This Week in Sniderville: 20

I am beat.

I had the most pleasantly productive week! A quick rundown, since it’s Saturday night and this is a long weekend and I got shit to do:

I wrote an entire short story, from scratch, front to back, in one three hour sitting this week. I’ve never written so much so quickly in my life. It’s still in its rough stage, of course, but still… I was riding high after that one. Expect it soon!

I’ve been on a mad “homeowner” kick: rearranging our family budget to reach our financial goals for the next house, and doing lots of little things around our current house in the meantime. I’m planning on using a chunk of my upcoming vacation to paint the front porch, and I stayed home today to “putter around the house”, which makes me feel old. But you know what? I’m loving how things are coming together.

We donated a ton of old clothes, talked over our Big Plan for the next few years, and next we’ll start the conversion of our front bedroom from ill-used waste of space into our dressing room. I’m just a tad excited.

I swear there was more, but between the fireworks outside and the cool breeze and the siren song of the alcohol in the kitchen, I’m feeling a tad distracted.

How was your week?

This Week in Sniderville: 18

People have been asking why I’ve been updating less these days.

This week, there were two reasons: one, I was working the morning shift and getting up at the ungodly hour of four AM, which would turn all but the morning-est of morning people into shambling zombies. I was lucky if I made it past twilight before crashing hard into bed. (And people wonder why I’m trying so hard to make a writing career for myself — when I’m fully self-employed, four AM will be the result of a long night hunched over the keyboard, AKA “heaven”.)

And two (and by far, the better): I’ve been writing my ass off. I have a big, exciting project in the works, and by the time I bang out my daily quota (and then, thank you Universe, double and sometimes triple it) I’m pooched. Writing is my second job right now, and as anyone who’s worked more than one job knows, by the time your second shift is over the last thing you want to do is… well, anything, really. After I’ve worked DayJob then worked WritingJob, the most I feel like doing is staring at the tv or reading a few chapters before passing out for the night. Good for my career — each day getting me closer! — but not so great for being social.

It takes a lot out of me, being my own cheerleader and drill sergeant at once, but it’s the only choice I have for the moment. I have only 3.5 years left of my Five Year Plan, and I have to hustle if I’m going to make it.

So apologies (and much love!) to those of you who’ve been asking for more from me. I love hearing from you, and I do listen. I just need to get my head on straight again first. That fifteen hours of sleep I got last night is a good start.

How was your week?

This Week in Sniderville: 13

This week I:

– worked on a new story. This one’s about dire diner consequences, and what happens when you don’t clean your plate.

– planned out a back-deck overhaul, spending way too much time browsing decorating sites, until I subconsciously started colour-coding my desk:
sv13

 

– went to The Early Bird, which is quickly becoming my favourite place on Earth. By day, it’s a kickass rock diner:
sv13 3
sv13 2
sv13 4
…by night it’s a crushed-velvet leopard-printed rock bar. They have a sandwich called the Fat Elvis: French toast layered with peanut butter, bacon, and deep fried bananas. Best heart attack food ever. I bumped into the lovely Chef Chainsaw outside (she’ll have her own post later.)

– went to a house party, had a fantastic time, succeeded in not peeing my pants from laughing so hard. It’s the minor victories in life, really.

– went thrifting with my Dude, something we haven’t done in a long time. The store has mannequins now…
sv13 5…I was a little afraid to turn my back on this one. I’m pretty sure his hand was molded like that so he could hold a shiv.

Now I’m off to craft some creepy words and search for stock images of questionable meat. I love my life!

How was your week?

 

Free Short Story: “If It’s An If”

This story originally appeared in Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2, published in March 2012 by Wicked East Press. Let me know what you think! -Stefanie

If It’s An If

“What if I can’t give you a baby?”

His hand stilled on the taut skin of her belly. “Of course you will, my love. Don’t trouble yourself about it.” It resumed its lazy path around her navel, seeking lower.

She pushed it away and pulled the blanket up.

“And if I can’t? What then? Did you know Sylvia down the street is expecting her third? Her third, John. She’s younger than me, too, by a year.”

She felt his chest rise against her cheek as he inhaled deeply, then lower again as he sighed. He said nothing.

“I worry sometimes, is all.”

He leaned his head against the top of hers. “Hmm? About what?”

“Oh, about any number of things. That we’ll never fall pregnant. Or that we will, but I’ll be too old by then and it’ll have something wrong with it. Even more, I worry…” She looked down at her fingers twisting the hem of the coverlet. She whispered, “I worry that you’ll leave me.”

He kissed the crown of her head. “Darling, don’t think of it. You know the doctor says worry won’t help. Remember?”

She nodded. “I just want to make you happy.”

“When it happens, you’ll make me the happiest man alive.”

“When, when, when. You never say ‘if’. What if it’s an if?”

“Well.” He thought for a moment. “If it’s an if, we’ll just take Sylvia’s.”

She was sure she’d misheard. She turned her face up to meet his. He returned her gaze with a placid one of his own.

“Take…?”

“Oh, yes. There’s still a few months left before she brings home the new baby. We’ll keep trying for our own in the meantime.”

Her brow furrowed. Surely he didn’t mean it. Couldn’t possibly.

“Listen, we’ll only do it if we haven’t managed on our own by then.”

She began to feel dizzy.

“We’ll use the spare key. It’s under the rock by their door; I’ve seen Henry use it once or twice. He’s gone all day, and she always putters around in the garden while the kids nap. So: she’ll go out the back door, and we’ll come in the front. Simple.”

His face had relaxed into the same wistful expression it wore when he talked about the lottery. But now there was a certain sharpness in his eyes that made her breath catch.

“We’ll take him — I so hope it’s a boy, don’t you? — and drive up to the lake house for a while. There shouldn’t be many people around this time of year. We’ll have to find someplace new to live, after, of course. And we’ll need new names. Mine will be…Richard, I think. You can pick his.” He sighed again, contentedly this time. “A whole new life. We’ll be so happy, the three of us.”

He reached over and snapped off the light.

“Now get some rest, dear. Good night.”

New Horror Fiction: “Stakeout”

stakeoutfb

“Partners Garrick and Ortega are assigned the stakeout of a suspicious house, using a thermal imaging camera. But when the equipment picks up a strange presence nearby, their mission takes a dark turn.”

Here’s a teaser:

“Holy shit, Eric, lookit this! Eric!”
“What?”
“Seriously, check it out. Number 126.”
“We’re supposed to be watching 124.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Dude, just look.”
“Quit calling me ‘dude’.” Garrick snatched the thermal scanner out of Ortega’s hand. “What am I looking at, exactly?”
“Heh. You’ll know.” Ortega leaned his seat back so Garrick could aim the thermal past him. Its screen changed colours as he traced the house across the street.
“Which one’s which, again?”
A small wisp passed over the screen as Ortega exhaled loudly. “I told you. Red is hot, blue’s cold. It’s not hard. You shoulda been paying attention in training.”
“Right. Well, us big boys sometimes have other things on our minds.” He twisted the gold band on his finger and thought about belting the kid, just once. “You keep your eyes on 124 while I’m looking at…whatever you find so interesting.”
“Uh-huh. I’ll let you know if I notice a nice man carrying a bushel of marijuana over his shoulder… See it yet?”
Garrick had traced the front bushes and first floor of the house: nothing but faint glimmers from the electricity in the walls. Now he raised the machine, sweeping back and forth as they’d been trained. Paid attention to something, you little shit, he thought. The screen reddened slightly as he aimed the imager up the stairs and past a warm room — a bathroom, someone probably had a shower — then at once the screen blazed with colour. There was movement, repetitive and rhythmic. “What the hell?” It was something living, for sure, but it was much bigger than a person…

Grab a copy and see what’s going on at Number 126…
What could be going on right next door to you…

Available now at Amazon and Smashwords, and soon on iTunes and B&N!

Writers: Try a Writing “Sketchbook”

But, you’re a writer, right? Not a visual artist. What the hell would you want a sketchbook for?

I got caught up in YouTube recently, one of those tangled webs of clicking random “suggested video” links, and I ended up somehow at videos of sketchbooks. Page after page, turned for the camera, sometimes with the artist describing their ideas or inspirations. They’re visual candy, and what struck me about them was the freedom of the artist’s sketchbook.

Trying something new, crossing it out, fiddling with styles and colours and composition. Knowing even before you start that whatever you’re trying may be a colossal failure, and doing it anyway. Scribbling out, starting over, playing with ideas. Not caring about the end product, because if it sucks you don’t ever have to show anyone. The sheer joy of a happy mess unapologetic on the page.

Which is why I’ve adopted the “sketchbook” model for writing.

Sitting in front of a cold, impersonal monitor watching a cursor blink doesn’t exactly rev up my creativity. The harsh glow of the blank screen offers little in the way of inspiration. Show me a white screen and I’ll show you boredom, frustration, and occasional panic.

But show me a blank page, put a pen in my hand, and it’s on. Scribbling (even the word, scribbling, describes a freer way to write than the measured clicks of keys) encourages experimentation. Stuck? Doodle in the margins. Plotting? Draw the path of the story. Flash of inspiration? Throw a key word in the middle of a page and weave a web of related points, characters, and themes all around it. Try writing in a different colour (though not red ballpoint, trust me. It’s a bitch to read later). Your “sketchbook” will become art all on its own; ink stains, wrinkles, coffee and crumbs all marking the times and places you fleshed out your story.

At some point, it’s likely you’ll want to type up your story, whether it’s for publication or just to see it in print. I resisted the sketchbook method for quite a while, since it’s double the work: first writing longhand, then inputting every word. It feels like a huge waste of time, if you miss the major benefit: You can always edit your work on the fly as you type it up. By the time your story’s down, you’ve already caught a lot of the simple errors of tense, missing words, and the like. You’re one draft ahead. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that the time lost to typing is more than made up by the extra output of a few scribbles here, a few paragraphs there. A notebook can be crammed in a pocket or purse and snuck out almost anywhere in moments of inspiration, which puts you way ahead of the game in terms of production. No booting up, no waiting for apps to load, just uncap a pen and go.

Try it out, and let me know: Does it work for you?