Saturday, March 22, 2014

My story is now available for Kindle in the Spring 2014 edition of The Colored Lens

"The Master's Voice" can be yours along with 11 other speculative fiction tales in The Colored Lens, Spring 2014 edition. If you own a Kindle, grab a copy and enjoy.

While you're at it, show the hard working folks at The Colored Lens some love by liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter.

Nice cover for this edition. Sort of feels like you've splashed down right into a Terry Gilliam movie.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sale! "The Master's Voice" to The Colored Lens

I'm a sucker for speculative fiction that involves animals or nature as a prominent element in the theme. All too often it can seem that technology hogs the spotlight, particularly in shorter pieces where there isn't much runway or time to make a strong impression. Do both beasts with a little beastly tech though, now I'm a happy reader.

Which is why my tale, "The Master's Voice", has just enough tech to make it a speculative piece but without losing sight of the fact it's a dog story at its core. With a murder mystery thrown in for good measure. Intrigued? You'll get to read it in The Colored Lens in a few months.

I'll have more to add about the story when it runs.

Monday, February 17, 2014

You may be a writer if...

With a nod to Jeff Foxworthy, I've been enjoying quite a few giggles coming up with these over on Twitter. From the reactions, I'm not alone.

Read all of the following starting with the opening line: "You may be a writer if..."

  1. You get the most brilliant ideas the farther away from a keyboard you wander.
  2. A spare 15 minutes isn't a quick break. It's a whole new scene.
  3. Every real person you meet has something to use in a story. You just have to figure it out.
  4. Sleep and dreams require a notepad be stationed for rapid access.
  5. World building and world plundering are typical things you do before breakfast.
  6. Word Count to you is like the Gravitational Constant is to a physicist.
  7. Instead of people watching for fun, you do it for juicy ideas.
  8. You ache to edit your uneditable stuff. Like tweets, e-mails, scribbled out grocery lists.
Feel free to add your own.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflections on the writing year that was

It's always a mixed bag thinking back on the year behind and ahead on the one to come. Inevitably my 'good' list outweighs my 'not so good' one. Though that might sound disappointing, I treat it as a positive in the sense that, whenever I face the future, I hope and strive to accomplish more. Putting it differently, I dread the way my life may have turned if I ever intend to do less. That's not me, at least not the me I've grown up with.

On the writing front, I've got a couple of pluses. I made significant headway on my novel WIP, including plotting it out in my head through its conclusion. Along the way, it took a couple of exciting turns that boost the story, IMHO. I may not be an outliner type of writer, but I did learn over the last 12 months that a pure seat-of-the-pants approach is just too open-ended for me. I need some boundaries and a blueprint, at least a birds-eye version of one. I've got that in hand now for the WIP.

I placed two short stories this year. Had some nice reader reactions to both. Feedback is A Very Good Thing.

For minuses, my stable of short stories has grown thin. This is due to a heavy focus on the novel WIP, which is usurping the majority of my writing time. Need to work on that.

Speaking of the novel, it isn't progressing as quickly as I'd like. I had hoped to have wrapped up the first draft in 2013 but it looks like I'll have to try again for that in the new year. I confess that I did some rewriting this year instead of focusing on just capturing a full draft. I blame my inner editor, which can't stay silent about rough edges, gaps, inconsistencies and plot problems. They're like dust bunnies skittering across your floor while uttering a taunt of "Catch me if you can." You just gotta go get 'em.

I need to overhaul my web page. I could pay someone to do that but I'm stubborn. So I want to take first crack at it.

Lastly, I think I did a bit better using social media in regards to my writing but I've got a long way to go. With social media, Zen is mighty difficult to achieve.

That's it. Goodbye 2013. Greetings 2014.

Let the words flow.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Adam & Eve angle in my story "Scents" takes a twist

One more brief insider scoop for you regarding "Scents," my world-gone-stinky flash piece.

I've always had a soft spot for Adam and Eve threads in science fiction tales. I also enjoy dystopian stories. Quite often one outcome for those is a literal or figurative do-over, particularly at the conclusion. In other words, center the plot on thwarting the bad, oppressive society/regime/environment somehow and then give the heros a chance to start anew, the notion being this time all will be better. It's a fitting reward for a titanic struggle.

Except in my own stories. 

Being the dark fiction slinger that I am, I don't expect I'll ever spin a tale where my victors go on to found a whole new utopia unmolested. Oh sure, they might desire to. They might think they will. Perhaps it will even start out that way. But I seriously doubt I'll be able to resist introducing some destabilizing factor to undermine their reward. 

Let's face it. A true Garden of Eden is lush, sanguine and idyllic. In other words, conflict free. Add a serpent and now you have the makings of a real story. That's my job as a writer: inject conflict and tension, shake vigorously, see what falls out. 

When I conceptualized "Scents," I knew it would have an Adam and Eve theme woven into it (albeit somewhat reversed). I also knew my Eve would be fiercely devoted to her mate and never inclined to abandon her love even though Eden or, in this case the world outside their domed prison, beckoned and was hers for the taking. That's not to say she didn't want that life of total freedom under the stars. She just didn't want it alone. My Eve's bond was that strong. 

At the point where I was prepared to actually introduce Eve's mate into "Scents," I paused. This was where the typical trope would have me supply an Adam and, I admit, would be a typical storyline for me to write. 

That's when I asked myself why? Why did it have to be an Adam and an Eve? Why not an Eve and Eve? Or an Adam and Adam for that matter. After all, "Scents" was a story about love and utter devotion. Period. Biological reproduction never entered the equation. 

That was my liberating moment. The result was my first Eve and Eve story. Darkened, of course. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The inside scoop on my story "Scents"

What if, in the span of a decade or two, Earth changed to become intolerable to humans? Yeah, I know: tired, old, sci-fi trope, right? But I don't mean excessive heat, water, cold, radiation or some kind of zombie apocalypse.

What if Earth just suddenly stank?

I'm talking a whole lot of stink here, the kind that introduces your stomach to your larynx. Repeatedly.

This is the premise of my flash piece, "Scents," which premiers on November 19 at Every Day Fiction. I thought I'd take a moment and reflect on where the germ of the story came from.

I have two words for you: paper mill.

If you ever lived in the vicinity of a paper mill, you'll know what I mean when I say the aroma one of those facilities can put forth is quite breathtaking. And I do mean that in the literal sense.

When I was a little boy, well before we had Facebook and console games, for entertainment we had something called bicycles. At the time I had a close friend and we rode a lot. Our butts were permanently molded into the shape of a bike saddle because of the hours we spent riding. This was in a Midwest town in the US heartland. For mindless trivial fun, bike riding was about as good as it got.

Except when the wind blew from a certain direction.

Why? Because the paper mill was that direction parked on the outskirts of town. On days when the wind blew into town from the paper mill, the smell was so nauseating that skunks actually complained to the mayor.

Fast forward to a recent morning when I was on a power walk not long after sun rise. The air was warm and clear. I had a good pace going. All was well with the world.

And then I entered a stench zone. It was revoltingly bad. Gave me the dry heaves (breakfast hadn't occurred yet, thankfully). I think it persisted for like a hundred yards or so but it felt more like a hundred miles. When I finally emerged and gulped fresh air, the memory came roaring back of those miserable days downwind of the paper mill.

Odors can be one of the most powerful exciters of deep memories. In my case, it worked like a charm. I was a young boy back on a bike again, desperately trying to get home after the wind had shifted on a warm summer day. Then, barely making it alive, I barricaded myself there, trying not to let the foul fumes suffocate me.

That's about the point where my muse said, "Hey, what if the whole world stunk like that? Cool story, eh?"

Half a second later, the muse came up with, "Wow, what if the world stunk and one person didn't have a sense of smell? What would that be like?"

You can read one possibility on Every Day Fiction starting November 19.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sale! "Scents" to Every Day Fiction

Though it's a dark piece, "Scents" probably qualifies as one of my palest dark works. It's a 1,000 word spec-fic flash tale of love and devotion set in Earth's near-future, a time when it stinks so horribly people can no longer go outside.

I received some delightfully warm and encouraging comments about the story from the Every Day Fiction editorial team. More to come when it publishes on their website.