A Tiny Present

This weekend, my generally quite North American family will be observing Sinterklaasje (fellow long-time fans of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast will understand what it means to say that some of the background noise of my childhood was in the Dutch language).  Our idiosyncratic approach to the day sees a handing of a single small present to each of the kids in the room after a small clue-driven scavenger hunt, while the adults try not to look meaningfully in the direction of the next clue lest Zwaart Piet appear to steal our rum.

Since I’ve already got a bit of a scavenger hunt going, I’m marking the day here by simply posting a very silly little bit of fiction, the short title of which is Two Natural Oddities. A bit of fun and self-flagellation, in keeping with the season.

The Telling of Tales

The new Current Story has given me a lot of trouble.  Reticence is the third title I’ve hung on it, and while it’s the best so far I’m still not quite settled on it.  It also is so quiet in its approach that I feel a qualm hanging the label Horror on it, but it really doesn’t agree with anything else.  It’s more or less a ghost story, and definitely a story about haunting.

There is also a fairly open-ended game attached to this story.  To do homage to one of my psychopathies, I’m going to give away a fountain pen to the first person to comment on this post who can identify the four literary references I’m making in the story.  It’s not a very grand pen, but I like it enough myself to want to see it used more (I’ve got rather a lot of pens, and this one gets neglected in the crowd), and it comes in its original packaging so you can believe it’s brand new.  It’s also probably less reward than the work attached to it justifies, as a couple of the references involved are pretty obscure.

This very same Sheaffer 100 could be yours!

So, those inclined to a free pen, get your thinking caps on. Name the authors and works I’m referencing, and remember that as on Jeopardy, a nearly correct answer may help another contestant.  Unlike Jeopardy, the answer can be in the form of a statement, although question form will be admitted.

To comment, you have to tell the comment mechanism your email address.  That’s how I’ll contact you.  Please don’t put your address, email or otherwise in the comment; strange people may pester you.  Date stamps on comments will be considered authoritative; first correct answer is the only winner.

Sing Out

This new Current Story is called Join the Chorus.  I was somewhat startled, when I had it out for comment, to hear that it was full of Christian imagery– this is probably a result of having grown up in a country which has a majority of its population derived from European immigrants (or at least had– I think they’re still the biggest group, even if they no longer outnumber all others put together), and certainly wasn’t the intention.  Possibly, since this wasn’t a universal response from the readers, those who made the comment were acting upon their own programming.

While I’m professing my secular inclinations, I’d like to wish everyone a happy Fountain Pen Day.  May the first Friday in November find you with ink in your pen and a song in your heart!

Mr. Chekhov, Report to the Bridge

No, I promise I’m not doing any fan fiction on this site.  At least, not Star Trek fan fiction.  There’s plenty of that in the world.

The new Current Story was prompted by my brother mentioning Chekhov’s old maxim at just the right moment, when some valves of my imagination were properly set.  Thus, after a certain amount of effort, I arrive at The Third Act, which if we stretch a little can be wedged into the horror genre– you certainly would not want to be in the protagonist’s shoes.

The Power of Positive Thinking

I don’t really have a good genesis to share in the introductory blurb for the new Current Story.  As is so often the case, “where do your ideas come from?” is no more than a koan to induce despair in the writer’s heart, and this is particularly the case for “Wish Away” because I really have no idea where it sprang from.  I suppose if I wanted a clearer notion, I’d contact a psychologist.

The Case For Decapitation

I know most people get headaches now and again, but I’m one of those lucky folks who enjoy the migraine.  The fact that mine are brief and not too severe, as these things go, is balanced out by the fact that once it’s running there’s no medication that helps.  I have a friend who says of these events, “Oh, yeah, all I can do is go to bed and sleep through it,” to which I boggle– you can sleep through these things?

That’s the inspiration for the new Current Story, “Migraine“.  Write what you know, yes?

Quivering, he steps into the light.

This exercise should not be as intimidating as I’m letting it be.  I have, after all, been keeping a blog long enough to run out of original thoughts.

Wait.  That may not be the right tone.  Pressing onward!

This is a somewhat different prospect than my long-standing effort to increase the amount of stream-of-consciousness nonsense cluttering up the servers of the world.  This is an effort to present myself as an author, someone who doesn’t just tip words out of his head, but who puts some time and effort into lining up what pitches out of that hole in his head, arranging it into pleasing, amusing, and even possibly-effective shapes.

Since the aforementioned running-out, I’ve been keeping the followers of my thoughts on the strange and arresting world of fountain pens and other outdated concepts up to date on my efforts to create short stories.  I have also, a couple of times, mentioned submitting these stories to publishers.  Thus far, no success, and I am informed that a part of my failure to impress is that I don’t already have a presence as an author in the world.  There is that blog, which is as fine an un-revised heap of mis-spelled words and poorly-braced sentences as one could hope to find.  It’s not, for want of a better word, polished.  There’s also the informational website I keep and intermittently add to, but that’s non-fiction (mostly).

A very little of my writing, the fun, carefully-handled fictional stuff I actually dignify with that term, has shown up on that earlier blog, placed as an penance offering to the followers there (I am mindful of your patience, folks).  That same material is, initially, what will show up here.  This is by way of priming the pump– once I have this thing’s engine running smoothly, the original material will start to flow.  Expect fresh things to appear by the end of this week, in fact.

Before presenting any of that writing, I’ll add an admission familiar to followers of my other blog: I am terrible at self-promotion.  The quivering mentioned above is not just from the prospect of dragging my tender tales out into the searing light of public scrutiny, but at the audacity of hoping people might actually pay to look at them.  Not just “some people”, the nebulous personification of editors and a greater reading public, but actual, discrete people– I’ve gone and set myself up on Patreon, hoping that some small bonuses for becoming a patron will move folks who enjoy the kind of writing I do to encourage me to keep at it.  If you’re that kind of people, pop on down that link.  The very least you will get out of it is an expression of gratitude.

Enough of that, though.  You’re not here for this, you’re here for stories.  The current story is “The Notes of Erich Zann,” which I chose as the inaugural entry here for a couple of reasons.  First, it is very nearly a fan-fiction, to the point that I wouldn’t think of submitting it to any publisher who wasn’t specifically calling for works picking up where something H.P. Lovecraft had done left off.  Second, it’s relatively big, and if I’m not putting something brand new out to test this new forum of mine, I should at least offer something meaty.

You will also find a few things in The Back Files, a few previously submitted or presented objects to keep it from being a yawning void while this enterprise if getting up to steam.  Because I do want to get off to a bang, “The Notes of Erich Zann” will be rotating into The Back Files in about a week, and a story never publicly presented before will take over the place of prominence.

I hope you’re as excited as I am, if not quite as nervous.