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Showing posts from June, 2012

Follow My Lead Contest


I discovered this contest through James Anderson's blog.  Candilynn Fite is running it.  Hop on over to see the entries.  For this-the first ever Follow My Lead Contest-she did not set up a Linky list so all the entries are located in the comments of the post.  I rushed this one together in twenty minutes during lunch and then spent 45 minutes cutting it down to 300 words.

Anyway, quick list of the parameters: must be 300 words or less, must take a cue from the prompt image (below) and must be PG-13.  Here we go:

Sleep My Dear



The streets of this restless city never slept, and neither did I.

Neon light falls on the wet pavement, and music spills into the street. I move, exhausted, down the narrow sidewalk, side-stepping tourists who walk without paying attention. They are too busy gawking at the nightlife.

I used to enjoy the night life too, but I have grown tired of endless days and nights.

I catch my own reflection in a window. I am disheveled. My curly black hair is wild. My eyes are yellow and blood shot. I look like a crack fiend. I'm so tired.

I continue rambling down the street. There is a woman standing in a doorway, wearing a long skirt. Her eyes glint green in the harsh light. I realize that she notices me. No one ever notices me anymore. I wonder if she's real. It's so hard these days to tell what's real and what's not.

“Hello, My Dear.” She greets me with a sly smile on red lips.

My voice catches. It's been a long time since I've spoken to anyone. Finally, I manage. “Hello.”

The red smile grows larger, her teeth are over-large in her mouth. I stare at them in awe. They're so white, so pointy. I want to laugh. She can't possibly be real.

“You look exhausted, Dear. Would you like to rest?” I nod slowly. Hallucination or not, if she can let me sleep I would be forever grateful. “Come. I will let you rest. You can rest for as long as you want. Forever if it suits you.”

I'm drawn closer. Sleeping forever sounds wonderful.

She opens her arms and draws me in. It's cold in her embrace, and as her red lips press to my throat, she whispers, “Sleep, My Dear.”

The Warehouse: Part 1


John retrieved a radio from the charger and settled it in the holster at his hip. Picking up his flashlight he turned to Carl and said, “Off on my rounds.”

“Don't let the coyotes get you.” Carl said around a mouth full of turkey sandwich. It wasn't fully in jest. They had both seen the pair of coyotes on the cameras skulking around the warehouse. John grunted in assent as he left the guard shack. Carl was the senior of the two, having been working for Mr. Smith for the past 15 years, compared to John's 18 months. They were supposed to share the duty of checking the perimeter fence and the doors of the warehouse, but John took up most of that burden. He joked that it was to spare the old man the effort, but it was mostly to get out of the guard shack he shared with Carl for twelve hours a day. Carl was a perfectly nice guy, but he smelled constantly of onions even though John had never seen him consume any.

He started with the perimeter fence. There was only one entrance, the gate with the guard shack sitting to one side. He walked the perimeter at a leisurely pace running the beam of his flashlight over the links of the fence, checking for breaks, and making sure that the hole the coyotes had apparently dug under the fence to gain access to the area was still filled in. It took him 15 minutes to finish his check there. Then he turned towards the warehouse.

The building was an oblong squat structure, a dull metallic gray in color. John had no idea what was inside. He had never seen any trucks entering or leaving the gate. No one ever went into the warehouse. In fact, as far as he knew there were no keys to the 2 doors or drop-down bay that allowed the only access to the building. There were a row of small windows that went around the top of the building, but they had all been covered over with sheet metal from the outside. What he was being paid to guard was an absolute mystery to him. Mr. Smith paid him good money to not bother asking.

John frowned at the building, thinking about his strange employer. He had never met the man, just knew his name was Smith of all things. He had answered a classified ad for private security thinking it was a firm, but it turned out to be a one man deal. His only contact was Ms. Walker who claimed to be Mr. Smith's assistant. He was hired after what he was told was a rigorous background check, but what he now suspected was covert surveillance of his day to day life. On the day he signed his contract he was given these rules by Ms. Walker:

“First, never ask what is in the warehouse. Second, never attempt to gain access to the building.”

That was it from the boss.

He learned his actual duties from Carl later that evening. Carl had been with Mr. Smith for a while and got the job the same way John did. John never attempted to break Ms. Walker's rules. Even if he had bothered to ask his colleague he doubted he would get an answer. Carl was just as oblivious as he was and perfectly happy to keep cashing his paycheck.

John started the check of the exterior of the warehouse. He made his route counter-clockwise. It was a superstition that Carl had that he had followed to appease the man at first, but the last time he tried to go right he felt wrong. As with the fence he swept his flashlight across the walls of the building, checking that the windows were still covered. He reached the bay door, grabbed the handle and gave it a good shake. As always it was locked down tight. He continued on to the first door which was just to the left of the bay. That door was also closed and locked tighter than Guantanamo. He reached for his radio and reported back to Carl in the guard shack, at the same time turning to the camera trained on the doors and giving a thumbs up.

“Bay and Door One secure.”

“Roger that,” Carl replied. He sounded like he was speaking around a mouthful of meat and bread.

John moved on, checking the western side of the building. This side and the eastern wall were long blank slabs of cinder with shuttered windows on the top. The sweep of his light revealed nothing out of the ordinary. He turned the corner to the north face of the building. He found the second door also locked securely. He reached for his radio and fumbled as it got caught on the latch. He looked up as he raised the walkie to his mouth. But the words died on his lips.

Before him Door 2 stood open revealing a gaping black hole. He stood, mouth agape, as he gazed into the darkness. There was a lamp right above the door, but the light didn't reach into the interior of the warehouse. John's mind grappled for what seemed forever trying to understand how a door that was previously closed and locked now stood wide open. After a moment he managed to bring himself back. He took a step closer to the opening, noticing the strange way that the light from the lamp overhead stopped immediately at the threshold. He stopped and stared. It felt like someone was just on the other side of the blackness staring back at him.

“John, you all right?” Carl's voice crackled in the silence. John screamed in shock and nearly dropped the radio. Carl came roaring back, his voice shaking with barely concealed laughter. “Got you on the screen. You been day dreaming?”

John turned towards the camera trained on Door 2. “Door 2 is open.”

“What?” There was silence for a few seconds. “I got you on the screen. Looks like the door is closed to me.”

John glanced back towards the doorway. The gaping blackness was still there. He felt more than ever that someone was watching expectantly to see what his next move would be. “Carl-” He was interrupted by furious yipping. It sounded so close that he was afraid the coyotes had found their way back in. He turned and scanned his surroundings, making broad sweeps with his flashlight. The yipping continued, but moved further away.

“Say again?”

John dropped his beam and turned back to the door and was treated to a third shock. It now stood closed. “What the hell?”

“Man, you have to press the little button. You know the one that says talk?” Carl was starting to sound worried. “Did you say that the door was open?”

John stepped close to the door. He placed his hand on the cold metal and had the sensation that just on the other side something was copying his gesture. The surface thrummed for a split second under his touch and then lay as frigid and still as ice. He grabbed the door knob, twisted and tried to rattle it, but it seemed even more solid than before. He raised the radio to his mouth.

“It's closed.” It's closed, but it was wide open 30 seconds ago. He turned towards the camera and repeated the message. “It's closed. Door 2 is secure.”

“You said it was open.”

John paused, wondering if he should explain what he saw. But Carl was watching the feed in the guard shack and he claimed he didn't see anything. He glanced back at the door, still secure, and staring at him. Closed, then open, then closed. And I'm the only one who saw it. “Shadow. Thought it was open. Must have been a shadow. ” He gave a distracted thumbs up to the camera.

“Roger that,” Carl didn't sound like he was rogering anything.

He strolled away from Door 2, trying to keep a steady pace even though he wanted to run. The back of his neck crawled with the sensation that he was being stalked, but he didn't dare look back.

The Saga of the First Draft


I was just doing a word count and realized that I am better off than I thought I was.  It's not exact, because I'm handwriting most of my "novel" and I really don't have time to count all the words, but I'm averaging about 250 words a page, 500 words front and back.  So as of this evening I am at (according to my undoubtedly flawed calculations) 32,182 words.

I started typing up some of my work-to make it easier to read and edit later-but it takes me longer to type than to hand write for 3 reasons:

  1. My handwriting is terrible and I have to stop every 10 words or so and try to puzzle out a word.  Is that derelict or destruction?  Maybe it's detritus?  Using the surrounding words for context doesn't help, because I've run across whole sentences that make no sense to me.
  2. I often type so fast that my fingers get off on the wrong keys so when I'm really on a roll, typing up a section I can actually read, I realize 2 paragraphs in that I have just typed a bunch of gibberish.
  3. Stupid Inner Editor.  I made a vow to myself to just type it as I wrote it-it's a first draft, I can fix it later-but then (my thought process as follows) "this sentence can be written a little more clearly; here's a paragraph that kind of runs on, so let me fix that; lots of "he said she said" in this conversation, let me smooth that out..." next thing you know I'm rewriting the whole darn thing.
I know that once I have the first draft I will have to type it all up, which will take a while (maybe I'll get better at typing and reading my own handwriting with all the practice).  I figure there will be at least 2 rewrites before I won't be embarrassed by my shoddy writing.  First rewrite would be to rough out the chapters (what do you mean I should have already had chapters?), to fill in the plot holes (there is the matter of a disappearing-reappearing rifle I have to contend with), and fill out the prose (some sections make me proud to be an author, others go more along the lines of "Character does this, and then this, then says this, other character responds with 'blah blah blah'.  Characters stare at each in silence".  They spend a lot of time staring at each other in silence).

Anyway, the 3rd draft, I HOPE, will end with a much smoother and coherent product.  I REALLY hope I can get away with minimal work after the 3rd draft.

In the meantime, writing has started all sorts of ideas in my head.  I keep coming up with ideas, ideas that I'm sure are good, but I don't want to stop what I'm doing to work on them.  So I have to write the ideas down and stare forlornly at them.  I'll get around to them after this is all done.

So that's my progress so far.  Any tips to make it go more smoothly? (Other than outlines.  I'm in too deep on this one.  Maybe next time)

Liebster Award and unrelated bits


This week, I was awarded the Liebster Award by Paige Lollie and of The Dream Words, and L. G. Keltner of Writing off the Edge.

This award is given to blogs with fewer than 200 followers.  The rules are:

1) Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog
2) Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you
3) Copy and paste the blog award on your blog
4) Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less
5) Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog

So, without further ado, my blogs:

Jeff Hargett at Strands of Pattern: Jeff has a very detailed approach to writing, that would drive me crazy, but I guess works for him.

Von L. Cid at The Growing Writer:  Mr. Cid collected his A to Z Challenge flash fiction into an e-book.  You can get it here, if you want (free publicity is the best publicity)

Michael Abayomi:  Michael is a writer who has published several e-novellas (is that a thing?) and is currenly working on getting a 6-part epic fantasy series.

I know I'm supposed to do 5 blogs, but I'm running into a lot of people who already have the Liebster Award, so I'm just going to leave it at that.

Otherwise this week has been rather disappointing on the "novel" front.  I probably only got about 1000 words writen all week.  I'm going to have to really get on it this week if I want to make goal.  I've got all the easy parts done, but there are big holes in the story and the ending is eluding me.

That's it for this week.

Sunday Post

This week I had my first Insecure Writer's Support Group post and got to hear from some great people.  I went around and visited some new blogs, found some new inspirations, and got all insecure again.  I know I can't compare myself to other people, but everyone seems to be so much more on it than I am.

I announced my ambitious goal of completing a first draft of a 70,000 word novel by the end of July, and I keep falling further and further behind, although I did finally come up with a title: Weaver.  That's how backwards I am.

Last week I promised a piece of fiction, and I never got around to writing anything for today's post.  What I do have for you is a bit from my WIP that kind of sets up the story.  Enjoy!

***

“The universe is like a trillion bits of string laid out next to each other and then wound up into a ball,” someone had once told her. “Each string is a seperate line and when they are rolled up, they touch and mingle.” The teacher had only a single piece of string, but she rolled it up between her fingers until there was a tiny ball. “It's a mess, all the different points touching each other here and there. There are different colors and widths, different fibers. What we do is unravel the ball and find the string we like best for a situation.”

These days though, Myra was finding that there were fewer strings, and the ones that were left had been broken so that worlds ended aburptly. When she ran into one of these she would jerk awake, anxious and dizzy.

IWSG


This is my first time with the Insecure Writer's Support Group, so let me begin with telling you all a secret.  Can you keep a secret, Internet?


I have begun work on my first stab at a novel.  First serious stab, with a plot and everything, and I find that I suck at plot.  I have an idea of the beginning, the middle and the end, but I'm having difficulty getting from one point to the other.  Right now what I'm doing is just writing disjointed scenes and I figure I'll put it together and fill in the holes later.  At least the characters are behaving.  I have a problem even in the shortest of stories with my characters wansdering off and doing things I don't want them to do. 


I started out with a pretty ambitious timeline: first draft of 70,000 words by July 31st-I started in the first week of May.  I am about 20,000 words in.  During the first 2 weeks I wrote 1200 words a day, but things have slowed down as I start moving past the original idea and have to fill in the blanks.  I have a notebook that I take to work and I try to put something down during lunch, and then try to do some at night.  I try to write at least a few paragraphs everyday, but I'm not sure I'll meet the deadline.  However, I need a deadline otherwise I wouldn't do it at all.


So here's luck to me.  I'll try to keep you posted over the next few months.

The Versatile Blogger Award


Thanks to Laura at My Baffling Brain for awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award.

With the is award there are a few things that I need to do:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who sent you the award.
  2. Nominate 7 other bloggers for the award.
  3. Write 7 random facts about yourself.
Random Facts:
  1. My left foot is smaller than my right foot. I ususally don't notice it unless I'm wearing shoes without laces. Then the left shoe is looser than the right.
  2. I can crochet a baby blanket in a day.
  3. I'm so slow at knitting that it can take me a week of very diligent work to do a scarf in garter stitch.
  4. I will correct other people's spelling, grammar, and sentence structure, but never see my own mistakes.
  5. I am a comma abuser. I've become so concious of this that I agonize over whether to use a comma in a work email even though 99% of the people reading the email won't ever notice it. It's the two people who will notice that I want to impress.
  6. I'm intrigued by the semi-colon; but I don't think I ever use it properly.
  7. I'm bad at coming up with random facts about myself (you might notice if you follow both my blogs that this list looks really familiar).
Now for the 7 bloggers.

Last week I was tagged with the Lucky 7 Meme, so I am going to combine that and the Versatile Blogger award.  If I have listed you below, you have the option to do the Versatile Blogger, the Lucky 7 Meme or both if you prefer:

Chris Fries at A Writer's Expanding and Slightly Warped Universe
Left and Write
Jeff Hargett at Strands of Pattern
Von L. Cid at The Growing Writer
L. G. Keltner at Writing Off the Edge
Sania at Embracing Dawn
Ael at My Third Life

Come back on Wednesday.  I will have my first Insecure Writer's Support Group post. 

I promise that next Sunday I will have some new fiction.  I'm thinking of trying a flash fiction of 100 words or less.  That's going to be...fun.