StoryAWeek #2: “A Nervous Sleep”

As mentioned previously on the blog, I’m attempting to write a short story once a week for the year of 2017, and possibly for every week afterward until I finally die, and maybe even a few weeks after that, too.

Story #2 was tricky to write. I actually had to write it twice before I felt comfortable enough to consider it finished. The first draft ended up being 4,200 words. It was dogshit. I couldn’t figure out how to approach it. I wrote it from the POV of the villain–this creepy-as-shit traveling magician–and it killed all the atmosphere. Sometimes writing from the POV of the “baddie” can ruin a story, especially in horror, because the more you can sympathize with the designated monster, the less fear you feel, right?

Anyway. I tossed the 4,200 words and rewrote it not just from the POV of a different character, but also in second-person, which is a style I’ve always wanted to try but never had enough courage to actually follow-through with before. Not only is it told in second-person present tense, but it’s written from the POV of two different people. The final word count ended up being 6,100 words. I think it’s pretty solid. It’s loosely based off a real interaction I had with a weird magician who stumbled into my hotel one night and performed a spontaneous magic show in the lobby for several hours.

It’s called “A Nervous Sleep”, which could change ten seconds after I post this blog.

To-Do List 01/12/17 – 01/15/17

  • Turn my cell phone off in case the guy who’s supposed to be covering my shift the next four nights decided to skip town.
  • Ascertain I’ve blocked all management from Facebook so they can’t track me down and call me into work via private messaging.
  • Finish LitReactor column.
  • Finish Gamut column.
  • Finish short story titled “Nervous Sleep”.
  • Sign Chiral Mad 3 signature sheets.
  • Read slush before impatient authors set me on fire.
  • Consider the bonuses of being set on fire.
  • Send titles out to the Shirley Jackson Awards. (Holy shit, that was like $200. Fucking UK shipping, man.)
  • Watch that new Series of Unfortunate Events series on Netflix.
  • Read some of The Dime which is already fucking intense and awesome.
  • Rub Lori’s back.
  • Let her rub mine.
  • Pet a dog. Any dog. It does not matter.
  • Resist the urge to tweet about drinking coffee.
  • Play Until Dawn until dawn.
  • Try not to freak out.
  • Freak out.

To-Do List 01/09/17

  • Pretend my lobby isn’t swarmed with drunk guests back from a funeral. Try not to snap.
  • Repeat the phrase “funeral party” over and over until the planet explodes. Possible story title? Well, now it is.
  • Write a new Gamut column.
  • Write a review for Little Heaven.
  • Write a new LitReactor column.
  • Think about writing a new short story.
  • Play Uncharted 4.
  • Consider adding some pages to Cirrhosis.
  • Drown myself in a tub of coffee. Rejoice as the liquid burns my skin off.
  • REJOICE!!!

To-Do List 01/08/17

  • What’s already happened since midnight: I’ve kicked a meth addict out of the hotel, I’ve let a new mother cry on my shoulder, I’ve called the police, I’ve fallen in the swimming pool trying to fetch a guy’s cell phone, and I’ve covered my hands with fiberglass.
  • What I’m going to do the rest of the day: Cry and consider drinking lots of alcohol but instead I’ll probably just go to sleep and play Playstation.
  • Also gotta write some articles and finish Little Heaven and think about Story #2 of 2017’s Story a Week challenge.
  • Gotta read some slush, too.
  • Gotta do a lot.
  • Gotta drink some coffee.
  • This work shift has not been the best. I don’t want to do much of anything. I want to cut my hands off and scream into the sky.
  • Remind myself how magical La La Land was.

To-Do List 01/07/17

  • Finally watch La La Land.
  • Finish article pitch for magazine.
  • Edit MYSTERY NOVELLA. Not a novella in the mystery genre. Just a novella I can’t talk about yet. I apologize for the confusion. Although the novella does indeed contain mysterious elements. But what doesn’t?
  • Argue with locals trying to barter the price I’ve listed for my used PS3.
  • Research anthologies and magazines currently open for submissions.
  • Finish reading Little Heaven and write a review.
  • Return to work after two nights off and try not to let misery devour me.
  • Let misery devour me.

StoryAWeek #1: “And All the World Drops Dead”

As I mentioned before, I’m participating in 2017’s A Story a Week Challenge, which means I am attempting to write a new short story every week. I am keeping progress of the challenge on the blog for reasons I haven’t quite figured out.

The first story of 2017 is titled “And All the World Drops Dead”. While writing it, I’d titled it “Poison (Deadly Nightshade)” but I think the new one is an improvement. The story is about two women (one cis, one transgender) driving around LA, high and drunk with a gun. There’s also a supernatural entity involved, but I’d rather not spoil the surprise.

I really love these two characters (Layla and Sylvia) and hope to write more about them in the future. I am a believer that most novels should be short stories and most short stories are already too long, but with this particular one, I’m thinking I could easily expand it into a novella or novel someday in the future. But for right now, I’m perfectly satisfied with its length of 4,000 words.

I’ll update y’all if and when I sell it. Until then, stay tuned for next week! Will I write another story, or will I fail like the poor pathetic sack of meat I am?

I GUESS WE’LL FIND OUT.

To-Do List 01/06/17

  • Go to sleep. I don’t work tonight and there’s no reason for me to be awake right now.
  • Eventually wake up, probably?
  • Proof Dark Moon Digest #26 and consider begging people to subscribe to the magazine by pledging to our Patreon but think better of it. I can’t ask people to buy things anymore. I can’t ask people anything. It’s so sickening. How can we function this way?
  • Watch the promo videos for Resident Evil 7 again and pee myself in the anticipation of its arrival.
  • Finish that goddamn story I haven’t been able to shut up about in the last couple posts.
  • Finish that goddamn article pitch I haven’t been able to shut up about in the last couple posts.
  • I finished that book review I was talking about last time, but the place I intended on sending it to turned out to be a dead end, so I’m waiting to hear back from another site about a potential reviewer gig.
  • Read more of Little Heaven.
  • Read Dark Moon Digest submissions and pretend like one day we’ll be completely caught up.
  • Spend time with Lori. Ask her to participate in a murder-suicide and pout when she once again declines the invite.
  • Buy a vanilla Diet Dr. Pepper from Sonic during happy hour. Drink it.
  • Write some more of Cirrhosis.

To-Do List 01/05/17

  • Purchase vendor table for San Antonio Lit Fest since I forgot the other day despite writing it on one of these to-do lists. GOTTA DO BETTER, MAX. GOTTA DO BETTER.
  • Repair credit card reader management somehow fucked up earlier today.
  • Mop the lobby and embrace the urge to turn my life into a musical once that mop’s in my hands.
  • Finish review of Jeff Strand’s excellent Cyclops Road and submit to cool website for potential reviewer job.
  • Watch the season premiere of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
  • Continue article pitch for potential column gig with horror magazine I can’t yet name.
  • Continue that goddamn Lana Del Rey tribute story. Not just continue but finish the motherfucker.
  • Continue edits for novella by MYSTERY AUTHOR.
  • Try not to blow up in a fit of rage caused by further issues with my Mac. Call Apple and inform them I just spent $150 with Geek Squad to repair it (and it’s not even repaired yet because now I have to order a goddamn part from Amazon since they don’t carry that shit in the store for some weird fucking reason) and only now did I discover Apple recalled my very type of laptop because of a faulty sata cable. Guess what’s wrong with my laptop, you motherfuckers? Also, surely Geek Squad knew about the recall. Sneaky bastards, all of them.
  • Try not to punch the next person who says “THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR BUYING A MAC” in the face. Some people only exist to say “THAT’S WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT A PC/MAC” after listening to someone’s computer troubles, and let me tell you, when the bombs drop, their deaths will be mercy killings.
  • Cash my paycheck since I am notorious for losing my direct depositing sign-up sheet so I’ve settled on never having direct deposit. It’s just not my destiny.
  • Play some more Alien: Isolation.
  • Play some more Rocket League with the kid.
  • Rub Lori’s back.
  • Squeeze in a short nap somewhere between blowing up in a fit of rage and rubbing Lori’s back.
  • Catch a 10:45PM showing of La La Land at the Alamo Drafthouse in New Braunfels.
  • Eat a goddamn peanut butter cookie.

To-Do List 01/04/17

  • Make a sign that says “PLEASE DO NOT ABUSE ME, YOU FUCKING ANIMALS” and tape it to the front desk service bell at my hotel.
  • Research potential open calls to send my short story “Every Breath is a Choice”. It was originally accepted to be published by Time Alone’s Let Me In anthology, but the press emailed their authors today informing them the project was dead. This was not a surprise. I predicted this would happen last year when they decided to split the anthology into three volumes because “golly, there are just so many good stories! we couldn’t possibly choose only ONE ToC!” Note that they couldn’t even publish one volume, nonetheless three.
  • Scratch ass.
  • Write a pitch article for a potential column series at a popular horror magazine you’ve undoubtedly read.
  • Write a pitch book review for a website that mostly reviews movies.
  • Continue and possibly finish this week’s short story, currently titled “Poison (Deadly Nightshade)”.
  • Add at least one page to novel-in-progress, titled Cirrhosis.
  • Continue edits on mystery novella.
  • Continue edits on Betty’s novella.
  • Type an entire sentence without getting interrupted by a guest requesting guidance on proper toilet-paper-wiping etiquette.
  • Don’t eat like a piece of shit. If you spend several weeks eating mostly healthy, then have fast food, your stomach will definitely file a complaint with the landlord. Ugh. Whataburger, you monster.
  • Proof this month’s issue of Dark Moon Digest.
  • Proof John Foster’s upcoming collection one final time.
  • Inhale.
  • Exhale.
  • Inhale.
  • Exhale.
  • Inhale.
  • Exhale.
  • Remind myself there’s a town in Texas called Ding Dong.
  • Smile.