The Collectors Case for April 2017 has the theme of “Fantasy & Adventure”, and featured “Lord of the Rings” and “Dungeons and Dragons”, with the chance for a Mystery Pop and/or a Sean Astin autographed print. Pretty awesome stuff! Don’t forget to check out the link in the description box of the video if you’re interested in checking out The Collectors Case for yourself!
“O” is for “Other World: Book One” – An A-to-Z Blogging Challenge Post
For the A-to-Z Challenge 2017 I’m writing all about myself. Every post will be some random fact or bit of information about me that you may or may not have already known. Maybe you’ll learn something! Feel free to let me know! ^_^
More self promotion today!
“The Other World: Book One” is my recently-published novel that is the first book in a series. It is the story of a teenage girl who has lost everything but subsequently gains a strange and unusual purpose when she is transported into a parallel universe.
This story, like my previous novel “Nowhere to Hide”, was a National Novel Writing Month project, but that’s not where it started. The original story, which I then called “Parallels”, was a single novel that I began writing after my high school sweetheart broke up with me. I was a complete mess – as one tends to be after a break-up – and one of the things I did as a result of that was to get back into writing for cathartic reasons. It was a Mary-Sue project at first, because I was writing simply to make myself feel better. The main character was based on myself, and the bad guy was based on the dude who broke up with me, and that’s really all you need to know, because no trace of that original story made it to the final cut. Those first chapters that I wrote way back then were picked up a few years later and re-written twice before being dropped again. The following year I picked it up again as my NaNovel, and a few years later I picked it up AGAIN as my NaNovel. A couple of years after that I had the idea to change the single story into a short series, and after about two years of working on it I finally came out with Book One.
The final cut (or, at least, the final cut of Book One, I suppose) is not even the tiniest bit like the original draft. As the years went on my views on life changed, my views on what is good literature changed, my skills as a writer grew, and all in all the story just evolved, became much, much better, and turned into something completely different. That’s a good thing, but in a way also very weird from my perspective, because I can remember all the bits of story that never made it in, the things that I realized were stupid, or literary suicide, or just didn’t fit anymore as the characters changed entirely.
But I’m mostly rambling. The point is that the story that was is just a memory now, and the story that is is all the better for it. So if you’d like to check it out and support your local indie author, please click on the image or link above for both the ebook and paperback options. 🙂
Are you going to check out The Other World: Book One? It’s okay, you can be honest with me! XD Leave a comment as well, if you’d like!
Things I’m Addicted to Right Now
I actually have a surprisingly addictive personality, but not for things like drugs or alcohol. No, I get addicted to games, gadgets, TV shows, products, services, and any other number of awesome things. So I thought I’d share! Here are a couple of things that I am ridiculously addicted to right now.
As though you hadn’t noticed, right? When I first found out that these things existed it was like a whole new world opened up to me, and as a result I went a little overboard at first. I’ve therefore spent the past few months trying out different boxes to see what they’re like and what I want to continue getting. Currently my favorites are Loot Crate and Horror Block, which have both been sending me some pretty fun, awesome goodies, and I’m also in love with Ipsy’s Glam Bag as an affordable, value-packed beauty subscription. There’s a ton more options that I’d love to try, but at this point I can’t really justify spending any more money than I already am.
Once Upon a Time
I’ll be the first person to admit that the plotline of this show does not instill a lot of confidence in its quality: the evil queen casts a spell that rips all the fairy tale characters you’ve ever known out of their world and into ours, where none of them remember who they are and no one gets their happy ending. I mean, come on…that sounds more like a crappy cartoon than a show meant for adults, right? But I gave it a try, and even though it was hard to sit through the opening every time (the narrator says basically what I just did at the beginning of every episode), I soon found myself falling in love with it. The show actually has a pretty intricately-woven plot that incorporates a ton of characters, and it’s not as fluffy and cute as you might imagine…people even die, on a fairly regular basis even. Long story short, if you like fantasy and fun characters, this show might be worth a try. I devoured the entire second season just over the past six days.
Silent Hill (a la Guillermo del Toro)
Okay, okay, I can’t really be obsessed with a game that wont’ be out for, like, two years. But I’m very excited about it. The hubby and I recently played the teaser game, P.T. that was created as a way to show that the staff behind the new Silent Hill are capable of making a truly frightening horror game. More precisely, I played and he watched, because he wanted to see me almost have a heart attack. The mini-game certainly proved its point; I nearly threw the controller through the TV screen more than once. And having played it, I am super-hyped for this new game, because what’s more fun that being scared silly from the safety of your own living room?
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish
Call me girly if you must, but I absolutely love this stuff. I’ve always liked nail polish because it’s a cute, easy way to look a little more feminine (plus it keeps me from biting my nails), but I never applied it often because it drives me foolish how quickly it wears and chips. Cue Miracle Gel. There are other gel polishes out there that are quite good as well, I’m sure, but this is the one I decided to try and I’m so glad I did. It comes in tons of super-cute colors, goes on really smooth, finishes bright and shiny and lovely-looking, and really, truly lasts. I am currently wearing the “Hunger Flames” color (it’s a kind of pinkish-purple) and after almost a week only the very tips of my nails are starting to wear a bit. I’m more than happy with the product and I hope that Ipsy sends me another color or two sometime in the future!
Final Fantasy X-2
Hear me out! I know that X-2 is widely regarded as one of the stupidest Final Fantasy games ever (the “garment grid” might have something to do with that, I’ll admit) but I always thought it was actually pretty cute and fun, with the story being an interesting addition to the FFX one. A little while ago my hubby picked me up the remastered PS Vita version of FFX, which came with a download code for X-2, and just recently I began playing it. Color me hooked. It’s so silly, but it’s fun, and isn’t that what games are supposed to be? Fun? Yeah. You know I’m right.
David’s Tea: Cotton Candy flavor
Last but not least on my list for today, one of the most delicious teas I’ve tried from David’s Tea yet. I wound up with a packet of this particular flavor when I decided to try their Summer “Carnival” box, and I’m so glad I did. It’s a delicious blend of green rooibos, mango, brittle, flavoring, and sprinkles (just…because), and really truly does smell and taste like cotton candy. I demolished the entire bag in about a week and had to go get some more! And the topping on the cake is that it’s caffiene free, so I can enjoy it all day long without having to worry about keeping myself up half the night.
So there you have it: my obsessions for now. Will they last? Will they change? I don’t know…give me a few months and ask me again. ^_~
Writing Process Blog Hop!
Last week fellow writer and blogger, Jay Dee Archer from I Read Encyclopedias tagged me for an interesting little blog hop about the writing process. The questions are based around your current writing projects and process, which I thought was really fun and informative. I always enjoy hearing from other writers about what works for them and what they’re working on, so of course I had to take part in this particular hop. Please feel free to check out Jay’s entry when you’re finished with mine. 🙂
The obvious answer would be the zombie apocalypse novel that I should be working through the final edits on instead of writing this post. But, since most of you have already heard about that often enough, I thought I’d talk instead about the project that I’m going to be working on as soon as the aforementioned edits are complete and out of my hair.
My next project is going to be something that I’ve been working on for a decade, but is going to have me pretty much starting back from scratch. I’ve mentioned this particular piece before, but for those who don’t know, the tentatively titled “Parallels” is the story of a young woman who, during a tumultuous time in her life, is transported to a parallel world and tasked with saving that world from an ancient evil. Back when I first started writing this story it was just a bit of cathartic fun to help get myself through a rough patch, but it grew and grew until I began to have visions of this epic story. Throughout the years I wrote and rewrote, changed the story, massacred the plot-line again and again, and eventually found myself with something that was a heck of a lot different than what I began with. In the past year or so I’ve spent a fair bit of time working on this particular piece, and I’ve had a lot of fun and came up with a lot of good ideas, but now it’s time for a truly big change. I am planning to begin the story over again, right from the beginning, as a young adult series. Because of the structure of the plot and the “A to B to C to D”-style goals involved with the story, I’ve come to the conclusion that “Parallels” would be much better set as a series than a single novel. I suspect that it will end up being six parts, based on the goal style mentioned, and I think that chopping it up in this manner will greatly improve the overall readability and enjoyability of the story.
How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?
This is actually a really hard question. I guess, in one sense, it differs from other works because at the core of the story is a creation built of my own personal thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires. Speaking from a more general standpoint, I’ve had people who have read bits of the story tell me that I have a fairly unique writing “voice”, which I’m pretty sure is a good thing. Aside from those two points I’m not really certain that I can answer this question without giving away any major points of the story.
Why Do I Write What I Write?
Whether it’s horror, fantasy, adventure, fan fiction, personal stories, or anything else, I write what I enjoy writing, and what I personally would enjoy reading. I’ve been reading scores of books since I was in grade school, so while I may not be the most talented writer in the world, I know what is fun, enjoyable, and captivating. I aim to write those kinds of books. I try to write the kinds of things that I love to read, like the horror scenes that make you squirm with discomfort, or the love scenes that makes your skin feel hot. If reading my own writing creates those kinds of reactions in myself, then I’m confident that it’ll create excellent reactions in others, and that’s my big overall goal.
How Does Your Writing Process Work?
The writing “process” for me is something that I’ve been struggling with since things other than reading and writing began to become important to me. When I was young I could literally sit for hours with a notebook and a pen and just write, write, write, but as I grew and began to enjoy other things, gather responsibilities, and change in numerous ways, it became harder to convince myself to spend that kind of time on my writing. These days my process is a bit of a hodgepodge mess of pantsing and panicking.
I’ve managed to bring some little bit of order to my writing life over the past couple of years via this blog. The desire to have a successful blog/author platform has driven me to keep returning to write posts on a five-day-a-week basis regardless of what else I have going on in my life. In the past year I have missed only a handful of days, and most of those were due to extraordinary circumstances. Blogging is my rock, the thing that makes me think of my writing as a bit of a job, and keeps me putting words to paper/computer screen.
Unfortunately that seems to be where any semblance of organization and dedication stop dead. I write sporadically, not on any kind of schedule. I very very rarely plan anything out in advance, instead opting to write from the cuff as the words and ideas come to my head. Sometimes I will write random scenes as they come to me, but for the most part I feel the need to write things in order, and I’ve been known to rewrite entire pieces from the beginning because one plot problem or inconsistency bugged me.
I’m a disorganized artist, and I don’t think I’ll ever be anything else, but as long as I get the writing done, that’s all that really matters, right?
I’m going to follow Jay’s example on this one, and tag those people who have commented the most on my blog and who also happen to be writers. So, L. Palmer, Tom Slatin, and Djinnia, consider yourself tagged! No pressure to participate, but if you do please link back here and let me know. 🙂
A to Z Challenge Day 15: Other Mother (the Other-World Evil)
I have a literary confession to make: I have read precisely one Neil Gaiman book, and only because it was made into a movie. I’ve been brought under the impression that someone who fancies herself both a reader and a writer should have, at some point, read a couple of Neil Gaiman books, but to be perfectly honest none of them ever really appealed to me. I don’t know why, they just didn’t.
So it came to be that the first time I ever so much as picked up a Neil Gaiman book was when Coraline was first advertised as the newest 3D movie to be coming to theaters. I’m a sucker for kids movies (hey look, two confessions in one post!) and this one looked quite different and interesting, so I was moved to look up the book that it was based on. I grabbed a copy of Coraline and devoured it in one setting.
My favorite aspect of the book (and the movie) was the villain (are you starting to notice that I have a bit of a thing for villains?), the “Other” mother. Everyone in the “Other” world is a creepy duplicate with buttons where their eyes should be, and Other Mother is ruler of that land. She is (obviously) a duplicate of Coraline’s mother, and she’s a sneaky, creepy monster if ever there was one. At first Coraline adores her Other Mother because she gives her the love and attention that the girl feels like she’s not getting from her real mother, but as time goes on Coraline realizes that there’s something not quite right about this “Other” world, or the woman who seems to run it…especially when Other Mother reveals her intention to sew buttons onto Coraline’s eyes!
When I first came across the ads for the movie, and subsequently the book, I assumed that it was a kiddy-story, but I have to say that if I had read this story (or watched the movie) when I was a kid, I probably would have had nightmares for weeks. The story isn’t necessarily of the horror genre so much as a kind of fantasy, but Other Mother may just be one of the creepiest villains I’ve ever come across, the kind that gives you chills up your spine and makes you think twice about anyone who appears to be a little bit too nice. Definitely worth a read or a watch, trust me on this one.
A Blogger by Any Other Name
There is no doubt that social media is a powerful tool. Complain all you like about the kind of people who upload their every passing thought to Facebook, or those who insist on documenting every bite they eat to Instagram, but when you break past the nonsense social media is an amazing way of connecting to people from all over the world, which is a huge deal for an entrepreneur (writer).
But it doesn’t help the entrepreneur in the slightest if their only followers are family members and people they already knew from school or work. The entrepreneur needs to spread their social network, create a spiderweb of connections and interconnections.
In Kristen Lamb‘s Rise of the Machines she talks about the three different types of social media friends you want to know – the three different types of people who will help your platform grow.
The Connector brings more people into the fold. The Connector seems to know everyone, and through them the entrepreneur meets many new people as well.
The Maven is a treasure trove of useful information. They always seem to know where you should go or what you should do. They help the entrepreneur become a better entrepreneur.
The Salesman is the person that everyone listens to. If the Salesmen hypes up the entrepreneur’s work (book), you can be damn sure that people will buy it.
As I was reading about these three types of people, I began thinking about whether I knew any of them yet. It took a bit of thinking but I realized that, yes, I do know a few of each, though I’m not sure I know any Salesmen that know me well enough to do what they do best for me.
Then I got to thinking…do I fall into any of these categories?
I’m definitely not a Connector. At this juncture in my life I can definitely say that I know a lot of people, but that’s not exactly the same thing. I have a large family, so I know them, and some of their friends by extension. I know the people I went through school with, though I barely connect with them anymore. I met a ton of people out West while I was working there, and I even have a ton of them added to Facebook and LinkedIN, but again, I connect with very few of them. The fact is that I am actually quite shy, even after all I’ve done and at the ripe old age of 29. I’m not a Connector because I don’t like to connect. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite fond of most of the people I’ve come to meet over the years, but I’m also the kind of person who sits in a corner at a party until she’s drunk enough to force herself to speak to someone.
I really wouldn’t call myself a Maven either. I do retain information from time to time and have been known to help people out with some well-timed advice, but this is not the norm. I neither retain every bit of information I come across, nor do I make it my mission to share this information with others. In fact, if I come across a good piece of info that I think will help me in the future, I have to record it some manner (blog, notes on my iPhone, etc) or else I will totally forget about it. No, I’m definitely not a Maven.
Salesman? No, this one is even worse than the first two. I can’t be a Salesman. For one thing, even though I blog and Tweet and update my status on Facebook, I am actually still quite shy and have trouble with this concept of trying to convince others to buy something (this is going to become a huge issue later on when I do get a book published and need to market it). For another thing, I’m not the kind of person of whom people automatically trust the opinion. I like such a wide variety of things, that it makes people wary. Someone might not take my suggestion to watch a particular horror movie, for example, because I also recommended this god-awful b-horror-movie that I happened to love. You see what I’m getting at here?
So if I’m not a Connector, not a Maven, and not a Salesman…what am I? Am I just some weirdo hanging out on all the social media outlets, not contributing anything at all to the spiderweb?
No. I contribute, just not in the ways discussed.
I’m a writer. I write about life as a writer, life as a mother, life as a wife. I write zombie horrors and supernatural romances, fantasies and fan-fictions. I write novels and short-stories. I write blog posts.
And because I am a writer I also read. I read blogs, Twitter updates, and Facebook statuses. I read fiction novels and craft books and bits of writing that fellow writers share on the internet.
Through this identity of writer-and-reader I contribute a little bit in every way. I may not be a Connector, but I will occasionally send a writer friend along to a writing group or introduce a blogger to another blog I think they’ll like. I may not be a Maven but I’ll sometimes critique a writer’s work by using the tips and tricks I managed to glean from the last craft book I read. I may not be a Salesman, but I will absolutely promote what I feel requires promoting, especially if it’s something I absolutely loved myself.
So I guess you could say that I’m a protege. I have tiny bits of all three types of people in me, fighting to be something helpful, and that’s okay. We can’t all be precisely labeled by the exact function we serve in society, but we can still contribute in a real and meaningful way.
Hi, my name is Tracey. I’m a Social Media Writer-Reader.
Laugh, Cry, and Scream
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of jumping between stories. Within my own work I’ve been moving between zombie apocalypses and werewolf romances, between epic fantasies and personal journeys. At the same time I’ve been reading books, watching movies and TV shows, and playing video games. All this going back and forth between different stories with different characters has gotten me thinking about what makes a truly memorable character. What is it that makes a particular person in a book, tv show, movie, or game become this amazing character whom you can’t get enough of? What makes a character great?
I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’ve come up with three answers, three things that make a character great, in my opinion.
Great characters make you laugh.
Humor is almost a given, isn’t it? Laughter is like a drug, one for which the only side effects are happiness and maybe some pleasantly sore muscles. Mentally and physically, our bodies get high on humor, which is why we love comedies so much, why we appreciate friends and loved ones who can make us chuckle, and why we tend to gravitate toward peers who share our appreciation for what is or isn’t funny. Sense of humor is not universal, of course, but almost everyone will find themselves drawn toward a character who can make them laugh, especially if that laughter is of the deep-down, belly-rumbling, gasping-for-air variety.
Characters who give me the giggles:
Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory – He’s just so absurd and stoic in everything he says and does that it’s absolutely hysterical. I genuinely don’t know how the actors of this show make it through their lines sometimes.
Tyrion Lanister from the A Song of Ice and Fire series (G.R.R. Martin) – I’ve rarely read a character so damn witty. His humor is rude and crude one minute, and exceptionally intellegent the next. Every second line out of his mouth makes me go “HA!”
Great characters make you cry.
Sadness is a little less obvious, but whether you might believe it or not sometimes we crave a good sob-fest. Why else would movies like The Notebook be so popular? The thing is, crying is cathartic; even if you didn’t realize you were stressed out or upset, crying gets all the pent-up bad mojo out, and while no one wants to be sad for real-life reasons, being sad for a character allows you to experience that release of emotions. Being able to feel for a character, to be truly empathetic toward them and experience their pain, releases a host of hormones and chemicals that leaves you feeling somehow refreshed and rejuvinated.
Characters who give me the sniffles:
Dean Winchester from Supernatural – It’s one part great writing and one part awesome acting on behalf of Jensen Ackles, and the combination is a character who has made me exceptionally weepy on more than one occasion (but don’t tell my husband…I always turn to my side so he doesn’t see).
Simba from The Lion King – There is one scene in particular that I’m talking about, and if you don’t automatically know which one I’m talking about you can’t possibly have ever seen The Lion King, so GO WATCH THE LION KING RIGHT NOW, YOU FREAK.
Great characters make you scream.
Fear is another thing entirely. Though there are always going to be some people who run in the other direction when faced with fear, quite a lot of us love it. Fear gives a person a unique rush of adrenaline and “fight or flight” hormones that can be obtained in no other way, and how better to experience such a thing than from the comfort of your own home while reading a scary book or watching a horror movie? When a character makes your heart beat faster, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and gives you a nervous twtich because of the incredible tension, that is something real and visceral that you won’t soon forget. If the eventual result is actual nightmares, the character has really done their job.
Characters who give me the wiggins:
The creepy ghost girl from Shutter (original Thai version) – There is one thing I will give to the Asians…they know how to do ghosts, and this chick in particular had me literally watching the movie from between my fingers. Bonus points for totally freaking out my husband and father-in-law.
The Joker from The Dark Knight – He may not be scary in the “I’m going to have nightmares forever!” sense, but Heath Ledger’s maniacal version of The Joker creeped me out more than I can tell. He was truly, entirely mad, and that is a frightening concept.
There are, of course, lots of other factors that go into making a good character. The protagonist should be likable but also have real flaws, the antagonist should be hateful but have relatable qualities as well… You’ve heard it all before, I’m sure, or if you haven’t I’m sure you know most of the rules without even realizing it; that’s how you as the consumer recognize the characters you like. But in my opinion, the three things I’ve mentioned above are what take a character from simply enjoyable, to positively incredible. And if you can somehow incorporate all three of these types of characters into one story…wow. Just wow.
Character (groups) that have made me giggle, sniffle, and wig out:
The cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV) – Fear doesn’t necessarily apply anymore, but I watched this show when I was young and significantly more innocent, so hear me out. Back in the day the monsters creeped me the hell out, the banter between characters (good and bad) constantly had me laughing, and the misery that several of the characters went through made me (on more than one occasion) bawl like a little girl. To me, that is seriously a winning combination, and that is why this show is one of my all-time favorites to this day.
The characters from Invitation to the Game (Monica Hughes) – The characters in this book were witty and amusing, went through a tense, frightening situation that threatened their lives, and experienced a plethora of negative emotions and miseries. I’ve read this book dozens of times and I still experience an emotional rollercoaster whenever I read it.
As a writer I now find myself in the position of trying to incorporate these factors into my characters, which is a much more difficult endevour than simply pointing them out in the books I read and the movies and shows I watch. Humor isn’t my strong point, although I’ve been told by readers of my fanfiction that I’ve made them chuckle a time or two. I strive to incorporate fear into my horror and fantasy pieces, and I hope it comes across, but I haven’t been in the position yet to have anyone tell me one way or the other. Misery seems to be my “thing” (what does that say about me…?), as I love to torture my characters and I’ve had a number of people inform me that I was successful in drawing out those tears. It’s a very difficult thing striking all three, but as other writers will attest, writing is rarely easy and creating excellent characters can often feel like an exercise in futility. Regardless, now that I’ve beaten down exactly what it is that creates characters I’ve come to love, you can be damn sure that I’ll be keeping these three factors in mind whenever I put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.
What about you? What characters have made you laugh until your belly hurt? Sob like a baby? Cower under a blanket? Are there other factors that make a character great for you? Please share!
5 Reasons You Should Be Writing Fan Fiction
As I mentioned yesterday in my accountability post, for the next little while I’m setting aside my work-in-progress and picking up my Final Fantasy III/VI novelization fan fiction. Now here’s the thing… There are a lot of writers (and readers) out there who think very poorly of fan fiction. They think its not “real” writing, or they associate it with a bunch of creepy, sweaty fanboys/girls sitting in a dark room, plucking out a wish fulfillment fantasy where a disturbingly perfect character who just so happens to have their exact name gets it on with Buffy or Edward Cullen, or one of the My Little Ponies (*wigged-out-shudder*). And yes, that stuff does exist, and there’s a special place for it far, far away from me, but there is also a lot of good fan fiction out there if you care to look for it, and I personally believe that fan fiction serves several very important purposes in the writing community.
1. It gives you a break and let’s you enjoy writing for a while.
Even those of us who love writing with all out heart and soul want to smash our computer against a wall and/or burn all our notebooks every now and then. Things happen (writer’s block, bad critiques, lost work that wasn’t backed up, etc) that enrage us and make us want to give up on writing forever. That’s where fan fiction can be helpful; it’s easy (because the world is already created for you), it’s fun (because you get to write your favorite characters), and it keeps you moving forward. You might even find, while writing fan fiction, that you come up with a great idea to continue that original fiction you so recently considered tossing off a cliff. Seriously, give it a try…you might find that writing a bit of fan fiction considerably lowers your writing-related stress.
2. It gives you practice and let’s you get the “bad” out.
Yes, I’ll admit it, a lot of the fan fiction out there is beyond awful. But have you ever heard that oft-repeated adage: “Practice makes perfect”? Lame, perhaps, but true. No one ever wrote a masterpiece on their very first try. With the vast, near limitless options to toy with, fan fiction offers you that ability to keep practicing and practicing and practicing, which can only help you become better. Scrawling fan fiction helps you to get down your bad writing, see that it’s bad, and then make it better. Any writing will do this, of course, but fan fiction makes it easier because instead of struggling with your one story over and over again, or constantly wracking your brain to come up with new ideas, you can just jump in someone else’s sandbox and play away.
3. You can just jump in someone else’s sandbox and play away.
Some people say that nothing worth doing is easy. I beg to differ. Yes, effort is a big deal and most things in life are going to be difficult, but sometimes, to keep ourselves from going mad, we have to find the easy out. Fan fiction is that in spades. This is a whole world that has already been created for you, with established characters who have already had tons of work put into them. All you have to do is think of something for them to be doing. That’s it. Play away. Have some fun! Explore! As children this is how we learn and grow, but as adults we forget the importance of real play. Take a page out of the book of babies and toddlers and learn via good old fun and exploration!
4. The community is extremely powerful.
There are lots of websites out there for sharing fan fiction, but the one in particular that I use is FanFiction.net. It’s a great site with a great community, and chances are if you share something there someone is going to find it, read it, and comment on it, and that is pure gold for a writer. We crave feedback, even if its not necessarily good feedback. We want to know, at the very least, that someone is reading. Fan fiction is wonderful for this because of the vast numbers of people who enjoy it. For example, years back I wrote a Harry Potter fan fiction featuring the Marauders. I finished that story years ago, and to this day I get the occasional review landing in my inbox. It might not sound like much, but a single review on a story you wrote ages ago can really mean a lot when you’re currently struggling with your current works. Community is important to keep a writer sane and moving forward, and the fan fiction community is a surprisingly strong one.
5. It keeps you writing.
When you’re a writer (or you aspire to be) actually writing is the most important thing to do. In this brave new world of writing conventions, social media, and author platforms, writers tend to forget that the real deal is putting words to paper. Fan fiction helps with this. Any kind of writing – even the creepy kind I mentioned earlier that I have a restraining order out against – is worth doing if it keeps you putting words to paper. There is no writer without the process of writing, so whatever you can write to keep that process moving forward is a good thing to write.
So now that I’ve thoroughly convinced you, what are you waiting for? Fan fiction could be just the thing you need! I know it’s what I need right now, so I’ll see you all on the other side of a new chapter of Returning Hope.
Fiction Fragement Fridays: Erased (Chapter 3 – Part 2)
Remember: this is a draft! A rough one! A very rough one!
Additionally, to read the whole story thus far, chose the ‘Erased’ option in the Categories dropdown banner to the right.
The group, which had swelled slowly from one to five, walked mostly in silence as Ashes and Siora led them back through the testing and cleansing rooms and back to the long hallway. Every so often either Bodhi or Ashes would speak, sharing small details. Vaguely, Toreshi heard Bodhi wonder aloud why the place had seemingly been abandoned with the power on and half of the equipment running. Ashes replied something to the manner that they should be grateful because there was a large kitchen in the direction they were headed with the freezers still well-stocked. But though she heard the words they were saying, Toreshi kept her own mouth shut and thought quietly to herself as they walked. She wondered at the situation they’d found themselves in. It looked like they’d been abandoned here, but there had to be more to it than that. The lights were on and the place was sparkling clean. The IV tubing that she had ripped from her arms still had medication dripping from them. The monitors had still been running. It all came together in her head and insisted that someone else must have been here watching them…if they weren’t still here.
The walk seemed to take forever, but finally they found themselves at the exact opposite end of the enormous hallway. There were two doors they could take. One had a sign that said ‘Cafeteria’, but no one was really looking at that door, though some stomachs were beginning to rumble. No, all eyes were focused on the second door, a thick white door with an electronic keypad hanging from the wall in pieces. The sign on this door read, simply, “Augmentation”.
Bodhi turned a questioning eye to Ashes and gestured to the keypad.
“It was like that when we found it,” Siora grumbled, guessing at the other man’s thoughts, “We haven’t gone around smashing the place up, thank you.”
Bodhi put his hands in the air in a gesture of apology. This time Toreshi was the one to push through the door. After their first encounter with Siora, one would have thought she’d be more careful where she rushed, but something about the word on the door had her shoving through it so fast that it slammed against the opposite wall. The others followed quickly, Kattenya almost slamming into Toreshi, who had stopped dead barely past the threshold. Siora and Ashes followed more slowly, grim looks on their faces.
The first thought that came to Toreshi’s mind was “torture chamber”, though logically she knew that wasn’t the case. After her initial shock she began to move slowly further forward, her eyes scanning anything and everything they could see, bile steadily rising in her throat.
It almost could have been a medical facility, but only at a very distracted first glance. There were shelves stocked with strange, multi-colored liquids and shiny mechanical bits and bobs. There were jars filled with slimy red things that looked disturbingly like they’d been hauled out of a human body. Three separate metal tables stood in the middle of the room, each with glaring white lights blazing down over them. Each table was flanked by no fewer than six medical trays filled with all manner of equipment, from simple scalpels to complicated and terrifying devices with circular blades and foot-long needles. Everywhere, on every wall, were charts. Charts of anatomy, both human and otherwise, charts that showed strange pictures of brains and muscle groups, and most frightening, charts that showed surgery plans…horrifying surgery plans.
Even Bodhi had to swallow back a cry of alarm.
Toreshi couldn’t stop shaking as she walked up to one of the charts, hung over a light board so that the details glared out distinctly. The outline looked female, and there were incision marks made across the head and throat, with indications at the wrists and ankles to reference a second drawing. The second drawing showed a series of mechanical devices that Toreshi didn’t recognize as anything even remotely common. She found herself idly feeling at her wrists, wondering.
Eventually Ashes broke the silence. “Creepy, yeah?” she said simply. She was smiling, but there was no happiness or amusement in the smile. She strode confidently over to a row of four large file cupboards and pulled open a drawer. “We found some surgical records in here,” she explained, “They’re hard to work out because they’re in that same ridiculous language, but they have names on them, so there’s that…”
Ashes had barely finished her sentence when Toreshi was in the file cupboards. She flipped through them as fast as she could while still able to read the names at the tops and eventually she found what she was looking for. She pulled out the file with her name on it and stared at it, her heart leaping into her throat. She stared at it, gulping, for a good couple of minutes before a hand on her shoulder made her jump. Bodhi was looking down at her with concern on his face, and Kattenya was bouncing from foot to foot as though she couldn’t decide if she wanted to comfort Toreshi or tell her to get on with it.
“You don’t have to look,” Bodhi suggested sagely, gesturing to the file.
“But that’s the thing,” Toreshi replied, gulping, “I actually think that I do have to. If I don’t, I’ll just go mad wondering what they did to me…”
Ashes piped up, almost too sweetly, “If it helps, I can tell you what they did to me first.”
Siora snorted. “You say that like you want to brag or something.”
Ashes glared at him. “Just because you want to keep your file to yourself doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t share.”
Siora’s glare was considerably more frightening than that of the young woman. “My innards are my own goddamn business.”
“Oh please shut up, you two,” Toreshi groaned. She kept her eyes on the file, so she didn’t see if they shot their glares at her.
After a few more long moments and a few extra-deep breaths, Toreshi turned the page on the file. The first four pages were jibberish, but the fourth and fifth pages caught her eye and almost made her gag. The first picture showed her leg, opened up from the knee to the foot, the skin pulled back and pinned to the table. The muscles shined up at her, red and stringy. A second picture directly alongside the first showed a set of four enormous needles puncturing those muscles. Staring at the pictures, Toreshi could almost feel the metal rods in her leg, pumping some unknown fluid directly into her calves. She bit back the urge to scream and looked to the next picture. It wasn’t immediately evident what this picture was of – all she could see was a sea of blood and bone. Eventually she established that it was her chest and throat, pulled open as far as they could go, her anatomy splayed out like a morbid centerfold. In an adjacent photo, something metal was being inserted between her throat and collarbone.
A particularly large gag reflex came over her and she dropped the file to lean against the wall and cough miserably. Kattenya rushed forward and rubbed Toreshi’s back. Bodhi, calm as ever, retrieved the file from the floor and began thumbing through the rest of the files in the cupboards. He extracted several, the ones with their names on them, and added them to his backpack.
Fiction Fragment Fridays: Erased (Chapter 3 – Part 1)
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Ashes and Siora stepped aside to let the others into the room, and despite themselves they found their jaws dropping.
This room was enormous, at least two thousand square feet of floor space, and the ceiling was a good thirty feet in the air. But that wasn’t the jaw-dropping part. What had the group staring in amazement was the equipment. Almost every inch of wall space was covered in computers, medical equipment, monitor screens, and other items that they didn’t immediately recognize. There were sections of floor devoted to what looked like exercise equipment, areas that were set up like a surgeon’s room, and areas that looked like someone had tried their best to demolish them. One of the first things that caught Toreshi’s eye was a long, double-row of monitors that showed each of the small rooms they’d each been bound in. She saw her name written under one of the monitors.
“What is this place…?” Kattenya gasped, eyes wide.
Ashes was the one to step forward and reply. It seemed that when it came to her and Siora, she was the speaker and he was the doer. “As near as we can figure, it’s some kind of testing facility,” she sighed, staring around at the room, “Though I have no idea what they were testing for.”
“Well obviously we’re the subjects…” offered Bodhi, staring at the same monitors Toreshi had noticed. Siora snorted, as though the statement was unbelievably obvious, but Bodhi did not react to the slight. Examining everything carefully, he walked down a long row of medical equipment. “It looks like they were taking regular blood samples,” he observed.
“Physicals too, I’d say,” Toreshi added, prodding an enormous set of barbells with her toe. She looked warily at a tall glass structure filled with liquid and tried not to wonder what it had been used for.
“But what about all this?” Kattenya asked. She gestured to the area that looked like it had been attacked. There were large holes smashed in the floor and walls, with several indistinguishable pieces of equipment scattered about in hundreds of pieces. “Was all this like this when you two got here?”
Siora raised an eyebrow and looked like he was going to ask if she was accusing them of something, but again Ashes was the one to step forward and speak. “Yes, it was,” she insisted, “And I suspect it’s been like that for quite some time.” She pointed to another destroyed area that was littered in wires and hunks of plastic. “There’s some smashed computers over there, and none of it is so much as lukewarm, so it’s been laying there without power for at least a little while.”
For the first time since she’d first woken up alone in her room, Toreshi felt a growing sense of dread and discontent. What in the Universe was this place? Why had they been bound and housed here? And where were the people who’d done it to them?
She turned to the newcomers. “Can either of you remember anything about yourselves?” she asked.
Before Ashes could speak, Siora tossed a couple of note boards at Toreshi’s feet. “Nothing,” he said simply, “Got our names from those.”
Ashes, who looked annoyed at having been spoken over, shot Siora a look and continued, “We can’t understand anything else on there. What about you?”
Bodhi was picking up the boards and, after a quick glance through the pages, shoved them along with the others into his backpack. “No,” he was saying, “It’s no language I’ve ever seen.”
Kattenya was wandering around the room with a strange look on her face. She ran her fingers along strange pieces of equipment, her gaze lingering on them for a few moments each. Toreshi watched quietly while the others argued about the indecipherable language. Kattenya stopped at a tray of surgical equipment, picked up a long, nasty looking needle, and examined it carefully. Her gaze slowly transformed from ignorance, to understanding, to outrage. By the time Toreshi walked over to the other woman, Kattenya’s hand was clenched firmly around the needle and her fist was shaking.
“Are you okay?” Toreshi asked quietly.
Kattenya had to take several long, deep breaths before she was able to stop her hand from shaking. “I…I don’t think so,” she said through clenched teeth.
Carefully, Toreshi laid one hand on Kattenya’s shoulder and reached forward with the other to gently pluck the needle away and lay it back down on the surgical tray. As an afterthought, she used her toe to nudge the entire tray away from them. When she felt they were safe from the sharp implements, she carefully took Kattenya’s shoulders in both of her hands and looked firmly into her eyes. “Are you remembering anything?”
The look on Kattenya’s face changed to one of mild confusion. Her eyebrows furrowed and her mouth fell into a small frown. Her eyes glazed over and she seemed to be thinking, deliberating. “No…” she said first, but quickly followed up with, “But yes… I don’t know.” She shook her head violently. “It’s weird,” she groaned, “It’s like…there’s no memory, but I still feel, you know?” She looked like she was having great difficulty in conveying the point to Toreshi. “I look at this needle and I just feel dread and pain and anger, but I don’t actually remember why.”
Toreshi was nodding. “Yeah…I think I know what you mean,” she said. She pointed across the room to a strange structure she’d noticed during their initial examination. It was a large metal coffin, big enough to fit three or four average-sized people in, and it had a single small window at approximately eye level. There were enormous clamps on either side of it, ensuring that whoever went in was not getting out without help from the outside.
“See that thing there?” Toreshi gestured, “I don’t know what it is or what it was used for, but when I look at it I just get this awful, sick feeling in my stomach, like I saw or experienced something terrible there.”
Kattenya nodded simply.
Bodhi had walked over to the women and waited for them to finish their conversation before speaking. “Ladies,” he asked, “If you’re interested, Ashes says there’s much more to see.”