Here's a little something I did a while back on a prompt from a friend
Return to Glory
by J. Aurel Guay
I wake from glory. The stale air greets me with an indifference that makes me wonder why I would ever leave the soft warmth of my sheets. The alarm rings again, and I remember why I must leave my refuge. The Dreamscape is gone, now it is time to pay the dues.
I manage to struggle through my routine. A bland breakfast of toast and black coffee are my only comfort. My allotment of water is barely enough to wash the sleep from my eyes, but it will have to be enough. 1 hour down, seventeen to go until I can see her again.
Down on the street I join the silent throng making their way on the same journey. Every face looks the same. Every eye so empty that I cannot bear it, I wonder what would happen if everyone took their plugs out, what would happen to the world.
I place my own plug to my temple.
The soothing effect is immediate, and a sigh escapes my lips as those thoughts fade into an oblivious calm brought by suggestive brainwaves and accompanying music. Amidst the soothing melody that primes my mind for the work ahead, the instructions for the day flow passively from my ear into my brain.
I board the monorail that will take me within a short walk of my post. They have a lot for me to do today, not that I will notice. Time matters little when they feed you a constant stream of consciousness control. I don’t care though, it is all worth it for the red haired beauty that awaits me back in the Dreamscape.
My stop approaches. Sixteen hours until I can be in her sweet virtual embrace. I reach for my briefcase beside me on the floor. The rail lurches suddenly. I feel the hard knock of someone’s head against mine and my plug falls out.
The noise suddenly stops. Disoriented I look around, fellow passengers stand ready to exit, oblivious to me and to one another. Anxiety starts to set in. Without being plugged in I’m not sure what to do. I am missing my instructions, a gaping void is left open where the artificial peace once reigned.
There! My missing plug lies only a foot away on the floor. Reaching for it desperately I collide with a stranger likewise trying to get the device, this time we are both knocked to the floor. Looking up my own dark eyes meet impossibly blue ones, framed in auburn hair. For a moment I forget all about the plug, about the dreamscape, everything. She tucks her stray lock behind her ear and smiles at me. She takes the plug from the monorail floor and hands it too me, then reaches for the second plug I had not seen.
It seems that I should say something; ‘Sorry for bumping you’, ‘I hope your plug is OK.’ Anything. It has been so long since I’ve talked to another living person the words will not come. She smiles again and a burst of energy flows through my chest. Such a feeling as I have only felt in the Dreamscape.
She hesitates a moment, then fits her plug back into her temple. Her eyes still vivid as ever, change subtly to look through me in a faraway stare. I watch silently as she stands, straightens her grey pencil skirt and exits the monorail without another glance my way.
The chime sounds, I have only seconds before the door closes and I will have missed my stop. My plug is in and I’m exiting the monorail before I know what I am doing. The soothing peacefulness returns and I back to my routine. I am late, if I don’t move quickly they will cut my time in the Dreamscape, my time with Her.
My pace quickens as I move down the packed street. I pass a woman in a grey pencil skit. Her auburn hair and blue eyes seem somehow familiar, but I can’t place it through the thick melody and steady stream of sedating brainwaves. It doesn’t matter. I’ll be at my post soon, then just fifteen and a half more hours until I can return to glory.
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.
Aurel: 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
Coming February 2015
In the sequel to Mechanized Masterpieces an Amarican Anthology, the authors of Xchyler Publishing were challenged to add a steampunk flavor to their favorite works in American literature. The result is ten fantastic stories full of cogs, gears, and the love of classic literature. So what can you expect from this anthology? Here is a breakdown of the authors and their inspirations:
Jay Barnson; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving --- Scott William Taylor; Jack London --- J. Aurel Guay; A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs --- M. Irish Gardner; Emily Dickinson --- Megan Collins Oliphant; Emily Dickinson --- J. H. Potter; Edgar Allen Poe --- Diane Lee Jortner; The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry --- Neve Talbot; Louisa May Alcott and Charlotte Bronte (Currer Bell) --- M. K. Wiseman; Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge --- Scott E. Tarbet; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The recording device from which this transcript came was recently found on a church doorstep near Salem Massachusetts. It involves a conversation between J. Aurel Guay and author A.F. Stewart. The whereabouts of Dr. Guay are still unknown.
Aurel: Hello Ms. Stewart, it was so good of you to accept my invitation for an interview. Although I must say, your choice of setting here in this centuries old cemetery, under a full moon is a little… unorthodox. Fortunately, I’ve brought along a little picnic basket. Help yourself to a fruit tart and a glass of wine, and we will begin.
Stewart: Oh, blackberry and sour cherry tarts. My favourite flavours. I’ll pass on the wine, though, as I don’t imbibe. I’ve also brought something, my own little delectable delicacy, Deviled Egg Eyeballs (holds out a container of deviled eggs in the shape of bloodshot eyeballs). Care for one?
Aurel: Don’t mind if I do! As I understand it, you have just released a new work of fiction and are celebrating with gifts to your readers. What can you tell us about it?
Stewart: My new book is a Continue reading
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:
- After being introduced, does your Strong Female Character then fail to do anything fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot? Anything at all?
- 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?
- Could your Strong Female Character be seamlessly replaced with a floor lamp with some useful information written on it to help a male hero?
- 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?
- …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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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)?
Guest post by Author J. S. Collyer
I 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.
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.
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)
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.
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