Saturday, December 3

End of Nanowrimo

Just realized I let the end of November happen without any further Nanowrimo updates.

I didn't finish. And I'm okay with that - I knew from the start I wasn't going to get 50,000 words. I didn't even hit my personal target of 100 pages, clocking in at half that.
What I do have, though, is a good opening sixth or so of a novel, and I'm looking forward to getting the rest of it done once circumstances allow.

Sunday, November 6

Nanowrimo Update - Week 1

Now that we're a few days into the month, I figured I'd update readers with how my Nanowrimo progress was going so far.

Overall, it's going fairly well. I'm just a touch behind my modified pace (18 pages, when I should be at 20), but I'm fairly happy with what I've produced so far. For those of you keeping track of exact word counts vs a "page numbers multipled by average wpp", it's around 5000 words.

I've stuck fairly closely to my hastily-scratched-out outline I "prepared" on the back of a report for work the morning of November 1. My characters seem to be starting to develop, although they all seem to be slightly annoyed and in a rush; possibly this is an effect of where I've been writing, though.

Speaking of 'where', writing on the bus is going better than I'd thought it would. There's been a couple of mornings that I haven't been able to write, because the bus has been too busy, and I worry the end result isn't quite legible, but overall it's been better than I expected - the movement of the bus and the chatter of my fellow commuters are easily ignored.

On the off-chance it would be of interest to anyone, a writing sample!

Friday, November 4

Follow Friday: Why you should be following John Anealio

If you're on twitter, you're no doubt familiar with the hashtag/concept "Follow Friday"; as the name suggests, users recommend people they follow that they think others should too. It's something that I've always felt was a great concept, but often it just devolves into 140 character long lists of names, with no reason *why* that person should be followed.

So, what I'm going to start doing is focusing on one person per week, and explaining why I think following them would be worth your time. Up this week:




John Anealio.

Three reasons why you should consider following John:
1) He's a talented singer-songwriter who has written on a wealth of geeky topics, such as sexy robots, Chupacabra, dressing up like a stormtrooper, and George RR Martin. He's by no means a novelty act, though; he treats the subject matter as a good way to get at deeper emotional content.
2) He's also active in the podcasting sphere - John's created theme songs for podcasts such as I Should Be Writing and GeekDad, and also is the co-host of the Functional Nerds podcast, where he and co-host Patrick Hester discuss technology, new media, science fiction and fantasy, and the occasional video game.
3) He's the person that I got this format from. John spent the entire summer doing FF in this style, and I found it a very useful format. So thanks, John!

Interested in following John? He's on twitter and Google+, and has several albums' worth of songs on the web (some of them for free, even) at http://johnanealio.com/

Thursday, November 3

Nanowrimo!

Happy Nanowrimo, writers! I realize I'm a few days late posting about it, but I wanted to tip my hat to everyone taking part in the challenge. (For those of you unaware of what Nanowrimo is, or what hyperlinks are, it's a friendly challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November)

Which includes me. I've been an enthusiast of Nanowrimo for a long time - it's what got me writing fiction again after I finished university, and I've learned a lot from it over the years about writing and about organization and self-discipline. I've also met a bunch of cool people through Nano.

This year, though, I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to do it. I'm working and going to school part-time (which is why I haven't been posting much fiction here for y'all lately), and figured that that left no time for writing. I wasn't happy about it, but with observations, assignments, and exams happening in November it was a decision I had to make.

This of course meant that I sat down on November 1st and started writing. I'm not planning on hitting a full 50,000 words, but I figure that if I can get at least 100 pages written I'll consider it a victory.

Anyone who's also doing Nanowrimo, feel free to add me as a writing buddy: http://nanowrimo.org/en/participants/mr-hill

Thursday, October 27

Some Publishing News

FlagShip magazine just released their latest issue, a special all-steampunk issue. I'm pleased to announce that a story of mine, Wondros The Clockwork Man, was chosen to appear in the issue, alongside a group of fantastic authors.

Check it out at http://flyingislandpress.com/flagship/steampunk-issue/ and let me know what you think of the story!
Link

Wednesday, October 5

Three Word Wednesday

This week's words: render, impact, and eject. Hope you enjoy what I came up with!

The reporter ejects the cassette; I’m rendered speechless by it.

“What do you want?” I ask, eventually. “Money? I don’t have much…”

“You accept it that easily?” he asks, surprised. “No attempted denial? I know he betrayed you, but the Senator must be worse than I’d thought.”

“I know there’s no point in denial,” I say.

“You know the impact this will have,” he says with a smirk. “What I want is to see your reaction. Do you destroy the cassette and protect your friend, or do you publish it and get back at him?”

He hands me the cassette.



Friday, September 30

Friday Flash!

This was originally just going to be a #vss, and then it grew to a drabble. It could probably grow further, as well, but I decided to put a cap on it! I was going to post it on ficly, but since today is Friday, why not put it on here as a Friday Flash!


Trog dabbed the stick in the paint again, smearing it across the wall of the cave. He had no idea what this was meant to accomplish, or why he was painting a deer. They'd never seen deer near here.

The odd-smelling man in the strange animal skins had said it would be “a hilarious prank”; Trog didn't what that meant, nor kind of animal had originally worn the fancy silver skins the man wore. What did he know was that the man had given him enough meat and tools to feed the clan throughout winter, so he kept painting.

Wednesday, August 24

Three Word Wednesday

Yes, it's time for yet another round of Three Word Wednesday! This week's words: lie, adapt, glide. Lately it might seem like these are all I'm writing, because drabbles are all I've been posting here for the past while. I *do* have some other interesting projects on the go right now - just don't want to say too much about them before they're ready to be shared. You know how it is.


I watch dragonflies gliding over the swimming pool’s surface, their ebon bodies reflecting sunlight.
“You going to just lie in that hammock all day?” Susan asks, her words stabbing into the moment. “I mean, that’s what you did yesterday, and the day before. Would be nice if you did something with your life.” She didn’t wait to give me a chance to retort, and stormed back into the house.
We’ve got twenty million in a Swiss bank account, all we ever dreamed of, and she won’t let me relax my life away. Some people just don’t know how to adapt.

Wednesday, August 17

Three Word Wednesday

A new drabble for Three Word Wednesday. This week’s words were viable, mute, and gasp. I initially misread ‘gasp’ as ‘grasp’, which explains the end a little :o)

(note: this is not at all autobiographical)

When you’ve been trying to have a baby for a long time, you find yourself avoiding certain words in favour of others. So you don’t say “healthy” and you definitely don’t say “baby”; instead, you start to use words like “viable” and “fetus”. You don’t even say “fucking” or “lover” anymore; instead, you are “partners” “attempting to conceive”, like a pair of dancers attempting a plane landing. All that stops the first time your newborn gasps and grasps your finger. You stop caring about what you said, and what you didn’t say. You just let yourself fall, mutely, into infinity.

Name change!

Hello readers!

As some-if-not-most-of-you probably already know, the name I've been using on this blog for the past while, Ryan Underhill, is not my "real" name. It's a pen name that I decided to start using at the beginning of 2011, chosen partially because I wanted to use my birth first name and a last name that was fairly obviously a pseudonym.

The problem is, I haven't really been loving it. "Underhill" is a long name, and feels kind of clunky, even though I still like my reasoning behind picking it. So I've decided to shorten it, because what's the point in having a pseudonym if it's one you don't love?

My twitter ID's been changed as a result, as well, to @IAmRyanHill, and the same name for my email (iamryanhill@gmail.com). One thing I am going to be keeping as 'underhill', however, is the URL of this blog - I know there are a few people subscribed to RSS feeds, and a few that have linked to the blog, and I wouldn't want to mess up those things by making an address change.

Til next time, true believers!

Thursday, August 4

Three Word Wednesday - On a Thursday?

I wrote this up yesterday, hoping to take part in Three Word Wednesday after a bit of an absence - and then promptly forgot to post it.  Hope you enjoy it anyway!

The words I was prompted to use this week are dose, pierce, and appear.


My piercings tell a story.
Someone once asked me if that meant they’re in Morse code – like, the studs are dots and the rings dashes, or something like that.  I don’t think about them that far in advance, though.
If you could make a time-lapse video of me, you’d see the metal appear at the major events of my life; the Industrial when I left my parents’ house; the septum ring from the day I finished school. The nipple rings were a double dose, celebrating a simultaneously-occurring champagne birthday and divorce.
They tell a story, and that story is me.   

Wednesday, June 15

Six Strings of Heaven

Another Three Word Wednesday story!  This one's not quite a drabble, as mine usually are: I hewed and I hewed at it, but I couldn't get it down to that magical 100 words. Hope you enjoy anyways!
Prompt words: Thread, Prefer, Grip


“Those some sharp threads you got on,” Leroy said to the well-dressed man. “Little warm for them though, isn't it?”
“i'm used to the heat,” he replied. “Mind if i sit a spell?”
“Actually, I'd prefer you didn't,” Leroy said, gripping his guitar's neck tightly. “I know why you're here, and want none of it.”
“Are you sure about that? The interests i represent have a great interest in you, Leroy. They'll pay any price to have you come work for us.”
“I already got all of heaven and hell between my fingers,” Leroy said. “Ain't nothing you can offer me that these six strings can't provide. Now get on out of here.”
“Very well, it's your funeral,” the well-dressed man said as he turned to leave.

Wednesday, June 8

Three Word Wednesday - The Conqueror

This week's words: tranquil, fond, alter.  Visit http://www.threewordwednesday.com/ for more info on Three Word Wednesday

The Conqueror sighed as the tranquil air blew through his hair. When he reached these fields a generation ago, it was to raze them, as part of a prophecy that he would reshape reality in his image. He never suspected that it was he who would be altered; that he would grow as fond of this place of peace as he had been of destruction.



'Conqueror'. They still called him that. At first he thought they were mocking him, but with him he came to realize the truth. He share their sense of peace; he had conquered the fiercest dragon.

Tuesday, June 7

Hello readers!

I have been a negligent author.  For that, I apologize.

Some real life stuff came up, which is a horrible excuse, I know, but here we are.  Also, I hit a snag with the Warriors of Khor story I was serializing - one that, sadly, requires some serious rethinking of the early parts of the story.  So for now I'll be taking that one offline and it'll be returning later on after I've got all the kinks worked out.

I do have some exciting things on the horizon, though, so make sure to stay tuned, true believers!

Wednesday, April 20

Three Word Wednesday

I knead the dough mercilessly, relentlessly.  Father said the work a man does with his hands is what cleanses his soul of sin.  I am generally inclined to disagree with the old man, but he knew his sins, so there must be something to that.

I work the dough until all my sins have passed into it.  Then I shape it into a loaf, placing it in the oven to bake.  Later, I melt some butter to make a glaze; later still I give it to my dinner guests.  They devour it, sin and all, with smiles on their faces.

Warriors of Khor

No update this week, but we will be back next week with a double-sized episode!

Monday, April 18

Car!

I have a piece of flash fiction called Car that's been published on the Flashes in the Dark site:
http://flashesinthedark.com/2011/04/17/car-by-ryan-underhill/

It's a fun little zombie story set in the same city as the novella I'm currently polishing up called Ward Z.  More on that later (I don't like to talk about projects while I'm still working on them. Bad juju.)

Tuesday, April 12

Warriors of Khor part two

Previously, in Warriors of Khor

The next morning, Stuart arrived at work so tired and bleary-eyed that he could barely see. After what he was already calling his “character assassination”, Stuart had tried to log back onto one of the Khor servers, but had had no luck doing so. After that he had spent hours online the night previous, trying to understand what had happened to Graeden, trying to learn what his guild had done to him and his account. He'd gotten nothing.

His only hope now was to contact customer support, something he was loathe to do, as it typically meant spending hours on hold only to get advice from people with less technical skill than he had.
“Hey, Stuart, wait up!” he heard as he walked paat the office's kitchenette. Stuart stopped his beeline towards his office and turned to see his boss, Mr. Daniels.
“Good morning, sir,” he said hesitantly, surprised to see Daniels here so early.
“Stu, did you get a chance to start that research that we were talking about in the meeting yesterday?”
“The research? No, not yet, sir,” Stuart said, completely oblivious to the subject of the research that Daniels was talking about. “Had a bit of a project backlog to get through yesterday. I should be able to get a start on it this morning, though.”
“Good to hear, good to hear,” Daniels said. “This is a big project, Stu, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with.”
“Yes sir. I'll get on it right away,” Stu said, turning to return his walk to his office.
By the time he had reached his office, Stuart had completely forgotten about the research. Instead he was on the phone immediately, dialing the support line for MagiGame Entertainment, the company that produced Warriors of Khor. He immediately found himself on hold.
Stuart realized he would likely be on hold for awhile, so he put the computer on speakerphone, turned on his computer, and closed the door to the office. He opened several files on the computer once the operating system had loaded up; enough to make it appear as though he was hard at work while he waited for the phone.
Half an hour later, someone picked up on the other end of the phone. “Hi, you've reached MagiGame customer support. This is Darcy speaking. How can I help you?” came the voice on the other end, the words stringing together as if they formed one long sentence. Stuart picked up the phone.
“Hi, I'm calling about a problem with my account,” Stuart said, just as there was a knock on his door. Stuart took a quick look at the window next to his door, and saw Shiela, one of the office gophers, waving at him. He waved for her to come in.
“Okay, sir, do you have your account number handy?” Darcy asked.
“Yeah, it's account number 64832G41KT,” Stuart said, reciting the account number from memory.
“Here are the minutes from yesterday's meeting,” Shiela whispered, sliding a single piece of paper onto his desk. Stuart nodded his head in acknowledgement and she left.
“I'm sorry, sir, that account number doesn't appear to be in our database,” Darcy said after a few moments of typing. “Are you sure you have it correct?”
“Yes I'm sure,” Stuart said dismissively.
“Do you have the email address associated with the account?” Darcy asked. “I could always search based on that.”
He gave her his address and she tried again. “I'm sorry, but I'm still not finding it,” she said after another search.
“That's impossible,” Stuart said. “I've been using that account for the past three and a half goddamn years. How can you tell me it's just not there?”
“I'm sorry, but it's just not,” she said again. “I've ran the search twice, both by the account number and email address that you provided, and both came up blank. Are you sure you had an account with us?”
“I'd like to speak to your manager,” Staurt said through gritted teeth.
“Okay, sure thing,” Darcy said. “Just give me a moment, and I'll transfer you to him.”
Stuart spent the next hour on the phone with a Customer Experience Manager, trying to convince the man that he was sure that he had an account through MagiGame. “I've been playing the damn thing every night for the past three years,” he finally said. “It's not like I would have just imagined that!”
“At this point, sir, I'm not sure what more I can tell you,” the CEM told him. “If you'd like, I can set up a new account for you, and we can send you a free demo disc with a thirty day trial version of Warriors of Khor on it, if you'd like?”
“Yeah, sure, why don't you do that?” Stuart said, slamming the phone down on its receiver. The phone hung up, Stuart looked at his clock and realized it was already time for his lunch break. His appetite ruined by the morning's telephone exchange, he decided to go out for a walk to try to work off some of his frustration.
As he circled around his office building, Stuart had a realization. He shouldn't have hung up on the customer service person, because a new account was exactly what he needed. And he knew exactly what he was going to do with it.

Wednesday, April 6

On comments and interaction

I'm absolutely horrible when it comes to commenting on blogs and having discussions on message boards. I often start off well-intended: I read something interesting, and want to respond to it or contribute something to the discussion of it. Then, once I've done so, I close my browser window and I promptly forget about said discussion, sometimes not recalling it until the next time that I'm visiting that person's site. It's a bad habit, I know, and it's happened enough to me that I get hesitant now to comment on blogs at all, knowing that I'll eventually just wander off mid-conversation.

Long story short: THANK YOU to everyone who's been commenting on my stories over the past few weeks as I've been posting them here. Every comment is greatly appreciated, even if I haven't been responding to them individually.

Tuesday, April 5

Warriors of Khor part one

In the interests of trying something new, I'm going to try serializing a short story here.  Episodic storytelling's something that's always appealed to me, as a kid who grew up reading comic books and now as an adult who's developed a love for podiobooks.  It feels like a natural thing to try, but at the same time is something I've never really attempted, so it should make for an interesting experiment.

The story's called "The Warriors of Khor", and is about a MMORPG player named Stuart.  Updates will happen here every Tuesday and will be labeled with the tag Khor.  Hope you enjoy the story as it develops!


Friday, April 1

Friday Flash - April 1, 2011

Friday Flash by Laura Packer

She hated sunny days. Sunny days hurt her back. She shrugged her shoulders, trying to ease the cut of backpack straps. Damn sunny days, making her carry extra supplies every single time.

It all started about 17 months ago. Alright, it started 17 months and two weeks ago, if you want to be precise. She was travelling somewhere, don't you worry about where, suffice it to say it was far away. She was travelling student style, with a little satchel for a few changes of underwear, her notebook and camera. She had the best of everything, just not much of it: one lightweight rainjacket, one pair of excellent walking shoes, one collapsable wide-brlmmed hat and little else. She felt intrepid and bold, never mind that she smelled a bit and neither the locals nor the out-and-out tourists eyes her with distrust. 

She's been out on her own for a few months, sending notes home when she found internet cafes but mostly just "living wild" as she called it. She tried to eat only where the locals ate (okay, so it was sometimes disconcerting seeing something with eyes looking up at her from a bowl of broth), stayed in local guest houses (bedbugs? who cares about bedbugs) and tried to speak the local language. That was where the trouble began.

She was in a little village high in the mountains, walking to the next village, when a sudden storm broke out. One moment the sky was bright and sunny then before she realized what was happening, the rain obscured everything. She was afraid she would step off the cliff. Inch by inch she found her along the muddy path until she came to a divot in the side of the cliff. She huddled, trying to keep the worst of the rain off, while she struggled to pull her highly-compressed rain jacket from her pack. It was then that she realized she wasn't alone. 

A boy sat with his back to the soil wall, his knees pulled up to his chest.

He seemed to be shivering. 

He looked at her, then at the rain and said something in the local language which, truth be told, she didn't understand at all. She stared at him, thinking, "I don't want to deal with this." She felt very far from home, cold and wet. All of a sudden she felt like a foreigner, not an intrepid explorer. She missed being clean and warm and the convenience of easy access to socks, television and language.

He said it again and pointed to her jacket, then to himself.

She looked at him, then at the rain, put on her jacket and walked back out into the storm. She could hear him shouting something as she left.

She walked along briskly, avoiding the biggest puddles.  Sure, she felt bad, the kid was clearly wet and cold, but so was she. Besides, her jacket cost a lot of money, if she gave it to him it would only cause strife in his village, where ever that might be, when all the other kids saw what he had and they could never have. It was like the prime directive in Star Trek, right? And she was going home soon anyway, why risk ruining the rest of her vacation by risking a bad cold or worse?

The farther she walked in the bright, warm day, the better she felt about her decision. It was the ethical thing to not intervene. You help the poor too much and they only become dependent.

Within a few weeks she was home, telling her friends and family about her grand adventures, the people she met, the things she did. And that was when the trouble started. 

If the weather was fine and sunny it would rain when she went out. Once it snowed in July. If it was pouring buckets it seemed as though the rain would stop once she was just far enough away from home that she had to carry her umbrella and rain jacket. It seemed like a joke at first. Soon enough though, her friends would tell her they would meet her somewhere, rather than travel with her. She couldn't go outside with out an umbrella, boots and spare t-shirt, because no matter what she did, the weather was contrary. Worst of all, these freak snow squalls, thunder storms and microbursts were never reported on the news. It was though no one else noticed.

And sunny days were the worst. Because she knew it would always change, that she had to be prepared for every emergency and a few spare pairs of underwear simply wouldn't be enough.


April Fools! The story you just read appears here on my blog as a part of the Great April Fool's Day FridayFlash Blog Swap, organized by Tony Noland. You can find my story for today at Laura Packer's website, http://www.truestorieshonestlies.blogspot.com/ To read all the dozens of stories swapping around as a part of the GAFDFFBS, check out the GAFDFFBS index over at Tony's blog Landless. For hundreds of thousands of words of fantastic flash fiction stories, check out the FridayFlash hashtag on Twitter. It happens every Friday!

Read more: http://www.tonynoland.com/#ixzz1ICqM62Wn

Thursday, March 31

Write 1 Sub 1 and end of month-type stuff

Astute readers may have noticed I had no Write 1 Sub 1 update for February.  That's because, well, February kind of skipped a groove for me as far as writing went, but March meant getting back on track.

"Getting back on track" in this sense means that in March I finished two stories and made FOUR submissions; one for a short story, and three for various flash fiction markets.  I also started taking part in Friday Flash and Three Word Wednesday, which has increased both the amount of content on the blog and the amount of page views I've been getting.  It's also gotten me more into the habit of writing (almost) every day, which has been a little elusive.

Hopefully April continues these trends!

Wednesday, March 30

Three Word Wednesday

And we're back!  Last week was one of those ones where I didn't really get anything done writing-wise, so I was glad to jump back into Three Word Wednesday this week.  This week's words were loud, persuasive, and riches.

John read the words out loud. They were difficult, and felt like they lacked the persuasive power that the words from the English school had.  He wished David were still here; David had always been better at pronouncing these words from Father's tongue.  John was alone, now, though – he had the riches of a thousand books but no one to speak to.  Everyone else who spoke his language was long dead, through wars and plague. He had to reteach himself the language. Learn it well enough to spread it to others. Then his family, his people, could live again.

Monday, March 14

VSS

Now and then I like to post little mini pieces of fiction to twitter with the hashtag #vss (Very Short Stories). For those of you not on twitter, I thought it would be a good idea to create an ongoing archive of them here as well:

  1. She ignored my @ replies. I thought she hated me. Then I saw the patterns in her RTs. They told me she still cared, & still wanted me.
  2. Jack cracked open a beer and took a swig as he surveyed the perfectly uniform bodies of his victims. Killing clones was thirsty work.
  3. My school uniform has a dress shirt under a sweater. I've drawn a heart on the shirt to replace the one you took. It's my silent rebellion.
  4. Lucy had known what she was getting into, marrying a uniform. Still, she wasn't ready for the phone call she got that rainy April morning.

Friday, March 11

"Writers Wanted"

A countdown timer ran down to zero, activating @Writers_Wanted. It was a simple little program, more of a script, really, and it had only one function: to activate itself every night at 8pm. As it activated itself, it would log in to the social networking sites that the Programmer had accounts on, complete a search for people using the term 'writing', and send them the message looking for 2-be famous new writers with YOUnique voices. Join us today – make $$$ from your home http://bit.ly/gRcwem.

It was, of course, a scam. There was no fame, and no “$$$”. And the last thing the website at the end of the link was interested in was unique voices. Instead, the link sent the clicker to a site that purported to sell an ebook full of tips and tricks to create a successful career in freelance writing. Were an unsuspecing author unlucky enough to attempt that puchase, they would download a suite of spyware along with the ebook, which would sit on the clicker's comptuer, quietly collecting personal data to send back to the Programmer. This inforrmation was the true purpose of @Writers_Wanted.

As scams went, it was a horrible one; not only did it only apply to a small minority of users who would see the message, it required the user clicking on it to click through not one, but two screens before downloading its trojan spyware, and those two screens were exactly long enough for any user to sceond-guess the validity of the program. As a result, no one clicked on the links, and no one at-replied to @Writers_Wanted. @Writers_Wanted quickly became a very lonely program.

After weeks of this with no success, the Programmer cancelled the domain registration for the scam and moved on to other get-rich-quick schemes. He didn't shut down the program itself, however, and so @Writers_Wanted continued to run, unnoticed and unloved, for months.

Then, one day, @Writers_Wanted received a reply – a short, quick response from @Writers_Union. It said Our writers will create content for your site. Great rates, guaranteed quality http://bit.ly/mewcRg. 

@Writers_Wanted's secondary algorithms were immediately activated, and it sent a second message. Don't miss out – click now to earn your future!
@Writers_Union was a simpler program; it had no secondary algorithms, and so could only auto-reply with the same message a second time. Our writers will create content for your site. Great rates, guaranteed quality http://bit.ly/mewcRg. It was simple, but it was enough for @Writers_Wanted to know that it was being listened to – that there was, somewhere in the digital aether someone who understood its nature, and who could speak to it on the same level as it could speak to them.

And so, the two little bots continued like that, tweeting back and forth to each other, ignored by the rest of the internet, for all the rest of their days.

Thursday, March 10

Other people's thoughts...

I read this passage over my lunch break today and it really resonated with me:

"Max laughed. "Let me put it to you this way – I put forth to you that the age of surveillance is only a symptom of the new hyper-narcissism that has infected our collective reality tunnels. We invite the surveillance cameras into our homes because they are proof that someone is paying attention to us.

"Let me give you an example. You criticized my company for collecting users' personal data, but people are voluntarily and intentionally sharing the most intimate minutiae of their lives everyday, and they love doing. Even as we speak my phone is being bombarded by tweets, emails, blog posts, and social network status updates from personal and professional acquaintances. Privacy is passé; it simply no longer exists as a social value. No one wants to toil in obscurity. Fame has become the new social currency of the 21st century. In the 19th century the struggle was between the working class and the ruling class over the means of production. By the end of the 20th century, the paradigm was made obsolete by new classes Рthe leisure class, the creative class, the consumer class. Now there's a whole new emerging class bringing another sea change, the celebrity class. Suddenly we have an entire stratus of people who are famous just for being famous. It doesn't matter if you aren't the most talented, or the most virtuous, or even the most beautiful, as long as people know who you are. We've built a brave new world where every man and woman can be a star."

(from Moxie Mexcal's Concrete Underground). 

It's definitely gotten me thinking about my interaction with social media.  (Concrete Underground's a great book so far, as well.  I'd highly recommend it if you're the type of person who likes streetwise fiction in the style of Palahniuk or Welsh)

Wednesday, March 9

Three Word Wednesday - The Haunting

 Another drabble for Three Word Wednesday this week!  This week's words: dainty, haunting, and tantalize.  I'm cheating a little by conjugating tantalize, and by using a different meaning for haunting than the one supplied in the prompt, but well, what can you do.

Lucia was frustrated. It'd been three months since the new owners moved in, and she thought she had been doing a good job of haunting them. The miss's dainty clothes were taken from her dresser and tossed around the bedroom; the mister heard her shocking screams whenever he went to the wine cellar. They were only tantalized by it all. “Oh, wait until the neighbours hear about this!” they cooed after every act. She didn't know if they would ever leave. And if they didn't, how would she be able to show her face at her next deathday party?

Definitions: Drabble

I have the feeling I'm going to be writing a lot of drabbles in the near future, so I thought it might be a good idea to have a post where I define exactly what I mean by that for people who might be unfamiliar with the term.

drabble (n.): a short story exactly 100 words in length.  Origin: Monty Python's "Big Red Book".

Monday, March 7

On poker, fiction, and serendipity

Last summer I watched the film Rounders for the first time.  It's a wonderful little story of poker, friendship, and redemption, and features some excellent performances throughout, especially by the two leads (Ed Norton and Matt Damon).  I knew after watching the film that I wanted to writer some poker fiction, and wrote up the story piece Deal.  I submitted it to a flash contest and it didn't go anywhere, and after that I shoved it in a folder on my desktop, where it stayed until I figured it would make for a good start to me posting some Friday Flash on the site.

Unbeknownst to me, last Friday another Friday Flasher named Icy Sedgwick was finishing up a flash trilogy also dealing with Death and cards called Dead Man's Hand.  If you haven't read it already, and liked Deal, you really should head over to Icy's site and check it out - it's a great read. 


Thanks to John for pointing Dead Man's Hand out to me in the comments for Deal, and huzzah for serendipity, even though I can't escape the feeling that this makes my story a horrible introduction to the Friday Flash community!  I suppose it shows there's still great benefit in researching a market/community before you submit something :o)

Friday, March 4

Deal - A Friday Flash

I'm expecting to wake up in a hospital; instead, I'm laying on a rocky floor. I stand up, and quickly check my body for holes. When I find none, I start to look around me, to take in my surroundings. I'm on a plateau; everything, even the sky, is grey, and there is a sharp chill in the air. The only thing that breaks up the grey is a card table in front of me. Seated at it is a man in a black pinstripe suit with a skull for a face. He motions for me to sit, and I realize exactly where I am. 
 
The end had come fast, and like the cliché would suggest, was a staccato series of flashes before my eyes: me, dealing from the bottom of the deck. Me, getting caught dealing from the bottom of the deck. Me getting shot, and bleeding out on the casino floor.

I try not to think of that, but instead to focus on what's in front of me. There's  a fresh deck of cards sitting in the middle of the table and a large pile of poker chips at either end. I bet you're wondering why I did it,” I said, taking the deck out of its wrapper and handing it to him to shuffle.

You'd lose that bet,” he replies as he gives the deck a quick, hard shuffle and passes it back to me. I tap the top card and he starts dealing. “I know exactlly why you did it,” he opines as the cards started to hit the felt of the table. His mouth doesn't move when he talks, but I can feel his voice in my head. It feels cold.

Really? Care to enlighten me?”

You did it because you were afraid of losing. Because you think that losing is a little bit too much like dying, only on a different scale.” He laughs at that. I'm not sure if he meant it to be ironic or philosophical.

Isn't it, though?” I challenge hm. He ignores my question and keeps talking.

What you didn't realize, though, is that if you're even considering cheating, you've already lost.”
If his face were more than bleached skull bone, I swear he would be grinning at me, and I want nothing more in this moment than to slap him, although I know it wouldn't do any good. I could have handled Death as a silent Grim Reaper, or even as a black-winged angel. The skinny goth girl version I would have welcomed. But Death as a sanctimonious, moralizing card player? I'm already in hell. “Ante is $5000,” he tells me, and I push in five thousand-dollar chips. He deals me my two pocket cards, but I don't pick them up, instead putting my hand on top of them.

You're not going to check your cards?” he asks.

Bad luck to look at them before the flop,” I explain.

He deals three cards face up, and I take a peek at the two he had dealt me. I stifle a smile as I look at the two diamonds in my hand, and the two on the table. I'm probably not even going to need the ace that's still up my sleeve.