An Eight Month Adventure

Back on February 4, 2016, I was having a problem with two characters who were insisting that I tell their stories right then. Neither character was in the manuscript I was working on at the time. I posted on Facebook about it just to try to get these characters to shut up.  A few friends, all fellow Sirens attendees commented about similar characters or story ideas my post brought to mind.

Eight months later, I’m sitting at my computer  and looking at a release date (Thursday!)  for Queens & Courtesans.

I’ve spent a lot of the last eight months with the refrain of “What the heck just happened/is happening?” running through my head. It’s still there. It will still be there later this month when I attend Sirens – the conference that inspired all the people involved in the anthology to lend a hand. It will still be there as discussions begin about a follow-up anthology.

Had I planned on being involved in a benefit anthology this year? No – at least not according to my 2016 planning page on this site. Did it through my writing schedule complete out of whack for most of the year?  Yes!  Did I know what I was doing? No – and neither did many of the people involved. Could we have done it better? Most definitely – and I have no doubt that the next one will be more organized and run smoother.

Would I change anything now? No.

This anthology was a labor of love for everyone involved. It was a perfect combination events that I would barely even hope could happen – never expected and still find hard to believe.  I know I learned an immense amount – especially when people thought I knew what I was doing! I didn’t really – not most of the time, anyway.

Sirens is a wonderful community to begin with. Being able to do something to help the community and the conference grow is extremely satisfying. That I made new friends, learned new things, and got to see one of my personal goals come to fruition are all side benefits.

At this point, I know I’m not dreaming, but it feels like I am. And I don’t want to wake up.

Cover Reveal, Pre-Sales, and Release Date!

The 2015 Sirens conference was my first. It made a rather large impression. I found part of my tribe. And out of a writing related post on Facebook back in February, something astounding grew.

Two characters, a queen and courtesan from completely different stories, were being very loud in my head. Neither was from the story I was working on at the time, but both were insistent. One of my fellow Sirens thought that would be an interesting conversation to hear. Not something I could write, since their stories are centuries and worlds apart – but her thought sparked another story idea in my mind. And in other Sirens’ minds as well. Within two weeks, the first real work on creating the anthology started.

I am extremely proud to be able to reveal the anthology cover, announce the release date, and announce that the e-version is available for pre-sale now.

Title: Queens & Courtesans: A Sirens Benefit Anthology
Release Date: Thursday, October 6, 2016

Queens & Courtesans Anthology Cover

Queens & Courtesans Anthology Cover

Description:

Women have long wielded power in various ways. This collection explores two prominent archetypes, the Queen and the Courtesan, in memorable stories that cross speculative genres. Whether finding love, or finding themselves, coming into their magic or other strengths, these complex women rise above the roles that confine them to ask: who will you be?

E-Book available for pre-sale at:

Flash Fiction 10 – When It Rains

“Come into the house. You’re getting soaked.”

Jack hesitated before stepping through the door. He stood dripping on the welcome mat as Frank closed the door. Moving and thinking were beyond him at the moment.

Frank took in the passivity, the paleness of Jack’s skin. He disappeared for a moment, returning with an almost threadbare towel and handing it to the other man.

Jack just held the towel for several seconds before using it to dry his hair. The glimpses Frank caught of his face weren’t reassuring. Jack looked lost.

When Jack stopped dripping, Frank took the towel from his hands and and tossed on the beat up end table. He nudged Jack in the direction of the sofa, sighing a bit at the shabby, stained upholstery. It took a slightly stronger nudge to get the other man to sit down.

Frank took a seat too, shifting slightly as a spring made itself  felt through the thin cushion.

“Talk to me, Jack.  What happened?”

Jack stared at him, eyes wide and mouth working, but no words coming out. Frank took a deep breath. He’d never seen Jack like this – something truly horrendous must of happened.

Jack ran a hand through his hair, then shoved the same hand into his coat pocket, digging for something. He needed a new coat and Frank winced as the frayed seams reminded him of how hard it had been to find the money for that one.  But they’d manage somehow. They always did.

Jack found what he was looking for, pulling a crumpled slip of paper from his pocket. He smoothed it out against his knee and handed it to Frank without a word.

It was little more than a scrap and was in sad shape. The six numbers on it told Frank why Jack had been hesitant to show it to him. Jack had spent money they didn’t really have on a lottery ticket.

He’d just been looking at the winning numbers from the last drawing and at least a couple of numbers on Jack’s ticket seemed to match. He pulled the paper over and opened it to the right page.  His fingers tapped the paper as he compared the numbers.

He lifted his eyes from that scrap of paper to Jack’s face. Jack nodded and a slow smile spread across  his face.

Flash Fiction 9 – Jump

Does he watch or jump?

Watching is safe, the thrill of taking a chance experienced vicariously. Secondhand, but a bit of excitement even so. Watching has no chance for failure. None for success either, true enough, but sometimes not failing is almost as good as succeeding.

Jumping means risking the fall. But oh the heights he might reach if he succeeds. Jumping means acting, not sitting back and watching others experimence the excitement and the fear. Jumping means taking responsibility for  the outcome, whatever it may be.

He can’t sit still. Not that pacing helps with the decision making process.

Act or watch? Risk or play it safe? Succeed or fail?

Is it really a choice?

He takes a deep breath and….

Jumps.

Flash Fiction 8 – The Art of Eyes

Art is in the eye of the beholder, or so they say.

I beg to differ.

Have “they” ever seen a Beholder? There’s no art there – not even a hint of it.

Now an ent, or a unicorn, or even a sprite. There’s some art. There’s a reflection in their eyes that just isn’t there with a beholder.

It’s hard to capture though.

You have to do it quick because it fades away. You know – eyes lose their beauty  when they lose their life and the reflections fade even faster.

I found a spell that works to preserve that last reflection, that last spark.

Good thing too. There’s a bigger market out there than I expected.

Flash Fiction 7 – Flash

Flash!

A brilliant flare of light blinds you.

Flash!

Your stomach knots.

Flash!

A sea of red beneath your feet.

Flash!

Voices clamor for your attention.

Flash!

Coherent thought flees your mind.

Flash!

Unsteady legs give way as the the room darkens and the voices quiet.

Flash!

You watch as your story comes to life upon the screen.

Flash Fiction 6 – Rain

Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day.

It’s been raining for over a week straight. No meeting friends down on the corner. No baseball or football games. You can’t even go out and ride your bike.

Come on, sun!

Dad’s out of town for the week.

Finally, here comes the sun. And things are starting to dry out.

And Mom points out that the grass needs mowed.

Rain, come back!

Come back, please!

Flash Fiction 5 – Company

The sun was shining and there were only a few clouds in the sky. Birds chirped, rustling the leaves of the trees as they moved from branch to branch, tree to tree. The breeze in from the bay was only slightly tinged by salt by the time it reached her through the open window.  It brought with it memories of other times.

She closed the window and turned on the fan. After a moment, she tugged the curtain closed over the window.

The small house was quiet. Quiet enough that the birdsong from outside was audible. She turned on the radio. Reception was bad, full  of static, but it was human-made sound.

The property hadn’t really been ready when she’d moved out here. The windmill and generator only provided limited power. It had been enough though. As long as she stayed out here, in the middle of nowhere, and they didn’t find her, she had a certain freedom.

Freedom long gone in the cities. She treasured that freedom above almost anything else. She did miss being around other people. The temptation to seek out others who might be hiding out like her wasn’t quite strong enough to overcome the fear of losing her freedom though.

No, it was safer to keep to herself.

She turned up the wick on the hurricane lamp. Flickering light chased away some of the shadows in the corners. Pulling a book from the shelves, she settled down to lose herself in a another world for a time.

The sound of a rising wind eventually pulled her attention away from the story.  She reached over and turned the radio off. The wind grew stronger, the whine of engines just audible under it.

There was a knock on the door.

Flash Fiction Day 4 – Beginnings

Silence reigns in the dim, unformed gray.

Then a sound, a single word, and a spark illuminates a small piece of gray.

A stream of words. A river. A sea. An ocean of words flows from a single voice.

A sun rises, silhouetting hills newly come into existence.

New voices join the first.

A world is born.

Flash Fiction Day 3 – The Elder Tree

My parents keep telling me the tree on the back acreage is an elder tree. They insist. But it’s not – it’s an oak or something. It doesn’t look anything like an elder tree.

They also say it’s a memorial for my great-grandfather. Grandfather used to go out and talk to it almost every day. Mom and Dad come out sometimes too, but they usually just stare at the tree.

Dad and Uncle David helped Grandfather out to the tree today. He can’t walk by himself anymore and Mom says he’ll probably join Grandmother soon.

I’ll miss him.

…..

Grandfather passed on today. The family is planning a memorial service, but no funeral, and Mom won’t tell me where he’s going to be buried. She says I’ll understand soon.

…..

Mom, Dad, and I walked out to the back acreage today. A sturdy sapling stands next to the elder tree. Mom and Dad stayed back, just looking at the trees.

Curiosity drew me forward toward the two trees. The sapling was planted in a small hummock of freshly turned dirt. I turned to look at the elder tree. At that angle, the whorls in the bark almost seemed to form a smiling face.

I looked back at the sapling. It was just barely visible, but there was a faint face in its bark too.

I understood then.

There are two elder trees now.  And I think I’ll be visiting the back acreage more often.