More misadventures in non-fiction, self-reviving, and so on

I’m two weeks behind, technically, on my Short Story a Week project.  Again.  I say technically because I have the stories, and they’re pretty well fleshed out in terms of their ideas.  I just need to write them.

Worthy of noting at this point: I worked approximately 100 hours between last week and the week prior, and so I’m  still recovering a bit.

As for the misadventures in non-fiction?  This past Thursday, after my 2p.m. to 10p.m. shift, I stopped by my house and packed some things up, stopped by my place of work again to fuel up the car, and then I embarked on my very first major highway trip.  To put this into perspective, I have only driven on the highway twice before.  Once was on Black Friday, in 2012, as a cruel joke played on me by my driving instructor, who prefaced the outing by asking if I was feeling adventurous.  I was not, and did not appreciate where things where going at that point, but I clearly didn’t do too badly in the sense that I didn’t crash.  The second time I drove on the highway was a practice run, with my stepfather, and that went relatively well in the sense that most of the trip involved me driving well.  My initial merging onto the highway, however, was absolute shit and something I’m not particularly proud of.

The actual trip was quite enjoyable.  Traveling from western Pennsylvania to central-ish Pennyslvania involved a fair bit of mountains, and a lot of very nice landscapes.  If I weren’t more concerned with the destination, I may have taken time to stop, appreciate the scenery, and take pictures, but that’s still a possibility.

Driving home today to handle an eight hour shift at work, however, was far less exciting.

Stories will be arriving between Wednesday and Friday, only for the sake of making sure I do them justice, and I should be back on track for this upcoming Sunday.  So that’s a plus.

Short Story a Week # 4 – The Spy Who…Was Shot Dead?

This idea happened one day, while I was on break at work.  I’d like to say some divine inspiration lead to what I hope is a relatively witty take on the whole dramatic-speech-in-the-spy-genre-by-the-villain trope, but it was just a whim of mine.  It ended up being a little shy of 550 words, as I ran out of steam sooner than expected with this one.

Onwards to the story!

Continue reading

Short Story a Week 3 – Ye Old Scheduling Conflicte

Ye Olde Scheduling Conflicte

King Andral groaned a standard, highly regal groan.  He was seated, as he always found himself at half past noon, upon his throne.  The Royal Advisor, who had stepped away to fetch the Royal Schedule, was taking a little longer than expected.

The king reflected on how he should have just kept his grand vizier around.  Yes, the man was highly unstable.  Perhaps even a touch homicidal, the king recalled, as the number of Royal Food Tasters who had dropped dead of “a troublesome case of not being reverent enough of the king’s meals” had sky-rocketed.  However, he always got the Royal Schedule in a timely fashion.

Normally, the schedule was fairly standard.  The start of each week alternated between threats of invasion and conquest by neighboring kingdoms and threats of domination and destruction by warlocks, demi-gods, and so on.  By mid-week, some force of evil would have successfully kidnapped the princess (or, on some weeks, the prince, who often behaved as the prototypical princess would be expected to, whereas the princess would often be the one stuck doing her own rescuing).  By the weekend, things were usually wrapped up neatly, peace restored in the form of treaties signed, villains vanquished, and feasts prepared in celebration.

“My liege,” the Royal advisor said, his words hindered by a rather unfortunate stammer.  “You were right about the schedule.  Something seems a touch, a bit, a smidge wrong.”  King Andral stood from his throne.

“I suspected as much,” he said quietly as he walked to one of the small windows that overlooked the castle’s northern-facing bridge.  The cacophony outside was being generated by a decent-sized band of Kuldarian Hell-Bandits, who were known for their unparalleled brutality in combat, flair for the dramatic, and obsession with what they referred to as “war jewelry”.  The multitude of piercings on each warrior’s head caught the sunlight just right that the bridge, from above, appeared to have been coated in quicksilver.

“My goodness,” King Andral said.  “What a rowdy bunch this is.  Dreadfully shiny, too.”  He walked toward the chamber doors, his gait slow and deliberate.  He stopped, only briefly, placing a work-worn hand on the massive oak door.

“My liege,” the Advisor said.  “Surely you aren’t thinking of going out there, are you?”

“Not due until next week, yes?” King Andral said, glancing over his shoulder.  Tufts of his beard and mustache obscured the King’s facial features, making him difficult to read.

“You know the Schedule better than anyone else, my lord.”  The king huffed another heavy, highly royal sigh, and pushed the door open.  Once the door had closed behind the King, the Royal Advisor, sprinted to the nearest north-facing window to watch.

The front gate opened after several long minutes, and out stepped King Andral.  His face was a deep crimson, and his breath was almost loud enough to be heard over the Hell-Bandits’ war-screams.

“Yargh,” said one of the more heavily-pierced, decorated Kuldarians.  “The king shows himself!  Let’s gut him and make him into a stew!”  Another Kuldarian, more decorated still, stepped out in front, smacking the previous speaker hard upside his head.

“Yergh,” he said.  “No.  That’s revolting.  My gods, who even let this man join our ranks?”  He looked back to his comrades in arms, an eyebrow raised.  King Andral waited, so as to not offend.

After as much waiting as a member of any royal family could endure, King Andral cleared his throat.

“Yergh,” said the Kuldarian, who then turned back to face the King.  “I am Grom-takk, and these are my mightiest men.  We’ve come to claim the princess so as to repopulate the once-prosperous valley-nation of Kuldarras.”  King Andral pinched his nose, adjusting his glasses afterward.

“While that does sound like a noble cause,” he said, “I’m afraid you won’t be doing that.”  The crowd roared with a mix of enthusiastic disagreement and a number of curse-words the King had never been overly fond of hearing, but had grown accustomed to over the course of his time on the throne.

“Yargh,” said the one Kuldarian, stepping forward with a jagged saber raised above his head.  “Big words for such a puny man.”  King Andral rolled his eyes.

“Not even the most boot-kissing of my knights would call me puny,” King Andral said, making a great sweeping gesture to indicate his Royal rotundity.  “And you’ll keep such thoughts of my daughter to yourselves.  You lot aren’t even supposed to be here until next week, anyway.”  The king gathered his composure, straightened up, and cleared his throat.  Grom-Takk scratched his heavily-bejeweled head.  After a heavy silence, Gromm-Takk snapped his fingers.  The crowd of warriors parted, and a small, bespectacled man made his way through.  He had minimal tattoos on his bald head, and a small satchel belted around his waist.

“I’m afraid, my most fierce lord,” the man said, producing a parchment from its carrying case.  “Says here we’re not due for another half a fortnight, as the Dread Wyrm Tsonira will have kidnapped her fair majesty.”  Much murmuring of discontent could be heard in the ranks of the Hell-Bandits.  The king sighed, checking his wrist-bound sundial.

“Off you go, then,” King Andral said, waving his arms to shoo the heavily-armed warriors away.  “If tonight goes anything like I suspect it will, my daughter will be returning shortly.  Blood-stained and battle-worn, no doubt.  Have you any idea how difficult it is to get dragon’s blood-burns out of stone?  Now, off with you.  I’ll see you lot next week.”

Short Story a Week #2

I’m still approximately two weeks behind, post-wise, and that’s partially because I worked a bit over 46 hours this past week (21 and 1/2 of it over the course of two days, mind you).  Story number 3, as well as an extra, bonus short story (story 2.5) will be posted at points throughout the day tomorrow.

Goals such as getting back to regular blogging are also slowly coming to the surface now that I’m getting more used to my new job, but we’ll see how effectively I can manage that soon enough.

HOWEVER!  On to the actual story, which was tremendous fun to write. Continue reading

Short Story a Week #1: Grandpa Pembroke’s Greatest Treasure

A little pre-story reading, first.  Yes, I’m totally almost two days behind.  Yes, I’m still also two weeks behind, more or less.  No, I did not account for how stressful these past two weeks would be; what, do you think I have a crystal ball or something?  I’d have won the lottery if that were the case (and totally made it so the people who matter to me are debt-free and living comfortably, as well as making my life a little less crazy).  However, because of that I have two stories (the second one will be arriving tomorrow, during the day), and a bonus something-or-other because I still feel guilty for some reason.  Maybe because I’m already well on my way as a writer to ignoring deadlines as they fly past, glaring at me for my lack of good work ethic.

This first short story, titled Grandpa Pembroke’s Greatest Treasure, started off as an idea about a chess set.  It gradually evolved into what it is, and it has become rather dear to me.  I’m fairly certain the inspiration is my stepmother’s father, Tibor Zalavary (whose name I hope I’ve not butchered, since I only really knew him as Mr. Zalavary).  He was one of the first people I ever played chess with, and I still remember how he schooled me every single time.  He also introduced me to The Pink Panther, as portrayed by Peter Sellers, and I will always treasure the memory of sitting in his living room, the smell of cigarette ash in the air, laughing to the point of tears with someone I wish I could have gotten to know better.  As such, I hope this story does his memory justice. Continue reading

Two new short stories over the course of the day tomorrow, to get things back on track.

Tonight, however, will be a night of me recovering from a very rough day that doesn’t merit being described, Doctor Who, and drinking Angry Orchard.

I do, however, feel I owe an update.

Adjusting to a forty hour work-week has been rough.  Adjusting to being middle management (more or less) has been rough.  Training when I can during those weeks has been rough.  That being said, it’s a great job with a great company that’s taking…well, great care of me.  So that’s certainly a huge improvement.

Delay of…short storay?

Yeah, I’m not even a little sorry for the hokey title.

I am, however, a little disappointed with my already behind self-imposed deadline state, but that’ll be fixed no later than this weekend (I now owe the blog two stories, though).  Settling into my first week of work turned into a bit of a baptism by fire, but I’ll leave the rest of that to speculation.

The extra good news is I got to see Iron Man 3.  I’ll write up a proper, loving review for it later.  The short version: it was exceptional.

More frequent updates, and short stories, soon, now that I have a better understanding of what to expect from the new job.

Not-so-brave new announcement

Well, I would’ve called it “brave new announcement” but it isn’t particularly brave, but it is at least new for me (we’ll get to that) and an announcement.

First, it certainly has been a day of things being frustrating.  This post would’ve happened sooner, but switching internet providers made getting the wireless network to cooperate top priority.  It still is, so that means that nonsense will be continuing into tomorrow at some point.

In the spirit of maintaining a regular writing schedule, and in light of “Joshua’s Nightmares” once again hanging out on the backburner, I’m going to start a rather large challenge for myself.  It’s been done before, in several different capacities, and so I’m pleased to introduce my Short Story a Week.  The strongest inspiration for giving this a try is, no doubt, Jonathan Coulton.  His version, “Thing a Week”, can be seen detailed here.

The Goal

To push myself to maintain a regular schedule of creating new content, for a year.  That means fifty-two unique short stories.  They may end up with related bits, they may not.  Ideally, I’ll just create.  This means one week there could be a dark comedy, the next a fantasy set in Medieval times, and a horror story the next.

The Process

Since this new beginning is starting on a Monday, and it’s going to be a weekly short story, the posting will occur on Sunday.  This gives me a full week to come up with an idea, draft the idea, and at least tweak it to some degree if nothing else.  The process may change and evolve as this goes on, but the plan is to keep this relatively simple while still accomplishing the overall goal.  However, keeping in mind how life generally likes taking plans and flipping them upside-down, I also acknowledge there’s a change the story may have to be posted early some weeks in favor of keeping it a Short Story a Week (no late stories ever, though; even if that means a little sleep deprivation now and then).

Here goes nothing.  One short story, every week for a year, starting now.