13 STEPS TO EVIL Writing Competition Winners

Yesterday, Sacha Black announced the winner of her
13 STEPS TO EVIL Writing Competition.

The assignment was to write a short piece (exactly 208 words) with a “seriously kick-ass villain.” Fortunately, I’d just read Sacha’s book: 13 Steps to Evil, which is full of awesome tips about creating dastardly bad guys.  Now, I swear I’m a nice person, but this challenge was irresistible, and I’m honored that my story placed first in evilness. Congratulations to Charise de Becker and Judy E. Martin for their winning submissions. Pop over to read their evil writing at 13 Steps to Evil #Writespiration Writing Competition Winners.

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Pixabay image

Barus

The woman studied him in silence. Barus sensed her eyes on his face, begging for a glance, on his hands as he cleaned the delicate needles and polished his blades. He possessed exquisite hands, long-fingered, soft and nimble. Hands for caressing the cheeks of children and lovers.

His preparations complete, he faced his charge. “Are you comfortable?”

Her brow furrowed, and he sighed, for how could she answer such a question? “An unfair inquiry. My apologies. Are you in pain? Thirsty?”

She shook her head, the gag preventing all but a muffled reply.

“You must understand the empire’s need for a flaying, a warning to all who flirt with rebellion. Your ordeal will save hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives.” He took a stool beside her chair, brushed a bright tear from her eye, and stroked her iron-bound arm. “I shall be quick.”

Her fingers curled into a fist. He withdrew his touch, the time for compassion ended. The life of his young son depended on unbearable pain, and he, the emperor’s latest executioner, would comply.

He unbound her gag, and she spat in his face, cursed his spirit to the shadowlands. He smiled at her prophetic appeal. Needles first, then knives. The entire city would hear her scream.

The Light and Dark of Sarah Brentyn: Guest Post

Sarah Brentyn swears she’s an introvert on the verge of becoming a recluse, and yet she’s one of the stars of the blogosphere – hilarious, clever and outgoing, commenting, visiting, guest posting, writing, and managing two blogs (in addition to a real life). Her posts are full of the humor and sarcasm of a natural wit, and yet, her book of flash fiction, Hinting at Shadows, is a foray into the darker, deeper emotions and struggles of the human journey. Sarah is a conundrum. Who is this woman? I invited her here to answer that question and tell us about these sides of her writerly self.

Sarah Brentyn: Living in the Light, Writing in the Dark

I’ve been asked how it is (or why it is) that I write a light-hearted, pseudo-humorous blog then turn around and pen some seriously dark fiction. I’m here to answer that question.

I am Dr. Jekyll.

Okay, I’m not. Or I could be. You don’t know.

Buckle your seat belts. We’re in for a bumpy ride. I’ve no idea where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing about me. I’m a conversational writer. People often say I write in a stream of consciousness narrative. That’s fair. I do. It’s why I like pantsing. (In the writing sense, that is. I’d never pull your trousers down to humiliate you. No, I would not.)

My blog? I freewrite. Jot down whatever comes to mind. My life, writing, the world around me…  Since I simply sit down and write, it’s unfiltered me. Sarcastic and silly and, sometimes, accidently serious. (With tons of alliteration, apparently.) There are ridiculous posts where my inner child is peeking out and there are thought-provoking posts where my philosophical nature is showing. It’s a mish-mash. Or “eclectic”, if you want to be nice. It doesn’t fit into any specific category. I’m okay with that because, if you think on it, people don’t fit neatly into specific categories, either.

My fiction? I dig deep. Find those roots and rip them out to have a good look. Examine what lies beneath. Get inside people’s heads. Dissect the sticky center. (Okay, that’s gross. It’s more studying inner workings than wielding scalpels.) There are a lot of psychological struggles, tricky emotions, and shadowy memories in there. I’m obsessed with the anatomy of human behavior. And I enjoy exploring it in flashes.

What’s so remarkable about flash fiction is that you can hint at the stuffing inside the teddy bear or you can show readers the rip in the seam. Cotton fiber or bean pellets? What’s inside the story?

I want to make readers wonder what the hell just happened then decide for themselves three hours later because they can’t stop thinking about it. When readers engage, I’ve won. Huge. Like that impossible water gun game at the carnival that’s completely rigged and no one ever really wins. Like that. I got the biggest prize they have and now can’t go on any rides because I’m hauling around a unicorn the size of a VW Bus. But that’s okay. I have cotton candy.

With fiction, I create things I wouldn’t want to experience. Though I do anyway. Vicariously. I’m very close to my characters. They’re like family. (The ones I don’t dread visiting during holidays.) Their stories affect me but I’m not stuck in their reality.

I think it’s safe to say that I live in the light and write in the dark.

My (Diana’s) review of Hinting at Shadows:

A string of story pearls

I just finished Hinting at Shadows and had to rave a little about this book of short fiction. When Brentyn says short, she means short. Most of the stories are about 100 words, what I refer to as flash fiction. I enjoy flash fiction, but wasn’t sure about reading a whole book of it. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.

Every story is a pearl. The writing is exquisite and full of pathos with a focus on the poignancy of the human condition. Hinting at Shadows is the perfect title as each story is a tiny hint at a larger human story, one that is characterized by shadows – sometimes secrets, but more often complex feelings of loneliness, regret, longing, disappointment, and hope.

It would be possible to whip through this book in a couple hours, but I think it’s meant to be savored, just as one might read poetry. So that’s what I did. It’s perfect for someone who enjoys filling their free moments with words or someone who just loves beautiful writing.

Author Bio:

Sarah Brentyn is an introvert who believes anything can be made better with soy sauce and wasabi. She loves words and has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She talks to trees and apologizes to inanimate objects when she bumps into them. When she’s not writing, you can find her strolling through cemeteries or searching for fairies. She hopes to build a vacation home in Narnia someday. In the meantime, she lives with her family and a rainbow-colored, wooden cat who is secretly a Guardian.

Book Link: myBook.to/HintingAtShadows

Sarah’s Hang-outs: 
Amazon: Author Page
Blogs: Lemon Shark    and   Lemon Shark Reef
Twitter
Google+

Sunday Blog Share – What If: Not a Poem

A sublime piece of writing for the passing of summer into autumn. Comments are closed here; please click over to indulge in the beauty of this short “not a poem.”

What If: Not a Poem

by Jan Malique from Strange Goings on in the Shed

What if I could bring back all that you’d forgotten? Will you smile then, run in fields of glory, be the child bathed in laughter?

Piece by piece assemble the memories of past joys and sorrows. Unveil faded images, lost and now found. Bring back Summers of familial bliss.

Offer a brief glimpse of smiles thrown beguilingly, of tears shed in anger, of sighs whispered in solitude under star laden skies…

Continue Reading: What If: Not a Poem

Grumpy Ana and the Grouchy Monsters

My first children’s book is out in print. During my writing break over the summer, I tried my hand at illustration. It was hard and I learned a lot. I have a whole new respect for professional illustrators! You are amazing.

Thank you to all the authors who offered their feedback on the text (a simpler print and no italics). I realize it looks small in these images, but I did order proofs of the book (twice) and the actual size works fine.

I published this through Createspace, and it was a (grizzly) bear dealing with the images. Took me days and days and days to get the dpi right.

I was never going to subject myself to the agent-seeking process again, but I did, rather lamely, send queries to 7 agents in August. No takers, naturally, and I didn’t care a whit. This book was written for fun, illustrated for fun, and published for fun.

I hope you enjoy a few peeks at the illustrations.  And, of course, it has a happy ending.

Only in Print: USA, UK, Canada

Grumpy Ana Goblyn is sour, dour, and cranky. Her lips droop in a frown. She’s bored with every place and person in her friendly town. With the help of her father, she builds a spaceship and travels to a soggy planet where she meets her perfect monster playmates. But there’s a problem! The monsters see her grouchy frown and think she’s a monster. In this children’s space adventure, Ana discovers that her attitude affects her happiness, and she can change it if she chooses.

 

Scattered: #writephoto

Thanks to Sue Vincent for a beautiful photo prompt. I went a little off-world on this one. Hope you enjoy.

*

“I’ll take the risk.” Captain Galles scratched the stubble graying his jaw. “If something happens to me, Corso’s in charge, not that you’ll have any decisions left.”

No one argued. What was the point? Forty chrons without food and water, we ran shy of options. We’d searched the black bowels of the alien freighter, a salvage operation by the looks of it, and found nothing but twisted and charred metal, every scrap incinerated clean. Our damaged shuttle lay on its side amidst the sea of relics.

The exception to the vast darkness was a panel of fractured light, a patterning of sublime beauty suspended over a polished dais. Our mechanical captors had wedged the unit against the compartment’s grated wall shortly after we found ourselves prisoners. Primitive cyborgs, the aliens lacked facial articulation and translation capabilities, the robotic language in all forms indecipherable. All our words and gestures proved futile, and our captain’s demands for basic sustenance went unheeded. They’d installed the contraption and left, its function a mystery.

The eight of us stood at the fringe of light as Galles stepped onto the dais. The array of lights above him hummed in a slow spin and increased in speed until they appeared to hurl backward. His mouth gaped in a silent wail, eyes pooled with terror. He struggled to escape the machine, hammered fists against an invisible barrier he couldn’t break. The lights blurred into a white star and he froze like a holograph set on pause.

His body began to disintegrate, clothing and skin breaking apart and floating like mist, then deeper, his whole shape loosening and scattering. He dissolved into swirling vapor, a haze of bright particles. A burst of blue current blinded me, and when I opened my eyes, he was gone.

I gasped and licked my parched lips, stifling an urge to vomit. Someone to my right heaved a dry sob. We sank to the floor where we’d stood, doomed. A day or two, we’d all be dead.

***

Amak studied the monitor. An unexpected reaction. It appears they are unfamiliar with teleportation. The fear response was extreme.

They are primitive. Rohla absorbed a wave of compassion emanating from the companion. They lack translation capabilities and do not understand the most basic of trinary languages. Their arithmetics are rudimentary. We have no means of communicating with them.

They choose death over the unknown. Amak shared the bafflement, their logic incomprehensible. Are we certain of the teleportation coordinates?

Without question. They were retrieved from their ship’s logs prior to processing.

Thoughts?

Rohla’s aura went silent, and Amak ceded to the desire for contemplation. Once completed, Rohla opened a channel and set the dilemma forth. Either we honor their choice as sentient beings and let them die, or we defy them, apply force, and save their lives.

A Rat Named Lucy and a Backyard Muse

In the mood for a laugh? The muse stories expand to the animal kingdom with two hysterical posts from a couple of funny bloggers. Meet Mike Allegra’s furry rodent muse, Lucy,  and join Molly Stevens as she hunts for her muse in her backyard. I’ve attached intros and links to both posts and, since it’s Sunday, closed comments here.  Enjoy 🙂

Mike Allegra’s Muse, Lucy

A Muse for Youse

by Mike Allegra at Hey Look a Writer Fellow

“You’re lying on the couch,” my muse observes with an arched eyebrow.

“Yes,” I say.

“You’re eating ice cream,” she continues. “While lying on the couch.”

“Yes,” I repeat.

“And you’re watching Spaceballs.”

“Yes,” I say again. “I am watching Spaceballs while eating ice cream while lying on the couch.”

She chitters with disapproval. “Is this a new way to write that nobody told me about?”

“I’m writing,” I reply. “Writing is about a lot more than typing, you know. You need time to, you know, ponder things.”

“Oh, so this is ‘pondering,’ then?” She flicks an invisible speck of dust from her whisker. “Because what you’re doing looks an awful lot like ‘farting around.’”

“Well, that’s why…

(Continue Reading: A Muse for Youse)

 

Images from Pixabay, edited by Molly

Old MacDonald had a muse, e-i-e-i-o-my

by Molly Stevens at Shallow Reflections

The more stories I read about writers getting intimate with their muses-with-issues, the more fearful I was to encounter mine. What if she is a tyrant with no sense of humor? But what would I miss, if she is more fun than a barrel of animatronic monkeys, hanging out in amusement parks? Like Disney World?

I mustered the courage to look for her. And since I didn’t have money in the budget for a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, I decided to hunt for her in my backyard.

I searched for a Muse Hunting Call in the app store, downloaded it, and put it to use. It made a throaty, grunting sound.

To my surprise, a full grown, bull moose lumbered out of the woods, looking confused as to why a middle-aged woman without a gun or a moose-hunting permit would call him.

He asked, “What do you want?”

I said, “There must be some mistake. I was calling my muse, not a mangy moose.”

“Hey, watch who you are calling mangy…

(Continue Reading: Old MacDonald had a muse, e-i-e-i-o-my)

Smorgasbord Book Promotion – Air Your Reviews – Paul Andruss, D. Wallace Peach and Christina Steiner.

Many thanks to Sally for capturing a review written at the end of the Rose Shield Series – one I hadn’t seen yet and a final wrap-up of the 4-book experience. While you’re visiting, check out wonderful reviews for Christina and Paul as well. Happy Reading!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

To kick this post off I am featuring our Writer in Residence, Paul Andruss and a new review for his fantasy novel Thomas the Rhymer.

I have read and reviewed Thomas the Rhymer earlier in the year,  here is the link to download the epub version of the books for FREE.

Paul also has a pdf file available and, you can read for FREE by obtaining a copy from Barnes & Noble for Nook readers and also from Kobo.

You can find out how to download from Paul’s site and also links to the other options such as Kindle on Amazon at this link.

http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/amazon-links.php

About Thomas the Rhymer

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and…

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