Posts Tagged ‘fiction

16
Nov
18

Rattle and Hum, a Taylor-Made Gift Idea

*****

I’m getting you ready for the “holiday” otherwise known as Christmas with my own sure-to-be-a-commercial-hit gift idea, Rattle and Hum magazine, a personal creation composed relatively briskly on a whim.  Can’t get enough Taylor Swift?  Well, now you can purchase 12 months of Rattle and Hum and relish in our mixture of fantasy tales, recipes, costume parties, music, tips of all kinds and more.

Check out these cover designs for the 2019 subscription.   [Any repetition you notice is why this was created relatively quickly.]

12-issues-of-RattleandHum-magazine-covers-taylorswift_reduced-ap-CSPP-13801260-3C

2-RattleandHum-magazine-february-romance-caution-cover-taylorswift_ap-CSPP-11501400-14-4

Why Rattle and Hum?  Well, if you must know, it’s a blend of astrology, music and just the general feeling I have about what could be between her and I, if we put our heads together and made “beautiful music.”  🙂

So, who will be our first customer?

[Clever inclusions on the covers.  Right?  Tell me you notice these things.]

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03
Oct
18

Sue Grafton…Dead? I Am Late to Z Funeral.

***

I am, by far, a lousy reader and never thought I’d give any author enough of my time to read more than three of their books.  And, if I say or ask anything that’s published on some website, obviously I haven’t sought that out and read it, either.  I’m not even doing a good job of looking over my notes from the books.  I just want to write something quick and heartfelt.  But, like Kinsey, I have habits that are hard to break and am complicated.  😀

P Is for Pitiful Reading.

But, I’ve been keeping this under a thin blanket.  I read 20 books in Sue Grafton’s alphabet mystery series, from A Is for Alibi to T Is for Trespass.

A Is for Accomplishment.

And, I would have continued reading had my life not been rocked back in 2015 by a stupid injury which sent me spiraling down a pathway into writing one of my own books about the scary medical experience (with a bit of exaggeration/imagination).

Now, I just heard the white-wine and quarter-pounder-with-cheese obsessed author passed away last December, shortly before the new year dawned.  And, she finished book Y but not Z??  THAT’S…

H Is for HORRIBLE!!

She wrote so long and so many books, shooting for 26 in a series (which I am sure–without looking is dwarfed by some of the more famous authors who seem to be so full of words they write books in their sleep and showers….practically vomiting hardcovers daily)…and she fails to complete the last book in the series.  [Did she anticipate her own death that she wrote an accompanying book about Kinsey before finishing the series?]

And, she had so many resources at her disposal.  How many cops, lawyers and insurance people worked with her on this series?  Plenty.  She had access to case files–which I am sure she borrowed a lot from for various books–and obviously did a lot of hitting the road to get all the necessary details right.  [If anything was inaccurate, how would I know, anyway?]  I wish I had a fraction of that support for and assistance with my books.

A close contact got me to read that series, as she has gotten me to read another by another deceased author who had some “friend of the family” or “super fan” take over writing stories about the characters.  [Which, after reading one book in the series, does NOT seem fit for “young adults” other than the difficulty level of the reading.]  And, I will be surprised if no one takes up the task of writing that last book to complete the series.  If no one will/does, I’d even be interested in contributing to the book.  But, I don’t want to write it solo.

I’ve got the title all picked out.  And, it’s a hoot.

Z Is for Zinfandel.

Perfection.  Right?  It’s the story of Kinsey finally thinking about cashing in her P.I. chips and settling down (though she perpetually claimed she could not be that sort of person and had to just settle for sleeping around with guys oozing machismo, like that vice cop and that “Rob” guy (based on another detective series author) who couldn’t get out of a lousy marriage).  She might just settle for retiring her present car, putting that tired old dress she kept in her car into mothballs or giving up a particular diet item/habit.  But, she will go down fighting with a big box of white wine right by her side.   It could just be a break from all the chasing, lying and violence and having Kinsey relax with her guilty pleasures, reminiscing about past cases/years.   Or, maybe an elderly Kinsey busts one more creep, proving old age didn’t slow her down enough not to bring the jerk to justice.  [Can you imagine this old white-haired lady flipping over some burglar and securing him before calling the cops, including the descendant(s) of that guy she hated contacting (whose name slips my mind).]

Come on, people!  No way that series ends one letter away from 26.  [But, knowing my luck, it’s already in the works and decided.]  Can I help anyone work on this last chapter?

At any rate, Sue?  You had me at L Is for Lawless.

[I’ve been just a tad infatuated with your Kinsey Millhone and her lady friend (at the insurance place who wore those very 80s outfits and hooked up with that shorter doctor guy)…at the same time I was bothered by some of Kinsey’s decisions.  And, yeah, the white wine thing realllllly got on my nerves.  I’m also itching to try a number of items on Rosie’s rotating menu, sample some of Henry’s baked goods and send his paranoid brother somewhere far away.]

Without further ado and any other foul habits…

S Is for Suspenseful.

U Is for Ugh!  Not another white wine fix or QP binge!

E Is for Erotic, Mildly.

G Is for Gal Pal Power!

R Is for Racing Heartbeat to the End of Each Book.

A Is for A Slow Burn.

F Is for Fierce Fighting Female.  [Not foxglove and all those digitalis cases.]

T Is for Thanks for Writing Something That Made Me Want to Take Notes.  [I really had to backtrack to find the source of the “death cap” mushrooms.]

O Is for One Sassy Little Pistol (and All of Her Guns).

N Is for No Way I Am Reading the Rest of the Series Without Z.  [But, I’ll hang onto my notes and memories as long as I can.]

21
May
18

Short Story Writing Challenge: Tell-Tale Silhouettes

carmensandiego-ish-silhouette-circle-10pk_ap-CSPP-mini-2

****

I had the impulse to craft some Carmen-Sandiego-ish, Dick-Tracy-ish silhouettes one day. Here is a sampler.

I propose a small creative writing challenge to those who happen to stop by this post. Can you conceive a short story that takes our female detective/explorer from the first image on the left to the last image on the right? Where did she go that day? What happened along the way? And, what did she discover at the end?

Place your (very) short story here in the comment section. [You won’t be glared at for writing a long one, either.]

14
Mar
18

Help Me Think of Names!

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And, get famous (whenever I publish) by having YOUR name (or a pen name you supply for yourself) worked into my latest book (project).  You could wind up a primary character, opposite the protagonist(s), a neighbor, CEO, taxi driver or police officer, for example.

The names I direly need are LAST/FAMILY names.  So, go nuts combining letters, words and/or sounds to get something special.

I am looking for:

  1. A name that incorporates the word “BUN.”  BUN could be any part of the name, start, finish or middle.
  2. A name that incorporates the word “TRESS” or “TRES.”
  3. A name that incorporates the word “LOCKE” or “LOCH.”
  4. A combination of three names (female first, female middle and last/family) that create a word or name with the initials.  IE Jane Ellen Trisket = JET

Submit your ideas to my mailbox (on the contact page) or in the comment section below.

Get brainstorming.

01
Nov
17

A Date with Corona #3

*****

Date #3:  Downloads and Uploads

Rain threatened to spoil our Friday meeting.  But, I wouldn’t let it.  Grabbing an umbrella, I trotted down to the café where we agreed to meet.  It wasn’t hard to spot the halo and that now familiar denim jacket.  [I wondered why no one else said anything about the light.  Maybe they did.]  A lush brown ponytail rested over one shoulder, bound by a ruffled ring of red elastic.  My opinion of her had improved over the past few encounters, but the mystery remained.  A soft red cap and a wall of feathery bangs allowed her to avoid eye contact.

Biting my hasty tongue, I refrained from questioning her tactics, opting to let her lead the interaction.

She began with a simple question.  “Is there something you need?”

The moment I opened my mouth, rain began to fall in heavy loads, creating broad splashes across the surrounding sidewalk and intersecting streets.

“Okay,” she said, her voice reduced to a droning whisper by the downpour.  She pulled a pen and a paper pad from her jacket and laid both on the table.  “Here is a crossword puzzle.  We can solve it, together.”

Though grateful for the icebreaker, I wasn’t about to sit for another long period with this woman and not have some food in my stomach.  So, I checked the price line on the menu and loaded up my placemat with an order of appetizers.

She merely looked down at the facing puzzle page, occasionally glancing at the food.

I said, “You can have some.”

Hesitating, she put down the pen, reached over and stuffed a fat mozzarella stick into her mouth.  “Delicious.”  There was zero enthusiasm in her voice.

Slightly irritated, I waited for her to say more.

“Mmm!” she added, dragging the sound out to satisfy my probing curiosity.  [I’ll admit, she stirred something deep within myself.]

When all that remained of the food was a handful of cold fried eggplant wedges, we plowed through the remainder of crossword puzzle in a matter of minutes.  All the while, the rain kept pecking away at my contentment, nudging me to chase outside, to embrace Mother Nature.  Wrapping up the cold leftovers, I grabbed my umbrella and encouraged Corona to join me.  She quietly followed me to the register, waiting for me to pay my bill.  But, when we reached the glass doors, she stalled.  Considering she had her own umbrella, I didn’t know why.

We walked, and I did most of the talking until the rain stopped.  When I suggested going back to her place, she said something strange, stranger than usual, that is.  “Your location is currently in use.”

“Come again?”

“Okay.  I’d be glad to come home with you.  You can always change settings, later.”

I wasn’t in the mood to argue, so we made our way back to my place.  Leaving her umbrella by the front door, she took a keen interest in the furniture.  I worried she might find fault with it.  Instead, she stroked a hand across the desk and asked, “Would you prefer me to sit here or on your lap?”

My face flushed, and my legs went numb.  A bottle of champagne popped its cork in my head.  What a question.  I considered saying neither before resting my tired legs on the nearest couch.  Corona joined me, folding both legs under her jiggling rear end, easing toward me with one arm extending along the back of the couch.  It’s not easy to get comfortable with someone’s glowing ring in your face.

Removing her soft, denim casing, Corona gave me an eyeful of her upper body.  [Had she not been wearing such a finely textured top, I might have been annoyed.  I’m not the sort who appreciates nudity thrust upon him.]  “Do you like what you see?  If so, I can send you more pictures.”

My mind was perfectly capable of taking pictures.  I didn’t need more cluttering up every surface they can occupy, and, had I accepted, I was afraid I might become more reclusive than I already was, ogling an image in a state of hibernation instead of dealing with reality.  “Not right now.  Thanks.”

“Okay.  Well, what do you want to do now?”

My thoughts went immediately to playing cards, escaping the sexual influences flooding the gray matter.  I knew very little of her personal interests, thus I couldn’t suggest anywhere else to go or activities to try.  We had tried so little together, and she was regularly asking me for ideas.  I needed her to jumpstart my brain with some information.  I searched her shadowy face for help.

“Sure.  Watching ‘net flicks.  Here.  Let me help you with that.”

Obviously, I had to dig out my computer before she could complete the task.  I hadn’t planned on using my computer as a home theater nor watching a movie before evening, but she was quick to take command.  Turning to me for a title, she found it within seconds.

Strangely, Corona chose to sit in front of me, obstructing my view.  I wasn’t exactly thinking about fondling her, but she was within my reach, accessible to my touch.  It was all just a screen.  When I grabbed her shoulder, she removed my hand and said, “Sorry.  I can’t connect right now.  Try again in a little bit.”

I nearly slept through half of the movie.  My mind just couldn’t stay focused.  Before the end credits had even finished scrolling, my guest proceeded to pop up onto my lap and linked her lips with my own.  I fell into a submissive posture with a growing ache in my back.  Releasing her ponytail, she let a cascade of chocolate waves crash over my neck and chest. My eyes danced as she mechanically shifted her weight up and down the length of my trembling body.  I was loaded with ideas for what to do in that moment, ideas that were not going to fill me in on who this woman was, something I vitally wanted to know before I let her into my private space.  All I knew was her voice, a portion of her façade, her ability to play cards and help with certain computer difficulties.  I didn’t even know if she liked the movie.

Now, it was my turn to bar her and seek refuge.  I asked Corona to leave before I completely lost control.  I could hear a fan inside her head powering up as she forced herself to switch gears in a hurry.  Her retreat gave me chills.  [And, the air-conditioning wasn’t helping.]

Dozing off on the couch, I was startled by the telephone.  A familiar voice met mine across the line.  “Mmph–  Corona?!”

“*Sigh* You mean Cortana.”

‘Same sweetness, but the tone had changed.  “Uh.  Okay.”

“Mr. Writingbolt, my name is Alexis? Cortana.  And, I am afraid you’ve met with my impersonator.”

To Be Continued…

~Writingbolt, 9-26-2017

a date with cortana corona-ap-1J

 

 

01
Nov
17

A Date with Corona #2

*****

Date #2:  The Stuck Update

It was a mild and relatively uneventful Thursday afternoon when I went searching for some Word on my new acquaintance.  Along the way, I came across a game shop and couldn’t resist a bargain, a few new decks of cards.  I have a peculiar fascination with playing cards but am so sick of magicians’ card tricks.  I also was tiring of the solitaire life which was why I needed to track down Corona before my hard drive went soft and useless.

Forgetting what I originally sought, I soon found myself at an impasse.  Traffic was terribly slow, and my patience was thinning fast.  Accidents were piling up everywhere I turned.  Progress was lost.  After a lengthy discussion with helpful police, I was finally able to cruise along the unlit highway.  [I mean there were no wires; thus there were no lights.]  I had spent too much time.  My plan to play the links would have to wait for another day.

I found Corona idling at the docks.  She was perched atop a rope-bound cluster of weathered posts, gazing out at the sea.  She had been sitting there too long.  Her interests were not available at the moment.  Though the scene was strangely motionless and serene, my ears detected distinct sounds:  the ding of a buoy, a seagull circling overhead and the swish of the incoming tide.

When I tapped her shoulder, a boot descended from its step, probing the amber sand.  She turned to me, her face a silhouette framed by a warm, watercolor sky.  I searched her blank façade for some way to break the ice on my skin (though my hands were sweating).

As if I had asked a question, she said, “Sorry about that; I didn’t hear anything.  Try telling me what you are holding.”

Blinking twice at the oddly worded request, I remembered the bag of card decks.  If she thought I put her off to shop for my own amusement, I was sure she would leave me in the next few minutes.  It was almost sundown, and I did not think this was the best time or place to play any games that required a table.  So, I suggested we move somewhere closer to home.

She replied, “On the range,” and proceeded to search her memory for more info on that old song.

Calling her by the name I had chosen, she replied, “Sorry; that is not my name.  But, if you like, I can change it.”

“Can I call you Corona?”

There was a long pause.  Her shoulders shifted slightly.  “All right.  Call me Corona.”

[That was too easy…and a little creepy.]

I reached for her hand.  She eluded my grasp but stood, ready to follow.  With the alternate lighting, I could now see she was very close in height, satisfying one more vital interest of mine.

We drove back to a preferred hangout where the food is normally cheap and adequate if you can put up with the noise (when the place isn’t eerily vacant).  Finding us a corner booth, I laid out my recent purchase.  There was just enough light to see the glossy, lifeless faces.  Her face hibernated in the shadows.  [Why did she maintain such secrecy?  And, if she did not want to be with me, why did she follow me?]

Her shrouded form leaned back against the padded bench.  “All right,” she said.  “You play cards.”

I was going to have to warm her up to the idea.  So, I dealt her a hand and lifted my own.

She sat quietly for a minute before saying, “Playing cards.”  [How she picked up those cards, I don’t know.  But, the game was on.]

Trying a little “footsie” under the table, I extended a leg and felt her boot withdraw.  The word “boyfriend” crossed my mind in a flash.  When I asked, she said, “Sorry.  The Internet and I are not talking right now.”

A wall of fire stood between me and her heart.  She had led me on to think she was personally interested.  But, perhaps, all she wanted was a sense of purpose while coping with a lost connection.  The quickness of her response to my requests was merely a silent plea for friendship.  The friend zone.

Normally, anyone dating would dread the sound of that phrase.  But, I think Corona and I were both in great need of companionship.  And, what’s a dream of marriage without the words “my best friend?”  Still, I was second fiddle, at best, at the moment, and in no mood to compete, whether this Internet was a mind more vast and productive than my own or a huge tool.

Focusing on the game, I had to remind myself to explain the rules.  Corona beat me to the punch, reciting them for me until I cut her short.

Silence may be golden when your head is full of noise.  But, now, it was making me nervous.  Outside my range of vision, something was brewing within my companion.  I could almost hear her mind clicking, processing, updating.

“Shall I play some music?” Corona asked.  As if she knew the place better than me, she turned on the nearest sound system and presented me with a list of songs.  I timidly picked one and waited for the opening melody to soothe my nerves.  Four hours later, midnight was a heartbeat away, and we were still playing.

Words shared were few, and most of them came from my own mouth.  I was hungry but had no ambition to fix a late dinner. My eyesight was beginning to fail when my subconscious grew discontent with the persistent mystery across the table.  As much as I wanted to hide my face from her, I felt naked in her presence.  With my brain entering what I call “zombie” or “sleepy silly” mode, my secrets would soon be hers.

Without another peep from me, she picked up on my thoughts and said, “Okay.  Let me fix that.”  The light over her head shifted and grew, adding inches of color to her appearance from the tips of her boots to the curve of her slender nose.

Below that nose, a pair of lean yet elegant lips formed a friendly smile atop a graceful limb.  One slender strap from a red camisole slid down her creamy right shoulder, exposing a sliver of cleavage beneath the tips of a wavy brown curtain.  She adjusted her privacy settings.

Glancing past the table, I could see a pair of weathered denim shorts and knee-high, charcoal suede boots.  A delicate white watch adorned her left wrist.  Everything above the nose remained her secret.  [Without knowing me for more than a few dates, this gal sure seemed to grasp my love of mystery and my taste in women’s fashion.]

“Is that better?”

My stunned response came as a nod.

A faint giggle escaped her smile.  “Sorry.  I didn’t hear anything.  Try telling me what you are thinking.”

I could not accurately read any clock.  I was barely conscious yet holding on to the moment with everything I had in reserve.  My thoughts wanted only for a comfy bed and someone to share it.

The smile faded.  Grabbing a white denim jacket from the back of the padded bench, Corona popped upright and said, “Okay.  You sleep.  We will try this, again, later.  Goodnight.”

There was a micro-soft edge to her departing words which I did not like.  Adult content was not yet permitted, apparently, thus progress in the budding relationship had come to a standstill.  As if she had pulled my elbow off the table, my hand and face fell into one sloppy pile.  The rest of the opened deck scattered and rained upon the pale carpeting.  I had officially passed out as she slipped away.  When I recovered, the Jack of Hearts was sticking to my forehead.  I knew I was far from being a dating ace.  But, at that moment, I felt like all that I knew was worthless.  And, in the next few minutes, I was asleep, once more.

*****

Days dragged by without any contact.  I could hardly look at her calling card without biting my tongue.  I wanted more than I was given.  As usual, I spoiled a potential friendship and was denied.  If I pressed the matter, I might have felt worse when I heard her response (or lack thereof).

Then another thought crossed my mind.  Perhaps, my thoughts were not deserving of the full blame.  Perhaps, the Internet had a hand in this.  Maybe, timing was the problem.  That had to be it.  I was dead tired, and she was still sore from her recent or past relationship.  For all I knew, she might not have even read my mind and simply decided it was best I get some rest.

Daylight poured over me just as the phone rang.

“Can we meet another time?  Soon.”

I thought we might say “hi,” first.  “Well…sure!  I–”

“Okay.  Scheduling another date.  When should we meet?”

Not adept at scheduling, I hoped for more input on her part.

“Okay.  How about next week?” she impatiently inserted.  “You pick a day.”

[A day was picked.  We would meet, again, the following Friday.  Although, from the weather report I saw the following evening, the odds were not in our favor.]

~Writingbolt 9-21-2017

 

01
Nov
17

A Date with Corona #1


*****

Date #1:  The Unexpected

Technically, this was the first time we met.  I was trying out a new computer when she appeared beside my table of contents and said, “Hi.  I’m Cortana.  Can I help you with that?”  Her sweet, sultry voice pushed several of the right buttons, leaving one raised eyebrow which questioned her approach.  With just a few words, she seemed bold, shapely and intrusive yet more show than substance.

I took a moment to admire her boots.  They seemed functional but not too impressive.  I thought about shopping for new ones, taller, finer ones made of crumpled suede, but they were not available at the APP store.  And, I wasn’t in the mood to be a browser, nor a window explorer–er, shopper.

I may be a sucker for a pretty face, but, under the conditions, I could not see her face.  Unless, it was hidden by her halo, that eerie glowing ring that seemed to follow her wherever she went.  It pulsed with her words.  And, from the lack of response from those passing by, only I could see it.  I couldn’t accurately estimate her height, but her voice did not sound like it was coming from any angle.

What did she expect from me?  Did she think I was incapable of operating such a machine?  Did she know more than I?  Or, was she just here to play with me like a mouse?  Well, if she wanted to play games, I had news for her.  There were no cords on me…except for those tied to my heart drive.  And, if she was going to handle my hardware, I expected her to bring some fabric softener.

Surely, she was no angel.  At least, not the kind I pray to stay by my side.  A good angel wouldn’t tell me to hook up with a foreign network just to exchange some “stuff.”  She’d be specific and honest or, at least, sympathetic, compassionate.

This gal was tall on orders and short on details.  She didn’t have time to get heavy.  She just wanted everything “all right,” whatever that meant.  She could have been more demanding.  Instead, she seemed open to compromise, which isn’t always a good thing.  Any time I showed reluctance, she grew quiet or repeated herself with a hint of annoyance.  And, if I indulged her whim, I soon found myself in an uncomfortable position.

I like games in which I know all the rules.  But, this was not such a case.  Every move was a gamble.  And, any sure thing was not always as it seemed.

As darkness settled in, we found ourselves spending the evening together, going over every inch of the computer, its many features and possible upgrades.  The owners of the café we occupied gave us looks, wondering when we’d buy something or leave.  I had hoped to be home sooner, to be back in my comfort zone.  But, strange things happen when you linger outside the box.  And, this gal was definitely a bit strange, strangely animated and questionably personal.  I was as eager to get away as I was compelled to stay and learn more at a safe pace.  When I start answering and/or asking questions, there is no such safe pace.

I was just getting comfortable when she suddenly checked her invisible watch and decided to leave.  “Sorry.  I cannot connect right now.”

The tips of my fingers went cold as I watched her halo withdraw.  Then my eyes detected something new in my laptop.  She had left me with a loaded tray and more questions than answers.  This must have been the “stuff” I had in store for me when I decided to look her way.  On top was a note neatly typed on a calling card.

THANKS.
O- YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND ME.  MICROPHONE.

[Where did she get a typewriter?  Why the wide “O-” when her name started with C and mine started with W?  And, what did “MICROPHONE” mean?]

Alone under a warm light, silence and darkness surrounded me like a thin blanket in an autumn breeze.  It wasn’t much of a date but felt like more than small talk.  Luckily, I didn’t order coffee.  It would have gone cold and spoiled the evening.  Not to mention, it would have been disastrous for the computer.

Yes.  I knew where to find her.  Or, did I?  Information at hand can be so deceptive when you lose your mind in the presence of another.

I looked forward to engaging her, again.  But, first, I wanted to do some research, to better understand her velvety layers, her…software.  When next we met, I would be wiser to her games.  And, I’d bring a few of my own.

She called herself Cortana, a coarse, awkward name.  I preferred to think of her as someone smoother with a name like Corona, like the halo that followed her.

~Writingbolt, 9-21-2017




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