Something to Remember…

one moment of joy

One moment of joy can be like a shield against the world and all the hardships and adversity that seem all too common these days. That moment can sooth the soul and replenish the heart if we let it.

In the end it is our choice if we let it. Do we let go of the anger and hatred and negativity? Or do we cling to them and cloud our hearts so that we cannot see that single moment that could offer us a safe harbor?

The world may be harsh.

But we choose how we respond and what we keep in our hearts.

Last 5 Blood Spatter PNGs

Here are the last five transparent PNG blood spatter design bits. Please see this page for usage details. I hope these help people make great things.

 

 

 

The Art of Cover Art

There are some issues writer’s need to understand about artwork they use to make their book covers. Just because a site says the artwork is royalty free doesn’t mean it is. People put images they find onto sites and say it is free to use but they don’t own the image so, while you might think you have something free it also might come back to bite you in the butt if you don’t have permissions from the creator or company that owns the copyright. Even if you think you are free and clear it can still result with you owing money to people you never knew existed.

A lot of sites offer images for purchase and you might think you are free and clear with those as well. Fact is you have unlimited digital distribution with most of those purchases but limited physical printed versions for sale. Many have a limit of 1500 or 15000 physical printed copies before you have to pay for an expanded license from the owner. This can end up being problematic if you don’t know about that little clause and the owner comes back and sues you for copyright violation after you surpass the limited use mark.

Most limited use contracts have a clause that allows you to use the image(s) purchased in composition of digital artwork. This is the sweet spot for writers. If you get an image, clip out the subject, add it to a digital background and modify it to be part of a larger piece (i.e. a cover design) so that the original piece comprises no more than 20% or so of the whole or that you have modified by 5 steps of digital manipulation, you have an original piece of artwork that you own the rights too.

Look into the copyright license of any image you use. Read the fine print and make sure you know what you can and can’t do with it. If you just work off faith that someone on some website knows if the image is free, you may end up paying much, much more than you would have getting a custom design done to start off with. Even some of the book cover service sites just use bought limited use images. Make sure to ask for the full copyright use agreement. You want to sell a gazillion books? Make sure something small like cover art is not going to cost you big time down the road.

Random Writing Thingies

writing tips

Just a few writing articles I’ve come across recently that I liked

http://thoughtcatalog.com/cody-delistraty/2013/09/21-harsh-but-eye-opening-writing-tips-from-great-authors/

http://writetodone.com/10-best-creative-writing-exercises/

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/5-writing-tips-to-creating-a-page-turner

http://www.languageisavirus.com/articles/articles.php?subaction=showcomments&id=1161976686&archive=&start_from=&ucat=&#.V1xWMDGTWUl

visual inspirations

Some visually stimulating things. I especially like the one about the buildings . . . makes me wish I was writing some kind of future dystopian fiction because these would be perfect settings. The other is some art I just really liked. Art helps me write . . .it’s like fuel for thoughts.

http://designyoutrust.com/2016/05/soviet-brutalist-architecture-photographed-by-frederic-chaubin

http://designyoutrust.com/2016/05/wonderfully-weird-paintings-by-piotr-jablonski/

 

Flash Fiction Challenge: Must Contain A Map

This week’s flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig’s Blog was Flash Fiction Challenge: Must Contain A Map. So I chose a little bit of a different mapping technique. Hope you like it.

quantum entanglement

A Map

“This is your last chance Mr. Carter. You can, if you wish to avoid undo discomfort, tell us what we want to know or we can . . .“ the interrogator let the words drift off in veiled threat. “It really is completely up to you.” He walked around behind Carter and stood out of sight using a standard interrogation technique to disorient the subject and make them feel vulnerable.

“Or what? You’ll torture me?” Carter asked defiantly.

The interrogator laughed. “Oh my, you do have a flair for the dramatic.” His voice wafted in from behind Carter. “We don’t do that anymore.”

Carter set his jaw, mind games. Interrogators always fell back to mind games but he was not going to play. He stayed quiet.

“You see a person, any person, no matter how well trained will eventually break under torture. This is true and proven any number of times in any number of ways. Unfortunately, they do not always tell the truth or the whole truth. They will tell you whatever you want to hear so you will stop the pain. That is what we call confounding confessionals. They may confess but the confession may be a lie and it will throw a bit of a wrench in the information machinery.” The interrogator explained very calmly.

“So what then? Are you going to bore me into submission? Are you going to babble about technique and results until, finally, I tell you anything just to shut you up?” Carter scoffed.

“Oh no, sir. That would not do at all.” The interrogator told him, walking back into view holding a very large syringe filled with a bright blue liquid. “That would not do at all.” When the interrogator smiled, Carter felt a chill run down his spine. It was not so much the smile as the complete lack of any emotions in the man’s eyes.

“Then. . .” Carter started to ask but was unable to finish the query.

“Then . . .” the interrogator held the syringe out to him, “this.” The smile again, the same dead eyed smile.

“And that is?” Carter asked, voice not a whisper but with far less bravado than before.

“A map . . .or rather I guess this would be a cartographer.” He paused to consider the verbiage. “Either way, it is the key to you, Mr. Carter.” For emphasis he flicked the syringe with a finger. “This is a special kind of thing you see. This blue gunk, stop me if I am getting too technical, is a completely harmless sludge of amino acids and saline solution. The thing is though and you’ll want to pay attention to this part because it gets good here, those amino acids are encased in tiny little bubbles which are negatively charged. That is important because that means we can get positively charged protons to stick to them until the bubble breaks.”

Carter was at a loss. He had no idea what the man was talking about.

“I know, I know, you are wondering what the fuck I am on about, I can see that in your eyes. So here’s the thing, those protons are not just protons. We didn’t just go down to the store and buy some generic protons, oh no Mr. Carter. These are special protons.” The interrogator sneered. “They are very clingy kind. As a matter of fact they are so clingy they have become entangled with other protons on a quantum level. Do you know what that means?” the interrogator asked.

Carter shook his head; the tech babble was all Greek to him.

“The long and short of it is this, Mr. Carter. I stick you with this and shoot this gunk into your veins. This gunk then makes its way to your head because we put a nice positively charged tinfoil hat on you and then it whizzes around doing nothing until we start to talk.” The interrogator began to smile again and Carter was afraid. Those dead eyes lit up with a dark glee.

“Fuck you.” Carter spat at him.

“Then as you start to talk or not talk or try and stay unthinking, the protons these little guys are entangled with read every neuron firing in your head. Even the ones firing to keep you from saying what you don’t want to say. That is then imprinted on a blank . . . a cloned brain that has no impressions at all. It is a perfectly new brain in a clone body still in an embryotic sack that will record everything in your brain. Every thought, every memory will be slowly, methodically transferred, recorded and imprinted until we make a duplicate you. We will just play music and images for you and we will talk to you and your brain will eventually give us a map of everything Mr. Carter. We will remap you, into it.”

As the interrogator finished Carter’s chair was rotated by some unseen mechanism under it until he was facing the back wall of the room. It was set with a window across most of it and through the window in a dimly lit room was a very large biological mass. It was hard to describe it as anything but a throbbing sack of something organic with tubes and wires feeding into it. It pulsed and occasionally jiggled and the tubes could be seen to be pushing liquid in and sucking it out. In all it was a monstrous sight.

“So you see Mr. Carter, we have no need to torture you at all. We will simply make a map of you and then spill the clone out. While it will not last more than a day or two, we can’t seem to keep them alive longer. It will be enough time for you to tell us everything we want to know.” The dead eyed smile again as the interrogator leaned in close. “So Mr. Carter, we have no need for torture at all.”

Flash Fiction Challenge: It Starts With A Bang

So this weeks Flash Fiction Challenge from Chuck Wendig’s Blog was to start a 1000 word story with the phrase Its started with a bang. In whatever way your mind took that phrase to mean.

This is my take on it

detective

It Started With a Bang

“It started with a bang,” Detective Flanders surmised, speaking less to the room of police and CSI techs around him than to himself.

“Duh,” his partner said, mocking him. “No shit? You mean the brains spattered on the wall and the shotgun in his mouth gave it away, huh?” Henderson said in feigned surprised tone. Then he shook his head; he hated being partners with this guy. Admittedly his clearance rate was sky high but this guy just rubbed him wrong, always so superior hoity-toity with his attitude.

Flanders looked up from his ponderings when he realized the ox was talking. Seeing he was apparently done he returned to his own thoughts, sure the ox had said nothing of value. It had started before this scene, before the shotgun. Flanders looked at the computer screen on the desk in front of him and saw that a word processing program was open and yet the document was blank. Odd, he thought. He reached out and took the mouse with a gloved hand, clicked ‘undo’ and a rambling paragraph re-appeared.

“That his note?” the ox asked. Flanders ignored him and read through the ramblings. It was not insanity but free writing of some sort. There was a theme to it that was just out of reach for Flanders to grasp. It seemed to be focused on humanity, how people treated each other, interactions, emotions, and resulting counter actions and reactions. It was almost making sense…

“Shit, this guy was looney toons. You read that shit? No wonder he blew his own head off with a shotgun. Fuckin crazy shit.” the ox said. He plodded away from the desk to stand by the door and act self-important to impress the uniformed officers. Flanders fought down the urge to call him on his blunt stupidity and looked again at the man in the chair; the look on the face was not what you’d expect from a suicide. It was a look of victory. A look that said he had accomplished something. . .

. . .Something. . .

Flanders started to see it. Just the frayed edges but it was coming more and more into focus. He had found something in those random thoughts. Something. . .

“It started with a bang,” Flanders announced to the room. “But no, my dear partner Les Bœuf, it was not a bang of a shotgun although I do see why your limited mind goes there first. Shouldn’t you be out in a field grazing or something?” Flanders said shooting him an annoyed look.

“This started with a bang within him; a very different kind of bang,” Flanders continued, ignoring whatever the ox was saying as he plodded back towards him.

“This man came upon an idea that was . . . singular,” Flanders said in amazement and envy. “A thought so unique and so powerful it was a singularity, a single point of infinite possibilities. A thought so pure and perfect that it had so much energy, this man could not contain it. His mind was only human after all and it could not hold all that this thought was,” Flanders continued, ignoring the blank bovine stares of the CSI team.

“This man did not kill himself. Evidence of this is the look on his face; he is victorious, ecstatic even. Add to that the fact that still, even after death his hands clutch the shotgun fiercely. This was not a man giving up but a man . . . transcending. This man was not depressed or forlorn; this man had something he had to do.” Flanders strode purposefully back to the opposite side of the room and turned, looking at the crime scene from a new perspective and he finally saw it. He finally knew he was 100% right.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” the ox said plodding towards him.

Flanders gave him a disdainful look of pity but pointed to the desk from their vantage point. “Look,” he said.

The ox turned and saw only what he had seen before. A man at a desk with a shotgun in his mouth, his brains splattered all over the wall behind him. He saw nothing else but what he expected to see. Flanders saw the lack of illumination in his partners eyes and in a rare moment of emotion, grabbed the partner’s chin, pointed his face at the wall again saying, “Look at what is there.”

Still the ox saw nothing and Flanders fought down the urge to pull out his gun and shoot him. Instead he explained, “Look at the spatter pattern.”

The look of discovery came over the ox’s face. He saw it. Right there before them the whole time but only now was it visible. “It looks like a fuckin…”

“…Raven.” Flanders finished for him. “A messenger to carry that thought from him to the world,” Flanders explained. “The singularity within the man’s head had caused a ‘big bang’ of thought so huge; he had to let it out. He had to share it. That is the bang that started it all. The shotgun was just the tool.”

The ox gritted his teeth, he hated when the prick was right.

“I dunno, it kind of looks like two elephants trunk wrestling,” one of the CSI techs said.

Both Flanders and the ox shot him a disgusted look at the same time.

“How exactly did you pass the psyche test to get into the academy?” the ox asked him in disgust.

“It’s not a damn Rorschach test!” Flanders snapped. No, it was a sign . . . A sign of something bigger that could not be contained within one person. He looked around and could almost feel it lingering still, the thought that had to be free. It would not be seen though. It would fly out across the world, finding places to nest and grow. One day, it would be ready and the world would be big enough to hear it.

 

 

Flash Fiction Challenge: Kids Say The Darnderniest Things

This week’s flash fiction challenge for Chuck Wendig’s blog was to write a story that used one or more quotes from his 5 year old son. The list of possible quotes was:

“Can I put goggles on the dog?”

“There is a three-headed flying werewolf in that tree.”

“I can cut down a thousand trees with my teeth.”

“I will defeat it with Kitten Magic.”

“I will slice you into beef!”

“I can still see without a face.”

“You guys don’t make good choices.”

“They said it was a legend, but I know it’s real.”

“I’m gonna ride you like a turkey.”

“I am queen of the goats.”

I was unable to choose one to work with so I went for broke and put them all in the story. . . exactly 1000 words total. I now need to go take some Xanax and meditate and have some quiet me time. . . .hope you enjoy it.

 

Thelma

“Docket number MCH001287539C, the state versus Thelma Addison.” The court clerk chimed in a monotone voice. “Preliminary mental competency hearing related to docket number MCV0023872623 and ordered by the criminal courts, Judge Lewis presiding.” He finished and seated himself and made busy shuffling papers.

Judge Mathis scowled. He hated when the criminal court judges pawned their looney toons off on him. Like they were too busy to handle their own dirty work and he had nothing but time on his docket listing. He furrowed his brow and looked over the documentation. Having given the reports a cursory glance he was ready to start.

“Ok Miss Addison,“ he began.

“Am not!” Shrieked the woman.

The judge looked up, confused. “You are not Mrs. Addison?”

“Yes, your honor, she is. . .” her defense counsel began but she cut him off.

“Am Not!” She shrieked again.

“Yes sir, she. . .” The lawyer tried to over talk her to shut her up.

“Am not! Liar! I am queen of the goats!” She shrieked.

The judge lowered his head in resignation. It was going to be ‘one of those’ days. “The court urges counsel to get control of their client and. . .” The judge was cut short.

“You can’t silence me by wearing a dress! I speak the truth. I speak the truth even when you are wiggling!” The woman shrieked and broke into a cackling laugh.

The judge, the clerk and the defense all bowed their head. Collectively they all, simultaneously and without prior communication, resigned themselves to their fate in dealing with this case.

“Miss Addison!” The judge said in a loud and stern tone. “You will be quiet long enough for these proceedings to be conducted or you will force me to make a summary judgement based on your inability to conduct yourself accordingly. Am I clear?” His eyes were burning with anger. He hated the looney toon cast off days. He wished he could send some back to the all-important Judge Lewis. Maybe he could criminalize cases of dogs crapping on the neighbors grass and send him those. Those would be good pay back.

“Yes your honor.” Thelma said in a small voice that was so calm, everyone was immediately set on edge and suspicious.

Taking advantage of the lucidity the judge continued. “Mrs. Addison, you had a recent run in with a . . .” He scanned the document for the name, “Officer Bowersox and according to the report, assaulted both the officer and his K9 unit Rex.”

The defense counsel tried to speak but Thelma was faster. “No, it is not correct. I acted only in self-defense and defense of the dog.”

The judge gritted his teeth.

“The dog was wincing and I was trying to protect its eyes from the sun and I asked the officer first.” She excitedly explained.

“Asked the officer what?” The judge asked grudgingly, scanning the document.

Thelma looked at her lawyer and he nodded and shrugged, not much else to do but let her go now.

“I asked the officer, ‘Sir, your dog is under cosmic solar attack. Can I put goggles on the dog?” Thelma explained. “And then the officer started yelling and there were colors in the air.” She further explained calmly as though what she was saying would clear up any misconceptions about the incident.

“Colors? Cosmic so. . . .ok.” The judge took a deep breath. “Let me get this straight, you were trying to protect the dog from the sun?” The judge asked, hating his job more and more with each question.

“Yes!” Thelma said with great enthusiasm, he got it! “Yes, someone had to do it!”

I hate my job, I hate my job. The judge chanted in his head. Then, the mantra having calmed him, continued out loud, “Don’t you think that perhaps the police officer could decide on what is best for. . .”

“You guys don’t make good choices.” Thelma snapped.

The judge paused and reflected on the choices in life that had brought him to this point and sighed. “I see.”

“They said it was legend, but I know it’s real!” She said excitedly.

“What is legend?” The judge asked, feeling his control of the court room slowly eroding and finding it hard to actually give a shit about it.

“The cosmic solar war beams!” Thelma shrieked.

“Ok, that’s it!” The judge finally lost all patience with the proceedings.

“There is a three-headed flying werewolf in that tree but I can cut down a thousand trees with my teeth! I told them that! I told them I would keep them safe if they just would stop melting!” Thelma shrieked and began to flail her hands around in wild gestures.

“Bailiff, remove the defendant, I hereby remand you to. . .”

“I will ride you like a turkey!” She shrieked over the judge’s voice.

“The county mental health facility for a 72 hour hold pending a full. . .”

“I will slice you like beef and make you into bacon!” She yelped as the bailiff took hold of her arms from behind.

“Psychiatric . . . bacon is pork. You can’t make bacon from slicing someone into bee. . . never mind. . .Evaluation and review.” The judge was cussing in his mind at being caught up with her ravings.

“Hide me away to keep me from seeing but ha! I can still see without a face! I see you. I will beat you with kitten magic! Meow!” She tried to make clawing motions towards the judge but the bailiff held her fast as a second bailiff struggled to put hand cuffs on her.

“Hold on!” The judge called out and the bailiffs stopped. Even Thelma ceased her struggling. “Upon further reflection, take her to Judge Lewis’ courtroom, I am finding her competent to stand trial. She’s all his from here. Let’s take fifteen..” The judge got up and walked from the courtroom without waiting for the clerk to announce anything.

Seeing is Imagining

wall full of post it notes

I outline in a weird way. I have come to this epiphany after reading how other people do it and realized, the way that works for me is. . . .odd. I am a visual creature. When I am writing I see in my mind things and then try and describe what I am seeing. By the time a story is done or, hopefully, my first novel, I have seen it as a movie in my head over and over, each time with slight little tweaks and bits changed. But I see it and that is how my brain works.

I’ve tried the note card method, the free writing method, the rigidly formatted method and none work for me.

What does work for me are sizes, colors, and spreading things out. I start with rather large (11 x 14) paper. On these pieces are the main big fu-fu parts of the story, the things that must happen to propel the story to its end. This is not only the standard turning points of a three act story but also things that I want to be major that make the story make sense to me. Once I have those written down I begin to pin them in order on the wall with thumb tacks.

Next I take 8.5 x 11 sheets, usually a different color than the big white sheets. These are scenes and they are written out in a random order. I need to know why the story goes from point A (the beginning) to point Z (the ending) and for me that is not a linear process. Each big paper is looked at and I replay the things around it in the movie in my mind. I look to see what details I need to make it happen and make it logical (even in a non-logic based urban fantasy setting). I spread out my thoughts from there, slowly weaving what has to have happened prior to each point to what should happen after another point.

The reason I do this bit is to get the scenes as I want them in my head. It is not an absolute for me. Often I pull the tacks out and stuff them in another place. I am also usually too lazy to respreads all the papers so I can tend to get clumps of papers all shoved into one small place. That is ok for me. That visual lets me know that particular area is important to the movie in my head.

Once I have the scenes, the steps from one fu-fu to the next, done I take out the post it notes. Yellow is for name ideas or object ideas. Purple is for emotional aspects I want to bring out. Green is for important information I need to have expressed by then. Blue is for back story that needs to be told by that point for it to be logical. Pink is for action bits. Orange is for questions I have not answered yet.

Now I stand back and look at the chaotic mess I have made all over the living room. Thing is though, it is not chaotic to me. I see the sizes, shapes, colors as the thoughts I am trying to organize. I keep adding post-it notes until I can’t think of anything more but I don’t put them away. If I do, I will have to grab them out again in no time, never fails.

Now I start to tell myself the story, usually out loud. I tell the story just like you’d describe a movie you saw to someone else and I challenge myself on the validity of the logic for everything that is not based in physics or just common sense. Anything that is a dramatic element of the story is challenged like a parent questioning a late child about where they’ve been. I try and poke holes in my head-movie. I try and draw conclusions to spoil the ending. I try and tear the story apart and sometimes it works. Sometimes I realize “That is just stupid” and then I grab up the post its and start to figure out a way to make it not stupid.

Sometimes at this point I rip up some of the 8.5×11 sheets and figure out a different set of steps to get from fu-fu to fu-fu. Sometimes I rearrange things so they make more sense and line up more with the movie. I add post-its as needed until I feel “Ok, this is what I am seeing and it makes sense”.

Then I leave it alone. I go off and do something else and leave the mess tacked to the wall. When I return I start over and think of the movie in my head. I see how it lines up to the mess on the walls and I try and find big holes in the whole thing. I do this for days and I keep adding little bits or moving things or taking things away until one day I look at the mess and I see it. I see the movie in my head.

Then I start writing it all down in an outline to make sure I don’t lose anything.

But it is all seeing it for me. It is all about seeing what I see in my mind in a mass of colored paper and thumb tacks and only then, when I have poked at it for a long time can I start to write it down and make sure I remember it. I have to see it first.

That’s how I outline.

Rounding the bend

fountain-pen

At 62,500 words in my first novel and finally getting into the 3rd act. Written several thousand new words a day for the past few days. . . and several thousand more ripped out and rewritten. . .so averaging over 3500 words a day. . .watched a humorous side-note kind of character become a major influence on the story. . .didn’t see that coming. . . accidentally discovered the critical flaw of the hero and how he overcomes it. . . . but I am finally rounding the bend to the climax of the book where the big fu fu action happens and the really cool thing is. . . .my biggest problem now is not being able to type as fast as I see it play out in my mind. The pieces all fit in place and make sense.

I have come to a terrifyingly profound epiphany. . . .

. . . were it not for spell checker I would be basically, functionally illiterate

How the heck did Twain or Poe write all of this by hand? Dear God . . .this is just the first draft!