Tagged: creative writing

Conversation with Ginger Mann; Author Interview


Today’s post is a transcript from a recent conversation with author Miss Ginger Mann, which occurred during her visit to my little corner of the etherverse.  Mann is an up and coming novelist and acquaintance of mine through Xchyler Publishing.

Ginger Mann_200x274Aurel: Hello Ms Mann, It was so good of you to accept my invitation for an interview.

 Mann: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to talk to you today.

 Aurel: As I understand it, you have a new work of fiction just released. What can you tell us about it?

 Mann: Yes, I have had a new work released. It’s a story called “Jilted River.”  Here’s a look at it:

A river siren lives in an Appalachian forest. She lurks at the bottom of a sinkhole, where a mountain collapsed more than a hundred years ago. Her magical voice haunts the underground river there, where she Continue reading

Four Times Eight Must Die.

Over Thanksgiving I had a discussion with my cousin about the synesthesias we each have. I recalled this humorous essay I posted on my first blog and thought I would share it here for your benefit. Enjoy:

Having recently become aware of my gift of ordinal linguistic personification, I feel compelled to inform you all about a horrific heresy embedded within our own multiplication table.  Although most of you apparently cannot see it, all of the single digits carry on their lives in a sensible relationship with one another.  Whether adding subtracting dividing or multiplying they all behave according to their personalities and interact with predictable results.  EXCEPT in the case of 4 x 8.

You will notice that I said the numbers interact in sensible relationship.  Notice that I did not say that they relate in harmony.  Harmony is far from the truth, these numbers lead their lives in constant drama and conflict with one another that rivals that of the infamous Greek gods.  There are distinct sides and a constant battle between good and evil. This battle is led on the side of good by the noble 1 and 2 who are the pillars and foundations of all sensible math.  On the contrary side, evil has no distinct leaders, but is personified by insidious numbers such as 9, but is more commonly manifests itself in certain contexts and equations.  Such equations include  7 – 4 = 3 in which case the cool and suave overpowers the dainty feminine Four. is not inherently evil, but in this case he clearly takes advantage of another number.  The end product as you can see is a clear loss for good in that 3 is an odd number and the route of power hungry 9, the sneaky sultry 6, and border line insane 21.

In multi-digit numbers evil appears again in the form of numbers such as 1313 is obviously unlucky, but he is also dangerous in that he is a prime number meaning that his strength comes from within.  Furthermore, 3, which would be pure evil were it not for its necessity in creating a multitude of equations, has sequestered the pure but helpless to itself to further strengthen its selfish purposes.

But, 4 x 8 is just wrong.  It is an affront to all reasonable numbers both good and bad.  To begin with, a conflict between 4 and 8 is inconceivable.  Despite being spirited, 4 has no real power because all numbers divisible by are also divisible by 2.  As you can imagine, Four has no unique personality of her own but simply mirrors the latest trend proffered by other numbers (and in particular the noble heroine 2).  In a similar way is even more obtuse, with little regard for is appearance she is neutral in almost cases and does very little on her own despite being a relatively large and strong number. I can conceive of no possible reason for these numbers to dispute.

Thus, in the case of 4 x 8 you have two placid, unmotivated numbers supposedly in conflict.  We just can’t allow this foolishness to go on.  Furthermore, if the equation is forced through the result is the hideous 32.  What is 32? Sandwiched in between two prime numbers it leads with the devious and often corrupt 3, but then is followed by the righteous queen of numbers 2.

32 is an ugly, unnatural number. 3 and added together create 5, the enforcer of law among numbers. This might be considered good, were it not for the fact that 32 is completely indivisible by 5.  This is a bad omen for 32. No other pair of multiples culminates in a 32 with the exception of the pure and innocent 16 (which is where the Fours table should have stopped).  As you can see, 32 is alone and rejected by all other numbers; and for good reason.

I implore you all in the name of good and decent math to stop the madness and to veto, ban, and boycott 4 x 8.  Email this to 16 /4 other people or you will have 7 + 6 for 3 x 9 years.

We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome… By Tasha Robinson

Here is a great checklist for making genuine ‘strong female characters’, taken from this interesting article by Tasha Robinson (follow on twitter @TashaRobinson). While I think Mrs Robinson comes too down hard on some movies with male protagonists, for not elevating the other females involved, I think she makes some excellent points on how to make really inspiring female characters in our own fiction.

Find Mrs. Robinson’s full article here:


Here’s the ‘Strong female character’ checklist:


  1. After being introduced, does your Strong Female Character then fail to do anything fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot? Anything at all?
  2. If she does accomplish something plot-significant, is it primarily getting raped, beaten, or killed to motivate a male hero? Or deciding to have sex with/not have sex with/agreeing to date/deciding to break up with a male hero? Or nagging a male hero into growing up, or nagging him to stop being so heroic? Basically, does she only exist to service the male hero’s needs, development, or motivations?
  3. Could your Strong Female Character be seamlessly replaced with a floor lamp with some useful information written on it to help a male hero?
  4. Is a fundamental point of your plot that your Strong Female Character is the strongest, smartest, meanest, toughest, or most experienced character in the story—until the protagonist arrives?
  5. …or worse, does he enter the story as a bumbling f***-up, but spend the whole movie rapidly evolving past her, while she stays entirely static, and even cheers him on? Does your Strong Female Character exist primarily so the protagonist can impress her?
  6. It’s nice if she’s hyper-cool, but does she only start off that way so a male hero will look even cooler by comparison when he rescues or surpasses her?
  7. Is she so strong and capable that she’s never needed rescuing before now, but once the plot kicks into gear, she’s suddenly captured or threatened by the villain, and needs the hero’s intervention? Is breaking down her pride a fundamental part of the story?
  8. Does she disappear entirely for the second half/third act of the film, for any reason other than because she’s doing something significant to the plot (besides being a hostage, or dying)?


Looking after #1 – Write the Novel You Want To Read

Guest post by Author J. S. Collyer

10372641_1436299246625640_8730916658319903732_nI sometimes wonder what sparks people off to start writing. In my experience, people decide to start for all sorts of reasons and at all stages of life. Some start penning poetry at 45, others (like me) were scribbling space operas in notebooks at age 10 before we even knew what a space opera was, let alone ever read one. Everyone has their own starting point and their own journey but I know the reason I started writing stories was because I loved to read, but the more and more I read, the more I realised that my novel is not out there. And the reason it’s not out there is because it only exists in my head.

Until now.

My first novel, a laser-filled SciFi romp called Zero, is due for release this August and it is the first time that a novel is out there that has everything in it that I would like to read. I’m not saying it’s perfect, or even that it’s any good, just that it was what I would like from a story. And it made it incredibly fun to write.

(If you want more details about Zero, you can check out my page on my blog)

It’s a given that if you’re not enjoying what you’re writing, chances are your reader won’t enjoy it either. Love you work, writers! Sink yourself in it and don’t be ashamed of what you want from it or what it wants from you. If you want to write paranoid erotic thriller or the next biggest literary social commentary with a high fantasy side-plot, you do it, baby! There will be an audience out there for you, whatever sort of story you want to write, so why not enjoy the journey?

If your narrative is a chore, chances are it’s not your narrative.

I’m not saying give up at the first rocky patch in the road. You and your story will go through good times and bad times, just like with any worthwhile relationship. There will be times when you skip through flowered meadows hand-in-hand, feeding each other chocolate-dipped strawberries and blushing at every exchanged glance. But there will also be times when you want to throw the furniture at each other, throws, cushions, lamps and all.

Don’t be scared of the work, of the difficulty bits or the dodgy bits in your draft. Keep on writing. If you’re really, really stuck, change your playlist, go for a walk, read another book and come back to it. If necessary, have a break. But, I’ve found, if you have faith in your project and you enjoy it enough, you will come back together and find a way to patch up your differences in the edit.

Of course, don’t avoid making the tough decisions. Some narratives are not meant to be. Be warned, it may take a long time for their cracks to show. You could have just written the first page or you could be 100,000 words in. But you can’t lie to yourself. You will know when a narrative is not salvageable. Be tough. Move on. It’s best for both of you.

(A tip for these difficult times: if the ctrl + alt + del step is a little too final, squirrel the story away in a ‘ongoing’ folder somewhere on your hard drive, or in your desk drawer if you’re old school. This is agreeing to disagree indefinitely and go your separate ways…but keeping each other’s phone numbers, just in case)

Because, after all, if you’ve reached that point, it probably means there’s another narrative in the brain tank screaming to get out, the one that was meant to be. No one else is going to write that story, not in the way you will. If you want it in the world, make it happen.

Set it free!

Look after number one, write the novel you want to read, because it’s very unlikely anyone else will do half so good a job.


J. S. Collyer is a science fiction and horror writer heralding from Lancaser, UK who shares fiction and musings on writing on her wordpress (jcollyer.wordpress.com). Her first novel, Zero, is due for release by Dagda Publishing Aug 2014 and you can follow her for updates and fiction fun on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jscollyer) and Twitter (@JexShinigami)

Conversation with Jay Barnson ~ Author Interview

Today’s post is a transcript from a recent conversation with author Mr. Jay Barnson, which occurred during his visit to my little corner of the etherverse.  Barnson is video game designer, up and coming novelist and acquaintance of mine through Xchyler Publishing.

JayPunkHeadshot1J. Aurel: Hello Mr. Barnson, It was so good of you to accept my invitation for an afternoon drink at the ‘Grog-and-Dart’. Pull yourself up a stool.

Barnson: What, they’ve got stools here, too? Man. Classy establishment. So much better than the last place I found myself…

J. Aurel: I understand that you have a new work of fiction. Can you tell us a little about your story?

Barnson: I could tell you, but then I’d have to ki… oh, fiction. Right.

I was actually inspired when I was doing research on what was going to be a totally different story, involving telecommunications in the Victorian era. I had some weird idea for steampunk technology, but the more I dug into the actual technology of the era, the more I realized that what I thought would be science fiction in the 1880s was actually science fact. They really did have pretty amazing technology back then. Trans-Atlantic communication, fax machines, “online” romances, telecommunications fraud…Really, all the stuff that we think are unique to the Internet age… maybe back when it was text-based, at least… existed back then, on a smaller scale.

A few months earlier, I’d read an article about a profoundly autistic teenaged girl. Her therapists believed that she was also intellectually disabled. With a great deal of effort, her family taught her to use the keyboard. After a while, she was able to write messages to explain what she was going through. Even her family, who loved her and knew her best, had completely underestimated her. Here was an intelligent young lady with the same emotions as any other girl her age, fully cognizant of how her brain and body were betraying her. Until she used an alternative form of communication, everyone assumed she was incapable of understanding what she was doing.

Between this, and a little study of Savant Syndrome, I thought about how little we know now in the 21st century about these kinds of disabilities. Back in the 19th century, what chance would even a mildly autistic individual have?

These ideas became the seeds for Dots, Dashes, and Deceit. From the high-tech telegraphy industry came Winnie. She’s a young, small-town telegraph operator who has been displaced by advancing technology. She’s frustrated by her love of technology and hope for adventure, and the expectations of society which considers her perilously close to “old maid” status. Then you have Joshua, a mute savant, dismissed by the town as harmless but hopelessly “dumb,” in both senses of the word. However, nobody recognizes that the supposedly nervous habit he has of tapping with his hand is actually Morse code… and that he’s discovered a deadly plot that he has been unable to communicate.

Add to that an eccentric inventor, mechanical men controlled via Morse code, an alternate history where the East India Company was not nationalized after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, long-distance plots from across the world coordinated via coded telegraph messages, and an airship full of thugs… and you have Dots, Dashes, and Deceit, my short story coming soon in Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk Anthology.


J. Aurel: Wow that sounds like quite the story! What moved you to become an author?

Barnson: I honestly can’t Continue reading

Conversation with ‘Dancing with Fireflies’ ~ Author Interview

Today’s post is a transcript from a recent conversation with author Ms. Crysta, founder of ‘Dancing with Fireflies’. Ms. Crysta is a prolific blogger, champion of authors and the writing craft, and acquaintance of mine through our common interests in writing and blogging.

DWF Pic.J. Aurel: Hello Ms. Crysta, thank you for coming.  Would you care for some Tea?  Crysta: I would love some. I have actually been a tea drinker for many years. In fact it is one of my many writing rituals, to make a cup of tea and sit for a few minutes watching the steam rise.  

J. Aurel:  You are very welcome.  Let’s see now, I have Earl Grey, Green, and Raspberry Zinger, which would you prefer?  I am so glad you were able to make time in your busy schedule. Tell me, what is ‘Dancing with Fireflies’ all about?  

Crysta: I love Earl Grey with cream and sugar. So, Dancing with Fireflies started off like so many blogs as a personal space for my own creative writing. But through the years it has started to morph into an imaginative networking place for people who have the same love of writing as I do. Writers tend to be introverts, unless forced out into the public due to some grand luck of fame. So this gives people a chance to share their art from the comforts of their own sacred spaces.  

J. Aurel:  Please help yourself to a biscuit.  And tell me Ms. Crysta, how is it that you find yourself in the world of Blogging?  

Crysta: Well for me, I have always been a journal keeper since I was old enough to pick up a crayon. I found that through my writings, both fiction and non-fiction, I could express not just my feelings but create my own worlds when I felt like this one was just overwhelming. Blogging evolved from LiveJournal and moved into what it is now.  

J. Aurel: What are your aspirations both for yourself and for Dancing with Fireflies?

Crysta: Dancing with Fireflies has been an amazing experience for me both as a writer and as someone who wasn’t sure what to do next, after Motherhood started to become less of a full-time job. I knew I wanted to be a writer, I spent some time with local press and always submitted freelance pieces. But I would like to take the steps to publish and take my own writing to a new level. Dancing with Fireflies is also moving forward in the direction of becoming more about creative exploration with others and opening up to bringing people in to share their talents. We learn from each other and grow as writers and as humans in the light of brilliance and talent. 

J. Aurel: Can you tell us about some of the things that inspire you?

 Crysta: I am always inspired by Continue reading

Conversation with Ben Ireland ~ Author Interview

Today’s post is a transcript from a recent conversation with author Mr. Ben Ireland, which occurred during his visit to my little corner of the etherverse.  Ireland is an up and coming novelist and acquaintance of mine through Xchyler Publishing.

You may be interested to know that as a thank you to his fans, Ben Ireland is giving away a set of his books loaded on a Kindle Fire 7″ HD TabletLIKE Ben Ireland on Facebook and be entered to win. Enjoy 3 great books on the best e-reader available! One winner will be randomly chosen in March, June, September and December of 2014. Increase your chances and LIKE Ben Ireland today!

Enjoy the discussion:

1924852_209039592626439_190463130_oJ. Aurel: Hello Mr. Ireland, It was so good of you to accept my invitation for an afternoon drink at the ‘Grog-and Dart’. Pull up a stool.

Ireland: Thanks for having me, I love this place. It has good feng shui.

J. Aurel: I understand that you have a new work of fiction. Can you tell us a little about your story?

 Ireland: Kingdom City ~ Resurrection is the first in the Kingdom City trilogy. It’s a science fantasy novel set in the near future in the peaceful, totally normal metropolis, Kingdom City. Six months prior to the opening of the novel a terrorist attack rocked the city by killing a quarter of it’s police force. Things start to fall apart when they don’t stay dead.

No, not a zombie book. It’s about love, fighting for what’s important, and the consequences of technological progress without moral constraint.

 J. Aurel: Wait, wait, I lost you as zombie. They’re not zombies, or it’s not about the zombies? Continue reading

Great writing advice, from 300 Script critiques

Thanks bluebird for this:

A professional script reader read 300 screenplays for five different studios, all the while tracking the many recurring problems. The infographic he made with the collected data offers a glimpse at where screenwriting goes wrong.







Steampunk with Heart: The Heartbeat of Steampunk: Romancing the Machine

Steampunk with Heart: The Heartbeat of Steampunk: Romancing the Machine

with Jacqueline Garlick and MeiLin Miranda

**see bottom of post for steampunk giveaways**
**see Steampunk With Heart Page for Facebook Party schedule**

It’s no accident steampunk has become so popular; here in the 21st century we’re facing an information revolution, just as the 19th century struggled through the industrial revolution. The rise in wearables, Internet-connected everything and, perhaps most troubling, governmental and corporate mining of personal data can alienate one a little. Even as we depend on tech more, we feel less in control of it and the changes it’s bringing to the world.

Spotlight on Me, courtesy of A. F. Stewart

I recently got the spotlight over on A. F. Stewart‘s Blog Are you Afraid of the Dark?

Shades and Shadows

 Today I’m shining the spotlight on the book, Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology(published by Xchyler Publishing), and specifically on one of its stories, The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells by J. Aurel Guay. I first made the acquaintance of the author when he kindly reviewed all the stories in another of Xchyler’s anthologies, Mechanized Masterpieces (here’s his review of my story: https://jaurelguay.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/our-man-fred-mechanized-masterpieces/).
When he decided to submit one of his own stories, I was privileged to be a beta reader forMarcus Wells, and delighted when it was published in Shades and Shadows (and the story is now being developed into a novel, so perhaps we haven’t seen the last of the good Dr. Wells). So here’s a quick peek at The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells and Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology. 
The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells by J. Aurel Guay: 

Read more …