Word of Art 2 – I’m in!

woa2ipblogLast year’s Word of Art project was so successful that In Print Professional Writers have done it again.  Word of Art 2 started a few weeks ago with a call to writers to submit essays, poems or stories that are 200 words or less. Artists then select the ones they want to interpret visually on a 16×20 canvas in whatever medium they choose. Stories and art are then put on exhibit and published in a book.

Writers submitted up to three pieces and could have as many as two of them selected.  Since my entry last year, An Autumn Afternoon, was one of the finalists at the end of project judging, I actually submitted three pieces this time hoping to double my luck. I just found out TWO of them have been selected. I can’t wait to see what the artists do with them.

Here are the beginnings of the two that were chosen.  Click continue if you want to read the whole thing:

Dixie

The artist who selected Dixie is Janet Werntz

Her toothless grin
Her pink, pink skin
Her wild, dust-magnet hair
She’d snuggle close beneath your chin
To let you know she cared.
Continue—>

Spare Change

Denise DeKing Stredde selected Spare Change

I watch as you walk by.  I hear what you’re not saying.

You want clean, swept sidewalks and easy access to the path of your intention.  Impediments in your way are merely obstacles to be removed or ignored.
Continue—>

Idle hands are the devil’s playthings

IWeeping-Kindle‘ve been procrastinating.  Bad news for me, but maybe good for you.  I’ve just set up a giveaway contest on Amazon.com for three lucky people to win hard copies of my short story collection, Weeping Widows.  Click the book cover to the right or the link below if you want a chance to win.

http://bit.ly/1CBbhXO

Here’s a bit about what you’ll get f you win:

A collection of short stories about scumbags who lie, cheat, abuse, and sometimes even murder their significant others.
Evelyn A. Archer named her detective agency “Undercover Operations” because catching lovers between the sheets with someone they’re not committed to is her specialty. Two long years of marriage had taught her where her talents lie. Once her 8 x 10 glossies hit the divorce negotiation table, her client is guaranteed a pricey settlement.

It’s enough to make even an optimist see the glass as half empty.

  • Paperback: 28 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 27, 2013)
  • Language: English

Table of Contents

ScreenShot

“Snowfall” on The Write City Magazine

City-snowA short story that I wrote while writing Bend Me, Shape Me was published today at Write City Magazine.  It is a story about Snow and Leonard that didn’t actually happen in the book, but was part of the process I used to develop their characters and get to know them better.

Here’s the first part of it, click through to read the whole story.

A tattered stuffed panda bear lies in one corner of the room. Plaster from the wall has littered its black coat, and one eye is replaced by a crudely stitched x. A child lived in this hovel once, hard to imagine as I take in the rotted walls, bare couch springs, littered newspapers, beer cans and cigarette butts. Winter’s chill enters the unheated room through one dirty, broken window. Even the graffiti once slashed across the paint has crumbled beneath the weight of damp and neglect.

To think Snow has been living in this. Snowflake, tiny daughter of my great niece, grown to a young woman with unwashed hair and wild eyes. Her face had been round and alert when Winter Rose first brought her to the reservation, brown and healthy, a true Yakama miyánash, no trace of her Mexican father in her at all.

From the shadow of powerful Mount Rainier to the alleys and abandoned houses of Chicago’s west side. A long fall for a daughter of the people.

“What are you doing here?”

Snow’s words sound startled, defensive, but when I turn to face her she stands proud and brave as any warrior. Her straight black hair has been dyed red at the ends, like flames that lick at the dark night. Metal pierces her ears and nose, and dirt creases the rim of her neck. Were she holding a bow and arrow I would fear for my life. Instead, I settle to the floor in a gesture of peace, legs crossed, arms resting on my knees.

“I am your uncle. I have come to take you home.”

via The Write City Magazine | Chicago Writers Association.

Lost Stories: Talk About Terrible Titles

It’s been a while since I played the Story Start game here.  That’s where I pull out an old manuscript that I began but never finished for one reason or another. Sometimes they make me laugh about how horrible they are, and sometimes I am surprised at how good the writing seems despite how inexperienced I was at the time.

Today’s excerpt has a little bit of both.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I titled it, but I find myself wanting to finish Tim’s story someday.  I remember this idea came to me as a dream one night and several of the scenes I’ve written so far came directly from it.

What do you think?  Do you want to know more about Tim, too?

AN UNATTAINABLE PERFECTION

Everything about the party was top grade: the booze, the dope, even the pretty boys who mingled with the top-grade executives they’d been hired to entertain.  Tim stopped as he entered the room, nostrils widening at the acrid smoke from tobacco and grass.  A constriction in his throat made breathing difficult.  His muscles tensed, his pulse raced.

“Don’t freak out, man,” said one of the boys right behind him.  “Sugar won’t like it.”

“What won’t I like?”

A nerve began to jump in Tim’s cheek.  He hitched his thumbs in his belt and turned to the black man behind him.

“Topper doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  Everything’s cool.”

“It better be.  I guarantee cool cats.”

Blue eyes met brown.  Sugar’s face remained immobile, as dark as his close-cropped hair.  In front of his left ear, he wore a single black braid with a gold clasp that winked in the flickering lights of the room.

Finally, Sugar looked away and Tim was able to let his eyes fall.  His head swam and he suddenly needed a smoke, a drink, something.

A girl walked by with a tray of drinks. Tim avoided her curious look from behind thick lenses and grabbed a glass in either hand then headed for an empty seat in the corner.

Night had almost fallen, darkening the view of the California skyline, and a breeze had spring up, blowing the leaves of an ornamental tree against the glass of the French doors.  Tim watched for a minute, wishing he could feel the force of the wind in his face.

“All alone?”

A stranger stood nearby, his head titled inquisitively, a twisted smile on his face.

Lost Stories: I Wonder Where I Was Going With This One

newcoverEvery once in a while I go through my old story starts on my computer or in my files to see how my ideas have aged.  Sometimes like a fine wine I like what I read and may even get inspired to bring the piece back to life.  Sometimes I haven’t a clue why I thought the piece was worth storage space.

This time I ran across the start of one of my Evelyn A. Archer mini-mysteries.  I’ve had three of those stories published in magazines and recently compiled those three with some others and self-published them under the title Weeping Widows.  If I knew where this story was headed, I think it would have made a good addition to the collection.  What do you think?  Have any suggestions for where the story should go from here?

GRAVE BUSINESS

John Brown’s body wasn’t moldering in the grave; it was sitting on the other side of my desk at Undercover Operations. John Brown himself was moldering a bit—his face as wrinkled as the skin on a cold cup of cocoa—but definitely not in the grave.

He feared he was headed in that direction, however, unless someone stopped his wife and her lover from murdering him for his money.

“You have a large life insurance policy?” I asked.

“No, ‘fraid not. I cashed that out during the great depression of ’82. You know, the one the government ain’t calling a depression .” He winked and smiled.

“So your wife is the beneficiary in your will. Why not change that and make sure she knows it? Tell her she can have a divorce free and clear.”

He shook his head. “No will to speak of. Nothing worth paying a lawyer to write down anyway. All’s I got. . .” He lowered his voice and leaned forward in his chair, “is this gold mine outside Nipton, CA, north of the Mojave, you know where I mean. It’s about to pay out any year now and she aims to get the deed all to herself just before it does.”

I drove through Nipton once. Lots of cactus, a few worn-board buildings, a couple of big birds sitting on the Welcome fence–buzzards, I think, or vultures, I never could tell the difference.

If there were gold mines there as well, they must all be in the same state of potential payload as John Brown’s “Gold Nugget Grotto.”

I asked if the property had been recently purchased. No, it had been a wedding present 25 years previously. How long had his wife been involved with her lover? Brown was sure they’d been “goin’ at it regular” since shortly after their honeymoon.

“Well then,” I put my pen down and closed my casebook, ready to tell him to go home and stop worrying. “What makes you think your wife wants this property after all these years?”

“My first clue was the rat poison in my granola.”

I opened my casebook again to a blank page. “Shall we start over from the beginning?”

Every day, John Brown began his morning with a big bowl of home baked, whole grain, apple and walnut granola. “Warm milk on it in winter,” he told me, “cold in summer. With a handful of raisins. Nothing better to keep you regular all day.”

One week earlier, while stirring cold milk into the chunky granules, a suspicious few floated to the top.

“Maude been making the same durn recipe fifteen years now. First I thinks, what the hey she want to go changing the ‘gredients for–pardon my French, won’t you? Then I starts poking them floaters, wondering if she tried sneaking in some of those sesame things she knows I can’t stand. But no sesame ever had seeds looks like that.”

He knew what they did look like–he’d been setting out rat poison since he’d been “about as tall as the knees on a midget and not one finger taller.” But he wasn’t willing to believe his eyes until he found the box of poison he’d bought just two days earlier–on the spice shelf and half empty.

By picking through a two pound tin of granola still warm from the morning’s oven, he saw she’d laced it with enough rat poison to clean out all rodents within a two mile radius. “Just in case I survived the first bowl, I guess,” Brown surmised.

Twenty-five years of marriage had made him reluctant to jump to conclusions, however, so he kept “mum” for a few days, eyes on the alert for any other aberrant behavior. Every morning when she wasn’t looking he dumped his granola in the garbage. Next time she looked around he’d be rubbing his belly and telling her what a tasty batch that bowl had been.

“She tells me I’ll get indigestion if I keep eating so fast,” he said. “Like stomach cramps was the worst of my worries.”

Since he had no idea who the lover was, some old fashioned detective work was called for. So I called upon my assistant Harley Meeks to swap shifts with me tailing Mrs. Brown as she went about her daily duties.

Her husband had already warned us about her knitting circle. “What them women want to mess around with pointy needles for?” he’d wondered. “One of them stabs you in the right place, you don’t need to waste no rat poison on ’em. They’s deader than a doornail.”

He also had doubts about her frequent trips to the library. “Sure she brings home books every day, but I never see her read even one of ’em.”

However, two weeks worth of surveillance had produced no proof of promiscuity, just a cable knit sweater with more knots in it than a prize fighter’s noggin and about a dozen late fees.

“She is hiding something,” Harley mused as we ended our day with a cold beer at our favorite bar. “The way she keeps glancing around while she wanders through the library makes it look like she’s going to shoplift books right into her huge handbag, but she never does.”

He grabbed a handful of peanuts and popped one into his mouth. “Once she saw me nearby and narrowed her eyes like she would bite me if I got within range.”

“She knits like a nutcase as well. Dropped stitches, twisted double back crosses, botched bobbles. She purls when she should knit and knits when she should purl. I hope you’re not allergic to wool, by the way. Your purple scarf is almost done. As is this case,” I added, then drained my glass and got up.

Harley followed suit without saying a word. Either he got my drift or his mind had drifted off elsewhere and he just didn’t care. Whichever it was, he agreed to show up at the library with John Brown the next day to help me complete the case.

 

A Story Start Game: Suicide Shack

Rundown_Shack

I’m going to try a little experiment here.  Below is the first page from a story I started many years ago.  I have lots of story starts like this that could potentially turn into completed works.  But should they be?  What do you think about this one?  Yay or Nay?  Would you read on? Why or why not?

It was raining again when Laura finally made it to the shed.  Salt met with salt as raindrops mingled in her tears.  She stopped inside the doorway, taking deep breaths that rasped in the darkness.  The knife was in her hands, the newly sharpened blade no longer folded into the metal.  Following some instinct, she moved deeper in as if to be swallowed in the dark night.  She found a heap of rags beneath her as she slid to the floor.

Then a hand reached through the night to close over her mouth and a powerful arm pinned her to the wall.  A stab of fear pierced through her, relieving her previous anguish.

“Don’t scream,” a male voice warned. “If I let go, will you promise not to scream?”

Scream?  Why should she scream?  The fear was gone now.  A bolt of lightning lit up the interior of the rundown shack through its one broken window.  She caught a glimpse of the man’s profile before darkness descended again.  She nodded in agreement and the grip on her slowly loosened.

Laura’s shoulders slumped and she curled into a fetal position on the bed of rags.  The scents of must and oil and decay filled her lungs as she took in a shuddering breath.  Silent tears started again.

“Are you crazy or something?” the stranger hissed.

“Will you kill me?”  Laura wrapped her knuckles tighter around the hilt of the knife, but turned the blade inward, not toward her attacker.

“Why the hell would I kill you?  What have you got there?  What are you—”

He grabbed her wrist as she slashed through the thin  silk of her nightgown, but the blade slit skin despite his efforts to stop her.  She kept furiously stabbing until his stronger fingers took the weapon away.  After that, all she could do was pound on her body with her fists and sob.

Free Short Stories

If you’ve been following my blog or Facebook page for a while, you know that just before my suspense novel Painted Black was picked up by my publisher, I had been considering self-publishing it.  As an experiment in how difficult that process was, I self-published two short stories and a collection of mini-mysteries.

Since New Libri offered me a contract, I never did take the plunge with the novel, but Peeling the Onion, Red Light, Green Light, and Weeping Widows has been available ever since then as an e-book on Amazon and places like Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

I’ve now decided to give Amazon exclusive access to those stories and have removed them from all other venues.  That’s the bad news if you don’t like Amazon or have a Kindle or Kindle app.  But here’s the good news!  You can now download the stories from Amazon FOR FREE!

Here are the links if you are interested, and if you like them, maybe you will even think of buying Painted Black as well (which is available in all formats, including print).

A short story about the contrasts of light and dark in the life of young woman in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Homeless and filled with rage, Star battles to survive life on the streets and escape the past. “Ugliness lives inside of me, but I’m a good girl.  I’m always a good girl; Daddy taught me right.  My head spins, my stomach burns, but I swallow all the screams.”

via Peeling the Onion: Debra Borys: Amazon.com: Kindle Store.

How far will a kid go to survive on the streets of Chicago? When life is a series of stops and starts, it’s easy to go too far before you know it. Chris started out like a golden apple on a tree. Will he ripen in the sunshine and reach his full potential, or will he fall and rot before someone can save him?

via Red Light,Green Light: Debra Borys: Amazon.com: Kindle Store.

Evelyn A. Archer named her detective agency “Undercover Operations” because catching spouses between the sheets with someone they’re not wedded to is her specialty. Every time she uncovers proof a client’s spouse, fiancé, or “significant other” is one evolutionary step below homo erectus, it feels like she’s really reaming her own sleazy ex-husband. No wonder she loves her job.

via Weeping Widows: Debra Borys: Amazon.com: Kindle Store.

Preview Weeping Widows

Amazon just enabled previewing for Kindle books so you can check out the first pages to see if you like it well enough to buy.  That was one thing Smashwords offers that Amazon didn’t, so I’m glad they finally changed that.  Click on the link below and then click on the book cover when you get to Amazon.com to get a glimpse of the first story in my collection.

A collection of Cynical Bitch mini-mysteries by Evelyn A. Archer, P.I.

Evelyn A. Archer named her detective agency “Undercover Operations” because catching spouses between the sheets with someone they’re not wedded to is her specialty. Two long years of marriage had taught her where her talents lie.

Every time she uncovers proof a client’s spouse, fiancé, or “significant other” is one evolutionary step below homo erectus, it feels like she’s really reaming her own sleazy ex-husband. Once her 8 x 10 glossies hit the divorce negotiation table, her client is guaranteed a pricey settlement.

No wonder she loves her job.

via Amazon.com: Weeping Widows eBook: Debra Borys: Kindle Store.

My Cynical Bitch mini-mysteries

I decided to self publish a collection of my Cynical Bitch mini-mysteries on Kindle and Smashwords.  Three of the stories were previously published but the rights have reverted to me, and I decided that rather than continue to find markets for the remaining completed stories, I would just compile them and see if there is any interest out there in the e-market.

There are so few writing markets out there for short mysteries that pay–at least enough to make it worth my time.  I’ve never been the kind of writer who could take a look at the market and say, “Oh, that’s the kind of book I should write since I see they’re selling now.”

My Cynical Bitch stories first came to me as something fun to do.  I enjoy Evelyn A. Archer’s voice (my protagonist and supposed author of the stories) and the Sam Spade style.  They aren’t serious mysteries–written more to make you laugh at life, though maybe sneer is a better word in some cases.

There is one more Archer short story almost done called Grave Business that I’m stuck on and so decided not to wait to finish before compiling the rest.  I also have a title–Little Dead Redhead–that I always thought would make a great short story for Evelyn, but so far nothing has come to me besides the title itself.  Who knows, maybe there will be a Cynical Bitch Mini-Mysteries Vol. 2 someday.