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Short Story to be published in Grievous Angel Webzine…

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I’ve just learned that a piece of Flash Fiction of mine has been accepted for publication in GRIEVOUS ANGEL WEBZINE. The name of the piece is The Prize and though it will be a couple months before it surfaces, I thought I’d announce it now.

Looking for suggestions on direction

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Here is a fragment of a story on which I’m looking for some suggestions on where to take it…please leave your suggestions in the comments. And thanks.

morgue

To Matthew, Elise Newcombe was more beautiful dead than alive, but so were they all. He took pictures of each one and carefully catalogued them in a scrapbook. Not caring if some might think it was morbid to do so, but careful that it not be discovered, Matthew would only bring out the scrapbook when he knew his mother was asleep.

Always a loner, Matthew took the job at the mortuary because he didn’t have to deal with people, live ones anyway.

Another short story (or part of one)…

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Here is a short story for Christmas; yeah, it’s a little corny, but sweet. I hope you enjoy it.

The Pageant

The snow crunched beneath his feet as the old man walked from his garage to his front door. Winters had always been hard, but they seemed a bit colder and a bit grayer since Evelyn had passed. They’d been married 42 years when she discovered a lump in her breast. By then, it was too late – within six months she was gone.

Their last Christmas together had been incredibly tough. She was in her last stages and though they’d tried everything the doctors could suggest, nothing helped. In fact, it seemed to Paul it may have hastened her death. That’s why near the end he’d refused the latest round of treatments, even when their son tried to convince otherwise. They had a bitter argument, resulting in a split between father and son, a split so deep that they were unable to give one another any solace when Evelyn passed. The last time they saw each other was at the funeral.

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Short story published in Nth Degree …

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I nearly forgot that I’ve recently had one of my earlier short stories published online in the Nth Degree Fiction magazine Issue #25…I do like the illustration they put with it!

NthDegree-25

The story is “Harcourt Manor” and is a sort of haunted house story. I hope you enjoy it.

Short story with MX Publishing…

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I forgot to post that I have submitted a Sherlock Holmes short story to MX Publishing that they say they will publish as an ebook. The story is titled “SHERLOCK HOLMES and the RAVEN’S CALL” and is a pastiche in the true sense. It is set shortly after Holmes has retired to raise bees in Sussex. It is after he purchases his new digs that he discovers the deceased previous owner may not have died accidentally as reported. I think it’s a very good tale and perhaps reminiscent of Poe in some respects. I’ll post as soon as I know it’s available. It should be a $2.99 ebook when it comes out.

Ravens call Adventure

Story fragment…

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I just wanted to share this beginning to a short story I penned a while back…the title is “The Fog”

Captain’s personal log, USS Cyclops (AC-4), 13 March 1918

The ship is en route from Bahia, Salvador, with a full load of manganese ore bound for Baltimore, MD, and the munitions factories. We’ve been sounding fog signals fore and aft every two minutes. The fog’s been with us for two days. Unable to raise anyone by radio and no beacons have been sighted to get a navigation fix. I suspect the compass is unreliable. By the dead reckoning track the ship should have made landfall yesterday. In all my years sailing these waters I’ve never seen such a thick, cold fog.

“Captain to the bridge!” came the call from the loudspeaker, squawking like a noisy parrot perched above Captain Worley’s cabin door. He didn’t need to be called twice. Anytime he was summoned to the bridge something serious was afoot and with this fog he knew it could easily mean his ship was in danger. Grabbing his bridge coat from its hook by the door, Captain Worley moved his six feet, four inch frame hurriedly along the length of the ship. It took him less than two minutes to get from his quarters to the bridge, traveling the length of the ship and up two ladders. On his way he scrutinized the ocean on the side of the ship he traversed.

“What’s the trouble, Mr. Higgins?” he asked, out of breath and sweating, despite the cold, from his efforts to get to the bridge quickly.

“Forward fog watch reports what he says looks like a boat in the water ahead, tracking across our bow,” Higgins answered but his eyes continued their attempt to penetrate the veil of fog.

“Where away?”

“Two points off the port bow, sir. I’ve slowed to bare steerageway.”

“Very well.” Captain Worley’s eyes sifted the fog, then, “There she is…crossing our bow, dead ahead. Go all stop, Mr. Higgins, then back down to take all way off.”

“Aye, aye, Captain. All stop,” he ordered.

“All stop aye, sir,” answered the lee helmsman as the engine order telegraph bells chimed away. A moment later he announced, “All engines answer stop, sir.”

“Very well, all back one-third,” came Higgins next order.

“All back one-third, aye, sir,” came the response from the lee helm followed by, “all engines answer back one-third.”

As the lee helm repeated his order, Higgins moved to the port side of the bridge where he could observe out the porthole the water alongside the ship, making a judgment on when to give the order to stop engines that would leave the large ship motionless in the sea. “All engines stop.”

“All engines stop, aye, sir,” came the reply followed almost immediately by, “sir, all engines answer stop.”

“Very well,” answered Higgins. Turning his attention back to the captain he asked, “Your orders, sir?”

“Hail them. Find out what the devil they’re doing out here without sounding fog signals and why the hell they didn’t respond to ours. I’ll be in the bridge office.” With the immediate danger to his ship passed, the captain was at liberty to vent his anger. Nautical rules of the road commanded ships and boats to sound signals in fog whether navigating or at anchor. To ignore those rules put all vessels at risk. It’s something mariners take very seriously.

Thirty minutes later there was a knock on the door of the small office just off the main bridge. This is where Captain Worley spent most of his waking hours while at sea when he wasn’t physically on the bridge. His more comfortable quarters aft were used primarily for sleeping, which came in short supply. “Come,” barked the captain.

“Captain,” said LT Meisner as he opened the door, “she looks to be abandoned. We hailed her with lights and bullhorns. No response. None on VHF either.”

“That’s strange; she looked as though she was under power when we first came upon her.”

“She’s adrift now, sir.”

“Very well, Lieutenant, take the whaleboat over for a look. Let’s see what’s going on over there.”

“Aye, aye, Captain.”

“And Paul,” the captain added using the young lieutenant’s first name in an unusual breech of decorum, “be careful.”

Giving the captain a smile that spoke of the lieutenant’s youthful confidence he replied, “Aye, sir,” and turning left the captain alone.

Taking his pen in hand, Captain Worley entered the following in his personal log,

‘Came across what appears to be a derelict vessel drifting in the fog. I can’t explain it, call it a Dutchman’s intuition, but I have an uneasy feeling about this boat. When I first saw it, the thought came to me from nowhere—death boat.

The captain spent the next hour and a half awaiting word back from the boarding team. He had the utmost faith in LT Meisner. He’d been Worley’s Executive Officer, or XO, for the past three years, an unusually long period for peacetime, but with the war on, transfers for career officers were rare. Worley had begun to think of the younger Meisner as a son. This, and the inexplicable unease he felt over the adrift vessel, made the waiting difficult.

Signals were exchanged at regular intervals between the ship and the boarding party, but the sparse information received back was negative. After an hour and a half the signalman delivered this message to the captain:

‘Returning to ship. Entire crew and all passengers missing except one.’

As he awaited the boarding party’s return Captain Worley paced the bridge. With each trip across he stopped to check the launch’s progress—now it was tied alongside the derelict vessel; now it’s bow turned back toward the ship, the bow-wave barely discernable in the fog; now it was halfway between the derelict vessel and his own ship, more clearly visible, though not distinct enough to make out faces. As the boat pulled alongside, aft by the accommodation ladder, the captain made his way to where the boatswains were securing the rigging for the ladder. He wrung his hands together in nervous anticipation, his earlier uneasiness increasing to dread, dread of the unknown. Who was this last remaining survivor, crew or passenger, survivor or murderer, friend or fiend? When he reached the top of the ladder he called down to LT Meisner, “Report to my cabin; bring your charge.” He didn’t wait for a reply. Without further word he walked aft to his quarters.

It was a full thirty minutes before the XO knocked on the captain’s cabin door.

“Come,” called the captain. He didn’t know what it was he expected to see, but whatever he expected, it wasn’t what accompanied the Executive Officer into his cabin. Standing there, shivering in a too large foul weather jacket was what looked like a ten-year-old girl, her dark curly hair spilling out from under a watch cap donated by a crewman. The jacket he recognized as belonging to the chief boatswain’s mate who’d been coxswain for the boarding team. The captain’s heart was instantly touched by the innocence of the young eyes peering up through the curls.

Why my book is late…

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In answer to the numerous inquiries as to why my book’s release has been late, I felt it only fair to give some notice and try and explain as much as I can. On April 30, 2012, I sent my publisher a panic email letting him know that one of the readers of the Kindle version pointed out an egregious error to me that had gone unnoticed before by all the various people who proof read the book. I asked if I might be able to correct this prior to release of the book. Since I had omitted both a dedication and an acknowledgement page, I took this opportunity to also include them. So, on May 1, 2012, I sent to MX Publishing the revised manuscript of the book complete with dedication and acknowledgement. It is this late entry and change that I fear has caused the delay in the book’s release through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

I want to reassure anyone wishing to purchase the book, that in the interim they can get the book directly from the publisher at MXPublishing.com or at bookdepository.com, both will ship at no charge. For those who pre-ordered, I offer my heartfelt apologies.

Some very good writing tips…

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I ran across this article, Eight Simple Tips for Editing Your Own Work, and thought I’d post the tips here.  For further discussion, see the linked article.

1.  Don’t edit while you are writing.

2. Put your work aside for a few days.

3. Read it through in a different format (I think they mean font, here).

4. Edit for structure and content first.

5. Cut out 10% of your words.

6. Use spell check, but use your eyes too.

7. Read your piece backwards, or slowly.

8. Let it go.

To these I’ve added one that I find particularly useful, especially for dialogue.

9. Read your work aloud.

There, nine tips for editing that will make your work better. I hope this helps.

Short Story snippet, “The Banshee of the Rannoch Moor”

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Here is a snippet of a short story of mine that is available on Amazon.com for $2.16. As I think about it, it may be steep for a single short story…oh what the heck, it’s only two bucks and change… Anyway,  I plan to start marketing my shorts online as self-published ebooks in order to generate a following. I’ve written several, with several more in the tank (think-tank) just waiting to spill out onto paper…

I’ll give you a taste of this one, called The Banshee of the Rannoch Moor, and perhaps you can comment on whether it piques your interest…

THE BANSHEE OF THE RANNOCH MOOR

I believe it was the Bard himself who wrote, “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” and I am here to tell you it’s a fact. The story I’m about to tell is true, I swear it by all that is holy, and all that is unholy for that matter, for this isn’t a tale for the faint of heart. Be warned, for if you hear the cry of the Banshee…but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here, sit down, let me start from the beginning, so you can judge for yourself. I may not tell it well, but then who’s to say what’s worth the telling, eh? Sit. It’ll only take a little while. There, that’s better.

It happened quite a spell ago, not before the time I was born, you understand, but perhaps a good span of time before you. Anyway, I heard the story direct from one who would know it, you can be sure of that, and a more honest person you’d never want to meet. Wouldn’t tell a lie to save his soul, he wouldn’t. I can vouch for that.

Anyway, the way he tells it, Lonnie and Rachel McAnderson lived out on the Rannoch Moor, not far from Loch Rannoch. Rachel McAnderson was fair and beautiful, while her husband was coarse of manner and ill tempered. In fact, it was said that he was a brute of a husband and Rachel grew most unhappy with her lot, so much so that she began spending more and more time at the little country church of St. Elban’s.

What started out as an earnest desire to find peace in her soul grew quickly into an affair of the heart between her and the church’s pastor, Reverend McBride. Rachel found the Reverend to be a sympathetic ear to her woes and the Reverend, who at first sought only to comfort the poor woman, soon fell in love with her, so beautiful and gentle were her ways.

Rachel, who’d married Lonnie McAnderson at an early age, had never known anyone as kind and loving as the Reverend, and it wasn’t long before she returned his love in kind. Rachel attended services religiously, if you’ll pardon the pun, in an effort to spend more time with the Reverend. She volunteered for any affair that would get her out of her house and to the Lord’s, collecting clothes for the poor, cleaning the church and rectory, providing religious instruction to the children. She was always the first to arrive and the last to leave and gained a reputation as a godly woman of the church.

She’d have gained a reputation of a very different sort, mind you, had the wags at that church seen what went on after she and the Reverend were alone. Once left to their own devices, the Rachel and the Reverend enjoyed each other’s company in a most unholy way, if you don’t mind me saying so. They made love right there in the church, God forgive them. And although the Reverend had long been a missionary, that wasn’t the only position he assumed, if you catch my drift. They frolicked together in the most diverse and varied fashion from one end of the church to the other. Not even the choir loft was safe from their doings. It was on those long buggy rides to and from the church that Rachel hatched a plan to set her free of her uncaring husband and let her fly to her lover’s arms for once and for all.