Tag Archives: writing

The Writing Prompt Gif Game

There are gifs that perfectly sum up an emotion or experience, and there are gifs that defy reality and beg for explanation.

These will be the basis of W.P.G., The Writing Prompt Gif Game.

I want people to send each other the world’s best and worst gifs as writing prompts. The gif can appear at any point in the story. End the story and tag another person with a new gif, invite them to build on the story, whatever you like.

This is all just an excuse for me to collect my favorite gifs for posterity and pretend I’m being productive, but that’s not important.

I’ll go first, with a musical tale I call…

LOSE YOURSELF

        B-Rabbit stood on the stage, trembling, mouth dry, about to lose the most important rap battle of his life before it even began. He stared into the lights to blur the vision of his swaggering rival and jeering crowd, to burn away everything except for the beat. His fingers were clenched around the cheap mic, knuckles turning white as he tried to hold onto the words that were vanishing, unborn, from the tip of his tongue.
        He dug deep inside and dredged up all of his anger, fear, passion and pain. It threatened to choke him or tumble from his mouth as sobs and shrieks, but he forced it, through sheer will, to come out as truth.
      “Look
      If you had
      One shot
      Or one opportunity
      To seize everything you ever wanted
      In one moment
      Would you capture it
      Or just let it slip?
     Yo
     His palms are sweaty,
     knees weak, arms are heavy
     There’s vomit on his sweater already,
     …crab spaghetti!”
The End
And there you have it, the first of doubtless millions of WPGs.
Who’s got next?
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Sending out an S.O.S.

the arcanist

My flash fiction horror story ‘Message in a Bottle’ has washed ashore in this week’s issue of The Arcanist magazine.

The story is under 1,000 words so I won’t write a long essay about it, but I did find the research for the piece very interesting. It begins with a person stranded on a desert island, as told by a message in the bottle.

Scanning Google Earth for the most remote dots of land was surprisingly unsettling. Many places claim to be the most isolated, but to ensure maximum suffering for my protagonist I wanted to ensure the island would not have any food, which is difficult considering that 15th century Spanish explorers seeded every island they came across with goats and rats.

In the end, I settled on something off shore from the Marquesas Island chain. Look up a place called ‘Fatu Hiva’. It is surrounded by unfathomable amounts of ocean. If you zoom out you will see the curve of the planet before you see the closest major land mass.

How would you get on or off such a god forsaken spit of land? That depends on the whims of the ocean’s currents. Some currents are hoarders that take years to deliver flocks of rubber ducks around the globe, others are like serial killers that specialize in severed feet.

There are so many ways to die that you may be surprised to learn that hypothermia will probably get you. After blistering under the sun all day you can look forward to vicious thunderstorms that drench you with freezing cold water.

Here’s a sample of the story…

desert-island

I recovered a few luxuries from the shipwreck. Some rope, a sharp piece of metal. And a way to make fire. I started each day with a signal fire, casting my thin trail of smoke into the sky like a fishing line.

I made a belt from the salvaged rigging and managed to climb the trees. There, carved into the bark twenty feet in the air, I discovered a series of slashes. There are no straight lines in nature. Someone had been here when this tree was much shorter. Another survivor, marking the days and months.

        Who were they? When were they here? Had they escaped? My mind starved for answers as my body starved for food.

There was nothing to do but wither beneath the sun as it crawled across the empty heavens. Too weak to stand, I lay pinned between the sky and sea. I could feel myself being ground into sand. I cursed the sun until it withdrew. At night I was plunged into darkness, alone and adrift between voids that stretched in all directions.

Check out the full story at The Arcanist Magazine.

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Who is that angry alien?

cropped-ji-fu-hanko-red-on-white-circle.jpg

This angry alien is my hanko, a personal seal I used to sign my work while studying sumi-e, traditional Japanese painting. My instructor insisted I get one, and my classmates helped me choose the design.

Because I have a western name, I cannot write it using characters in the Japanese kanji alphabet. I first had to transliterate my name ‘Jeff’ into the closest phonetic characters in the hiragana alphabet, which wound up being “Ji” and “Fu”.

Next, I got to pick from a list of kanji pronounced Ji and Fu. Each kanji had its own meaning, and together they would produce my new artist name. Some of the combinations were strange, and some were over the top. It is considered poor form for both of your names to be bold (e.g: Awesome Thunder!), so I chose ‘luck’ for Ji (a traditional favorite) and ‘wind’ for Fu.

This gave me the name ‘Lucky Wind’, or ‘Wind That Brings Luck’.

Next I commissioned a hanko company to create the stamp. They converted my chosen modern kanji characters into their traditional historical form, which was the ancient script of the Chinese Han alphabet.

When I saw that angry one eyed alien, I was sold. These days I spend my time writing instead of practicing sumi-e or shodo calligraphy, so the alien is going to rep my work in fiction. Don’t worry, he’s not really mad. He’s just working hard.

shodo4 paintings sumi e

cat sumi e

 

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Punktown AF

Dark Regions Press presents TRANSMISSIONS FROM PUNKTOWN, a new anthology set in the weird, bleak, urban, shared world of Jeffrey Thomas. If you like your science fiction to feel lived in you will love Punktown. This book is an escape from the shiny plastic sets of the Star Wars prequels and a journey through the flesh and blood lives and grease and grime worlds you’ve seen in Blade Runner, The Expanse and yes, Mos Eisley.

Punktown is a coral reef, an accretion of bones, concrete, dreams and stories. In my entry, Less, Then Zero, a luckless thief has a scheme to trade places with one of the city’s anonymous, ever present labor clones.


Mik regained consciousness and tried to blink. He could not feel his eyelids. Do I still have my face? Or did the drugs wear off too soon? He imagined stumbling to the mirror to see a fleshless skull screaming back.

A robotic arm unspooled Kwik-Klot bandaging from his head. Each loop brought the world back in shades of red, from wine dark to scarlet to cherry-red.

He squinted at the harsh light of the body-mod shop and pushed the delicate auto-doc aside. He looked in the mirror. A stranger’s face looked back, the corners of its mouth twitching with a weak smile. It worked!

Mik gently touched his new face and winced, expecting pain, but the stolen flesh was numb. He bent his ear. The jailhouse tattoo tucked behind it, Gillen’s date of birth, was gone. In exchange he had a large, stylized ZERO inked across his scalp and forehead.

The auto-doc’s thin arms lifted a sterile tray holding Mik’s original face. No one had ever looked kindly on that portrait of failure. Even his own reflection had glared back with loathing.

“Flush it with the rest.” The auto-doc dumped the thin slice of flesh into a vat. It landed with a sticky slap upon a naked, faceless corpse.

The lid of the vat squealed shut and filled with caustic chemicals. Mik pried it open with one hand. Blistering fumes and the stench of dissolving meat stung his eyes. He gripped the auto-doc, uprooted it from its base station, and shoved it down.

The vat flushed. Corroded robot parts and melting bones rattled down the gurgling pipes. He zipped up the clone’s jumpsuit. The perfect crime, at last. Here’s to many more.


Transmissions from Punktown is available for pre-order now! Get the ebook, paperback or hardcover from Dark Regions Press here.

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Halloween Round Up

Greetings, Boils and Ghouls. Or should I say, Scabies and Mental men?

Seasons Creepings, etc etc.

This post is for short cuts, so I’ll get right to it.

crypt keeper

Yes, I know I said ‘cuts’. Zip it.

Here is my Halloween Roundup of original content for 2018

The Music Mix:   Horror Reggae!

The Movie post:  The Slasher Cycle Theory

Some Sci-Fi-Fun:  Halloween on Mars

The Spooktaculars:

 The 6 Demon Bag podcast (part 1)

The 6 Demon Bag podcast (part 2)

The 6 Demon Bag podcast (part 3)

That’s all the treats for this year. Have a Happy Hallowe’en!

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How the prose do it

I’ve often described my new novel CRITERION as a ‘Grimdark superhero’ story. I did not set out to chase a certain tone or style, it merely followed from the concept – ‘When a super hero is murdered, what happens to his sidekicks?”

I’d like to share and review some of my influences to celebrate the release of my upcoming book CRITERION.


Enough with the picture books, what about prose? Comic books had their resurgence and then flamed out so badly that it was difficult to find a comic book store, let alone a prose novel, but in 1995 John Varley put out an anthology of short stories called SUPERHEROES. The fact that the title was available illustrates how unsaturated the market was.

Superheroes-edited-by-John-Varley-and-Ricia-Mainhardt

I borrowed the book from a friend. We had grown up pondering ‘what would you do if you had superpowers?’ or ‘what is the worst superpower?’ This book played with these topics and lead me to consider more.

I can’t list specific stories, but certain scenes are still vivid in my memory. One superhero confronting another who has turned his powers on his unfaithful wife. A villainess breaking a hero’s heart on a tropical beach. The most provocative was the story of a hero from another world with a determined fan who learns too late that his human appearance is only skin deep.

The anthology was edited by John Varley (who wrote the excellent sci-fi epic DEMON) and Ricia Mainhardt with stories from genre veterans including Roger Zelazny, Alan Dean Foster, Laurell K. Hamilton,  Mike Resnick, Richard Lee Byers and Michael A. Stackpole.

How dark? Contents include: skeletonized victims, arson, secret alien supermen, child murder and publicists.

Have a favorite dark comic book you think people should know about? Drop a comment and let me know.

CRITERION is available now from Crossroad Press in print and digital at

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Google Play

Smashwords

iTunes

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Evil Mr. Potato Head

I’ve often described my new novel CRITERION as a ‘Grimdark superhero’ story. I did not set out to chase a certain tone or style, it merely followed from the concept – ‘When a super hero is murdered, what happens to his sidekicks?”

I’d like to share and review some of my influences to celebrate the release of my new book CRITERION.


 

Before we stop making mine Marvel, let’s go out on a high note with Terror, Inc.

Terror_Inc_01_cover

Coldsteel, is that you?

Terror, aka Shreck, is a whiskered green ghoul with the ability to rip off limbs and attach them to his own rotting body. An accomplished DIY body hacker, he has lived for over a thousand years and crossed from the Epic Comics imprint to the Marvel main stage.

Terror-Inc CU

He kept a cache of special limbs in freezers to customize his body as each mission required, and in the heat of battle often scavenged what was necessary. Along with each borrowed part came memory and personality traits. Body Parts, the movie about a man who receives an evil transplant from a serial killer came out around the same time. Coincidence?

potato headterrorsh3

He worked as a hitman for the mob as well as a freelancer, teaming up with surprisingly vanilla heroes like Spidey, Wolverine and the Punisher as well as small timers like Luke Cage, Silver Sable and (ugh) Darkhawk. His rogues gallery was packed full of freaks like Piranha Jones and (ahem) Priapus.

The books ran on gore, body horror and dark humor. Sometimes Terror wore a spiffy trench coat and fedora, sometimes he dressed up like Santa Claus and laughed as he burned people alive.

TerrorInc08-Santa

How dark? Contents include: dismemberment, body horror, demons and impersonating Santa to commit murder.

Have a favorite dark comic book you think people should know about? Drop a comment and let me know.

CRITERION is available now from Crossroad Press in print and digital at

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Google Play

Smashwords

iTunes

P.S.: It’s fitting that terror was one of the first and most obscure modded action figures I ever saw.

terror figure

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