Writing: Daily Blog Post

Moon and Clouds by Randy Cockrell

Hey!

Writing, or really, editing. I’m going through the Gulliver Station box set and correcting those pesky punctuation and grammar errors. Have also found a missing word or two.

On the other hand, I have a horror story due by December. I’ve been thinking about possible story plots after reading the book Writing Horror. One idea concerns the local saloon that’s said to be haunted. One of the several ghosts seen on the property is of a prostitute. I’m thinking some sort of body take-over of a modern woman who’s “compatible” with the now dead woman. The modern woman is aware of what’s going on but not in control. How would she get out of the control of the ghost? How’s that sound for an idea?

That’s it for today!

The Gulliver Station ebook box set released July 30th, 2018. You can buy it at Amazon today. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy my Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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Horror Stories and Fear: Daily Blog Post

A Thistle with a butterfly, a honeybee, and a fly. The fly is kind of horrific, don’t you think?

Hi!

I was asked to join an anthology for horror stories. I have written some horror, see my little collection of Halloween Tales. But that’s not my main genre. So, given that the deadline for my story is rapidly approaching, I ordered a book, Writing Horror, by Edo Van Belkom. I’m about 2/3 of the way through the book and am picking up some good tips on writing horror and getting a refresher on just plain, good writing habits. I’m pleased with my purchase.

One of the exercises in the book is to create a list of 10 things I fear. He lists both his list and Stephen King’s list. Here’s mine so far.

  1. Rats (and associated with them, mice)
  2. Being confined. (I once participated in a demonstration with police on the correct way to handcuff a suspect, me being the suspect. I was pushed up against a wall, hands pulled behind my back and the cuffs put on. It happened quickly, and I had a visceral reaction I had never felt before. An instant fight or flight response sent adrenaline through my system and an overwhelming urge to fight back. I managed to resist the urge as it was just a demo. But I have never forgotten that feeling and have a new understanding for how an actual criminal must feel.)
  3. Conflict. (I’m just not good with conflict. Is that a fear? Perhaps. I’ll have to think about it some more.)
  4. That’s it. That’s all I’ve come up with so far. What is it that you fear?

That’s it for today!

Tested released January 31st and I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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Four Doomsdays – Doom Three: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Mushrooms, Otherwise known as Fungus by Randy Cockrell

“And in other news…”

I half-listened as I changed my three-month-old daughter, Becca. It was always bad news on the TV and I was too engaged with my first-born to care about whatever was troubling the rest of the world. My world was perfect.

Still on maternity leave, I took Becca down to the kitchen and poured my husband, Ron, his coffee and put it on the table at his place. This was his first day back to work from paternity leave. We’d had such a nice time this last three weeks. I was sorry that he had to go back to work already.

He came into the kitchen, adjusting his tie. “I’m sorry I have to put this thing on again.” He sat down at his place as I put a bowl of cereal in front of him.

“Then don’t. You don’t have to wear it.”

He shook his head. “No. If you want to get ahead, dress for two levels above where you are. That’s the CEO. He wears a tie, I wear a tie.” He scooped cereal into his mouth.
I shrugged. Ron was ambitious and I couldn’t blame him, so was I. But my system was still swimming in maternal hormones. At the moment, I couldn’t generate any sympathy. “Your call.”

I pulled Becca to me and pulled up my shirt. One of the best parts of the day was nursing time. I could feel her little mouth clamp onto my breast and begin to suck. I still couldn’t believe that I had a baby and I was feeding her. Me. Out of my own body. The wonder of it was still overwhelming. When I looked up, Ron was smiling at me. “I’m going to miss this.”

“I’m going to miss you.”

He took a deep breath. “Yeah. Oh. Did you see the news? Some sort of infection is sweeping through India. Killing babies.” He studied Becca, still going strong on my breast. “That sucks.”

I nodded but didn’t answer. What must those parents be feeling? I’d be frantic.

Ron scooped up the rest of his cereal and gulped down his coffee. “Home by six.” He got up, grabbed his brief case and kissed each of us on the head.

“Drive safe.” I was talking to his back as he headed out the door to the garage. He waved and was gone.

After Becca ate, she had a bath, clean clothes, and was down for a nap. Time for me to shower and dress. Then it was into the kitchen, the baby monitor on the counter, as I washed up the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. The TV cycled through to another news cast. I listened this time as the story about India came back on. “Just in,” the newscaster looked into the camera, face concerned. “It seems China has had a similar outbreak as India. The government there has been keeping it quiet but refugees coming over the border of Nepal have reported children dying by the thousands.
I shook my head as I dried my hands. Poor parents. How awful.

“The Indian government has called on the United Nations for medical support.” The newscaster went on to the next story and I turned off the TV. I was glad I didn’t live over there.

That afternoon, I met some other mothers at the park. Of course, Becca was too young to run and play but it was good to get her out into the fresh air. “Did you hear about India and China?” I asked as I sat down.

“Yes. What a nightmare.” Carol’s baby was the same age as mine. We were in the same room at the hospital. “I cannot even imagine.”

“It’s the conditions,” Margery said with a sniff. “The sanitation over there is non-existent. No wonder there’s disease running rampant.

“What if it get’s here?” Joan stopped talking to wipe her three-year-old’s nose. “I mean, with air travel, disease can spread around the world in no time.”

Margery shook her head as she watched her four-year-old son go down the slide. “The people with the illness are not rich enough to travel. We’re safe enough.”

We all nodded but I wondered. I took pre-med in college before transferring into computer science. Disease was no respecter of socio-economic classes. Look at the plague back in medieval Europe or the flu back in the 1900’s. Millions of dead. Europe lost so many people modern historians marvel that the continent recovered.

I mentioned it at dinner that night.

Ron nodded. “It’s all everyone was talking about at work. Apparently, there is something going around in the bigger cities.”

It felt like my heart was in my throat. “What kind of something?”

He shrugged. “Don’t know. Lot’s of kids sick. But it’s all a rumor. There’s nothing on TV about it.”

After dinner was cleaned up and Ron was watching a recorded game, I got on the internet and did a search. Pictures put up by private individuals showed grieving parents. YouTube videos showed anguished parents pleading with everyone to stay home and not go out in public. A fungus they said. Some kind of deadly fungus.
I told Ron.

“Can’t be. It would be public by now if there were that many cases.” He went back to the game.

I could hear Becca begin to cry over the baby monitor.

I went upstairs. The poor thing was screaming as I went into the bedroom. “That’s okay, sweetheart. Momma’s here.” I picked her up. Out of the spot where her skull met her neck, something white sprang out.

I screamed, holding Becca out from me face down in the crook of my arm, something long and white. Blood seeped from around the base of it.

Ron came racing in.

“Call 911. Something’s wrong!” I sobbed as Becca kept screaming.

Cordyceps, the doctor said. A new, virulent strain of fungus. By the end of two years, every child under the age of five was dead.

Words: 1000

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Author Interviews: Terra Luft

Terra Luft

Terra Luft

I’ve been having a LOT of fun getting to know authors and chatting with them as we prep to have them on my blog. One of the things I’ve made an effort to do is introduce authors who write as many different genres as possible. We don’t want to get dull, now, do we?

This week I’m introducing Terra Luft. Terra has a terrific sense of humor and a wicked bend in her horror stories.

Terra Luft is a speculative fiction author whose imagination is most often drawn to dark tales. An overachiever by nature, she tackles every project with coffee and sarcasm and believes all rules exist to be broken. She works full time by day and writes by night searching for an elusive work-life balance people tell her exists. She lives in Utah with her husband and two daughters, their naughty dog and a cat who stole her heart. Terra is published with Crimson Edge Press and Griffin Publishers and is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association.

The Secret Door Society by Terra Luft

The Secret Door Society by Terra Luft

Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

That’s actually a hard one to answer. In many ways, writing is my favorite hobby but it’s also one of my jobs so I feel like I can’t use that as my answer. Aside from writing, I love yoga and I love reading. I don’t have enough time to do either of them as much as I like.

 

If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

Initial response: my mom, because I lost her a little over a year ago. I’d love to hear her voice again and tell her all the things I didn’t get the chance to before she died. If I’m limited to someone still living: Stephen King, hands down. He’s the one author who had the most influence on who I became as a reader which led to the kind of writer I am. I’d love to meet him and thank him for all his hard work and for sticking with his craft.

 

Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Coffee. All day. Every day. Long into the evenings on most days. I like to say that I’m fueled by coffee and sarcasm. I’m relying on the coffee a whole lot more often to keep me going.

 

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently writing a near-future novel exploring some of the most frightening aspects of our current political landscape. I’m in the pre-writing stages working on character development, plot outlining and research. If the year goes as planned, it will be finished and ready to shop it around to publishers in the next six to eight months. I’ve also got two urban fantasy novels in various stages of revision.

I’m also working on marketing and promotion for my latest release. It is a short story called “Baby of the Lake” in the upcoming anthology “It Came From the Great Salt Lake: A Collection of Utah Horror” set to release February 11, 2016 from Griffin Publishers. My story is about a pregnant woman haunted by a ghost who drowns pregnant women – usually in the lake.

 

How would you describe your writing style?

I’m a pretty dark writer. I love writing speculative fiction because I love speculating on the world either through supernatural, horror or science fiction stories. In every story, I explore the darker sides of people and situations and showcase alternative ways of looking at things. If I can connect with a reader and either show them that they aren’t alone or open their eyes to a different way of looking at the world, I’ve done what I have set out to do.

 

Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Just write! The best piece of advice I ever got was to finish something and immediately start something new. There are two valuable lessons in that one sentence. First, every project you finish makes you a better writer since each project you finish is better than the last. Finishing a novel for the first time took me five years. But I learned so much in those five years that I was able to write the next one AND revise it in a single year. Secondly, once you get to the professional level, you’ll have to know how to consistently produce both for your agent and/or publisher and for your readers who will demand it. If you already know how to write consistently, you’re ahead of the game.

Just write. There will always be critics and sometimes the stories you have to write will never be read by the masses, or even published, but they are still your stories and you need to write them.

 

Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m a spontaneous person who does a lot of crazy things in the impulse of a moment so my day-to-day life is full of new situations to fuel my imagination. I’m also a people watcher. Every year my writing group does a weekend retreat – usually to attend a writing conference – and I always come away with loads of inspiration.

The idea that inspired my first published short story came to me at a writing conference listening to a panel on magic. The bulk of another story came to me from a dream. My current novel grew from an interview I heard on NPR last year. I have a notebook (okay, it’s really a file on my phone) and any nugget that sparks my imagination gets written down no matter how small or large. As a writer, I never know which seed will send my imagination into the depths where the next big story will grow from. If I don’t capture them as they happen, I could miss a good one.

It Came From the Great Salt Lake Anthology

It Came From the Great Salt Lake Anthology

 

Where can we find you on the interwebs?

Website: terraluft.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TerraLuftAuthor

Twitter: @earthandair

Amazon: amazon.com/author/terraluft

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/TerraLuft

 

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: The Magician

Magic, Magician

The Magician by BlowYourMindDesign: Robgrafix via www.deviantart.com

 

Warning: This story has elements of child abuse in it.

The Magician

The show started at eleven but ten minutes early the music started. It was the maniacally cheerful, chirpy music designed specifically to pull children in. The stage was in the dirt median between the highway and the strip mall parking lot. The music did its job. Kids and their parents gathered in front of the stage. Even before lunch, the kids were dancing with impatience already overloaded on the candy canes and hot chocolate offered free in every shop in the mall for the Christmas season kick-off.

At eleven on the dot the magician bounded up the steps at the back of the mobile stage. Taller than average, the thin, elderly man wore a porkpie hat, black dress shirt and pants, black plastic rimmed glasses and an eggplant colored jacket with matching tie that glittered in the sunlight.

He was jovial – greeting the audience with enthusiasm and a big grin. Under the clear blue sky he dazzled the people with sleight of hand and amazing tricks. The children stood slack-jawed, remains of candy canes forgotten in their sticky hands.

The Magician made birds appear and disappear, cut ropes reattach themselves, and pulled butterflies out of his hat. Silk flowers were pulled from behind the ear of a little girl who squealed with delight. For his last trick he brought a boy of about eight and his parents up on stage. He whispered the magic word in each of their ears. When he clapped his hands, bubbles fell from the stage ceiling. The family raised their faces to the falling bubbles with glee. The audience applauded and many dropped tips in the basket at the front of the stage.

At one in the morning the magician opened his hotel room door at a knock. There stood the parents with their son between them. “We came.” The father’s face was blank, eyes staring.

The mother guided her son through the door. “Here he is.” Her face was neutral.

The boy, in the same trance as his parents, stepped inside the room without turning around.

The magician waved, spoke the magic word and the parents turned and left. Their son never twitched. The man shut the door and moved around to face the child. “What’s your name?”

“Jimmy.” The child’s eyes looked into the Magician’s.

“A good name, Jimmy. We’re going to have a lot of fun, son. A lot of fun.”

The boy, still staring, nodded.

The Magician waved his hand in front of Jimmy’s face and said the magic word. “Let’s get some sleep, Jimmy. We have to leave early in the morning.”

The boy went to the queen sized bed without undressing, clambered up and put his head on the bedspread covered pillow and closed his eyes. He was asleep immediately. They were gone by six in the morning.

The parents called the police at eight to report their son missing from his bedroom. They described their son; the pajama’s he was wearing, provided a picture. They begged for his safe return on national television. The search went on for years.

The Magician and Jimmy traveled the country. No one recognized the boy. When he grew older the magician released the spell and abandoned Jimmy in a big city.

At the next show, last act, the magician called a young family up on stage and whispered the magic word in each of their ears.

 

 

The End

565 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Flash Fiction Friday: Plumbing Issues Part 2

Swarm by Nycterisa via www.deviantart.com

Swarm by Nycterisa via www.deviantart.com

This is part two of the Chuck Wendig challenge to write the 1st half of a story then leave it for another writer to finish. This week, we do the middle of the story. I chose Brandon Scott’s Plumbing Issues. This feels like a horror story to me and that’s not my usual thing but what the heck, let’s see if I can write a middle.
No one has picked up my first half from last week yet. I’ll let it go another week to see if anyone decides to do a middle. But I promise, I’ll finish it if no one else does.
I pick up the story at the dividing line.
Title: Plumbing Issues (Part 1 by Brandon Scott at Coolerbs Reviews. http://coolerbs.com/2014/09/10/flash-fiction-challenge-the-first-half-of-a-story-only/)

Darkness, their home. A thousand bodies pressed up to each other, communicating through nothing but a torrent of clicks. A swarm; chirping and scuttling. Carapaces pressed up to each other, rubbing. The sound was deafening. The smell, even worse.
They ate, constantly. It was all they knew. A screaming fire in each stomach. Everything was food; rot, blood, skin. Everything. Every inch of the surface picked clean. Any other creature, anything that was not an ally, devoured. Cracked open and slurped up. A few brothers had died, they too were eaten.
Every feeler started to twitch at once. A new noise had appeared. Booming, alien. Something was talking, something massive. The ceaseless noise, ceased. All stood at attention, wanting to hear.
“Where is it?”
“I already told you on the phone”
“Well, could you tell me again, please?”
“The bathroom. It’s always the bathroom.”
“I said I’d fix it.”
“That was a year ago.”
“I will, I just haven’t gotten around to it. Okay?”
“Okay.”
“No, I… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean-“
“Just fix it.”
“Look honey, I got a bonus coming up. The vacation can wait, we can-“
“Not now. I don’t want to argue. I just wanna sleep. Could you just handle it, please?”
“Yeah, of course, good night.”
“Night.”
A thumbing noise, more akin to thunder than anything else, sounded across the entire hive. A single twitch of alarm turning into a wave of feelers. The pyramid of bodies began to crumble as individuals tried to move, to escape.
It descended into mayhem, bodies pressed against bodies. Towers made, purely by accident; collapsing just as quickly as they formed. The Queen attempted to calm them. Pheromones screaming for order.
They went unheard.
Their spiny legs found purchase, and raced on the sides. A burst a fresh air gave them a destination. Upwards. A barrier prevented them from passing, and they hungrily tore at it. The porcelain proving itself just another food source. Acid spat, melting it, mandibles scooping it into thousands of wailing mouths. Progress was slow, but they were persisting. More and more climbing up to attack the obstruction. When one grew too full, it would drop down. Its six legs, flailing in the air, being eventually righted by a shift of the mass.
This frantic pace continued for a while, the edge of the barrier weakening. Holes dug, but not yet wide enough to go through.
Then the noise sounded again, and all was still.
“No….no you know what, it’s that mother of her’s. Made one comment about the toilet being dirty….and what does she do? She wants me to replace the whole God-damn thing.”
A noise of metal against plastic, followed by compressed air let free. A large weight dropped down parallel to the entirety of the hive.
Something, large, hit against the surface of the barrier.
The obstruction disappeared and the swarm, now uninhibited, rose forth in-mass. Spilling across the floor; thousands of them. Rushing forward. Manic with hunger.

The random hair, skin cells, a dead spider, found by the leading edge of the swarm disappeared into desperate mandibles leaving nothing for the horde behind. They roiled in the small room until an exit was found. There, they found fibers, soft and giving more traction than the smooth floor of the first room. It was dark but that was what they loved. It was dry, not their favorite but all the fiber made it worthwhile.
Again, spiny legs found purchase on wood, on more fibers touching the floor and leading upward. The swarm followed each link upward, racing each other to eat what was in front of them. Antenna quivered as they tasted the air. Protein, and a lot of it was ahead. They raced, each hungry belly wanting to be the first to find the prize.
Clicking, chirping, scuttling, the swarm raced upward. It grew warmer as they ate their way along the fibers. The lead creatures of the swarm gave off their pheromones, FOOD! They bit into the soft, warm meat.
A noise greater than any they had ever heard vibrated their timpani. They stopped, trying to recover from the noise. They heard a click and light filled the room, brighter than any they had ever been exposed to. They cowered. Again, a high pitched shriek, made the swarm retreat a foot or two, confusion reigned in the swarm. Hunger gnawed, but fear held them back. The fibers they were on moved, hard carapaces flew through the air as the shrieking grew in volume. The protein moved, brothers were trampled and eaten.
The queen, left behind, couldn’t help them. Her pheromones were too far away to help calm and organize. As the shrieking drifted away, the creatures returned to eating the fibers, tiny treats of mites and dead skin cells leading the swarm on. Booming noise gave them pause. They stopped to listen.
“You have to come right now! My whole bedroom is infested.”
“There are millions! Millions and millions! You have to come right now. My wife is going to have a stroke. You have to come.”
“Hurry!”
The noise stopped, the swarm ate. A hissing noise came from one wall where a crack allowed some of the brothers to leave the room. As more and more tried to go in that direction, more and more of their dead bodies filled the crack. They tasted bad but food was food. Soon those who ate the dead were dead also.
Again, the booming noise filled the air.
“What’s taking so long? They’re trying to get out of the bedroom. I’m out of bug killer. Hurry up!”
“Yes, that’s the address.”
The swarm barely paused now at the noise. The room was hot and dry. The food was dry. The swarm fed but the environment was hostile. They began to miss the wet, dark place they came from. Some of the brothers stood still, the lack of the queen’s direction rendering them useless.

The End
496/495 Words
Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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