Tag Archives: short stories

Weekly writing check-in: more short stories, novella, and Photoshop

Oreo, volunteer editor

I am diligently trying to keep myself out of the Photoshop black hole. Fortunately (or, perhaps, unfortunately), I don’t have a title for the first book or the series it’s supposed to be in, so there’s only so much cover designing I can do.

Yeah. I need a title, especially since I’d like to publish this year.

In other news, not only did I complete the outline for the novella, but I started the draft. I finished up revising/editing two short stories that I plan to send off this week as well.

All in all, it was a good writing week.

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Weekly writing check-in: short stories, novellas, and Photoshop

Jasper and Poppy … maybe?

Checking in late today. I fell into a Photoshop black hole, and I’m just now crawling out of it.

I splurged on a couple of Photoshop actions, and let me tell you… that’s hours of fun right there. Worth every cent.

I’m still looking for the right stock photos for my covers. The models don’t need to look exactly how I see the characters in my mind, but it helps if the attitude is right.

Then you need a supply of poses, preferably on an isolated background (or one that’s fairly neutral), and, and, and … you get the idea.

In actual writing news, I finished the short story I was working on. I’m now letting it rest a bit before I revise and send it off.

I also started outlining the companion novella. The main challenge here is to keep it at novella length. I hope to start writing it soon, possibly as early as this coming week.

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Free Fiction Friday: The Girl with the Piccolo

First published in Kazka Press, Evil Girlfriend Media, and in audio at Cast of Wonders.

No one thinks about the empty note casings after the nightly revelry. Someone has to pick them up, right? That I spent four grueling years at the Acoustic Academy at Stormy Point for the privilege is something I try not to think about.

True, it takes only a breath or two to chase the notes into my sack. Still, patrolling the DMZ (Disharmonious Zone) feels anti-climactic. I didn’t sign up for this. But now, with the sun nearly cresting the horizon, I can’t say what I did sign up for.

I holster the piccolo and continue the patrol. When I first enlisted, I wanted something shiny, something big and brassy, a trumpet or a trombone, or—if I dared to dream—the saxophone. (Really, who doesn’t want the sax?) The supply sergeant gave me a once over and puttered around her inventory on grizzled wings.

“Here you go, sweetie,” she said, dropping a piccolo into my outstretched hands.

My own wings sputtered, and I sank to the ground in disbelief.

“None of that,” the supply sergeant barked. “Remember, everyone underestimates the girl with the piccolo. Don’t let them.”

Perhaps I have. Let them, that is. This might explain why that piccolo and I now do border patrol.

Through my viewfinder, I scan the tree line on the other side of the DMZ. I catch sight of my enemy counterpart. She is a brilliant pink, where I am midnight blue. Her wings drip with glitter. Mine spark with stardust. I wonder how she can breathe a single note through her piccolo with all that tinsel in the air.

Through the lens, I see her eyebrows furrow. When her viewfinder is level with mine, I stick out my tongue. This, sadly, is the highlight of my evening.

I near the border, my bag overflowing with spent notes. I swipe the residue from a tuba casing. The tubas are so wasteful. I can fuel my piccolo for a week on what they leave behind. Across the way, the pink fairy dips and swoops; I suspect she’s doing the same thing I am.

A shift in the air makes the fine hairs on my wings stand on end. I shoot skyward just as a full marching band crowds the path alongside the meadow. Stardust fills the air. I could reach out and pluck notes as they float past me. I might. Except. This particular band? Doesn’t include a piccolo player. Underestimated? Try forgotten. Typical. They can play on without me.

I turn to fly away when the stench of rotted nectar hits me. I blink back tears. The aroma clogs the back of my throat. The players are drunk, spoiling for battle, and a wing’s breadth away from the DMZ. From above, I watch the band weave along the path, each rousing measure inching them closer to treaty violation. I cast a look for the security forces. Certainly someone is on the way.

Or not. I blow a few quick notes into my piccolo, an alert that may not reach its intended recipients, at least, not in time. Frantic, I peer through my viewfinder. The stricken face of my counterpart stares back at me, a hand on her own piccolo. A few breaths and she will bring in her own band—and they will not be drunk. They will be deadly, armed with wing-piercing notes. They will tear across the meadow, swoop into the DMZ, reigniting the Fairy Wars.

All on my watch.

I pull out my piccolo. Next, I take a quick peep through my viewfinder to make sure my pink counterpart is watching. She is. I mimic holding a baby, of rocking it to sleep in my arms. Certainly this movement is universal. Pink fairies come from somewhere, yes? I peer through my viewfinder again. Nothing but a pair of pink fuzzy eyebrows, drawn into a frown.

I rock my imaginary baby again, then hold up my piccolo. I run my fingers across it while holding my breath—one false note will bring my plan crumbling down. I check my viewfinder again. One of those pink eyebrows is raised. In question? Understanding? This time, I waltz with my imaginary baby before checking the viewfinder.

I hope her smile means what I think it does. I hope this isn’t a ruse. Without her help, I will be tried for treason, assuming, of course, I survive the ensuing battle.

I hold up a hand for the countdown … three … two … one. Fairies have many lullabies, but only one in three-quarter time. When pitched just right it soothes the most colicky baby, sends mortals into a deep sleep. As for drunken fairies …

Her piccolo plays counterpoint to mine. At first, my comrades show no sign of stopping their rampage. In fact, the tuba player bursts through the ranks, intent for the DMZ and the meadow beyond.

Before he can reach the DMZ, his pace flags. The tuba slips from his grip. His wings falter. By the time both are on the ground, he’s snoring. The rest of the band drops off, in twos and threes, notes scattered everywhere. My own notes, and those of the pink fairy, play in the sky, creating an iridescent lavender that prolongs the night.

At last I need a breath—and so does she. I alight on the tuba. From this vantage point, I can peer across the meadow. Through my viewfinder, I study my enemy counterpart. How many times has she fogged my view with pink glitter? How many times have I stuck out my tongue? This time, before she can look away, I salute. Then, I shoot skyward. Someone else can clean up all these notes. After all this time, I realize what the supply sergeant meant.

Never underestimate the girl with the piccolo.

That goes for both of us.

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Free Fiction Friday: The Drabblecast

Exciting news! The Drabblecast is back!

The full relaunch is in the fall, but you can head on over and listen to the backlist stories, including Ghost in the Coffee Machine. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the audio.)

I love this audio production. It has sound effects! And music! And artwork.

If you enjoy both speculative fiction and the audio format, be sure to click through and give The Drabblecast a listen.

It’s good to have them back.

 

 

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Free Fiction Friday: Flash Fiction Online

Need a quick read this weekend? Hop on over to Flash Fiction Online and read their June issue. All the stories are wonderful, but I warn you, Five Times I Have Slept at Your Bedside should come with a supply of tissues (but go read it–it’s wonderful).

And while you’re there, you can also read Steadfast, my (very) short and modern retelling of The Steadfast Tin Soldier (with an unapologetic happy ending) from the December issue.

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Free Fiction Friday: keeping it short

Head on over to Instafreebie for some fabulous free short fiction in the fantasy and science fiction genres. While you’re there, you can pick up my (one and only) science fiction/post-apocalyptic story, In a Manner of Speaking (which you can also listen to–for free–on Escape Pod).

Happy reading!

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Weekly writing check-in: quickly, quickly in Italian

Just a quick check-in this week.

A while back, a young woman contacted me, asking if she could translate one of my stories (Just a Matter of Time) into Italian as her final dissertation translation project. I said yes. I mean, of course I did. I was thrilled.

That was back in August. This morning I heard from her. She sent a followup email with the story, in Italian, attached. She completed her project, it was a success, and she graduated from her program.

I’m so happy for her, and I’m still all kinds of thrilled that she picked one of my stories to translate.

Now if I could only read Italian.

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