Friday, December 30, 2011

Stream of Consciousness That Runs into the New Year, Written While Imbibing Red Wine in Winnipeg

Greetings from sunny, frigid Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I'm taking a bit of a post-Christmas holiday, and getting some much needed family time to boot. 

In the last week, I've been looking at all the writing I'm not doing, and have decided that I'll live - as long as I stick to my plans for the New Year. Call it a Resolution, call it Fiddles McGee, if you like - I've taken the opportunity of this break to examine what I've been doing writing-wise, and made some concrete decisions about what I would like to accomplish in the upcoming year:

1) The Novel.  I've started no fewer than five novel-length stories in the past three years - none of which I've been able to stick to for long enough to see them through to the end. The one I'm working on now is a little different - not in that it's easier - f%$% no. However, I've taken that great work of writer's advice On Writing to heart, and approached this one "with serious intent". I've done the research, I've got the notes - I've just got to make it past page 13. I will - this year I will do this thing.

But first...

2) I've been debating about putting together a collection of short stories for the last year or so. Now that I've done the Smashwords thing for Eight Days of Madness, I'm convinced I can and should collect what I've been doing for the past few years in one place. There's a few new stories that will fit nicely as well. Seeing as how I've also been through the Create-space experience, I'll probably do a multi-format thing with the collection. Work is already underway, and I'm having a lot of fun tuning up my selections for the final draft. Suffice to say, even if you've read the stories before, there's going to be a lot of new material here.

3) Nine Days of Madness. I had a ball hosting the Eight Days of Madness festival in March of 2011. I'm doing it again. You can get all the submission details by clicking on the badge at the sidebar. Please do - I want it to be a tough decision this year! Reminder that if you get into the blogfest - you also get into the E-book.

FYI - the first collection, Eight Days of Madness, is up for a Preditors and Editors award for Anthology of the year. Vote by clicking here!

And that's enough. If I can get those three things done this year, I'll feel more than justified in spending the remainder of my writing time penning shorts for mass consumption on my favourite sites, or subbing pieces to some of the many amazing anthologies I keep seeing pop up - all the while keeping this little piece of the web up and running.

Finally, my thanks to any and all that have checked out the Leaky Pencil this year. I hope you'll stick around for the adventures to come in 2012.

All the best to you and yours for a very Happy New Year.

(Now back to that bottle of red...)

Cheers.

Chris

Friday, December 23, 2011

Season's Greetings

This little tale debuted on this page last year. Reading it over, I still can't think of a better way to say Happy Holidays to all my friends and visitors to this site. Thank you for stopping by during the past year and for all your words of encouragement.


I wish you nothing but the best of happiness, health and unbuttoned pants this Holiday Season.


With love and thanks,


Chris.

Silent Night
Thump-thump, thump-thump, thumpity-thump thump.

Robbie's heart pounded in his ears. Lying in bed, face pressed against the pillow, it was the only sound he heard. The big red numbers on his clock said three-twelve. Silence filled the room like water. He felt like he was drowning in quiet.


Faintly, Robbie could feel sleep trying to pull him down into dreams, but his mind was racing much too fast to worry about sleeping at a time like this.


A sudden whooshing from outside made him bolt upright, sending sheets and pillows flying as he sprang from the bed. His heart ratcheted up another notch. This could be the clue he was waiting for. With three quick steps, Robbie ran to his window, ducked under the heavy shade and stared out. The winter-kissed glass was cool against his flushed forehead.


Outside on the road, he saw the tail lights of a red pickup truck just disappearing at the end of the otherwise deserted road. There was nothing more to see out there but the neat piles of snow along the curb, bathed in the streetlights' amber glow.


Anticipation was killing Robbie. He'd waited so long, planned so completely, it was hard to believe that in just a few hours, everything he'd prepared for would come to pass.


Directly below his window, he could see the imposing shape of a snowman he and Jamie had constructed yesterday. Robbie's own blue and red toque was perched on its head at an angle. No answers there.


Slowly, Robbie became aware of the soothing cool of the window giving way to the sharp, crisp pain of real cold. He backed away from the glass, rubbing his forehead.


What was that? Footsteps? Where were they coming from? Robbie crept carefully to his door and listened. He mustn’t let them know he was listening, that he was awake. A long moment passed, then another, and another. The sound inside the house was not repeated.


Probably just my heart again, he thought, walking back to the small bed with its colourful sheets. Seeing the tiny, precious book he'd squirreled away beneath his pillow reminded him of the stories he'd heard about tonight.


What was more, it reminded him of the rules. He was breaking the rules.


Dread filled his body, making him shiver as if snow had been dumped down his back. Oh, this was wrong, all wrong. Though he hadn't thought it possible, his heart sped up even more, pounding painfully in his chest.


How could he have been so foolish?


He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake.


He knows. Oh no, thought Robbie. I'm ruining everything. It's all my fault.


Throwing himself down on the bed, he began to weep helpless tears into his pillow. His sobs were hard enough to shake the bed. Clutching the little book of songs to his chest, he sent his panicked thoughts out to the world, I'm in bed. I'm in bed. See? It's okay! It's...


His next thought was broken off by a jaw-popping yawn.


As it has a way of doing in the wee hours of the morning, the need to sleep finally pushed through all other concerns, and made it perfectly clear that it would not be ignored any longer.


Robbie pulled his heavy, soft Monster Truck blanket back up around his ears. Maybe things could still be okay… maybe. He yawned again and, while he was looking at the tiny red and white figure on the front of his book, fell fast asleep.


***
"Wake up. Wake up Robbie!"


Robbie was jolted out of sleep. Before he could make sense of what was going on, Jamie had raced across the room and sent his window shade flapping up to the top of the window with a single hard snap. It was still early, but the golden light of dawn streaked across the room, and Robbie had to squint against it.


A moment later, Jamie had returned to the bedside and was tugging at his arm, "Wake up! It's Christmas!”


It came, thought Robbie, it really came. He had a brief moment in which he felt nothing but relief. Then, the magic of the morning overwhelmed his senses, and he jumped out of bed into his big brother's arms.


Laughing, and practically bouncing with excitement, they ran to wake up Mommy and Daddy.


It was time for Christmas, after all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How do you top Eight Days of Madness?

First call for submissions for Nine Days of Madness.

That's right, I'm doing it again in 2012, and I'm bringing an extra day of Crazy*.  This past year, I featured seven fantastic writers and their stories on this site. The collected stories were published in an e-Book at Smashwords, that has seen 325 downloads to date. I've got even more planned for this year's edition, which is why I'm opening the doors in December.

The guidelines:

The theme this time around is "Unsettled". I'm looking for the subtle kind of horror that stays with you long after you stop reading, stories that challenge the reader's perceptions. You have free reign on how you achieve the theme, and gore, in its place can have a profound psychological effect. (The usual, sane restrictions of: no kids hurt, no animals hurt, and no torture-porn apply.)

1,500  words is the limit this time around. The deadline to submit is February 15, 2012. Submit all stories to:

8.mad.days(at)gmail(dot)com

Submissions will be acknowledged, but selection and notification will only happen after the deadline. Selected stories will be featured on this site for 9 consecutive days, beginning the week of March 15, 2012. Afterwards, they'll appear in anthology format - for which reason there will be contracts this year. More details on that part later.

Send your stories - spread the word!





* Disclaimer: I get terribly worried when discussing this topic that someone will view the theme of "Madness" as being extremely insensitive to the plight of the mentally ill. For clarification's sake, the stories in this event, and the event of the previous year, are concerned only with "Madness" in the sense of a genre-fiction manifestation of evil intent and purpose, and are not meant to represent real psychiatric conditions and/or treatments.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Greatest Hits (Maybe?)

The Best of the Poetry I Wrote When I Was 15

Dark hearts blah blah blah
         heart la la the Dark
                 Something something Midnight's Kiss

Alone blah blah with Nothing la blah la Hole in my Conscience blah

Eddie Vedder rules la la blah

Something something infernal caresses my Deark Hart

La la blah Razors

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Focus - Must FOCUS

Haven't posted in a bit, and truth is, I've been getting steadily busier, so my online diatribes may thin out a bit for awhile. Nothing to worry about, but I need to go "head down to the paper" for a little while.

Quickly updating on placements: 

1) I managed to get two stories into Pill Hill Press' 2012 "Daily Frights" Collection. I was in the 2011 Daily Flash, and that's a fantastic book - so looking forward to being part of the horror doorstop this year.

2) Rapunzel and the Undead is going to see print in Wicked East Press' "Father Grimm's Storybook" - this one looks wild!

Now - I've just finished a longer short story, and my list of WIP's that I'd like to be writing is getting longer, and, what's worse, I'm at least 2k into each of them. 

Care to weigh in? I've added a poll up there in the corner. Feel free to get clicky.

Good luck with your own work. (And keep doing it!)

C