Month: September 2014

Weekly Writing Prompt: Newsworthy

Fifty years from this moment, the world that you live in and the events that transpire around you will be the stuff of history textbooks, biographies, and even fiction. Why wait fifty years to start reading up on it? You will have a lot of catching up to do, and by then the action will have passed you by.

Falling behind the times is especially detrimental to writers and artists, whose success or failure is inextricably entangled with the personalities, cultures, and events of the times in which they live and work.



Saturday Story Wars: Cute Diplomacy

It looked remarkably as if she were pulling a gun out from under her backpack. Tom started in surprise and took hold of her wrist, giving Chad a nervous smile that he hoped would soothe the unsuspecting bully. Chad gave him a disgusted sneer.

“Hiding behind your new girlfriend, wimp?” Chad spat contemptuously.

“What are you doing?” she hissed at Tom.

“Just be cool,” Tom hissed back.

“But I have encountered an enemy!” she snapped.


Saturday Story Wars: Dead Wood

Horse stumbled as the ground beneath her shook violently. Around her, the trees swayed and thrashed, their trunks groaning pitifully as they were whipped back and forth until, no longer able to take the strain, they toppled like the one that had crushed her downed fighter jet. Horse’s feet hammered the leaf litter as she dodged the hail of falling limbs.

One particularly large tree crashed to the ground only meters in front of her. Without checking her speed, Horse ran at the fallen tree; grabbing hold of a gnarled limb and hoisting herself upward then planting her feet and scrambling on top of the trunk. The tree was long dead, however, and very rotten. No sooner had Horse’s weight come to rest on it than the trunk caved in beneath her and she fell into the giant, hollow tree.


Weekly Writing Prompt: Innovation by Necessity

In science fiction and fantasy, there are many unpleasant truths about human life that we sometimes like to sweep under the rug. Humans have to eat, sleep, exercise, breath and lots of other inconvenient things that might seem like obstacles to the development of a story. Obstacles, however, are really opportunities in disguise, and in this week’s writing prompt, we will turn human necessities into creative avenues for the enterprising author.


Saturday Story Wars: Crossroads

It was early afternoon when the young soldier reached the crossroads. The day was clear and cold, the sun shining in the frosty air and sparkling on snowy mountain peaks. His once elaborate uniform no longer kept the heat of his body, and the makeshift cloak he had fashioned for himself on his journey was full of so many holes that it hardly warmed him.

Half a day’s walk behind him lay the ruins of Tirano, a lifeless husk firebombed into oblivion to keep the infection at bay. Ahead of him rose the Bernina Pass, which would take him high above the burning plains of Italy and deep into the imposing Swiss Alps. These mountains towered in his mind both angelic and demonic. The infection had spread to the high valleys and crags of the Alps only with great difficulty. He would be relatively safe in there.

The Alps, however, posed their own terrible dangers. His errand, one upon which the fate of the world now rested, would lead him to Val Poschiavo and St. Moritz, then on to Brig, following the train tracks toward Luxembourg until he finally reached his destination, the secure city of Geneve. Nearly one hundred tunnels and more then two hundred bridges lay between St. Moritz and Brig alone. The prospect daunted the soldier, sending a barb of icy fear through his heart, making him stop to catch his breath.

Brig was still a long way ahead in his future. He was not even in the Alps yet. Passo del Bernina was his most immediate concern, the start of this next most treacherous leg of his journey. He had failed his sister, his wife, and perhaps his country, but while his infant daughter still lived in Geneve, he would not fail her and he would not fail his species. For his daughter, the human race must survive. For the human race, he must survive the Alps.

Still, chilling fear remained in his heart and he stood for a long time staring down at his decision. He had at last reached the train tracks that would lead him into those grand, terrible mountains.

Such were the soldier’s crossroads. Tirano was lifeless, and thus free of infection. He could return there and hide from his mission, from failure and death, until he succumbed to whatever horrors lay in that decimated wreck of a city. Or he could follow the train tracks and face the fate that the Alps had in store for him.

The moment had come for him to decide. To flee or to go onward; these were now his only choices.


Millennials: Selfish Quitters?

John Weirick calls millennials “poor poster children for proven work and leadership.” Anyone identified as a millennial, says Weirick in an article for Catalyst, “should just admit the stereotypes are true for good reason.”

In case you have never heard the term, a millennial is a person between the ages of 20 – 35. It is the broad, moist, drippy brush painted on the face of anyone born after the year 1980, and it is increasingly greeted with groans from readers in our age group.

Where “millennial” appears in the title of an article, something deeply insulting is sure to follow. John Weirick’s contribution to Catalyst is certainly no exception.

A blogger for NewSpring Church in South Carolina, Weirick describes those of us born after 1979 of “avoiding responsibility and hard work, and saving money [via] the fine art of ‘mooching’.”

This, he claims, is our response to the post 2007-08 economy. Millennials, says Weirick, have “experienced the same difficult economic recession the same as all the rest.”

Does Weirick’s claim stand up?

Saturday Story Wars: “The King of Gore”

Airman First Class Charlotte “Charlie Horse” Ripley pressed her gloved hand to the windscreen of the Accipiter as she looked at this surreal, new landscape. She took it in for a only a moment before turning hastily to her radio.

“Raptor Group,” she said urgently. “Come in, Raptor Group, this is Raptor Nova. Sarge, this is Charlie Horse, do you copy?”

The radio remained silent for a long moment, then crackled to life. “Raptor Group,” said an unfamiliar, grinding voice. “Come in, Raptor Group, this is Raptor Nova.”

Horse stared out of the cockpit, her breath coming in short, tight gasps as she listened to her own transmission repeated back to her in someone else’s voice. A chill ran up her spine, but not because of the eerie message.


Writing Resources: How To Find Names for Your Characters

One of the challenges consistently faced by writers is the task of naming characters. Coming up with the right name is no small endeavor, especially when just any name won’t do. The character’s identity is at stake, as well as their reception from your readers. So how do you find the perfect names for your characters?

“I can’t think of a name for him!” one of my friends told the members of our writing group early this week. It is a problem we see frequently in the group, and sometimes a difficult one to solve. “I’m so frustrated!” she said.

Her exasperation is certainly understandable. Trouble naming characters can be a headache and even a source of writers block. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this obstacle!


Saturday Story Wars: “Transformation”

“Wait!” said the girl, struggling to speak. “Wait… I… I just….” She screwed her eyes shut and tried to clench what was left of her fists, but her claws dug into the pads of her forepaws.

Any words that she might have been trying to speak were reduced to a low, bestial growl. She had not asked for this. She had not wanted this. Or had she? She made one last, despairing effort to speak, but another unearthly howl tore from her throat instead, and she dropped down on all fours panting.

“Hey you, do we know each other?” Her last words before transforming into the creature she had now become burned in the other girl’s mind. That smile, she had seemed so nice, so friendly, so unlike the animal howling and snarling behind her.

How could this have happened? She had guessed that the girl had been unwell; missing class, the unusual mark on her skin. She had never expected something like this, though, and she was deathly afraid. Panic filling her mind, she fled; her feet hammering the ground despite the feeling of weakness that filled her with each chilling howl.

Astrid lost her footing as she ran and tumbled hard, the side of her hip slamming into the ground. Winded, she struggled to get up, her body smarting with pain. From behind her came the sounds of pursuit. The creature, her former classmate, was coming for her. Astrid looked around desperately, searching for cover, seeking somewhere to hide.


Antinous Is Risen

“I don’t want to…” he began hesitantly, “you know… start anything.”

“You mean you don’t want to say something controversial.” said Dr. Mills. “That’s okay. Controversial is okay. This is human sexuality! It’s controversial stuff!”

“Right.” said James, looking around at the other students apprehensively. “To me, it just feels like they’re trying to force their lifestyle on us. I mean, okay, I understand that they’re not straight and that’s fine, whatever. But do they have to make such a big deal about it? I mean, I just think that’s private.”