News and Changes

As is often the case with moving, there have been some disruptions to my schedule. This means that updates to the blog for now will continue to be just regular-ish, but it doesn’t mean that I am not busy working behind the scenes on some ongoing projects and some exciting new things.

The first news is about the Monster Mayhem anthology which was so generously funded on Kickstarter. Although there have been a few delays, we are plugging away to get the book out. I am still working on edits, and many of the prizes for backers have been printed and are being mailed out. We will also have a table at Geekonomicon in Biloxi, Mississippi, December 11-13 of 2015, so if you’re in the area, stop by to say hello, meet some of the artists and writers, and pick up some cool stuff! I’ll be there.

In other news, I’m pleased to say that I am currently in collaboration with a talented comic artist and friend, Cat Santos, for an entry in this year’s Webtoon’s Superhero Comics Contest. Our entry will be up by December 13, and I’ll be sure to post the link so you can check it out. I’m confident you’ll love Cat’s work as much as I do.

Lastly, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be changing up the content and format of the blog. In addition to continuing to work on short stories for the magazine market, I’ll be dipping my toes into the water of interactive fiction/games with Twine. If you’re not familiar with Twine games (or the fascinating debate surrounding whether they are indeed games at all) you should check it out here at Twinery.org. I’ll be posting character profiles and all sorts of supplemental material in the coming months in addition to links to finished products as they’re completed.

Next week I’ll talk a little more about Twine and the enjoyment of interactive fiction in addition to why I’ve decided to go this route for one particular story that has been with me for a long time now but has yet to see the light of day. I hope you’ll enjoy this new project as much as I have so far. The blog should be back to a more regular schedule by the first week in December.

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Moving stage 1.5!

I’m in the process of moving back to my home state of Louisiana, so that means that the meta post for this week is going to be a few days late, probably around Thursday or Friday rather than Monday or Tuesday.

In that update, I’ll discuss the status of the anthology, delayed but still chugging along, a few upcoming projects on the horizon, and changes to the blog to shake things up and make it a little more exciting. I’ll still occasionally post writing exercises because they’re fun, and I’m optimistic that they could spark some stories for you as well. Mostly, I’ll be heading in a new direction, and I hope you’ll enjoy the ride.

Until next week!

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Writing Exercise 9 – Punctuation

Prompt: The correct use of grammar is the vehicle for your narrative. Create a paragraph that includes all of the following punctuation symbols: the colon, semi-colon, dash, question mark, parenthesis, and exclamation mark.

If you’ve never tried kayaking before—say, you’ve been living under a rock or sadly landlocked—I can’t recommend it strongly enough! Kayaks are even more versatile than canoes, good for the following: white water rapids, shallow swamp tarns, placid rivers, icy lakes, and even ocean surf. Try taking a canoe to the beach; you’ll regret it almost instantly. (Pounding waves against sharp shell shards and packed sand, anyone?) What are you waiting for? Find you a local rental spot and get paddling today!

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Writing Exercise 8 – A spark word exercise

In The Writer’s Block, spark words are one or two words accompanied by a photo meant to inspire a story. You can go off the word, the picture, or both, and it doesn’t have to be a literal interpretation. It’s just meant to get the creative juices flowing.

Spark word: Hitchhiker

Rain lay so thick across the windshield the flick of the wipers did nothing but create flashes of clarity along the dark, winding Arkansas back road. Choosing this route now felt like a mistake. If James had checked the forecast, he’d have stuck to the highway no matter how miserable he felt.

There was one good thing about the deluge. He didn’t have time to think about how frail his mother looked in her hospital bed or the look in his uncle’s eyes when he left, both of them lying to each other in optimistic tones that a little rest was probably just the thing. He almost regretted coming at all. The last time he had seen his mother a few months prior she was her usual strong self, insisting on hanging the wash out to dry rather than using the dryer he and his brother had bought for her for Christmas.  If he had to have a final memory, that one was preferable.

He almost ran off the road to avoid a pale figure that loomed suddenly in the reflected glare of his headlights. “Jesus!” he exclaimed. Trying to look in his rear view was an exercise in futility. He tried to tell himself he was just seeing things or that he had strayed closer to the roadside than he intended and just saw a sign. Under normal circumstances, he’d have succeeded and written it off as not his problem.

His mother was dying. There was nothing normal about this night. As soon as he found a piece of shoulder big enough to use to turn his beat up station wagon around, he did it little by little, paranoid some jackass in a big truck would just barrel around a blind curve regardless of the weather and t-bone him or worse. He crept along back the way he had come. After what seemed like longer than it should have been, he saw the figure again, a stick of a girl in a white t-shirt and dark shorts, hugging herself and trudging with her head down. She had to be freezing.

He swerved closer into the wrong lane and turned his dome light on, then rolled his window down enough to shout, “Get in! You’re going to drown out here!”

He caught a glimpse of skeptical eyes under a curtain of dark, sodden hair, hesitation that cost him a soaked arm and wetness seeping into his seat cushion. She nodded and hurried around to the passenger side to let herself in. The slam of the door shook the whole car. He quickly rolled his window up. “Where are you headed?” he asked. She flinched away from him when he leaned over to open the glove box. He leaned back again and held a hand up in a gesture of harmlessness. “Napkins. Help yourself. They’re not much. Better than nothing, huh?”

“Thanks.” She grabbed a few handfuls and began wiping at her face. He turned off the dome light and slowly pulled back into the correct lane. He had always been told never to pick up hitchhikers, that they were either maniacs or ghosts, bad news no matter what. “El Dorado,” she said, a thread of cautious hope in her quiet voice. “I was driving up to see my parents. My car died maybe a couple of miles back.”

“I just came from there. My folks live there, too. Well, my Mom. Dad passed a few years ago. I’ll take you back.” He picked up a little speed but not too much. He wanted to get her there in one piece.

“I should probably be scared half to death right now. I was before I got in the car.” She wiped until the napkins started to pill and disintegrate, then tossed them carefully onto the dash. “I’m glad you stopped.”

“I am, too.” It was more than just picking her up. He realized that once he dropped her off, he wasn’t stopping there. He was heading back to his Mom. How many people got a chance to rethink a decision they’d regret for the rest of their lives?

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