Weekly Writing Update: One Good Thing

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Have I mentioned that I never thought I’d be writing horror? And yet, here I am.

One good thing happened – a fellow writer just asked if I’d be interested in contributing to an anthology he’s putting together. My mind took off and ran with a story about a Navajo code talker and a Skinwalker during WWII.

And then the coincidences begin to drop. I was texting with a friend and my device changed McFlurry to McClure. Hmm, Mr. McClure isn’t what he seems, my brain said. Definitely a character for the story. The next day I was sitting at the Reference Desk at work and someone called with the last name of McClure. Strange, indeed.

In other good news, I’ve submitted my humorous horror story, Sinkholes, which features creepy doll heads, to The Literary Hatchet this weekend – keeping my fingers crossed.

I’m also working on cutting 1,500 words from my horror ghost story, Long Distance Call, to submit by the end of the month to Coffin Bell Journal.

And I’ve got another horror story in my head that plays with two men in a family line living 100 years apart in the same house, going through the same motions, making similar bad choices.

It seems horror is definitely running in my veins.

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Weekly Writing Update: Sharing Stories

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I currently have five short stories and a novel submitted to potential publishers, and two more short stories I need to pick potential homes for.

It’s a little like holding a lottery ticket. You want to find out whether you won or not but the anticipation is wonderful fun as well. Schroedinger’s cat is still alive! Yes, there’s fun in both creating and sharing. That sharing can take a multitude of forms. There’s at least one story that I’ve shared with my writer’s group which I may never send out, but it was cathartic just writing it and sharing it with them.

Yesterday, I sent a copy of my poetry book to Brené Brown on a whim. I recently read her book, Braving the Wilderness, and so many things she said resonated with poems in my book that I wanted to share it with her. She may never read it, may never even see it if someone opens her mail for her, but I sent it.

Making connections, sharing who we are, is a big part of why we’re here. Sometimes I see memes that say things like “I should just keep quiet, nobody cares.” Bullshit. I care, I’m interested in people’s stories and what they think, and I’ve found over time that whatever it is I think or feel, there are plenty of people out there who feel the same way.

So, keep on sharing your story. Somebody may be waiting to hear it.

Moments of Joy: Reading Out Loud

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I had a blast being the M.C. for the readings at Riverrow Books in Owego last Friday night. I got to listen to some great readings from fellow authors and read the titular poem from my collection, A Sanctuary Built of Words. (That can be found in my poems here.) At the end I think I heard someone sob slightly, either that or they yawned loudly. 😊

I also read a story I call “Drying Up.” It intersperses the last few hours of a woman’s life in Hospice care with memories from her life that brought her to that point and the peace she has made with people in her life.

I felt that poem and story exemplified my belief about why we come together to read out loud. Research Professor Brené Brown refers to it as experiencing our inextricable connection through collective experiences of joy and pain. It’s a wonderful feeling, that connection.

I think it also has something to do with Bibliotherapy, a term I first learned about during my college years. Merriam-Webster defines bibliotherapy as “the use of reading material for help in solving personal problems or for psychiatric therapy, also: the reading material so used.”

I know I’ve found comfort and knowledge in books that lead to personal growth my entire life.

I believe books and stories can be a place of escape, refuge, connection, and offer hope to help people deal with reality. That is what I’ve experienced through reading and what I hope to offer with my writing.

Weekly Writing Update: Aliens and Autism

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Weekly Writing Update
 
Well, I drafted my creepy doll head flash fiction story in short order so now my brain is percolating a story I started a year ago and mean to finish SOON. It is a science fiction with a main character who is a formerly non-verbal autistic teenage girl.
 
I had the good fortune to be contacted last year, just after I started the story, by a woman who is formerly non-verbal and autistic. I am going to think about her speech patterns and some things she had to say and let that inform the story.
 
I think I was coming at it from the wrong angle and I’ve gone back to the drawing board. I feel like I got off base by trying to write the story the way I write other stories. It’s definitely going to be third person and use the two very strange dreams I had about alien contact. We’ll see what else I find over the next few days for inspiration.
 
I’m very excited to feel like I’m back on track with this one. It’s definitely not horror. I’m going to be working on investing it with a feeling of wonder and awe. Wish me luck!

Mrs. Bell’s Cat: A Short Tale for Halloween

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Mrs. Bell’s Cat

 

One fall day, Mrs. Bell opened the bay windows in her sitting room as she was dusting. She didn’t notice the lithe little shadow that slipped in, slid through the doorway into the dining room and up the stairs to her guest bedroom on the second floor, where it found a nice dark closet to rest . . .

Sorry, folks. Took this one down to publish it.

 

The Rise and Fall of the Phoenix: a flash fiction

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A silly little 50 word flash fiction for Chuck Wendig’s challenge, but at least it’s something new. Feeling the need to write today.

The Rise and Fall of the Phoenix

The Phoenix rose into the air, shaking off ashes.

Gross.

Up and up it climbed until at last it could soar on zephyrs. It swallowed the urge to crow like a rooster.

How inappropriate.

The bird never knew what hit it. The 747 never realized either, as it went on its way.

The F in the Blue Box: a very short story

Happy Friday everyone! Here’s a little bit of humor to start the weekend off right.

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Alex,

Your last roommate’s name was Mary, right? I found this note wedged behind the bathroom mirror. (It was a little crooked.) What exactly happened to her?

Alex – They’re here! In the hallway outside the apartment. They say they’re from the department of health and my coffee this morning may have been contaminated but I know who they really are… they’re from Facebook! …

 

Sorry, this post has been removed for publication elsewhere.

 

Tornado Run: A Flash Fiction

I wrote this as a 50 word flash fiction a couple years ago, a couple years after the event it is based on. I’ve written an essay on it and just fleshed this out for Chuck Wendig’s latest challenge.

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Vibration, air pressure, a sound? Mama snatches baby up and runs for the cellar. A roar – the house lurches.

Through the kitchen door – toward the windows and cellar, or drop and cover baby with her own body? A moment’s hesitation then down the stone steps into an old coal bin.

Baby cries.

“Shhh… mama’s gotcha.”

Lightning flashes, water pours in the corner of the foundation, subsides. They venture upstairs and she opens the kitchen door. Smoke? No, plaster dust from falling ceiling. Grab car seat, purse and cell.

“Something’s happened. We can’t stay here.”

“We’re on our way.”

Biomalware: A Short Story

Here’s a very short Science Fiction story for a slow Friday afternoon. This is a story that I wrote several years ago which started me on the novel I am trying to finish now.  The story has gone through quite a bit of changes, but this is still the basis.

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“Daddy,” Maddy whispered. Derek looked into the two year old’s dull eyes. “I hurt, owie.”

Derek’s stomach clenched. “I know, honey. The doctor’s going to give us something to make it better.”

“This should do it.” The doctor handed Derek the prescriptions. “One dose of each before a meal will help get her eating again and control the IBS symptoms.”

“Thanks, doc.”

The doctor nodded. “Wait here and Stephie will be in.”

Derek hugged Maddy tighter. This nightmare had to be at an end. Maddy always seemed to be in pain, either from hunger or from trying to digest the food.

The nurse, Stephie, came in. She had taken care of Maddy each time she’d been at the doctor’s since she was born. Despite the fact that she had to give Maddy shots, the little girl liked her. She took Maddy from Derek and bounced Maddy, cooing.

It took Derek a minute to realize that Stephie was waggling a note in the hand under his daughter.

“Wha?”

She gave a short emphatic shake of her head so Derek tucked the note in his pocket. Was she hitting on him?

“Let’s get you scheduled for an appointment, shall we?”

*****

In the car, Derek pulled out the note.

“Before you get the medicine, take her to John Garrett. Trust me, he can help you.”

There was a map below the instructions.

“What the heck?” The doctor had prescribed medicine. Wouldn’t that take care of it? He looked at Maddy’s listless face in the mirror. “What would your mother do?” And he knew, she would have gone to any lengths to care for Maddy and she would have trusted another woman.

Derek started the car and headed out of town, following the map into the hills.

It took about half an hour to reach an access road, which led to a farmyard. The house was plain but neat, with a flower box at the windowsill. Derek got out and opened the back door. As he unbuckled Maddy from her car seat, two kids came running around the barn. They stopped when they saw him but as he straightened up with Maddy in his arms they came forward.

“Is this where John Garrett lives?”

The older girl nodded. “Dad’s inside.”

She led the way. “Dad, somebody here to see you!”

Derek stayed on the front porch, unsure of his welcome. A bearded man in jeans and a flannel shirt came to the door. His face was impassive but as he took in Maddy, it softened.

“Stephie, at Dr. Cole’s, sent me.”

The other man nodded. “I’m John. You’d better come in. She having trouble eating?”

Derek nodded. “How’d you know?

“That’s who Stephie sends me. Have a seat.” John indicated the table near the kitchen area.

Derek stepped inside. The floor plan was open, with doors to the right, leading into the rest of the house, a kitchen area in front of him and a family area to the left.

John opened the fridge, pulled out a bottle of green juice and poured a little into a cup.

He put it in front of Derek. “Try to get her to drink some of this.”

Derek picked it up and sniffed. It smelled… green, but a little sweet, like juice.

“It’s just fruits and vegetables – apples, kale, lemon, some parsley, and the like.”

Derek offered it to Maddy. She was hungry enough to take a few sips but then she pushed it away and Derek set it down. “Thanks, but it’s hard to get her to eat.”

John nodded. “Because it hurts, I know, but this won’t. Just give her a few minutes.”

They watched for a minute and Derek was amazed when Maddy actually reached for the cup and picked it up. He laughed as she drank the cup down. “What’s in this? Chocolate?”

John smiled and shook his head. “Just fruits and vegetables grown from open-pollination or heirloom, non-gmo seeds.”

“Are you saying I just need to buy organic food?” Derek was incredulous.

John shook his head. “Not quite, your little girl’s having a reaction to the genetically modified food. It’s like lactose intolerance or inability to digest soy, but on a larger scale. Genetically modified seed has become ubiquitous in our farming. For the most part, you’re getting organically farmed food from genetically modified seed. Crops have been contaminated by pollen from GM foods.”

Derek tried to make sense of it. “Her mother died six months after she was born. Maddy seemed to do well when she was breast feeding but when we started formula it started and got worse as she started eating more solid food.”

John nodded. “Her mom’s body was filtering out a lot of the bad stuff, which helped your girl but overloaded her system. I lost my first wife the same way. That’s how I got started in this type of farming. One guess as to who holds the patent for the medication the doctor prescribed for your girl today.”

“The same people who hold the patent on the genetically modified crops?”

“Bingo.”

John excused himself and returned with a bag for Derek.

Derek opened the bag and found envelopes, hand labeled with tomato, corn, peas, etc.

“These are heirloom seeds. They’ll get you started and you’ll be able to grow more plants if you save some seeds from these guys. I’ll be able to supply you with safe food for her for a bit but we need to get you producing your own food.”

It was hard to take in but Derek looked down at Maddy. She smiled and held up the cup “More?”

He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen her smile.

“Okay. What do I do?”

Senselessness in Suburbia: a flash fiction

(Note: This is a quick short story in response to Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge on 5/12/14. Please let me know what you think!)

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Senselessness in Suburbia

Ellen opened her eyes and blinked until the chair rungs came into focus. Her head ached and she felt nauseous. She lifted her right hand to the painful spot on the top of her head and groaned softly. . . .

Sorry, folks. I’ve taken this one down to publish it.