Tag Archives: stories

Good Spies Finish First!

The votes are in, and the title for Book 12 will be “Kiss And Say Good Spy”!  I’m pumped because that was the title I’d originally chosen for it (before I second-guessed myself).  I would have been happy with any of the other titles, too, but it’s cool to see I was on the right wavelength from the start.

Many thanks to everyone who voted in the poll!  Even if you didn’t vote for “Kiss And Say Good Spy”, your vote was still important – it helps me understand people’s preferences better for future books.  And I’m looking forward to lots of future books – I love writing!

I’m lucky enough to enjoy all parts of it, including the hours and hours of editing (yes, I know I’m a freak).  I also amuse myself by setting mini-challenges for each book:  “Can I include (fill in oddball item) in this book somehow?”

In Book 10 I challenged myself to include “ballistic rutabagas”, which became the name of an alternative music band.  In Book 11 the challenge was alien porn (kindly suggested by @SomeRandomGuy); and I’m proud to say I found a way to work it into the story.  Tastefully, of course.  *snickers*

But Book 12’s challenge, inspired by @SueSlaght’s blog post Short-Beaked Echidna Australia’s Fast Tongue, was a little trickier:  Include a short-beaked echidna, also known as a spiny anteater.  (For those unaware of the short-beaked echidna’s claim to fame:  It has a long, amazingly fast tongue and a four-headed penis.)

I had originally thought I might use an echidna as a villain’s pet, à la Ernst Blofeld in the James Bond classic “You Only Live Twice”.  That idea was shot down when I researched echidnas and discovered that they don’t make good pets because picking them up causes them intense stress and can injure them.

But my research also revealed that there are exceptions to that rule.  F’rinstance, there’s at least one short-beaked echidna that enjoys being picked up… in fact, he enjoys it a little too much.  He had to be retired from his career at a zoo because he kept getting a giant erection every time he was handled.

You can imagine where my mind went with that:  a villain’s pet that pops an enormous boner at inopportune moments.  I so, so wanted to write that!

But I didn’t.

See, I have a modicum of… well, I hesitate to go as far as to say ‘good taste’, so let’s just stick with ‘restraint’.

I did, however, manage to work the echidna into the story.  Challenge = Met!

So if you’re burning to know how a short-beaked echidna fits into a spy thriller:  The release date for “Kiss And Say Good Spy” is August 1, and preorders will be going live by the end of this week for the e-book versions (paperbacks will be released later).  If you’ve signed up for my New Book Notification list, you’ll get an email with links to the preorders as soon as they’re available.  I’ll also announce them on the Books page and my Facebook author page.

And…

I’m a little late with this since Canada’s 150th birthday was July 1, but one of my readers (Ethel: thank you) sent me this link and I thought everyone else might get a kick out of it, too.  It’s a music video created a few years ago by our favourite Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, and his brother Dave:

Welcome to Canada, eh?  🙂

Now… off to ponder Book 13’s challenge…

23 Comments

Filed under Writing

Diagnosis: Writer

So many of my readers are also writers!

Nelson is serializing his book on his blog,

Jono just posted a sneaky two-part story,

Carrie Rubin has two medical thrillers published and is working on a third,

Nancy Roman blogs, writes for Huffington Post, and has written a novel,

Andrew will soon be releasing a collection of poems,

…And I know @SomeRandomGuy is over 600,000 words into the draft of his epic sci-fi fantasy, and others have mentioned works in progress or in planning.

So I thought now might be a good time for a diagnosis.  Are you or someone you know struggling with writer-itis?  Use this handy checklist to find out:

 

Symptoms:  Uttering random words at inappropriate times; unexplained giggling, crying, and/or scowling.

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, Tourette Syndrome, or psychosis.

Tests:  Observe the subject’s behaviour after the outburst.

Diagnosis: 

If the subject scurries off to write immediately after the outburst, they’re a writer.

If the subject acts as though nothing untoward has happened, they might have Tourette’s… or they’re a writer in the throes of plotting.

If the subject carries on an animated conversation with invisible companions, it might be psychosis… or they’re a writer planning dialogue.

 

Symptoms:  Unhealthy attachment to word processing programs

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer or computer geek

Tests:  Observe the content of the document.

Diagnosis: 

If you’re still reading and completely riveted after ten pages, they’re a writer.

If your eyes glaze over after the first line and your brain explodes after the first page, they might be a computer geek… or a writer.

 

Symptoms:  Separation anxiety when leaving a computer; obsession with backups; paralyzing fear of data loss

Diagnosis:  Writer, computer geek, or conspiracy theorist

Tests:  Confiscate the subject’s data and destroy it before the subject’s eyes.

Diagnosis:

If the subject bursts into uncontrollable weeping and/or guzzles alcohol until they throw up and/or pass out, they’re a writer.  Or they were; before you destroyed the only copy of their life’s work and with it, their will to live.

If the subject curses you in Klingon and produces three redundant backups, they’re a computer geek… or a sci-fi writer.

If the subject sidles away with a furtive expression and disappears only to resurface several weeks later with a new name, identical data, and a blog decrying the censorship of the establishment and the oppression of free thinkers, they’re a conspiracy theorist… or a writer.

 

Symptoms:  Forgetfulness; changes in behaviour; social withdrawal

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, dementia, or drug addiction

Tests:  Restrict the subject to a controlled environment for 24 hours, then provide a laptop loaded with a word-processing program.  Retest at two-month intervals.

Diagnosis:  If the subject breaks into a cold sweat and suffers tremors, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, and/or seizures, it might be a drug addiction… or they’re a writer.

If the symptoms resolve instantly when a laptop is provided, they’re a writer.

There’s really no way to differentiate writers from dementia patients in a single test.  Writers will forget to eat, sleep, and bathe; will walk away from stoves leaving the elements on high; will drop the keys in the sugar bowl; will wander away from home and get lost even in familiar neighbourhoods; and may even fail to recognize close friends and family.  Retesting is the only way to know for sure:  At some point, writers will likely resume more or less normal behaviour (at least until they start their next manuscript).

 

Symptoms:  Immobility and non-responsiveness when addressed

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, deafness, or death

Tests:  Obtain a lightweight object at least six inches longer than the subject’s reach.  Gently prod the subject.

Differential Diagnosis:

If the subject startles, yells, and/or flails, they’re either a writer in deep concentration or deaf.

If the subject now responds when addressed (and particularly if they respond with creative expletives), they’re a writer.

If the subject still doesn’t respond when addressed, they might be deaf.  Or a deaf writer.  Or a writer in extra-deep concentration.

If the subject falls over and lies motionless, call the coroner… but the subject might still be a writer in extra-extra deep concentration.  Make sure the medical examiner checks for a pulse before starting the autopsy.

 

If you were reading this hoping you’d find a cure, well… sorry about that.  There isn’t one; there are only short remissions between manuscripts.  But the disease itself is so much fun, who’d want a cure anyway?

Do you have writer-itis?

* * *

P.S. I’m poking fun at myself and my fellow writers, but I don’t mean to trivialize the social and emotional consequences of dementia, Tourette Syndrome, mental illness, hearing impairment, or addiction.  To gain awareness and understanding of these conditions:

Tourette Syndrome

Alzheimer’s and dementia

Mental health

Hearing impairment

Addiction

54 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life, Writing

What’s Your Hippie Name?

This week’s post comes to you with many thanks to @glbryant, whom you will likely recognize as one of my dedicated commenters on this blog.

Last week he emailed me to say he was re-reading Book 10 in preparation for the release of Book 11, and he’d realized all over again how absolutely irritating one of the characters was. (Fortunately I had intended Tyler Brock to be annoying.)

For those who haven’t read the series, Brock could make a saint blaspheme, which led @glbryant to speculate that even Moonbeam (an earth mother from Book 9 who renames everyone with hippie-type handles) wouldn’t be able to tolerate him.

This quote from his email says it all:  “…if Brock had spent any time at the commune, his name would’ve been Astral Penis-Pox Douche-Weasel.

Which left me both inspired and rolling on the floor in tears of laughter.  Not only that, but it was remarkably prescient on his part, because both Moonbeam and Tyler Brock are in Book 11. (Unfortunately, Moonbeam doesn’t assign a hippie name to Brock.  Missed opportunities. *sigh*)

So, without further ado, I present the Earth Spirit’s Name Generators, one for the good guys and one for the bad guys.  Discover your hippie name below by looking up your initials in the tables, or feel free to make up one of your own.  Post your good-guy name below (and your bad-guy name if you dare).

Turns out my good-guy name is Starry Shining Poem (which is a little lame).  But I totally make up for it with my bad-guy name:  Deranged Zit-Nibbler.

(Note:  I swear I didn’t purposely assign words to the initials of people I know.  That would have required far more forethought and evil intent than I can muster.)

Good-Guy Hippie Name

 First Name  Middle Name   Last Name
 A – Astral  A – Misty  A – Dreamer
 B – Venus  B – Floating  B – Song
 C – Blessed  C – Flowing  C – Karma
 D – Starry  D – Singing  D – River
 E – Heavenly  E – Cloud  E – Stream
 F – Moonbeam  F – Shining  F – Dancer
 G – Cosmic  G – Desert  G – Whisper
 H – Aurora  H – Soaring  H – Poem
 I – Sage  I – Sky  I – Breeze
 J – Sunbeam  J – Earth  J – Heart
 K – Beloved  K – Soul  K – Journey
 L – Zen  L – Rainbow  L – Miracle
 M – Dharma  M – Star  M – Butterfly
 N – Infinite  N – Peace  N – Prophet
 O – Harmonious  O – Sparkling  O – Seeker
 P – Emerald  P – Crystal  P – Spirit
 Q – Summer  Q – Flower  Q – Nirvana
 R – Ambrosia  R – Blazing  R – Freedom
 S – Feather  S – Glowing  S – Universe
 T – Crimson  T – Daylight  T – Quest
 U – Sundance  U – Serene  U – Daydream
 V – Autumn  V – Secret  V – Hope
 W – Wind  W – Brilliant  W – Utopia
 X – Dusk  X – Sunray  X – Singer
 Y – Tranquil  Y – Truth  Y – Ocean
 Z – Azure  Z – Revelation  Z – Jewel

Bad-Guy Hippie Name
(Firstname with hyphenated Middlename-Lastname)

First Name Middle Name Last Name
 A – Sleazy  A – Douche  A – Groper
 B – Stoned  B – Pox  B – Gargler
 C – Creepy  C – Rat  C – Bucket
 D – Deranged  D – Toad  D – Humper
 E – Slimy  E – Spit  E – Fondler
 F – Easy  F – Zit  F – Waffle
 G – Wacko  G – Weasel  G – Blister
 H – Pantywaist  H – Poop  H – Nibbler
 I – Diseased  I – Dong  I – Gobbler
 J – Sucky  J – Scum  J – Juggler
 K – Nutjob  K – Booger  K – Poker
 L – Whiny  L – Pube  L – Chomper
 M – Brown-nosing  M – Donkey  M – Squeezer
 N – Snivelling  N – Wombat  N – Butt
 O – Obnoxious  O – Jizz  O – Guzzler
 P – Babbling  P – Vulture  P – Muffin
 Q – Wimpy  Q – Goblin  Q – Licker
 R – Lecherous  R – Monkey  R – Stroker
 S – Sick  S – Platypus  S – Whacker
 T – Twisted  T – Snot  T – Crumpet
 U – Skeezy  U – Puke  U – Banger
 V – Sketchy  V – Turd  V – Picker
 W – Wasted  W – Meat  W – Jiggler
 X – Bombastic  X – Pus  X – Sucker
 Y – Squirrelly  Y – Slime  Y – Dongle
 Z – Wanking  Z – Pecker  Z – Tickler

* * *

And in other news…

I’ll be updating my blog and website in the next few weeks, and since you’re the ones who have to look at it, I’d very much appreciate your input.  I’m just in the planning stages right now, but here are a few things I’m considering:

  • A larger font
  • More obvious menus to get to pages like Books and Guest Book
  • A link to Pinterest boards where we can all indulge our fantasies by selecting actors to play each of the characters
  • A techno-geek page on the inventions
  • A trivia page
  • A virtual book club where readers can discuss questions supplied by me and/or readers.

Any requests/suggestions/comments?

Also, since the virtual book club would require frequent contributions from readers in order to make it worthwhile for everyone, would you please vote in the poll to give me an idea of how much interest there is?  Thanks!

83 Comments

Filed under Humour, Writing

Fear Factor: Freaky Edition

Halloween is only a few days away, so it’s time for the final edition of Fear Factor. Today’s post is about two events that gave me the shivers even though I found reasonable explanations for them… kinda… sorta.

I’m not ‘freakable’ by nature, but these occurrences were freaky.

Here goes:

Flashback to the 1970s. I haven’t picked up a Reader’s Digest in years, but back then their format included jokes, informative articles, one lurid description of some horrific event, and a health column that explained the basics of anatomy and diseases.

A brief digression: Anybody remember ‘I am Joe’s (fill in body part here)’? And I vividly recall an article about a woman who got hit by a car and had her leg ripped off – I can still see the little bird’s-eye-view sketch of cars all bunched up on the street, the woman’s body, and her leg lying in the road a couple of yards away – brrrr! I was pretty young at the time so it made a big impression.

Anyway, on to the spooky stuff. When I was around twelve or thirteen I was reading about cancer in the Reader’s Digest. I’d never heard of such a thing and as I read the article, absolute cold terror overtook me along with the certainty that something bad was going to happen. I had read lots of scary things before but this was a new level of fear, and I felt impelled to go and find my mother. I didn’t tell her what the problem was; just stuck close for a while. But the fearful feeling never really went away.

My mom died of cancer when I was nineteen.

I know the laws of probability can explain that.  Cancer is pretty common, and there’s certainly nothing unusual about a child being frightened by learning about a scary disease like that. So I filed the whole thing away as a creepy but explainable coincidence.

Until a few years later.

My then-husband and I were living in Halifax, and his brother was attending Dalhousie University. My brother-in-law’s term had ended and he was soon to return home to Calgary so we took one last drive together, puttering around down by the shore and having a pleasant day. As we were driving back, I glanced over at my brother-in-law in the driver’s seat and a thought blazed into my mind, sudden and forceful: “I’ll never see him again.”

A month later he was killed in a climbing accident in the Rocky Mountains. When I saw him again, he was dead in his coffin.

That really creeped me out.

But again, I’ve explained it to myself. People have lots of weird random thoughts in a day. Make predictions often enough and sooner or later you’re bound to hit on something that actually happens. If they don’t come true, you never think of them again, but if you actually get one right you think, “OMG, I predicted that!”

I’m sure that’s all it was.

Well, mostly sure.

But still…

*shivers*

* * *

P.S. I’m on the road again, so I’ll reply to comments later today or tomorrow.  ‘Talk’ to you then!

May your Halloween be just scary enough to be fun!

29 Comments

Filed under Life

Fear Factor: Adrenaline Edition

If I stick to the classic ‘Fear Factor’ format, this post should be about fear-defying stunts. I generally try to avoid doing those, but into every life a little adrenaline must drip (or, in my case, surge like a tidal bore). So I asked myself, “What are the scariest things I’ve ever experienced?”

After ruling out politicians and 1980s boy bands I was left with a ragtag collection of memories, but I never remember being abjectly terrified. That’s probably because I’ve lived a charmed life and all the potentially dangerous situations turned out to be lucky near-misses. Still, they were seriously butt-puckering at the time.

The earliest scary situation I remember was when I was a young teenager on the farm. We were always wary of skunks, not only because of their fearsome stink but also because they often carried rabies. When they rambled through minding their own business we gave them a wide berth, but if one seemed unusually aggressive, Dad would shoot it just to be on the safe side.

I was home alone one day when a skunk marched up bold as brass. I’ll never forget staring at that skunk over the trembling gunsights, holding off until the last second to pull the trigger… and then I didn’t have to. The skunk turned and wandered away, leaving me shaking like a leaf.

As a young adult I narrowly avoided a couple of fights when I got cornered in remote places by guys much larger than me. Nothing pumps up the old adrenal glands like facing a fight you know you can’t win. Fortunately they were cowards, and when they realized I was going to fight them anyway they backed off. Whew.

Anybody who’s ever ridden a motorcycle knows there’s nothing quite like the horrifying weightlessness when gravity turns against you in a high-side. Aydan’s wild ride in Book 2 is based on the time I almost high-sided on a street bike, complete with the dragging footpeg throwing up sparks. But my guardian angel was working overtime that day (and every day, I suspect) so I pulled out of the turn unscathed and went home to change my underwear.

Then there was the time I was riding a dirt bike up a steep trail of loose shale with a cliff on one side and a hillside on the other. Getting up was a challenge, but coming down was truly scary. Especially when my brakes failed. Fortunately I was near the bottom and I hadn’t been going very fast, so I turned into the side of the hill and jolted anticlimactically to a stop.

Experiences like accidentally skiing onto a double-black-diamond downhill run or watching a tornado bear down on me were good for a few extra heartbeats, but either I’m not wired for panic or else I’m too stupid to react with appropriate fear. I got down the mountain, the tornado skipped harmlessly overhead, my guardian angel developed a drinking problem, and I puttered off happily to my next adventure.

But everything except the skiing and the tornado happened when I was young and foolish. These days I get all the adrenaline I need from crawling out the window onto our second-floor roof to wash the third-floor windows. (Okay, so now I’m old and foolish. Never mind.)

But that’s about all the fear factor I want!

* * *

P.S. I’m on the road today, so I’ll reply to comments tomorrow – ‘talk’ to you then!

41 Comments

Filed under Life

Fear Factor: Creepy-Crawly Edition

Warning: There’s a snake photo at the bottom of this post!  (Just thought I’d mention that for those who hate/fear snakes.)

No Fear Factor would be complete without a few creepy-crawlies, so here we go:

Even though I’ve had quite a few close encounters with things that crawl and slither, most of them don’t really creep me out.

(See what I did there? ‘Creep’ me out…?)

*ahem*  Sorry.

Anyway, I’ll start with spiders (and I don’t mean the lovable Spider Webb from my books).

I guess after you’ve had a large spider walking around in your mouth it’s hard to get too wound up about bugs of any sort. Mind you, I didn’t tongue the spider intentionally. I just didn’t realize the potential consequences of drinking from a hose without letting it run for a few seconds first. That poor spider probably achieved low-earth orbit when I spat him out. (The world’s first spidernaut: One small step for man; eight giant steps for arachnids…)

Over the years I’ve lifted spiders off my eyebrows, shaken them out of my hair, and, if statistics are to be believed, probably eaten close to a dozen in my sleep by now. Spiders don’t bother me.

But wood ticks?

Bleah!!! I hate wood ticks! They’re bad enough when they’re crawling around all flat and icky but once they latch on and get engorged to the size of revolting dead-white grapes… *shudders*

Before the advent of flea-and-tick collars, picking engorged ticks off the cats and dogs on the farm was a disgusting but necessary chore. It was too bad they didn’t make flea-and-tick collars for humans, too, because after being outdoors in Manitoba we almost always had to evict a couple from our clothes or bodies.

Moving on to the crawlies: I’m not crazy about centipedes, mainly because I’ve heard they bite. But wooly-bear caterpillars are cute. As kids we loved to pick them up and watch them curl into a furry ball. Then after a few seconds they’d relax and crawl around our palms while we giggled at the tickly sensation.

Cold-blooded crawlies don’t bother me, either. My fifth-grade teacher confided to my mother with some dismay, “All the other children bring me flowers. Diane brings me salamanders!”

I didn’t mean to upset her. It was just that the other kids were tormenting the poor salamanders, so I rescued them and carried them home to release by our pond after school. I kept hoping they’d stay and have families, but I never saw them again. (Maybe I should have tried bringing two salamanders home. Clearly I didn’t think that part through.)

And then there are the ‘slitheries’.  I class leeches under ‘slitheries’, and they revolt me; but then again I figure it’s probably healthy to harbour an aversion to critters that want to suck my blood.  (No vampires for me, either, thank you very much.)

Snakes, on the other hand…

Years ago, friends had a six-foot long boa constrictor who loved to cuddle up and tuck his nose under my hair where it was nice and warm.

Years ago, friends had a six-foot long boa constrictor who loved to cuddle up and tuck his nose under my hair where it was nice and warm.

Snakes are okay, but I do prefer a little advance warning. Sudden snakes are rarely a good thing, particularly if you’re poking around one of our desert micro-climates where the rattlesnakes hang out.

Snakes in quantity are another thing entirely. The garter snake pits at Narcisse, Manitoba are amazing (click on the videos at the bottom of their page if you dare). I don’t know how they all manage to untangle themselves. Apparently the accepted collective nouns for snakes are ‘bed’, ‘pit’, ‘den’, ‘knot’, and ‘nest’, but I think a ‘macramé of snakes’ would be appropriate.

Which creepy-crawly do you loathe the most?

P.S.  You may have noticed that my site was down for the better part of a day last week.  My domain host crapped out completely (yes, I’m switching to a new one now) and all my emails vanished into cyberspace.  If you emailed me any time within the past couple of weeks but didn’t get a reply, please resend your message.  I promise I’m not ignoring you!

41 Comments

Filed under Life

The Scariest Word: ‘Oops!’

A couple of weeks ago I was scooping ice cream out of a one-gallon pail when my hand slipped and a gob of ice cream hurtled across the kitchen to land on the floor. Not surprisingly, I yelped, “Whoa! Shit!”

Hubby looked over at the scene of the crime and said, “You know, ‘shit’ is one of those words you just never want to hear coming from the kitchen.”

That’s very true.  But after considering it for a while, I think ‘oops!’ is probably the scariest word on the planet. For instance, here are just a few of the times and places you really, really don’t want to hear anybody say ‘Oops’:

  • In the hairdresser’s chair
  • In the operating room
  • At the accountant’s office
  • At the lawyer’s office
  • Any time condoms or birth control pills are involved
  • In answer to the question, “You remember I’m allergic to (fill in the blank), right?”
  • When checking in for a flight/hotel/rental car
  • At the bank
  • In the dentist’s chair

The list (and the potential for scary situations) is virtually endless, but if you’re lucky ‘oops’ isn’t always disastrous.  I emitted a benign ‘oops’ a few days later. It was quickly followed by a facepalm, but it made me laugh because it was such a quintessentially Canadian mistake. Here’s what happened:

It’s been an unseasonably hot summer here in Calgary, and Hubby and I were driving to our garden outside the city. We had a plastic gas-can in the trunk to fuel the rototiller, and the fumes were strong (we discovered later the can was leaking, but that’s another story).

Anyway, I rolled the window down.

After a few miles, I thought to myself, “Why is it getting so warm in here?”

Uh, DUH! *facepalm*

It’s hot outside. You’re letting the air conditioning out and the hot air in, dummy.

You can tell I’m from Canada, where we always expect it to be colder outside than inside.

* * *

But that’s enough about words you don’t want to hear. Here are some words you do want to hear (at least those of you who are waiting for Book 10 to come out):

The beta readers are hard at work and I’m well into my first round of edits.  And… We have a cover and blurb!  (These aren’t finalized, so if you spot any ‘oopses’, please let me know.)

Bookkeeper-turned-secret-agent Aydan Kelly has barely begun to relax after her last mission when a shotgun-wielding man kicks in the front door of her country home. She doesn’t recognize the would-be assassin, so who hired him and why?

As evidence mounts against her abrasive co-worker, Aydan begins a deadly game of cat and mouse with herself as bait. If her suspicions are correct, the Department’s security has been breached and no one is safe.

With the lives of her dearest friends at risk as well as her own, Aydan must stop her unknown enemy before the next assassin succeeds.

More good news: I can now set up pre-orders, and all retailers will release the book on the same day. Pre-orders for Spy Away Home should be active in another couple of weeks (if you’ve signed up on my New Release mailing list, you’ll get an email when the pre-order pages go live), and it looks as though the final release date will be at the end of August. I’ll keep you posted with more details as I get them confirmed.

If you’d like to have a say in which day Spy Away Home gets released, please vote in the poll below.  Thanks for your help!

41 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life, Writing

I’m Amused

In the vagaries of the English language, I’m “amused”.  I’m also amused by the vagaries of the English language, but that’s not actually what I mean.

No; if “amoral” means “lacking morals”, and “atonal” means “toneless”, and “achromatic” means “without colour”, then I’m “amused”.  As in “lacking muse”.

Which is a fancy way to say I don’t know what to write about today.

So I shall resort to poking fun at the English language.  If the prefix “a-” indicates absence or lack, then why doesn’t “acute” mean “ugly”?  Why doesn’t “along” mean “short” and “alike” mean “hate”?  And if I amend an item, am I actually ripping it apart?

After coming up with a few other examples, I just couldn’t resist messing around with some flash fiction:

Flash Fiction: Afoul Play (On Words)

Setting my torch alight, I stood blinking, blinded by the sudden blackness.  When the vague outlines of the hallway emerged from the dark, I crept forward.  The groan of a loose floorboard underfoot made me flinch, my heart drumming against my ribs.

Glad to be alone, I turned to Jim.  “Man, why did we let Rick talk us into this?  And why are we still doing it when he didn’t even bother to show up?”

Jim replied with his usual unintelligible mumble before pressing his lips tightly agape, but I didn’t let it bother me.  He always spoke aloud.

Behind me, Lucy whispered, “Light the torch.  This is too creepy.  Maybe we heard Rick aright.  After all, it was two weeks ago.  Maybe he meant twelve noon, not midnight.”

“No, I’m sure he meant midnight,” I argued.  “He said we had to sneak in when it was dark, and he teased me that I’d probably arouse at eleven and sleep through the whole thing.”

A few minutes of stealthy tiptoeing later, Lucy hissed, “Oh, gross!  Do you smell that?  There’s something alive here.  It smells like it’s been rotting for weeks!”

“Probably just a dead mouse or something,” I said with more confidence than I felt.

“It can’t be.  It’s too strong.  It smells like something…”  Her voice trembled.  “Something big.”  Her nails dug into my shoulder.  “What’s that aloft?  On the floor under that big table?”

I swallowed hard and peered through the dimness.

“Light it!  Light the torch!”

Jim’s shout startled me so much I nearly dropped the torch.  It bobbled dangerously and Lucy’s shaking hands clamped over mine, pulling the torch atilt to prevent the oil from spilling out.

My lighter clicked.  Flames flared high, revealing the reason why Rick hadn’t joined us tonight.

“Rick!  Ohmigod, Rick!”

Lucy’s screams echoed in my ears as my stomach lurched.  My knees gave way and I arose to the ground, the impact jarring me asleep…

Which means awake… but “awake” actually means asleep.

Which would mean I was awake to start with…

Which means I was sleeping…

So did this really happen, or was it a dream?

Well dang, it looks as though I’ve written a blog post after all.  Maybe I wasn’t as “amused” as I thought.  But I still think English is a very funny language!

* * *

Addendum:  It seems WordPress has been having difficulties lately, and sometimes when you try to leave a comment you get a page that says “This comment could not be posted” or some other error message.  If that happens to you here, I’m sorry, and thanks for trying.  If you want to try again, here’s what has worked for me on other blogs:

  • Type your comment as usual, but before clicking Post Comment, highlight the comment and press Ctrl-C on your keyboard to copy it. 
  • Then click the Post Comment button. 
  • If a page comes up saying “This comment could not be posted”, click the Back button to return to the page
  • Then press the F5 button on your keyboard to refresh the page. 
  • Paste your comment back into the comment box by pressing Ctrl-V.
  • Click Post Comment again. 

Usually the second time’s the trick, but sometimes it wants a couple of tries.  It’s a huge pain in the butt and I hope they have it resolved soon, but in the mean time, thank you for trying.

32 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, Humour, Writing

Stand Back: Brain Farts!

My brain has apparently been eating ‘way too many beans lately.  The brain farts are getting embarrassing.

The past few weeks I’ve been totally immersed in finishing Book 6 in the Never Say Spy series.  Who knew fiction writing could cause such nasty brain flatulence?  Must be all the fibre in the pages.

The other night I slid into bed and Hubby said, “Oh, are you finished in the bathroom already?”

I stared at him blankly for a moment.  No, I wasn’t wondering ‘Who are you and what are you doing in my bed?’  I wake up in the middle of the night to do that.  Seriously.  It’s the weirdest feeling.

But getting on with the story…

I realized I’d completely forgotten to wash my face and brush my teeth.  So I got out of bed, went to the bathroom… and put on deodorant.

Shortly thereafter, I had a session with my muay thai trainer.  I’ve been going to the gym regularly for quite a few years, and when I realize it’s time to go I often leap up from my computer without fully disengaging my brain.  (Yes, actually, that is quite painful.  Thanks for asking.)  So before I leave home,  I perform a short ritual similar to the Catholic “Spectacles-Testicles-Wallet-And-Watch” to confirm that I have my shorts, running shoes, gym card, and hair elastic.

Knowing I’d be distracted that day, I took extra care , double-checking to make sure I had everything before I left.  So I arrived, full of pride, with the four things on my checklist.  But… without my hand wraps, boxing gloves, water bottle, or shin guards.  Smooth.  Very smooth.

Several days later, I booked an appointment with my accountant.  I had just completed a marathon 14-hour writing session the previous day and I was coming into the home stretch with the final chapters.  I knew I was going to be distracted.

I repeated the appointment time to myself and to Hubby several times, beginning two days prior to the appointment.  I put the appointment in my computer calendar with a popup reminder and an audible alarm.  The night before, I reminded myself again:  “Appointment at 11:00 AM tomorrow.”  The morning of the appointment, I got out of bed and reminded myself, “I have to get up from the computer at 10:00 AM to get ready for my meeting.”

When I looked at the clock next, it was 11:15.  Much grovelling ensued.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson.  But no.

Only a few hours later, I was heading out to the gym.  Not because I’d remembered it; simply because it’s muscle memory after all these years.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve arrived at the gym and begun my workout only to wake up and go, “Shit, I didn’t feel like doing this today.  I was going to skip it…”

Anyway, I was getting changed before I left home and I forgot to put on my bra.  Fortunately the bathroom is upstairs, and by the time I got downstairs it had become uncomfortably obvious that I wasn’t being supported in the manner to which I am accustomed.

My final draft should be finished and out to my editors/beta readers this week, after which I’ll be able to return to a state that passes for normalcy (at least for me).  I shudder to think what other gaffes I may commit in the interim.

I think it’s time to get a T-shirt: “ Beware:  Brain Farts.  Keep back 15m.”

Anybody else suffer from brain flatulence?  And please tell me I’m not the only one who wakes up wondering “Who are you and what are you doing in my bed?”

* * *

I’m doing another Goodreads giveaway this week:  Two signed copies of Never Say Spy are up for grabs.  Follow this link to enter the contest!

40 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life, Writing

Flash (Non)Fiction: Labyrinth

I just got back from a week’s holiday on Vancouver Island, and I thought I’d post something a little different for a change.  Thanks to Sacred Circles, Healing Hands for the inspiration of the labyrinth at the Milner Gardens and Woodland, Qualicum Beach, BC.

_________________

Labyrinth

It doesn’t fit my preconception of a labyrinth.

It’s about fifteen feet in diameter, a shallow muddy path worn into the brilliant green rainforest moss.  A few stones lie in the middle.

I stand beside it, my cynical eye tracing the route from entrance to centre. It’s probably a trick; a series of dead ends to confound those foolish enough to attempt it.

But it’s simple.  Around and back, a couple of reversals and a turn.

The sign says I may walk the labyrinth to meditate, experience feelings.  That there’s no “wrong” way to walk.

Why bother?  I already know the route and there’s nothing remarkable at the end.  The concentric paths are narrowly spaced.  Walking in circles would be a waste of time.  I’d look like an idiot.

I stand outside the labyrinth looking in.

Imprisoned by ego.  Unwilling to court ridicule.  Too old for magic.

I turn to walk away.

I stop.

Turn back.

This is silly.  It’s cold and cloudy and starting to rain.  It’s just a patch of dirt and grass.

And yet it holds me.

When did I become so jaded?

How often have I hovered on the outside, unwilling to step forward and risk disapproval?

My boots squish softly on the wet ground as I skirt around to the labyrinth’s entrance.  I mustn’t reject the established way.

Compelled to the path, I place my feet carefully within the narrow tracks, walking back and forth; around and around like a fool who can’t see that the destination is only a few feet away.

But it’s not about the destination.

I complete the final turn and stand looking down at the stones on the ground.  Just a few ordinary stones.  No discernible pattern.  No reward.

But it’s not about a reward.

Freed, I step lightly, respectfully, straight across the labyrinth.  I place my feet on its paths, but I am no longer constrained by its direction.

I stand contemplating my journey for a moment before I turn, smiling, to rejoin the world.

19 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, Life, Writing