At Christmas time we usually had friends for dinner. Of course that was a few years ago but let’s pretend things are perhaps a little more normal than 2021.
Let me reword that first line. A few years ago we dined with good friends of ours. It was two couples we’re friends with (they’re regular humans who don’t know we’re Vampires). It is a dress up affair. We have cocktails; take in the theater or a concert, then have dinner and more drinks. And my darling husband Teddy and I get a little blood donation and leave our hosts feeling warm and fuzzy and full of holiday cheer.
I wore a black dress with red heels. It was set off with a gold necklace of delicate flowers with red garnets, enameled holly leaves and seed pearls.
A whale chaser departed the Japanese factory ship, then altered course towards the becalmed double-ender. After the crew returned with her under tow, having found no one aboard, the captain began reading the log of the East Wind…
From him down to the lowest deckhand, she stirred the hearts of these tough seamen. The captain recognised her Pilot Boat design. Her keel was laid in 1905. She was one of the last of a long line designed by Colin Archer, the Scottish Norwegian boat designer, famous for creating the design for Fridtjof Nansen’s indestructible arctic ship – Fram.
Like her sisters, East Wind is 46 feet overall, double-ended and rigged as a gaff ketch. A more sea-kindly vessel you would be hard put to find. When they came across her she was laying head to wind, secured by her sea-anchor. Her sails had been furled by her owner. How long since, or indeed his identity, the factory ship’s captain was yet to find out as he returned to her log book…
Olav Knudsen (Bill to those that knew him) had set sail aboard his first love from Bergen in the dead of night; once more barely a step ahead of the authorities. This time he was making himself scarce for theft from a ship’s chandlery. He now had enough anti-fouling paint to give his beloved East Wind’s bottom several years protection from Teredo worm and other living organisms that attach themselves to any unprotected wooden hull.
Within a week and a half he was heading well out into the Atlantic. As yet, destination unknown. All his life he had known nothing but trouble.
When he was small he had become accustomed to the daily regime of vicious beatings from his often drunken father Olav senior. Which is why he hated his Christian name. Anything was better than being named after his tormentor! The only human being that ever showed him unconditional kindness, love and compassion was his mother Tilde, until the day she died protecting him from his father’s alcohol fed rage…
Earlier this year I had a task to fulfill: Write a one-page short story, not more than 400 words, Fiction/Drama. I did that, submitted it, and waited. A while later the reading was ready. It took quite some time until the information got to me, but finally, it’s here.Listen to the Short Story Reading below.
I waited in my grandmother’s salon. The entire house seemed to walk on tiptoes. Did they really think I didn’t know what my parents wanted to tell me?
I was in the living room yesterday when they broke out in one of their arguments.
“I think we should take Stephanie to that boarding school. It would be easiest for her not to see her home being sold, our belongings split up, and us moving to different cities.” My father had said.
My mother replied acidly: “Yes, like you cared a lot about our girl, when you came home, day and night, drunk, reeking of perfume and other women.” My father yelled. “Stephanie never saw anything like it.” He lifted his hand as he wanted to slap her, but my mother screamed fearfully: “Don’t you dare to hit me again, not in my house!”
A calm and controlled voice behind her said: “The way I see it, this is still my house, daughter. I don’t want to hear one more word about it. As for you, soon-to-be-former-son. I don’t want to see you ever lifting your hand again against my daughter or anyone else in this family. It is time you both move on with your plans. Does Stephanie even know you separated and will get a divorce? You cannot just ship her out like a package and expect her to accept everything upon her return.”
My mother replied sourly: “It was his job to tell her. But we all know he is a coward.” My father hissed at her. “How dare you saying that.”
My grandmother shook her head and made up her mind: “I’ll tell her tomorrow.”
Now I stood in front of her in the salon. The door to the back fields stood wide open. My grandmother explained in a few words: “Listen, child. Your father and mother will get a divorce. They planned to have you go to school somewhere else to save you the trouble of listening to their arguments any longer. But I insisted you stay here instead, live with me for the time being. Is that okay?”
I nodded. “Yes, grandmother.”, tears streaming down my face. Then I turned around, darted through that open door, and did what I would do all my life. I ran towards the sun and light, into freedom, away from those who caused me pain and darkness.
I looked up at the pretty blonde woman in the pink silk blouse. She brushed back a pretty curl that had fallen across her big blue eyes. I had no time for her kind.
“I don’t deal in love potions or revenge. If you’d like I know a few other Witches I could recommend. They’re quite good.”
“You don’t understand, he literally stole my heart. I was supposed to have a transplant a few days ago and the bastard stole my new heart.”
She opened the top few buttons of her shirt to reveal a long line of stitches. “I was on the operating table, ready to have this pitiful damaged heart of mine removed, when the donor heart vanished. It literally vanished out of thin air, right there in the hospital, in front…
Surprisingly, lately, I found myself sitting on a pasture with the greenest grass I have ever seen. (Not that I saw too much grass in my life, but that’s beside the point).
I saw that movement from the corner of my eyes and instinctively crouched lower, sneaked closer, and with every single step, I felt the grass blades below my feet.
Again I discovered the movement… and then I saw it. It was actually smaller than I thought it would be. In a flash of brown, gray, and pink, it disappeared into the ground.
Carefully I tiptoed closer and found the entrance of its house. I was a bit irritated. Why crossing my path and then disappearing? It smelled, in an odd way, intriguing. I used my nose, felt my muzzle move from one to the other side, my whiskers trembled. I had barely ever realized how wonderful my whiskers are. My ears turned forward and back, trying to catch that shooing sound it makes when it walks. Still crouched, I decided to wait at that hole for a while, my nose and ears working constantly.
And then it shot out of another spot in the ground, not even six feet away, and ran. It was fast… I jumped up and followed… there was no more hiding. I sprinted after it. My feet were feeling every single crumb of dirt, every bumpiness. My eyes registered how fast the surroundings passed; it was like a blur. I stretched, gained speed. And then, it started panicking and turned to the right… just when I took another angle, it changed back, even speeding up. I jumped forward, a leap, another leap, calculating where it would be next.
And then, when I took the last leap, I knew I had it. I jumped, further than I ever did, higher than I ever did….. and I dove down on it. I could see it. I could almost taste it, only half an inch, the fraction of a second…
And then I woke up…
Mommy laughed and then picked me up, hugged me, and caressed me. She’s always sweet. She takes good care of my two sisters and me. But she can’t replace the glorious adventure of hunting a mouse.
And that’s, what Mommy said, makes her laugh… when I sleep, with my ears turning forward and back, flat to my head, with my nose twitching, my whiskers trembling, my feet moving… to her, I’m just fidgeting, but to me, in my head, I’m instinctively checking my surroundings, following my prey. I’m on a hunt. Maybe only in my dreams. I’m still glad Mommy feeds me. I’m not sure I would know what to do with the mouse once I catch it. But it’s nice to imagine anyway, to be an instinct-driven, feral, wild tiger.
Thank you, Blake Atwood, for your guide to work counts for our work. I wrote a similar post, but I admit, my article only contained Short Story, Novelette, Novella and Novel… yours is far more detailed. We appreciate your information.
on The Write Life:
“My memoir is 270,000 words long.”
I heard these words during a breakout session I led at a local writers conference.
An editor friend of mine, Shayla Eaton with Curiouser Editing, was sitting in on the breakout. We gave each other knowing glances, and because I didn’t want to break this poor memoirist’s literary heart, I nodded at Shayla to take the lead.
As nicely but as directly as she could, she explained to the memoirist that a 270,000-word memoir was excessive. Even if she self-publishes, the cost per copy would be high, and few readers would slog through such a tome — particularly for someone who’s not famous.
And no agents or publishers would even look past that number.
The prose could be as fleet-footed as Fitzgerald’s. The life story could be as compelling as Lincoln’s. The platform could be as broad as Oprah’s. But no agent would get to know that because they’d see “Memoir: 270,000 words” and hit delete before reading any further.
So, how long should a memoir be?
For that matter, how long should any book be? How long is a novel? What’s the ideal book word count?
If you’re writing your first novel or any book, you’re probably asking these questions.
The short answer is: long enough to tell the story but short enough to consistently hold the reader’s interest.
A while ago, back in Europe, when I was traveling with a friend, I went for dinner to a restaurant that belonged to a very nice Italian couple. It was in Rome.
You know, when you go to European restaurants, there are these eight-to-ten people tables for tourists, where they place you on, and unless the table is filled up, you won’t get served.
My friend and I had a lot of fun. I don’t belong to the people who always want to eat steak and fries or fish and chips wherever they go. I’d like to know what a country has to offer me. And here it was the same thing.
Confidently I told the waiter, I want to have the ‘house special,’ no matter what it is. He was a bit surprised and asked carefully, “Are you sure?” I confirmed that I was, indeed, very sure.
He brought us soup and salad ahead; then, the entrees were served. My friend got steak and fries, and I got the ‘house special’… it was a bird, a tiny bird. It was lying there, all by itself, on a small white plate.
The little head hung halfway over the plate; one of its eyes was open, one closed, beak, feet, and claws were still entirely there.
So far, I have always taken on every challenge I had accepted, even the ones to myself. But in that particular case, the question was not, would I really go through with this? The question was, “How?”
There is something we all can learn from American ‘Haute Cuisine’… One can eat everything imaginable on Earth, no matter what it is, provided it fits in a bun.
Vampire Maman Juliette Kings informed me today that my humorous short story ‘Bernie Showers In France’ has been published on her blog as her Sunday Short story. Thank you so much for all your support, Juliette!! I’m so proud to have you as a friend!
Have a fun read and a few giggles!!
Bernie Showers in France
A short story by Aurora Jean Alexander
Bernie Watson, a self-acclaimed womanizer, always wanted to see Paris. One day he managed to travel to France after tediously scraping up the money he needed for the trip. In his imagination, Bernie saw himself sitting in the first class, sipping champagne and enjoying movies, a beautiful woman next to him. He was dreaming about standing on the balcony of a 5-star hotel with a breathtaking view over the city until he could see the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe from far.
Reality looked a bit different. Bernie found himself in the middle row of economy, helplessly jammed between an angry tourist at the end of his vacation and a permanently eating eighty-year-old on the other side, with an ancient Pekinese on her lap.
When he arrived at the hotel, he found that the two-star hotel he had made reservations, was even older than he had suspected from the pictures. It was located in the most run-down quarter of the city. Bernie now wasn’t the most hygiene-fanatic on Earth, but after a trip of roughly 9 hours in an airplane, he still felt the need to shower.
Rachel Poli has listed the current October/November writing contests for us. Thank you so much for your ongoing hard work for all of us, Rachel!
Here is the updated list for September & October 2019 writing submissions. I try to find submissions and contests with no fee (or on the cheaper side at least), which is surprisingly hard. As always, if you know any places that run contests and accept general submissions that are not on my list, please let me know and I’ll check it out to add it.
Website: Writer’s Digest
Deadline: October 14, 2019
Entry Fee: $30
Prize: First – $2,500
Theme: Laughter is the Best Medicine
Website: Chicken Soup
Deadline: October 31, 2019
Entry Fee: N/A
Well, this serial came to a natural end in this week’s installment. I was able to end it to my satisfaction and give it a subtle tie to one of my other serials as well as mix in some call backs to my third Frank Rozzani novel.
I’ve enjoyed writing this serial and look forward to putting it together with other related short stories in a super-sized book.
On a side note, I’ve updated my Author Directory and Serial pages. You can now find all the authors I’ve interviewed over the past 3 years and the serials that I’ve written, two of which have become books this year.
Please enjoy this last installment of First Impressions.
What in the world was Jones up to? He gave no clues for the four digit code. He had somehow put a virus on an air-gapped server, one that was not directly connected to…