The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis

Chuck Wendig had a challenge and while his challenge wasn’t, stop editing and write something new, mine was. The challenge was pick from a list of titles (The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis) and then go forth and write 1,000 words.

I’ve been editing and working on writing related stuff so much I haven’t done anything just straight up out of whole cloth lately. So I took this challenge with gusto!

I’m posting here before I get all out of gusto and start feeling crummy about my work. Listen to the audio. (And for more audio tune into the podcast!)

Wave painting
Waves

The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis

I don’t remember when I started, mom said I always loved to go out when we were absolutely not supposed to be outside. I’d sneak past everyone and head down to the water.

My older sisters were supposed to watch me and they’d get in trouble because I’d still sneak out. I didn’t care. I still don’t. I want to be in the water. I know when the water is angry, I can feel it coming.

I never get hurt, and I bring home cool stuff I find in the water. Once, I found a really shiny ring, it was hanging from a tree branch. Mom and dad sold it, they don’t complain about me going out anymore.

The best thing I found, was a surfboard. I didn’t take that home. Mom and dad would sell it. I’d seen people surfing, but they always got out of the water when it was getting angry. They were scared.

I wasn’t scared.

The surfboard was twice as tall as me and it was hard to get it out my hiding spot.

I giggled as I walked down toward the shore with the surfboard on my head, it was too big to carry under my arms. Mom said I shouldn’t laugh when the water got angry. But it was funny just like when grandfather got mad and his face got puffy and red.

I knew the water was bad for some people and for the fields. But mom got to be mad, and dad, and even my brothers and sisters could be angry sometimes. Because I was the littlest everyone just laughed when I got mad.

Most of the people were gone by the time I got all the way to the water. I tried to remember what I’d seen people do on the surfing movies. I laid down on the board in the water and slapped at the water. My arms barely stretched across the board and I couldn’t get them to go very well.

So I got off and pushed it in front of me and swam out as far as I could, kicking my legs behind me.

When I was out far enough that I couldn’t see my house up the hill anymore I pulled myself onto the board. I tried to stand up and fell. I had to try four more times before I managed to stand up and stay up. I looked around. There was no one else on the water. There was no one I could see on the shore.

The water was very angry. I giggled.

I wasn’t sure how to get further out into the water without laying down again, I managed to stand on the middle of the surfboard and kick one foot in the water but I didn’t go anywhere. I decided I’d just stand and wait for the big wave to come to me.

It would be here soon. I did a tiny little shuffle on the board and fell in again. By the time I managed to climb back up on the board and turned to face out, I could see the wave coming toward me.

I could hear the water, it was screaming mad. I screamed with it. It was good to scream sometimes when you were mad. Mom said I had to behave and be a good little girl, but it felt so good to scream. And no one was here to yell at me. I knew the water wouldn’t mind. So I screamed with the water.

It was so much louder than I was, I couldn’t even hear myself. The water under me started to bob up and down.

My feet slipped again and I dropped to my knees. The water was much higher. I thought it would be better maybe to lay down on the board. I slipped as the water moved faster around me and knocked my chin on the board, but I managed to wrap my hands around the sides and my toes hooked under the end just as the first wave pushed me way up into the air.

I screamed and squealed. I felt like the wave was as tall as my house.

The wave kept going but I stayed where I was, I couldn’t see my house or the shore at all. Then another bigger wave lifted me up. I squealed with excitement, I was definitely as tall as my house now.

I stayed on top of this wave. I held onto the board but pushed myself up a little bit more so I was kneeling on top of the giant wave. Shore was racing toward us. The water felt so angry I screamed for it.

The wave got smaller, maybe the water was angry that it got so tiny when it was on land.

I watched the wave eat some of the trees and the little hut that sold candy for kids and drinks for grown ups along the shore. I wondered how far it would climb. I looked behind me and there were no bigger waves.

The water wasn’t so angry any more. It was almost all screamed out. I was too. I wasn’t sure how to get off the wave. I tried to think about the surfing movies.

The water smashed me into a tree. And then it went away. I clung to the top of the tree, and tried to hold onto my board. I had to let the board fall, the water took it away.

I watched the next waves come in, less and less water, less and less angry. All yelled out. Then the water started to leave, go back home.

I climbed down the tree and looked around for the surfboard before everyone else came back out of their houses. It was gone. But I did find a new pair of shoes and a surfboard that was barely taller than me.

Entirely off topic

Searching for a picture to go with this that would be usable with the right license I managed to come up with lots of dudes surfing (even though I specifically searched for girl) and strangest of all…a how to avoid teen pregnancy ad. Not even like water, surfing, or anything related. Just some dude standing there with how to avoid teen pregnancy.

Um. Ok.

False Gods

False Gods is my answer to a new challenge from the terrible minds of Chuck Wendig. The challenge was roll a random number generator and get two sub genres and mash them up into something shiny and new.

I got technothriller and mythology. I’m not entirely sure I hit either of those genres exactly…But hopefully it’s still enjoyable.

False Gods

We will remove all false gods from the world.
One by one.

I surveyed the murder scene. The woman was in her late fifties, an antique aegis and what I had to assume were owl feathers covered her body.

Someone shoved the latest manifesto into my hands, I couldn’t even get a polite thanks out. I had read the previous five over and over. I skimmed the first few lines, I’d already read them thanks to the killer’s twitter feed.

She was supposed to be Athena. She had been in the army, risen through the ranks, gone into diplomacy. She was brilliant. She was a warrior. She was this serial killer’s sixth victim.

I flipped through the hundreds of pages of supposed evidence. The digital team would be downloading it and adding it to their database now. We were working under the premise that the killer was running some kind of software to determine his next victim. He tweeted as if he were many but our profile came down to one man, working by himself, with the help of some very sophisticated software.

I stopped at the two-thirds point and started skimming. This would be where he would outline the evils and where we had caught glimpses, too late, into who the next victim would be.

The same bullshit talk about how all the creatures of mythology walked among us, and they all needed to be killed. I shuddered and closed the manifesto. It would go in my stack of reading.

***

Jennifer and Nasim sat across from me with serious looks. Nasim turned his laptop around to face me slowly.

“Just, tell me what it is, while you are wasting time, he is out there getting ready to murder someone else.” I shouted at them.

We all flinched when our phones chimed at the same time. It wasn’t him. Someone sighed with relief.

“Right now, the data we’ve gathered, it seems to show that there is a possibility…” Nasim was shifting his screen as he talked.

“It’s going to be a cop.” Jennifer jumped in before I could tell them to get to the point.

“Or a sky marshall, or a judge…it might not be a cop.” Nasim hedged again.

“I think it is going to be you.” Jennifer looked me in the eyes.

I sucked in a deep breath. “Which god is he targeting?”

“Kratos.” Nasim said confidently. I ran through the gods I knew of, I’d spent the last months researching mythology. I had never heard of Kratos. “He’s the son of Pallas and Styx and is authority. He is the state enforcer. But they all have wings so it might be a sky marshall.”

“It’s not a sky marshall.” Jennifer grabbed the laptop and scrolled through, highlighting the text. I didn’t see it.

I wasn’t a god, but I was the target of a serial killer.

***

I put my head in my hands and bumped the stack of books at my elbow. My phone went off. I grabbed for it.

A tweet to the department, he had a new account. He was on the move. Each time he created a new account. We would get it shut down within minutes. In those minutes he would send out a storm of information, manifestos, and photographs.

I skimmed through the messages. It was a review of the previous murder. It had been three months between the first two murders, then a month to the third, the fourth was three weeks later, the fifth was another three weeks, the sixth was another three weeks. We hoped that was how long his manifesto took to complete. Each one was nearly 500,000 words of accusations and demands.

I should still have two weeks. I rested my head again. I just needed a short break.

***

A sharp noise woke me. I knocked over a pile of books and turned around in the chair. My phone. I grabbed it. A message from Nasim. “We have timeline concerns. You should come down to the station.”

If Nasim was worried things had to be bad. I touched each of the manifestos and case files. Looking at each of the victims, wondering – for just a moment – if I’d be the next stack of paper.

I’d just take a quick shower and head in. I responded to Nasim and stood, restacking the books next to me.

“Oh just turn around already!”

I spun toward the unknown, cheerful voice. My gun. It was on the desk behind me.

The murder stood in front of me. Dressed in an absurd Loki costume. My mind raced.

“You can’t be Loki. You murdered him. His name was Jackson.” The murder’s face kept the disgusting grin as I talked. My gun was on top of Jackson’s file behind me. “Jackson was a homeless man, he had two brothers, he had schizophrenia, he made sure all the stray dogs were fed before he was. Did you know one of his brothers calls me every day to see if he can help? Let me show you a photo.”

I turned and grabbed the gun and the papers and hid the gun under the thousands of sheets of paper.

“You have found me out! I am not Loki. But you are Kratos. And you are a false god. You will be dispatched with the rest of them. I wasn’t sure if you were truly Kratos. Now I know.”

I edged a step closer to him. “Look at this photo.” The photo showed three teenage boys, cleaned up in suits, with giant grins.

The murderer raised up what I had thought was a staff, it was a sword. He was laughing. I heard sirens outside.

“Drop the sword.” I dropped the paper and gripped my gun. I shouted the command again.

He shrieked with laughter and raised the sword up. I fired and he fell. I stood over him with the gun pointed at him until reinforcements arrived.

 

Alone – Again

A couple of updates and then onto another flash fiction piece (or jump ahead for Alone – Again).

Update: Publishing

Thieves has been updated and remastered and is out now on Amazon for $.99. It will also, hopefully, be out soon on Audible as an audiobook. (Check back for updates on that.) I will also have another audiobook (I’m reading someone else’s book) coming out soon on Audible. I’ll announce that when everything is finalized and it is available.

Update: Podcasting

I will be kicking off my own podcast in March. It will be a primarily flash fiction podcast. So episodes will be normally 10 minutes or less of audio fiction. I may also create opportunities to feature flash fiction from other authors, so please get in touch with me if you are interested.

Update: Dead stuff…wait…

I think I found – yet another!- dead podcast, but it had a flash fiction challenge I decided to take on anyway, despite being…months late. Whoops.

Episode 6 – Keeping it Real – Writing in the moment

Alone – Again

Alone – Again audio

The glass shatters on the closing door. I kick the couch and growl at the pain.
“Alone.” I huff and storm across the apartment. The apartment was designed for two, now it would be just me, alone. “Again.”

I brush my hands across my face, red and hot with anger. I growl at the empty space. I snarl at the hole left behind. I won’t get irrational and overly emotional. I’m perfectly rational about this.

She’s the one who is being irrational. I have been nothing but rational, reasonable, and kind.

I grab the plates off the table and toss them into the kitchen recycler. I flick the switch and it starts separating things. The recycler will pull the organic detritus from the strong, sturdy, remoldable plastic.

I storm over to shelves and throw them open. I snap at her clothes “I was great, she said. I was everything she wanted. She loved me.” I grab an armful of her clothes and throw them into the laundry chute. “LIES!” The chute flashes Recycle or Clean. I smack Recycle.

I stop in the middle of the living room and look around for evidence of her. A painting she made. Worthless. Her absurdly, expensive collection of old fashioned silverware. Sell it. She said she never wanted to see me again, so she wouldn’t.

I unclench my jaw and massage my neck. “I don’t deserve this. I deserve someone who cares about me.”

I sink into the chair and lean back into the computer. I look through my files, cleaning her out of them.

I’m going to make her go away. I open my editor and start pulling out memories. I start with the oldest ones, the best ones. I have a note in my editor to never start with the newest memories. I don’t know why it is there, but I trust me. I feel my anger, my frustration rise as the memories slip away. Until, I sweep the last of them out and my body relaxes.

I look at my system, my brain editor is open, I frown for a moment. I must have been stressed out about something but that’s gone now. I think maybe I’ll turn in early tonight. I hear a chime from the door.

A beautiful blonde in an incredibly sexy red dress shoves past me. Her face is smeared with makeup and tears. She grabs down a painting I don’t remember buying, and weird collection of shadowboxes with something shiny inside. I watch her with confusion.

“You already deleted me didn’t you?” She wipes at the makeup, smearing it more. “You’re never going to be happy if you don’t start learning and stop deleting. But it doesn’t matter. You’re going to delete this right now aren’t you?” She snorts and leaves.

I go back to the computer to pull up whatever I’d just deleted. I look at the editor and instead delete my recent memory with a swipe.

Ring of Bullets

Another flash fiction challenge from someone else’s title thanks to Chuck Wendig. I selected Ring of Bullets and I went weirdly literal? I feel like there are a lot of places to go weirdly literal with Ring of Bullets. Last time I selected a title no one else had picked and then as the stories started to filter in it was one of the more popular ones. So I’m just going with the one that grabbed me when I read through the list.

I’m still working toward the short and flash fiction podcast. I will be likely opening it up to doing reading of other author’s work occasionally so if you are interested please let me know.

Ring of Bullets

Ring of Bullets – Audio version

It has been 16 years. 16 years of peace, prosperity, life saving breakthroughs, empathy, and all the good things humanity ever strove toward. The first few years no one believed it, no one knew this would be real, no one thought it would last.

A few people today, still say it won’t stick. They stand on the street corners, yelling and shouting, while people walk past in a blissful haze. I sometimes stop and watch. Every couple hours a Representative comes out and brings them water, or a snack, and offers them help. I’ve never seen someone take the help.

Well, not in the last ten years. At the start, of course, everyone was getting help. Everyone was helping. Then people got used to it. The world is perfect, but it isn’t special anymore. Just another perfect Tuesday.

I remember what it used to be. It really is better now. I remember the ache of hunger, the deep despair of loss, the dull emptiness of disasters—the worse feeling when it was people who made the disaster.

The last few years have been the strangest. I feel like I don’t belong in this world anymore. It is still perfect. It is still amazing. Every single day.

I was excited 16 years ago. I was thrilled to finally be able to follow my passion of making art. I had help setting up a jewelry studio. I started to find my niche when people brought me old things. They wanted them turned into bracelets, necklaces, shimmering reminders of the past. Of how far we’ve come.

This job was bullets. An old man—he would have been an old man when the peace began—came in with a handful of bullets. He wanted something that he could give his great-granddaughter on her wedding day.

The bullets were lighter than I expected. He’d taken them apart before he brought them to me. He wasn’t sure what he wanted exactly. He said I was the artist, I should use them to make art. I’d smiled at him.

I would make him something that honored what it had taken to get here. The sacrifices had been great.

I ran the bullets through my scanner and my cleaner. They were, just as he’d said, safe, already taken apart.

I sat at my bench and pulled out a paper sketch pad. I had a computer I could sketch on too, of course, I used it for people who wanted something specific. I could render it in minutes while they watched. When I had time, I preferred the paper, the sound of the scratch of the pencil.

I sketched a dozen designs and threw them out. Nothing was working right. I decided just to work with the metals. I dumped the bullets out onto the table, dozens of them.

I picked up one with the outer part peeling off. I was able to peel away the copper easily with my fingers. At some point the lights in my workshop came on automatically. I had tiny cuts on my fingers and a pile of separated metals.

I scooped up the heavy discs, dotted with my blood and dropped them into my bin to recycle. I knew that I would make a bracelet, a thin, delicate, copper bracelet. It would gleam and shine with potential.

Working the bracelet took a few days, but every time I passed the recycle bin I ached just a bit at the dull, flat discs.

I ran my fingers through them, the discards of the past and finally dug them all out. I separated them and pulled out the lead and tin, heated and waiting for me.

I carved a ring, smooth with only a single ridge running through the middle. I poured dozens of mixtures into the mold. One came out, a dull tin alloy mix. It felt like it might have been a year old or a thousand.

He came in and I showed him the bracelet. He was delighted and was sure it would be perfect for a wedding gift.

I placed the bracelet in a box and hesitated for a moment before taking out the ring. If I was the artist and I was creating art, this was the art I had created. I unfolded the cloth around the ring.

He stared at it for a long time in silence. “You know sometimes I think I don’t belong in this world anymore. The world is beautiful, sparkling, gleaming.” The ring didn’t sparkle or gleam, I did think it was still beautiful.

He hesitated before finally reached out and picking it up. “This reminds me of…” He stopped and slid it on his finger. “Of a time long since passed.”

The Crow of Nine-World

Another flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig:  The Crow of Nine-World. This one was the best, because I didn’t have to come up with a title. And I hate titles.

Pick from a list of titles and write something.  While “The River’s Mask” was very tempting I went with The Crow of Nine-World.

A quick pause before we get to the main action. I’m considering starting a podcast to put the audio in. I’d love any feedback if people would like that option.

The Crow of Nine-World audio

The Crow of Nine-World

A tall, blue-haired, female elf walked through the shop door. The shopkeeper preened his smooth black feathers on his shoulders with his beak and cawed at her. He picked up the nearest item and his cloth and started polishing it. He watched her.

12.6 seconds after she walked through the front door he lifted his hand. “Welcome to The Crow’s Nest miss.”

She turned sharply to him, bumping into a mannequin that displayed items at her level and for her class. The mannequin tipped and reappeared in the correct spot when she got out of the way. She walked toward him a bit awkwardly, her gait exaggerated and unnatural.

“Menu!” She shouted at him. “Quests? Shit, hey Suze what am I supposed to say?”

“Are you new around here miss?” Crow tilted his head, his voice lilted with laughter.

“Hi?” She finally managed to walk over to the counter he stood behind, only after stepping over one of the shorter displays of boots.

“Hello miss. Are you new around here?” He set down the bauble and picked up another identical one and started polishing it.

“Quests. Beginner quests. It’s not giving me any quests!” She reached out and grabbed Crow’s beak. “It’s really cool! I can totally feel it!” She squealed with delight. He stepped back and twisted out of her grip. He gave a quick caw and smoothed the feathers on his shoulder.

“Oh, wait, why shouldn’t I? I mean it’s not real. I could kill it and it’s not like it’s real.” The elf pulled out a wooden dagger from the folds of her robes. Her hand didn’t grasp it tightly and she dropped it.

He stooped and scooped up her dagger. “Would you like to sell this to me miss?” His voice was not gentle any longer. In his hand the wooden dagger glinted like polished gold.

“No, I don’t want to sell it! I need a quest so I can upgrade it and Suze said it was in here.” The elf grabbed for the dagger. Her hand moved fast and she brought it down right on the tip of the dagger. She screamed and swore.

Crow paused for a moment. “Would you like a healing potion miss?”

“How the fuck does this hurt? Like it really hurts!” She was grabbing her hand and wrapping her robes around it.

“You’ve injured yourself miss. Injuries often cause pain. I have healing potions. I also have a single, special, invincibility potion that will make you invulnerable to all pain for 3 seconds.” Crow watched the blood drip to the stone floor which seemed to absorb it.

“Stop laughing! It’s not funny, it really hurts. Sure, give me your best healing potion!”

“I would never laugh at your pain miss.” Crow squatted down and plucked a tiny red vial from the shelf under the counter.

“See, even the game is nicer to me than you are. Thank you, shopkeep.” She reached out to grab the vial but smacked her hand on the counter. She sucked in a quick breath and pulled her hand back to try again.

“That will be 824 pieces.” He held the vial tightly as her hand collided with his.

She looked over his left shoulder. “I only have 8 pieces.”

“Would you like to buy additional pieces?” Crow raised his other hand. A scroll unfurled next to him and all  the tiny motions in the shop–the curtain in the wind, the rat under a table, his chest rising and falling–stopped.

“No, I don’t want to buy shit in your stupid game. Why did I agree to play this?” She waved her hand at Crow.

Nothing happened. She pushed on his arm with the scroll. His feathers were stiff and didn’t move. She frowned and stepped to the right a bit. She reached out and pushed her hand forward again and touched the scroll at the top. It rolled back up and vanished.

“Would you still like to purchase the healing potion miss?” Crow smiled at her and stepped slightly so he was in front of her again. The small motions in the room resumed.

“No. It doesn’t hurt anymore. Ok, back to why I came here. I need to start a quest to upgrade my dagger.” It had blood on it, she brandished it at him. He stepped back away from the edge of the counter and gave a loud caw.

“Have you tried over at the orphanage? They always have work for someone who is good with children.” His voice had a gentle tone and his head tilt seemed inquisitive.

“I just got back from trying to kill the rats for orphans. I don’t even know how to get a damn starter quest done.”

She vanished.

The shop froze. Just for a moment Crow’s eyes flickered and then he, too, froze.

The same tall, blue-haired, female elf walked through the shop front door. Moving smoothly, with an incredible grace and walked right up to Crow.

Crow had just picked up his bauble to start polishing it. The elf bowed deeply in front of him. Her face was contorted. She opened her mouth and laughter came out, she doubled over clutching her stomach laughing.

Crow set the shiny bauble down and preened, smoothing the feathers on his arm.

She straightened and regained her breath, then bowed again. “Excuse me, good sir Crow. It is a pleasure to be in your presence.”

“A pleasure to meet you as well miss.” Crow bowed in return and the feathers along his back gleamed in the flickering lights above them.

“Is there anything I could do for you?” Her face froze with a twist of a smile.

“In fact, miss, I was just about to call for someone to run this bundle over to the orphanage. If you would do it I might be able to help you improve your weapon. If that would interest you. Or perhaps a new set of robes?” He reached under the counter and pulled out a small bundle wrapped in twine.

She lifted the bundle easily and slipped it inside a fold in her robe where it vanished. She bowed again. “Thank you very much Crow. I will return soon. And that is how you get a goddamn starter quest!”

She vanished.

The shop froze. Crow’s eyes flickered for several moments, the feathers on his shoulder raised up and froze.

2016 Goals

Not resolutions but goals and plans

I don’t love making resolutions, but I do think that the new year is a good time to consider plans for the upcoming year and what goals I have. And what strategies will get me there. Part of this is the world is full of looking back on the last year and looking forward to the new year. Part of it is I spend a lot of time at my day job with year-end reports and next year planning. Part of it is lots of things roll over with the new year. Resolutions without a plan fail, so I need a plan. When I have a plan I can work the plan.

A look back on 2015

My goals were a little loosey in 2015. Read more, write more. About half way through I was struggling with what my plan was, so I came up with one. Basically randomly. Well I say randomly, but there was thought. As much as I’d like to say it was just a guess.

30 and 3 in 3

The goal was to write 30 shorts and 3 novels in 3 years. 30 shorts is less than one a month, and plan to write the novels during NaNoWriMo. Oh and during that time edit things too.

The shorts have ranged from flash fiction, challenges, novelette length, novella length, and shorts for anthologies. A few have been finished up. A few were bad, and won’t see the light of the world. A few are in progress. I’m a few ahead. (I have a note in my giant spreadsheet that says I’m up to May.) I’m going to keep doing challenges that pop up here and there, work on the list of random prompts I have stacked up, and more of the Smoke Jumpers series.

I’ve got draft 1 of novel 1 under my belt. I’m aiming to start in January on edits for it. Actually I’m going to edit the first book in the series. I found the missing chapters from the end of book 1. They will, naturally, have to be entirely rewritten, but I found them! My other 2 of the 3 will be Diane’s first full novel and Jenna’s third.

A look forward to 2016 goals

Writing

Continue the 30 and 3 in 3 goal. For 2016 goals this means continuing to try to write at least 1 short a month. Do my best to edit up and do something with them.  Next November draft a novel, not sure if it will be Jenna’s third book or Diane’s novel. I also want to get at least 1 maybe 3 more sort of novella length pieces for the Smoke Jumpers set. By the end of the year I want to have an anthologies worth for the Jumpers.

Editing

I have a strategy spreadsheet for editing steps. Starts with identify problems, create a plan, and comes all the way down to words I over use (and improperly use). I really need to dig in and start doing it more than I do now. Every week do some editing. Have a project to edit in the hopper at all times. And work it, according to the plan!

I have one novella length piece I’m working on and I want to dig in and start editing Jenna’s first book in January.

Reading

Read more, always read more. Read more out of genre. Read news. Read articles. Read novels. Read shorts. Read the labels on food. Read  websites. Read directions. (Don’t follow them, but read them.) I think I’m going to write another post about this later.

Critiquing

Read and critique. I’ve been doing it pretty regularly, but I’d like to do a couple of novels in the next year. Either volunteering on the NaNo or Critters sites or some other way. But being thoughtful and considerate of the way story and characters and plot works for others will help me. And hopefully help them!

Be critiqued

In addition to giving feedback, I need to continue to get feedback. Reach out and ask for feedback from others. Be thankful and appreciative of the feedback I get. Especially the negative feedback.

Don’t stop planning

Over the next few months I want to keep working on planning and aiming toward my 2016 goals. Planning is a big part of that. Write a lot isn’t a good resolution for me. A specific and achievable goal with a plan. I’m going to write a few more posts over January on some of these specific issues.

I challenge anyone else to have goals with plans to make the goals happen!

Nano Update – Done

Done

I’m done. I wash my hands of it. I actually finished on the 23rd with the bulk of the book. I went through and put in notes where I need to fix things. I pulled the first book into the Scrivener along side it so that I can make sure I’ve got good continuity between the two. This seems like what it was made for. I can have open my information about her magnetic bracelet (more like this – though more do it yourself and not so much like this) so I make sure I’m getting the look right and the list o-stuff she currently is carrying with her on it stays consistent.

I also went through and highlighted the scenes from the first book that I know will need a significant rework (in addition to the 2-3 that just need to be written) which is only 3 of them. So overall not as bad as I’d feared. One will need to be basically redone completely but the other 2 have a lot of salvageable stuff.

Next steps for Jenna

I’m setting her aside. This is, hopefully, 1 and 2 in a trilogy. I have a really long way to go on getting them edited up and polished and ready. But I’m hoping to really dive into that in January. I figure a month off to work on other things is a good break.

I fully expect editing book one to be painful. But it won’t be as bad as my last, for so many reasons. And I think book 2 shouldn’t be too bad. I’m looking forward to having them ready to go.

Next project

Shorts. More shorts. They are fun and fast and I think they are helping me get better at writing, plotting, planning. All good things. I’ve got two in the novelette range (for me I am aiming for 10-12K) that need polish and can be put on a shelf for something I’m hoping to put together.

The next one I’m going to work on is a shake out my brain and do something very different short. Based on a bunch of rejected suggestions from a friend who gave really bad ideas this NaNo. Bad ideas lead to good ones.

No Elvis though. It doesn’t fit my universe.

Planning

It’s October so for me that means, time to start planning for NaNoWriMo.

Must finish faster:

I do have a novella I’m nearly done with that I would like to finish before I move onto the next project. It is a part of the series I’m working to put together based on a group of shifters who fight their own fires.

For Nano:

I don’t know which novel or character or plan I’m going to go with. I’ve always had a plan by this time in the year previously and then spent October hashing out the details of the plan. I feel a little like it ought to be one character, and I know I’ll be perfectly happy with her once I pull her out of the Novel Box and clean her up and start polishing her again. But I’m a little over-enamored with  one of my characters from a short and I kind of want to write what comes next for her.

Flash Fiction Challenge – Borrowed Character

I spent most of the day so far hammering through a read aloud/record/listen pass of my short for the upcoming anthology (new author added! Check Ariele Sieling’s stuff out).

But I took a break to clear my head and meet the flash fiction challenge of the week from terrible minds.

I borrowed the character Karen Boyd from the Scary Hippopotamus for the terrible minds flash fiction challenge of the week. Karen sounds awesome (go read!) and I’m not sure I did her justice, but I hope you enjoy her.

Flash Fiction Challenge Audio

I have 18 minutes.

I hope I have 18 minutes. I slip into the chair of the station manager and grin. Ellis never locks his desk, getting in within the first five minutes means it won’t demand identification. I set my taser on the desk, pointed at the door. I’d spent weeks making sure that not only did I know every single person on ship, but I have an idea of who might come in, who I will need to shoot, who I will need to sweet talk, who I might be able to share the truth with.

I’m not completely sure what I’m looking for today. This might be the first of many trips to dig through files and see what answers I can find. I start to go through the files, schedules, process documents, a glossary for all the acronyms we use. I didn’t think I’d find a manifesto detailing all the lies they’d told, the way they’d built people, the purpose of the mission, but it would have been nice if it was there.

I select the search function and look through the recent searches. Schedules. Everything around here is always about the schedule so I don’t know how I could be surprised that it was all about schedules.

Personnel files, they must be in here somewhere. I dig deeper, trying to make sure I’m not doing anything that can be noticed later as out of place. I’d really just like to type my own name into the search function, but that would be the fastest way to give me away.

A sharp rap on the door pulls my attention up. My hand goes to my taser, I’m going to have to use it, go with Plan B.

“I believe I am to report here for orders.” I didn’t recognize the man at the door. I know everyone on this damn ship. We are on a space ship. In space. I know everyone on the ship, that is in space. This isn’t possible. He doesn’t recognize me.

“Ma’am,” The man speaks again. “They told me that I was to report here for orders. I just got out of cry and I don’t remember much ma’am so I’d appreciate if you could tell me…who you are, what I’m doing here…just about anything.”

I think back to when I came out on the ship. When I was printed and built. They told me I was woken out of cryo. They told me to report to the station manager.

“Yes, come in and have a seat.” I sit up a little straighter.

15 minutes left.

I wave at the seat. “It is a little disorienting isn’t it?” I give a friendly smile.

“Yes ma’am it is.” He sits down looking greatly relieved. He nods. “I can’t remember much of anything. What am I doing here? This is a space ship right?” He leans forward at the last looking around a bit confused.

I laugh. It isn’t the most official thing to do, but I can’t help myself. “Yes, we are on a space ship. You’ll have a full briefing packet in your room.” I don’t know if I should tell him the truth, as much of it as I know, make an ally.

“Thank you so much ma’am.”

“Karen Boyd. Do you know what your name is?” Someone will know I’ve been here so I might as well go all in. I turn to the computer and type my name into the search field.

“No ma’am.” His confusion is thick. “I mean Karen. I mean Ms Boyd. I mean …” He pauses and looks at me, he’s sorting through his thoughts. I start moving files to the drive I’d managed to secure. Anything with my name on it, lots of schedules, but some things that look promising. I’m not even bothering to open them.

12 minutes left.

“I’m not sure what I mean ma’am. Ma’am sort of seems like the thing seems the most natural.” The man frowns. He examines his hands. I move more files.

In my haste I open one of my files. I nod at him absently. A thought suddenly occurs to me. We only have resources on the ship for an exact number of people I know every person on this ship. Except the man in front of me. How are we going to feed one more person? How are we going to house one more person? We need oxygen and greens.

I try to hide my confusion. The file is a schedule. I go to close it and then glance at the names. I scan the list for my name. It’s on there. I feel a tiny bit of relief. I start to read the rest of the names, looking for one that is missing.

“Ma’am?” The man across from me catches my attention again. He is watching me, like I’m the one with authority. He thinks I’m the one in charge I remind myself. A name I don’t recognize on the sheet jumps out.

“Reginald.” I smile at him. I don’t know who is missing, but this must be the man in front of me. Who is Reginald?

8 minutes left.

“That doesn’t sound like my name.” He frowns. He repeats it to himself quietly. I keep looking for the missing name, but there are a couple hundred people on the station. Not so many I can’t know them all, but apparently enough that I can’t find the missing name in a matter of minutes. “Is there anything else you can tell me about why we are on a ship in space, we are in space right?”

“Yes, we are in space.” I know this story, I’ve heard it a hundred times before. “We are on a colonization mission. We had one final transmission from Earth, where we came from,” I can’t remember if this was something I knew or something I’d learned, “but it was a mess. We don’t know what it was. We have to assume we are the last of humanity.”

I wait for the surprise. It doesn’t come. He nods, like this is something he knows already. Maybe he is the person I need to talk to. “That seems familiar. Is that supposed to be familiar? I feel like maybe I know about communications? Is that possible?” He looks to me for the answers.

3 minutes left. I need to leave now.

I stand. He stands. I grab the drive from the computer. They are going to know I was here. Eventually. I’m going to try to make sense of everything I can first.

“Let me show you where you can get something to eat, we can have a brief chat.” I wave him toward the door and he steps out.

There is probably a ticking clock now. I need to learn more about the files, about what this man knows, and I need to do it before someone figures out what I’m doing.

Time’s up.

Mothman’s Bride – A Flash Fiction Challenge

For the Flash Fiction Pop Culture Challenge from Chuck Wendig I rolled up a 7 for The Mothman Prophecies (which of course I have not seen, however I have seen many shows on cryptoeverything, read books, listened to podcasts —Monster Talk is awesome– so I decided to go with what I know of Mothman the cryptid and call that a win) and Princess Bride (which I have seen, most notably at a midnight showing I once went to alone because it was a really bad no good horrible time but the feel in a packed theater of people who knew all the lines was both the most warm fuzzy thing and the closest to a cult I’ve ever been).

Mothman’s Bride

I stomped down the well worn stone path. My bag and sword were heavy and hot. I was sticky and uncomfortable. The air wasn’t even cool at night.

I saw it again. The huge thing, eight feet tall, wings as wide as four men’s arms stretched tip to tip, bright glowing red eyes, he sat perched on top of something I couldn’t make out. The moonlight only illuminated his plate sized red eyes.

“Yes, I’m coming for you.” I shouted at it. It felt like the thousandth time. “I will avenge my parents. Now if you could just wait there for a few minutes and we can properly have this out.”

I didn’t bother to drop my bag or draw my sword. He’d fly off as soon as I got close. I stopped and peeled my shirt away from my skin and fanned it trying to get some air flow going. “It’s like a thousand degrees here, could you at least like flap your wings for a breeze?” At least I wasn’t wearing trousers, mom had been right about a long, light skirt being surprisingly travel friendly.

“Oh, fine.” I drew my sword and charged forward. As I neared the fence post it dove at me. I lifted the sword, aiming for the side, just damage one of his wings. He’d be down and I could fight him face to face.

I managed to connect with the edge of the leathery wing, but adding one more small cut wasn’t enough to take him down today. The force of the wind generated nearly knocked me over but I was ready this time.

After he flew away I turned to face the danger. Wherever he went, there was danger.

An old woman came out of a hut a short distance from the overly tall fence post. “You’re here to steal my son, you hussy! Well, you can’t have him!” She threw something at me. She had a great arm for an old woman. It landed near me, but didn’t hit me. I crouched down to examine it.

As soon as I did I stood up, when the jerk with the wings shows up there is danger and you run away. I turned and a rat the size of a large dog leapt at me. I swung my sword making a connection, but its hide was too thick to cut through easily.

Another came at me from the side. I swung again, connecting with its side, I knocked it away it gave a horrible squeal.

“No!” The deep bellow startled me but I managed to keep my attention on the third rat coming at me. I swung my sword aiming to hit its face with the flat side of my sword, it squealed and ran away and I turned for the next.

Except when I turned there was a man, a giant, twice as tall as me. He reached down and picked up the fourth rat pulling it out of the way of my sword. I kept going with my swing and toppled over.

A fifth rat, they seemed to run away after they were hit, managed to get its teeth into my leg. As I lifted my sword the giant lifted the rat who didn’t let go of me.

The giant held up the rat by the tail, the rat held me by the leg. I was dangling with my sword above my head, which was of course actually below me. Mom never warned me that a skirt could get in the way if I was being hung upside down by a giant holding onto a rat who was biting me.

“Go away!” The giant shook us. I clung to the sword, the rat clung to me, the giant clung to the rat.

“I’m trying to, but your friend won’t let go of me.” I shouted up to the giant.

“Mitsy, drop it!” The rat let go of me and I fell to the ground. The giant cradled the huge rat against his chest and grabbed another.

I scrambled to my feet and started to run away.

“You stay away from my baby!” The old woman yelled again.

“I’m trying to stay away!” I ran down the hill past the hut shouting. Another rat was coming after me but it stopped. I hoped it meant that the giant had grabbed his friend.

I heard a screech. I hoped it was the horrible man with the wings and not the rats.

I’d walked for weeks looking for the winged man without seeing him. Lately I’d been seeing him more than once a day. I was getting closer. I would avenge my parents. He collapsed a bridge on them.

I kept on running and stumbling forward. I finally regained my balance and put my sword away. I turned around and looked back. I could see the giant sitting on the ground with the rats climbing over him. I slowed and continued down the path.

The screech came again. I looked for the red plate sized glowing eyes. I spotted them in a dark wood to the side.

“Why can’t you ever be like in a nice warm cabin with a cozy fire?” I was hopeful that the last cut to the wing would slow him down. Maybe after all these years I was finally making progress.

He screeched again. He unfurled the huge wings. Behind him something lit up the space and I got a very good look at his wings. Over the years I’d gotten a few cuts into the rough leathery wings, so maybe it was finally making a difference.

I entered the woods and off to my left a flare of light caught my attention. A flare of fire rising up out of the ground. I stepped away but it burned for a few moments and then died down. I walked over to it and kicked at the ground. It smelled like sulfur. There were no trees or bushes growing around it.

“This is a danger I can handle. I looked around for rocks with moss on them and followed the path of them, avoiding the occasional spurts of fire.” The giant man folded his wings around him.  Usually he unfurled them to take off as I got closer.

“Hey!” I figured I might as well try something different since I was this close now. I stepped around a bare sandy area and watched a rock sink in fast. “Moss good, sand bad. Check.” I kept moving toward the man slowly. “Stick around for a moment and have a chat with me.”

He seemed to be leaning against a tree. He didn’t move away. I didn’t pull my sword out, but I did keep a very close eye on where all the sandy spots were and where the ground was safely mossy. I wasn’t quite close enough to strike but the ground around me was growing and green so I stopped.

“You killed my parents. Tell me why.” I didn’t care why, I just wanted to avenge them. I watched carefully to see what he’d do. If I could get closer I could strike.

He screeched again, then he spoke. His voice was weirdly thin and reedy, it seemed like it would blow away. It didn’t fit at all with his giant size. “I don’t kill anyone or hurt anyone. I warn. Why do you chase danger?”

I frowned. “I don’t chase danger, I’m chasing you. You collapsed the bridge on my parents. Do you even remember killing them?” I struggled to remember watching the bridge that fell. My parents were in a boat below the bridge and the boat was destroyed, they weren’t able to swim out with all the debris falling around them.

“I remember. You started chasing danger that day. The only thing you’ve gotten better at is finding trouble. I didn’t do anything to them. The bridge was collapsing, I was trying to warn people away.” He unfurled his wings.

This was my last moment. I had to make a difference now. I saw the five steps that it would take to close the distance to him. I pulled out my sword and closed four of them. His wings drooped, he didn’t take off.

I closed the final step and stabbed at his torso. I was going to avenge them. The sword went in more smoothly than I expected.

He didn’t move away. He didn’t scream. He didn’t pull back. He sighed. “I told you, I warn. I’m not here to hurt you. I didn’t hurt them.”

I frowned and pulled the sword out and swung again. This time slicing at his wing. I could feel the sword as it cut through, but nothing on the wing changed. It was like I hadn’t done anything.

He sighed again. I swung over and over. At his neck, I even tried to stab at his weird giant plate eyes. Nothing mattered. “Do you feel any better?”

“Not really.” I jerked and tugged to get the sword out of the tree behind him. He just kept standing there, looking bored.

“Sometimes bad things happen. I’m there to warn people away from bad things. If you don’t take the warning I can’t help you.” He flexed his wings a bit, the edges looked exactly the same amount of frayed as they always had.

My parents, I couldn’t avenge them. I’d tried for over half my life and I couldn’t even manage to do that. I’d learned to sword fight. I’d become an expert tracker. I’d fought all kinds of crazy things. But I couldn’t fight something that wouldn’t die.

But I could try. I stepped forward and punched him. My fist connected with him, he felt like a man, my hand hurt like I’d punched a man in the jaw. He was totally unfazed. I stepped back, watching the fire spurt up beside him, running right through his wing.

“Well, what do I do now?” I put my sword away and plopped on the ground, away from the sand and sulfur smell. My life had no goal, no meaning, no aim. I hung my head defeated.

“Have you considered becoming a pirate?”