Cover Poll–Flashes of Splashes

I am finally getting to the “almost done” stage of my new flash fiction collection, and I realize I haven’t mentioned it much here.

It’s mostly based on the stories I wrote in April for the AtoZ Challenge, but everything has been edited and cleaned up, and a few of those stories have been tossed out entirely. The title I finally landed on is Flashes of Splashes, referencing the water theme running throughout the book.

Here’s where I need your help… I’ve been messing with cover designs for about 3 weeks, and I almost can’t think anymore. So, here are 6 covers currently in the running (5 that I like, one I’m less thrilled with). Please indicate which ones you love and/or which ones you hate. What would make you pick up the book? What would make you avoid it entirely and why? Feel free to give your opinions in the comments, or shoot me a private message if you don’t want to leave one publicly. Image names are beneath the images. And I just realized I didn’t update the title style on the Dancer image, so consider the two different title/subtitle styles as options on any of these, if you wish.

To inspire you, I’ll post the final-ish versions of the re-covers for New Skin and Flashes of Magic in another post.

Dancer

Mermaid

Rain Girl

Umbrella Man

Umbrella Bricks

Umbrella Yellow

B is for Birthday – AtoZ Blogging Challenge 2016

a-to-z HEADER [2016] - april

At the suggestion of my primary beta reader (aka, my husband), I’m going to try to make all my stories this month about the same characters in the same universe. They won’t be in any particular order – certainly not chronological. And if I get stuck I reserve the right to pull another topic out of thin air and run with it. But if this works out I may actually have a novelette or novella ready to be fleshed out and polished at the end of the month. We’ll see how it goes!

Birthday

B“Happy birthday, David!” Meltec carried a plate with a special treat. “I brought you a cake. It’s something called chocolate.”

“Cake? What’s that?” David leaned in close to the round thing his brother carried and his nose bumped into the gooey frosting. “It smells good,” he said, giggling.

Meltec cut a piece of the cake and handed it to the boy. “I learned about this in my human studies class,” he said. “There used to be a ritual marking the number of years since a human had come online. Like with all Bios, it was called being born. And since Bios can’t upgrade the way androids can, they would track the time and even celebrate it. They were called birthdays.”

“Do other Bios still do that?” David looked up at his brother, his hazel eyes meeting Meltec’s blue lasers.

Meltec shook his head. “No. Most humans aren’t born anymore. Not since the dying. Now they’re bioengineered to come online full-sized, not small like you. You’re the only child human I know of, and I had to convince my overseer that it would be worthwhile for me to raise you. Special human, special celebration” Meltec pointed at the cake. “Are you going to eat that?”

David answered by taking a big bite. “It’s good!” he mumbled. “Sweet!”

“I have another surprise for you too. Five-year-old humans used to go to school. It’s where they learned things.”

“So, I’ll start going to school with you?” David’s voice climbed in both volume and pitch. Meltec knew that meant excited.

“No…” he said. “My school is only for people. They won’t let a Bio go.”

David’s face squinched in a way that Meltec recognized. Despite it being common knowledge that biological organisms could be trained for tasks but never properly programmed, he was certain that this human boy was processing a lot of information.

“Why can’t I go to school?” he asked. “I want to learn!”

“I know you do.”

“Then why can’t I come with you? I won’t make trouble, and I’ll stay out of the way.”

David’s eyes began to fill with liquid as he pleaded. Tears, Meltec knew. It meant David was sad, or maybe angry. Emotions. Meltec was used to them, but he still really didn’t understand. He was sometimes concerned about his communications with others and how he would be perceived, but it didn’t ever make him leak.

“You wouldn’t be able to learn at my school,” Meltec told him. “We get progressive programming from the network. We plug in. You have nothing to plug.” He scooped the little boy into his lap. “You can’t be programmed,” he said. “But I know you can learn. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I’m going to have school for you right here, every day when I get home.”

chocolate-1121356_1920“Really?”

“Yes really.” Meltec gave the boy he called his brother a gentle hug. Humans needed that. “Now, how about another piece of cake?”

 

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.

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Memorial Day 2015

He stood, surveying a battlefield, bloody with the life of his brothers.soldiers-311384_1280

They didn’t choose this war. None of them did. Perhaps even those who did choose didn’t know what they were doing—sending the young, the strong, the brave. Sending them to die for a cause they barely understood.

He knew it was right. Tragic, yes. But he knew now, the cause was just.

He walked, remembering. Here is where he lost his leader. Here is where he lost his friends. Here is where he cut down another young man wearing a different uniform… fighting for a different cause. A cause that man didn’t understand.

That was the worst thing—so many lives were lost. He didn’t know what else could have been done, though. The cause was just. The fallen were heroes who died to keep others from falling. Died for liberty. Died for freedom.

Was it worth it? He decided it was. Liberty wasn’t yet perfected. Freedom hadn’t come for all. But good had been done. That, he decided, made it enough.

He remembered and moved forward until… here. Here is where he laid down his own life. Here is where he gave his all.

For liberty.

For freedom.

For love.

And he remembered.

I honor those who served and died
in service to their country.

Thank you for your sacrifice.

25 May 2015

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.

 

NaNoWriMo 2014

watchnight-600x800Well, I haven’t made as much progress on my WatchNight related stories as I’d hoped. Since the story was originally conceived as just a stand-alone I hadn’t really thought about the world at large or what might happen next. It was just a story. Sheesh! (If you don’t have it already, you can get the original story FREE by signing up for my mailing list!)

So, while I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do next in that world, I was planning to get the creative juices flowing by writing short stories for NaNoWriMo. I thought short stories would be great because there’s not much planning involved, not many details to track, and if I like what I come up with there’s the possibility of a quick turn-around time to publish.

My muse, however, seems to have other plans. Almost entirely out of the blue, she offered me the following story sentence:

A third son defies tradition to search for his missing sister, but if he doesn’t find her before Moondown, they may both be trapped in the dark forever.

Photo credit:  Carl Milner via Flickr CCattribution

Photo credit: Carl Milner
via Flickr CCattribution

How could I help but be intrigued? So now my plans for NaNoWriMo include a sci-fi space fantasy type story that I don’t know much about. I’ve already had to do some minor research on astronomy. I’ve worked out a few scene cards with more to come. This is going to be harder and more involved than unplanned short stories would be. But I’m hoping it’s going to be a lot of fun! (My user name is Pearannoyed if you want to track my progress.)

I’m looking forward to finding out what’s going to happen. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

Watch Night is finally available!

WatchNight-KindleIt’s up, it’s up, it’s up!

I know I haven’t been communicating as much as I intended lately, but partly that’s related to the fact that I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on my short story!

Anyway, my story, Watch Night, is now available for download. The catch is, the only way to get it is to join my mailing list. You can do that by going here and signing up. (And never fear, I despise spam. This is a low-volume list that is only to let you know what’s going on with my writing, and what’s coming up in my publishing world.)

I’m really looking forward to hearing your feedback on this, so make sure you go sign up now!

 

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.

Ramping up for the new year

I’ll admit it – I stalled out more than a bit during the final weeks of 2013.

Basically, I gave up. True fact.

But now I’m getting back on track and already making progress for what is going to be a banner year!

To help regain my focus, I decided to join Jeff Goins’ new years’ writing challenge. He’s calling it My 500 Words, and it’s simply about writing a minimum of 500 words every day for 31 days.

It’s NOT about writing 500 perfect words.

It’s NOT about putting up 31 new blog posts or writing 31 fully-developed chapters.

This is a challenge to simply re-train writers to do what writers do. Write.

A big part of why I failed at reaching my goals last year? I didn’t have my butt in the chair and my hands on the keyboard. I just wasn’t writing. I could go into all kinds of reasons why that was the case. I could make all kinds of excuses. But whatever those things were–reasonable or flaky, good or bad–they don’t matter. Not anymore.

That was then. This is now. The only thing that matters today is what I am going to do today.

And today I’m going to write at least 500 words.

This week I’m going to flesh out what is turning into a very interesting story.

This month I’m going to finish that story and have it ready for people to read. (If you want to be one of the people who reads it, be sure to sign up for my mailing list!)

What I’m NOT going to do is stress out over what I haven’t done. What’s the point? Until someone invents a time machine that works and that I can afford, I can’t change the past.

I can only change today. I can only change what I want to do with this moment.

And today? I’m going to write.

It’s what I do.

Advent Calendar 2013

advento
Rosa Pomar / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

I couldn’t be more excited! I am part of a group of authors offering an Advent Calendar this Christmas season!

For those who may not know, an Advent Calendar, at it’s most basic, is a means of counting down the days from December 1st until Christmas. It started as a German tradition, but has taken hold almost everyplace where Christmas is celebrated. Many such calendars hold daily surprises for the children they are intended to instruct. I’ve seen them with tiny pictures behind the numbered doors, or tiny books with stories to read. Many people have Advent Calendars with candy or other goodies awaiting each day of the countdown.

Our calendar is being sponsored by Katherina Gerlach, a wonderful fantasy and folk-tale author who publishes in both German and English. She and 5 of her writing friends (yours truly included) will be sharing original stories, character sketches, recipes, and even a few songs. Each of us writes in the fantasy genre, so some of what you receive will be fantasy. But much of it will also be seasonal fare.

I sincerely hope you’ll join the fun and sign up for the calendar. Our commitment is that you’ll receive 25 daily emails, and then a reminder next year to sign up for Advent Calendar 2014. No spam. (Of course, you’ll also have the opportunity to follow any of the participating authors on their own lists, should you choose to do so.)

To sign up, go here. ==>> http://www.katharinagerlach.com/advent2013/calendar.html