Friday, July 6, 2012

Flash Fiction--Romance, I think.

I call this romance. I don’t really write romance, but I submitted this for a contest about a year ago. It didn’t win, but I punched it up, and here it is. Enjoy!

The theme of the contest was the impact of a missing presence.

“Come on. I’ll make it fun.”
She looked into his eyes. She wanted to, but she couldn’t. Oh, Jason. “I just can’t."
“Why? We want each other. What’s the problem?"
She struggled to hold back tears. Jason’s absence weighed on her. “I just can’t.”
He put an arm around her waist. “You know you want to.” He kissed her.
It was true. She wanted to but couldn't forget Jason. She resisted but didn’t stop him. Jason. God, she missed Jason.
“Just relax.” He pulled her against him. “I’ll make it fun." His breath tickled her ear.
She started to respond but stopped. He wasn’t Jason. She couldn’t.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Dogcatflower Named Fluffy: Selecting and Using Creatures for your Fiction

Give us something to stare at.

As a writer of epic fantasy and urban fantasy, I’ve stumbled across my fair share when it comes to reading the stuff. One thing I have consistently noticed is that few books in these genres are populated by only species found on our Earth. Whether it’s humans with magic or completely different creatures, the other worlds are crawling with “them.” And, why shouldn’t they be? It’s fantasy after all.

The trick is then this. Where do they come from, and why do they make sense? Answers: they came from somewhere and they make sense because the authors make them do so. Annoyed at me yet? I speak the truth. Whether they came from folk lore, genetic splicing of previously used creatures, or the author’s imagination—all non-Earth creatures originated somewhere. Similarly, they work because whoever invented them sat down and worked out a way for them to exist in the world of the book. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. I will attest to this. My half dryad took a while to solidify.

So, what do you—the aspiring fantasy author—do? Well, after the obvious steps (selecting a setting, the general makeup of the world, and the plot—in case of species specific plot issues) you decide on species for said book. If you grew up on Dungeons and Dragons like I did, you have books of monsters and creatures at your disposal. If you didn’t, all hope is not lost. A Google search for any creature will bring up a wealth of options for background on said creature.

Don’t know the name of the creature you want or don’t even know enough creatures to search by name? Wikipedia offers a comprehensive A-Z List of Legendary Creatures. Click on the letter you want and then click on the creature to be brought to a detailed article about that creature. See, that wasn’t so bad. Heck, even if you are a creatures junky, a search of what’s out there can’t hurt.

Now the tricky part—did you find almost the creature you’re looking for? Well, as almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, this is where the genetic splicing takes place. How many modern titles feature creatures that are nothing like or just slightly different from the ones in legends? Make your creature into what you want, but be careful. Do you reading and see how far the limits of a creature can be pushed before you should rename it. For example—a vampire who doesn’t suck the life of humans in some way would no longer be a vampire. However, if you wanted to have your vampire suck out happiness or, in Jim Butcher’s “The Drezden Files” case, feed off of human lust—that’s okay. In my personal opinion, though, avoid vampires as your main creature. They seem to be getting a bit overdone.

Now, you’ve selected your creature(s). Alter them as you wish and then plug them into your world. If they don’t work, remake them or the world. If that still doesn’t work, try a new creature, but DO NOT GIVE UP!!! There’s a creature out there for you. (That sounds like a bad dating commercial.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

"May the odds..."

Do I really need to finish that quotation?

Better late than never again, I saw “The Hunger Games” in theatres. The first book in the series was required reading for the past residency at Seton Hill—you know you want my grad school.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book a lot, and, surprisingly, I enjoyed the movie about as much. I say surprisingly because we’ve all had that experience where you read a book and then the movie comes out. You go to the movies, and you sit patiently through 2-3 hours of something that only vaguely resembles the book. More than that, it vaguely resembles the book in the worst way possible. It really pis…*snarl.* Anyway, it’s a dissatisfying experience. I didn’t get that with “Hunger Games.”

Back tracking—Katniss is an excellent heroin. She’s strong, tough, dependable, brave (even if she doesn’t think she is), and fun. Despite the horrific conditions under which she grew up, Catniss manages to have a pretty good outlook on life. I’m not sure I’d be able to duplicate the feat, but I digress.

Moving on—team selection time. No, this is not the beginnings of a fight to the death. Well…it could be, but…never mind. Anyway, Gale or Peeta? My response—I’m less concerned with that. I’m on team Katniss. Although, I have to admit that Peeta is a pretty good guy. So is Gale, but you don’t see a ton of him in book/movie 1, so this would be considered a spoiler, and I will stop now. Read the second two books. (“This message was brought to you by the letter H and the number 12.”)

Plot—my hat off to Suzanne Collins for presenting her readers and audience with a gripping, interesting story. Given some of the other…stuff…that’s been published lately, that’s refreshing. ***SPOILER ALERT*** The berries—just saying.

Impact—“Hunger Games” (while about a fictional, post-apocalyptic Earth), touches on a lot of current issues. The frivolous concerns of the people of the capital are reminiscent of the American Entertainment industry. Who married who should not be more important than feeding people, but there are people who would disagree with me. As much as I hate to say it, even the televised death-match has its place in our current lives. War Is often the topic of news broadcasts, and with modern technology, they can show the actual war.

That aside, I’d love to have some of the technology and animals in Collins’ post-apocalyptic world. Hovercrafts are just awesome. I think the showers would be fun to play with. I want a dress that lights on fire!!!! (Sorry, I’m back.) I even have to admit that the arena itself is pretty neat, though I wouldn’t want to go there. Can I have a pet Mockingjay? (Pardon my ADD moment.)

This brings me to my only two issues with “The Hunger Games.”  One, the baker’s son is named Peeta—like the bread. That wasn’t really an issue. It was more of a *smacks forehead and groans but in a fond way* moment. Two, Ms. Collins, why, in all that’s good, with all the modern advances in the world of “The Hunger Games” was there not a less painful way to remove hair from the human body?

See you out of the box,

P.S. Neat moment. I was spellchecking this, and “catnips” came up as a suggestion for “Katniss.”