Clah and the Ship: a Bedtime Story

A fun thing happened the other day. My writing group got together, and WE WROTE! It was a really fun idea that Steve Diamond gave us while we were attending LTUE last month. We each picked two (or more) words from a list of random words and wrote a complete story with them.

You know. A. Complete. Story.

Beginning. Middle. End?

Anyway, the stories that came out of this exercise were really fantastic and further convinced me that I am the least talented member of our group. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the little story I put together and I’m going to share it with both of you! You don’t even have to fight each other for the right to read it!

I’m calling it a “bedtime story” because it feels fun and a bit whimsical to me, but beware– this bedtime story does have a bit of a dark side. Consider this the only content warning you will get: maybe read the story first before sharing it with smaller children.

—–

Clah and the Ship: a Bedtime Story

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The waves curled their way over the sparkling black sand and dragged it through craggy lava formations and out into the roiling surf. When the light caught the swells from the right angle, they shone with an inner light that was unknown anywhere else in the land. Those beautiful, rhythmic arms of the sea rose and fell with hypnotic and deadly regularity. Occasionally, ships could be seen in the distance en route to some far-off destination. No one attempted to make landfall on this beach for the rocks would make it sheer folly.

This day was darker than most. An ominous storm savaged the western horizon, tendrils of it reaching out to the onyx land of the isle like wavy boneless fingers. The waves rose higher, driven by the gales of the malevolent front, and the sea birds that oft frequented the craggy shore in search of dinner had flown off looking for a less precarious perch.

Clah was not afraid of such perils as changeable as the weather. Indeed, she willed the storm to her from her crag in the base of the cliff wall just behind the beach. The sheer basalt wall had been her home through many such encounters, and Clah knew that a storm of this magnitude could bring untold treasures to the isle. She walked out onto the sand on all of her appendages, her dark eyes scanning the coast for anything of interest. When she noticed it, Clah scurried back into her home and watched from the safe vantage because she was cautious, and the object of her interest was far closer than she had dared to hope.

The ship was quite large, and rising from its middle were two enormous poles as big as tree trunks from the jungle atop the cliff. They had crossbeams attached and swathed in bunched-up white cloths of wind-catching. To the wildly bucking rear of the craft, there was a raised area where many men scrambled about like angry ants trying to do something with a round, wooden object. The circular roundwood thing had a dozen or so sticks protruding from it at evenly-spaced intervals. It didn’t seem to be responding in a way that pleased the men, and indeed, the ship appeared to be making its way rapidly toward the stony shore broad side first. The waves had grown with the winds and the darkness in the West was doing the same. They propelled the vessel with effortless ease to the doom Clah had foreseen from the moment she first spotted it.

It collided with crushing force, the breakers thrusting it at a speed the ship would not have normally attained on its best day, the crashing groan was so deafening as to drown out even the mighty waves and shrieking wind. Men flew from the ship with the force of the impact, some of them flung through the air hurling toward the beach, only to be caught and impaled upon the cruel rocks or crushed upon them by the prodigious weight of the pounding surf.

But. One man was flung free. He was clear of the reefs, and the tall waves snatched at him as he fought his way to his feet, stumbling away from the vicious ocean and her mighty disdain for the lives of men. He shuddered at the booming crack, as the spine of the ship was defeated by the forces arrayed against it. He turned gasping to stare as the rest of the boat gave way and started to release its ribs, spilling interior contents out like the guts of a man disemboweled.

Clah chose that moment to spring upon her prey, hurtling from her crag, to sink her wicked teeth into the neck of the unsuspecting sailor. He was delicious if a bit gritty from the granules of black sand that still clung to his skin. She hadn’t had a treat this savory since two storms prior when a man and his son had taken refuge on a beach some miles to the north.

Sighing with the contentment of the truly satiated, Clah curled up next to the now slumped man and watched with pleasure as the waves continued to roll in stronger and more powerful. After a time, she drowsily made her way back to her home in the crag and let the rhythm of the storm and the ocean lull her into a tranquil sleep.

Friday Link Pack 3/11/2016

Hey there link likers!

I have some fun stuff in store for you today. First, let me entreat you. If you like my #FLP posts, you may also enjoy my Twitter feed. Feel free to follow me for occasional bits of random goodness. You may even get the jump on a few of the things I post here.

Alright. On to business. Link business.

WRITE-ING (Note to self.)

Tor.com Gets Mushy About Rejection
I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s repressed guilt. For whatever reason, and in a roundabout sort of way, Tor.com is telling us “It’s not personal” when they reject our manuscripts. We knew that, Tor.com. However, the article gets downright brilliant below the fold when the author starts talking about all the structural reasons manuscripts get rejected. Nice save!

TOOLS

Tabletop RPGs As Writer Trainers
polyhedralDice

Ok, this is an older article (2011 I think), but Chuck Wendig say it as only Chuck Wendig can. He lays out all the facts in his typical entertaining and CONTENT ADVISORY style. Don’t believe me? Clicky clicky, folks. Clicky clicky.

SCIENCEY

Chart of Cosmic Exploration
This chart may well be the most delightful representation of human exploration of the Solar System that I have ever seen. Don’t miss this one if you have a sciencey streak.

THINGS I LOVE

I’m Cheating Today
I don’t feel sorry. Today is their day. I used to LOVE this band. These days I only semi-aggressively like them. What can I say? It’s not them. It’s me. I’ve changed, and they didn’t. Still, nostalgia compels me.

Yesterday’s Demons Is Available For Preorder On Amazon
This is not a drill. Go directly to Amazon and order this book. I was a beta reader for it, and I’ve reserved my copy. You do the same. I’ll wait.

GIF OF THE WEEK

If I’m still learning to write consistently, this cat is still learning to cat:

vxhjk3o - Imgur

OH. YOU’RE STILL HERE. AWKWARD.

Soon, my friends (both of you), you will learn about Clah. Who or what is Clah? You’ll have to tune in next week to find out.

Learn Like A Poetic Viking

My friend Ron Coulson (who I’ve known practically forever) has challenged himself to write a poem a day this year. He is well underway. This is #63 of 366, because, you know, leap year.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m no poet (any evidence to the contrary cannot be proven), but the subject matter here is near and dear to me — learning! I also enjoy a good metaphor and the Viking theme here is vivid and wonderful. Overall, it struck me as fantastic and I thought I’d like to share it with you all. Ron generously agreed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Untitled

Let us devour knowledge in a way
That would make vikings cringe
Let’s gorge ourselves until we
Vomit certainties no one can dispute
Let truths drip from our chins
As the spittle of enlightenment
Lands in our opponents eyes
Raise your mugs, my friends
Then chug down life’s lessons
Until we are drunken sages
Then sleep
Then do it all again

-Ron Coulson (2016)

If these words have inspired you to learn, be sure to check back on Friday. I’ll be posting a brand new Friday Link Pack #FLP for writers.

Rue From Ruin – Part 5

The much maligned, and hopefully much anticipated, part 5 is here. Revel in its glory. Relish its brevity. Relinquish your focus on daily life and enjoy. Finally, the story continues.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, start with the Rue From Ruin page.

When I first sat down to write part 5 I was calling it something different, and I thought I had it all planned out according to my outline for the story. Yes, there is an outline. Back on task, you. Anyway, the words just weren’t coming out in a way that I liked, and I felt that something was missing. I let it get in my head and ended up sitting on my hands for some time.

I LIED to myself.

I told myself I was too busy to finish. I told myself my promotion at work was too demanding, and my brain couldn’t find a way to write. I told myself, I just needed a break.

Truth is, I was stuck. And instead of asking for help or even just trying to brainstorm an alternative, I was making excuses. Then I went to LTUE. Then I thought, I should ask my writer friends for help. THEN. Then I had a direction. A purpose. I knew what I was supposed to be writing.

And here it is.

————

Rue From Ruin – Part 5

pyrenes

Dilemma

Running. It seems like I’ve been running for months. Maybe I have. Today I’ve been running for a few hours. The wretched, burning globe of the sun is high in the sky, and I can feel it searing the bare areas of my shoulders. If I could sunburn, I’m sure I would. Even so, the pale white skin that shows beside the shoulder straps of the rough denim overall feels more irritated than the skin beneath the straps.

If it seems like I’m complaining a lot, maybe my tale isn’t for you. The life of a pissed-off wolfman bent on revenge isn’t all unicorn colts and sugar and spice and other cloyingly sweet similes. Being me generally sucks.

Yes, I’m still chasing after the elusive Professeur Demons. He’s playing dirty and took advantage of my exhaustion to slip out of the backwater jail we were both locked up in before I woke. I’m close enough I can almost feel the trail of his scent. The odor attacks my nose like a kid sticking a nail through drywall and twisting it, rotating to widen a hole meant for stuffing with treasures hidden from Mom and Dad. The smell of him only feeds my anger. But, there’s something else there as well. Something — familiar.

It’s not familiar like an old shoe, or like the scent of your own pillow in the spots where you’ve drooled, open-mouthed while you slept. It’s familiar in a much more recent way. Like dropping off flowers for a loved one on the way to work, and coming back to the scent of them filling the house. Realization dawns on me and I almost trip in surprise. The bastard has taken the Spanish girl.

I trot on, not wanting to lose them, wondering what he thinks his hostage will buy him. I wrack my brain to determine his plan. I guess he’s going to threaten to kill her? Unless, there is some connection between them I don’t know about.

Poor girl.

The smell of her intensifies as I jog through a thicket, and I know she must be near. I emerge into a full-blown view of the Pyrenees Mountains, much closer than I thought they would be, and then I’m upon her. She’s stumbling, incoherent and mumbling something under her breath. There is no sign of Demons, though he can’t be far. I catch the señiorita in my arms just as she is beginning to crash to the ground. Touching the skin of her arms is like grabbing the handle of a cast-iron skillet that’s been on a stove too long. I still can’t make out what she’s saying. It’s quiet, slurred, and most relevantly, in Spanish.

“Are you alright? Can you understand me? Entiendes?” I ask.

She doesn’t seem to notice me at all. I shift my grip on her arms so that I can help her to a sitting position and I see something peculiar on her on her neck. A small red dot the size of a pin-head. Or. A needle. There is a faint smudge of wiped-off blood around it, confirming my suspicion.

Damn.

He’s injected the girl with whatever it was he gave me. I don’t understand it. Why would he do this?

I know what it means. The girl will be fine. As fine as I am anyway. Ok, so maybe not so fine. The people near her will be less fine. Especially if she finds her way back to her village.

I want to do something to help. My impulse is to help her and keep her from my fate somehow. My NEED is to catch the Professeur. My gray-matter battles itself in an attempt to find the right solution to this problem, but there doesn’t seem to be one. He’s slipping farther away from me over every second that passes. It’s so hot and bright, and I can’t think straight.

I don’t want to have her blood directly on my hands, but this would be his mistake, not my guilt. I can’t leave her to wreak havoc behind me. Can I?

Nice and easy, I lay the girl down on the ground. She’s barely conscious now, and her breathing comes in quick pants. The pouch tied at my neck dangles down and brushes her lips as I lean over her. She flinches away from it. The thought hits me like a Mack truck carrying a load of solid lead bricks.

What if I give her a dose of tincture?

 

Friday Link Pack 2/26/2016

It’s Friday! Link pack time. Lucky you, I recently attended LTUE (Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium) and I’m flush with links on diverse topics. I attended sessions with various panelists such as Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Larry Correia, Steve Diamond, Kevin J. Anderson, Shannon Hale, Alan Bahr, David Farland, Peter Orullian, and the list could go on. You’re jealous. I understand.

Also, remember I’m collaborating on #FLP posts with Drew Gerken, and he had a great one last week. Check it out on his blog.

WRITE-ING (Note to self.)

William Gibson – How I Wrote Neuromancer
This is a slightly older, yet still relevant article by William Gibson on the genesis of Neuromancer. The book is one of my favorites, so this story resonates with me as a writer. You won’t be disappointed by it, I think.

The Popcorn Theory of Success
Kevin J. Anderson gave a brilliant, articulate, funny, and inspiring keynote address at LTUE. Lucky you, he gave it once late last year, and it’s on YouTube. Do not delay, my writerly friends. Watch this video.

TOOLS

Spritz For Speedreading Without Loss of Comprehension
Cool new technology I learned about recently. If you wonder how you’ll ever get through that backlog of books on writing you’ve wanted to read, try Spritz. Their technology can let even typically slow readers read up to 700 wpm and more. Of course, I haven’t tried it with fiction, because I like to savor my novels.

SCIENCEY

The Death Knell of Moore’s Law
vaccuumtube.png
Guess they shouldn’t have called it a law, right? Anyway, the gist is this: computing power has been advancing at a highly predictable pace for a long time. Like 50+ years long. Yeah. So that’s over now (or very soon, rather). Computing power has virtually doubled every two years for decades, and it’s about to come to a screeching halt thanks to physics. Read the article if you want more detail. I could explain most of this, but they already did, and I don’t call this a Link Pack for nuthin’!

THINGS I LOVE

Galavant
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed watching both seasons of Galavant recently (thanks, Alan!). I’m going to try anyway! I’ll start by warning you; the show is the funniest twenty minutes of musical heroic, comedic fantasy you will ever watch. Yes. Musical. Don’t let that dissuade you — you would regret that. In summary, regret is bad — watch Galavant.

GIF OF THE WEEK

universeye

OH. YOU’RE STILL HERE. AWKWARD.

Psssst… since you stuck around, I’ll taunt you. Part 5 of Rue From Ruin is currently out to my critique group. You’ll get it next Friday.

As A Writer, Never Ask For Help

Don’t run your ideas and concepts by others;
They might be stolen.

Don’t ask for help when you get stuck;
They might not understand the problem.

Don’t let others see your early drafts;
They might see weakness.

Don’t ask your friends and family for the time to write;
They might be angry with you.

Don’t do anything that could help you meet your goals;
They might be out of reach anyway.

——-

Ever have these thoughts going through your brain?

Don’t.

 

dontfoolyourself

 

Friday Link Pack 1/29/2016

Just when I thought I’d done something as haphazardly and last-minute as humanly possible — I’m writing a Friday Link Pack post at 10 PM EST on Friday via airplane wifi in extremely turbulent air bound for snowy Salt Lake City after a long week of strenuous vacationing. Oh well, here goes nothing!

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As a reminder, because I know you all read two weeks ago and remember, I’m collaborating on #FLP posts with Drew Gerken, who wrote a great one last week. Check it out over on his blog.

WRITE-ING (Note to self.)

So you want to be a writer…
This is a lovely post by Hugh Howey about writing and what it takes. For example, don’t give up before you’ve started. Credit where credit is due on finding this one: thanks, K.M. Alexander!

How To Write Super Sharable Content For Your Author Blog
Yes, I’m coming back to Lauren Sapala again. I saw this one come up on my list yesterday, and it’s pure gold. I’m going to start following this advice once I start writing again in earnest next month! Did I mention that aside from offering great advice on Twitter and her blog, Lauren is a writing coach for hire?

CREATIVITY/INSPIRATION

Bluescreen Launch Series
One of my favorite Young Adult authors, Dan Wells, has been writing a series of pre-launch posts on his blog for the first book in a new series, Bluescreen. Check this one out and if you haven’t read any of his stuff, give it a go.

SCIENCEY

Sweat Puns Galore!
I could write several. More than several. What I can’t do is make this stuff up. Soon we will have wrist-attached sweat analyzers that can detect things like hydration levels, glucose, sodium, and body temperature. Imagine the applications just for diabetics.

GIF OF THE WEEK

Hoping for a landing less interesting than this: