Two Months

So, I am finally at the end of the challenge I set myself. I failed, partially. As I said previously I was trying to write thirty short stories in January and February. As I sit down now, I have managed to complete twenty-two stories. I have two partial stories as well that I haven’t been able to get completed and I am having difficulties writing them. So, a partial failure, and yet a great success.

I have managed to sit down and complete twenty-two ideas from start to finish, pulling ideas out of thin air or from a list I had made that usually comprised of a single sentence of what to write. Three stories are set in a world/universe that I will be exploring when I get a chance. Two of those stories are following a certain character. Two more stories are following the growth of another character in another universe. One of the incomplete stories is about him as well. Just what I needed to heap on my overfull plate.

Where they all good? No, not really. At least in my opinion. A few of them are going to require some work to file off the sharp edges, possibly. Some ideas were great fun and others…well there’s one story that will never be reworked or published in any format. I will be getting some feedback in a few weeks on what was written and my personal opinion of some of them is probably all wrong. Don’t care at all. I tried and did the best I could and will move on trying to hone my craft.

Today, is going to be catching up on the novel I was working on before I started the challenge. Probably doing a little rewriting as I review it and figuring out where everything is going now. After that, go back to the first novel I finished and see how I can improve it with out ruining it. So, things will still be happening and hopefully I can blog more now that I am not tramming to hammer out short stories.

Finally, I may just try writing a short story a week as a break from my larger works. I figure I can get a few more done with everything that has been going on. Will have to do some research on wear to send them for publishing. If all else fails, bundle a bunch of them into a collection and go the Kindle route. Options, options, options.

Now back to the grind.


Random Fiction Day

It’s been awhile since I posted anything and I figured, what the hell why not… Here’s one of the stories I have written. Not one of the short story challenge I have been working on (16 of 30 completed by the way), but something I did last year. Enjoy and have fun.

I Wish…

So, what is your desire? Wealth? I can give you riches that you can’t even imagine. Enough money or gold to purchase anything or anyone you wish. All your fears and worry would evaporate. Women? Think of all of the women of the world just dying to be in your presence. You would never lack for companionship and all your fantasies could be fulfilled. Power? Think you could change the currents of the world with a single word. A persons life or death could hang on your single whim. There would be nothing you couldn’t achieve. Ahhh, perhaps even youth? Your body is aging and starting to show it’s wear and tear. How about never having to worry about getting old again? The body and endurance of your youth with all your wisdom and knowledge retained. So what will it be?”

We were sitting in a room that looked like one of the personal conference rooms that were scattered through out my work place. Small cozy, with a window into the hallway. Except, there wasn’t a phone and the window looked out into a grey nothingness. On the table was a small glass carafe that could contain water yet it had an odd sense of wrongness about. I placed my hands on the table just feeling the faux wood veneer and gained a small sense of stability from it. I peered closely at the man across the table from me.

I had never seen him before. In fact it was almost as if he was subtly morphing and his features changing. So subtle that you felt something change yet couldn’t pinpoint what had exactly changed. I closed my eyes focusing on the feeling of realness of the plastic table surface and tried to remember how I had gotten here.

Come, come, I may have all of eternity. You on the other hand don’t. You called, I answered. Now, what do you want.”

That voice had a subtle resonance to it that seemed to speak of youth, age, and eternity. I didn’t know how I knew that, it just felt like it to me. I had called? How? Remember, that was the key. I couldn’t make a decision until I remembered calling… I had called out to the universe it seemed. I was starting to remember now. I was sitting at my desk facing another seeming impossible deadline. The day had started off with an argument with my wife. Something about finances I think. That was it! I had just said ‘I wish…!’ and then I was here.

I carefully scanned the room looking for any signs, decorations and found nothing but the institutional plainness of a corporate room. There wasn’t even a motivational poster on the wall like most of the conference rooms had. A pointed cough drew my attention to the man sitting across the table from me. I pulled my attention to him and studied him.

Tick tock, tick tock. Time is awasting.”

What are you offering me?” I asked him.

Freedom I guess, or what you would think would be freedom.” He crossed his arms, placing them on the table and leaned in towards me conspiratorially. “You could have the world or a small corner to call your own. Nothing could hold you back again. I. Could. Give. You. Anything.”

Anything. I could have everything that I ever desired. Shadows started to poke at the back of my mind. All the stories of wishes offered, given, and fulfilled entered my mind. Things started to shift in the room. The bottle seemed to have shadows or changes. A lantern, a ring, a golden scale, a fiery feather. The man as well seemed to shift. Quickly as a blink of the eye he was a horned efreet, a large golden fish, a bird made of flame, a wizard, a crone, a devil. I shook my head and he was just a man. Who smiled at me knowingly.

Yes I have taken many forms, some real, most fantastical. I have given everything I promised.”

The ghost of Aladdin, Midas, and countless others from tales I had read, heard or watched raised their hands in agreement. I have read a lot and remember pieces of their stories. Of course there was something else tickling my memory. What should I wish for? How should I wish for it. I wish that I could get some help with this.

I can hear you thinking. In order for this to work you have to vocalize it. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the rules. You must clearly and declaratively say exactly what you wish for.”

This was an interesting statement. I can think the words and they don’t do anything. As well he or it could read my mind. Shouldn’t be too surprised about that actually. He has the power to grant me my heart’s desire. Why then couldn’t he be able to read my mind. So I have to speak my wish vocally. A monkey’s paw came into my mind, I saw Midas whispering, or was it screaming something at me. Hordes of other people yammered to get my attention. What were they trying to say?

Oh, right, that was it. Not all wishes come without strings. Midas with his touch of gold. The monkey’s paw that granted wishes yet there was something tainted with the wish. People that have bargained with other powers and got exactly what they wanted, yet at other costs and attempts to cheat the cost backfired badly on the wisher. Yet, do I take the chance?

No strings attached. At least none of my addition. Tick tock, tick tock”
I finally spoke, “If there is no time here, why are you in a rush to get me to commit to a wish?”

Ah, there is no time here. That is not to say we aren’t limited in the time we have. You think you are the only person that has had sufficient will to call out and get an answer? I am waiting, yet this limited time offer can only be yours if you answer in a sufficient amount of time. And you are running out of time.” He leaned back in his chair and smiled like a late night infomercial host hawking the latest must have gadget.

So, I was running out of time. Wealth? Bills were starting to pile up again. Women? I guess that would be interesting maybe. Power? What would I do with it? Youth? Now that was a tempting thought. The typical aches and pains of a misspent youth was finally starting to catch up with me.

Did I really need anything though? I sat back and thought long and hard about all the wish stories that I remembered. The characters seemed to be just behind me and if I turned quick enough I felt that I could see them standing at the window to the room. All of them it seemed needed the wish to fulfill a goal. Well most of them, there were a few that didn’t need anything really. Guess those could be more cautionary tales. Yet, here in my grasp was the chance to achieve god mode. I could have everything I ever wanted.

Or did I want everything. I took the opportunity to think seriously. I may not have much time and this wasn’t something one rushed at. I thought about my wife. Sure we had a serious argument this morning, but we had been more or less happily married for over twenty years. Bills or wealth? Well, things hadn’t really worked out recently. We both had made a couple poor choices recently that were now starting to be called due. Really though? The house was paid for, so were both our vehicles. We did have some savings and the kids college education was almost fully funded. Bills could be dealt with, belts would probably have to be tightened a bit. As to power, I made a lot of decisions and a lot was always riding on what I did. I had the capability to create a career or destroy it at my whim if I so choose. So I had power.

Youth, the most tempting thing of all. No more aches and pains, wisdom and knowledge to go with the youth. I could have it all. Or could I? Would it be worth it to watch everyone I know wither away and die? Did I really need anything at all, or was I just whining about things that I couldn’t change? No matter, apparently I had the will and I could change things. If. I. So. Choose. I quickly glanced at my benefactor and he was sitting there quietly. I know he could read my thoughts, and I wondered what he was thinking.

I had wealth the like of which Midas himself hadn’t noticed, I had the only woman that counted. I had all the power I wanted or needed. There wasn’t a damn thing I needed. The sense of all the other previous receivers of this largess faded from my mind and disappeared. Almost like the collapse of a quantum state or a soap bubble. I had come to a decision. The man sat up straight and looked at me expectantly.

So, what is your wish.”

I have no wish. There’s nothing that I can think of that wouldn’t ruin what I have already. I was just a petulant little brat squalling at the universe about things I thought I couldn’t change. I have wealth, woman, power, and youth enough. I am sorry to have wasted your time, and I will be going now.” I stood up out of the chair and went to leave through the door. A small cough made me pause and turn around. There he was clapping silently and smiling. He poured a drink from the decanter and swigged it down.

Congratulations. You have made the most correct choice possible given everything you know. I hope you appreciate the service offered and will give a good review in the suitable forum.” He chuckled, winked, and faded away like a wisp of smoke on a breeze. I was alone, then suddenly I was sitting at my desk.

I glanced at my computer monitor which had my email up to go through. One new message and I should probably answer it promptly. I had an idea what it was about. First things though. I picked up the phone and dialed my wife. One ring two rings, and “Hello? Why are you calling me now? aren’t you supposed to be slaving away earning enough to solve all our problems.”

Hi dear, I just called to say I love and I am sorry.” The pause on the other line was deafening. I guess I had cut short another argument. “Listen, I know we got a little heated this morning. I think we need to talk things over this evening. I realized that I can’t do everything without you. We will get through this and we will get things better. After all it’s just money and you and our two children are the biggest wealth I have.” I heard a sigh.

I’m sorry as well love, I guess we have been a little stressed lately. Will you be home in time for dinner?”

Yes, I should be. Just have to deal with another fire here at work and then I will call it a day and head home. I miss you and I can’t wait to see you.”

Love you too hun, see you when you get home.” I hung up the phone. I have all the women I need, all the wealth I have ever wanted. As to power? Well once I finished ragging on the latest idiocy from marketing I would show my power to stop the company from making another disastrous decision that would lose us money in the court of the public opinion. Really? Toddler straight jackets? I swear the marketing department was on some form of hallucinogenic.

Wealth, woman, and power. I had it all.

Little Things

This is not what you think the title pertains to. In fact it’s about a lot of things. Little things, those small annoyances that just irk you the most. Currently for me it’s ants believe it or not. I despise the little creepy crawly pests with a passion. I think it comes from me living in basement and sub-basement apartments for the past *counts on fingers* fifteen years now.

Honestly, the apartments haven’t been that bad or have been sh***oles. Just the nature of the beast. The past few apartments the ant problem was mostly seasonal and dealt with by the use of a few well placed ant traps. The current residence though is a different story altogether. Let me put it this way, I have two species that are co-habitating with me and the Squire. It has been driving me batty. Especially in the winter.

Why is it such a big deal in the winter? Well, the good child friendly ant traps typically aren’t on sale in the local stores. Buying online is another option of a sort. Still it’s difficult to rid yourself of these six legged pests. They get everywhere. In fact I have crushed a few of them that I have found crawling on me! *ugh*

Options, I need options. Thanks to the wonder and power of the internet (GOD BLESS THE MODERN ERA!!!!), I have found a few solutions. Best one is the boric acid (six dollars for a large bottle at the local drug store) and sugar (available at the local coffee shop or grocery store…go grocery you need lots). So for a 1% solution you need 1 cup water (boiled trust me on this) 8 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of boric acid. Dissolve the boric acid in the sugar water mixture (this is why you boil the water first boric acid doesn’t dissolve well in cold water) let cool and then grab a handful of cotton balls. If you have been paying attention you KNOW where the ants are crawling from. Soak the cotton balls and drop them in the prime locations. Wait a couple days and hopefully (knock on wood), ants are gone for good.

I hate the little things. Annoy me to no end.

Just a Little Something

Smile!  It Snowed

So, January has been off to a roaring start. 30 short stories in two months or three and a third stories a week need to be written. As of this past weekend I have managed to complete eight of the beasts. Unfortunately, I have hit a problem. I have four stories that I have started and I can’t think of how to complete each one.

Trouble is that story number seven was ripped screaming from my soul. I doubt I will be sharing that one in public. Too painful on too many levels. Had to be done though since it was almost physically blocking everything else mentally. Since then I had to struggle to complete the eighth one and now I can’t complete stories.

I talked to the girlfriend this weekend. Two epic duration phone calls. Yes, we are back in communication again as she got the new phone and we are both happy about that resolution of communication breakdown. During the calls I went over some of the stories that I am working on and used her as a sounding board. Great starts she thinks (“It was raining whisky again….”), and is rooting for me to get this done. I was moaning that I get so far and don’t know where to go after. She asked if I had been doing any reading lately and I haven’t. So, she told me to take a break.

Step away from the word processor for a day or so, and try not to think on anything. Just relax and do what else that needs doing and that’s it. Makes sense really, There’s a small blockage from the muse to the keyboard and until it’s wiggled out of the way there’s no need to stress or fight what’s not happening.

So my plans for the day are just laundry, cleaning, and reading. The Squire will be home this afternoon after spending time with his mom. So there’s that to look forward too. Maybe a nap if I can squeeze things in. I will have to check my Kindle for books that I haven’t read that aren’t research. Think I have some, if not I have a gift card I can tap into for a book or two. Things are going to be quiet.Have fun, it's winter

The Agony

Things have been busy here at home. Taking care of the Squire and pushing my limits. Took on a two month thirty short stories challenge. Working out so far and I am punching them out left right and center. That’s not what this is about though.

I share each days word count with my girl friend. It’s a long distance relationship so we have been relying on text messages and phone calls to keep connected. So, Monday, disaster strikes. Her phone died in the middle of a conversation before work. Now I didn’t think much of it when it happened since I knew she was heading to work shortly. So five minutes before her shift starts, I get a phone call from an unrecognized number.

One the other end of the line is my girl friend giving me the horrible news. Her phone is dead and she doesn’t know what to do. As well she doesn’t have internet at home, long story, it’s infuriating. I leap into action and ask a few questions knowing what her needs are and offer up a few options. She picks one and I do the ordering for her and have the new device shipped her way. Trouble is that it’s going to be days before she gets it. Days.

So yesterday was tough. Got a phone call at the end of her shift and that was it. Today, was…difficult… No “good morning” text, no random text messages through out the day when she gets breaks, nothing. I have been feeling a little lost. I don’t have that line to someone that understands what I am going through.

I did get a brief call today when she was done work. I took the opportunity to give her a quick update on the shipment and the day (story six done, thinking about seven, Squire is being a toddler). Tomorrow she has an off day and no access to a phone she can use for long distance. I’m jonesing here. I need to text my lady love and there’s nothing we can do!

Might have to recruit someone to help me out. I have other friends in the area. Wonder if they would be willing to go over to her place and let us borrow their phone. Will keep that idea in mind if things get desperate. I mean really desperate.

Gotta go. Mind is starting to wander again, and I have to catch it.


It’s amazing what information one will find that one doesn’t realize they need until they stumble across it. One of my many works in progress is a post apocalyptic scenario. Nothing out of the ordinary in most aspects, just a little thought experiment I am working on through fiction. Mainly, how to maintain and survive a truly doomsday situation given a little advanced warning. I know it’s been done before by many other writers, doesn’t mean I can’t dip my toes into the genre.

So, I have been researching. Searching for so much information. Specifically what’s available in print and easily found. Making guns and gunpowder is something most people research for such situations I think. Formula is pretty simple and the method to make it just as simple. Trouble is that most modern rifles use a different powder that requires different techniques and chemicals. Then there’s the concept of primers and reloading. Too technical, and probably beyond the means of most groups of people that for all intents and purposes have been thrown back to pre-industrial civilization.

So to the point. I was doing some research on crossbows and bow making. I was inspired a bit by a couple bits and pieces that used to live in the family home basement that my late uncle had started working on and never finished. It was a crossbow using a vehicle leaf spring as the bow. Believe it or not there were plans published in the 1950’s in Popular Mechanics on how to make crossbow with a leaf spring. Only thing missing really was how to make the string. So I started researching and looking.

I found a series of books that were printed called the “Traditional Bowyer’s Bible”. Four volumes and dead tree editions were horribly expensive on Amazon if you weren’t careful. I have since found another source and will be adding them to my “Honey can I?” shopping list. For the moment though they are available on Amazon for the Kindle. So this Christmas I received a gift card (thanks mom) and decided to get the book I needed to read badly (volume 2 for string making chapter 8).

I was just expecting a simple chapter on how to twist strands of string into a bowstring. Nope, nothing simple about it. It goes on for the first third of the chapter on how to make cordage BY HAND. That’s right how to twist fibers to make a simple cord and what goes into it and why it works. Dense? Incredibly dense and for me intriguing. Now here’s where the title of the post comes in. Post apocalypse, no industry, everything is going to be needing to be done by hand. What does the chapter talk about after cordage? HOW TO SPIN! How to make a simple drop spindle (with pictures) and how to spin vegetable fibers (cotton, flax, milkweed) into thread. Then it talks about how to make several types of spinning wheels. I mean this is important stuff.

With thread you can weave, with weaving you make cloth, with cloth, well you get the picture. So by researching how to make a bowstring I have stumbled upon a how to for the start of fabric. Something I am going to have to go back and rewrite the implications of to some of the characters. As well, I believe it solves a couple of minor plotting issues I was having or not. Depends on how nasty I want to be to the characters.

So that’s part of what I have been doing lately. Now back to my reading and I think I have to do some more researching.

Looking Back

I decided to see how many words I had written this past year. Just a random thought that ran through my head. So I tracked down all my saved documents, works completed, works in progress, and works that have been temporarily abandoned. I was a little surprised really. I started hammering out “new words” back at the end of March. Whipped off a short story that struck me and burrowed deep. One week it took to write from start to finish with some personal business in between.

After that I carried on and continued to write. One story has been put aside for the meantime. Seemed too big an idea and I needed more practice to do it justice. Same for another story that started off short and morphed to needing more detail and work.

Then there was the novella that’s currently morphing into a novel. I have gone back and restarted that piece numerous times now it seems and I am getting closer to what it needs to be. Just not there yet and it’s been put aside awaiting more research and reading.

And the short stories. John and Mason, the last witness, some unknown lawyer that’s caught in a spell, and essays. Going to be more that needs to be added to that list in the new year.

Then there was my first manuscript that reached novel length, and is in the process of being edited, polished, and holes papered over. Unfortunately it’s spawning two sequels. Talk about a pain in the butt.

So that’s what I have been working on over the past nine months. So what’s the running word count? I was a little shocked when I totaled it up. Almost if not more than, two hundred thousand words. Good words? Some I guess. All in all they are just practice for the final result. New Year is now and things are starting to happen now.

They say you need to write a million words to get good at the skill. I have written at least what I have written this year in my past so I am almost halfway there.

Stay tuned.