Flash Fiction Challenge 3: Nightmare Rocket Fuel

Welcome to the Thunderdome Bookbrainers! Where many flash fiction challenge votes enter but only one leaves! As you may have noticed from my last blog it’s October and with it Halloween! For this flash fiction challenge I’ll be writing a horror story with your help.

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(Not you Radioactive Janice! Nobody wants your help! Go sit down!)

For this challenge I want you to comment either here on the blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter with a location. The winning location will be where the horror story takes place.

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Rule 1: You can only post ONE suggestion! Make it a good one!

Rule 2: The location must be a real place someone can physically go in real life.

Rule 3: As long as it meets the requirements of Rule 2, then you can pick ANYWHERE! You can be as generic as, “Spot in the Woods,”

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(Isn’t it boootiful?)

to as specific as, 43°51’59.4″N 89°38’00.8″W (that’s longitude and latitude for those that have forgotten). Just keep in mind that if you pick a specific place that that isn’t famous and I haven’t been to it, then I probably won’t pick it. For example, I’ve never been to Times Square in New York City, but it’s famous enough where I wouldn’t ignore it. But when you say the Pomegranate Inn in Portland Maine or, “My neighbor Mrs. Darhansoffthen’s house,” I’ll probably pass since I’ve never been to either of them.

Rule 4: You will have until 6:00pm central time on Friday October 20th to submit your vote for what you want me to write. Now you may be wondering why such a late time? That’s a fair question Mr. Know-it-all sitting around eating Halloween candy and watching reruns of 90’s TV! I’ll actually be leaving on a trip for work this Sunday morning to Washington D.C. and won’t be home again until late on October 20th THEN I have to turn around and go to a friend’s wedding on the 21st. So I’m giving you a little extra time to think of a good location and a heads up that next week’s blog will be a little short. SORRY!!!

Rule 5: I will pick the winner to write about based solely on what I find interesting or feel like in the moment, just like with the other challenges. If you think that’s unfair, I did decide to check in once more with the official Bookbrain referee and…

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Yep, yep, still fair!

I’ll announce the winner in next week’s blog!

The short story will be an original piece of fiction that I’ll write myself with only one week to write it.

The short story will be posted on the blog on October 27th.

Now get thinking and have a great week!

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What’s in a name…besides letters?

Welcome back Bookbrainers! This week I’m going to talk about a part of writing that has always given me difficulty…names.

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When I write I always try and take naming my characters and places seriously. I try and put as much effort into their names as I will my own children. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Whoa there Spencer! Calm your shit it’s just fictional characters,” and to that I nay. See for as a writer I have hopes that someone will read my work someday who isn’t forced to by bonds of love, friendship, family, or ropes. In this off chance that someone I don’t know will take an interest in my work, I want them to feel connected to it the same way I feel towards my favorite characters, and a large part of that is in a name.

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Names carry more than a lot of people realize, unless you’ve had kids and sat around picking names based on how hard they are to work into an insult. (Children are heartless cretins and I can’t wait to have one.) Names do more than just give you something to call someone, they help define how you think of them before you even know them.

Example! Let’s say I have a single female friend who I’m trying to set up on a blind date. I tell her that the guy I’m setting her up with is good looking, smart, funny, adventurous, ambitious, has a great job where he makes lots of money, and loves animals. At this point, she’s probably thinking, “Jackpot!” …then I tell her his name is Bob. You can practically hear the mental breaks screeching to a halt. At this point she will go from thinking this is a great idea, to I’m messing with her. Why? Because of the name Bob. When you picture a, “Bob,” you don’t see the man I described above. You instantly picture something like a man in his 40’s or 50’s, balding on the front and top of his head, a thick 5 O’clock shadow on his face, a not so smart look on his face, smelling faintly of stale beer and pretzels, and an unbuttoned bowling shirt with an old stained white undershirt underneath that barely covers his large stomach.

Why do we have these pictures in our head? Personally I’m not sure, probably something to do with our shared cultural experience leading our perception of reality to a skewed outcome…or you know…aliens?

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Either way there are many more examples in our culture. Which we can test right now! Below I’m going to list a series of names. When you read each name I want you to picture that person in your head. When you do this try VERY HARD not to think of someone you specifically know, just a face you would naturally associate with that name.

Ready?

Sally

Steve

Jason

Bambi

Andrew

Susan

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Alright! Hope you thought hard about those names! I’m going to do a quick rundown of what I think when I hear these names.

Sally – Short with brown hair with a round face. Always smiling and a very nice person.

Steve – Tall and skinny. He most likely has brown hair, patchy short facial hair, nice guy but a little odd, and good with computers.

Jason – An asshole.

Bambi – Not super smart and probably a either a stripper or a spoiled rich girl.

Andrew – Muscular and very assertive.

Susan – Smart and nice, but a little shy.

So how did I do? Did I match up to what popped into your head? Whether I did or not my point is this, you have to always be aware of what you call your characters when writing. Vorkoth can be the name of a villain in a story who can eventually be someone who strikes fear into the hearts of the heroes and maybe even the readers…but if his name is Kyle…well, I’ll leave you with the words of a great man here explain that one to you.

Have a great week Bookbrainers!

I’ve Got the Music In Me

Time to grab your guitars and sober your drummers Bookbrainers! Today we’re talking about music and writing!

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Now what I want to talk about isn’t necessarily about how to write music into a story. If you’re interested in books that write about music so well you think you can hear it, I VERY much recommend Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. You can check out Rothfuss’ blog and maybe look into getting one of his amazing books here!

No, what I want to talk about is something that happens to me every time I sit down and write. Whenever I’m writing a scene or think of one of my characters, I hear a soundtrack in my head for what’s going on.

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Now many of you may be thinking that there is nothing wrong with that, it could be used as inspiration for music if they ever make a show or movie from the book. Well…you see it is a problem. I’m not normal (as you may have noticed) and I don’t think of the typical epic music scores like you hear in The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. Nope! I picture a character walking into a room and in my mind I see it in slow motion as “Name of the Game” by Crystal Method blares, “Listen all you mother…”

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(You know what movie scene I’m thinking of)

It’s the same with all the music that pops into my head! If my mind was in charge any movie of my books would have a soundtrack similar to the movie Suicide Squad! Now why do I feel this is a problem? Mostly because I’m the kind of person who daydreams about impossible things. I think about what would happen if I won $500 Million in the lottery tomorrow…

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(Eat shit gravity!)

So naturally I’m someone who does the very narcissistic thing of thinking about a movie version of my book someday. And I honestly have a hard time picturing it with a traditional movie score and not the badass soundtrack floating around the back of my mind. Soundtracks like my thoughts just aren’t done with movies like that and for good reason, it takes all form of seriousness away and reduces immersion. But hey! Maybe I’m wrong, maybe a fun soundtrack with Rolling Stone songs set in a fantasy world similar to medieval times would be fine!

Let me know what you guys think! Do fantasy movies have to have epic instrumental soundtracks, or would it be acceptable to have modern pop and rock hits? Comment here, on the Facebook page, or on my Twitter account. Let me know what you think!

Literary Diner: How Would You Like Your Sci-Fi Today?

Welcome back Bookbrainers! I hope you all had a kick-ass week! So recently I did a guest appearance on my friend Doug’s podcast called Rawcast A.D. (if you’ve been reading the blog awhile I’ve mentioned him before), where we talked a lot about current technology and where that technology is going in the future. You can listen to it here!

So talking with Doug about technology got me thinking about Science Fiction as a genre. I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Fantasy as a genre both to read and write, but there has always been amazing gems of Science Fiction that I’ve been drawn towards. One of my all-time favorites being Orson Scott Card, who is a fantastic writer if you’ve never given his books a chance. His largest series (and my favorite) being about two characters, Ender and Bean. If you haven’t given them a read I would highly recommend doing so!

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(The books are great, just ignore this…please?)

For the most part though, Card’s books fall under what is commonly called, “Soft,” science fiction. This means that the technology in his writing does get some explanation, but it’s not very in-depth (mostly) and it takes a backseat to the characters and plot.

The opposite of this is obviously, “Hard,” science fiction. A good more modern example of this would be Michael Crichton, who wrote books like Jurassic Park and Timeline.

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(That’s just badassery right there!)

The science in his books tends to be very detailed and take a strong center point in plot itself. In the early days of Science Fiction writing this was by far more common as for many writers their characters and even the plot was mostly just required decoration around their ideas about technology. These writers even felt that the transition to “soft” Science Fiction was heresy against good writing.

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(Dude do you even science?)

So my question to you Bookbrainers is which do you like more? Science Fiction that takes the time to thoroughly explain the technology that is in the story, or do you just want a quick glossed over explanation and on to the more important things? I personally feel that neither extreme is best, but a kind of meeting in the middle. I personally don’t need to know every detail of the teleporting device and the science behind it all, but damn it I want more than, “It works because it just does! Now quit questioning my methods! *continues shoving cats into fuel tank.*”

So sound off your opinion here on the blog, on our Facebook page (here), or on our NEW TWITTER…page? Feed? Thing? *storms off to go find out its proper name*

Off to Meet the Wizard…

Welcome back Bookbrainers! I hope everyone is having a great week! (and enjoys the new look!) I am very honored by all the responses that I got about last week’s flash fiction challenge. You guys… (Wipes away tears)…are just AWESOME! I’m already super excited for the next challenge that I’ll be doing in October!

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For this week, I wanted to talk with everyone on a subject that’s been weighing heavy on my mind for the past month….my book.

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So for those of you new to the blog I am currently attempting to write the first draft of my first book. Something that I’m VERY excited about…but with a catch. See if you jump waaaaaaay back to the beginning of the blog I started off talking about transitioning from a writer who is an asshat and only talks about writing to a writer who you know…actually writes stuff. I then gave a great update on my plans in my birthday blog where I revealed my pledge to myself to finish the first draft by January 1st, 2018.

Things went well for a while, time passed and words were written. Then it hit me around the end of July. I did the writer’s math and realized that for the length book I’m shooting for that I need to write either WAY more every day I was writing, or I need to write more frequently. That’s when it happened. I froze.

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The part of me that is stupid feels like I’m rare or unique in this reaction. But really I’m sure all of you have had this reaction to something in your lives. Let’s paint a picture…WITH WORDS!

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You have a task that needs to be done. This can be anything from a project at work to fixing your car, but for the sake of puppies everywhere let’s go with cleaning the house. You start off with your house clean as can be. Then a few things get left here and there, but you have stuff to do and you know that it won’t take long clean so you let it be. This continues for a while until finally you realize that there are piles of laundry everywhere, dishes stacked to the celling, you kick up a cloud of dust when you walk across the carpet, and so much garbage that hobos forming a Stop style Guns and Roses tribute band have moved into your kitchen. It’s not pretty. So you do the math and realize that you would need to take a whole week’s vacation to clean everything. It becomes too much, it’s too big. So you freeze.

This is how I’m feeling with my writing. I feel like I’ve made amazing strides this year so far and I’ve come a long way, but looking at what’s ahead just feels so huge and daunting that I find myself not doing anything.

My big goal right now is remembering above all else, that the enormous task before me is nothing more than the Wizard of Oz.

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What I mean by that is this, whenever you’re looking up at the huge task at hand and you feel that there is NO FREAKIN WAY IN HELL that you’re ever going to accomplish it, just remember it’s all an illusion and to just look at that little shit behind the curtain. Many problems are like the Wizard of Oz, just over blown smoke and mirrors our own self-doubt create. The real problem is actually much smaller and more manageable, if only you look behind the curtain of your own insecurities.

That’s what I’m focusing on! I’m going to realize that it’s ok if I don’t finish the rough draft by the end of the year and that as long as I keep writing, little by little I’ll get there. And no matter what floating disembodied wizard head is in your way, you can little by little beat him too!

Now go forth and kick ass!!!

Flash Fiction Challenge 2!

Hello Bookbrainers! I’m very excited for today’s blog! Below is my second attempt at a flash fiction challenge here on the blog. This week’s challenge, in case you’ve managed to forget in all your unbridled excitement, was to create a story based off a Bookbrainer’s suggestion of the first sentence. I really enjoyed the story I was able to come up with and I hope you do too! If you do please like and share!

Now, time to set the mood!

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Perfect!

Enjoy the story!

 

 

“Staying in the Loop”

With bated breath she waited for the front door to close behind him, then with a quake in her voice, and a tremor in her hands she spoke meekly, “Honey…I have something to tell you.”

Ethan stared at her with empty eyes for a moment, the stillness only being broken by the ticking of an old coo-coo clock on the wall in the living room that echoed throughout the old house. Sadie waited in silence. Finally Ethan blinked a few times and smiled, “I’m sorry,” he said walking forward and giving Sadie a hug, “It’s been a long day at work and I’m pretty sure I’m losing it. What did t you want to tell me?”

Sadie smiled up at him while clenching her hands behind her back to try and stop the tremors, “Let’s talk in the kitchen. I can make you some tea to relax and you can get off your feet.”

“Sounds great,” Ethan said with a smile.

The two of them walked through the living room into the kitchen, Sadie leading the way. The strong smell of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg washed over them as they went to either side of the large kitchen. Ethan sat at the old wooden kitchen table and Sadie went to the counter and began to fill a kettle with water.

“Was a heck of a day,” Ethan said rubbing his face and looking at Sadie, “First Eric, my supervisor, was out sick again today. I mean the guy can’t seem to catch a break. Ever since he cheated on your friend Stacy he’s been going on and on about how bad he feels and wanting to make things right, but he’s just too sick.”

Sadie stopped the water, “Do they have any idea what’s wrong with him?”

“No clue,” Ethan said with a shrug, “Some days he’s fine and others he’s so sick he can barely get out of bed. Doctors have no idea what’s wrong with him.”

“Shame,” Sadie said starting the water again.

“We also had several clients come in who were interested in having us help them develop a residential neighborhood into a shopping center.”

“Oh?” Sadie said briefly turning her head towards him and giving a small smile, “What did you do?”

“Well I told them that there is nothing we can do. I’m not going to help them kick all those families out of their homes. And do you know what they said?”

“Business is business?” Sadie said placing the kettle on the stove.

“Yeah!” Ethan laughed, “Exactly! They told me business is business and that I’m being unreasonable. You’re lucky that you don’t have to deal with those kinds of problems selling all that beauty goop you make in the basement.”

Sadie smiled at Ethan, “Goop? It’s not goop, it’s organic beauty and health products.”

“Well whatever it is, I’m amazed at how many women buy it.”

“I’m just that good,” Sadie said with a big grin.

“Must be,” Ethan looked at the calendar on the fridge covered in tiny and neatly written names and addresses, “You have an awful lot of goop parties scheduled this month.”

Sadie watched as Ethan’s eyes moved to the window next to the fridge and stopped. The tremor came back into her hands as she watched him stare outside, his eyebrows knitting in confusion and a frown coming to his face.

“Huh,” he said staring hard out the window, “I know that the days are getting shorter, but it’s already dark outside. It’s only around six I think,” Ethan said patting down his pockets.

After a few frantic seconds of searching, as Sadie watched him silently, Ethan looked up at Sadie and said, “I can’t find my phone.”

“Must have left it at work,” Sadie said with a weak smile as she took the kettle off the stove and poured the hot water into a mug.

“Yeah…must have,” Ethan said, his eyes wandering as he tried to remember.

Sadie watched Ethan lost in thought for a moment frowning, then turned around and opened one of the cupboards and pulled out a tea bag. She took the paper wrapping off the tea bag and dipped it into the steaming hot water. Sadie then looked over her shoulder and saw that Ethan wasn’t paying any attention to her and quietly reached into her pocket and pulled out a small plastic baggie filled with a fine green powder. Taking one last look behind her, Sadie put two pinches of the powder into the tea then quickly put the bag away.

“How about some tea?” Sadie said stirring the tea with the tea bag and walking to the table.

Ethan looked up at her and blinked in surprise for a moment, “Oh yeah, sounds great,” he then gave her his best attempt at a warm smile and took the mug.

Sadie handed Ethan the tea and walked back to the counter, leaving the table between her and Ethan. Ethan blew on the tea, tested the side of the mug with his hand then set it down.

“What’s wrong?” Sadie said with a frown.

“Too hot,” Ethan said.

Sadie waved her hand and said, “You’re just being silly, it’s fine to drink. Just try it.”

Ethan gave her a raised eyebrow, then shrugged and picked up the mug and sipped the tea. His eyes widened and he looked down at the tea then up at Sadie, “The hell? I could have sworn that this would have been too hot.”

“See?” Sadie said giving a poor attempt at a smile, “You’re just being silly.”

“I guess,” Ethan said eyeing up the mug before taking another drink.

Sadie watched him drink. The only sound was the ticking of the clock and scraping of leaves in the wind outside. She was beginning to fidget as she watched, finally crossing her arms to help keep still.

“I did have something to tell you,” Sadie said slowly as Ethan put down the empty mug.

“Oh yeah,” Ethan said smiling at her, “So what’s up? I don’t want to be kept out of the loop.”

Sadie took a deep breath, “Well…what I have to say isn’t easy to hear.”

“You can tell me anything,” Ethan said starting to get up from his chair.

“No,” Sadie said flatly and Ethan sat back in the chair and scooted it in while looking at her, “What I mean to say is ummmm…this is something I couldn’t for a long time. I’ve wanted to talk to you, but I’ve been worried what you’ll say. If you’ll laugh. If you’ll leave.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Ethan said with a laugh.

Sadie grimaced, “I know,” she paused then said, “Promise you’ll let me finish speaking before you jump to any conclusions or freak out on me?”

“Deal,” Ethan said crossing his arms and sitting back, “Now what’s so terrible?”

Sadie locked eyes with him, “I’m a witch.”

The words hung in the air like the silence around a bad comedian.

“Really?” Ethan said, with a snort, “You’re a witch? You mean with…”

“I do not have a pointed hat or fly on a broom stick!” Sadie yelled, her face turning red.

“How…” Ethan started to stay when Sadie interrupted him.

“It’s not important. What’s important is you know that I’m serious and that I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Ok,” Ethan said shaking his head at her, “If you’re a witch prove it.”

“Fine,” Sadie said with a sigh, “Please don’t freak out.”

“I’ll be fine,” Ethan said laughing.

Sadie shot him a frustrated look, then snapped her finger. Instantly the mug that Ethan had been drinking from glowed green then transformed into a fluffy white rabbit.

“Holy shit!” Ethan shouted falling backwards out of his chair and quickly scrambling to his feet, keeping his eyes on the rabbit as if it would suddenly transform again into something unspeakably terrible.

“It’s ok!” Sadie said in the most soothing tone she could, “it’s not going to hurt you! It’s just a bunny.”

“Why the shit is it a bunny?!”

“I thought it would be less fighting!” Sadie yelled back, an edge of panic in her voice.

“Well it’s not!” Ethan shouted.

“Calm down!”

“Calm down? Calm down? YOU JUST TURNED A FUCKING MUG INTO A RABBIT!”

“It’s no big deal Ethan!”

Ethan laughed, “It’s not a big deal? You’re a witch! A real Goddamn witch!”

“I told you already though that I won’t hurt you, I’m a good witch and I just wanted to be honest and open with you,” Sadie said quietly looking at the floor.

There was a long pause as Ethan stared at her and the tears starting to well in her eyes. His chest heaving as he white knuckled the fridge handle next to him. He opened his mouth to say something, then his eyes went back to the rabbit sitting on the table quietly waiting to be a mug again. Ethan shook his head vigorously from side to side.

“Nope,” he said, “I can’t,” he then stormed out of the kitchen heading for the front door.

“Stop!” Sadie said, reaching out for him, tears streaming down her face.

Ethan’s body froze in place halfway to the door. Sadie sprinted around to stand in front of him. Ethan didn’t make a sound, but his eyes were bulging and staring at Sadie with a silent scream.

“Please don’t leave,” Sadie said crying, “We’ll get through this. You’ll see that I’m not bad and that this is all ok. We’ll be fine right?”

Ethan’s eyes continued to scream in the silence only broken by the ticking of the clock.

“Fine,” Sadie said stepping aside and wiping her face on her sleeve, “Be that way.”

Sadie snapped her finger. Ethan immediately lunged forward and crashed to the floor. He quickly scrambled and stumbled his way to the door while yelling incoherently. He grabbed the handle, turned it, and threw it open. Sadie pointed at Ethan as he was going through the doorway and mumbled a few words through her tears.

She watched as Ethan slowed down and came to a stop on the edge of the front porch to the house. He stood still facing out into the darkness, his breath visible in the chill night air. He then turned slowly, his face blank and walked back into the house.

With bated breath she waited for the front door to close behind him, then with a quake in her voice, and a tremor in her hands she spoke meekly, “Honey…I have something to tell you.”

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner and a Thank You too!

Alright Bookbrainers! This is the blog you’ve been waiting for with all the excitement and antici……..pation of  buying a pint of ice cream and then having to wait in a huge line to check out so you can go home and bury your face in frozen chocolate chips! But before I announce the winning suggestion for this month’s challenge, I want to take a second to talk directly to all you wonderful Bookbrainers on WordPress.

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Have a seat in the Bookbrain library with me and relax!

Now I know that there are a lot of you readers that have your own blogs on WordPess and have been amazing enough to reach out and like my posts and click the follow button, but sadly I’ve not had the time to thank you properly for it. So to everyone I’ve never personally met who’s reading this either this week when I post it or in some distant future…

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I mean seriously, THANK YOU!!! Every day that I can look at my blog and see that someone is actually reading it makes me smile. Thank you for the smiles and thank you for your time. It will never go unnoticed or unappreciated! And to everyone else? Don’t worry!

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All that love goes to you guys too!

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So for this month’s Flash Fiction Challenge I had asked for you guys to come up with the first sentence of the story I’m going to write. There were a lot of fun choices and this was actually a VERY had decision! But this winner is…

Nickolai Duddits with his submission, “With bated breath she waited for the front door to close behind him, then with a quake in her voice, and a tremor in her hands she spoke meekly, ‘Honey…I have something to tell you.’”

So there you go guys! Next week that will be the first sentence of my short story! Please feel free to share your excitement!!!

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(Pictured here)