Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Abstraction

Posted: April 7, 2015 in General

Out of breath. How far have I run? For how long? The subway. It’s difficult to focus but I manage  to buy a ticket and board. I sit far from the crowd, least monsters lurk among them. Closing my eyes, I lean back and try to relax, though the buzz humming through my nerves taunts me with random muscle twitches. I have to make sense of this but it’s hard to hold onto anything. My mind is a roiling mess of thoughts.

Concentrate. Is this crazy? Insanity? The drugs. The lab.

Listen.

A voice, from the depths of my mind. “Shut up,” I say.

Don’t you see the mistakes we made as children, being cruel without knowing another’s hurt? Now I’m you and you are someone else. I don’t dare hit you with the stick of his prejudice. It leaves splinters in the subconscious and we pass them through our children’s games of chase.

Extroverted introspection, the voice whispers, looks so serene without the rapier wit of pen-in-hand cartoonists.

“I don’t want to hear you.”

I open my eyes, glance at the other passengers. They’re staring, muttering low and muffled. It’s about me, I’m sure. They know what I’m thinking. They can’t possibly, can they? No. Quick, think of something else.

“It’s worse than that.” The other passengers speak in unison, in one clear voice. The voice from my head. They lean forward, eyes glazed, lost, but still they see me. I fall back, eyes wide and body tense. No.

“We hear you, too. Our mind’s eye stares into the cold heart of your character. You can’t be quiet in the face of her hostility. She put the words on the wall of your corner, a song of uncertainty. And there she waits for you.”

I slam my eyes closed as the train slows, stops. I’m lunging through the door before it even fully opens. The other passengers stand, grasping for me, laughing at me. But I’ve bolted, well beyond their reach.

Later. I look around, realize I don’t remember wandering. I can’t recall anything since the train. Did that really happen? Where’s home? Ahead of me lovers kiss in the golden halo of a streetlamp. My mind attempts to focus but their bodies seem so unnatural. I move into the shadows and watch.

An arm wraps around a waist, a malevolent tendril fusing with flesh. A kiss, all-consuming with hungry lust. Chests heave in an archaic, synchronous rhythm, and where they touch, pseudopods grope knowingly, tangling. Feet shuffle closer, leaving legs to twist and entwine, like lovelorn serpents. Where once there had been two now stands only one, a misshapen mash-up of flesh, bone, and bodily fluids, lost in its primal desires. An eye swivels, stares, and winks.

I blink and shake my head, trying to dislodge the images nesting there. I step from the shadows and continue onward, closer to insanity with every step. Pulling at my hair and punching at my head it dawns on me, I’m already there.

No, you have miles to go before you weep.

The voice has been quiet. I welcome the return. The company will do me good. Here’s someone who has to know what it’s like to be lost in a maze of work and too many adults. Am I right? The voice goes silent. Contemplative?

Your mind is led by your outlook, so weird, and I’m wowed at what I get from your thoughts. Look at it from all angles, turn it again. Stop. There’s the proper perspective. Can you see it?

I look. Things are familiar, they tug at me, pull me along as first a mailbox beckons, and then a set of steps. An entire street corner calls out to me and I move that direction. I turn at the corner and there’s my building, three stories of calm and comfort. My body needs no instruction. Serenity summons and I am merely an automaton riding the rails. Up the steps and through the doors, and I find myself in checkered chaos.

Black and white tiles, large as welcome mats, fight for dominance of the hallway. Welcome mats? Anything but. A warzone, a battlefield in two dimensions. Upstairs, rest awaits. I lunge forward, landing on the nearest white square. I’ll stick to the white. The black squares look incomprehensibly deep. Another leap.

I make my way down the hall, white square to white square, praying the next doesn’t move from under me. The impenetrable darkness below would swallow me, seep into my pores, drag me–

Here’s my door. I struggle with the keys, trying one then the next, searching for the pattern that penetrates the gaping maw of the lock. Finally, the pins find order, tumble over. The door opens with a sigh and I step inside.

Home at last. If insanity has truly come calling then nothing except comfort is necessary. Just as long as my mind doesn’t catch up with that last gasp of light and bad space. Time is nothing more than chit-chat kicked from my mind. At the couch I turn and fall. I do nothing but watch the ceiling sail away.

I can’t live in this world that doesn’t relish the beauty of the profound laziness of thinking. Amen to that.

A movement from the corner of my eye catches my attention, distracts me. I shift my eyes but nothing. Just the wall in front of me. Wait. The paneling wavers like the sinuous dance of heat on a summer day. The lines in the wood slither to a secret beat, seductive, bewitching. A hand, all lines and light, swirls forward. A finger curls, come to me, an invitation as old as time.

I roll from the couch, plant my feet and step to the wall. The hand moves. My gaze follows. But, that hand. I know it.

Yes. You do. The voice, now distinctly female.

The hand shoots outward, pushes my feet from under me. I fall. My arms instinctively go flailing in a weak attempt to grab hold of something. The impact I expect never happens. More hands, dry and jagged, grab and tug, leaving splinters with every touch. They hold me, draw me deeper, until, finally, darkness.

But it’s okay. It’s not like that, she says. It’s alright to be wrong.

Worlds of thought writhing in failed words.

Advertisements

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on ye Olde blog. And I’m sure one, maybe two, of you have wondered what in the wide world of sports has kept me away. Well, honestly, a lot. But, mostly the launch of LARRIKINbooks, my small, independent publishing company.

LARRIKINbooks officially launched near the end of January. Our first release, Deviltry by S. E. Lehenbauer, is a novella-length mashup of wild western heroes and space opera tropes. It’s available at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

Or, if you’re the type that loves a good deal then you can pick up a free copy at Story Cartel. All I ask in return is an honest review. Hit me up on twitter or send an email to Larrikinbooks at Gmail with your review addy and I’ll set you up with a digital copy of Bad Medicine, the second book of The Wanderlust Adventures, once it’s released.

While you’re at it, why not jump over to the LARRIKINbooks website and sign up for the monthly newsletter. Each issue will feature a book review, writing prompts for the Word Monkeys among you, and updates on coming releases. If you’re into science fiction, steampunk, weird westerns, and fantasy then you’re gonna love where LARRIKINbooks will take you.

Thanks for reading.

I’m Not the One

Posted: November 25, 2014 in General

So, I guess it starts now. No matter my opinion on the whole Ferguson tragedy, I’m a white man in America and tonight, more so than many years prior, I am the enemy.

I struggle day to day to pay my bills, to take care of my children, to keep a roof over what’s mine. My family is without Healthcare because to pay for it means getting a second job just to cover it. Nobody out there is handing me anything, except the wages I earn working an average of 55 hours a week. I wasn’t born into privilege but you’re damn right I’m busting my ass so my children’s children might be.

I’m not the enemy. Ignorance, intolerance, and the inability to speak freely to one another (not about one another), with an open mind and a willingness to truly hear, without anger or blame, there’s your enemy. As long as one heart holds hate, there will never be peace.

Meanwhile, I go to bed tonight knowing somewhere out there many people hate me though they don’t know me by any name but Devil.

Hi. My name is Michael. My friend’s call me Mike. What will you call me?

Wherein I Doff My Cap

Posted: September 12, 2014 in General

Labor day weekend I had the very surreal opportunity to sign a copy of Whiskey & Wheelguns: Foreshadows. Despite the fact my story within was mediocre at best Delilah S. Dawson was charitable enough to ask for a signature. My brain froze and I’m sure the look on my face could’ve easily ayed poster child for utter confusion. I think I mumbled a disjointed ‘Seriously?’ or maybe I laughed and said ‘That’s funny.’ Whatever I may have said, Mrs Dawson looked back at me, handed over book and pen, and said she wasn’t joking.

I took the pen, and then the book, opened it and stared blankly at the title page. I had no idea what to write. I could’ve simply signed my name but we’ve had a number of conversations over the past two years. She’s been a panelist at Crossroads Macon for the past two years and she sat on several panels over the weekend at DragonCon. While Servants of the Storm was barely an ARC, she was kind enough to allow me the joy of reading the book at Crossroads and a couple of signings.

As I held the pen in my hand and stared at the white space on the page I knew whatever I wrote alongside my name had to be meaningful to me. She might see the illegible scribblings of an hebetudinous earwig but for me, it would say much more. Finally, I wrote ‘Delilah, Thanks for being such a positive influence.’ What did I mean by that? At first I simply meant ‘Thank you’ for the panels and the Twitter posts. But, in hindsight, I feel it’s so much more than just that.

I’m an introvert by nature. It’s extremely hard for me to step forward and strike up a conversation with a stranger. Hell, I have difficulty managing small talk with anyone short of my oldest friends. It’s been brought to my attention that many, if not most, writers are introverts in one degree or another. Some are barely 1 on the Introversion Dial, while others crank that fucker to 11. Knowing this makes it easier. If you’re an introvert and I’m an introvert then maybe, just maybe, we’ll both forgive the other’s stilted conversation.

Yes, there is a point hiding here amongst the rambling. As I was saying, I thanked Mrs Dawson for her positive influence. She may not realize it but she’s done more for my introversion than my writing. She claims to be an introvert and it’s been a topic of conversation on Twitter on several occasions but I’ve had the opportunity to watch her speak and I can honestly say she’s a great orator, well spoken and precise. This, more than anything, has had profound impact on the business side of my writer’s life.

Thanks to Delilah S Dawson’s seemingly superhuman disregard for her introversion when it matters I’ve been struggling to do likewise. I’ve made contacts and connections that would not have been possible a mere two years ago. There’s a window in my wall and, occasionally, I can open it and chat with passers-by.

So, again, I say, “Thank you, Delilah.”

You really should be following her on Twitter @delilahsdawson or her blog, http://www.whimsydark.com

Welcome to the weird western world of Whiskey & Wheelguns.

The second in my series of author introductions from the Freaks and Weeping Children Anthology Kickstarter.

Steve Weddle

What was the first work you sold? How did it happen?

I came to this life through literary magazines, where “selling” a story meant getting two copies of the magazine in your mailbox. I’ve had works in anthologies and received checks here and there since those earlier days, of course. The key to selling a work, it seems to me, is to write the best work you can first and then find the right market for it. That’s not what you asked, but there you go. The earliest thing I got paid money for writing was a college physics paper on black body radiation and how that led to a greater understanding of what we now call quantum physics. The guy paid me $100 and a fifth of vodka, which was kinda cool. Anyway, find your market. That’s key.

What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

Working with the accountants to find tax shelters for all the money you make writing fiction.

Tell us about your favorite book.

I don’t know that I have a favorite book. It’s kinda like trying to pick your favorite child or your favorite cheese, isn’t it? I think Ben Whitmer’s Satan is Real is one of the most surprising books I’ve read in the past few years. The book is nearly an autobiography of musician Charlie Louvin, but Whitmer has really sculpted something special with this one, something that seems more true than standard non-fiction. Also, Chris Holm’sCOLLECTOR series is magnificent, a run of stories that gets labeled “urban fantasy” for some reason.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

I pull from all over the place, honestly. I was just reading about some pre-Civil War politics this morning and followed that up with a revisit to my Fisher King folder. No one author has been a Great Influencer on me, though I’ve certainly stolen much from Ann Beattie, Steven Brust, and Raymond Carver and others.

Any ideas for your Freaks and Weeping Children story? If so, can you give us a blurb?

Yes. I’ve been working on pieces in the same rural setting as my book, Country Hardball, looking at the time around 1933. Should be fun.

Beyond those five things, where can people find you on the internet?

Website: Steveweddle.com

Twitter: @steveweddle

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3983306.Steve_Weddle

The Countdown Begins. . .

This week the Kickstarter page for my anthology, Freaks and Weeping Children, goes live. I’m currently being consumed by lots of nervous energy. But, with everyone’s help, I’m sure it will be a success. You see, I haven’t been alone on this project. Throughout nearly every step I’ve had someone whispering in my ear; friends on Twitter offered me words of encouragement whenever I began to doubt this project and, to be honest, myself. So, I’d like to say ‘Thank you’ to those that stood by me during this, the grandest thing I’ve ever attempted. It may not look like much to some but believe me, it means a lot.

Now, on to more important things. . . the talent. What follows is the line-up of Freaks and Weeping Children‘s Contributing Writers.

Karina Cooper

After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (sort of), went to work in the real world (kind of), where she decided that making stuff up was way more fun (true!). She is the author of dark and sexy paranormal romances, steampunk adventures, crossover urban fantasy, and continues to write across multiple genres with mad glee. Her award winning steampunk series, The St. Croix Chronicles, has been nominated for multiple RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards.

One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an avid reader, a borderline hermit and an activist. She co-exists with a husband, a menagerie and a severe coffee habit. Visit her at www.karinacooper.com, because she says so.

(more…)

About six weeks ago I posted the opening 200 words for a flash fiction challenge prompted by Chuck Wendig over on his blog, Terribleminds. The three weeks following my post other writers contributed to my initial start. I’ve finally gotten around to completing the tale. I’ve notated each contribution with the author’s name and a link to his or her site.

 Jersey City Dead

 “Casey’s Jersey City crew got careless,” Says Bossman. “Zombies flooded three sites. Two held them back but we blew the third. Horde made it up four flights and we couldn’t risk it. All told, probably lost fifty people.”

Bossman looks at me, gin blossoms reddening. The skin around his eyes draws tight, his hands, resting on the desk between us, clench, unclench. “Go find Casey. You ask him how he nearly lost three buildings. Then, once he answers, you make certain it doesn’t happen again.”

“Yes, sir,” I say.

Boss nods, quick, but the tears never leave his eyes. I turn and make for the stairs. How do I make fifty deaths count for something? These weren’t soldiers or made-men. These were men, women, and children, each under the protection of the Poverelli family. Fifty dead. And I gotta go make it fifty-one.

Name’s Blaylock, but everybody calls me Block. The name suits me. I’m muscle for the Family. It’s my job to make sure none of these mooks foul up and let the dead run riot over our rooftop paradise.

Here, it ain’t the zombies on the streets you gotta worry about. It’s the guy beside ya still breathing.1

I only knock once ’cause I’m a little pissed. I’m standing just outside the door to Casey’s office, gun in hand. Behind me there’s a little crowd of civilians gathering. They’re all lookin’ mean at me—probably because they’re a little fed up with the administration at this point. They’re all quiet-like though, ’cause I was sent by Bossman himself and they knew it.

It took a while to get to Casey’s place, what with the big, still-smoking ruins of the building he lost in the way. Before the screw-up I coulda walked straight over. The buildings had been like a row of teeth, albeit crooked and rotting. But, one of ‘em had got knocked out, so I had to schlep it ‘cross the gap on the ground, which was dangerous.

That was a stressful trip. I am stressed.

So, I only knock once. Then I open the door, see Casey still getting’ out of his chair, and say to him, “Casey.”

“I… I can explain,” he says, but his face says he can’t, so I shoot him before he can bullshit me. His head pops like a soda can that somebody shook up and dropped.

I turn around and hear one of the civvies, actually a soldier I guess, since he’s pointing a gun at me, say, “We’re sick of the Family’s shit.”

I see that they’re all pointing guns at me and frown. I musta underestimated how angry they were.2 

Here’s the thing about Jersey City that some folks forget.

Jersey City folks, they’re used to some gunfire ruining a nice, quiet evening.

Jersey City zombies, well, they ain’t so kind.

There’s a reason my gun’s got a silencer. It’s not that whisper-quiet pchew, pchew bullshit you’d get in the movies, but it’s a damn sight more quiet than, say, a bunch of pissed-off civvies with poorly-maintained firearms.

I duck ’round the corner into Casey’s place when they start unloading. I ain’t gonna lie, being outgunned by just about anybody is pretty scary, and I’m a little scared as I hunker down behind Casey’s davenport. But I got two things going for me.

One, the mob’s more scared than I am, so they hesitate rather than rushing me.

Two, guns without silencers are loud as balls.

“Why don’t you come on out, Block?” It’s the soldier again. Gotta be the leader. “Stop hiding and face death like a man.”

I spot the fire escape outside of the bedroom window, a room and a half away. I’ll never make it with them watching.

Then the zombies start breaking down the door downstairs.

The civvies panic. I make a break for it.3

I throw a glance into the hall as I duck across the doorway and head for Casey’s bedroom. Most of the civvies are headed up the stairs to the roof. Idiots. A few are heading down to try and stem the tide. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. This place is lost now. The soldier was staring down the staircase, trying to decide his best course of action, but he must have heard me scuttle behind him, cause I caught a last glimpse of him whirling around.

I’m through the door and I slam it closed. I leap the bed and carefully stick an eye over the window sill. Zombies ain’t too graceful in any case, and no way they’d be able to pull down the bottom section.

I’m half way over the sill, staying low, when the bedroom door slams against the wall and a shot breaks the glass over my head. It’s the soldier, of course.

“Put that thing away,” I hiss at him, “and we might get out of this alive.”

The hate he’s throwing my way is hotter than the lead from his cannon.4

With a sigh he stows the weapon and hurries to the window. I climb through to the landing, mindful of the glass falling from the shattered panel. I’d laugh to my dying breath if an opened artery was the way I went. Outside, the stench of rancid meat nearly gags me. Five stories up and the dead still stink. On the street below the wave of bodies crashes against the walls, flooding every opening. Hundreds of zombies. A tide a few handguns won’t stop.

“We gotta move.” I grab the soldier and shove him toward the ladder. He launches himself upward. I hurry after.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

“Kent.”

“Am I right in assuming this is your fuck-up, Kent?”

He disappears onto the roof. I’m up and over and he’s standing there with his pistol aimed at me. I’m sure he thinks the surprise on my face is for him. Asshole.

“Yeah,” he says. “This is an upris–

I pivot and push away. Shots ring out and Kent screams. I don’t look back, just run faster toward the edge and leap hard and far. Time slows as I move over the gap below me and away from the zombies behind me. In my mind I see the cause and effect. Kent approaches Casey, makes an offer, a threat. Buildings are lost. Citizens are scared. Kent talks them down. More buildings. Kent urges the people against Bossman. Damn, I almost feel bad about Casey. Almost.

With a painful thud, time catches up, throws me across the gravel-strewn surface of the neighboring building. Wincing, I sit up and look across the way. No survivors. Nothing but the mindless horde milling from edge to edge. Kent should’ve check his position before putting his back to the roof door. The building was already lost.

I also contributed words to two other stories. You can see how those concluded here and here.

 

 

Reblogging this post because it covers some of the same ideas I’ve been considering lately. I’m investing a bit of my own money and quite a bit of my time into editing and self publishing an original anthology. I’m taking a chance on what others consider a hobby.

Write on the World

Did you know 50 to 70 percent of small businesses fail within the first 18 months? I am curious as to how that statistic stacks up in the entrepreneurwriter world. How many would-be writers give up within the first 18 months?

Have you ever considered taking time off work to write? Did you then decide not to because you couldn’t “afford it?” How do you justify the time spent on an activity that may or may not pay out in the long term? Well, let me ask you this: How do most small business owners justify the time and expense sunk into the more than half a million small businesses opened in the U.S. each year? When you consider the odds, how can anyone believe they can afford to open a small business?

View original post 548 more words

Chuck’s 200×5 Challenge, Part 2

Posted: November 30, 2013 in General

Last week, I wrote the opening 200 words of a 1,000 word flash fiction story. A fine fellow named Andrew Linder took up Chuck’s challenge and wrote the next 200 words of that tale. You can read his contribution over on His Blog.

Meanwhile, I picked up the thread of Paul J Willett’s story. I really like the idea of the MC. Unfortunately, 200 words doesn’t allow much room for character development. Did the best I could. Again, first 200 words are Paul’s. Second bit is me. Enjoy Winter Takes All.

The first time I saw it snowing in Los Angeles it was the sixth day of a three-day juice cleanse. Snow was definitely not something one normally saw down in the basin, at least, not then.

Because of my need to purify my body and aura, the news and media, filled with nothing but anger and pain, had been cast away along with the other toxins. My base aural color had always been a lavender or sky blue. Recently though, it had started to get muddied and dark. I would have thought my third eye would have seen the unusual weather coming, but it didn’t, so I was caught off guard.

When I first saw the falling flakes I thought I might have overdone the cleanse. Last time I had seen Elvis riding an ostrich on the seventh day. My transmundane counselor had resolved the issue with some orange juice, chocolate, and a sandwich, but that solution didn’t work on the weather. It was still snowing on the pier.

In Santa Monica we only got three inches, but of course it was more than enough to spread gridlock all the way to Riverside. Then, of course, things got much worse.

* * *

Wolves sprinted northward along the shoulder of the Interstate. Spectral at first, their forms quickly firmed from fog to massive, grey-white beasts, all fur and fang. Screaming people climbed from cars and ran eastward, away from the pack. The pack, on the other hand, paid little mind to the panicked masses.

I finished my sandwich, tipped back the last of my orange juice, and glanced over longingly at the waiting chocolate. Damn it. Opening the car door, I stepped out and manifested my Third Eye. My gaze followed the wolves, past the traffic, beyond the mundane. And there, further north, a silver radiance fluoresced from sky to soil, the obvious beacon guiding the will of these dire wolves.

Gridlock held my Taurus in its palsied grip so I opted for a more direct mode of travel. Delicately, I pulled along the seam of my own aura. With practiced ease, I unthreaded the edge and stepped beyond it into–

My third eye slammed shut, transcendental tears splashing my cheeks. Before me, what had once been a paradise of color and fragrance was now a blighted wasteland of ash. And in the distance a brilliant wound ripped the world from Heaven to Hell