My first YA book and the short stories that I love to write!

On my last post I was still up in the air about which book I was going to start. I decided to go with the Young Adult zombie novel. This will be based on my short story, “The Treehouse,” which was published in the anthology “Bite Sized Offerings.” That had to be kid friendly so it was harder in some ways than writing anything else I’ve done. Other than that story I’ve never done YA. Usually I just write it and not worry about the horror or gore; I mean I am writing horror. But the line for YA is a fine one. I think I will either undo it or overdo it. All I can do is write it then tweak it afterwards. Which means it will take more than my usual five passes to get it right. And I’ll have to have some beta readers who are familiar with YA and give me the yea or nay on certain parts of it.

I’m actually cranking out on the book now, over 15K words. But I don’t have a title yet. Most of what I write doesn’t have a title until after I’ve written it.

I’m going to be pretty busy over the next two months. Besides writing my book the “day job”, I’ll be doing “author takeovers” at four different Book Release parties. If you’ve never been to one, they are a lot of fun.

Here’s the links the parties. They are all done online:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1366994643321943/

https://www.facebook.com/events/208045102990458/

https://www.facebook.com/events/983172031816432/

https://www.facebook.com/events/1823585524550256/

My novel, “Salvation,” is up on Amazon and not moving as well as I’d hoped (do they ever though?) If you like zombie and post apoc you’d enjoy this one. It’s $5 for the ebook and $14.99 for the paperback and free to read on Kindle Unlimited. If you’ve already bought and read it, thank you so much, and please post your review. The link is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Salvation-Survive-Book-Veronica-Smith-ebook/dp/B01N6IBUF7

I also have a self-published short story, “Last One in the Chamber for You, My Love,” and it is not a love story. It’s on a whole other level of different; murder and vengeance with a twist. Normaly it’s only $.0.99 for the book and free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

But right now, until Wed, March 8, 2017, it’s FREE for everyone! Download it, read it, and please post your review. You can find it here:

https://www.amazon.com/Last-One-Chamber-You-Love-ebook/dp/B01N6TGX2G

This is new for me; published in an online magazine or E-Zine. My story, Anesthesia, was accepted into The Sirens Call E-Zine. Anesthesia is part of their Women In Horror Month #MiHm8 Issue #31. This is free to read and you’ll find it here:

http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/ezine.htm

I came up with this story the day after I had a routine colonoscopy a year or so ago. I wondered what really happens when you are anesthesia and my story was born.

Follow me on my Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/author/veronicasmith

And in the UK!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Veronica-Smith/e/B014JCZQT4

Here’s my Twitter but I’m still getting used to it and I completely forget to use #hashtags

https://twitter.com/Vee_L_Smith

I’m still planning to get a vendor spot at a con with a couple other local writers at Trader’s Village in Houston in April, but no one has heard if they have a table reserved. I’m sure they are busy but I’m eager to try my first con. I have paperbacks ready to sell and I even had a banner made.

I still have seven short stories in anthologies that are still in the process of being published and five more stories that have been submitted and I’m still waiting on acceptance or rejection.

I’m reading a book called Sick to Death by an author, unfamiliar to me but recommended, named Greg Levin. I’m only about a quarter of the way in but so far it is amazing. It’s hooked me in and eager to continue reading it.

Don’t forget Daylight Savings Time next week or you’ll go into work that Monday at the wrong time. LOL

2017 – A New Year and Better Year!

I haven’t posted here in a long time. Work gets in the way of my writing sometimes. While the Oil & Gas industry has been hit with hard times, I’ve been as busy as a one armed paperhanger (to quote Annie Wilkes). As a drafter I’ve been working plenty, even gotten some overtime now and again. Then my son graduated college in December, which brought the parents for a visit. I hadn’t seen them in over years so it was a good visit! And of course Christmas and New Years were hectic as always. The holidays are over now so I’ve been trying to back into more writing.

December saw the publication of my first full length novel, “Salvation.” It’s a zombie post apoc based on a Collectable Card Game called Survive by Helheim Game Studios. It’s doing okay but not as well as I’d hoped. It’s $5 for the ebook and $14.99 for the paperback and free to read on Kindle Unlimited. The link is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Salvation-Survive-Book-Veronica-Smith-ebook/dp/B01N6IBUF7

January I tried something new. I self-published a short story, “Last One in the Chamber for You, My Love,” and it is not a love story. It’s on a whole other level of different. Right now it’s only $.0.99 for the book and free to read on Kindle Unlimited. You can find it here:

https://www.amazon.com/Last-One-Chamber-You-Love-ebook/dp/B01N6TGX2G

I’ve had six short stories accepted into anthologies since October that should be coming out soon. And I was just invited to submit a story into another anthology coming out this Spring. With the other two stories that were accepted earlier last year, I’m looking at eight new stories being published this year in either anthologies or magazines.

You can read my short stories that are already in published anthologies here:

https://www.amazon.com/author/veronicasmith

And in the UK!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Veronica-Smith/e/B014JCZQT4

I still have two more out for submissions so I’ll see how those go.

So what’s ahead for me for the rest of 2017?

I’m planning to get a vendor spot at a con with a couple other local writers (hoping there are spots available after they offer them to last year’s vendors first) at Trader’s Village in Houston in April.

I’ve been thinking of two or three different books and not sure which one to start first.

I already have the idea down and some summarization for “A Random Shooting: Chalk Outline II” but I’ve been highly encouraged by a friend to expand my short story, “The Treehouse,” into a novel. That story was my first Young Adult zombie story published in “Bite Sized Offerings.” That had to be kid friendly so it was harder in some ways than writing anything else I’ve done. I still have my own zombie book that I started before I did Salvation and it’s still sitting at 13K words. I’m just wondering if the zombie world is oversaturated already. Sure I have an original idea to the start of the zombie apocalypse but after that? I’m letting that one stew a bit.

I still plan to continue to write short stories to submit to anthologies and magazines. I still enjoy writing shorts a lot; they are pretty fun. I still have four that have no homes and I’ve been puttering around with the idea of publishing a collection of my stories. Again, I have to think on that.

Oh yeah, I got on the Twitter bandwagon! (https://twitter.com/Vee_L_Smith). I’m not sure about everything on it. (I got added to a couple “lists” the other day. What the hell is a “list” on Twitter?) I think it’s pretty fast paced and I’m trying to keep up with it but there is so much on the feeds. I’m not sure which is busier – Facebook or Twitter.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas, New Year, or whatever you celebrated!

Until next time!

Black Friday Deals

 

“Look at this deal for Black Friday, honey!” Ralph pointed out to his wife, Sandy, “And this one. Do we need a new lawnmower?”

She glanced over as she was putting the last clean dish away. The Thanksgiving feast was over and she sighed as her kitchen was finally clean again. “You really want to fight all those people on Black Friday? Again?”

“This one’s having the purple balloon deal again!” Excitement was in his voice.

“Not that again,” she groaned, “I almost broke my ankle last year to get you that Blu-Ray player.”

“But you got it and I love you for it.” He put as much appreciation in his voice as he could, then kissed her, “But you have to admit 50% off was a hell of a deal and you use that thing as much as I do.”

Last year they had a plan; Ralph’s plan. While he stood near the purple balloon that was in the TV section, his wife stood by the one in the Blu-Ray player section. The Purple Balloon deals gained popularity two years ago. You didn’t know which items were being slashed to half price until the balloon popped and little cards fell out. They had the item picture, description, and part numbers on them. There would be at least three different choices and last year Ralph and Sandy were lucky to grab the TV and Blu-Ray.

“But what do you think we need now?” she asked, looking around the room. The 64” TV Ralph fought for last year covered half the room.

“I’m thinking surround sound system.”

She groaned. He was such a commercial stereotypical man sometimes. Every time she saw a dumb commercial where the husband lost his mind in an electronics store, she immediately pictured Ralph. She looked around the room again, trying to imagine where he would mount it all. They didn’t have any children and other than Black Friday, they didn’t really splurge on themselves.

“What time do we have to be there?” she asked as she gave in.

“I love you!” he kissed her again.

Vector illustration of purple balloonAfter the news, they saw another Black Friday commercial and Ralph started pointing when he saw the purple balloons.

“I’ve got my eye on two different systems. I hope at least one of them is in this deal. Otherwise I’ll have to wing it.”

Sandy rolled her eyes and only lifted an eyebrow half in interest. They both looked up at the booming commercial voice:

We’re doing things just a bit different this year. Last year the items on the 50% off sales were put up on social media on the east coast within minutes, therefore ruining the random chances for those in the other time zones. We want everyone to have the same opportunity as everyone else. This year the balloons will all burst simultaneously, regardless of different time zones. Ensuring everyone has a fair chance at getting the best deals. The ads that were put out do reflect your current time zone.

“I can kind of see their point,” Ralph remarked, “It’s cheating when you already know which one is going to be on sale. I bet all the 50% off ones were already in people’s carts before the balloons popped last year.”

“Doesn’t matter to us anyway,” Sandy laughed, “since we’re on the east coast.”
Three hours before the balloons were scheduled to pop, Ralph and Sandy were already at the store. Ralph was pleased to see the majority of the crowds were clustered around the TV and Blu-Ray balloons, just like last year. Seems there wasn’t as much interest in surround sound systems despite the bright balloon floating ten feet above their heads. There were a few people milling around but it was more casual; everyone was relaxed. Ralph smiled as he counted them. This would be a piece of cake. He had positioned himself and Sandy apart so they had access to the entire selection. He longingly eyed a 75” 3D TV that was mounted right below another purple balloon and was considering a plan change until he saw Sandy shake her head at him. He laughed and nodded. Just the surround sound system this year.

 

Luckily the TV’s were playing so there was something to watch. Many were just on their phones, texting or checking into social media. Ralph looked back and forth at the only two TV’s he could see from where he was standing. One channel had a popular animated movie on, the bright colors boasting the great effects of that model. The other had the news on. Ralph couldn’t hear anything and they didn’t have on the closed captions so he could only guess what they were talking about. Behind the news reporter was the Homeland Security logo so he assumed they had heightened security for traveling again. It happened every year. That’s why he and Sandy rarely flew. Most of their relatives were within driving distance anyway.

 

As it got closer to the time, Ralph was disheartened to see more and more customers packing in around he and Sandy. It might be more of a fight this time. He looked at his watch and saw there was only 15 minutes left. He made his way to Sandy, only eight feet away but with a dozen men and woman between them.

“New plan,” he whispered to her.

She looked at him questioningly.

“Everyone has to take to the time to look at the cards that drop, then figure out where they are. I’ve already pretty much memorized where everything is. So you grab a card and tell me the manufacture and model and I’ll grab it. Two hands free.” He waggled them in front of her for emphasis.

“Works for me,” she whispered back, happy that she wouldn’t have to elbow anyone out of the way to get an item this time. Inwardly she sighed as she was resigned to the fact that she would still be in the thick of it. She had to be close enough to Ralph to give him the information.

 

The crowd chanted aloud with the digital countdown.

“- 5 4 3 2 1!”  The balloons burst in a rain of cards and powder.

Powder? There wasn’t powder last year. There was sparkly confetti with the cards.

Almost immediately everyone began coughing as they inhaled the clouds that floated around them. Screams began and cut off quickly as everyone struggled to breathe. Men and women knocked each other trying to get away only to fall to the hard floor. Ralph saw Sandy drop, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth and nostrils. He reached for her but fell to his knees, coughing, his blood hitting the floor beneath him. With a shaking hand he picked up a card and read it in shock. His vision blurred as he lost consciousness; barely registering the two words on it.

Surprise America

My Halloween Addiction

Like most people, I have my weakness, the monkey on my back; an addiction that I can’t cure, even if I wanted to try. If there were HA meetings, I’d have to go weekly, if not daily. But I’m not in denial. I say my name with pride and hold my head high!

My name is Veronica Smith and I am an addict. I’m addicted to Halloween!

I refuse to hang my head in shame. So what if I don’t do Christmas lights or even want to put up a tree? If my husband wants cute and bright, he can climb his happy ass up on the roof and hook up all those lights without me. He likes the cute and fuzzy Christmasy things to put in the yard; but not me. Give me skeletons of all sizes and species and I get excited. Give me zombies, give me spooky! Every year I want to outdo my yard from the year before. Mostly it’s always the same with a few additions here and there, but this year I plan to do some major changes. The twelve life-sized wooden gravestones we made back in 2000, yes they are sixteen years old, are finally wearing out. We plan to keep a couple of the ones in the best condition and repaint them, giving them new faces and phrases. The little “Undead Pet Cemetery” I started two years ago won’t be so little any more. It’s expanding from mostly zombie animals to more skeleton animals as well. It’s an equal opportunity for deaders hangout in my graveyard! My Snow White and Prince Charming will be more active than just sitting in the chairs this year. It’s about time they earned their keep and I will have seven rather short, armed men to help keep them in line.

It will still be a couple of weeks until we set it all up, so here’s the link to last year’s yard to enjoy and compare once the new yard is set up. The viewing settings are set to public so anyone can see them.

https://www.facebook.com/veronica.c.smith.75/media_set?set=a.10153376504134272.1073741860.530559271&type=3

There are a few favorites posted here but go to the link above to see the rest.

 

Here’s a picture I’m rather fond of (just did this in 2015 for the first time):  I’ve gotten another dog this year for Brian the Dog Walker to walk along with Oscar there.

p1040626-walking-the-dog-a

See! That lazy Snow White and her Prince haven’t gotten their lazy asses off these chairs for a couple years. We’ll make them work it this year.

02-snow-white-prince-charming

Overall, my entire yard is full, but again this was last year. Wait until you see what I do THIS year!

03-yard-daytime

We do the whole spotlight thing so the yard can be seen perfect at night, and maybe make it a little more creepy . . .

04-yard-nightime

I know I will never feel this way about another holiday. Halloween is better than a birthday. I wish it could be celebrated more often. Perhaps every time the moon is full ; I don’t know. I just know I need it more than once a year!

Flash Fiction / Short Story by Veronica Smith

Last week I was up late, waiting for my sleeping pill to kick in. I’ve suffered from Insomnia for years, and only Zolpidem lets me sleep through the night without waking every hour. But, if I stay up too late it tends to make me woozy. Anyway, this particular night I was coming from my bedroom to the hall and back out to the living room. I could have sworn I saw my cat, Stains, standing in front of the bedroom door and I had to wiggle my foot at him to make him move. I was too tired to realize he couldn’t have gotten past the closed hallway door. Once I got back in the living room, I saw him on the sofa and laughed, realizing how loopy I was. That meant it was really time for me to go to sleep. I remembered it the next day and wrote out this short story.

Ghost – written July 20, 2016

 

I shut the door behind me, kicking off my shoes as I walked into the living room. As I set my purse down on the kitchen counter, my cat, Ghost, came running from the other side of the apartment. I groaned when I saw my bedroom door was open. I must’ve forgotten to close it this morning. I just knew my bed would have a new blanket of long white cat hairs now.

“Rrar,” Ghost looked up at me, winding between my legs. A respiratory infection as a kitten had altered my cat’s typical cat-speak. I knelt, and as I pet him, he immediately turned around to present his furry butt, tail straight in the air.

“Not in your lifetime bud,” I laughed as I pushed him away. I know that’s a sign of affection for cats but not for me; I don’t do cat butt.

I took a beer from the fridge and sat on the sofa, clicking on the remote to watch something from my DVR. I had a long shift at work and doubted I would stay awake long enough to watch the whole show.

“Ghost,” I sighed as I saw his tail end running into my room; I still hadn’t shut the door yet. I turned on the bedroom light but didn’t see him anywhere. I heard another “Rrar” and looked out to see him standing on the sofa, his neck stretched out as he sniffed the neck of my bottle. I was dumb enough to give him a sip once and now he’s a damn alcoholic cat. I didn’t know how he’d gotten past me to get out of the room but I just shut the door.

I know; I’m weird. I’m one of the few cat owners that didn’t allow their cat to sleep with them. My apartment’s already covered in a light layer of soft white fur. Vacuuming once a week only kept it from getting too thick. Ghost was a serious shedder. I wanted one room that was clean and fuzz free. I was lucky, though, he didn’t sit outside my bedroom door howling and keeping me awake all night, I broke that habit when he was a kitten.

The late night shower woke me more than I hoped, but since I didn’t have to go into work until noon the next day, I could sleep in. I took a zolpidem, hoping it didn’t take too long to kick in. My body was exhausted but my mind was wide-awake. I resumed the DVR’d show and watched even after my eyelids began drooping. I think my chin hit my chest a couple of times before I decided I was ready for bed. As I opened my bedroom in the dark apartment, I saw Ghost sneaking past my feet into the room.

“No way Jose!” I spoke out as I turned the light on. He was nowhere in sight.

“Rrar?” I jerked back to the doorway and saw Ghost lying on the sofa, looking at me quizzically.

“How . . .?” I stuttered, then yawned and shook my head. I shut the door behind me and went to bed.

“Get out of my face,” I mumbled in my sleep. I felt a paw slip between my lips and a loud “Meow” right in my face. I spit out the fur that stuck to my lips, swiping my mouth with my hand. A fuzzy head bumped my shoulder as the meows got louder. “What the hell?” I was waking up, despite the fact that it was only three-forty-five in the morning. I groaned as I shooed him away. I sat up straight and whispered, “Ghost? How did you get in here?” I looked to the door but even in the dark, I could tell it was closed.

I picked him up and carried him out, turning on the living room light as I crossed the doorway.

“Rrar,” I stared at Ghost at his usual spot on the sofa for a couple of seconds before looking down. In my arms was a white, longhaired cat, similar in size to Ghost. It looked up at me and I saw its golden eyes gleam as it gave my chin a sandpaper lick. Then it faded away into nothing.

I looked back to Ghost and noticed what I didn’t see the first time. Wisps of smoke seeping through the wall that separated my kitchen and breakfast area with my neighbor’s. Our floor plans were mirrored.

My mouth opened and closed a few times without sound. I was stunned into silence and couldn’t give voice to my fear. “Fire,” I said, barely above a whisper. The impact of Ghost jumping into my arms released the hold on me. “Fire!” I screamed, “Fire! Fire!” I kept yelling it as I called 911 on my cell phone and raced out the front door. The hallway was filled with smoke and more was sweeping out in a wave under my neighbor’s door.

Oh god, he must be still asleep.

As soon as I gave the operator my address, I pocketed the phone and I banged on my neighbor’s door. “Wake up Kevin! Your apartment’s on fire!”

The commotion had woken up the other neighbors. Dean from across the hall came out, then Susan and Sol who lived next door to him as well.

“Make way,” Steven came running from down the hall, fiddling with his key ring, jingling as he searched for the correct one. He was our onsite maintenance man who lived in the building and was always there to fix things fast. I just hoped he would be fast enough.

“There’s heat,” he said as he put a palm flat on the door, “A lot of it.” He glanced around, noting in disgust the brand new smoke detector right next to the hallway light, smoke flowing through it, yet causing no alarm. “I told them not to buy that shit,” he muttered, “Dean, Susan, go get me your fire extinguishers quickly.”

They ran and were back within seconds, both reading the directions on the canisters.

“Jeanne, Please go get me a quilt, sheet, or blanket and soak it in water,” he turned to me as he added, “and don’t wring it out. It needs to be soaking wet. Go now.”

I went back in my apartment and tossed Ghost on the sofa, grabbing up the throw blanket draped on the back. In the kitchen, I cranked up both handles in the sink, pushing the throw under the flowing water. When I thought it was wet enough, I picked Ghost back up, tucking him under one arm as I ran back out, water trailing me then pooling below me when I stopped next to Steven. He had borrowed a soaking wet baseball cap from Dean and it sloshed as he put it on his head. He took the water soaked throw from me and wrapped it around himself. “Back up!” He took a step back and kicked the door in. All of us immediately covered our noses and mouths with our shirts and robes. The smoke rolled out so thick it was hard to see my neighbors, who were only standing a few feet from me.

“Rraarar?” in my arms, Ghost was getting restless. Not just because of the smoke and fire. He’d never been outside the apartment except for vet visits.

We all stood in the hall, feeling useless. The sirens that started in the distance were getting closer by the second. The fire department would be here in minutes.

Without warning, Steven pushed through the wall of smoke but he wasn’t alone. He was dragging Kevin, who wasn’t a light guy. He pulled him with one arm; in his other arm was a cat.

Behind me, I heard Dean say to Susan that Kevin didn’t have a cat and my head jerked up to look at the fluffy white cat under Steven’s arm. As soon as they reached the hall, Steven dropped to his knees and moved the water soaked throw from his shoulder to Kevin’s.

“I didn’t even know the apartment was on fire,” Kevin said hoarsely, his throat irritated from the smoke, “If it wasn’t for your cat, I’d be dead now.” He looked at me now then his words trailed off as he looked from my Ghost laden arms to Steven’s arm.

I gasped as I saw the familiar golden eyes. Both Kevin and Steven saw where I was looking and their eyes followed mine. Steven held the cat up higher in the light until it was close to his face. Those golden eyes locked onto Steven’s and it gave him a rough lick on his chin then faded away.

 

 

 

Visualizing the Story

I wrote a story called Beneath the Floodwaters. Currently, it is in submission phase for an anthology (fingers crossed). The story summary is this: Some college kids decided to hang out in the park one day to drink. Since the park didn’t allow alcohol or even glass bottles they hiked into the woods with their booze and got lost. A storm hit and the park was already flooding when they finally found their way outside the woods. They got under a shelter and stayed there to ride out the storm. While I can’t give away what happened to them, (You’ll have to buy the book if it is accepted into the anthology), and I can say that within a matter of hours this park has flooded to a couple feet deep and after a day it is at least four feet deep. Now this sounds like an exaggeration, right? You would think that, but I based this story on a park that I drive through on the way to work normally. I know how fast it can flood.

Well, earlier this week this same park flooded. I’m sure everyone has heard about it on the news by now, and the pictures of our city have ‘flooded’ the internet. But a friend posted this picture, and I think this sums it all up.  This is Clay Road, which spans the northern part of this park. You can see the median in the middle of the street. I’d like to tell you which side the park is on but to be honest, I just can’t tell. You can see the street ahead is easily at least four feet deep. And the park is lower than the street so you can imagine how deep that actually got; deeper than the four feet that I wrote in my story – Much deeper.

As the title insinuates there is something beneath the floodwaters. Hopefully at the real Bear Creek Park here, that would never happen. But it makes for great Horror!

Visualizing the Story

I wrote a story called Beneath the Floodwaters. Currently it is in submission phase for an anthology (fingers crossed). The story summary is this: Some college kids decided to hang out in the park one day to drink. Since the park didn’t allow alcohol or even glass bottles they hiked into the woods with their booze and got lost. A storm hit and the park was already flooding when they finally found their way outside the woods. They got under a shelter and stayed there to ride out the storm. While I can’t give away what happened to them, (You’ll have to buy the book if it is accepted into the anthology), and I can say that within a matter of hours this park has flooded to a couple feet deep and after a day it is at least four feet deep. Now this sounds like an exaggeration, right? You would think that, but I based this story on a park that I drive through on the way to work normally. So I know how fast it can flood.

Well, last week this park flooded. The park from my story! I’m sure everyone has heard about it on the news by now and the pictures of our city of Houston have ‘flooded’ the internet. But a friend posted this picture and I think this sums it all up. This is Clay Road, which spans the northern part of this park. You can see the median in the middle of the street. I’d like to tell you which side the park is on but to be honest, I just can’t tell. You can see the street ahead is easily at least four feet deep. The park is lower than the street so you can imagine how deep that actually got; deeper than the four feet that I wrote in my story – much deeper.

As the title insinuates there is something beneath the floodwaters. Hopefully at the real Bear Creek Park, there’s nothing like it there. But it makes for great Horror!ClayRoad deer

The End – It’s not really though . . .

I’m reaching the end of my book (finally) and I feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I know very shortly I’ll be typing those two little words that all authors love to see.  But it’s not really the end.  I have to go back and do all my timeline checks and geographical setups.  I have to make sure that someone that died early on in the book isn’t still hanging out halfway through. (I’ve done that once already and it sucks; very time consuming to go back and replace all those names and adjust the scenes.) Then after all, that I still have to go over the entire book again for editing; maybe two more times.  And I just know I’ll change or add stuff; probably add. I’ve never edited any of my stories and ended up with fewer words than started with. But the feeling of relief when you type The End that first time is memorable.  Since this will be my first full-length novel (I’ve written a lot of short stories and a novella) for me it’s not really the end but a beginning as well.

Thoughts on writing ideas . . .

I love the way being a writer makes you see things differently.  My husband had a horrible nightmare a couple weeks ago and instead of being sympathetic I pulled out my laptop and told him to give me all the details so I could turn it into a short story.  A week later I had a nice 2000 word story out of it.  Then a friend at work commented on the horrible nightmare she had the night before.  I sat down and listened to her then pulled out a pen and paper and asked her to tell it to me again.  She also agreed to let me write a story based on it. Still working on that one.

Sometimes it takes the most normal thing to make me want to write something.  We just came back from a 5-day cruise to Mexico and our stateroom was at the front of the ship (I mean really the front – we were the 4th cabin from as far front as you could be). So the hallway spanned the entire length of the ship.  When we were walking down the very narrow hall you could see people coming from the other end and it was very disorienting. It was like looking at a mirrored hall where your reflection comes at you.  Yup, more fodder for stories. Gonna let that one stew a bit.

Even when I had to get a colonoscopy back in December, (turning 50 sucks) the first thing I thought when I came out of the anesthesia was damn this could make a great story if something whacked out while I was under.

It doesn’t matter what you write about or where you get your ideas (I get ideas just driving home during my hour long commute home). What matters is that you write.  Get it out of your head and down on paper or on computer. Carry a recorder around; use it remember those great ideas.  I keep one in my purse and use it all the time.

A blast from the past . . .

Years ago I was part of a forum, yes there were forums in the old days, that was a Richard Laymon fan group. We were small but because close. Even though the forum is long gone the group is still around, just now on Facebook.  We are all still good friends even though we span the globe.  Back in 2007 we used to do what we called our “Kooky Stories” contest.  You would have five items (usually weird or unusual) and you had to write a story including those five items. Afterwards we voted and the winner got to pick the next five items for the next contest.  One of my stories, Merry Christmas, was written November 2, 2007. After all this time I don’t remember what the five words were.  But it made for a silly, gory Christmas story; because that’s what we were all about. I thought I’d post it here to everyone to enjoy.

Merry Christmas, Veronica Smith, November 2, 2007

As Thanksgiving approached, all the impending signs of Christmas were apparent. Even before Halloween had arrived, the Christmas decorations had taken over the seasonal area and shelves. Those leftover bags of Sponge Bob & Bratz candy sat next to all those new flavors of candy canes. Working in the local Kmart was a crappy job but it was a job. It paid the rent and girls really went for guys that actually had a job. Robert was thinking about girls again as he adjusted the white and green artificial Christmas trees in the display. They had them packed in so tight you couldn’t get a postage stamp between them. It was thirty minutes after closing so he could loosen his smock. He took pride in his department and decided that even if he had to put some of those trees back in storage it would make them look more appealing. As he mulled over, trying to decide which ones to put away, he heard odd clopping noises; like horses walking down the center aisle. He looked around for the prankster; Lou was way over in Housewares straightening up the Tupperware and small appliances. Susan had the worst department – toys! After a day of all those brats going thru there it looked as though a tornado hit. He didn’t envy her. Usually his department, seasonal, only got real bad when they had a huge sale on boxes of ornaments or cards; as it did today. After straightening up those shelves he wandered over to the yard displays. He came to a sudden halt. The “blow up” Santa and reindeer were gone! They weren’t on the floor deflated but someone had turned off the air pumps and unplugged them from the figures. They must have carried them off. But security would’ve seen people taking stuff that big! “Have you been naughty or nice?” boomed a loud voice. Robert turned to see Santa in all his blown up glory; without the aid of any air pump! How was this possible? “Well?” Santa asked again, “Have you been naughty or nice?” His round air-filled belly shook like a bowl full of jelly, bigger actually – like a huge plate of jelly. Santa had one arm behind his back and brought it around front now. In his huge gloved hand he held an axe. It still had the $10.88 sale tag on it. His jolly mouth was turned down in a frown of malice. He smacked the axe flatwise in the palm of his other hand. “You haven’t answered me.” He bellowed at Robert. Robert opened his mouth but couldn’t speak – couldn’t do anything except stare at the axe wavering up and down. He turned and fled down the aisle that let towards Linens. Clop, Clop. Clop. He froze when he saw three blow up reindeer walk out from other aisles into the aisle in front of him. He let out a scream of terror. “What’s wrong?” he could hear Lou call from the distant part of the store. Without stopping to answer he turned down the next aisle and headed in Lou’s direction. He almost stumbled upon two other reindeer. They had knocked down several shelves worth of towels and were locked together on top of them like two dogs mating. In shock he tripped and picked himself up. He managed to get to Housewares and ran right past Lou., who was covertly picking his nose and wiping the boogers on the spatulas hanging next to him. “What’s the matter with you?” he asked Robert. “Santa!” Robert panted, “he’s got an axe!” Lou looked at Robert and smiled. “Oh, you’ve been nipping at that spiked eggnog, haven’t you?” “No really!” Robert yelled, “He’s coming!” “Sure,” Lou sang, “Santa Claus is coming to town! Ha ha!” “Have you been naughty or nice?” boomed Santa, who

had caught up with Robert now. “Holy shit!” Lou shouted, “What the hell is going on?” Santa didn’t answer him; only swung the axe up and back down through the top of Lou’s skull. It split in half and he dropped to the floor like a stone. He chopped at him for a while, momentarily forgetting about Robert. Robert’s mouth gaped in horror. He had to get out of here! But he had to get Susan out before this homicidal Santa found her. He ran to Toys; careful not to make a lot of noise this time. He literally ran into her near the Barbies. Any other time that much pink would make him puke. This time, however, he didn’t even notice. This time rather than try to explain about Psycho Santa, he whispered to Susan, “We have to get out of here. There’s been a break in and they have guns.” He knew that would get her going. As they were sneaking thru Hardware they were stopped by three more reindeer. Amazingly they snorted smoke from their nostrils and bellowed like bulls. Suddenly they charged like bulls! Robert dropped and rolled away, smacking into a hanging rack, suddenly rained on by small tools. Susan only screamed once as all three reindeer stomped on her. Robert suddenly noticed the air valve on the back hindquarters of each reindeer. He grabbed a pair of pliers and ripped them out of the package. He used them to grab the valve and hold it open. Immediately that reindeer deflated before his eyes. He grabbed a screwdriver and jabbed it into another one; it burst with an audible pop! The third one ran off, trailing Susan’s blood and gore down the aisle. He sobbed silently as he quietly made his way to the front. Passing the rack of posters he stopped. Out stepped Santa; bigger and badder than ever! “Have you been naughty or nice?” he bellowed at Robert. “I’ve been nice!” Robert screamed hysterically, “I’m always nice! I’m a good guy!” The axe flew past his head and buried its head into a poster of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, splitting Jack’s head in two. Santa pulled out a notepad from his pocket and said, “Nice! Good, got you down now. No lump of coal for you.” Santa suddenly stood still and deflated.