Category Archives: Short Stories

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

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ROW80 Recap Post (or: Most Boring Post Title Ever)

Yeah… no WIPpet Wednesday this week. Sorry, guys.

But I will give you this teaser snippet. I’ve got a short story almost ready for you. Some of you saw a pre-edit draft here a while back. Others will find it completely new. Either way, it’ll be my gift to you (at least until it eventually goes Amazon exclusive and I have to charge a whole 99 cents for it).

Coming soon.

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Okay, on to the looking back bit.

Goal #1: Finish drafting Bound Trilogy Book Three

COMPLETED. I flew through that one faster than anything I’ve drafted before, thanks to better outlining than I usually do. I was pleased to find that there was plenty of room for surprises… maybe a little too much, as the draft currently sits at 130,000 words. Good words, but still.

I’m exactly half-way through revisions now.

 

Goal #2: Self-edit Torn one more time before it goes for professional edits.

COMPLETED. My beta readers had wonderful suggestions for me, and I incorporated most of them. Editor J.E. took the book a week ago, and last I heard is making good progress. It’s kind of a crazy time of year, and I hope he’s taking Christmas off, but I’m feeling hopeful about getting this thing back in early January and getting back to work on it.

And then we might just get a release date. And plan pre-orders. And, and, and…

 

Goal #3: Short Story

Okay, I’d hoped to have it out for Christmas, but a) it’s not exactly a feel-good Christmas cheer thing, and b) distribution is pretty much shut down most places for the holidays, so it can wait a little longer. But it’s edited, I made a cover (sorry guys–can’t do my regular artist for a free story!), it’s formatted, and it’s ready to go. I’m calling this COMPLETED.

 

Other Goals:

Listen to two podcasts a week – not even close.

Beta reading – COMPLETED

Other reading – I read several books. Besides the beta reading, I finished Behind the Scenes (Dahlia Adler), The Virgin Cure (Ami McKay), Blink (Malcolm Gladwell), Moon Bound (Sylvia Frost), Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell), Here Be Dragons: Strange Creatures of Newfoundland and Labrador (Bruce Hynes), and am making my way through UnSouled (Neil Schusterman). All great books.

I should really do a review of The Virgin Cure on here, or a more complete one on Goodreads, but I haven’t recovered yet. Seriously, so good.

Didn’t read a writing-related book (still can’t get into Writing 21st Century Fiction a year after I bought it), but I asked for Save the Cat for Christmas. Fingers crossed.

Audiobook release – we did a giveaway, it was fun. I still haven’t managed to listen to the whole thing yet, myself. It’s nothing against the production or the actors, I just can’t do audiobooks. They sound so different from how I read in my head. That said, I still have a few copies for people who love them… we’ll have to have that as a party prize at the Torn release party. 😀

Use Duolingo to learn French – I actually forgot about this. The boys lost the iPad for a few weeks, and I got off track. Better get back to it.

 

So there we have it. Not all complete successes, but I hit all of the big ones and won NaNoWriMo.

We’ll see what comes next round. 🙂

Link back below to your wrap-up posts if you’ve been participating! I want to come say hi.

 

 

 


Free Fiction: Strength 101

Hey, guys! I know I shared this when it was a guest post on A.M. Leibowitz’s blog back in October, but for anyone who missed it, I’ve added Strength 101 to the Free Fiction tab at the top of the page (with her permission, of course).

See it there? Top right? In the drop down menu… there you go! Or click here.

I don’t even know how to describe this one. I set out to write a blog post about how screwed up the definition of “strong female characters” is. But… well, I was on migraine medication, and it turned into a short story about a stereotypical “strong” female character trying to teach a remedial class for characters who just weren’t making the cut. Hilarity ensued, and I met a few characters who were only supposed to be there to play a small part in this story, but who might get their own some day.

Pain meds aside, I like this story, and it still makes me smile. I stand by the conclusion, too.

In the comments on the original blog post, Emily Witt shared this link to an article on overthinkingit.com that sums the situation up pretty well. I hadn’t seen it before, and am SO glad she shared.

Enjoy!

 

 


Strength 101 (Or How to Be a Strong Female Character)

Hey, guys! A.M. Liebowitz invited me to do a guest post on her blog, and this morning she posted my short story “Strength 101”

It’s a fun look at what happens when a bunch of fictional characters attend a class on how to be “Strong Female Characters,” and how things don’t go exactly as planned.

Seriously. Good times for your Friday.

And while you’re there, check out the sidebar links to A.M. Liebowitz’s upcoming release “Lower Education.” I got all spendy and pre-ordered this one. We’ve met the main characters on WIPpet Wednesdays, and they’re amazing. 🙂

Here’s the link to the story.

Enjoy!


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


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” 🙂


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