A Work in Progress

I checked out a book from the library that is worth hundreds of dollars worth of web designers. The book is “Create Your own Website Using Wordress In a Weekend” by Alannah Moore. I still have a lot of writing to do but the nuts and bolts are coming together nicely. Once its done I’ll have a grand re-opening. Stay tuned.

What does 50,000 words mean?

Some years I start Nanowrimo and the words don’t come, other years they flow so fast I can hardly keep up. This year the words have been flowing at the steady pace of 3,333 words a day. The long and short of this is that I reached 50,000 words today, November 15. By all accounts I completed Nano, but since my story isn’t finished I am not finished. So, what is 50,000 words? An admirable goal? A finished novella? A drop in the bucket? I don’t know, but for me it is a good start. I guess I’ll start on the next 50,000.

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Benjamin Franklin

 

Here’s your treat! An Original Halloween Story

Happy Halloween! It’s all treats on my blog, no tricks. You may remember me mentioning that I wanted to do one Halloween project each day in October. The ideas ranged from baking a pumpkin dessert to reading a story by Edgar Allen Poe. Well, I successfully met my goal. I did 31 fun Halloween projects. One of my ideas was to write a Halloween short story. I have tried to do this in the past and never succeeded. I don’t want to be clichéd and I don’t like horror. I wanted to write a clever story that wasn’t too scary. I also wanted to write a Halloween poem. I managed to do both projects in this one story.

The Witches of Harpersfleece is about two competing witches. One wants to save the children and one wants to steal a child. They both want to gather as much magic as possible. Who will win? Read on to find out. This short story is around 11oo words. A perfect length to read while trying to find a place to hide the kid’s candy that they don’t already know about. Happy Halloween!

The Witches of Harpersfleece

From the edge of my front porch, I watched the three boys, dressed as a cowboy, a robot, and a ninja, stop to trick-or-treat at my next-door-neighbor’s house. The increase of magic gave me a shiver. Mrs. Morton was known for having the best treats in town, and all the kids loved her. I listened in while she whispered to the boys, encouraging them to head home instead of coming to my house for the annual children’s Halloween party. I flicked a thought toward the boys, and they shook their heads. The only way to absorb the most magic possible was to have access to all the children in town, so I kept a close eye on Mrs. Morton. She’d been successful in the past, but no one, especially a fellow witch, was going to derail my Halloween plans this year.

The boys left her porch and walked over to my gate, and I cackled in anticipation. Why had I bothered with a spell? No boy would listen to an adult dressed up like a fat fairy, even if she did have more jack o’ lanterns on her porch than I did, and passed out better candy. My house was every child’s image of spooky, from my web-covered gate, complete with giant spider, to the gravestones in my yard.

Hi, Mrs. Merryweather,” the three boys said together.

“Happy Halloween, boys.” I tipped my pointy hat toward them. “Wonderful costumes. Gene, where’s your sister?” All the other children in town had arrived. I could not begin my plans until everyone was accounted for.

Gene took off his ten gallon hat and rubbed his forehead. “Harriet’s sick. She missed school all week.”

I looked toward town where Gene and Harriet lived with their grandmother. “I hope she feels better. You’re sure she won’t be coming tonight?”

Gene shook his head. “Gram says she’s running a fever and can’t get out of bed. We brought her some treats before coming here. That’s why we’re late.”

“Besides,” Martin piped up from inside his black mask. “Becky went missing last year on Halloween. My parents almost didn’t let me come to your party.”

I nodded solemnly. On my walks through town in the past week I had made sure reluctant parents had a change of mind. I wanted all the children at my party.

“Well, I’m glad you could make it. Go on in. There’s lots to eat and do. Those apples won’t bob themselves.”

The boys ran into the house to join the others. I glanced at Mrs. Morton who had come over to my picket fence. “It won’t matter,” I said. “Harriet won’t be leaving the house.” I muttered an incantation and Mrs. Morton’s plastic wings began to beat, lifting her off the ground.

“They’ll find out who you are if you keep this up.” Mrs. Morton shook her sparkly wand back at her wings, and fell back to the ground with a thump. “I’ll stop you eventually.” With a last swish of her wand, she pushed me into a gravestone, knocking it over. Waving, she went inside her cottage, and slammed the door.

I hated letting her get the last spell, but I had other work to do. Closing my eyes, I pictured young Harriet lying in her bed. With a sing-song chant I gave her deepened sleep. I didn’t want her wandering over to the party once I had shut the door. Remembering nosy neighbors I looked back at Mrs. Morton’s cottage, with its multitude of grinning pumpkins, and recited a privacy spell. Take that, you meddling toad.

Now that all my young guests had arrived, I joined the party. No children lingered in the entryway, so once I closed and locked the door I put the brace across it and increased the protection charms. There would be no interruptions tonight.

In the Great Room, nurses, police officers, and princesses stood in line to bob for apples, and pin the pumpkin on the headless horseman. Other costumed children carved jack o’ lanterns or colored paper masks. Along one wall a table was covered with delicious treats, mac and cheese molded into mini-brains, deviled eggs decorated with olive spiders, and finger carrot sticks, along with other festive delights.

The air filled with the sound of laughter and the spicy smells of pumpkin and cider. The frisson of magic I had felt outside swelled to a cacophony in this contained space. I spoke a charm that no one heard and the children played with even more enthusiasm. I thought the magic might raise the roof. And yet I knew what I had to do to get even more.

A Monster Mash dance-off followed the costume contest, with shrieks of delight and moans of disappointment echoing through the house. For me, though, the highlight of the evening had yet to start.

Soon the clock ticked closer to midnight and the mood of the party changed. I dimmed the lights and turned down the music. With a subtle suggestion, the children gathered around me where I sat on a tall stool with my arms raised. Pillar candles cast spooky shadows on the walls. In unison, the group sat on the floor when I lowered my hands.

 

“As midnight nears the time has come

to tell a tale of long ago,

When witches greeted each as friend,

unless they were a ghastly foe.

For on Halloween night, the magic,

coveted by all, was known to ebb and flow.

It took children, children who believed,

to make the magic grow.

 

One hundred and fifty years past

two witches came to stay in Harpersfleece,

Where many children lived and believed

so the magic would never cease.

For years the witches and the children of the town

lived in harmonious peace,

Until one witch decided keeping a child

would help the magic increase.

 

Year after year the Harpersfleece children

continued to disappear,

The other witch knew that to save the children

she must persevere.”

 

The children sat unnaturally still as I told this well-known story. One by one they closed their eyes until they all slept before me.

 

“But even in this modern day

the children often hear,

‘Be abed before the moon rises

or you might be the missing one this year.’”

 

With that I blew out the last candle while the clock chimed twelve resonant tones.

* * *

Bright and early the next morning, I stood on my porch dismantling my plethora of Halloween decorations, so I could switch to my autumn and Thanksgiving displays. Mrs. Morton watch me while leaning on my fence. Tapping her no longer sparkly wand, she upended the neat pile of foam gravestones I had stacked on the porch. I restacked them, but was in too good a mood to retaliate.

“I see you had successful Halloween night,” she said, a pout on her pudgy face.

I looked up at a big yellow school bus driving by, filled with happy, well-rested children. Gene and his sister, Harriet, waved at us. We both waved back.

“Yes, Mrs. Morton,” I agreed. “The children are safe from you this year. It was a successful night.”

Fiction is Stranger than Truth

I don’t know if movies about writers could be considered a genre but over the years there have been a more than a few. From Stranger than Fiction to Adaptation, writers are portrayed as an odd lot. Even in movies like Moulin Rouge and Romancing the stone, the writers are a few chapters short of a best seller.

I’m not saying this new movie portrays writers any saner, because fiction is often stranger than truth, but I think they definitely nailed the crazy things that can happen as a writer tries to get published. Authors Anonymous tells the story of a group of writers as they pursue their publishing dreams. From mega-success to mega-failure it is an interesting look at the writing and publishing world.

I think the movie looks pretty funny and it has quite a few good actors in it. My favorite is Kaley Cuoco, best known for playing Penny in the Big Bang Theory. I don’t know if I’ll see this in the theater but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for it on DVD. Then I’ll show it to all my relatives who don’t understand why my writing hasn’t made me as rich as Richard Castle.

“I Am Certain There is Too Much Certainty in the World.”
– Michael Crichton