Tag Archives: creative writing

Manor Mystery Series-Part 2

Disclaimer: Gruesome details and profanity in this section

Part 2 of the spooky short story collaboration with the talented and lovely Megan Ireland and myself. We left off with our character Abigail looking for the origin of a strange rot smell in the house she was selling. In the bedroom, she opens the closet and…someone reaches out toward her…….

Manor Mystery Part 2

Once Abigail realized that she wasn’t hurt, she wedged her eyes open one at a time. On the ground before her was the lifeless body of a man.

How did the cleaners miss a dead body?

With the remaining strength she had left in her, she flipped the man over onto his back and bit down hard on her mauve-tinted lower lip to stop from screaming. The dead man’s face had patches of skin eaten away, leaving furry eyebrows over empty sockets without eyes. Even his lips and nose had been chewed to the bone. The only untouched body parts left on him were his hands, which grasped a thick envelope so tightly that it was difficult to remove.

“What the—”

Abigail pulled the envelope free with one swift motion so powerful that she landed on her backside. She got to her feet, smoothing out her clothes another time and sticking one square, acrylic nail under the flap of the envelope.

She opened the envelope with ease and removed the neatly folded piece of paper out from inside. She stumbled backwards from the body and sat down on the bed. The piece of paper trembling in her shaking hands, she looked down to read the words.

“YOU’RE NEXT ”

Her fear paralyzed her and in the second that followed she was unable to run or make any movement. It did provoke a loud, primal scream from her throat and she felt her lace panties soak with warm urine and run down her smooth, tan legs. She ignored the embarrassment as her heart raced inside her chest in full-blown terror. The fear abated long enough given her mobility back and remind her of the logical steps she needed to do next.

So, she went into the bathroom across the hall, cleaned herself up, and returned to the bedroom. Once she was in front of him again, she stared, blocking everything else out of sight, except for the body. The body that mocked her with its hollow eye sockets and rigor mortis limbs.

Get it together, Irving. Rick will be here any minute and there is a dead body between you and your success.

Flipping off her heels and removing her suit jacket, Abigail pushed her arms as far under the body as she could manage. She hefted the still beefy corpse into an upright position long enough to figure out her next move.

Back in the closet or basement?

The doorbell rang in time to answer her question. With one final shove, she launched the body to the back of the closet, slamming the doors seconds later. Her breathing came in laborious bursts as she sprinted to the Febreeze under the master bathroom sink and sprayed liberally towards the closet door before dropping it on the bed and darting for the front door. She stopped and doubled back for her shoes on the floor near the bed.

Abigail ran down the stairs sideways, desperate to keep her balance in her ridiculously high heels as she maneuvered each step with hasty expertise. She peeled off sweat-matted hair from her forehead and neatened the strands before opening the door, trying hard to mask her heavy breathing and appear collected.

When she opened the door to Devinshire Manor, Abigail’s cleaning guy was not standing there waiting for her with his bucket and his comical tool belt of supplies. She scanned both sides of the road for his van, which she finally found parked five houses down almost out of view of the manor. Relief flooded her body as someone familiar finally came to help her with the horror upstairs.

She clomped over to right side of the wrap around porch where a few wicker rocking chairs had been set up next to a matching table. There was a slight movement out of the corner of her eye and she ripped her gaze away from the cleaning van and found someone sitting in one of the chairs. Not just someone, Rick with his spiked black and a tattoo of Celtic knot work that wrapped around his bicep, was slumped in the chair. While Rick didn’t appear to move at her presence, the rocking chair was moving gently back and forth in the still air.

“Rick, thank God you’re here, but there couldn’t be a worse time for you to be relaxi-”

But Rick didn’t look at her or even blink as she spoke. In fact, he wasn’t moving at all. The rocking chair eventually slowed and his head swung to face her as if his neck had no bones and wobbled at the slightest breeze.  After jumping what felt like several feet in the air, Abigail inched closer despite her heart pounding rapidly through her chest and adrenaline coursing through her veins, and found two holes in his shirt and matching blisters on his skin right where his heart would be. They were starting to ooze blood and plasma down his chest, and she yelped when her foot accidentally bumped the chair and Rick’s body leaned forward into her.

Abigail pushed him back wildly but she wasn’t strong enough and the body swung towards her again after her initial shove, she screeched and lurched backward toward the house and shutting the door. With her back pressed against the door the image of Rick’s lifeless gaze were ingrained into her mind’s eye, the images of his dead body even worse when she closed her eyes.

“Two dead bodies in one day. How does one person find two bodies in the same day?”

I should just call the police, obviously I’ve done nothing wrong.

Abigail sank to the floor, her hands shook as they fumbled for her cell phone in her blazer pocket. When she grasped it, she whipped it back to her, choking down one last sob before dialing 9-1-1.

“This is 9-1-1, what is your emergency?” a soft-spoken woman answered on the other line.

Clearing her throat, Abigail put on a smile for no one and told the woman the dead body of her cleaning man was outside on the porch. Her voice was the one she used with her clients. The fake, everything-is-all-right voice she used to calm her children. She used it to try and calm herself, but the paranoia of the first body upstairs in the closet sent a wave of panic through her so strongly that bile rose in her throat and threatened the antique wool rug.

You are a strong, confident woman. You can…

“Ma’am…Ma’am. We’re sending a patrol car to you now. They’re 30 minutes out. Please remain calm and do not leave the scene.”

“Yes, yes, I understand,” Abigail replied and pressed end on the call.

Abigail pulled herself up for what seemed like the millionth time that day, and smoothed out her blazer. The note from Rick’s hand flopped out and onto the floor stark white against the dark reds and browns of the rug. When she retrieved it, she fought back the tears stinging in her eyes as she continued to picture Rick’s rocking corpse. Her hands shook so violently that she barely opened the folded slip of paper.

Accidents happen, Abby-bear.

That’s what you told me when you f*cked my best friend.

Thank God you miscarried or you would have had his kid.

This is YOUR fault.

A knock came at the door, tearing her away from the note and sending a jolt of adrenaline through her body. She peered through the half moon window of the door and saw someone dressed in a police uniform, back turned to her. Their cop car was parked right in front of the house, but the lights weren’t on.

Wow, they got here fast. Although, I expected them to have lights on and sirens or something. Weird.

She jerked open the door as quickly as possible, stuffing the note and her phone into her blazer. The cop didn’t immediately turn around, so she tapped the slightly taller person on the shoulder.

“Thank God, you’re here. I’ve been—.”

“Don’t tell me you suddenly became religious, Abby-bear,” the cop said, his voice deep and grating, but familiar to her ears.

He turned to face her and she almost lost her balance. Her ex, Victor, was standing in front of her—tousled blonde hair tucked up under the police-issue hat, blue eyes that had so long ago been kind and sparkling, now were cold and dull.

“What the hell, Vic-“

Blinding pain interrupted Abigail before she could finish her question. Victor had punched her so hard she saw stars for a brief second before darkness and unconsciousness took over. When she came to, she was strapped to the bed and alone in the master bedroom. Abigail pulled on her wrists, but the ropes only dug in more burning her skin as she twisted around in what turned out to be solid knot work only a sailor could appreciate. She tried escaping her binds still for another 10 minutes before resigning herself to defeat. Suddenly, she jolted against the mattress when she remembered that the corpse from earlier was still hidden in the closet.

Did Victor really kill that man too? How was I even married to the nutcase?

Abigail glanced uneasily in that direction only to find the door wide open and nothing inside. She couldn’t even really smell anything off at all anymore. Her heart raced faster as she scanned the room for her captor, and quickly wet her dry lips with her tongue.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap….TAP, TAP.

The comically melodic tapping at the door startled her so much that tears began to spill from the corners of her eyes. Her breathing slowed so that her ears could take in every tiny sound as the fear radiated through her ears.

I just wanted to sell the house. I don’t want to die today. 

“Abby…Oh Abby, I’ve missed you so much, I’ve been waiting for so long…” Vic spoke, pressed up against the other side of the closed bedroom door and breathing heavily as he pawed at the wood.

To be continued….

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Not So Trivial Pursuit of the Perfect Novel: Finding Your Work Space

Fotor0524173818My week has been a whirlwind of emotions, far too numerous to describe without boring you all in the first sentence. It began like any other week, until I realized that my beloved Bengal is paws deep in liver problems. I will spare anyone the TMI details, but I’m one worried cat momma.
So, here I am, filling my days with tear-laden phone calls and binge-eating caramel popcorn, and there is no better time to write a blog post. One of the most difficult accomplishments of any unpublished and published writer is finding the right work space. At the local library, at Starbucks, in a locked office, or at your lunch break—any place is a good place to write.

What makes it the right place is what I hope to show you on my journey to the perfect novel. Before I reveal this newly-minted work space, I want to express how important the work space can be to your writing. Over the past two years, I have found that the best place to write is at work, where I have a limited amount of time on breaks and fewer distractions. And that is not a permanent fix for a career.

I needed a desk. I needed to completely devote a space to my writing and fast! There has been so much time wasted by my lack of direction, and my deadline is coming up fast. Officially, I have seven months until my final semester. Unofficially,I have one month if I plan to let Alpha readers and a copy writer to tear my novel apart.

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I REALLY needed a desk. And the writing gods did provide. When my brother moved out from the spring college semester, I inherited my grandfather’s oak desk.

While I’m sharing, I thought I’d make a handy guide to what can make or break a work space for anyone who might be setting up their space for the first time or want to refocus it.

1. The ambiance of a workspace provides the most difficulty simply due to each person having scores of distractions and other responsibilities that can alter the atmosphere. Whether it be kids, the internet, or in my case a ailing kitty, they can affect the productiveness of our workspace. It does change based on the individual because while some prefer quiet to concentrate, other may need music or other sounds to get inspiration.
Personally, I like as much quiet as I can get. I can work with music, but it can’t be YouTube or Pandora because I get too involved in picking the right music. As obvious as this sounds, it helps me to have as little Internet time as possible. The more time I spend away from the Scrivner, the less concentrated I am. I’m lucky to have a boyfriend who understands my lack of willpower and threatens to shut off the wifi in order to motivate me.
2. The physical space where you plan to pen or type or brainstorm your new story is just as important as the atmosphere around you. Sure, there are a lucky few that can get their hands on a solid piece of cherry or oak that has been carved with precision into an example of perfect carpentry. For the rest of us, a sturdy desk with enough storage area is enough.

3. The tech (or lack of tech) can make or break a workspace. For example: George R.R. Martin uses WordStar 4.0 on MS-DOS; Virginia Woolf and Lewis Carroll both loved purple ink pens (as well as standing desks); Alexandre Dumas used different colors of paper for different pieces (poetry, fiction, non-fiction. Even something as simple as the paper we write on can shape our stories in a particular way. I keep it simple. Laptop, moderately-sized hard drive with a back-up, the option to turn the Internet off, and the most up-to-date version of Scrivner. There is nothing else I need. Well, maybe a thesaurus. The thesaurus is a must have for a writer of so little vocabulary like myself.

So, now that I have the optimum space to create my novel there are no excuses for meeting my writing goals. I leave you with this advice—make a space that is all yours. Get away from the worries and cares of your life, and lose yourself in your fictional or non-fiction world.

 

Oh, and this super awesome kitty compilation I made! Check it out and Happy reading/writing!

 

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Life of A Grad Student: Not So Grand

So, a few days ago I posted about my life as a graduate student and how fun it is. Well, here is the opposite side of that coin.

Today, I sent off my first assignment of at least 10 pages of fiction.  Within 24 hours, I had a response from my lovely mentor. I was anxious and excited at the same time. Every minute of our workshop time, I was eating up every word she said. The experience and the stories she told were magical. The insight she gave into the stories I wrote revolutionized the way I looked at my own work.

At the same time, I’m constantly struggling with how well my writing is being received by those in the “biz”: published authors, professionals, and teachers. I have a fear like most writers that my stories aren’t going to be good enough for people to enjoy. But that is not important at this point because I’m just starting to hone my craft and it will take a lifetime to become a good writer.

As I open the e-mail, my mentor explains that the following notes are meant to teach me things that I will be able to apply to all my writing. I sigh in relief knowing that what lies ahead are a lot of little details I don’t know about yet. I feel like I’m back in grade school learning the rules of Grammar.  I read through  13 pages of my story, watching as my mentor solved all of the problems I had in the story.

See, I have problems putting too much detail, too much information in the  story and not moving the action along enough.  And Jane Boyer, my mentor, solved the problem for me in a few paragraphs. Now this skill of being able to know what belongs in a story no doubt comes with time and practice, which I have neither. At the end of my mentor’s assessment, she gave me comforting words that although my draft was rough, it was not the end of world. It won’t be the end of the world, I’m sure, but if I can’t learn to keep those pesky unneeded details out it will be.

The hardest part about the program is the ability to grow as a writer. I know all of the things I need to write, but I don’t know if I can write them well enough. I hate that I’m afraid of my own writing, but I guess it helps me to constantly improve myself.

What do you struggle with as writer? Is it developing a character or depicting the perfect scene? What advice do you have for me struggling with putting too much detail or others with their problems?

Always remember your purpose regardless of your struggles

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Inside the Life of A Grad Student

I have stated before that I am currently seeking my M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Carlow University. Pittsburgh is my setting for the next two years and it is an under rated place for writers.

My master’s program is unique because it is low residency in addition to studying abroad. It leaves me with a lot of time to write and amazing places to see. My first residency began almost a month ago and ended 11 intense days later. The low residency allows me to absorb a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Eight hours of seminars, workshops, and guest speakers with little time to breathe. I learned so much I can’t even write down the enormous amounts of knowledge I have now. You might not think 11 days can teach you a lot, but when you get a group of energetic, lonely writers together knowledge flows like a fountain of wine. I can tell you that already I have made life long friends in under two weeks. It is astounding what can happen when you put people with a common interest in the same room.

As the residency came to a close, I felt sad knowing I would have to go out into the world alone and use my new knowledge to write. It was so comforting to share my ideas with people who truly cared about giving constructive comments to improve my work.

From the end of the residency until June, I have some assignments and a lot of writing to do. Hopefully, though, I can count on the comments from my readers on here to help me with my fiction and guide me until my next residency.  Tomorrow I will have to e-mail 10 pages of my fiction to my mentor and in another two weeks I will have to  prepare a critical essay from a book I’ve read. Seems pretty simple for a graduate program, huh? Well, the easy part may seem to be the lack of work. In reality, the freedom and self-motivation become the difficult parts. Lucky for me I am a page away from my assignment due tomorrow.

The book I will start to read is The Gathering by Anne Enright, which is fitting because in four months I will be getting on a plane to Dublin, Ireland. My next residency is at Trinity College in IRELAND?! Since I am not a well-traveled young woman, this trip will be the first of many adventures I will have the pleasure of taking. Thanks to Carlow’s required study abroad aspect of the program, I get to visit a country I have dreamed of seeing for my entire life.

Only 11 days of class, four books, four papers, and then  trip to Ireland. How can life get any better? Let me tell you, I am one lucky girl that I can spend my days writing my heart away and my nights comfortable in my bed dreaming of four leaf clovers and Irish pubs.

I truly am grateful for the opportunities given by this program and enjoy every second of my new life as a full-time writer. My friends, colleagues, and family get to read what I do every day and see the happiness writing can bring a person.

Besides, how can a writer not be happy with this library to look forward to?

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