Sunday, March 31, 2013

Facebook status updates part IXX (Mar 2013)

"May your past be always behind you."

From WIP:
Most of the time my capacity for violence scares me. .... My anger helped me hold myself together. It wouldn't fix anything but it would mean whoever had done this would never get to hurt anyone like that again.
I could live with that.
Whoever had done this wouldn't.
Sometimes being a monster is a very simple thing.

Big Brother. Only done with norse gods. 10 gods, one house.

Tonight is the night, he decided, that I am going to make a twinkie salad.
And somewhere a TV chef wept without knowing why.

"We all pretend to be things we're not, dear. We pretended to be your parents for years. I think you'll agree your mother and I did a good job," Dad said before handing me a form to grade them with.

The sun would be too warm a death
The water colder than a tomb
All I desire for a final breath
A death how like a womb.

Quantum Policing: cases you cannot solve because you can either know what all the clues are or where they are, but not both.

"Last night?" I prodded her.
"You seemed busy so I kept busy. There was a ghost causing trouble at the high school. I got rid of it," she said as though a ghost performing an exorcism on another ghost wasn't odd at all.

Ah, spring! The season when love is in the air and lawyers prepare their restraining orders with care.

The immortals revealed their age when they tried to pay for groceries with a cheque.

The God Computer continued to crash until they realized it could exist, but only by equating 'god' with 'error'.

What can truth teach if not that no truth is whole?

Hello facebook!
<insert a picture of a child here. Preferably a sad orphan.> A retired Nigerian general has agreed to deposit $1 million in my bank account if this post gets 1 million likes! I plan to use it to for <insert a cause you like here>
<Passive-aggressive coda on how all my REAL friends will change their status to help me, as if I was a chain-letter bully>

"We can't have a new President," the writer explained. "I don't think it would be good for my career if my muse left office."

Being the pope would be hard. Just imagine the fun you could have in telling people you were considering conversion ....
"We should have been more worried about Pope Troll the First...."

Every time he dialled a fax number, the same person answered.
"This is not the number you wished to reach," and nothing else, hanging up.
Until this morning. "It is not your time."
And every fax number is the same for him as for everyone else now.

Fake Fact: Chicken McNuggets come in five shapes: the sword, the wand, the coin, the cup and the pearl

Has there ever been a winter of content?

He decided the reading of his will should be three days after he died. Just in case.

He is wondering what his wedding dress will look like.
She is fitting her tux, preparing for a stag do.
They tell everyone it is to shatter social norms.
And they wait for someone to call their bluff.

"I could not love you half so much loved I not my mistress more."

He had so many many stories crawling around in his head waiting to be born that he sometimes wondered what would happen to them when he died, and how zombies were truly born. The zombie who would shamble about in frustrated incoherence, devoid of coffee and biting others to pass on ideas in some fashion amused him. But never enough to write it down.

Every moment of perfection is a heart-beat away from failure.

"How much do you love me?"
"Enough to pay half of your credit card bills."

"Starbucks it is. You buy, I talk." Ardith Coldwell fell into step beside me. "You know, boy, I think that when I look back on my life, one of my regrets will be not killing you when I had the chance."
"Maybe. But you wouldn’t be talking to me if you didn’t think I could stop Clive. I think saving ninety thousand people from dying is worth a few regrets, don’t you?"
She said nothing to that; I decided that was a good sign.

Some days I feel that I'm not real,
Some days that you're not either
And that everything that falls apart
Does so for a reason.

This may be the first line to a novel soon:
You can tell everything you need to know about someone by how they take band-aids off.

From WIP:
I'd sent a magician running away from me with his tail between his legs; even I had to admit it was getting to be a dangerous habit. The problem with the kind of rep I'd developed was that I'd have to do things that justified it at some point, and I wasn't looking forward to any of it at all.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Prompt: Write about a ghost

Whether it is one you met last night, the household haunt, or a memory from your past, write about them.

Dear diary,

I never had a diary before, so I did the usual password-and-encrypt, only a different one than my hard drive. Not that my dads are likely to read this, but it just sounds stupid. See, last time a ghost appeared in my bedroom: all translucent in a suit and tie, probably some Christmas-future idea gone bad.

“Jeremiah,” the ghost said. Everyone calls me Jeremy, but there you go.

“I’m busy,” I said. And I was: I’d just downloaded the latest Bioshock game and I wasn’t about to ruin it for anyone. I’d locked my door, put a sign on it and everything. So I was going a night without sleep and a lot of red bull. Still felt real.

“Jeremiah,” he said again, even louder. Cut right through the headphones I had on and everything.

I turned and looked up. The ghost stood, floating a few inches above the carpet, blood dropping from his fingers.

“Oh, real original,” I said.

The ghost paused. “I have come from beyond the grave to speak to you.”

“Yeah? Houdini never did. His wife waited years on him. Also,” I said, ticking items off on my fingers, “Atmospheric interference, hallucinations and sleep-deprivation. Have you ever heard of electromagnetic interference?”

“What?” the ghost said.

“A lot of ghosts result from that, also infrasound. That’s low-frequency sound, like how a tiger roars at 18 hertz and that’s why it shakes us. If I said I saw a ghost, my dads would probably convince themselves they had as well: collective hallucinations and hysteria, to say nothing of half-glimpsed shadows and how humans are pattern-forming —”

“I am right in front of you,” the ghost said, but had at least stopped the blood.

“And? Even if you were real, I have real things to be worried about. My GCSEs, which college I’m going into and whether Jennifer is ever going to want to go on a date.”

The ghost stared at me with an expression that reminded me of a few of my teachers and then vanished. I got back to my game, but when I got up this morning there were small red stains on the carpet where he’d been.

I figure I spilled something and made the ghost up to explain it.

Gotta get to school. Might add more to this file later. Probably not.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


"Our agent wasn't supposed to actually attempt to kill you. He was going to be stopped by another one of us who would have asked you to join our organization."
"You could have tried asking me?"
"An asset saved from harm is more loyal. It seems we have failed in this and every other respect." She began to gather up papers. "We cannot allow word of our failure to get out. A bank robbery."
"We will arrange for you to be killed foiling a bank robbery. Saving a child, if you like. We can't let you live, but if you cooperate in your death with us we will make sure there is a book and movie deal so your family will not want for money."
"We could arrange for George Clooney to play you," she said, as though sensing some reluctance on my part. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Critiques and Writing Groups

Blame the monkey for this one ...

Writing groups are odd beasts. I've been part of a few IRL ones (both for writing and poetry) and two online ones. I got spoiled by the first online one in the late 90s since it did focus on the writing, had a lot of submissions and we critiqued and cheered on each other's work. It died when the founder got too busy to keep it going, which happens, and  I am also looking back through a fifteen-year lens at it.

Critiquing is hard, but boils down to a balance of criticism, being constructive and giving compliments. Not the 'awesome!' sense as much as 'this line rocked because...' or 'this scene was spot-on' and the like. Telling someone what they did right is as important as pointing out where a story goes wrong.

The group itself is the harder creature to get right. You have the people who want to write for a hobby, the ones serious about wanting to be published, ones who think they should already have been published because they are pure awesome and people for whom it was just a lark and they aren't serious about it at all. As long as everyone wants to improve, such groups can work though it does work best for the ones for whom writing is one of their major passions.

So there's that.  But the issue of critique to submission is vital as well. People write at different paces. Some like to share unfinished work, others should never do so. (See: me. My first drafts are terrible.) And everyone has slumps when they have no creative energy at all and aren't sure where a story is going. It happens. But a writing group can make one feel compelled to produce, or not wanting to remain if one doesn't have submissions even if their critiques are valid.

I suspect that a solid (and large) online group is better suited to navigating these issues. The danger is that all such groups move away from writing at times. You can't have a group just focused on one subject forever, and I find online ones tend to devolve into the general chat areas while the writing stuff slowly fades to the background. Real life ones, at least, can balance the writing/everything else aspects a little better.

All of which might make one see it as some weird hydra to avoid, but I don't think so. It takes time and commitment: both to write and to critique and edit. And you will learn, if you want to, and grow. It may take time. You might not even realize it is happening, but you do get better.  You learn how everyone does their first drafts, and definitely that no one has the same method at all. You get to see second drafts and how they improve, do your own and see how they improve.

All of which boils down to the fact that writing is a time-consuming and solitary thing, so having others to share the pain is definitely a good thing. Because the pain isn't always bad and  -- the major thing -- if the group is a good group, if they're solid, they'll cheer you onto publication (if that is your goal) without resentment. Find a group that does that, and everything else isn't important.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Urban Fantasy Conceits

A major downside to making a world in which both monsters and magic are real is to what extent it is hidden from the world and the means for doing so. If you can do whatever you want and just wipe the minds of mundane people after, the system is obviously a) going to be abused and b) make your characters into jerks. To say nothing of being difficult to sustain in a modern age of high-tech phones, google maps and so forth.

For the Ghoulish novels there are two systems in place. The family of magicians who are called the Illuminati [this is both an insult and the name they've picked for themselves] can alter memories and make illusions and such. This is not always effective, and sometimes they need to have humans killed, hard drives stolen and so forth, but they try to hide that reality from other magicians in order to preserve their image as able to fix any mess. The reasoning behind this in-universe is that magic is quite dangerous and having more families of magicians would lead to even more magicial fallout(which creates monsters, urban legends, ghosts etc.) and screw the world up further. Also, magicians don't want to share power. But the stated reason for the system does have altruistic aspects.

(There are hints that repeated mind-wiping and the like has damages people via increases in ADD and the like, but I'd rather leave that as  hinted at  since it's a giant minefield I have no desire to dance around in. It is probably not true but does make for a fun conspiracy about a conspiracy.)

The other system, that being fae glamours over other monsters, is less well understood. The fae offer the service, and seem perhaps compelled to do so, but no one knows why and they aren't likely to tell. As the fae are a mystery even to the magicians this is likely going to remain entirely unsolved during the series, along with many other questions about the nature and goals of the fae. Technically, the first system could get by without the second but it would definitely be very difficult in the modern age.

Criticisms and worries of the systems will crop up in the novels but for the most part, more magicians does mean the world would be far, far more dangerous place so the general conceit behind them hiding magic and monsters from the world is, if not necessary, at least understandable.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why I need a clone...

Writing novels is work. It takes time, effort, energy. Investment. I was glancing at my backlog of stuff while reading the authonomy faq and realized just how much stuff I still have to fix or finish. In no particular order ...

Rites of Exorcism, which in my head was going to be 3-4 books long. Various drafts of books 1  and a couple starting book 2 exist. (There's also the half-finished second draft of book 0, which is pure back story now.) My attempted redo of it last year hit 30K in total as an exit/rewrite so I probably need to take a long, hard look at it again and restart the first draft from scratch as I have to change a few characters up a fair bit.

Dogs of War is a plotted-out YA trilogy. Two drafts of book 1 exist, a small part of book 2 and the whole thing was plotted out from the get-go. It stalled out because I felt I was falling into typical traps (my personal tropes used in a story) and needs more fleshing out before I delve back into it.

Boy & Fox. This is, probably, my favourite story if only because it is so unlike most everything else I work on. It is also, bar none, the hardest to write. The first ~10 pages are done. I even have the ending done in my head. But the bridge between them keeps falling apart each time I write it. Something is missing, and later this year I'll need to write out a detailed plot structure and figure out what it is. Mostly because doing that while writing the story is a recipe for insanity. Which is what I was doing before.

Adventures of the Miskatonic Elemental School Kids. My definitely a comedy story. Probably my favourite piece, next to Boy & Fox, for much the same reason.

Ghoulish Series. Aka what I am working on now. I will probably finish book 2, do basic edits to book 1 and work on one of the above while considering book 3. At least, that is the plan ....

Monday, March 11, 2013

I think my brain is trying to drive me insane

I spent part of the weekend working on Ghoulish Trappings. Or, more accurately, failing to do so, working out motivations and future plots, trying to connect where the story was to where it had to go. Wrote. Deleted. Wrote. Deleted.

Added bits to the untitlted thing, which also didn't work. Tried to think about that story, gave up. Wrote some small ficlets, let my brain drift back to Ghoulish Trappings.

Went to bed Sunday night. At 1:14 am, definitely when one should be sleeping since it is now Monday and the alarm is set for 6:30 to get up for work, my brain goes: 'Aha! I have it! Here are the next two scenes. This is how it should work ... why aren't you writing this down now?'

OTOH, I did write about ~1000 words this morning and the next two scenes are in my head. So there is that. But even so, I think my brain is engaged in a conspiracy against me. Or trying to see just how little sleep I can function on.

Perhaps both.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Preparing for the second hurdle ...

I haven't added to Ghoulish Trappings in two days. Hit the 26K mark and the story is flowing together so I let it simmer a bit in the back of my head and worked on other things. The story is flowing, the plot coming together and the big hurdle of a first-person pov is slowly rearing its ugly head.

The entire story is from Wray's POV. One of the major antagonists (i.e. people who want him and Bryce out of Prince George) is a behind-the-scenes sort of person. I plan to have her show up in the the story soon but without Wray really catching on to who she is and what she's done. It is an interesting balancing act between her desire -- quite sensible -- to not be noticed by a monster that has reasons to e cranky with her and could snap her neck with little effort and having the reader go: 'WTH?' at the same time Wray figures out what is going on.

OTOH, the other characters are working just fine and the tensions between various magicians and factions within them are fun to hint at. I have a couple of characters who still have to set up onto the stage and after that I will see where the story takes everyone and who is still around once the dust settles.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Emily's Story

Sometimes, when he thinks we're alone, Daddy listens to the radio. Mommy says, soft as sadness, that the Monster is always listening.

"What great big ears he has," Mommy says, "and eyes." And she laughs in a not-funny way, and drinks more pills. She says they are her happy pills.

Sometimes my friend is mad when Mommy calls him the Monster, or Daddy yells at him. The whole house shakes until I yell at him to stop and then we play in the yard. Mommy and Daddy cry when my friend growls at them, and I don't like seeing them cry. Crying is for kids like me.

Sometimes my friend is hurt. The neighbours all moved away, but still people try and hurt my friend. Our yard is huge now and my friend can bound and play without anyone yelling at us at all. Sometimes I hear planes overhead. (Just like in the war, Daddy says in his not-daddy voice, hard and ugly.) The island is quiet now, but still people still come to hurt my friend.

I think, sometimes, that my friend scared people away. That might be why our yard is so huge now. He's always ever so big and clumsy, but Mommy and Daddy just laugh and say everything is okay and we shouldn't move. I miss my other friends.

My friend is hungry all the time, and the nice butcher doesn't bring by meat anymore and my friend has to go into town for good. The last time I went to town on his back they had soldiers and guns and shouted at us from over the broken bridge.

Everything looks broken down; sometimes my friend gets ugly cuts on the bottoms of his paws, broken windows no one has cleaned up at all. I don't understand it.

When he is hurt, my friend's cuts are the colour of his fur. I clean them when I can, but he won't let anyone else near him.

Everyone else calls him the Monster now, but to me he'll always be Clifford.  

Friday, March 01, 2013

Facebook & google+ status updates part XVIII

From WIP:
"I'll find work in computers."
"It's a poor magician who needs to make a living from magic," he said with a pompous sniff.

"I've never seen a kosher death before," the Detective said. He gave the crime scene one last look and stood up. "I still haven't."

Our desire to be pithy often outweighs our desire to speak the truth.

One can live without friends; one should not live without enemies.

"If we were to pause and truly think, we would drown the world in tears."
"If we truly thought, we'd realize that is logically impossible."
They broke up a week later; he never knew why.

A poet cannot hide in the way a writer hides. Where the writer traffics in lies, the poet must dance with truth.

From WIP:
“Even if we break up some day, we’d be friends.”
“You don’t know that.” He looked back with a snap, his anger a sharp sting to my nose.
“I won’t let you not be my friend,” I said, my voice flat even to my ears.
Bryce blinked a few times. “I’ve never been threatened with friendship before,” he said finally.
“Well, now you have.” I crossed my arms and glared at him.

There are too many platitudes in the world. Excluding this one.

I’d like to be a superhero. I wouldn't need any powers, I'd just like to retcon my own past, to make it more dramatic, and edit out all the parts that don’t make sense anymore.

"I don't like filthy things," he said.
And: "You are too clean to be clean."

He spoke in a voice like death underfed.

"Of course my men don't use guns," the Detective said to Internal Affairs. "Tasers are much more entertaining."

"Loving you should be a sin." ... As pick-up lines went it left much to be desired.

Knowing how to turn water into wine wasn't the trick; the trick was not doing it to oneself all the time to make the world more bearable.

His voice sings snow wet;
a sloppy kiss – jagged to
touch embracing dark

"I want you to try imaging anyone loving you as much as I hate you. True hate runs far deeper than true love ever could."

A palm sliced apart by a knife, blood spilling all over the counter to pool in odd corners. "I changed my life line for you," he says, as if that made all the sense in the world. "We can be together now. I've fixed my money line and we're going to be rich."
And his smile seems to think that's all you cared about at all.

From WIP:
Sam walked beside me: that the snow fell through her and her feet left no imprint didn't stop her from trying to seem human. "I could help you."
"You saved my life."
"You're a ghost. I don't think life is the word you're looking for."
She said nothing for a long moment; I had the sinking feeling she'd somehow forgot she was dead.

From WIP:
"Werewolves are scary because they're not stupid, and I'm less-stupid than they are."
I ignored that. "It's what make me scary, and it's all your fault." He ignored that in turn. "A thinking monster is scarier than any other kind, no matter how many claws and teeth they have."
"And less scary because they have a conscience," he said gently.

From WIP:
I picked Maddie up in my arms and ran, skidding on ice and snow as I hit the end of the road. Sprinting down streets in the dead of winter was stupid, but not quite as stupid as having technically kidnapped a magician and destroyed her father's house in the process. We do what makes sense at only when we look back to we realize it made no sense at all. I wasn't looking forward to having to explain this to Bryce at all.

The earth is wet with snow and sin
A life half-lived welcomes you in.

From WIP:
We saw the cracks in each other's armour and neither of us mentioned them. Sometimes love is silence.

Some weeks have more Mondays in them than others.

What kind of culture gives three days for mourning, including the funeral? Saying: this was enough. Saying: you should stop your public sorrow now. Saying: the funeral is over, the grieving is done. I do not know, even though I live in it. We give maternity leave of weeks. Birth given weeks, death given days, as if one was, somehow, not the equal of the other.

Does anyone else think it's finally time for MechaPope?