#Writober Day 28: Underwater Living

writober 28

photos by Yang Yi

I love these haunting images of life underwater. They make me think of Atlantis in decay. Maybe a gritty crime drama set in the underwater city.

It makes me think of mermaids, but not The Little Mermaid kind. More like the scary ones from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I looked up scary mermaid movies and found H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon. I know what I’ll be watching this weekend.

What story do you see in these images? Mermaids and Sea-monsters, or people living mundane daily lives who just happen to live at the bottom of the sea?

#vss very short story

After the war, many people returned home to live in what remained of their homes under the sea. Many were already occupied by sentient sea-creatures. Thus the war began anew.

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s theme is: Belonging
poem form: Clarity Pyramid

Trust
Honest
Speak the truth

Wrapped in acceptance
Home in fearless embrace
Calm in common interests

“Freedom from back-stabbing voices”

 

Note: For this poem, a mind-map of “Belonging” was very helpful.

#FlashFicHive

Write a 25-word version of your story:

After the dam broke, they lived peacefully in their underwater city until the mermaids moved into the area. All that constant singing day and night!

Have a great Writing Day!

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Interview with Richard C. White about his new book Harbinger Of Darkness!

Some of you may remember way back before #Writober  started, I asked What are you planning for #Writober? Back then, a million years ago, I mentioned that I planned to do Readers Imbibing Peril XII’s Peril in the First. I listed the books I planned on reading and half of those have changed, but I also mentioned a surprise. Here is that surprise. I was given a copy of Harbinger of Darkness by Richard C. White in exchange for a review. He also agreed to an interview. Imbibing So Much Peril!

My Review

 

four stars

The cover of Harbinger Of Darkness by Richard C. WhiteThough I’m not usually a kings and princes, guilds and taverns kind of reader, I enjoyed many things about this novel. I especially enjoyed the strong female protagonist. Perrin, by day, working in her father’s bookshop, uses a charm to change her appearance and becomes Raven, by night, master thief who doesn’t play by the rules. I was pulled into her world through visual description and quick-moving action scenes. I also enjoyed the crisp, natural dialogue.

There were some areas of the novel that I felt dragged slightly. Though there was a rich, layered story being told, I sometimes thought it could be told with fewer words. There were a few times I worried the story would turn to fairy tale stereotypes, but the story took a creative turn and rewarded me for my continued reading.

Harbinger of Darkness is a visceral adventure through a world of magic with well-developed characters, dynamic dialogue and a good dose of two-handed sword fights.

Interview with Richard C. White

Reading your bio at the end of Harbinger of Darkness, was fascinating. You have a career with a defense contractor and you write novels? Can you tell us about a day in the life?

Im a technical writer, by trade, so as I like to describe my life as six weeks of boredom followed by two weeks of panic. Most of the projects I work on are what we call eight-week spins, so for six weeks, theres not much for me to do while the developers and programmers work on their projects. However, once the code goes final, I have one week to write the users manual, update the technical manual, review and update the requirements spreadsheet, and write the change sheet. Once thats all done, then I have to get the government lead to review and approve my documents before the end of the second week, so we can release on time.

I try not to let that six-week slack period go to waste though. Most of the time, Ive been able to work on my latest story while Im on the slow part of the spin. Ive been able to sell my project managers that Im getting in typing practice. Generally, theyve been cool about it though – as long as I am at my desk, answer my phone/email, and help out when needed, etc. – its sort of like being on-call.

Most of my writing is done at home though. I try to carve out an hour or two before bed for writing, but that doesnt happen all the time. Getting a chance to spend time with friends and family is pretty darn important for physical and mental health.

One of my favorite writing exercises is going on writing walkabouts on the weekend. Ill take a Saturday or Sunday and go out and do an hour or two of writing at a coffee shop, then walk to the park and write, then hit a restaurant to write/eat, then maybe a local pub or a bookstore and write some more. The object of a walkabout is getting outside of the house to write, but not abusing a businesss hospitality. If I hit a coffee shop, I only stay a while and I order somethingsame for a restaurant, pub, bookstore, etc.. Im not there just to leach their electricity or wi-fi.

So, between working in some writing at work, in the evenings at home and on the weekends, I manage to balance family, work, and my writing. I wish I could say I was one of those who wrote every day, but I do what I can. Maybe after I retire, Ill consider trying to write full-time, but I dont see it happening anytime soon.

I would see the Star Trek and Star Wars book titles on the bookstore shelves and assume they were books that rehashed the scripts. I only learned about the media tie-in genre this past summer, but you’ve lived it. What, to you, is the purpose/joy of media tie-in and what’s it like to write for licensed media?

There are a number of different types of media tie-in stories. Some are novelizations of an existing property, say, Star Wars. There you take the movie and expand on it. A movie script would probably make a long novella, so to get 80-100,000 words for the novel, you get to go into descriptions, what the characters were thinking in certain scenes, what might have been happening right off screen, or how did that character we last saw on this planet manage to get to the other planet in the nick of time? Novelizations are a way to linger over a movie/tv show/game and fill in a few blanks.

Other media tie-ins are original stories set in the established universe. Now the authors get to maybe go back and revisit characters who only appeared in say one episode of Doctor WHO or NCIS and maybe instead of them being just a walk-on, now we get to do an entire story about them. Sometimes, we can tell stories of what happened between two episodes or even two seasons of a show to cover what happened to the characters (provided the season didnt end on a cliff-hanger). Other times, we come up with completely unique stories about charactersperhaps we tell the story of what they did before they came onto the show or if theyve left the show, perhaps we do a reunion story, to catch the fans up on whats happened to this or that person.

However, writing media tie-in stories has its own unique pitfalls. First of all, most people dont get to start off writing media works. You cant just write a Supernatural novel and send it to the publisher and hope theyll pick it up. Most of the authors you see whore writing media tie-in have been approached by an editor and asked to pitch something. Studios are very protective of their properties, so for the editor to sell you as the author, they like to be able to point to something youve already done to prove you have some writing chops.

So, if you get the opportunity to write something, then you get to do the tie-in dance. First off, the editor gives you your right and left boundaries, a.k.a., the licensor is looking for a story about X and Y, but dont go into Z or U. Why? They may or may not tell you, but the licensor is the final approver, so learn to keep them happy. Then the writer comes up with two or three plot pitches, which have to be approved by the editor and then the licensor. Once they decide which they like best, then you do a synopsis or perhaps a chapter breakdown and again the editor and then the licensor have to approve them. Finally, you get to write the short story, novella, or novel. And again, it goes through the editor and the licensor.

At any time in this process, the licensor can go, Nope, thats not working, and thats it. Hopefully, your editor can smooth thing over or help you come up with a way to mollify the licensor, but if they say no, then your story is dead. And I mean dead, since youre using their characters, theres no where else to sell that story. Sure, I guess you could try to file the serial numbers off the story and change it enough to make it your own, but in that case, why not just write a new story?

What inspired you to write Harbinger of Darkness?

Its hard to say what was the initial inspiration for Harbinger, but I can definitely trace some of its literary roots to stories like the Scarlet Pimpernel, Batman, Zorro, and the Green Hornet. However, I wanted to make the main character a bit more human. Perrin isnt necessarily out to right great wrongs or even make the city safer, although, she winds up setting herself against some of the greater criminals in her own citybut for her own personal reasons. Instead, this is about someone who feels trapped by circumstances and she is forced to take what some would call drastic actions to free herself and be able to follow her own dreams in the end.

I also wanted to try and determine for myself if I could write a story about a nocturnal character who a) is not independently wealthy, so they must maintain their secrets while holding down a regular job and b) must keep their secret identity from their own family – no faithful Diegos or Alfreds for Perrin. It was fun to take the trope of the costumed crime-fighter and morph it into what I wanted for this story. Hopefully, Ive succeeded.

Halloween’s coming up, do you have a favorite horror author/novel?

I have to admit, I like dark fantasy, but Im not much into modern horror. That being said, I do enjoy the Saga of Pandora Zwieeck series by Steve Roman. Even if Steve wasnt my publisher, he does write a damn good yarn with this series. Im constantly nagging him to put out the third book so I can find out how this first arc is going to end.

I did enjoy earlier Steven King The Shining, Carrie, Firestarter, and I remember making the classic mistake of trying to read The Exorcist at midnight when I was 12(ish). Not great for sleeping, let me tell you.

What’s your favorite scary movie?

Alien. Far and away, one of the most intense horror movies that I can remember, It was marketed as a Science Fiction movie, but it was a classic locked-house monster movie. Others I really enjoyed over the years were Jaws, Psycho (1960), The Birds, Cat People, An American Werewolf In London, and for a touch of comedy, Young Frankenstein and Abbot and Costello Meet the Wolfman.

What’s your biggest fear? Do you think it’s rational or irrational?

My biggest fear? Spiders, and of course, its irrational. Obviously, Im thousands of times larger than they are, but I dont like them, never have, and suspect I never will.

Which dictionary do you use?

My go-to dictionary is the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, ©1964, that I was given when I was in Kindergarten, and still use to this day.

Any advice for writers who have yet to feel their novel is finished or are yet to be published?

If youre feeling like your novel isnt finished, my advice is to really think about what youre doing. Are you really doing restructuring and introducing new plots or are you simply playing with where do the commas go in other words, are you really making meaningful changers or simply procrastinating? Eventually, youre going to have to take that next step and either start writing those query letters to try and get an agent/publisher to take a look at what youve got or else start down the path to self-publishing.

A number of people I know have worked and reworked and re-reworked their novels to death because they were afraid of what someone might say or think if they read it, but writing to be published is not for the timid. After a while, youre going to have to put it out there, with the understanding that once you release it, you have no more control over your story. People may like it, they may dislike it. Odds are something you write is going to be misinterpreted (dont even get me started on literary criticism here). Some people may even be offended at what you wrote.

Dont let that fear stop you because you have NO control over it unless you never write again. Once its published, the writer part of you has to forget about it, put pen to paper, and start working on your next book. The promoter part of you may have to spend some time with making sure people know your first book exists, but thats another tale for another time. As a writer, once you say, The End, except for making corrections/edits, its on to the next story and dont look back.

Cover of Terra Incognito by Richard C. White

Richard C. White has also shared his writing wisdom in a book for writers – Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination.

You can learn more about Richard C. White and his books on his website RichardCWhite.com, his facebook page AuthorRichardCWhite, on Twitter @Nightwolfwriter and at StarWarpConcepts.com

Wanna see Richard and hear his voice? Here’s a video interview on Youtube.

October Pairings (#OctPairs): Movies & Drinking Games

happy-halloween1

My Halloween card from last year. Please print it out and put it on the fridge as some Halloween love from me! But watch out! The pumpkin bites!

Since we paired books and candy last week, I thought we’d pair movies again. And what’s better than watching scary movies with friends and playing drinking games? (Doing a wooden jigsaw puzzle at the same time? Maybe.)
drinking gamesA while back, a friend of mine gave me the book Drinking Games by Terry Burrows. I thought I’d look at the games and pair them with Halloween movies.
The games in the book are organized into four sections: Words, Actions, Cards and Dice & Coins. Since I’m not into props while watching movies, let’s see if we can’t find pairs for Words and Action games.

I’ve linked the names of the movies to where you can stream them on amazon. It costs around $2.99. So if you get really excited and want to start right now, just click on the link of the movie you want and start playing.

Words

      1. Initial Thoughts: To play this game, one player asks a question. In our emily roseversion, let’s say the question has to be about the movie or Halloween, and each player has to give a two word answer. The two words have to start with their initials. Example: If the question was What will they find in the woods? My answer could be Many Bones where Frank Clark might answer Feral Cats and Earl Thomas might answer Eagle Talons (my first thought was Eager Tyrannosaurs, but I wasn’t planning on pairing with Jurassic Park). If a player can’t answer within five seconds, they have to drink and come up with the next question. This game will most likely go well with any scary movie. Since it’s about the players’ names, I think I’ll pair it with The Exorcism of Emily Rose. You might come up with a new rule like if you can’t think of an answer with your own initials you can use E. R.
      2. rhyme or reason: This looks like another fun one that can be adapted tonightmare on elm our Halloween fun. The first player says a word, for our purposes, let’s say it has to be a word that has to do with the movie. The next person clockwise in the circle must either come up with a word that rhymes or one that describes what it does. Example: I say “axe” then Doug Baldwin says “chops” so then Russell Wilson can say either “cops” or “feeds”.  If a player can’t come up with a word that works, it’s time to drink and come up with the next word. I think I would pair this game with A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) because of that creepy nursery rhyme.

PiranhaActions

  1. fish face: Each player selects the name of a fish and lets the other players know their type of fish. No two players can be the same fish. The first player says, “I’m a (says their fish name); you’re a (someone else’s fish name). That player repeats the phrase saying their fish name and then choosing another fish in the group. Players have to talk without showing their teeth. If anyone gives the glimpse of a tooth, they have to drink.

For obvious reasons, I would pair this game with Piranha [Roger Corman’s Cult Classics].  Though if you want to expand the rules to include sharks, you could pair it with Jaws or Sharknado.

2. drinking with the simpsons: Most of the drinking games I found online were like this one. In the book version, you watch an episode of The Simpsons. The rules are simple: you take a drink any time a list of things are said or done. There are games like this for lots of scary movies. You can find one for Halloween at Film Drunkies tumblr and cheezburger.com promises The Ultimate HalloweenHalloween the movie drinking game. And here’s a post that says it’s The Official Drinking Game For Every Horror/Slasher Film. You could try it with every Scream movie or the entire Friday the 13th series.
Another online game with “drink when” rules is for Hocus Pocus. POPHANGOVER.com professes to having The Ultimate Hocus Pocus drinking game.hocus pocus
Drinkwhen.ca has this style of drinking game for a lot of great Halloween movies from classics like The Shining and The Silence of the Lambs to newer greats like Get Out and What We Do in the Shadows. As you can see there is a game for every Halloween movie.
But what if you are trying to get fit and don’t want to drink beverages all night? I even found a game for you. Over at POPSUGAR Fitness they came up with a horror movie game where they linked things that happen in horror movies to exercises. I think I might try this for my workouts the next couple weeks.

I hope you enjoy trying some of these fun October Pairings this Halloween season. If/When you’re on Twitter, please head over to #OctPairs and share some of your favorite October Pairings.

 

*I apologize that this did not get out last night as planned, but my power went out and stayed out for over 16 hours.

Writober Day 17: The Smell Of Death

bokeh skulls appear to rise from leaves

by Maria L. Berg 2017

I will never forget the smell when I returned to New Orleans after the hurricane. It permeated everything. It’s impossible to describe, but it’s a mix of rot, blood, excretion and this sickly-sweet horror that triggers the gag reflex until it is so stuck in your nostrils and pores that you realize it will always be a part of you–The smell of death.

This image makes me think of Little Shop of Horrors (1986) which I paired with the wooden jigsaw puzzle Artifact Puzzles – Garden of Death in the first October Pairings

Is this a killer plant? Is the plant haunted? Or is Death spending a day off tending the garden?

#vss very short story

They knew they had wandered into Death’s garden when a stray step released spores shaped like skulls, moaning on the wind.

#OctPoWriMo

And The Dragon Chose . . .

Though I do not understand the title of today’s challenge, it sounds inspiring and a bit ominous. Today’s challenge is a Dr. Seuss challenge to only use 50 unique words to write the poem. This is based on the bet that led to Green Eggs and Ham. I found an online rhyming dictionary the other day, so I think I’ll start there, choosing words that rhyme with scent and death.

Botrytis Battle

Brown spotted signs of death
And furry gray mold
Botrytis claims his garden
A battle to unfold

Death enters his garden
His step releases spores
In saprophytic appetite
A germ of many wars

Insects carry conidias
Fellow soldiers in arms
Spotted brown colluders
Carry mold that harms

Wounded cuticle weakens
The infection breaches the sheath
Shaking his head sadly
Death grips his snath and swings

Notes on today’s poem:

That was way harder than I thought it would be. The original poem was 74 words and I figured many of those would not be unique, but I was wrong. That took a ton of creative editing, but it was a great challenge.

These poem prompts paired with the #Writober images are helping me come up with some unique writing. This poem was also inspired by an article on cannagardening.com called Botrytis Cinerea: a highly infectious crop killer. Thank you to everyone for the inspiration.

#FlashFicHive

flashfichive day 17

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Our #Writober image prompts lend to writing horror, sci-fi and fantasy. What other genre could we add to the mix? Today’s image makes me think Gothic Horror like Edgar Allan Poe or H. P. Lovecraft, or we could try Noir Mystery or a Cozy Mystery (the Death’s day off story). It could end up a Comedy or Satire. What genre do you want to explore today?

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 13: A Well In The Woods

A well in the woods

photo by Maria L. Berg 2017

This is one of the wells at Longmire in Mt. Rainier National Park. This well sits directly to the left of the cabin in the woods. The well definitely makes me think of The Ring a great spooky movie for those you doing RIPXII’s Peril on the Screen.

Why is this well in the woods? What’s in the well? Is it lucky or unlucky? Should your character make a wish or run like hell? I #FlashFicHive has anything to say about it (and the fact that it’s Friday the 13th) I’d keep the coin and start running.

#vss very short story

The volcanic minerals kept them young as the forest and mountain aged around them. Their pale faces appeared rarely, deep in the well, reflecting the moonlight.

I’m still looking for players for #pessimisticmoustache. Please join me on twitter.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Art in the wayward mind

Today’s prompts at OctPoWriMo.com paired with my well image made me think of “filling the well” from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: 25th Anniversary Edition
So I grabbed my copy of The Complete Artist’s Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice and found the section called Finding Water. I opened to a random page from that section and copied it. Not finding words I liked, I flipped through until I found a page with the Title The Abyss. I copied that and cut it up to play with the words from the page. Here’s what I came up with:

The Abyss - a cut out word poem using a page from The Artist's Way

Now that was fun!! The poem I cut out worked well with a page in my art book. YAY! I like that the monster looks like he’s smiling up at you from the bottom of a dark well and the colors look like the mineral stains from today’s #Writober inspiration photo. I may want to add some detail like bricks from the well, but for now I don’t want to touch it.

What’s fun about the poem fitting in this section of my art book is I made windows in other pages, so it changes multiple images. Here’s a picture of the open spread and what the monster looks like with the left page folded over:

So much fun. I love how these pages are going to evolve over time. I’m so glad that #OctPoWriMo is working with my art book.

#FlashFicHive

Post “unlucky” lines at a hashtag and quote-RT

flashfichive day 13

graphic by Anjela Curtis

As I mentioned before, @writingevents is a typo. It will take you to the twitter page of Alex and Jude in Bath, England. Mica Scott’s Free Writing Events is @writevent

Today’s hashtag games and themes are:

NEIGHBOR   LOVE/HATE   JINX   EYES

FEELINGS ABT TIME PASSING    5TH LINE ANY PG

friday writing events

micascottikole.com/events/ from @writeevent

I think #FridayKiss might be seeing some unlucky lines from yesterday’s story.

#Writober

Yesterday, I did some wandering about the internet and found some other people doing Writober in different ways.

@NestHaron’s Writober 2017

If you visit #Writober on twitter, you’ll find a graphic of word prompts by @NestHaron who is Zsolt Fazekas from Romania. His bio says he was born in Transylvania. I’m enjoying that some of the people doing #Writober are writing in French. My French is rustier than I thought.

writober2017

Xero Reynolds

Searching my wordpress reader I found Xero Reynolds. He’s writing from Colorado and is attempting the daily writing to create one story like I mentioned in my #Writober update. He shares his stories on his website.

I hope you’re have a great #Writober and finding tons of fun, spooky inspiration for your writing and reading.

#Writober Day 8: Hungry Tree In The Military Cemetery

Tree eating military gravestone

photograph by Maria L. Berg 2017

This tree takes me straight to Poltergeist only these gravestones stayed in the cemetery.

Any of the Poltergeist movies would be great for those of you doing the RIPXII Peril on the Screen challenge.

#vss: very short story

He blamed the trees for his losses; roots tripping his men; branches scratching. The trees seek punitive damages beyond the grave.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: How Could I Know

The prompt at OctPoWriMo.com suggests the poetry form called Joseph’s Star. It’s a syllable line rule ( Syllables are 1, 3, 5, 7, 7, 5, 3, and 1) poem like a haiku but it creates a diamond shape and you can repeat the pattern in as many stanzas as needed. I like these poetry form prompts.

How

could I know

a large tree would grow

when the bird dropped the seed cone

while flying over your stone

out of all the dead

and find life

there.

How

did its roots

find food in old boots

of hallowed ground deep with you

do I dare imagine, too

reaching searching first drink

inside the loosened

seems of the

box?

How

could I know

it would cradle you

suck in your essence like food

lift you through its veins of wood

make you one with it

are you a

tree?

 

#FlashFicHive

Develop a story inspired by a word cloud.

FlashFicHivewordcloud

#FlashFicHive Day 8 Word Cloud by Anjela Curtis

I think some of these words will work nicely with today’s prompt. Until now, I hadn’t thought of a nest with eggs in that tree. Or maybe our protagonist finds a bag full of money in a hole in the tree, or under the limb holding the grave stone or . . . Ooh, this is a treasure trove of ideas.

#RIPXII Peril On The Screen

Because my whole face and head have been invaded by the mucous monster, I spent my Saturday in bed feeling sorry for myself. To feel like I accomplished something, I decided to tackle The Peril On The Screen challenge.

Horns – * * * * (Four Stars)

Horns was not what I expected. It was much better. It had elements of dark comedy and a rich mystery wrapped up in religious symbolism and a truly horrible premise. It even had some Stand By Me moments with flashbacks to the main players as childhood friends.

Swiss Army Man -* * (Two Stars)

This movie was a disturbing, fantasy portrayal of necrophilia. Though I liked the imaginative arts and crafts and am impressed by the obsession it took to raise the bar for fart jokes,–That bar has flown to an unimaginable new height–I felt icky and worried for the writer, director and producers when the film ended.

Watching Horns and Swiss Army Man back to back, I was impressed at how Daniel Radcliff brings his characters to “life” (Ha! Ha!), and wondered if, in trying to get away from Harry Potter, he hasn’t made some odd choices.

The Cabin In The Woods – * * * * (Four Stars)

When I watched this movie before, I may have only caught part of it, or been distracted because, though I knew the plot and remembered the monsters in their cubes, I did not remember that the cast included the likes of Thor, Jamie from Zoo: Season 1 and the Alien huntress herself- Sigourney Weaver.

This movie is so fun. It is a lesson to writers that any trope, no matter how over used, can be seen in a new and create way.