Story Bits, Or How I Answered a Meme With Too Many Words

A few days ago I offered to write a sentence or so of any story you asked for. Three people (Kelly Stiles, A.C. Wise, and Mike Allen) took me up on the challenge, and in return I wrote a lot more than a sentence. Here are those pieces.

Kelly asked for “the story of a cat, his boy and how they saved the world together.” After pointing out that sounded like a friend’s comic book which is basically that story, I thought of a different take on the idea:

Earl surveyed the wreckage, several blocks of first flattened and then devastated but still standing buildings, radiating out from underneath that oddly pulsating ball of light which hung in the ashen sky.

“We have to get closer,” he said. “The device will only work if we’re within 1000 feet. Of course, at that range another pulse would vaporize us, but if we can shut this one down, the science geeks predict the rest will collapse too, in a cascade effect.” His voice was calm, his muscles tense but still. Only the tip of his ginger tail swished.

“You’re the boss,” the boy said, shouldering a gun nearly as big as he was. “Just tell me what to do.”

A.C. wanted “The one about the reverse astral projectionist who summoned distant places to her in her sleep, please.”

David knocked again, harder. “Elizabeth! Open the door! You have something …” He looked down at the wet carpet, smelled the faintly salty water spreading out from beneath his roommate’s bedroom door. “There’s something leaking in there. Did you get a fish tank?”

There was no answer. The wet carpet sucked at his toes. Behind him, the dampness was spreading into the hallway.

“I’m coming in,” he said loudly, turning her door knob slowly.

Inside, Elizabeth was sound asleep, lying on her side in her bed, one leg sticking out from underneath her blankets.

Next to her a palm tree had gouged out a piece of the ceiling and bent unnaturally to one side, too tall for the room. Sand piled up at its base, spilling into her closet and under her dresser. A small crab scuttled back and forth across the sand, confused.

“Oh, no,” David sighed. “Not again.”

And Mike, never to outdone in the slightly weird department, asked for “The one about the woman who finds the World Serpent beneath the subway system.”

At that moment, she blamed the shoes. There was more to it than that, another part of her brain screamed at her, and she felt, in a disconnected way, that she should do something other than stand there, staring at a scale the size of her head, and blaming her brand new $340 pumps, but she wasn’t sure what came next. She had been waiting for her train when her aching left heel made her lean down to adjust her ankle strap…

That made her purse spill open, and while she was frantically scooping up its contents, someone in the crowd kicked her smartphone, and then someone else, knocking it away from her like she was caught in a scene from a slapstick comedy. She chased after it, scraping a knee getting up, yelling at the sea of uncaring feet which kept her phone just out of reach, but no one stopped to help.

She remembered that it bounced down into a stairwell she’d never noticed before. The sound of the phone clacking against the stairs kept her rushing downward, downward, as the tile changed to cream and green and florescent overhead lights were replaced by bright globes set into the ceiling.

And still her phone tumbled downward.

At some point it must have stopped falling, because she was vaguely aware that she held it in her hand, but the thing in front of her, the enormous impossible creature filling the tunnel, that had her attention now. Her feet throbbed, and for one horrible moment she looked down at them, and at those heels – imported from Italy, cool grey, a sexy twist to her business suits, made from the finest snakeskin.

“Oh god,” she whispered, her head snapping up to stare again at the side of the giant serpent. “Listen, about the shoes …”

Thanks for playing!

The Story You Want Me To Tell

There’s a meme going around that I like:

Tell me about a story I haven’t written, and I’ll give you one sentence from that story.

I saw it first from AC Wise, who has good ideas, and so I’m stealing this one too. Leave a comment with a brief description of the story you wish I’d tell, and I’ll reply with a sentence – or five – from that story.

Write Hard: Writers Who Inspire Me (Larter, Pizarro and Taylor)

When you win:

1. Post the picture above to your blog. You can link here if you want. It doesn’t have to become part of the permanent clutter of your sidebar. Goodness no.

2. List at least three writers who you feel live up to the “write hard” spirit. Think: writers who work at their craft, writers who never give up despite the odds, writers who constantly turn out quality work. Writers you admire. Optional: explain why you think they are awesome.

3. Include these rules or a link to them.

4. Notify said writers of their victory. Ask them to pass on the torch.

5. Continue being awesome.

I was nominated for this and since I’m both pleased and rules-abiding (when it suits me), here are my picks:

My three choices aren’t the only hard-working, ass-kicking writers I know, but they have the distinction of being both writers I like as people, and writers who’re working on an upcoming Dagan Books project of mine. All three talk about the process of writing on their own blogs, and they tweet about their day-to-day writing stats and struggles as well. They’re not afraid to be seen as writers who still have something to learn and they’re generous in sharing what tricks they do pick up. All three are committed to working on their craft not just when the muse strikes them but as often as necessary to become the kind of writer we all want to be.

1.  Simon C. Larter – is charming. You might not know this but meet him in person and you quickly realize he’s just as fun and easy to be around as you’d hope for. His writing is the same kind of fun – energetic, a little sexy, a little cocky, entertaining and accessible. If you read Larter’s twitter feed you probably already know that he’s married, working a day job, and finding time to write around his life as a father of a couple of small children. What you may not know is that his conversational style of writing isn’t as spur of the moment as it might feel… he actually reads and researches and re-writes as necessary to make his writing work. He also spends a considerable amount of time networking, talking to writers (new and experienced), sharing his thoughts, recommending work to his colleagues, and supporting us in times of need. He’s a better person than he’s probably willing to admit.

2. Don Pizarro – reads voraciously, adores indie writers, and bases his work in a strong foundation of research. He writes slowly and carefully, willing to retool his work until it’s perfect, no matter how long it takes. Pizarro is persistant in his determination to be a writer worth reading – writing nearly every day, making time on his lunch breaks and after work and on weekends – more than almost any other writer I know. I met him when we both found out we were appearing in the RIGOR AMORTIS anthology together, and got to work with him as an editor when he submitted to Cthulhurotica. He turned in a story about romancing a cultist that was both overtly sexual and extremely subtle, implying its Lovecraftian origins instead of smacking you upside the head with it. If he can do that with a piece of weird erotica, imagine what he can do with more serious writing. Follow him on twitter and find out for yourself.

3. K. V. Taylor – should probably be in a all-girl punk-pop band, but instead she’s a writer, and we’re all lucky she turned out this way. She’s quick witted, cheerful and enthusiastic on a regular basis. Her twitter feed is full of blog posts and music references and her obvious penchant for the strange and offbeat. Yes, my friends, this girl writes well, quotes fabulous lyrics, and likes monsters. If you’ve met me, you’d know this makes her awesome in my book. Also, she’s literally been awesome in my books – her story “Transfigured Night” appeared in Cthulhurotica, “Chennai 5″ will be in IN SITU, and since she’s going to be included in our next book as well, Taylor has the distinction of being the only author to appear in all three of my company’s first three titles.