Sunday, April 16, 2017

Here's a partial list of what I'm working on:

Finishing the sequel to The Crimson Orb, called Under two Moons.
Writing the sequel to A Bite of the Apple, called Winds of Change.
A post-apocalyptic novel, taking place in a dry, hot, windy west called Addie's Exile
An apocalyptic novel about stranded train passengers called Train to Nowhere Somewhere
A modular short story about an abused mother and daughter, tentatively called No Regrets
Expansions on some of the pieces I've posted here.

I'm also struggling to get The Crimson Orb print version republished using Create Space. The biggest problem is creating front and back covers that will match what I had before and also be accepted.

Hope you're all working on great projects.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sorry I've been AWOL from this blog for a bit, but here's one. The prompt was: Describe a landscape as seen by an old woman whose disgusting and detestable old husband has just died. Do not mention the husband or death.

I felt so claustrophobic even in my own house, windows dressed in heavy drapes always kept closed and not a plant in sight. It was clean, not a speck of dust, yet I couldn’t breathe. So when I was finally able to leave, I felt free. Going outside, even for a short walk would be refreshing. I found an old frock, a floral print. No black widow’s weeds for me.

My knees would never let me hike in the nearby hills, but on the even path through the park I’d have no trouble. If I tired, I could sit on a bench, but for now the blossoming trees and the scents of new spring flowers called to me. Tiny birds flitted from daffodils to daisies, flying the way I felt I was even with my feet on the ground. Squirrels looked my way, then scurried off, up the nearest tree, and I laughed. When was the last time I’d done that? The shoots of green grass formed a carpet. I should have brought a blanket to sit or lie on, but the grass was more inviting than any bench.

I stretched out on one sun-drenched section and lay there for a while, more relaxed than I’d been in ages. I woke, not knowing how long I’d slept, but the sun had begun it’s descent. I sighed and stood, with a bit of effort, and walked back towards the house, grateful for a few hours in the fresh air.

Tomorrow I'll pull down the drapes and throw open the windows. Maybe I’ll take a trip in a few weeks. I’d always wanted to go to the Orient or Hawaii or maybe Australia, somewhere far away. And now I can.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The start of a new mystery story? From a prompt at at WVU Forum

It started innocently enough as a little white lie. Well, perhaps not so little. But white lies are told to protect the recipient, aren’t they? So when Bill told Betty that he’d be happy to accompany her to a party given by her boss.

He knew Simon Blessing as an arrogant man who took pleasure in ridiculing anyone who came within ten feet of him. Exposing himself to an evening near the nasty man wasn’t really his idea of a good time. Still, it was Betty who asked. And he’d do anything to please her. So he told her he would accompany her.

Perhaps Betty didn’t know how venomous her boss could be. Was it possible he acted differently in the office? Wasn’t that the most likely place for him to put down his inferiors?

He wore his best suit, and stopped for some flowers for Betty. She greeted him at her apartment door with a smile. Her blue dress brought out the pale color of her eyes. He gulped. “You look lovely.”

They drove to Blessing’s home, one of the large mansions in the best part of town. They parked in the circular driveway and climbed the wide staircase. It looked like every light of the house was on. Bill rang the bell as he tried to calm his nerves, but he adjusted his tie and smoothed his hair. Not a sound came to them.

He pressed his lips together and used the knocker. The sound of brass against wood was louder than it should be. Still, no one came to the door. Bill reached out hesitantly and turned the knob. It moved easily in his hand and the door swung open. There on the parquet floor lay Simon Blessing in a pool of blood.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Hope 2017 will be good for you all.

Here's a new piece from an inanimate POV. As a jumping off point, I’ll use a poem I wrote many, many, many and even more years ago in high school (one of the few things I remember fondly from those days):


A floating feather when it falls will take its time to reach the floor
It takes its time because it knows it might not ever fall amore
Not rushing with a man’s great speed to reach a goal that he may seek
The floating feather knows that in expecting it is at its peak

This is the story of a feather that escaped during a pillow fight. It was one of many, their spines, called rachis, curved like gentle smiles.

The grayish white little plume began life on a goose. Plucked from its first home, it was stuffed into a suffocating ticking. For many years, along with its fellows, it supported a heavy head without bending or breaking. Then one day, inside its casing, it was tossed through the air. Collision with another pillow weakened a seam just enough for it to wriggle out.

It floated high up in the air. Such a sense of release, such freedom. A slight breeze blew it and buoyed it until it started drifting. Lower and lower, side to side, enjoying the gentle ride, while others of its kind glided around it.

It had no need to rush. No goal. This was better than anything that had happened to it in many years. No pressure, no shaking. Was there a way to continue in this state forever? To reverse direction? It caught another zephyr. The feather didn’t care what caused it, only that it rose again, but not to high to be caught in the sharp blades of that whirring thing above. The smile of its spine became a grin. The pillows had collided again, giving forth another onslaught of gray and white feathers. Giggles filled the air along with the fluffy plumes.

Some of the newly-freed feathers sped to the ground, but not this one. What would the floor provide for it? Would it be able to move again? Would it be picked up once more stuffed into the ticking of a pillow or something even worse? It had heard from others that many were used to fill coverings for people and taken out into the cold, expected to keep the wearer warm and dry while they froze. It shivered at the thought. But soon it remembered it was warm and happy, taking its time, floating on air, and inching downward to the distant floor.

Below, the other feathers formed a soft landing pad. The longer the feather took to reach them, the more feathers would pile up to break its fall. No sense speeding up. A lazy drift downward was best. How many others had dropped it didn’t know, since it couldn’t count, but lots. It grinned at them.

One other feather kept pace with it. Instead of racing each other to the finish line, they tried to see which would take the longest. But a feather that was released after them, bumped against them both and they struggled to keep from descending with it. A flutter kept the feather aloft a while longer.

It expected that eventually it would join the others that had fallen to the ground, but it wanted to enjoy this freedom while it could. It danced like the lightest ballerina, catching every draft.

“What are you doing?” A loud blasting noise coming from the head it had help support for so many years was followed by a gust. A roar, a groan, and then the sound of pillow hitting pillow ceased. “We were just playing.” No more feathers joined those remaining in the air. As some united with those already on the floor, fewer and fewer stayed aloft with it. The plume didn’t mind if it was the last to reach its ultimate end. Nothing would ruffle it. This bit of down was staying up.

Sure it would be nice to be with others of its kind, the ones already lying peacefully on the ground, but it didn’t want to give up its liberty, its independence just yet. It fluttered and drifted ever lower.

But nothing lasts forever. It sighed as it neared the others already on the ground. Still it smiled as it settled on the soft cloud of other feathers. What a wonderful journey, a journey better than its end.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Another piece from one of my classes:

We were supposed to show: He was angry at his mother for not letting him go to the movies.

I lean my rake against the tree in the middle of our yard and stare at the pile of leaves I just spent half an hour making, then kick the mound apart. Wish I could kick something else. Or blow something up.

All the guys are going to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” today, but not me, uh-uh. Mom said it’s because I didn’t do my chores yesterday, but I think it’s because she thinks it’ll give me nightmares. Bet she even thinks the devil wrote it or something. She’s always saying things like that.

I’d tell her it was written by that English lady, the one who wrote Harry Potter, you know? But she wouldn’t let me see those movies either. I had to sneak out of class one afternoon with Pete and Billy and use my own money for the ticket and popcorn and stuff. Nah, I can’t tell her who wrote it even if it isn’t the devil.

I rake the leaves into a high pile again. My shoulders ache when I’m done with that section. Even if I clear ‘em off our whole lawn, Mom won’t say I can go. I hear it’s one of the most dope movies this year. All them monsters and scary stuff. I bet I’m the only one in my class who can’t see it. Not fair. Why do I have to have the strictest mother in the world?

Pete’s mom is letting him go, and Billy only has a dad so he can do just about anything he wants. They’re so lucky. I kick at the leaves again, but this time not as hard. I’ll only have to rake them a third time. I punch my fist into the trunk of the tree until blood starts to drip, then sit down against the trunk, knees pulled up and my arms around them, and my head on my arms. I’m deflated like the balloons Pete had at his twelfth birthday party last week.

Wonder if I can sneak outta class again. Nah. Don’t have the money. So when the kids talk about Fantastic Beasts, what can I say? Like all the other times I didn’t get to do something, I’ll be the only one who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Except for Nicholas. The high and mighty Nicholas.

Nicholas Phillips always acts like he’s above it all, that he wouldn’t be seen doing the things we like to do. I sometimes think it’s because he has strict parents, too. He can’t really believe those things aren’t fun, can he?

I look up at our house. I shouldn’t think evil thoughts, not about my mother, but I can’t help it. Can I? Uh-oh, there’s my mother at the window. I better get back to raking if I ever want to go to a movie ever again.

Friday, December 2, 2016

I ran a special on my self-published book this week and it looks like I sold a few copies - not tons but a few. A Bite of the Apple is slowly but surely selling. I'll give it a couple more months before I decide whether to self-publish the sequel.

Friday, November 18, 2016

This is a short story I wrote for one of my classes; the aim was to slo-mo something that took just a few seconds.

 The Diver

The instep of Jackie’s small feet bounced and then lifted off the end of the diving board. Toes last, pointed down the way she was taught, she rose into the air. Higher and higher she shot up and waited until she’d almost reached the rafters. Then she bent over and grasped her ankles, pulled up her knees to her chest, and rolled into a ball. Over and over she spun, head over heels, once, twice, three times and a half more. Mom would be so proud. Coach, too. Her form was perfect.

When her downward fall was in line with the board, she straightened her body, her arms, her legs and aimed the tips of her fingers at the shimmering blue below. Her fingernails touched the water’s surface first, then her fingers, hands and wrists. Warm water, like a bath. Her arms and body followed in an almost perpendicular, straight as an arrow line. She took a deep breath before her eyes, nose and mouth went underwater, her shoulders, straight arms, slim body, and legs. The goggles fogged up inside so she couldn’t see the bottom of the pool. The water kept her from hearing the cheers of the crowd, but she could imagine them.

Deeper and deeper she went, then judging the right point from previous dives, she turned up again. Or tried to. Which way was up? It should be the opposite of the way she entered the water. But she was blinded, deafened. In the pool there was no sense of up and down, or even sideways without the bottom and walls to give her clues. She had to let her body rise to get some air, to fight the growing panic that threatened her. She felt her heart pounding in her chest. She’d let the air out of her lungs slowly, but now they were almost empty. The lack of oxygen made her brain fuzzy.

Instead of swimming or letting her own buoyancy help her, she thrashed about. What if she didn’t break through the surface soon? What if she went down instead of up? The pool was only ten feet deep wasn’t it? Or was that twelve? She couldn’t remember. Couldn’t remember what coach said. Couldn’t remember what she’d done in the past.

She felt like hours had passed, like she’d been underwater way too long. She was cold, shivering despite the warmth of the water. Tried not to cry for fear that would fog the goggled even more.

And then hands slipped under her arms, lifting her, strong hands. When she broke through into the air at last, she took a deep breath, pulled off the fogged goggles and spied her mother’s worried frown near the edge of the pool. Her coach brought her to the ladder and gave her a shove upward.

The crowd wasn’t looking at her any longer. All eyes were on another diver high up on the board.

“You gave us a scare there for a minute,” her mother said.