General · Short Story · Writing

Microfiction Monday

Susan at Stony River has a weekly meme where she posts an image prompt and everyone writes a twitter sized story. Pretty small, yes?

This week’s picture is:

I wrote:

Icy waves flowed past me. I followed Dad’s pointed finger and saw a ring buoy with a soap bar inside. Someone was washing in the ocean? Why?

work in progress · Writing

Car Rides and In Between Scene Travel

This week, my MC exited a club and went someplace else in a van. I am not sure how important the van trip is (not very!) but I went right along with him. I mean, traveling from point A to point B isn’t usually that important. Point A and Point B are important. Not unless something happens between them and I didn’t think anything was going to happen.

In the last version, I skipped this scene. Not because it didn’t happen, but because by the time it did, he was home with his lover. Now the lover is not there anymore, so he may as well stay for everything.

I pictured a windowless van, a silent MC, a few tied up prisoners.  At first I wasn’t even sure what the point of writing that scene was. I wasn’t sure if I should skip it or bring the girl along or what. There isn’t a lot they can say during the trip (what does anyone say in front people they just took captive?)

But than, I realized, they would probably be trying to frighten the prisoners. Joking and talking amongst themselves, teasing, scaring the bad people right out of their minds. 😉 As a side effect, I think it would also show how good friends they are.

So I found a couple of reasons to write the scene, and a way to make it interesting for me to write it, too. All scenes should be like this.


Wondering if I Should Finish Reading Bullet

I’ve had Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton for months now. I just haven’t read it because the last book, Flirt, was so disturbing. But the next book comes out soon, so I figured I should give Bullet a try.

The picture is promising; no where as suggestive as some of the covers. So is the beginning. They are at a kid’s function and not even Anita Blake would risk sex when a bunch of little kids could burst in on her.

Than she gets home and it becomes all about sex. Asher starts posturing (he’s not feeling the love!) and JC almost, almost does him as a way to make him feel better. I am surprised he’s not already doing him. But not that surprised, because who knows what AB will do? She does react oddly sometimes.

Lo and behold, Richard walks in. He’s being all nice and accommodating and not at all like himself.  I am just, WTH? Than, then, all of them start doing it. Richard goes further with Asher than I imagined possible for him.

I stopped there and started skimming through the book. I found nothing but sexual touches, scenes, stuff like that. As I haven’t actually read any more, I can’t say if there is any actual sex.

But I am not sure I want to continue reading. I’m afraid of what I’ll find. The last book involved a minor and I am almost off this series. I really am. If I finish reading Bullet, it won’t be for a while. If I never finish (a distinct possibility!) I will not be getting the next book. I will be done. I discovered Anita Blake in high school, but I’m nearing the end.

word count · work in progress · Writing

Thoughts On The Perfect Short Story

I feel good. I wrote a thousand words yesterday. 400 of that was for a short story, though, so I am not 1000 words ahead in the novel in progress. 😦

The short story is odd. It is really more in the nature of exploring an idea I have for a novel. I might write the novel, I might not. I don’t know right now. But if I do, it won’t be until the current novel in progress is done. I think the idea is simple enough to express in 5000 words. It’s probably not something that will ever make it into the novel version, I am pretty sure about that.

The trouble with the short story is putting in enough details to make the world real, but not so many the story is nothing but description (the world is interesting enough that I could easily write 5000 words of sheer description!). The description needs to mean something, needs to make clear just why the whole setting is odd and move the story forward at the same time.

I think that is more difficult in a short story. I’ve read short stories where the world is crystal clear, the plot moves quickly, the story is emotional enough to tug at my heart-strings and yet the ending is just perfect. That’s what I want. It’s very, very difficult to achieve.

Book Review · General · reading

Book Review: The Mysterious Lady Law

Description from Amazon:

In a time of grand airships and steam-powered cars, the death of a penniless young maid will hardly make the front page. But part-time airship waitress and music hall dancer Julia Bairstow is shattered by her sister’s murder. When Lady Law, the most notorious private detective in Britain, offers to investigate the case pro bono, Julia jumps at the chance—even against the advice of Constable Al Grant, who takes her protection surprisingly to heart. Lady Law puts Scotland Yard to shame. She’s apprehended Jack the Ripper and solved countless other cold-case crimes. No one knows how she does it, but it’s brought her fortune, renown and even a title. But is she really what she claims to be—a genius at deducing? Or is Al right and she is not be trusted?

Julia is determined to find out the truth, even if it means turning sleuth herself—and turning the tables on Lady Law…

The Mysterious Lady Law is a quick, easy read. It is short and I don’t think it quite novel length. Maybe a novella. It’s steampunk; there are airships and steam-powered cars.

It begins with an award ceremony and an  attempted assassination on Lady Law. It ends in Africa. In between, there are chases, murders and lots of odd gadgets. Also, there is a room with all the planets that go rolling around and hitting each other. That scene was really funny.

The book surprised me. In the beginning, I wasn’t expecting time travel. I thought there would be a different explanation for Lady Law. In some ways, she is the villain (she was imprisoned at the end). I expected she would be the heroine. Lady Law undoubtedly did catch the real criminals, but she did so by committing crimes herself. I didn’t like that.

But the real irony here is that while she is imprisoned, she will be teaching other cops her methods of investigation.

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Readerly Teaser Tueday: The Mysterious Lady Law

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

A chill grew between them, and he felt that he saw her properly for the first time. Mendacious, after all. Not to be trusted.

– The Mysterious Lady Law by Robert Appleton

General · Writing

My Very First Blogfest: Writing The Next Line

My first blogfest! Christine over at Christine’s Journey is hosting it. This is how it works. Christine wrote the first few paragraphs, than the bloggers (i. e. me!) can cut and paste it to a post, and add-on to it. So instead of adding one or two lines to what others have written, I get to make it my own. The word limit is under 1000 words.

This piece is  little unusual for me. I am not sure if it is horror or a really dark fantasy or something else. The word count is 872 words. It’s nowhere near done, but maybe it is enough.

Note: the underline means it is supposed to in italics.

3:00 am. Those numbers glowed green, staring at me, letting me know I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t. If I did, who knows what injury I would wake up with. Every night a dream would consume me, and when I woke, something on my body was cut, bruised, or almost broken.I started at the ceiling. The fan squeaked and wobbled, trying to produce air flow. It wasn’t succeeding. I turned over, hugging my pillow. What’s happening? Maybe I should see someone, but who? A doctor? Padded room for sure. Is there such a thing as a dream specialist?

A branch scratched the window. I turned over again.

3:00 am. Those numbers glowed green, staring at me, letting me know I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t. If I did, who knows what injury I would wake up with. Every night a dream would consume me, and when I woke, something on my body was cut, bruised, or almost broken.

I started at the ceiling. The fan squeaked and wobbled, trying to produce air flow. It wasn’t succeeding. I turned over, hugging my pillow. What’s happening? Maybe I should see someone, but who? A doctor? Padded room for sure. Is there such a thing as a dream specialist?

A branch scratched the window. I turned over again.

5:00 am. Where did the last two hours go? Adrenaline pumped through my veins, accelerating my heart. My T-shirt was damp and clinging to my back. What happened? Did I dream, again?

Bang. Bang. Bang. I jumped up. Someone was at my door.

I wondered if I should even answer, than decided I should know who was banging at this hour. My sleep shorts and tank top were stuck to my body. The living room wasn’t any cooler, but at least the rug was soft under my bare feet.

I put my eye to the peephole and saw the man from my nightmares. Thick, bristly hair, hooded dark eyes and a nose peeling from sunburn. The last dream came back to me and I shuddered. My breaths were suddenly too loud.

I ran, feet pounding the pavement, breath coming in harsh gasps. Tall buildings bordered the sidewalk like menacing, fanged faces. I glanced behind me and saw him gaining on me. His face was wet and a thick liquid dripped from his chin. My booted foot slipped and I fell, catching myself on my hands. Before I could scramble back up, a large, warm hand wrapped around my throat and jerked me to my feet. I found myself staring into predatory black eyes. He smelled of smoke and coppery blood.

Now he was here. God, how was he here? My heart thumped and my thoughts tumbled over each other.

One thing I knew: I had to leave. Had to get out, get away, get someplace safe. Maybe the police – no, they would never believe a man from my nightmares was at my door. Maybe my fiancé, but I didn’t want to put him in danger. Besides, he lived a couple hours away. Maybe someplace crowded. What was crowded at five in the morning? No where, I realized, heart sinking.

He kicked at the door and hairline cracks appeared at the base.

I snatched my keys and purse from the coffee table and ran to the kitchen. The fire escape window was always stuck. Damn, another jerk – ah, I had it! Standing on the fire escape was odd. The metal bars were warm and sticky with bird poop under my bare feet. The night was quiet and the air still, almost as if it waited for something.

The living room door cracked and gave way. I swung a leg over and scrambled down the fire escape. Luckily, my car was parked right across the street. Clanging metal made me glance over my shoulder. The man climbed down the fire escape, moving with more ease and grace than me.

My legs felt like jelly, but I managed to get to my car. It was small and only a few years old. Surely it would let me outrun that guy.

The engine came to life and I took off towards the highway. There would be cars there.

I looked back once and saw the guy getting a black Mercedes that had been parked next to my car.

My fingers clenched around the steering wheel. Butterflies raged in my stomach, threatening to fly out my mouth. I gritted my teeth, knowing I didn’t have time to get sick.

How was I going to lose him? I didn’t have any ideas.

Adam, my fiancé, would know what to do. He knew about weird stuff like this. Nightmares, guys coming to life like that. I reached for my phone, than remembered I’d left it on the bedside table.

5:30. The highway was already filling with rush hour traffic and I drove as fast as I dared. The black Mercedes stuck to my tail like glue. Other highways merged and rose above me like an asphalt refuge. The car couldn’t go any faster. I moved into the middle lane, then slid into the left behind a little sports car. The black car gleamed in the rearview mirror. I changed lanes again, in the other direction, this time, but no good. I couldn’t shake him.

Again and again, I changed lanes like I was playing musical chairs. I wove in and out of traffic, did my level best to stay away from him. I failed. Throughout it all, the black Mercedes kept one full car length behind me. It didn’t fall behind, didn’t change speed, did nothing but stay glued to my tail.

My heart stopped when it inched up beside me. I didn’t want to look, didn’t want to know he was in the car. But I needed to know, I had to look. In the car window, his grinning face was splashed with crimson light from the rising sun.

General · Short Story · Writing

Microfiction Monday: river image prompt

Susan over at Stony River has a microfiction meme on Mondays. She posts a picture to inspire and a limit of 140 characters.

I came up with:

The river carried his ashes to the underworld. Tears rolled down my face, mixing with the rain. He was dead and even the earth mourned.


word count · work in progress · Writing

Behind in my Writing

January is almost over and I am waaay behind in my writing. My word count is pathetic. Maybe I’ll be like the turtle in the story and finish ahead the hare? I can only hope.

Part of it is that I am having trouble just writing. I haven’t hit the magic place where the words pour out. I know what the scenes – I have an outline! – but I am having a hard time putting them on paper. I am tempted to say the outline is curtailing my creativity, but it doesn’t feel like that right now.

Another part is that though I am writing every day, it is in fits and starts and writing is easier if I do it at the same time everyday. It’s just so hard right now to do that.

I really, really need to step up my writing speed.  I need to just write, just really focus on the characters.

fantasy · reading · Writing

Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy: Themes, King Arthur and Clichés

I used to think fantasy started with Tolkien, but now I realize it originated with King Arthur.

The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy talks about the origins of fantasy. It mentions the Romantic Tradition and King Arthur.

The story of King Arthur involves:

1) Commoner who is really a king

2) Old Wizard who guides the hero

3) Enchanted sword or other artifact of magic

4) A quest for a relic, sometimes a vessel, with powers on a godlike scale

5) Diverse companions

I am positively stunned. I never realized this before. Everyone knows the story of King Arthur. Who has not read The Once and Future King by TH White? And even if you haven’t, most people still know the story!

King Arthur predates Tolkien, but it has nearly every fantasy clichés and archetype. I can’t even begin to count the number of stories that have all those things.

David Eddings, of course. Tolkien. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordon. Riddle-Master  by Patricia A. McKillip.  I am sure there are lots and lots of others I can’t think of right now.

Harry Potter, even. He isn’t a king, but he is a famous commoner. Dumbledore Old Wizard who guides the hero. Every book has an artifact and a quest, and friends to help him!

But despite all that, Harry Potter is nothing like King Arthur or Tolkien. The worlds could not be more different.

So do these surface similarities matter?  Are they really clichés that are better not repeated? Or themes on which you can have endless varieties?