Tag Archives: micro fiction

Procrastinating and falling forward

It wasn't quite the weekend I intended, and then it was. That's kind of cryptic, but here's how it happened.

I needed to keep the Lisa Burton Radio line moving. I'm in the habit of telling folks two weeks out when to expect their radio interview. At one week out, I send a final proof to that week's guest, assemble, and schedule the post. That was my primary goal, because folks are counting on me to get it done. Mission accomplished.

I needed to write my last micro-fiction for October, but put it off all day Saturday. I've learned, when procrastinating on these, that something isn't quite ready yet. That was the case with the last story.

The novella, called The Hat, tried to seduce me all day. I promised myself I wouldn't start it until next weekend, and staved off the craving by writing a blog piece about the Research Sirens. This was only partially fiction. Conversia, one of the sirens, wanted me to interview some folks to get the details right. I have reached out to a medical person and a musical person, and they are willing to help me. In the comments, I also got another offer of musical assistance. It's so cool to know folks who will help out. I'm willing to consult on anything I might know about too if anyone needs it.

I spent a big part of today on email, and Sharknado Five. Yeah- yeah, these films suck, but how bad they suck is part of the appeal.

Old What's Her Face, said she needed a pedicure and asked if I could watch the dogs while she was out.

“Well, of course, Honey. Whatever you want.”

While she was gone, the stars lined up for my last micro-fiction. I wanted some confusion, and I want readers to see it right away in this story. I'm doing it on purpose, and don't want readers to think I'm just an idiot when things happen out of order. Today, I was ready to put it all on paper, and did. This one made me emotional when I wrote it, and I hope that comes across.

These micros will post, one per week, during an October event I call Macabre Macaroni. Tuesday is usually a non-blogging day for me, and works perfectly for this event. This year there are five Tuesdays, so I needed five stories. I have them now.

I've adopted the philosophy that if I'm going to fall – fall forward. That's kind of how it worked, and I'm pretty pleased with my weekend effort.

I have to make a road trip to Moscow, Idaho on Wednesday. I will drive back on Thursday. I'll check in when I can, so make sure to treat Lisa's radio guest well during my drive home. I'll weigh in on the comments as soon as possible.

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Do I need a plan?

I have three days off, and two of those will let me get some things done. I intended to monkey with some micro-fiction tonight, but didn't get that far.

The best I could manage was to change my wallpaper again. I like the speed racers, but the white Bonneville Salt Flat, mixed with the white page of my blog was too much for me. I cropped some of the sky out, and used a picture of the Sawtooth Mountains. This one may not be perfect, but I'm content with it.

My wife and I watched The Passengers on television tonight. I thought it was a wonderful movie. A little romance, a little science fiction, a bit of Titanic disaster. Good film.

I have a critique I need to work through, and that will take about fifteen minutes. I need to work up a couple more shticks for Lisa Burton Radio and send them out. Then I have a backlog of interview requests, but I have to keep the line moving too.

Beyond that, I want to write three micro-fiction pieces for October.

My main distraction is wanting to start one of my novellas. A blogger/author friend told me she wrangled 5000 words today. That's a tremendous day, and it calls to me to get started. I need to resist the call.

I committed to two October promotions this week. I haven't gotten any additional instructions, but will need to write something for those eventually.

Besides, I'm behind on my reading. I have at least three, possibly four books I need to read. If I resist the writing call for a couple of weeks, I may get a couple of those checked off.

It's a tough call to resist.

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Wassup Blogland?

I took off a few hours early yesterday. I have gobs of vacation, and since I have the house to myself, I wanted to get some things done. Old What's Her Face* made her annual trek south to watch the Super Bowl with her brother. There really isn't much more attraction there than that, and I decided to watch Otto. (That's code for getting stuff accomplished.)

With the extra time, I stacked the deck for today. Last night, I finished my beta read and made some detailed notes for the author before sending them out the cyber-door. Then I assembled and scheduled next week's Lisa Burton Radio show. I felt so good about it I made myself a drink before bed.

This left me with some time to move my projects ahead. Otto let me sleep in a little bit, but we were still up before 7:00. I fed him, and myself, filled the humidifiers, and made the coffee. Like all days, I started with email and social media.

I moved on to The Yak guy and added several thousand words to his story. He's starting to have bigger thoughts, and placed himself in real danger for the sake of others. He only has to do it one more time, then take a group of helpless folks across a wasteland, have an epiphany, earn his reward, and it's done. It sounds like a lot when I see it written out, but travel time will have to be pared down and explained more than lived through.

I could be done in about three more writing days.

I surfed through all the sites again, picked up the mail,and found Karen O.'s awesome review of my second Experimental Notebook. Many of you are writers, and Karen is a prolific reviewer. Maybe you ought to introduce yourselves over there. She's associated with other reviewers too, and it's good to know a few. Hit the link above, and you might convince yourself to pick up my 99¢ masterpiece while you're there.

Then I picked up The Enhanced League. I wrote another micro piece about behind-the-scenes corporate evils. This project is about three tales away from being finished too.

After finishing the micro piece, I made a chart for the playoffs. I can't detail the whole event and keep reader interest. When I refer to it though, I want a cheat sheet so I can be accurate. Right now, I want to return to the television guys so they can detail the playoff structure for everyone. Then I'm going all the way to game seven of the World Series, which I'm calling the The World Championship. (This isn't Major League Baseball, and I don't want to step on their toes.) After that, I have one post-season tale that ties up some loose threads for my pseudo main character. Then it's done.

I might add another anthem piece, but it depends on how I feel after it's all assembled.

Many of you are writers, most of you are readers, here's a question for you. The Enhanced League is coming together with more micro-fiction than short stories. Would this be an issue to you as a reader? They all serve to tell a bigger tale as a sum than they do standing alone. This makes the book different than my Experimental Notebooks. Would you feel ripped off spending 99¢ on a book of mostly micro-fiction?

It's been pretty quiet in Cyberspace this week. I hope it all means you're tearing it up on your own projects, or doing something fun while I'm working. I'm not counting much on tomorrow, but may spend an hour with The Enhanced League. Yak Guy requires deeper thought, and after calling my parents I don't know how much time I want to dedicate before turning on all the pre-game stuff.

I want to end with Go Steelers, but that ship has sailed.

*Entertaining Stories, protecting my wife's identy since 2013.

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In a Small Compass, on Lisa Burton Radio

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I'm your host, Lisa the robot girl, and with me today is author, James Ferris Wheeler. “Welcome to the show, James.”

“Thank you, Lisa. I feel very honoured to be invited by a charming celebrity like you.”

“Why, thank you. I understand that you just ordered a new suit. Can you tell our listeners why?”

“It is still hard to believe, Lisa. You must know, my previous books, well – they are good, and they sell. And I always craved for a little fame. What the readers say: 'Great books. Who wrote them? Sorry, that name slipped from my mind.' After years of writing one book after the other – my latest novel, “Dagger in the Rock” was nominated for the MFBS Award! The Most Fascinating Books Society is very fastidious and secretive about their nominations.”

“How exciting. This award sounds like a big deal. Tell our listeners something about it.”

“The award ceremony is going to be held in the Royal Hall at the famous Eden University. The TV crews are certainly already setting up their gear, proving once again that red carpet, purple drapes, and shimmering candelabras enhance this prestigious event. Evening attire is required, hence the new suit. Imagine – only the best authors receive a nomination. The respective winners receive a statuette and 100,000 GBP, and continuous news coverage.”

“Sounds like a great place for a red carpet broadcast. People in beautiful clothes entering a beautiful hall. I'll bet your wife is really excited for such a big event.”

“Angela is overjoyed! She knows how I feel after even the tiniest rejection. I tend to assume the worst, I get nervous without a reason, and Angela is there for me, she is my rock, she is my anchor. Ever since receiving the invitation – I am a nervous wreck.”

“Why would you need to keep it together? Most of the time a nomination is great publicity. Winning is awesome, but there are no losers.”

“I am an introvert. Meeting strangers gives me the creeps. It is devastating to know that my readers keep forgetting my name. Angela knows me, she knows how to lift my spirits. She is a real blessing. I have this recurring dream…We are at the award ceremony, and when it comes to my category, Georgia Cartwright opens the envelope, saying 'And the winner is…' – and I wake up before I know the winner's name. Angela keeps telling me to consider this a dress rehearsal. It helps – at least a little. I need to win – for my sanity. I don't want to be second-best for once.”

“Aww, poor baby. There are a lot of introverts in the writing business, and I work for one of the biggest ones you ever saw. You should be enjoying this moment and not dwelling on the actual award quite so much. It sounds like Angela's a keeper and you should listen to her.”

“I love Angela, my guardian angel. But you have to understand that there are a lot of great British writers out there. Some of them have been nominated for the umpteenth time! They know how to socialize, they know how to promote their work. You may now ask yourself why I can talk with you so freely. The answer is easy: The audience does not see me.”

“What if they wrote better stories? You've obviously been nominated, so your work is good too. At that level everything is subjective. Ask five different people, you'll get five different winners. So tell me about this suit. What did you order?”

“I selected a slightly shimmering slate grey one – it is accentuated by the silken bow tie Angela bought me. I have to look my best as the event is shown nation-wide.”

“Sounds very posh. What's Angela wearing?”

“Angela's wearing a charcoal grey dress with turquoise accents – she looks stunning in that dress!

“You don't understand how difficult it is being a fictional author. I thought Karen would never finish my story. Can you imagine that the kept interrupting my story due to her craving for coffee?! Did I mention that she was writing other stories in parallel? How dare she!”

“Oh, I get it. I'm a personal assistant to an author myself. We've had a guy living at the writing cabin for a year now, and his story still isn't finished. So when you talk about these other stories, it's probably a good time to mention this is a collection of short fiction.”

“Yes. There are 15 contemporary short fiction stories with paranormal streaks taking the readers to Boston, Dublin, Dundrum, Galway, Heidelberg, London, Munich, Nuremberg, Skerries, and other places. London, that's my story! The other stories introduce quit normal people and some strange occurrences:

– Rachel has a recurring nightmare. > poor woman!

– Madelyn and her marble. > has the poor girl lost her marbles?

– Jenny and the shadow. > why doesn't she switch the light on?

– Louise and her hunches. > has she visited the lady with the crystal ball?

– Ted and the noises. > try earwax, man!

– Dee and her prison. > poor woman – let her out!

– The heatwave in Willowsend. > a fictional town and a grandfather.

– Judy and her projections. > why don't you join a circus, girl?

– Joe and a voice. > hey Joe, keep cool.

– Roberta and Laura. > a multi-cultural encounter.

– Marty giving directions. > hey boy, it's great that you care.

– James Ferris Wheeler and the award. > my story – I'm so excited!

– Aoife at the Dundrum Town Centre. > hey lass – you're funny!

-The secret of the blue window – with two alternative endings.

These story variants are based on human curiosity. If I had seen that blue window – I would've wanted to find out why it is blue!”

“We love collections and anthologies around here too. They're getting really popular and I think you're going to be pretty successful. The anthology is called In a Small Compass: Volume One, and it's available right now. Pick up a copy for free and find out if James wins the MFBS award. I'll include all the details on the blog site. Any closing words, James?”

“Thank you so much for having me on your show, Lisa. It means a lot! And it helped in keeping my frustrating dream at bay. Have a lovely day.”

“Best of luck to James, and his lovely wife Angela. For Lisa Burton Radio, I'm Lisa Burton.

“Don't forget to hit those sharing buttons on your way out. It won't cost you a dime, and when your character is on the show you'll really appreciate it.”

***

In A Small Compass

15 contemporary short fiction stories with paranormal streaks take you on a journey to Boston, Dublin, Dundrum, Galway, Heidelberg, London, Munich, Nuremberg, Skerries, and other places.

Find out more about:

– Rachel and her nightmare.

– Madelyn and her marble.

– Jenny and the shadow.

– Louise and her hunches.

– Ted and the noises.

– Dee and her prison.

– The heatwave in Willowsend.

– Judy and her projections.

– Joe and a voice.

– Roberta and Laura.

– Marty giving directions.

– James Ferris Wheeler and the award.

– Aoife at the Dundrum Town Centre.

– The secret of the blue window – with two alternative endings.

Karen was born in Central Europe, discovering her love for languages at an early age. She is a linguist, translator, and technical author; writing is done in her spare time. She spends her time mainly in Germany and Ireland, collecting her inspirations on the go.

Her stories comprise some hobbies, favourite locations, animals, topics, beverages, etc. Most of the locations do exist; pubs and/or shops might be gone; people are fictional unless stated otherwise.

+++ Upcoming: “Neighbors!” (a flash fiction series) +++

Karen's personal motto:

Don’t look back in anger!

Karen's 10 statements

A typical work day begins with… black coffee and my schedule.

I lose track of time… when I am reading.

I have always… wanted to live in Ireland.

I have never… been bored.

Home means to me… being with the ones I love.

I am inspired by… almost everything.

I would like to meet… (and discuss with) the Dalai Lama.

My worst character trait… impatience.

My best character trait… open-mindedness.

The best advice I was given… keep an open mind.

***

Blog: https://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com/

Blog: https://inasmallcompass.wordpress.com/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/okiewashere

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16149973.Karen_Oberlaender

AuthorsDB: http://authorsdb.com/community/profile/6832-karen-oberlaender

Buy/download links: http://books2read.com/u/m0zodW

twitter: https://twitter.com/okiewashere

 

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Assessing 2016

I managed just under 2000 words this morning on my novel. I've reached a point where I need to decide whether he goes through the next section alone, takes up a sidekick, or gathers a small band. This means I need to think about it for a while. I'm leaning toward the sidekick, because it prevents his talking with the yak who is his mentor. It also provides someone to protect and worry about. I know where he goes, and what he faces, but any extra tension is always welcome.

Because of this, it's time to work on my 2016 assessment. This is kind of a personal “good, bad, and ugly.”

I wanted to read more mainstream stuff in '16, but never read a single one. Independent fiction kept me pretty busy, and I need to change that. Branching out is always good for learning, and inspiring the muse. I did manage one graphic novel, and enjoyed the heck out of it. Graphic novels don't exactly qualify as mainstream in my book though. I want to get back to Jim Butcher and Cheri Priest.

I wanted to expand my footprint into Facebook. I did this in the form of a Lisa Burton profile, and an Entertaining Stories page. Lisa is more popular than my page, go figure. I try to keep them a bit different, and a few Otto videos went on the Entertaining Stories page that Lisa never got. I'm still learning here, but I'm having a good time. It's a great way to find old sci-fi artwork, classic cars, inspiration for Lisa Burton posters, and bulldog images.

As far as the blog goes, my number one post was a short fiction trick. I wish I could repeat this, because it has over 3000 views and counting. In fact, the subsequent post about how Flipboard drove most of this traffic was in my top ten posts. My third most popular post was “We go Spying With Lana, on Lisa Burton Radio.” (1200 views and counting.)

It seems like anything with Lisa is a popular post. I don't even have to include a graphic, and the writing cabin type posts are popular. It probably means nothing from a promotional standpoint, but it makes me think I must be getting her strong personality into the posts.

I've heard from the more chatty folks that Lisa Burton Radio produced a spike in sales for them. This is kind of a plus/minus for me. Lisa has a hell of a time getting enough guests to keep her interviews going. Places to promote books seem to be getting more scarce, and these interviews are the only ones like them that I know about. I want to keep them going, but need authors who want to take advantage. I'll just mention here that it's absolutely free, and I share them on Stumbleupon, Flipboard, two Facebook sites, and I tweet them out frequently.

An interesting observation is how popular posts involving the Rave Reviews Book Club were. My Block Party stop was the eighth most popular post of 2016. (I'm a fairly prolific blogger so that's a great number.) My top twenty is filled with posts I hosted as part of blog tours associated with RRBC. The obvious thought is that RRBC drives traffic, and they support. If any of you are inclined to make a 2017 business plan you ought to consider joining us.

Sales were about the same as last year for me. While this isn't bad, it includes two new publications and much more promotion on my part. It appears I'm working harder to accomplish the same thing. Is this just the market, the volume of available titles, my perspective getting tired, what?

A big part of my promotion kind of fell together and grew into something I never expected. A group of authors and I formed Story Empire as a way to mutually promote our paranormal themed books in October. It's grown into much more, and has potential for more growth. I'm looking forward to seeing just how far we can take it. I have a theory that we'll expand to more than just paranormal.

My pals and I at Story Empire went on a massive paid blog tour for our paranormal titles. This involved giveaways of Amazon gift cards, and in my case two book blasts. Quite frankly, I could have sold more books on a friends and family tour. Most of the host sites appeared to be dead zones that only host blog tours. Nobody is going to follow a site that never offers anything but blog tour posts. There is no interaction, and very little action happened beyond the authors thanking the host for having us.

I was impressed with one of the book blasts, and might consider them for a tour host in the future. More research is required for blog tours these days.

I also wasn't impressed with the giveaways. Turns out there are people out there who chase gift cards. They have no interest in the wares being promoted, only getting into the contests. In my mind, the contest is to add a little fun to the tour, and possibly increase the interaction. This isn't the way it worked out. I have a new plan for contests from now on.

I got invited to participate in an anthology. I'd never done anything like this, and it was educational. There is no money in it, but the exposure is pretty good. This is something I'd like to do again, depending on the theme. I'm probably not going to write a Valentine's Day love story, but if a group wants to do some science fiction or something, I would consider it.

I did a bunch of giveaways, 99¢ sales, and Amazon advertising with mixed results. All of them moved books in varying degrees, but they didn't seem repeatable. Whatever worked once, failed six months later. This might be because of timing, the quality of the advertisement, or the marketplace. I probably need to keep trying these.

My short fiction during October, called Macabre Macaroni, is also hard to assess. Maybe it's because I don't want to admit what I'm seeing. Every comment was encouraging, even those who thought I ended the first one too soon simply wanted more of a good story. The odd thing is the number of views. They started strong, then went down with every subsequent post. This can't be about the quality of the stories, because I'm tracking views not likes or comments. Viewers didn't show up in the first place. What it could mean is that people are just tired of them. Maybe some thought it was just the same story trucked out over and over because of the Lisa art.

The Idea Mill. These aren't nearly as popular as I would like. These posts don't even show up until I get to number 81. I love them, but maybe it's time to retire them. Many of my followers are writers, but not as many are speculative fiction writers. There were a lot of textile posts both from antiquity and in modern science. There were also a lot of primate observations. I featured one cryptid, and a railroad line that carried the dead. All of the comments are positive, but they're all from my regulars too. Asking for shares might help, maybe I need a new thing for the blog.

I finally found a way to make Twitter functional. When you follow too many people, the stream of information is like trying to drink from a firehose. I learned about pinned tweets, and am trying to keep them relatively fresh. When I check my notifications, anyone who appears to be supporting me causes me to share their pinned tweet. Not everyone has a pinned tweet, but it sure is handy. I find a lot of them that are six months old though. In that case, I delete my tweet, then immediately retweet it. My hope is that it goes out fresh in the timeline of my followers. Everyone should be using pinned tweets if they have books to promote. Remember to keep them freshened up though. I think I'll freshen up mine right after this posts.

Two new publications. I released The Playground, a novel, and The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II, a collection of short fiction in 2016. The novel was just a blip on the radar. I'm disappointed, because I really like it and I think the style added something to this kind of story. Playground also produced one of the most fun characters I've ever written, and my first anti-hero. The second Notebook exceeded sales of the first one. I have some evidence to show that it produced a few sales of the first one after readers finished it. This is great news. Now what to do with the information? Is one title simply better than the other? Is short fiction making the surge I predicted last year? Is human interest leading us away from novel length works? I don't know, but will probably keep producing both.

That's 2016. Some things worked, some didn't. Some did nice things I never expected. The idea is to keep what works, and do new things to replace what doesn't work. Sometime in the first week of 2017, I'll put out a business plan. It's always nice to have a roadmap.

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A day of errands

I got up fairly early today with good intentions of working on my novel. Otto made sure everyone else got up too. Novel writing ended before it began.

This is one of the saving graces of having a short fiction project. It may sound funny, but it doesn't require the same level of concentration. There is no three act structure or large sweeping plot to keep track of. My short fiction has an underlying theme, and it has a timeline to follow, but it's so loose a few distractions don't ruin my ability to forge ahead.

I made a pass through a mostly finished story, repaired a few things and brought it to an ending. Then I wrote the micro-fiction about the fall out. I really like the recurring characters on the news broadcast, and they did a great job on this one.

After that the errands began in earnest. The plan was to get the replacement chair for the one Otto devoured. We'd use my wife's car, because it sleeted all day today. The new chair could stay warm and dry inside her SUV. Then we'd retrieve my truck, wash off the bird assault, and buy a Christmas tree.

The reality was that we got the chair, stopped at Whole Foods for some small items, (and a couple of good beers,) then picked out a tree on the way home. My wife didn't want to tie it to the roof of her car, but she didn't want to make a return trip to town even worse. The boys at the lot did a great job tying it down. My truck still looks like a victim of a certain Hitchcock movie.

So the chair is installed, the tree is here, and we'll assemble it tomorrow. She had to go to a work event tonight, so it's just Otto and me.

I used the opportunity to move ahead on a book I've been reading. I still have a ways to go, but it's been a fun read so far. My eyes are giving out now, and I might turn on the television or some music for the rest of the night.

Hope you all had a great Saturday, or are enjoying your Saturday night. I see a Frank Miller film is on later, and I've never seen this one. I used some of his style when I concocted The Playground. If I watch that, I can count it as research, right?

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Last scoop of Macabre Macaroni this year

The Zombie Fighters

We stood back to back in the old basement. Joey held his sword off to his left, and I held mine up with the blade in front of my face. We made a deadly team, but the zombie horde upstairs would be the biggest one we’d ever faced.

Joey turned his San Diego Padres cap around backwards. “Ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.” I rushed the stairway with Joey at my heels.

The zombies almost looked surprised. I probably imagined it, because they don’t have any emotions or feelings. They’d already eaten half the families in town, and I recognized a few of them as having been local people. I stepped into the shell of the burned out house and made sure to move far enough that Joey could support me.

I lowered my sword and thrust through the face of the first one, making sure to slice on the draw so my blade wouldn’t get stuck. He fell in a heap of stinking rotten flesh, and I swung at one to my right.

Joey gave a masterful stroke, slicing completely through one Zombie and into the skull of the one beside it. “That was my Tony Gwynn swing, you bastards.”

“Looks like you hit a double. There’s home runs waiting in the other room.”

We worked our way through the sooty kitchen and into the living room. Seventeen of the damned things greeted us there.

The fight was long and bloody. Joey went to his knees, but I rescued him before he got bitten. That only left the upstairs bedrooms to clear. Should be a breeze after what we’d already accomplished.

Joey led the way up this staircase, and we took care to avoid the ledge. The fire destroyed the railing and it was a long drop.

We kicked open doors and slashed our way room by room until we were the only things left standing.

The last room looked like it must have been the master bedroom. The fire damaged it more than the others. Even the exterior wall and roof were gone.

I tested the floor with each step. No sense surviving the zombies and falling through a crumbling floor. I looked out towards town, and everything was quiet as the sun dipped behind a ridge. More zombies moved though the forest, and they were coming our way.

Joey grabbed a ruined pillowcase and hung it from a nail.

“What’s that for?”

“It’s our flag. This is where we make our stand. If we get split up, we meet back here.”

“Good idea. This can be our fort.” I dropped my stick-sword onto the sooty floor. “Only we’ll have to defend it tomorrow.”

“But they’re almost here.”

I wrapped an arm around my brother’s shoulder. “The street lights came on. You know how mom gets if we don’t go home right away. Schools out now, we have all summer to defend our fort.”

***

This is my reminder that I have two books of short stories and micro-fiction available. There are plenty of Halloween suitable stories among these pages.

The best news is they are only 99¢ each. If you enjoyed Macabre Macaroni this year, maybe these books are what you’re looking for.

Book one

Book two

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Stick out your plate for another helping of Macabre Macaroni

Automobile Envy

“Man, that was some spread. Tony made his campfire beans, Jerry smoked those ribs for two days, and Mrs. Herrick made that wonderful peach dessert.”

“It’s time to leave, Mr. Arbuckle.”

“What’s the rush? There’s family here I haven’t seen in years. My sister came all the way from Pensacola, and my son’s never met her before. Good food, plenty of cool drinks – ”

“True, but they are breaking up now.”

“Let’s check out the car. Why is it the oil men and ranchers could afford Cadillacs, and us farmers get by with rusted old pickups? I don’t want any cattle horns on the hood; nothing like that. I always wanted a convertible. Something with enough room to take my whole family to church.”

“It’s very nice.”

“Do you see those leather seats? Look at the leg room it has. No more throwing the kids in back of the truck under a blanket. I want to ride in it. Wave to everyone in town. Old man Maughan can afford to give me a ride. Get in.”

“Alright, as long as we don’t take too long. We have things to do.”

“Don’t be such a stick in the mud. Look at that carpet. No metal floorboards here. Of course, white wouldn’t be my choice. I’d get a nice sensible brown. It might hide the farm dirt for a day until I could get to the car wash.

“Look we’re going past the feed store. Wave at them. And there’s the old folks’ home. There’s Marie and Jack. They waved back, see?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That old biddy, Nurse Davis didn’t wave though. She’s a tough one. It’s so pretty and green out today, not a cloud in the sky, you think that would take the sour look off her face. There’s the oil rigs pumping. I’ll bet all of them own a Cadillac. I should have bought one. Maughan is a lucky man. They won’t let me drive anymore, not for a few years now.”

“No, sir.”

“Look over there to the left. Those light poles are at the football field. My son ran for three touchdowns there about twenty years ago. These seats are so soft my back doesn’t hurt at all anymore.”

“It is a very nice car. But we really need to go. The hearse is pulling up to your grave now.”

“I suppose you’re right. Thank you for letting me ride in the Cadillac, even if it was the last ride I’ll ever take.”

***

If you’re enjoying Macabre Macaroni this year, you might enjoy my Experimental Notebooks. They’re full of short stories and micro-fiction across the speculative genres. Plenty of paranormal stories though, if you’re looking for some Halloween reading. At 99¢ each you really can’t go wrong.

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II

 

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Get it while it’s hot, Macabre Macaroni

Ever since I started blogging, I’ve tried to post some spooky themed stories in October.

I make them all micro-fiction so nobody has to panic about finding part two, or missing one in the middle.

There is a style of micro-fiction called creepy pasta. Someone eventually glommed onto that name and started a website to host stories, the whole works. I know you can’t copyright a name, but I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes either. Maybe someday, that person will become a friend.

That’s why I call my stories Macabre Macaroni. And here we have the lovely Lisa Burton bringing us a platter right now, so everyone dig in.

The Woodworker’s Dilema

The tiny bell above my shop door jingled. It was early in the day for tourists to be wandering. I sat down my tea, checked my face in the antique mirror, and walked into the front. “Good morning, and wel–” I crossed my arms at the sight of Reverend Whitaker. “What do you want?”

He held up his palms. “I, I come in peace. I want to discuss something with you.”

“Like closing my shop down and running me out of town? Three years now you’ve been trying to put me out of business.”

He glanced at the apothecary section, then quickly looked away. He moved a hand-blown glass vase off the table, and sat down. I suppose he never noticed the furniture and the vase were for sale.

“I hope we can put all that behind us.” He placed a small cardboard box on the table. “I’ve come to the conclusion that… Well, that maybe there is more to this world than I know.” He gestured to the seat across from him. “Please.”

“I’m just having tea. Would you like some?”

He glanced again at the apothecary section. “No, I um. Thank you.”

I slid into the chair and adjusted my apron. I waited for him to speak, not wanting to invite the condemnation papers or whatever he was up to this time.

“I have a hobby, you see. When I’m not preaching, I have a life just like everyone else. One of my parishioners knows I’m a woodworker, and asked me to remove one of her trees in exchange for the wood. She seemed very upset about the tree, so I agreed to help.

“It turns out it was a huge maple, hundreds of years old. I had to get some of the other members involved to help remove it, and haul the trunk to my farm.”

“What does this have to do with me?”

“Right, um, it turns out it was all curly maple; lovely stuff really. I make knife handles, mirrors, brushes, duck calls, that kind of thing. I have so much of it, that guitar makers and violin makers are calling me.”

He placed a block of wood on the table before me. It was breathtaking. The lines and swirls had a kind of reflective quality that was mesmerizing. I looked up and pushed a hair out of my face. “It’s beautiful. I might be able to sell a few pieces for you.”

“Yes, well, that wasn’t what I had in mind, but perhaps. I was, was, am hoping you could lend a special kind of assistance.” He removed a second piece from his box and turned it towards me.

“I, um. I don’t know–”

“Please. I need to know if this is demonic, or, or witchcraft.” He loosened his collar and wiped his brow. “I can’t let anyone else have this if it’s going to, to, to curse them.”

I lifted the piece and turned it in my hand. I detected nothing evil about it. “I think it is exactly what it appears to be; a cry for help.”

“But from whom, and what kind of help? Can you tell me anything?”

I tossed the wood between my hands to get a reading, but got nothing. “Are there any more messages?”

“Not so far, just this one. Can you help?”

“Perhaps, but we’ll have to work on it together. You find a way to count the tree rings. That will tell us what year it was planted. Figure out what age the message came from too. Then find out who owned the property at that time. Search also for news from those years; tragedy, missing persons, unsolved crimes, a reason to ask for help.”

“What will you do?”

“I’ll try some divinations. I will also interview the woman who owned the tree. She may have dreamed something, or noticed strange things. Together, we may be able to figure out something. Right now, do not discount that this message came to you. It is your help being sought. It looks like whoever sent it knew how to write, and they chose not to use cursive script. Possibly they were too young to know it. That is all I know today.”

“Thank you, and – this is hard to admit, but I may have been wrong about you.”

“Your culture has been wrong for centuries. Perhaps you and I can change that.”

***

You guys know me, I’m always trying out new things. This time it was pictures to enhance the story. What do you think? Did the pictures help more than a lengthy description would?

Just a couple of quick announcements. Both of my Experimental Notebooks contain short stories and micro-fiction. Many of those have a paranormal bent to them. If you need something to keep you awake at night, maybe one of those would do the trick.

This week is also the free week for my novel Panama. If you like historical fiction with some creep factor involved, this might be the story for you.

 

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A visit with Craig​ S. Boyack

I’m over at Traci Kenworth’s place today. We’re talking about a little known segment of writing; how to write micro-fiction. Traci is a super supportive person, and I’d appreciate it if you’d visit her blog.

Where Genres Collide Traci Kenworth YA Author

Please welcome to the blog today, Craig S. Boyack. He is a fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction writer whose ventures into the short story collections are a welcome surprise to all. His famous sidekick, Lisa Burton, or robot girl wins raves wherever she goes. Craig has been a wonderful author to get to know and I think if you give him a chance, he’ll win you over in no time. I highly recommend you get a copy of his book.

Thank you for inviting me today, Traci. I’m here to talk about my newest release, The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II. This is the second volume of short stories and micro-fiction I’ve put out.

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Traci asked me to discuss short form vs. novels. Honestly, three different people asked me for this topic, and trying to make them all unique is somewhat of a challenge. I like a good…

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