Erin Ritch

Writer, Blogger, Mom

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Tag: fiction (page 1 of 2)

Short Story Collection Volume I – published!

Yay! After much compiling, formatting, and proofing…my first collection of short stories is finally published!

Ta da!

I am so excited to have these stories out. I am a lover of short fiction, my first story ever published online was a piece of flash fiction. As the description says, they are “tales of fantasy, science fiction, and the obscure.” Some of the work has appeared previously on this blog over the years, while other stories are new and unpublished.

For the cover design, I wanted to incorporate the new-and-improved No Wyverns Publishing logo. The background text is a loop of the titles of the twenty-two stories contained in this book. I plan to publish more anthologies of short fiction in the future that will use this same layout…eventually becoming a box set! (Oh, the plans…the plans…)

 

Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite stories included, “The Last Machinist.”

I have searched countless years, scouring the globe for an object that probably doesn’t even exist.

Jen-Li stared at the wrinkled page of her sister’s last journal entry. It trembled in the whipping wind that invaded the abandoned living quarters, howling as it broke through the cracked windows. The room was so cold. Bitter and lonely, as though resentful for being left in such a state. A thin layer of dust covered the overturned furniture and broken dishes like downy, providing just enough protection against the raging elements outside.  Removing her gloves, Jen-Li traced the sentence with her finger, leaving a muddled smear of letters in its wake. She wiped it again for the last time so that it would belong to her alone. So that this idea that her sister pondered became nothing but a blur, just like the stain of runny ink on her fingertips that would eventually wash away.

“What does it say?” Terra asked from the doorway. Her small frame was swallowed by her heavy coat, transforming her into a bulky, short stump of a ten-year-old. Her blue eyes shone fiercely from the depths of her fur-lined hood. She could read her mother’s body language too well.

Whisking the withered journal in her arms, Jen-Li closed it with a loud clap. A cloud of dust sauntered up to her face, burning her freckled nose as she hacked on the taste. The sound seemed to startle the frozen room as another wave of dust trickled from the ceiling and into her damp auburn hair.

“I wanted you to stay in the mech,” she said, peering out the frosted window glass as she replaced her gloves. Her mech was still there, motionless and protected beneath the ancient fir tree on the edge of the abandoned drive. She looked up at the splitting beams of her sister’s last known dwelling place. “This place is falling apart.”

“Did Aunt Nina find it?” Terra pressed. Her voice sounded on the precipice of panic.

“I don’t know,” Jen-Li replied sharply before she caught herself, realizing that her own voice sounded strained. That was not her job, not her duty as Terra’s mother, to sound afraid. That was not who she was. That was not the tone of this journey that had taken them from the warmth of home to this wasteland. Jen-Li recovered and joined her daughter in the entryway.  “But we will find out.”

 

Intrigued? I hope so! The e-book is priced at only .99 and the print version at $4.99 – both available at Amazon!

Out with the old/In with the new

Hello, I’m here!

It’s been a whirlwind of a year so far, that’s for sure. I had my second daughter in March (hello, Esper!) and only just recently reclaimed my late-night writing/editing/business time after the kids go to sleep. (That’s right, my baby is sleeping through the night. Huzzah!) So things are in motion…it may be slow motion, but it’s onward and upward from here.

There are several projects in the works that will be released this summer. AND, have you noticed the amazing logo at the top of this post? No Wyverns Publishing has a brand new logo and website design and I LOVE it. Now I can finally go swag-purchasing-crazy. (No Wyverns shirts, anyone?)

In other news….the e-book for Myth will be on sale for .99 from June 23-30….so grab it while you can! I’m super excited about this sale, this is my first paid promotion that I have invested in. Several e-book deal sites will be including Myth in their daily deals email blast, which enables me to reach many, many more potential readers. Fingers crossed, I’ll post results after the promotion ends, which hopefully will be filled with many smiley faces and exclamation points.

Lastly, I’ve only planned one event (so far!) for 2017, and that’s the NW Book Festival in Portland, OR on July 29th. I attended this event last year and had great success, not only selling books but meeting other authors, as well. I’ll be at booth 45, over in the shady area by the Starbucks (hmmm, how convenient!) It’ll be hot. Guaranteed.

That’s all for now, check back for more frequent posts – I promise!

 

The Man in the Polaroid Picture

Image by kristina

 

He loved days like this. Where it was just him and the rain and his subtle disposition. He took a careful sip of his steaming coffee and smiled just before the amber liquid touched his lips. He had become good at this. For too long he hid behind a newspaper or a suitably worn paperback book, stealing glances only at opportune times. But not anymore. Now he could sit on that open bistro patio scattered with autumn brush, finally unnoticed without the aid of cover or distraction. Unnoticed, until now.

She would not have been the type to catch his eye and he would blame himself for it forever after. He had allowed his confidence to muddle his senses, careless in the easy anonymity provided by the busy crowd. He even let his mind wander, distracted by a memory awakened by a scent in the air. It was in that moment that she approached him, placing the package so quickly in his hand that he looked twice to confirm it was there. The woman disappeared in the breeze with a flash of her long black trench coat.  He never would be able to describe her completely, other than a pair of soft brown eyes that looked back to confirm one last time that he was he.

Something told him to wait until home to investigate the small package held firmly in his coat pocket, quickly moistening from his sweaty palm. Holding it beneath the window light, he traced the careful folding of the brown parchment paper, with creases so precise they must have been measured. The package was a neat square no larger than his fist, with the words To John written in scrolling penmanship across the front. The paper felt worn between his fingertips and upon inspection, this wrapping had been reused many times before. He unfolded the paper to reveal a photo. It was a Polaroid, developing in front of him as he held it to the dwindling afternoon sunlight. It was him, sitting at the table on the open bistro patio, oblivious in a whirlwind of autumn leaves. He was struck by the look on his face. A revealing break in his facade, captured for his own eyes to see.

He didn’t have many things to pack, he lived that way for a reason. Or he had, anyway. Tucking the Polaroid in his jacket pocket, he left the simple brown wrapping atop the neat bed. It would be used for the next John Doe, whoever that may be.  But he wished him one thing. To allow himself those breaks in consciousness, those reminders of himself, no matter who may be watching. He looked back one last time before shutting the door. It will always be worth it.

Late Night Writing Prompt…”The Man in the Moon”

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Image credit trasroid

I wrote a story about the moon. About all the ways it watched the living and the dead. It told the tale of an ever-changing world, morphing night after night in its transformation from darkness to full light. The things it must have seen from a perch so high in the sky, even beyond the sky, to a place between earth and the heavens. An ether where the souls of the dead look through the mist for once last glance back.

I wrote a story about the moon. About its pale reflections in the still summer waters or its silent watch through the barren winter trees. While hidden in the sunlight it catches all glimpses of life, even those who think they are too insignificant to be seen. There was not a place it had not seen, not a deed gone unnoticed in its lazy sojourn across the sky.

I wrote a story about the moon. About how it was here before you and I and forever after. Living a lifetime as it grows from sliver to silver over and over again. It’s story about how the moon binds us, from the earth, to your last glance from the ether, and beyond.

It’s release day for Myth!!

Myth ebook cover Flat

Finally, it’s here!

It feels like forever ago we released Myth for pre-order only…and now release day is finally here! Both the e-book and the print version are live to purchase today. I hope you all love it and please, share with your friends!

Get your copy of Myth here!

“Myth” release date announcement…and e-book pre-orders open!

Myth ebook cover Flat

Cover illustration by the talented Char Houweling

I can’t believe this day is finally here but…my Young Adult Fantasy book “Myth” has a release date of 7.25.16!

Get your e-book pre-orders here!

If you know me and my writing, then you’ve probably heard me talk about this book at least a hundred times. What started as notebooks full of handwritten pages has turned into a novel. It’s traveled with me from Oregon to Vancouver B.C. (where those handwritten notebooks were almost stolen – thank you, nice Canadian thieves, for leaving them in my parent’s car), then to California (where I packed them with my valuables when we were almost evacuated from fires), then back to Oregon, tucked safe atop my bedroom dresser.

Where it sat. And sat. And the paperclips of notes between the pages grew rusty with age. It sat some more until one day I needed this story again. And those characters were still there, dutifully waiting in the place I had left them.

That was August of 2014. So I picked up where I left off, writing “Myth” while working full time. I’d write on my lunch breaks. I’d write after my toddler went to bed or on my days off. I don’t know how many ideas I’d repeat to myself over and over during my commute between home and work – don’t forget it, don’t forget it until you get home and jot it down. It went painfully slow but at least it went.

I was able to scramble one edit through the finished manuscript before taking it to a writer’s conference in August of 2015. I pitched it to several agents and editors, all who displayed interest. But then “Myth” had to sit and wait again. So it sat and sat, waiting for the response from those “interested” agents that eventually arrived, if at all.

Now it’s 2016 and this story is tired of sitting and waiting. When I started No Wyverns Publishing, I knew I’d have total creative control over “Myth.” And while that’s stellar, it’s also a lot of work. You need to get as much feedback as you can. You need to hire and seek out help from professionals. You need to edit and revise and edit again (then again. Oh, and again). It also helps to be married to a brilliant book format expert and all around problem-solving-genius.

But guess what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It takes a lot of patience to write a book. Unfortunately, I’ve had to say ‘no’ to some things and drag myself to the computer when I just wanted to go to bed instead of editing until 1 am. But through it all, I couldn’t put this story down and never tired of it and I hope readers feel the same way.

It’s going to be an exciting and busy summer and I have twenty emails to write about this announcement. But right now I’m going to sit back and reflect on how far this book has come. It’s survived theft and fire and age and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

So that’s the story of how “Myth” came about…but what’s the book about, you ask?

Shogun Saban dreams of becoming a woodsman like his grandfather; to fly between the trees and listen to their stories. But his father wants to keep him rooted on the ground and far away from his childhood friend, a girl of the sea named Madigan who can control the elements.

Beyond their little corner of the world, an evil has sprouted and is quietly spreading; corrupting its victims and marking them with eyes full of shadows. When it reaches their sleepy hometown of Shrunken Hollow, Shogun and Madigan search for the origin of the darkness – but the answer lies in an old myth about a place that only exists in dreams.

With the aid of the forest and the sea, Shogun and Madigan must unravel the myth before the darkness takes over their world – and themselves.

 Thanks to everyone that helped me with this book, got excited with me about this book, put up with my pickiness, waited while I “just need to finish this last paragraph,” or just offered a “that’s awesome!” We did it!

The of Summer ’16

I’m excited to say I am thisclose to finishing the third draft of “Myth” and the artwork for the cover is looking amazing. The release of “Myth” will be timed perfectly with the two book fairs I will be attending this summer. I’m really looking forward to bringing No Wyverns Publishing to these events and meeting/networking with other authors. Oh yeah, and selling books!!

Here’s where I’ll be this summer!

 

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www.nwbookfestival.com
Saturday, July 30th, 2016
Pioneer Square/ Portland, OR
Booth # 50

I’ve been assigned the booth near the Starbucks…man, did they figure me out or what! 9 Bridges is an organization of writers based out of Portland. I signed up for this festival immediately once registration was open back in January! No Wyverns Publishing will have our own table there. I’m really excited about the other authors that will be at this event as well. It’s in the middle of summer so I’ll be well-hydrated…oh yeah, and also well caffeinated.

 

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www.bobsbeachbooks.net
Saturday, August 20th, 2016
1747 Hwy 101/ Lincoln City, OR

Finally! I’ve been wanting to join the Northwest Author Fair for several years now, but due to limited space and the popularity of the event, I haven’t been able to get in until now! Again, the list of authors that will be here are amazing…and I get to spend the day at the coast. Sign me up!

I’ll be selling/signing copies of all three of my titles at these events – “Memories Wait Alone”, “Quinn Family Adventures” (with its brand new cover!) and “Myth.” I can’t wait but I have a lot to do before then…so its back to editing and…oh yeah, more editing. Cheers!

“Ripples” (Star Wars Fan Fiction)

The sun rose again on Dagobah, as it always does. I see the ripples it makes in time, revolving around the atmosphere, day after day, year after year. Through the treetops, the light fights for entry. One ray at a time it breaks through and somehow is enough for this old world. These ancient trees have no plans of going anywhere. The other creatures are forced to grow around them and intertwine into layers of organisms and this is repeated a thousand times over this deserted planet. Deserted, except for me and that cave.

I close my eyes and inhale the hot, musky air deeply. I hear the darkness crying for me, summoning me to its arms. I will not give it a name. I will not give it that. The cave is simply darkness. I have grown accustomed to its whispers, echoing down the long and twisting corridors of the labyrinth. I am not surprised by its tricks or reasonings, its lures or promises. I look down at my cup of soup and see the ripples in its liquid. And then I hear the scream.

There are very few creatures of significance on this planet. We mind our own business, they and I. But I have been here long enough to recognize their calls and that scream is not known to me. I set down my cup as the scream rings out again, an echo down the long cave walls. I do not know if this is another tale the cave has created to lure me. But I cannot risk the price of not knowing.

I stand before the entrance. Not hesitating, but observing. Listening. I feel the ripple in the Force, the choking fear of the creature inside. It is not meant for that evil cave. It will be swallowed whole and spit out into something twisted. My lightsaber cracks and hums to life as I enter. It sputters beneath the moisture that drips from the cave walls like tears, weeping for the thoughts within. I cannot help but marvel at what it has become. I clear my mind and listen, fighting back at the whispers that claw the edges of my consciousness.

Fear, fear, fear. That’s all I sense, it is a beacon in the darkness, attracting not only myself but the other tainted creatures that make this cave their home. I see them wince and avoid the blaze of my lightsaber as I continue further into the pit. Finally, I find the glint of an eye. Two eyes, then a flutter of wings. I approach it carefully, still unsure if this is a ruse of the cave. But it is not. A small bird, young and confused, is caught in a tangle of vines. I dismiss the snakes that have inched towards their prey and they return to their nests for another day.

“Small creature. The same, you and I,” I whisper hoarsely, freeing the small bird. It trembles in my hand and I can sense its small heart on the verge of collapsing.

Turning back, the entrance of the cave begins to close. Vine after vine reach for each other, intertwining into a thick wall. The fears of the bird are manifesting. Unbeknownst to this creature, it is feeding the darkness with its terror. Soon the bird and I are encased within the cave, illuminated only by my burning lightsaber. I reach the wall and try to pierce it but it is stronger than I expected.

“Calm, must you be,” I tell the bird. I know it is Force sensitive, it must be to live on this planet and survive as long as it has. And maybe, that’s what it drew it to the cave in the first place.

A small crack appears in the dried mud between the vines. And another and another, splitting into a dozen different pathways to freedom. Finally, a hole opens up large enough to squeeze the bird through and the wall disintegrates, no longer powered by the animal’s fears. I dust myself off and step through, feeling the lift as the dark cave is forced to release its grip of me, too. I did not let you take that creature, I tell the darkness as it skulks away.

I return my lightsaber to the layers of my robe. Perhaps my soup will still be warm. I smile as I hear the sounds of the bird’s wings flapping in glorious freedom, racing as high into the gray sky as it can reach. The sound grows louder and louder, into a windstorm that cracks through the treetops. The X-Wing plows into the swamp with a loud hiss of its engine. I close my eyes and envision the ripples of water as the cockpit door opens.

 

“The Moth”

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Image credit Brandon Towne

Some call me the butterfly of the night. But I am nothing like them. I had to knit myself in the darkness, the damp morning hours slowing my progress. I have to hide from the dawn, my bright coat attracting every predator in the revealing sunlight. But unlike my cousins, I know secrets. I gather them while I flutter against the glass, watching and listening as I tumble towards the light.

Tearing Down the Block: When Your Characters Fight

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Put on your war paint.

Image credit: id-iom

I’m in the midst of working on my next novel (The Reanimation of Robert) and really hit a big ol’ block. I was looking for every excuse to get out of writing. That’s what I get for yammering about how swell this book was going. *KARMA MOMENT*

I’ve suffered from enough moments of Writer’s Block to look for a few key things that signal what’s triggering my block:

A) I need a break and should go to bed.

B) Go back in the story to the most recent part I love. Delete everything that happens afterwards.

 (Editor’s note: This is dangerous territory. After a recent *ahem* over-deleting episode, I’ve started a messy compilation of “deleted scenes” that I can reference back to if needed.)

C) Look for a wrong direction I’ve taken in the story. The best clue for this is…my characters start arguing with each other. Over nothing important or essential to the story. I’m talking really. Stupid. Stuff.

I can’t describe it any better than the below: An example of both points B &C – a deleted excerpt from The Reanimation of Robert. I’ve had to remove a few things to avoiding giving away too much…because hopefully you’ll read the finished book. Void of blather like this.

-Begin dramatic episode-

At work, Piper opened shop solemnly, only half listening to Zelda’s recount of her adventures the night before. She watched the clock until around the time that Robert would be expected. The bell rang and Robert appeared, right on time.

“I need to take -” Piper started.

“I know, I know. You need your break. Just go,” Zelda sighed impatiently.

Before Robert could even order, Piper came and took his arm. He faltered, completely set off track by this change in routine.

“I think I may have made a mistake,” Piper whispered, pulling him against the wall.

“How so?” Robert whispered back.

“The____. I don’t think you should go back.”

Robert blinked, his expression going from confusion to surprise. “You know I went to see____?”

“Yes, I’m sorry,” Piper continued. “I thought ___ would help. But I think, actually I know, ___ believes you_______.”

Everyone thinks I ______,” Robert said coldly.

Piper sighed. “___ told me…some things. About your appointments.”

Robert set his jaw. “Thank you, but ____ helping me,” he said with finality.

Piper raised an eyebrow but shook her head. Robert turned to join the long line that had grown at the counter with only one barista working.

“So did it work?” Piper asked loudly from behind him.

Robert looked over his shoulder. He paused for a long time, his mind clicking over the question again and again.

“____’s homework for you. Did it work?” Piper asked again, walking up to Robert.

Robert looked around, suddenly aware of the eyes turning to look at him.

“Soy latte, please,” he said simply.

Piper sighed sharply and pushed past him. Disregarding the next in line, she quickly prepared Robert’s latte and brought it to him. She walked up to him and shoved the cup in his face.

“Here. Because I know you never hear me.”

-End dramatic episode-

What do you think – should I stop writing novels and write scripts for soap operas instead? Complete with “impatient dramatic sighs?” *Sigh* Oh well, it’s out from the book. It took me a few days to realize “What in the world are they fighting about? This is so dumb. Get that crap outta my story! Onward!”

I guess my point here is to take cues from your story. It may sound simple, but sometimes simple is easy to miss. These characters are supposed to be comrades. The few paragraphs before this excerpt contained a key moment that was a wrong direction for the story. So, in response, I suppose my characters decided to bicker in the coffee shop and it flagged me. And removing that wrong direction got me over my block.

So thanks, Piper and Robert. For fighting in a coffee shop for the good of the story.