Monthly Archives: April 2012

It Came to Me in a Dream

Inspiration comes from many sources: books I’ve read, TV and movies I’ve seen, places I’ve been and places I’d like to go, conversations with friends, and countless other random sources that have worked their way into my mind over the years. But a few nights ago, and idea came to me from a source that was a bit unusual: a dream. It was a very vivid dream, with characters and emotions and back stories and locations as detailed as anything I’ve actually written. It’s not the first time I’ve had a detailed dream, but it was the first time that I’ve had a dream that was vivid and about something that was interesting enough to write about. Thankfully it occurred right before I woke up, so I remembered enough to immediately write it all down.

Of course, as the dream wore off, it did become a bit less interesting. Nevertheless, there’s enough of an idea to work with, and that’s what’s truly important. So maybe someday everyone will be reading a novel I wrote that began as a dream.

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Fragments of Mind: Excerpt from “Two for the Money”

~Two for the Money~

 Lister Yves’ front door exploded. Splinters of wood showered down on him while he sat on his couch. Before his mind could even being to formulate a response, someone grabbed him by his collar and hauled him to his feet. He was shoved roughly towards the door. Lister turned just in time to catch his Palmer as it came flying at him. His assailant, who was dressed from head to toe in jet-black attire, grabbed him again and pushed him into the hallway.

Suddenly, he was on the ground, nose against dingy wood. Something loud and angry buzzed through the air just above his head and then drilled itself several inches deep into the wall. His kidnapper tossed a metal cylinder along the floor. The stairwell at the end of the hall lit up with a blinding light. Angry shouts drifted upward from the floor below. The window behind him at the other end of the hall was quickly smashed with a gloved fist and then he was dragged through the newly-created opening. A rush of air whistled past his ears as he fell, screaming. A pile of wet garbage stopped his fall. Before he could get up, he was grabbed by the arm and tossed into a waiting flier. The door slammed shut, just missing his toes.

His kidnapper hopped into the driver’s seat and pushed the flier into the air. A group of figures appeared in front of them, each holding something in their hands. Flashes of light, like a camera. Cracks exploded across the windshield. Lister threw his hands up in front of his face, knowing the gesture would be futile if any of those shots made it through. The figure in black slid the throttle forward and the flier rapidly accelerated. At the mouth of the alley, another flier came from the right and slammed into them. Lister’s face smacked into the passenger-side window, causing a thousand stars to explode across his vision.

A hatch on the side of the flier slid open and something shot out, trailing smoke behind it. Lister turned just in time to see the flier behind them explode in a brilliant fireball; the torched and twisted remnants crashed into the street as other fliers swerved around it. The kidnapper turned off the main street and into another alley. Buildings and lights flashed by at blinding speed as the flier zipped around and through a number of obstacles that all seemed little more than a blur. Lister sat with his hands gripping the sides of the passenger seat, his mind having long since determined that it had reached critical capacity and then simply shut itself down.

Then the driver slowed and pulled into an empty warehouse. A large, metal door slammed shut behind them. The driver got out, walked around to the passenger side door, and pulled Lister out. He was led away from the flier and down a set of stairs. He looked once over his shoulder and saw flames crawling across the hood of the flier. In just a few seconds, it was completely engulfed. Before he could even think of anything to say, his kidnapped shoved him into a small, plastic capsule. The door shut, sealing him inside, and then his stomach was violently shoved up through his throat.

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Despite the rather abrupt and menacing intro, Two for the Money is actually a fairly light adventure. I wanted to do something a bit different here, I want to focus a bit more on action and to make it something that was exciting and fun to read. The basic idea is that a rather uninteresting young man named Lister, who has far too much time on his hands, is suddenly pulled into a world where everyone is after him. His only hope lies in a girl who sees all this as another exciting chapter in her adventurous life, much to Lister’s dismay. Unlike some of my other works, there’s no deep themes here or some grand examination of the human condition, it’s just a fun little adventure. It’s also one of my favorite stories.

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Tropes

Without getting too deep into the definition, a trope is basically a writing cliche. It’s a story element, character type, or bit of prose that crops up fairly often, such as a chivalrous knight saving a beautiful princess from a horrible dragon. Tropes are often played straight, subverted, deconstructed, or lampshaded. Playing straight would be to adhere to the trope, subverting would be to avoid the trope, deconstructing would be to supply a logical reason for the existence of the trope, and lampshading would be to actually make fun of the trope. On it’s surface, using tropes in your writing might come across as a negative thing, but that’s not entirely the case. Some tropes can be found in every single piece of fiction ever written, or very close to it, such as the dramatic structure of introduction->rising action->climax->falling action. Not many works of fiction avoid this standard. But there are many, many tropes that are so specific that they may only apply to a very small number of works. And virtually every bit of fiction uses at least a few tropes in one way or another.

There are times when I’ve specifically avoided certain tropes, or tried to subvert or twist them to see what kind of results I get. There are other times where I’ve not even thought about tropes at all. While I don’t think it’s important to try to avoid as many tropes as possible, I do think it’s important to be aware of these tropes. What character types are played out to the point of being bland and boring? What story elements are so worn out that people get annoyed when they see them again? Not all tropes are bad, but some of them definitely are. By knowing the tropes, and specifically knowing which have been used so often that people don’t like seeing them anymore, you can improve your own work and release something with it’s own voice and its own ideas.

A really great resource for studying tropes and what works use them is TV Tropes, a Wiki-type website that collects lists of tropes for nearly every piece of fiction you can imagine. And not only is it great for figuring out tropes and finding some that you might like to avoid, it also can provide a much deeper understanding of a particular work digging into the ideas, characters, and plots that make up that work.

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Fragments of Mind: Excerpt from ‘These Tattered Dreams’

~These Tattered Dreams~

 The house was dark inside, devoid of movement or sound. As quietly as he could, Marky stepped into the entry room of the house. Opposite the door was a wide, ornate staircase that led up to the second floor. He barely even had time to take note of it before a long, metal pole smashed against the back of his head. Marky fell heavily to the ground. A surge of warnings spread throughout the network of wires and cables in his body, awakening systems that had lain dormant for days.

A rush of air behind him. Marky rolled to one side and the pole struck the floor, crushing the ancient wood as if it were nothing more than paper. The pole rose, then fell again. This time, he reached out and stopped it in midair. His assailant struggled to get the pole free, but Marky’s grip was an unyielding vice. He pushed the pole up into the air, knocking his assailant off-balance. With a quick twist, he pulled the metal pole away and tossed it aside.

Marky leapt to his feet and backed away. His assailant stood in the shadows to one side of the door. It was impossible, even for him, to pierce that inky veil.

“I won’t hurt you,” Marky said.

“Who are you?” his assailant asked. The voice was feminine and light, unafraid.

“I am Prometheus Corporation synthetic humanoid XV-1, Mark-4 model. Everyone called me…Marky, because they said the ‘4’ looked a lot like a ‘Y.’ And you?”

“Jupiter Bio-Engineering synthetic humanoid LDNH-23, A5 model.” Then a pause. “I’ve been called many names, but none that lasted very long. If you must call me something, then ‘Abby’ will suffice.”

Marky suspected that the name hadn’t been picked on a whim, but did not press her for answers. A suitable time for that would certainly come later. Abby stepped out of the shadows then and he got his first good look at her.

She was a more advanced model than he, by at least a generation. However, her design had been more oriented towards her looks and her intelligence, to the point where she almost seemed human. Strength had not factored into her design nearly as much. Nevertheless, he had noticed she possessed a level of skill that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Her attire consisted of long, brown pants, a sleeveless shirt, and black boots. Her hair was auburn and closely cropped so that it came down just below the bottoms of her ears. Her eyes were a deeper green than Marky had seen in a long time.

“I only want to stay here until morning,” Marky said, “then I’ll be on my way again. Is this acceptable?”

A brief pause. “You can stay. For now.”

———————————————–

A really like the way this turned out: the story of two individuals connecting after the end of the world, with the twist being that both are robots who no longer have a purpose now that all the humans are gone. The advantage here of the short story format is that I don’t feel the need to delve too much into the nature of the world or how it got that way. This isn’t the full picture, merely a brief glance through the window into a strange, new world. More than anything else, it’s the two characters and their plight that are what’s truly important.

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The Eminence of Bardon Roket: First Review!

Very tongue in cheek satire about the corporate world starring Bardon Roket, a 12 year old boy genius with plans to take over the world.

By age 12 Bardon Roket has graduated university with a degree in Physics. He dreams big and has decided to take over the world. With the help of his 3 new partners, 15 year old Jenna, who will do anything she thinks her parents will hate; Nicholas who knows what the common man, or child in this case, wants; and Ardy who showed up for the free food, is at least 50 years older than the partners Bardon wants and who every now and then wakes from his stupor to offer insight into whatever Bardon is planning; Bardon begins his world domination plans by opening a lemonade stand. Yes, that’s right a lemonade stand! And that is just the beginning.

I just couldn’t stop reading and I snickered through most of it.” 4 out of 5, Sudimatleon [LibraryThing]

http://www.librarything.com/work/12433777/reviews

This definitely makes me happy! Of course, I’d certainly like to see many more reviews very soon, but it’s good to get started off with something positive.

And now for the relevant links:

https://www.createspace.com/3841498 – Paperback version

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007PY9CGC – Amazon Kindle version

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/133021 – Smashwords version [compatible with all e-readers and digital devices]

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Fragments of Mind: Excerpt #1 [The Blasted Lands]

~From out of the Desert~

 “It’s rare to see a man foolish enough to brave the desert alone, rarer still on foot,” the merchant noted as he urged his team forward.

“Something urgent came up that needed tending to,” The Traveler said. “There was no time to arrange proper transport.”

The merchant snorted. “Nothing could be so urgent as to make a man risk such a journey. Not two weeks ago, a caravan of nearly twenty men was attacked on its way to Iron Town. All but one was killed, and that one allowed to live only so he could spread the story. And the fear.”

“I heard,” The Traveler said simply.

On the dawn of his third day with the caravan, The Traveler at last caught sight of Iron Town. It was a large city, a strange city, and there were a great many, both human and not, who called it home. The distant towers shimmered in the heat, writhing on the breast of a crystalline sea. For the weary, sun-parched traveler, it was a blessed haven.

Yet it was no less dangerous than the desert surrounding it. The caravan guards would be even more watchful there than they had been out amongst the dunes. For in that place even the cobblestones were haunted by nameless and formless evils that had existed since the foundations of the world were laid. Iron Town was the meeting point between the world of man and the world of darkness, where things crawled and slithered that had no name and no mortal had ever laid eyes upon. It was no paradise to soothe the weary who’d come in from the wastes, rather it was merely a different sort of Hell.

*******************

This may be my favorite of the short stories I’m including in Fragments of Mind. There’s just something about the darkness of this place, the surrealism of the images and characters, that perfectly encapsulates the kind of story that I like to write the most. I’m very proud of how this story turned out and I’m really excited about being able to let other people read and experience it, too. Over the next week and a half or so, I’ll be posting an excerpt from each of the stories to give you an idea of what it’s about.

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Now in Paperback: The Eminence of Bardon Roket

It’s here!

https://www.createspace.com/3841498

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