Friday, June 29, 2012

First Five Friday – The Prophet and the Crown II: Descent (WIP)

Scene 1
            Mary Blackburn, also known in certain circles as Mary-Mary-Quite-Contrary, ran through the endless, featureless tunnels, just as she had for what felt like forever.
            The petite brunette gasped the tasteless, odorless air as she dashed through the maze of what appeared to be underground corridors, dug deep within the earth.  That she wasn’t within the ground of the Earth itself, Mary didn’t doubt.  She knew exactly where she was.  It was Hell, and Satan was chasing her.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Five Fave Stephen King Books

Over 60 books.  You read that right.  Stephen King has written more than 60 books (counting his short-story collections).   Almost 40 years of writing.  It boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Love him or hate him, you have to give the mighty King of Horror his due.  So here I am, counting down my favorite five works of the man who describes himself as ‘the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries.’

It:  King must be one of those people who is freaked out by clowns.  I sure can’t look at one now without wondering if it’s going to yank me down a sewer.  Yikes.  A beautifully crafted tale that goes beyond the surface scarefest to also trace the heartbreak of being an outsider kind of kid.

The Green Mile:  Originally published as a six-part serial with a cliffhanger at the end of each installment, The Green Mile was like King crack for me.  Yes, I bought each individual piece of this story, read it within a couple of hours, then breathlessly waited for the next one to be released.  It may very well be one of the most satisfying of his many works for me.

‘Salem’s Lot:  One of the greatest vampire books ever written, perhaps second only to Dracula.  It takes the age-old monster and puts him in a present-day small town with totally believable results.  King is absolutely inspired in this one.

The Shining:  This book does for the ghost story what ‘Salem’s Lot does for the vampire tale.  Forget Kubrick’s take on it, because this book is far more terrifying.  Watching a good man spiral down the rabbit hole of alcoholism while malicious spirits egg him on until he turns on his own family … it’s as good as scary gets.

The Stand:  We start off with mankind’s mindless ambition unleashing the ‘Super Flu’ and wiping out 99 percent of the Earth’s population.  We end with the ultimate battle of good versus evil.  In between are some of fiction’s most compelling characters, hero and villain alike.  This is King at his absolute best.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday – The Prophet and The Crown I: The Fallen (WIP)

The first discernable thought that illuminated the man’s consciousness was where am I? Then came an even more disquieting consideration.
Who am I?
            He sat up, pushing with effort against the brown-black ground that supported his weighted body.  He dimly noted the running shoes, khaki cargo pants, and navy blue tee-shirt he wore.  Long, tanned arms, the hair on which was bleached golden, seemed oddly apart from him.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

First Five Friday – The Prophet and the Crown I: The Fallen (WIP)

Chapter 1

The first thing the man was aware of was a heaviness weighing him down.  His whole being seemed to be burdened with a dragging load, keeping him pinned to the unyielding surface beneath him.  And the surface itself pulled at him, as if it would drag him into its thick embrace and close over him, suffocating any screams he might utter.
            Next came an awareness of sticky heat coating his skin.  He could feel it filming his body, a barrier between himself and his clothing.  

Throwing Things at my Television - Orbs

Yep, I’m an utter geek, especially over the paranormal.  Ghosthunters, Paranormal State, Ghost Collector, Celebrity Ghost Stories … I’m all over those shows when I have the time (not often).   And I’m sure I have more than my fair share of gullibility when it comes to such things, though I like to think I watch with something approaching skepticism.

Certain issues with these shows seriously irritate me.  I have been known to yell at the television when the so-called investigators whine how scared they are.  If you’re so darned scared, why are you hunting ghosts?  Go home to your nightlights.  But the thing that makes me really cranky with these shows are those stupid ‘orb’ pictures.  You know, the little balls of light that occur in photos and videos that send too many into paroxysm of delight.  “Spirit energy!” they gloat, when any half-baked brain would immediately see motes of dust and insects flying about.

  Fluffy apparently being menaced by the neighbor’s deceased dog.

So here I am, looking for a nice little throw pillow to toss at the TV in my eyerolling hell.  Hey, it is called a throw pillow … might as well put it to proper use.

Come on, people.  I have yet to see an orb that I wouldn’t immediately discount as a flying critter or dust.  Forget the exorcist, get the Windex.  If so-called orbs were an indication of spirit energy, then my house is infested with ghosts.  Come on in and take a picture.  Then let me hand you a duster, because I don’t have time to deal with shooing them out myself.  Better yet, send me a cleaning service for Christmas.  That’ll clear those restless spirits right the heck out, I guarantee.

 Juliette calling for her Romeo?  Or a home begging for Endust?

Yet here these ‘experts’ go, yammering that this speck reflecting a bit of light is Uncle George, letting us all know he’s fine and dandy and hanging out in the basement with the Christmas ornaments and old cans of paint.  Puh-leeze.

Although occasionally Uncle George invites a few friends over to watch the game in the den

The only show I’ve seen that discounts this nonsense on a regular basis is Ghosthunters, so to them I give kudos for not being nimrods.  And an extra hand for them getting rid of those squealing types who peed their pants every time they saw an unexpected shadow.

 Don’t even think of running, dude

So if you’re starring on one of these paranormal shows, do us all a favor.  Stop claiming orbs are proof of a haunting.  We’re not buying it.  Plus, I’m running low on pillows that still possess stuffing.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday – Willow in the Desert (WIP)

Arner jerked upright in his bed, wakened from the horror of his latest nightmare to face the horror of his real life.  The empty home of his dream vanished to be replaced by the equally desolate room of his Freetown abode.
He swallowed, surprised as always that his throat wasn’t raw from screaming their names.  Wendy, George, Tom, and little baby Pam.  But no, his echoing cries had only happened in the nightmare in which he’d run from abandoned room to abandoned room, where they had all once lived and nobody lived anymore.

Friday, June 15, 2012

First Four Friday – Willow in the Desert (WIP)

Chapter 6

Night fell like a dread cloak over the desert, bringing dropping temperatures.  Carli never failed to marvel at how cold the desert could become.  She huddled in her coat as she and Leo walked hand in hand to the west end of town, her slung AR-15 swaying under her arm.  Her backpack was heavy with mostly ammo and water.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Creating a Character: Carli from The Willow and the Stone

I’m a highly organized person, though there are those who may have been in my home that might think otherwise.  But seriously, I can’t think straight without a roadmap of some sort to guide me along, especially when it comes to writing.  Before I scribble the first line of a story, I have to create my characters.

My main character from The Willow and the Stone is Carli Dixon.  Like most of my characters, she is based loosely on a facet of myself, at least emotionally.  Like the younger me (as in 25 years ago when I first committed this character to paper), Carli is terrified of many things:  death, taking responsibility for herself, trusting in her own abilities.  Now while I have never had the dubious luxury of depending on others to take care of me and coddle my insecurities, Carli has found someone who will.  So Carli is pretty much me if I’d ever had someone willing to shoulder all my welfare – dependent, frightened, and not much of a survivor.  Fortunately, she does have some sterner stuff inside her, an inner strength that comes out when the chips are down. 

I knew this was the core of the character when I first began to put her together.  But there was a lot more I had to figure out before I could unleash her on her adventure.  So here’s the list I used to put her together, both mentally and physically:

Special attribute
Past Event that Had the Most Influence on the Person She Became

These items helped me paint a picture of the character.  By doing this right away, I would know how she would move and act and feel in the situations she was placed in.  I would be less likely to make her act ‘out of character’.

So by using the items in my list, here are the building blocks that resulted in Carli Dixon:

Shortcomings:  This was pretty obvious right off the bat.  Carli starts off essentially as a coward.  She lets her companion Renee run the show even when she knows she’d be better off in charge.  Her overwhelming fear of death rules her.

Special attribute:  Carli possesses a sixth sense that allows her to see the future and communicate telepathically with her long-distance friend, Leo Black Elk.

Motive:  To survive in an alien-infested world.

Past Event that Had the Most Influence on the Person She Became:  Carli had two major events in her childhood.  The first was foreseeing the death of her older brother.  When no one believed her warnings, he was killed.  The second event was the death of her beloved grandmother.  When Carli could discern no hint that the soul of her devout grandparent continued in any way, she suffered a loss of faith and became obsessively terrified of death.

Strengths:  Despite a seemingly wimpy surface, Carli can get tough and stand her ground when she needs to.  As the ‘willow’ in The Willow and the Stone, she bends but she does not break.  She is a survivor and ultimately a badass in spite of herself.

Height/weight:  Something that usually puts Carli at a disadvantage is her very small stature.  She is often misidentified by strangers as a child.  This only exacerbates her self-perception as helpless and weak.

Hair:  Blond and very long.  When you’re being threatened by bloodsucking aliens at every turn, you don’t get to the salon too often.

Eyes:  Big and blue

Features:  Again, this is a part of her that makes her and others identify her as weak.  She has the face of a delicate china doll.  She’s extremely pretty and seemingly fragile.

Birthplace:  The mountains of North Carolina.

Age:  Late 20’s.

So this is the snapshot of Carli that I ended up with.  She became my very reluctant heroine, a person that grew to reach her potential by the end of the story.  Along her journey, she displayed moments of strength that hinted to who she could be, if she’d only have a little faith in herself.  It was a fun evolution to write.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Willow and the Stone Excerpt

            Before this horrible day, Carli thought the safety of daylight all too brief.  Knowing this nightfall would deliver them into the insectile clutches of the Old Ones, time sped faster than ever.  The far off voices of the farmers faded as the sun sank in the sky.  The prisoners huddled in a corner of the cage, Adam's big arms wrapped about each woman.  As daylight waned, a pearly mist crept in curling tendrils about their bodies.  The mist should be gray, Carli thought, then wondered why she expected that.  The memory of a dream, a nightmare perhaps...
            She thought of her Native American friend.  Would he know when the Old Ones killed the woman he called Willow?  Would he grieve for her?
            Daylight died.  Night collapsed on them, dark and forbidding.  Her ears strained to hear the cricket sound of alien speech.
            Only minutes after the dark descended, the sound of alien chittering buzzed through the fog.  All three prisoners lunged to their feet and clutched frantic hands.  Quiet returned for a moment.  Carli's rasping breath roared in her ears.  She pressed against the bars as far as she could get from the door she couldn’t see in the fog.
            The cage rattled.  The sound that haunted her nightmares exploded in her ears from all around.
            Chittering.  Chirping.
            Renee screamed.  Her dim form jerked away into the mist.  Adam thrashed then he too disappeared, his hand torn from Carli's grip.  Mute with terror, she crouched on the ground, shaking her head in silent negation. 
            Something caressed her cheek with a bristled touch.  A quick pain stabbed her neck.  She found her voice.  "No!  No!"  Sobbing denials, she slapped at the face of the thing that pulled her close.  Her limbs swung heavy, useless.  Her eyes thudded shut.  The wild thumping of her heart slowed.
            An image of a tall beautiful man with long black hair drifted before her closed eyes.  Help me.  I don't want to die.  So scared...
            The man who called her Willow reached for her just before disappearing in the dark void.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday – The Willow and the Stone

Faces pressed all around, evaluating them with predatory stares.  Renee and Adam backed close to the travois.  Carli felt smothered.  She didn’t see a friendly face in the lot.  Not one glimpse of compassion.  What was wrong with this mob?

Available from Amazon, Smashwords, and NCP

Friday, June 8, 2012

First Five Friday – The Willow and the Stone

                Carli drifted in a dream, a rotten-egg smelling, fog enshrouded nightmare.  Mist clung to her with clammy fingers that pulled on her hair and clothes so they hung limp.  Dim gray light showed her the fog’s tendrils curl in a joyless dance.  The dingy haze swallowed her legs below her knees.

Available from Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, and NCP

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Best Sci-Fi Spoofs

With the announcement that former members of Monty Python are reuniting for a sci-fi movie spoof (please, please, please, and get sole holdout Eric Idle to join in), I started thinking how many laughs I've gotten from other humorous takes on the genre.  Here, in no particular order, are some faves:

Young Frankenstein

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Ah! Very good. Would you mind telling me whose brain I DID put in? 
Igor: Then you won't be angry?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry.
Igor: Abby someone.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby someone. Abby who?
Igor: Abby... Normal.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby Normal?


Dark Helmet: You have the ring, and I see your Schwartz is as big as mine. Now let's see how well you handle it.

Galaxy Quest

Mmm…Monte Cristo

Mathesar: We have enjoyed preparing many of your esoteric dishes. Your Monte Cristo sandwich is a current favorite among the adventurous.

Mars Attacks

Grandma Florence Norris: They blew up Congress! Ha ha ha ha!

Something, Something, Something, Dark Side (and all the rest of the Family Guy/Star Wars parodies)

Luke/Chris: Echo-3 to Echo-7. Han old buddy, are you there?
Han/Peter: Luke, we talked about this. I changed my codename.
Luke/Chris: Oh, right. Echo-3 to Carlos Spiceyweener.
Han/Peter: Carlos Spiceyweener here.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday – Lilith’s Return (WIP)

Oh God, there was so much pain in that other place.
Later, she would think that last thought was what had summoned the golden light.  It crept in so gradually that she was not aware of it at first.  Who knew how long the Other had waited for those words, patiently biding its time?  But time was meaningless here.  Seconds felt like eons, and eternity waned within seconds.

Friday, June 1, 2012

First Five Friday – Lilith’s Return (WIP)

Scene 1

Oblivion.  Nowhere.  Perfect, sublime nothingness.
            This was the place she went between struggles.  Where pain disappeared and she could huddle with her disappointment and anger