Flash Fiction Friday Number 17: Spiders

Hey guys.

Well, it’s almost Halloween. That gives us time for one more scary story before I return to my regularly scheduled programming. This one is a bit long to be considered flash, but I like how it turned out.

Anyway, on to the story. I simply call this one…

Spiders

Jake’s eyes snapped open.

What a weird dream. Jake thought as he lay there in bed.

In his mind’s eye, he could still see the cave, the strange symbols on the stone floor, and the figures in black robes dancing around the room as they performed their ritual. He could even still hear their haunting chants.

Jake sat bolt-upright in bed as he realized that this wasn’t a dream. He could actually hear the chanting. It seemed as if it were coming from directly under his bed. After listening for a few more minutes, he was convinced that’s exactly where it was coming from. He jumped out of bed and pushed his worn mattress out of the way. The spot where the mattress had lain on the floor for so long was marked by an absence of the filth that littered the rest of the floor.

Jake’s hands began feeling around the hardwood floor, pressing here and there, looking for a loose board or something so he could see where the sound was coming from. He just wanted a peek, that was all. Then he would gather up his few possessions and leave the house for good. It had been a good house and he’d enjoyed his time there, especially since nobody bothered him, but he knew when it was time to move on.

Jake’s left hand jerked as if it had a mind of its own. When it came back down, the board it landed on gave just a little. Jake pressed harder and he heard a click. Suddenly, the panel of flooring beneath him began to rise. Jake jumped off and stood back as a section almost the size of his old twin mattress opened in the floor. The chanting grew louder as it did.

As Jake peered down into the black hole in the floor, he could see a set of wooden stairs leading down into the dark. They looked like basement stairs, but as far as Jake had been able to tell, the house didn’t have a basement.

“Don’t do it, Jake.” He said to himself even as his right foot touched the first step.

“Seriously. Who cares where the chanting is coming from?” He said as his left foot followed his right.

Jake continued to try to talk himself out of proceeding even as he went further down the stairs, but he couldn’t stop his feet.

“Come on, Jake.” He pleaded with himself. “You know this place is supposed to be haunted. That’s why nobody ever bothered us. Let’s just turn back and go find a new place to live.”

Still, Jake’s feet continued to take step after step down the rickety old staircase. He didn’t even realize how dark it was getting until he heard the click of the latch above his head as the hole in the floor closed behind him. He continued down, now navigating by feel. With the click of the latch, he’d stopped arguing with himself.

“The only way out is through.” Jake said to the darkness. Who had said that? He wondered, hoping to take his mind off the mortal peril he was now sure he was in. He couldn’t remember.

Jake felt a thick spiderweb on his face and panicked. It felt thick enough to bind the largest man. Jake’s panicked brain wondered if there were some sort of breed of giant spider that had learned to mimic chanting to lure unsuspecting humans into its web. He swatted at his face and grasped the tendril of web, jerking it as he tried to rip it off.

The light went on.

It was just the pull-cord for a bare bulb. Jake thought with a sigh of relief.

As Jake stood there on the stairs, trying to calm his racing heart, he looked around and found that he was indeed in a large basement filled with all the usual suspects. Broken furniture, moldering cardboard boxes leaking decades old clothing, rotted books, discarded toys, and the like.

The only thing was, the basement was impossibly huge. He estimated that he’d already descended about ten feet and was only halfway to the bottom and in the dim light of the single bare bulb, Jake couldn’t even see the far wall. He looked back up at the top of the stairs, hoping against hope that he would see some sort of latch to reopen the hole in the floor, but it looked like the underside of any other floor. He wanted to look for some way to reopen it, but his feet were still moving down the stairs.

When he reached the dirt floor of the basement, his feet continued on even faster, as if guided by the chants echoing through the basement chamber. He easily navigated through the labyrinth of detritus in the basement. Or, more accurately, the chamber made to look like a basement, as he was now sure this room was.

Finally, he found himself facing another hole in the floor. Instead of being dark, the hole flickered with candlelight. The stairs were cut into the bedrock itself. Jake didn’t even try to argue as his right foot took the first step, followed by the left. The chanting was deafening now. Jake felt the fear and panic oozing out of his body. He felt fascinated by the intricate carvings adorning the walls. He felt, if he’d had enough time, he might have been able to actually read some of the strange writing, but still his feet pressed on.

Finally, the stairwell opened up onto a familiar cavern. It was exactly as he’d dream’t it, right down to the drawings on the floor and the black-robed figures. Except they weren’t dancing now. They were staring directly at him. The chanting stopped, and he felt control of his body return to him. Something deep down told him to run, but he still felt logy.

Probably from being woken out of a dead sleep, now that the adrenaline has worn off. He thought.

“Welcome, Jake.” The one who appeared to be the leader said.

“Welcome, Jake.” The rest of them repeated.

“Who are you?” Jake asked.

“I am Tarquin, and this is my flock.” the leader said, removing his cowl. “Please, there’s no reason to stand in the doorway. Come. Join us.”

Jake didn’t know what he’d expected to see under the hood, but found himself looking at a man. Perhaps a bit gaunt and pale, but a man nonetheless. Not wanting to appear rude, he did as Tarquin asked and walked toward him. As he did so, the others moved silently around the room.

As his head began to clear, Jake felt the first tendrils of fear creeping back into his brain. Even though he was smiling, there was something about that smile that Jake didn’t like. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Why are you guys living under my house?” Jake asked.

“Your house?” Tarquin smiled. “I believe you’re mistaken. That house belongs to me and my flock. We call it our little web.”

Jake chuckled at the comparison. “Your web? That would make you…”

He looked at Tarquin, who was now grinning broadly, revealing an oversized set of dagger-like canine teeth.

“Spiders.” Tarquin finished for him, and began to laugh.

Jake looked around. The rest of the spiders had formed a circle around the two of them and it was quickly shrinking.

Jake tried to run, but was quickly caught in the powerful clutches of one of the vampires. Jake tensed, expecting to feel fangs pierce his skin. Instead, the vampire dragged him back to Tarquin, grabbing his hair and exposing his neck.

“Thank you Octavius.” Tarquin said. “Tell me something, Jake. Are you afraid?”

Jake did his best to nod while at the same time feeling a slight surge of relief. Could this have been some elaborate hidden-camera prank all along?

“Good. Fear gives the blood so much more flavor.” Tarquin said as he plunged his fangs into Jake’s carotid artery.

Even as he felt his life draining out of his neck, he felt pinpricks all over his body as the rest of the spiders took their share.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this year’s Hallowen stories. I hope you liked it.

I’m going to try to post every week in November, but I’m also going to be doing NaNoWriMo to try to finish one of my novels which means I have to write at least 1667 words every day of the month just for that so I’m not sure I’ll also be able to do a piece of flash every week on top of it, but I’ll do my best.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 16: A Portrait In Red

Hey guys. It’s that time of the week again. This week’s offering comes with a warning. Parts of this story are somewhat gruesome. So if you’re the squeamish type, particularly when it comes to blood, you might want to look away. For the rest of you, I present…

A Portrait In Red

An out of breath Anton looked around at his now trashed studio and smiled angrily. Broken paintings lay everywhere. The entire room was spattered with a galaxy of color radiating out from a sun of smashed paint tubes.

“There. Much more fitting for a trash artist like me.” He said to nobody in particular.

Anton turned to the one survivor. A blank canvas supported by his trusty easel. The easel he’d bought in a junk shop eons ago. He’d tried all sorts of fancy new easels, but always came back to this one. Sometimes he thought that maybe the easel was the true source of his talent.

“What talent?” He said to the trashed room.

The critics had hated his work. One had described him as another piece of street trash pretending to be an artist. Another had simply called his work forgettable.

Anton looked down at his right hand which still clutched the large kitchen knife he’d used to slash his paintings. He approached the blank canvas.

“I’ll show them. I’ll give them something to remember.”

He drew the knife up his left wrist, severing the artery. The first gout of blood spattered the pristine white canvas and he laughed maniacally. Knowing his time was limited, he snatched up the first brush to hand, dipped it in the freely flowing blood and got to work.

He painted frantically. Only pausing for a moment at a time to glance at the mirror before attacking the canvas once again.

Finally it was done. He stumbled back from his painting to admire his work. The vibrant red was already fading to a dull brown, but it remained an almost perfect self-portrait. Then the painting began to blur, finally becoming completely black along with the rest of his studio.

When Anton awoke, he was staring at his still trashed studio, although the angle was a bit funny. He couldn’t tell if he’d been out for minutes, hours, or days. He tried to look at his watch, but found he couldn’t move.

“Great, idiot. You didn’t kill yourself, you just somehow managed to paralyze yourself.” Anton thought to himself once he discovered his lips wouldn’t move.

Then he saw it. Laying on the floor was a large lump that vaguely resembled him. He realized he was looking at his own dead body. Was he a ghost? Why couldn’t he move?

Just then, the door to the studio flew open and his agent, Kathy, breezed in, followed by her weaselly assistant, Kyle.

“Anton? Are you home? I do hope you’re not still sulking over a few bad reviews.”

Kathy paused, taking in the carnage.

“Ugh. What’s that smell?” Kyle asked.

Kathy strolled over to the lump on the floor, surveying his dead body.

“Oh, Andy. What have you done?”

“Who?” Kyle asked.

“Anton. Andy was his real name. He thought Anton sounded more artistic.”

“I’m over here.” Anton tried to say, thinking it as hard as he could.

Karen turned, as if she’d heard him, and walked over, staring him right in the face. Kyle followed.

“Ugh. What the hell is that?” Kyle asked, wrinkling his nose.

“His last statement. One final middle finger to the art world.”

It was then that Anton realized what had happened. He was trapped  in his own self-portrait.

“Should we get rid of it?”

“Are you crazy? Call the gallery. Let them know we need the space for another auction as soon as possible.”

“For one painting? What are we going to fill with?”

“Look around.” Karen said. “This room’s filled with paintings.”

“Destroyed paintings that nobody liked a week ago. Should I at least have them repaired?”

“Oh heavens no. Leave them as they are. Those art snobs may not have liked them before, but now they’re filled with the artist’s dying rage. They eat that crap up. And this monstrosity will be the jewel in the crown. Thank you Andy. You’ve just made me a very rich woman.” Karen said, laughing.

Anton was forced to watch as the cops came and the coroner loaded up his body. As his landlord sneaked in and raided his private possessions. And finally, as his paintings were repaired with strips of duct tape and loaded up before he was finally snatched up and put in the crate with the rest of them.

The auction went well. Anton watched in an amazed sort of rage as people paid thousands of dollars for paintings he hadn’t been able to get five for just a few weeks before.

Anton was bought for an ungodly amount and hung on the bedroom wall of an elderly art collector who liked to wander his house naked.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. I know some of you might not find the ending very scary, but I can’t think of many things more scary than that. Anyway, I hope you liked it. I’ll see you next week with another Flash Fiction Friday.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

Flash Fiction Friday The Thirteenth Number 15: The Family Estate

Hey guys. I’m finally back with another Flash Fiction Friday. What with it being October and a Friday the Thirteenth, I just had to post something a little scary. Admittedly, I would have liked to have spent more time on this one, but I don’t think it’s too bad.

The Family Estate

Elizabeth’s head reeled as the car bounced along the dirt road that led to the enormous castle.

It had all happened so fast. She’d been working as a waitress in a greasy little diner and on the verge of being evicted from her tiny apartment when he walked through the door and swept her off her feet just like in one of those fairy tales.

She’d just been Lizzy then, but he’d insisted on calling her Elizabeth and it had grown on her, especially considering her new, nearly royal, lifestyle.

It had been a whirlwind courtship followed by a small ceremony. Neither of them had any family to speak of and the only friends she had were her former coworkers from the diner. When he’d approached her with his desire to move back to Romania and into his family estate, she hadn’t even needed to think about it before she’d said yes. He hadn’t told her it was an actual castle until they’d turned onto the unpaved road that led to it.

As they pulled up to the massive wooden doors, she made to grab the small suitcase that contained everything she cared about.

“Leave that.” Gregory said. “Cromwell will get it.”

“Who?”

“Him.” Gregory said, pointing out the car window at a skeleton of a man who had appeared as if out of nowhere.

“Oh, there’s no way…” She began, before Gregory shushed her.

“That’s what he’s here for. It’s okay, he’s much stronger than he looks.”

Elizabeth felt doubtful, but didn’t argue.

Gregory stepped out of the car and took her hand.

“Now, allow me to show you to your room.”

“You mean we won’t be living together?”

“Oh, you’ll be seeing more of me than you could ever want.”

She followed him into the castle and up a flight of stairs which led to a long hallway lined with dozens of portraits of women. Their clothing progressed through the ages as she made her way down the hall.

“Who are these women?” She asked.

“Those who are no longer with us.” Gregory said with a hint of sadness in his voice.

Finally, they reached a thick oak door, and Gregory opened it with an antique key. Beyond the door was a huge room decked out in the finest silks and velvets. The bed alone was as big as her old apartment.

“Of course, you’re welcome to redecorate as you see fit. Just let Cromwell know and he will get you anything you wish.”

“How?” She asked, looking around for a telephone or something.

“Just ring this bell.” He said, pulling a thick velvet rope. She heard a bell ring in the next room. “His room adjoins yours. He’s here to attend to your every need.”

As if on cue, Cromwell appeared from his room with her suitcase in hand.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some things to attend to, my love. I will see you again for dinner.” Gregory said, taking her hand and kissing it. As he did, Elizabeth could have sworn she saw a flash of teeth. But they couldn’t be teeth. Nobody had teeth that long.

Gregory slipped out through the oak door, closing it behind him. She heard the distinct sound of an iron key turning into an iron lock. She felt something drip onto her foot and looked down. Her hand was bleeding where he had kissed it. Small red drops stained the white carpet.

Elizabeth turned to Cromwell, still not understanding.

Cromwell stood before an easel with a blank canvas propped on it.

“Now then. Shall we get started on your portrait?” Cromwell asked, smiling. His fangs clearly visible.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll have another one for you before the thirty-first. Until then, be sure to check out all the places I can be found online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

 

What’s Up Wednesday: A Breakdown, Home Free, & Bookapalooza

Hey guys. I guess it’s that time again where I tell you about my week.

To be honest, the few days between my last post and the weekend were relatively uneventful. I worked, I tried unsuccessfully to get the house clean, and I worked again.

Then on Saturday, we started the day by haunting our house for Halloween. Due to a death in the family a year ago, we didn’t do much to celebrate our favorite holiday, so I was determined to be prepared for it this year. We hung up all of our decorations, including several decals which were meant to stick to the wall, but are already peeling off. Still, we got the house relatively spooky.

After that, it being possibly one of the last truly gorgeous days of the year, I jumped on the new bike to take it for a good test ride. Since my old bike just wasn’t good at keeping up, I jumped on the freeway and really let her rip. Since Shannon and my mom read this blog, I won’t say how fast I got it up to, but I chickened out before coming anywhere near its top speed.

Once I got into Sturgis, I took it to the parts shop both to show it off and look at accessories. It’s nice having a bike made within the past twenty years. You can actually still get parts for it.

After spending time at the parts shop, I decided to take the long way home via Vanocker Canyon, a beautiful ride through the black hills.

As I was leaving Sturgis, my speedometer stopped working. Now if I had been smart, I would have taken it to a friend’s house and left it there until I could arrange a trailer to take it home, but I wasn’t about to let a little mechanical trouble ruin my day, so on up the canyon I went. (Yes, I’m stupid sometimes.) I was absolutely loving the way the new bike took the turns. I felt much braver on this one than on my old bike because it sits lower and has a heavier, more stable base.

Then, about ten miles in, the engine started to sputter. Again, I should have turned around and nursed it back to town, but I didn’t. I hoped it was just a hiccup that would even out, but it didn’t. After about another mile, it died completely. I coasted as far as I could and then sat there on the side of the road for a few minutes, begging it to start, but I was getting absolutely nothing at all from the starter switch. I called Shannon to ask her to get ahold of a friend of ours who could rescue me with his trailer. Luckily I had just enough signal to make the call. I was told it would be about forty-five minutes. Luckily he was available to come to the rescue at all.

As I waited, I got a brilliant idea. I would turn around and push it back up the hill I had just coasted down. Beyond that hill was a ten percent grade for a good couple of miles. I figured if I could get it rolling fast enough, I might just be able to pop-start it. It took me what seemed like forever, but I finally crested the hill pushing my beast and jumped on. After catching my breath, I let go of the brake and began to coast. I started going faster and faster. I still had no speedometer, but I felt like I must be going at least the posted speed. I popped it into gear and let go of the clutch. The engine felt like it revved to life. I squeezed the clutch lever back in, hoping to heat the engine running, but nothing. Again and again I tried, but no luck. My new baby was well and truly dead.

Finally, the ten-percent grade leveled out and once again I found myself on the side of the road. Unfortunately, while I was a little closer to town, I didn’t have any shade in my new location. I probably should have just stayed put. I did have several people stop and ask if I needed help, but I told them I was good. Sitting there waiting, I came to the conclusion that since I knew for a fact the battery had a full charge when I left the house, there must be something wrong with the charging system.

At least I got a little laugh while I waited when a big bad biker passed me on his Harley blasting the new T-Swift song.

Not too long after, the cavalry arrived. I still can’t thank him enough. I’m not sure what I would have done otherwise. We got the bike loaded up fairly quickly considering how heavy it is, and he drove me home.

With the bike stored safely in the garage for another day, I quickly bathed and dressed to go see Home Free.

They were absolutely amazing to watch, even if our typically choice seats were ruined due to the venue adding extra folding chairs right in front of us.

Still, it was an amazing show.

After the show, we went to the dinner we were forced to miss due to my mechanical mishap.

On Sunday, it was time for one of my favorite days of the year. The day which we’ve come to call bookapalooza. It’s the day that Shannon, my librarian girlfriend, has to spend her yearly budget. It’s so much fun to walk into a bookstore and buy several hundred dollars worth of books. I had meant to get a picture of them all, but I forgot. Unfortunately, my brilliant idea to push my bike the day before got my back hurting again. Luckily it’s not as bad as it was.

And really, that’s about been my week. I’m still trying to get into a regular writing schedule, but it seems there’s always something I need to do. Thankfully, the hotel is starting to calm down so I can start getting some writing done there at least. I’m almost looking forward to winter because then people won’t expect me to leave the house so much. I said ALMOST, nature. Don’t make with the snow just yet.

Oh yes, one more exciting thing. My brother has decided to take me to Ireland for my birthday in February, so I’m thrilled at the thought of seeing the motherland. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long for my passport renewal to go through.

Well, that’s about it. I’m still working on that Halloween story for you guys. It’s jut not coming out quite the way I want it so far. Hopefully it’ll be out before the 31st. But hey, if it’s not, I can just say I’m imitating the Simpsons.

I’ll see you guys soon.

Stalk me online

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 11: Haunted

Hey guys. Welcome to another Flash Fiction Friday. I don’t really have much to say in the way of prologue this week, so let’s just get to it, shall we? I call this one, Haunted.

spirit-2304469_1920

Haunted

I squeezed my already closed eyes even tighter, doing my best impersonation of a sleeping human being. I knew it wouldn’t work, but I at least had to try.

“Hey. Are you awake?” He asked, his whisper nearly a hiss.

I felt his cold, clammy hand on the back of my neck and unsuccessfully tried to suppress a shudder. It wasn’t that I was afraid. I just knew how hard the residue left by his touch would be to clean off.

He wasn’t a bad sort, for a ghost. In fact, other than a little moaning in the night and the occasional rattling of chains, he was a nearly perfect roommate. Sure, the noises in the night took some getting used to and I had to clean up the occasional ectoplasm stain, but I never had to worry about my house being broken into when I was away and he never ate my food. Or any, for that matter. Besides, I’d known the house was haunted when I signed the lease. How else was someone supposed to get a place in the heart of the city on my salary?

Still, I’d thought we’d gotten past the whole waking me in the middle of the night thing.

“Mortal. Please wake up.”

“I told you, my name is Jason, and I have to work in the morning.” I said into the pillow.

“But you have to do something.”

“All I have to do is get old and die. Then I can stay up all night with you and we can have a chain rattling party, or whatever you guys like to do, but as long as I need money to eat and pay rent, I need my job. So let me sleep.”

“Can… can I at least sleep with you?”

“What? No! You’d get your slime all over my sheets and I’d never get it out.”

“But I’m scared!”

This gave me pause. I’d heard him moan before, but never with this particular pleading tone. I rolled over and sat up.

“What could you, a ghost who has been dead for years, possibly have to be afraid of?” I asked, looking him in the sockets where his eyes should have been.

He lifted a slightly glowing hand and pointed to my bedroom door.

“Him.” Was all he said.

I looked toward the door and saw, in the deep darkness beyond the jamb, a pair of glowing red eyes staring back at me.

 

And that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll have another one for you next Friday.

Until then, be sure to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

What’s Up… Thursday?: A Day Late And A Dollar Short

What’s up guys? How has your week been? Mine has been absolutely insane.

Last Friday was my mom’s birthday. I won’t tell you which one, because I’d prefer to make it to my next one. On her birthday, we took her out to a nice dinner and gave her our gifts. I got her an action camera like the one I’ve used to record a couple of videos on my YouTube channel. Shannon got her a ticket to go see Home Free this October. If you don’t know, they’re a great country acapella group. I don’t even like much country, but these guys are awesome.

On Saturday, Shannon, my Mom, and I  took a ride on the 1880 Train from Hill City, SD to Keystone, SD and back. It was a lot of fun and something Shannon and I have been wanting to do for years, but never found the time. It was great being to be able to step back in time as we entered vintage rail cars being pulled by an actual steam engine. I took a video and posted it on my YouTube channel here. Warning, it’s close to a two hour video, but I think it’s a reasonably soothing watch. You wouldn’t think riding in a convertible and then a train would wear you out so much, but we were both beat by the time we got home.

Of course, Sunday was back to the grind. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hotel being nearly or completely sold out every night. Some nights, even when we’re sold out, I still have most of the night to myself. Not so this week. It seemed like every five minutes or so, somebody needed something. I was hoping to get some writing done, but to tell the truth, this blog post is all the writing at work I’ve been able to do all week. I would try to get something on the page, but it always seemed that as soon as I would start to type, either the phone would ring, or someone would magically appear at my desk. Finally I gave up and cued up the next episode of Black Sails and dreamed of running away and turning pirate myself.

Of course, one full night was devoted to editing the aforementioned two hour YouTube video. I’m getting better with my editing skills. I’m even considering getting a green screen so I can replace the ugly background when I shoot vlogs at work. Now I just need to work on my on-screen presence.

The good news is that during my time at home I’ve been fairly productive. The bad news is, what I’ve been productive at is procrastination. Yes, my office is spotless so that when I do finally sit down to write, I shouldn’t have any distractions, but I’ve yet to test this theory by actually sitting down to write. Oh well, this weekend is supposed to be ridiculously hot and Shannon has a lot of homework to do for her masters in English, so I plan on giving her space and working on my own homework. I’m hoping to even get some serious reading time in over the weekend as we hide from Mister Heat Miser.

I guess that’s about it. It may not sound like much to some of you who actually work for a living, but it’s really frustrating to not be able to get work done when you actually want to.

I do have a good idea for this week’s Flash Fiction Friday, but I’m a little afraid it’ll end up turning into a full-fledged short story that I’ll want to try to submit somewhere, in which case, I won’t be posting it here. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t turn out as good as I think it might. 😀

Anyway, I guess that’s about this week. I will post something tomorrow, I promise.

As always, you can find me all these places online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube I finally hit 100 subscribers. Thank you everyone for your help. The new custom URL is https://www.youtube.com/justinmkellywriter

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

I’m even on Pinterest

What’s Up Wednesday: Back To Work

Hey guys. Happy What’s up Wednesday. The day of the week where I fill you in on all the boring details of my life. Well, at least most weeks.

As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t been posting for the last week or two. Now, I know it’s not unusual for me to miss a post here and there, but this was something a little different. It wasn’t just that I forgot, or I got distracted, or even that I spent too long procrastinating and just didn’t get to it.

The truth is, I just plain didn’t feel like it.

Now, there are a few contributing factors as to why I didn’t feel like it. I really had no energy. As it turns out, this is because I was unknowingly fighting off a cold. I lost that fight. Also, Shannon’s schedule was about to change, so I was preparing to change mine as well. I was getting us ready for a camping trip which we didn’t end up going on due to weather.

All of these reasons are just excuses though. To be honest, the real reason I kind of dropped off the face of the earth for a little while is that I was burned out. I’ve been spending so much time between writing, blogging, and vlogging, that I was starting to feel I had no time for myself. I know I’m working toward my dreams, but sometimes I envy the people who can get off work, crack open a beer, and binge something on Netflix without feeling any guilt because their work for the day is done. I wanted to be that person for just a little while. I’ve been lazy all my life. Trying to turn myself into a workaholic isn’t easy.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to complain. I know what I’m doing is worth it, even if I never see a dime from my writing. I’m creating worlds and people out of thin air and I’m still amazed that I can do something like that. It’s just that sometimes being a god can be exhausting. (That was a joke. A blasphemous one, but a joke nonetheless.)

I think Lawrence Kasdan said it best. “Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.”

I’ll add a little something to that. “Sometimes, you just want to play hookey and go fishing.”

The good news is, so far, working on multiple projects seems to be really helping with productivity. When I get stuck and move on to the next project, my subconscious kicks into overdrive and solves my problem while I work on the next story.

So that’s it for today. All I ask is that you bear with me next time I need to get away for a bit.

I’ll see you on Friday with another installment of Flash Fiction Friday. This week’s story is going to be a little different from the things I’ve posted before.

As always, you can find me all these places online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube I finally hit 100 subscribers. Thank you everyone for your help. The new custom URL is https://www.youtube.com/justinmkellywriter

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

I’m even on Pinterest

I’m considering starting my own reddit page. Let me know what you think.

What’s Up Wednesday: Boosting Productivity

Hey guys, Happy What’s Up Wednesday. First off, you probably noticed that I didn’t post on Monday. That’s mainly due to the fact that while I made some progress, I’m still working on the same two books. Again, it’s not because I’m not enjoying them, but I’m still trying to get my schedule organized to fit in regular reading time.

As for writing, Daughters of the Flame is coming along, albeit slowly. I’ve really got to learn to outline so I don’t hit a wall on a daily basis so I’m not sure where to go next. I’ve been looking at different outline styles, but have yet to find one that works for me. My biggest problem is, unless I have every single plot detail planned out ahead of time, I’m still going to hit those walls where my character refuses to do what I tell him to do. When this happens, it’s because what I’ve planned is totally out of character and I didn’t even realize it until I got to that point. Okay, I’m rambling. Here’s an example.

Without giving too much detail, in the current book, Reymir and Terek find themselves in an already sketchy situation when they are asked to give up their weapons. For various reasons, Reymir is agreeable. I had planned for Terek to follow suit, but when I got to that point, I realized he would never let himself be disarmed when he’s already suspicious.

Anyway, I’m still trying to boost my productivity by learning to outline, but in the meantime, I have an idea that’s a bit unorthodox. Unorthodox? Me? Never.

I’ve always been one of those strange types who can read multiple books at once. I typically have one in the bathroom, on by the bed, etc. With the advent of e-readers, it’s gotten worse. It’s not uncommon for me to have a book on my phone, one on my tablet, one on my kindle… You get the idea. I don’t have a problem with mixing up the stories. I can go for weeks without reading one and pick up where I left off without a problem.

So my harebrained idea is this. If I can read multiple books without a problem, why not try writing multiple books at the same time? That way, when I hit that inevitable wall with one, I can start working on the next one, and then the next one, etc… I’ll probably write in different genres just to make sure I don’t have an issue with mixing them up. Although, it might be interesting to do a crossover book at some point.

So have any of my fellow writers out there tried this approach? How did it go? I’d really like to know.

The other thing I wanted to mention really quick is, I’ve been doing the math, and if you average my monthly paycheck over thirty days, is ridiculous how little I make a day. I’m not going to talk actual numbers, but by my figuring, it can’t be hard to squeeze that much out of the internet. So I’m going to really start pursuing online entrepreneurship. I know it won’t be easy, but I’ve got to do something to get out of this soul-sucking job I’m stuck with right now.

Anyway, sorry for the short post this week, I’m about to get off and I don’t want to stay here one moment more than I have to.

I would love to answer any questions you might have for me about writing. Hit me up either here or on my socials.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube I still need two more subscribers. I’m almost there. Please help.

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

What’s Up Wednesday:

I don’t normally put a lot of stock in astrology, but this month has been enough to make a believer out of me. Apparently, since April 7th, Mercury has been in retrograde. Supposedly, this means bad juju. I don’t know about everyone else, but this past month has been extremely hectic. For most of the month, I’ve just felt off my game. I just haven’t felt well in general, but I couldn’t actually tell you how or why. I could never pin it down to one specific thing, I’ve just felt off.

I know part of it is that I’ve been trying to get used to regular blogging and vlogging in addition to getting my regular writing done. Flash Fiction Friday is particularly hard because I have to come up with an original story idea every week. (Don’t worry, that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.) Even though I’ve missed a post here and there, I’ve still done better than I imagined I would. Unfortunately, I’ve been so focused on those things, I’m afraid writing every day has fallen to the wayside, which is silly since that’s the point of doing everything else.

What my real problem boils down to is this, time management. I have plenty of time to do everything I need to be doing. Hell, I could do it all during my normal working hours if I weren’t just being lazy. The problem is, I’ve been lazy most of my life. Breaking that habit is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. Well, except maybe giving up sugar, but that’s a failure for another day.

That being said, I’m working on a couple of strategies to help me not be so lazy and to keep me from feeling so overwhelmed.

First, I’m trying to get used to a regular writing schedule. This is not only for my fiction writing, but for my blogs and vlogs as well. I have an alarm set for three P.M. (Remember, I work nights.) When it goes off, I have exactly an hour to wake up and get ready to write. If there’s something I need to do, it has to wait until my writing time is over. The hour between getting up and getting to work is for having a bit to eat, taking a shower, and drinking my morning coffee. This brings me to my second strategy…

COFFEE!!! Don’t get me wrong, I already drink my fair share of the stuff, but it’s not on a regular basis. I reserve it for when I really need it. Truth be told, I never wanted to be one of those grownups who has to have their coffee to function, but it’s time to face facts. I need it in the morning. The days I have it, I’m infinitely more productive than I am on days when I don’t. If I don’t have my coffee, I tend to sit around the house like a zombie, unless I decide to go back to bed entirely.

Now that the scheduling thing is handled, it’s time for the third and hardest strategy for being more productive. I’ve got to learn to outline. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m what’s known in the trade as a pantser. This means I just sit down and start writing without knowing exactly what I’m writing. Flying by the seat of my pants as it were. I don’t even separate my stories into chapters until it’s all said and done. Pantsing is like getting in your car and just going, throwing the map out the window, whereas plotting is like having a strict route to follow with all the bathroom and gas stops figured out. Pantsing, like getting in the car and just going, can be really fun and exciting; until you get lost or end up somewhere you really don’t want to be. Plotting can be almost as fun, (he said, trying to convince himself). I’ve recently come to realize that if I want writing to be a career instead of just a hobby, I’ve got to treat it like a job. Sure, it’s a job I enjoy immensely, but if you’re going to go to work, you’re probably going to want to know how to get there. And this is where I’ll stop as the metaphor is on the verge of falling apart.

Next is one that’s going to be almost as hard as learning how to outline. I love my phone. I would have killed to have had a device like it when I was a kid growing up. I would have never been bored. Which is exactly why I’m glad I didn’t. Aside from the fact that all the stupid things I did in my youth would have been documented, I would have missed out on being bored. I spent a lot of my time as a kid being bored. I had to find ways to entertain myself. Guess how I did it. That’s right, I made up stories. Now it’s not that I don’t have the occasional great story idea these days, but they don’t come nearly as often as they used to. Why? Because every time I feel myself getting bored, I reach for my phone and either play a game, watch a movie or YouTube video, or just surf the internet. I’ve got to learn to be bored again.

In the same vein, I really need to replace T.V. time with reading. I read as much as possible, but I’d get through a lot more books and stimulate my mind more, if instead of picking up the remote, I would pick up a book.

I guess that’s it. Sorry for the rambling nature of my post today. I was really just making it up as I go. This post was more for me. Call it thinking on the page. That’s how I do some of my best thinking.

Anyway, I’ll see you on Friday, providing I can come up with a good idea. It’s time to start staring off into space again. At least Mercury goes back to normal today.

Don’t be afraid to stalk me online

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube I still need just a few more subscribers. Please don’t make me beg.

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

What’s Up Wednesday: The Unknown Soldier

Hey guys. This week has been a particularly weird one. I’ll be honest, I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done this past week. I made a little progress with Daughters of the Flame, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. As for my other projects, I’ve got nothing.

First, there’s the website fiasco. I tried to send a friend my website, only to find out that it had been taken down by my host. When I logged in to the site, it popped up a message saying that my site was in violation, and then listed a bunch of things that it “could be” but gave no specifics. It’s been almost a week and I still haven’t heard from them, nor have I ever received the e-mail they said they would be sending with more details. I couldn’t even access my control panel to try and assess and fix any problems. After hours of wasted time, I finally did what I should have done from the get go. I changed to a much more reputable, albeit pricier, host. I guess you get what you pay for.

So needless to say, I haven’t gotten a ton of writing done. What I have been doing is a lot of thinking.

Last Wednesday night at work, I had a run in with a guy in his late twenties/early thirties. I’ll spare you the details but things got a little heated. I said something I shouldn’t have, although I didn’t think it was a big deal until he went off the deep end and began screaming and slamming his fists on our counter. At this point, I probably should have called the police, but as it turns out, I’m glad I didn’t.

After his freakout, he broke down in tears and went outside to have a cigarette. I went out hoping I could talk him down. As it turns out, he was a combat veteran and our confrontation had triggered his PTSD. Over the next few hours, he told me about some of the horrific things he’d seen and done while deployed. He told me about having to grab a kid by the hair to drag him away from a teddy bear on the side of the road because it had a bomb in it. He told me about the children he couldn’t get to in time. He told me many other things that I won’t post here because I’m not sure all of my readers can stomach it.

He then told me about the hell he’d been through since returning home. He told me how the V.A. has given him no real help. He’s tried to get counseling for his PTSD, but they just give him more drugs. He told me that he hasn’t been able to hold down a job and is essentially homeless with a baby on the way. He told me how he’s now addicted to both the prescription drugs that the V.A. keeps giving him and illegal ones that he’s progressed to. The whole time he was telling me all this, he was drinking heavily from a bottle of vodka stashed in his pocket.

Then we came to the worst part of his story. He told me that on an almost weekly basis, he gets a call telling him yet another one of his comrades who made it home had survived all of that, but hadn’t been able to survive being home. He then told me that the week prior, he also had tried to kill himself by downing a bunch of morphine pills and hanging himself. Luckily a friend caught him and rushed him to the hospital. He had his stomach pumped and the next day, the V.A. sent him on his way with another handful of prescriptions.

Now, I don’t tell you all this to make you feel sorry for him. Nor am I trying to exploit his hardships for my personal gain. I’m telling you this because I fully believe that we, as a country, need to start doing better for our combat veterans. First and foremost, all returning soldiers should be entitled to as much psychological counselling as they need. If they need it for the rest of their lives, then so be it.

Bases should also have a separate barracks for vets who find themselves homeless. If it needs to be fenced off from the rest of the base, then so be it. But no soldier should have to live on the street.

Finally, there have got to be enough jobs within the military for veterans who can’t find work otherwise.

These are just my views on the matter. I admit that I don’t have all the answers, but this attitude from politicians that seems to say, “We got what we needed from you, now on your way.” has got to stop. Yes, doing these things won’t be cheap,  but we need to consider the continuing care of our soldiers part of the cost of war. It’s bad enough that these men, even the ones who do “make it”, just aren’t the same people as the ones who left. We owe it to them for giving up their youth.

And as Forrest Gump said, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

I’ll see you on Friday with another piece of flash fiction.

Until then, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr