Posted in Fiction

The Keychain (Part III)

Stella gave the man a blank stare and blinked three times. If she didn’t know any better, she could have sworn she heard him say the gemstone hanging from the keychain is his home. Rather than give him a response, she backed away several steps, turned on her heal, and ran down the beach in the opposite direction. After a good five minutes, her lungs hurt, so she stopped and bent over. Her heart hammered as her adrenaline continued to fuel the rush of blood through here system.

She stood up and intertwined her finger behind her head, hoping that would calm her breathing. Aloud to no one she said, “Damn, I really need to work out more.”

“Yes, you do,” said the man.

Stella gasped and turned to see the same man from before. “How? How did you…? But I…”

“You what? Thought you left me up the beach? Not likely. As I said before, that gemstone you are carrying is my home. You can think of me as a genie in a bottle but not really. I don’t grant wishes.”

“How were you able to follow me?” asked Stella. She didn’t care about the gibberish he was spewing at the moment. She wanted to be rid of him. A breeze picked up momentum and flung her long brown hair across her face. She swiped at it, hitting her nose in the process, which fed her irritation even more so.

“It isn’t important how I followed you.” He paused, then turned and took a couple steps. Shaking a finger at her he said, “You aren’t nice. You should be nice to people.”

“I am nice. You’re frightening me is all. How do you expect one to behave, when you behave as you are right now? Maybe I wouldn’t be as scared if you’d tell me a little about what’s going on. How were you able to follow me so quickly?”

The man nodded and licked his lips. “Ok. That’s fair. As I said before, that gemstone you are holding is my home. I live in it, or let me put it another way. I am cursed to it. I can’t be more than ten feet from it. So, when it moves, I move whether I want to or not. I go with it.”

“How did you get outside of it?” asked Stella.

“When you changed that starfish into a seashell, I was extricated from it. So, thank you. It’s been quite a while since I breathed fresh air. And the more you use the gemstone, the longer I get to stay outside of it.”

“Use it? You mean change things?”

“Yes, among other things,” said the man.

Stella was going to ask him to go into detail but thought better of it. An idea began to form. The corners of her lips turned up as a devious plan took shape. “Change? You say?”

“Yes. Wait.” Now it was the man’s turn to smile. He rubbed his hands together as he said, “What do you have in mind?”

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Editing

Reading Backwards

As many of you know from a previous post, I finished my second novel this past July of 2022. Since then I’ve been editing, re-editing, and then editing some more. How many time does one need to read their work before it’s polished? How ever many times it takes. You will know when it’s just right. When you’re done with editing it, give it to another editor who knows what they’re doing. They have those editor’s eyes that will see something you missed that you didn’t think was an issue. Also, give your final draft to a beta reader (or a test reader). Yes, you want to do this. They will give you valuable feedback about your story. Trust me, if there is part of your story that isn’t making sense, your beta reader will spot it.

Before you go beyond the editing YOU are doing, read your story/manuscript backwards. Yes, start with the last page of your story and read each paragraph starting from the last paragraph and working your way backwards. Doing this will allow your brain to focus more on the mechanics of each sentence rather than the story. Think about it. When you are reading a story, the story is flowing through your mind. Your brain is focusing on the story itself and not on the mechanical issues you may have that must be fixed. Therefore, you will end up missing mistakes that need to be fixed. By reading it backwards, the story itself won’t get in the way.

Posted in Fiction

The Keychain (Part II)

Hanging from the keyring encompassing her toe was a precious gemstone. The odd thing about it wasn’t that it was hanging from her toe or that she found a precious gemstone on the beach. Stuff like that was found on the beach more often than one would think. The weird characteristic presenting itself as Stella removed the keychain from around her toe was the continuous change the gemstone appeared to be displaying. Not only that, but the shape of it also changed. Each time it changed a sparkling glint emitted from it.

She reached a finger up and glided it across the surface of the gemstone. At the moment it was in the form of a royal blue pyramid. She brought her finger up for another pass along its surface when a feint blue beam of light surged from one of its points and hit a starfish wriggling in place on the wet sand. A second later the starfish morphed into a seashell of approximately the size of a quarter. Stella reached down, retrieved the seashell, and turned it over in her fingers. The inside displayed various hues of blue. The outside was pure white.

The gemstone changed shape and colors a moment later. This time it took on the shape of an oval with faceted edges, and the color was light pink. Stella dangled the now pink gemstone above the seashell in her hand.

“Hmm. I wonder what it will do now,” stated Stella.

“Must you stand there?” said a male voice behind her.

She turned to see a middle aged man with a tiny goatee and a light mustache about a head taller than herself. “What?” asked Stella.

“Are you deaf? I asked must you stand there?” asked the man.

“Why? Am I in your light or something? All you have to say is, ‘excuse me, could you please move aside?'” She turned and continued her walk down the beach. The key chain dangled from her right forefinger and the seashell sat in the palm of her left hand. She had only taken about ten steps, when the feeling of a presence from behind her caused her to stop an look over her shoulder. The man stood a few paces to her rear. She spun around. “Why are you following me?”

“I’m not following you, miss. I’m following that keychain dangling from your finger. I cannot be more than ten paces from it.”

She eyed the man standing before her from head to toe. There didn’t appear to be anything odd about him. Something in his eyes drew her nearer to him. “What is your name, sir?”

“What is yours?”

“I asked you first.”

“I asked you second,” said the man.

“Look, I’m not playing that game. Just tell me your name.” His eyes went to the keychain in her hand. “This is mine. I found it. You know the rule of any beach as it relates to finding something,” said Stella.

“What rule is that?”

“Finders keeper.”

“Not if it belongs to someone else, and they had lost it. You do the good deed, and give it back to them.”

“How do I know this belongs to you?” asked Stella.

The man took two steps forward. “That gemstone is my home.”

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Fiction

The Keychain (Part I)

Stella wriggled her toes in the soft, warm sand as she stood on the beach. The smooth roll of the waves toward the shore served to calm her nerves from an otherwise nasty, busy day at work. She inhaled the fresh salty air blowing in from the Pacific and then exhaled. At least tomorrow was another day. In her mind no two days were the same, so she never worried about encountering the same problems as the day before. And, if the same issue or issues did arise, she would handle it differently. The walks on the beach helped her to gain some perspective on the days events, so a better solution could come to light. It was a great way to relax and prepare. For the most part that strategy worked.

Being a merchandiser on a merchandising execution team at a home improvement store came with its challenges, but for the most part the job was fun. Most of her teammates were great. She was one of the guys, and they treated her with respect and she them. The challenge came with the other two females on the team. Most of the time they worked on other projects, so she never saw them. But at times, when they were around, the atmosphere could be rocky. Like today. The two of them were out of sight of Stella, but she could still hear their conversation regardless. And they knew it. Most of what they said was about her. How did she know? Her name was mentioned. They talked about how she wore her makeup and how she hung out with the guys then followed up their statements with a few choice names calling her a whore and a lost puppy dog.

Stella shook her head and let the wind blowing off the Pacific ocean blow the memory of the work day out of her head. She wasn’t any of those things. If anything she treated everyone with respect and remained nice to people. Her mother always told her one could catch more with honey than vinegar, and she was right in a way. But sometimes people were just nasty anyway. She smiled, turned to her right, and started walking down the beach.

The sun began its trek toward the horizon and cast a warm, comfortable glow on the sand making it the perfect time to look for little treasures that might be hidden beneath the sand, such as sea shells. At home she had a glassed in case of them. The ones she collected, she would take home, polish them, and put them the case.

She slid her feet forward in the sand as she continued walking. Then the odd feeling of a ring around her left big toe caught her attention. She raised her leg and grabbed her foot. “What the hell?”

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Fiction

The Moving Room (Part IV)

Ed’s attention went from his wife, who ascended to the second floor, to Lily. Her smile as she, too, watched his wife’s ascent, made him scratch his head in wonder. He could understand her being happy that Daisy loved the house, but her smile wasn’t that kind of smile. There was a type of malice there. He liked it.

“Why do I get the feeling you’re hiding something?” Ed asked Lily.

“You sound more intrigued about that than fearful,” replied Lily.

“Maybe because I am. So, what is really going on?”

“Oh, you’ll find out here in a few minutes.”

Ed gave her a thoughtful look. “Is it a trap of some kind?” asked Ed.

“You could say that. But it’s only for those greedy enough to fall for it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Let’s just say your wife will finally have a house she will never be rid of…..ever.”

Daisy stepped onto the landing. The red plush carpet cushioned her every step. She stopped and peered to the left then right then left again. All the doors remained shut in each direction. Then to her left a door popped open on the right side of the hall way, and a light streamed out from within. The beam appeared brighter than usual. Her curiosity up, she hurried to the open door and poked her head in.

The red carpet continued into the bedroom. The walls were a creamy pearly white and shined as such. She reached around with her hand and rubbed it along the wall. The smoothness of it told her it was indeed pearl. “Wow, walls of pearl.” Her attention drew to the left and around the rest of the room. As she did this, she stepped inside the room. It was then she noticed the intricate gold design within the pearl walls. She took two strides to get a closer look and ran her finger along the gold pattern. On the left end of the room sat a four poster bed. It’s frame also that of pearl and with the same golden design. “I love this house. I love this room. I want it. I have to have this.” She turned to run out of the room to go get her husband, but the door wasn’t where it had been before. It was next to the bed.

She must have been mistaken, so she ran out the door and into a hallway with blue plush carpet. There was no hall going left or right as before. Instead the hall way was in front of her. She ran down it toward the stairwell, but there was no stairwell. She turned back toward the room but found herself back in the room without having moved. “How?” She turned in circles but now there was no door in the room. Not even one for a closet. But, oh, how she loved the room. She needed find her husband though. But there was no door leading out of the bedroom.

She banged on the wall’s, “Ed! Ed! Can you hear me? Ed!? Help.”

Downstairs Lily chuckled as she listened to Daisy yell for help.

“Shouldn’t we go help her?” asked Ed intrigued with Lily and not moving a muscle to help his wife.

“You don’t sound very convincing, Ed,” said Lily. “As a matter of fact, I see a tiny smile on those lips of yours.”

“You don’t know the evil that woman up there has put me through, so yeah, I guess I’m just going through the motions of giving a damn about her. But, out of curiosity. What happened to her? Why is she needing help in the first place?”

“She entered the moving room. When a greedy, self-serving person enters the room, there is no way out. The room moves and continues to move. It will display a door on one side of the room making you think you found your way out, when in reality, it leads to somewhere else.” She paused for effect, then, “There is no way out.”

Ed smiled. “I see.”

“Do you want this house, Ed?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Then let’s go.”

Ed and Lily walked out the front door and down the steps. Lily remained standing in front of the house and watched as Ed walked to his car.

Ed opened his driver side door and glanced up in the direction of the house, as he got into his car. But the house was gone and so was Lily and any trace she had ever been there.

(The End)

Posted in Fiction

The Moving Room (Part III)

“How did you get the buyers of our last three homes to give up ownership after six months?” asked Ed.

“Oh, that was simple. Anyone would freely give up their home if it meant they had to make zero payments,” replied Daisy.

“Then who pays the property taxes?”

“In essence, you do.”

“How do I do that?” asked Ed.”

“Well, hm, let’s see. Every buck you earn goes to me, so I pay it with that.”

“You’re evil, Daisy. Plain and simple. Just pure evil.”

“Never forget, baby, I own you.”

Ed turned off the car, and they went inside their current house. He sauntered into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of milk. He stood at the kitchen sink and stared out the window into the back yard. How was it that Daisy came to be the way she is? She wasn’t like that when he married her. He scratched the back of his head, chugged the rest of his milk, and belched out an air bubble. Unless that was all an act and this was her clear intent all along.

“Ed! Come quick! Look at this house,” called Daisy from the living room.

Ed walked in to the room to find Daisy drooling over a house displayed on the TV. It was a three story Victorian style with spires on each corner. This had to be the one that Daisy would be happy with for years and years. “Where is it?”

“Ten miles from hear going north of town. There’s an open house going on right now.”

“Well, what are we waiting for. Let’s go look at it,” said Ed.

They jumped in the car, backed out of the driveway, and headed north of town.

Daisy sat in the passenger seat with her hands pushed together between her legs. She rubbed them together as an exciting leer pressed itself on her face. “Oh, this house is going to be mine. All mine. This is the one. I can just feel it. Once I have it, you won’t be able to pry me out of there.”

Ed didn’t know what to think. Why couldn’t she be happy with what she had? It made no sense to him. He drummed his fingers on his leg as he drove. Maybe he could stay in this house, while she stayed in the Victorian house. He smiled at the thought, but he knew better than to think she’d actually let him have something of his own. Damn, how was he going to rid himself of this problem?

Twenty minutes later he pulled the car into the long driveway leading to the Victorian home. He gave his wife a side look, as he parked the car. Her eyes pealed themselves to the front of the house.

With absent minded ease, Daisy opened her car door and stepped out. Her jaw dropped open as she shuffled her way to the front steps and walked up.

Ed stood next to his open car door and watched as his wife melded herself, in a way, with the beauty of the house. Then another beauty captured his own eyes, and it wasn’t the house. A woman, with blond hair spilling over her right shoulder stepped out of the house.

“Hi, I’m Lily.” She held out her hand to Daisy, and Daisy shook it.

By this time Ed had walked up the front steps and now held his hand out and shook Lily’s.

Lily handed them both her business card. Moving Room Real Estate was printed across the top.

Hm, thought Ed. He’d never heard of that brokerage. “Are you a knew brokerage?”

“You could say that,” replied Lily. Her dark brown eyes gave him a few flirtatious blinks.

Ed smiled back, glanced at his wife who continued to be enthralled with the house and now headed inside. He let her go and didn’t follow. He looked back at Lily who’s creased brows told him she wasn’t impressed with Daisy. “Something wrong?” asked Ed.

“Well…’s your wife. Is she ok? She shook my hand but never really acknowledged me.”

“It’s the house. She’s taken by it and wants it bad,” said Ed as he and Lily now entered the house.

A sly smile then graced Lily’s lips. “Then let’s allow her to roam the house on her own. “I’m sure she’ll find something that will keep her here indefinitely.”

It was Ed’s turn to crease his brows. It was an odd statement, but this felt like an odd situation, although he couldn’t explain why.

A circular staircase sat off to the right of the front entryway. Ed watched as Daisy, in a dream like state, walked up the stairs to the second floor.

Daisy, her eyes on the landing above, made her way up the steps. The house, it called to her psyche. It pulled her, and up up she went.

Lily watched with an I gottcha now smile as Daisy made her way up.

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Fiction

The Moving Room (Part II)

Shoving his wife out the passenger side door was only a fantasy. He couldn’t do something like that. Simply put, he wasn’t that kind of guy. His wife, Daisy, irritated him to no end, but she was his wife none the less. For better or worse. More for the worst if anything though. He, Ed Thomas, was a stand up guy. At least he thought so. He itched the back of his head as he turned the car into the driveway of their current home.

He watched Daisy as he turned the car’s engine off. Her head bowed to her chest and her bottom lip popped out. He placed a hand on her knee, but she didn’t respond. “Daisy,” said Ed. “We have a nice house. It’s perfect. We don’t need to sell it and buy a new one. This needs to stop.”

Daisy shot her head up and looked her husband square in the eyes. “It’s boring, Ed. This house is boring. There is nothing magical about it.”

“That’s not what you said when we bought it a year ago. You said it had all kinds of magic. That it was just what you wanted.”

“There is always something better out there. Always.”

“How long is this going to go on? Huh? We’ve been married for five years. We’re in our mid-thirties. We can’t continue to move every year. Our funds will deplete as time goes by,” replied Ed.

“Bah,” said Daisy with a wave of her hand. “Not if we use the money we get from the sale of our house it won’t. Besides, baby, you make good money. With the $70,000 a year salary you make, and the $10,000,000 inheritance you gained, we’ll be sitting pretty for a good long time.”

“But you never let me have any money. It’s my money and you never let me have access to it,” said Ed.

“And don’t you forget it, Sweety. Remember what I told you.” Her facial expression turned to ice, and her voice deepened in a gruff, harsh tone. “You will NEVER have anything. It’s mine. All mine. The money. The houses. Everything. Oh and by the way. The other two houses we purchased prior to this one? I still own them.”

Ed twisted his head and shot her a look. He opened his mouth to respond but found himself speechless. After a full minute he said, “But, how? I saw and witnessed the sales transactions.”

“Did you read the documents that were signed?”

“Well, no. I let you take care of…..” Shock invaded his speech once more. “What did you do?”

“Oh, the buyers bought the house. But I had the realtor set up the contract so that ownership of the each of those houses would revert back to me within a six month period of time. The buyers would stay there rent free after that.”

“I’m taking you off the bank accounts. And you no longer will share in my inheritance.”

“Yeah, well, remember what I told you I’d do if you tried to do that,” threatened Daisy, an evil leer smearing across her face.

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Fiction

Lights of Fantasy (Part IV)

“They are other worlds,” replied her grandpa.

“How can that be? There is only one world. That’s the one we live in.” Then she recalled the moving eyes in the pool that afternoon. She took a deep breath and let it out. This whole thing was too much. “Grandpa, you’re being silly.”

“Am I?”

“Yes.” With her eyes still on the twinkling lights, she felt her grandpa’s pointed stare. His sinister voice took on a whole other level of sinister. There was a heaviness to it. She glanced at him and did a double take. His nostrils flared, and his skin reddened. “Grandpa? I didn’t mean to make you angry.”

“You don’t believe in the lights. Do you?” her grandpa asked.

“I think you’re putting me on. You know. Like grandparents are supposed to do. Tell their grandkids stories.”

“Tell me, did you eyes in the pool today?”

Lily blinked several times. How would he know to ask that? “Y-yes. Why?”

“They were your eyes.”

“My eyes. That’s impossible. My eyes are right here,” said Lily pointing to her eyes.

Her grandpa took a step toward her and continued to stare at her.

“Grandpa, you’re scaring me.”

“No need to be scared. You see. You are going to one of those worlds, just like you did the past three times. Then you will come back, or your eyes will, and look up at you from the pool. This process will continue until you finally believe me about the lights in the pool.”

“I-I-I believe you. I believe you. Please, don’t make me go away,” replied Lily backing away from him.”

“It’s too late, bug.”

Her grandpa took both sides of her neck in his hands. He squeezed until she blacked out. When she came too the next day, her eyes stared up from the pool’s water at herself who was standing on the side of the pool. Her eyes glided with grace as they moved back and forth.

(The End)

Posted in Fiction

Lights of Fantasy (Part III)

I took a few careful steps backwards, not taking my eyes off the moving eyes gliding along in the water from one end of the pool to the other. Then I stopped, scrunched my eyes shut, and shook my head. When I opened them, the floating eyes in the pool were gone. I stood there for another moment scratching an itch on my elbow. She jumped at a noise behind her. It was her mother.


“Mom, you scared me to death.”

“What’s wrong? You look pale.”

Given her mother’s reaction before when Lily pointed out the weirdness in the pool, she didn’t think her mother would believe her now. “It’s nothing. I think spent too much time in the pool today.”

Her mom checked her watch then looked at her daughter with a creased brow. “It’s only been 15 minutes. For you that’s no time at all.”

“What can I say?” replied Lily with a shoulder shrug. “For now I’m good.” She sped by her mother and into the house.

Later that night, Lily lay in bed reading when a small tap played out a rhythm on her door.

“Come in.”

The door opened, and her grandpa stepped into the room. “Hey, bug,” said her grandpa smiling.

Bug was her grandpa’s nickname for her since she was a toddler. “Grandpa!” shouted Lily, surprised. “When did you get here?”

“Oh, about 20 minutes ago. I couldn’t wait to see the new pool. It took some convincing your mom and dad to have it put in, but they finally caved.”

Lily’s mouth opened wide, not knowing how to respond at first. Then. “You? It was you?”

Her grandpa nodded his head.

“I wondered why mom and dad gave in so easily when I asked them. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“Your welcome, bug. As a matter of fact, how do you like the special addition to it?”

Lily cocked her head and looked at him. “What special addition?” She had an idea but didn’t know if it was what she was thinking or not. After all, she didn’t want her grandpa looking at her funny like her mom did earlier.

Her grandpa turned off her bedside lamp, walked over to her second story window, opened it, and knelt down in front of it. He motioned her over. “Take a look.”

She sauntered over to the window and knelt down beside him, rested her arms on the window sill and gazed out in the direction of the pool. The tiny round glass lights twinkled up at her like stars in the night sky. She opened her mouth to respond, then closed it, then opened it, then closed it again. Not wanting to take her eyes off the twinkling lights her eyes sat glued to the spectacle as she gave her head a slight turn in her grandpa’s direction. “Ummm. How? I mean, are they glow in the dark?” Given her experience earlier in the day, she figured there had to be some oddness behind the twinkling of the lights now but didn’t want to go there just yet. “Or, they’re electric right?”

“No, my child. They aren’t any of those things,” said her grandpa.

There was a more serious tone to his voice she’d never heard before. “Then, what are they?”

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Editing

Tightened Language

When you are writing a story, whether a book length story or a short story, be as clear in your language use as you can. Get rid of redundancies and use of too many words to tell or describe something, when a few words will suffice.

Too Wordy: Joe walked as slow as he possibly could on purpose because he knew it would make me angry.
Cleaned Up: Joe trudged down the path. He knew it would irritate me.

In the first sentence too many words are used to say what one word can do. By using the word trudge, we get a clearer picture of how slow Joe is walking without the extras. Then breaking it down into two sentences makes it easier to read.

Too Redundant and Excessive Language: The quarrelling couple downstairs worked my last nerve, I thought. The whole situation was making me angry to the point I wanted to go down stairs and tell them to stop.
Tightened Up: The quarrelling couple downstairs worked my last nerve. Hmm, maybe I’ll pound on their door and tell them to stop.

In the first sentence we don’t need the words I thought because we already know the character is thinking the words we just read. It’s one of those unwritten understandings. The reader just knows. That is what’s called excessive language. We also have redundant language in that sentence. The reader already knows the character is angry so the words, The whole situation was making me angry to the point…, is not needed.