Halloween: Things That Go Bump in the Night

Just a short short ghost story for your Halloween reading.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

“But, Mama, I don’t want to go to bed! The monster is there!” Mom pulled Katy into a close hug, smoothing her hand down the back of the little one’s head.

“Katy, you know there isn’t a real monster in your room. We’ve looked all over, and never found anything.” Katy shook her head against her mother’s chest.

“As soon as you leave, I hear it. Up there.” She pulled one hand out from her mother’s embrace to point one finger straight up. Mom pushed her away to smile.

“That’s just the house,” Mom said. “It’s old and it creaks. Now, it is time for bed.” Mom’s voice was firm and Katy knew she was going to have to go to her bedroom. She turned her cheek up so Mom could give her a good night kiss. Mom smiled again and patted her head.

“Good night, sweetie,” Mom said. “Sweet dreams.” Katy mumbled a quick “Good night” and turned away. She crept as quietly as she could under the low ceiling to her bed. She burrowed under the fuzzy, grey covers. She stared up at the ceiling, waiting.

It was dark. There was a soft light coming from outside, but it didn’t reach all the way to Katy’s room. She watched shadows from the trees outside dance on the floor. Creak! Katy jumped. There it was! The monster was up there. Another creak, louder this time. Katy buried her head under the cover. It was a big monster, and Katy felt really small. The creaking stopped. Maybe it was gone? She peeked out from under the cover. She didn’t see anything. She huddled in her bed for a minute or two, but didn’t hear anything else. She tossed off the cover and stood up. She was going to find out if Mom was right. Maybe it was just the house creaking. She crept to the wooden spiral leading to the upper part of the house. No one really went up there. Katy looked up. The wooden path curved out of sight as it rose in the dark. She stepped onto the lowest level, all her senses tuned to any sound from above. She crept up cautiously, peeking over the edge to the upper level. It was soft, covered in a thick rug. Katy lifted her head higher.

There it was! The monster. She knew it was real. And it was huge, much bigger than she was. Most of its body was covered in short, yellow fur, but it had a mane of dark hair on its head. It appeared to be sleeping. Katy could see the slow rise and fall of its breath under the yellow fur. She climbed up onto the thick flooring, and took a step closer. The monster didn’t move. She took another step, and another. She was standing right next to it. She reached out and touched its hair. It was soft, and the light from the window reflected silver where it hit the hair. Katy was fascinated. She’d never been this close to the monster before. She moved closer and put a hand on its yellow fur. The monster rolled over, eyes wide open. It sat up without warning and the yellow fur fell off its body, leaving it mottled in an odd pink and white pattern. The monster raised its hands, and opened its mouth. Katy saw the big white teeth, and heard the awful sound it made. She clattered her own teeth, and the spikes across the top of her head stood straight up. She turned and ran back to where she’d climbed up. She could feel the monster’s hands waving behind her and it kept roaring. Katy threw her arms around the spiral and jumped. She bumped and bounced to the bottom, and dived back into her dark, safe room. She pulled her gray, fuzzy blanket up over her head and tried to lie completely still. The monster kept roaring and the ceiling above her shook and rattled. Katy was too terrified to even call for Mom. The roaring continued.

“MOM!! MOM!! There’s a monster under my bed!!”

The End

Friday Review: Changeless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate 2)

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate, #2)Changeless by Gail Carriger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in the Parasol Protectorate series and is as much fun as the first, despite a rather underhanded cliffhanger ending. In this part of the series, Alexia, the new Lady Maccon, is awakened mid-afternoon by her husband yelling. Now, Lord Maccon yelling is not an unusual thing, but at mid-afternoon, he, like any decent werewolf, should be asleep. When he finishes yelling, he leaves, without telling her where he is going or why. So, like any good Victorian wife, Alexia follows him. It turns out that something is causing the supernaturals in London to lose their supernatural abilities, something that only Alexia, being soulless, should be able to do. She tracks Connall and the mystery ailment to Scotland, and his family pack, who he had left years before. With her are her sister Felicity, her best friend Ivy Hisslepenny (and her hats!), her French maid Angelique, and her husband’s valet. And from there, as they say, hijinks ensue.

This second book in the series is no less fun than the first. Alexia is in top form, quite concerned, as any proper Victorian lady, with fashion, manners, and parasols. Of course, with Lady Maccon, nothing is quite as it seems, especially the parasols. Armed with intelligence and biting civility, she manages to get the best of everyone, including her husband.

The alternate, steampunk inspired Victorian setting is at times dark and foggy; at others, bright and full of gadgets. Characters are true to their Victorian heritage, if sometimes a bit over the top, but that is part of the fun. The mystery has twists and turns, and is resolved well. Pacing is good. There is not a lot of fast-paced action, but the story moves forward quickly.

The problem? The tagged-on cliffhanger ending. Not that I don’t like cliffhangers, but in this case, it is all too obvious that this was added to push the next book in the series. It seemed a little contrived and felt like a bit of a cheat. I would have read the next anyway, simply because I like the books. Still, it is not enough to make me say don’t read this. It is a romp and quite enjoyable.

View all my reviews

Wednesday Wanderings: Halloween, of course.

A pretty decent article on the origins and folklore behind Halloween:

http://www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween.html

Still need some ideas for carving that pumpkin? Here are some, many with free downloadable instructions:

http://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/halloween-pumpkins

And here are some Halloween food and party ideas from Food Network (try to ignore the big picture of Sandra Lee in the middle):

http://www.foodnetwork.com/holidays-and-parties/packages/halloween.html

Last, if you want to find some (supposedly) real haunted houses, you might start here:

http://hauntedhouses.com/

Happy Halloween!

Monday Musings: Reaching The End, and Feeling a Bit Lost

A few years back, I wrote a story. Okay, that’s not all that unusual, as I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember. And I guess it was a bit more than a “few years,” since I found a copy in my files dated 1998. It was a long short story- yes, I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but just looking at word count, it was up in the upper limits for a short story. I had decided to do a bit of work on it, and possibly put it out as a novelette. I did the revisions, and sent it to a couple of readers. And they felt that there was enough there to make a full novel. I debated that one, and ultimately decided that I liked the story and the characters enough to give it a shot. I finished it the first draft last Wednesday. It was kind of a weird feeling.

Of course, I have finished things before. This was a little different, however. Most of the time, I have a few things in progress at any given time, and I will switch off between them. For the past five or six months, I have been working pretty much exclusively on this one thing. I have other things started, but I really concentrated on this one. As September and October arrived, I knew that National Novel Writing Month was looming on the horizon in November. I want to participate again this year. I have a story and a plan. So, I really wanted to get this draft done before November 1. I finished it with just about a week and half to go. A good thing. And a kind of weird thing.

It was a strange feeling. I didn’t do much the day after I typed “The End” on that story. My brain was just tired, even though I really didn’t change my writing schedule to finish this draft. I didn’t stay up all night to get done. I sure as heck didn’t get up extra early to work on it. My allergy to morning wouldn’t deal well with that! I think it was just that I’ve been so focused on this one story, and on finishing by my deadline, that I put every bit of creative energy I had into those last chapters. Oh, not that I don’t do that with everything, but for some reason, this time seemed different. I’m not sure why, but there it was. I guess I just needed to rest for a little bit. Rejuvenate, so to speak.

At any rate, the draft is done. It is being read, on a chapter by chapter basis, and I am taking notes on the questions and problems brought up. As of right now, I will get back to it in December, and work on revising based on the feedback I get.

What’s next? Well, NaNoWriMo, of course. I have a lot of the prep done for that story idea. I am not a discovery writer. I need a plan, and I’ve been working on that, a bit at a time over the last couple weeks. I do need to type up some notes in my workbook file, but I think I may wait until the end of the week to do that. Use them to get me anchored in the story so I can start it off in the right frame of mind. Until then, I have a few short stories to look at, and I may work on some things that are just for fun. We’ll see. You never know when a wild plot bunny will appear.

=====================================================

Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354855

Also available at:

Amazon: (Now also in paperback)

http://amzn.to/1brIXLN

 Apple iTunes Bookstore

 Barnes and Noble:

http://bit.ly/17DmCXz

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/16ZWZXf

Wednesday Warnings: Google Earth Fails, The Known Universe, Beautiful Buildings, and Dance of the Planets

Google Earth is a wonderful tool, but occasionally, they do get things a bit, um, wrong:

http://www.viralnova.com/when-google-earth-screws-up/2/

A digital tour of the entire known universe, starting in the Himalayas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U The Known Universe

Some truly beautiful examples of unusual architecture:

http://news.distractify.com/alex-scola/breaking-conventions

Dances of the Planets make intricate designs:

http://ensign.editme.com/t43dances

Those last remind me of the designs we used to make with a Spyrograph!

=====================================================

Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354855

Also available at:

Amazon: (Now also in paperback)

http://amzn.to/1brIXLN

 Apple iTunes Bookstore

 Barnes and Noble:

http://bit.ly/17DmCXz

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/16ZWZXf

Monday Musings: Computer Woes, Garden News. Autumn, and Thanksgiving Changes

I got a new computer a few months ago. My old laptop was just that- old. It was getting slow and cranky, and hadn’t been happy with a second monitor attached for a long, long time. I have gotten very used to working with two monitors, so it was not an ideal situation. I got a nice, shiny, new HP desktop system. Of course, along with all the fun, and bells and whistles of a new system comes the not-so-fun work of having to install all the programs, apps, and other bits and bobs that I use. I thought I’d gotten it all. Then, on Sunday, I was on the netbook in the living room, and wanted to work on a particular story. I have been putting a lot of the current, in-progress stuff on Google Drive just so that I can work on it wherever and whenever. Open Google Drive—- and that folder is not there! I go to my desktop, open the Google Drive folder, and there it is! What?? Took a bit of puzzling, but the BaldMan noticed that the Google Drive folder on my desktop did not have the Google Dirve icon on it. Yep, you have probably figured it out- I never installed Google Drive on the desktop! All those files I thought were being synced? Yeah, no. It is now installed, thank you. And the funny thing? All those files now show up everywhere! *headdesk* I can be an idiot sometimes.

We’ve had a run of nice, warm, a tad too humid weather lately, with some rain. The pepeprs in the garden are still doing fine, I picked a very few beans today, the carrots are thriving. I dug up and brought in oregano, thyme, and sage for indoor growing. I still have to bring in some chives. I should look at the parsley and see if any of that is worth saving, but I do have seeds, so I may just start new. The asparagus bed is just about ready to be cut back, mulched and covered for the season. I plan on expanding it next year.

Fall foliage is in full swing now, although I must say, it is not as vibrant as it has been in past years. The colors seem a bit dull. I have read it is due to the amount of early rain we had this year. Perhaps, but I like my trees to be bright and pretty in Autumn, not dull and meh. I would like to put in an order for good Autumn color next year, please.

This year, for the first time in a very long time, Thanksgiving will not be at our house. Nor will it be on Thanksgiving. Due to scheduling conflicts and whatnot, we will be celebrating our family meal on November 30. We will also be at Jill and John’s in MA. It will be weird not having everyone here, but I must admit to a bit of extra thankfulness for that. Since I am one of those crazy folk who participate in National Novel Writing Month in November, I will have the entire month to work on those 50,000 words. It will be an odd thing. I don’t plan on changing my approach to the month. I have planned in the past to hit the 50K by November 25, and that will still be the goal. I will just have a tiny bit more breathing room. I shall endeavor to stick to my plan, and still have a few days rest at the end of the month.

What is the foliage like where you are? Are you enjoying the crisp Autumn days? And how much pumpkin spice everything have you consumed? (Me? Hardly any.)

=====================================================

Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354855

Also available at:

Amazon: (Now also in paperback)

http://amzn.to/1brIXLN

 Apple iTunes Bookstore

 Barnes and Noble:

http://bit.ly/17DmCXz

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/16ZWZXf

Friday Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Dresden Files series has been recommended to me many times over the past few years, and it turns out to be one I am very sorry I did not follow those recommendations much sooner. “You don’t know what you are missing” turned out to be all too true with this one.

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a wizard. He works out of a fifth floor office in downtown Chicago, helping people with investigations that are rather out of the scope of the police department, specifically, those that involve magic. He also, on occasion, consults for the police on cases that cross over into Harry’s unique field of expertise.

In Storm Front, Harry is called by the police to help out with a particularly nasty murder investigation that looks like it involves dark magic. As Harry digs further into the case, he runs afoul of not only the Chicago mob, and the wizard’s White Council, which already has Harry on a sort of probation, but also of a mysterious dark wizard who targets Harry for his next grisly victim. In order to sort it all out, Harry must use every scrap of wit and skill he owns, as well as his connections to some otherworldly allies.

The story takes the hard-boiled detective tale and adds the twist of magic. Harry fits perfectly into the private detective role. He’s tough, skilled, tenacious, has a biting wit, and a dark past. He also has a strong moral sense that drives him to right whatever wrong is facing him.

The setting is modern day, and the magic fits in deftly, without being overwhelming or out of place. The idea that there might be magic-weilding folk among the populace of our world doesn’t seem strange or forced. The tone is dark and edgy, which also fits the genre.

Characters are rounded and believable, each with their own strengths and flaws. Harry himself is not quite an anti-hero, but he isn’t completely noble, either. The supporting cast is varied, from Detective Karrin Murphy, who believes in Harry up to a point, to Bob, Harry’s spirit assistant with an over-active libibo who lives in a human skull.

The story is fast-paced and full of action, both magical and real world. Once it gets going, there is almost no time to catch a breath, especially for Harry. It is a well-crafted mystery that pulls you in and nevr lets go.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It blends some of my favorite things into a rollercoaster ride of danger, magic, and mystery.

======================================================

Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354855

Also available at:

Amazon: (Now also in paperback)

http://amzn.to/1brIXLN

 Apple iTunes Bookstore

 Barnes and Noble:

http://bit.ly/17DmCXz

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/16ZWZXf

Wednesday Wanderings: Abandoned Mansions, Weird Stuff Happening on Earth, Old School Classy, and Owl Camouflage

Some of these abandoned mansions are quite lovely. There are more pictures in the comments:

http://io9.com/9-of-the-most-fascinating-abandoned-mansions-from-aroun-471010619

Some very odd things that are actually happening somewhere in the world:

http://www.metaspoon.com/weird-things-happening-earth/

Those were the days. When classy really meant something:

http://news.distractify.com/people/old-school-cool/?variant=3&v=1

Owls are pretty good at camouflage:

http://news.distractify.com/people/old-school-cool/?variant=3&v=1

 

======================================================

Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354855

Also available at:

Amazon: (Now also in paperback)

http://amzn.to/1brIXLN

 Apple iTunes Bookstore

 Barnes and Noble:

http://bit.ly/17DmCXz

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/16ZWZXf

 

Monday Musings: Garden’s End, Puppy Days, Italian Markets, and Football

It has gotten decidedly chilly lately. Not quite freezing yet, but the overnight temps have dropped into the thirties a few times. The tomato plants in the garden have pretty much given up, along with the cucumbers and squash. I have a few beans on the vines, and the carrots are still going. The peppers are hanging in there, but I do have to harvest what’s out there. And pot up and bring in the herbs I want to save. It is time to start cleaning up, and getting it all set for winter, I suppose. I keep putting it off, because once the garden is cleaned out and covered up, it means Summer is really over and, well, to borrow a catch phrase, Winter is coming. I also want to start some planning for next year.

On the puppy front, Lambeau will be one year old in just seventeen days! Wow. It’s hard to believe we’ve had him that long. Seems just a short time ago that we brought that wee pup home from the shelter. Then, I look at him, and see how big he’s gotten, and, yeah, it’s more believable. I keep trying to find new things to teach him, because he is smart and active, and he needs stuff to do to keep occupied. Right now, we are working on a few tricks. We continue to work and reinforce his calm, good dog behavior, also. His big area of need is still other dogs. He still feels that every dog he sees is fair game for playtime. He’s better, and sometimes is even really good, but that’s our biggest issue right now. Patience, persistence, patience, repitition, and more patience, right?

A new Italian market opened just up the road a bit. We stopped in on Saturday. Looks like they are still stocking a lot of the shelves, but they have some nice meat, fresh and cured sausages, olive oils, and other things. We picked up few things. The place used to be just another convenience store with the usual sandwiches and stuff. Nice to see something a little nicer move in.

I got involved in a Fantasy Football league this season. It’s a family thing, just for fun. And we started late, so it will be a short season. I usually didn’t much care about most of the games every week, unless it was Green Bay or Oakland. Now, I pay attention to a lot more, since my players are all over the league. I have no idea what I’m actually doing, but hopefully by next season, I’ll have some of it figured out!

I hope everyone is enjoying this season of pumpkins, hoodies, and boots!

======================================================

Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354855

Also available at:

Amazon: (Now also in paperback)

http://amzn.to/1brIXLN

 Apple iTunes Bookstore

 Barnes and Noble:

http://bit.ly/17DmCXz

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/16ZWZXf

 

Wednesday Wanderings: Sustainable Noah’s Ark City, Exercise to Make Your Day Better, Writer’s Have the Advantage, and French Postman Builds Castle from Stones

This was an honorable mention in the 2012 Skyscraper comptetion, which (from their website) “recognizes outstanding ideas that redefine skyscraper design through the implementation of novel technologies, materials, programs, aesthetics, and spatial organizations along with studies on globalization, flexibility, adaptability, and the digital revolution.” A pretty cool idea here:

http://www.evolo.us/competition/noah%E2%80%99s-ark-sustainable-city/

It seems moderate aerobic exercise early in the day can lift your mood for hours. Worth getting up early for? Hmmmm…..:

http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/20-minutes-guaranteed-to-make-your-whole-day-better-tues.html?utm_content=bufferd1207

Maybe I’ll just stick with writing:

http://mic.com/articles/98348/science-shows-writers-have-a-serious-advantage-over-the-rest-of-us

This is just astounding. 33 years, stone by stone, and this French postman has an architectural wonder:

http://www.awesomeinventions.com/postman-takes-33-years-to-build-palace/

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