Another Flash Fiction Challenge

A Day at the Zoo with Micah

The zoo was her favorite place to go to on a date. I couldn’t remember how many times we’ve come here and yet every time Holly acted like it were her first, pointing and grinning like a six year old while clutching my arm.

 

Watching her, it was nearly the same as back then. Except she wasn’t holding onto me and now, it actually was her first.

Continue reading “Another Flash Fiction Challenge”

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A Tiny Update and Not So Tiny Excerpt (BEASTS: Chapter One)

I’m facing an interesting dilemma.

I feel good. I feel great.  I’m no longer alone. I’m living in a wonderful home with a loving family. Everything’s fantastic!

And I’m hardly getting any writing done because of it.

I’ve read it before how comfort can be deadly. I’m seeing first hand how that can be true. I’m also realizing just how much visualizing and fantasying your dream coming true is also dangerous.

Because feeling like I already have everything I wanted means I don’t feel any urge to do anything to get it, because in my head I already have it. Tricky, eh?

That said, I’m not giving in without a fight. I may have missed a week of blog posts, but I finally finished the first draft of the first chapter of my YA novel, BEASTS, which I’ve been working on since early February.

Needless to say, this is a cause for celebration.

So since today is Monday and that means Excerpt day, in order to make up for my unannounced absence, here is the entire chapter in all its flawed glory.

Who knows how much it’ll change when I finally send it off to agents (hopefully within a decade), but I’m not going to touch it again until the rest of the book is written.

Meanwhile, I’m going to contemplate about the actual benefits of suffering.

At least some amount of suffering. I finished reading War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which was amazing and related to what I’m talking about  so there’s a post in me on what I’ve learned from that book as well.

Until then…

Here is Chapter One of my YA Fantasy novel: BEASTS.

 

Warning: The following is over 3k words long. So take a bathroom break, get your mug of hot coffee and a cookie, sit back, relax and enjoy.

 

Continue reading “A Tiny Update and Not So Tiny Excerpt (BEASTS: Chapter One)”

Short Break

Goodbye, Puerto Rico

 

 

I’m moving to Georgia on Tuesday and I have lots of stuff to do, so I’ll be on a short break till July 22nd while I finish last minute touches here and get situated over there.

Today I had planned a post about What Avatar The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra Taught Me about  storytelling, but it was long and messy and I want to do it right, but ran out of time.

So instead I share you other blogs and articles that are awesome!

 

This article shows how its actually true that being in the moment and enjoying the journey is much beneficial than focusing on the destination:  How Goals and Good Intentions Can Hold Us Back

Everything at Terribleminds.com is just pure awesomeness and today it’s interview day with Lisa Cron, author for Wired For Story which teaches storytelling using science! Lisa Cron: The Terribleminds Interview

Also, everything at The Art of Non-Conformity is great too. Here’s a blog post about taking responsibility for making decisions about your life. This blog and his books started me on my path of really taking my life into my own hands: How to Make Decisions

 

There. Go. Read. Play.

See you next week!

Excerpt Day: BEASTS

 

These last few days I been advocating the need for action towards ones goals. One of the reasons I disappeared for three months is because I wanted to finish a chapter for my YA novel and post that as the next post. That never happened cause I never finished it. But I didn’t want to post something else because I was starting to feel like I was all bark, no bite.

I didn’t just want to talk about what I loved to do or wanted to do.

I actually wanted to do it.

I still haven’t finished that chapter, but it’s nearly done. I have a few things in the works.

A nonfiction book based on everything I talked about last week. My YA Shapeshifter novel. And Savior, my superhero noir story that may become a comic.

So today is excerpt day. Proof to myself that I am doing the work and following the dream, not just talking a great deal.

Funny enough, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve shared an excerpt of a WIP.

Perhaps July is just the month of sharing.

Enjoy.

 

 

~~~~

Chapter One

Stars twinkled above Nicolai when he opened his eyes and he was struck with a painful longing for the Antarctic sky. The image of a dark carpet of colorful light stretched across the heavens was clear as day in his mind. Then it was gone, back into the abyss with the rest of his lost memories.

So desperate to cling to his forgotten past, Nicolai remained on his back for several more minutes, trying to reimagine the picture. But it was useless. It may as well been a dream for all he knew.

With a heavy sigh, he sat up in the darkness. Sniffing the air, he figured he was sitting in a dank alleyway and that a cat passed by recently and marked his territory on the dumpster he’d been sleeping against.

“Yuck!”

Nicolai climbed to his feet, rubbing his face and grabbing his green knapsack.  Plunging his hand inside, he pulled out a water bottle and dumped the small amount of liquid inside on his face. That woke him up—though he hadn’t been tired to begin with. He couldn’t remember where he was or how he got there. He stood in the darkness for a moment, straining his memory. The last thing he could remember was reaching the Capitol on foot around midday, but that could have been days ago.

He glanced at the sky. It was late. Probably midnight judging by the moon and past curfew. At the far end of the alley, he could make out the faint glow of streetlights. On the other side of the dumpster was a solid brick wall. Great place for a nap…if you can call “randomly blacking out” a nap. He wanted to at least stay off the streets when night fell. Find an abandoned building or something. The last thing he needed was to run into the cops first day in the Capitol. The street would leave him expose. Catching sight of a fire escape just above him, he repacked his water bottle and reached for the ladder.

“Good evening.”

Nicolai froze. He sniffed again. Cat pee – a great cover for an actual cat. His eyes followed the voice and fell on a male figure crouched on the top of the brick wall. The stranger grinned widely, like a Cheshire cat, the moonlight reflecting off a row of sharpened white teeth and large amber eyes with almond shaped pupils.  Nicolai estimated him to be at least a few centuries old.

An Alpha.

“I take it you’re new around here, eh?” The Alpha cocked his head to the side, like a cat eyeing a mouse. “Shall I welcome you to the neighborhood?”

Nicolai didn’t move, but tensed his muscles, ready to bolt.  He inhaled deeply. Was this one alone? No. Alpha’s didn’t hunt alone. Where was his pack? And what species was he? Definitely not a house cat.

“What is it? Cat got your tongue?” The Alpha laughed, revealing even more of his sharp teeth. “Oh, not yet, I hope. That’s the most succulent part.”

Nicolai turned his gaze to the tops of the buildings. At least six stood on the edge of the roofs on either side. All male, blond and muscular. One silently jumped down to a fire escape a few floors above him to watch, hands gripping the railing as if to jump.

The Alpha’s amber eyes narrowed as his Cheshire grin changed – less amused, more sinister.

“You’re not welcome here.”

“I’m not hurting anyone.” Nicolai slid one foot back, trying to make the movement as unnoticeable as possible.

The Alpha wrinkled his nose, the grin vanished and his entire face plunged into shadow. “Your stench is hurting my nostrils.”

Sweat slid down the back of Nicolai’s neck. He moved his foot further, watching the approaching cat above him out of the corner of his eye. “Sorry. Can’t really do anything about that.”

“Oh but you can.” The Alpha’s teeth flashed again. “You can die.”

His amber eyes flicked up to the others. Nicolai grabbed the corner of the dumpster.

“Get him!”

The cat above him leaped onto the dumpster’s lid, his boots leaving a dent. Nicolai wrenched the dumpster forward the moment he landed and the entire thing came crashing down. The cat stumbled and smashed face first into the opposite building. The Alpha jumped from the wall, snarling, his clawed hands reaching for Nicolai’s neck.

He ducked to the floor and the Alpha flew over him. The other five cats were scrambling down the buildings. Nicolai quickly jumped onto the dumpster and over the brick wall.

The snarls behind him grew louder, feral and inhuman. Nicolai could guess what was happening, but he wasn’t about to wait and find out. There was no way he could outrun real cats unless he put some serious distance between them, so he ran.

The Truth Shouldn’t Be A Secret (and it isn’t).

 

 

Six years ago, lonely and depressed, I saw The Secret.

For those who don’t know, it was a documentary and book about the Law of Attraction, which basically means you create your daily experience in the world with your thoughts. It was rather popular…and notorious.

People either hated it with a passion or loved it with a passion. Both are exaggerations.

The Secret changed my life. I am very grateful for it.

But it’s full of flaws. The biggest one is that it lacks crucial information on actually effectively doing what the movie is saying you can do. I have a suspicion that the great majority who watched the movie and tried to use the information without actually reading further into the concept got very little results if any at all.

But the movie is great because it filled me with thoughts I never had before. Does this work? Is this true? Is this possible?

My biggest motivation was the fact it claimed I could be anything I wanted to be regardless of my situation, which fit perfectly with my childhood belief I mentioned yesterday.

So I went to work. I read books, I watched movies, I bought Holosync and began meditating every day.

Some things stuck, other things I dropped — Abraham Hicks’ books for one, I feel they focus way too much on visualization and not enough on action.

I learned a great deal and spent a whole lot of money.

I read Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch and for the first time in my life I had a definition for God I could actually believe in.

I thought I reached a plateau in my study (pfft!) until I listened to The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and was blown away again.

But there was a problem with all this stuff.

Despite the fact it’s all saying the exact same thing in just a different way, it’s hard for the mind to grasp. It’s very easy to over think it. They over complicate the truth, which should be a simple and obvious thing.

It’s explained either too scientifically (What The Bleep Do We Know?!), too spiritually (Conversations with God), or too shallowly (The Secret).

This is all fine if you like that sort of thing. I love all of the above. But I noticed there’s a lot of extra stuff that isn’t needed. A lot of stuff that just gets in the way to the point of it all — getting the most out of life.

So when you scrap off all the excess stuff, all the useless details and just get straight to the core truth that ALL of these points of views share, what do we get?

You’re about to find out.

I know this is originally a blog about writing and storytelling, and there will still be posts on that.

Think of this as a special 2 week event with perhaps the occasional extra unrelated post.

But first, I’m curious. To my extremely amazing readers out there, what experience do you have with this sort of thing? Are you skeptical, a believer or at least open to the idea?

In other words, do you actually want to hear me talk about this for two weeks straight or not?

I’ll leave you now with a full list of all the stuff I read/watched over the course of the last six years, which more or less, say the exact same thing down in this core. I apologize. This list is TINY compared to what’s out there.

The Secret
What The Bleep Do We Know?!
The Prospering Power of Love by Catherine Ponder
Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch
Communion with God by Neale Donald Walsch
The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks
Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks
The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman (I actually only saw the movie, but I’ll get around to the book).
Personal Power 2 by Tony Robbins (this is actually a 30 day audio success program which I highly recommend).
.

Leap of Faith

 

When I was little, my mother used to tell me I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. I took it deeply to heart.

Years later, I remember having an argument with her and while I don’t remember the specifics, I do remember me bringing up how she used to say that to me and her reply was, “I wish I never said that.”

It didn’t matter. It was too late. The idea that I could do anything I wanted was engrained in me. But her words of regret for saying those words also stayed with me. I had a lot of problems. I wanted to spend my entire life telling stories. I specifically wanted to be a filmmaker, but didn’t have the support or confidence to go to film school.

I stubbornly refused to become anything else, but at the same time…I doubted.

As the years went by, I began to settle. I decided to be a novelist. I went to school for communications with the idea of getting a job in the movie industry as something else and work my way up. But unfortunately, I had no interest in classes that had nothing to do with storytelling. I could pass them with flying colors if I cared enough to do the work, but I didn’t. It caused a whole lot of anxiety.

I held back. I was too afraid to truly go for it. I kept putting off my creative writing because I was terrified of being proven wrong: that I can’t do it, that I can’t be whatever I wanted. By putting it off, I spared myself that horrifying realization. It was a way to protect my ego, my identity.

Fast forward to today, five years of college later. I dropped out and been working part time in fast food for nearly 2 years.

In my attempt to protect my secret belief, my secret wish that I could be whatever I wanted, I ended up living a lie. I haven’t actually done what I truly wanted to do in years. What was going? How did I fail to notice I was ruining my own life? Because I didn’t want to notice. It was too painful. My fear became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Not anymore.

Yesterday, I handed in my resignation letter. July 3rd I will no longer be working in a job I hate. I’ll be truly on my own for financial support for the first time in my life.

I’m going to do what I always wanted to do.

I’m going to write a book.

In three weeks, on July 3rd, I’m going to put it up for sale on this website.

What will it be about?

It’ll be nonfiction. Every post over the course of these three weeks—including today’s—will be a piece of that answer.

This book, despite not being a work of fiction, is another dream of mine. Something I wanted to do, but thought I had to wait till I was old and gray and retired before having the credentials to write such a book. But I think I’ll do it now and see what happens

It’s time to finally face my fears and answer my doubts.

Can I really be anything I wanted?

Can I really be a writer?

 

 

 

 

 

(Yes, you can. So go for it).

MOCKINGJAY : I Was Wrong

 

I just finished reading Mockingjay, the last book of The Hunger Games Trilogy.

I am truly and utterly embarrassed by my last post regarding the first book.

Catching Fire, Book 2, fixed everything I felt wrong with the first.

And Mockingjay brought me to my knees.

I wonder if I should just delete the post, but maybe it’s good to have a reminder you don’t know everything.

How do I write this post… How do I put into words what I’m feeling regarding Mockingjay?

I literally JUST finished reading it. So this intense, incredible, overwhelming feeling may just be temporary. A part of me really hopes it isn’t. I hope that I don’t one day look back on this post and also feel humiliated by it.

Right now, I feel like there was me before I read Mockingjay, and then me after I read Mockingjay.

Like this novel has changed me forever.

That’s kind of embarrassing by itself. I mean I’m sure there are other books just as powerful, more so, classical works, literary works, grown up books that are more suited for the position of “the book that changed my life forever.”

But while I’m feeling what I’m feeling, I’m just gonna share it with anyone who comes across this blog, this post because I can. Because I need to get this off my chest.

For one, I was arrogant…and very stupid. Or maybe not?

As I was reading Catching Fire, I spoke with a friend who wouldn’t read Hunger Games because he feels it’s rubbish. That there are better books out there on the subject that these books address and all sorts  of other judgments. I kept thinking about it, and I actually thought he had a point.

I actually started to think that yeah, this wasn’t quality writing. It was candy. And in a sense it sort of really was. It was junk food. Genre fiction, sometimes…well okay, often is junk food. Not really healthy for you, won’t make you smarter or whatever, but simply entertains and helps you escape from reality.

The Hunger Games Trilogy had this feeling. The romance, the angst, the drama, etc. There are scenes, images that tug at a reader’s heart, in this case, especially at a female reader’s heart and I felt the writer used those types of scenes a lot beyond realism. I had come to the conclusion that The Hunger Games was like Twilight for the tomgirls.

Twilight for those who despised Twilight.

And maybe, I wonder, if that’s what the writer had intended. Lure me into thinking it going to be like every other book I ever read then do something I couldn’t ever have foreseen, especially since I was expecting something else entirely.

I couldn’t stop reading. I was in total addict mode. Totally relapsed. Why?

Well, the fact almost every chapter ended with a jaw dropping cliffhanger really helped. But there was something else.

I couldn’t predict what was going to happen next. Even when I try to guess, I was always wrong.

Every single time. Wrong, wrong, WRONG.

I tried to fit the story into a formula I was used to. Into a plot pattern I thought I knew.

But each book is so different from the last. Katniss is so different, changes so much in each consecutive book.

Then Mockingjay.

Fucking Mockingjay.

It started to get dark. Really dark. Soon, I was starting to get scared. A part of me was terrified what would happen next. I never had that feeling before when reading. I was crying more than once. Beloved characters died. Ambitious yet noble missions failed. My hands started to literally shake near the end. I could barely turn the pages.

Remember when I talked about pushing it? I complained that The Hunger Games didn’t push it enough? Well, this book pushes it. It pushes it right off the page. The place it takes the stories…I was utterly unprepared for and overwhelmed.

At the end, I was bawling. If anyone heard me, they would have thought I was insane.

Every cliché, unrealistic, plot development I thought would take place never did.

I find myself comparing it to other stories.

For me personally, it was an ending not many people like. It was an ending that probably reflects real life more accurately.

I don’t even have words to explain what this book did…in my eyes anyways.

In most fantasy/sci-fi YA, you have heroes and heroines. They have destinies. They have goals and missions. They have enemies. Evil personified. And usually, almost always, the heroes rise up and kill the wizard or dictator or whatever the main antagonist is no matter how old the protagonist is.

And then they live happily ever after.

Not in Mockingjay.

No. Katniss is helpless. Because seventeen year olds can only do so much. Even when they’re turned into a symbol for a revolution. Even when she’s the protagonist and the plot revolves around her. Even when she tries so hard, sacrifices so much…still, she was still at the mercy of people with more power, more control.  Because she was just one person. One young and unfortunate person.

And that’s reality.

….I think I understand why I feel so strongly about this book.

It has to do with the death of my mother.

This is one of the few times I read something, especially in YA fantasy/scifi fiction, that captured grieving of a loved one perfectly.

Captured death’s reality.

When mom died, I felt like my life was over. But time keeps moving forward. And there’s a part of me that feels like this shouldn’t be. I have to continue, because I don’t have a choice. The sun keeps setting and rising. The earth keeps turning. Human life continues around me.

Mockingkay’s ending chapters captured this beautifully. So real, so utterly beautifully, to the point I feel like…it helped me.

Sure, I was convinced I accepted the fact life continued with or without me and I moved on, but I haven’t really. Not really. I just shut out the world. Let the world keep going around me, while I lived in my own little reality I was in complete control over.

But the ending of Mockingjay…showed me a different way. A better way.

There are other things about it that blew me away. It showed the reality of violence, the truth that a world where life is sacrificed for the better good is not a world worth living in, no matter the reason.

Again this is hard to explain and I’m realizing this post is already so long, so unclear and so unfocused. I’m not making much sense.

It’s better if you just read the books yourselves and hopefully you’ll understand better what I’m talking about.

I’ll just end this as quickly as possible now.

Before I said my passion rekindled.

Now I say my passion has become a bonfire.

There are books I read, movies I watched, where afterwards, I knew for sure this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to create something that had this impact on another person. A story that moved a person to the extent I was moved.

But Mockingjay is a whole new level of inspiration.

I never knew you could…explore such themes in YA fantasy/sci-fi before. Not like this. And now I’m certain without a single doubt in my mind that this is what I want to do.

I want to do what this book has done.

My stories aren’t going to be cliché, shallow, superficial candy that just entertains and allows a person to escape.

Well, okay I do want to entertain and transport people to fictional worlds otherwise they’ll never stay (probably the biggest reason why mainstream and genre fiction is more popular than literary fiction). But I want to do that and change them. I want them to break down in tears and help them heal.

To give hope. But real hope, not illusion. Not a happily ever after fantasy. Hope that can be carried with them into the real world. Even if it’s YA fantasy/sci-fi. Even if it’s in the least likely of genres.

If I haven’t permanently changed as a person because of Mockingjay, I know for one I definitely changed as a writer.

And that’s pretty much what I wanted to say.

~~~

I also want to say or rather beg that everyone boycott watching The Hunger Games movie.

I want it to fail. To fail horribly.

So they don’t even think of making a Mockingjay movie.

Cause they’ll do it all wrong, just as they did The Hunger Games all wrong (look at the trailer after reading the book and you know they did it all wrong).

Some books shouldn’t be made into movies.

This is one of them.

But I’m weak and I’ll watch it anyways….cause maybe, just maybe they did get at least SOMETHING right.

 

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