Skin Deep Published in Aurora Wolf!

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Source: Aurora Wolf – A Literary Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy (aurorawolf.com)

SKIN DEEP PUBLISHED!

Just wanted to let you know that Skin Deep, a short-story that I’ve worked on and detailed on the blog has been published by Aurora Wolf – A Literary Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Please head over to their website, read my story, rate and comment on it and (while you’re there) perhaps, read and comment on other stories that I are listed.  Right now my story is on the from page (with the above image – thanks to Aurora Wolf for letting me use the image!).  There is no cost to read the story, or  in other words, its FREE!

Skin Deep has been very much of a long-term passion project.  It was one of the first stories  I wrote with the intent of getting it published.  The story that is published in the 3rd major draft of the story.  My first draft came in the 90s and I submitted it to several markets found in Writer’s Market & Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market.  I only remember one piece of feedback that I received for it from an editor who thought the Psionics (mind powers) in the story strayed too close to magic for her tastes.

I put it “in the trunk” for a while and then I rewrote it substantially around late 2013 – early 2014.  The basis of the current version came from this rewrite.  I had the plot and most of the character, but something still didn’t feel right about the character and her motivations.  I put it up again (not submitting it significantly) until I revised it mid-2015.

As I noted in the blog about the story,  I changed the main character’s name, and really worked to increase the setting of the story and I think that’s what was missing from the 2nd draft–not enough setting to really ground the story.  In all, I’m glad I got to tell Mahalia’s story.  Please go read it if you have a chance–best of all, did I mention its FREE!

CHILDE ROLAND PUBLISHED!

In case you missed it, Childe Roland was also published late last year.  It is still up and, like Skin Deep, it is also FREE!  Please head over to ElectricSpec.com to give it a read as well if you have the time.

OTHER PROJECTS

Lastly, I’m still writing and working on other projects.  As you’ve no doubt realized by the slowness of the blog, I’m really overwhelmed with coursework and classes, but I’m trying to get a handle on the massive amounts of reading and grading that I’m having to do.  I will post more about other projects that I’m working on in the coming months.  Like a business, I need to refresh my sold “stock” with new “stock” if I’m going to make my writing career work, so I have lots of new projects in the wings.  More on these soon.  Well, that’s all for this week, and I’ll try to have a new post up next week (I promise, I really will TRY!).  See you next post!

Author’s Note: Silence Will Fall

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Source: Wikipedia (The Rover–from the TV show The Prisoner)

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Source: David-Stimpson.blogspot.com

AUTHOR’S NOTE: SILENCE WILL FALL

So I finished Project Silence this morning and I’ve officially titled it, Silence Will Fall.  The title comes from a line in Dr. Who (New version with Matt Smith playing Dr. Who) where he must defeat an enemy known as The Silence.  That line stuck in my brain for some reason (as has the enemy’s name of The Silence which I may use/revisit in another story some time in the future.)

STORY’S GENESIS

The genesis of the story is both simple and complex.  Simply speaking, the story originated from a dream where I saw the protagonist at a dam defeating a Floater in a novel and unique way.  With a few minor tweaks here and there, I tried to capture both the feeling of the dream and the actual events as best I could in the story.  The more complex version the image of the Rover (see above illustration).  My family has always been into PBS, and while I don’t watch period shows like Downton Abbey, I’m my uncle would have as he was hugely into Masterpiece Theatre.  However, somewhere along the lines, I must have seen The Prisoner (on PBS as rerun most likely as I remember the bounding ball of the Rover and I remember it killing someone) as a child.  That image has also stuck with me although I don’t think I consciously thought about it.

However, after that dream, I wanted to write about a “ball of death,” and see if my protagonist could defeat it.  I knew I wanted the story to be post-apocalyptic because that’s what I saw when I dreamed, but I also didn’t want to create a huge backstory for the Floaters.  I thought about Independence Day 1 & 2 and other invasion movies that tried to explain the aliens and I didn’t want that for this story.  So I decided that they would just descend from space down to Earth as if space was simply water and they were traveling from world to world (reef to reef to continue the water metaphor) in search of food.  The key is they are hunters of noise.  Any noise attracts them, so for humans to survive, we would have to be silent (hence the title).

KEEP IT SIMPLE 

So I wanted to try to keep everything in this story simple.  Three parts (Beginning, Middle, End) and about a 1,000 words for each section.  I managed pretty well with the 1st and 3rd sections, but I needed to have some dialogue between characters as well as to have the protagonist discover a potential solution to the story’s problem.  The 2nd section clocks in approximately at 1,800 words–a little longer than I would have preferred, but if it works, so be it.

I wanted to finish this story quickly, but right after I finished the 1st section, I started Orientation at MTSU for their program.  I don’t seem to handle transitions well and when the weekend came, I was mentally exhausted.  I didn’t actually pick up the story again until two weeks after school started (so approximately four to five weeks elapsed between the 1st & 2nd sections), but once I picked it up again, it took about three weeks to finish it.

REVISION

I don’t intend to submit this story immediately, although I think that it is one of my better pieces.  I want to “put it on the shelf” for at least a month and then look over it and revise it.  I still may not submit it for a while though because I have a “backlog” of stories out.  I currently have (with Silence Will Fall) ten (10) unpublished stories, with five (5) stories currently out.  I don’t want to try to have more than 5 out at any one time because with school, it gets too hard to coordinate markets (finding ones that are open and are good, and then formatting the story(ies) for those markets all take time that I could use for schoolwork).

My hope is that I can just submit my “backlog” of stories and hold off submitting this piece until the first of the year (2017).  I do reserve the right to revise this plan at any time however.

NEXT UP

So I have started two stories.  I want to start a longer project–I’m leaning toward the 1st issue of a four issue (or 3 or 5 issue) comic book mini-series.  I’ve got about 3 or 4 options, but I’m still deciding which one I want to go with first.  I think I may work on one more short story while deciding, or I may start on the long one and then switch to the story once I get a rough draft done.  I’ll decide after I finish the schoolwork for this week–at least, that’s the plan.  We’ll see how it goes.

Until next time.

Author’s Note–WarLight

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“The Demon Killer” Geoffroy Thoorens (ArtStation.com)

So this blog post is an examination of some of the inspirations, challenges, and final thoughts for my newest short story WarLight (formerly known as “Project Light.”)  This has been a hard story to complete, but it is finally finished.  I will let it “sit” for a while and will revise it based on feedback from my “Beta readers.”

  • The genesis of this story is simple: it is the “Halo-Killer” that I always wanted Sony to develop for the PlayStation.  Bungie originally intended Halo to be a multiplatform game and I followed its development with great interest.  Then Bungie’s website “went dark” and then when it came back, the game was suddenly Microsoft only.  I despised that tactic of “buying” a 3rd party game to “deny” it to your rivals and MS lost me as a customer for their game system with this philosophy.  There was always talk of Sony developing its own Halo-Killer, but Killzone, the game that was touted as the sci-fi shooter of the PlayStation, didn’t achieve the level of heights that Halo commanded.
  • Halo worked because it started with a cool sci-fi premise and then added an “everyman” character on to it.  Add in awesome vistas, cool secondary characters, a menacing enemy and a story where one man could save the world, and you had an instant sci-fi classic (the “new” Star Wars).
  • I tried very hard to start off with a cool sci-fi premise: what if your world’s sun would go not just supernova, but hyper-nova.  This would generate a shockwave of light, heat, and radiation that would all obliterate everything in its path for hundreds of millions of light years.  What if a civilization could just barely stay ahead of the wave, their technology only allowing them to “jump” up to a couple weeks ahead of the doom–a vast array of ships, collectively known as the Fleet–all jumping, emerging into real space for a week or so scavenging resources and jumping out again?
  • What if the Fleet got trapped?
  • This is the story that I try to tell in WarLight.
  •  The hero of the story was born in the weeks after my grandmother passed away, so he has a “darkness” about him that is unusual for my characters (no, he is not “morally ambiguous”–a term I hate with a passion–rather, he looks at the death and destruction and wonders what is the use of trying).
  • The actual story takes place on a planet and that is taken from a dream that I had about kids arriving on world with a long dead civilization and awakening an ancient evil.
  • The theme was originally going to be “Fight on no matter what,” with epigraphs taken from “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas.  However, he is contemporary enough that his poem is still in Copyright, so I was unable to use it without obtaining permission.
  • The story floundered for two years–I’d write the first paragraph down (sometimes more), but each time I’d be unsatisfied with the way it turned out.  It never made it past the first couple of paragraphs.
  • I was determined to write it this year and I was originally going to write it to be submitted for Visions IV.  It was the 1st story I started working on in 2016.  I then reread the guidelines and saw that stories for that anthology needed to be in space not on a planet and so I had to switch from writing WarLight to Ship of Shadows.
  • After, I had finished and edited Ship of Shadows, I thought it would be easy to finish up WarLight.  Boy, was I wrong!  I still had the same problems and issues as before, not having a way to illustrate my theme and not understanding enough about my main character (named Tyrian in early drafts).
  • Finally, in late April/early-mid May, I happened to be going through my Literature books and remembered “Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  I was able to adapt that poem to my use for epigraphs and also to refine my theme to be “find something to live for even in the face of great tragedy.”
  • I copped out on the original ending.  I needed another day to finish it, but I had literally an hour before the place where my “beta readers” worked closed, so I wrote a dreadful ending.  I wrote the “real” ending over the weekend and emailed it to the beta readers, but I don’t know which one they prefer yet–although I know which one I prefer.
  • The artwork is by the artist Geoffroy Thoorsen via ArtStation and you can find his work there and at his website (DjahaLcom).  The title of the piece is called “The Demon Killer,” and the suit is similar to what I’m hoping to convey to readers of the story.  This is another artist I would love to work with in the future.  He “gets” my type of sci-fi.
  • I plan to revise it when it is time to submit to Carrol Fix’s next Visions anthology.

Author’s Note: Ship of Shadows (Science Fiction Short-Story)

So, I did not write a blog entry last week because I was knee-deep in “Project Shadow” trying to finish it by Feb. 15, 2015 for an Anthology’s deadline.  I did finish it (hurray!) on time, but not without errors (boo!), so I thought I do a quick deconstruction of the story’s genesis, creation, and issues that came up.  I also learned quite a few things about my writing process from work towards this deadline, so future blog entries (the next 2-3 weeks) will be trying to reflect on what I’ve learned as a writer.  Without further ado, the Author’s Note for “Project Shadows”:

Author’s Note – Ship of Shadows

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This story has been kicking around my brain for a while. It comes from a scene from the movie Lost in Space. There was a scene with spider-like creatures that attack the crew when they investigate a lost ship. I’ve only seen the movie once and I can barely recall what happens in the movie as a whole, but that scene has stuck with me.

I’ve wanted to write my own version of this type of “Ghost Ship” story for a while as I’ve always been fascinated with “mystery ships” like the Mary Celeste. I was given a book about the Mary Celeste as a child and I’ve watched with interest any documentaries on the ship for clues as to what could have happened to her crew.  I’ve also had books on/seen documentaries on things like the disappearance of the Jamestown settlers and the Hindenburg disaster.  These “historical mysteries” are fascinating to me (note to self: I should probably read more of them to mine for story ideas).

As I am a Science Fiction /Fantasy writer, I thought that I’d take the whole “space spiders” idea and put it into a story about space ships using these “spider creatures” as an antagonist and put my own spin on it.   This idea has been baking in the back of my mind now for a couple of years.

Then I saw a listing where Lillicat Publishers had an anthology called “Visions IV: Space Between the Stars” that was looking for stories, I decided to write this story for it.  (Actually, that’s not entirely accurate–the true story is that I was starting on another Sci-Fi project called “Project Light” and had intended to submit that one to the anthology, but upon rereading the guidelines for the anthology, I discovered the story had to take place in Deep Space (hence the “Space Between the Stars” part of the title), where “Project Light” was to (mostly) take place on a planet.  So, I had to put that project aside and “Project Shadow” was the only one that I had been thinking about that was set in Deep Space, so I wrote that instead.)

I’m not sure I will do this again, however. Trying to write to a deadline was very hard for me. I ignored grading, reading, and video games (basically things that I either needed to do or that I should have done to relax) in order to get this story written by the deadline.  I essentially had to give up President’s Day in order to get the story finished.  I was only halfway done by the beginning of Feb. 15 and I had to write for the rest of the day to get it finished.  I didn’t really have time to give it a proper editing pass so there are probably typos in the story (something that publisher appears to hate based on their guidelines), so its prognosis is probably not good.

I’m also not to sure of the main character. I don’t think I put enough of her emotions in and she may seem like too much of a cipher. Again, that comes from writing quickly, trying to get it all down and not necessarily dramatizing it as well as I could.

I’m going to have rethink the writing to a deadline for now (while teaching) as it has put me well behind where I should be for grading and other things. My other stories that were published in anthologies were written to suit me and then I submitted them to the anthology if the theme matched my story. Trying to write to match a theme may not be suited to my writing style, but I also HATE missing out on opportunities for publication because I’m too slow and the anthologies’ deadlines pass me by before I can finish a story for it when I know I have an idea that might fit.  I’ve missed submitting to three different Sci-Fi anthologies from World Weaver Press (all of the Far Orbit anthologies) because I could not manage to finish a story by the editor’s deadline.  I made it a point to finish “Ship of Shadows” for Visions IV by the deadline, but I can’t say that I’m completely happy with the results.