Saturday, September 29, 2012


This is a new short story, or the beginning of a new short story that I'm working on for my workshop. It's a little bit out of my comfort zone.....  But not as far as I'd like. Oh well.  So, tell me what you think. I'm hoping that something happens in the story to explain the title, which I like, but don't know why yet.


I light a fresh cigarette off the butt of the dying one before crushing into the tray set in the door of the car. My companion's sigh is so complex at this that I don't bother with an attempt to divine it's true meaning. I simply take a long, cleansing drag and exhale the smoke out the window. I mask the sodden desperate air of the ruins we've left with the taste of nicotine, but it is only temporary. Since the war, every corner of Europe smells and feels like the sodden aftermath of a fire. The air is heavy with drown smoke, land with charred dirt.

As usual, Marcella begins the conversation in the middle. “He's such a reputation, you know, Albrecht. They say he's the devil.”

“If I was the devil, I wouldn't be holed up in a drafty old mansion in Scotland.” I murmur. I suppose I should be cheered by the breathtaking green of the rolling land we travel through. Perhaps not every corner of Europe has been blacked after all. But it is still bone cold. My hands ache from it, and it is as though I'm still in winter, no matter the season around me. Scotland could be no different.

Marcella smiles her cat-sharp smile and says, “I'm curious to see what you make of him.”

My eyebrow raises at her tone. “Is that all?”

“Herr Christian, whatever can you mean?” Behind her lilting teasing tone hides a bully. 

“I'm not your escort, Marcella, not really. I know that. I want you to stop playing with me and tell me what my task will be once we arrive.”

“You're no fun at all, Albrecht, are you? I told you, we were invited. To watch you puzzle him out, what more could I want?”

She snuggles against me, and I feel my own body steal warmth from hers. Warmth, and nothing more. I shan't ever dare feed from Marcella, the only being alive that knows my secret. She is as precious to me as she is repulsive. 

Our relationship started as business. I was cast adrift by war, my family's fortune had crumbled, and I was on the street as a young man. Marcella was a seller of such young men.

In time, as I became aware of my special talent, she also became aware. And she saw an opportunity where I only saw a monster. 

Yes. I am the monster in this tale. I was the Prince, when I was very young, but survival made me a monster. 

Macella gives another sigh, this one more contented. “You may as well close your eyes, Leibling, it's a bit farther.”

But I don't. I don't need sleep, not when I'm well fed, and the boy I had in the hotel last night was sufficient to see me through. I can feel him in my blood, my skin, but I can not remember what he looked like now. Sometimes they come back to me, angry, or still in love, or pitiful and sad, but he did not seem so sorry to give me his life. Perhaps he was looking for darkness. 

He had nothing in his pockets for Marcella, which did not please her. I feel the rhythms of her body slow, her muscles slacken and I smoke my cigarette to the filter, and then another, and another, watching the beautiful, lush green of the countryside spin by. I play my favorite game with myself, wondering what I would have been if it had been this land that had shaped me, and not the ravaged fortunes of Austria. It is a useless endeavor, since I am the hard and dark creature I am, and will never be changed, but it passes the time. 

“Your first time to the Loch, then?” 

I start, and it takes me a split second to realize the driver is speaking to me. I take my eyes from the scenery. “Yes. First time. It's beautiful here.”

He gives a snort. “It's an evil place.”

“Because of Herr-Mr. Crowley's activities?” I prompt. For all I pretend indifference, I'm a bit interested after all. It's so rare to find evil instilled in another. Most evil I've found is imposed upon men. I begin to allow myself to wonder if this “Devil” could be....

“What? Him? Playin' dress up and buggerin' anything that wanders by?” Another snort. “Faker, that one is. No, sir. The real evil's in the land, in the water. It's black as pitch.”

My scalp prickles, the sunlight outside fails, curtained by a thick gray cloud. “Everyone has heard the story of the monster in the Loch, yes.” I smile, just a fraction. “But no one truly believes such things in this day and age, surely.”

“Have it your own way.” the man retorts. 

Rain begins to spatter the windshield and I roll up my window. We take a turn off the main road to a narrower one, that is barely wide enough for the car. The ruts jounce Marcella awake again and she stretches prettily. “Goodness, that was a lovely nap.” She leans forward to speak close to the driver's ear. “We're nearly there, then?”
“Yes, Miss.”

She grins at me now. “Perhaps we'll go straight down to the Loch. They say it's ever so much more likely to see the monster in the rain.”

Despite everything, I begin to relax. Was the monster her real interest? Was that too much to hope? I feel myself leaning in that direction anyway. I let my smile become less guarded. “Marcella, won't you ruin your dress?”

“Be adventurous, Albrecht.” She giggles and it's such a foreign sound from Marcella that I start a bit. She is still playing with me, and I steel myself, determined not to fall into the game. If she would only stop using me as a tool, I think, before I can stop it. To wish Marcella different is as useless as wishing it for myself. 

We turn into a graveled courtyard. There is a fountain in the middle that only holds rain water, and the house, a lodge of sorts, sprawls around the drive.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday's regrets

The workshop went really well, last night, and we had more writers, which was exciting. I love the different things each writer brings to the table. I am excited to see their stories take shape as we talk and write.  The only thing I wish I could have done better was to explain the difference between description that only describes and description that evokes. I thought I had all the words down in my mind, but I'm pretty sure I didn't do a good enough job of it. I'm hoping we can talk about it again in the next session. Using words to describe things that have no words? Arrg.  You see what I mean. It's not really an exact science. I'll obviously have to think about this more.

Anyway, as promised, here's my ten minute timed writing from last night.  This one's a little more guided than the last one, and you may recognize the characters. Yes, I've decided to take the plunge. The story I'll be working on is a Ziggy story.

The sweat collected under the guitar strap across Asia's back as they waited. Even poor Gilli's Flock of Seagulls hair had melted into a sodden pile on his head. What was it, a hundred and five out here?

Weird and Ziggy were unaffected. Weird was propped against a wall, eyes closed, hands on his guitar, light, waiting, like he was in cryo-freeze. Not far from t he truth, Asia thought. And Ziggy stood behind the thin curtain. Bone white against his black jeans and the dark curtain. He looked like ice, his face as perfect as a Nagel girl, like a music video that hadn't been made yet.

Yep, sorry. We picked a painting from the gallery and wrote down three words we got from looking at it.  Mine were Patrick Nagel, girlfriend and heat.  yeah, I'm still working on the girlfriend part.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Sunshine Award

The Sunshine Award!

 Wow, really. Thank you to Cemetery Travel: Adventures in Graveyards Around The World for nominating me for this award. And look, I managed to actually put the link in and everything. Does that get me extra points for being all tech savvy? I didn't think so.  Anyway, for those of you who don't know, Cemetery Travel is Loren Rhoads' blog. In addition to being one of my best and oldest friends, Loren knows pretty much everything about graveyards. I always find her blog fascinating.  You all should check it out..
Now, as for the Sunshine Award, here are the rules:
Include the award logo in a blog post.
Answer the 10 questions about yourself.
Nominate 10-12 other fabulous bloggers. Link your nominees to this post and comment on their blogs, letting them know about the award. (I will nominate everyone I can think of, but I'm not sure that will equal 10!)
Share the love and link the person that nominated you.
10 Questions
1. What would you most like to change about yourself?
I'd like to feel that I was more of a grown up. I would like not to feel like I'm faking it all the time.
2. What's your theme song?
 Oh, easy. Life On Mars? This video is from the Serious Moonlight tour--where I most likely heard it the first time.

3. What are you passionate about?
Fiction. I know, that sounds sort of...  pretentious. but it's honest. Fiction is my religion. I think we can explain and understand anything through a good story. I know it's the only way my life's made any sense at all.
4. What generation do you wish you had been a part of?
Of course, I wish it was still the '80's, but I'm not sure I'd want to live in an earlier time. Possibly the Victorian era, but only if I could be a pretty boy.
5. What was your favorite childhood toy?
Maybe this shouldn't be difficult, but it is....  I did love my dolls. I liked the ones with big dresses and lots of hair the best.
6. What is your favorite household chore?
Humm.  None. Well, if I had to choice, dishes.  There's something calming about dishes.  And I always think I can feel the ghost of my first cat Ziggy sitting on my foot when I stand at the sink.
7. Do you twitter?
No. I mean, I try periodically, but I'm not good at it.
8. Any goals?
I've got a lot of goals, but... Well, I'm teaching a writing workshop now, I'd like that to become a regular thing. Also, I'd like to get some damn books published.
9. What is your favorite time of year?
Fall. I love the smell.
10. What is your favorite day?
I like Sunday mornings. Usually I'm not working, so I get to write. I like to get up early and sit on my back porch with my notebook.
My Nominations:
Echoes from the Depths
The Snarky Chickpea
Kacey Vanderkarr
Philip Brewer

So, I didn't get to ten.  That just means I need to read more blogs, right? The Internet is a new and amazing place. I'm still learning.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ten minutes

As promised, here's my ten minute timed writing from the first session of the writing workshop I'm doing. Remember the rules. It's ten minutes of continuous writing of whatever falls out of your head. You're not allowed to pick up your pen, and if you get stumped, you repeat the prompt.  Our prompt was "I remember." The only thing I asked was that it not be an actual memory.  Here's mine.

I remember the purple of his eyes. Like forget-me-nots. Are forget-me-nots even purple? I don't really know. But when I see him, when I close my eyes, that's what his eyes are for me. Purple, pleading forget-me-nots.

And I haven't. Can't. Usually it's a dream and usually my dream is ultra-sharp image of reality--a tape loop in my head.

It's Sean, looking back at me, over one alley-cat shoulder, eyes saying don't.

Wish I hadn't, I guess I wish there had been some way out of it, but he made his mistakes and I had learned from him.

After I pulled the trigger, my ears rang--the room was too small to contain the sound. And when he fell, he spun, landed face up, and one purple eye left, staring forget-me-nots at me.

I remember thinking how long? Have they left me here on purpose, as I waited. Am I for the cops? Just when I had made peace with that, with a trial, a prison term, or maybe not, maybe becoming a loose thread to cut, they came for my.

Yep. Doesn't make a lick of sense, but there it is.  Part of the deal is that you read it after you write it, so I thought I'd inflict mine on everybody. Look for whatever escapes my head after next week's session.
So, again, my friend Kacey Vandercarr, who is just now waiting for her first book, Antithisis, to come out (very exciting, no?), has tricked me into this game thingie.  This time you're supposed to answer these questions about what you're working on.  Sigh. Oh---kay. Following Kacey's example, I won't tag anybody.  I'll just suggest they join in.....
What is the working title of your book?
Iron Moon
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Two places, probably more, actually, but I'll share two. This is a piece that fits into the history of a family living in a pack of werewolves, so the wolves are all characters I've met before. And the inspiration for my version of faerie comes from one of my favorite authors, John Connelly. In one of his books, he talks about this world being a honey comb world, the ground we walk on is only the crust, and beneath our feet is hollow.  Sorry, Mr Connelly, you're stuff is too good.  It wouldn't get out of my head.
What Genre?.
Contemporary Fantasy
Who would play your characters in a movie?
Yeah, I'm old, you know, and I have no TV, so I'm pretty clueless about that. My best guesses won't include pictures because I can't figure out how to make them stick.  But Gary Dourdan (I think that's how you spell it) for Narin--but a bit younger, and Tom Hiddleston for James, but older, and without the dark contacts from Loki.  If anybody else has any suggestions, I'm open. 
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Right now? It's a story about what happens when you can't run anymore.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither, that's my guess.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I predict it will take about 8 months, all told.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I recommend this novella to anyone who enjoys Holly Black, Charles De Lint, or Christopher Rice.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Oh, Wait, didn't we already talk about this?  Well, as I said, John Connelly. But also, one of the things I keep coming back to in my writing, is living a hidden life, and the consequences of that. 
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There's plenty of werewolf smackdown action, evil fairy intrigue, and, oh yes, romance.  
Okay, that was pretty hard. But a good exercise, I think. And seriously, I can use some help with the casting......

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Short Stories

So, I'm about to start teaching a workshop on short fiction. (Tuesday, Sept 11th is the first session, by the way, if you find yourself interested in short stories).

What was I saying? Oh, short stories. I love short stories. To read, certainly, but especially to write.  No, nobody ever gets rich writing them, but there is an elegance to a peice that is under twenty pages, a control that most  of us never get in a novel. You can watch every word, make sure that they're all perfect. It's also a place to take chances. To paraphrase David Bowie, who was, I think paraphrasing Brian Eno, short stories are the place you can crash your plan and walk away from it. Take those chances, write the unwriteable story, talk about things that scare you, try on new styles, and perspectives. Go on. You've got twenty pages to work with.