Check out “Crossing the Veil” in the latest issue of Niteblade!
To celebrate, you can go read my new story “How Love Works” at Stupefying Stories!
My story “Loss and Understanding” is up for the Fiction Vortex Reader’s Choice Award for December. You can (and totally should!) vote for me HERE!
There have been good and bad things about this year. I released my first short story collection and had 21 short stories published. I became a full time employee at ModCloth, and I recently started writing pieces for their blog.
I made no progress on finding an agent for my first novel, and am not anywhere close to finishing my second. I didn’t post very regularly here at all.
I did send out over 200 submissions, and I took some really awesome online classes. I wrote some new stories that I’m really proud of.
I saw the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.
The very worst day of my life happened this year, and then my husband lost his job two weeks before Christmas.
I’m looking forward to 2014. I’ll be turning 30 this year, which is a little scary. I’m going to collaborate with one of my oldest friends on a card game that I’ve tentatively titled “Butterfly Garden.” Once I have the rules figured out and the art is ready, I’d like to see if I can fund it through Kickstarter. Look for that (hopefully) sometime this summer. I’d also like to do another short story collection this year, and I really need to do something about my novels.
I’d like to thank everyone who reads this for taking the time. If you’ve purchased or reviewed One Revolution or commented on my stories posts, I don’t think I can properly express how much that means to me. Thank you.
Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s make it great.
I found this writing contest (there’s still a couple of days to enter, if anyone is interested) and since I love prompts, I decided to write a story and post it here, both to enter the contest and to spread some holiday cheer.
Without further ado, here’s a story. Happy holidays, everyone.
Amy and I stood outside the massive wooden door and shivered. She shot me a look and shrugged. “This was your idea,” she reminded me for the hundredth time. I took a deep breath and winced–the air at the North Pole was cold and dry, and my lungs weren’t pleased with the situation. In fact, all of me was having second thoughts.
But there was no going back now–the sleigh that had brought us was already gone. The reindeer were probably eating well-deserved oats in their cozy stable while we stood out here in the cold. I raised a mittened hand and knocked. The door swung in–light and warm, pine-and-cookie-scented air streamed out.
Tiny hands grabbed each of us and dragged us inside, and the door slammed shut behind us. The workshop was bright and busy, and cheery carols blasted over the the bustle.
“Welcome to Santa’s Workshop!” a rosy-cheeked elf in a pointy green hat said in a high, lilting voice. “What can we do you for?”
“We’d like to see Mrs. Claus,” I said.
Another elf rode up on a tiny, bright red steam engine. “I can take you to her! Follow me!”
“These elves are eerily enthusiastic,” Amy said. “Especially considering we showed up unannounced.”
“Shh. They’re sweet.”
“Saccharine,” Amy muttered. I elbowed her.
The tiny train chugged along at a comfortable walking speed. Tracks appeared in front of it, and disappeared as it passed. Elves hurried around, obviously busy this close to Christmas, but each took a moment to smile and wave as we passed.
“I like it here,” I said.
Amy rolled her eyes. “You would.”
We left the workshop and entered the Claus’s living quarters. It looked like it had come straight out of a magazine. Heavy wood beams were decorated with pine garlands and bright red bows. Lights twinkled from every surface. The scent of chocolate chip cookies intensified, and the raucous carols were replaced by someone picking out “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” on a piano.
“Mrs. Claus!” our elf guide shouted, “You have company!” He looked up at us. “You just let us know if we can do anything else for you.”
“Yeah,” Amy said. “Will do.”
The music stopped, and a few moments later, a white-haired woman came into the room. She was clad in a bright green, fur-lined robe, and looked just like I’d always pictured her. Snow-white curls framed her round face, and her eyes sparkled. “Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m Denise, and this is Amy.”
“And how can I help you girls?”
“It’s more about how we can help you,” Amy said.
I elbowed her again. “We’re here to visit. What’s your name?” I asked.
Mrs. Claus arched an eyebrow. “I think you know.”
“Your first name,” I said.
“Oh. Well. No one’s used that in years.”
“Not even your husband?” Amy asked, scandalized.
“He calls me ‘dear,’ mostly.”
A chime sounded, and we all jumped. “That’ll be my cookies,” Mrs. Claus said.
We followed her into the kitchen. After the bustle in the workshop, the living quarters felt incredibly empty. “Do you get lonely here?” I asked.
Mrs. Claus pulled her cookies out of the oven, then slid another sheet in to bake. “It’s June. My name is June.”
“It’s nice to meet you, June,” I said.
“What are you girls doing here?” June asked.
“Like I said–we came to visit,” I said.
“She thought you might be lonely,” Amy said. “And she’s lonely, too, so she thought that maybe you two could be friends. And she dragged me along as moral support.”
“Amy is lonely, too,” I said.
She elbowed me.
“I haven’ t had friends in a long time. I’m not sure I’d know what to do with them.”
“Give us a chance,” I said. “We’re not hard to entertain.”
June sighed. “Would you like something to drink?” June asked. “There’s tea and cocoa–I could probably find some coffee.”
“Tea’s fine for me,” I said.
“Cocoa,” Amy said. “With marshmallows, if you have them.”
June chuckled. “Of course we have them.” She put the kettle on for me and poured fresh milk into a pan for Amy. “Do you girls want to help me mix up another batch of cookies?”
“I’d love to,” I said.
“What kind of cookies?” Amy asked.
“Whatever kind you’d like. I’ve got my recipe box there on the table.”
Amy opened the box and flipped through the colored index cards. “Raisin spice cookies. My grandmother used to make these,” she said, pulling out a card.
“The bowls are under the sink, and the flour and sugar are in the lazy Susan.”
We moved around the kitchen, working together without talking. Amy started humming. The last tray of chocolate chips were done just as we finished mixing up the raisin spice, and we sat down at the table with a plate of warm cookies and our hot drinks as the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg spread from the oven.
“This is nice,” I said.
June and Amy exchanged a look. “It is,” June said. “I do remember having friends as being nice, now that I’m thinking about it.”
Amy nodded. “You were right, for once.”
“Let’s make fudge when the cookies are all baked,” I said.
“Then maybe we can sing carols around the piano,” June said. “I’ve always loved accompanying people.”
“That sounds nice,” I said.
“So, you girls really came all this way just to bake and visit with me? You don’t have any special requests for the elves or my husband? No wishes for special magic or Christmas miracles?”
“No, we just came to have fun,” I said.
“And we can make our own fun without any men, thank you.” Amy asked, taking a sip of her cocoa. She put her feet up on another chair. “Plus, what could be better than this?”
June winked at her, then pulled a bottle out of a cupboard. “Let’s add a dash of Christmas spirit and see.”
This story was inspired by prompt 309 on this page. ^_^
My story “Loss and Understanding” is available at Fiction Vortex. It was inspired by The Flight of the Navigator. You should check it out!
I had five new stories released in November. Two are available to read for free online.
What Comes After is a science fiction story about mortality.
Unhappiness in Heaven is a fantasy story about a deal with the devil.
I also had three stories released in for-pay format. You can subscribe to Lakeside Circus to read “For Love of the Stars,” buy the November issue of Penumbra to read “The Iron Tang of Blood,” or purchase Suction Cup Dreams to read “Reproduction.”
So, I’m not going to make it to 50,000 words on my novel this month. I got to about 30,000 words and realized that I was almost done with the story. When I try to force myself to speed through a novel, I really speed through a novel. My draft has almost no scenic detail, and is mostly exposition-heavy dialogue. At one point, I realized that I needed another character and just added him in like he’d been there all along.
So, I’ll have to fix all that.
But then, the point isn’t for it to be polished and lovely.
I did learn a lot. First off, National Novel Writing is just not something that really works with my writing style, which isn’t great. I also learned that it wasn’t too hard to make more time to write, which is good. And I learned a lot about the story that I want to tell, and I did get 30,000 words on paper. At least some of those are worth keeping, so that’s all really good.
My real goal for the month was to get myself motivated to work on the novel, and I think I accomplished that. I still have a lot of work to do, but that would be true even if I had succeeded in my word count goal.