The Martian Chronicles for NaNoReMo

Life sometimes throws you curve balls.

I wrote a blog post awhile back asking my friends and readers to help me pick a book to read for National Novel Reading Month coming up in February.

I had four books to choose from: Don Quixote, by Cervantes; The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells; The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame and David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens.

I’d nearly made up my mind (with the help of the advice given by those who read the original post) to go with Wells. Then I found a book I’d lost awhile back. It seems to me that when I find a book after it’s been lost for some time, it’s like that book is begging to be read.

Who am I to argue with fate? Especially since the author recently passed away and I’ve been wanting to get into some of his works that I haven’t read, including this one.

So that settles it.

For my NaNoReM0 2013 read, I’m going to the Red Planet with Mr. Bradbury.

Look for my tweets and Facebook statuses as I go along.

Happy reading, everyone!

bradbury2

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Quellseek Songs: Emery, Pt. 2 (Lovers In A Dangerous Time)

Bona Emery Atarem – Image by Dmitriy Kapitonenko

I’m getting ready to write Bona Emery’s second POV chapter, tentatively titled “Desean.”

She’s made the journey in safety to her brother’s keep at Blackened Falls, and is greeted by him in his study. Bon Pelees has a new Quell with him, a man called Aleros. Aleros was sent to replace Nissen, who recently died for Pelees, but Aleros has his face hidden behind a hood. Remembering her own ordeal with hooded knights, Emery becomes suspicious. Bon Pelees tries his best to ease his sister into what will surely be a shock for her: Desean never confided in her his true nature—the fact that he was Quellmade—a clone produced by the Quell Order.

Once more, Emery is forced to relive the nightmare of her captivity and Desean’s death at the hands of the five hooded and unidentified knights.  And once more, she refuses to answer the question, even when her brother asks her: “How did you manage to escape?

But that’s a question to be answered inside the pages of Quellseek, my friends.

As Emery continues to brood over Desean’s death, this song comes to my mind. It’s a song for star-crossed lovers like Emery and Desean.

The Best of Friday Flash 2 Launch Day and My ABC’s

Launch day for Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2 is here.

This is the second anthology of works by authors that post and tweet links to their stories via the #FridayFlash hash-tag on Twitter. Friday Flash is an awesome Twitter community of writers who work together to help each other grow creatively. We read each others stories and comment on them. You don’t just get feedback on your stories through Friday Flash, though, you build relationships with other authors. And in this gig, you need to build relationships.

When I started posting stories on Friday Flash just a little over two years ago, I didn’t know a soul. Now, I have a ton of friends from FF on Twitter and many of us have also connected on Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, and even Linked-In. So, if you’re reading this and you are a new writer looking for a) a venue to get feedback on your work; and b) want to virtually meet some of the most kick-ass writers on the net, head over to Twitter and get started.  The Friday Flash web page has more information.

Now for the good stuff…the book! I just missed out on getting into the first volume of Best of Friday Flash, so when it came time for the second one to collect submissions, I had no doubt which story I wanted to send in to Jon and the gang.

The ABC’s of the Apocalypse was originally published in an anthology for Static Movement called Cosmic Catastrophes. I had sent the rough draft to my friend, writer and editor Jim Bronyaur, who sent it back with the words “I F**KING LOVE THIS!” written in black marker at the top. Now, Jim’s a horror guy. For him to say this about a science fiction piece of mine…well, I felt pretty damn good about it. So I sent it to Static, and they published it in Cosmic Catastrophes. After it was published, I posted it for the Friday Flash crowd. It was one of my best loved stories from Friday Flash and garnered the most positive comments of any Friday Flash story I ever posted.

The concept of the story is not a new one. I borrowed the style from a creepy fantasy story I read and liked by Tim Pratt, called Annabelle’s AlphabetAs for the theme, I was inspired by Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, except that Amy in ABC’s has the opposite problem that Charlie Gordon had.

I am happy that BOFF2 liked ABC’s and included it in this anthology alongside some of the best flash stories around.

I will be getting an extra copy of BOFF2 delivered to me in a few days and will be giving it away during a contest soon.

Stay tuned for more information…and you can order a copy here, if you don’t want to wait for my lottery: Order BOFF2 .

Books and Reading: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Image from Amazon

At the beginning of the year I set myself a reading goal of 75 books for 2012 through the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Ambitious of me, you might think, and you could be right…75 books is quite a lot of reading for one year (approximately 1.44 books per week if you do the math). At first, I was ahead by two books…then, I fell behind. 😦 Currently, I’m 3 books behind, but should be able to add a book this week when I finish Game of Thrones. 

I don’t know if I’ll be able to read all 75 books, but I’m having a blast. And I’ve decided that when I read a really good book that might not be getting the kind of attention as, say, the Hunger Games trilogy, I ought to blog about it.

The first thing I love about Ransom Rigg’s young adult book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is that it’s hard to pigeonhole. I’ll call it speculative fiction. If you wanted me to elaborate on that, I’d have to say that it’s a huge helping of fantasy, with some gothic horror/scare factor and a little science fiction/time travel sprinkled in for good measure. It also has some moments that are downright hilarious.

The second thing I love about it: the story begins in Florida. West coast Florida…my neck of the woods.

The third thing I love about this book is the way it incorporates the weird and creepy photographs (most of which are real photographs or are based on real photographs with not too many Photoshop enhancements) scattered between its pages. Riggs tells his story around the photographs. It gives the story a very unique flavor.

The story’s protagonist, Jacob, travels to a creepy island off the coast of Wales to discover the meaning of his grandfather’s life and mysterious death: what the authorities have officially deemed a mauling from a wild animal in the Florida scrub. But deep down Jacob knows better…because he saw the creature that murdered his grandfather.

While on the island, Jacob encounters the peculiar children of his grandfather’s stories. Jacob thought the stories his grandfather told him were just fairy tales. But he finds them on the island. The same children…and they haven’t aged a day from when his grandfather knew them.

The books is listed as young adult, but adults should also enjoy this quirky, gothic novel. I count it as one of the most fun reads I’ve had in awhile. And Tim Burton loves it so much he is reportedly going to make it his next film project. 

To whet your appetite for more, I’ve included the link to the YouTube book trailer, which was done by the author himself.

Breathing Fire…The Year So Far

Just before New Year’s Day, I wrote a bold as brass blog post. I laid claim to the dragon year 2012 and made plans to burn, burn, burn, with a passion and fire like never before.

I have to say after three months, 2012 has not let me down.

It’s difficult being both a scholar and a writer. Sometimes I’m not sure where one part of my dual life ends and the other begins, as the two seem intricately interwoven and dependent upon each other to make me a whole being. To teach my passion for literature and writing, I work relentlessly toward a Master’s degree, perhaps even a PhD. I write on the side for pleasure and profit when I can, and I write as part of my school work.

Sometimes the two join and become one thing, like when I won the “Best Fiction Short Story” award at the Phi Theta Kappa Florida Regional Convention in Jacksonville a few weeks ago. Hearing my name and story called was like nothing I’ve ever felt. It was one of the most euphoric things I’ve ever experienced. I want more of it.

Also, on the scholarly side of things, I was nominated by my school for the All-USA Academic Team. I get to go to Orlando in a few weeks and accept a medallion and certificate that’s the reward for the years of hard work I’ve put in to become a top student. I didn’t make the All-USA final team, but the benefits of being named to an All-State team are being made clear to me. I was getting emails and letters from interested transfer schools before, but now there are an increasing number of schools wanting me to consider them for my baccalaureate degree. Good things, I think, will continue to happen to me as I inch ever closer to my dream of being a professor.

Now for the writing side of my life.

What writer on earth doesn’t want their stories to come to life on screen?

I was notified about a week ago that my short story Sophie Solitaire: Confessions of an End-Time Girl was chosen as one of ten stories in Literary Mix Tapes Nothing But Flowers anthology to be included in a movie project.

Finally, late last year I posted a previously published short story to the Friday Flash community, which I’ve been involved in for about two years now, although not as regularly as I’d like these days. I then submitted the story for possible inclusion in the second Friday Flash anthology: The Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2.

I just received an email from Jon Strother at Friday Flash this morning to let me know that my story, The ABC’s of the Apocalypse, will be included in BOFF2! I’m wildly excited about seeing this story in print again. It is one of the best stories I’ve written, and it received a lot of great comments when it was posted for Friday Flash.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to what the remainder of 2012 brings!

My award for PTK Florida Region Best Short Story, Fiction.

Lucky Seven Meme Post

I was tagged on Facebook by Janet Lingel Aldrich for the Lucky Seven post. Here are the rules of the meme, according to Janet’s post:

1. Go to page 77 in your current manuscript
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next seven lines as they are – no cheating
4. Tag 7 other authors (Done on Facebook) (UPDATE: Tried to do on Facebook but they blocked me and wouldn’t let me post it. Sigh.) Anyway, I pick Jim Bronyaur, Donald Conrad, John Wiswell, Tomara Armstrong, Rebecca Besser, Rebecca Dobbie and Daniel Ritter (aka Reginald Golding). Will tweet you all the meme-goodness! Participation not required, but what the hell, eh?

My contribution is from my 2010 NaNoWriMo (a winner at 50k words, but not yet finished) The Mages of Morrow:

“Aye,” Ragan agreed. “We can try it. I’d like to see if it works, too. I’ve seen plenty of those old photon objects, like my knife…but I ‘aint never seen one that works. No one would mess with you if you had a weapon like that. Of course, a good blast on the highest setting would take care of our obstinate dragon, too.”

Tom grinned. “Ragan…if you power up this machine and it charges my photon packs, I’ll stick around…for a few days at least…to see if that dragon turns up. Then we’ll show it what for!”

NaNoReMo: Reviews of Frankenstein & The Book of Dragons

Get your paws on a good book!

I participated in this NaNoReMo (National Novel Reading Month) thing where a bunch of us writers read some classic books for the month of January, a great idea that writer John Wiswell came up with.

I decided to read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Book of Dragons by Edith Nesbit. Both books were free downloads from Amazon’s Kindle store, and I have the Kindle app on my iPhone. It charges on the stand by my bed at night, and I have the habit of reading from it before going to sleep.

Frankenstein: I’ve seen the different movie versions, from Boris Karloff to Gene Wilder’s comic performance, but I’d never read the book. I was very surprised by it. It’s told through the vehicle of letter-writing. A man exploring the Arctic by ship, Robert Walton, begins writing letters to his sister home in England, telling her the tale of the strange man they encounter, emaciated and ill on the ice: Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

Walton relates Frankenstein’s tale of horror to his sister: The doctor became fascinated with a new branch of science involving the animation of flesh. He created a hideous creature. This is the part of the story that’s familiar to us.

But what surprised me was that unlike the films, the monster is intelligent. He begins his life with an aesthetic outlook that the cruelty of mankind (and especially the rejection of his creator) obliterates within him until he becomes increasingly bitter and violent. He tries to reason with Frankenstein, asks him to create another being, an Eve, if you will. Frankenstein’s refusal and the subsequent losses he endures at the hands of the monster, his resolution to pursue his creature in order to end it’s existence makes the story an exciting read.

I’ll end my summation of it with this: Either you will be put off by the format and disparity between the book the films and hate it; or you will enjoy comparing and contrasting it to the films. The latter is the experience I had.

E. Nesbit 1858-1924

The Book of Dragons: Edith Nesbit was an English author and poet who wrote over 60 books for children. I wanted to read this book because I’ve been reading (and writing) a lot about dragons lately and I’d heard about Nesbit’s dragon stories for children.

The Book of Dragons was compiled and published in 1900. There are a total of eight short stories. Here are my favorites, with a brief summary:

The first story, The Book of Beasts, tells of a young king who finds a magical book of creatures. When he opens the book to a picture of any creature, it escapes from the book. Naturally, the boy king Lionel accidentally lets loose a dragon on his kingdom.

Uncle James, or The Purple Stranger is a charming tale of a place called Rotundia where elephants are the size of puppies and rabbits the size of elephants. And there is a purple dragon, but he’s not friendly like you’d think a purple dragon ought to be.

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools. I loved this story. It has a princess locked in a tower, under a curse, and guarded by a dragon. Sound familiar? Well, Nigel is no Shrek, but he may have what it takes to rescue the princess from the dragon. As someone who appreciates (but doesn’t enjoy) mathematical problem solving, I had to applaud Nigel’s brainpower.

There’s other great dragons in this book, including an ice dragon (The Ice Dragon, or Do as You Are Told) and an awesome dragon made of iron (The Dragon Tamers).

I really enjoyed these imaginative dragon tales. I think they’re great stories, for children of all ages. 🙂