Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WRITE, EDIT, PUBLISH CHALLENGE - 'IN THE BACK OF THE DRAWER'





My WEP Challenge entry for February 2017

Once upon a time I really did live in an old house (over 100 years old) on a ranch in Colorado. The house was haunted. I used to see Martin, the ghost who haunted the place and at other times there were strange happenings that I attributed to him.

There really wasn't anything scary about Martin. He was sad, a real lost soul. When I mentioned and described him to the owner of the ranch, he showed me a picture of his grandfather. Sure enough it was Martin. The story was that Martin was shot and killed by his own daughter in the living room of the old ranch homestead house. The owner then showed me a bullet hole with the  stray bullet still lodged in it, in the floor of the parlor. This was right near the spot where I always saw Martin.

The 'rest of the story' is; Martin's mentally unstable daughter shot him after a round of verbal abuse. Apparently, Martin wasn't a very nice man. The woman's brother, Martin's son, took the wrap fearing for his sisters continued mental collapse. It was deemed an accident and the son was acquitted, but as the local district Attorney at the time with friends in high places and higher political aspirations, he forfeited all of after this episode.

While searching for ideas for my third novel, Martin's story kept coming back to me. I felt he was left 'in the back of the drawer' of history, so to speak. I changed some things around, to protect the innocent, of course, and wrote a story surrounding Martin and his haunting of the old ranch house,

My WEP Challenge Entry is an except from that story. A chapter that introduces Everett/Martin.

I hope you enjoy my WEP Challenge entry for February 2017.




EVERETT


Every time they open the earth in this place I feel it, especially in winter. I can smell it, too. It’s as if the rot of all those corpses is slowly leaking out of their boxes. I can’t help myself. I gotta see who it is, even though it’s dangerous. They can see me here. Not like there’s anybody left who might know me. What if somebody wanted to talk? Wanted to know why I came? Answering those questions would be hard.
As dangerous as my bein’ in this place is, it’s nothing compared to that other guy. He’s not even the least settled. My guess is less than twenty-four hours. That first day, some of them do real crazy things. They have no idea where they are or what’s happening. But, he’s in control, comin’ and goin’. Pushing those people and talkin’ to them, that’s risky stuff. Apparently nobody came for him. A real loose cannon. I can tell just by looking at him, he’ll not be hangin’ around long. No unfinished business for him. Maybe this was his unfinished business. He seemed pretty bent on getting a message to that couple.
They all have some last words to be remembered by. Not me, there was no time. All I had time for was a last look of shock. There weren’t no pretty girl held tight at my side. No Ma cryin’ for me. No friends standing around saying nice things. Nope, just a quick end to a short life.
This guy here, the one holdin’ the pretty girl so tight, looks like one of those ranch kids. You can tell by his build he’s used to hard work. His face has seen the sun on it for more than a few harvests. The guy next to him, the same. They look like brothers. Come to think of it, Mr. Loose Cannon looks like another brother. It would fit the picture, because they’re lots more sad than the rest of this crowd.
The girl at his side is always sad,‘cept when she looks at him. I know her. Her Pa’s that horse breeder. The son of the squatter who tricked Emily and took the ranch. Her name is Sandra Baker. I wish some girl had looked at me like she looks at that ranch kid. He’s about my age. I’m a little taller, but the same build. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to hold a girl like that, even Miss Sandra Baker.
I’ve spent the last sixteen years watching her grow up. Not that I wanted to, didn’t have a choice. She and her family live in my space. She lives in my personal space, my room at the ranch. Since she got older, turned into a woman, I spend more time in the attic. It’s only right.
She looked straight at me. Probably wonderin’ about this irreverent guy climbin’ all over a tombstone. This is my space, too. My name is right down there carved in stone. This lonely park and the ranch that Baker guy has the nerve to still be calling the Williams Ranch, are my own private hell. The only places I’m free to roam while I work for my name. I’m startin’ to wonder if it’s worth it.
That ranch kid, the one holding Sandra Baker so close, I recognize him now. He works for her Pa, at least I think he does. He’s always hangin’ around the ranch, doin’ chores and helpin’ out. Now I see him holdin’ Sandra, I think maybe he’s there more for her. He doesn’t touch her like that in front of her Pa. I wonder if Stan Baker knows how it is ‘tween ‘em. I don’t like seein’ him holding her like that. Somewhere in my head I think I want to be holdin’ her. No use crying over split milk, Pa would say. It ain’t never gonna happen. That ranch kid might be like me in a lot of ways, but there’s one big difference ‘tween us. He ain’t dead.



678 words
Full critique accepted. Please, tell me what you think. 

In my haste to get this post written and scheduled for publication, I neglected to give you a link to the other entrants. I had to return this morning to add this. Please click HERE to find the complete list of entrants into this month's Challenge. Give them a read. I'm sure you will find something interesting.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

MY HAUNTED COMPUTER - AN IWSG POST



I’ve been absent from the blogging world since my last IWSG Post and at that time, I didn’t get around to visit many of you. Let me explain:

While everyone was lamenting the trials of 2016, I thought it was a pretty good year. I should have kept my mouth shut. 2017 came in like a beast for me. Severe snow (four feet on the level) here on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Large trees snapping off at the top. One took out the fence at my front yard, and one the fence and deck in my back yard. Next, my recurring infection (due to my failing kidneys) is back. I need to be back on antibiotics because I’m at risk of sepsis, but the antibiotics make me really, Really, REALLY sick. Finally, I’m agonizing over a short story that I want to submit for an anthology; it’s due by the 28th of February.

I almost wasn’t going to post for the IWSG, but then I realized I promised myself I would make at least these twelve posts each year, so…I had one more thing to agonize over. Then this happened.

The short story I’m submitting for this anthology has to be a ‘ghost story’. I have a novel written that IS a ‘ghost story”. This should be easy, right? Just excerpt out the 10k words or less for the short story. Not as easy as it sounds. I have been feverishly working on a 10k rewrite, feeling like everything I wrote was crap, and thinking maybe I wasn’t supposed to be doing this.

Monday, while checking my emails, I found this:



I was totally irritated by this spambot, but also curious as to what post they were commenting on, so I clicked on the link. Needless to say, I was blown away when I read the post, it was from December 13, 2011. Here’s a link Far Away Eyes Blog Post 12-13-2011. Just in case you don’t have time to go there, I'll give you the ‘cliff notes’ on that blog post.

This post is where I’m yakking about this ranch I lived on in Colorado and the ghost that shared his place with us. When I wrote the novel ‘Not Quite Right’ (working title), it was based on my personal experience with this ghost and in part tells his true story. After all of this, I’m guessing ‘Martin’ (the ghost’s real name) wants me to tell his story, as inadequate as I might be.

I decided I’m gonna do what it takes to finish this short story, edit it to death, and hope I’m accepted into the anthology. Perhaps ‘Martin’ will infect the computer of the folks making the final decision, like he did mine and this story will be published. One can always hope, right?

February Question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

I read with a more critical eye. Catching things like continuity, redundancy, and even some grammatical errors. Sometimes, I feel like it spoils the pure pleasure of simply enjoying a story and being more forgiving to the author of some of those errors. Sometimes the story and characters are great enough, I can just let it go.

Please take the time to thank Alex J. Cavanaugh and the host of others who help to make the IWSG what it is today. Also, please click HERE to go to the list of other participants. I encourage you to check out other posts. I know you’ll find some interesting stuff.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

CHECK FOR INSECURITIES IN YOUR PAST, PLEASE! - AN IWSG POST



It’s Tuesday, January 3rd and I’m sitting here trying to decide what I want to write for my IWSG post. I’m not feeling particularly insecure today. I found out over the weekend that I was the ‘Runner UP’ in the December WEP Challenge and for me, that was a pretty big deal.

Now, you might be thinking, Geez! that’s second place (or as my kids would say, the first loser-rude as that may be), but coming in second out of twenty on only my second time entering this Challenge, was a pretty big deal to me. ALSO, the piece I entered was one of the short stories that I have been accumulating as part of my ‘memoir’. Yeah, you read that right, I’ve been working on a memoir. I had started thinking that it would never see the light of day. Why? Because it’s so personal. Let me explain.

I had the good fortune to be raised by two especially wacky people. I’m an only child and my parents were well into their forties when I was born. They had tried before and my mother suffered numerous miscarriages and even a still born baby. I never doubted for a minute that I was loved and wanted. I admit while I was a teenager there were moments when I doubted my love and/or need for them, but in retrospect…what a fool I was. My mother left this world way too early and needless to say I was much too young to be without her, but that’s a choice we don’t get to make. Daddy lived to be ninety and we had our ups and downs but, today I can honestly say I am who I am because of them and their somewhat unorthodox upbringing.

My love for them and the personal nature of my ‘memoir stories’ make them hard to share. As a writer I’m learning to develop a thicker skin when it comes to critiques of my work, but when it comes to the non-fiction of my life, it’s a whole ‘nother story. I’m very protective of my parents and the memories of our life together. I’m worried that I don’t have the skill to tell these stories in a manner that would convey the love, devotion and even the spiritual nature of our relationship, through some of the outrageous experiences we’ve shared.

Anyway… this brings me back to the WEP Challenge ‘Runner Up’ win. What an incredible boost to not only my ego, but the possible release of some of these stories that are so near and dear to my heart.

The IWSG question of the month is:

What writing rule do you wish you had never heard?

BACKSTORY! That pesky rule that says never ever have an ‘info dump’ of BACKSTORY, but rather dole it out slowly. Sometimes that’s very hard. Sometimes all that BACKSDTORY, sets the time, place, or world of the story. Sometimes that BACKSTORY is integral to character development.

I’ve had several critiques of a WIP that uses BACKSTORY in exactly this (these really, because it’s more than one) reason, and the critiques are conflicting. they go from, ‘Never ever do this.’ To, ‘go ahead and break this rule, because it’s really good and necessary’. I get confused and feel conflicted. I guess I’ll just have to go with my gut and submit it with the BACKSTORY as an info dump and let the professionals tell me, if this is a rule that can be broken, and if I  have the skill to break it properly.

I have always had a hard time with rules. Go ahead, blame my parents.

The IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, today it has grown so much, he has a lot of help pulling it off. If you want to know more, or would like to read other insightful posts on this topic, please go HERE for a complete list of the participants. While you’re there give a shout-out and thank you to Mr.
Cavanaugh and the others who work so hard to bring this monthly blog-hop your way.