Friday Flash Fiction – Mr. August

The wonderful Friday Flash Fics challenge continues. Today’s characters aren’t from one of my published pieces, but instead from my Village project, a series of Novellas set in a fictional version of the Ottawa gay village where a bit of magic happens to come through. There’s no actual magic happening here, but as you can see from the picture that inspired it, there’s all kinds of magic.


Flash Friday 4

“I look ridiculous.”

Caleb lowered his camera and waited. Beside him, Jian tapped a thumb against his bottom lip, a line appearing between his eyebrows.

Uh-oh.

“You’re right,” Jian said.

That was a surprise.

Jian stepped forward and picked up the drafting pencil. “Put this in your mouth.”

The shirtless, muscular man in front of them both stared at Jian.

“Are you kidding?”

“It’ll add sizzle, Angelo.” Jian waved the pencil like a wand.

“No one does woodwork half-naked with their jeans hanging off their ass.” Angelo raised the saw in his right hand. “This isn’t even the right saw.”

“No one will be looking at your saw.”

Caleb couldn’t hold it back any more. He snorted.

Both Jian and Angelo turned to him with twin looks of annoyance.

“Sorry.” Caleb tried not to draw attention, usually. Not on purpose. Odd things tended to happen when he paid too much attention to people.

“Pencil,” Jian turned back, holding out the pencil again.

Angelo crossed his arms and raised his chin.

Enough. At this rate, they’d never get a good shot. Caleb put his camera down. “Angelo? Jian?”

Both men aimed their angry glares at him. He flinched, but he cleared his throat. He liked things better when he had his camera between him and the world. Especially when the world was made up of a shirtless hunk and an annoyed drama bear.

Caleb cleared his throat. It took him a second to find his voice. “This is for charity. This is our first shoot. There are eleven more months after this, and it would be fantastic if we could have the calendar actually ready to sell before, y’know, next January.”

Jian opened his mouth.

“Not done,” Caleb said. “Jian? We all know you know your stuff. No one sets a stage like you. We’ve seen your plays, you’ve worked magic and it totally looks like a woodshop in here. But if Angelo says it’s the wrong saw? It’s the wrong saw.”

Angelo grinned and opened his mouth.

“Still not done,” Caleb said. “Angelo, we are so, so appreciative you’re doing this. And while I get you’d like things to look professional, here’s the thing: this isn’t a woodworking manual. The VBA is counting on this calendar. You’re our August. Decks, deck-building, deck-weather. And you look…” He swallowed. “Well…trust me. Jian’s lighting, the make-up? You’re many things Angelo, but none of them are ridiculous.”

Caleb waited. Both men were staring. They looked a little shell-shocked.

“Oh,” he said. “I’m done.”

“Sorry,” Jian said, at exactly the same moment Angelo said “My bad.”

They grinned at each other.

Caleb raised his camera. “Shall we?”

Jian stepped back. But Angelo raised his hand. “Wait.”

Caleb sighed. So much for speaking up. He wasn’t sure what else he could say, but—

“Pencil,” Angelo said.

Jian handed it to him, and Angelo put it in his mouth, picked up the saw, and stood over the piece of wood.

Caleb raised the camera and started shooting.

 

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Monday Flash Fic – Glimpse

It’s possible I found another flash fiction group, Monday Flash Fics. I don’t imagine I’ll often manage both Mondays and Fridays, but the Monday pic just posted was so perfect for two of the characters in my Village novella project that I couldn’t help myself.


Monday Flash Fic

Caleb yawned. After a long day photographing animals for Furever’s rescue program, he’d finished cropping and retouching any obvious problems. The photos finished uploading to the shared folder. Justin and Mat would put them together for the new website, and then the rescue program would be ready to go.

Caleb yawned again, and eyed his bed.

How many people had he made eye contact with today? Too many. But he couldn’t stay awake forever. He brushed his teeth and stripped down to his boxers. Crawling into bed, he set his alarm and exhaled.

Just like every night, Caleb looked up at the ceiling and asked the usual.

Nothing awful, please.

Caleb closed his eyes.

*

Justin and Gabe were married. It was a gorgeous day, they looked amazing, and the light was perfect. Caleb couldn’t help it, he always thought with a photographer’s eye.

Even when the eyes he was using weren’t his.

He half-heartedly hunted for clues, but didn’t find any. Sometimes he’d glimpse a newspaper, or whoever he was checked their phone, but not right now. Someone was giving a speech—Marion, he thought, just a second before his head turned and she came into view, proving him right. The older woman looked much the same as when he’d seen her in the park that afternoon, only now she wore a gorgeous peach suit and held up a glass of champagne.

“I’m going to let you in on a secret,” Marion said, with a tiny smile. “These two? Only got together because of me.”

Whoever’s point of view it was that Caleb was enjoying stole a glance at the grooms. Justin leaned in and whispered something in Gabe’s ear, and Gabe laughed. Just for a second, Justin leaned his forehead against Gabe’s, and they both closed their eyes as Marion described how a flustered Gabe had needed a push to even introduce himself to Justin—a push she’d been happy to provide. Both men laughed.

*

The alarm woke him. Caleb stretched.

Thank you, he thought, eyeing the ceiling. As futures went, that had been a lovely one to glimpse.

He was the last one to their small office. Justin leaned over Mat’s shoulder, pointing at something on the screen.

“Good morning,” Justin said, when Caleb came in. “You were up late.”

“These are great.” Mat nodded to his computer. “Furever is going to run out of animals.”

“We can hope.” Caleb lifted a paper bag. “I stopped at Sweet Temptations.”

“I love you,” Justin said.

“Don’t let Gabe hear you say that,” Mat said.

Caleb glanced down. “How are you guys doing?”

“Great.” Justin grinned. Then it faltered. “Too great?”

“Oh my God,” Mat said. “Why can’t you enjoy a good thing?”

“It’s just…” Justin blew out a breath. “It’s new. I shouldn’t jinx it.”

Caleb smiled.

“What?” Justin said.

“Nothing. But, I think you two are good for the long run. Didn’t Marion introduce you?”

Justin blinked. “Sort of. How’d you know?”

“I heard it somewhere.”

 

Writing Wednesday – Guilty, Crazy, Panicky, Lazy edition

I’ve barely been writing. My ‘Writing Wednesday’ updates are to keep myself honest, in line, and on track, and I’ve completely derailed. To the point where I was too guilty to post Writing Wednesdays for a few weeks.

Partly, it’s Orlando. I’ve got three major writing projects right now—the novel, Triad Soul, my village novellas, and another joint author project. The third project involves a character I was allowing myself to write for the first time: a guy dealing with the aftermath of losing control of his body to violence and hate. Now, it’s an upbeat, fun, sexy story, but I wanted to have the character be realistic, and delving into his head is like stepping back in time and after Orlando?  I just can’t seem to. I can’t find that “upbeat, fun, sexy” feeling. The love interest of the character is a cop, also, and after the raid on the NYC beach, I’m not feeling particularly sexy thoughts about cops, either.

I’m also having trouble catching the village vibe. Especially after Toronto Pride (which, for the record, I support the actions of BLM-TO) and all that it has brought out in “my” community, I feel cynical, and jaded, and bitter in spades, but that feeling of solidarity and strength? Not present. So I open the file, look at the pages set in my fictional version of the queer village and… Nothing. They’re supposed to be a little bit magic, cheerful romances with a light tone, and… I’m not there.

Triad Soul hasn’t ground to a complete halt, but it’s stuttering at best. I’ll have a day (often with a writing buddy who’s been dropping by) where I get 2,500 words out, and then days of nothing or negative or less than a hundred.

The foot isn’t helping. I don’t think I’ve mentioned here, but I managed to roll my foot while walking the dog, and a week later, although it had felt better in the meanwhile, it ballooned up. I went to the doctor, got X-rays, and it turns out I did a number on it. I’ve got three more weeks of wearing an air-cast. So I’m not having my nice long head-clearing walks with the dog. I feel lazy. And guilty. And panicky.

So. No word counts. No updates on the writing front beyond “not so much.”


The Crazy

LightThat said, the Crazy Canuck Canada Day Blog Hop is still underway. Seven authors, eight prizes (including a copy of Light by yours truly), and you’ve got two more days to enter.

You enter the individual giveaways at each individual author’s site, which I’ll list here. There are posts to read and comment upon, and a Rafflecopter link to work with.

If you want to win said copy of Light, you need to go read this post, and make a comment there.

Here’s the short-version list of the other authors taking part, and the prizes they’re offering.

Which blogs? What prizes?


Open Calls I Know About (and find tempting)…

Don’t forget to check the Lambda Literary site for more calls, as well as the Queer Sci-Fi calls for submission page (always a trove!)

 

Struck

Inspiration I’ve been very quiet on the blog this month, but it hasn’t been for procrastination, nor lack of writing. Quite the opposite – I’ve been participating in NaNoWiMo (National Novel Writing Month) and it’s been going wonderfully well.

Not that I’m writing a novel. I decided I’d use November and December to focus on short fiction and for pitching another novel, as my edits for Triad Blood will be coming back in January. So, the pitch? Sent off. And the short fiction?

Well, that depends on how you define “short.”

Something has been happening to me lately with my inspiration. I’m actually okay with this thing that’s happening (for the most part) but the stories that are coming out of me are… long-ish? Short stories are generally described as being somewhere below the 7.5k or 5k mark, depending on the genre and collection. This month for NaNoWriMo, I’ve completed two pieces so far (one at 9k, and one at about 15k). Two more are underway, and the next one is going to come in over 15k when I finish it today and/or tomorrow, and I don’t have any real hope of seeing the fourth one come in under 10k either. The biggest thing to come out of this month is probably going to be my realization that I do have a very functional and workable idea for a series of interconnected short fiction (or, rather, novellas, I guess) that all focus around a fictionalized (and slightly magical) version of the local gay Village. The first 15k story is set in that village, with a young man who works at the occult shop part time, his wonderful boss (and maybe witch) and the guy who is hired to paint a memorial across the street. A little bit of luck, a lot of awkward nerdiness, and perhaps a little meddling from the witch will propel those two into making some magic of their own – and start the “Village” series off. That story is drafted (though not polished by any means, this is, after all, NaNoWriMo), and the next one is bubbling in my head, revolving around the tea shop. I’ve got back-burner ideas for the art gallery, the book store, and the coffee shop, and an actual short story was accepted for an anthology earlier that involves the local chocolate shop, though at the time, the Village idea hadn’t fully evolved, so I think of that as a story “zero-point-five” rather than the first.

I’m also writing a Christmas themed novella. This one has been a small slice of joy to write, as it’s drawn very much from many various Christmases in my own life, and having rediscovered a love of the holiday somewhat as of last year, it’s fun to watch a character get there, too.

So. That’s where I’ve been.

Inspiration is a funny thing. For one, it’s a sneaky bugger. It’s really, really good at coming at me while I’m very busy doing something else (hence the illustration up there, which is pretty on-point for when I realized what I wanted to do with a particular story, only to realize my hands were full with a very energetic dog, a bag of his poop, and no way to write any of what had just occurred to me down so I wouldn’t forget it). I may have walked the dog home chanting the idea over and over.

What? Don’t tell me you’ve never done that.

Ideas come from all sorts of places for me, and it occurred to me that it might be fun to catalog the processes and sparks and visits from the muse, so – in case you’re interested – here are the seeds to some of the things I’ve done thus far:

  • “Heart,” in Fool for Love – This one was born from one of the worst moments in my life, which was when my father was dying of heart cancer, and I was watching my mother come to grips with everything that this meant, and knowing there wasn’t much hope for a proper goodbye. “Heart” come from that notion of wanting to be able to say goodbye. (Link – http://www.cleispress.com/book_page.php?book_id=302 )
  • “Cakewalk,” in I Do Two! – This was a charity anthology where the proceeds were aimed at marriage equality work, and I really wanted to write a story for it, but was drawing a blank. At the time, my husband was learning how to decorate cakes, and my co-worker, Anna, said, “All good stories should start with ‘There once was a Princess named Anna.'” She wasn’t kidding. But as she said it, something the phrase and the cookbook I was looking at clicked, and the whole story sort of fell into place in my head. (Link: http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=IDO21002 )
  • “Three,” in Blood Sacraments – This one came from musing about Dracula’s three brides. It always struck me as such a random thing, especially the number and when the call came for a gay erotic take on vampires, I decided that “three” was going to be some sort of rule or requirement, and the whole world of the Triad started to fall into place. This story ended up spawning three more short stories, and my upcoming novel, Triad Blood. So, y’know, thanks, Bram! (Link: http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781602824898e.html )
  • “Hometown Boy,” in Saints and Sinners 2011: New Fiction from the Festival came from a piece of my personality that I should perhaps work on: I have a love of revenge. I’m not proud of it, and I’ve matured a lot, but with this story, I played a “what if?” game and allowed that darker piece of me full reign. The end story left me a little bit uncomfortable with myself, but perhaps that’s a sign of progress of some kind. (Link: http://www.amazon.com/Saints-Sinners-2011-Fiction-Festival/dp/160864054X )
  • “Elsewhen,” from Riding the Rails was one of the most unique experiences of my writing life so far. I’d seen the call for submissions, and I was looking online through photos of Ottawa’s Grand Trunk train station, and my iPod shuffled to the DeVotchka song ‘How it Ends’ and I knew exactly what I wanted to write. I put the song on repeat, and in the space of an hour or two, song playing the whole time, I wrote the story, start to finish. It was intense and incredible and I really hope something like that happens again, someday. And “fun fact” – this is my husband’s favourite short story of mine. (Link: http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781602826229e.html )
  • “Filth,” from Night Shadows was a very rare thing for me. It was horror, and I don’t read much of it (because it gives me nightmares). I had originally been writing a very different story, but it wasn’t working. Then I had one of my longest running and recurring nightmares, and when I woke up, it occurred to me to fictionalize that nightmare. “Filth” came out of that, and – in an interesting twist – I’ve not had that nightmare again since. (Link: http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781602827516.html )

Anyway. That’s just a few of my sparks. Where have some of your stories come from? I’m always interested in the processes of others, and I love the metastory about fictions.