RSS

Tag Archives: short story

The beginning is often the hardest story to tell.

A few weeks ago I announced on the Bradbury Challenge that I would be finishing, and publishing, Witch’s Sight. I finally finished writing it tonight, now it just needs a bit of an edit. However, I wanted to give everyone here a quick peek behind the scenes. You get to read it before anyone else.

As you probably know, the Witch’s Trilogy is now finished. While finishing up the last book in the series I started thinking about the origin of the Little Mother, and how she made her own escape from the acolytes. That tale is here, in Witch’s Sight.

I love this world, and I’m going to keep coming back to it with new books down the road. It is such a wonderful world to write in. However, the other stories I have planned for the world of Peyllen don’t take place in the Sea of Tears. They are in the far distant realms beyond the edge of the sea. I will eventually be making a website specifically for Peyllen with a timeline, maps, and some more information about the world at large.

For now, I’m off to write in a different direction, taking a short break from Peyllen to see what other mischief I can get into.

And, as promised, here is Witch’s Sight.

***************

~~Witch’s Sight ~~

Katrina sat in a sea of people, all of them moving at once. They were big as trees, towering over her. Though she clung to mama’s hand, Katrina shivered. The big people were screaming at someone, shouting and calling names. Names she’d never heard before. But she didn’t need to know what they were to know they were bad. Just the way they screamed them out told her so.

The bodies pressed in, jostling her against mama, and she clung with all her might as the sea of people tried to sweep her away.

“Mama!” she screamed, but no one could hear her above all the voices, the screaming. The crying.

Mama grabbed her, and pulled her up into her arms. Safer, Katrina sunk down into mama’s embrace, feeling mama tighten her grip, keeping her safe from the crowds.

“Look away, Katrina,” mama cried. “Don’t look!”

It was an order. Mama gave so few orders, and Katrina tried to obey them all. She did now, shutting her eyes tight as she lay her head against mama’s shoulder. But the commotion outside her mother’s embrace was too enticing. Katrina wanted to look, wanted to see what the people were yelling at, and wanted to see what angered them so.

She blinked, catching glimpses of people towering over a small figure at their feet. Another blink, red blood covering the small figures face, hair a mess.

It was a girl with short hair lying on the ground. The girl tried to scramble to her feet, slipping on the wet stones. She wasn’t much bigger then Jamie, Katrina’s neighbor who came to watch Katrina when mama was in the fields. But Jamie was always smiling and happy, this girl was crying. Dirty tear tracks ran down her face, and she pulled herself away from the crowd, clawing at the stone to get away.

“Why are they so mad, mama? Did she do something bad?”

“Look away, Katrina. You’re so young. You shouldn’t see this.”

Mama pushed through the crowd, elbowing people to get out of the way. Katrina watched as the tiny figure got swallowed up by the crowds, and still she could not understand why they were hurting the girl.

****Join the mailing list for the full story.***

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 6, 2016 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , ,

And it’s out!

thisIt’s here! The Scarab Necklace

A prima donna pop star. Her mousy assistant. And a cursed necklace that slowly changes their personalities.

It is longer then the other Illicit Gains Saga shorts and qualifies as a “novelette”, but who actually uses that word anyway? So i guess it’s a really long short story. All I know is: it’s good. I love it, and I’m so happy it’s finished and out for everyone to read.

The next one in the series is going to be a little complicated. It’s about a pocket watch and involves time travel. I’m going to need a timeline and a lot of notes. Thankfully I already have a basic plot.

I also have “Mirror” which was sent to my newsletter a few weeks ago. That is episode zero of this series. I’ll be editing that and publishing it May 27 or Jun 3rd.

Anprophec3yd I think I potionshopshould mention that Prophecy by Barlight and Potion Shop are free this weekend. If you haven’t picked them up yet now is a great time to do so.

 

Even more exciting news! Witch’s Stand should be out in two weeks!!!!! I’ve got the edits back and I just need to do my revision, and send it back to the editor (which takes less time the second time around) and then a quick revision before uploading it. So excited!

Plus, just look how great these covers look together: threecovers

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 17, 2016 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Maya has the best writing prompts.

A quick update, i just sent the final Witch’s Trilogy book to the editor. It will, hopefully, be published in a few weeks!

Now on to the main event, the Bradbury Challenge.

Last week Maya gave a great writing prompt. I can’t remember exactly what it was, and it is only on the audio podcast so I couldn’t look it up yet, BUT it did revolve around a stone wall.

Her prompt about the stone wall got me thinking of The Wailing Wall in Isreal where men and women put little notes and prayers on paper into the chinks in the stone masonry. Then I wondered…what if it wasn’t a prayer they were putting there, but a medal. A military metal, one earned in a great battle where nothing is left but the wall.

This story is a bit more experimental then I usually write, but I like the consept. I might redo it later to make it better though.

And now… The Wall.

**************

The Wall

 

The rough stone bit into my fingers as I ran them down the wall. Chips where bullets peeled out sections. Names carved into the loose concrete. Larger holes left behind by pocket knives, broken bottle shards, or daggers. Each line, wrinkle and pit told a story in the wall.

I found a name, Judith Gavin, etched in a flourished handwriting only slightly jagged from the use of a knife on stone instead of a pen on paper. Beneath it a medal had been embedded into the stone. Rank first class gunnery. A tiny brass star gilded the center. Elite marksman. Judith had been the best of the best in her devision, and she left her medal here as a reminder.

Other medals for foreign service, combat action, organizational excellence, and commendations littered the wall, their enamel paint glittering in the low sunlight. Here a purple heart fit inside a deep well carved by a bullet. Another a badge for a medic with a long cut through the center, possibly done by a knife. Little flecks of red marred the caduceus. Blood?

Each medal, each badge, each trophy a memento that told a story. But what story?

 

 

To read the rest SUBSCRIBE HERE

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 24, 2016 in On Writing, Updates

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Fiction Tells Truths.

We will be recording our next episode of The Bradbury Challenge in two days. It will be episode 11. That means 11 short stories should have been written. Currently I’m at five finished. Five out of 11, and one novel finished, and a few really close to being finished, seems to be a great place to be right now.
That’s right, I finished writing Witch’s Stand. witchs stand

I’m satisfied with the cover yet, so I can’t revel it at this moment, but it’s getting there.

So what’s in store now that Witch’s Stand is finished? Editing, lots of editing. Plus I have more time to spend writing short stories for the Bradbury Challenge, and I have a few other projects I’m writing plot-lines for right now. I am going to try doing one of them in a complete plotter mode. I haven’t tried doing a really detailed plot-line before, but I think it might help my true goal, getting faster.

As for the stories…
I said at the beginning of this thing that I would write a short story every week and send it to my newsletter. Excuses aside, I didn’t do that. It bothers me that I didn’t do that. More importantly, it bothers me that I haven’t been keeping some sort of writing schedule and getting books out there. What kind of a career can I have if I don’t actually publish anything? Not much of one.

So, no promises. I should promise anything I can’t deliver on. But I am promising to do better.

However, I have written SIX stories, and I am sending the FIFTH story to the list today. I have one story that I never sent out. This was partly because I have been neglecting my news letter, and partly because it’s a really darn long story. All of the other stories have been about 2-3k words. “The Scarab Necklace”, the one I haven’t sent yet, is over 8000 words.

I am also planning on publishing Scarab. I still need to do a final edit, and make sure everything is in order before doing so, but I do want to have it up in a month. So I will probably be sending it as a freebie to my list at some time, and not including it in my regular mailings. I haven’t decided. Let me know if you think of something else that might be more fair.

On to tonight’s story.

I don’t want to tell you much about this story before I share it with you. Let’s just say, I was thinking about the future, and the past. That, combined with a few interesting news articles about biology, lead to this story. Cryptic enough for you?  Read on.

***********

A Child

“I want to have a baby,” Nancy said.

There was no emotion on her face  just a simple statement of truth. I knew this day would come. I saw the signs a long time ago, and chose to ignore them for the sake of her companionship. I loved her, I loved being with her. But you couldn’t stop nature. For decades she had been working in child care, learning about horticulture, and taking night classes for advancement. She was putting herself in the perfect place to have a child.

“Have you already applied?” I asked her.

“No, you’re my husband,” she said, “I wanted to talk to you about it first.” But she was looking down when she said it. She had looked into it even if she hadn’t applied.

“First? Then your mind is set,” I said. “You’ve decided.”

“I have. I would prefer to take this step with you.”

“That’s asking a lot. I’ve always loved you, and stood by you in everything you’ve done. But this is huge.”

(To read more please sign up for the newsletter here.)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 16, 2016 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , ,

The Mirror

Today was the second day of the new podcast, and my newsletter was just sent the first short story, “The Mirror.”

This short story is going to eventually be the Zero episode of my “Illicit Gains” series, a series of short stories revolving around items that have paranormal properties. This includes “The Ring” and “The Camera.” I will be writing a couple of the stories during the Bradbury Challenge.

I still think we’re a bit crazy for trying to write a short story every week, but at the same time it’s encouraging me to write more, and that’s awesome in and of itself. And that also means more stories for you! You just have to sign up for the newsletter to get them.

Here is a short sample of “The Mirror”.

****

Judy rubbed a hand over the frame, polishing a floret in the engraved design. Aunt Tracy didn’t overlook much, but she hadn’t noticed the ladder up to the attic space, so missed the mirror. Perhaps she thought her mother had been too old to go up there, or that the crawl space wasn’t big enough to hold anything. Most of the items in the attic had been junk; old Christmas ornaments, craft magazines and a box of flower vases. Things most people would throw away or donate to a thrift store. It was likely Tracy only saw the trash, never venturing far enough into the attic to find the mirror.

It meant Judy could keep one thing of her grandmothers, even if she didn’t remember her grandmother ever having the mirror.

She stepped back admiring her handiwork…and froze. She blinked, clearing her eyes. Surely they were playing tricks on her. A shadow seemed to pass over the image in the mirror, something that twisted her own face into something

Judy squinted. What was that? A trick of the light? A shadow?

A shiver ran down her spine as she took a step back. Her mind was playing tricks on her, surely, but something did seem off about the mirror.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 11, 2016 in On Writing

 

Tags: , ,

Back tracking

zombie miniA while ago I started working on a short story called Zombie Swarm. I even came up with a cover that I really liked.

So why isn’t it out? Because as much as I liked the concept and several of the scenes of that story, it just wasn’t good enough.

The biggest problem was easy to fix. I added a few more characters. The whole situation wasn’t very convincing or suspenseful enough so it ended up falling a little flat. Most of the story takes place inside of once little lab, but with only two people working in a lab you don’t have a lot to work with. I added three more people and suddenly things started coming together. There were more issues between characters, more problems, and more strife. Then the creature they are dealing with, I didn’t have to change it much, but I did have to add a few more scenes to the original plot, and a lot more detail.

So it meant going back, completely reworking the original plot line, and rewriting it. I threw away the 6000 words I’d already written to start all over again. But I know I’m going to have a better story because I did that, even if it really REALLY sucked throwing away 6k words that I wrote. I’m also expecting the finished story to be twice as long, at least, so that’s a plus.

Don’t be afraid to throw it out and start all over again.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2015 in On Writing, Writers Block

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Moonlit Sonata (A Short Story)

moonlitMoonlit Sonata

Sonata’s hands danced across the keys, her soul reaching out through her fingertips. Ebony and ivory, a harmony that responded to her touch, and hers alone.

Whenever she sat down to play the piano she couldn’t help remembering the first time. Caressing the keys. Tentatively pressing a few notes. And each note came out pure and strong even though she, just a girl of eight, had no idea how to actually play the giant instrument.

Her grandfather pulled her up in his lap and she would watch as his hands moved along the keyboard playing chopsticks, Mary had a little lamb and the wheels on the bus. When she showed so much interest in the music he started moving into more intricate pieces. Fur Elise. Barber of Seville. Blue Danube.

Each song played a story in her mind. The notes moved upward in sharp angles, and she saw dragons fighting across a red sky. Soft keys flowing out in a slow rhythm were like swans lazily swimming across an icy pool of water. Each key. Each score. An image and a story that laid itself out just for her.

The memories made her melancholy, longing for her grandfather, long since passed, and all the quiet moments they spent together making music.

The melancholy worked its way into the music. Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. The quiet rhythms of the thousand year old piece slowly playing out across the dark night.

Her thoughts moved to the room, the darkness closing in around her. The piano still sat in the same room overlooking the river far below. On still nights you could see the moonlight glittering off the subtle waves. A fitting companion to her music. She matched her tempo to the rippling light, softer then faster, and softer again. Experimentation.

The home, built by her great grand father shortly before the civil war, was her second love. It had housed the sick and injured during the war, been home to a speakeasy during Prohibition, held wild and sometimes disastrous parties, all before she’d ever been born. The history was written into every piece of wood. Names carved into balusters. Graffiti stenciled on bathroom walls. Holes cut into certain walls, then repaired over and over again.

Her mother once told her the house was haunted. A laughable thing, surely. Sonata didn’t believe in heaven, or hell, demons or angels. Why, then, would she believe in something as insubstantial as a ghost?

She giggled at her own pun as she set into Presto Agitato, her fingers fairly flying across the keys. Over and over she pounded out the notes, faster and harder with each slide up the scale.

Like a frolicking gazelle, she played the notes, feeling the joy and wonder of her home around her, swaddled in the moonlit night. Happy and content. Locked together just as the notes of the song were locked together.

She glanced up to the left of the piano. Her grandfather use to stand there watching over her as she played, and even now she felt she could feel his presence there. Watching. Waiting.

If her grandfather watched over her then she would give him the best concert of his entire life, or death, she thought as she tripped across the ivory keys.

Piece after piece she played. Chopin. Lebrun. Bach. Tchaikovsky. Each one with their own virtues and difficulties. She had practiced for years, learning piece after piece to add to her repertoire. Learning the inscrutable differences between the frenetic work of Mozart, or the melancholy scores of Schubert . And she played them all with the utmost precision.

Precision wasn’t enough to be a great pianist. Being female had it’s own drawbacks. Men did not think highly of women who pursued places in the arts. Painters, sculptures, musicians. All of the truly greats in all areas were men. Sonata always maintained that she, as a woman, had just as much right to play professionally as any man, but it didn’t matter. You couldn’t sell tickets to a womans concert.

Instead she spent the long days whiling away her time in front of the piano. With her inheritance she lived comfortably, never wanting for anything, and throwing the occasional party where she would play for her guests who watched in rapt adoration as she played.

From the shadows she heard a scrape on the wood, like shoes walking toward her. She glanced up to find ghostly images walking down the corridor toward her. Faint white glimmers on the landscape that shimmered into view then blinked out of existence.

There were no such things as ghosts, she told herself again, her fingers never stopping on the keys. It was the night playing tricks on her. Old memories surfacing from the past. But the night was coming to a close. The sun would rise, and she would still be safe in her mansion. All alone.

For hours she played, song after song echoing up through the old wooden house. Memories circled through her thoughts. Her father on his death bed wishing her happiness. Her music teacher praising her for her marvelous playing. A cousin stopping in to see why she never answered her telegrams.

And always the music soothed away the troubled memories.

Then the sky grew lighter, sunlight spilling over the horizon. The warm glow splashed across the side of the piano and Sonata smiled, enjoying the warmth washing over the room as she started playing another complicated piece.

The sun rose higher, as though each note she picked along the keyboard was a signal for the world to spin, the sun rising in the west at her bidding. She watched it creeping up the side of the piano, playing faster and faster, as though trying to capture every possible note she could before the sunlight touched her skin.

Something about the suns progress across the hard wood floor sent a shiver through her. The sun was supposed to bring cheer and good will, but all she felt was panic.

Sun. Son. Was that why? Was it the reminder of the child she would never have?

At one time there had been many suiters calling for her hand. They would come to the great mansion at the top of the hill and gaze over the land with hungry eyes. And some part of her hardened. If she could not be the concert pianist that she dreamed of then she would not give into their demands. Would not give them the key to their desires.

Selfish? Perhaps. Her mother once begged her for the gift of grandchildren. But it was already too late. As the consumption ate away at her mother’s body she had no comfort of tiny feet racing across the floors, only the sound of the piano. The endless music reminding her that she failed her daughter.

Once her mother started to scream, begging that the music end. Only her fathers threats of destroyed the piano stilled the keys. Sonata would stare longly from the doorway, her fingers moving to the staccato beat across the counter, waiting, yearning for the day she could play again.

And the day came when her mother passed away, and they laid her in the ground in the small cemetery out back. She lay beside her own mother and father, and many family members from before Sonata’s birth. Men and women who lived, and loved, and died in the walls of the mansion.

And music once again filled the walls.

Light touched the keys and Sonata cringed away from it. Why? It was only light she told herself.

The keys glowed white as the sunlight spread.

Sonata played on, dancing across the keys, her eyes closed as they flew up the scale…

And screamed!

The sunlight burned. Like putting her hand into a vat of acid, the light spilled around her finger tips, burning away her flesh, the pain searing up her arm and into every nerve of her body.

She backed away from the piano, and the light flooding over it, cradling her hand to her chest. How was it even possible? How could the sun keep her from the piano. Music was her life. She had to have it or she would fade away.

The light slipped across the floor as the sun rose in the sky, a pool of it edging closer to her feet.

She took a step back, stretching her hand out toward the piano, needing the music. Feeling herself growing dimmer as the notes faded from the room.

But something was wrong with her hand. She held it up before her. There were no burn marks from the sunlight, but her hand began to twist in on itself. She tried stretching out her fingers, as though playing the scales, but they barely moved, the tendons tightening and pulling even harder.

“No!” she cried, looking down at her hands as they curled up into claws right in front of her eyes. “No! You can’t do this to me! No!”

The music long since silent, her cries echoed through the room, vibrating off the empty walls, and flooding up the stairs.

And then the full force of the sun spilled across her feet, and up her body.

With one final agonizing scream Sonata blinked out of existence.

****

“Did you hear that?” Janet asked, sitting up on the couch.

“What? The piano?”

“Yes, it sounded like a piano. Is there a radio on or something?”

“No, it just plays sometimes. Ever since Sonata Everson died you can hear it on moonlit night. I think it’s Beethoven.”

“Beethoven? You have a ghost that plays Beethoven?”

“I didn’t say I had a ghost,” he said, before taking a sip of coffee. “I have a home with an interesting past. Sometimes happy, a lot of times quite sad. Ms. Everson was no exception. And now you hear the piano on moonlit nights. That doesn’t mean its haunted.”

“She killed herself, didn’t she?” Janet said, settling back against the overstuffed cushions.

Anthony’s arms snaked up around her to enjoy the sunrise through the grand balcony overlooking the river below. His thumb rubbed back and forth across the bare skin of her arm.

“Yes. Her hands started turning in on themselves. Some think she had a severe form of carpal tunnel, but they didn’t have diagnosis for that back then.”

“Carpal tunnel? You mean from repetitive motion, like playing the piano?”

“Ironic, isn’t it? A simple surgery would have fixed it, but they didn’t know about it back then. Once she couldn’t play the piano anymore she didn’t want to live. Quite tragic, really.”

“And you bought the old house anyway?”

“It’s a beautiful house with great bones, and an incredible view of the water. If I have to share it with a ghost that finally gets to play the piano again, I’m alright with that.”

Janet looked out across the sun deck. There was a darker patch on the hard wood floor. Perhaps it wasn’t as faded as the rest, and it was vaguely in the shape of a grand piano. The sunlight streaming in through the window settled on the spot like a cat stretching from a long nap. Something about it made her shiver.

“Well, I hope you’re right,” she said. “If Ms. Everson is still here I hope she’s happily playing the piano still.”

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Stories

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,