Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Date and an Announcement

First, we have a pub date! My quirky romance, "End Times" will be published in Every Day Fiction on October 24. Mark your calendars! In spite of the title, I promise it's not another depressing post-apocalyptic tale. Honest! One of the editors called it, "A sweet and unusual romance." It's a departure from my usual work and I'm excited that it found a home.

And next, it looks like Every Day Fiction is looking for slush pile readers. Here's the post where they're asking for volunteers. It sounds like it could be a good experiene and a way to make new contacts in the online fiction community, so if anyone has the time, get in touch with them and let them know!

Happy reading and writing, everyone!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


One of my short stories has been selected for Every Day Fiction! I'll be sure to post the date when I know it and the link when it gets posted. Yay!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

No Invitation Necessary

NOTE: This Steal Tomorrow flash piece is my first flash fiction since Hurricane Ike. I wrote it for this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt. For those who don't know Danny and Danica from Steal Tomorrow, be assured that I'm being intentionally vague about their exact relationship in an effort to avoid spoilers for those reading the novel in serial format. If anyone wants more info, drop me a line at uhamp "at" yahoo "dot" com and I'll be happy to clue you in as time permits. I still have no internet at home, so I'm not online as frequently as usual. Please be patient.


Danica squinted at the computer screen. The message asked if it would it be a costume party. What a stupid question. Just because her birthday fell near Halloween didn’t mean...

With a smirk, she typed the non-answer, “I’m sure whatever costume you have on now will be perfect.”

A tap at the window made her glance toward the door of her bedroom. It was locked, thank goodness. Her father would kill her if—

Behind her, Danny parted the curtains and dropped into the room. “You didn’t answer my text.”

Danica stood up. “I wasn’t sure what to say. Besides, I’ve been busy answering stupid questions like whether or not people should wear costumes to my party. Hello, it says right on the invitation, ‘Sweet Sixteen,’ not ‘Halloween.’”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” He threw himself into her vacated computer chair. “Where’s my invitation?”

Danica gazed at him in silence for a moment, not comprehending. “What do you mean where’s your invitation? You don’t need one. It’s a given.”

“If it’s a given, why didn’t you give me one? It’s bad enough you’re doing this lame girly thing on our birthday, but—” he grabbed the box on her desk that contained the unused cards. “The least you could’ve done is invite me.”

“But you’re family.”

“You sent one to Aunt Beth.”

“She lives in Chicago and probably won’t come, anyway.”

“Then why’d you bother?”

“Because it’s what I was supposed to do.”

“Then why didn’t you give one to Mom? It isn’t like she can’t come.”

“That would be stupid. Besides—” she snatched the box from his hand. “You and she promised to help decorate, so you’re already coming. Invitations are for people who don’t know all the details.”

Danny sighed and leaned back in the chair, folding his arms across his chest. “You just don’t want me there. You think you’re too grown up to have your parties with me any more. You want to be all feminine, and next thing I know, you’ll quit going to the range with me, you’ll quit taking aikido classes, and then I’ll have to do all those things alone.” Before she could protest, he added, “Don’t think I don’t know you’re changing. You even bought a dress.”

“Have you been snooping in my closet again?”

“Only when you’re not around.”

“Well, duh. When else are you going to do it?” She tried to catch his eye but he was busy frowning at a piece of lint on the carpet. “I totally expected you to come to my party. I mean, sort of.” When he shot her a look from under his brows, she added, “It’s just I know you’re already laughing at me for doing this, so I thought if I sent you an invitation, you’d tell me I was being stupid. I mean, why go to all that trouble just—”

“Just for me.” Danny got to his feet and began stalking toward the window. “Thanks a lot.”

Danica lunged after him and caught him by the sleeve. “Stop it. You know that’s not what I meant.”

“It’s what you were going to say, though. Isn’t it?” He jerked his arm out of her grasp and launched himself out the window with the noiseless grace of a cat.

Danica made to go after him, but then reconsidered. This wasn’t a mood she could jolly him out of in a matter of minutes. She would have to let it run its course.

She sank back into her computer chair, still holding the box of invitations. Inspired, she picked up a ball point and addressed one of the envelopes in neat block letters. On the invitation itself she crossed out some words, added others, and on the inside where she was supposed to note the date and time, she wrote, “Forever.” Then she slipped the card into the envelope and licked the gummed flap closed. Would he want to see the silly thing stamped and postmarked, too? She would sleep on that and decide in the morning.

In the meantime, another message had popped up in the lower corner of her computer screen. With a sigh, Danica set the invitation aside and began to type. “The costume you’re wearing now will be just fine.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

Post-Apocalytpic Writing

Okay, Hurricane Ike wasn't exactly the Apocalypse, but I'm finding it hard to write about any of my usual post-apocalyptic themes and characters in the immediate aftermath of my own mini-apocalypse. When your life starts mirroring fiction, fiction itself takes a back seat.

Last night was the first time I could write any fiction at all, and I had to force myself to do it. I ended up writing a couple pages of a light, completely non-disaster novel I'm toying with. It felt good to get some writing done, even if it wasn't up to par.

Perhaps the most interesting outcome of this crisis has been the way my writing helped my real life in tangible ways. In researching my novels I've learned a lot about food storage and living without electricity. After the debacle that was Katrina, I moved my personal hurricane preparations into high gear, and it was a real sanity-saver to have a plan and be able to put that plan into action with no insurmountable missteps.

I've done a lot of writing this week, but it's mostly been of the factual variety. I've been journaling and working on detailed Lessons Learned reports to share later on my other blog for people who need ideas for their own disaster prep. Since I still don't have internet at home, getting such things posted will happen as time permits.

So I haven't been writing much fiction lately. My life has been edging uncomfortably close to my fictional scenarios, and reality has been as much as I can deal with. Last night was a start, though. I never wanted to live the lives of my characters, but more than ever before, the fiction can stay on the page, as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Flash Fiction - Link Only

Since I just posted a new Will and Diana flash below, I'll simply link to this weekend's Steal Tomorrow flash: The Beauty Queen. We're getting deep enough into the story now that future flashes will likely be contemporaneous with the story and not so much backstory. Just trying to avoid spoilers!

Flash Fiction Interlude: Ordinary Miracles

A Will and Diana Adventure

NOTE: New readers may want to read up on Will and Diana's world before proceeding.

“Close your eyes, pray to La Señora, then toss in your coin. Like this.” Sachi’s small iron coin splashed and made ripples across the surface of the pool.

“I didn’t hear you wish for anything,” Boeing said.

Sachi opened her eyes and sighed as if he were an ignorant child instead of one of their unit’s best marksmen. “If you say it out loud, it won’t come true.”

Diana nodded, hoping to forestall an argument. “I’ve heard that, too. But—” she glanced around, taking in the abandoned and partially-melted adobe church and its dusty yard bordered by the remnants of a wall. “Are you sure this is the right place?”

“Kind of a dump for someplace a miracle occurred,” Will added. “If it was so important, you’d think the locals would keep it up better.”

Coyote went to the edge of the wishing pool and peered into the water. “Lots of stuff down there.” He looked around like Diana had done, then dug in his pocket. “All that wishing must not have done any good. But what the hell.” He dropped in a coin and watched it sink to the bottom.

“Okay,” Will sighed. He dropped in his coin then made a furtive glance at Diana before closing his eyes and making his wish.

Diana went next, standing a long time with her eyes squeezed shut, her lips moving in silent prayer.

When she was done, Coyote laughed. “That was some wish.”

“I want a lot of things. But none of them are for me, so that makes it okay, right?” She looked to Sachi for confirmation.

While Sachi hesitated, unsure as to the rule on asking La Señora for more than one miracle, Boeing shook his head. “You’re all crazy. Wasting your money on a bunch of superstitious bullshit.”

“It’s not superstition,” Sachi said. “It’s the honest truth that right here a spring appeared when a little boy prayed to La Señora for water to help his village through a drought.”

“A fairy tale.”

“At least it’s not as crazy as the stories the older people tell us about airplanes and rockets that went to the moon.”

“But there were witnesses for those things,” Boeing reminded her. “And there’s evidence you can go look at in books and airplane graveyards.”

“There were witnesses at this church too,” Sachi sniffed. She pointed at the pool. “And evidence.”

Boeing opened his mouth to say something, but Will cut him off. “Come on, man. Humor her.”

Boeing fumbled in a pocket, approached the pool and dropped something in.

Sachi peered over the edge and frowned. “You’re not supposed to use wooden scrip. It’s going to float there forever.”

“You didn’t say what it had to be made of. Quit changing the rules.”

Diana put a hand on Sachi’s arm. “It’s okay. I’m sure it’s all the same to La Señora. Let’s go back. We’ve been gone too long as it is.”

As they rode their horses back to camp, they speculated about their upcoming assignment. The latest dispatch from their spies had indicated a new attack was imminent, with troops waiting in camps along the Mexican border and supplies arriving daily. Sabotage and diversion would be needed to keep the Mexicans busy until their own army could reach the area. It would be a dangerous job with a high potential for casualties and although they tried to talk casually about the matter, there was no mistaking the nervous anticipation that lay beneath their words. Would the wars ever end?

When they arrived at base they noticed an extra flurry of activity around the camp kitchen. Grateful for the distraction from their worries, they hurried to put their horses away so they could investigate.

“Cabrito?” Diana asked in wonderment. She had been anticipating yet another dull meal of nopales and boiled jerky, or maybe corn atole, not shanks of fresh goat sizzling on spits over the fire.

Paloma smiled and shrugged. “It wandered into camp a couple hours ago. It was healthy and had no markings indicating it belonged to anyone.”

Sachi wandered over and nodded sagely. “La Señora sent it.”

Diana pursed her lips in annoyance. Stray goats weren’t unusual. She was tempted to point this out, but just then the wind shifted and the scent of roasting meat filled her nostrils. Her stomach rumbled. The goat was welcome, no matter who sent it. It might not be a miracle, but it was something.