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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Update on my procrastination skills, and other events of note

alarm-clock-590383_1280Yeah, so, procrastination.

About that.

It’s still a thing that I do. (For evidence, note that here it is something like 3 weeks after saying I’d post an update in a week. Ha!)

HOWEVER, that is not to say there has been no movement on that front.

I did do a little bit o’ plotting. Not much. Not enough. But some.

Blog Hopperpetualbloghop

Also, I wrote a flash story – one that I really like! I’m participating in the Story Time Blog Hop again this month. It’s a quarterly thing, and being October, all the stories will probably be leaning toward ghost stories, Halloween, paranormal… typical haunted fare.

But these are my friends, so don’t expect ordinary. Never expect ordinary. 😉

Expect to see that story as well as links to the others on October 26 at 6PM. (We are a global group, so we try to make things drop right at Midnight UTC. I’m in the -6 timezone, so I post 6 hours early.)

Advent CalendarKat's Advent Calendar

I’m also planning to participate in my friend Cat’s Advent Calendar again this year. I’ve done this a couple of times in the past, and it has always been a lot of fun.

As soon as I have sign-up info for that, I’ll post it here. To get the stories, you’ll need to join a mailing list… but it’s a list ONLY for the Advent Calendar and Cat never spams.

For that collection of stories, the theme this year is Winter (but not necessarily Christmas). As usual, most of the authors participating will likely have some kind of bonus in the form of an additional story, a traditional recipe, a fun desktop background… something unique. You won’t want to miss out!

NaNoWriMonanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200

Between the Blog Hop and the Advent Calendar, is the annual event known as NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month.  For those who haven’t heard of it, writers (anyone, really) are invited to try to write 50,000 words in November. That works out to an average of 1667 words every day.

50,000 might be a short novel, but by most classifications, it’s a novel. A whole novel (or maybe a good start on one) in 30 days is a pretty significant challenge. With my afore mentioned habit of procrastination, I have never managed to hit that 50,000-word goal. But I’m giving it a shot again this year. (My username there is pearannoyed, so if you’re participating too, feel free to connect!)

The story I’m planning is actually an extension of what I wrote for the Blog Hop. So if you drop back by on the 27th and read that story, you might have motivation to cheer me on for NaNo. Maybe. If you like it.

 

That is, I think, all I have on the table at the moment. If anything else comes up, I’ll let you know.

Scrivener for iPad, blog hop, and more

I’ve been stupidly busy …. something I find myself saying far too often.

Sadly, one thing that means is that my revision isn’t coming along as quickly as I’d like. I have an idea of what I need to do, but blocking out time to get it done is a challenge. I’ve been working on other must-do projects – ones that actually pay actual money, so that’s good. I’ve been part of three conferences (none writing-related, sadly). And I’m still making sure the husband and dog are properly fed, have their belly rubs, and don’t feel completely neglected. I feel like I have three full-time jobs with very little to actually show for it. Alas.

Scrivener for iPad

In cooler news, you might have already heard that Scrivener is FINALLY  available for iPad. HUZZAH!!! Scrivener. Y'know - for writers.

For the uninitiated, Scrivener is a writing program put out by a tiny company called Literature and Latte. It was designed with novel-writing in mind and has tons of cool features not available in “normal” word processors like Word or Pages. I know dozens of writers who would never consider using anything else for writing their fiction or non-fiction books. It really is that good.

And now that it’s available for iPad and can be synced through Dropbox, writing on any project can be seamlessly moved from office to coffee shop to park to sofa and back again. Very cool stuff. I may do a more in-depth write-up of Scrivener at some other time. But for now, just understand that after a very long wait with multiple delays and much frustration, this is actually a thing and a lot of people are very happy about it.

Storytime Blog Hop

One reason I’m happy about that Scrivener thing is that I’m late getting my story done for next week’s blog hop. Since I have running around to do the next couple of days, I’ll be taking the iPad and will hopefully find time to complete my story while I’m out. perpetualbloghop

The hop is going live on Wednesday, July 27 (6PM Tuesday for me since we’re using Global Standard). And at last count, there were more than 10 authors involved. That means a bunch of new stories for all of you to read, absolutely free. All the stories should be in the speculative fiction genre, and should be suitable for YA and up (no graphic sex or violence). With our aim being to post stories of 1000 words or less, the Hop might be the perfect place to find a little commute reading or something to occupy your brain while you’re eating lunch.

Watch this space for stories next week!

That’s all my news for now. Wish me luck and words on getting my story finished. And wish me clarity and extra time as I chip away at my revision.

Working on a revision and other news

 

Theft.

So, remember that thing I was working on a few months ago? The android story I blogged for the A-Z challenge during April?

Well, big news, I have officially started the revision process. My initial hope was to shuffle things around a bit, finish out story lines that weren’t quite complete, and maybe get this thing knocked out by the end of July.

Having now read through the whole thing for the first time in more than 2 months, I’m pretty certain that it’s going to need more work than that.

It’s barely a working draft at this point, so my initial goal is to get it shaped up so it at least tells a complete story, hopefully by the end of this month. Then I’ll go back and work an in-depth revision process to make it into a good story that makes sense. Since this will be my first full revision of anything longer than a couple thousand words, I have no idea at all how long it will take me to complete.

My current plan is to try to post updates about once a week specifically on where I am in the revision process. Just in case there are those of you who are interested in such things.

If you haven’t read the story posts, or want to refresh your memory, here’s the first scene. You can navigate to later scenes from there.

What I’ve Done So Far

I have re-read my entire manuscript without making any notes. Then I organized the whole thing into the 4 major story arcs.

  1. The science fair (4 scenes)
  2. David and Meltec (11 scenes)
  3. The political problem (9 scenes)
  4. Before the dying (2 scenes)

The biggest arc right now belongs to the David and Meltec arc which consists of all the flashbacks to their life leading up to the science fair. That’s a bit of a problem since I really see the science fair itself as the framework story line. I will either need to flesh it out some, or change the overall structure of the story since I currently only have 4 scenes related to the science fair itself. The science fair was the shiny thing that made me want to chase down this story in the first place, so I really hope I can figure out a way to make it really work as the main story line. One way or another, though, the David and Meltec/Science Fair storyline still needs a proper ending.

The political arc has flashback scenes from roughly 20 years prior to “now” and moves forward into scenes that are probably a few weeks after the science fair. The “before the dying” scenes are essentially flashbacks from the political arc.

So first things first, I will be working to figure out the basic structure I need and what scenes I might be missing. I don’t know if I’ll write those scenes completely, or just do basic outlines that I can carry into my full revision so I only have to write what I really know I’m going to need.

Lots to think about here. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

The Other News

perpetualbloghopLater this month, July 27th to be exact (though that’s UCE, so I’ll actually be live around 6:00PM on the 26th), I’ll again be participating in the StoryTime Blog Hop. This is a quarterly event in which a bunch of speculative fiction authors each post a flash fiction story on their blogs, along with links to all the other stories. It’s usually a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it. Of course, that means I will need to write at least 1 flash fiction story this month in addition to working on the revision, but I think I can handle it.

I’ll be sure to post a reminder when we get closer to the date of the hop!

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. 😉

My Next Venture

I’ve been processing this for about a week now, and I think I’ve decided what my next project needs to be. Partly it’s because I want to challenge myself a bit more. Partly it’s because I’ve been listening to the advice I’ve given others.

old-books-436498_1280I’ve now done 3 very short publications. The two collections, and one stand-alone story. But I am itching to work on something bigger. So bigger it shall be!

I’m not going to spill the beans quite yet on what that bigger project will be – not my story plan anyway. But I’m planning on writing at least a novella-length story. Me and my Muse are pretty excited about it. 😀

I may also try to get another flash fiction collection pulled together at the same time, but the big story will take precedence.

Stay tuned for future details!

I’m Published! (Again)

Well, I didn’t get a story up on Friday. For that I apologize. I wanted to, but I was swamped with a couple of non-writing related projects that didn’t leave me time to toss off a story for you. Hopefully I’ll have one this week.

Flashes-of-MagicIn better news, I did manage to finish my edits and formatting and get my new collection published on Amazon! I still need to get accounts set up at B&N, iBooks, and other places. But Amazon is obviously the big dog, so I’m glad to have my stories there at least.

I hope you consider buying a copy. Most (but not all – there is one that is brand-new) of these stories found their first incarnations on this blog, so I’ll understand if you don’t want to purchase the revisions. But I guarantee that the current iteration on most of them is significantly better than what you read for free here.

As always, if you like what you read I’d love for you to leave me a review or send me some feedback here. Which stories are your favorite? What do you want more of? Inquiring minds want to know!

So, enoy! I’m currently considering what my next project will be, and I’ll post as soon as I know.

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’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.

 

Story planning

In January I got my flash fiction collection out, and I was happy.

In February I re-published my short story, making it a free-range offering for the first time.

Now it’s been several weeks and I need to get myself on track for my March Publication. I really want to keep up with the goal I set for myself of getting something published every single month this year. It simply would not do to drop the ball only 3 months in.

So I’m at a crossroads of deciding what I should write. I won’t necessarily limit myself to working on only one of these projects, but I will have to have one be my primary focus or I won’t get anything finished. Here’s what I’ve got brewing…

picture by  jesuscm - flickr, cc-attribution

picture by jesuscm – flickr, cc-attribution

  • I’m working on another collection of flash fiction, which may or may not have a theme tying them together
  • I have some ideas for a couple of connected short stories in a sci-fi world. One of those (possibly two if I write fast) could hit the pages this month.
  • I’ve been outlining a story that is loosely based on traditional European fairy stories, though I would hesitate to call it an actual Fairy Tale retelling. It’s not so much a respinning of one tale as it is a new story in keeping with some of the thematic elements normally found in fairy tales.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have time to finish the Fairy Tale, which I think will end up being more novella length than short story. So it will either be flash fiction or sci-fi shorts.

Any votes? My Muse would be happy with any of it. I just need to choose quickly. 🙂