Sunday, December 22, 2013

Run, Run! ~ A Flash Fiction Christmas Story

Apex Publications' "A Merry Little Apex Christmas Apex Flash Fiction Contest" ran from November 11th to December 16th. The challenge was to write a Christmas story, Apex-style, in 250 words. Every entrant received a copy of Apex Magazine and the winner to be published on the Apex blog December 23rd.

Congratulations to the winner, Thea Hutcheson, with Stockings Hung at the Hearth! And congratulations to the second through fifth place winners ~ Cameron Suey, Amy Sisson, Cynthia Dawn Griffin and Christina M. Parker.

My submission didn't make the final cut but I had a lot of fun writing this goofy little story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Photo courtesy of and copyright huppypie, Some Rights Reserved


Police arrived at the home of Steve and Becky Sanders at a quarter to ten. Detective Jensen rolled over and turned the volume up on the department issued radio.

"Please, not another one," he pulled himself out of bed and into his jeans. After four years, he knew the routine. If his instincts were right, and he prayed they weren't, this was only the first of three murders tonight. Detective Jensen brewed a cup of coffee and waited.

"Detective Jensen."

"I'm sure you have better ways to spend Christmas Eve but it looks like it's going to be a long night. Jensen. He's changed his MO," his partner said.

"Changed? How?"

"He left us two cookies, each with the arms bitten off. And two bodies. Jensen, their arms are missing."

"Jesus. I'm on my way."


Across town, Thomas and Dorothy Whittaker cuddled by the fire, watching A Christmas Story, tree lights flickering in the background. A knock at the door saves Ralphie from shooting his eye out.

"Who could that be?"

"Fred probably locked himself out again. I'll be right back," Thomas kissed his wife's cheek.

A tall, burly man stood at the door.

"Can I help you?"

"I just moved in down the street. I brought you cookies," the man held up an axe and two gingerbread cookies with the heads broken off.

"Dor..." Thomas's head hit the floor.

"Thomas, who..." Dorothy started.

"Run! Run! As fast as you can! You can't escape me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cellar Door II: Words of Beauty, Tales of Terror Released!

Linguists call it the most beautiful phrase in the English language, but what lurks behind the Cellar Door is far more sinister and terrifying.

Edited by James Ward Kirk with amazing cover artwork by Stephen Cooney, Cellar Door Volume 2 is a beautifully terrifying display of poetry, artwork, fiction and photography (including my story, Ellensburg Blue).

Continuing the tradition of Volume 1 ~ Words of Beauty, Tales of Terror ~ here's a glimpse of what lurks behind the Cellar Door.

~ Essence of Ebon, Preserved by Alex S. Johnson
~ Smoky Bottles by Mathias Jansson
~ The Door by Dona Fox
~ Me and My... by Dona Fox
~ Magur by Dona Fox
~ The Wonder Cave by Dona Fox
~ A Darkness in the Cellar by DJ Tyrer
~ Cellar Door by DJ Tyrer
~ Foundations by DJ Tyrer
~ The Soul Worms by Robert E. Petras


~ Wooden Lips by K.Z. Morano
~ Dalliance by Essel Pratt


~ The Last Eulogy by Dale Hollin
~ The Angel's Kiss by Mike Jansen
~ A Late Summer Afternoon on Cranberry Farm by Neil Baker
~ The Gates of Lament by Michael Thomas Knight
~ Forevermore by Dona Fox
~ Sempiternal Denouement by Greg McWhorter
~ The Esoteric Espial by David Eccles
~ Numen by Matt Cowan
~ Ellensburg Blue by M.J. Sydney
~ Little Pony Ride by David Perlmutter
~ Karni Mata by Lee Forsyth
~ Geisha White by Justin Hunter
~ A Soul's Lullaby by K. Trap Jones
~ Angels Behind Glass by Lori Safranek
~ A Halcyon Panacea by Suzy Saylor
~ Last Words by Patrick Lacey
~ The Scent of Jasmine by Kevin Rogers
~ Video Nasty by Matthew Wilson 
~ Leannan SĂ­dhe by Michael Randolph
~ Horrorwerk by Gary Murphy
~ Buried by Adam Blampied
~ Scarecrow Fields by Jason Wolfgang Gehlert

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Is it safe to come out yet?

November is over (if you're reading this, you already knew that) and I managed to survive the last few days without pushing myself off the edge of the mountain (again, obvious to anyone reading this).

It took a little creative juggling (meaning a lot) to increase the word count well above the 50,000 mark. After failing NaNoWriMo five years in a row and determined not to make it six, I can honestly say that joining the secret society known as the NaNo Winner's Circle is over-rated and makes absolutely no difference.

Really, anyone with an hour or two per day can easily punch out 50,000 random words on the keyboard over the course of thirty days. So what? Over the course of a twelve month period, I probably average at least that on a monthly basis (I'm not a mathematician, so don't quote me on that).

Sure, it's what I do for a living and it's not necessarily what I want to write, nor does it require a lot of creativity or originality on my part. But that's not my point. Now, before anyone gets the idea that I'm putting down those who made great accomplishments during NaNoWriMo, I'm not.

The idea behind NaNoWriMo ~ to get as many words as possible out onto paper without worrying about corrections ~ is a nice motivational challenge for those who need a jump start or have difficulty getting started (or finished).

The challenge, for me, isn't to spew out as much incoherent gibberish as possible in a short time. I already know I can do that. And my last thirty-or-so thousand words of shazbot proves it. Those last words may as well have been written in Orkan.

'Now that it's out of your head, you have material to go back and revise' ~ or so the theory goes. Not for me. I don't speak Orkan and won't be revisiting, rereading or revising anything from the last few days.

Should I be proud that 'at least I did it'? No.not really. I didn't set out to accomplish the real challenge I set for myself ~ to write fifteen to twenty completed stories ready to compile or send out.

Will I take the NaNo challenge again next year? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I won't wait until next year. Maybe I'll pick one week out of every month and come up with a new challenge each month. Or maybe I'll challenge myself as a writer daily.

The point to all this rambling is that I need to challenge myself in order to grow. And one month word count challenge per year isn't going to do that. However, some of the perks offered by the event's sponsors might be useful.

Take this poorly designed banner with horrible graphics for example:

It all boils down to this ~ If you want to be a writer, take it seriously and challenge yourself. It doesn't matter if you succeed or fail at NaNoWriMo. Find what motivates you and sit down and do it.

I'm not Mork from Ork, but I leave you with this ~

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wherever you are, whatever you do, whoever you're with ~ Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Unexpected Turn of Events

(Image courtesy of kakisky at MorgueFile)

Even the best laid out plans can't predict or prevent disasters from occurring.

If you've been following my NaNoWriMo progress on here, as I mentioned to do earlier this month, you've probably given up by now.

A series of unfortunate events (yes, that would be a Lemony Snicket reference), beginning with a broken hard drive and ending with an injured knee, set me back quite a ways.

Am I forever destined to fail at NaNoWriMo? Probably.

Can I write 35,000 words in the next three days? Maybe.

Do I have the motivation to try? Sometimes.

I may just push myself all the way over the edge of the mountain if I manage to make it that far.

But it will all be worth it!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Please, Not Another NaNoWriMo Failure!

I finally made the decision ~ I'm switching gears for NaNoWriMo this year. Three years ago (I think, maybe more), I started work on TDK. The ideas were there, the plot, the characters, the story. 

I started with three short stories, somewhat as teasers for the book, to provoke interest. The interest in readers was there. Then everything came to a drastic halt and ... nothing.

I thought, what better way to kick it in the butt than by pushing it (and myself) through during NaNo?The result ~ Two years in a row completely failing at NaNo and not getting anywhere. 

The story is there. TDK wants to be told. It needs to be told. But, I've come to the conclusion that it just isn't ready to come out yet.

I was going to give it another shot this year, but 6 days in and still nothing. It just isn't the right time. So, this year, I'm going to try something different. 

The goal: 50,000+ words in 25 short stories. There's still time for me to catch up and this will be a huge accomplishment for me if I can pull it off. 

The end result (I hope) will either be a complete collection of shorts I can put together in one place...or 25 stories ready to polish and start submitting.

As to my blog here, it's obviously severely neglected. My second goal is to update and post something (maybe random bits of nothingness) here more than once every three months, beginning with updates to the TOC for my NaNoWriMo project ~ Gone in a Flash.

Check back here, or follow me on NaNo, for updates.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Win a Signed Copy of Trent Zelazny's Butterfly Potion from Nightscape Press

"Let's get some sleep," she said. "For just a little while, instead of nightmares, let's try to dream." --Butterfly Potion

Nightscape Press is giving away a signed trade paperback copy of Trent Zelazny's Butterfly Potion and all of Nightscape Press's 2012 and 2013 titles in ebook format.

The contest ends August 31 ~ Head over to Nightscape Press's Facebook page to enter!

While you're at it, stop by Amazon and pick up the Kindle edition of Butterfly Potion for just 99 cents today and tomorrow!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Darwin Murders Anthology and 'Cell 54'

On July 20, authors Candace C. Bowen and Paul De Lancey hosted another great Facebook event ~ The Darwin Murders!

The challenge: Murder in 250 words! Inspired by The Darwin Awards, 42 authors come together in this anthology with tales of happy murdering, all for the benefit of humanity.

The Darwin Murders Anthology, which includes my submission "Cell 54", is now available on Amazon.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bump Off Your Enemies Anthology and 'The Yellow Canary'

The challenge ~ Fictionally "Bump Off Your Enemies" in 200 words or less during the March 15, 2013 Facebook literary event hosted by authors Candace C. Bowen and Paul De Lancey.

Forty-six authors took the flash-murder challenge, now compiled in the e-book anthology, Bump Off Your Enemies, available on Amazon.

My *Bump Off Your Enemies* Anthology Submission ~ The Yellow Canary

The nursery reeked of bourbon and shame. Every night, Jonathan returned with a new bottle clutched in his hands. Returned to the last place he saw their smiling faces. Empty bottles lined the floor and crawled up the walls. He drank. He waited. He knew they would come for him. Elsie made sure of that before her and the baby left this world.

The shadows blew passed the windows, lit only by a faint streetlight in the distance. The yellow canary sat patiently on the windowsill. As Jonathan stood in the center of the dark, shadowed room, he heard the old nursery rocker creak and closed his eyes. It was time. He knew he deserved what was to come.

A light breeze encircled his body as the shadows moved closer. The songbird’s cold, gentle feet perched on his shoulder. The cooling calmness rapidly vanished as the second canary perched on the opposite shoulder, followed by dozens more.

The shadows surrounded him in an icy hurricane of wind as the whispered chanting began. “I know…I know.”

Jonathan tried to open his eyes and scream, but it was too late. He belonged to the shadows and the pecking canaries would devour him.

© 2013 M.J. Sydney