Flash Fiction

As I spent some time asking you to read and support my work of flash fiction, I thought I would share my writing with you. The first story, with the prompt of “Vikings” lost in the runoff for last weeks #5MinuteFiction contest. That contest is held every Tuesday night at 7:30 PM Central time. I do appreciate those of you who already read that story and supported me. If you are a writer, you will want to go to that link on Tuesday night. The second story, written with the same prompt and the benefit of a short bit of research – which I didn’t use later because of time, and a Viking Name Generator is one that came to mind during the runoff election. I wrote it under the same time parameters as the first one. They are short, need editing, but hopefully fun. Read, enjoy, comment and enter next Tuesday night! (Titles added later)

New World Battles

We stared at the new world with trembling. So many times we had come close before, only to discover that they had been there first. The natives were not happy to see us if the Vikings had been there first.

“What do you think, Captain,” I asked as we approached the shore.

“There is a distinct lack of smoke,” he said. “Either they have not made it here or they have come and left long ago.”

We jumped into the long boat, leaving our ship in the hands of the crew. The soldiers came with us for protection. Many had already been lost as we encountered the natives after the Vikings. We rowed ashore silently hoping to avoid warning anyone who might be there.

As we approached, the nerves of each man began showing. Each wondered how he might react this time should they actually encounter any Vikings. Most had barely escaped in previous meetings. We landed warily and looked around. Off in the distance we saw what might be a native village. It was untouched. We relaxed as we jumped off the boat and headed towards shore. Perhaps this time we might be able to establish friendly relations with the natives.

We approached the village with more freedom than other places we had come. Natives stared at us as we walked past. Soon we met the chief and through signs and acting we were able to communicate our good intentions. It was time to head back to the ship to get our gifts.

As we turned we looked towards the boat. Flames and smoke billowed from the boat. They had attacked. This was going to be a lot more difficult than we had thought.

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As a fan of alternative history I had an idea. What if the Vikings, having discovered America first, had actually been the prime settlers. What would happen if the Vikings, now civilized, dealt with a revolution in society? Here’s an idea written under the same time constraints but with the benefit of more time to think about the prompt. (And a Viking name generator.)

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Abi looked at his desk and shook his head. It was hard to believe. He turned in his chair and looked out at Leif Erickson Square trying to understand the mob rioting out there. While he couldn’t hear through the windows 15 stories up, it was obvious that they were cheering loudly as they pulled down Leif Erickson’s statue. He had discovered this country. He and his descendants had made this country great. Now in a few short years…

Abi turned back to his desk. While his boss was following the law; he had gone so far as to allow Abi to come in and clean out his desk. Some of his friends hadn’t been so lucky. They showed up at work today only to find out that their key cards weren’t working. He and his friends had been texting, wildly sharing their trials that they were enduring only hours after the edict had been published.

“The English,” Abi growled as he dumped the contents of his drawer into a box. “They started this and they won’t know how to deal with this country now that they’ve run us out.”

Abi looked up as James walked in. He tried to smile. James was one of the good guys. The Africans and the Vikings had always worked well together and Abi, with what loyalty remained for the company and the country, was glad that James would be his replacement. He shuddered to think about what would happen with those companies that turned solely to the English for replacements.

“I’m so sorry, Abi,” James stuttered looking at his long time friend.

“You’ll do well, James. You would have been in my position soon anyway. You know your stuff.”

James smiled and nodded as he looked at his mentor, “Good teacher.”

Abi actually worked up a smile as he looked at James. “There will be rough times ahead, James. You can do it. Watch out for the English, though. Watch out for the English.”

FanFiction – From an Original Author’s Side

I have to admit that I am not a fan of Fan Fiction.  Many people enjoy writing it. Others enjoy reading it. Still more prefer to both write and read it. My personality doesn’t fit with the idea of Fan Fiction: I want to be the creator of the character. I want to develop that character and give it life. Given how much of my writing is published at this point, I had never thought of Fan Fiction from the author’s viewpoint. A local writing friend who recently published her second book, Devorah Fox, has written a good article about the subject. She calls it the sincerest form of flattery. What are some of the things she says?

First she describes Fan Fiction:

“Fan fiction” is a term that describes stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work rather than by the original creator. Fan fiction is rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work’s owner, creator or publisher. Writers of fan faction assume that their work will be read by other fans of the work that inspired the creativity and so readers of the fan fiction are expected to have some familiarity with the characters, setting, plot, etc. of the original work on which the fan fiction is based.

Later she describes the reactions of other authors – you’ll have to read the original for that. Then she gives her feelings about fan fiction as related to her own work:

The issue of fan faction recently came up in a Facebook group to which I belong and the general consensus seemed to be resentment. I suppose if someone were making a mint from fiction based on my characters I’d feel differently but for now I cherish the fan fiction that’s been inspired by The Lost King and The King’s Ransom. For one, I find the mere fact that my writing spurred that initiative in someone else to be validating. Isn’t awakening creativity in someone else about the highest compliment an artist can be paid?
I’ve also learned a lot from the fanfic written about King Bewilliam and his world. It’s like someone held a mirror to my character, turned it at an angle and showed me a different side. I have in turn been inspired by the added dimensions that I see the character can have, the different paths that he can take. Because fanfic writers have their unique style, my character has had a chance to play in different arenas.
The article is a good read, so check it out!

The Sincerest Form of Flattery, a guest post by Devorah Fox

#5MinuteFiction

There is a contest known as #‎5MinuteFiction held every Tuesday night. You write a story in 5 minutes…well…15 minutes from prompt appearance to close of contest. First of all I want to make you aware of it and second of all, I’d like to invite y’all to read the finalists and vote. My entry is one of the top 5 – apparently there were only 5 entries? Anyway, please head over to the #5MinuteFiction finalist page  Read the entries and vote on the one you think is the best. (I’ll never know who you vote for so you can vote for the one you like the most.)  You have until 7:30 PM Central time Wednesday to vote. THEN….prepare to enter yourself next week on Tuesday night at 7:30 PM Central time.

Diane O’Key was the judge for the evening and Wendy Strain  is the host of this fun contest. The prompt was that you had to include Vikings in the story. 

The Land Beyond the Portal – review

Would you like to win the book I am reviewing below? I have an autographed copy of The Land Beyond the Portal available for one lucky winner. Here’s what you need to do:

1) Share this post

2) Give me the URL where you shared the post in a comment below.

3) This contest will last at least one week and I’ll need at least 5 entries. If I don’t have 5 entries in a week, it will last as long as needed. (Come on, I paid for this book just for you, so the least you can do is encourage others to read the review and share it!)

4) Winner will be announced in this location.

Now for the review:

book cover

Book Cover for the Land Beyond the Portal

The Land Beyond the Portal by J. S. Bailey

Laura is seeking to find herself. A bout of injury induced amnesia has left Laura clueless about everything but her first name. Stuck in an old house in the middle of a blizzard, she looks around the house trying to find anything she can about herself. When she gets to the basement she discovers a room below the basement. As she walks into the room an unknown force transports her to a warm summer day in the middle of a pasture.

She is discovered by a young boy who, with his sister, has wandered farther than he should have while exploring. As Laura enters what appears to be a quaint medieval village she begins a journey that moves from trying to discover her own identity to unlocking the mysteries of the village. She is taken in by the village’s benevolent leader,  only to find that many do not see him as benevolent as the rumors start flying about him. The rumor mill appears to be an attempt to replace him. The villagers talk in glowing terms of their deity, but underneath their praise is a strong measure of fear. What happened to the village leader’s boy who disappeared years ago? What happened to his daughter who disappears at the festival in honor of the village deity? As Laura seeks to unlock those mysteries, and prove that the village leader didn’t murder his missing daughter she also has the seemingly impossible task of finding her way back home.

As the book concludes, all of the loose ends are tied together as Laura and the other time travelers lead their friends to discover the truth behind the village deity, the ugly rumors about the village leader and how people are traveling in time. They also discover the location where the daughter had been spirited away, uncover the mystery of the missing son and ultimately who Laura really is.

Bailey sets an amazing web of confusion in this book that ultimately resolves satisfactorily in the end. One of the best messages that I got from this book is the reminder that God is present wherever and whenever you might be. Another time traveler reminds Laura of her love of the true God and under the power of prayer they embark together on some dangerous journeys seeking to solve the mysteries. Some of the people whom Laura thought she could trust turned out to be involved with the evil influence in the land and others turn out to be quite different and more helpful than they first appear.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It has good characterization and the descriptions of the valley where the village is located make you feel like you are actually there. Even more than that though is a story line that draws you in and makes you wonder what will happen next. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop reading until I was finished. If you’re looking for a fun read that touches on suspense, hints at the paranormal and even includes science fiction, this is a book you will love.

Haiku

Every once in a while I get the urge to write haiku. Not sure how good this is, but thought I would share it:

They embraced darkness
Accepting it as a friend
The enemy: light

At What Frequency Does Writer’s Block Crumble?

While I have no problem when listening to music while I write: Classical Music and Bold, adventurous soundtracks work best for me, There are a lot of good thoughts in here. I can imagine coming back and checking out some of the sound effect ideas at different times in my writing. Great job, Philosopher!

South Texas Scribes

It’s more than half way through July NaNoWriMo and I have almost nothing written. I’m set up in my parent’s patio watching the rain with bebop jazz on Pandora and coffee on the table. The only thing that would complete this mock-café scenario would be the sound of dishes clattering, people chattering and baristas calling out orders with the excitement of a greyhound race announcer. “Macchiato ready at the bar with chi latte and a bagel gaining in second!”

In addressing writer’s block, the use of sound, or the lack thereof, is frequently suggested. It is the screwdriver of any writer’s tool box. The problem is, there are all kinds of screwdrivers for all sorts of jobs and it’s no different when talking about the frequency on which one’s writing brain tunes in static-free. I’m not simply referring to varying taste in music from scribe to scribe but rather to…

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A Tale of Two Ditties (Say that carefully!)

Ok, what I am posting are not ditties, but I just loved the play on words. I have begun rewriting last November’s NaNoWriMo novel in earnest. After playing at editing and losing my place, I am working on it paragraph by paragraph now. I am posting two versions of the same part of the story. I would love some feedback: Which version is better…or how would you combine the two. I will put my original first page up first, and then the rewrite. Did I improve it? Did I not change it enough? Too much? I am open to criticism, so please don’t try to be kind. (You are welcome to be kind if the writing warrants it though. Please give me some feedback!

Seppe looked with disgust at the body lying in the dark alley. He couldn’t remember ever seeing anyone looking that bad. The stiff’s acquaintances, if he had known them, would have told Seppe that no one was surprised that he had been killed and that no one really cared; even after seeing the gruesome pictures of the remains. Seppe looked at his partner, Aiden, and shook his head. Aiden was a twenty-five cycle veteran of the Wesdanian Police Force and was looking at retirement before the disbanding process had started. Aiden, veteran that he was, was still almost sick to his stomach. Seppe wasn’t doing much better himself.

The stiff’s head had been severed from the body and had been thrown under the fire escape on the west side of the alley. The main body of the stiff was splayed against the trash cans belonging to the Kroll Rader Bar and Grill. Both legs were cut off at the knees: one foot was about thirty five feet south of the body; the other foot was next to the head as if it had just kicked the head. The left arm was partly severed and the body lay on top of it. His right arm was extended as if he had seen the attack coming at the last minute and had been surprised by his attacker. Blood was spattered everywhere.

Seppe sniffed the air surreptitiously making sure that Aiden hadn’t seen him. They’d been partners for about five cycles, but Seppe still wasn’t ready to tell Aiden his secret. His tendrils quivered at the scent. He inhaled a little more deeply and shook his head. The scent was familiar but he couldn’t quite place it. He knew Aiden wouldn’t be able to smell it at all, so he’d have to keep that to himself. He wasn’t ready to tell Aiden just yet.

“Something smells real bad about this,” Aiden growled. Seppe jumped a little inside. Had Aiden seen him?

Seppe laughed nervously, “You got a dismembered man here, of course it smells bad.”

Aiden rolled his eyes, “You always do take me too literally, don’t you Seppe.” He laughed in friendly mockery. “I just meant that as bad as things look, there’s more going on here than meets the eye.”

Seppe laughed back, “Brilliant deduction, Aiden. We have a dead guy in pieces scattered across the alley and you figured out that something was wrong. I thought you were getting ready to retire and now you look like you’re bucking for chief.”

Aiden snarled, “Very funny bright boy. Let me just ask you one question. Who did it?”

Seppe shook his head in amazement. “We just got on the case how would I know who did ….” His voice trailed off as suddenly the depth of that question hit him right in the gut. “That’s right. We don’t have anything to go on. We don’t have any snitches to work over.” He paused, and then continued, “Not unless you want to travel up there.” He jerked his thumb towards Dwarinda, the penal colony moon.

And now the rewrite to that same point…

Seppe’s nose wrinkled as he looked at the body lying in the dark alley. He couldn’t remember  seeing any other victim hacked up as bad as this one. It was gruesome and he recoiled a little in disgust. Seppe looked at his partner, Aiden, and shook his head. Aiden was a twenty-five cycle veteran of the Wesdanian Police Force and was looking at retirement before the disbanding process had started. Aiden, veteran that he was, was still very queasy. Seppe wasn’t doing much better himself and wondered how the crowd might react if he let his stomach take control. He silently fought back against the waves of nausea as they continued to survey the scene.

The stiff’s head had been severed from the body and had been thrown violently against the wall under the fire escape on the west side of the alley. The main part of the torso was splayed against the trash cans belonging to the Kroll Rader Bar and Grill. Both legs were cut off at the knees: one foot was about ten meters south of the body; the other foot was close to the fire escape as if it had been used to dropkick his own head. The left arm was partly severed and the body lay on top of it. His right arm was extended as if he had seen the attack coming at the last minute and had been surprised by his attacker. Blood was spattered everywhere.

Seppe sniffed the air surreptitiously making sure that Aiden hadn’t seen him. They’d been partners for about five cycles, but Seppe still wasn’t ready to tell Aiden his secret. His tendrils quivered at the scent. He inhaled a little more deeply and shook his head. The scent was familiar but he couldn’t quite place it. He knew Aiden wouldn’t be able to smell what he smelled, so subtle was the odor, so he’d have to keep that information to himself for now. Aiden might never have this information unless he was forced to reveal it.

“Something smells real bad about this,” Aiden growled. Seppe jumped a little inside. Had Aiden seen him reacting to the odor in the air?

Seppe laughed nervously, “You got a dismembered man here, of course it smells bad.”

Aiden rolled his eyes, “You always do take me too literally, don’t you Seppe. Why is that?” He laughed in friendly mockery. “I just meant that as bad as things look, there’s more going on here than meets the eye.”

Seppe laughed back, “Brilliant deduction, Aiden. We have a dead guy in pieces scattered across the alley and you figured out that something was wrong. I thought you were getting ready to retire and now you look like you’re bucking for chief.” Sometimes he took Aiden too literally because he was afraid that Aiden would find out his background.

Aiden snarled, “Very funny bright boy. Let me just ask you one question. Who did it?”

Seppe shook his head in amazement. “We just got on the case how would I know who did ….” His voice trailed off as suddenly the depth of that question hit him right in the gut. “That’s right. We don’t have anything to go on. We don’t have any snitches to work over.” He paused, and then continued, “Not unless you want to travel up there.” He jerked his thumb towards Dwarinda, the penal colony moon. Both men looked slowly into the night sky that was only partially lit up by Dwarinda. Then they shook their heads almost in unison as they realized that they needed to focus on the task at hand.

Book Trailer

Recently I have noted that many new books are being promoted with book trailers. Maybe I’m behind the times, but I have just noticed this recently. That being said, please allow me to post a book trailer for my friend JS Bailey. I am currently reading her first novel, The Land Beyond the Portal and will move to her second novel that is due out in October soon. The trailer is for novel #2 Rage’s Echo. Check out the Rage’s Echo trailer here.