Finding the Quiet

treeIt just doesn’t feel like the holidays yet.  Perhaps it is because the past week or so has been nothing but obligations: running errands, tending to unforeseen things that have a tendency to arise when there is no time to deal with them, and trying to “get ready” for the festivities (or rather, stress about buying all the things that have not yet been bought).  The end result, however, is more Bah-Humbug than Happy Holidays.

The days slip away, and each day I count down how many more days before the holidays are here.  I contemplate what event I can mark off next, as if they are hurdles to be overcome rather than moments to savor.  I—so caught up in preparing for fifteen minutes of unwrapping—have forgotten to slow down and enjoy the quiet sense anticipation of the season.

I do know how to manage it, which helps.  I need to find the quiet.  Sometimes I need to go outside and stand in the winter’s chill and lift my eyes to the heavens.  Or perhaps it is enough to wrap myself in a well-worn tartan and, with a wee dram in hand, sit before the flickering fire and let the stress rise and float away like the crackling embers.  Or solace may come to me in the still of night, while I listen to the rise and fall of breath next to me, and—reaching over and laying my hand across his chest–find blessings enough in the warm and solid presence of my husband.

There are too many commercials, too many parties and luncheons, too many forced celebrations.  I will find my joy in the quiet moments in between.  In the twinkle of Christmas lights in the darkness and in stars overhead, in the smell of gingerbread baked “just because.”  And in ancient carols spilling from smiling lips…rather than tinny sounding sounds blared over department store speakers.  I’ll take comfort in the pile of wood next to my hearth, in a pair of warm mittens when I tend to the chickens.  And, as I add more hay to their coop, I’ll recall another manger, another night, another twinkling star…and I’ll remember what is important.

The House on H Street

If your Kindle is hungry, or if you just need a little Back to School treat to read while waiting at the bus stop, or stuck in the insanely long school pick-up line, download The House on H Street.  It is FREE on Amazon, and this creepy urban fantasy will help scare away those Back to School Blues!

“The Collector” is FREE on Amazon this Weekend

The CollectorJust a reminder that “The Collector” is FREE on Amazon this weekend.  If you are a fan of horror or Southern Gothic fiction, you should go download it now.  It has been described as what you would get if Stephen King and Flannery O’Connor birthed a short story.  But don’t take my word for it, check out what others have said or, better yet, go download it yourself and let me know what you think!

If you like what you read, check out my other stories and don’t forget to leave a review!

A Monday of Pirates

Yesterday I found out that my short story “The Collector” had been pirated.  I spent my lunch hour drafting a DMCA compliance letter informing the offending website that they were violating my copyright.  Fortunately, they promptly took it down.  I have no way of knowing how many people downloaded the pirated copy.  Honestly, it makes me sad more than it makes me angry. 

I try to make my work available to readers for FREE several times per year.  I like the idea of free books.  This is one reason I love Amazon, and I love my Kindle, and I love libraries.

And I love readers.  I love their voracious appetite for stories.  I love it when they share their enthusiasm with other readers, or write a review, or pick up another copy of a book to give to a friend.   

I also love writers…and I understand that they need to eat, and that their writing is their livelihood.  So I buy books, I recommend books, and I download free stories that they sometimes make available on Amazon.  If I enjoy it, I buy more books.  I write reviews.  I try to support the writers I enjoy…because I want them to keep writing!

I try to balance my passions:  I write and hope that my stories will find readers who care enough about the characters to invest in them and buy my stories.  For those whose paychecks cannot keep up with their desire for more stories, I make my stories available for free several times a year.  Seems fair to me.

SPOILER:  I will have a FREE STORY available on Amazon this month!  More details will be coming soon.

     

The Quiet Grace of a Forced Reprieve

Last year was The Summer of the Move.  The first part of the year seemed to be shaping up into The Year of the Medical Maladies.  However, (knock on wood) things seem to be settling down a bit, so I am hopeful that the remaining part of the year will be known as The Year I Finished My Novel.

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Where I sit and write…or at least think about writing.

While recovering from surgery, I wrote.  A lot.  That is the good thing about writing, even if you are unable to move around much–as long as you brain is fairly clear and your fingers function–you can work on stories.  Depending on the amount of pain medication the doctor prescribed, there may be a bit more revising that normally required, but at least you can work toward your word count.

The novelization of The Collector is progressing.  I hate to speculate on an estimated draft date, because every time I do that Life explodes all over my meticulously crafted spreadsheet and then days pass without pen being put to page.  No, it seems that I do better when I try not to tempt fate.  When I write quietly, sneaking in words when no one is looking, that is when I make real progress.

If you notice my relative quiet on Facebook and Twitter, it is because I am adding words towards my story rather than into the ether.  If days, or a week, or even two (ahem) pass without a blog post, it is because a plot point has suddenly become clear, or a character needs my attention.

I go to sleep thinking about the story, and I wake up with snippets of dialogue in my head.  I drive to work plotting out scenes, and I spend my lunch typing them out.  It is a comfortable kind of routine, and it is yielding progress.

However, truth be told, I am grateful for the forced reprieve of the past few weeks.  I am blessed with amazing friends, a good surgeon, and a family that repeatedly humbles me with their love and dedication.  My husband and kids have taken such good care of me, and my mom and dad have surrounded me with love and prayers.  Yes, I am definitely blessed.

Nothing like a cancer scare to make you reassess and prioritize things.

Getting my Nerd On

The CollectorThe past few weeks have been busy, and the next few will be busier still.  I have been working hard on the novelization of The Collector, but when Samantha Liggett over at We the Nerdy asked to interview me I was really pleased.  Her thoughtful questions made me even happier that I had agreed to it.  We talked about the Southern Gothic genre, and Oklahoma, and some things I had written.  We even talked some about what is next for Junie Rae and Granny Enid.  (No spoilers!)

Samantha we very gracious and insightful, and she even posted some reviews of The Collector and Counting Crows.  You can read her reviews here.

The interview spanned about seven hours of our day.  Samantha was traveling, and I was writing, and we both took breaks from those things for her to ask me some thoughtful questions, and I would try to come up with an equally thoughtful reply, and a couple of times I think I may have pulled it off.  Most of the time, though, I prattled on and overshared.  Which is exactly what I do in Real Life, too, so it is an accurate profile of me.  You can read the full interview here.

I will keep this post short so I can get back to Junie Rae.  [She has just met Rutland Whitfire (who will play a big role in the novel), and Junie just stood up to Granny Enid–who did not much care for that–so I really need to get back to the story.]

 

 

Things Reclaimed

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn down deserted roads. Although long since travelled, and with more dirt and gravel than actual roadway, I can’t resist the urge to see where these nearly forgotten paths take me.

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I have stumbled upon farmhouses (to call them barely standing would be generous), and old store fronts that once housed a bustling drygood store (the decomposing mannequins still stacked in the windows)…or a tack shop…or a feedstore.

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Sometimes it looks like the inhabitants just stepped out for a moment–everything still in place. Perhaps they ran next door to borrow a cup of sugar…only whatever might have been next door is long gone. Other times, I wander into a ramshackle shop that clearly was picked clean years ago; rusty tin cans and long-yellowed paper litter the floor.

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These abandoned places haunt me, but not nearly as much as the people. I have a habit of creating stories about the people who lived there, and these characters seem as real to me as the mice that scamper inside the water-stained walls of these places I visit. Some of these characters find their way onto the page; others still linger in my mind just waiting to be set free.

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The Bits that Haunt Us

Yesterday, I saw that WordPress was having a writing challenge.  I like challenges.  This particular challenge was to write a story with exactly fifty words–no more, no less.

I tossed around a few ideas (some of which I might flesh out a bit and post here later in the week), but the one that spoke to me most was this one:

The autopsy noted sixteen stab wounds, a ruptured aorta, and multiple defense wounds. Amid the sterile notations, the report memorialized the purple panties that you chose that last morning—before you went to work and fought for a final breath, before you decided not to call in sick after all.

As with most stories, this one has some background to it.  The first autopsy report I ever saw was my aunt’s.  I had ordered a copy of the report not long after my aunt was murdered.  A few of the details included in it seemed horrifically personal.  Not the detailed descriptions of the wounds–I had expected that.  But the fact that it detailed her underwear, her jewelry, those personal things that we pick out and choose to wear because we like them, because they reflect who we are.  These things seemed so out of place among the meticulously chronicled weight and dimensions of each bodily organ.

Life is uncertain, and bits of it will haunt you until its end.

For me, it is that blasted pair of purple panties that I never even knew existed until I read about them in an autopsy.

A few years back, I wrote to a near stranger and told her about this.  At the time, I thought I told her the story because she needed to hear it.  In reading her blog, I thought I saw her spiraling out of control.  I wanted to reach out to her.  To steady her.  But, if I am being honest, it was really that I needed to tell the story.  I needed to be steadied.  She asked if she could share my private email on her blog, and I told her she could.

Once again, that autopsy and all of its secrets have risen up in my mind.  This time, it gave me these fifty words to share.  I don’t know if I am sharing them because someone else needs to hear it, or if I just needed to tell it again.  Maybe it doesn’t really matter.

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Gay Carter
10/9/40 – 11/13/98
(This is why I hate Friday the 13ths)

About a Boy

About a Boy by Terri Wallace.

I have a piece of flash fiction up over at Postcard Poems and Prose today called “About a Boy.” If you have a minute (Yes, literally, a minute! Hey, it’s flash fiction!) go check it out.

Making Sense of Chaos

There is a lot going on over in my corner of the world.  I have been working on the follow up to my short story THE COLLECTOR (so if you haven’t downloaded it yet, now is the perfect time!).  The story follows Junie Rae as she learns more about what she can do and figures out that people want to put her abilities to their own twisted use.  If you like Southern Gothic, or horror, or creepy child protagonists, or small Oklahoma towns…this might be right up your alley.  (At a mere 99 cents, it couldn’t hurt to check it out!)

I received my copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology in the mail this week.  There are a lot of amazing authors in there, and somehow I snuck in there, too, and in Vol. IV you can read my story “A Sort of Homecoming.”   It is definitely an honor to be among the writers included.  You can get your own copy of Spark here.  It will look a lot like this, but without the cute, enthusiastic children:

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My short story “A Call for Courage” is up over at Page & Spine.  It is a quiet little story that makes me both weepy and proud.  If you have a minute (or if you just don’t feel like doing actual “work,” since it is Friday and all) go over and check it out here. 

A dear friend (A. K. Francis) and I have also decided to stop talking about putting together a literary journal and to start actually doing it.  So there is that.  The journal is called Drunken Muse Press.  The site is still under construction, but we will be publishing poems and prose (including short stories, essays, or whatever else you can cram under that category).  Works should be under 5k words (but if it is amazing, we are flexible).  We will have weekly online postings, plus one print anthology per year (hopefully going quarterly, if all goes well).  I will let you know more once we get a few more things in place.

Also, if you aren’t familiar with A. K. Francis–you will really want to remedy that.  Her work is dark, and twisty, and creepy.  It is the kind of stuff that torments your brain when you try to go to sleep at night.  Her latest short story, Midway, is available at Amazon.  Fortunately, she has agreed to allow me to interview her here, so you will get a chance to see how amazing she is for yourself soon.

Whew.  Other than that, I have been dealing with sick kids, sick husband, snow and ice, crazy cold weather, a firewood shortage, and your general not-enough-hours-in-the-day.  So, you know, it is the perfect time to decide to start a literary journal.  Wish me luck!