“Buckle Up”: 2017 Holiday Story

“Buckle Up”: 2017 Holiday Story

I had not planned on writing a holiday story this year. Current events led me into a kind of lingering depression, where even writing my work-in-progress – a space opera of diverse and changing characters running for their lives, a story I love and want so badly to see to the finish line – had become difficult to do every day. I was putting down four, maybe five or six sentences a day on my commute. The spark had left me. Then I saw a throwback post to my Christmas story swap from 2014.

Kindling of a Tradition

For those of you who haven’t read my earlier blog posts about this and aren’t familiar, the Christmas story swap is a tradition my sister and I started when we were pre-teens. (Now, I guess they’d call us “YAers”.) We would each write our own stories – usually fanfiction based on the X-Men, Dark Crystal, Star Wars, or whatever had captured our fancy that season – in the days or weeks leading up to Christmas day, with the purpose of swapping them on Christmas morning. It was an idea designed to keep us busy in those wee hours waiting for our parents to wake up. I don’t even remember anymore who came up with it, just that we did it for a several years straight, and it became one of my favorite holiday traditions. Writing stories became a tradition for me.

The Rekindling

That tradition between us fell away as we grew older and moved away to university. I even forgot about it for a few years. Then, during a whirlwind bout of inspiration over the 2013 winter break, I wrote my not-exactly-romance, not-quite-coming-of-age novella “Finding Mister Wright.” Fifteen chapters over fifteen days, with the words flying from my brain to the page. I’d never before – and have never since – encountered characters whose voices and personalities have flowed so easily for me. Like Athena from Zeus’s crown, Marshall, Daniel, Rob, Paige, and the rest burst fully-formed from my brain. More than their easiness, though, I’ve loved how their lives and (non-)adventures have always brought me a simple but satisfying joy.

Finding Myself in Mister Wright

The original “Finding Mister Wright” novella takes place mostly over the winter Chicago holidays. Because of that, the cast of that story has always lived in a perpetual kind of winter wonderland, for me. I’ve written them through many different seasons and stages of life, but there’s something about the holidays that always bring out the best of them…and the best in me.

I love writing these characters in this holiday season. No matter how much they change – and they do – they always fill me with such love and a sense of family that is almost as good as having my real family around me. So, while I hadn’t planned on writing a Christmas story this year, when a little nugget of another “Finding Mister Wright” universe story idea struck me on my morning commute earlier this week, I had to run with it.

“Buckle Up”

I wrote this 2017 “Finding Mister Wright” holiday story over the course of the last three days, so it’s basically me falling in free-form. It’s about 3500 words and nearly a full twelve pages, double-spaced. It’s not as polished as it could be, but it’s something I made and that I’m proud to share, nicks, scratches, and all. You can click on the cover image at left if you’d like to read it. If not, that’s fine, too.

I wish you a lovely holiday season, wherever you may be!

Do you enjoy reading holiday stories? How about reading them? If you read my story this year, what did you think? I’d love to hear from you!

Final Count!

The final count for my “Change, in a Bottle” Giving Tuesday 2017 charity contest is in: $39.94! Wow, even I didn’t think it would be that much!

 

 

As I said in the post from last week, I’ll be donating my collection of lunch change ($39.94) to my charity of choice, the Sierra Club. Since so few people participated in this contest, though, I don’t want anyone to feel left out. So…

EVERYBODY WINS!

That’s right: each of the following charities will receive a donation of the final tally, $39.94:

When I saw the small number of folks who took a chance on this contest, I was kind of sad, because I tried hard not to make this about blog hits or comments or subscriptions. I didn’t want to be one of those people who demands a subscription or a story comment to participate in something. But then I reminded myself that this isn’t about me, or my blog, or my writing. It’s about even just the little bit of good that I could give – or give back – to the environment and community around me. The world needs our help to keep growing for the better, whether that’s through charity, art, purpose, care, or communication. We’re one world, and it’s up to all of us to keep the world and all of its inhabitants healthy, strong, and protected.

Thank you to everyone who participated! Let’s keep the giving going!

Even if you missed this contest, why not share the name of your favorite charity in the comments? You never know who may be reading and looking for a good cause to support!

Change, in a Bottle

Change in bottles

Change, in a Bottle: The Concept

They say change starts with you, and me. Since it’s Giving Tuesday (2017), I wanted to make an effort to give back to one of my favorite charities. As I sat eating my lunch, I saw the bottles of change I keep on the table, where I toss the dimes, nickles, and pennies that I bring back from my lunch purposes. A few years ago, I took the change I’d collected and given it to one of our office charity events. It felt great not only to start fresh with those bottles once more, but also to know that even my little change was going to a good cause. I’d like to do the same again, but I’d like to help you, too.

Change, in a Bottle: The Game

Take a look at the image to the left. Those bottles represent my change collection from the last year or so. While it’s not a lot of money, I know that every little bit helps, especially when it’s for a good cause. I’m going to donate that change to one of my favorite good causes, Sierra Club Foundation, which gets a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, in case you have your doubts. If you’d like to join the game, take a guess as to the total amount of money in coins in that picture. The person who guesses the closest to the total will win an equal donation to the charity of their choice, from me. Just post your name, your guess, and your charity in the comments below! Guess submissions will close one week from today – Tuesday, December 5, 2017 – when I’ll do a count of the change and post the results. So start guessing!

Change, in a Bottle: The Rules

While I’d like to keep this super-easy for everyone, every game has to have rules just to keep things orderly. Here they are:

  1. Only one guess per person, please.
  2. Post your guess, along with your name and the name of your charity, using the Comments box for this post. Social media replies or retweets don’t count; sorry.
  3. Submit your guess before Tuesday, December 5, 2017, at 8am ET.

Thanks for playing, and let’s get giving!

Metro 2033 Fanfiction: “Brotherhood of the Dead”

Logline:

When Artyom escaped from the Metro tunnels under irradiated Moscow, he thought he’d left the war, the mutants, and the horrors of the Metro’s fractured societies behind. But the dead don’t give up so easily.

 

The story behind the story:

In early 2017, a bundle sale of “Metro 2033: Redux” rekindled my interest in the “Metro 2033” games. I vaguely remembered them being based on a larger story. So I poked around the Internet about it, and I discovered the game was based on not just one book, but three books, all written by Dmitry Glukhovsky. I ordered and devoured all three books in the space of about 5 weeks. Even after I’d finished the books, my imagination was hungry for more. I read a few fanfiction stories, but very few of them followed the books, and none of those stories took the characters where I wanted to see them go. Of course, that meant I had to put my own version to paper.

“Brotherhood of the Dead” came to me in a dream of dark tunnels and monstrous shapes, and a young couple bound to each other yet struggling to connect. I wrote it in a little less than a month, during the early summer of 2017. It’s full of a different imagery and emotion than I’ve used before, as I tried to match Glukhovsky’s original style. Still, it commandeered my brain and my keyboard until I could get the whole thing down.

Here it is, for you to click on. Or not. Very few people read this story when I posted it at Archive Of Our Own and Fanfiction.Net. Fewer still are likely to read it here. But that’s okay. I enjoyed finding my!Artyom’s voice, and doing the research around the Metro stations underneath (modern-day) Moscow, old Russian folk tales, Eurasian geography, and subterranean hydroponics. And, isn’t the joy of it what truly matters?

Metro 2033: Brotherhood of the Dead
“Autumn Leaves” (short story)

“Autumn Leaves” (short story)

This is “Autumn Leaves”, the latest entry in my “Finding Mister Wright” series of stories. It follows Rob as he and Daniel take Paige off to college(!).

I tried to keep it from getting too sappy, but that often doesn’t work when it comes to these characters and the steps in their journeys. It has been fun watching Paige grow up from a sassy, somewhat bratty little girl, into the confident, still-a-bit-bratty teenager she’s become. It’s also been great to be with Rob through this particular adventure, too. He’s so used to being Paige’s knight-protector, seeing him have to let go of her as she matures has been both charming and heartbreaking for me. (Yes, I have shed tears for these characters over the years.) Click the title image if you’d like to read it.

I’m still sorting out the best way to present these stories. If you have a preference, why not let me know in the comments? In the meantime, happy reading!

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