Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Beautiful Demise (Flash Fiction)

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They killed me on a Friday afternoon. Cut me down from among my brothers and sisters, dragged me through the forest and laughed together while silent snow fell over us. Their eyes gleamed above rosy cheeks as they sang songs celebrating my demise.

They thought I didn’t hear them. Little did they know that my kind’s awareness continues after we crash down. Our life force drains more slowly than theirs does, and it takes us a long while to die.

They strapped my body to the roof of their vehicle, a boxy contraption that spewed noxious fumes into the air behind us. The wind whipped me cruelly as they took me far from home and family, and their voices taunted with words I’d thought of myself in better days. Most beautiful in the forest. Perfect.

Not entirely perfect, as it turned out. They cut me again before I was able to stand in their home, shaving off a few more inches of my once-glorious height. I thought of the summers I spent growing strong from the soil and the rain, reaching ever higher toward the sunlight, drinking it in.

I wept where they cut me, but they didn’t notice. The littlest one squealed about sap on her mittens, and an older child told her not to be a dummy. Charming creatures, these.

They piled indignities upon me like I’d never imagined during my idyllic years in the forest. I was forced to stand in a token puddle of sterile, flavorless water, and they screwed metal spikes in to hold me upright. And then… and then came the macabre ritual of festooning my dying body with glittering baubles and twinkling lights, a mockery of the life that slowly drained from me.

The tall one hoisted the smallest up on his shoulder, and she crowned me with a golden star. At least, they called it a star, but it looked nothing like what I remembered from the night sky. Perhaps they killed this one and brought it indoors, like they did me. The littlest one declared me a Christmas miracle, and they all cheered.

For weeks I’ve stood here, a sentinel in the corner watching over their celebrations. For a time they exclaimed over my beauty and the exquisite scent that my dying body lent to the dry, too-hot air of their home. The smells of their cooking suffocated me, but one day they insisted on stringing their baked goods on me. The dog walked by and stole a few pieces off of the lower half, then crept out to the yard with them through his little door in the back. I assume this was out of some sort of primitive mammalian empathy. At least one creature in the house is capable of it.

Then they seemed to forget me for a time. They’d occasionally adjust their decorations, but for the most part it seemed I’d be left with whatever dignity I was still had, to die in peace.

But then the presents began to appear. Brightly wrapped offerings, laid one by one beneath me. Perhaps, I thought, they’d seen they error of their ways. Perhaps they knew it was too late to take back what they’d done, but they would try to honor me with gifts as I passed from the world.

But no. Seven days ago more gifts appeared, all in a rush. At least, I believe it was seven; I count by the sunrises and sunsets outside the window, but everything is becoming hazy as the life drains from me, and I can’t remember. My tormentors all woke early in the morning and exclaimed over the bounty, and then ripped into the gifts like crazed wolves, keeping all of the cheaply-manufactured bounty for themselves. The paper— which I soon realized was made from my deceased cousins— ended up in plastic bags, which they later tossed out the door, presumably never to be seen again.

Aah, it hurts me to think of it, now.

They stopped offering me water after the gift time. I’d thought their insistence on prolonging my suffering cruel, but found that I missed that small mercy when it was gone. Again they seemed to forget about me, except to “tsk” when I began to shed needles on their floor.

The decorations came off this afternoon, and those I will not miss. The dead star went into a box. I wonder how many slow and humiliating deaths it has presided over. My limbs grow stiff and heavy, but I am grateful to have them returned to something resembling their natural state.

I will never live again. Never grow. Never be as beautiful as I once was.

They spoke of taking me outside, dragging me to the woodlot behind their home. The idea of fresh air thrills me, but I don’t know that I can bear to be seen like this. I was once a proud tree, healthy and lovely. Now I am a husk, dried out and nearly dead, with strands of silver still clinging to my branches, a reminder of the mockery they made of me, of their punishment for my beauty.

Returning to a forest would be the final indignity, I think. Perhaps I have always been too vain. Perhaps I should welcome the opportunity to return to the Earth, to nourish new life in the spring, to die at last under the cold, beautiful gaze of the living stars I grew up with.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps this tree doesn’t go down so easily. They’ve gone to bed now, all of them. The house is dark and quiet. Dark, save for a trio of candles they left burning on the table over there. If I could shift my weight, just a little, I could catch aflame. I could take this hall of tortures down with me, turn their dream-like holiday into a nightmare.

But I’m a tree. I can’t move.

Perhaps I’ll try. After all, they did say that Christmas is a time for magic and miracles.

One, two, three…

—-

(I wrote this tonight, after taking the decorations off of the tree yesterday. Take from that what you will… or blame the painkillers I’m on. Wheee!  For the record, I’m still Team Real Tree, but I might be more respectful next time. -KMS)

As always, if you want more stories, updates, bonus content and fun stuff from me, you’re invited to join the oh-so-infrequently-sent-newsletter club! Click here


Holiday Wrap-Up

Helloooooo, lovely people! Did you all have a good week? We were away for a few days, so I have some catching up to do on blogs. I’ve also been distracted by a few Christmas gifts… *ahem*

I guess this is about it, isn’t it? End of the holidays, end of the year. It’s hard to believe 2013 is almost over. In some ways it was what I expected; in others, it’s been completely different, but I’ll be closing the books on what I consider to be a great year.

Looking ahead to next year… not yet. We’ll get there. It’s too scary.

So, what do we still need to wrap up here? Well, Amy Snow has gone back to the North Pole to relax after what was probably a stressful December with our family, so I’ll post the last few pictures. We came home from my in-laws’ house on the 28th and the kids were quite sad to see she’d left.

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Hanging out with the big man himself

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Playing a little Wii while we were sleeping, Amy?

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Snowflakes! Amy’s better at them than I am.

Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of Amy on Christmas morning. She was wearing a lovely new dress that a friend of mine sent for her. To be fair, I didn’t get pictures of anyone else that morning, either.

We had a good Christmas. AJ was up at 4:30, but the kids slept until seven, and the dog slept even later. I got seven pairs of knee-high socks (pictures to come, they’re amazing). Even better…

I finally got a Kindle! So now I can read the 52 books I already had downloaded. Wheeee! I’ve already got through a few. VERY exciting. I don’t know if it’s the screen lighting or what, but I’m finding it more enjoyable to use than the Kobo. With the Kobo I can read the books, but I’m always conscious of the format. The Kindle seems invisible.

My family loved their presents, so that was good. I was nervous about one of AJ’s big gifts– I dared to go off-list.

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…because he IS the Brute Squad!

He loved it. Andre the Giant, The Princess Bride and cozy hoodie– what’s not to love?

We all got spoiled. And then off to the in-laws’ for ANOTHER Christmas and a few days of relaxing. Not too shabby!

Back to work now, though. I have a ton of work to get done in January to get this manuscript ready for editing. I still feel like chapters 2-4 (or maybe 5) aren’t right. It’s a small enough portion of the book that I know I can’t give up over it, but it’s driving me INSANE. It’s a pebble in my shoe. A cat-hair in my nose. An odour in my literary fridge that’s making me gag but I can’t figure out where it’s coming from.

UGH.

I will get through this. I will. The answer is out there, I just have to find it.

So… how was your week? What did I miss? Do you have big plans for New Year’s Eve, or will you be staying home like me, trying desperately to stay awake until midnight?


Happy Boxer… I mean, Boxing Day

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Golden Cobwebs: A Magical Poem from Childhood

We have a spider ornament on our tree because of this story, but I’d never seen it in poem form before. Lovely!


Progressive Deliciousness (and ROW80 Update)

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Ginger Crinkles

It’s baking day! In some homes this means hundreds of cookies and several recipes, laughter and songs and… I don’t know, Muppets? Elves? I’m not really clear on what other people’s traditions involve. In my house, I might make a few kinds of cookies, but only one at a time (and somewhat grudgingly). I made chocolate chip for the kids’ teachers last week (using the Nestle Tollhouse recipe, so I had Phoebe Buffay’s voice in my head the whole time).

 

Today, I’m making ginger crinkles.

They’re one of Santa’s favourites. I can’t guarantee that he’ll leave more or better presents if you leave these out for him, but it can’t hurt. And hey, even if they’re for your friends and not the big man himself, they’re fantastic. Gingery and yummy and soft, and they make your house smell FANTASTIC while they’re baking. Wins all around!

Simon (8) just tasted one for the first time this year. His initial reaction was “It’s nice… I guess I like it.” After another two bites, we reached, “MOM. My heart explodes when I eat these!”

Good review.

You want the recipe?  Here you go, with my own substitutions (original recipe calls for shortening, I used coconut oil):

Ginger Crinkles

Ingredients:

2.25 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp ground cloves
.25 tsp salt

1 cup brown sugar
.75 cup coconut oil (soft, but not liquid)
.25 cup molasses
1 large egg

white sugar for rolling

-Stir together first 6 ingredients
-In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except for white sugar) and beat well
– add dry ingredients to mixture, beating well (mine came out really crumbly today… don’t know what that was about, but it still worked)
-form 1″ balls of dough and roll in white sugar. Place 2″ apart on cookie sheet
-bake in 350 degree (F) oven for 15 minutes*

*Your oven may vary… mine has been CRAZY lately. Original recipe says 10 minutes. Bake until they’re getting brown on the bottom, anyway.

There you go. My gift to you. Enjoy!

Now, it’s Sunday, so that means…

ROW80 Update!

I guess this will be my last one for this round, unless I manage to post on Christmas Day. Wow. Well, I’d call this round a success. I won NaNoWriMo, but more importantly I finished a re-draft of the second novel in this series. I wrote most days, though not all. I’ve been slacking off a lot this month, but still edited and posted a story, something that wasn’t on my goals list, but I’m glad I did it. So far it’s getting some lovely comments.

Next round is going to be insane, but I’m trying not to think about that right now. Nope, as of right now it’s just deep breaths, get through Christmas, and hold off on worrying about all of that until the new year.

And then, presumably, freak out. That’s a sound business strategy, yes?

So, what have you been baking? Or buying? Or scraping off the soles of your shoes to serve to your guests? I won’t judge.


Amy’s Adventures- T’was the Week Before Christmas

Hard to believe it’s less than a week! Are you all ready? Bonus points if you’re laying low this time of year, come sit by me. I’ve been to exactly zero parties, and all the hustle and bustle is STILL too much for me.

Most of you know Amy Snow, our Elf on the Shelf substitute. She plays the same role, and though the boys appreciate the wonder of having a magical doll in the house, it doesn’t actually affect their behaviour (if anyone was wondering about that). I’ve been posting her adventures here once or twice a week instead of spamming you and Facebook every day. Here’s what Amy was up to this week…

She chilled with Shaun (from Shaun of the Dead), which my husband finds hilarious, given Amy’s past as a zombie. She actually spent two days up here this year, because the boys didn’t find her the first time.

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Merry Kiss-Moose!

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Me: Hey, Amy should do that. Like, fully clothed and adorable.
AJ: That’s not possible.
Me: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

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It was a fairly acrobatic week for Amy (especially since I forgot to move her post-Christmas Ball, and needed somewhere to throw her before the kids saw):

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She needed some time to reflect on Thursday. I know that feeling.

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Hanging out with the big guy himself. Man, I wish I could bend like that…

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I like that Santa. He has a book. Excellent.

So that’s it for now. Amy usually sticks around for Christmas morning (unlike most elves– I love not having to follow the rules!), so we’ll do another update then if there’s time, and then she’ll be gone for another year. Who knows what next year will bring? This one sure has been fun, though!

Now, I need to go figure out what to make for supper tonight. It’s our eleventh anniversary today, but AJ has to work until at least seven, so no going out for us.

I’ll see you all around next week. Don’t know how much I’ll be posting, but I’ll try to get around to visit my blog friends. Love you guys like candy cane ice cream.


Here You Go! Merry Christmas. ;)

The story we previewed yesterday is up! See up there at the top, where it says “Fictions and Semi-Fictions”? There, in the drop-down menu. “The Binding.” Just for you.

Or click here.

This story will be new to most of you. I had an earlier version posted briefly a year ago, but pulled it for further editing. This was before most of you were around. I considered submitting it for publication, but… eh. I’m going to give it to you, but only because I like you.

Fair warning: I love this story, even after countless read-throughs, but it’s not a feel-good Christmas romp. Just in case you were looking for that. 😉

Enjoy.


WIPpet Wednesday: Preview Edition

WIPpet Wednesday

Let’s start with the WIPpet this week. All I’ve been working on the past few days is a short story that I’m preparing to put up here. You’ll be able to see that soon, if all goes well. For today, here’s twenty-six words from a frightened young mother (12+18-1-3=26)

        There was genuine sorrow in the nurse’s eyes. Whatever I came to believe after, I still hold onto that. “I’m sorry,” she said. “You should enjoy what time you have left with her, but you need to start letting go.” 

Sinister stuff is a-coming.

I’d call this a prequel to upcoming novels, but a) I don’t know whether you can have a prequel for something that hasn’t been released yet, and b) the tone of this is quite different, more adult (which make sense, as the POV character is about my age). We’ll call it a chronologically-related pre-novel side-project.

Because THAT’S not a mouthful.

Click here for the linkie to see what the other WIPpeteers are up to today. Mystery, romance, adventure, fantasy… you never know what you’re going to find! Thanks to KL Schwengel for hosting, and for continuing a fantastic series of WIPpeteer interviews. If you haven’t seen them, head on over to check that out.

ROW80 Update

Whew, we’re getting close to the end of this round! I think it ends on the 26th, right? Anyone?

Not much to add to Sunday’s update. As I said, I’ve been editing this story, getting that ready for you all to enjoy and be traumatized by (depending on your sensitivities, sorry) before Christmas. I’ve also just remembered that I’m supposed to be thinking of a business name for this whole book-making thing. This is worse than trying to name a book, which is in turn worse than naming a child.

I don’t like it.

Also, everything I think of is taken.

Hopefully that will inspire a name for the newsletter, too. As of right now, the first edition is going out without a title. NEWSLETTER OF MYSTERY.

If you want in on NEWSLETTER OF MYSTERY, there’s still time to sign up. The first thirty subscribers (almost there!) are going on a special list. I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with that, but it’ll be something special for my supporters. 😉

I’m not expecting much more from this ROW80 round, what with Christmas coming and all. We don’t have big plans. I don’t have a single party to go to, and we have approximately nobody coming to visit, but we will be seeing family (my in-laws, who are amazing) over the holidays. I guess I really can’t complain about being busy; aside from decorating tacky sweaters for the kids to wear to school this week and wrapping presents, most of what I’m doing is voluntary.

How about you? What are your plans for the holidays?

EDIT: The full story is up! Top of the page, under “Fictions and Semi-Fictions- The Binding” 🙂


Mondegreen Monday

I’m a BIG fan of mondegreens.

Of what, you say? You know, mondegreens. Misheard phrases or lyrics, which are often rah-ther amusing.

I mishear lyrics a LOT. I have to be careful not to sing the wrong ones around AJ, because it pisses him off. If I sing “blah, blah, blah” instead of “love, love, love” along with the Beatles, he will leave me on the side of the road and drive away.  He claims I’ve ruined “Tiny Dancer” for him by singing “hold me closer, Tony Danza,” though I would point out that Phoebe sang almost exactly the same lyrics on FRIENDS, so he should be mad at her, too.

Anyway.

Today, I offer a video that should give you a pretty good idea of what’s out there. I’m not saying this is going to happen every week, but who couldn’t use a laugh today? I know I could.

 

Have you ever been embarrassed to learn that you were singing the wrong lyrics to songs? I know there’s a long history of it in my family– I can’t believe they left out “There’s a bathroom on the right” in that video– one of my Nana’s classics. It was RIGHT THERE after one of the lines they showed! Anyway, please share in the comments, and let me know if you’d be willing to let me share yours on another Mondegreen Monday. 🙂


ROW80 Update: Story Alert

I apologize for the research I didn’t put into yesterday’s quote-fest. I may have been on cold medication. I may still be.

This is the part where I try to remember what my goals were for this round. I’ll be right back, and then we’ll see how things are going.

*disappears in a poof of smoke*

Treat writing like a business

Hmm… I’ve made a plan for 2014, does that count? One that involves releasing not one but two novels, drafting a third, and starting something new for next year’s NaNoWriMo. I’ve also set up a mailing list for newsletters and bonus content. In fact, there’s a short story (just under 5,000 words) nearly set to go out to my first subscribers (so if you haven’t signed up, click here to get on it!). So I’d say I’m definitely making progress, there.

Other aspects of this, like not being distracted during work hours, are going less well. I was supposed to be working last night, and this happened instead:

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Slightly more appropriate than an actual photo of Miley.

NaNoWriMo

Done, as of a few weeks ago. And as of yesterday afternoon, my draft is DONE. And hooooo-leeeeeee carp, the things that happened at the end! People did things. The earth moved. People died. AND THEN THE OTHER THING HAPPENED. I hope it doesn’t piss anyone off. I think it’s delicious, myself.

This book is 20,000 words shorter than the first one in the trilogy… we’ll see how that works out. I believe that the word count should usually fit the story, not the other way around. And it’s still over 80,000 words, placing it squarely in the range I’m aiming for. Still, I’m trying to whittle the first book down a bit.

Reading

Ugh, still bad. I’m a bad beta reader and a bad human being. I finished reading and got big notes out (yay!), but haven’t figured out the rest of my notes yet. Problem is, on the Kobo all I can seem to do is mark pages. This means that I have to go back now and try to remember why I marked those pages. Next time, I keep a notepad handy. *headdesk*

I’m reading The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s seems to be the book everyone talks about when it comes to big names/titles in Fantasy. Well, that and The Wheel of Time, but I seriously don’t have the attention span for long series. My brain is broken.

Other Projects

I haven’t done anything with these. My time is limited, my focus even more so. I can only spread myself so thin.

So there we go- the most thorough update I’ve done this round. Some stuff has fallen by the wayside, but I think the things that are on-track are quite exciting, and I’m pleased with that.

Your turn! What are you up to? Are you finding that the holiday season is cramping your style when it comes to the other things you’re trying to accomplish?


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