Tag Archives: short story

NaNoWriMo… And A Bunch of Anthologies

It’s NaNo time! Time to get away from all the pressures and stresses of life, kick back, put your feet up on the coffee table and do nothing but write, all day and all night.


Never mind. I’m running around crazy and am lucky if I can get 20 minutes to work on my new novel. Not to mention I’ve got my hand in about every other pie I can stick it in. But, hey, that’s life, and that’s what makes it fun.

This year for NaNoWriMo, (Write 50,000 words in one month. Come on people, you should know this by now. :-P) I am taking a break from all the editing of my other works, and creating a brand new novel, the first in a trilogy. The novel is titled Mercy McNary, (And I have to tell you the names of the other two, because they’re so cool.) The second novel will be called No Mercy, and the third and final will be For Mercy’s Sake. It’s going to be a while before all three of them are done. They are likely to be my NaNo projects for the next 3 years, because it seems like November is the only time I ever get any actual Writing done anymore.

The trilogy, however, is about a woman named Mercy McNary, who happens to be a mercenary. One of the best, actually. When she gets sent to the rural world of Rostim to complete a long list of assassinations, she ends up meeting Jeremiah Justice… Who makes her start wondering if there’s a better life for her. But retiring from being the kind of mercenary that Mercy is, well, that’s not as simple as giving your two weeks notice.

The book is coming along well so far. I’m certainly having a lot of fun with it, and I’m looking forward to this month’s project. It’s not the only thing I’ve been involved with right now, though.

Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending a reading of the Spokane County Library’s anthology, Spokane Writes. My short story, “Tipson and the Wedding,” was included in the anthology, and I had a great time reading it to the group that was gathered there.

As my life normally goes, I can’t have only one thing happening at a time, so I’m also very involved in getting the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group’s next anthology out. The title is “Get There,” and I’m involved in creating the cover again. That is due to come out later this month.

And I published my own little anthology of my own work. (I guess that’s called a collection, but hey, we’re on the topic of anthologies here.) It’s called What You Want To See, and it’s a collection of kind of creepy short stories that I put out for Halloween this year. I think it’s a great read. I’m too much of a chicken to get into anything really horror-genre, but I do love something a little creepy, so if you’re like me and don’t want blood and guts, it’s a good collection to read, (Says the Author. :D)

And that’s about it, other than being neck deep in projects, cleaning, kids lives, appointments, Snow, (yes, neck deep) and paid work, that’s all I’ve really been up to! LOL

So Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

The Story of A Cover

I’ve mentioned a few times my involvement in the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group anthology, “It Gets Darker As You Go,” but most of my mentions have been about my story, and my excitement for our upcoming readings and signings in Spokane.

What I haven’t really mentioned is how I was involved in the cover creation.

This anthology has been a great collaboration between the authors involved. Everyone simply offered to throw in their help with whatever they were good at. When we started talking about covers, the leader of our group, Charles R. Oliver, said that anyone who wanted to try their hand at creating a cover could pick a photo from one of two stock photo sites he had an account at, and he would purchase the photos.

I love creating covers. My first couple of covers I hired someone to do for me, and after that I realized that I wasn’t bad at it myself, so since then I’ve been doing them on my own. At this chance to work on the anthology’s cover, I was pretty excited.

We didn’t have a title, didn’t really even have a theme other than we knew we wanted all the stories to have some kind of paranormal element to them, and we wanted them set in the Northwest. With that, and the few snippets I’d heard of the other people’s stories to that point, I thought, “Well, what about a nice woodsy-feeling cover with just a little bit of creep?” So here was my first submission:


I combined two images–the cabin in the woods, and the lady in the red jacket–and came up with the title, picking up the red from her jacket and the brown from the trees to create my font colors. I showed it to the group and a lot of them really liked it. Erik Schubach also created a nice looking cover idea for the story as well. To be honest, I liked his cover better than this original cover I submitted. We weren’t ready to decide on covers yet, so we kept working on the stories, swapping with each other and giving feedback.

As I started reading more and more of the stories, I realized that the couple I’d been exposed to early on were some of the lighter stories in the anthology. A few of them had a bit darker feel to them, and some were downright scary. (For me. I’m a chicken.)

I started reconsidering my design. This anthology didn’t feel like a bright woodsy with red-jacket cover type thing. I came up with the idea (and hence title) of making the stories go from lighthearted to darker, and I started looking for images that would match that up. I was so lucky to find the beautiful image I did on one of the stock websites that Charles had an account with. I wanted a great font to go with the image and theme of the story, so I went to this incredible page that shows all sorts of fonts, how they look, what genres they go well with, and so on. Funny enough, the font I chose was called DarkII. A perfect dark font for a dark cover.

From all of that came my cover design for It Gets Darker as You Go.

A woman walks in the forest at night with a lantern.

I loved the composition of the original artwork, the great lights and shadows, the kind of creepy, but kind of hopeful feel it gave. The feeling of being watched, and also being the watcher. Everything about it was spectacular, and the group apparently thought so as well. They picked it out right away, then asked me to organize the stories according to their level of “darkness.” So hopefully I did a good job, that way if you’re like me and they get “too scary” you know where to stop. (although truth be told, even though I knew I should stop, I ended up reading all of them because they were engaging and exciting. I just dealt with the nightmares later… You think I’m kidding?)

This wasn’t my first time creating a cover for a story, but it was my first time where other people had to decide between a few covers, some of my own creation, some from other people. It was exciting and gratifying to see how well-received the cover was, and how the people in the group really loved it. It’s certainly a fun thing for me to do and, I must admit, a good excuse to get distracted from the writing I really should be doing.

Speaking of which, I need to go back to pounding out my revisions on my next novel. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll let you all… Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

It Gets Darker As You Go

I’m excited to announce that the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group Paranormal Anthology is just about to hit the shelves (Virtually, and literally.)

Let me tell you a little about it, then we’ll come back to that.

A woman walks in the forest at night with a lantern.

It Gets Darker As You Go Cover

There’s nothing to fear…

This anthology features paranormal stories by the award-winning authors of the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group.

Erik Schubach
O.C. Calhoun
L.P. Masters
Lorna M. Hartman
David Jewett
Jerry Schellhammer
Patti L. Dikes
Charles R. Oliver
and R.N. Vick

As you journey into the new realities held within this anthology, you will encounter the snaggle-toothed monster under the bed. Meet a sweet, cookie-baking grandma, and discover a ghost who may not be as scary as he seems.

But don’t let that fool you into thinking there is nothing to fear because…

It gets darker as you go.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The stories are incredible. Some of them fun and lighthearted, and some of them extremely dark. That’s what I love about the layout, though, is that if you’re a scaredy-cat like me, you can decide when it’s getting too scary. (I’m probably the only one scared enough to stop partway through an anthology.)

I did swallow my fear and read the last few stories, though, and I can attest that they really are wonderful, albeit frightening.

Now, about those virtual and literal shelves…

Find the print version here, or get an ebook and read it anywhere.

But those are both virtual shelves. Didn’t I say something about literal shelves?

The Barnes and Noble at Northtown Mall in Spokane will be hosting a signing for It Gets Darker on Saturday, June 3 from 1 to 5 PM. They’ll have a big box of the books there, so come support us, come watch me at my very first signing, and come learn a little more about the anthology. UPDATE: The signing is currently up in the air and sounds like it may be pushed back a little. I’ll keep everyone posted on the date.

Okay. Plug your ears now cause I’m about to scream.


Whew. Thanks. I needed to let that out!

Have fun and enjoy the writing.

Afterdeaths, Audios, and Anthologies

All right. It’s alliteration time already. Although all I want is to advise you about the amazing events approaching in my author life, I also want to attempt to do a little exercise in alliteration.

As you know, the Afterdeath series has an audience that is aching for another novel.  Believe the author when she says she’s addressing that very need. Turning Point, with its alternating point of view chapters, has afforded itself the admirable station of being over halfway done with edits. Anyone who is following my publishing tendencies may already have noticed a lack of publication in February. Let me assure you, this was not an accident. I decided to focus my actions on accomplishing a fully edited Afterdeath Book 2 before attempting another short story for publication. And not to fret. An audiobook is in the near future.

Audiobooks are amazing. Anyone can sit and listen, and they don’t have to stress their eyes at all. Now, Weights is almost finished as an audiobook format, and will be available sometime in early march! I’ll be sure to announce its arrival on my blog and all other social media I attend to. And if you want an email sent straight to you when it’s available, by all means, sign up for my email list. You’ll attain my short story, “See You Tomorrow” for free when you do.

And don’t think Afterdeath and audiobooks are my only accomplishments. An anthology is in the near future as well. Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group is planning to publish a collection of paranormal short stories. I’ve already read 5 of them, and have heard about all of them, and all I can say is the stories are astounding!

As a final note, I have to bring this up now, simply because I attempted this, (probably annoying) tactic of alliteration today. Another short story that I am announcing soon is titled, “An Acceptable Future.” This story is exciting because it’s the first in a series of Adult Scifi “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories and novellas. Although “An Acceptable Future” doesn’t allow readers to “choose” yet, it is actually based in the same universe as other soon to be written “Dark Tales” are in, a great many of which shall have a choice associated with them.

And with all that, I’ll at last let you free from my mind-numbing yet–yes–amazing alliterating blog post.

Have adventures. And appreciate all authors.

Publishing Update

We are just days away from a new short story out on the market. But (shh!) don’t tell. You can get it right now, for free by signing up for my email list. “See You Tomorrow” will be up for sale by the end of next week at the latest. The cover is currently with the cover designer, the ebook is formatted and ready to go. It’s just sitting. Waiting. Itching for people to read it.

I have mentioned a few times that I write in several genres. “See You Tomorrow” is in my adult Science Fiction genre, and it’s a Romance to boot. It’s a sweet story about Tammi, a Texas girl who runs into the handsome, blue-skinned, sharp-toothed alien Domino Sim in the off-limits part of a National Forest. They spend the entire summer together, but when his assignment on earth is unexpectedly cut short, Tammi spends the next fifteen years trying to prove to his people that mankind is worth their attentions. If she can’t get manned missions out of the solar system, she’ll never see Domino again.

I’m very excited for this short story, and while I’m here I might as well update you on how things are going with my other projects. I’m only a few thousand words from finishing up “Turning Point” which is Book 2 in the Afterdeath series. Sorry, Afterdeath lovers, you’ll have to wait a little longer. “Turning Point” won’t be out until early spring 2017, because as soon as I finish the rough draft I get to focus my mind on revisions of “Last Breath,” which should hit the shelves early next year. “Last Breath” is an Adult Scifi novel about a man stuck outside on a planet with an extremely deadly atmosphere. It’s a page-turner, filled with unexpected twists and turns, and plenty, (I mean plenty) of villains.

Be sure to sign up for my email list so you can get updates anytime a new book comes out. And you can smile a few days from now when everyone else is scrambling to buy their copy of “See You Tomorrow” and you already know how it ends. 😀

Have fun. And enjoy the writing.

Nosy Neighbors

Time for my first “Yes, I exercise” post.

It’s a busy world. We all need exercise, right? Well. I’ve decided that the best exercise for me is writing exercises. I don’t have to get off the couch. I don’t have to sweat…(unless it’s hot out and the AC is broken.) All I have to do is make sure to lick the grease off my fingers before I touch the keyboard. Here’s the exercise, and stay tuned afterward for a little more information about it.


“What seems to be the problem?” I asked as I shifted my weight to my left foot. It had been a long day, and I had the feeling it was about to get longer. I hooked my thumb in my belt and Mr. Jordan frowned at me. It was a bad habit I had. It made people uncomfortable when a cop had his hand so close to his gun. I was a newbie. I was still getting used to the fact that I had a gun on my belt.

“Nothing. No problem at all, officer,” Mr. Jordan answered.

“That’s not the story we heard from Eden Hope.” That was my partner, John Lopez. He looked as Mexican as they come, but he didn’t speak a lick of Spanish, and he hated it when people called him Juan.

“Yeah, well Eden is always complaining about something or another. There’s no problem at all officers, really,” Mrs. Jordan responded.

Just then Eden opened her front door and walked across the street to us. Mrs. Jordan’s face went sour as her neighbor approached.

“Good morning, officers,” Eden said as she stepped up to John’s side. She was inappropriately named. I think of the name Eden and I see some drop dead gorgeous woman, slender, long blonde hair, something like that. Eden Hope could only hope to look like that. Her hips stuck out like the wings of an airplane. The auburn color of her short hair obviously came from a box, and the crop cut did nothing to hide the rolls of fat on her neck or the black hairs that dotted her chin.

John cleared his throat. He looked ill. “Are you the one who called, ma’am?”

“Yes. I would like you to arrest these two.”

I raised an eyebrow. “On what charges?”

“They have a dead body in their home.”

Mrs. Jordan’s jaw clenched.

“How do you know this?” John asked, then rubbed his nose.

“I can smell it. Day and night. Any time the wind changes.”

Just then the wind changed. I certainly smelled something, but it was too close to be coming from the Jordans’ house. I almost gagged.

“You can’t smell anything but your own stench,” Mr. Jordan growled.

Eden stepped forward, and John was brave enough to put a hand on her shoulder and keep her back. “Please, Miss Hope. Let’s just see if we can figure this out without any trouble.”

Eden glowered at him, but she folded her arms and stepped back. “I don’t smell like rotting flesh, Robert,” Eden said.

John cleared his throat again and looked away.

“Look,” Eden turned to address me now. “All I know is that these two moved in, they had some old man come over one evening, and he never left. After that the neighborhood started stinking. They killed him, I tell you, and his body is rotting somewhere inside that house.”

I bit at my lip, it wasn’t so much a gesture of indecision as it was an effort not to hurl. “I’m sorry Miss Hope, but there’s really not much we can do about this. You say the old man never came out, but perhaps he left when you didn’t see him.”

“He didn’t. I have security cameras on my front door and they happen to overlap the Jordans’ front door. The old man never came out.” The wind shifted again and Eden stuck her nose in the air. “See? There! Don’t you smell it?”

I wasn’t really brave enough to take a deep breath, but I did sniff the air a little. There was certainly something unpleasant on the breeze, and it wasn’t coming from Eden’s direction. Perhaps the lady was right.

“Hey,” John said to me, then motioned me away from the group. We stepped out of hearing range and John frowned. “What do you think?”

I shrugged. “We should probably look into it. I mean, she does have the video.”

John shook his head. “It’s nothing. She’s just a bad neighbor. Besides, do you know all the paperwork this means if we pursue it?”

I pursed my lips. Avoiding paperwork didn’t seem like a good reason to ignore a complaint like this.

“Just like Mr. Jordan said, she couldn’t possibly smell anything other than herself.”

I had an uncle who lived on a farm. Every time I went there all I could smell was cow manure and muddy hay. Uncle Tony said the place didn’t stink at all, except when a cat died in the rafters. He could smell the dead cat, just not the cows. I opened my mouth to mention it when Mrs. Jordan spoke up.

“Can we please get this over with? I have something on the stove.”

John took a deep breath then exhaled. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, Mrs. Jordan. Go ahead and get back to your stove. Miss Hope, there’s really not much we can do.”

“You’re kidding me.” Eden raised one eyebrow at him.

“We’ll make sure to file a report and if any of the other neighbors mention anything then maybe we…”

“All the other neighbors are gone. All moved out a long time ago.”


Eden just shrugged. Mrs. Jordan said, “Nosy neighbors?”

“Have a nice day, Miss Hope,” John said.

Her response was not the customary one that followed a statement like John’s. He ignored the obscenities and headed back to our patrol car. I walked back a little more slowly. Before I reached my door I heard Mrs. Jordan say, “You’re going to regret that, you freak.”

I watched them in the mirror as John drove away. That was the last time I ever saw Eden Hope. The case stuck with me a long time, and several years later I went back there. I learned that Eden had mysteriously disappeared some time ago, and even though her sister had cleared out the house and sold it on the market, the neighborhood still kept that funny smell for years.

So this exercise was inspired by one of my Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group exercises that we do every month. The prompt was to write a scene that had dialogue with four or more people. I decided to write it in first person mainly because it cut down the number of names I needed to say in order to tag the dialogue. And speaking of dialogue tagging, I tried to use beats instead of using “said” or other tags.

Overall it was a fun little exercise. I certainly enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it. And, why not? If you’ve got time, or if you’re stuck in a little bit of writer’s block, go find a way to write a scene with more than four characters speaking. Let me know how it turned out.

Have fun and enjoy the writing.