Author Archives: Chris Benedict

Winter magic

When the weather clears, we can have beautiful winter days in Washington state. Days like this one, that seem like pearls, or birthday cakes. When that happens, we learn to take advantage while it lasts — a sunny memory to carry us forward when the rains and cold return tomorrow.

The beach was full of people enjoying the mild weather, playing and hiking along the narrow Dungeness spit. We didn’t make it out to the end today — maybe a mile at most — before the daylight began to fade. Heading back up the path toward the car, I stopped to take this gorgeous panorama of pinks and blues.

Barely visible in front of a glowing Mount Baker, you can see the tiny, historic lighthouse that clings to the tip of the spit. It’s a full five miles out along a rocky ribbon of land that nearly disappears at high tide. Behind it, Mount Baker — an active stratovolcano in the Cascade volcanic arc — rises some 75 miles distant. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, calm and placid today, reflects them like a mirror.

Holiday Anthology goes on sale!

Tinsel Tales 2

Another fine anthology in the Writers, Poets, and Deviants collection. This book features twisted holiday tales — inside, you will find more than just Christmas stories. WPaD is proud to present our favorite fiction from holidays all year round, from Halloween to Arbor Day, ranging from sentimental to a bit on the dark side. An entertaining read for any season.

My contribution is a horrifying little tale from the darkside, titled Krampusnacht. You can’t run from a guilty conscience. Krampus will always find you.

I have to admit, trying to write a holiday story was tough for me. Maybe because I’ve never been a big fan of the super-sweet stories that abound during this season. I have nothing against the holidays, I enjoy the renewed companionship of family and friends as much as the next person. But it’s just not my style for storytelling. So this is not any sort of typical, heartwarming tale of magic and gifts and coming home. It’s the dark side of the coin — a cautionary tale against caring too much about oneself and not enough for others.

Krampus, after all, is said to kidnap and punish naughty children.

Weirder Tales on sale now

Weirder Tales cover

A new book of short stories by WPaD is out, and it features two more of my stories.

The first is titled “Collect Lucky Treasure”. Two friends play a friendly game of AD&D. But when they decide to go for the special bonus treasure, they flip the lucky golden coin and get more adventure than they bargained for.

The second is a short piece title simply “Jim” that I wrote in response to a flash fiction writing prompt. What would you do if you got a postcard from a friend whose funeral you attended just last week?

Check out these and more stories, available from Amazon.

What’s in a September?

With the autumn equinox, as the days stand equal to the nights and the light is balanced with darkness, we can no longer pretend that summer isn’t over.

The air is crisp some mornings, and though it hasn’t frosted yet, the trees are already sensing that it’s time to prepare for winter.

And so like the stag, we should take on the bright colors of celebration. Harvest time has arrived. The apples are getting ripe on the trees, squirrels store nuts, and birds nip at dandelion puffs. The world prepares for the cold, dreary days to come, and so must we.

 

August sailing

Sailboat

Spending a few months moving to the new place, which means that not much writing is going to get done for a while. I hope to be all finished and back in gear for a big editing push in November.

Meanwhile, we have a gorgeous commute by ferry between the old place and the new. This is a sailboat on Puget Sound.

Cherries are the bomb

So after a year of looking, we finally found a new house. And this is in the yard. A giant cherry tree full of ripe fruit. And ants — did I mention the ants? They love the cherries even more than we do, and are a bit territorial, you might say. (As I scratch half a dozen bites.)

Cherries for breakfast is totally a thing now. And maybe some for lunch, with cheddar cheese. And then a handful for an afternoon snack… and dessert after dinner… Whenever I run out I go pick some more. What the heck, they won’t last forever; and once they’re gone, that’s it until next year.

I kind of like it that way. Cherries all day every day, just like any good thing, could get old eventually.

A happy/sad

Fledgling robin naps before leaving nest

My babies left the nest today. I’ll miss the little shriekers.

It’s been a busy summer for the songbirds in our area, building nests and raising families. A robin has chosen a cleft in the lilac bush outside our kitchen window for her nest, for the second year in a row. I’ve enjoyed watching the activity as sky-blue eggs appeared, and then tiny, cute-ugly dinos hatched out.

The first week, they’re naked and uncoordinated — little more than gangly legs and giant beaky mouths on tiny, floppy bodies, with spindly, wobbly necks barely strong enough to lift that enormous head.

But on a steady diet of bugs and fruit, the second week they become floofy and grow weird little pins (the start of feathers) on their wings and backs. By now they’re strong enough to snuggle down quiet in the nest and raise a vigorous clamor when a parent brings them a meal, begging for each morsel.

By the third week they begin to actually resemble birds. The pins grow into feathers and the floof covers them completely. They become louder and more adventurous, practicing for the next stage of their lives — fledging. (See photo of sleepy fledgling on the edge of the nest.)

Today was the day. One was bravely scouting the lilac branches. His sibling looked down and, with the bold optimism of youth, took a leap and left the nest. With parents guarding them and shouting angrily at intruders, they will scamper around on the ground until their feathers finish growing, and then they’ll fly. They’ll follow their parents around for a while, learning how to be birds — how to sing, eat, drink, and recognize danger. In fact, any time you see a bird fluttering its wings at another bird, that is a fledgling begging for food.

And next year, if they learn well, they’ll raise chicks of their own. Maybe in the same lilac bush.

New stories on the horizon

I have 2 stories slated for publication in the upcoming new anthology from WPaD. One of them you can sneak-preview today — in my Flash fiction section — Jim.

The title of the next anthology is… (drum roll)

“Weirder Tales: An Omnibus of Odd Ditties” by Writers, Poets and Deviants

I’ll post a link when it is available for sale.

Tales of the Weird

Starting a new short story this month, in hopes of either getting it accepted in the next WPaD anthology (theme: Weird tales), or published somewhere else. It’s called “Collect Lucky Treasure”, and it’s about a game that takes an unusual turn. I’ll give you a hint — there’s a dragon involved. And lots of stinky, nasty goblins!

April Camp NaNoWriMo

Well, after 3 1/2 months of editing slog, Camp NaNoWriMo is finally on the horizon. I’m stepping up and putting myself in charge of the cabin next month, with the theme of Middle Grade writers (that is, people writing for an audience primarily of 8-12 year olds — think “early Harry Potter”, or Percy Jackson.) It’s not the only genre I write, but in many ways it’s my favorite. There are so many classics I enjoyed in my childhood. And other MG writers tend to be a lot of fun to camp with.

Anyway, I’m rambling. No, there’s no “actual” camping involved. Just a virtual cabin with a chat room and a bunch of dedicated writers helping each other toward our self-chosen goals.