Vulnerable, yet Beautiful

He passed her crossing a busy intersection on his way home. Her arms clasping her sides, shielding herself from the night’s air. Her dark eyes peered from under the sweater’s hood when he mumbled, “Hello.”

She looked away and walked faster. Rude, but he understood. She was probably like him, retreating to her sanctuary after a day of dealing with the world.

He saw her again on the balcony across from his. She was sweaterless, but the frigid cold didn’t seem to bother her. She was simply watching the snowfall. Vulnerable to the icy wind around her, yet beautiful.


Photo by: Filip Gielda

Written for: Bikurgurl’s 100 Word Wednesday: Week 104, Bikurgurl

The Exile

In winters like this—where the wind was a silent enemy that blistered everything it touched—his tribe would hunker in the belly of the White Mountain. Families drawn close and circling small fires never expecting to lose each other.

At least that’s how he felt before the exile.

This dangerous train of thought faded as his silent enemy shook his makeshift home made from branches and thickets. His body, numbed from the cold, protected a waning fire.


Written for Rochelle Wisoff’s Friday Fictioneers 4 May 2018Rochelle Wisoff-Fields-Addicted to Purple (a belated entry)

Life Assignment

I stepped into a sterile glass box that whirled as it carried me into the computerized brain of the Ancient One. Red lights ran the length of my body, gathering data for the algorithm that would determine my life’s purpose or, as the Ancient called it, Life Assignment.

A disembodied voice told me this was the day I’d truly begin living my life, but what the machine considered living…wasn’t living at all.


Written for: Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 106, Only 100 Words

Continue reading “Life Assignment”

Shadows In the City of Light

In the City of Light, there was one
Whose warm, gentle luminance made her
The epitome of all that was good.

But then her admirers noticed she possessed
Something that no one in the City of Light
Should have: a shadow. A flaw.

No longer was she a symbol of purity,
But an object of disgust. So, her beloved
Admirers turned their backs on her.

As they walked away, she noticed dark voids
Trailing behind each of them that her light–
Now an object of disgust–couldn’t illuminate.

“Shadows,” she realized with some disbelief.
“Shadows as dark as mine.”


Written for: Patrick Jennings’ Shadow ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #125, Pix to Words

Rest

She lay rain-soaked on the cold pavement. Her eyes fixated on the gray clouds overhead as a paramedic pumped stale air into her lungs. She inhaled, but her lungs refused to contract.

I’m going to die, she thought. Yet, her body continued its futile fight for survival.

Then the blaring sirens, roaring rain, screaming paramedic, and her laboring breaths dimmed as if someone had turned the volume down on her life.

It was just her and the paramedic in the rain, but she could feel another presence. A safe presence.

Something warm caressed her cheek. “Rest, child,” a voice whispered. “Rest.”


Written For: Bikurgurl’s 100 Word Wednesday (week 56)  Continue reading “Rest”

Book Review: Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Christopher Golden (Illustrated by Mike Mignola)

I can easily get “lost” in a store with a book section (woe to the soul that accompanies me to a book store or, worst, library). There you’ll find me gazing at book covers, reading enticing blurbs, and sampling the first pages (okay, first CHAPTER) of an interesting novel.

The aisle where I found Joe Golem and the Drowning City, written by Christopher Golden and illustrated by Mike Mignola, looked like the aftermath of a Black Friday sale. Books were pulled from their proper places and thrown on shelves where they didn’t belong (I found Fifty Shades of Gray in the middle grade section). I unearthed Joe Golem and the Drowning City from a pile of books in the romance section and bought it.

I really intended to read it, but the spring semester started and…you know how that song and dance goes. I picked it up in June (or July) and finished it in three days!

It’s an amazing read filled with occultists, steampunk machinery, otherworldly gods, and dark illustrations to boot.

Synopsis

The inhabitants of the “Drowning City,” formally Lower Manhattan before the sea flooded the streets in 1925, do whatever they can to survive the city’s watery slums. Molly McHugh use to be just like them. She lived a life of fear and poverty until Orlov the Conjurer, a powerful magician hindered by age, pulled her from the streets and employed her as his assistant.

Things change when Orlov is abducted and his capturers try to kill Molly. She runs into the mysterious detective, Joe Golem, who promises to help save Orlov.

But neither are prepared for the world that lies ahead of them.

Blurb from Amazon:

In 1925, earthquakes and a rising sea level left Lower Manhattan submerged under more than thirty feet of water, so that its residents began to call it the Drowning City. Those unwilling to abandon their homes created a new life on streets turned to canals and in buildings whose first three stories were underwater. Fifty years have passed since then, and the Drowning City is full of scavengers and water rats, poor people trying to eke out an existence, and those too proud or stubborn to be defeated by circumstance.

 

Among them are fourteen-year-old Molly McHugh and her friend and employer, Felix Orlov. Once upon a time Orlov the Conjurer was a celebrated stage magician, but now he is an old man, a psychic medium, contacting the spirits of the departed for the grieving loved ones left behind. When a seance goes horribly wrong, Felix Orlov is abducted by strange men wearing gas masks and rubber suits, and Molly soon finds herself on the run.

 

Her flight will lead her into the company of a mysterious man, and his stalwart sidekick, Joe Golem, whose own past is a mystery to him, but who walks his own dreams as a man of stone and clay, brought to life for the sole purpose of hunting witches.

My Overall Thoughts

Since I respect those who haven’t read the book, spoiler text will be in GREEN from this point forward.

The bleak atmosphere of the Drowning City drew me in. Its inhabitants occupy the tops of skyscrapers and use makeshift bridges to get around. Beat-up boats transverse waterways that snake around abandoned buildings. To make matters worst, those who live in the city are essentially abandoned because no one is willing to help them rebuild.

There’s also a supernatural element with staeampunk undertones that makes the setting even more wild: Church (Joe’s partner) uses alchemy and a mechanical heart to prolong his life, Joe is an ancient stone golem meant to protect the world from witches, and Orlov is the son of an interdimensional god.

In my opinion, the interior format of the print book is amazing. It’s about the size of an adult coloring book with Mike Mignola’s shadow-heavy illustrations displayed in the margins. They aren’t prominent (there’s a few full page illustrations), but they’re detailed enough to pull you further into the story. You may be more familiar with Mignola’s work than you think, since he wrote and illustrated Hellboy (check out his work here).

The characters were also interesting; however, I didn’t like Molly very much. She wasn’t a bad character: she’s decisive and abrasive (definitely not a damsel in distress). The only problem is that she’s a normal character amongst extraordinary ones (Joe is an ancient golem, Orlov is a magician, and Church is basically a cyborg).

Even the antagonist was oddly charming. He has this jolly santa clause vibe…right up to the moment when he starts explaining his evil plan to open a up a parallel dimension that’ll throw the world into eternal damnation.

Things I loved!

The illustrations! Beautiful.

Joe’s gruff, stoic, attitude.

The scene where Joe saved Molly from the possessed tree that tried to eat her.

The part where Orlov finally becomes the freakish god he’s destined to be in the climax of the story. His metamorphoses causes tsunamis that ruin upper Manhattan (where the wealthy live) and a parallel dimension to bleed into our world. It’s a touching moment because Orlov is confused and doesn’t want to be this thing he’s becoming. At the same time, he has to leave to the parallel dimension or risk destroying the world Molly lives in. No matter which decision he chooses, Molly will be left alone (so sad).

Things I Tolerated.

I’m not kidding when I say this book was awesome. I also don’t finish books that I don’t like (and I finished this in three days!). With that said, there were a few places in the book that were a bit drawn out. The scene with Molly being chased by the gas man for example, could have been shorter.

The story’s climax was spectacular, but I was a bummed when Joe bailed at the end. When Molly asked where he was going, he simply told her he was going to hunt witches (keep in mind that Joe’s witch hunting days were over centuries ago…he just doesn’t remember). Molly didn’t want him to leave just as much as I didn’t, but he did anyway. Boo! I can’t say this is a bad thing, it’s actually good writing on Golden’s part. Makes me want to buy the sequel.

My Recommendations

If you’re someone who likes steampunk, supernatural thrillers (bordering on occult), or you’re a fan of the Hellboy series, then you may just like this one.

Links:

Christopher Golden’s Website

Mike Mignola’s Website

Keep These Things in Mind this NaNoWriMo

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NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow! Are you excited? Nervous? NaNoWriMo can be a fun experience, but also a stressful one. Don’t fear! Here are eight things to keep in mind during your noveling quest:

1. Reading is like Oil

This is a sure-fire way to keep your imagination rolling! Read your favorite author’s books and get sucked into their world. Some writers don’t agree with reading and writing at the same time because they feel that the author’s style may seep into their own. However, reading before writing isn’t a matter of imitating the craft of another writer, it’s about keeping your imagination on standby. Read for enjoyment!

2. Keep a Journal Handy

There’s nothing more frustrating than forgetting a perfect scenario, idea, or conflict that would’ve brought your novel to life. Unfortunately, ideas have a way of popping up when you aren’t near a pen or paper. You can eliminate this frustration by keeping an idea journal nearby. It may also be a good idea to keep a second journal around for freewriting to shake off the cobwebs before delving into your manuscript.

3. Have a Receptive Mindset

It’s a wise idea to be in a receptive mindset to cultivate ideas for both current and future manuscripts. Also, try to be open to new ideas that pop up during the drafting phase. Forcing your novel in these new directions could be just the thing your story needs.

4. Close Out Negativity

Negativity can appear from anywhere: from the lips of our loved ones, from our bosses, from our supervisors, from the world, or even from a complete stranger. However, the wellspring of negativity is strongest within us. Heck, writers have even given it a fancy name: the inner critic.

The critic is a major “fun sponge.”  It will find reasons to tell you why every idea you come up with is stupid. Not only that, but it will make you hesitate or doubt yourself. It’s your job to tell it “no.”

Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

-Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

Don’t get me wrong, the critic is a necessary force in editing but not with creating.

5. Claim Your Kingdom

When you sit down to write, make sure it’s at a time and place comfortable to you. If you’re a morning person and you love to feel the rays of the sun kiss your cheek when you write—write then! If you like the feel of the carpet under your toes and a nice cup of java in your hands—do it. If you like to write in the dark with the sound of your spouse snoring—have at it. Claim you spot and write like Kings/Queens.

6. Be a Time Thief!!

Always use any free time given to you to write your quota of words. Write during your half-hour breaks or as you wait for your kid in the school parking lot. If it seems like you don’t have time to write, try making a point of getting something written in the morning before starting your day. There’s always time… you just gotta seize it.

7. Follow the North Star

What got you into writing? Was it because you hoped you could make money? Become rich and famous? Was it for a loved one? You? Maybe you have something to say or prove?

Whatever it is, make sure it makes you feel like crap when you quit. Keep it in mind as you write your way through November and let it be your determination. Let it force you to the finish line and, when November is over, let it remind you that this is just the beginning.

8. Have Fun

Write what tickles your fancy and have devilish fun with it! (I don’t think I can explain that any simpler, do you? 🙂 )

Good luck out there, WriMos!

A New Tag…A Social Media Tag!!

About a month(?) or so ago, Kate Jane created this interesting Social Media Tag that I think will catch on (or have already caught on). It creatively uses a number of social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, as a frame for writers to talk about their current (or past) WIP. I’m going to use Burwood Murder, a short story, for this tag. 🙂

Here’s how it works:

The Rules:

Copy the questions below and answer them. Then, tag five people to do the tag and notify them; make sure to leave a comment including your post’s URL for the person who tagged you, so that they can go read your post!

The Questions:

  1. Twitter: Describe your plot in 140 characters or less.
  2. Facebook: With the parents/grandparents flooding this site, who is your oldest character?
  3. Instagram: What does one of your characters look like? #selfie (find the closest picture you can!)
  4. WordPress: Designing your theme is the funnest part, so how would/did you design your book cover?
  5. Tumblr: Naming your blog is so difficult! What did you name your book?
  6. Spring.me: Get your weirdest questions answered. Ask your main character one weird question, and have that character answer.
  7. Pandora/Spotify: What kind of music are you playing whilst writing? If you don’t listen to music, what do you think your main character would listen to?
  8. Myspace: All good things must come to an end! What is one book idea that you were really into, but lost interest in?

My Answers:

1. Twitter: Describe your Plot in 140 characters or less.

He was chasing down a murder story…until he became one of the victims.

2. Facebook: With the parents/grandparents flooding this site, who is your oldest character?

There are a lot of older people in this story, but the oldest is Walter who runs a junkyard.

3. Instagram: What does one of your characters look like? #selfie (find the closest that you can):

Let me tell you something: You’ll be surprised of the type of pictures you can find browsing the Internet. (*shudders*)

Anyway, if anyone could look like my MC, Drew, I think it would be this guy:

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4. WordPress: Designing your theme is the funnest part, so how would you design your book cover?

I think if I could make a book cover for Burwood it would have a murder object, like a hammer, smashing something off screen (or off-cover I should say) with blood forming the title.

Gnarly, right? I thought so to. I don’t think its very original though, lol!

5. Tumblr: Naming your blog is so difficult! What did you name your book?

To be honest with you, I never settle on a particular title. I usually just name my drafts after a symbol/idea that came to mind when I was drafting/outlining the story. The “symbol/idea” for Burwood is murder in a small town.

6. Spring.me: Get your weirdest questions answered. Ask your main character one weird question, and have that character answer.

ME: Have you ever wished you could fly?

Mysterious Murderer: I think this would be a different story if I could do that.

7. Pandora/Spotify: What kind of music are you playing whilst writing? If you don’t listen to music, what do you think your main character would listen to?

I didn’t listen to anything while I wrote this, but Drew may listen to heavy metal or techno.

8. Myspace: All good things must come to an end! What is one book idea that you were really into, but lost interest in?

I tried to pen a romance novel a few years back…but the thrill quickly dissipated and I lost interest. Heck, I can’t even remember what it was about! I guess it’s germinating somewhere in my unconscious…somewhere

Tag, You’re It:

  1. Luther Siler
  2. Miska Jenkins
  3. Taylor Grace
  4. Nirvana
  5. You want to try? Knock yourself out.