Halloweeeeeen is coming

Suddenly life got insanely busy 🙂

Over the past few weeks, I finally figured out where to go with the sequel to my novel and finished the first draft. On the opposite side, I got a few of my short stories in condition to start sending out and *crossed fingers* maybe not only get rejections. My son started preschool throwing off my entire schedule. I’ve also been working on a few Halloween shorts including one for an awesome collection on Wattpad- https://www.wattpad.com/story/8256175-thirteen-days-of-halloween

My story for the collection will be posting on October 20th 🙂 And the rest of the lineup is amazing.

Also my fifth wedding anniversary (and 10th year together) with my husband is coming up. In honor of that, my story for the Halloween collection is based in part on our zombie wedding costumes (this is what happens when you get married on Halloween!)

horror wedding Jesse spraguedress Jesse Sprague zombie bride

Advertisements

Family & A Tiny Terror

This week has been a scramble and I admit, I’m not entirely prepared to blog. Things with the family have just been so busy. My dog needed surgery (which in Seattle is unaffordable. I had to go down to Oregon) and before that it was camping.

Me, my baby boy, and one of his three grandmothers out camping

Me, my baby boy, and one of his three grandmothers out camping

Not only have I not thought through an adequate blog entry… I haven’t been writing. So… I’ll post the little bit of writing I have done. A short horror story I call- Laura’s Smile (its still unedited at this point. This is mostly to keep me motivated!)

Horror, Laura's smile

Jesse Sprague Author Laura’s Smile

The worst nights plunged me into the dream, always the same dream. Picturesque but somewhere under the layers I always knew, right from the start, that it was a nightmare. I step out the patio door onto the worn wood deck and drop my backpack at my feet. Heavy with books, it clunked down and at the sound they both looked up at me.

Laura had a plum tree in her parent’s backyard and the summer had been a hot one. The limbs still sagged from the weight of forgotten fruit. She sat in its shade, only her painted toes sticking out into the early September sun. Her blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail fell in an untidy mess down her back. She wore his sweatshirt despite the heat, but I hardly noticed because her smile outshone it all. An expression of pure joy that eclipsed the sun and inside I screamed at myself to look away. She lifted a hand and waved at me, motioning me over.

My eyes fastened on her smile, on the slight gap between her teeth, the crinkles at the corners of her eyes.

Next to her, he was a shadow, unimportant to the dream though at the time he’d seemed all important to me. This boy who sat beside my Laura, held her hand, gave her his sweatshirt.

I smiled back at her as my heart splintered into pieces. That happiness scalded me and internally I writhed under the weight of her joy.

A scream ripped me from the familiar dream. On the bunk above me my cellmate grumbled and turned over. The bed creaked blending in a cacophony with my erratic heart. Her smile followed me from the dream, painting itself on the night. A smile she gave to me.

I kicked free of my blanket and rolled off the bed turning to the wall where her face stared back at me. Most of the face was vague, forgotten with time but the smile was perfect, joyful and it accused me. Underneath the image were my words: Live for Laura. I fell on my knees and pressed my hands together in the only sort of prayer I knew.

I couldn’t undo that night. I’d come to terms with that. I’d come to terms with my actions and the iron finality of them. I had to own them and no action I took could ever undo what I took from her. Fifteen and with a single hour I’d defined my life, killed my future and hers. But I was still here and as I gasped sucking air into my lungs, I repeated my familiar mantra to myself.

Earning back her smile was impossible and I deserved the torment of the dreams. Seeing her smile and knowing I’d destroyed it and that I was only witnessing a reflection. But every day I could live in her honor, try and do her memory proud. Perhaps, was it possible I could someday outweigh that single act and meet her in heaven? No. That was beyond me, but perhaps I could earn a quiet peace.

When I’d caught my breath, I stood up again. Tomorrow I’d have a chance. Parole was the brightest hope I’d had. I was so young then, I’m a different man now. But I should try and be rested.

So I crawled back beneath the blanket. Laura’s smile never haunted me twice in an evening so I closed my eyes in peace. Sleep was foggy on my brain when a soft wind stroked my cheeks. Cold as graveyard wind, my first instinct was to turn away but my body was heavy. A smell like meat left out too long in the heat swamped my nostrils.

“Joey,” she whispered. Her voice was hoarse and wet. More of a gurgle than a human tone but still I knew her.

Laura. I squeezed my eyes closed.

“I don’t want you to live for me,” she said. Hands slipped under the blankets, fingers thin as bone stroked me. “You touched me, Joey, after you stabbed me. Did you like me better dead?”

“So sorry Laura. I can’t take it back.”

Her grip on me was tight and something slimy and cold slid from my ear to my mouth. Against my will my eyes opened. Her mouth was next to mine, lipless and rotted. She grinned, no longer a gap tooth smile. One of her front teeth was missing. I felt a phantom pain in my knuckle, remembering the punch to her jaw that had dislodged tooth, sending it spinning into her throat. Blood had spurted from her mouth as she coughed and gagged.

“Sorry? I don’t want sorry.”

She wasn’t there, couldn’t be there, but the smell blocked out all reason. And my body responded to her touch in ways I didn’t intend. Her flesh against me was spongey and slick. The nightshirt was torn at the neck, falling open to reveal sunken, rotted breasts in a blood-caked bra.

“Stop,” I said.

“There’s only one thing I want from you.”

I shoved her but she was stronger now. She held me down and even as I heard her finger bone’s snap I couldn’t so much as budge her. She laughed and black saliva dripped to my face. And then she was gone. I gagged and turned on my side, next to my head was a blade.

I picked it up reverently. A gift from Laura. The blade shone in the sallow light and I stretched a finger toward the gleam. The steel burned cold, far colder than the room around me. Even in the dim light, I recognized the blade.

Ten years ago, I’d bought this same weapon. Meant for hunting, it had an odd weight unlike that of the military knives my uncle kept in a locked cabinet or my parent’s kitchen knives. The impressive size impressed me at fifteen, made it seem destined, a sign I was acting out some sort of divine will not just a deluded teenage urge.

I slid a finger down the edge half-expecting her blood to coat my fingers, drip down my wrists. Half dried blood became sticky, like honey coating my skin… but the only blood was the warm, wet trickle from my finger. Laura’s gift seemed to drink the liquid leaving the blade pristine.

My finger lifted to my mouth and the sharp metallic taste brought a flood of memories. Her blood spurted up, spraying into my eyes, my nose, and my mouth. My hand fell away and I grinned, for a moment I might have walked on air.

Was this what she wanted? Could it be that my blood would pay the price, earn her forgiveness? I was willing to devote the rest of my life to honoring her, but I was aware nothing I did could bring her back. If my death could earn me true clemency…

I recalled her blood warming my thighs as I plunged the blade through the hand she used to shield her face and then again into her chest.

I lifted the blade to my throat. Fitting for a hunting blade, a quick pressure across the throat and the animal died. Cold steel settled against the hollow of my throat. My eyes closed, and I took in a deep breath, her scent still lingered in the air, abrasive and angry.

My grip tightened.

My cell-mate let loose a loud rattling snore and my eyes flew open to the dreary cell and the picture of Laura’s smile on the wall.

No. My death would solve nothing. It would not balance the scales. I’d already wasted one life, wasting another wasn’t the answer. That was why I’d tried so hard for parole. The best way to earn my soul back was to live. But if Laura wanted me to suffer, perhaps parole wasn’t the answer either.

I stood and pivoted, staring my grizzled cell-mate in the face. I lifted the knife and held it over his neck. So simple, I kill him and I’d never get out. And I’d be taking out a fiend. My grin broadened thinking of the deluge of blood. Thinking of how his hands would raise to his neck, trying to hold the life inside him. Power ran in me and I was a god. Life and death were mine.

Again the blade fell. No, it meant nothing if I enjoyed it. Would I have enjoyed it…No. It was only thoughts of earning Laura’s forgiveness that were confusing me. I wasn’t a killer. It was just a mistake.

I tucked Laura’s gift under his mattress. I was getting out tomorrow and I was sure she’d understand I couldn’t’ be caught with a hunting knife. I settled back into my bed. Yes, tomorrow I would be free.

** This story was inspired by a documentary I watched on mandatory life sentences for killers who committed crimes while under 18. While the central idea (the horror of the smile) was from a specific person in that documentary, the crime is not. I don’t like the idea of fictionalizing real people’s pain. Laura is purely fictional and not based on any real victim.

https://www.wattpad.com/159844646-12-01-and-other-tiny-terrors-12-01-laura%27s-smile

I Put Words on Paper (or Computers) so I Write Words

A question I’ve been hearing a lot of recently is “So what do you normally write? What is your passion?” My auto response has been that I write science fiction with an eye to fantasy, but the more I think about it, the more that isn’t true.

The truth is I write a lot and I’ve always discounted my horror writing as being my slack off pieces. But that’s not what horror is to me at all, it’s just a different sort of release, a different style of imagining. Most of my short stories are horror and many novels have a bent towards that. But these aren’t slack off pieces or throw away bits. They just come from a different part of my psyche and refuse to conform to rules. In trying to make them fit for traditional publishing, I do feel like I’d have to sacrifice the integrity of the story, but that doesn’t mean are any less worthwhile to me… just that I won’t be querying them. So I feed them to the ravenous beast that is Wattpad, where they meet a few appreciative eyes.

Horror Novel Cover

Horror Novel Cover

The reason I think I see my sci-fi/fantasy as being “what I really write” is that those are the works I am willing to go through a gazillion drafts. They are the babies whose basic nature does not seem averse to traditional publishing.  I recently tried to put a fantasy novel up on Wattpad, or the beginning to one, and there is this horror in me that I’ve now killed this novel’s chances for publication. But it’s a tight spot. Having only horror and horror sci-fi visible means that any agent considering my sci-fi/fantasy works is going to say “Wow, she doesn’t really write what she’s pitching.”

In conclusion, this is one big vent. I write prolifically. I write because I must. I write because I’m inspired whether that inspiration be a shiver that crawled up my spine while darting across a dark parking lot, a fascination with gothic heroine’s and their kidnappability, a desire to build a world to suit a spiffy MMO character (Yes…this is how several of my characters have come to me…don’t judge.)Felix

I write how I read. My bookshelves became acquainted with Christopher Pike when I was twelve. They met their first fantasy heroine when I was eight. Science fiction came later but in a rush as I drank in old classics and newer gems. Telling someone which of these genres I read would be impossible because the truth is I read them all. I’ve even been known to sneak in a steamy romance when no one was looking…saved some of those too…they are all missing covers. I read and write fantasy because the world we live in can feel like a trap. A release has an exotic beauty to it. I write sci-fi because I like to play god, toy with worlds, universes, cultures. I read sci-fi because I like to be part of other authors playing the same god games I do. And I read and write horror because the dark undercurrent of fear makes me feel alive.

fantasy horror author

The Beauty of Gas Masks

Upon approaching my house, after you passed the salmonberry, blackberry, and huckleberry bushes, you’d see a sign mounted on the corner of the house, next to the fenced yard. You might mistake it for a beware of dog sign, especially if my dog was outside barking. But, no, my sign says: Beware of Werewolves.

Beware

Beware

If you were to enter my home, more artwork in the same vein would follow.

I have on occasion pondered what this obsession with monsters, disease, and death says about me. Recently it was brought to my attention while at Folklife Festival. This is a fair filled with local folk artists (both visual and oral), stalls filled with this-and-that’s and fair foods. I have attended since I was a little girl and my favorite activity was dancing to steel drum music.
Nowadays, I pick up a household decoration.
Last years selection

Dining room art

Dining room art

This years selection

Horns and a gas mask...why not

Horns and a gas mask…why not

Pretty...

Pretty…

As I paid for this years delightful piece, with my mother looking at me like ‘how did I raise this child?’ My husband smiling indulgently and the vendor looking at me with surprise. A picture of me standing there formed in my head- young(ish) white woman in a lace skirt, accompanied by my mother, my husband and with a three year old child on my hip and here I had decided to decorate my home with a gas-masked monster.
Now, at home I have those things one would expect a frilly girly girl to buy, lace curtains, a hutch filled with china but as beautiful as I find those things… I see equal appeal in pickled monster heads and robot bears. Even the occasional Sweeney Todd/Jack the Ripper reference (have one framed in my dining room.)
This fascination with the macabre, the awful, the dark underside drives my own art as well as my purchases which I’ve given up questioning. Still, it must all come from the same root. That part deep down that makes the serial killer’s habits more fascinating than the biology of bunnies (or some such whatever.) For me there is a beauty in the dark unknown, an ecstasy in the shiver down your spine. Something infinitely lovely about death and fear because they are a warped mirror allowing me to look past my own faults, to find an cling to that basic kindness and morality that shimmers at the heart of most of us.
Plus gas masks are cool.

Kiki

Another week gone past. The sun is out, the grass is mowed and I spent hours staring up at our pine trees. Staring, thinking and writing but also reading.
Does anyone else have those books they just read over and over… and over. Well I do, I think I’ve read some as many as a dozen times. One of those books is this completely unknown treasure titled Kiki. Ostensibly about a very fancy sex doll but really the doll is little more than a catalyst. I’d say the book is about a grieving father, the breaking points that hide within all of us and survival.
I went on Goodreads a while back to discover the book was on there with no reviews. I gave a review and moved on.
Well I read it again this week as I lay out on the lawn and realized how very personal my attachment to that story is.
But rereading with a more critical writer’s eye, I began to wonder what caught me about this book. That its cover had a sex-doll and I found it at a point in adolescence where sex was both completely taboo and amazing? But then why as a thirty year old woman would it still have any appeal? And anyhow other than a brief moment there isn’t any sex or reference to sexuality.
So why do I read it? The answer— a single scene at the beginning where the protagonist is choosing option for the doll and his acute discomfort dealing with the sales person.  That’s it, a moment that reached out to me and said ‘you are not alone.’ I who can’t even talk about sex in the privacy of my bedroom, who finds attention from store personnel slightly terrifying, instantly felt a kinship with this person.
Sometimes that’s all I need. A little snapshot that reaches out and connects for one reason or another. Something that makes me feel.
So this week I have an image, one of my own creation, one that has haunted me fore years lurking at the foot of my bed (and if you’re interested a link to a story I wrote in conjunction with the picture.)

smile

Enjoy!

http://www.wattpad.com/127456818-12-01-and-other-tiny-terrors-12-01-smiling-man/page/3

Little Cracks

With no more ado…

The link to my published work on Acidic Fiction!

http://acidicfiction.com/2015/04/17/little-cracks/

 Go ahead and click…I dare you 🙂 Its my first published work so I admit I may be a little over excited.

In honor of breaking the barrier between author hopeful and published author, I posted an extra chapter to my novel Spider’s Game on Wattpad.

 http://www.wattpad.com/story/32022459-spider%27s-game-updated-tuesdays

 Now that I have showered you with links…Pictures! Since Little Cracks was inspired by a real doll from my youth, I thought it seemed apt to share the doll. I won’t say much more than that but both me and my brother were terrorized by this doll in our youth. I much like the girl in my short story, was a lonely shy little thing and even though I was terrified of the doll…like nightmare terrified…I still considered her my friend and used to sneak down the stairs into our garage to hold her and talk to her.

Creepy doll near her natural envoirment...the bottom of dark stairs.

Creepy doll near her natural environment…the bottom of dark stairs.

The author with the creepy doll

The author with the creepy doll

Close up on the cracks and demon eyes

Close up on the cracks and demon eyes

New Generation to Scare Doll Horror

March May be my New Favorite Month

I didn’t expect to be making a post like this one…especially not after my last post. Another wonderful first occurred. My Flash Fiction piece Little Cracks has been picked up by Acidic Fiction. Don’t know a lot of details yet, and I’m not sure I could process details anyway.

I wrote my first book when I was five. It was about plants which I spelled plans…because I was five.

The point is that is how long I’ve wanted this. Growing up most kids had all these ideas about what they wanted to be. Most kids oscillated. Not me. I always wanted to be an author. Even when my parents cautioned me that maybe it would be a good idea to have a backup plan.

The idea that someone is willing to pay me for my writing is so overwhelming there isn’t a lot of brain space left over for puny things like specifics. What I know is that Acidic Fiction is a free online magazine that publishes anthologies of its best stories. When my story goes up, I will post a link directly to it.

http://acidicfiction.com/