Archive for November, 2013

Chuck’s 200×5 Challenge, Part 2

Posted: November 30, 2013 in General

Last week, I wrote the opening 200 words of a 1,000 word flash fiction story. A fine fellow named Andrew Linder took up Chuck’s challenge and wrote the next 200 words of that tale. You can read his contribution over on His Blog.

Meanwhile, I picked up the thread of Paul J Willett’s story. I really like the idea of the MC. Unfortunately, 200 words doesn’t allow much room for character development. Did the best I could. Again, first 200 words are Paul’s. Second bit is me. Enjoy Winter Takes All.

The first time I saw it snowing in Los Angeles it was the sixth day of a three-day juice cleanse. Snow was definitely not something one normally saw down in the basin, at least, not then.

Because of my need to purify my body and aura, the news and media, filled with nothing but anger and pain, had been cast away along with the other toxins. My base aural color had always been a lavender or sky blue. Recently though, it had started to get muddied and dark. I would have thought my third eye would have seen the unusual weather coming, but it didn’t, so I was caught off guard.

When I first saw the falling flakes I thought I might have overdone the cleanse. Last time I had seen Elvis riding an ostrich on the seventh day. My transmundane counselor had resolved the issue with some orange juice, chocolate, and a sandwich, but that solution didn’t work on the weather. It was still snowing on the pier.

In Santa Monica we only got three inches, but of course it was more than enough to spread gridlock all the way to Riverside. Then, of course, things got much worse.

* * *

Wolves sprinted northward along the shoulder of the Interstate. Spectral at first, their forms quickly firmed from fog to massive, grey-white beasts, all fur and fang. Screaming people climbed from cars and ran eastward, away from the pack. The pack, on the other hand, paid little mind to the panicked masses.

I finished my sandwich, tipped back the last of my orange juice, and glanced over longingly at the waiting chocolate. Damn it. Opening the car door, I stepped out and manifested my Third Eye. My gaze followed the wolves, past the traffic, beyond the mundane. And there, further north, a silver radiance fluoresced from sky to soil, the obvious beacon guiding the will of these dire wolves.

Gridlock held my Taurus in its palsied grip so I opted for a more direct mode of travel. Delicately, I pulled along the seam of my own aura. With practiced ease, I unthreaded the edge and stepped beyond it into–

My third eye slammed shut, transcendental tears splashing my cheeks. Before me, what had once been a paradise of color and fragrance was now a blighted wasteland of ash. And in the distance a brilliant wound ripped the world from Heaven to Hell

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Decided what to do with the snippet of story I posted earlier. Over on Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds site he’s running a unique kind of Flash Fiction Challenge. Post 200 words this week. Next five weeks someone else will (hopefully) add 200 words to your work. When the five weeks are through five authors have collaborated on a 1k flash story.

So, I give you my 200 words (whittle down from the original 393.) I can’t wait to see what direction this story takes. I’ll leave it untitled because, well, 200 words.

 

“Casey’s Jersey City crew got careless,” Says Bossman. “Zombies flooded three sites. Two  held them back but we blew the third. Horde made it up four flights and we couldn’t risk it. All told, probably lost fifty people.”
 
Bossman looks at me, gin blossoms reddening. The skin around his eyes draws tight, his hands, resting on the desk between us, clench, unclench. “Go find Casey. You ask him how he nearly lost three buildings. Then, once he answers, you make certain it doesn’t happen again.”
 
“Yes, sir,” I say.
 
Boss nods, quick, but the tears never leave his eyes. I turn and make for the stairs. How do I make fifty deaths count for something? These weren’t soldiers or made-men. These were men, women, and children, each under the protection of the Poverelli family. Fifty dead. And I gotta go make it fifty-one.
 
Name’s Blaylock, but everybody calls me Block. The name suits me. I’m muscle for the Family. It’s my job to make sure none of these mooks foul up and let the dead run riot over our rooftop paradise.
 
Here, it ain’t the zombies on the streets you gotta worry about. It’s the guy beside ya still breathing.

Random Scribbles

Posted: November 22, 2013 in Fiction, Writing

Every now and then I start a story and never get far beyond the opening paragraphs. Sometimes I get back to them. Other times I leave it too long and my interest for the story wanes. To be honest, I have more of these start and stops than I like to admit. Here, have a wordburp:

“Somebody screwed the pooch,” says the Bossman. “Casey’s crew over near Jersey City is getting careless. Fuckin’ zombies crashed three sites.”

“How bad was it?” I ask.

“We brought down a building over on Washington, corner of Morgan. The horde made it up four flights of stairs; couldn’t take the chance they’d reach the roof. The other two managed to hold the hordes back. We probably lost fifty people, all told.”

Bossman looks at me, gin blossoms reddening. The skin around his eyes draws tight, his hands, resting on the desk between us, clench and unclench. Clench and unclench. “Block,” he says. “Go find Casey, and you ask him how he nearly lost three buildings. Then, when you got an answer, you make certain it doesn’t happen again.”

The office door opens and in comes a couple clean-cut guys I never seen around before. They give me the once-over and look to the Bossman. I do the same. Boss nods his head, quick, shallow, but the tension doesn’t leave his face. That’s my cue to leave. I turn, move past the mugs at the door, and hit the stairs to the roof. Forget the clean-cuts. I gotta go make fifty people dead count for something. These weren’t soldiers or made-men. Not even street thugs. These people who died were men, women, and children, each one under the protection of the Poverelli family. Fifty dead. And now I gotta go make it fifty-one.

My name’s Spencer Blaylock, but everybody calls me Block. Not sure if it’s ’cause I’m big as shit or if people’s just too lazy to say Blaylock. Either way the name suits the muscle for the head of the Poverelli Family, the Bossman. It’s my job to make sure none of these mooks foul up and let the dead run riot over our little rooftop paradise.

Ya see, in this line of work it ain’t the zombies down there on the streets you gotta worry about. It’s the guy beside ya still breathing. Zombies? They’re easy. Only one thing on their wormy little minds and that’s eating. Guys I work with, yeah, they gotta cope with hunger, but there’s also greed, lust, fatigue, you name it. The human condition’s still a condition, zombies or no. It’s what makes us human sometimes makes us a liability. And that’s where I come in.

Enjoy it? Yeah. Me, too. I’m actually working on it again. Perhaps I’ll finish this one.

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On Monday, November 18th I posted submission guidelines for an anthology of dark tales. The title, as well as the theme, will be Freaks & Weeping Children. This is my first attempt at selecting and editing a collection of short stories written by other writers. So, in the spirit of full disclosure I’ve decided to keep a running journal here on my blog.

Who am I and what qualifies me to edit an anthology? My name is Michael Woods and, to be honest, I have no legitimate qualifications other than a love for well-told stories. Though, before you dismiss me as a loon, I would like to add I’ve studied graphic design most of my adult life. I truly appreciate the work that goes into creating a book, from cover and layout to fonts, margins, and gutters. This is a project near to my heart.

What’s the point of Freaks & Weeping Children? To discover new writers of dark fiction and to put great stories into the hands of readers searching for fresh voices. With this anthology I hope to publish a wide range of speculative fiction all with the delicious taint of horror.

Larrikin Books? What the hell does that mean? Well, one definition of larrikin is a person with apparent disregard for convention. That just sounds appropriate. Conventional wisdom, my family and friends, too, tells me this is wasted time, effort, and money. I don’t believe it is. This isn’t about fame and fortune. It’s not about becoming an indie publisher. Larrikin Books is about publishing a quality anthology of stories to entertain and terrify. If one reader enjoys the collection of tales I assemble then I’ve achieved my goal.

So, do stay tuned to this site as talk about the process from beginning to end. Oh, and please, check out the guidelines. I would love to read your story.

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Welcome to a little idea I’ve had for a while now. I’ve always had this love of books and stories so why not feed that love? Why not gather together a group of new writers – writers I enjoy reading, as well as unfamiliar writers – and publish an anthology of stories from fresh voices in the field? Well, I think I will.

First up, an anthology of tales with a title which hints at a dark theme: FREAKS & WEEPING CHILDREN. I’m not hampering anyone’s creativity by insisting on one genre over another. Writers are free to explore the ideas as wildly as they wish.

 I’ll be editing and designing the anthology myself. The costs of cover art and Ingram fees will be coming out of an account I set aside specifically for Freaks & Weeping Children.

 SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Submission Period: November 20th – February 28th

Payment: Contributor copy of EBook and Trade Paperback

Length: 2,000 to 8,000 words.

First World Electronic Rights and First Print Rights. Book to be published in print and ebook through IngramSpark.

Simultaneous Submissions: NO

Reprints: NO

Paper Submissions: NO

 FORMATTING

I’ll only accept email submissions. Please use Microsoft Word (DOC, DOCX) or Rich Text Format (RTF) in Standard Manuscript Format. Name your file FWC_STORY TITLE_YOUR NAME

 HOW TO SUBMIT

Send your story to LarrikinBooks@gmail.com. Please use the subject line FWC_STORY TITLE when submitting. Please follow this format so your submission does not get overlooked.

Also, in the body of your email, please include the following REQUIRED information:

  •        Title
  •        Pen name (if desired)
  •        Word count
  •        Real name
  •        Email address
  •        Phone number (To be used only in the case email doesn’t work)
  •        Short biography

Please allow two weeks after submission deadline to check the status of your manuscript.

Thank you for your interest. Please feel free to post questions or comments.