Friday, November 27, 2009

#fridayflash -- The Last Ride

The Last Ride
by Eric J. Krause

The latest text message pushed him over the edge. "Danny cussed out his teacher. Probably suspended." He wondered if Julia had been chuckling when she sent it. No doubt she blamed the teacher. Lord knows Danny never did anything wrong. It seemed the only time the two of them talked anymore was when they argued about their delinquent son.

"Mind if I sit, pal?"

Brad blinked and looked up from his phone. The bus had just picked up a few more passengers and not many seats were left. He slid to the window and smiled at the man in shabby business casual clothes. "Yeah, yeah, sorry. Off in my own little world."

"Thanks." Luckily that appeared to be the end of it. Nothing made a bus trip more intolerable than having to make small talk with a stranger.

Half-a-dozen more stops. Knowing traffic--and a quick glance around at the gridlock proved he did--it'd be another fifteen to twenty minutes. He turned his attention back to the phone and mulled over his reply. Anything he typed would be wrong. He needed to find something that would lead to quiet hostility rather than an out-and-out fight the second he stepped in the door. Inspiration did not strike.

Brad watched the next stop come and go. His palms broke out in sweat at the thought that there was one less buffer between him and home. He gripped his phone tight in anticipation of another text, this one wondering why he hadn't responded.

"This is stupid," he said, drawing a look from the big lout next to him. He readied an explanation, but the guy turned back to his sports page without a word. He looked around, saw no one paid him any mind, and shut off his phone, an action Julia deemed sacrilege.

As they made the next three stops, he fingered the power button, but willed himself not to push it. As they neared the stop before his, he almost cheered when someone pulled the cord.

"Why am I doing this to myself?" he said to the guy next to him.

"Don't know, pal." He didn't look up.

Brad laughed. It was so clear now. When the bus pulled away from the curb, he didn't reach up and mark the next stop. He used to have a life that didn't involve Julia and Danny, so why couldn't he have that again?

About a block from his stop, Brad sighed and pulled the cord. He couldn't start a new existence out of the blue. He didn't have the connections to disappear. When the bus stopped, he got off and headed for home.

There were other ways to vanish from life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Novel Revision Pt. 1

As I've said in previous posts, I know how authors are often interested in seeing how others work on their writing projects. I know I like knowing these little secrets. Because of this, I decided to share how I'm working on my revisions. I'm still early in the process (hence the Pt. 1 in the title of the post), but I'll share more in future posts as I get further along in the process. If this helps some people figure out a different way to revise, great. If not, at least you get a peak into my writing life.

The first thing I did was let the project sit unseen for a month. I've heard this is a great amount of time to give the project some distance, and it seems to work. Of course I remember writing it all, but it's not nearly as fresh as it would have been if I'd started revising right after finishing the first draft. The little bit of breathing room really does make it easier to tackle it with my trusty red pen.

After the waiting period, I printed out the manuscript and read it through. In this first read through, I changed very little. The only time my red pen touched the page was when I found a glaring spelling or punctuation error, most likely the result of a typo. The plan for the first read through was just to immerse myself into the story. I wanted to make sure it flowed, if there were any glaring holes, and if the beginning and ending worked. As I read, while I didn't touch much of the manuscript, I did take plenty of notes on how to make the story stronger.

Once I finished reading, I checked all of my revision notes, both the ones I took during that first read, as well as the ones I took while I wrote the first draft. With a fresh mind on my story, I was able to see which notes made sense and which were already taken care of (or didn't need to exist). I rewrote these notes on two separate pages. The first was notes on the overall story--things that didn't have a specific spot, but could be in any number of places in the manuscript. I'll keep this list handy at all times while I rewrite. The second list was ideas that go in certain parts of the story. I wrote these chronologically, and as I go through the manuscript I will add them.

This is actually where I am in the process. I'm starting my second read-through. As I read, I have a red pen, a blue pen, and a black pen, as well as both sets of notes and blank paper. In this read-through I'm not concentrating very hard on grammar or spelling or even word choice, but simply ideas. As I get to points in my notes that I want to add to my manuscript, I'll change it right on the page with my red pen if it's a small item. If it takes more, I'll write a number in blue ink where I want the change to go and complete the change on another piece of paper (labeling it with the page number and the number I put in blue). I'll go through the work until I'm happy I addressed all my notes.

That's where I am right now. When I finish this step, I'll still need to make sure the writing is tight and error free, so I still have a few read-throughs to complete. As I do get further in the process, I'll make another post to show how it's going. I hope you enjoyed a brief look into my revision process. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing!

Friday, November 20, 2009

#fridayflash: The Refrigerator Door

The Refrigerator Door
by Eric J. Krause

"Can I see you in the kitchen?"

Bryan jerked awake. He hadn't even realized he'd been asleep. Nadine, his girlfriend, glared at him from the kitchen doorway.

"What?" he said.

She gave an exaggerated sigh. "I said I wanted to see you in the kitchen."

"Why? We're the only ones here."

Nadine rolled her eyes. "Would you just get in here? Please?"

Bryan grunted as he stood up. There would be no arguing with her, but he couldn't think of what he'd done.

"What's the meaning of this?" She pointed at the refrigerator. Both its and the freezer's door were standing wide open.

He shrugged. "I don't know. I didn't do it."

"Well, when I left, they were both closed. Now look. The ice cream is melted, the frozen pizza isn't frozen, and I'm sure the sour cream and milk have spoiled."

He shrugged again.

Nadine threw her hands up. "Do you think they opened themselves?"

As soon as she said that, Bryan saw a little man on the counter behind her. It stood about six inches tall and wore a tiny green suit which made him think of a leprechaun. He wanted to point it out to Nadine, but it jumped out of sight behind the cookie jar.

Nadine slammed both doors shut. "You were in such a rush to grab a soda and put some ice in it so you could get back to the couch that you didn't even check to see if you'd closed the doors. Am I right? Don't even answer. I know I'm right."

She stormed out of the kitchen and he heard the bedroom door slam shut. He just stood there. He hadn't been in here since breakfast, before she'd left. He was about to go back to the couch when the leprechaun-thing came back onto the counter. It covered its mouth with one hand and pointed at him with the other. It's belly jiggled with laughter.

He took a step towards the little man, expecting it to bolt, but instead it motioned to the freezer. Bryan turned and watched the door pop open. Two more leprechaun-things, which looked identical to the first, jumped out. Once they hit the floor, they scurried towards the sink, opened the cabinet underneath, and scampered inside. The refrigerator door opened next, and four more followed. Bryan looked back at the one on the counter. It stuck its tongue out at him, then pointed and laughed. He stepped forward with every intention of smacking it across the room.

"You have neither the guts nor the strength, human," it said in a soft, squeaky voice. The six other leprechaun-things climbed up the drain and walked over to the first.

"While we distracted you in here," one said, "our pets captured your lady-friend."

Nadine. Bryan ran from the kitchen and burst into the bedroom. She lay on the bed wrapped in what he thought was a coil of rope. After a second look, though, he saw it wasn't rope, but a thick strand of spider web. Her lips were also glued shut with webs. Three spiders, each as big as German Shepherds, stood next to the bed. He took a step towards her, but the huge beasts cut him off. He gave her an apologetic look and hurried back to the kitchen. The seven leprechaun-things still stood on the counter.

"What's going on?" Bryan asked.

"Don't take it personally. Look outside. Don't be shy; we'll still be here."

Bryan took a deep breath and went to the window. He opened the curtains, but just as quickly closed them. Flames engulfed the whole neighborhood.

"You humans have ruled this world with an iron fist, leaving nothing for us. But we've been patient. We devised a plan, stored up our resources, and when we deemed ourselves ready, we struck. As you can see, it's going quite well."

The three spiders came into the kitchen carrying Nadine on a web stretcher. They set her down and turned their attention to Bryan. Before he could react, he found himself covered in webs and unable to move. His lips, like Nadine's, were stuck shut.

"They will make fine slaves. Nemby, the stove. The rest of you, the portal."

All of the little creatures except one ran to the refrigerator and jumped inside. Bryan almost choked on his own saliva. A huge tunnel had replaced the inside of his refrigerator. The spiders placed him on a web stretcher like Nadine's and followed the leprechaun-things into the refrigerator. He watched the straggler cast some sort of spell on the stove, causing it to spit fire around the kitchen. The little man emitted a gleeful laugh and followed the rest down the long tunnel.

Bryan looked back at his now-burning house, and all he could think was that Nadine was going to be pissed. The leprechaun-things hadn't shut the refrigerator door.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

3 Short Stories

This week I want to bring you another few short stories that I've found online and enjoyed.

The first comes from the November issue of the Absent Willow Review. It's a story entitled The Call, written by Daniel W. Davis. This chilling little tale makes you wonder if it might not be better for some phone calls to actually turn out to be prank calls.

The next comes from Volume 10/37 of Allegory Magazine. It's called Simple Pleasures, written by Molly Campbell. This one asks if dolls can replace loved ones, which the main character believes to be the case.

The last one for this installment is an audio story from the podcast, Podcastle. It is called Scar Stories by Vylar Kaftan. Everything has scars, and these are the stories behind them. You can also find this one on iTunes. It's listed as Podcastle Miniature 18 if you'd rather find it there.

Give these stories a shot. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

#fridayflash: Just After Dusk

Just After Dusk
by Eric J. Krause

Jean Luc stretched his limbs, willing what little blood he had left to course through his veins. Even after all these years, he still couldn't get used to the rigor mortis that set in each day as he slept. A meal would improve everything.

A knock. "Master? May I?"

He nodded, but said nothing. Renaldo, his latest minion, read the intention and pushed the door open.

"I have someone for you to, eh, meet, Master."

Perfect. Their code for food. He enjoyed the hunt, but having it delivered was so much easier.

Renaldo led a young girl, she couldn't be more than 18 years old, into his room. She wore a skimpy black dress with fishnet stockings, displayed a dozen or more silver trinkets around her wrists and neck, had black lipstick smeared on her lips, and sported a jet-black bob haircut. He could smell the dye from across the room. Wouldn't do to be a blonde-haired goth girl.

He suppressed a grin. "Good evening. I am Jean Luc. Pleased to make your acquaintance."

She stared back at him, her eyes intense. Shock waves pulsed through his withered insides. Could she be the one, the bride he'd been searching for? Though he couldn't fathom sex with a mortal, he could see lusting after the undead version of her.

The girl rolled her eyes and turned to Renaldo. "I thought you were going to bring me to a real vampire. He looks so ordinary and . . . dull."

Ah well, at least he could still feed. He stepped forward and covered the length of the room in a heartbeat. His fangs sunk into her throat before she could scream, and he lapped up her bloody life force. When she gasped her final breath, he let her fall.

He wiped his chin with a burgundy handkerchief and looked at Renaldo, who shrugged.

"At least they're easy to catch, Master. They all want to meet a real vampire."

"Too bad they expect a teen-age fashion model. Maybe I should wear glitter."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Self-Publishing for Yourself

Today is Veterans Day, and that made me think of the memoir my grandpa published a few years back based on his time in the Marine Corps during World War 2. He had no wish to try to get it placed with a traditional publisher and make money off of it. His goal was to get that story in book form so he could share it with family and friends. Because of this, he chose one of the vanity presses (a service that he paid for to print and bind a number of copies of his book). It worked beautifully. The book turned out great, and he passed out copies to the family and his friends. He would even keep extra copies with him where ever he went so he could give them out as gifts of sorts to people he met. For my grandpa, paying to become a self-published author was the best way to go.

Those of us who are tying to make it in the publishing industry as authors usually have it drilled into our heads: it is rarely a good idea to pay money to get your work published--you should be paid instead. This is good advice. Something we need to remember, however, is that not everyone comes into the writing game with the same goals. If someone's goal is to simply be published, paying a self-publishing house to get this done is a fine option. There are people out there like my grandpa. We, as writers, shouldn't discourage people with such goals.

Writers need to know their options about their work. They need to look at both their long and short-term goals. Personally, I hope to find an agent and publisher for my work, but not everyone is the same. I've seen and heard of authors saying vanity presses are the worst thing out there, but that simply isn't true. While it is important to study up on which publisher to trust (as in all industries, some companies are better than others), if you simply want to have your work in print, self-publishing can be your best option. My grandpa discovered the joy of handing his book to people, and others can have that feeling, too. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

#fridayflash--The King and the Spider

The King and the Spider
by Eric J. Krause

He eased himself into the room, mindful of the space above him. It wouldn't do for it to pounce down on his head before the game truly started.

It. The humongous spider terrorizing this room. Striking fear into the hearts of his beautiful queen and their precious princess.

No doubt its plump black form flowed full of deadly poison. Its fangs, the size of small daggers, itched to puncture him so it could feed itself and its unseen clan. As visions of his painful and messy death flashed through his mind, he knew he had to strike first and strike hard.

He spotted the beast as it scurried up the wall, just out of range. It scuttled across the ceiling, and he crouched down, weapon at the ready. Did these leap at their prey? He didn't know, but he wasn't going to court defeat because of carelessness.

Out in the open he found it much bigger than he first guessed. Maybe the size of a large cat or a small dog. Maybe bigger. The thought of sealing off the room and leaving it for the monster crossed his mind.

Instead, it took that option away. It reached the other side of the room and crawled down towards the door. A room was one thing, but he couldn't sacrifice his queen or princess. Without thought to his own safety, he lunged forward, weapon poised . . .

. . . and scrunched it in his paper towel.

"Did you get it, Jerry?"

"Yeah." He examined the squished form. "Tell Sara she can come back in and finish watching her Happitty-Hoppitty cartoon."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Newest Published Stories

Posting this week about two new published stories out on the World Wide Web, along with two stories that I thought were lost, but are still floating around cyberspace.

First, my flash fiction story, Scream Time is on the webzine The New Flesh. Check out my story, and then stick around and check out other stories. It's full of great little horror stories.

I also placed 5th in a Halloween writing contest on a Twitter horror-zine called Tweet the Meat. I don't believe there is a link to the story, but I'll just print it here, since it is only 13 words: "She grinned and hummed along with her favorite tune: bonesaw with no anesthesia."

In addition to those two stories, I found two more stories that I thought had floated away to the nether-parts of the web. They're still alive and kicking, though. The first is a horror story called Dagger of the Dread King. The second is a fantasy adventure story entitled Graves of Chance.

I've added all four of these stories to my list of published stories you can read. The link, in case you want to check these and more of my stories out, is on the right side of the screen in the "About Me" section (or just click here). I've recently sent out a bunch more stories to see if I can find homes for them, so hopefully I'll be able to update this more later. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.