Story-a-Day May is coming!


Story-a-Day May is coming! I’d forgotten that I gave up last year. I must have blocked that out.

Well, I’m going to try again. And this time, I have ideas. I prefer to think of each year as a collection of stories with a kind of theme. So, this year the theme is time travel, and I want my time travelers to be somewhat unexpected. Meaning characters who don’t often get to time travel in stories. Or at least, not the stories I’ve read and know about.

Every story might not deal with time, but an overarching theme usually helps me come up with ideas. I’ve been tossing around ideas for a title for this year’s series of stories. We’ll see what I end up with once the month begins.

I’m excited for the stories to begin!

Who’s with me?

Stories, art, and ALL THE OTHER THINGS!

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I have to admit a big fat fail.

Well, on the bright side, Story-a-Day May has introduced me to knew characters and their storylines. Yay!

But I have to focus elsewhere. My son hopes to qualify for Nationals in speed skating. He’s going to practice Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings as well as Saturday and Sunday mornings. (One of these days I’ll write a story about a roller rink.) He has a good chance to qualify for Nationals, but paying for it is a whole ‘nother thing. Anyway, I’ve got to work on earning a few more quid. I can’t work more hours at my day job, but I can make things, and some of you know I love to make things! But making things takes time and energy. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know you understand. (Unless you’re rolling in money…are you rolling in money? Because that’s weird.) So, I have art for sale over here on my art website. Woo!

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If you’re interested or can share the site, FANTASTIOSA! I’m still going to write, but not daily. I can’t story a day this May. Because I also have an art show coming up in June, so I’m trying to sell art and have art for the show. Yeah… And I’ve got a class this summer that I’ve not before, and the textbooks changed in other classes making most of my previous lesson plans useless. There are things. Like everywhere else, there are a lot of things to get done. Amiright?

I’m just going to do what I can. These stories aren’t going to leave me regardless. In the meantime, I’ll be making art like a loon.

Thanks for reading!

Story-a-Day May and Friday the 13th!

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Yesterday, while in the shower, I had a great idea for a scene in Ida’s story. But I had to go to work, and by the time I returned home and could spend time writing, the idea had faded. It’s still there. I’ll just have to wait for it to resurface. Eventually. Fingers crossed.

Nonetheless, I did write yesterday anyway (hoping the morning’s revelation could be lured back) until I got stuck on what the characters of Ida Wayward Ravenstar and Millie-Marie looked like. I decided to go back to the story I started this month with–the story of Miranda Magpie Jones. She’s the character who inspired A Night in a Graveyard and Other Stories of Immortality, and she’s still there, waiting for her story to be told.

Now the story of Ida and Millie-Marie seems to be bigger than a short story, so that will take some sorting out come June. Not to mention the other stories I want to finish.

This is the one morning I can sleep in and take my time. So, I was being slow and lazy in my morning routine. La-la-la-di-da… and I was when the shower when I realized something about Miranda Magpie Jone’s story line. (Why do some many ideas show up in the shower?) And this time, I could sit down to write it out. It is still a rough, rough draft, but at least the idea is there and I know what the character wants. That’s some kind of progress, right?

Thanks as always for reading.

Miranda Magpie Jones stood on the rough sand and stared out over the ocean. She didn’t stand exactly as she was a ghost, but few of the living could see her, floating inches above sand she couldn’t feel. A seagull swooped down, flying straight through her chest. Neither she nor the bird felt anything, though the seagull missed its quarry scuttling on the ground.

In her new form, scarcely a form at all, she decided to go by Magpie. The living called her Miranda, and she didn’t answer to them anymore. They hadn’t been much help in the end, after all.

Across the water in England was her murderer. What was he doing? Luring another victim? Nursing guilt? Most likely not the latter, though if he were, she’d consider sparing him. Perhaps. Forgiveness didn’t come easily when there was only one way to end this ghostly existence.

She braced herself and concentrated. Slowly she drifted out over the water. Several feet out, she picked up speed, her faded image speeding across the ocean. Rain began, falling through her. Schools of fish darted under her. The fins of dolphins cut through the waves. Clouds rolled and churned. It must have been cold, but she felt nothing but the sense of speed. She knew she was moving but she could have been in an empty room for all she felt.

But the view was beautiful. In the distance, a ship traveled. By the time she reached it, the sun peered through the clouds. People walked along the deck of the ship and a few people stared out at the sea. Miranda Magpie waved, but no one waved back. Of course. She skirted the sides of the ship, catching glimpses into portholes. People dressed, dozed, kissed, and danced. She used to do those things. Maybe she would again, if everything went to plan.

Soon, the ship disappeared behind her and she focused on the horizon. His heartbeat drew her on. She could just barely hear it. She could hear it everywhere and anywhere in the world. His heartbeat would always be there in her head until it stopped. And how hard could stopping it be?

Story-a-Day May! Not even halfway…

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When I started Story-a-Day May this time around, I planned to write a series of stories. But I seemed to have gotten sucked into a longer storyline! Because that’s what I needed, right?

Anyway, slowly but surely my characters set out on their journey.

When Millie-Marie appeared at the edge of the square, she had a bloody nose and disheveled hair. She carried a small shoulder bag and a hefty looking stick. Her eyes met Ida’s, and she waited, stock still, for several heartbeats before marching across to the clock tower.

Ida said nothing. She nodded at the stick.

“Old Mortar took issue with me leaving,” Millie-Marie said. “He tried to relieve me of my bread and wages.”

Ida raised an eyebrow. She hadn’t considered Millie-Marie would say anything to either boss, least of all Mr. Mortar.

“It’s all right. He looks a right sight better than he’s looked in years,” Millie-Marie continued. “Looks a lot more graveyard.”

“Did you tell him where you were going?”

“I don’t know where we’re a going. How I gonna tell?”

Ida patted her coat pocket. “I’ve got us tickets on the overnight train.”

“The train?”

Neither girl had ever been on the train. Only one train worked and that was the overnight, and it didn’t always run. The governor didn’t care about much townspeople making their way anywhere. He had a private car and permits for every checkpoint. One of the last journalists asked him about the state’s plan to fix the train system. “Trains?” the governor laughed. “People are going to be expecting unicorns next.”

But the governor’s wife took on the cause. She was expected to have a cause after all. And she had a great ribbon cutting ceremony for the new overnight train. The questioning journalist disappeared a short while after and a few souls took to wearing unicorn on their lapels. Someone, no one knew who, spray painted unicorn on the side of the train. By then the governor’s wife was dead and the white scrawl remained on the side of engine, darkening with rust.

“How in blue blazes you get tickets?” Millie-Marie asked. She pulled a stray lock of hair from her face. “You don’t even got parents!”

Ida couldn’t help but grin. “Best you don’t know yet.”

Millie-Marie rested a hand on her hip. “Listen up, Miss. Princess Pants. I done beat a grown man with a stick and helped myself to a week’s worth of bread and cheese because you asked me to see the world. Don’t you go telling me it’s best I don’t know. I best damn well know everything.”

Ida took Millie-Marie’s rant in stride. “Course, I’m going to tell you. But if you don’t know, you can’t tell if we get in trouble.”

“You think I’ll blabber?”

“I just don’t want you to get in trouble.”

Millie-Marie shook her head. “I don’t ruined the boss man’s good eye. I already in a heap of trouble. Listening to you. Now you get yourself sorted, and you tell me how you got train tickets.”

A loud clatter echoed across the square. The vendors were closing up their stalls. Ida wasn’t ready to tell the whole truth even though she wanted Millie-Marie’s trust. And images of Mr. Mortar’s eyes pushed into her thoughts. Lots of adults who managed to live as long as he had possessed damaged senses—failed hearing, partial blindness, numbness in the limbs. Only the very rich avoided such plagues, and even they had trouble. “I stole the tickets, of course. I’ll tell you the details when we’re on the train. But we’ve got to get going or we’ll miss it.”

A hint of suspicion clouded Millie-Marie’s face, but she nodded. “That story’ll do, I guess. I’m already in deep here. Can’t never go within a horse ride of Mr. Mortar. He’d have me strung for sure.”

They both shuddered. Ida picked up her own bag and slung it over her shoulder. Her hand trembled slightly. “All right, Millie-Marie. Let’s go catch that train.”

Millie-Marie laughed. “I’m not sure I believe this train exists. I never have seen it, you know. I heard a couple grown ups tell about it, but I never laid eyes on it. What we gonna do if it’s a fairy tale?”

Ida shrugged and headed down the nearby alley. “Walk,” she replied. “Catch a unicorn.”


Thanks for reading!

Story-a-Day May! Day 5

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I skipped yesterday. Well, i didn’t time travel or anything. I just mean I didn’t write an actual story. I did write. I rewrote several scenes for my novel! And I’m glad I did. But I don’t know if it qualified for Story-a-Day.

In any event, I wrote something new today for my A Night in a Graveyard and Other Stories of Immortality. I don’t really know where these stories are going, but nothing usual there.

So, here’s a very, unedited draft of a beginning (for what it’s worth).

As the end of the world came closer, people gave up their rituals for the dead. A few hardy souls held to tradition, but they found themselves at funerals several times a day. Not everyone possessed enough tears or compassion.

But Ida Wayward Ravenstar had been crying and never stopped. So, the day she came of age, she put her tears to use. Someone had to earn and her parents were dead. Most everyone’s parents were dead by this time. Her older brother was nearly dead, his soul clinging to life in spite of his addictions and foolhardiness. “Don’t look for sense or fairness in who life blesses, my little love,” her mother used to say. “You’d have more like finding a puff squirrel that can make tea.”

Now the five Ravenstar children needed to count on themselves. Thomas Courage, 19, scavenged for trash and bits to sell down at the recycling yards. Or he did when he wasn’t sitting in the trash with needles in his arms. Clarence Mighty, 14, worked in the apple fields. On a good day he could bring the bruised apples home. Apples were the last fruits to grow, the News declared. And one day they’d be gone as well. But a bright red apple was worth it’s weight in gold, and a job in the orchard hard to get. The job made Clarence the lord of the house, not that he was much for lording over others. Mostly, he demanded someone else make his bed, a flimsy cot under the window. It was the one the chore he couldn’t abide.

Ida’s younger sister, Nellie Peacemaker, 12, managed to get a job even though the law said she was supposed to be in school. Everyone laughed at that. The government might as well have ordered them to fairyland for the likelihood of it. Nellie worked delivering messages. She was quick and exceptionally small, the gift of being premature and malnourished their mother said. “Be grateful.” Nellie could scramble under barbed wire and through gaps in fences. Security cameras recorded her image as a shadow and she barely made a sound on the gravel when she ran. She was also very good at keeping secrets, and everyone in the neighborhood trusted her. She never delivered a message to the wrong person and she never spoke out of turn.

The youngest of the five Ravenstar children, Frances Zeal, 8, didn’t have work. She was good at finding flowers in hidden places, cracks in sidewalks under shadows, in alleys behind garbage cans, and the rich ladies who managed to survive in the graceful, dilapidated houses would always buy these tiny blooms. The money from a real flower could feed the children for a week, but such gems were hard to find. Frances could always find them, but she could not make them grow.

Ida, 16 and a fountain of tears, found work at the Mortar and Crow Funeral Home, a sprawling metroplex of offices, viewing rooms, temples, prayer rooms, crematoriums, and financial services, boasted a full range of mourners for hire. A family could hire grandmothers in black, some who wailed and pulled their hair and some who prayed quietly at the grave. Whole families could be chosen to tell pre-written stories of the deceased, burnishing tales of generosity and bravery. There were young women who would throw themselves on the ground, dressed in flowing black dresses, proclaiming their undying love. Ida did none of that. She specialized in following the funeral procession, her long hair streaming, silk flowers woven in, and tears steadily streaming down her lovely young face. Aside from her ability to cry from sunrise to sunrise without effort, she could recite any prayer or poem for the dead.

Ida Wayward Ravenstar was a vision of heaven, speaking like an angel, and many a funeral goer fell in love with the sight of her.

“Mother would die if she knew what you were doing,” her brother Thomas said one day as they sat together on their sagging, ratty sofa.

“She’s dead already,” Ida replied. She ran a brush through her hair. “And she’d want us to eat. Francis might be able to go back to school if I keep working.”

“You work for murderers,” he said.

Ida stood to check her reflection in the tarnished mirror on the opposite wall. “They just bury the dead. Someone needs to.”

“They do everything they can to keep us dying,” he continued. “They stopped the building of the new hospital. They bought the drug companies and stopped development of new drugs. Death is where the money is and they make sure of it.”

“Rumor is all that is.” She wiped away the tears she couldn’t stop and placed her brush on the shelf. “You’re one to talk with those needles you keep jabbing yourself with.”

He looked down at his lap.

“You don’t want to give Mortar & Crow money? Then stop bringing about your own funeral.”

Thomas tugged at thread twisting out from the seam of his jeans. “Don’t give me a funeral, Sis. Leave me in a ditch like the rest of the poors.”

“We’ll do such thing! You’ll have a proper funeral and I’ll walk behind your coffin and say the best prayers. Of course I will.”

“We all know we can’t afford that.”

“It’s what we’ll do! And I’m done talking about it.” She flounced out of the room to the kitchen, where she’d scrounge something to eat. Clarence had brought home a loaf of stale bread and a few slices of cheese, and she hadn’t had her ration yet that day.

Thomas listened to his sister in the kitchen where she’d sit alone at the table crying those endless tears over bread. “You’ll find no body to bury, Sis,” he whispered. “That’s one promise I can keep.”


Thanks for reading!




Story-a-Day May–Day Three, People!

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This is for A Night in a Graveyard and Other Stories of Immortality. I’m sharing more today, but it is still just a start.

Lindy Tremaine dug graves. She operated the backhoe and drove the dump truck. She dug small graves for cremations and infants when necessary. Sometimes, Kap helped, but he liked to keep busy in the office, filling in forms and holding the hands of mourners. He was far better at letting people cry than operating heavy machinery.

Lake Belle had two cemeteries, and most people preferred the other, grander, well-trimmed cemetery across town, Bright Belle Memorial Park. They had a full staff available and a sleek coffee maker in their welcome office.  The Night Path Cemetery didn’t compare. They buried the homeless and the patients from the nearby asylum. They buried prisoners and the Jane and John Does. In truth they didn’t have many funerals, and Lindy spent most of her time pulling weeds and cutting grass. She worked the crematorium and fixed whatever needed fixing. The toilets needed new parts or a bit of jiggery-pokery at least once a week and the sprinkler system demanded constant tweaking. She kept busy and she kept her distance from the mourners as best she could.

Tears unsettled her as much as false cheer. She didn’t mind the questions a few visitors dared ask. A favorite question was if she’d ever seen a ghost. “Of course,” she’d say. “All the time. We have tea at midnight and make fun of the living.”

On this lovely spring late afternoon, Lindy sat on a concrete bench overlooking the front half of the cemetery. A funeral was scheduled for the next day and she’d finished setting up the tent over the grave. She was proud of her day’s work. Undoubtedly the family wouldn’t notice the perfection of the grave’s dimensions, but they had more important things on their minds.

Kap would wander by soon to inspect her work. She smirked at the thought. They both knew she did excellent work, better than even the specially trained gravediggers at Bright Belle with their newer, shiner equipment. He’d stand by the gravesite and pretend to know what he was looking for. He’d nod seriously and tell her, “A plus, Tremaine.” Possibly he’d check to make sure no dirt smudge the shine of his shoes. Then he’d ask her if she wanted to go get a beer.

Lindy wondered who was being buried. She hadn’t looked closely at the file. Her job didn’t require names. The lowering sun coated the cemetery like gold, her favorite light of the day.

What did it take to talk to ghosts? Did anyone ever manage it? What could the dead possibly say? If heaven existed, and she didn’t believe it did, surely ghosts spent too much time doing heavenly things to be bothered gossiping with the living. If heaven didn’t exist, what did ghost have to talk about? The insides of caskets or the ability to walk through walls?  This struck Lindy as poor material for a long conversation.

Her phone vibrated. Kap. “Yeah?”

“There’s a gentleman here in the office,” Kap said.

Lindy nodded, studying the shadows stretching out behind the tombstones. “And?”

“Says he’s a professor and he needs our help with some research.”

A cloud of starlings wavered overhead, greeting the end of the day. “And?”

“Says he and his students study the paranormal. They want to set up here for the night. Film what happens. You know the drill.”

She did. Every so often, someone came along asking to spend the night in the cemetery. Bright Belle always said no. Lindy appreciated being asked. It was better than the kids who snuck in on dares and beer, littering and damaging angels. She and Kap liked to say yes. It made them feel as if they were thumbing their noses at Bight Belle’s protocols and policies. “Fine,” she said, wondering if Kap would make this professor sign the waiver. There was no official waiver. Kap had made one of his own on the computer. Forms helped him justify his suit and slightly higher pay.

Kap hesitated.

“And?” she asked.

“He’d like one of us to stay with them, him and his students. Just to keep an eye on things and be, you know, an impartial witness.”

Lindy waited, but Kap said nothing else. “And you want me to be the one to stay?” she finally asked.

“Well…I’ve sort of got a date tonight.”

She sat upright. “You? You’ve got a date?”  Who? Her mind raced to think of someone, but she came up blank. But it was not the sort of thing he’d lie about. He’d think he was jinxing himself to lie.

“It’s no big deal really. I was going to tell you, but… yeah. And anyway, you’re way more outdoorsy than me, right? You know the grounds and all.”

“Yeah, sure.” She stood up. “I’m on my way to the office. Hey, you told the professor about the service we got tomorrow.” She headed up the hill to the main path. “The family isn’t going to want students all over the place.”

“Yeah, yeah. He understands. He promises they won’t even know they’re there. They’ll be like ghosts.”

“Ha. Very funny.” She hung up the phone and shoved in her back pocket. Maybe this group knew what it was doing. Maybe this time, she’d see a real ghost.


Thanks for reading! And keep writing if that’s what you do.

Story-a-Day May Returns!!


I have so many stories to finish, it is foolhardy to try Story-a-Day May again, but I can’t resist its siren call.

What about you? Are you writing?

I hope so.

And for this year’s writing madness, I have a plan. And my plans tend to end up like old school paper maps. I get them and they’re nice and crisp, folded perfectly, and a short while later they’re folded the wrong way and stuck in a nook somewhere in my car to be pulled out every once in a while as if I’d never seen it before in my life.

Anyway. Today is day one of Story-a-Day May! Congratulations to anyone writing out there, too.

For Day One, I’ve started a new story and it begins like so,

Miranda Magpie Jones did it for love. Which isn’t much a surprise to anyone who follows stories of humans making mistakes.

What is a surprise to some folks is what happened when she woke up on the dirt path that ran along the old graveyard. Of course, she didn’t wake up as you, dear reader, might think. Miranda Magpie Jones, 45, returning college student, always in a financial bind, and thoughtlessly in love with her professor had died earlier that evening in an unexpected, lurid fashion.

The working title is A Night in a Graveyard and Other Stories of Immortality. It’s inspired by a story my mom once told me.

But I’m also going to use this month to revisit other manuscripts in progress, write backstory or character profiles. And we’ll see where it all ends up.

I’m also getting ready for an art sale, and that takes precedent this year. This first week shouldn’t be too hard since I’m on vacation and can’t spend any money. What else to do but make things and tell stories?

When classes start back up…fingers crossed and wishes made!

Thanks for reading.