Tag Archives: writing

Between the Teeth

My first collection, Between the Teeth, is available now!

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Between the Teeth collects 16 tales of horror and science fiction from author Jeff C. Carter that will sink their fangs into you and won’t let go.

– A serial killer ends up in an emergency room, but a heart attack may be the least of his problems.

– A researcher hunts a rare spider in the jungles of Myanmar.

– A greedy dentist gets the most interesting client of his life.

Witness soldiers trapped in a crocodile infested swamp, a preacher hunting demon outlaws, and karma catching up to a Bangkok body snatcher. Whatever flavor of the macabre you crave, you will find it Between the Teeth. Buy it now!


I want you to try this book, so I’ve set the price as low as Amazon allows.

  • Print – $5.44
  • ebook – 99¢
  • Kindle Unlimited- $0.00

I’m also running a special promotion.

Between October 14th and 18th, my book is free on Kindle.

If you’d like a free preview, check out the mailing list.

Enjoy the book, and have a Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

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The Wordinator

“The robots are coming for your jobs”, they tell us.

“But I’m a writer!” I cry. “How could a machine create inspired works of fiction?”

Here’s The Science:

OpenAI is a billion dollar artificial intelligence research group dedicated to sharing information to stop the development of dangerous technologies. In 2019 they abruptly changed their strategy after developing GPT-2, which they deemed too dangerous to unleash upon the world.

GPT-2 is a text generator so powerful that they fear it may flood social media with synthetic noise or devastate our ability to parse news from propaganda. Imagine if 9 out of 10 articles were like ‘Pizzagate’, forever.

To give the public a sense of its potential, they released a nerfed version of GPT-2 that was trained on much smaller sets of information. Will futuristic technology make the human fiction writer a thing of the past? I thought I’d take it for a spin with the service StoryAI.

I provided the opening lines, what they call the ‘story seed’. Everything after that was generated from the hobbled version of GPT-2.

Here was one of my first experiments:


(The A.I. generated this headline)

I’ll have you know that I am a troll with a body

(The A.I. chose this image)

 

Photo by Audi Nissen on Unsplash

(The human wrote)

The Shrehkt dragged its talon across the parchment, crossing another name off its list with fresh blood. It had slain Ulbrim The Invincible, the paranoid blacksmith who had worn three overlapping suits of armor. It had eliminated Laramis, the faery cutthroat who could dance on the wind and press her invisible blade to your throat as fast as you could blink. So too had the Beast of Slab Iron been culled, though it could squeeze its tendrils through fathoms of rock, snatch a fish from a falcon in flight, and pulp a war elephant in its coils.

The Shrehkt unfurled its parchment, smiling as it bounced and rolled across the floor. Yesss, ssso many more targetsss. Ssso many thingsss to crosss off itsss lissst. The next creatures on its list were…

(The A.I. continued)

Trolls”, a species of troll that had been long thought extinct, until the Shrehkt, a troll with no body, was caught. estampit

Said troll was half-orc, though it could easily have just been a troll with a body. estampit

Said troll, as it dragged its half-orc body down a hallway. estampit

Said troll, with its body in the air. estampit

Said troll, in its half-orc body… estampit

Said troll! It had done it! estampit

Said troll! Yessss! estampit

Said troll! Yessss… estampit

Said troll! Yessss! estampit


Well, not quite what I was hoping for. I’m not in love with the picture, but the title has a flair that I would not have come up with on my own.

Perhaps I should do as Elon Musk suggests, and partner with the AI to combine our powers. Here are some stories I seeded, generated, and then reapplied my human sensibilities to.


(The A.I. generated this headline)

The old days were the days before the rise of the sun

and they were like a perfect world

(The A.I. chose this image)

“More jokes!” roared the Ogre. He swayed in the doorway of the dimly lit tavern, bellowing, drinking, yet never quite falling down drunk. The huddled villagers did their best to ply him with grog and humor. These were the jokes they told.

“It was like the old times,” said one.

“If you had been here,” the Ogre grunted, and the bar stool he was sitting on fell slowly to the floor. The Ogre took two gulps of his beer before he looked at the old bearded woman with the yellow fur. She was holding a pint of wine in one hand and a handful of bread in the other. The Ogre took a glass of beer before taking another sip of wine.

“I remember the old times,” said the old lady. “You must have been young then, and you had those times with us.”

“Yes,” said the Ogre. “There was great fun in those days. It was like living in a fairy tale… a perfect world, in some ways.”

“It was like having a full day, every day, to run around the world,” she continued. “We heard of the old gods who loved us all.”

The Ogre laughed. “I know that sounds ridiculous, but it had a certain magic about it. We lived up in the mountains. At the height of summer, when the sun started to rise, we would gather at the mountain’s peak, drink and chase away the night,” he continued.

The woman smiled. “I remember how it felt.”


Not too bad. I was hoping to generate a bunch of weird jokes, but instead it generated a melancholy vignette. 

This was an attempt at a Fantasy/Thriller. Somehow it got converted into a computer age story about the video game The Last of Us. It is dialogue heavy and sentimental, unlike what I typically write, so I wasn’t able to do much with it. I cleaned it up enough to make it readable.


(The A.I. generated this headline)

A lot of people think that the Last of Us

is a story about the end of the world

(The A.I. chose this image)

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

Maris pressed her sweaty forehead against the cold marble wall and gasped. If she could just stop running, if she could get a moment of sleep, perhaps she could wrap her mind around the artifact in her satchel. She had risked everything to steal it. Would it be worth it?

She touched the crystal catalyst and drifted into dreams of power and possibility.

-The Last of Us Chapter 3-

“It isn’t an artifact,” Ellie said, not wanting to mention the word again. She swallowed hard as she spoke, not wanting anything too intimate to come out. “No,” she repeated again without looking up from the computer screen to stare at the woman. “It is the culmination of my years of experience and… my research.”

The woman gave a low whistle. “I see,” she frowned. “Yes,” and gave Ellie another too-low whistle. When the whistle faded, Ellie was sure that the woman had been thinking about her. “You are going to be a big deal and I know it. We are going to become heroes.”

She grinned in a way that told Ellie she was having a bad day. Ellie couldn’t tell what that was supposed to mean, but it felt good.

“But you want to give up your life as a hunter?” She was being so damn honest.

“For now. Maybe, once I do the rest of the research on the artifact,” Her face turned serious. “But I could… maybe… leave something behind for my daughter.”

Ellie tapped on the laptop with all her might.

“And what do you know about those ancient ruins on the island?” the woman asked.

“I… that kind of ruins are… too… dark for us,” Ellie said, closing the laptop. “Especially the dark places.”


The dark ruins are intriguing. I wonder what that story would have been about?

My attempt at a sci-fi story got sideswiped by a random mention of an unknown type of fetish pornography. You’ll know it when you see it (as the old saying goes), but the AI doesn’t linger on it, so you won’t have to either.


(The A.I. generated this headline)

Hey, you know what’s pretty cute?

 (The A.I. chose this image)

‘Bugborgs aren’t just for kids anymore’, the advertisement shouted. ‘Why not put a Bugborg under the tree for the students and professionals in your family this Christmas? Grandma needs company too!”

Ugh, I have enough of the little monsters crawling around the class room. Now I’m supposed to let them infest my home?

The words were spoken more than 50 years ago, but many of us still remember them. It may have been one of only a handful of ads of its kind. It wasn’t until more recent times that more awareness was drawn to the fact that these advertisements for a new type of creature—the Bugborg, often erroneously referred to as an eggbug—were all too common. Now, thanks to Google and the rise of “cub porn”—online porn featuring humanoid creatures—we are no longer so shocked when these kinds of ads hit the web.

They look like bug-shaped eggs, complete with tiny, translucent, insect like legs and antennae.

They have the distinct advantage that their bodies can expand from one size to another. And if you look closely, all of them look identical.

It’s all a bit unsettling, when you think about it. It looks like something out of an 80s science fiction movie, or maybe a child’s sketchbook. The Bugborg can walk, climb, crawl by themselves, and even crawl on the wall with their own body parts.

When they hatch, a female begins to grow around her own egg. She has only about 5 legs. If a female is not lucky enough to hatch before her mate does, she dies. When she’s fully grown, her large body begins to turn into her giant form. In the breeding season, this giant form will be completely different from the insect-like forms. She may be able to fly.

They aren’t just for kids anymore.


That one got a little freaky.

My final experiment hoped to leverage the godlike power of Artificial Intelligence to create a third sequel to the Teen Wolf movies.


(The A.I. generated this headline)

“Wolfman” is a wolf who has been raised by wolves

(The A.I. chose this image)

Photo by Tom Pottiger on Unsplash

Teen Wolf 3 was not based on the MTV show, nor was it the rumored Alyssa Milano hockey vehicle. Teen Wolf 3 was the long awaited conclusion to the trilogy that would launch the Wolfiverse franchise. The original Teen Wolf featured Michael J. Fox as a down on his luck high school basketball player who had to learn how to control the power of becoming a werewolf. The sequel, Teen Wolf Too, starred Jason Bateman as a collegiate boxer.

“Teen Wolf Three is about the end of the series, and The Wolf Within is not the finale – it’s the start of the story!” say Director Tim Kring and writers Scott Gimple and Michael J. Fox.

Bernard Munch is wearing a wolf on his sleeve.

In the first season, the Wolves have new sidekicks, the Wolfbrothers. The Wolfbrothers are wolves who have been “born” into werewolf society and raised by wolves.

Bernard appears in the opening credits of Teen Wolf as a werewolf, and later appears in the end credits, also as a werewolf.

Bernard’s werewolf sidekick was shot to death to keep the wolf in line.

Bernard Munch’s character was then killed off. Bernard’s character’s story didn’t go anywhere.

Tim Kring’s character was resurrected as a werewolf after saving Wolf’s life. Tim Kring’s character’s story didn’t go anywhere. Tim Kring’s character turned into a werewolf, and he had the final words in the entire Wolfverse, “This isn’t over.”


Hot damn! That sounds amazing. 

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

 

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Post-Endgame Syndrome

Feeling empty, listless, bored?

You may be suffering from Post-Endgame Syndrome.

If you need more exciting superhero content, check out this list of 18 original superhero titles from Michael C. Bailey

Action Figures by Michael C. Bailey (series, young adult)

Join the action with the Amazon best-selling YA superhero series!

The worst summer of Carrie Hauser’s life began with her parents’ divorce and ended with her receiving superhuman abilities from a dying alien. Now Carrie is trying to put her life back together, and all that stands in her way are an insane artificial intelligence, the mercenary known as Manticore, and a mysterious organization that wants to claim her power for itself.

Save the day? Sure — as soon as school lets out.

Imperium Academy by Rebecca Bosevski (series, young adult)

Superheroes aren’t born. They’re moulded by government academies.

Ellen doesn’t remember much about her parents, they died when she was four. Raised by her aunt she’s envied for years the homo-magis children called on to be tested and subsequently enrolled in one of the five academy’s for heroes.

Ellen isn’t a homo-magis.

Or so she thought. Her parents were two of the first Superheroes, their lives sacrificed to stop Novaside and save their only child.

Ecstatic, yet a little nervous to finally be a part of the world she’d dreamed of, Ellen is off to Imperium Academy.

But her classing doesn’t go as expected. Instead of joining the ranks of the illustrious Star Heroes, Ellen is regulated to the role of Sidekick, after all, night vision is barely a superpower.
Many have begun to question the need for Sidekicks, some teachers even suggesting they would be better suited to other employment.

But with Novaside getting bolder, and her latest attack hitting too close to home, Ellen is determined to stay at the academy and prove them wrong.

After all, where better to learn to be a hero than a school full of supers?

Criterion by Jeff C. Carter (standalone, grimdark)

Criterion is the world’s mightiest hero. His sidekicks just found his body.

Who killed Criterion? Who will die next?

 

 

 

 

The Heirs of Babylon by Eugene W. Cundiff (series/science fiction, kindle unlimited)

In the dying world of 2027, there’s no place worse than Babylon.

The fallen city once known as New York is now ruled by feudal gangs and plagued by doomsday cultists. No sane soul ventures there willingly, but former childhood friends Morgan Whitechapel and Kurt Petrovich have no choice.

Fate once separated the compassionate, streetwise survivor and the brooding son of privilege. But the dangerous attentions their newly-manifested superhuman powers bring force them from their homes and reunite them on the savage streets. Their only hope for survival lies with each other – and with a pair of strange nomads who possess powers of their own. Against all odds, these extraordinary young people will fight to make a new home for themselves in the bones of the Big Apple.

Together, they might just stand a chance…

Bounty by JD Cunegan (series, mystery)

Jill Andersen is one of Baltimore’s best and brightest detectives, but she harbors a dark secret — a secret that threatens to come out when the body of Dr. Trent Roberts is pulled out of the Chesapeake Bay. Dr. Roberts’ connection to Jill reveals a past that involves a tour in Iraq, a secretive cybernetic experiment, and a conspiracy that involves a native son.

Can Jill solve the case while still keeping her secret? Will her partners at the Seventh Precinct find out what she’s so desperate to hide? What was Dr. Roberts looking into that led to his murder? And perhaps the biggest question of all…

Who is Bounty?

Vanguard by Percival Constantine (series, science fiction, kindle unlimited)

After a mysterious phenomenon called The Event, superhumans—called specials—now walk among us. And the potential danger these untested and powerful beings warrants a way to keep them in check. Enter Vanguard, a government-sanctioned team of superheroes designed to deal with rogue specials.

Battlecry by Emerald Dodge (series, urban fantasy, kindle unlimited)

For one superhero, the good guys can be deadlier than the bad guys.

Jillian Johnson, known as the mighty Battlecry, was born into a superhero cult. She craves a life of freedom, far away from her violent and abusive team leader, Patrick. With no education, no money, and no future to speak of, she’s stuck in the dangerous life…until she meets the mysterious and compelling Benjamin, a civilian with superpowers. When Patrick confronts her, she fights back–and then runs for her life. One by one, her ex-teammates join her until a new team has formed.

But Patrick will not let his upstart teammates get away so easily. Humiliated and hellbent on vengeance, he waits for his chance to strike back and kill the new team, and he is happy to murder superheroes and civilians alike. On top of that, Benjamin has joined Jillian and her comrades, angering his own lethal family. Jillian’s enemies begin to close in from all sides.

Desperate and in hiding, Jillian must shed everything she thinks she knows about what it means to lead. Can she rise up to the challenge of defeating Patrick? Can she save Benjamin from his family? Or will she die like every other superhero who’s dared to challenge the cult?

Serpent’s Sacrifice by Trish Heinrich (series, urban fantasy)

She never backs down from a fight.

When Alice’s aunt is murdered, she must take justice into her own hands to make it right. But becoming the vigilante Serpent doesn’t come with a guidebook, and with one mistake, Alice unleashes a nightmare upon Jet City.

Now the innocent are being turned into maniacal puppets, and time is running out. Seeking other vigilantes, Alice discovers her past might hold the key to unlikely allies.

As Phantasm tightens the noose, Alice vows to end this fight. But is her determination enough to protect the city or will defeating the Phantasm demand a hero’s sacrifice?

Serpent’s Sacrifice is the first book in The Phantasm Trilogy, a twist on the popular superhero mythos. If you like brave heroines, chilling villains, and nail-biting action, then you’ll love the thrilling emergence of the Serpent!

The Spec Set by Taya Okerlund (series, young adult, kindle unlimited)

Copernicus Science camp looks harmless enough on the surface, at least no one will tell you otherwise, least of all Max McKenzie, who doesn’t speak at all. He can’t even defend himself when he’s implicated in a high stakes chemical theft from the camp lab. Or can he?

His brother Emile is desperate to help, but he’s waking up to his own problems–chief among them the fact that he’s developed an incredible (and incredibly dangerous) new ability. He doesn’t know how to control his awesome new power, and turns to the one person he’s loathe to ask: Lilly Fang.

Lilly has everything under control, including other people’s biochemistry. (Or is Emile really that crazy about her?) Either way, she’s hiding a boat-load of secrets (and secret powers).

Lilly assembles a team of friends like none Emile’s ever dreamed of to help Max. There’s Fetu, a near giant, whose presence alone seems to suck the air out of the room. Or does he do that literally?

And Danika, who’s so shy she seems to fade right into the background. Or does she actually become invisible?

And Eliza, who never lifts a finger–but is that because she lifts things with her mind?

The Spec Set will need all of their combined strengths (and their weaknesses) to combat a threat reaching all the way go to another universe.

Red and Black by Nancy O’Toole Meservier (series, kindle unlimited)

Dawn Takahashai knows all about superheroes.

She’s been a fan of them for years. So when she’s granted an impressive powerset of her own, she dives right in, eager to prove herself as Bailey City’s first superhero: Miss Red and Black.
Her first challenge is Faultline. He’s powerful, smart and, as a henchman for Bailey City’s first supervillain, standing right in her way. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that under the mask, Faultline is Alex Gage, a working-class guy trying to scrounge together enough money to help support his younger sisters.

Dawn has no idea that the charming and seemingly straightforward Alex is Faultline. Alex has no idea that the adorably awkward Dawn is the superhero he clashes with at night.

And Dawn and Alex have a date next week.

Awakening by NK Quinn (series, young adult, kindle unlimited)

A below-average underdog. A supercharged crime-fighter. Their shared secret could transform the world.

Kalum Walker lives in the shadow of his athletic older brother. Scrawny and prone to panic attacks, he’s a far cry from the superheroes he doodles in his notebook. When his brother steals his meds to help calm his game time nerves, he doesn’t put up a fight. After all, the fate of his family rides on his brother’s performance. But without his pills, Kalum’s blackouts begin getting worse… and a disturbing voice inside his head starts urging him into some dangerous situations.

When a blackout-related encounter with bullies puts him in a hospital bed, he starts to notice mysterious bruises all over his body. As he learns of a masked crusader serving up a new kind of justice outside the Corporation compound, he realizes the vigilante bears a striking resemblance to his superheroic sketches. Locked in a battle with the voice inside his head, Kalum must solve the mystery of the infamous Steel Falcon and save his brother before he loses control for good.

Awakening is the first fast-paced novel in the Steel Falcon YA sci-fi superhero series. If you like immersive future worlds, family drama, and edge-of-your-seat twists, then you’ll love N.K. Quinn’s action-packed coming-of-age tale. Buy Awakening to unmask an electrifying sci-fi superhero adventure today!

Catalyst CM Raymond and LE Barbant (series, urban fantasy, kindle unlimited)

How far would you go to save the city you love?

A mad scientist fighting the laws of man and nature.

A demon-monster of mythical proportions.

A corporate conspiracy that goes back more than a century.

The Steel City is in desperate need of a hero.

Willa Weil has a secret–she comes from a long line of magicians trained to unlock the power hidden within poetry. This skill requires discipline, and the Guild demands obedience. Willa has long kept her power to herself, but when a molten metal creature threatens to consume her friends, she can no longer remain on the sidelines.

History professor Elijah Branton moved to Pittsburgh for the job of a lifetime, researching the family history of one of the nation’s wealthiest and most attractive CEOs. But not everything is as it seems in the Steel City. The historian soon unearths a deadly conspiracy that threatens to unravel his world.

Can they save their city, or will they lose themselves in the process?

Catalyst is Daredevil meets The Dresden Files, a gritty and gripping superhero/urban fantasy story for the 21st century. With magic and monsters, science and secrets, Catalyst pushes readers to consider their own path and the ethical compromises we all make–heroes and villains alike.

Welcome to The Steel City.

Fid’s Crusade by David Reiss (series, science fiction, kindle unlimited)

For more than two decades, the sight of Doctor Fid’s powered armor has struck terror into the hearts of superhero and civilian alike. But when a personal tragedy motivates Doctor Fid to investigate a crime, a plot is uncovered so horrific that even he is taken aback.

Haunted by painful memories and profound guilt, the veteran supervillain must race against time if he is to have any hope of confronting the approaching threat. Every battle takes its toll…but the stakes are too high for retreat to be an option.

In the end, it may take a villain to save the world from those entrusted with the world’s protection.

The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives by Joynell Schultz(comedy, humor, kindle unlimited)

What happens after the superhero gets the girl? Find out in this romantic paranormal mystery.

 

 

 

 

The Kota by Sunshine Somerville (series, science fiction)

Mankind is stricken. Brought to its knees by a devastating virus, the world is further crushed by the Dominion tyranny. Humanity struggles to survive this apocalyptic nightmare, and there’s only one hope – the ancient promise of an annihilated people.

“By the Bearers brought into time, fulfillment shall come in a Mark, and hope in four children born. Evil will flee Earth before the four Marked.” – The Mark Prophecy of the Kota.

Troy Kandoya remembers the world before all this came to pass. He saw the beginning of global war, genetic manipulation, and viral plague. Now called Trok, the immortal Kota Interceder, he must fulfill the prophecies he once rejected.

After 500 years, the four Marked saviors are born. However, nothing about these heroes is what Trok expected. Loree is a master assassin who can disappear without a trace. Zaak grew up exiled on an alien planet. Alex is a telepath traumatized by an inexplicable, missing year of her life. Ryu, the final Warrior, has incredible mutate-genes of strength.

With Trok’s guidance, the Warriors join Earth’s rebels and fight the Dominion – but this isn’t going to be easy.

Super Starrella by Aurora Springer (series, romance)

Teen superhero, Starrella, and her flying horse combat vicious killers in the skies of Atalanta.

The quiet summer before her freshman year turns frighteningly weird after Estelle Wright trespasses onto an Army base. Blown into the air and knocked unconscious, she wakes with a nascent superpower. Not to mention a winged horse with a snarky attitude and a mind of her own.

Back home in Atalanta, a serial killer is targeting the students at Goldman University. Before long she must juggle college classes with sneaking out of the house after dark to battle alien monsters. Estelle’s life is in danger, but who can she trust: handsome Mark Copper from military intelligence, or hunky Toby, the tough gangster with a motorbike? Both men have secret agendas, but falling in love is not in their plans.

Young adult superheroes, quirky animal sidekicks, and a dash of romance enliven this thrilling adventure. Book 1 of the Secret Supers.

The Just Cause Universe by Ian Thomas Healy (series)

The Just Cause Universe is the original superhero universe created by Ian Thomas Healy and published by Local Hero Press. It focuses on diverse, complex characters in a gritty, realistic setting despite their fanciful abilities.

 

 

 

 

Burden of Solace: Book One of the Starforce Saga by Richard L. Wright (series, romance)

Cassie Whelan can heal any wound, but the price is too much to bear. The government wants to control her. So does the sadistic killer that’s behind an epidemic of murder, madness and suicides in her city. She may be the only one immune to his power, the only one that can stop him. There’s only one man she trusts, but if he betrays her it could destroy everything. Because the only thing she can’t heal is her own heart.

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Cover reveal – Between the Teeth

I have finalized the art for the cover of my upcoming horror and sci-fi story collection Between the Teeth.  Artwork courtesy of XaVieR from Builtfromsketch.

4B7CD4DA-8EC0-41D1-A722-FC877A4D14B3

Stay tuned for updates and learn how you can get a free copy of Between The Teeth.

 

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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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