Saturday, December 17, 2016

Horror Bites Challenge #4 - A Late Dinner

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From the Horror Bites website:
So did you like the stories from the last challenge? Thanks so much to all that took part, I’m happy that my little pictures are providing inspiration. This time round I’m using a photo that my son wanted me to take. It’s supposed to be of a moth that was on the outside of the window but my camera is fairly rubbish and you can only just make it out. (Top corner of the middle pain on the right, if you need help.)

When I looked at the picture again I discovered that there was an interesting shot of my ‘Fly’ on the window sill. This is made from recycled materials, in fact its an old light bulb. So with the picture and what little information I have given you, have at it. I look forward to reading your tales.
  1. Post your link or full tale into the comments below.
  2. A word count to 350 words.
  3. As an added bonus if your story could contain an animal of some kind that would be awesome.
  4. I’ll post a new one 23rd December, just in time for Christmas.

And so, here is my entry for this round of Horror Bites...

A Late Dinner

Horror Bites Image #4 -

    The late summer air, now cool as the last glimmer of evening faded into night, swirled through the open window. I put down my book and went to close it, my tired eyes yearning for an early night's sleep. Only a few stars and distant houses were visible. I shut the window, but there was no need to set the lock. That was one more unnecessary task in my mind, and unlocking merely another job to do when the next day's warmth returned.
    I flicked the switch for the porch light then ambled into the kitchen to clean the mug that had held a soothing cup of tea. From the corner of my eye, a movement drew my attention back to the window. A few moths traced drunken circles in the incandescent glow next to my door. A small bird landed on the sill, its head tilting as it tracked the doomed insects.
    "Looks like someone else is having a late dinner," I said while rinsing the remaining soap from the cup.
    A flash and thump startled me. The light outside was no longer shining, the front window now dark. The soft glimmer of the kitchen lamp showed only the inside of the frame and a few feathers pressed against a pane in the lower corner, stuck to it by thick droplets of fluid running down the glass.
    Thinking a bird had flown into the window, I walked toward it to assess any damage. I stopped when two fiery red dots appeared just beyond moving slightly from side to side in unison. They were eyes and, knowing their approximate distance, a rough calculation confirmed that the head in which they were set was larger than my own.
    I closed my own eyes briefly, trying not to make any other movements. When I opened them, the number of burning orbs had doubled. I had two thoughts at that moment: I had not set the lock on that window—and the uncomfortable knowledge that this would be entirely irrelevant.

 337 words without the title... 

Previous Horror Bites: 
    The Empty Seat
    Reading at the Library
    Unfashionably Late

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Death And Decorations

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The Christmas holiday season is upon us once again. There are sweet children singing in choirs, colorful ornaments all around, and the fresh scent of evergreen wafts through the air. What could be better than a bit of horror to provide some balance to all that saccharine celebrating? No, not the frantic expedition to find that special toy little (fill in the name of child) wants. And not that last-minute gift search for your wife / girlfriend / boyfriend / significant other you somehow forgot. I mean nasty, blood-curdling horror. Worse than fruitcake horror.

If that's what you need, have I got a book for you!

It's an anthology of holiday horror titled Death and Decorations. And it just so happens that I have a story in this particular book. It's called A Home for Christmas. Sounds heart-warming, doesn't it? Well, it does if you like your hearts ripped out (still beating, of course), impaled on a sharp stick, and roasted over an open flame.

Yeah, that kind of horror.

Cover image of Death and Decorations - from
Cover image from
(may be preliminary)

Christmas lights shine on ghosts and gore, the Christmas moon shines on rampaging snowmen and glittering blades ... among the decorations and hanging on the tree are things we should not be seeing but which are there - including the bitter darkness of the human heart. This exciting new collection of Christmas horror has surpassed any other seasonal anthology Thirteen have put out. The stories will in turn touch you, shock you, surprise you and make you laugh. What more could you ask for a good read at this time of year?
Makes one all rather teary-eyed, doesn't it?

Lulu has it for sale now (paperback only, at the moment) - click LULU to check it out!

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Horror Bites Challenge #3 - The Empty Seat

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From the Horror Bites website:
So we had a couple of interesting tales from the library picture for HorrorBites #2 and I hope that this week more of you will be inspired to write a short horror tales. 
This week we are once again heading to the airport. The following picture was taken when I spotted a family leaving their trash behind. Before I tidied up after them I got to thinking what if this was an offering to the Trash Gods, or something more sinister.
  1. Post your link or full tale into the comments below.
  2. Giving you a count of 400-500 words this time.
  3. To make this a wee bit more interesting I’d like this story to be set during the day, its easy to scare at night not so much when the sun is shining.
  4. Closes around the 13th December

And so, here is my entry for this round of Horror Bites... I cheated a bit. You have to know a little poetry—or a song—to get this.

The Empty Seat

    It was the scream that caused me to look up. A child was missing; the mother inconsolable, the husband pleading for help. I recalled seeing the boy there myself only minutes before, sitting in the waiting area next to his parents, swinging his legs back and forth from his too-tall perch, quietly sipping his juice. I remember him smiling at me—shyly—the way young children sometimes do with strangers.
    The security guards asked everyone to move away as they questioned the parents, but warned that none of us should leave the immediate area. They would want to talk with us, too. Not that it was an issue. All flights were grounded. Heavy fog had set in. Hardly an auspicious opening for the new airport already troubled during construction. There had been cost over-runs due to reoccurring vandalism and numerous physical problems with the site. It had been built over the swamps and marshes—land nobody wanted—so fog was to be expected at times. Still, this was unusual. I stared out through the observation windows while waiting my turn to be interviewed. There was little to see. Dry grass and reeds stretched out beside the runways quickly fading into swirling grayness.
    If one gazes at nothing long enough, the eyes—or the mind—begin to play tricks. I thought I saw two figures, little more than shadows if truth be told, one taller than the other, seemingly holding hands, walking over the grounds at the edge of my vision. Only seconds passed before the mists engulfed them. I grabbed a passing officer's attention and explained what I saw. He assured me it was likely other officers securing the grounds. In any event, he doubted the child could have gotten that far. It was an entirely rational, though unsatisfying, response.
    Inside the terminal, life went on around the chaos. People bought papers from the newsstand, coffee from the coffee shop, and the music played serenely from the overhead speakers. I softly accompanied Ms. McKennitt with Yeats' last line while searching the misty grounds for any movement.
    "For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand."

 357 words without the title... 

Previous Horror Bites: 
    Reading at the Library
    Unfashionably Late

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, November 7, 2016

Horror Bites Challenge #2 - Reading At The Library

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From the Horror Bites website:

So I hope you had fun with the last challenge and are raring to go with this next one. I realise that some of you will be taking part in NaNoWriMo this month but maybe you need a break. Or maybe this image will help inspire your opening sequence. 

At any rate here is the  next challenge,  picture kindly provided by a lovely friend who is in Aberdeen. It is a rather great picture of the Sir Duncan Rice Library, where she seems to spend most of her time as she is currently studying to be a teacher.

Slightly different rules this week just to keep you on your toes.
  1. Post your horror short or a link to your website in the comments.
  2. I’ll give you a bit more leeway this week – 250-350 words.
  3. For this tale I’d like you to include a reference to a book or to reading.
  4. Due to me taking part in Nano I’m going to keep this one open for two weeks – 10th Nov is close date.

And so, here is my entry for this round of Horror Bites...

A Little Reading At The Library

Image of Sir Duncan Rice Library -

    "Push me a bit closer, will you, Brad?"
    "Certainly, Mr. Pavouk. You should be very proud of this new library. Your design is striking. It's an inspiration to so many that you haven't allowed your handicap to stop you from doing great things." Pavouk smiled as the wheelchair bumped along the sidewalk. "I'm sure the people of this city will enjoy their time here, reading books and doing research. Where did you come up with the idea for the exterior?"
    "It's rather complicated, and yet quite simple in purpose, Brad. Think of the entire library as the biggest eBook of all."
    "The building is a book?
    "In its own way. It provides information. The design is made of thin metal, which is a conductor, of course. This, along with connected structures within the building, forms the circuit of an immense passive transmitter. If a radio signal of suitable frequency, even a very faint one, should strike it, the circuit responds with another signal on a slightly different frequency."
    "The building transmits a signal? That's incredible! But what purpose does that serve?"
    "It's a beacon, of course, for the others to follow. The signal can be read from quit far away."
    "A signal? To whom?"
    "To beings like me," Pavouk replied. He pulled off a glove to reveal a thin, leathery hand. The claws at the end of his fingers dug into Brad's leg whose uncontrollable spasms indicated the poison was flowing into his body. He released his grip when the twitching slowed.
    Pavouk removed the blanket from his lap. Four spindly legs stretched out from their confines. "Handicap, indeed! The only handicap I have is the irritatingly strong gravity of this silly planet. As the inhabitants often say about such things, it's a bitch." Pavouk pulled a small box from his pocket. The three lights on it flashed in sequence. "It shouldn't be long now." He looked to the sky as Brad's body fell to the sidewalk. "Not long at all."

 331 words without the title... 

Previous Horror Bites: 
    Unfashionably Late

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, October 28, 2016

The First Horror Bites

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Horror Bites is now at a new location, so it's time for a fresh start. Not quite horror—unless you're one of the characters in my little tale...

From the new Horror Bites #1 website:
Welcome to the first Horror Bites Challenge for October. The challenge is for you to write a short horror story inspired by the image I’ve posted below. Feel free to use the wolf image to the left for your site if you wish, my son drew it so no worries about copy-write infringement.

This picture was taken at the airport in Gran Canaria as we were waiting for our flight home this summer. The image can be used in anyway, referencing time, a clock what ever takes your fancy – let the horror muse take control.

Unfashionably Late

From the Horror Bite website: ©2016 Laura Jamez
Horror Bite #1 Prompt Picture
©2016 Laura Jamez

    "If I'm not there by 10:00, it's too late. You know what you have to do."
    The envelope had contained only that note and a single, tiny pill. The clock in the station read a quarter past.
    His fingers trembled as he held the pill. Closing his eyes, he placed it in his mouth and bit down hard. His only hope was the pill would be less brutal than what the enemy had in mind.


    There was confusion all around. A man had collapsed and died in the middle of the station. Police and paramedics huddled over him. No one noticed when a woman picked up a slip of paper from the floor.
    "This is my note." She showed it to her companion. His shoulders sagged. "Why did he do it? We were here in plenty of time."
    "It doesn't say AM or PM. He must have thought you meant morning."
    "Morning! I thought he understood! What do we do now?"
    "What do we do? Without him, it's over. It's too late for us, too."
    The man pulled a small bottle from his pocket. He emptied the contents into his hand. He held up two small pills.
    "Ladies first."

 199 words without the title... 

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Last Horror Bites

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From the Office Mango website:
So you may have noticed that I’ve been absent for a while, if you’re counting its been about a year since the last Horror Bites post. Not going to go into details about the why or wherefores at this time but this will be the last Horror Bites from

I will let those of you who have stuck by me (assuming I have any left lol) I will be starting a new sight and will fill you in on all the madness that has been going on in my mind.

Anyway I didn’t want to simply kill this site without a last final fling and with the lovely Leslie providing a great picture I thought why the hell not. No word limit this time, just make it scary and try not to go for the obvious slash and hack. Post your tale in the comments and have fun

Can’t wait to read them.

Note: I will post this story here and on the Office Mango site.

The Best Policy

    "Ah, Miss Fischer. Please come in."
    "Thank you, Mr. Nethergate. And thank you for allowing me this interview. Until recently I had no idea your institute, or the museum, existed. A chance to write an exclusive story on this contribution to our city's history is certainly welcome."
    "Our small organization, more like a social club to be honest, has existed for centuries," Mr. Nethergate said while offering a seat to his guest, "but the museum is new. We're hoping to use it as both an educational tool and to assist in raising funds. We were surprised anyone in the media had heard of it, which is one reason we extended an invitation to you. Would you like some tea?" Mr. Nethergate gestured towards a small ceramic pot on a tray.
    "Oh. No, thank you. I'm fine. I could tell you weren't expecting my call. It was only through a conversation overheard by chance that I knew how to contact you."
    "I see. Where did that take place, may I ask?"
    "It was at a meeting of the city's historical society. A few of people were discussing the fate of some of the older buildings in this area.  I happened to be near enough to catch your name and a location. They stopped talking when they saw me. As a reporter, I was intrigued."
    "I understand."
    "And I'm the only reporter you've granted an interview? I must say I'm flattered. Why only me?"
    Mr. Nethergate sat down behind his desk. "We are a rather reclusive group, Miss Fischer. We don't interact with the outside world a great deal. Our associates and staff are generally referred to our group by—well, let's say, from those who support our teachings."
    "That would explain why I hadn't heard of your group before, though not why I was invited."
    "On occasion, I do read the local papers. I remembered a few of your stories. I believe you make the effort to portray events truthfully. That is not always the case with newspaper reporters."
    "I try. When I do have to provide an opinion, it's important that it be an honest and unbiased evaluation of events. I think the readers deserve that."
    "Yes! Exactly!" Mr. Nethergate stood up, smiling. "An honest opinion. That is what we are hoping you'll provide, Miss Fischer. An honest opinion."
    Miss Fischer smiled. "I'll certainly try."
    "Would you like to see our facilities now?"
    "Of course."
    Mr. Nethergate opened the door to the office and indicated they should go to the left. A long hall stretched before them, with arched supports disappearing into a dimly lighted ceiling.
    "As you can see, our building is quite old, but it does set a wonderful mood for our museum."
    "Yes, the museum. You never stated its purpose. What sort of items do you display?"
    "If you are familiar with the local history, you know this city has a rather dark past."
    "I do have some knowledge of it, though that was centuries ago. Does it cover that period?"
    "Indeed it does," Mr. Nethergate said as they walked deeper into the maze of corridors. "It is a collection of implements used for torture during that period."
    "Torture? Isn't that a bit gruesome?"
    "Perhaps to some. But we feel it is important to document those times."
    "I suppose I can understand that. Something like the displays in the Tower of London?"
    Mr. Nethergate nodded. "Yes, I believe that would be a suitable analogy. But our museum is more than glass cases full of old things." He stopped in front of a heavy wooden door with a small window at eye level. There were no signs indicating what was inside. "Here we are."
    "So you're adding your own twist to the idea?"
    Mr. Nethergate smiled. "An interesting choice of words, Miss Fischer. We want our museum to be more than a pretty store room. We prefer a more hands-on approach for our exhibits."
    "Yes. As you can imagine, many of these devices were designed to crush bones, tear the skin, or rip the flesh. But we have encountered a great many whose purpose has been lost to time. We are attempting to rediscover how they were employed. Please," he added, opening the door.
    As she stepped in, her entry was encouraged by an indelicate shove. He pulled the door closed before she could regain her balance.
    "What are you doing? Let me out of here!"
    Hands reached out from darkness, grabbing her arms and shoulders. Her unblinking eyes remained fixed on Mr. Nethergate's face peering through a small opening in the door.
    "I'm afraid I can't do that, Miss Fischer. As I've stated, we are a reclusive organization. We wish to remain that way. Still, we would appreciate your opinion on the use of these devices. I'm sure you understand our curiosity about their effectiveness."
    As the hands pulled her backwards, Mr. Nethergate continued to smile.
    "An honest opinion, Miss Fischer. That's all we ask. Just an honest opinion!"

 833 words without the title... 

Previous Horror Bites challenges in which I've participated: 

The Good Neighbor (#18)
Bad Hair Day Part II (#13) *
Lemonade (#12)
Bad Hair Day (#11) *
Cross Words (#10)
The Door (#9)
Wrapped in a Mystery (#8)
If The Shoe Fits (#7)
You Won't Feel A Thing (#6)
The Wings of Death (#5)
* These were the first two parts of Bad Hair Day

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Witaj Polsko!

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Blogging can be a strange pastime. You never know who might be reading your posts—or why. And every now and then I get a big number of hits from someplace I don't expect.

Yesterday, it was Poland.

Google graph showing hits on my blog - all from Poland
All Poland, all the time!

Every hit Google tracked was from Poland. I don't know anyone living in Poland, so it's not a friend. I don't have any relatives there, either. Well, none I know of. I guess it's someone who found my words of wit and wisdom irresistible.

There had to be at least one on the planet.

I wonder if they translated my posts. Come to think of it, they might make more sense if they didn't.

To that I say, "Witaj Polsko! Cieszę się, że nowy czytnik! Dzięki!"

Disclaimer: If the above is actually something offensive, blame Google Translate, not me.

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Shore Leave 38 - Sunday

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Sunday July 17, 2016

Finally. The last blog post about Shore Leave 38. And it's a good thing, too, because we're only days away from the start of reservations for Shore Leave 39!

Sunday always feels like a let-down. Vendors are starting to pack up, the art show is over, and the guests are hauling luggage out of their rooms to load their cars and check out. Still, there are a number of activities in progress.

Many of the actors and actresses were still around signing autographs...

John Noble signing autographs at Shore Leave 38 - Sunday, July 17, 2016
John Noble signs a picture for a fan

Michael Trucco signing autographs at Shore Leave 38 - Sunday, July 17, 2016
Michael Trucco doing the same

There were interviews being done.

Star Trek actor Anthony Montgomery being interviewed at Shore Leave 38
Star Trek actor Anthony Montgomery
being interviewed at Shore Leave 38 

Starting at 1:00 PM, I attended three writing workgroups: Building an Anthology, Wrapping Up a Series, and Connecting with Readers in the Modern World.

Building an Anthology

  Panel members:
A lot of the discussing in this workgroup concerned the flow of the editing. They also talked about what they look for when accepting work from authors for an anthology. The major points given were to:
  1. Read and follow the guidelines
  2. Make sure your take on the theme is unique
The unique part may be what will get you in. If two (or more) authors submit a story following the same idea, the editor will most likely take the story from the writer they know they can work with or has the biggest name draw—even if there story is not as good.

One bright note for beginning writers is that often the best stories come from unknown writers and not the big names. It's good to hear they are at least reading our work!

Wrapping Up a Series

  Panel members:
I've never written a series, but they are very popular among readers. The authors emphasized that the writer should know what they want to accomplish with a series and makes sure they resolve the primary story line at the end. When they do, the series is complete no matter how many parts/books it requires. You want to take the reader on a journey, but make sure each book resolves itself for that installment or it will leave the reader dissatisfied. Don't try to hold the reader hostage to the story requiring them to get the next one to resolve the issues of the current story.

Connecting with Readers in the Modern World

This was without a doubt the most boring and worthless panel I attended. Yes, social media can come back to bite you. We know that. There was little else of value. I'll make a note to avoid this group should it be offered in the future.

After the workgroups finished, I caught up with my cohorts and went down to listen to Michael Trucco. He has a lot of stories and a great voice with which to tell them. He mentioned that he likes (or would like) doing period pieces where he gets to dress up in costume. Getting dressed for a part—even if it's just a business suit—is part of the process he goes through to prepare for a role. I can certainly see him as a pirate. Yes, he would make a good one...

Michael Trucco answering questions at Shore Leave 38
Michael Trucco answering questions
at Shore Leave 38

Michael Trucco receives his Shore Leave "bunny" at the end of his talk
Michael Trucco receives his Shore Leave "bunny"

That's all for Shore Leave 38! Thanks for reading!

It'll be a while before I start writing about Shore Leave 39. In the meantime, you can read my story, The Song of Aiden, in Human 76 - a post-apocalyptic, shared-world anthology! Note: The proceeds for this book go to the charity Water is Life.

Cover image of Human 76
Check #Human76 on Twitter for news!

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Terri Deno's New Book: Haunting Melody

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Terri Deno has a new book out titled Haunting Melody. It's not a lengthy story, but it should be good for quick read! It's a mix of romance. mystery, and suspense that's built on the Kindle Worlds  "The Callaways" platform.

Here's the blurb from Amazon:
Pop star Melody is getting ready to work on her next album with the help of musician Sean Callaway at Ashbury Studios. She feels like she has it all: a great career, a fabulous love life with dancer Austin Eckhart and friends she can rely on. But strange things are happening at the studio—equipment failures, accidents and strange voices. Rumors start spreading that Ashbury Studios could be haunted. Will Mel be able to help her friends figure out what's going on before something bad happens?

Cover of Haunting Melody by Terri Deno

It's available on Amazon (US) for only $1.99.

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

This Month's Free Photos - National Harbor

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My original plan was to wait until October to post these (don't want you to get spoiled!), but I didn't have anything else ready for the blog. So here they are! Consider them an early treat for Halloween.

These were taken after the Airmen of Note concert on September 17, 2016. It's the Ferris wheel at National Harbor, brightly lighted in dazzling colors. They change as the wheel turns, so the two pictures have slightly different hues. The second picture is just the reflection in the water.

IMG_20160918_NH-FW1.jpg ©2016 K. R. Smith may be used whole or in part with attribution.
The Ferris wheel at National Harbor,
Fort Washington, Maryland, USA

IMG_20160918_NH-FW2.jpg ©2016 K. R. Smith may be used whole or in part with attribution.
The reflection of the Ferris wheel at National Harbor,
Fort Washington, Maryland, USA

Well, that's all for now. Maybe in a month or three I'll post some new pictures!

Images IMG_20160918_NH-FW1.jpg and IMG_20160918_NH-FW2.jpg ©2016 K. R. Smith - - may be used, in whole or in part, with attribution.

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Shore Leave 38 - Saturday - Pictures and People

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Sorry for the diversion. Now, back to the happenings at Shore Leave 38...

...and yes, it seems like ancient history by now.

Saturday July 16, 2016

After getting my picture taken with Barbara Bouchet and Michael Forest, my group went downstairs for the talks given by Karen Gillan and John Noble.

Karen Gillan

Although I had seen Karen in Doctor Who (as Amy Pond) and in Guardians of the Galaxy (Nebula), I really didn't know much about her. She has done a lot of work, and much of it is sci-fi. Unfortunately, I had trouble getting a good picture of her. There were lots of questions about Doctor Who, of course, and the usual ones about her favorite roles and similar things.

Karen Gillan answering questions at Shore Leave 38, Hunt Valley, MD.
Karen Gillan answering questions
Shore Leave 38, Hunt Valley, MD.

Karen Gillan about to receive her "Bunny" award at Shore Leave 38.
Karen Gillan about to receive her "Bunny" award.

After that, it was time to grab a bite to eat. Once we finished, we waited in the foyer area where many of the actors and actresses were signing autographs. Below are Zoie Palmer and Anthony Lemke.

Zoie Palmer and Anthony Lemke at Shore Leave 38, Hunt Valley, MD.
Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl / Dark Matter)
and Anthony Lemke (Good Witch / Dark Matter)
at Shore Leave 38, Hunt Valley, MD.

John Noble

John Noble was the next speaker to take the stage. I knew him mainly for the few episodes of Fringe I had viewed, but like most actors and actresses, I'm seldom familiar with their full range of work. Many of the questions for John were about Fringe and Stargate, though he did relate a good number of personal stories. He was one of the more entertaining speakers at Shore Leave 38.

John Noble answering fans' questions at Shore Leave 38, Hunt Valley, MD.
John Noble answering fans' questions.

John Noble getting a laugh from one of his fans. Shore Leave 38, Hunt Valley, MD.
John Noble getting a laugh from one of his fans.

At the end of John's talk, they auctioned off a property deed for charity. The "deed" was for Moor Land Homes at Amy Pond. A fitting location since Karen Gillan was in attendance!

John Noble holds up the prize for the charity auction at Shore Leave 38, Hunt Valley, MD.
John Noble holds up the prize
for the charity auction at Shore Leave 38,

That's all for now. I'll wrap up the happenings at Shore Leave 38 in a future post!

In the meantime, you can read my story, The Song of Aiden, in Human 76 - a post-apocalyptic, shared-world anthology!

Cover image of Human 76
Check #Human76 on Twitter for news!

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Temptation, Get Thee Behind Me!

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One of my biggest problems as a writer is that I am easily distracted. It could be anything: colorful baubles, the latest motorcycle, videos on Emergency Kittens, or worst of all, a new request for submission. I'm always looking for the next place to send a story when I have over 20 in the works I need to finish. I see the posting and say, "Oh, I have an idea for that!" Within seconds of those words being spoken my current work-in-progress gets shoved to the back burner.

Like this one:

Bring us the weird, the wicked, and the strange 

in the town of Red Leaf Hollow!

It’s fall in the small New England town known as Red Leaf Hollow. It’s not on any map but it’s been around as long as the sun and the moon. The first snow is coming, but for now, the town is getting ready for All Hallow’s Eve and preparing for the harvest festival – a huge celebration before winter’s grip. Red Leaf Hollow is known for its strange happenings, its odd occupants, and the things that slither and haunt and howl in the night.

The sleepy town of Red Leaf Hollow is divided into two sides by the large and bustling (and sometimes blood red) Crescent Moon Creek.
Crescent Moon Creek, named after the river that separates it from the other half, is the only place where one may view the moon clearly through the thick trees and forest. It holds the town Commons where the harvest festival occurs, large Victorian houses, and tiny witch shacks that line the cobblestone streets.

Shadow Crest is on the other side of the river, where trees and plants always die, along with its residents. It is also home to the Hollow’s cemetery, Morningside, where inhabitants know better than to linger, especially after dusk. Shadow Crest is also home to Harvest Hill, a dead lump of land that once held the lumber to build the Founders’ homes…and coffins.

Red Leaf Hollow is home to the annual Werewolves convention, where people who have died return from the grave, and where many of the Salem witches fled to escape persecution. This is where witches drive black cats in the sidecar of their motorcycles and zombies are usually holding another 5K Moanfest. You’re the odd one out if you DON’T have a ghost in your house. Pumpkins line the streets and the houses and even some of the inhabitants’ heads.

Bring us your creepy, ghostly, and ghoul-y from the past or present. Bring us the things only you can see. Show us things that hide just below the surface of reality or under the stairs. Bring us colorful leaves swirling at your feet and brisk autumn days and nights under bright glowing stars and dark looming trees. We want creepy graveyards, legends, secret gardens, severed heads, monsters, dancing skeletons, burial grounds, secrets, witches, magic, curses, hauntings, macabre romances, and unexplainable events.

Submission link: Red Leaf Hollow

This is the picture they say inspred the Red Leaf Hollow anthology.
This is the picture they say inspired the
Red Leaf Hollow anthology.

Yes, I have a story in mind. Will I actually finish it? Or even start it? Who knows...

But you get the idea. I'm supposed to be continuing with my Shore Leave 38 blog posts. Instead, I'm writing about how easily I get distracted. See how that works?

Say, what's that shiny thing over there...

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, September 2, 2016

This Month's Free Photos - Sunsets And Food - Maybe?

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Yes, I know I'm supposed to get back to the Shore Leave posts, but I keep getting side-tracked. There was a great sunset this evening, so I took a couple of shots to post here. The sky got progressively more orange as the sun set.

Image SUNSET_2.jpg ©2016 K. R. Smith

Image SUNSET_1.jpg ©2016 K. R. Smith

And finally, on a completely unrelated subject, we have this one...

Friends Kabob restaurant in Vienna, Virginia

I've had beef kabobs and chicken kabobs, but this I'm not sure about...

Just in case YOU would like to try it, here's the info:

Take a friend with you when you go. It's always more fun that way. You know, like the guy who's a real cut-up. Let me know how that goes...

Well, that's all for now. Maybe in a month or three I'll post some new pictures!

Images SUNSET_1.jpg and  SUNSET_2.jpg ©2016 K. R. Smith - - may be used, in whole or in part, with attribution. Do whatever you want with the Friends Kabob picture...

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Vote For Something Important

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Forget about the U. S. presidential elections, here's something of real importance!

Human 76 has been nominated for an award by the Indie Book Awards. Maybe not the biggest award, but an award nonetheless. And you can help it win! How? By voting for it!

Cover image: Human 76 © 2013 Bekah Shambrook

Just to let you know, I'm not proud. I'll be happy if you vote even if you don't know a thing about the book. So, vote early and often. Yes, this is exactly like the presidential elections!

Anyway, it's nominated in 2 areas, Anthology and Dystopian.
  • You can vote in the Anthology category here: ANTHOLOGY
  • You can vote in the Dystopian category here: DYSTOPIAN
You can vote once per day (in each category) until the voting is done (10 days).

In the event you have no idea what Human 76 is, it's a shared-world, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi anthology (hence the anthology category) about a young woman's search for her younger sister in a land recovering from a nuclear holocaust. You can find links to it on my "My Works" page.


© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wolf Trap - Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett

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I'll get back to the Shore Leave posts soon, but in the meantime, here's a few notes from the Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris concert at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts on August 12, 2016.

Emmylou Harris opened the show accompanied by Chris DonohueMary Ann Kennedy and Pam Rose. Harris' band is just the opposite of Lovett's Large Band—only four people with minimal percussion, which is well-suited to her folk/country style.

Emmylou Harris at Wolf Trap - August,12, 2016
Emmylou Harris started her set before the sun was just setting.
The colored stage lights always distort the pictures I take with the phone...

After Emmylou finished, there was a short break to finish setting up the Large Band, then Lyle came out and jumped right into Church.

Lyle Lovett and his Large Band at Wolf Trap
Lyle performing Church.
The Morgan State University Gospel Choir is on the left behind the piano.

Here are links to a few of the songs Lyle Lovett performed (not all official):

Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris at Wolf Trap
Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett preparing to perform together.

Here is a link to a video of one of the songs Emmylou Harris (with Lyle Lovett) performed:

During the concert, there were several mentions of singer/songwriter Guy Clark, who recently passed away. Both Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett had worked with him and greatly admired his talents.

Although I wasn't particularly familiar with either performer's work, I had a good idea how Emmylou Harris' show would go. I wasn't as prepared for the gospel-style songs from Lyle Lovett, backed up by the Morgan State University Gospel Choir. Let's just say it gets a little more lively when he starts up! Morgan State University is just around the corner from where I lived for a number of years. I even did some work there once, but that was many years ago. The show varied between having the Large Band on stage to just Lyle and one other musician, and he did a few songs with Emmylou Harris. I wasn't sure about this concert when I bought the tickets, but I came away a fan of both performers.

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Times They Are A-Changin'

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I picked up my new library card this evening. I had to go to the library to get it. That might have been a mistake.

Image of Library Card

It's been a while since my last visit to the local library, and I was unprepared for the culture shock. The change was noticeable upon entry. The large desk, previously attended to by several ladies all feverishly working to check books in or out, was missing. In its place was one small desk manned by a young metrosexual sort of fellow. He was pleasant enough, and able to retrieve my card for pickup with little effort. He then proceeded to inform me where the adult section was (Adult section? What makes him think I'm an adult?), where the movie DVDs were, and where television show DVDs were located. You can take those out for a week. And, oh, there's some fiction and non-fiction stuff over back there, too.

Over back there? Do you mean actual books? I looked around. There were approximately a dozen computers and every station was occupied. One person wandered through the area shelved with real books, perhaps just getting exercise. Maybe I'd passed into the Twilight Zone when I entered.

Is this the way all libraries are these days?

When I get some free time (you can hear me laughing, can't you) I'm going to go back and read a book. Right out in public where they can all see me. That could cause quite a stir!

"Mommy! What's that man doing over there?"
"Shh, honey. Don't look at him! It just encourages that sort of behavior."

I hope they don't take my card away. It's barely broken in.

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, July 29, 2016

Shore Leave 38 - Saturday - Panels And Pictures

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Saturday July 16, 2016

Saturday is the day the sessions given by the guests and the panel discussions begin in earnest. Of course, you can't do all of those activities without a good breakfast to start the day. This time I tried not to consume everything available at the breakfast buffet.

Saturday's breakfast

OK. Better luck next year.

After breakfast, it's off to the races. Which writing panels can I attend while seeing as many of the speakers as possible? And why are so many of the writer's panels held at the same time so I have to choose one and miss the others? Will I get to even see the art show? (I didn't, BTW.) It's always mass confusion on Saturday and the last minute changes to the schedule didn't help.

At 10:00 am I had the choice of two panels: Myths About Writing and Pitching. I chose Pitching, which is surely a weak spot for me.


  Panel members:
Since many of these panelists have been on both sides of the author / editor (or agent) scenario, they were able to share stories about their experiences, usually pointing out what not to do. Like annoy the editor. One point the panel made was that agents aren't as critical to have as they used to be. That being said, they added that a good agent can be a great buffer between you and the editor. Approach editors with your ideas at appropriate times; don't follow them into the restroom to pitch your book. They emphasized that you should always have a quick pitch ready for your book because you never know when you might run into the right person, either an editor or potential agent. The pitch should be 3-4 sentences of about 50 words. Many editors don't have time to listen to an exhaustive description of your idea. For more formal pitches, they want something no longer than a page unless there is a really good reason. If you are emailing (or sending by post) your pitch, personalize each pitch or query. And keep tweaking it to make it better. Above all, make yourself interesting (that may be the most difficult part!). They also recommended checking Writer Beware to see if an editor or agent was legitimate.

At 11:00 pm I had the choice of three panels: Writing Behind the Scenes for TV & Movies, From Fan Writing to Pro, and Working with Editors. I chose Working with Editors because I thought that would be the most useful for me, though not necessarily the most interesting.

Working with Editors

  Panel members:
The panel began by discussing the different types of editors:
  1. acquisition (finds stories for a publisher), 
  2. production (oversees production of story/book), 
  3. copy (corrects spelling and grammar), 
  4. content (checks consistency, factual errors), 
  5. line (clarifies meaning, checks the way language is used), and 
  6. proofreader (goes over the work for errors after the other editors are finished) 
In an ideal world, these should all be different people. In my world of small-press anthologies, of course, they aren't. The overall job of editors is to help focus the reader's attention by making the story readable and tightly written. The suggestions or corrections they make should not be considered as a personal attack. Still, there are times when things become tense between an author and an editor. In situations such as these, an good agent can act as a firewall between the two. There wee many examples given where authors and editors did not see eye-to-eye and how the panelists handled the situation. There is no formula for this. Each individual must be addressed in a way that will bring the project to completion. There are times when a good editor will suggest the author work with a different editor because they are better suited to  the genre of the story or the personality of the author.

One item that was suggested that made a great deal of sense for those writing in the SF or fantasy genres where there are odd names and unusual spellings. Provide the editors with a cheat sheet of character names and quirks of dialect so they will know exactly how the author meant them to be. This can greatly assist the editors in doing their job.


At 12:00 pm I had the choice of two really interesting panels: Kick-ass Women Heroes or The Whole Package (book covers). Unfortunately, this was also the time slot for the only celebrity photo I had planned for the entire conference. So that became my choice. Here I am with celebrities from Star Trek TOS, Barbara Bouchet and Michael Forest.

Barbara Bouchet, Me, & Michael Forest at Shore Leave 38
Barbara Bouchet, Me, & Michael Forest at Shore Leave 38
(I'm in the center, just for clarification)

That's all for now. I'll have more about the happenings on Saturday in the next post!

In the meantime, you can read my story, The Song of Aiden, in Human 76 - a post-apocalyptic, shared-world anthology!

Cover image of Human 76
Check #Human76 on Twitter for news!

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Shore Leave 38 - Friday - Michael Forest

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Friday July 15, 2016

Michael Forest is another actor that many at the convention will only know from Star Trek. Even after seeing photos of his earlier television appearances, younger attendees, unfamiliar with the shows, may not appreciate his other work. As I browsed through the photos of his many roles in the early westerns (and Zorro), a flood of memories came back. When I was a child, evening television programming was awash with westerns. A half-century has passed and I can still remember the characters he played. They must have made a bigger impression on me than I thought.

Michael Forest at Shore Leave 38, Hunt Valley, Maryland (July 2016) © 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved
Michael Forest at Shore Leave 38

Many of Michael's roles were as villains or "Indians" in the westerns. The reason he got so many parts was his height (along with his acting ability, of course). The "good guys" in those westerns were tall. These were stories about big men in a big country—and they needed big bad guys to fight against. James Arness, Clint Walker, and Fess Parker were all very tall. James Arness, for example, is listed at 6'7" (2+ m). Having a fight scene with a person of average height would have looked a bit awkward—perhaps even silly. Michael is listed at 6'3" (but I think he may be a hair taller), so he fit the bill. And even though he is part Native American, that's not what got him his roles playing "Indians." It was his height.

We were getting an autograph on one of Michael's Star Trek photos as Apollo when I made mention of a few old black-and-white photos he had out. That's when Michael said he had some pictures he really liked. He pulled out several portraits from a folder he had behind his table. They were not items he had out for sale. I hadn't planned to purchase a lot of photos at the conference, but when I saw these I knew at least a couple of them were going home with me. Best of all, he related the following story of how they came to be.

After his work in television in the United States, Michael lived in Italy for a while. Italian director Vittorio de Sica asked his personal photographer to take pictures of Michael and other actors/actresses to be used as publicity shots. Michael was surprised when asked to accompany them. He didn't know the director had such an interest in him. They went out into the Italian countryside where the following two pictures were taken (in a barn, Michael told us). It seems that the Italian actors were not pleased with the attention Michael was given, an gave him a bit of the cold shoulder. Michael is still in awe of the work the photographer did. He said, "I didn't look this good. The photographer made me look this good." The scans really don't do the photos justice. "That's not me," he said, gazing at an old image of himself. "That person doesn't exist anymore." This is one of those stories that might never have been heard had he not chosen to show us these pictures. Please do not use or distribute them for commercial purposes without getting Michael's permission.

Old photo of Michael Forest taken in Italy - please do not distribute for commercial purposes. © 2016 K. R. Smith / Michael Forest
Michael Forest in Italy
Old photo of Michael Forest taken in Italy - please do not distribute for commercial purposes. © 2016 K. R. Smith / Michael Forest
Michael Forest in Italy

Here are a couple pictures I took of Michael Forest at the Shore Leave 38 convention.

Michael Forest at Shore Leave 38, Hunt Valley, Maryland (July 2016) © 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Michael Forest at Shore Leave 38, Hunt Valley, Maryland (July 2016) © 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved
Michael Forest laughing with one of the attendees at Shore Leave 38.
I believe that is his wife, Diana, in the foreground.

A few final notes on Michael Forest:
  1. He has a lot of energy for an 87 year old person. Like Barbara Bouchet, he arrived at the conference early and stayed late. He was more than willing to talk at length about his career or pose for pictures with the convention attendees.
  2. He comes across as a very humble man.
  3. He also signs autographs that are readable.
  4. Michael's Wikipedia page is HERE.
I hope to see him again at a future convention. I'd like to get another one of those old pictures with just his autograph.

In the meantime, you can read my story, The Song of Aiden, in Human 76 - a post-apocalyptic, shared-world anthology!

Cover image of Human 76
Check #Human76 on Twitter for news!

© 2016 K. R. Smith All rights reserved