A dog and mariticide

Mariticide is the murder of a husband, and is the context of my short story “Rescue.” The title refers to the wife’s efforts to save her dog that was unavoidably at the scene. A friend who read an early draft thought my ending cruel. But undeterred, I polished it up and sent it off to the Bethlehem (PA) Writers  Group. They liked it, and you can read it at their website ==>here  (or of course right here on my blog).


More from the mountaintop

I’m having a bit of a run, having stories published that draw on my adolescent years on Deep Springs’ Swinging T cattle ranch. Street People, set near the ancient bristlecone pines on our summer range, was out June 1.  Now  Spiders, based on my real-life experience watching a duel between a scorpion and a black widow, is out in True Chili, which bills itself as a a home for cowboy literature. And a third, based on my cowpunching model and guru, has been accepted for October publication. I should mine that memory bank some more!

You can read my Spiders and other cowboy stories at the True Chili website, here===>

. . . or right here on my blog ===>


A pious widow’s worst fear

Letting adoptees discover their birth parents was an issue back when I was covering the General Assembly. Few if any who testified against the change, as I recall, identified themselves as parents who had given up newborns. The lack of public confessions was easily understood.

When the issue surfaced at the Capitol again not long ago, memories popped up. It didn’t take much, in my new retirement community, to imagine an elderly woman — make her the widow of a clergyman — haunted by fear that her teen-age unwed pregnancy would be revealed, and she humiliated, if the infant she gave up at birth showed up shouting “Mama!”

Getting the story together took a bit of work, but when I had it right I began sending it out. A literary magazine called (how do they find these names?) Caustic Frolic liked it, and it’s now published. To read it online,  click===>here



Ancient trees and people

I began “Street People” eight years ago, not too long after a family vacation that included revisiting the Ancient Bristlecone Forest in the Inyo-White Mountains, just east of the High Sierra, where I’d herded cattle one summer in ancient history.  I can’t remember now what prompted me to build the story around a homeless couple out to see America, but it flowed fairly well. Unsure of it, though, I set it aside.t

Last May, I ran across it and decided was worth tweaking a very little bit and sending out. Camas, the literary magazine of the University of Montana, liked it.  You can read it here==>



Crime stories: Tell the outcome first?

Zimbell Press, which periodically publishes themed anthologies (and has published several of my stories) put out an unusual challenge last fall: Invited stories about a game that ended in death, preferably horrible death. Moreover, they insisted on stories that began with the death scene, and then backed up to posit the setting and the game, leading up to an already-known climax — while somehow maintaining some suspense.

An intriguing challenge. I mulled it for several weeks, and woke up one morning  imagining a competition to swim the English Channel. (Don’t ask where that came from; I’ve only crossed The Channel once, on a solid ferry boat.) Zimbell’s editors liked my Crossing well enough to make it the second story in the collection, which is out now: Dead Game. You can get the book (paper or e-book) at booksellers like Amazon and others — or read my story here==>>


A conversation about keepsakes

I was introduced several years ago to the idea of a short story entirely in dialogue — not even a “he said”/”she said” — so that the reader must infer the setting, and the story, from what people say to one another. I’ve written and had published several in that unusual format.

The newest, “Keepsakes”, is one of my favorites: A daughter is helping her mother prepare —  unwillingly — for a move to a place like where I now live. As Jessamine packs things from the closet and dresser drawers, she learns things about her parents that she never knew.

Periwinkle Literary Magazine liked it too; it’s in their inaugural issue ==>> here


Barking up a nearby tree

If you looked out my desk window at my Seabury home, you’d recognize the setting for Rabbits and Coyotes. If you went out in the morning to pooper-scoop behind your poodle, the rabbit droppings in the grass would tell you what he’d been barking at last night. If you went out to look, on at least some nights, you might hear the yelps of some remote progeny of the critters that you used to hear sing in the California desert. And when your daughter came to visit, she might warn you that those wild animals have been known to go after domestic pets.

And you’d have the makings of a story that appealed to the editors of Metafore, a literary magazine created by students at the little-known Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa.

You can read it on page 40 of their ==>>online magazine    . . . . or more easily ==>>here.


From ‘Promises’ to ‘Independence’

I can’t remember what prompted this bit of flash fiction. I first wrote it under the title “Promises,” drawing on more than one state legislator I’ve known who couldn’t quite evade leadership’s arm-twisting on one bill or another. Nobody took it, so after a while I did a very minor rewrite and began sending it out as “Independence”. The Writer’s Club took it; you can read it ==>>here


A snowstorm transplanted

Pandemonium Press, in California, publishes three oddly-named online magazines. One of them, riverbabble, took my “Sirens” two years ago. Another, Doorknobs & Body Paint, last winter invited short-short (450-word) stories featuring descriptions of hard work. We’d just had a good Connecticut snowstorm; I’d gone out to be sure the men hard at work clearing our courtyard shovelled up to my patio door to accommodate my dog. I whipped out a little vignette, called it “A Path for Peanut”, and sent it out. Hardly great literature, but fun; an exercise in painting word pictures.

They didn’t take it.

In October Doorknobs had a new invitation: Short-shorts set in Bern, with a sub-theme of transcend, and somewhere using the the phrase considered as. It took maybe an hour to give my courtyard a view of the Swiss Alps, meet the other criteria, and re-name the piece “Une Piste pour Le Petit.”

Bingo! You can read it online — and find some other quirky pieces — at the Doorknobs website ==>>here

and find some other quirky pieces elsewhere in issue # 96

(It’s also right here at my blog.)