I’m getting published!

That’s right! You heard me, I’m getting mo fuggin published again!

My short story, “What Counts,” is being published by a magazine called Mistake House.

This has come at the best time.

I love to write; I have always loved to write.

I was just beginning to lose my faith in my ability to be a success at it.

And now here we are again. Yay!

Treasures – A short story by yours truly

Treasures by K.A. Carrier.


Don’t do it.
I ignore the thought hissing from the back of my mind and jump into the pool. My body slips through the water as if there is nothing but air, ribbons of multi-coloured light striking across my vision and wrapping around me. Energy hums in my ears, my kind of energy, the kind I’ve had since I was a little boy. It’s wild, ceaselessly vibrating and barely contained. It’s the kind of energy that made the other kids hate me during exams in school, unable to keep still or stop my pencil from rapping against my desk as my mind drifted to the rumbling trucks outside and airplanes soaring overhead in the clear sky. It’s the kind of energy that he, with his calm and contemplative movements, found endearing. Something like electricity makes my skin dance excitedly and it pulls me backward to the place I want to go.
Suddenly, my feet find the bottom of the pond and the water is simply water again. I wade out and stand on the shore, completely dry. The canopy of old trees are exactly as they were a moment ago in the timeless haven.

I need to find the boy.

Moving away from the small body of water and searching for familiar landmarks in the dense underbrush I push through the shrubbery, past the trees looming over the water. The sweet scent of pine needles and dying leaves envelop me as I move. These trees have been my silent friends for more than thirty years. I had spent most of my adolescence amidst these familiar scents, but the pond didn’t reveal itself to me until I was much older, after I lost him.

I plod through moss, fallen leaves and twigs, scanning the dark browns and greens for a path that can only be found by those that know where it is, thinking of him as I search. His lazy smile and contemplative eyes that somehow soothed my nervous energy fills my mind. I had always loved things that moved, things that seemed out of place when they were immobile: wheels, planes, cars, trains, and boats. And then there was him who hardly moved at all, who’s every word was deliberate and every action had a purpose. He was endlessly patient. Too patient. He never satisfied my explosive temper with an equally violent response resulting in the screaming match I always wanted when angry. Some university or high school would have been lucky to have an instructor like him; if he could tolerate me, he could deal with any misbehaving kid. He would have made a good teacher, that is, he would have if he hadn’t… I stop myself before finishing the thought.

Seeing a familiar gap between two shrubs, I find the path and begin weaving under low hanging branches and around thickets with sinister thorns. The boy has to be there, he has to. The nagging creature coiled around my brain thinks otherwise and tightens its hold, gripping my body with anxiety. The branches swipe down, leaving red trails behind on my skin, trying to steer me off of the course. Their arms become so tightly knotted that I have to contort my body to squeeze through a gap between two pines in the path. I tumble into a small grassy clearing before a great gnarled oak tree when the assault finally ceases.
Tucked beneath the tree, a sandy haired boy in a red windbreaker sits with a book in his lap. He absentmindedly chews his bottom lips and raps the hardcover with his fingernails, eyes scanning the page. I heave a sigh of relief. Books, glass marbles and a metal toy train the boy should have grown out of rests in his pile of treasures on the forest floor. It’s him.

Sensing my presence and startled by the sudden appearance, he looks up and immediately shuffles his possessions behind his back. I knew he would have put them beneath a raised root at the back of the massive oak and covered them with leaves, but I had snuck up on him and he hadn’t had the time. The caboose of the train peers out from behind its protector and I eye it fondly. Its blue paint is still fresh and glossy, the little wobbling wheels sharp enough to cut through paper like a rotary blade. They don’t make toys like that anymore; everything is plastic and safe now. I am tempted to tell him to keep an eye on it when he grows up, to make sure it doesn’t get lost, but I resist. I’m here for something else.

Following my gaze, the boy shifts again so I can no longer see the toy. He glares up at me suspiciously, the fingers rapping against his book increasing in tempo. I can see the front edge of the book still in his lap and recognize it immediately. It’s a textbook on motors, an anthology of the only kind of poetry I’ve ever appreciated.

“I’m not going to take your treasures,” I tell him calmly.

“You…” he hesitates, warily searching my face. “How do you know I call them treasures?” I remain silent. He irritably looks me up and down until recognition flashes in his eyes. “You’re…”

“I’m you.”

His jaw drops and the tapping ceases. “How?”

“It’s not important. I have to tell you something.”

“What happened to me?”

“That’s why I’m here,” I speak, subconsciously lifting my hand to the scar tissue that climbs up my face to my hairline and through my cheek, revealing my upper gums. The echoes of screaming and pointing children fill my mind as I think on my appearance. “There’s someone who will become very important to you, more important than any of your treasures. He’ll die in a fire,” the sentence gets caught in my throat. I clear it and continue, trying to keep an even tone, “There is nothing you can do to save him, nothing. His destiny can’t be changed. Do you understand?”

I watch the freckled face closely, the dappled sunlight falling on his pale and smooth complexion beneath the waxy leaves of the oak. The boy’s eyes are round coins of blue as he nods. I have his complete attention, but as per usual he fidgets unconsciously, his foot making a line in the forest floor with the edge of his sneaker. I was happy at this age, but only because I didn’t yet know what my life could be, what it would be when I met him. “Who is he?”

“You’ll know when you meet him.”

“How will I know? Is he like me?”

A half smile lifts the edge of my stiff face. “No. Not at all.”

“Why—”

“You’ll be with him when the building burns,” I speak over him, “You’ll escape, but you’ll look like a monster—like me—for the rest of your life. Or,” I hesitate before continuing, the creature in my mind hissing and coiling tighter in resistance, “or…you can stay away from him, never know him and live a normal life with a normal face. You can save yourself from the fire if you let him go.”
I watch the younger version of myself carefully. He can’t know how difficult this is, how the monster in my mind is tightening its grip in dismay at my betrayal and whispering, how could you do this? I try to hide the pain in my eyes.

“Why are you telling me this?” the young reflection of myself asks.

“To give you a choice.”

“But, why would I stay with him if I knew that was going to happen to me?”

I give a searching glance. Pity wells in my chest for the little figure in the red windbreaker before me, for the good that hasn’t yet come into his life and for the sharp loss that he will feel when it is taken away—if he chooses it. I shake my head sadly. “You can’t understand.” The boy hasn’t yet encountered him, he who didn’t love things that moved with engines and pistons and force like I did; he loved things that were seemingly stagnate, but always shifting: tectonic plates, the swaying of the ocean and, especially the always upward reaching trees. That was where we had found a nexus amongst all of our differences. I loved trees for their stoic silence, their acceptance of me and later even more for their hatred of fire. Somehow, he had let me steal him away and bring him here. I had added the best treasure I’d ever known to my collection. And now you’re throwing it away, the creature hisses accusingly. “You haven’t met him,” I speak, trying my best to ignore the needles sinking into my lungs.

“But—”

“Do you understand what I’ve told you?” my voice comes out surprisingly hoarse and cracked, a lasting effect from flames licking down my throat as they ate away my face.
The sudden harshness of my voice has scared him; he lowers his eyes, biting his lip again and answering quietly, “Yes.”

“Good.”

Before the boy can speak again, I turn and dash back through the forest down the hidden path. The stiff fingers of wood and sharp thorns rip through my skin, but I don’t slow. How could you do this? How could you do this?

“Wait!” his high unbroken voice rings after me. I run faster, leaping over fallen branches and weaving away from the trail into the unexplored brush.

The pond opens up before me and I plunge into it. The same electric current lifts my skin and whips of light fill my vision as I’m delivered back to my own time.

My feet touch the bottom of the pond and the water calms once more. I stumble out, heart thundering in my ears. I look around warily; my body is as dry as the dead leaves littering the forest floor. The surroundings haven’t changed, as if I have gone nowhere and done nothing, except there is now no clear and high voice calling for me from within the wood. My knees buckle on the shore of the dark water and moist dirt like the crumbs of chocolate cake stick to my jeans and the palms of my hands. The lingering scent of algae and sap fills the air.

A breath gets pulled into a tangled knot in my throat as I lift a hand to my face. The creature squeezes painfully tight in my mind. My fingers shake as their tips brush against the skin. It is coarse and uneven; I am able to touch the gums through the hole in my cheek just as I could before entering the pool. The monster uncoils its serpentine body and quietly slithers away to some dark place where it will no longer torment me.

I let the hand fall and a sad smile lifts my ruined face.


* Published first by The Write Room Literary Magazine

The Booth: Flash Fiction Story

The Booth by K.A. Carrier. Flash Fiction.

He glides in with his back erect and his posture perfect, tall, like a man who’s done nothing wrong.

I watch him from our usual spot, a hard backed booth in this dingy bar that used to be a barn. He looks good, better than good in that old leather jacket that stretches across his toned shoulders. His blonde hair swoops back in a soft wave in a way that reminds me of Elvis. I find him more attractive solely because of this.
He slides into the booth across from me and for a moment the brightness of his smile blinds me. The light fills my eyes and in the whiteness a sound as soft as a whisper licks my ear. The warm breath of body heat warms my cheeks as a long and low moan fills the crevices of my mind.
I blink and the white vanishes. He sits before me, still smiling.

The balls on the pool table clack together behind us and I smile back, noticing the subtle sag in his shoulders and the dark puffy rings hanging beneath his eyes.
“You know, I still like your hair like that,” I tell him.
He shrugs with his heavy shoulders. “It’s growing on me.”
A silence falls as our eyes lock.
Are you thinking about it too? I wonder.
His face reveals nothing.
The sound of breaking ice echoes in my head, and a crack snakes it’s way across the edge of my vision. It is a thin line, abrasive and sudden like the splitting of a windshield.
My eye is drawn to the flaw, but I can’t see anything through it; the line is too thin. Sounds escape through it though, reaching out like the muffled tones of a music box that’s continued to play after the lid has been shut. Smothered moans and heavy breaths trickle through, hovering in the air around my ears.
He takes his jacket off and the moment of silence passes. Beneath he is wearing a short sleeved Slayer t-shirt–one of his favourites. I’ve seen him in it so many times.
He folds his forearms over one another and my eyes fall to two thin red lines on his tanned skin. The other lines marring his dark forearms are more faded, browning as they heal. “I keep catching my arms on the boxes at work,” he had explained the day before. Each little line is perfectly straight.
I look at the two new crimson scratches. I know he hasn’t worked since I last saw him.
The sound of a boot stomping through a pool of thin ice fills my ears as another, wider line jerks jaggedly across my vision. I can see into this sliver of darkness now. A dark hand grasps hungrily at a hip, moving up and down the fabric of a striped cotton dress, hugging the curves of her body. The hand moves behind her waist and lower, squeezing and exploring the exciting crevices of a new and unfamiliar body. It slides back to the front and for a moment, it stills.

The moment is fleeting, its hunger returned with a vengeance as it slips between pale thighs.
I look up from his scars, trying to ignore the scene in the flaw on my eye and the noises distorting my reality.
I reach out and touch one of the thin red lines with the tip of my finger. He doesn’t pull away. I look up into his fatigued eyes and speak with a strange fierceness in my voice, “Stop that.”
The larger break in my vision grows, little arms crawling outward like a spreading cancer. I can hear his voice coming loud and clear from the chasm in my vision. “I used you,” it’s so somber, filled with a violent self-hatred.
I can’t see the girl through the cracks, but I can feel her indifference seeping out. She is too drunk to have her feelings hurt by this. She’s is cold and pulls her dress back over her mussed hair. She folds her arms across her chest. She doesn’t dare move closer to him to collect his body heat.
I look back to my friend, my finger still on the thin red line.
He gives me a smile that isn’t half as bright as it had been before.
The voice continues filling the air as it seeps through the cracks, “I used you to get back at her. I involved one of my best friends in this and the stupid thing is, I still want to be with her.”
I see the subtle shifting in the darkness as the pale girl looks at him. The cracks spread, lining my whole vision with spider webs.
“Then she can never know,” she speaks matter-of-factly.
Struggling to see beyond the distorted and warped glass, I look at my friend with unfocused eyes.
I can see fragments of his smile and the dimming light of his sad eyes.
“Stop what?” he asks.
We both explode into a million tiny shards of glass as the truth bursts through, moaning and sobbing like a forgotten ghost. It’s serrated edges cuts deep into our skin, but the facade never falls, our deceit staining the seats of the booth.

I’ve been rejected by the lit mag Hermeneutic Chaos

On getting a short fiction story rejected by Hermeneutic Chaos.

And it’s quite possibly the nicest rejection I’ve ever received ever.

Check it out:

Dear K,
Thank you so much for submitting to Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal. We feel grateful and humbled for having been given the opportunity to consider your work. It was an absolute pleasure reading ‘Flight” and appreciating the wonderful language and emotions at play. It, however, is different from what we are looking for, and this does not allow us to include it at this point of time. We are confident that it will find a better home elsewhere. But we request you to submit to us again in future.

Warmest Regards,
Shinjini Bhattacharjee
Editor-in-Chief

Look at that!! Are you looking?!

They gave my story major compliments, a decent reason why it couldn’t be accepted, they suggested that it is publish-worthy, and they want me to submit to them again! It’s a rejection, but it’s a really wonderful confidence boost. It also took them less than 24 hours to get back to me. I’d highly recommend submitting to them as I definitely will be again in the future. The story which I submitted to them I have also submitted to a different magazine, so there is still hope for it!

As for my other submissions, I was sad to learn that my favourite lit mag, Lost in Thought, is currently on hiatus. I somehow missed this on the website and sent them a story, but Robert Vaughn (the fiction editor) responded almost instantly and was very kind to let me know. He says there is a chance it may come back, but as it stands he and the other editor are simply just too busy right now to keep it running.

I also have two stories that have had status changes on Submittable. They’ve changed from “Recieved” to “In-Progess” meaning that it is likely that at this very second they are arguing over the flaws and attributes of my work. *pukes*

The Write Way to Revise

So, after months of wrestling with revision tactics, I finally succumbed and got a book on it. I bought Write and Revise for Publication by Jack Smith (Writer’s Digest, 2013), and I believe that what I found in these pages is valuable enough to share with you lovely people.

Without further ado, here are the three most useful tips I gleaned from the revision chapter:

1. There is a difference between revision and fine-tuning

Revision involves looking at big elements like characterization, theme, plot etc. Fine-tuning “includes anything from correcting spelling mistakes to improving wording, sentence construction, and basic grammar” (Smith).

This is a major mistake I’ve been making. I haven’t been separating revision and fine-tuning, making the process of editing feel like one massive and daunting task. I even printed off my whole manuscript at Staples the other day (it’s so big and pretty!!) for the first time, not realizing that I had done so with the intent to fine-tune because I can catch grammatical errors and awkwardness easier off the computer. As Smith says, fine-tuning should come after revision, and my revision isn’t done yet. So what sorts of things do I need to focus on before I get to tackling the hardcopy?

2. Range and depth of character

This is without a doubt, where I’ve been struggling the most. I’ve finally crafted a satisfactory villain (to my standards, we’ll see what happens when my next beta readers get a peak!), but what about the secondary characters? Smith writes, “If secondary characters are plain and dull without an underlying benefit–say a comic effect–their contact and dialogue with the main character could affect this character in a negative way.” I’ve been completely overlooking some of the characters who have relationships with my protagonist–mainly, her mother. Smith argues that “conflict is crucial to creating a character with depth,” and I hadn’t realized until now that I could use the mother as a tool to raise the stakes for my protagonist, making her and the plot more interesting.

3. Edit ten pages every day, don’t start writing anything else while editing, but continue to read

These are all fairly self-explanatory. Smith acknowledges that editing a novel is a huge feat that will take up a huge amount of time (which is why you shouldn’t begin another writing project); therefore, if it’s broken down into ten pages per day, the whole process could be finished in about a month. I like this because once again, it makes a large and daunting task smaller. This means that you have a whole day, a whole twenty-four hours, for ten pages. By the end of the day, those ten pages will be pretty darn good, and by continuing to read, you’ll have the influence of other established authors to help you improve your own work.

That’s it!

There are a few other handy tips given by Smith, involving things like point of view, and style, but I believe that if you’re done your novel, you should hopefully be beyond the need to question those elements. My plan of attack is to revise the scenes involving my protagonist’s mother, begin the hardcopy fine-tuning, and then hand it off to beta readers while researching agents. Wish me luck!

Working Toward the Write Place

Captain’s log, stardate 3/24/2015…

Okay, that’s enough nerding out.

The purpose of this post is to inform all you lovely people where I’m at in my writing career. As I said in the introduction, I am almost done my BA in English lit. I’ve participated in one creative non-fiction course, one script writing course, and two creative fiction courses. I’ll talk more about these workshops later. For now, it’s time for me to indulge in my narcissistic tendencies and talk about myself (yay!).

What I’ve Published so Far

Nothing. Well, okay, that’s not exactly true.

I’ve written a few articles for my school newspaper, the Reflector. Not exactly a huge accomplishment, but it was the first time I ever saw my writing in print and that was pretty darn cool. If you want to know how many butt plugs out of five I gave the 50 Shades of Grey movie, you can find my most recent Reflector article here.

I also wrote a 500 word essay for Maclean’s magazine this year and got paid 75 whole dollars for it! This was the first time I’ve ever been paid for my writing, and I have to say, it felt pretty spiffy. I haven’t counted it as a publishing credit yet because it hasn’t come out. It’s supposed to hit shelves at the end of this month or the beginning of the next in the University Insider report.  However, I can’t say that I got this gig through nothing but hard work and determination; in all honesty, it was simply luck. The boyfriend of a girl I befriended at school works for Maclean’s. He needed an article writer and I suppose that I was such a raving loony about writing that she thought of me when the job came up (thank you Rachel!). BAM…I was $75 richer and will one of these days officially be a published writer!

My third success (kind of) is a story called “Treasures” which according to Submittable, has been accepted by the Write Room (look another pun!), an online lit magazine. “Treasures” is a short fiction story about time travel and it was seven months before its status changed. When I got the email that my submission status changed to accepted I almost threw up I was so excited. However, that happened about a month ago and the magazine has made no contact with me. I’ve contacted them via facebook and submittable, but I have received nothing back. I’ve come to the point of accepting that perhaps the status change was an error, if anything just to avoid driving myself insane. I can’t avoid being hopeful that this is not the case, but only time will tell…In the meantime, I have continued to write and send out stories!

And that’s it! These are my few accolades, but I am proud of each one whether it came about by luck, or didn’t actually come about at all. The same goes for my file folder which is packed with rejection slips. It’s all one step closer to becoming a successful writer.

What I’m Working on Now

A novel which is currently 119 pages in 12 point font on my computer. That’s about 50,000 words! Thanks to Meg Cabot and this post, I finally know how the number of words on computer paper will translate into a published book. I know, I know, quality over quantity, but I can’t stop myself from swelling with joy every time I reach a new page. When I get to cutting things out during the editing process, it will be painful.

My manuscript is a ghost story which I refer to as Joe and she prefers female pronouns. I was struggling to pick which genre to place her in for a while; I wanted her to be an adult book, but my protagonist is in high school which gives it a YA feel. Thanks to a wonderful professor who has also offered to help me with editing over summer, I can now clasify her as Cusp literature (YA books that can also be enjoyed by adults).

I am almost done part one of three and I will finish writing her this year!

 

Where have you been published? What are you working on right now? Tell me in the comments!