Archive for the ‘Featured Stories’ Category

This week’s feature story come from Mike Aguerro over at Night Mares of a writer, who asked me if I could feature a manuscript of his episode from work in progress series Icarus. The main reason I decided to feature mike is because he asked, and his asking meant I didn’t have to put down A Storm of Swords or get out of my sick bed and hunt down somebody else and read their work then get permission from them to post the work. What I’m trying to say is that I’m both sick and lazy and people who want to be featured should take advantage of my sick and lazy nature.

The secondary reason I featured Mike’s work is because I’ve not yet featured a screenplay on the site and I think screenplays can teach writers some very useful lesson that get drowned out in when try to write a novel or short story. The problem with novel writing is that it throws a lot of things at you and requires you to learn them all at once, you need to understand character Pov, setting, flow, dialogue and ect… . A screen play simplifies  at least two of those things, those being setting and pov and instead focuses you in on the dialogue of the characters to drive your story forwards. That doesn’t mean the other things aren’t important, but for us novel writers reading a manuscript let’s us focus on the dialogue and find out what works, what doesn’t and why.

So without further adieu I present you Icarus: Wayfaring Sherif

By Micheal Aguerro

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If you enjoyed this bit of writing I urge you to jump over to Nightmare of a writer and give the rest of his works a read or listen to the podcast we share together, or if your truly bored you could read his actual blog posts.

As a side note to anyone who’s following and wondering why most post schedule is off…. again, I’ve been sick in bed for the past week and have just gotten to my computer as of today to write something. hopefully something resembling a post schedule will resume next Monday with another character focus.

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Can’t seem to keep a schedule if my life were on the line this past couple of weeks, but without further adieu allow me to present the first chapter of The Legacy of Blaze: The Nightmare by Glenn Rosado. I picked Rosado’s work because of his ability to create an atmosphere that draws you in and then bring in characters that turn you on your head. Aspiring novelist and writers can pick up on how Rosado uses rising and falling suspension through his characters and setting to keep the readers interested. A note to writers, if you have the tension ramped up to eleven all the time then the audience will eventually grow accustomed to it, by switching it up you give the reader reason believe that when you do dial it up to eleven, that the impending doom you dropped down on your protagonist is truly impendingly doomful.

The Legacy of Blaze: The Nightmare

By: Glenn Rosado

The building was a shadow in the distance. Seth Blaze walked around the building where he was met by a rusty fence, he jumped, grabbed the steel frame at the top, taking care not to grab one of the metal wires sticking out with his arm as he went over, and splashed into a puddle.

He immediately noticed the back door had been left ajar. They couldn’t have found out, he said to himself. He always took extra care in making sure that he wasn’t followed.

Seth moved to the door, his green eyes reflected off the small-rectangular-glass window with the help of the flickering light overhead. He made sure not to make a noise, as if the loud splash wouldn’t have given him away already. If it had, whoever was inside, would have surely made themselves visible by now, he thought. He planted his back against the door while using his left arm to slowly open it, he peeked through, and as he made his way inside…

WACK.

Seth was met with a hand across his face that could have shattered a glass window clean, his eyes shut from the force, all he could see were puffy stars floating around, and somehow, amidst the ringing in his ears, hears a voice echo: “So you think you can just run away from everything?”

Rita Higgins, came into view once the room stopped spinning. Seth might have been pretty good at Kung-Fu, but Rita had always had a knack of showing him up ever since they were little. She stood there with her long blonde hair, hands on her hips and a look that should have burnt a hole through his skull. He could have sworn he saw her eyes turn from blue to red just for an instant. The truth was, Seth had always had a bit of a crush on her ever since they were younger. But it never materialized into anything mushy. Whenever he did something foolish, she would always be there to keep him in line, and for some odd reason that was the one trait that he admired from her more than anything else.

“You,” Seth started, rubbing his cheek back into feeling, “followed me here?”

“I decided to follow you from your apartment the other day,” she snapped back. “I thought I would surprise you when you showed up today, to the abandoned warehouse, in the middle of nowhere!” a bit of smoke poured out of her ears just then. The nightmares had been getting so vivid that it had been draining him mentally. He didn’t want her to see him in this state because he wouldn’t hear the end of it if she or Darius knew. So he tried his best to hide it by letting out a sarcastic laugh that only seemed to anger Rita even more. “You surprised me all right.”

“Where have you been?” she said with a look on her face that would melt an ice cream cone in the middle of winter. “Me and Darius have been worried sick. Every time we try visiting you, your uncle always says you’re not in. Why have you been dodging us lately?”

Seth had seen that look a hundred times before. One time when they were younger, six or seven maybe– when Father was around and there was no Empire–he had gone climbing the big oak tree that was planted in his front yard, alone. Attempting to beat her highest point. He put in a considerable amount of effort to find the right branches to latch onto, but he eventually beat it. The problem was that with all of his mind and energy focused on getting past her mark, he had not readily thought of a plan on how he was going to get down. It took him awhile to finally start climbing down, and as he got closer to the ground, one of the branches snapped and he went falling down, breaking his leg in the process. Father had arrived home from work when he found him with his back against the trunk of the old tree, holding his leg. When Rita came to see him later that day, she gave him a look he would not soon forget. A look that said: “That will teach you to go climbing without me.” That same look was being used on him as a weapon, like a child giving her parents the puppy face look to get what she wanted. Rita was trying to get what she wanted– an answer.

“I’ve been really busy, that’s all.” He said trying not to look her in the eye. She knew better though. “I can see that,” she said, looking around the abandoned warehouse. “So this is all the equipment from the school your dad used to train us in?”

“Yup,” he said, “he somehow got it all to this warehouse before… he vanished.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” she said. “You know you can come to us for anything.”

Seth made his way over to one of the heavy bags against the wall. “I wanted to be alone for a while.”

“We were close to your father as well, you know.”

“I know,” he said as he started to jab the bag. “Well, school is going to start back up in a week; you’re at least coming back for that right?” Seth did his best to hide a smile. “Of course,” he replied, “wouldn’t miss it for the world.” But that was a lie of course. Truth was he wasn’t looking forward to it at all. We’re all just going to be working the mines in a couple of years, he said to himself, biting his tongue, so why bother? But Seth knew that he couldn’t win, not against Rita, not when it dealt with issues such as this. “Why don’t you tell me what’s really bothering you?”

Seth stopped punching the bag all of a sudden and looked her in the eyes, “You would laugh at me if I told you.” She locked eyes with him for a moment, which indicated to Seth that she wasn’t much for playing games, and then said, “Try me.”

Seth stared at her for a minute before giving in, finally, spilling out the nightmare he’d been having every day, for the better part of a year, at the hour before dawn; and how it was always the same: ominous dark figures coming into his room to take him away to some dungeon in the middle of nowhere. He found himself somewhat relieved to have all of that weight off his shoulders, but Rita just stood there gazing at him for a second–then let out a hysterical laugh. “Shh,” he said, reminding her of the repercussions if someone were to find out that he had been using this building for his own personal gym. “We aren’t supposed to be here, remember?”

“Oops, sorry,” she said, cupping her hands over her mouth as if her laughs somehow had a mind of their own. “So is that the big problem, a nightmare?”

“See– I knew you would laugh,” Seth snapped while turning back to punish the bag, leaving little dents from his knuckles plastered all over the rubber, “and then you wonder why I’ve been in solitude for the last month.”

“Ok, I’m sorry I can see why that would be a problem. Now it all makes sense. Have you tried seeing someone about it?”

“And have them laugh at me like you just did? No, thanks.”

“Not if you see a–” she paused, “what do you call those doctors that put you to sleep?”

“A hypnotherapist?” he shot back. “Do you know how much they cost? You would have to work three shifts in the mines just to afford one session.”

“Well, then we could try and see if we can dig up any medical books that have some sort of instructions we could use. So we can find out the meaning of the dream and hopefully put an end to them.”

“Where are we going to find that?” he asked. “You know there haven’t been any libraries around since before the purge.”

She walked over to Seth and stopped in front of the bag, before saying, “Leave that part up to me.” Then she cocked her hand back and rocked the bag with a punch.
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If you enjoyed this snipped of Rosado’s work then take a moment to read the rest of this chapter and the two other chapters that been posted on his blog also named Legacy of Blaze. don’t forget to stop by tomorrow as The Acrhetype releases a new series of articles called Character Focus  which will take a moment to look at characters from all over fiction and find out what makes them great, grand or grotesque. Starting with this years hit masked, back breaking villain.

Thanks to a trip to Georgia I’ve been away from my computer since Friday and unable to post my newest article on time, but I’m going to try and right my wrong by giving you fine folks a late night short story(two technically) and resume regular posting on the 24th.

I chose to feature this story for it’s interesting characters and use of perspective to create a coherent, mysterious and strange narrative. Last week I mentioned in my article that characters need to be more then funny and skilled, they have to be interesting, both the Book Eater and Miss Dust delve into what it means to make a character interesting.

 

The Book Eater and Miss Dust

by ~hummingbear

They say a mouse can fit through a crack the size of a flat dime. Well, that’s me. I’d love to be introduced to somebody else who can fit through a storm window. I was lucky tonight. It’s the time of year when it’s too cool at night for air conditioning, yet the heat from the day leaves everything stale. I don’t mind.

After I get inside the library, I crack open more of the windows, relishing the sound of the breeze ruffling the pages of the periodicals. I like the smell of this place – mildew, cantaloupe, and something else, something that smells like a person I used to be. Agh, fuck that.

I creep around the edges of the space, mindful of the red blinking light behind the desk that means a front-facing camera. It’s become a particular science of mine to make these spots livable, to give some random kids an unexpected day off. On the news, they call me the “Book Rat,” and to be sure, the title tickles me. Still, the picture they always show gives me some relief; I look nothing like that now. 

The first novel is one of those tween vampire romances, and I rip off the cover with relish. I stuff the blank front page in one cheek and shred the rest into a yellowing Wal-Mart bag. This shit is better than Winterfresh. So much hope! So much anticipation! I can taste it in their invisible fingerprints. The next is an anthology of folk tales. These pages go into one of the black bags I pilfered from the janitor’s closet. 

Then, Mein KampfHounds of the Baskervilles, and Frankenstein. I chuck everything about Francis Bacon in the trash bin and rub the scented sections from “Cosmopolitan” all over my neck and armpits. Bits of notebook paper are skewered on my beard. I sample a bit of dictionary but spit it out immediately. The atlas tastes the same. 

It depends on the library, but I always end up eating a different number of books. This one is small, so I leave the field guide section alone. Though, I make sure not one Harlequin romance remains. My lips are stained blue-black and my hands shake. A doctor would probably call the yellowing of my eyes jaundiced, but I feel wise, like I have old pages instead of frosted windows. 

I have four trash bags full when I am finished, and I line them up in the reference section. I nap on top of them for a while, long enough for the sky outside to start turning gray. I trot out the front door, giggling madly as the alarms blare. I leave a fox trail of tattered Bible verses.

My friends saw him coming from a mile away. I notice, I notice when some kid is gonna sneak in and pilfer the place; they leave the windows unlatched. But this guy, this guy did it right – he reached in from the outside. But still, I saw that flicker of light, saw the disturbed motes fluttering in the late afternoon rays. That scabby hand, purple at the fingertips – it sure did catch my attention.

When it’s a little brat smudging up the aisles, I lock the window. I press my face to the glass to scare them away. If they break it, I make jerky. Well, this guy, this guy I let into the library, because I could tell he was an artist like me. He uses his nose like I use my breath, and my friends like him.

My friends, my friends. They rise at each of his shuffling footsteps. They whorl under his twitching nose. I am the dust woman, and that man is the tree king, the pulp lord, the prince of paper. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a real man. He slipped through the window like water and danced along the edges like I do when I come out from the ducts. 

For a second, he met my eyes. But he skittered to a dark corner when he caught the red, flashing light. I don’t know why they changed from blue; something in the night, in the pink dust from the insulation took them captive and made me able to see the tiniest disturbances in the air. I can hardly open them in the light of day.

I cringed at the first page he tore, but it was a tightening of muscles set to release, because the next leaf wound me tighter. I resented the shuffle of plastic, but the long wet drips of his saliva from cover to cover held more of my attention. He was an artist, a true consumer, a pure aesthete that appreciated art in the physical. He could feel the words like I can feel my dust.

I tried to work up the courage to speak to him or at least to throw my favorite volumes from the high corners, but I couldn’t bring myself to disturb. When he fell asleep on his bags, I crept from a top shelf and ran his dark bristles beneath my fingertips. His eyelids were almost see-through. His hands were hard. Before he could wake and the light would hurt my eyes, I pulled a piece of notebook paper from his beard and slipped it on the tip of my tongue like a communion wafer. It tasted… dusty. And I loved him all the more.

 

If you enjoyed this article feel free to check out the rest Humming Bears work on her deviant art page here.

Winter War

Posted: June 6, 2012 in Featured Stories

I’d like to take a moment out of the Blog and lift up another storyteller and DeviantArt member, her name being Hannah or WanderingArcher as her DA profile is named, she’s currently writing a book called The winter war along with several other works.
So with out further adieu I’d like to present the first chapter of the Winter War.

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Chapter One

As the fletchings kissed her cheek, Alana sighted along the smooth shaft. The waxed string pulled against her fingers, fighting for freedom. Alana closed her eyes for an instant, imagining the moment of release. Then, loosing the breath she had been holding, she let the string roll off her fingers. The arrow leapt away, solidly embedding itself in the trunk of the tree Alana had been aiming at.
“Good shot.” A broad smile on her face, Alana whirled and threw her arms around her Master, careful to keep from hitting him with the longbow. His stick-thin arms encircled Alana, squeezing tight.
“Thank you so much, Master!” Alana exclaimed, taking a few steps back. Her Master’s smile mirrored her own, his silvery-grey eyes glinting with wordless laughter. She turned her gaze once more to the bow and ran her hand down the smooth, flawless wood of the shaft. “This bow is beautiful. I know this work isn’t from the bowyer here in Imara. Where did you get it?”
“I made it with magic. I’m glad you like it, Alana.” Master smiled fondly at her, moving past to the tree she had fired at. He yanked the arrow out and passed it to Alana, who returned it to her quiver. “Do you want to eat?”
“Of course.” Alana slipped her leg against the belly of the shaft and unstrung the bow. “Just let me put this in my room.”
“I’ll be waiting.” After quickly embracing her Master once more, Alana hurried into their small house. It was one of about two dozen, just outside the ring that formed the main plaza of Imara. One hand on the door frame, Alana looked out over her home with a smile. Smoke curled up from the chimneys almost gracefully, illuminated by the glow of the sunset. The village was ringed in by the golds and crimsons of the birch trees that filled Silmaturea.
Alana nudged the door open and entered the druids’ house. She wended her way through the different chambers of the house to her simple room. A small bed, a row of hooks, and a chest of drawers were the only furnishings. But, despite the functionality of the room, a bright vase of flowers and a colorful quilt on the bed added a little personality. She shrugged off her quiver and hung both it and the new bow on a hook on the wall. Her old bow, a simple yew shaft worn and fitted from so many years of use, was on the hooks beside them.
Tossing her bracer on the bed, Alana hurried outside once more. Master had already laid out two bowls of stew, splitting a small loaf of bread between them. He was sitting at their table waiting for her. The sharp, cold air made the dying sun seem all that much brighter as Alana sat across from him.
“When are you leaving tomorrow?” Master asked, his thin fingers wrapping around the bowl to leech the warmth from it.
“Dawn. I hope to reach the lake by the day after tomorrow, before the days get too short. I’m eager to try hunting with that bow.”
As the glow lit Master’s eyes once more, Alana nibbled thoughtfully at her bread. She was quiet for several moments, watching while the elder druid ate. Several times, she opened her mouth, but she always took another spoonful of stew in rather than expel the words that weighed her down. Finally, she lowered her spoon to the empty bowl, her face hidden behind a curtain of hair.
“Alana, what’s bothering you?” Master asked finally, pushing aside his bowl and resting his bony elbows on the table. He steepled his fingers, his eyes seeing through her discomfort into Alana’s heart. She returned his gaze, thinking on all that he was to her: teacher, father, family, all she had ever known in the world. Yet the thoughts that had long haunted her would no longer be ignored or pushed aside.
“A long time ago, you told me that my mother gave me up to you, so that I could be your apprentice, learn to be a druid like you.” Alana wrung her hands, head bowed so that she wouldn’t have to meet her Master’s penetrating gaze. His eyes were soft, solemn as he predicted her coming question. “I’ve wondered for years: who was she? Do I have any other family?”
“It is too soon to tell you that, Alana,” he murmured, taking her hands in his. His skin was dry, paper-thin against hers.
Alana pulled her hands away, frustration in her every movement. “Why will you not tell me? Are you afraid I will leave if you tell me?”
“I have always feared the day we would be parted, Alana, but I swear that is not why I keep this from you.” Despite the sincerity of his promise, he could see that Alana was still upset. He took a deep breath and continued, “Change is coming, Alana, and the world we know is about to fall apart. If I tell you now, the future will be disastrously altered. I cannot risk that, not now. But once the danger is passed, I promise I will tell you the name of your mother.”
Alana brushed her hair back, biting her lip as she dropped her eyes. After only a few seconds, she reached out to take his hands. “I trust you, Master. You are my family, and you always will be.”
Master squeezed her fingers, then stood. Alana rose with him, stacking her bowl in his. “You go to bed, Alana. I’ll clean up. You’ll need your strength while on the hunt.”
Bidding him goodnight, Alana once again entered their house. Once within her chambers, Alana once again took her new bow in hand. It was truly a fine weapon, of superior quality when compared to her old one. As she ran her fingertips down the shaft, she felt an engraving against the belly of the bow. To my dearest Alana, I give you this bow. With it, I present my love, which I hope is enough to help you on whatever journey life may take you.
Reading the message, Alana felt her heart close in on itself. The engraving was more like a farewell than anything else, and that frightened Alana more than she would ever admit aloud. No matter who she had been born to, her Master was her family.
Forcing down her suspicions, Alana returned the bow to the hook and stretched out on her bed. It took a long while, but her mind eventually dissolved into grim dreams inspired by the message of the bow.

Darkness fell and the winter cold once more engulfed the forest, but Master did not stir from the table where the two druids had eaten. His mind drifted through thoughts as dark as the sky he watched so intently. His vision haunted him, though it had been nearly a week since he had first seen it. Since then, it had become a nightly occurrence.
In the dream, darkness reigned, the world torn apart by the shadows and ghosts. Many had tried, but none managed to escape the evil that ruled over Krealon. The few with the strength to oppose the shadows were scattered to the winds, split by betrayal and distrust. And Alana was one of those, a candle in the darkness. Her flame was slowly dying, suppressed by the shadows all around her.
Master put a hand over his eyes, dropping his gaze to the dark village. Any lights from the windows had been extinguished hours before. His words to Alana earlier had been born of the dream: change is coming. Yet, even he could not begin to understand how true his prediction was.

The pre-dawn light was harsh and cruel, the air colder even than the day before. So early in the autumn, and the world was already cold enough to be in the depths of winter. Fingers already growing numb, Alana lashed her new bow to her pack. Master stood in the door of their house, his fur-wrapped form untouched by the cold.
“How long do you think you will be gone?”
“I’m hoping for three days, though it may take four.”
“Come back as soon as you can. Winter is quickly returning, and you should be home before it gets too cold.” Master adjusted Alana’s cloak as she shouldered her pack, wrapping it close around her.
“You worry to much, Master,” Alana chided gently, embracing him. “I’ll be home before you can begin to miss me.” Master smiled again, but it did not reach his eyes that time. But in her excitement for the upcoming hunt, Alana did not notice his unusual solemnity.
“Just promise me you’ll be careful.”
“Always, Master. I’ll be home soon.” Squeezing his hand once more, Alana turned and hurried toward the woods, readjusting the straps of her pack as she went. Master watched long after she had disappeared into the fog that hung between the trees. He had an uncomfortable feeling that it would be much longer than a few days before he saw her again, if ever. That uneasiness brought his mind again to the dream. With a shudder of fear, he thrust that thought away and returned to the fireside.

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If you would like to read more about the Winter War or any of Hannah’s other works you can check her out at her deviant art page
http://wanderingarcher.deviantart.com/