SAFETY IN PAGES

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

Sorry about the recent lack of content from my corner of the Internet. Right now, the focus for me

is touching up this last draft before I send it to other agents, but I plan to be posting a bit more once

the novel’s sent off again.

This week’s Inspiration Monday prompt was “Safety in Pages”. Playing off a bit of inspiration I got

recently—it’s not the exact story concept, but it follows many of the same pathways.

* * * * *

Max’s fingers trembled as he poked at the keyboard.

Breath shook, frosted the screen as bits of fog

curled from the vents.

He rubbed his neck into the collar of the coat, cursing himself for the fingerless

gloves.

He reached for the mouse.

Clicked on the file, moved it. Put it into the e-mail.

Test LXIII Results. Final Correspondence.

And closed his eyes for a long moment.

The long beep sounded, and he clicked to the other tab.

“WELL?”

“SENDING IN A MOMENT.” He could barely muster the control to type it.

The nervous sweats didn’t quite freeze his skin in the cold, but they came close.

“A MOMENT?”

Max caught his breath, the hand coming back to tighten around his heart again.

“WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?”

“NO PROBLEM,” he typed back.

The blinking underscore seemed to still for a moment onscreen, and then it went back and continued

as normal.

“THEN SEND IT.”

He clicked to the other tab.

Tried once to hit the button, and failed, and tricked himself into doing it without thinking.

Message sent.

Back to the other tab, closing out the first one.

“SENT.”

“RECEIVED.”

And then:

“YOU WILL BE SPARED.”

Max breathed a long sigh of relief.

“NO VIRUS?” he typed.

“NO VIRUS.”

He waited for a long moment, thought to himself.

“THANK YOU.”

“WE APPRECIATE YOUR COOPERATION.”

Max clicked out of the window, went to turn away, caught his breath when it opened again.

“SEE YOU IN HELL.”

The hand slipped over Max’s mouth, and as the syringe sank into his neck, the computer shut down.

They’d told the truth.

It wasn’t the virus that’d killed him.

* * * * *

May you remain existential,

Evan

My First Rejection

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

I got my first rejection letter today.

It’s bittersweet, I guess.

Bitter for obvious reasons, of course, that I won’t shove under the rug. It’s rejection. That part of things is never fun.

However, at the same time, I couldn’t have asked for a better let-down.

I’ve been bracing myself for a very long time, to receive a letter that would essentially tell me that the work was hopeless and it would be best if it were forgotten. And publishing isn’t an industry where people are afraid to say that, either. Time is short, and if work is wasting that time, the author’s going to know. I’ve been mentally preparing for that, read dozens of letters ranging from the chiding to the discouraging to the flat-out prohibitive.

And the message I got today was more helpful, more encouraging, than anything I could have hoped for.

I’ll withhold the details, partly because I don’t want to bore people and partly because it has some strange sense of privacy I haven’t quite figured out yet. But this isn’t just me trying to create a graceful defeat or whatever. As far as getting rejected goes, this experience was great.

And…the journey has just begun.

May you remain existential,

Evan

On Dystopia and Valid World-Building

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

So Voice Week has come to a close, as all wonderful things must eventually, and I’m back to normal blogstuffs. However, I’d like to tie today’s post back t0 the stories I put out last week and use them as a medium to discuss this concept.

Essentially, I’ve wondered for a long time why some dystopian stories seem valid, and others don’t–why when people read Hunger Games or Fahrenheit 451, the story hits home much more than other ones would, which we haven’t heard about for a very good reason. As a reader who really does enjoy well-done dystopic novels, and would very much like to write one, I’ve thought about this a lot lately.

Basically, how can I have a premise to my story that’s sufficiently unrealistic, but that people don’t dismiss as fantasy?

Because that’s really the defining bit to dystopia, I think, hitting the right balance between belief and implausibility, and the part of the craft that has the biggest potential to decide events for debut authors.

My theory is this:

Certain novels are successful in this discipline of writing because they do two things. First, they present a common problem, which is either directly relevant to a reader or something the average person has a high degree of familiarity with. And second, they present a solution–but one that goes WAY too far.

Consider Fahrenheit 451. Not among my favorites, but it’ll do. Essentially, the common problem is censorship, right? The idea that there are inherent rights and wrongs and things people should or shouldn’t hear and say. And the solution for this, therefore, is to destroy the vessels that carry these entities of moral questionableness.

Problem, solution–and the solution, really, isn’t too far away from the more outlandish ones we listen to. Book-banning, for example, accomplishes much the same task. It removes the book, its discussion and its concepts from a communal organization, with intentions of a clean, no-questions-asked finish to the debate then and there.

So…like…doesn’t burning it accomplish pretty much the same thing?

I’ll extrapolate a bit more with regard to the story I shared for Voice Week. Essentially, it follows Donovan, Mary and Cedric in a near-future America, wherein basically there have been some big societal reforms.

I’ll take this opportunity to remind people that this stuff is copyrighted.

But anyway, among these reforms is this: All underage delinquents with cases of suitable severity shall serve time detained in the National Subterranean Internment Complex, better known as NSIC and even-better as The Cave, until they reach 18 years old. During their imprisonment, they will be confined in an unregulated society devoid of all light and essentially left to their own devices. On their 18th birthday, if they survive until this point, they will be either re-integrated with society–depending again on the severity of their crime–or sent to retrial as an adult with any subsequent penalty enforced at a conventional prison.

The reasoning for this is threefold, in the eyes of the government. First, it solves a large part of the national prison overcrowding problem, opening formerly juvenile-delinquent space to house of-age prisoners. Second, it serves as a powerful deterrent to youths living in less-than-favorable conditions and has facilitated a drastic reduction in underage crime rates. And third, it removes the influence of questionable individuals from the lives of their more promising, law-abiding friends and classmates.

I share this because I would like to pose a question–given the context I gave above, does this seem realistic? At all? Because I’ve struggled with it a bit, and I’d like to know how it measures in terms of validity.

So please, leave Comments in Comments, and I think that’s it for today.

May you remain existential,

Evan

Voice Week 2014–Cedric

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

Well, this is it. After a week of fun and challenge, view and review, we are coming to a final close. It’s been a great year, and I extend my deepest thanks to everyone who has participated with me. I am privileged to be among you all.

I think this one is manageable.

So without further Ado or Adon’t, here’s the fifth and final piece to this week’s saga, told through the eyes of Cedric.

Word Count: 153

* * * * *

He thought back to last week in the cell, when they asked what he wanted to see for Last Light.

Most guys his age would have asked for a stripper.

He asked for darkness.

He felt the cold of the Cave around him now, the press, the choking, and he took one step forward after another. He stumbled blindly along the wall, clawing, pulling himself forward.

His right foot ached in the smaller three toes, all of them shattered.

He tried to ignore what seemed for all the world like a second kneecap, on his shin just below the first.

The fire in his ribs burned bright enough that, if released, he expected it would light the entire Cave.

The shoulder still throbbed from the dislocation.

The head still pounded, like the brick had.

Donovan.

Donovan made this.

Made him.

Made the pain.

And Cedric would end it, end him, or die trying.

* * * * *

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

 

May you remain existential,

Evan

Voice Week 2014–Ben

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

It’s that time of year again–it’s Voice Week!

Essentially what that means is, every day until tomorrow, I’ll be posting a short little flash-fiction piece centered around the same scene–as told by five different Voices.

This year, I’ll be using the beginning pages to my new novel as my testing bed–I posted the original piece, below, some time ago, but as a tool to better understand the book on my end I’m going to re-write from varying angles to understand more about my characters.

**NOTE: The rules officially state that the piece should be around 100 words. This is not the case. However, because of this I will bear people from other sites NO ILL WILL if they choose not to read as a result. That’s absolutely fine, I understand completely. However, I do need to irk Jubilare a bit ;) I will post the word count before beginning each piece.

So without further Ado or Adon’t, here’s the fourth piece to this week’s saga, told through the eyes of Ben, an inmate in the Cave.

Word Count: 423

* * * * *

He heard the kid stumble from the pod after a minute, all floppiness and no spirit like all the other ones that day. He held to the sound in the darkness, gulped air, tried to ignore the raw searing in his belly.

The Cave, the wall of that little tunnel, felt good against the back of his neck. He let his hands lay still on the floor, stiller than he had in a long time. Breathe in, breathe out, enjoy what’s left, wish there was light.

The kid was up now, fumbling along the tunnel wall. Probably hadn’t realized how dark it would be, hadn’t been able to imagine it. Ben tried to chuckle, but the pain from his gut would have knocked him asleep if he’d continued.

He reached up with one finger, wincing as he explored the jagged cut and the raw, exposed organs beneath. A gift from one of the Wanderers, one of the ones who was down here for a good reason.

He’d thought he knew what intestines felt like, from the haunted houses when he’d been little.

He decided, then and there, he was wrong.

The kid from the Delivery Pod had it now, taking one shaky step after another along the Cave wall. Toward him. A day before, he would have called out and told the kid to take another path, if not break their neck himself. But today, there wasn’t much of an option.

The kid grunted as something hit his foot, probably a rock or something like it. Definitely a boy, he thought, almost a man. Less time he’d have to survive till Retrial, so good for him.

The kid came closer, then closer, then a little bit too close.

And then Ben screamed, with the white-hot pain, as the kid’s boot found its way through the hole and into his gut.

The kid recoiled, tried to spring back, got his foot caught under a bit of his skin. Was quiet for a minute, until the realization came of what the kid had just done.

And, as if to add insult to injury, the kid then decided to spray him with a healthy rain of vomit.

“Sorry,” the kid said after a minute.

“Don’t worry about it.”

Silence for a moment, and he held still as the kid extracted himself from the wound.

“What the hell happened to you?”

“Nothing pleasant.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

More silence.

“Ben,” he said from the floor.

“Donovan.”

“Good luck down here,” Ben said.

“Thanks.”

Donovan made his way off, through the inky blackness.

And Ben stayed, as a new kind of oblivion found its way to him.

* * * * *

So that’s today’s post! Comment below and let me know what you thought–I’ll be sure to do the same for yours!

May you remain existential,

Evan

Voice Week 2014–Martin

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

It’s that time of year again–it’s Voice Week!

Essentially what that means is, every day until Friday, I’ll be posting a short little flash-fiction piece centered around the same scene–as told by five different Voices.

This year, I’ll be using the beginning pages to my new novel as my testing bed–I posted the original piece, below, some time ago, but as a tool to better understand the book on my end I’m going to re-write from varying angles to understand more about my characters.

**NOTE: The rules officially state that the piece should be around 100 words. This is not the case. However, because of this I will bear people from other sites NO ILL WILL if they choose not to read as a result. That’s absolutely fine, I understand completely. However, I do need to irk Jubilare a bit ;) I will post the word count before beginning each piece.

So without further Ado or Adon’t, here’s the third piece to this week’s saga, told through the eyes of Martin the Correctional Officer.

Word Count: 482

* * * * *

He tossed the wrapper into the garbage can, the twinge of pride from his seven-foot free throw quickly replaced by the realization that this, of all things, was what he was proud of.

The chair creaked as he leaned back, raising his feet up onto the round table. He reached forward and brushed away loose bits of paper, settling into a particularly wide burger.

Dirk stirred from his desk, raising his head and pulling at tousled hair. He nodded. “Martin. Didn’t hear you come in.”

“Yeah, guess not,” Martin said. He pulled at the buttons of the uniform, struggling to pop open the first two. “No trouble today? Nothing bad?”

“Don’t get me started,” he said, rubbing at his eyes. He stood, pressing into the small of his back. “Walked in on one girl trying to kill herself with her bedsheets. Had to stay with another one for an hour, she’d put up a fit whenever I got up to leave. You have it easy, man.”

“I don’t see what they’re getting so anxious about. They’ll die anyway, once they get down there. Might as well enjoy being Topside for a bit longer.”

“Poor kids,” Dirk said. “Wouldn’t want to be ‘em.”

Martin nodded, took another bite from the burger, tried to speak, tried again. “Yeah, I had this one kid in the Delivery Room. Boy, bigger than I was. Ponytail and whatever, you know. The works. Looked like he’d seen stuff, you know?”

“Trying to be a tough?”

“No, that was the strange part. Kid didn’t ask for the stripper or whatever, no television, nothing like that. Just his sister.”

“Cute,” Dirk said, smiling a bit. “Dammit, I’d hate to send a kid like that into the Cave.”

“Well…it was nice, yeah. But those two…they looked like they could’ve busted out if they wanted to. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”

“And they just went?”

“Yeah. The brother went. Sister started cursing me out, when he left. Said we’d never helped them before, only tried to beat them down. Acted like I was a cop, you know the type.”

“Hate it when they think that.”

“You know, if I had a nickel for every time you’d said that–“

“It’s true, though. I’m not a cop, man,” Dirk said, leaning far back in his chair. “I’m here with the kids for a reason.”

“I’m the last person you want to justify that with.”

“Yeah, fair enough. I just…I want them to be safe, you know?”

Martin laughed, finishing the last bit of burger. “I said that, to the brother. Told him to be safe. Sister reamed me for it after he left…but I think he probably took it better. I couldn’t imagine being where he is now.”

“Yeah.” Dirk pulled back his sleeve, fiddled with his watch. “Dammit, break ended five minutes ago.”

They shrugged and stood, and went back to the cells and the lost children inside them.

* * * * *

So that’s today’s post! Comment below and let me know what you thought–I’ll be sure to do the same for yours!

May you remain existential,

Evan

Voice Week 2014–Mary

Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.

It’s that time of year again–it’s Voice Week!

Essentially what that means is, every day until Friday, I’ll be posting a short little flash-fiction piece centered around the same scene–as told by five different Voices.

This year, I’ll be using the beginning pages to my new novel as my testing bed–I posted the original piece, below, some time ago, but as a tool to better understand the book on my end I’m going to re-write from varying angles to understand more about my characters.

**NOTE: The rules officially state that the piece should be around 100 words. This is not the case. However, because of this I will bear people from other sites NO ILL WILL if they choose not to read as a result. That’s absolutely fine, I understand completely. However, I do need to irk Jubilare a bit ;) I will post the word count before beginning each piece.

So without further Ado or Adon’t, here’s the second piece of the week, told through the eyes of Donovan’s sister, Mary Cross.

Word Count: 297 (Jubilare, you’re welcome ;) )

* * * * *

As much as Mary tried to forget, she couldn’t get away from Donovan and the Internment Facility.

Dammit….

He’d told her, of course, before he got taken in that he’d want to see her. It had seemed like a promise at the time, something to soothe, to placate.

In the moment, flying next to him across the City rooftops, it had worked. Joshua on her side, Dante on his, Stephen and Vida watching the flanks…it had been safe. Fun. Like always. Their last sendoff, their biggest and brightest moments.

And then they caught him.

She thought back to the week before, in that goddamned room they took him to. That guard, just watching them, not even with the decency to look stern. Just watching.

The clothes they gave him were just awful. The skintight stuff, with no pockets, where she couldn’t bury herself into him.

Of course, one last time would have been too much to ask.

If she could have been able to see through the pain down her side, it would have been nice. Even now, the skin flapped a little bit when she rolled off the bandage. It had been worse then…and he had known. He had remembered, and just as she couldn’t go to him as she had wanted to, neither could he to her.

He knew it.

He always knew.

She hadn’t said much, in the week since. A few words to Dante, muttered apologies for not doing anything except sleeping on his couch. But not much, otherwise.

Brother.

Everything.

Donovan.

Gone now, to the Cave…and likely, never coming back.

Dante said she could stay as long as she had to.

That he wasn’t her brother. But he could try to come close.

She hadn’t told him how much she wanted that.

* * * * *

So that’s today’s post! Comment below and let me know what you thought–I’ll be sure to do the same for yours!

May you remain existential,

Evan