The Moon Festival has come to the riverfront slums: a time when ghosts and shadows walk the streets, returning to visit their loved ones. Some visitors are more welcome than others.

This is the third installment of a three-part series. New to the story? Start here!

Continue reading “Ghosts and Shadows”

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The Moon Festival has come to the riverfront slums. Spirits –Moon Children– walk the streets, returning to visit their loved ones. Little do the residents know, more than just spirits are drawn to the bowls of food left out for the Children.

This is the second installment of a three-part series. Haven’t read part one yet? Check it out here.

Continue reading “The Moon Children”

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Rumor was, the only place the escaped subject could have gone was into the water. It seemed to take the authorities a little while to conclude that they wanted to search the city’s noxious waterways, but this was a city that never did anything by half measures.

The search teams were out on the water the next day, from sunrise to sunset and into the darkness, peering down into the murky water with lamps and prodding the depths with poles. The deep traffic waterways and shallow canals alike were dragged, bringing up everything from rusting refuse to discarded limbs to human remains. 156 active missing persons cases were solved in one night.

The searchers wore tactical wetsuits, rebreathers, and body armor under their life vests. They searched in groups of four or more, bristling with more weapons than the city’s residents had seen since the Claiborne Riots. They looked terrified of what they might find.

Continue reading “Flash Fiction: Escaped”

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Recently I stumbled across a thread where a group of fans were emphatically agreeing that the protagonists of a book should have been written as 19-22 instead of 14-18.

“Kaz acts more like 20-21 than 17. Like I understand traumas and life can force kids to grow up too fast, but his whole personality and maturity seems better suited for someone older. Even 19 would be better than 17.”

Here’s why this is a ridiculous stance to take.

Continue reading “Realism In Writing: Character Age”

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I discovered a ton of new favorite authors this year!

Those who know me know that I enjoy a wide range of genres. I’m intrigued by writing that’s unique: new concepts, subversions of expectations, genre blending. Interestingly enough, most of the books that fit my preferences this year came from independent authors.

This list covers a range of genres. Comparing most of these books to each other would be impossible, so they’re organized alphabetically by title instead of numerically. If you’d like to read more, each heading links to my review of that book.

Without further ado, here are my favorite reads of 2018.

Continue reading “Favorite Reads of 2018”

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Corrupt GVEA Logo

One of the hallmarks of my writing is an unflinching appraisal of the problems within our society, and what it says about where we’re headed. This commentary is heavily influenced by my own experiences. Enraging, traumatic, frustrating or humorous, in the end it’s all story fuel one way or another. What follows is a humorous look at some recent battles with my electric company.

Inspiration struck last night when I noticed that my ISP hadn’t charged my credit card when they should have.
GCI rep: We’d be happy to look into that for you. What’s your passcode?
Me: Heck if I know. I only have to call you guys once every couple of years. I’m really surprised your new e-bill system lost my payment– you guys are usually the opposite of GVEA.

For reference, Golden Valley Electric Association is my electric company and the gold standard of suck. Shortly after that conversation with my ISP’s billing department, my neighborhood was struck by a blackout.

GVEA: THAT’S for having the gall to criticize our broken payment system and lousy service.
Me: For freak’s sake, it’s barely even windy!
GVEA: I’m sorry, our outage line is currently out of service.

Continue reading “Commonplace Corruption”

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Johnny always was an odd kid.

He got beaten at school almost as much as he did at home– and that was saying something, since he rarely left home without fresh bruises. The beatings gave him a fatalistic streak, but they never seemed to break his spirit. Even when he was spitting out teeth, he always had a middle finger up and a defiant “Fuck you!” on his lips.

We lost touch after high school. I went into the trades, and Johnny went wherever kids raised by violent single dads go. I heard he got busted for something stupid and did a stretch in Arizona. I heard he found true love, got a minimum wage job and tried to go straight. Found out he had cancer. Lost his girlfriend after he tried to kill himself. After that, I didn’t hear about Johnny anymore.

When an angular shadow shambled out of a dark alley, staggered into me, and darted away crowing with glee and waving my wallet, I hadn’t thought of Johnny in years.

Continue reading “Flash Fiction: Middle Finger to the World”

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Writing from a state of exhaustion

As a night owl and someone who typically requires nine hours of sleep, I’m well acquainted with exhaustion. It’s been a constant companion for most of my life.

In addition, exhaustion and depression go hand in hand for me. Exhaustion sucks the light out of life. The world becomes a grey, flat place where I can’t remember being happy. The future is a grey landscape, dull and pointless, stretching on without end. I can’t imagine enjoying anything, and I can’t imagine that changing.

You might scoff and assume that this is laughably easy to cure. In my case, you’d be wrong.

Continue reading “Writing From A State of Exhaustion”

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Tweet advocation the privatization of libraries.

On Saturday July 21st, 2018, Forbes triggered a flood of outrage from the literary, academic, and library-using communities by publishing an opinion piece advocating for the replacement of libraries with for-profit retail outlets. Specifically, Amazon retail outlets. While Forbes has since pulled the article, it can still be found here.

The owner of this controversial opinion is Chair of the Department of Economics at LIU Post and guy whose name sounds like someone’s about to unleash an army of evil dead, Panos Mourdoukoutas.

In a piece that sounds like it was written by a fourth grader badly in need of an editor, Mourdoukoutas argues that libraries have become obsolete. Their services are provided by other (coincidentally not free of charge) entities like Amazon and Starbucks. No, really. I’m not joking. Stop laughing.

Continue reading “The Library Question”

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Conflict ahead sign

Let’s talk believable antagonists and realistic sources of conflict.

I’m not going to get into the four types of conflict, or six, or however many it is now. I am going to talk about creating a believable antagonistic force, rather than one of those cardboard caricature, source-of-all-evil bad guys.

The concept of a having one person be the source of all of a story’s conflict has always seemed overly simple to me. Either the antagonist has help, or the protagonist’s problems are going to be disappointingly simple to solve. A lone enemy, unaided, is easy to overcome.

Continue reading “Antagonistic Forces”

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