Flashy Frriday

That’s a typo in the title up there. I’m leaving it because I like it.

Writing has been a bit of a slog lately. Very few new words. It’s also back to summer weather this week and I never work well once the temperatures begin to float above 80 degrees. The only thing I can claim to have accomplished this week is a piece of flash fiction for a contest being held over at Booknest.eu. They’ve posted all the entries – so far – over there, but I’ll plunk mine down here just because. The only requirements (beyond the 300 words rule) was that it contain the words “black” and “wing.”

Buyer’s Remorse

I didn’t expect to see him on my doorstep.

“All sales are final,” I said, shutting the door before he could speak.

“Wait!” He shoved a booted foot in the gap, the oak slab crushing his toes. “I only want to talk.”

I opened the door, releasing his foot back to him.

“Moira.”  

I shook my head. “You gave up permission to call me that.”

He sighed. “Miss Delaney.”

“Better.”

“The potion…”

“… is fake,” I interrupted him. “I told you. Some herbs and spices. A dash of honey to make it go down smoothly. At the most, it might cure your bad breath.”

“It wasn’t for me.” He lowered his chin. “She wanted it, thought it might strengthen our love.”

“She’s a fool.”

“Well…”

You’re a fool,” I added. “Go home. Back to your lovely house and lovely girl and all the riches she’s brought you.”

“Moira,” he repeated. “I’m sorry.”

My hand went to the latch. “Go home, Finn.”

“I should’ve never left you,” he whispered. “But I couldn’t stand to be poor anymore, to toil and slog my way through life.”

I nodded along with his words. “And I gave you nothing,” I said. “Except everything I had.”

“You mix concoctions.” His lip curled upwards. “You’ve no real power, no skill with charms. And I was to work my fingers to the bone, for both of us?”

“You’re right.” I looked down, a study in penitence. “I’ve no skill with charms.”

“Moira, I—”

A whisper from my lips, and he diminished. A plop on the doorstep, and there he sat, all soft black feathers and pointed beak and two small wings.

“No skill with charms at all.” I scooped up the bird. “But that was transfiguration. And if you were smart, you would’ve learned to tell the difference.”

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[Snappy Title Goes Here]

It’s Friday and I’m sitting here, trying to wake up a bit. (It’s not working out too well, seeing as how I misspelled about four of the words in that sentence. And then I forgot the second “s” in “misspell.”) One child is watching Moana while another seems to be staring into some great, dark void and a third is probably eating something he shouldn’t and the fourth is still upstairs sleeping. (Lucky child. She’ll be doing chores later to pay for her gift of sleeping in.) And here I am, already misplacing the point of this paragraph.

It’s been that kind of week.

Basically, I hit a wall. Not a writer’s block kind of wall or anything like that, just a moment where everything I was doing became too much and my brain began to squelch in my head like so much useless squelchy stuff and things like clipping coupons became rather taxing.

I had Reasons, you know. The Firstborn came out in May. The Bride Price came out on Tuesday. I’m polishing up another book set to come out in October. There are two anthologies set for this fall that I’m slated to be a part of. And then there are children in this house, spilling out of every crevice (crevasse?), constantly needing more food and clean underpants and wanting to go places like swimming pools and the library and dance lessons. And then my husband picked up some bug/illness/plague which involved him having a terrible fever off and on for a week and a cough that sounded like his lungs wanted to break free from the paltry confines of his ribcage and then my brain went NOPE and here we are.

It’s Friday, and I’m still trying to wake up.

I gave myself a couple of weeks to breathe. I mean, The Bride Price still had to have its debut. But I didn’t write anything new, not really. All the other characters, sitting in their lovely little worlds (okay, some of them have not-so-lovely worlds where people kill one another with hammers and then they miss afternoon tea) had to be pushed back for a bit, while I tried to remember basic things like daily ablutions and consuming food that wasn’t a cookie or cake or… I don’t know. The names of other types of food are escaping me right now.

But the moral of this story (Yes, there’s a moral, watch me meander my way towards it) is that you need to find a way to give your brain a break from time to time. Even if it’s only a five-minute mini-break while you hunker in the bathroom and cry over the Oreos you hid from the kids (… what?), your brain needs a moment to step back and regroup.

Over the next three-ish months, I’m starting my oldest in third grade work, my second daughter in first grade work, my oldest boy in pre-k, and all while trying to keep my toddler from sledding down the stairs or eating the drywall. I’ll have two – possibly three – writing-related releases. The girls will start up their dance lessons for the fall and there will be library things and homeschool things and LAUNDRY DEAR LORD WHY DO YOU KEEP WEARING CLOTHES AND THEN CHANGING INTO OTHER CLOTHES AND WHY DO I HAVE MORE UNMATCHED SOCKS IN THIS HOUSE THAN MATCHED???

*deep breath* Moral, Quenby. Don’t forget the moral.

So. To sum up!

The Bride Price is out now and it has a shiny new cover! cover_sub1_800

See? So shiny…

I managed to somehow (hides sacrificial goat remains) make it the shortlist of a flash fiction contest headed up by fantasy author Mark Lawrence.

One of the little dudes inhabiting this household turned four AND got a haircut.

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And that’s my week! Now… back to work.

After Oreos, of course.

 

OH MY GOSH FRIDAY YOU’RE HERE AND I LOVE YOU

So my first week off work this month went well and I accomplished stuff. Like cleaning all of the kid’s bathtub boys that had started to get… weird. And taking out the bedroom windows to wipe them down and vacuuming the screens and all of those random chores that you only do every once in a while and when you finally do get to them you wonder WHY ON EARTH you waited so long because… ugh.

Though I suspect the cat bed may no longer contain any cloth and is just made of years and years worth of compressed cat hair.

In other news, it is now eleven days (I think? Do I count today? I’m never certain if I should) until the release of The Half Killed. Reviews are coming in on Goodreads. The giveaway is still going strong (over 500 people requesting it)! The ebook is still on sale for only 99 cents! I am trying not to lose my mind between now and the 25th.

In other other news, I wrote a flash fiction piece the other day (What is flash fiction? A short, short story/scene of only a few hundred words) to get my creative juices flowing. I’m calling it The Bargain, because I’m terrible at naming things (my children will hate me when they finally realize that their names aren’t like other kids’) and I’m sharing it here. Because I’m good like that.

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The Bargain

The seller of souls arrived just before the storm.

I stood in the doorway, my slight frame filling the narrow gap meant to keep out the worst of the day’s heat. My father had already returned to the fields for the afternoon. My mother sat in her room, nursing a headache and cursing her stays.

The warmth pressed against my lungs, coating my tongue and burning the back of my throat when I opened my mouth to speak.

“Good afternoon,” the salesman said, preempting any speech I could make. “Is your mother or father at home?”

“My mother’s in the kitchen,” I lied, careful not to blink. “My father’s just out back.” About a mile out back, hacking at the cotton that drooped beneath the weight of the bolls.

The man’s grey eyes sparked, and one corner of his mouth lifted in a smile. “Well, that’s just swell, m’dear. I won’t take up much of your time.” He cocked his head to one side, and the skin beside his eyes crinkled as he gave me half a wink.

I said nothing, every breath like pulling in a draught of air through a compress.

“And besides,” he continued. “You’ve got a good head on your shoulders. I bet you’re top of your class, aren’t you?”

I nodded before I could stop myself. My hands sought out the edge of my pinafore, my shoulders pushing back as pride lifted my chin.

“Then you’ll know a bargain when you see one, hmm?” Long fingers, fingers my piano teacher would covet, reached into a pocket and drew out a small jar, clear glass, the size of an inkpot and stoppered with a cork. But instead of ink, the substance inside shimmered, like pearls turned to liquid, as if the haze that lingered over the fields were condensed inside that tiny container. “I don’t ask for much,” he said, and turned the jar over in his hands. The substance moved, a drift of cloud before my eyes. “A small price, really. That locket there you have around your neck. That should do.”

My hand sought out the locket, a soft bulge beneath my dress. He couldn’t have seen it, couldn’t have known it was there. But my fingers moved of their own accord, opening up the clasp with a flick of my fingernail.

“A fair trade,” he said, and pressed the jar into my palm as he drew the necklace from between my fingers. I clutched the bottle to my chest, to the very spot where the locket had been, out of sight to all but him. Behind him, the sky darkened, though not a ripple of air disturbed the fields of green and white. “They’re yours now.” He smiled again, and I noticed then the lack of perspiration on his face, the coolness of his fingers as they’d brushed mine. “Guard them well,” he said, before he slipped the locket into his pocket, bowed his head, and turned on his heel to walk away.