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


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

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 

@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 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 pass̩; 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.