Wednesday, August 17, 2022

WEP - Moonlight Sonata - The Special Place

The Special Place

Tagline: Sometimes you need to get away for a bit to find some peace

Carol Anne crept through the reeds, her shoes squelching in the mud and shallow water. A twig snapped behind her, and she froze. Her feet sunk into the marshy ground, water seeping through her shoes. At least sinking was quiet. 

It was dark out here in the marsh, the moon not yet high enough to lend her much light. After a moment where no other sound occurred she continued on her way. She exhaled her held breath as she yanked first one foot out then the other. Mud sucked greedily at her sullied shoes, but relinquished each foot after a hesitation.

From a nearby tree, cicadas set up their raucous chatter. They'd let her know if someone was following her.

Soon, she was far enough to the east to step on solid ground and skirt the marsh. It felt strange to feel a steady surface beneath her. The squishy ground had eased the pain in her ankle a little, but now it throbbed from the workout and the hard impacts.

He hadn't meant to hurt her. It just happened.

She reached across her chest to gently press the bruise on her upper arm. Even though it wasn't visible in the darkness, its precise shape was burned into her mind. All five of his fingers were visible in the deep purple and black circling her upper arm. 

Another accident.

He always told her he was sorry. Not right away, but later. He made it up to her. Cruelty wasn't in his nature, but he was tired, stressed. He wasn't himself sometimes.

A small part of her knew this as the nonsense it was. After all, hadn't she seen cruelty in his eyes, the set of his mouth? She could tell the exact moment where his actions went from unconscious to purposeful. The moment he realized he was hurting her and squeezed a little harder.

This time, he'd kicked at her foot to trip her up, but he'd hit her ankle instead. The pain had blossomed, sharp at first, then subsiding to a dull ache, spreading up her leg and down her foot. He'd caught her before she could fall, grasping the meat of her upper arm.

That was when she'd seen it.

His eyes had narrowed, a hint of a smile twisting lips that could be so soft during the good times, making them look hard and, yes, mean. He'd thought about it before he squeezed. He'd held her eyes with his so he could watch every aspect of her reaction as his fingers tightened. 

She'd fought back, wrenching at his fingers and finally kicking him in the shin. She'd meant to kick him in the knee, but it was hard to aim when you were wrestling someone a good one-hundred pounds bigger than you. And whereas her weight was soft, his was all muscle, solid to the touch.

He was so angry he punched her in the face. That was something he never did. Marking her face was a mistake.

Carol Anne raised tentative fingers to her eye socket, felt the solid puff of the swelling there. It felt like something was broken, shifting around under the skin. It had sounded that way, too. She'd never heard a crunch quite like it.

The ground shifted once more. Lush grass softened her steps, a cushion between her pain and the soil. She was nearly there.

This time was different. She'd had enough. 

After he punched her in the face and knocked her to the ground, he stormed away, kicking a chair away from the kitchen table on his way past it. He went out the door to the backyard. The door had swung around and slammed closed behind him. It spoke of finality. A finality that woke her up.

While she waited for him to return, she cooked dinner. She was limping heavily and could barely see through the damaged eye, but she prepared his favorite grilled cheese sandwich, setting a handful of potato chips on the plate with it. There was a can of tomato soup, so she made that, too, throwing in a couple stale croutons and a pinch of shredded cheese. It all went to his place at the table, along with a glass of milk so cold bubbles frothed on the surface. She set his chair back upright.

With everything in its place, she left through the front door. He'd be in his shed, but she didn't want to chance him seeing her.

A slight hill stood before her. At the top was her special place. It took her longer to climb than usual, the pain in her ankle hindering her some, but she made it. Just as she reached the crown of the hill, the moon rose enough to push glowing fingers between the willow's fronds, illuminating the stump on which she liked to sit. Using her good arm, she pushed the branches aside and disappeared into the safety of her special place.

Settling on the stump, she breathed a sigh of relief at taking the weight off her ankle.

She closed her eyes and listened to the frogs singing their moonlight sonata in the marsh, joining with the chorus of the cicadas and other night insects. 

She wondered if he'd drunk the milk yet, and whether he would be a problem anymore.

887 words, NCCO

Thursday, August 11, 2022

September Submission Roundup

I'm a day late, but the roundup is here!

Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting. 

Accepting Submissions:

Inked in Gray is seeking speculative fiction short stories with the theme "Joy is Resistance" for Reclaiming Joy. Up to 8000 words. Pays $45. Deadline August 30.

Wyldblood Press is seeking fantasy short stories involving the sea for From the Depths. 1000-12,000 words (sweet spot is 3000 to 5000). Pays .01 pounds per word. Deadline August 31.

Bert Edens is seeking horror stories based on Alice Cooper's songs. 3000 to 5000 words. Pays $25 with proceeds going to Alice Cooper's charity Solid Rock Teen Centers. Deadline August 31.

Apparition Lit's brief submission window will be open soon. Speculative fiction and poetry with the theme "Nostalgia." 1000 to 5000 words. Pays $.05/word. Submission window open August 15 to 31.

Timber Ghost Press is seeking horror set in the Old West for Harrowing Trails. Up to 6000 words. Pays $10 to $35. Deadline August 31.

The Quiet Ones is seeking horror and dystopian with the theme "Nocturnal Animals." Up to 3000 words. Pay $25. Deadline August 31.

Input/Output Enterprises is seeking vampire horror for And the Dead Shall Sleep No More. Up to 6000 words. Pays $15. Deadline September 1.

Writers Victoria is seeking fiction and nonfiction with the theme "Unravel." Up to 1200 words. Pays $70 to $200. Deadline September 5.

Belanger Books is seeking mysteries involving police who go to Sherlock Holmes for help for The Consultations of Sherlock Holmes. He cannot be the main investigator. 5000 to 10,000 words. Pays $100 or $50 plus a percentage of the Kickstarter proceeds (whichever is more). Deadline September 15. 

Pyre Magazine is seeking dark speculative fiction. Up to 3500 words. Pays $10. Deadline September 18. 

Dragon Soul Press is seeking dragon stories for Reign of Fire. 3000 to 15,000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline September 30.

Mocha Memoirs Press is seeking "cybernated stories of rebellion" for Crack the Code. Up to 7500 words. Pays $.08/word. Deadline September 30.

The Bombay Literary Magazine is seeking fiction, poetry, and graphic fiction. 2000 to 7000 words. Pays Rs. 5000 (about $65). Deadline September 30.

Brigids Press is seeking gothic romance. Female and nonbinary authors only. 2000 to 6000 words. Pays $.08/word. Deadline September 30.

Any of these of interest? Any other calls to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

IWSG - Sent to the Corner

 It's August, and time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG serves to give writers a forum to both seek and lend support. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and sign up on the IWSG tab!

This month's co-hosts are:

Tara Tyler

Lisa-Buie Collard

Loni Townsend

Lee Lowery

This month's optional question is: "When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?"

I typically just write whatever comes into my head, so I'd say I try to be original. It's whatever I want to write about.

On an unrelated note (or maybe not...who knows?) I've had my first book returned. Probably I'm lucky it took this long, especially with the TikTok challenge, but it was disappointing to see in the reports on Amazon. Boooo.

Keeping it short this month. I know some of you are unable to leave a comment since whatever weird update sent my Blogger haywire. I'm trying out a suggestion from C. Lee McKenzie, so hopefully it works. Thank you for the idea either way!

I'm feeling discouraged right now with no new short story sales for a few months. But here are my July stats:

13 submissions

14 rejections

0 acceptances

16 currently on submission

That's all, folks! Hope you're having a good day.

Are you submitting? Any news? What are your insecurities? Do you write to the audience?

May you find your Muse.