Vacation Beckons…

Both figuratively and literally, as it happens. I am on vacation from my “day job” this week, and then as I lay sleeping tonight, Stephen King’s new novel “The Outsider” will magically appear in the library on my Kindle.

Once that happens, I’ll be on vacation from writing too, as I slip happily into the world that he creates so well… but for the moment, I am working on my book.

I finished the new short story yesterday, and have been working on the book this morning. Thanks to Scrivener, I can jump into whatever part occurs to me, and put everything into proper sequence after the fact, so I don’t need to work in a linear fashion.

(Very helpful when you haven’t done that outline you were supposed to do!)

Yes, Muse… you’re right. I have not done it yet, mea culpa. But I will get to it, probably when the light bulb goes off and I see all the elements laid out clearly in my mind’s eye, I’ll scribble them down like mad and capture them to use as my road map.

In the meantime, I’ll put down the scenes and events as they occur to me, just as I do with my short stories, so they’ll be ready to step into place in that shiny new outline.

I have the foreword (yes, there will be a foreword to stage the story) complete, and it works very well, if I do say so myself.

(OK, fine, it does work well. You’re welcome, by the way.)

Thank you, Muse. Take a bow, won’t you?

Muse

Lunch is finished, dog’s business attended to, and the car has been moved to where it belongs. Time to get back to it.

Sleep well…

 

 

 

Wait, what?

You just never know where the next story idea will come from.

My wife and I have become very friendly with a lady who works at the restaurant we’ve adopted as our “hangout”. As we were shooting the breeze with her last Monday evening, she told us about her husband, a veteran corrections officer who enjoys doing taxidermy as a hobby.

The bells and buzzers in my head went off immediately, ideas flowing like water from a busted hose. That combination just begs to be the basis for a story!

Needless to say, “Model Prisoner” is my current work in progress… I had the first scene completed in my head before I was half way through my dinner that night!

In other news, I just updated the web site this morning, adding a full page blurb for a forthcoming release of my collection, “What If?” I have it staged and ready for widespread eBook distribution, slated for Halloween, 2018. Whether it will also be available in print is undecided as yet.

I have it in the hands of a few beta readers right now, so they have ample time to get back to me with thoughts, opinions, any errors they might uncover, and so on before I pull the trigger to schedule the release.

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On a sad note, Dennis Serra has announced that he won’t be continuing the Evil Podcast any longer, due to other obligations. I’ll miss his narration, and hope he’ll enjoy the new path he’ll be taking from here on out.

Changing times, changing landscapes, but the writing goes on, as well it should.

Sleep well…

Mission : Possible

Phil Athans is that rare exception to the rule…he can, he does, and he also teaches. I’ve had the pleasure of taking a couple of Phil’s classes at the Writer’s Digest University, and I’ve also read his new book, “Completely Broken”. If you can read this work without a strong emotional response, you should probably be on a watch list somewhere, or at the very least, a perfect bunk mate for Hannibal Lecter.

Phil is that good.

In a recent blog, Phil expressed his strong dislike for vampire stories, because they’re generally the same old things rehashed over and over again, and he is right. Stoker set the bar high with “Dracula”, and it’s really difficult to tell as powerful a story without revisiting Stoker’s work.

Drac Cellar

Oh, and no. “Sparkling” has no place here, never has, and never will. Nope.

I decided to take Phil’s challenge to heart, where he asks authors to try and put a unique twist on the classic vampire tale, and wrote the story “Test Case”, where I’ve tried to put an entirely different character into an untenable situation and then express his take on it.

Just this morning, I received an email from Steph Ellis at the Horror Tree with a contract, stating that she and Stuart Conover, publisher, both loved the story, and would like to use it in their Trembling With Fear section. Needless to say, it was signed and returned with a note of thanks and a smile.

I’ll be sure to post here when it’s released, and then everyone can judge for themselves how I did with my new angle on the timeless vampire tale. Until then…

Sleep well…

Preparations Underway…

Funny, how a self professed pantser is so focused on planning and preparing today, but shit happens, right?

When I write, I start with a very rough sketch, an overview at best, of an idea and start banging on the keys. Most times, the story takes over on its own and I follow along, capturing the words as they arrive. That works for me, at least with my short tales, and that’s what pantsing means. Writing by the seat of one’s pants.

As to the planning and preparing, I’m giving myself a deadline of October 31, 2018…more than enough time for those stories that are now out for submission to have been decided upon by the publishers to whom they’ve been sent, and I’m not submitting any others at this time (except for those offered to the good folks at The Horror Tree and Evil Podcast). As I wait for responses, I’m preparing my manuscript, my collection of short stories for publication. Self publication, that is.

I’m a realist. I know that a self published collection of short stories by an unknown author isn’t going to break through the walls of the best seller lists, and that’s perfectly OK by me.

I enjoy the luxury of writing what I like, when I like, because I do it for the sheer joy of writing it, not to put food on the table or a roof overhead. I have the proverbial day job to handle those obligations.

But I believe in these stories, and I think there are like minded readers out there who will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them, and I want them to be available to those folks, so one way or another, they will be hitting the shelves on Halloween (my favorite day) of this year.

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I’ve made a lot of progress in preparing the manuscript for both epub and mobi formats, to cover the ebook markets, and the latest batch of proof copies of the physical book that are in look really good. I’m learning more each day about how to prepare a manuscript to yield a good finished copy.

I’ll update the progress between now and then, and I am convinced that this work will be readily available by my deadline.

Update – I posted in a Stephen King Reader’s group in Facebook and found two volunteers to read the anthology and give their opinions on it. I provided them links to download in the format of their choice, and now the wait begins. I am looking forward to the opinions of complete strangers who are Stephen King fans!

Sleep well…

Tales From The Dead

I’ve been having so much fun revisiting the past and reading all those stories from the heyday of EC Comics that it inspired me to write a short tale very much in the EC spirit!

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I’d like to share this story with those who follow me, so without further ado, allow me to introduce our narrator, Myron the Mortician…

THE WANDERING WIDOW WALTZ

(A tale of treachery and terror in the classic EC Comics style)

by

G.A. Miller

The rusted hinges on the weathered oak door shrieked in protest as the door swung open to reveal a gaunt man sitting at a vintage rolltop desk.

He swiveled in his chair to face the door, squinting to see better in the dim light. The side light from the lamp on the desk sculpted his harsh grimace, his oily hair parted in the middle. His features relaxed then, softening into his best effort at a welcoming smile. He sat hunched over, not unlike a vulture sizing up fresh roadkill.

 

“Well, hello there! I didn’t realize it was time for my guests to arrive already.” He gestured at the wall behind him, a pair of bodies on gurneys covered with soiled sheets.

“My… residents…don’t follow a regular schedule, you see.”

He chuckled as he closed a large ledger book on his desk, an unpleasant sound nearly as grating as the door hinges had been.

“I am Myron, the Mortician of our humble village, and I believe you’ve come to hear a story that one of my new arrivals shared with me only this morning. I call this tale the ‘Wandering Widow Waltz’.”

He glanced back at the gurneys, a peaceful expression on his face.

“Do have a seat and make yourselves at home, won’t you? I don’t think our… neighbors…will mind the company.”

He chuckled again, repeating that obscene phlegmy rumble, and began his tale…

 

“Edward Caruthers the third was old school and old money. He was also something of a recluse in his later years, preferring to remain at home, surrounded by the possessions he’d accumulated during his lifetime. His wife Dorothea was one of those possessions, a “trophy wife” much younger than he. He believed she would serve as his caretaker once old age settled in and took its toll on him.

Dorothea was a very intelligent lady who’d seen Edward’s proposal as the means to secure her future. She had no romantic notions at all but managed to play the role of a doting wife quite well while biding her time.

Unfortunately for Dorothea, Edward’s health was a bit more robust than she’d anticipated, and he showed no signs of reaching the end of the line anytime soon. Becoming impatient, she announced a desire over dinner one evening…”

 

“Edward dear, I would like to take some formal ballroom dance lessons. I’ve always loved dancing, but I know your knees won’t allow you to participate with me.”

“Dance, eh? Not interested, never was, but if you want to have a go at it, I can have Wilson investigate some schools, try and find something reputable for you.”

“I’ve seen advertisements for the Tomas Montague ballroom method, and it looks rather intriguing.”

“Oh? Well then, go ahead and set up an appointment so you can see what they have to offer.”

“Thank you, darling. Would you care for more wine?”

 

“Old Edward didn’t know that ‘Tomas Montague’ was an alias for a con man named Tommy Valdez that Dorothea knew in the old days, when she was still known as Dasha Petrovitch. He also didn’t know that she thought Tommy might be able to help her speed up Edward’s path to…well, to that gurney right back there, heh heh. Too bad Dorothea didn’t realize that Tommy had other ideas of his own. Just as she planned to use him to rid herself of Edward and inherit his fortune, Tommy schemed to win her over, marry her, and wind up with Edward’s fortune to enjoy for himself. It didn’t take too long at all for her private lessons to become very private indeed, heh heh heh...”

 

“Whew, that was something else!” Tommy sighed, rolling over to his side of the bed and reaching for his cigarettes on the night stand.

“It sure was… I’d forgotten how good that feels.” Dorothea replied.

“Guess the old boy isn’t much in the sack, eh?”

“His get up and go got up and went a long time ago, believe me. Oh, if only I could rid myself of the old goat, we could live the good life.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind laying in the sun on the Riviera instead of twirling those old broads around at the school, believe you me, sugar!”

“I’ve been thinking. Edward has a bad heart and carries a tin of pills that he must take when it acts up. His tin looks a lot like the one filled with mints that I keep in my bag. I wonder…”

“Don’t you think he’d notice if you switched the tins?”

“If he’s having an emergency, I’m not sure, he’d probably just grab for his pills.”

Tommy took a deep drag of his cigarette and looked at the ceiling, thinking. If he could get Dasha to bump off the old coot and score his dough, then he could really put the moves on her and line his own pockets.

“How often does he have these emergencies and need those pills?”

“Rarely,” she pouted. “He avoids excitement, and he doesn’t let himself get overstimulated. That’s what would make him need the pills, if his heart began racing out of control.”

“Hmm… maybe an armed burglar breaking into the house and pulling a gun on him might get his old engine running?”

She rubbed his upper arm, “Now where are we going to find a big, strong burglar to break in to my house?”

Tommy stubbed out his cigarette and rolled back on top of her.

“Let’s see what we can do…”

 

“Yep, old Dorothea and Tommy had quite a romp, using each other in more ways than one. They planned to have Tommy stage the break in on a night when Edward’s butler Wilson had the night off, so it would just be the two of them in the house. With Edward gone, Dorothea would take her young trophy husband Tommy to the tropics, not knowing he’d already planned to poison her and make it look like tainted food, leaving him the grieving, wealthy widower. All she had to do was to switch the tin Edward kept in his dinner jacket while he showered and then keep him occupied so he wouldn’t notice…”

 

“Wilson, tonight’s dinner was truly spectacular. You’ve outdone yourself this evening!” Edward sighed as he pushed his empty plate away.

“Thank you, sir. It was a new recipe I’d found and thought you might enjoy.”

“What time is your show this evening? You’ll be off soon, I imagine?”

“Yes sir, once I clear away the dishes, I’ll have time to catch the train into the city with ample time before the performance begins.”

“A well-deserved treat, to be sure, don’t you agree my dear?”

“Oh yes, do enjoy yourself Wilson.”

Wilson thanked them both and set about cleaning up as Edward and Dorothea moved into the parlor where she poured them both an after-dinner aperitif.

“You seem preoccupied this evening, Dorothea… is anything the matter?

“No, dear Edward, not at all. I’m just tired, that’s all.”

“I’m not surprised, what with how often you go off to your dance lessons these days. Quite the workout, it seems.”

She struggled to keep a straight face. Oh, if you only knew, she thought.

Edward settled into his wing chair and opened the first of the evening papers that Wilson had set out on the end table beside his chair.

Just a little longer now, she thought, an hour or two to insure they were isolated and Tommy would stage the break in as planned. The tin had been switched during his shower and he’d never checked beyond patting the pocket as he always did to make sure he had it with him.

“Darling, would it distract you if I turned on the television? I’m not in the mood for reading.”

“No, not at all, go right ahead.” He said from behind the Times.

Dorothea tuned to a public broadcast station, knowing he’d approve of her choice. She didn’t care what was on, she just wanted the sound of the television to cover any noise Tommy might make when he entered through the window she’d left unlocked for him. She wished she could have a cigarette, but instead nervously opened the tin of mints in her bag and let one melt, frowning at the bitter aftertaste. She glanced at her empty glass and realized the aperitif wasn’t an appropriate choice to have along with a mint.

Time seemed to move slowly, her anticipation ramping up. She tried to watch the show, to occupy her mind, but she couldn’t stop looking at the antique Grandfather clock in the corner of the room.

Where is he? she wondered.

The door to the parlor finally opened and Wilson walked in as Dorothea gasped. Edward folded his paper and set it down.

“Ah, Wilson. Is it done?”

“Yes sir. He’s unconscious, and I took the liberty of securing his hands and feet. The police have been summoned and are on the way.”

“Wha…?” Dorothea gasped, suddenly feeling flushed, her heart racing.

“My dear Dorothea, did you think me so feeble and foolish that I wouldn’t have your ‘friend’ and his dance school investigated? Once I uncovered his past, I had you followed and know exactly what kind of dancing you were doing. I also learned of your plan and had Wilson ready and waiting for your friend’s arrival.”

She was perspiring freely now, her heart pounding. Was this her nerves? She began feeling lightheaded. Edward smiled.

“Oh, and when you switched the tin with my heart pills, you couldn’t have known that I had Wilson supply both tins with my medication. That way, if I needed one, I’d be fine, however if someone with a strong heart like yours should accidentally take one, well…the result would be catastrophic. Sadly for you, neither Wilson nor I could have known you’d switched them, so the police will find mine filled with your mints, and yours with my medication. I believe your autopsy will show death resulting from a myocardial infarction, my dear.”

 

“Oh, and yes…that’s exactly what they found during her autopsy, folks…her heart literally beat itself to death, heh heh heh.” Myron interjected.

 

Dorothea was now gasping for air looking frantically from Edward to Wilson, pointing at herself, silently beseeching them for help. Wilson looked on, his expression impassive, as Edward began laughing.

“Oh, you foolish gold digger. You thought yourself so wise, didn’t you?”

Dorothea fall back on the sofa, her erratic heart rhythm finally slowing, then stopping altogether as Edward brayed laughter. He laughed so hard, he felt his own chest tighten and took out his tin, dry swallowing two of the pills within.

“Wha…? These taste different, sweet…” the seizure hit then, the force driving Edward back in his wing chair as Wilson looked on with approval.

“Indeed sir, as well they should. Those are your wife’s mints, you see. Madam did not know that you’d originally left your estate to me prior to your marriage, nor was she aware that you’d never changed your will… but, I was. Your generosity is highly appreciated, I can assure you, sir.”

Wilson smiled as Edward slouched, dead in his seat. He’d left nothing to chance, knowing the police would follow the trail of betrayal, Edward’s discovery of Dorothea’s plan, and her own error after switching the tins, effectively killing them both. Tommy’s testimony to the police blaming it all on her would close their case. Hearing cars arriving in the driveway, Wilson walked to the door while preparing an appropriately shocked expression to greet the police with.

 

“And, there you have it. This time, the butler DID do it!” Myron cackled loudly, an even more horrific sound than before.

Edward and Dorothea, take a bow…oh, I suppose that might be difficult, strapped to your gurneys back there, hahahahaha!

I so hope you enjoyed my tale of terror and treachery. Do come back again soon, won’t you? Each day brings me a new client with their own story to tell!”

 

THE END

(for now)

(Copyright © 2018, G.A. Miller. All Rights Reserved)

 

Sleep well…

The Filling Station…

We call them gas stations now, and we pull in to top off the gas tank so we can continue on our way without giving it much thought, right? We might get a snack, a drink, even a quick trip to the bathroom, but it’s no more than a pit stop along the way.

Sometimes, the Muse needs a refill too, a chance to sit back and relax while we pour in gallons of fresh fuel for them to feast on and kick the engine of imagination into high gear once again.

The time has come for me to stop at a special filling station, and I am prepared. No, I’m not driving a credit card at high speed into my head and then drinking from a fuel hose (although that might be an interesting story idea someday). I’m simply going to enjoy the two hardcover books that arrived in the mail yesterday…

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I’ll have seventeen days to relax and enjoy this trip down memory lane before Stephen King’s new novel “The Outsider” releases on May 22nd. Those who know me well know that I will have that book in my hands on release day, and the world around me will come to a screeching halt as I enter the world Stephen King has created once more.

Once I come out at the other end, it’ll be very interesting to see what my Muse makes of all the fresh input it’s feasted on. All I need do to prepare is to keep an open mind and a blank page ready to go.

Sleep well…

Monday…

Monday is deservedly the “suck” day of the week, that jarring reality slap for those of us who are the wage slaves trying to keep our path steady and trouble free.

But now and then, we get an unexpected treat on a Monday, like the one I just saw at lunch.

J.D. Graves, the publisher of EconoClash Review released a sneak preview of the cover for issue #2, which is due out in Fall of 2018…

ECR2

This issue will include my story “Trappe’s Rest”, about a wiseguy on the run who makes the wrong choice when he needs to stop on the road and rest.

He should have chosen that other place, the one that nice young man named Norman runs for his mother. It would have been a better choice…

Ah well, back to the grind for me.

Sleep well…

 

Saturday morning…

Weekends are the best time for me to write. The house is quiet, breakfast is finished, and I can dig into what I’m writing, immerse myself in it, and hang on when it takes over.

Love it!

Today, I’m working on the new short story first, with plans to make some progress on the book later on. This story is fun, as it’s in response to my self issued challenge to come up with a different twist on a vampire story, and it’s progressing nicely.

And then, there’s yesterday’s inclusion into a cell block, courtesy of T.G. Campbell…

Bow Street Society Writer’s Wing

OK, let’s get back to it…

He leaned forward in his chair, emphasizing his point.

“I’ll tell ya what you came to ask about. I’m a friggin’ vampire now. No idea how or when or why, but somehow I wound up dead and hungry. I got my first hint when I woke up after dark one day and the heart rate monitor on my watch showed two dashes where the numbers used to be. The rest of it, I’m figuring out as I go.”

My quiet nod of understanding seemed to calm him as he sat back and sighed, settling down again.

“Problem is, there’s no instructions, and there ain’t no teachers. Can I turn into a bat or a wolf or mist? Hell, I dunno, but if I can, I don’t know how. You’re the writer, did you ever see a ‘Dracula for Dummies’ book? The feeding, that’s easy. You get close to someone, you can hear their blood rushing and heart pumping and the dinner bell starts clanging, believe me. The feeding takes over all by itself.”

Hmm…I’m going to have to check on Amazon and see if they have that book, now that I think of it. Might be some interesting reading!

Sleep well…

Having fun, making progress…

Nice to be able to do both! On the writing side, I’d challenged myself to come up with a vampire story, but it had to have a new twist, something unique that I hadn’t seen done before, rather than simply retelling Stoker’s tale one more time.

I have a solid first draft, it goes to a place I’ve never seen visited before, and has a nice (hopefully unpredictable) twist to it. I’ll continue working with that when I’m not BURIED at work! Given that my poor wife is stuck working this weekend, I’ll have plenty of time to work on this story (and get some progress done on the book too, I hope!)

On the fun side, I was looking at my cover design for “What If?”, my collection of short stories and it occurred to me that would be a great template to build a business card design from, so it was Photoshop Play Time in the dungeon!

PS Play

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself! The slightly over sized black canvas provides a “safe zone” for the trim down to standard 3.5 by 2 inch card size, as well as a backdrop for the highly distressed background. The vintage typewriter says it all, insofar as what a business card for G.A. Miller should represent.

Damn…lunch is just about over, back to the salt mines for me.

Sleep well…

Care for a bite?

Vampyr, Vampire. Potato, po-tah-to.

Say it and spell it as you wish, it’s the undead, the Nosferatu, the blood sucking demon of the night.

One of my favorite monsters from when I was a kid, but a difficult subject to write about simply because they’ve been done to death (no pun intended) and I don’t want to rehash something that’s already been done ad nauseum.

I actually wrote a song in a past life titled “Prince Of Darkness”, along those lines…

They mounted tired horses, with torches held up high

But none were left to battle when dawn’s light reached the sky

Women held their children snug against their breast

They had to leave their homeland before the sun set in the west

For the fallen band of peasants would rise and head for home

Reaching for their loved ones with caresses dark and cold

I’ve touched on them briefly in my fiction, by misdirecting attention to the wrong person in “Ancestry”, and then as a highly unlikely mentor in “Mr. Cook’s Visitor”, but in both of those tales, they remained in the shadows for the most part for just that reason. I want my vampire tale to be as unique, as different, and as original as I can make it.

And then, I had an idea yesterday, a different way to approach a vampire tale. At least, I think it’s different, but we’ll see. I’m going to start writing it, let it take the wheel and see where it takes me. It’s a modern day setting, not a crumbling castle in the Carpathian mountains, and my vampire would be more likely to wear a T-shirt and jeans than a cloak and formal evening wear.

Oh, one other thing.

He will absolutely NOT sparkle. Unrequited love fueled by teenage angst is NOT part of the formula.

A vampire should be cunning, cruel, and above all else, hungry.

Show ’em, Sir Christopher!

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Sleep well…