, of course. 😉

AtoZ Blogging Challenge – Final wrap-up and the Future

atoz [2015] - BANNER - 910

A to Z Wrapup

The bookWhew!

That was a busy month.

I have to admit, I’m glad it’s over.

Developing a fresh story on a daily basis was harder than I expected. But I’ll also admit, it was also easier than I thought it would be in some ways.

Hard because, as I mentioned last week, it takes a lot of mental/creative energy to write a complete story, even one that is very short.

survivor-atoz 2015 - sm_zpsmfnq4uovEasy, though, because I made the commitment to just do it. I didn’t expect perfection. I didn’t really even expect to like every story. My commitment to myself was just to get it done. So even when I didn’t feel like I had a “good enough” idea, I would just write. I got it done.

And with the exception of my U-is-for-Undecided story (I admit it… that was a bunt…), every story I posted holds the potential to be polished, expanded, fixed, and repurposed.

None of it was complete crap, even though I gave myself permission for it to be crap. That’s kind of a big deal.

So here I am, after a sometimes exhausting month. And instead of burnt out and tired, I feel completely energized.

I’m ready to take on the world… or at least my next writing project.

Look out, world. Here I come.

Looking Ahead

pen-622037_1280Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this month as much as I have.

Maybe you’re wondering what will come next.

Here’s my reality – as much as I’d love to keep up the story-a-day format, it flat-out ain’t gonna happen. I have other work I also need to be doing, and I can’t keep up the pace indefinitely.

However, I do still intend to be posting on this blog regularly. Here’s my current plan, subject to tweaking as I work out any potential kinks.

  • Monday – Personal updates/what I’m doing kind of stuff. Hopefully you’ll get to know me a little better—my other hobbies and interests, my family, my work process.
  • Wednesday – Words! I’m thinking maybe a weekly post about words themselves. Either the definition and etymology of a specific word I’ve come across in my reading, or maybe something about using words, inventing words, how words change over time. Whatever. I admit to being a little bit of a word nerd (not nearly as bad as some I know) and this would just be fun for me.
  • Friday – Flash Fiction! I don’t want to give up posting stories on my site altogether. I figure one new story a week might keep natives from getting restless. If I’m working on a longer story or a novel, you might get a scene or snippet from that instead. But maybe not – keeping up the short-short writing is just good practice.
  • Occasionally – Book reviews! I want to get back in the habit of keeping a personal commentary on books I enjoy or find useful. This will usually take the form of recommendations, but I might also weigh in on books that aren’t worth the trouble.
  • Other stuff – I will post other things on my site as they come up. Special offers or bonuses. Publication information when I have new things coming out. Eloquent narratives about the amazing pizza I ate last week… who knows what might come up if the fancy strikes me.

I don’t know exactly what this looks like yet. I guess I’ll figure it out as we go along.

Questions

  • Did you you have a favorite story from my challenge? Something you’d like to see expanded into something bigger? Or even just a type of story that you would want to see more of?
  • Suggestions? Is there anything I haven’t mentioned that you want to see on this blog? Is there particular information that you want me to share? I really want to know what you want!

Answer either or both of these questions by leaving a comment or shooting me a message on my contact form!
I hope to hear from you soon. 🙂

I almost forgot…

Kat's Advent CalendarLast year I had the opportunity to participate in a writing Advent Calendar hosted by good friend and multi-published author, Katherina Gerlach. As her name might suggest, she is from Germany, the land of Advent Calendars.

This year’s calendar is populated by fantasy writers who specialize in fairy tale retellings. Each of the included stories has been serialized for the calendar, but the whole collection will also be offered as an ebook on Christmas if you sign up for the alerts!

It’s not too late to join the fun! If you’re interested, visit this page to see the story segments that are already available. And don’t forget to join the list on that page to get the ebook for Christmas.

Review: Rabia Gale – Venus

I have been wanting to include reviews here for a while. My thought is that when I find someone whose work moves me, inspires me, or excites me, I should take the time to share it with you.

Especially when it is something that hits my own muse’s happy buttons. There’s a difference between stories that entertain and satisfy on a reader level, and stories that make the muse poke you in the ribs with her elbow, saying, “I wish I’d written that.”

Author Rabia Gale, in my experience, writes the rib-bruising kind of stories.

I’ve been aware of her writing for some time because we are both members of Holly Lisle’s incredible site, How To Think Sideways (affiliate link). But while we have both learned about the writer’s craft from the same guru, I don’t think we have ever had more than the briefest of direct interactions on a personal level. In other words, I’m not posting about her writing because we’re friends. I’m posting because I find her writing beautiful and inspiring. I hope, someday, to grow up to write like her. 😉

VenusI’m calling this a review, so I definitely need to comment on the story. But I really can’t say much about it. She Walks In Beauty is a flash fiction published on her website. With such a short work of fiction, saying very much about the story itself might give too much away.

What I can say, though, is that She Walks In Beauty is one in a series of flash fiction stories that Ms. Gale is writing based on the planets; in this case, Venus. In this particular story, she was trying to capture the juxtaposition between the goddess Venus, known for her beauty, and the harsh realities existing on the planet itself. I think she captured the dichotomy brilliantly. I was captivated by this briefest of tales, and will continue to ponder its facets, both the bright and shadowed, for far longer than it took me to read.

I highly recommend visiting her site and reading this mesmerizing-but-brief story. And while you’re there, check out her serialized novel, Quartz (also free), as well as the commercial fiction she has available. I haven’t read all of her books yet, but I did read Rainbird and was thoroughly enchanted. I’ll definitely be reading more of Rabia Gale in the future, and I hope you find her writing as enthralling as I have.