Tag Archives: micro fiction

Macabre Assessment

There is never a good time to assess a cluster of posts. The first one had longer to get discovered than the last one. This seems like as good a time as any to tally up some results that won’t teach me a damned thing.

Every year, I’m baffled by the results, and this year is no different. My favorite is never your favorite, and that’s okay. I’m not going to change my novel writing schedule based upon the assessment of 1000 word blog posts.

Your favorite story was the one called Flipping. It involved a property flipper who had a ghostly encounter inside his newest acquisition. I have to admit there was a strong character in this one, and I think that carried the banner to victory.

Your least favorite one was All the Time in the World. This one involved a time traveler who screwed his own timeline up beyond repair.

Dishonorable mention to Companionship, that involved a ghostly dog waiting for his owner in a rest home. It only had one more view than the time travel story did.

The rest fell somewhere in the middle. My favorite was Our Secret lives about two werewolves who hate each other in their human lives, but are mates when the full moon shows up.

You also liked the Halloween Pack about the app that created a monster. It had a certain Goosebumps quality to it that I thought was fun too.

What does it all mean? Nothing actually. Maybe it involved the day I posted, and the results would be completely different if I’d changed the order.

I’m leaning toward doing it again next year. It all depends upon life and what it throws at me. I write them for my own entertainment as much as anything, but I hope you enjoyed them too.

I’m not going to scrap any works in progress, or storyboards, and rush right into another haunted house story based upon these results. They’re just for us to have fun. Maybe to start a discussion.

There are a couple of points to make here. If you missed one, or just want to revisit them, they are under the “Short Stories & Vignettes” category in my sidebar. You might find some other interesting things there too.

Lastly, I want to touch upon the point that I have books available. If short stories and micro-fiction is your thing, I have either two or three collections depending upon how you score them. I say this, because The Enhanced League stories serve to tell a bigger tale overall. The Experimental Notebooks involve more true collections.

All of the short fiction is .99¢ on Amazon.

Lisa wants to know if there are any tricks to removing “Sharpie” marker from your skin.

Lisa Burton

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Starting my weekend

I started off with a pretty short list, and dove right into it this morning. I didn’t finish everything, but I’m okay with that.

I have my Lisa Burton interview all scheduled for next week. For anyone that reads this, Lisa is getting a little think on candidates to interview. Now would be a good time to jump in if you’re thinking of doing some kind of Fall/Halloween push for your books.

I also wrote my last micro-fiction for the October event I call Macabre Macaroni. Then I went ahead and scheduled them all. They will post every Tuesday in October. These have traditionally been pretty fun, and I hope you enjoy this year’s selections.

Personally, I never know which ones are going to click with people. I have my favorites, but I’m always surprised. This year, I opened the first story with an almost Rod Serling kind of introduction. I also ended the last one with something similar. I doubt anyone will put the bookends together, because it’s going to take a month between these stories.

The only thing that’s left is to turn Lanternfish into a book. This means to add a title page, copyright data, and some end of book material. There is no rush here, I don’t even have all my Lisa Burton artwork yet.

So I did something relatively stupid. I started writing a new story. I haven’t even published Lanternfish yet, but I’m 2800 words into a new tale now.

This is supposed to be a relaxing journey into self improvement, but I’m on the verge of turning writing into a job.

Honestly, I enjoy drafting new material, so it looks like I didn’t make it to November, which was the mark on my calendar.

This one is kind of odd, because I don’t have a complete outline. I have a bunch of vignettes that I need to pull together into a plot somehow. This can work with a character driven story. It remains to be seen if I can pull it off.

It looks like I’m off to the races now. I have Saturday as a fairly productive day too. Sundays are more problematic, but it’s looking like a productive weekend.

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Go… somebody Rah Rah Rah

I got the last interview checked off my list. This makes the weekend a success. I didn’t really hit it very hard today. I have a three day weekend coming up, and will make a more substantial list for that.

I tried to watch some sports this weekend, but didn’t see all of anything. It wasn’t a good weekend at the Boyack house for sports. The following teams all lost:

  • Boise State
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (Twice)
  • I know some of you follow sports, but this was kind of a bummer weekend for it. If you’re into it, I hope you fared better than I did.
  • I never started my last micro-fiction piece, but I know what I want out of it. The ending line is solid, but there are a million ways to start it. Maybe I’ll gain some clarity during the commutes this week. Sometimes the Muse hitches a ride downtown with me.
  • A short weekend deserves a short post, so I’ll wrap this one right here.
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    Gotta wear pants

    This is my short weekend in the rotation. I only have Saturday and Sunday off. Nobody feels sorry for me, I’m pretty sure.

    My goals for the weekend are two Lisa Burton interviews. I have one that’s finished, and just need to assemble and schedule it. Then I have one I need to work up the shtick for and send it to the author.

    This actually eats up some time, but is well worth it.

    I’d like to get that last micro piece written for my October thing. I have high hopes, but we’ll see how it goes.

    That doesn’t seem like a big list, but I have to go out in the world on Saturday. Means I have to dress like an adult and do things. It takes a long time to do things in Boise. Everything is far from everything else.

    I need another haircut. I’m so jealous of you bald guys sometimes.

    It’s also time to get my truck serviced. This usually takes a couple of hours, but I can take my iPad to the work center and get some things done.

    Today is Old What’s Her Face’s birthday, so we’re going out tomorrow night. All this doesn’t give me many hours for projects. That’s the big reason why I don’t have many goals.

    I call my parents on Sundays, and I don’t know if I’ll have a lot of spare time.

    If Sunday gives me some time, I need to get a post written for Story Empire. Beyond that, I’d like to start scheduling my micro pieces for Halloween. These aren’t goals, and I’m considering them as the bonus round. If I can manage the items up above the weekend will be a success. Anything else is gravy.

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    Fallout from the Muse

    I slept in a bit today. When I woke up my head was filled with ideas. After playing ball with the bulldogs, I hacked out a story about two people who hate each other. Think liberal vs conservative level hatred. Everything about them is diametrically opposed. There is a paranormal element to it, because I intend it to be one of the Macabre Macaroni stories for my blog in October.

    It was much longer as I conceived it, and looked like it might have to be one of those “Tune in next week for the dramatic conclusion” stories. The challenge is to bring them in at blog length, so I started paring it down.

    It’s a bit long at 1200 words, but I like it. When October rolls around, I hope you will too.

    My mind is full of other things like vignettes of one kind or another. My stories always begin with a character, but they soon move on to the vignette stage. This isn’t a story by any stretch, but it’s nice to have a head full of things to mull over.

    These don’t necessarily fit the October blog theme, and some of them deserve a longer format after I figure them all out.

    I also started reading a craft book. I have a novel set up on my phone, and can dedicate lunch breaks to it starting tomorrow.

    My weekend labors are at an end, but I’m content. It never really ends, but I moved some projects ahead. I have four days next weekend too.

    I’ll have to start actual editing then. I’ve ignored Lanternfish for the proper amount of time, and need to dig in.

    I still need one more blog length piece, but the visit from the Muse was invigorating. I’m sure something will come to me before the last week of October.

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    A small update

    I sat at my desk and did some blog chores. I scheduled a post for a guest, assembled and scheduled another interview, and responded to an additional inquiry.

    I got up and carried my iPad to the paranormal office, turned the skeleton key, and went down three steps onto the cold stone floor. The gargoyle in the corner looked like an old friend. I placed my hat on its head, crossed the pentagram inlayed into the floor, and rolled open the top on Patty Hall’s old desk.

    There are already a couple of micro fiction pieces on my disk, so I reviewed those. They aren’t great, but they have the bones of something better. One of them has a bit of a science fiction thing going for it, but that’s okay for Halloween.

    Still, they could be better. They could always be better. I needed at least a couple more ideas to pull off Macabre Macaroni this year.

    Lisa came in wearing her full pirate regalia. “There you are, matey. I thought you were in your office.”

    “This is my office too, technically.”

    “True. I just got a text from Lorelei. She’s going to be stopping by.”

    “If there were ever a time for the Muse to show up, it’s this weekend. Why are you still wearing your pirate gear?”

    “We both know it’s just a matter of time before you decide to start editing. Doubt the raven has been hyperactive lately. He knows it’s coming too.”

    “Sometimes I wish Lorelei had given me a different animal. One that means cash and lots of it. Some kind of golden goose or something. Don’t they have those on Olympus?”

    Lorelei swung around the doorframe. She wore a blue summer dress, and her brunette hair spread clear to her shoulders. “Are we feeling a little overworked today?”

    “Yeah, in some ways. I have lots to do, and I don’t seem to be getting everything accomplished.”

    “Is that a new perm?” Lisa asked.

    “Yes. You like it?”

    I leaned back in my chair so they could get all the girl talk out of their systems. I may have emitted a small sigh.

    “Okay, look. I know you have tons of ideas,” Lorelei said. “I’m no slacker in that department. What seems to be the problem?” She moved to the couch and patted the seat beside her.

    I sat beside her, but stayed rigid. She leaned into my side. The sandalwood she always wore was intoxicating.

    “I don’t have a bunch of great ideas at micro length. I have at least three that will work at novel length, and two that might make good novellas, but need about three that will work for Macabre Macaroni. Then I need to–”

    She placed a perfectly manicured finger to my lips. “You’re just out of practice. Take stock for a minute. You’ve done your blog chores. You have a couple of micros, and maybe the raven can help you with them. Something will come to you. It always does.”

    “I’m supposed to be reading, editing, and spending some quality time with BookBub too. When am I supposed to do all that?”

    “You have four days. Pace yourself and it will all get finished.” She leaned in and kissed my cheek. “It doesn’t matter what you work on. You’re working and things are forging ahead. Now, I’m going to catch up with Lisa and leave you to it.”

    I went back to the desk and stared at a blank page for a few seconds, but not before watching her walk away. Then I wrote out a story about a cell phone app that seemed to fit the coming season. To be honest, I like it better than the two I already have. A Muse is a wonderful thing. She doesn’t have to say a word, and the ideas just show up.

    I checked my calendar, and I need two more by the middle of October. There really is time for everything. Sometimes I get angry with myself when I think I should have gotten more accomplished.

    I’ll earmark some specific time for BookBub after I call my parents tomorrow. That will be my priority. If there is time remaining, I’ll go back over the micros I have and see if I can make them better. Then I may actually open one of those books I’ve been promising to read. Monday will be for whatever’s left. Maybe I can get the next interview settled.

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    Kinda late tonight

    I’ve been dabbling all night. I scratched out a shtick for Lisa Burton Radio and sent it out. Someone wanted the last July date, and there’s plenty of time to put it together. Still have some August openings if you want one.

    On the way home I was accosted by a character. I dwelled on her story, and hacked out a micro piece just now. It needs some work, and kind of wants to be longer than one blog post.

    I’m going to make it behave and stash it in my Macabre Macaroni folder. If I get enough of these things, I can do my October thing again this year.

    I probably shouldn’t be worrying about anything other than my novel, but getting a draft out at this length doesn’t take too long. I’ve gotten the character out of my head and can start on the novel without her fictional baggage.

    I have a few ideas for the next section of Lanternfish, and will probably just start writing and see where it leads me. I’ve produced some good bits this way, and just fleshing out the scenes can get me on the right track.

    Old What’s Her Face went to Nevada today. It’s their annual Art in the Park event, and she wanted to go. This gives me one day to work on whatever I want.

    Things are looking kind of peachy in my back yard tonight. I may have to taste test this year’s crop to see if they’re ready.

    I survived the partial work week, and am looking forward to my one personal day to do whatever I want.

    Hope all of you find time for yourselves this weekend too.

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    Fresh from the microwave, it’s Macabre Macaroni

    Lisa BurtonWhat if you were offered a front row seat to the end of the world. Would you take it? It’s a sight no humans have ever witnessed before.

    What if that seat came with a price? You get to go on, but you have to throw the switch. Could you do it? Could you justify this act somehow? Someone is going to do it, but the price of survival is you taking the action yourself.

    Would you weigh the consequences? Would you feel like a lottery winner, or prefer to move on with everyone else.

    This little snippet explores this choice. I hope you enjoy it.

    Collateral Damage

    Lieutenant Scott Davies pulled the Humvee up to the bunker and parked. He left the keys in the ignition and the door open.

    Captain Rhodes stood beside the airtight door the Navy provided to the project. “Scott.”

    “Byron.”

    “Let’s get inside and monitor the phone. Close the hatch behind you.”

    “We still have time, Scott. I want to breathe the air and listen to the night sounds.”

    Byron put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “I understand. Secure that vehicle and make it quick.”

    “Why? Who’s going to steal it?” He removed the keys and locked the automobile.

    Byron never answered, having headed inside. Scott followed, but left the hatch open.

    “You take the south button, I’ll take the north,” Byron said. “We will place our hands on our buttons and the commands will be press, turn. Execute your move immediately, no countdown. Understand?”

    “Yes, Sir, but–”

    “But what? We have our orders.”

    “Maybe the phone will ring.”

    “We’re already thirty seconds overdue. Hand on your button.”

    “My sister and her husband are out there somewhere, you know.”

    “They’ll never know what happened. None of them will. You trained for this moment, and volunteered for it I might add. Failure to execute is considered treason.”

    Scott placed his hand on the south button. At Byron’s command he executed the moves exactly as practiced. “It’s just another drill, right? The phone will ring and we’ll have to stand down, won’t we?”

    Byron pointed to the countdown clock on the wall. Ten minutes. “Not this time.”

    Scott headed back to the hatch.

    “Where do you think you’re going? We have supplies for two months then the shuttle will come.”

    “Byron, I respect your rank, but we have ten minutes. I want to hear the insects one last time. Feel the cool night air, look at the glow of the city lights on the clouds.”

    “Alright, I’ll go with you. Do you think we’re wrong tonight?”

    “Orders. We follow orders, don’t we?”

    “Politics, religion, drugs, global warming, it all ends tonight.”

    “I get it. No more terrorism, no more suicide bombers, whatever. I sat through the same training you did. No more butterflies, flowers, tigers, or anything else either.”

    “The sea will mostly survive. There are some remote islands that will be untouched. Those are the ones we’ll inhabit once the orbiter decides it’s all clear. They’ll send a shuttle, Scott, I promise.”

    “Do we even want them to? Maybe we’d be better off to wait outside with everyone else. How much time left?”

    Byron peeked back inside. “Eight minutes.” He leaned against the bunker wall and looked up. “I wonder how many people are looking up at that moon right now, completely oblivious.”

    “Lovers, children catching fireflies, old couples rocking on the porch.”

    “Terrorists, smugglers at sea, fanatics, zealots.”

    “That’s the point though. We can kill the people, but not the ideas. People are going to disagree over some things.”

    “Yeah, but according to the big brains, not anymore. Defending our way of life is no longer sustainable. Eventually we won’t be able to keep ahead of the arms race. That’s why they poured everything into the orbiter and the seed bank.”

    “Who got to choose entrants onto the orbiter?”

    “You can’t worry about that stuff tonight. They made tough decisions, and we’re taking tough actions. The reboot of Planet Earth starts in… three minutes. We have the rest of our lives to debate whether it was a mistake or not. Come on, Scott, let’s get inside.”

    They went inside and Byron sealed the hatch. “We have books, games, and food downstairs. Maybe we should get to it.”

    “Who decided what was appropriate to survive in the new regime?”

    “I don’t know, man. You have to accept some things as fact.”

    “We could still stop it, you know.”

    “This is a one shot deal. We can’t wait around for debate, then do it later. This is happening and there’s nothing we can do.”

    “But we could, Byron. We could.”

    “It requires two of us acting in concert, and I’m not acting.”

    Scott slid open a tiny slot and looked through a foot of darkened glass.”

    “What are you doing?”

    “Taking the last look at everything. Art, literature, music, that all dies too.”

    “Remember your training. We’ve had a year to wrap our minds around this. There’s meditation space downstairs, and it sounds like you could use it.”

    “And I will, but I’ll see this first.” Scott wiped zinc oxide around his eyes and face. “The brains are doing the same thing as the terrorists you know. They’re forcing their will upon everyone else.”

    “I’ve had the same thoughts, and I don’t want to see it. I’ll meet you downstairs. Do you want me to microwave a burrito for you?”

    “No. I went to a nice French restaurant before I came here, and put it on a credit card. It’s not like they’ll ever collect.”

    “Looks like you’ve found some acceptance in all this. No more West Nile Virus.”

    “Political campaign season.”

    “Spam email.”

    “Split shifts, required overtime.”

    “Road construction.”

    “Sounds like you’ve found some comfort. Besides, you can always remind yourself that you were just following orders.”

    ***

    Lisa here again. If you’re enjoying this year’s Macabre Macaroni, there are more of them available in the sidebar. The category is “Short Stories and Vignettes.” Craig also produced several books of this stuff and at 99¢ each they’re a steal. You can find those on his Amazon Author Page.

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    Fresh from the oven, it’s Macabre Macaroni

    Lisa Burton
    Welcome to Macabre Macaroni, 2017. I’m Lisa Burton, the robot girl, and I’m going to host the stories this year. I posted my new image full size this time, because some of you collect them. I’ll tone it down in the following weeks.

    Macabre Macaroni will post every Tuesday in October, and it’s a collection of micro-fiction from my author C. S. Boyack. Today’s story explores the special relationship between parents and children. Some things are a bit confusing here, but that’s on purpose. It all becomes clear in the end.

    Oh, and try not to cry, it’s bad for your circuits and messes up your cool Halloween mascara.

    Life in the Shadows

    Mindy folded a corner on the book she was reading. Something called an Experimental Notebook of some sort. She looked up at her daughter, Olivia, running around the playground.

    Mindy decided to read another short story. Olivia seemed to be enjoying herself and it was such a nice day. Flowers bloomed, and the scent from the municipal rose garden made it all so much more lovely. She turned back to her book, when a man caught her attention.

    He was only in her peripheral vision, and looked so tired and lonesome. He watched Olivia as she went down the slide. Mindy panicked and walked over to her daughter. The man was nowhere to be seen. “Time to go, honey. I still need to fix dinner. Your father’s working late again tonight.”

    She buckled Olivia into her booster seat and drove three miles to her apartment. Olivia never fussed and always did what she was asked, the perfect child.

    At the apartment, she sorted through the mail, then started cooking. “Honey, can you set the table for me? Then you can run upstairs and get into bed. I’ll heat up your bottle and be right up.”

    “Yes, Momma.”

    Mindy tested the formula on her inner wrist before heading upstairs. Olivia was so cute. Six pounds, three ounces, perfect size for holding in the rocker while she ate. Ten little fingers and toes. She sucked at the bottle and her eyes grew heavy.

    Olivia’s father was missing too much. They needed the extra income, but sometimes it would be nice if he could share in all this.

    She ate her meal alone at the table, while Olivia slept. She caught a vision of the man again, from the corner of her eye. She snapped her head around, but no one was there. She went through the house and tested all the locks before checking on Olivia.

    The next morning Mindy yelled up the stairs. “Olivia, you’d better hurry up, or you’ll miss your bus.”

    Olivia ran into the kitchen, wearing her cheerleader uniform. She grabbed a breakfast bar from the pantry, and picked up her backpack. “Chill out, Mom. I’ve got time. I won’t be home until after the game. Can you pick me up around nine?”

    “Sure, honey. Have a nice day.”

    She spent the morning reading, and cleaning. In the afternoon she colored the Easter Eggs, and wrapped all the Christmas Presents. Olivia was going to be so excited. The bicycle she bought for Olivia’s birthday was exactly the one she talked about all summer.

    On the way to the gym, she spotted the man again on a street corner. He seemed to be crying and watched her drive by. When she looked back, he was gone.

    Olivia looked so pretty, arm and arm with the handsome basketball player. She never protested when Mindy honked the horn, and came straight to the car.

    The drive home was uneventful, and the man never appeared again. “I made all your favorites for supper. I waited for you. Get changed and we’ll eat together.”

    Mindy sat the table like a gracious hostess and waited nervously for Olivia. When she finally came out, Mindy placed her hands over her heart and teared up. Olivia’s hair had been cut short, her three-piece business suit looked perfectly tailored, the huge diamond on her left hand sparkled under the lights. “Oh, honey, you look so beautiful.”

    “Thanks, Mom. You really are the best, but we need to talk.”

    “I don’t want to talk about that now. We have so much to do tomorrow.”

    “I’ll bet it’s all wonderful too, but I’m not supposed to be here. You aren’t supposed to be here either.”

    “Oh, nonsense. We have a perfect life together.”

    “Life isn’t supposed to be perfect. It has struggles and imperfections. We have to accept some of that and move on. It’s time for you to move on too.”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “It’s called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.” Olivia reached across the table and took her mother’s hand. “It happens, and none of it’s your fault. You need to forgive yourself and get on with your life. I need to get along too.”

    “Aren’t you happy here, Honey?”

    “It’s been great. You had so many plans for me, so many hopes and dreams, but none of this is real. A birthday every month, trick or treating every week.”

    “But you’re so cute in your little princess outfit.”

    “I really would have been, but it never happened. Daddy is worried sick about you. He spends every night in your hospital room, reading to you. Your coma has lasted seven months now. He can’t afford the long term care any longer, and you have to help him out.”

    “But you’re my only daughter.”

    “I’m your first child. You can have others, and what happened to me isn’t likely to happen again. I know you’re aware of him. I’ve seen him too. Always there in the fringes. He’s so sad.”

    “He’s a grown man. He can take care of himself for a little longer.”

    “This conversation always comes back to a little longer. He’s there right now. I know you can see him.”

    Mindy looked, and the man was there on the edge of her vision. His rumpled suit looked like he’d been wearing it for days.

    Like wind-blown leaves, a voice whispered, “Please come back to me, Mindy.”

    Mindy’s blood ran cold and she straightened up in her chair.

    “I heard him too, Mom. He’s at his wits end, and his financial end. His work is suffering and he could lose his job. You can’t help me, but you can help him. You can help yourself too.”

    Mindy’s eyes blinked, and tears flowed. The dining room faded, along with Olivia. A plain white room took form over the elaborate dining table.

    The voice of her husband came across loud and clear. “Please, Mindy, I’m begging you. I’ll do anything. I miss you, and I want you back in my life.”

    Like a whisper, Olivia’s voice barely came through. “I love you, Mom. Try again, and stay away from those sleeping pills.”

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    Smells like victory


    I fiddled with stuff yesterday and today. I managed to write and send out one more post about Quantum Wanderlust, the free anthology I get the honor of appearing in. If you still haven’t gotten your copy, it’s available for free at this link.

    I also wrote up, sent out, and scheduled the coming Lisa Burton Radio post. Beyond that, I responded to some new applicants and got them some materials to get things started.

    One more friend has a new book dropping soon, and I got his announcement post assembled and scheduled. I have a review all ready to go for him too, because I was one of the beta readers on this project.

    My favorite beta reader has an opening, and I sent her a copy of The Yak Guy Project, along with some general conversation.

    Aside from that, I added a bunch of things to my calendar so I can keep up with the guest posts I have coming up for October. I can usually remember, but there are too many coming up for me to trust my memory. Some of the sites are new to me, so I don’t want to drop the ball and fail to show up on someone.

    Speaking of which, I have a habit of picking a random day and tweeting out the most recent five Lisa Burton Radio posts every week. I like to deliver a bit of extra support, and while Twitter doesn’t amount to much, it can help the authors. I never promised to do this for anyone, it’s just my extra effort. I went back through the list, and I have several authors who never even bothered to show up. Some of my regulars reblogged, tweeted, facebooked, etc. They never even got a thank you. Today I skipped over those posts in my retweeting. Does that make me a bad host? I kind of feel like it, but why should I put in an extra effort when the author didn’t put in a first effort?

    To all of you who use the sharing buttons, or reblog my posts, I appreciate you. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ll be there when you need me. All you have to do is ask. Reference the new book posts that have been appearing on this blog.

    Macabre Macaroni will be every Tuesday in October. People seemed to enjoy my Halloween stories, so I’m doing it again this year. I always worry about these, because they don’t go to beta readers, they’re micro-fiction. I guess the comments will let me know what everyone thought. The first one of those is all scheduled and will post this Tuesday. It seems like one of them is always a big hit and I can’t predict which one it will be. I honestly have no idea.

    I got a bunch of reading done today, and a bit of video gaming too. I really need to use the calm morning hours for reading, but when everyone starts stirring I can dedicate myself to other things.

    My baseball team anchored home field advantage for the MLB wildcard game. This is a one-game playoff to see who moves on. I kind of want to do something with The Enhanced League to celebrate, but have no idea what. I have some free days available, but those are hit and miss. Any ideas here? Win or lose, I’m excited my team made it this far and it’s been a long time. You can bet I’ll be watching the game on Wednesday.

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