Posts Tagged ‘weekly exercises’

Yes, this is my 666th post. The fact that I’ve been counting up to this post must tell you a lot about me. I just wish I had something scarier to mark the occasion. I guess the picture to the left of this paragraph will have to do.

I want to make a confession to you on this post, and that confession starts with a little story. Today I met with one of my counselors at Ohio State and she told me she’d read Reborn City over winter break, and that she’d enjoyed it very much. In fact, she told me at times she had trouble putting it down because she wanted to keep reading and see what happened, which explained why she read it so quickly. I’d heard this from someone else who’d recently read RC, so it made me feel pretty good. But at the same time, I also felt pretty incredulous. After all, I wrote this book in high school. It took me about four years to get it ready for publication, and I needed a lot of help along the way from friends and family.

The truth is (and this is the confession part from the title of this post), I’m still trying to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing. I may act sometimes like I’m all experienced in the matters of fiction writing and all that’s terrifying, especially when I’m writing a post for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, but I don’t know it all. I have no idea how to get more people to read my blog, or how to get more people to purchase or download copies of my books. I tried with the Weekly Exercises to get people interested in buying my fiction writing and just interested in my writing in general, but it didn’t work out so much (this is part of the reason why I haven’t been writing any Exercises recently, in case any of you were wondering. That, and I didn’t have the time or the inexhaustible well of ideas for so many flash fiction pieces). And I’m certainly not the authority on terrifying people. I’m pretty far from it. I’m still trying to learn how to do a better job of scaring than jumping out to yell BOO! or use a big, scary monster with claws or a serial killer with a knife. There are subtleties to scaring people and doing it well. I’m still learning how to do it.

So I ask that you still support me and help me. I’m working hard to fulfill my dreams and to become a better writer. If you want to read my writing, then I’m happy about that and I thank you for it. And if you never want to read my books because it’s just not what you’re into, then that’s fine. Everyone’s tastes are different.

And now for those updates:

–I’ve written a blurb for Video Rage. For those of you who’ve read Reborn City and enjoyed it, I wrote a short blurb for RC‘s sequel that gives a few hints as to what we can expect for the next book. Unfortunately VR is only listed as Coming Soon, as it’s still in the first draft at this point. Still, if you’re interested in the second book, you can read the blurb here.

–I’ve published a few stories on WattPad. Well, one story, to be exact. Revenge for a Succubus’s Beloved was published about a year ago, and it’s still one of my favorites, so I published it again on the site for others to read if they so desired. The other two publications are previews of The Quiet Game and Reborn City. I hope to publish some original fiction in the coming months on the site, and when I do I’ll let everybody know. If you would like to read The Quiet Game‘s preview, click here. If you want to read RC‘s preview, click here. And if you want to read Revenge for a Succubus’s Beloved (and it’s one of my favorites, so I hope you do), click here.

–My Facebook page has reached 100 likes! Growing and maintaining a Facebook page is not easy, ask any author who has one. Ask any person who has one. And I finally managed to get 100 likes on my own page. Took several months, but I did it. I’d like to thank everyone who’s liked my page and stayed with me through the months. Just like everything else, it couldn’t happen without you. And if you’re interested in checking out my Facebook, follow the link here.

Well, that’s all for now. Have a good night, Followers of Fear. Thanks for reading my 666th post, confession and all. I hope nothing demonic results from you reading it.

Time once again for my Weekly Exercises, my flash fiction pieces dedicated to a) practicing my craft, b) getting feedback from readers, and c) trying to get people interested in my published work. Remember that the Weekly Exercises depend on reader feedback, so if you have a thought on what you read, please let me know. Also, if you would like to check out any of the other Weekly Exercises, you can find them here. And if you have an idea for a Weekly Exercise, give me your name and idea. You might just see your idea on this blog someday.

With the upcoming aniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombings, I dedicate this Weekly Exercise to those who died during the bombings and those who afterwards fought for our freedom here and abroad. We owe more to you than can be expressed in a single blog post.

Enjoy.

~~~

When I was a kid, my brother and I would read all these science fiction stories. Looking back on it now, they were all basically the same: the noble and indestructible warrior, the beautiful princess with barely any clothes, the quest that always ended with the hero victorious and in sexual bliss with his princess. Stupidly optimistic, but that was the 1920s for you. We were all hopeful for the future and thought nothing could cut us down.

Then there was the Depression, and then war broke out in Europe and in the Pacific. I enlisted to get away from home and do honor for my country. Or maybe what I wanted to do was get away from reality and become the hero of my own science fiction adventure. Perhaps they were the same in my mind. Either way, I joined the Marines expecting that I’d leave training an invincible warrior just waiting for the princess of my dreams and the adventure of a lifetime to come my way.

Neither did. When we got to Peleliu in 1944, it was like I was in a jungle on another planet, but I was fighting the Japanese instead of aliens or whatever, and I certainly wasn’t invincible. The heat of the jungle, the sweat of unbathed men, the rotting corpses and the buzzing flies made all of us miserable. At any second we were liable to get killed by bullet or sword or sneak attack, and that only worsened our misery, and sometimes drove us mad. Once in a foxhole my buddy got out to piss. He was shot as soon as his fly was unzipped. I saw his body later. His entire face was a bloody mess and his fly was still down, but whatever had been there had been mangled by gunfire. I could almost hear him asking me to zip his fly. All I could do was puke.

We did see a girl on the island, one of those girls from a pleasure regiment. She was Asian, but she was a real beauty and she wore a simple dress. She was the first girl I’d seen in months, and I was ready to make her feel like a princess right then and there, if only she’d tell me that things would get better. She saw me and my boys though and threw herself over a cliff. We tried to save her, but all we did was see her join some of her comrades down at the bottom of the cliff. We learned later the Japanese had brainwashed the girls to believe that Americans would do horrible things to them if they were caught by them. So much for an epic romance in an unforgiving wasteland.

As I sit thinking about this now, one of my comrades is peeing on the face of a dead Japanese soldier. He’s laughing like it’s a big joke and when he zips up his fly he walks away with a swagger. Does he think he’s done his duty for his country? How would he feel if a Japanese did that to one of our many dead? He wouldn’t act so noble or treat this like a joke. Truth is, there’s no nobility in war, there’s no adventure or romance or humor. There’s just blood and death and destruction and the knowledge that any moment all of it might come raining down on your head.

My brother tells me in his letters he’s planning to enlist once his birthday comes around. I want to tell him to stay away, but then he’ll accuse me of just trying to keep all the fun for myself. Oh well, let him enlist. He’ll see that the fun isn’t to be had here, or anywhere there’s war. It’s just one pile of shit after another, and if you’re unlucky, you die, sometimes by your own hand but usually by the hand of someone else. And if you’re lucky you ride it out, you go home, and you move onto something else. Maybe write science fiction stories that reflect the truth of life, which is that life’s harsh. That’s what I plan to do, anyway. If I don’t bite the bullet first.

Time again for my Weekly Exercises. These flash fiction pieces are part chance to practice my craft, part chance to hear feedback from readers, and part shameless plug to get you interested in my published fiction. Remember, the Weekly Exercises are dependent on your feedback, so if you like what you’re reading or absolutely hate it, please let me know. Also, if you have an idea for a Weekly Exercise, let me know. You may see your name and idea here on this blog. And finally, if you wish to read any more Weekly Exercises, they can all be found on their own page.

This week’s exercise is in memory of all teens who have been or are currently being cyber-bullied. What you are going through is horrible and you do not deserve it. Be strong. Trust me, it gets better.

~~~

Amber found Edna’s Facebook profile and laughed. There was a picture of the fat bitch with a dog and her younger brother. Well, she wasn’t really fat, she was just a bit rounder than the other girls. But she was still a bitch. A fat, ugly bitch who listened to weird music and sat in front of her computer all day and had flirted with Amber’s boyfriend. Didn’t matter if they were going through a rough patch, the bitch still had to pay for breaking the rules!

On Edna’s status, she’d written the words “Enemies Beware. Be Kind To Others Even If You Don’t Like Them.” What the hell did that mean? Didn’t matter. The bitch was going to get what she deserved. Clicking on the comment space, Amber wrote “Ur a fat, ugly pig. Why don’t u go sterilize urself. Cow.” Amber clicked Enter.

Nothing happened. Confused, Amber clicked Enter again. Still nothing. Now Amber was pissed. How come the damn comment wasn’t showing up? She groaned and tried to refresh. Now she’d have to write the comment all over again.

She clicked the Refresh button and suddenly Edna appeared on the screen. Amber’s eyes widened as Edna waved at her. “Were you planning on doing something?” she asked, glaring at Amber through the screen triumphantly. “Not going to work.”

Amber felt her anger flare. “What the hell are you doing there?” she hissed. “You’re not supposed to be on my computer—”

Suddenly Amber was unable to speak. She felt overwhelming despair come over her, like she’d suddenly been told that everybody hated her. In fact, she was sure that they did. Everybody hated her. She didn’t have a single friend in the world. But just as surely as the feeling had suddenly come, now it was gone. Why had it come? And where had it gone?

Edna only laughed. “Now you know how it feels.” she said. “Don’t do it again if you don’t want to feel it again. That’s the curse I cat: anyone who tries to bully me feels what it’s like to be bullied. Not very fun, is it?”

Edna disappeared. And Amber, for the first time since she was a little girl, cried in shame.

Time again for my Weekly Exercises! These flash-fiction pieces are part chance for me to practice my craft, part chance for the readers of my blog to let me know how I’m doing as a writer, and part shameless plug to get people interested in my published fiction. Remember that the Weekly Exercises are dependent on reader feedback, so if you have any thoughts, let me know.

If you would like to check out other Weekly Exercises, please check out their page. And if you have an idea for a Weekly Exercise, let me know. You might see one based on your idea here with your name on it.

That’s all right now. Enjoy.

~~~

Josef Mengele woke up with a start. He was strapped down to a metal chair in his kitchen and someone had placed a gag in his mouth. He tried to call out, but a voice said in his ear, “Nobody’s coming to save you.” From behind him appeared two men and a woman. Mengele didn’t recognize either of them.

“We’ve been looking a very long time for you, Josef Mengele.” said the woman, speaking German with a Polish accent tinged with some American. “Almost ten years, in fact.”

“Do you know who we are?” asked one of the men, whose voice sounded like the one Mengele had heard only a moment before. He was dark-eyed and he had a long, scraggly beard. Mengele shook his head, which made all three intruders smile humorlessly. “We guess you wouldn’t. After all, you caused so much pain for so many. How can you expect to remember three prisoners?”

Mengele’s eyes widened. His three captors pulled up their shirt-sleeves, revealing strings of numbers appearing on their arms. Survivors of the camps, and they had him tied up and at their mercy! How did this happen?

“We’ve been tracking you for a while, Mengele.” said the second man, young and curly-haired. “We and so many of your former patients. We formed a little group after the war, you know. All to find the killers who had escaped justice. You’re the latest find out of twenty-three former Nazis. Yes, twenty-three. We made sure they suffered before they all died too.”

“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” said the bearded man, removing the gag from Mengele’s mouth.

Mengele coughed and spluttered before speaking. “Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” he said. “I was an innocent lamb. I had no idea what I was doing, I was just following orders—!”

The woman slapped him. “No lies!” she hissed, her eyes ablaze with anger. “No more lies! You separated me from my husband and son! They died in the gas chambers and never received a grave. And you put me through hell, making me work and then cutting me open and then sewing me back up. And you had no problem with your lab assistants having fun with me! Don’t claim that you’re a little lamb! My husband and son were lambs! You’re a wolf!”

“The courts will vindicate me.” said Mengele. “You’ll be punished for this ludicrous behavior. But if you untie me now, I’ll forget this ever happened—”

The three captors laughed, shocking Mengele into silence. “You think we’ll give you to the courts?” said the curly-haired youth. “That’ll take too long. You’ll commit suicide before anyone can punish you. No, we’ve got something better planned for you.”

Suddenly a black shape appeared in the kitchen, floating just above the kitchen table. Mengele stared as a monstrous face emerged from the black shape, its eyes fiery red like hot coals. “What is that?” asked Mengele, terrified.

“The Angel of Death.” said the bearded man. “You know, the namesake for your nickname? He decided to help us punish the Nazis we track down. He gets your soul while you’re still alive, and we give him ourselves over to him ten years early.”

“You’d make such a deal?” said Mengele, not taking his eyes off the Angel of Death. “Why would you give up your lives after surviving the camps?”

“Because it’s worth it.” said the woman. “I’ve been only living a half-life since I left the camp anyways. Giving myself over to Death early makes the nightmares quiet, because I know I’m getting the retribution I seek. And whatever’s on the other side, it’s better than what you’ll ever get, even if I never see my husband and son again.

“Have fun in Hell.” said the bearded man. “It’s your turn to feel unending misery and terror.”

Mengele screamed as the Angel of Death wrapped itself around him. Then he was falling through a tunnel, before crashing on the shore of a sea of fire. In the sea of flames, being poked with pitchforks by ghastly monsters were Nazis of all ranks and branches and ages. Some of them Mengele even recognized. There was Goebbels and his wife, and there was his assistant at Auschwitz, and there was a corporal he’d known in Berlin, and—was that the Fuhrer being ripped apart by hooks in his skin as demons tried to reel him in from all sides like a fish?

Before he could even process that the same fate awaited him, something kicked him into the sea of flames.

Today there’s more good news to celebrate. Since October 22 I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from writing because of how busy I was with school and work. However, things have eased up a bit since then. For the first time in a while, my homework load this weekend is a bit lighter than it’s been, and I don’t have that many books-for-pleasure piled up waiting for me to read them like I did when my hiatus started.

So guess what? That means pretty soon I’ll be able to actually sit down and do some writing! And thank God, because I’ve been itching to do some fiction writing, rather than the writing of numerous essays and papers tht have been my the bulk of my fare lately. And writing Weekly Exercises once a week–a thousand words at most every week–is definitely not enough to scratch that itch.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to start writing–might be today after classes, might be Sunday after homework and before dinner, might even be after I turn in my second-to-last essay next week–but it should be soon. And when I start writing, you can expect some very odd weather around central Ohio, because I’ll be writing up a storm! I plan to finish the first draft of Video Rage and get several more chapters of Laura Horn under my belt. Plus an article or two for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, and my usual Weekly Exercises, and I’ll feel as close to normal as I can get again.

So watch your weather bulletins, people. Until then, I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Good luck to the Ohio State Buckeyes as they take on Illinois tomorrow, and I hope we all get the chance to sleep in and rest a little.

Blog on you later!

Time for my Weekly Exercises (and a day earlier than promised). These flash fiction pieces are a chance to practice my craft, as well as get feedback from readers, and to possibly get them interested in my published work. Remember, the Weekly Exercises are for the readers, so if you like what you read, let me know.

This week’s Exercise is a special one, and not just because it’s the thirteenth. I’ve included a little section after the Exercise to explain why this one’s special. I’d suggest for you to wait until after you’ve read the Exercise to read that explanation, but scroll down if you want to. Just recognize it’s a much more impactful story if you read the additional stuff afterwards.

For more Weekly Exercises, please follow the link here. And if you have an idea for a Weekly Exercise, let me know. You may see your name and idea in a future Weekly Exercise.

~~~

Mark pulled the Toyota Sequoia into his usual parking spot and got out, sweaty and close to puking. Still he managed to keep his stomach down and went to inspect the front of the car. When he saw the blood, he actually did throw up.

He couldn’t believe it had happened. He’d been driving home from a party at his friend’s frat house after a few hours of boozing and a comfortable three-quarter hour with a lovely coed. He was slightly buzzed, but not enough that he thought it’d be a problem to drive. Besides, what did he care? He was doing well in his classes, he’d probably ace his exams, and he was graduating a semester early with a 3.7 GPA. What could go wrong with his life?

He’d been a block away from the intersection at Fifteenth and High, and the light turned green. He’d stepped on it, not even bothering to slow his speed or put on his turn signal as he went into the turn. It was then he’d first seen the pedestrian, a guy in a navy-blue coat and a wool hat crossing High Street. Mark saw him, but didn’t react. Neither did the pedestrian, who had just seemed to notice that a big white car was heading for him at nearly forty miles an hour.

There was a sickening crunching noise as the car’s nose hit the pedestrian head-on. He flipped -over onto the hood, rolled up to the windshield, bounced off the glass, and then off the car and onto the street. Mark hit his brakes, skidding to a stop in the left-hand lane. He looked behind him, seeing a crowd of people gathering from the nearest bar and from the street corners to see what had happened. The pedestrian lay on the ground unmoving, while people took photos with their phones and pointed. Still the pedestrian didn’t move.

Mark didn’t know how long he looked out the back of his car, but then he noticed people pointing at his car and he’d snapped back to life. He’d pressed down the gas pedal and bolted before anyone could stop him or call the cops. Mark didn’t stop driving until he was far from Fifteenth and High, and only then did he slow down enough to make it home in the narrow streets in his neighborhood without hitting anyone or anything else.

He’d killed that guy. He was sure of it. The amount of blood his car had brought with them, the poor bastard couldn’t have survived. Perhaps Mark should turn himself in—no, he couldn’t. He was going to graduate in a few weeks, and he had an interview with Safe Auto tomorrow afternoon. If he was even charged with killing someone, he could kiss his chances of graduating and employment away.

He’d have to get rid of the evidence. The window wasn’t cracked and the hood was only a little bent out of shape. If he could get the blood off his white car, nobody would know the difference. Mark turned to get a bucket and a sponge from his apartment, but standing in his way was a person. Except the person was covered in blood, his jaw nearly torn off, and his arm was bent at a weird angle. He couldn’t be a real person, could he?

Mark stepped back as the monstrous man limped towards him. It was then that Mark noticed the guy was wearing a navy-blue coat and a wool hat. It was the pedestrian he’d hit. “Hey dude.” said the pedestrian, looking at him through broken glasses. “You know, that was kind of dickish back there. I mean, you just left me in the street so that people could take photographs of me and post them to Facebook! What was up with that?”

“Stay away from me!” shouted Mark, but the ghostly vision came closer. Then it extended his good arm and pushed Mark into the front of his car. Mark felt the blood against his back, and he screamed.

“You didn’t care, did you?” shouted the spirit. “You just ran off to preserve your perfect life! My life’s gone now, it’s all over the ground and your car and your back.”  Mark stared in horror as the spirit started to fade in front of his eyes. “Well, guess what? Karma’s a bitch.”

The spirit disappeared. For a second, Mark thought he’d imagined the whole thing, but then his car roared to life behind him. He turned around and saw the pedestrian’s ghost in the front seat of his car. “Hey, I never got my license.” shouted the spirit, leaning his head out the window. Do you think I can still drive this and kill you?”

Mark screamed and ran. The car followed, its demonic driver laughing maniacally. He ran, dodging the car every time the engine gunned and it tried to hit him. At some point Mark realized that the ghost in the front seat was pushing him back towards High Street. But why? Did he want him to die like he’d died, on the very same street as he did?

Finally he broke onto the open lane of High Street, not seven blocks from where Mark had hit the pedestrian. The car chased him towards Fifteenth, a chase in the middle of the busy street. People watched as Mark ran, chased by his own car. Finally between Fourteenth and Fifteenth, the car’s engine died and the car rolled to a stop in front of a closed bookstore. Mark stopped running, unable to believe he was still alive.

“Excuse me sir?” said a voice. Mark turned and saw two cops coming his way from a sea of police cars surrounding the crosswalk where Mark had hit the pedestrian. And there, unnoticed by anyone, was the pedestrian’s ghost, sitting on top of one car. He waved as the police inspected him and his car.

Now Mark’s life was over too. The spirit disappeared.

~~~

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this on this blog, but back in February of this year I was hit by a car on the way to class. Luckily I got off with only a few bruised ribs and a scrape or two, but I was pissed, especially when the driver only waited for me to get up and start swearing before she tried to drive off. She didn’t get very far though, because the street we were on was not only full of cars and pedestrian traffic, but a construction site was nearby. She was arrested twenty feet from where she’d hit me!

Ever since that day though, I’ve been weary of getting hit again, and every time I cross a street, I’m watching twice as hard for anything that might hit me. Good thing I’ve been so vigilant, because last night as I was walking back from seeing the new Thor movie, I was crossing the street and a car nearly ran me over. And yes, it was a white Toyota Sequoia. If I’d taken a second longer to react, I might be a pancake in the road. And the way the driver reacted–actually, how he didn’t react at all to nearly hitting a pedestrian while driving too fast in a turn.–let me know that he would’ve just driven away as well if he’d hit me.

So as part therapy, part fun of writing, part warning to anyone who reads this blog and drives, and part imagining what might happen if he’d actually hit me and I could come back as a ghost, I dedicated a whole Weekly Exercise to what’d nearly happened to me. And now that I’ve written this out, I can say I can continue on with my life with just as much enjoyment and energy as usual.

Well, maybe with a bit more confidence and pride that my hyper-vigilance around traffic isn’t out of just paranoia and it’s actual useful. Good night everybody!

I’ve been meaning to write this post all weekend, but I’ve been crazy busy with homework (ah, the life of the busy college student with less than four weeks till finals). Anyway, this past Friday several people bought or downloaded copies of Reborn City. Before Reborn City came out, I’d sold nearly fifty copies of The Quiet Game: Five Tales To Chill Your Bones. With the additional copies of RC, I realized something: I’d sold fifty copies of all of my books, total.

Now, I know that’s not as prestigious as selling fifty or a hundred or a thousand copies of each book. But for me, it’s a big deal, especially as a self-published author. I remember very well when no one was reading this blog, let alone showing any interest in my writing. The fact that I’ve come this far, that people want to read my blog and that at least enough people for a mid-size class at my school want to read my book means a lot to me.

Still, I want to sell more copies of my books. Which is why I’m making an announcement. I wrote an article for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors a few days ago about how the publishing platform CreateSpace is offering new, free distribution options for its authors. I was hesitant to put either of my books through these channels though, because it would mean a higher price to buy my books. Not only did I not want to put a strain on my readers, but I was afraid new readers wouldn’t want to read my work because it cost more.

I’ve since changed my mind. My books will be available in bookstores and libraries if I were to take those distribution channels. Heck, I could reserve my own book from my local library! That would be amazing! And there’s always a chance someone will want to read the book even if it’s a bit pricier than most supermarket paperbacks. So look forward to possibly seeing RC and The Quiet Game in your local Barnes & Noble or library in the future, okay?

In the meantime, I’ve got some work to take care of. I’m hoping to get my homework done tomorrow, and to write a Weekly Exercise as well. Wish me luck, okay? Good night everybody!