Sunday, January 22, 2012

W1S1 Jan. Blog Chain: Interview with a Character

So my victimcharacter is Steven, who stars in short stories Necromancer's Kit and its sequel (which is still being pounded out by the author) Dead Cat 4 Sale.

defcon: Okay, so let’s get started...What’s your full name?

Steven: Steven Sheen Sagull


Steven: Yeah, my parents didn’t think that one through -- or maybe they did and wanted me to suffer. Keep telling people it’s “Sa-gull” not that hack action star Seagal. Though I do like Under Siege.

And how old are you?

Steven: Twenty-six -- hey, is this interview going up online, or something?

defcon: Yes, a blog.

Steven: Oh good, because my friend Jobe won’t listen to me about the dead cat he saddled me with.

defcon: Err, dead cat?

Steven: Well, undead -- but not zombie undead. I guess it’s politically incorrect to call something “zombie” if it still has a soul/conscience, whatever. But it’s definitely living dead.

defcon: How did that happen?

Steven: Crazy story. Jobe was all upset because he thought his girlfriend had died, so he buys a necromancer’s kit -- no, I’m not kidding. He buys one, comes over to my house, winds up bringing a cat back to life instead, and now he won’t take responsibility for it. So now I have to take care of it, and I’m not even a cat person -- or a dead person.

defcon: And the girlfriend?

Oh, she was never dead... I don’t think so, at least. Anyway, I want to get rid of this cat, it’s just foul. Literally. It stinks constantly, and I can’t bathe it because I don’t even want to touch the damn thing. And no matter how hard I try to get rid of it, it always comes back to my house.

Have you tried an animal shelter?

Yeah, they didn’t want it either -- I mean they really didn’t want it. Almost threw me out.

defcon: So I take it the cat --

Steven: Mel. The cat’s name is Mel. But I’ve been thinking of calling it Melinda to piss off Jobe’s girlfriend.

defcon: Oookay, so has Mel made life a bit difficult for you?

Steven: Not difficult, just weird. Like I use to not believe in this supernatural shit, that was something for the movies or books. But ever since I’ve had Mel, I’ve been seeing weird shit here and there, stuff I would’ve never noticed before.

defcon: What do you mean?

Steven: Well, just the other day, I was waiting in line at the grocery store at the check-out, and after five minutes, your attention starts to wander. That’s when I notice this lady up ahead in line has eyes on the back of her head. Real eyes. They stared, and blinked, and everything normal eyes do except they’re not where normal eyes would be. And I check to see if anyone else notices this. They don’t. They’re looking at celeb magazines, or talking on their cell phones, or too busy picking their nose. It’s crazy. You almost want to go up to the lady and flat out ask her about the eyes. Oh, and that’s not the only place I’ve seen eyes that were where they shouldn’t be.

defcon: Where else have you seen eyes on a person?

Steven: Oh God. I don’t even want to think about it, it was just -- it was wrong. I mean, I thought my wiccan ex-girlfriend was the peak of what-the-fuckery, with her trying to call the four corners and making out with snakes. But this was -- oh boy. Just thinking about it gives me the shivers. Word to the wise: don’t ever wait at a bus stop alone at night.

defcon: That’s...interesting. So why do you think you see this weird stuff and no one else can?

Steven: I’m sure they can, they just don’t expect to. Unless something weird has happened to you, you wouldn’t think of it actually occurring, so your brain filters it out. It’s like that picture of the vase, you know the one that’s blank white, surrounded by black. After looking at it for a bit, you realize it’s actually the silhouette of two faces staring at each other, and once you see it, you can’t un-see it. That’s my theory on it. And it makes you think, maybe those people who claim to be sodomized by aliens weren’t making it up, that it really did happen, but we can’t wrap our heads around the fact, so we call them lunatics. Because it’s easier to live in a world where crazies exist than one where the supernatural exist.

defcon: You make, uhh, good point...

Steven: Sorry, I may have had a few beers before coming here.

defcon: All right, well, I think we’re out of time. Thanks for stopping by.    

Steven: Yeah, sure. No problem. And if Jobe sees this, take the damn cat back!


Don't forget to check out Aggy's clever character interview here, and next up: Annie Colleen's guest post at Samuel Mae's blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.  -- Thomas Jefferson

Yes, defcon is getting political, and for damn good reason. I'm sick of the American government constantly imposing on our rights as citizens. You can't even take an airplane without being physically violated. 

The newest threat is our freedom of speech over the internet. Yes, the government wants to regulate the internet, telling us what we can and cannot do over the internet. Watch this video, it explains it so much better than I can.  

So on Jan. 18th, the internet is going on strike! You may have already noticed some changes, sites are going to blackout in protest of this bill. 

But it doesn't stop there.

You can visit this site, and I strongly urge you to, and write to your congressman (it's an automated email to them, but it's the message that matters). If you don't want to be censored, then make sure you say so! Because the internet is meant for everyone, not for the government, and definitely not for the entertainment industry.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Infodump =/= story

I enjoy short fiction a lot, besides not being a quick read, it allows writers to stretch their skills and experiment. However, some writers get so caught up in style and prose, that they forget to write the story itself. Embarrassing, no? And you'd expect a story like that wouldn't be publishable, because we tend to expect good stories to be published. Which is why it pains me to see infodumps being published as stories.

What is an infodump?

Well, it's when the narration comes to a full on stop and explains what's going on to the reader, often in a boring, derivative way that makes the reader put down the story. Yes, most fiction, especially speculative fiction, needs some explanation so the reader isn't confuzzled. But the way to do that is to show the reader how things work or what's going on, and then add a sentence or two of explanation. Not dump paragraph after paragraph of exposition.

But I'm noticing in short stories, usually flash, that the whole story is just one big steaming pile of infodump. Most common offenders are:

1) Child asks adult/grandparent/some old fart about X, like why do they celebrate X, or why are they here on X. Adult proceeds to explain in storyteller manner. Then the story ends. Possibility of someone dying, but other than that, nothing actually happens within the story.

2) Main character reminisces about the past and why things have come to this point. Story ends when narrator returns to the present. Once again, nothing actually happens. No conflict. Nadda. Character sketches would also fall under this.

I don't care if people write giant infodumps and try to pass them off as stories. But for them to be published? That's a slap in the face to writers who actually come up with plots and conflict. Hell, even a vignette has something going on. And that's what I want as a reader: something to happen.

Let's put it this way: Would you read an entire novel where nothing happened? Of course not. So why would you read a short story, no matter how short, that had nothing going on?

I'm not talking about style or how well written it is -- and this is why I think a lot of these infordumps get published, because they read pretty. The description on the back of my shampoo bottle is well written and has style -- should that be considered a story?

But in the end, it's the editors' money, and they can throw it at whoever they please. However, if said editors are trying to sell magazines or anthologies, and what they showcase on their site are infodumps disguised as stories... well, I dunno about you, but I certainly wouldn't purchase anything from their selection. 'Cause you know, I like to be entertained when reading, not bored to tears. 

If you can somewhat relate to defcon's frustrations, or like to read her rants, check out Where's the Story?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Review: John Dies at the End

Trying to stay on top of my reviews, since I read faster than I can review. John Dies at the End is by David Wong (pen name), head editor of websational (web+sensational) site

Quick synopsis: Our unreliable narrator David Wong takes through a crazy tale of drugs, demons, portals, and more drugs. It all starts with the Soy Sauce, introduced to him by his best pal John, that allows them to see supernatural stuff. When high school acquaintance Amy is kidnapped by shadow men, John and David have to enter a whole new world of weird to save her and our world.

To be perfectly honest, that synopsis only covers the last story arch of the book; there are three, and the book is split up accordingly.  

When I first started this book, I didn't have the highest of expectations. It looked like a fun, kick-back novel, not to be taken seriously. And for the most part, it is. The beginning comes off as a Scooby-Doo adventure on LSD. It's weird, like really weird. You have a house filling up with shit (literally), and a boogie man made out of deli meat (also literally).

It's not all goofiness, although a good chunk of it is. There are some gruesome side-effects to using Soy Sauce, such as becoming a living portal to another dimension, which may lead to the unattended consequence of your body exploding. For some unknown reason, David and John are immune to this, thus allowing them to not only survive their gift/curse, but to also use it for good.  

For me, the book doesn't truly hit its stride until the third part, which is the longest story arc. Before that point, it was mostly silly weird stuff and I wasn't completely invested in David's character. The third part changed that. We see a deeper level of David, hear his backstory how was bullied in high school and one day, finally struck back at his bully in a most unpleasant way. He was transferred to a special program where he met Amy, whom at the time, everyone assumed she was mentally challenged. He also gave Amy the nickname "Cucumber" because she did nothing but puke like a sea cucumber (a sea cucumber pukes in self-defense).

This was the point where David became defined, besides the backstory, we see he struggles with self-esteem issues, how he thinks he's shittier than everyone else. Which is why he's willing to put himself in the hard spots, because he rather it be lowly him than someone good, like Amy.

I also really liked Amy, the one-handed girl with odd quirks, and the budding relationship between her and David. John never came into his own, but that's okay, he was the reliable, if not whacked, buddy.

Weird stuff is fine and all, but without real characters, and heart, you don't have much of a story.

As a disclaimer, this book is filled with dick jokes (and you'll find many variations of the word 'dick' throughout), which I find is okay in small doses, but is nonetheless juvenile. Some of the jokes are funny, and I did laugh out loud a few times. Other times I found the humor more stupid than funny. But this may be a matter of taste. I prefer dry witty humor of the British kind.

However, to Wong's credit, there are some clever allusions to more famous works such as LOTR and Kafka.

I'd say this a book for the younger crowd, not YA. Though, if you enjoy Cracked articles, you'll probably like this.

Rating: 4 out of 5 exploding dogs. 

Oh, and check out the teaser trailer to the movie that will be coming out this year!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! (and W1S1 update)

Blogging in the wee hours because defcon made the mistake of drinking some white tea (they said there wasn't much caffeine in it!) around midnight. But it was soooo good. Anyway, now that's it's officially the new year, it's time for a official W1S1 update.

Stories written: 3 (500-word flash, 1,700-word tale of fractured Repunzal, and ~5,000-word para-detective-something)
Stories submitted: 12
Stories accepted: 2
Stories rejected: 7

See that? No zeros! December has been very good to me. I made my first sale to Abyss & Apex for a flash piece titled "Her Will", and my second sale to Uncle John's Flush Fiction antho for another flash titled "Death by Anything". Both pro-paying markets! So yes, I'm quite pleased. 

Special thanks to the folks over at W1S1 blog for starting this crazy writing endeavor and continuing it into 2012, and of course, all the participants on Absolute Write for their encouragement. You guys rock! And super-special thanks to the writing guru Rez who's helped me a TON with my writing -- with of course much whipping. I certainly wouldn't have the writing chops that I do today if it wasn't for him, and hope all is well with him.

Wishing everyone much success in the new year!

And as tradition, here's some Youtube awesomeness from Key of Awesome's new segment, Super Therapy! Enjoy!