Short Story Excerpt: 6th Street Lofts Part 2

OK, for those of you who are just chomping at the bit to read more of my little story (yeah...right), I offer up a second installment. I hope you like it. This story will be polished and finessed enough one day to submit to a magazine, or as part of a collection of short stories I hope to compile. It still blows my mind that I hadn't touched this story for six months, before finally writing a new chapter the other day. Even though I haven't a clue where this story will go, I'm beginning to get an idea of a few threads I can weave together, and hopefully make for an interesting supernatural story. Wish me luck! For now, enjoy part 2:

3.

Aidan and Dean embraced warmly before settling down at their
reserved table. Jimi’s was crowded tonight, as per usual,
reservations were always a wise idea.

“ Great to see you Dean, thanks for coming. ” Aidan smiled
at his old friend.
“ Ah, wouldn’t miss it for the world Aidan, especially when you
give me a juicy project ”. Dean removed his ever-present fedora
and carefully placed it on the empty chair beside him.
 
‘He’s got that look in his eye’ Aidan thought to himself, picking
up his water glass.

“ I’ve got such interesting news for you too.. ” Dean was ready
to get down to business, he never wasted time with idle chat.
Aidan’s water glass stopped in mid air, “Did you actually find
something? ” he said hopefully, his keen eyes on Dean’s,
suddenly holding his breath.
“ It wasn’t easy, but I did. ” Dean said slowly. He was still
turning the knowledge around in his mind, trying to decide where
it was best to begin his tale.

As the waitress was about to come by to take their order, she
noticed the intense and somewhat close way these men were
speaking to each other and went to a neighboring table instead,
giving them a few more minutes before she thought to disrupt
them.

“ Where did you say you heard these words, Aidan? Dean said as
he dug into his well-loved, soft leather case, pulling out a few
papers and his old favorite fountain pen.  
Aidan took a long drink from his water glass, “Well, I didn’t,
really. ” He said almost guiltily, he’d never hidden anything
from his friend in the many years of their close friendship, and
he wasn’t about to start now. But he just didn’t quite know how
to explain it to him.

He breathed deeply and said, “I was in the coffee shop writing,
really on a roll you know, and after awhile I went back to read
what I had written and these words were just--there. I don’t ever
remember hearing them before, I have no idea what they mean…..and
well…I wanted to see what you could come up with. ” Reaching for
his now-empty water glass, he glanced up to see the waitress
approaching with a friendly smile, fresh water and their usual
drinks.

“ Hey Melody, you sure know how to take care of us. ” Aidan
said and gratefully took the fresh water glass from her hand.
He noticed that Dean slowly but deliberately placed his napkin
over the papers in front of him, while giving Melody a warm smile
and a nod of thanks.

Melody grinned at her two favorite customers and said, ‘and you
boys know how to take care of me.”  setting their drinks down
in front of them. Melody already knew what they would order, but
she loved having a brief chat with Aidan and Dean, ‘Why can’t
all customers be this easy?’ she thought to herself.

“ What’s it gonna be tonight, fellas. The usual? ” Melody said
and didn’t even bother taking the pen out from behind her ear.
“ Or am I finally going to tempt you into trying one of our famous
specials? ” she already knew what their answer would be, judging
from the preoccupied looks on their faces.

Dean spoke first, “Oh you know me, Melody. I’m an old man set
in his ways. ” giving her a quick wink. “Yes, the usual. ” he
said, taking a sip of his wine.

“ The same for me, Mel. Thanks. ” Aidian only briefly looked up
while he spoke but his tone was kind.

Melody’s eyes narrowed at Aidan, “ Alright you two, what’s up? ”
She had been waiting on them long enough to know that there was
something different in the air at their table tonight.

“ Oh, it’s nothing. Just a long week, hon. Really.”  Aidian’s
old smile returned as he sat back in his chair a little.

“ Hmm, ok. But I’m bringing you both a wee dram of whiskey. You
look like you could use it. ” Melody said firmly and was off in
a swish of skirts.

Dean had already removed his napkin from the papers and was
absentmindedly drawing little circles in the corner of the page.
His brow was a bit furrowed and Aidan thought he could detect
the slightest hint of shadows under his eyes.  

“ You know, she’s always right. ” Aidan said. “Are you feeling
OK, Dean? ” Aidan leaned in toward his friend.

Dean brightened slightly. “Oh sure, sure. You know I don’t sleep
as well when Ingrid’s not lying next to me. ” he said with a low
chuckle.  “I just toss and turn all over the place when she’s
not there to keep me in line. ”  

“Of course, that’s it. ” Aidan said in a low voice more to
himself than to Dean.  

Just then Melody silently set the whiskey down in front of each
of them and gave Aidan a brief concerned look before heading to
the next table.

“ To Ingrid ” Aidan raised the tumbler in a toast to his dear
friends’ wife.

Dean raised his glass quickly, “My Ingrid. ” then paused only
a beat before saying  “may she forever be by my side. ”  

With a low clink, Aidan and Dean touched glasses and both men
swallowed their entire contents. Out of the corner of her eye,
Melody watched them and smiled in satisfaction as she saw them
both relax slightly, and the air seemed a little lighter around
them.

Delighting in the warm glow the whiskey had given him, Dean
cleared his throat and felt ready to share what information he
had on the Ungka Dabi.  

‘So, it seems that the Ungka Dabi were an ancient race of people,’
Dean began slowly, not yet looking up from his pages. ‘Very, very
ancient. So old in fact, that my most obscure reference book only
has the smallest bit of information about them.’ Dean’s voice
trailed off slightly as if lost in thought.

‘Hm.’ Aidan mumbled, curious as to where Dean would lead him next
but trying to keep a clear, positive and open mind. ‘That doesn’t
seem so terribly odd…does it?’ Aidan asked, keeping a light tone
to his voice while searching Dean’s face for a clue.

‘Well, that’s just it’, Dean said, finally looking Aidan right
in the eyes. ‘It’s not really about what the text says about
them….it’s what it doesn’t say that has me…sort of….intrigued.’
Picking up his wine glass, Dean took a healthy draught and
swallowed slowly. ‘You see, it says that the Ungka Dabi lived
in a very small, very remote part of Ireland, centuries before
the Celts.’

Aidan noticed a little of Dean’s old familiar twinkle returning
to his friend’s eyes, and relaxed a little. ‘Well, that is
intriguing Dean, but surely, still not that unusual, right?’
Aidan asked, his voice hopeful.

‘No, certainly not. But I almost feel as if the text was ‘not
allowed’ to offer up much more information. Perhaps as though
the transcriber was intentionally leaving vital parts out.’
Dean’s thoughts were coming more quickly now, and he had more
to say but didn’t quite know how much he should say. Thinking
to himself, he found it strange that he would even think to
withhold any information requested by his trusted friend. God
knows they had spent many a night together, poring over old,
dusty tomes trying to eke out tasty bits of history to help Aidan
with his writing research. Aidan’s love of the old and unusual
ran almost as deep as Dean’s did, only Dean had roughly 20 more
years of travel and experience under his belt.   

Aidan’s brow furrowed and he said, ‘What? Why would anyone do
that intentionally? Especially at a historical publishing
house? Aidan almost chuckled until he saw the look on Dean’s
weathered face.

‘Fear.’ Dean said simply, his voice deadly serious.
‘Deep-seated, harrowing fear.’ Dean hadn’t really wanted to
bring it up like this, but felt it was best to get to the point,
there wasn’t going to be any time for hedging. Looking directly
at Aidan, he wanted to convey an unspoken message of urgency,
without alarming his friend…too much.


4.


Aidan walked slowly up the stairs to his loft, lost in thought. ‘How could I possibly have gotten connected to this?’ he said to himself. ‘I have never been exposed to any kind of pre-Celtic history in my life! How the hell am I supposed to believe that I have anything to do with an ancient race of people??! Shaking his head, he rounded the last corner of stairs and yanked open the hall door.

‘OH!’ Said an elderly woman standing just shy of the wide door’s edge, clutching her bag to her chest, eyes wide with fear.

‘I’m so sorry Mrs. Landry, I didn’t mean to startle you.’ Aidan said quickly, pulled out of his reverie. ’Are you all right?’ Aidan put his hand on her shoulder as if to steady the old woman, who had suddenly turned white.

‘Oh, yes, yes Aidan Dear, I’m fine’ she said with a little smile of sudden relief, the color beginning to come back to her cheeks. ’I didn’t think anyone used the stairs in this building anymore.’
Aidan could see she was beginning to relax, ’you know how I love my treats Mrs. Landry, especially your famous cream slices, so I gotta work them off somehow.’ He offered her half of his winning smile and let go of the heavy door slowly, so it wouldn’t close with a bang.

‘Ah! All you young people, always so concerned about your weight. Just enjoy life, it’s really quite simple.’ giving him a wink. Then peering over her glasses into Aidan’s face she said, ‘Aidan Dear, are you all right?’ her wrinkled eyes sharpening their gaze on him.

‘Just a little distracted Mrs. Landry, I’m deep within the clutches of Chapter 5. You know how I get.’ Aidan leaned in, giving her a little hug. He hoped that would satisfy her, as she possessed a keen intuition. There was no fooling Mrs. Landry.

‘Hmm….I’m not so sure. You work too much, Aidan Dear, it isn’t healthy.’ She said in her most strict and motherly tone. ‘Find a lady friend and go dancing all night!’ she emphasized her last words with a flourish of her cane and a smile.

‘I have a lady friend, thank you, but she couldn’t dance all night without her cane.’ He couldn’t resist the taunt, winking back at her.

‘Oh! Cheeky devil!’ she sputtered as Aidan started away from her, nicking his behind with the butt of her cane.

‘Goodnight Mrs. Landry!’ Aidan called to her from down the long hall, feeling more than seeing her amused smile. ‘Sorry if I startled you again.’ Fishing his keys out of his pocket, he suddenly realized he felt a little better, less troubled.

‘It takes a lot more than that to rattle these old bones, you!’ she called back shaking her cane at him. At that, he turned slightly and gave her a final wave, stopping just before his door.

Mrs. Landry clucked her tongue and shook her head slightly, looking down to adjust the door key in her hand. Turning towards her door, she felt a slight tingle going up her right ear and down her shoulder, lightly. She paused with her hand mid-air at the deadbolt, turning her head back towards the hallway. Aidan had just stepped inside and was closing the door. At the same time, the overhead light above Aidan’s door flickered twice and went out. Her eye traced along the upper moulding and saw what only could be described as a ‘ripple’ in her vision where a sharp corner line should be. It seemed to be moving toward Aidan’s door, slowly but steadily. She opened her mouth to call out to Aidan, but paused and shook her head, turning the key and opening the door.

‘Damn fool eyes’ she chastised herself, ‘it’s hell getting old.’ Simultaneously, Mrs. Landry’s door closed softly as the ripple slipped through Aidan’s door, unseen.

Cracking the Writing Whip and Short Story Excerpt: 6th Street Lofts Part 1

Lately, I have been really feeling the urge to either begin a new story, or continue working on an old one. Preferably both. And just like I have done with my blogs, my freelance work and particularly when writing for HubPages, I just suck it up and delve in. So to get the writing whip cracking, I have unearthed a story I began probably 3 or 4 years ago (Gads, has it been so long??), and I'm including the first two chapters here, and will follow with another two chapters in a few days. I hope you enjoy it. I rather like where the story is going, but don't ask me where that is...I haven't a clue.

6th Street Lofts
 
In Aidan’s eyes, Seattle is lovely in October. Brisk mornings,
chilly but sun filled afternoons, cool, leafy evenings. ‘Who
cares that it rains 9 months out of the year? Rain keeps things
fresh and green and is beautiful to photograph.’ he is noted for
saying. He loves to stand on his balcony at the 6th Street Lofts
and look out over the lush Queen Anne area with its softly rolling
hills and exquisite architecture. It was one of the reasons he
moved here, to capture the Pacific Northwest in all its glory.

He checked his watch. “9:52. Time to head down to The Queen of
Cups. ” This was the neighborhood coffeehouse he frequented for
his caffeine fix and a friendly hangout. Aidan always treated
himself to coffee out after completing a chapter or processing
a roll of prints.
 
“ It always tastes better after accomplishing a small goal ”,
he thought.

Aidan dressed quickly, grabbed his keys and laptop and started
for the door. Sophie, his 2 year old tabby, blocked his path and
loudly demanded her pets. He nuzzled her affectionately and
scratched behind her ears-her favorite spot.

“ Yes Princess, I wouldn’t forget you. ”  

Sophie gave him a satisfied purr, and with a quick swish of her
tail, sauntered over to the window seat to watch the birds.

Down the street, The Queen of Cups was beginning to clear out.
Aidan liked this time best because it wasn’t too crowded; a bit
after the morning rush and well before the Lunchtime rush, and
his favorite seat was most likely empty; left side, near the
back--next to the biggest map of Seattle he’d ever seen. This
place always gave him a sense of security, of comfort. He wasn’t
sure if it was the famously strong coffee, or the always friendly
service provided by the staff.

“Maybe I’ll start Chapter 5 ” he thought with a glance at the
waiting chair and table where he often wound up writing for long
periods of time, losing himself in his created world.

“ The usual, Aidan? ” The pretty girl behind the counter asked.
“ Thanks Sandi, that’d be great. ”  he smiled. He could always
count on Sandi to know what he wanted almost immediately.
“ Anything to eat? We made fresh cinnamon rolls this morning… ”
Sandi said temptingly, pointing at the pastry case.
“ So I smell. Aidan said. “And they look positively wicked. ”
he said with a sigh. Aidian had always had a weak spot for
treats…proven by the ever-present extra 10 pounds he could never  
seem to shed.
Sandi gave a hearty chuckle, “Ahh, that they are Dear ”. Sandi
and Aidan had developed a comfortable rapport over the steady
months Aidan had been frequenting The Queen of Cups.

“ Hmm...better not. I have Chapter 5 brewing in my head,
and I don’t want any distractions.”  

“ SO disciplined!”  Sandi said with a wink.  “I’m impressed. ”  

“ Don’t be. It just means I’ll go home and polish off the
JaCiva cake when I’m done here. ” Aidan said dryly.

“ Gasp! A man after my own heart! ” Sandi smiled and passed over
his double shot.

Aidan grinned as he tossed a $5 bill into her tip jar. “Thanks
Sandi, you’re the best. ” This was another thing Aidan loved
about the Northwest, people were so openly friendly here, it gave
him hope for the future, for humanity.  

“ My pleasure Aidan, as always. ” Sandi murmured, secretly
checking out his behind as he sipped and strolled to his usual
spot. “Funny, smart and successful with a great butt to boot.
Sigh. ” she thought with a half smile.  “Too bad he’s married
to his work. ” Giving the counter a final wipe, Sandi started
making sandwiches for the upcoming Lunch crowd.

Aidan could easily slip into his writer mode, oblivious to the
outside world. But today something seemed different. He could
feel thoughts and words forming in his mind, but they seemed to
flow unnaturally, almost eerily easy from his brain, through his
fingertips and onto the screen of his laptop. Despite the
comfortable, familiar atmosphere, he began to pull himself out
of the chapter and go over the words in front of him-he almost
couldn’t remember what he’d just written….

“ Geez Sandi, you accidentally give me decaf this morning? ”
Aidan said out loud but to himself. He had been absentmindedly
sipping the stuff, keeping a steady flow of caffeine through his
veins. It didn’t taste any different this morning, although the
usual buzz was a bit slow at kicking in.

“ Alright, where did I leave off….. ” Aidan quickly scanned the
brief paragraphs that had formed so effortlessly. The words
seemed to be his, however they did have a slightly distinctive
tone that wasn’t quite his own.

A slow frown formed on his handsome face,
brows gently drawn together. “Where in the hell did those come
from? ” he wondered. There were a few words he didn’t even
recognize as being part of the English language or any language,
for that matter.

“ Ungka Dabi? ” Quickly he changed screens, searching around the Web--nothing. No matches found anywhere. “What the hell? ” he muttered. “Did I stroke out for
a minute without knowing it? ”  

Truly perplexed, Aidan decided he could do with a walk, clear
his head. This strange passage would surely come to him.
Packing up his things, he tossed what was left of his coffee into
the trash and started to walk out.

“ Leaving so soon? ” Sandi said, genuinely surprised. He almost
always stayed for at least an hour or so, she thought to herself.

Distractedly, Aidan said,  “Oh yeah, sorry. Just felt like
getting a stroll in before the rain hits. ”  

“ Well as long as my cinnamon rolls didn’t force you out of
here… ” she said, flashing him a teasing smile.

“ Don’t be silly Sandi, I’ll see you tomorrow. Thanks, hon. ”
he said and gave her a wink while backing out the door.

“ See you tomorrow then, take care.”  Sandi said as she finished
wrapping a sandwich and gave him a quick smile.

Outside the air was cool and smelled of Fall and impending rain.
Aidan took a brief glance up at the sky and decided he had just
enough time to get at least one quick lap around the park in
before getting a second shower of the day.

What was it that was suddenly nagging at him? Why did he feel
like there was a blank spot on his memory where those few
paragraphs should be? He’d felt detached from his writing
before, but only because his heart wasn’t in a certain piece or
outside distractions kept him from immersing himself fully in
his written world. But never had he not remembered what he’d
just written! And words he’d never used or even seen
before??
 
“ So weird. Maybe Dean would know.”  he thought.

Dean had been a great friend to him over the past few years, a
quirky source of inspiration with his wealth of knowledge about
all things unusual. He was virtually a walking encyclopedia.
He had countless antiques and treasures, and knew the story behind
every piece in his vast collection. Aidan often visited Dean and
his wife Ingrid at their cozy little beach house. If people only
knew the stunning array of ancient artifacts this man has
lovingly displayed in his home, they wouldn’t believe it. Aidan
smiled softly to himself.

“ Yes, ” Aidan thought. “Dean will definitely know the answer. ”
Off he went, quickening his pace past the fountain, across the
street and around the block to the 6th Street Lofts.
 
2
 
"Dean here." Said a stern voice on the phone.
"Good morning, old friend!" Aidan said with a smile in his voice.
"Aidan! How are you my man!" Dean's tone brightened
significantly.
"Doing well, thanks. And you? Aidan almost immediately felt
better just hearing his friend’s voice.  
"Oh, same 'ol, same 'ol. Can't complain too much. To what do I
owe this pleasure?"
"Well, I've.." Aidan began hesitantly. ".…come across
some....foreign language that I'm unfamiliar with, and am hoping
you might shed some light on it with your vast knowledge...."
he trailed off. Aidan felt a tingle running up his arms just
thinking about it.
"Ha!" Dean chuckled. "Be happy to help if I can! What have you
got?" Dean got out a pencil and paper, ready to jot down the
information.

Aidan closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead. "Well, just two
words so far....'Ungka Dabi'."
"Hmm.." Dean spelled it out as he wrote the words down. "Doesn't
ring a bell right off the bat, but I'm sure I'll be able to find
something. ” His curiosity genuinely peaked.  “Are you on a
deadline?" Dean’s brows furrowed slightly as he looked at the
two words on paper.

“ Not at all Dean, you take your time. Just a curiosity, really. ”
Aidan couldn’t bring himself to tell Dean the truth about how
he stumbled onto the odd words, or why they gave him such an
curious feeling.

“ All right Aidan, you should be hearing from me very soon then.
In fact, why don’t we do dinner say, Thursday at 7:00? Usual
place? I’ll make us a reservation.”  Dean jotted this down
quickly next to the strange words.

“ Oh great, looking forward to it Dean. Thanks a lot, really. ”
Aidan marked his calendar. Four days. Hopefully the mystery would
be solved in four days and he could continue with Chapter 5. Somehow
he couldn’t imagine going on with the story until this puzzle
was sorted out.

“ Excellent. See you then, my friend. ” Dean was suddenly anxious
to delve into one of his many old and trusted language reference
books, forever loving the hunt.

“ Oh and Dean… ” Aidan said quickly, “please feel free to bring
Ingrid, I’d love to see her as well.”  Just the thought of Dean’s
wife’s smiling eyes gave him a little comfort over this strange
uneasiness.

“ Oh I’m afraid she’s left me for greener pastures. ”  Dean said
a bit distractedly.

“ What! ” Aidan exclaimed and sat bolt upright.

Dean laughed, “No, no…nothing like that. She’s in Mexico again
with Maria, won’t be back until Saturday. ” he said as he glanced
up at the calendar.

“ Jeez, you gave me a start! I thought…. ” Aidan didn’t even
want to finish  
the sentence.

“ Nah, she’s put up with me for this long, right? ”  Dean smiled
as he picked up a small framed picture at the corner of his desk.
It was of himself and Ingrid on their 25th wedding anniversary
in Morocco, 3 years ago. Ingrid was laughing up at him with those
sparkling, smiling eyes of hers. Dean had on his favorite 1940’s
fedora, a wide smile beaming across his kind, familiar face. His
arm lovingly around his wife.  “She can’t get rid of me that
easily. ” Dean set the frame back in its usual place and sat back
in his chair.  

“ Glad to hear it, although she will be missed. ” Aidan sighed
with relief. ” We’ll toast her on Thursday night, ” he
grinned.

“ Will do Aidan. See you Thursday then. I hope to have the answer
for you, my friend. ” Dean’s mind was already linking up possible
connections in his mind about the new words.

“Anything will help Dean, anything you find. Thanks again. ”
Aidan hung up the phone slowly as he tried to come out of the
fog he felt had crept up on him so quickly.  “Anything will
help. ” he said out loud.

Sophie jumped up on his lap, sensing Aidan’s distress. She rubbed
her head up against his chin, demanding attention.

“ Yes, love. You always know when I need some feminine
comforting. ” He stroked her silky fur gently. Sophie blinked
up at him and gave an inquisitive little mew.

“ I don’t know what’s wrong, Soph. I really don’t. ” Outside the
rain had started and some decidedly ominous clouds had begun to
form. Aidan gently set Sophie down on his chair and grabbed his
camera….  



The Stones
 
Mist swirled around the circle of stones as they gave off an
faint, eerie glow of their own. There would be no human
interaction with the stones today, for today was a sacred
celebration of the dead. The villagers quietly kept their
distance within this 24 hour period in October. They knew this
was their ancestors’ time, the day when the wheel of life turns
to the ancient ones who cherished and respected the stones in
an unseen and unheard ceremony.
The stones silently spoke to one another in their ancient
language. How old they all were, but the subtle vibration of
energy they shared brightened and strengthened slightly on this
day. Today brought a different race of humans….

Were they humans? These people that came from the time of the
stones? Gentle and immortal, like the stones themselves, they
lived in a distant world. A place that still revered the magic
of the stones and the beauty of the land. These people came to
this world on this particular day to keep their promise of yearly
devotion. To pay their respects as they journey to their Winter
World--or the place they spent one half of their year to protect
the mountains as well as the stones in the summer fields.

The Ungka Dabi people do not take their oaths lightly. It is the
largest part of their pride to fulfill a promise and preserve
their good name. Their honesty was just as large a portion of
their pride as their word, and as widely known. They did not
believe in deceit and untruths, yet they understood them
completely. To the Ungka Dabi lies were unnecessary, worthless
and offensive. They did not allow it in their presence. Humans
could not speak an untruth while near a member of this race. To
avoid potentially complicated situations, the Ungka Dabi
simply chose never to interact with the humans. This was why the
humans of this world were unable to see or hear the Dabi. Or
so they thought……

Thus bringing us to this day, the ancient ones’ day of
devotion--or the Day of the Dead as it is called in this present
time. However, there were no dead--the stones are alive, the
Dabi are immortal but things change over time. A lost
generation of humans believed it was better to think the Dabi
were the dead coming back to pray to the circle of stones. They
had learned over the years to keep clear of the mysterious Dabi
peoples, as strange things seemed to occur in the very air they
breathed, and every smell they smelled. It was as if their minds
and thoughts were not their own, and no one had any control over
it. The consequences of this brought fighting between the
humans, and they could never understand why this happened. So
they taught their future generations to believe that the Dabi
were the evil dead and must be avoided at all costs.
This was not so difficult for the humans, to leave the circle
of stones at peace one day out of the year. Nothing bad had come
of it, so the ritual had endured all these years. But today there
was something different in the energy of the Earth that the
stones could feel distinctly. As if a giant mole were steadily
burrowing its way toward the stones and disturbing their quiet
existence or worse yet, cause them harm…..

Gettin' Cranky With Harlan Ellison and Making Big Writing Decisions

I'm learning a thing or two from Harlan Ellison. No, not how to become a cranky old Jew...but hey, if the kippah fits, right? He's teaching me not only about who he is as a writer; an enormously gifted man who takes no bullshit from no one; he's also taught me that it's ok to write about what I want...anything I want.

Currently, I'm reading his No Doors, No Windows, and loving it so much I'm reading it slowly to make it last longer. His writing is indeed 'musical' as Neil Gaiman so eloquently puts it. The words themselves have a particular way of sounding in your mind which create a melodic flow.

This is just the first book I've read by Harlan, and I hope to get my grubby mitts on a good many more of them. The stories are decidedly less Science Fiction than I was expecting, which is just fine. No wonder he gets miffed when people call him a Sci Fi writer, he's so much more than that. Harlan's books are not easy to find, but I was lucky enough to find this title at my local thrift shop in stellar condition. Lucky me!

Next up, I just finished watching Dreams With Sharp Teeth for the second time. Rent or buy the DVD if you can, the extra features are totally worth it. Who wouldn't want to listen in on an intimate dinner of pizza with Neil Gaiman as guest? The director just lets the camera roll on them, and hilarity ensues.

But what I found most fascinating, were the old interview  clips of Harlan as a much younger (but no less spirited) man with many important things to say about culture, politics, commercialism and calling your own shots as a writer in contemporary society. I have enormous respect for that, as well as for someone who doesn't beat around the bush...so to speak.


This leads me to my 'big writing decision'. As I've said before, I've had a feeling that I should be writing something more important. Not important by way of content necessarily, but important for me. Which means more time must be spent writing said important pieces, and not lesser works, such as what I publish on HubPages and within the Apprenticeship Program.

Now, I realize it is a privilege (I think) to be chosen for this program, and I am grateful. However, it's becoming increasingly clear that the program isn't designed to make you a better writer per se, it's to make you a better web writer with 'Evergreen' quality articles (which means they will age well and continue to grow traffic/potential earnings for you and for HP). Well, I didn't set out to become a web writer, and I'm getting enough professional experience through the freelancing work I do through CopyPress. Thankyouverymuch.

Sigh. So with all of that being said, I think I may drop out of the HPAP to pursue the kind of writing I want to do. I want to write short stories. I want to work on a novel. And I even think I may try my hand at a collection of personal essays. For the first time since launching my writing career, I can honestly see the path leading to that successful writing career. I finally understand what I need to do in order to make that happen, and that's really, really exciting.

Which now leads me to this here book: The Writer's Market for Novels and Short Stories. I have been wanting this book for awhile now, and finally made the executive decision to buy it a few days ago. One reviewer called it "a wise and necessary investment", and I'm inclined to agree even though I haven't yet received it. Until I do, now is the time to remove the clutter, cut off the extraneous and settle down to some serious writing. Wish me luck!

Successful Completion of HPAP Month #1 with More Writing (and Reading) Goals

Huzzah! Month #1 of the HubPages Apprenticeship Program has been successfully completed, moving on to Month #2 for another required 8 Hubs, which must include search worthy titles in accordance with the Google Keyword Tool. I am one of the web writers who does not do keyword research, never have. It doesn't interest me how many hits a certain subject is getting in any given month. If my information is helpful, accurate, written well and interesting, people will find it. That is my belief. However, I must embrace this lesson if I want to make it to Month #3 and so on within the HPAP program.

I managed to complete the final two Hubs four days before the deadline last month, my goal this month is to get them more evenly spaced out over the month so I'm not facing another crunch-time at the end of the month. And we all know how fast the days go, so I'd best get a move-on if I hope to get any Hubs written this week. I have a CopyPress deadline on Friday which is going to take up a lot of time between now and then, so I really have to prioritize with care.

Reading has, I'm pleased to say, not taken a back seat to all of this. I am currently reading three books at the moment, and hope to complete all of them by the end of the month. This should be easily done, as they are all not very lengthy, but I tend to be a slow reader because I really want to retain what I've read. This does, I believe, help with my writing a lot, just as Stephen King and Neil Gaiman said it would. Thanks to Neil, I am in the middle of my first Harlan Ellison collection, and loving every minute of it. He is intensely fascinating, and I will be doing a blog post about him very soon.

I have put any reading goals in place because I have been very good about getting a good stretch of reading in almost everyday. As I've said in a previous post, the time I spend watching TV has decreased dramatically (and just FYI, I don't have Cable or even local channels--my TV watching consists only of Netflix instant watch and selections from our massive movie collection on DVD, Blu-Ray and VHS. I don't have the time or patience for commercials or what someone else thinks I should be watching). I still need to work on going to bed earlier and getting out of bed earlier--I would gain a lot of time with that. But one thing at a time...