Category Archives: Fiction

The Next Big Thing (and the Pain of Beginning)

I’m going to keep this short, because I have places to be. Things to do. People to create.

Yep. Starting a new project today. This one is a story concept that came to me as I was falling asleep one night back in the fall (summer? I dunno), and I somehow hung onto it until morning. I made notes and had to set it aside to get Sworn finished and then to participate in the Skeleton Key book series. No regrets about either of those things, obviously, but I’m SO glad to finally be getting to this one.

And yet… It’s always hard to start. No matter how much preparation I do, how solid my outline is, how well I think I know my characters, or how excited I am about this story, it’s hard. My brain wants to procrastinate.

One more cup of tea.

I should call the insurance company about the thing and probably make that optometrist appointment I’ve neglected for three years.

I should work on that character’s motivations more.

I could start tomorrow…

Nope. I’ve done this enough times to know that it won’t be easier tomorrow. That blank page is going to be intimidating no matter how prepared I am. My characters are going to surprise me and take the story places I didn’t expect, even if I plan every scene down to fill-in-the-blanks level.

It’s not going to come out the way I want it on the first draft if I start it today, tomorrow, or two weeks from now.

And the best way to get over this fear is to just start writing.

Wish me luck.

Screenshot 2016-03-07 08.51.12

 

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Torn Prologue available NOW

Hey, folks!

For anyone who’s been waiting, I’ve got the prologue for Torn posted up there in the blog’s “Free Fiction” tab!

I know, it’s confusing. The header says “Disregard the Prologue,” but this one’s actually important. So… not so much with the disregarding this time, hmm?

Click here!

And enjoy. 🙂

torn_full


FRACTURED FAIRY TALE FRIDAY: Black & Blue Edition

Once upon a time, the Empress called the finest seamstress in the land to her chambers.

“I require a dress,” the Empress announced. “One that shall be the talk of the land. For it is nearly my birthday, and I wish to be the centre of attention.”

“Of course,” the seamstress said, and curtseyed.

Days later, the Empress tried on her new dress. “Fantastic!” she cried. “The white and gold really complement my hair.”

Her servants exchanged nervous glances. “It’s blue and black,” whispered the chambermaid.

The royal toilet-flusher hushed her. “Never contradict the Empress,” she said, but the Empress heard.

“What is this nonsense?” she asked. “The dress is white and gold. It’s clear as my porcelain skin.”

“My bad,” the chambermaid replied.

“Aah, yes,” the seamstress said. “You see, only the wisest and most worthy will see the dress as white and gold. It appears blue and black to the low. Both are terribly flattering, I assure you.”

The Empress hit the streets. Within minutes the city was in turmoil. Those who saw blue and black hurled boots at those who saw white and gold, while ‘team white and gold’ jeered and insulted their enemies’ grandmothers. Families were torn in two. Life-long loyalties were destroyed. Novelty tee shirt merchants and meme-smiths made a fortune.

A pair of llamas broke free from the Royal Llamary and raced through the streets.

Eventually the dust cleared. Grudging apologies echoed through the streets, and a special lost-and-found was set up for boots (though not for insulted grandmothers).

And when the dust cleared, the people discovered that the seamstress had cleared out the royal treasury during the commotion.

She is now a professional celebrity with four million Instagram followers.

THE END


WIPpet Wednesday: Gempunk Edition

Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge this week is to come up with a “something-punk” subgenre and write a story in it. Not steampunk, not cyberpunk. Something different. It just so happens that I’ve had the beginnings of a story banging around in my head since the summer that fits nicely into that idea. This seemed like a perfect excuse to at least get this character out and let her strut her stuff a little and explore the idea of gempunk.

So in lieu of my regular WIPpet thingermahoojie, I’m using the WW rule that states we can start a new project, and posting a scene here.

Two birds with one stone and all of that. *pelts a robin and a bluejay with a flying chunk of sapphire*

I’m posting that here, just because it’s going to take up a bit more space than I usually use on WIPpet Wednesday. CLICK, CLICK!

This is very rough– I only started last night. It’s a scene, though. More than the 1000 words we were assigned, so anyone who’s here from the WendigBlog, you can stop at 1000 words. Oh, and yes, the guy’s name is Surely Morebrand. I don’t know where that came from, but I’m not going to argue with Cat on this one. She’s already being difficult.

The good news is that after months of this idea fluttering about and distracting me, I actually have a plot idea rather than the concept-and-characters-but-no-plot I usually get stuck with. So this could actually be a thing some day. Maybe. Or maybe I’m crazy for liking this one.

For more (shorter) WIPpety goodness, click on over here. Say hello to KL Schwengel, click on the linkie, and be transported to a world of unfinished masterpieces.

ROW80

I have a cover design finalized. It feels good. I’m still freaking out, because it’s so different from what I expected, but I love it. Going from “no characters” to “hey, that’s totally what Rowan looks like!” in a week was a bit overwhelming, but I’m really happy with it. Thank you to everyone who helped with ideas, opinions, etc.! No reveal plans as of yet (waiting for something within a month of release, at least), but holler if you’re interested in hosting.

Still waiting on my editor. He said end of the month. We’re good.

Um… well, I wrote that thing up there, which was really fun. It’ll go in the “to be continued” file for now.

My Scrivener online course is going well, even if I’m about 4 classes behind. I’m learning SO MUCH STUFF! Best program ever, really.

*twiddles thumbs*

Guess I’ll go edit, now.

Stop by tomorrow (I think?) for a SUPER AWESOME SURPRISE INTERVIEW that was really fun and also awkward for me.

And for more info on ROW80 (almost time for round 2!), head on over here. JOIN US.


Cinder Ella (Flash Fiction Challenge)

This story is my contribution to Chuck Wendig’s writing challenge this week: Fairy Tales, Remixed. I chose Cinderella and random.org gave me lucky 7, Urban Fantasy. This is flash fiction, so I only had 1000 words to work with. I used 997. Hope you enjoy.

“I never wanted this,” I whisper.

“I know.” He lifts my hair and unties the crimson ribbon that he wrapped around my neck when he chose me. “That’s only going to make it sweeter.”

The invitation to the Vampire’s Ball arrived early on a Friday morning. My step-sister’s screeches filled the house, growing louder as she and her friends thundered up the stairs toward her bedroom.

“Get out!” Annabelle shrieked. I dropped the laundry and fled. They’d be swooning for hours over the prospect of being chosen as the year’s convert— the prince’s choice this year, and his first.

As for me, I would stay home the night of the ball, maybe break into my stepmother’s liquor cupboard and try to forget that I’d be old enough to go next year. Let my stepsister be excited about taking her chances. Maybe he’d choose her. She’d be turned into a vampire, and join the ruling class. Someone would be chosen, but hundreds of others would be consumed.

I didn’t like those odds, myself.

On the day of the ball, the house erupted into chaos. Annabelle’s bedroom reeked of the pheromone-inspired perfume she’d decided on as a battle plan, and I spent my day short-order cooking iron-rich meals for her. She stuffed herself into a party dress with a daring neckline designed to seduce a prince of the night. I slipped into hand-me-down yoga pants and curled her hair.

My stepmother called me to her room late that afternoon. I zipped up her skin-tight red dress, covering up the delicate fairy-wing tattoos on her shoulders that she got when she was young enough to play the game, herself.

“Where’s your dress, Ella?” she asked. “You’ll need to get ready.”

“I’m not go—”

Her red-clawed hand was around my throat before I could finish my answer. “You are going,” she whispered. “Find a dress, I don’t care what it looks like. You will attend.”

“I’m not old enough,” I gasped. “Not until next month.”

She sneered. “So switch your ID bracelet with Annabelle. She’ll be refused entry, I’ll still have a chance at having a family member consumed. If you die, she and I will be safe.” Tears shone in her hard, blue eyes. “You know how the game works as well as I do.”

Of course I knew. The vampires killed my father before he had any daughters old enough to attend. Later, my oldest stepsister’s death had bought the rest of the household our safety for a year. After that ran out, neither my stepmother nor her remaining daughter had left the house after dark.

No, the late-night errands had been left to me. What choice did I have? I could serve this family, or become a meal on the street.

I swallowed the lump in my throat, and went to Annabelle’s room to find something to wear.

I found the ash-gray dress at the bottom of her reject pile, turned down because the neckline was too high. I had no interest in catching the prince’s eye— or anyone else’s. Perhaps I’d blend in with the shadows and come out alive.

They were so beautiful, those girls gathered outside of the hall. Some bounced on their toes, excited, dazzled by the glamor of the evening. Others shuffled nervously as the realization of what we were all doing sank in. Each of us had a chance to be chosen by the prince, to become one of the undying ones, but every effort to capture his attention only increased the odds that we’d end the night dead, drained by another vampire.

Even so, Annabelle screamed as she was turned away at the gate. Her eyes blazed as the guards scanned my wrist and allowed me to enter. “Thief!” she shrieked, and reached out to grab me. She only caught the shoulder of my dress.

“What a shame,” the girl next to me said as we watched them pull Annabelle away, clutching a mass of gray fabric in one hand. “Your dress was pretty.”

I nodded and held the front together, covering as much skin as I could.

The girls flocked to the prince as soon as they entered, as though he would protect them. Not one of us knew what he looked like, but it was easy enough to pick out his golden crown. They crowded around him at the table, and he fed them morsels of food from a plate he never touched for himself.

I let my long hair shadow my face, and clung to the darkness.

“Pathetic, isn’t it?” murmured a voice behind me. I spun around. A tall vampire leaned against the wall, deadly and beautiful… and  the most terrifying, fascinating creature I’d ever laid eyes on.

“I s-suppose.”

“Why aren’t you up there, Cinders? You’d make a gorgeous vampire.” He reached for the hand that held my dress closed and pried my fingers apart. My dress fell open, leaving the torn fabric barely hugging my breasts. “Dance with me,” he whispered.

And God help me, I did.

“Why did you disguise yourself?” I ask, and the prince pauses. He twists the red ribbon between his cold fingers before he answers.

“I wanted something real.” He runs the tip of his tongue across the sensitive spot under my ear. My body betrays me, responding to his touch. “Not the desperate social climbers. Your fear is pure, and I think rivaled only by your desire.”

He steps away, and when I look into his eyes, I know it’s true. I have never feared or wanted anything so much.

His fingers sink back into my hair and he pulls me closer, pressing his lips to mine. I groan as one of his fangs scratches my lower lip. I taste blood, and his arms tighten around me, iron bars holding me captive.

And I give myself over to him.

Forever.


The Fox

Have I ever told you about the magic that comes with the fog around here? It’s not something you notice right off.  In fact, I’d say most people just curse and fiddle with the high beams, or use it as a topic for small talk at the grocery store. But for those who pay attention, whose eyes are open to magic, the strangest things happen around here when the fog rolls in.

Take last week, for example. It was a cloudy day, but the roads were clear as I took the highway in to town. It’s a simple enough drive to do on auto-pilot, if you’re so inclined, but it’s a bad idea. In Newfoundland, you have to keep your eyes open for moose. Bunnies and weasels are tiny tragedies when you hit them, but a moose will total your car.

So sure, I was paying attention, but I was enjoying the drive, too– music cranked up, temperature controls set the way I like them, and enjoying the fact that the back seat, though as messy as ever, was free from any small people who might interrupt my passionate caterwauling. It’s not often that I get out without the kids, and I was making the most of my alone time.

The October leaves had captured my attention as I came around a wide bend in the road, and at first I didn’t notice the small, dark shape trotting down the shoulder of the highway through the thin fog that had settled in the low places. A fox, but not red. Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever seeing a red fox here. They’always got darker, black-tipped fur. Still, certainly a fox, bushy tail and all. I tapped the brakes and slowed in case he decided to dart in front of me, but I shouldn’t have worried. In fact, the fox stopped, parked his fluffy butt on the gravel shoulder, and raised a forepaw in the air.

I slowed again as I approached. The fox twisted his paw, holding it out like a human offering a handshake, and jerked it upward.

He’s hitchhiking, I thought, and pulled over. I’d never picked up a hitchhiker before, never trusting them not to be serial killers, but it seemed like a good time to make an exception. I leaned over and popped the passenger side door open, and the fox leapt up onto the seat. I excused myself as I pulled the door shut, and started down the road again.

“Thanks,” the fox said, and reached up one back foot to scratch at an ear. “I wasn’t sure that would work.”

“No problem,” I said. A car honked at me as it passed, and I checked my speed. Ten under the limit. I pressed harder on the gas pedal and tried to pay attention to my driving. “Where are you headed?”

“Just down a ways. You know the entrance to the dump?”

“I do.”

“That’ll be fine.”

I reached out to turn the music off. “You know, this is quite unusual. I can’t say I’ve ever met a talking fox before. Or given one a ride.”

“Yeah, well. What can you do?”

He didn’t seem inclined to say more, and we traveled for a few minutes in silence, save for the sound of his frequent scratching.

I turned in to the dump road. “You can just let me out here,” the fox said.

“Oh. Sure.” I hesitated, then asked, “Is that it, then?”

“I’m a little short on payment options.”

I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel. “No, that’s okay. It’s just that in stories, talking animals always appear to offer advice, or a warning, or to share something at a turning point in a person’s life. I thought maybe…”

The fox sighed and closed his eyes, then stretched his neck and stood. “Open the door,” he said, and I did.

He turned and sniffed the air, then raised a leg and pissed all over the back of the seat. He bounced out and trotted a few paces away before turning back and holding out a forepaw again, this time in a gesture that brought to mind a human flipping the bird.

“You want advice?” he asked. “Don’t pick up hitchhikers. It never ends well.”

And with that he was gone, bounding away into the mist.

I’m telling you guys. Things get weird around here when the fog rolls in.


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