Monthly Archives: June 2014

Currently…

Right now I’ve got 3 projects that I’m working on. Two are YA/Teen and one is a fun personal project.

I’m not sure how often i’ll update with short stories. One of the projects will be an online thing for here and on Wattpad, but I’m updating them as I have content. It might be a bit slower, but it means that I’m not going to get stuck in a lurch once the updating starts.

I read somewhere that if you’re thinking about starting an online web-comic then you should have three months of comics in the wings. That way you’ve got a buffer, and your readers aren’t left waiting for an update.

That sounds like a solid plan. I’ve got one chapter written, I’ll do two more before I post it.

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Emilio Martin and The Literary Explorers

I posted a short introduction to the story a couple of days ago. My original plan was to use it as an exercise for YA/Teen fiction and move on. The unexpected hook was that I rather enjoyed the story. Ideas came together and connected in a way that I wanted to keep going. This new idea coupled with my exploration of the books in Public Domain got some juices flowing. I was thinking of doing two projects at once, one to be released on sale and one on Wattpad. Literary Explorers would be on Wattpad to allow for a bit more freedom.

There were a few ideas on how to carry forward, but I’ve run into a problem. I can’t find the ‘Why’ of things. I have another idea brewing, and I’ve got the why of it, but that won’t be published until it’s finished. I’m going to take back the curtain for this idea to expose the inner-workings of my brain.

The Literary Explorers would be a group of people with the skill to actually enter fiction. I first found this idea when read Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next Series, and have wanted to do something similar, but with my own angle on things. This new slant was something along the lines of an involuntary excursion into these fictional words. Similar to the opening scene of the movie Jumanji the Explorers would be sucked into fiction.

This is where I got a bit hung up. Why would they be sucked in? What was the purpose?

At first the idea was rather structured. The Literary Explorers were a group of skilled individuals who ventured into Fiction to fix the stories that had gone awry. I scrapped this idea, because it is similar to the Jasper Fforde series, and felt a like ‘the adventure of the week’ was setting in before it began. Then the idea of it being something unexpected, just POW they’re in Fiction and they have to get out. I like this setup, but it still leaves the why. Some people will say, just write it, but I have a really hard time if I don’t have a horizon to aim for.

How are they sucked in? How do they get home? What is the reason for it? The first motivation would be to get back home, but there has to be a reason for them to be there in the first place.

*bleck*

My brain can’t figure out this puzzle.

I’ll put it on the shelf and see what ideas it eats.

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YA Fiction… Attempt #2 – Input Welcome

The new pack of cigarettes sat mockingly on the kitchen table. Her mother stood next to the table with her arms crossed tightly against her chest. Amanda wished that this wasn’t how her morning had started, and yet, there was a brand new pack wrapped in clean, crisp plastic right next to the half empty basket of laundry.

“I can explain.” Her voice came out as a squeak.

“I’d love to hear this.”

“My friend,” her brain searched for a name that wasn’t actually attached to any person her mother knew. “Mary, bought a pack of cigarettes.” She motioned to the pack on the table. “I didn’t want her to smoke, because I know how you’ve said that smoking is bad, and I took them from her before she could open them.”

“And that’s how they found their way into the back of your sock drawer?” Her mothers voice had gone quiet, that wasn’t a good sign.

“No.” Amanda nodded, her shoulders slumped. Nothing left but the truth. “I’m sorry. My friends were saying how I looked like I’m twelve and that I would probably get carded for a Slurpee. I wanted to prove them wrong, so I bought a pack of cigarettes.”

“They didn’t card you?” Yes, the rage had been diverted.

“I.” She smiled at her mother. “Flirted with the guy behind the counter.”

“You what?” Uh-oh, rage back. Her mothers ears turned red.

“Mom, look at me.” Amanda shrugged. “I do look like I’m twelve.”

It wasn’t her wardrobe of jeans, sneakers, and a T-shirt that made her look younger than her fifteen years. Her hairstyle was a cute bob which was just long enough to cover the tips of her ears. She avoided pig-tails and shorty-shorts, anything that would make her look younger. At her full height she stood a few inches above five feet tall.

“I’m the shortest person in my group of friends, if I put on shorts I look like Dora, and anything I do to try to look my age makes me look like I should be on a talk show.” Amanda pointed to the cigarettes. “I wasn’t going to smoke them, they were a trophy.”

“This is a stupid trophy.” Her mother picked up the pack and tossed it in the trash. “You’re grounded, straight home after school, got it?”

“Yeah.” Her shoulders slumped. “I look like a freaking Elf.”

“What did you say?” Her mother snapped, the color drained from her face.

Amanda looked up at her,  this was new. “I said I look like an Elf. You know Santa’s little helpers.”

“Don’t.” Her mother waved her finger in the air. “Never say that.”

“Elves, or Santa?”

One moment her mother was standing by the kitchen table and the next she had her hand against Amanda’s mouth. Her eyes were much too large, it took Amanda a moment to realize her brown eyes had lost their irises. The orbs were now full white with a tiny spot of black for the pupil.

“Mom, you’re scaring me.” Amanda watched as

“Go to school, come right home, and no more of this business.” A strange lilting accent crept into her mothers voice. “I’ll talk to your father once he gets home.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Amanda grabbed her backpack and rushed out the door.

[_-_- NOTE _-_-_]
The story-line with Emilio is being developed into a possible full length selection. If all goes well I might have my first YA offering reading later this year. Until then, I will continue to practice getting the voice right. Oh, and doing my summer course. That’s kind of important too.

I’m thinking of making this one a series too.

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YA Fiction… Attempt #1- Input Welcome

“What are you reading now?” That was Manny, my little brother who thought he was my older brother.

Somehow he’d got it into his head that Jersey Shore was a proper inspiration for a sixth grader. The worst part of it was that my parents didn’t seem to mind. If anything they seemed glad that at least one of their sons wasn’t constantly attached to some book or another.

“It’s hard to explain.” I pulled the book tighter against my chest. “You wouldn’t be interested, no pictures.”

He stuck his tongue out at me and made to walk down the hall to his room. I eyed his as he passed, he wasn’t one to quit so easily. Manny lunged for the book, but I jerked it out of his reach.

“What is it?” He whined.

“None of your business.” I held the book over my head.

He started to climb up onto the arm of the chair. I pushed him out of my face and moved. The layers of hair gel practically turned his bleached mop into a helmet, but he yelled like something was broken.

“You’re fine.” I tucked the book under my arm and headed to my room.

I took a quick look over my shoulder, just to make sure he wasn’t really hurt, he was my little brother after all, and saw him eyeing the kitchen while he went on with his melodrama. He repeated the cry a couple of times, but no one rushed to his aid. The joke was on him, our parents weren’t home yet. He sat up and started texting on his cellphone by the time I had made it to my bedroom.

There was a fifty-fifty chance that he was sending a text to either of our parents, or to one of his friends. Manny was many things, annoying, a snappy dresser, and a talented pianist, but he didn’t let a grudge die easily. I tucked the copy of Interview with a Vampire in the back of my pants drawer and picked up a copy of The Once and Future King, one was required reading for my AP English class and one was a hardback that I had snagged from a yardsale last week. The only reason that Manny didn’t know what book I was reading was because I had purposely lost the cover before I brought it home. Then, I covered it in a paper bag like it was from one of my classes.

I kicked off my sneakers and hopped on my bed. The Once and Future King by T.H. White was the bane of my reading experience, and I loved to read. It somehow took the legend of King Arthur and boiled it down into pages and pages of useless details and minutia. English was the only class I had that was AP, we got a bit more freedom in the course work, but we also got a longer reading list.

My cellphone vibrated. I looked at it from across the room. It shimmied along the top of my dresser in a pattern that told me it was an incoming call, not a text. That meant my folks, they didn’t text when they wanted to yell at me. I watched it for a moment longer, then closed my book without marking the page, and flipped it open. Manny had one of those new touchscreen phones capable of video chat, mine had a camera that took fuzzy pictures, it was by choice, I hated cellphones.

“Hello?”

“Is this Emilio Martin?” It wasn’t a voice I recognized.

“Yes?” I checked the caller ID, it was restricted.

“No need to worry, Mister Martin.” The voice gave a forced chuckle. “I’m calling because you recently submitted a survey through Bookshelf Horizons.”

“I don’t think you’ve got the right number.”

“Emilio Martin from Bangor Maine,” the voice paused. “You’re in Mrs. Lewis’ English class.”

“Who is this?”

“I’m Bill, from Bookshelf Horizons, we sent out a survey for student in English Classes to complete.” The forced tinge to the voice seemed to resurface as it continued. “Congratulations, you’ve been selected to be a candidate for Bookshelf Horizons new Literary Explorer Program.”

“And that would entail?”

“If you’d like I could send you the informational packet.” The voice paused. “Through you class of course, this is the only time we’ll contact you through a personal line.”

“Sure.” I shrugged. “I’ll take a look at it.”

“Great.” The voice just didn’t sound right, even that one word rung wrong in my ears. “The packet should be there tomorrow. Enjoy.”

“Yeah, thanks.” I closed the phone and looked at the doorway. “That wasn’t odd at all.”

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Public Domain

I recently found a book called Dorothy Must Die. It’s a YA book set in the Wonderful World of Oz, but Dorothy is a power hungry ruler. It was okay, not great, but not horrible. It was at my local library so I wasn’t out any cash for it, which was good, but it got me thinking.

I’ve seen a lot of Oz related stuff lately, is The Wizard of Oz now in public domain?

The short answer is yes, but it’s complicated.

You see, the original book The Wizard of Oz is now in public domain, but the movies are not. That means Oz is an open field now. Trot your little band of merry misfits down the Yellow Brick Road, as long as they aren’t singing a song about missing parts.

I thought about it. Not sure about it yet.

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Distant Relatives

“Excuses me.” The tall, lithe stranger asked as he walked into the diner.

Talia looked up at the man. Even with his raven black hair he had a European vibe to him; like Dracula, but the accent wasn’t right. His clothes were nice, if a bit generic, almost like he had taken an outfit directly from a magazine. Everything was almost too clean, from his stylist shoes and jeans to the way his shirt had the top button undone. His look was like it had never been worn but the moment he walked into the diner.

“Yes?” She tucked a stray strand of her dirty blonde hair behind her ear.

“I am needing the…” He mimed eating as his English ran out.

“Breakfast?” She offered.

“Yes.”

His smile made her knees weak. That hadn’t happened in a long time. She knew better than to flirt with customers. This was just a pit stop on to bigger things, no one stayed unless they were stuck. Plus the scars on his lips didn’t look like they had a nice story attached to them.

“Just you?”

“More will come.” He nodded certainly.

“How many?”

He wrinkled his brow as he gazed up speculatively in consideration. His head bobbed from side to side as he ticked off a few fingers on his hand. “Trea.”

“Three?” Talia held up three fingers.

He nodded.

She led him to a corner booth in her section. “Would you like to order or wait for your friends?”

“Drink?” He offered.

“Sure.” She couldn’t help but smile. “What would you like?”

“Mjöd?”

“Sorry, I don’t know what that is.”

His face scrunched up as he thought about it. He looked at the menu in her hand and motioned to it. She gave his the plastic sheet, which he examined for a moment, and then flipped over. He studied the menu intently, mostly the pictures, and then set it down on the table.

“Milk.” He pointed to the picture of a tall glass on the menu. “Eggs, bacon, and pancakes.”

“Got it.” Talia smiled and headed back to input the order.

It took her a moment to realize that his accent had practically disappeared by the time he had said the word ‘pancakes’. Maybe she had misjudged him for a tourist; he could just be some bored traveler playing tricks on her. It wouldn’t be the first time. She placed the order, grabbed a clean glass, and the pitcher of milk, and then headed back to the table. The process took less than a minute, but there were two other men at the table when she turned around. One was a larger red haired man with an impressive beard that barely fit into the booth and the other was an older man with a patch over his left eye.

They spoke a foreign language in a rapid speed. The other two had that same ‘too clean’ look to them, plus the one with the eye patch was older, but he had sort of an undeterminable age to him. There were some similar features between the large red head and older man, the same strong jawline and powerful ice blue eyes.

“Ah.” The ravenhaired customer clapped his hands as she approached.

Talia set the glass on the table and poured the milk as the three conversed. The word ‘mjöd’ was thrown around a few times, but she still had no idea what that was.

“Do you want some extra time to order?”

The older man made eye contact with her. There was something there she recognized, the shape of his cheeks, or possibly the bridge of his nose if it hadn’t been broken, looked familiar somehow. He took a deep breath and held her gaze. She jumped as something somehow shocked her tongue and ears at the same time.

“Yes.” The older man spoke now, his English was spot on. “May I have your name?”

She pointed to her nametag. “Talia.”

The raven haired customer laughed. “He means your surname.”

Talia slowly turned her head and looked at him. “You’re accent is gone.”

“Yours is horrible.” He chuckled.

“What?”

“Never you mind him.” The older man interrupted, his tone sounded exactly like her grandfather. “Your surname, please.”

“Lawsen.”

“Talia Lawsen. The first name is something of a mystery, but Lawsen is a bastardization of Lawsson.” He motioned for her to sit.

“Thank you, but I’m working.”

“True.” He leaned back against the booth and sighed. “Miss Lawsen, we are in need of your services.”

“I could tell you the specials.”

The raven haired man chuckled again.

“Maybe later.”

Talia looked at each of the three of them for a moment. “What are you implying?”

“I assure you, nothing uncouth.” The older man waved his hand dismissively. “We are, how would you say, distant relatives of yours, and are in need of your local knowledge.”

“I’m not exactly sure how I could help.” Talia crossed her arms and returned the stare. “My studio apartment isn’t exactly spacious.”

“Then let us shake hands as distant kin and part ways.” The older man extended his hand.

Talia looked at it for a moment, shrugged, and took the proffered hand. Something popped between her ears. She was no longer standing in the diner, but on a great open plain. It was the first true day of spring in what had been a long winter. The gentle breeze carried the welcoming smell of dinner along with the familiar scent of the home fire. She adjusted her shoulders, the axe strapped across her back was new, but well used. The trolls kept her in top form.

Odin let go of her hand. She rocked back on her heels, her breath came in short, ragged bursts. She knew them as she knew the stars. Odin, she looked at the older man. Thor, the large red head. Loki, the raven haired one. She curtseyed.

“Allfather, please excuse my rudeness.” She mumbled, and then realized she was speaking Old Norse.

“Your gift will soothe my injured pride.”

Odin reached over and touched Thor with the same hand he had used to shake hers with. Thor closed his eyes for a moment and then nodded. The process was repeated once more with Loki. There was another shock on her tongue and ears, but this one wasn’t as unexpected.

“What just happened?”

“We’ve been away for a long time.” Odin sighed, he nodded quickly for a moment, the broke his silence with a clap of his hands. “Now, how about some breakfast?”

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Short Fiction: In the Forest

I crept along the forest floor, my fingers and toes propelled me along the roots and smaller plants. The scent was still fresh. This was the part of the hunt I loved. I paused and sniffed the air; the Elk had been by this way less than an hour ago. I stood, silent as a shadow, and titled my right ear up to the night sky.  The small creatures around me had fallen quiet at my passing, their instincts telling them a predator was about.

A soft shuffling of an herbivore chewing caught my attention. I turned toward the sound. The wind shifted, the intoxicating scent hit me full force. My mouth watered as I sprang forward. Hunger propelled me toward my target, my unholy gifts burned through the distance in moments.

The Elk had paused and looked up as I approached. Its eyes settled on the near-blur as I closed in. The mouth full of food forgotten, it tried to run, but I was too fast. I collided with it full force, knocking it flat. My fangs snapped into place as my mouth found the beasts neck. The Elk desperately kicked at me as we wrestled. Somewhere in its animal brain it knew this wasn’t how humans hunted. Warm, rich blood flooded my mouth. I drank three long, greedy gulps before I stood.

I looked down at the creature, it was bigger than I was, its rack was impressive, and it was still alive. One of the benefits from hunting large animals like this was that feeding rarely meant they died in the process. I knelt down and took in those wide, scared eyes.

“Shh.” I stroked the Elks neck as I made eye contact.

The Elk stopped struggling. A couple of drops of blood from my fangs closed the wound at its neck. I had escaped its sight before it was clear headed enough to stand. It shook its massive rack and took a couple of shaky steps away. I wasn’t exactly sure how hypnotism affected animals, but they seemed to recover fast enough.

I looked up at the sky, trying to place where I was in the big forest, and how to best get to my cabin. There were little markers I had placed in my usual hunting grounds, but this Elk had taken me farther than I had expected. It had taken all of the previous night to track it down. I had to sleep through the day to complete the hunt. After a moment I found the North Star and a constellation that I recognized and headed back toward my little shack.

With sunset only an hour prior I had time for the walk back to the cabin to be a leisurely pace.  I had owned this cabin for nearly twenty years now. It was one of the first properties I had ‘acquired’ when I became a vampire. Nice, remote, and with plenty of possibilities. I still hunted humans back then, but the peace was something I enjoyed. I hadn’t quite got the handle on my budding abilities so being surrounded by the living was rather loud.

I tensed as the familiar shape of the cabin came into view. The unmistakable scent of car exhaust and, more importantly, that of a human lingered in the air. I looked down at my blood soaked torso, dirt stained jeans, and bare feet. This wouldn’t end well if my visitor was still around. I circled wide around the back of the cabin, only one other person knew of this place, and she was the vampire that made me. A single dirt road led to my little wooden lodge and it was purposely in disrepair.

I found fresh tire tracks as I came around the front of the house. That and a small white envelope on the doorstep were the only signs of my mysterious visitor. I doubted that a mailman would be so dedicated to drive up a two mile dirt road in the middle of an overgrown forest. This was something special.

Just to be safe I circled the cabin once more, this time from higher up in the trees. Again, aside from the tracks and the envelope everything was the same as when I had left. As I strode up to my doorstep to examine the letter a familiar scent tickled at my memory. I held the letter up to my nose and took a deep breath.

Egyptian Goddess. It was from her. I slid a finger along the edge. A handwritten letter and a small business card fell into my hand:

My Darling Benjamin,

You have been gone too long. I need you here with me. Please, something is wrong.

Love

I read the words again. Then a third time. It was her, I could tell by her script, but it still confused me. Counting my life as a man, I was sixty-one years old, with thirty of those being human. I wasn’t nearly the oldest of her creations, and most likely I wasn’t the youngest either, but she had sent this to me. There was only one way to find out why. I looked at the address on the business card.

It looked like I was going back to civilization.

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