30 September 2010

"Sin" #Fridayflash

There's an angel in the window, face dappled by silver rain. Her eyes stretch towards heaven as she lifts the cup to her lips and shifts a bit in her chair. Feathers drift to the floor and are swept away by the barista before she's asked to leave.

She steps outside and hugs her arms as the icy rain penetrates her clothes and punches holes in her wings. Red neon bleeds over pinions as he stands in the shadows. He beckons her to his side, fingers clutching slender hips to turn and press her supine against the steaming hood of his car. Black, churning, scaled. Wicked whispers in her ear and she draws him forward for a kiss.

Her wings enfold them, graze the muscles of his back, clothed in incredible black, an absence of nothingness, less than not, as if light had never been. He bites her lip; his hands wander, seeking her skin and her wings shiver. A sigh like wind in trees and he slips inside. She sings in soft whispers; her fingers dig into his arms as the pace increases and intensifies.

They call out in unison. A gentle moment—sweet nuzzles and scalding kisses. Her wings spread.

He watches her ascend into the heavy rain.

Photo credit: firebetty74 from morguefile.com

23 September 2010

"Three" #Fridayflash

Photo credit: marko from morguefile.com

Lisa's eyes reflected the glow from the sandy bed, too long ago to be called a river. Pale like moon soil and powdered moth wings. A cloud of dust erupted on the horizon, swirling around six blue lights, splitting apart, two to a being, until they drew near and I could see they were headlights. Three of them, with respective specters behind their windscreens, bony knuckles ridged and accusatory.

They circled us like vultures—tighter and tighter—in spirals of questionable intent. Glowing eyes; burning lights that felt like acid on the skin. There were two, one fat-fendered with the suggestion of green flames, that writhed and licked above the slick rubber that churned beneath like angry hooves. The second, a black Mustang, the lights bleeding to urine-yellow at a certain angle. The driver pressed his skull against the glass and grinned as the draft made her skirt fly up around her legs.

The third was almost reptilian in appearance, long and low, inky-black scaled flesh glinting violet in the light around them, gasping gills in its sides snorting blue fire and in the driver's seat—

An arc of spirits in a close vortex, blotting out the moon and choking our lungs with silt from the dead riverbed. Whispered pleasures, treasures, and torment and the third stopped, tires pouring out of slim wheel wells like viscous oil, clutching the hard packed earth as the dust settled and I was looking into the face of Death itself.

______

I let out a breath; Lisa shook me, clutching an armful of firewood. I opened my eyes and lifted my head to look at her.

“You have to stay awake to see them,” she chided. I rolled over on my side and smiled.

She was wrong.

16 September 2010

"Angel on the Roof" #Fridayflash

Of course Jonathan tried to prepare for it. His entire college career was settled on the intricacies of Medieval wisdom and ignorance; costume and custom, effecting him to settle on a light suit of custom-crafted aluminum armor. He packed with him action figures, hoping to win over the king. His iPod was capable of going 22 hours on a single charge but his Kindle could last a month. The time machine made no fantastic swirls of color, but rather hissed and coughed a puff of smoke that cleared the rest of the University wing when he went.

He awoke some time later on his side, full backpack stabilizing his body from sliding the rest of the way down the steeply pitched roof of the great castle. Fantastic! He said to himself, the Earth moved! He attempted to extract his notepad and ink pen, but the bloody thing slipped out of his hand, slid down the roof, over the edge and poink! hit a passerby right on the top of his head.

Anonchio was on his way to answer to a debt when the bizarre twig fell from the sky. Looking upwards, he saw a shining figure.

“Oy! You up ere!” He shouted. The shining figure looked around and went back to rummaging through what appeared to be a blue sack.

“Who’s that you be shouting at Anon?” His wife peeked out from the confines of the cart, sewing needles in hand.

“Th’ bloke right up ‘ere!” Anonchio pointed skyward with a thick, stubby finger and his wife followed it until her eyes widened.

“Why, there’s an angel on the castle! We must tell the king!”

Anonchio and his wife hurried into the crowd and spread the word of the uncommon roof occupant. Meanwhile, Jonathan continued to assess his situation and realized that he’d made a grave mistake. The roof was too high to jump, or even be rescued. He could climb down, but not in his armor.

It was a stupid idea to wear it anyway, he thought to himself as he stripped the shining coat off, piece-by-piece. By now a large crowd had gathered below to witness the angel. Converts were made, plagues were healed, and an old woman could walk again. All in the Power of His Spirit.

The artifacts of thin, sparkling metal were viciously fought over as they landed. Scholars scratched their chins at the angel’s words, which sounded a bit vulgar. Still, they scribbled down their interpretation of the creature’s warnings and wisdom as divine.

They prayed for the angel to descend for three days in the stagnant heat and searing sun.

On the third day, the angel flew from the roof in the guise of a dead man, skin blistered and pockmarked, with a large pouch of tiny idols, a small metal window and shattered glass but made horrid sounds from two tentacle-like appendages , and a larger square that when anyone looked upon it, could see His Word. His name was J. R. Tolkien, and as far as the scribes could ascertain, was an astounding windbag of needless description.

The strange corpse and its belongings were suddenly considered a work of the Devil, and the transcribed statements, the Kindle, and the i-Pod (designed by an entity in California named Apple) were promptly tossed into the fire by the Church, and all was eventually forgotten.

The old God made more sense.

(Photo credit: badeendjuh from morguefile.com)

13 September 2010

Guest Blog - Cecilia Tan: The Plot Thickens

 Beloved readers of my mindless drivel, please give a warm welcome to one of the most accomplished women (and erotic writers of GLBT fiction) I've met this year, Ms. Cecilia Tan - CC




I used to think that plot was my weakest point. When I was an aspiring writer, I could sit down and write the first chapter of a novel, and then I would look at it and say... but what happens next? I thought I was supposed to write out a plan of what would happen chapter by chapter, but I would draw a blank. So I thought I "could not plot." I thought about the Hobbit, and the Lord of the Rings (two of my favorite works) and how the plot was basically a long road trip. "There and back again." Both of those books seemed to just go from one event to another, like a parade. This, and then this, and then this. I just couldn't seem to do that myself, though.

Star Wars was my first clue that I had to think about plot a different
way. Star Wars (the original movie) has a very tight plot that
includes several twists. Like for example, our main characters travel
to a planet to fulfill their quest, only to find the planet is GONE.
And then they land in the lap of Darth Vader. Hijinks ensue. However,
I still thought of plot as one long, logical chain of linked events,
but now the chain could have a knot in it.

What I did instead of write novels then, was concentrate on short
stories. Short stories don't have anywhere near that much plot. A
story might have as few as two scenes--or even only one scene and a
flashback. And I wrote a lot of erotic short stories, where the plot
had a kind of foregone conclusion. The fun in writing them wasn't in
finding out whether there would be sex, but how the characters enjoyed
it, what went on in their heads, and what kind of language expressed a
potentially predictable outcome (no pun intended).

When I got to grad school, though, pursuing a masters degree in
writing, they gave me a better way to think about plot than the chain
of links. My very first seminar, on novel writing, introduced the
concept of the Three Act Structure. I took a screenplay writing class
at the same time, and lo, they also used the Three Act Structure. The
idea of rising action, a turning point, and then falling action made
so much sense in my brain. Now instead of thinking of my plots as "one
thing leads to another," I now see them as a kind of Rube Goldberg
contraption. Remember the old kid's game Mouse Trap? You spent most of
the beginning of the game assembling this contraption, which if done
right, when the end comes, everything will fall into place and the toy
mouse would be caught.

For me now, writing a novel is like that. I spend the first half to
two thirds of the book setting up all the dominoes. Then things reach
a turning point, and boom, the dominoes all begin to fall.

This sounds a bit more methodical than it is. I've now written a dozen
novels, and someone asked me recently whether I am a "plotter" or a
"pantser" (seat of the pants writer). The truth is that I'm half of
each. When you are a published author, publishers require you to write
a plot synopsis to sell them future works. You turn in a sample
chapter or two, and an outline detailing what's going to happen in the
book.

Everyone knows, though, that as you actually write the book, you might
discover that things that seemed reasonable  to everyone in the
synopsis will turn out to be unworkable in the actual text. I think of
it like this. The synopsis is a map that you made when you surveyed
the mountain from a helicopter. Now when you write the book though,
you are actually climbing the mountain. You find when you are closer
to the ground and struggling to get up there, that there are rocky
outcroppings and crevasses and things that you could not see from the
air. So your general path up the mountain is pretty close to the
original plan, usually, but it may deviate.

Where I find I deviate the most, is on the way down the other side of
the mountain. In the rising action, the climbing part, my plot plan is
usually quite accurate. Then I get to the top of the mountain, the big
turning point, and I look down the other side and I think, holy crap,
how the hell am I going to get down this? However, once you start
going down, you can't stop. Everything will start falling, and you
just have to trust that if you set everything up right, it's all going
to fall into place.

Now that I've done it a bunch of times, I trust myself more than I did
the first few climbs. The result is that I'm a plotter for the first
half, and a pantser for the second half. Everything follows the plan
up to the turning point, and then everything falls apart... but falls
into place if I just keep writing and discovering what's REALLY going
on.

My best example of this is THE SIREN AND THE SWORD, which is the first
book of my four-book paranormal erotic romance series, Magic University. The books are a bit like Harry Potter for grown-ups. At a
magical college, our main character learns about life, love, and
magic, including erotic magic. Like the Potter books, each book takes
place in one of the years of school, and there is a mystery plot to be
solved in each individual book, as well as an overarching plot that
carries through all four.

In THE SIREN AND THE SWORD, the mystery is that of a siren haunting
the school library. All is well and good while the siren seems to do
little other than have steamy, middle-of-the-night sex with students
who spent the night in the stacks. This changes when the best friend
of our hero gets attacked and is left in a coma, and the Powers That
Be seem to be unable to find the culprit. Our Hero goes into Scooby Doo
mode and works to solve the mystery. Pretty straightforward, no?

The catch is that I didn't know who the culprit was. I had set up a
red herring, and then there was a character I thought was likely to
turn out to be it... but I figured I'd find out for sure when I
actually got to that point in the book. When I started writing the
scene where the culprit is actually caught, I suddenly discovered who
it had been all along. I then went back to the first half of the book,
to put in the set-ups, to stand up the dominoes that would point in
that direction... and discovered they were ALREADY THERE. Apparently
my subconscious had known all along what was going on, and everything
lined up quite neatly at the end.

Most of my other novels have followed this pattern, though not quite
to that degree of discovery. The technique of "write for discovery" is
one I embrace, but the important part to remember is that one must
actually write, not just jot or plot.

Meanwhile, you may recall that I said Magic University is a four-book
series (well, five, as it includes a book of short stories, too, but
the overarching plot covers four books). This means that technically,
in our big overarching plot we have rising action for the first 2-3
books, and then falling action for the last 1-2, right?

Guess what? Book 1, other than the little surprise about the culprit,
went more or less as planned. In book two, THE TOWER AND THE TEARS,
Kyle refused to get paired up with the girlfriend I had planned for
him, and at the end of that book, which is supposed to be the turning
point of the whole series... has fallen completely in love with a
character who wasn't even in the original plan! As you can imagine,
this meant that the plot of book three, THE INCUBUS AND THE ANGEL, was
significantly different than what was in the proposal I sold the
publisher, but they still quite liked it.

And now, cue the ominous music, I must sit down and write book four,
having gone completely off the original map. The truth is, I don't
actually know who our main character will end up with. All I know is
this is a quest for true love, and that it's going to have a happy
ending. But I won't know until I get there how it's going to work out.
I trust that my subconscious knows perfectly well... but I'm going to
have to write the entire book to find out.

Wish me luck and godspeed!


About the Author: Cecilia Tan is a writer, editor, and sexuality
activist. She is the author of Mind Games, The Hot Streak, White
Flames, Edge Plays, Black Feathers, The Velderet, and Telepaths Don’t
Need Safewords, as well as the Magic University series of paranormal
erotic romances, and the currently ongoing gay web serials The
Prince's Boy and Daron's Guitar Chronicles. She has the distinction of
being perhaps the only writer to have erotic fiction published in both
Penthouse and Ms. magazines, as well as in scores of other magazines
and anthologies including Asimov’s, Best American Erotica, and Nerve.


Related Links:
The Magic University Series: Info page




Print Book buy links:
The Siren and the Sword
The Tower and the Tears

Ebook buy links:
Mind Games
The Siren and the Sword
The Tower and the Tears
The Incubus and the Angel

09 September 2010

"Neurotic" #Fridayflash


Photo credit: reccaphoenix from morguefile.com

“Hello I’m neurotic
Creating problems that don’t exist…”

Blue Lights  –Pretty Girls Make Graves


The thrumming pulse resonating through the wooden floor was more than Hannah could stand; red lightning flickered in her vision. She beat her head in the corner and clawed at imaginary spiderwebs. The scent of coffee lingered—airborne criteria to indicate that an attack was about to start. They were sporadic, yet eventual, and so Hannah lived the life of the Medicated and Sedated.
Her hands trembled. Her chest caved in on itself. A sundae of eclectic blossoms adorned her vision.
Long. Deep. Bright.

The dinette stood brave under a month’s pile of laundry and schoolwork. There was no school anymore. There were people in school. People in Laundromats. Store-people were different; store-people were occupied. Robotic. Hungry. Hannah tossed dirty clothes to the floor and swept away used department store bags. She bought new clothes every week. She ate pizza or Chinese every day.
The college fund would last at least another year.
Long enough to go outside. To go someplace else.
To hide.

Her hand landed on the orange prescription bottle and she shook out a pill. She shook out two. Water. Washed it down. Shook the bottle and washed more down and scratched her belly until there were red ribbons. She fell into endless night.

~*~
A sound awoke her.
Beeping.
Her eyes fluttered open. Looked around.

She pushed a hand through her hair and stopped midway. Her hand. It wasn’t her hand. It was wrinkled.

02 September 2010

"Spoiler" #Fridayflash


Photo credit: alvimann from morguefile.com


This story is unique. An experiment from a dream I had this week. Hi-five to my muse. He gave me this, but on one condition: I had to write it backwards. So here is a story-written backwards. Enjoy - CC.


There’s a dull gleam to the moment you realize is your last.

In the side-view, I saw it. Real, but not real. It couldn’t be real. It was flying, and we were going close to one-hundred-twenty miles an hour. A death head in pursuit. A bony sound on the rear spoiler. Like pebbles hitting a window. I heard it before he did.

I glanced over at Bryan, his arms held straight out like he was pushing the steering wheel away, but his knuckles bled white. His eyes were locked on the road. I asked him why was he moving; we could get a better look if we stopped where the grass wasn’t so high. There was no moon, but we could see.

Hey wait, stop the car. Oh my God. Stop the car!

A beeping sound—echoing. A sound off of the old Doctor Who, when they still used wavy tricks to make the opening title interesting.

Religious icons of every creed and culture glowed phosphorescently in the sky, over to the right, like fit-together shapes. Like Tetris. A powdered-diamond-blast-pattern of stars filled the spaces between, gradually melting behind the clouds. Clouds to the left, smoked and swirling, geometric—like Incan designs—squared and labyrinthine. I looked out the windshield, hand pressed against the cold glass.

We were on our way home after a party. It was 3AM.