27 July 2012

You Shall Not Pass = Don't Let That?

I recently took up a challenge to write a fantasy flash fiction using the following prompt:

Go to Badtranslator.
In the first box, type in "You shall not pass"
For the translator, select Bing (Microsoft Translator)
For the number of translations, select 18.
Check the box that says Random Language Order.
Click Translate.
Now, take the translated phrase and write a 400-1,500 word story using your result as the first line.  Here's the trick: Your story must not include any T's, except for the line taken from Bad Translator.

This was probably the most difficult writing challenge I've taken on yet. The most difficult part for me was getting to the minimum 400 words without using the letter t. When I followed the above directions, Bad Translator spit out the phrase: "Don't let that." My story is below.

“Don’t let that fall,” David warned, eyeing his slave sharply.
Ignoring him, Karel slid his burden carefully off of his silver salver, placing his showy ice carving on a marble slab for display. Humans were always so anxious, especially regarding Elmedanin--or Elves as Humans called Karel’s people. Karel briefly pondered dumping his heavy carving on David’s head; however, discipline for Elves who killed or even injured Humans was very severe, and he grudgingly reconsidered.
“Looks a smidgen lopsided.” David inclined his head, his hands on his hips, imperiously eyeballing Karel’s work.
Karel laboriously levelled his carving, envisioning David frozen inside, enclosed in ice forever, and he smiled. Many Humans wrongly assumed Elves were never angry or aggressive, and never experienced any dark feelings. Elmedanin could be as warlike as any Human; however, usually chose peace. Accordingly, Humans had easily conquered and enslaved Elmedanin who calmly acquiesced. Foolishness, really; peace was all well and good only if you had no enemies.
David nodded, smiling. “Much nicer.” He glanced down and, seeing his chrono, gasped. “Our company will be here soon!” Imperiously signalling Karel, he spun and marched down his gravelled garden walkway. “Make sure all is ready,” he called over his shoulder as he rushed inside his lavish mansion, probably planning which apparel he would wear for maximum impression on his company who would also plan wardrobes accordingly.
Karel sighed; unlike many Elmedanin here, he could remember life before Humans, and he cherished his memories. Life was simpler before Humans invaded, conquering and enslaving, using a magic no Elmedanin had ever seen or imagined, a magic Humans called “science.” Before Humans came, Karel had been free; he had owned his own life. Many Elmedanin had been born slaves, or enslaved young so had no memories of freedom.
However, some Elmedanin had never been enslaved and lived free as before. He would as well. Unobserved now, he slipped a phial from his sleeve and dripped a few drops of a colourless liquid in a silver amphora brim-full of heady Alseni wine. Nassi blossom essence had no flavour or odour, and would never be recognized by Human medical examiners. Nassi blossom essence had only one drawback: severe drunkenness and occasionally unconsciousness. Karel would have ample leisure--his escape would be easy.
Soon, he would be free: free of Humans and Human caprices; free of chains real or symbolic. He would own his own life once again.

Gravity Trilogy Winner

Only 2 people entered the contest for the Gravity Trilogy giveaway, and the winner is:

Congratualations, Elise! Cherie will contact you shortly with the details. If you didn't win, there's still time on some of the other blogs hosting the giveaway: click here.

25 July 2012

24 July 2012

Gravity Trilogy Cover Reveal

Cherie Reich has asked me to help her reveal her new covers for the Gravity Trilogy. I was delighted to agree. We're also doing a giveaway; details later in this post. But first, the new covers. Drumroll, please.

Three alien couples in three space fantasy novelettes fall in love in the Gravity trilogy. After a
couple months, Cherie Reich decided that her novelettes needed a new cover. She spoke with her
cover artist, Aubrie Dionne, and the new covers for Defying Gravity, Fighting Gravity, and Pull
of Gravity are now ready to be revealed.

Homesick upon the SS Perseid, Linia, a young linguist, thinks she signed up for a mission of peace, but her crew members have another plan: attack the planet Medusa.

Bored with his dying planet, Alezandros, a space cruiser pilot joins the Medusan Army in his quest for adventure.

When the SS Perseid clashes with the Medusans’ space cruisers, Alezandros and Linia’s lives intertwine. Sucked through a wormhole, they crash upon a post-apocalyptic Earth and are captured by cannibals. In adjacent cells, Alezandros and Linia cast their differences aside for
a common bond: escape. But when romantic feelings emerge between them, they might do the unthinkable because for a Medusan and a Persean to fall in love, it would defy gravity.

To Purchase: iTunes  Kobo  Nook  Smashwords  Amazon US  Amazon UK  Amazon DE
Amazon FR  Amazon IT  Amazon ES

Forced into executing Aresia’s people, Phoebus escapes the Aresian Guard by flying his spaceship through a wormhole.

The only single woman of marrying age, Marissa flees town instead of becoming a third wife.

When Phoebus’s spacecraft crashes upon an asteroid-ravaged Earth, he is captured by a rogue Earthling youth and thrown into a cellar. Marissa stumbles upon the spacecraft, but it explodes before she can find any sign of the alien. When she awakens, she discovers the alien’s whereabouts and vows to help him. But Phoebus’s Aresians have landed and are searching for him. Phoebus and Marissa must battle against their despair and their peoples in a quest for their freedom. And through it all, an Earthling and an Aresian will find it easier to fight gravity than
their love for each other.

To purchase: Apple  Kobo  Nook  Amazon US  Amazon UK  Amazon DE  Amazon FR  Amazon IT
Amazon ES  Smashwords

A no-nonsense Earthling corporal, Nike, accepts a mission to destroy the winged-people of Cupidis to give her race a chance at a new life.

A spoiled Cupidian prince, Edonys gets whatever he wants until his dying father tells him he must choose a mate and take his rightful place as king.

When Nike’s space cruiser lands upon Cupidis, she’s taken to the royal palace where she crosses paths with Prince Edonys. His arrogance leads her to believe her mission of domination will be easy. Edonys refuses his father’s last request to fall in love, but Nike isn’t anyone. She’s bold
and different than any Cupidian female. When he shows her his planet’s delights, Nike and Edonys realize they must discover another way to save their loved ones because it will be easier for an Earthling and a Cupidian to ignore the pull of gravity than the pull of love.

Forthcoming end of July/early August!

Cherie is also giving away the complete trilogy to one lucky winner. Here's how to enter:
Comment on this blogpost and just say you'd like to be entered. I'll draw a name, and Cherie will contact the lucky winner. Easy, right? Good luck. :)

23 July 2012

A Tale of One City

Warning: This blog post may contain minor spoilers.

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven,
we were all going direct the other way--
in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of
its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received,
for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

I watched "The Dark Knight Rises" this weekend. I found myself thinking about the quality of the writing a lot more than I ever used to. I've always liked to dissect movies afterward with my friends, discussing why this or that happened, and wondering "What did that mean?" But now that I've been focusing so much on crafting a story and making it the best it can be, I am even more critical of storytelling. This movie did not disappoint.
In this film, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) faces his greatest challenges yet, and comes to the brink of defeat and despair. He is challenged to his limits physically, mentally, and emotionally. In one scene, he quite literally climbs out of a pit of despair.
The movie opens with the legacy of Harvey Dent. Due to the "White Knight's" efforts, most of Gotham's worst criminals are in prison with no hope of parole, leaving little for the police force to do, and nothing for Batman to do. Accordingly, Batman has not been seen in years. However, as Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) puts it, "There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us."
Bane's takeover of Gotham City, ostensibly so the people can "take control" for their "liberation" reminded me strongly of the French revolution in "A Tale of Two Cities." Anarchy sounds good to some--rule of the people with no one to answer to--but in reality it becomes might makes right. Just take a look at the "choice" of sentencing the kangaroo court offers to those whom they have already found guilty without a trial.
Director Christopher Nolan has been quoted as saying that this will be the last Batman movie he will make, but the ending was still left open for a possible sequel starring a different main character. I can't say anything more for fear of giving away too much.

"It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done;
it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

18 July 2012

How to Write a Bestseller (and make gobs of money)

1. Do some market research. Find out what is selling now. Look for a book--or better, a series--that has a large, dedicated--preferably a little fanatical--fanbase.

2. Write an Alternate Universe (AU) fanfiction for the world you chose. (If you've never written fanfiction, that's okay. There are lots of examples on the interwebz. Just Google it. Besides, fanfiction doesn't have to be good, as long as it's set in a world with a large, obsessed fanbase.)

3. Change the names of the main characters. See, the problem with fanfiction is you can't sell it because the world you're working with is copyrighted; it belongs to the original author. However, if you change the names of your characters, and you're writing an AU, that makes it okay. (Also, make sure if one of the original characters was a vampire, make him into a regular human but a misogynistic, self-centered jerk who likes to hurt women and control people.)

4. Include lots of sex. The more the better. It doesn't have to be well-written, though, so don't worry about that.

5. While marketing your magnum opus, let it slip that it started out as a fanfic and mention the book/series you copied from; this will ensure that all or most of the fans of that series will read your work.

6. Sit back and watch the royalties come in.

17 July 2012

Have You Ever Interrobanged?

 I just discovered this nifty little punctuation mark today, but according to Wikipedia, it's been around for years. It replaces ?! or !? as in, "You did what?!" Sadly, however, it is still a non-standard form of punctuation and cannot be found in many fonts. (Although, apparently, the default MS Office font Calibri has it. I haven't checked, though.)
I like it. I think I'll start using it in handwritten writing. I wish I could use it in typing. For example, "Why can't I use the interrobang in my blog?!"
Have you ever heard of the interrobang before? Do you think there's a need for it? Would you use it if you could?

16 July 2012


It's time for Knights of MicroFiction, hosted by Jess and Kathy. The prompt is "In 200 words or less write a flash fiction using the phrase:  The sky darkened..."

The sky darkened while I watched, listening to the rolling rumbles shake the heavens. I felt the sound in my bones, in my soul. A cool breeze washed over me, tempting me to close my eyes, to lose myself in the sensations. I resisted the urge, watching the sky, waiting.
There! A spear of light cut through the clouds to my right, thrusting down toward the earth. As I blinked away the afterimage, another one stabbed downward on my left. And another directly in front.
My heart rose within me, beating like a bird’s wings. And I did feel as if I could fly.

11 July 2012


I've recently joined a writing critique site called Scribophile. I've tried a couple of other similar sites, but didn't find them all that helpful, or well-laid out--or they charge you money to post your work (I'm a starving artist, so I can't afford that). Scribophile is different. They have two levels of accounts, free and paid, but you don't have to pay to post your work. In order to post, you need karma, and to get karma, you critique others' writing. However, you can't just write whatever in a critique to farm karma, because you'll get it reported as a bad critique. All the critiques I've gotten so far have been very helpful, and I've enjoyed reading others' writings.
You can also join the forums and groups to get to know the community. I think this is the site's greatest strength. Once you get to know people, they'll be more likely to critique your writing, and the discussions--while sometimes just crazy--can be very helpful. And the crazy is fun.
If you're looking for a place to get some really helpful critiquing and maybe get to know some other writers, come visit me at Scribophile. Click on the picture below or the button on my sidebar.

Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers

10 July 2012

Why Self-Publishing Might be Safer

I've been doing some reading lately about self-publishing versus traditional or "legacy" publishing. I've come to the conclusion that self-publishing is the way to go. There are many reasons for this, including my need for control. However, I've discovered that traditional publishing is a scary, dangerous minefield. Before you take a step, please do your research. Below are some links I've found with very good info:

10 Reasons You Should Skip Traditional Publishers and Self-Publish Ebooks Instead

Hate Amazon? Well Read About What Random House Did to Me and My Family...

Sleeping with the Enemy: A Cautionary Tale

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing (several posts)

04 July 2012

Portrait of a Vampire

His hair is black, his flesh is cold;
He's tall and dark and lean.
His eyes are deep and dark and clear
With an unearthly sheen.

He lives in darkness, shunning light;
The sun would mean his death.
But does he live? He has no pulse
And, in his lungs, no breath.

His teeth are even, pearly white,
And yet, they're not quite right.
He does not eat what mortals eat.
It is not bread he bites.

He stalks her and she does not flee;
She finds him mesmerizing.
But if she lets him seduce her,
Will she again be rising?

Does she imagine what he is
Or is her mind o'ercome?
Does he have her in his spell?
Can she escape her doom?
-Esther Spurrill-Jones