Tag Archives: stories

Porch Story

So we went to Maine, and I am sitting on the porch with my ghosts and memories as twilight falls and the call of a loon breaks the silence. And then the quacking of ducks from somewhere at the edge of the pond.

“Margaret still feeds the ducks,” John says, which seems very odd to me since they have to make their way from the pond up our lengthy path to get across the road to Margaret’s house.

I wonder what my heroine would do. She’s come to Maine — why? She inherited the island in the middle of the pond, even though she’s not family. She’s thinking the family must be furious. There are a raft of nephews, nieces, cousins, aunts and uncles who on the face of it are more entitled to inherit than she. She’s never asked herself why her.

But the family must have: the family was surely gathering forces to contest the will. At the moment, however, my heroine doesn’t care.

She sits on the porch at the home of a friend, thinking about the past as she gazes out over the pond. She used to come here as a child. There was a guy — but best not to think about that. She hasn’t really thought about him in years and gives herself a moment to wonder now, is he still around? Is he married? Is he dead?

He is one of the ghosts; she fully expects to see him canoeing toward the dock, calling out to see if anyone’s home. Or to find a jar of homemade jelly on her front steps, a sure clue he came visiting.

But no — all she hears are the far-away voices from the camp at the other end of the pond. The sound of oars dipping in the water, or the occasional roar of a speedboat pulling water skiiers on the far side of the island.

It’s all about the island, my heroine thinks, and how it reflects in the water. In some lights, when you photograph it, you can’t tell which is the real island and which is the reflection. It feels like a metaphor for her life.

Clouds gather, a portent of a storm. Mist wafts across the water. The branches overhanging the pond, which look like a samurai warrior and a dragon respectively, sway in the churning wind like marionettes controlled by an unseen hand. It starts to rain, a pattery rain that causes the water to ripple. A drift of lily pads and pond grasses floats across the reflection, effectively dividing it in half.

The rain drops blur the shadowy trees mirrored in the pond, making the upper half look like ghostly men rolling toward the shore, coming for her, coming for me.

Across the pond, out of the corner of her eye, she sees movement — an ethereal figure in white which looks as if it’s walking on water.

She freezes. Who’s heading toward her island? Anyone could — it’s wide open all the time. If she were there, she’d be defenseless. Here, on the porch, in the rain, she can do nothing about it. She feels terrorized nonetheless.

The ghost men in the water come closer and closer, reaching for her, reaching for me. The white ghost floats along the length of the island, seeking — what?

Ducks quack loudly, one-two-three. “They’re on their way to Margaret’s house again,” John says from the kitchen window. “We’ll visit tomorrow morning.”

My heroine (and I) look up. The mysterious white figure is gone.

Does being away from home set your imagination in motion? Do you weave stories from dust motes? Do you believe in ghosts? Yes, the island really exists.

Thea Devine is working on her next erotic contemporary romance, and other projects. She will be attending CTRWA’s Fiction Fest in September, and speaking at the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October. She was among those honored as a Romance Pioneer at this year’s Romantic Times Convention.

Grab A Hold and Don’t Let Go!

Welcome to another Friday. Casey here. Today I’m switching gears. I’m not going to talk about writing but reading instead.

the false princeAfter I finish a manuscript and send it on its merry way, I go on a reading binge. After finishing Mystic Storm, I’ve become a story glutton. If you’re my friend on Goodreads, it looks like I’ve gone crazy.

And I guess I have! I won’t bore you with all the books I’ve recently completed but I will share a few that really grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let me go until I hit the end.

1. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen – this book was a Kindle daily deal. I tried a sample and within about 8 seconds I was buying it. I am not sure what age group this is really aimed for (Scholastic published it) but it has that same wide audience appeal that Harry Potter had. This book is fabulous and it’s awesome that the sequel is coming out today (March 1st). Yahoo! Seriously if you read any book on my list, read this one.

2. One Good Earl Deserves A Lover by Sarah MacLean – Here I forayed into theOne earl deserves a lover realm of historical romance. Omigosh, I love this author’s writing. Immediately after finishing this book I realized that this was book 2 so I bought (and read) – A Rogue by Any Other Name. Both books – Fun and fantastico! I plan on reading more of her books for sure.

Let me break here and say, notice none so far have been paranormal romance or urban fantasy. But I can’t stray too far from the genre I know and love which brings me to  . . .

the woodcutter3. The Woodcutter by Kate Danley. Also purchased as a Kindle daily deal. Thank you Amazon because I may have never found this book. It’s really a fairy tale of sorts. Gritty, lyrical, and poignant. If you like Once Upon a Time or fairy tales in general, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

Okay, last one.

4. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey - by the Countess Carnovan. This one’s for you Downtown fans. All Lady Alminaabout Highclere Castle and Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnovan. For King Tut aficionados - her husband, the fifth earl, is the very same Carnovan who financed Howard Carter’s excavation of the boy king’s tomb. I read this on my Kindle and drank up every fascinating detail.

I could go on and on. But I won’t! Now it’s your turn.

So everyone, what good books have you read lately? Please share!!

Stories that Stick

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here.

In the Garden of IdenWith the holiday season in full swing, I wanted to share some of my favorite books in case you’re looking for gifts or something different to read in all your “free” time.

Either because of the characters or the adventure, these are the stories that have stuck with me over the years. Sometimes, I re-read them (except for #6, explanation to follow), other times, the memory is enough to make me smile.

By no means, is this a list of all my favorite books. Absent, but no less loved, are The Lord Of the Rings trilogy, A Christmas Carol and all of Harry Potter. Instead, I wanted to offer more obscure titles that maybe you’ve never encountered. And I do admit that some of these have a sci-fi/fantasy bent (but I can’t help that!).

1.In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker – a 24th century cyborg named Mendoza time travels to Elizabethan England to the garden of Sir Walter Iden. While there, she falls in love with a monk name Nicholas Harpole. While there’s a romance, this is really speculative fiction and is the first of an epic series about the mysterious Company – Dr. Zeus, Inc.

2. Spring Moon: A Novel of China by Bette Boa Lord – I first read this book as a teen. I distinctively remember that you could choose among an assortment of different colored covers. I choose a pink one with red lettering (which I still own). At the time, I knew next to nothing about China, let alone about the turmoil at the turn of the twentieth century. But I never forgot this tale about Spring Moon and how she survived her country’s massive social upheaval. I re-read this Spring Moonbook several years ago and it was still as poignant as I remembered.  If you are a fan of Lisa See, check this book out.

3. A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes – this book was out of print for many years but returned in the early 2000s, when I first learned about it. This story is a dark comedy about a group of siblings on their way home to England after their Jamaican plantation home is leveled by a hurricane. Along the way, their ship is hi-jacked by pirates who have no idea what they are in for. And it begs the question, who is more wicked? The children or the pirates?

4. The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett – A wacky variation of the story about the guy in the in the red suit. In the land of Discworld, Hogswatchnight is in danger when the beloved Hogfather goes missing.Death’s granddaughter has the task of finding him before disaster ensues. With appearances by a down on her luck tooth fairy, a nasty assassin, and Death himself, this is a satirical holiday tale like nothing you’ve read before.

5. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote – A short story that I read in high school English class. Young Truman recalls holiday visits with his aunt and their annual mission to find ingredients to make fruitcake. I believe this tale sneakily contributed to my fascination and enjoyment of fruitcake. Yes! I admit it. I like fruitcake!

World War Z6. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – This book scares the crap out of me. Written in fast-paced, first person, documentary style, this story is so plausible, it’s freaky! And, since Brad Pitt will be starring in the movie version (which I am sure will bear no resemblance to the book), you might want to check this out. If you read Stephen King, you can handle this. Don’t be put off by my nightmares! I’m just a big scaredy cat when it comes to zombies

7. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley –  Everyone has a book that they read a zillion times as a kid. This was mine. I took it out of the library so often that I knew its exact shelf. My love of Beauty and the Beast traces back to this book. And I suspect my love of romance too.

Who wants to share their favorite (not as popular) stories? And what books are you looking forward to reading in 2013?

Shaken, Not Stirred

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here. It’s Skyfall day!

Image from Skyfall – Official Movie site – http://www.skyfall-movie.com/site/

If you’ve hung around the Scribes blog long enough then you know we are movie fans. I’m sure I’m not the only James Bond aficionado around here. I started my 007 love affair at a young age, first watching Sean Connery, George Lazeby and Roger Moore on ABC with my family. At the time, I had no idea they were heavily edited. And, of course, all the double entendres went right over my head (Pussy Galore!).

The first James Bond movie I ever saw in a theater was Moonraker. One of the more campier offerings, but I distinctly remember everyone loving the metal-mouthed bad guy Jaws, played by Richard Kiel. I was probably in my early teens and still pretty naive about all the innuendo!

Over the years, I faithfully followed all the Bonds as they changed over time. I was thrilled when Pierce Brosnan finally got his chance with the Astin Martin. And while, I was sad to see him go, I loved Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. The harder edged story and the intensity really made me fall in love with the franchise all over again.

As writers there are some lessons to take away from the Bond movies. Part of Bond’s enduring success is a formula that’s stood the test of time and multiple actors playing our hero.

1. Action – I can’t think of a single Bond flick without several pulse pounding action sequences. And they aren’t there just for the thrill value either. They have a purpose and serve to move the plot along (although sometimes you have to wait until the end of the movie to see all the connections).

2. Babes. Lots and lots of babes – skimpy outfits required – Aside from our favorite secret agent, there are always at least two sexy women. One could be loosely considered to be the “love interest” (at least for the duration of the movie). The other (mostly in the earlier movies), slept with Bond then ended up dead later. Who could forget Goldfinger? Jill Eaton dead on the bed, clad only in gold paint. Or in Moonraker, when the sexpot is eaten by dogs. After a while, the first woman to have sex with Bond had the life expectancy of a red-shirted ensign on Star Trek.

3. Villains – no one has more fascinating, campy villains than Mr. Bond. Granted they have stepped away from some of the more cornball aspects of the series (Man with the Golden Gun – extra nipple anyone!). 007 always shines best when the villains are a match for him . Who can forget Sean Connery strapped to a table with Goldfinger cackling overhead – “No. Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!” Classic.

4. Gadgets – Bond has done it all and with the most amazing gadgets. Explosive pens, cars that morph into submarines, even a rocket jetpack. And the cars. So many beautiful and classic Astin Martins. I know, they strayed away from the AM in some of the films, but I hear it’s back and more awesome than ever in Skyfall.

5. Super sidekicks/happening henchmen- Q, Miss Moneypenny and Felix Lightner. They’ve all helped anchor James Bond and provide a sense of continuity no matter which actors have played them. And those henchmen – Jaws, Oddjob, Xenia Onatop (the fabulous Famke Jensen) and May Day (Grace Slick). There are way too many to name, but for a complete list – click here.

6. Exotic Locales – the locations are characters in their own right. I’m pretty sure Mr. Bond has been just about everywhere – including space.

7. Awesome catchphrases – Nothing says Bond like – “Bond, James Bond.” Or “Shaken, not stirred.” No one can quip like 007. There is always some humor. Depending on the actor and the decade, it’s dry or downright corny, but we fans love it all the same!

8. The Opening Credits – Nobody does it better. The classic theme song.That gun barrel eye view often followed by an amazing action sequence which culminates in opening credits (silhouettes of nude models, weapons – you name it) often sung by the pop star du jour.

Okay, back to writing. Yes, I know I got a bit carried away. Watch any Bond film and you’ll find all or most of these elements. And if you’re wearing your writer goggles, you will find the basics elements – the call to action, GMC, twists, black moments, love (okay, sex) scenes, and final victory.

I’m sure Ian Fleming, when he was writing his books in his hideaway Goldeneye, had no idea that fifty years of movies later, his characters would still be alive and thriving. Something most of us can only dream about.

I’m looking forward to seeing Skyfall. Anyone else? Favorite Bond actor? Favorite movie? Bond moment? Bond girl, villain, location?

Tales From the Spam Folder . . .

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

Today, rather than the usual blog post, I’d like to try something different. And it’s going to require audience participation (that means you, dear readers). Don’t worry, it’ll be fun. I promise.

The other day, I was cleaning out the spam folders for my blog and the Scribes. Normally, spam is a bunch of gibberish or poorly written attempts to sneak past Akismet (WordPress’ s filter program).

But on this day, I found something a bit different. A hidden gem that teased my imagination. The Scribes have talked about doing some type of round robin and I think this bit-o-spam would be a perfect start.

So here is how this will work. I am going to present the spam exactly as I found it. Then, I’m going to add my two cents. Next, each commenter is going to add  what they think happens next. The following person is going to build onto whatever the previous commenter has written. And so on. . . .

Let your imagination run wild. Feel free to add dialogue, more characters or whatever strikes you!

Hopefully by day’s end, we will have an interesting bit of story. And, I suspect this may be from a movie, so if anyone has any guesses, throw them out there.

Here is the spam: SMITH: Well, well, it’s been a long time. I remember chasing you was like chasing a ghost.

And away we go:

“Well, well, it’s been a long time. I remember chasing you was like chasing a ghost,” said Smith.

<here’s what we have so far>

Lady Tansy Mumford sipped her tepid and tasteless tea, unwilling to rise to the comment. Mr. Edward Smith, the most odious of men, stared expectantly, his forehead shiny and sleek in the afternoon sun. Was it wrong for a lady of her genteel upbringing to wish harm upon another? After all Mr. Smith was only pursuing her for one thing.

That’s because I am a ghost, and I’m going to haunt you until the end of your days. Accident, smackccident. You murdered me and I won’t rest til the day you join me. With a horrendous cackle, the translucent image of Smith’s ex-wife faded.

“Jesus,” said Smith to himself. I have to stop mixing antacids with wine. The combination not only gives me gas, but hallucinations, too.

Smith, his eyes ablaze, turned to the tap on his shoulder. He opened his mouth, his hand fell across his lips and he took a gulp the size of Niagara Falls. He reached out to touch the wisp of his wife . . .

“I swear, Sarah, it was an accident. I never meant to hurt you.” Smith’s arm fell to his side as he slowly backed away from his wife’s apparition.
“It seems your sins are catching up with you, Smith,” said Lady Mumford as she regarded him over the rim of her tea cup.

“So many sins,” she continued. “Remember that time you bought me a carpet cleaner for my birthday? Or those numerous times you clipped your toe nails in the bed? And the toilet seat! Do you know how many times I have fallen into that wet cold water? Oh, I’m going to haunt your ass, I’m going to annoy you so bad that you’ll go crazy and no other woman will want you.”
But ghost or not, you will not escape me. I will find you. I will fill your email box with offers for v@aagra and beutifull babes pron. You have no way to leave me behind except to change your email address, and that is only a temporary solution. We shall track you to the ends of the earth.

Well, Scribesters, time for you to add to the story. Have fun! At the end of day, I will compile the responses (in order) and add them to the blog post so everyone can read the results.

Finding Time for Your Stories

Hi, all.  Susannah Hardy here.  I’m a writer of humorous mysteries set in the fictional resort town of Bonaparte Bay.  I hope you’ll be able to travel there with me soon!

With summer approaching, I was thinking about my own childhood summers in northern New York State, way up by the Canadian border.  I would often spend a day or two with my grandma, Gert.  Gert lived with her second husband in a little converted one room schoolhouse, surrounded by zinnias, peonies (which she called “pineys”), and old-fashioned pink roses.   She always did her housework and gardening in the morning, because after lunch she dropped everything.  She’d make herself a cup of Red Rose tea and put an Archway cookie on a plate, then park herself in her rust-colored velour recliner in front of the television to watch her “stories.”  Now, there was no cable where she lived and she only got a couple of stations, so it was the CBS soap operas for her — The Edge of Night, and Secret Storm, and As the World Turns.

The point is, her stories were important to her, so she scheduled her other activities in such a way that she had time for them.  And that’s a lesson we can all learn as writers.

There are so many demands on our time — families, housework, jobs for those of us still in the traditional workforce — it can seem impossible to eke out even a few minutes to write.   I’m here to tell you, though, that The Dream, whatever The Dream constitutes for you, is never going to come true unless you find time for it.

Notice I didn’t say “make time.”   We’ve all got the same twenty-four hours in the day (at least here on Earth that’s true — you fantasy and sci-fi writers, modify to suit your particular planetary rotation), so there’s no way to make the day magically longer.  However, we can structure our days to include a few hours, or even just a few minutes, to work on our stories.

Maybe you can get up an hour earlier than the rest of your family (easier in the summer than the winter here in the Northeast!).  Maybe you can skip going out to lunch with your co-workers, but instead brown-bag it with your BFF the laptop in an unused office or the local coffee shop.  Maybe you could – gasp! –ask your family to make a simple dinner a couple of nights a week, or put in a load of laundry, or run the vacuum cleaner.   Maybe you could — bigger gasp, possibly resulting in hyperventilation! — limit Facebooking, Tweeting,  Internet surfing, e-mail reading, and/or television watching.  You might just be surprised at how much you can get done in an hour or less of focused effort.  And even small amounts will eventually add up to a completed manuscript.

I’ll be exploring this issue of time a bit more over at my blog site tomorrow.  In the meantime, your Secret for today is:  Take a look at your typical day and see where you can rearrange or delegate some tasks, or delete some time-suckers, to find time for your Stories.  Nobody else will, or can, do it for you.

Till next time,

Susannah