Tag Archives: fantasy

[A Story & A Song] House of Seasons

Song and a story-house of seasons

Dedicated to all of you who keep pushing forward.

There’s a house I like to visit. It sits at the end of the road. There’s nothing fancy about the place, itself.  It’s a standard ranch home, one floor, a garage, two doors – front and back – but it’s still my favorite place to be. I like to call it the “House of Seasons” because it constantly changes. Everyone else on the block, their lawn is evergreen. The bushes never bloom, but they never wilt, either. The trees never lose their leaves, no matter how cold it gets or how hard the wind blows. The porch lights are never on when kids are trick or treating, and the Christmas decorations are there one day and gone the next.

The House of Seasons though…sometimes the yard is the brightest green you’ve ever seen. Sometimes it has dead spots. Sometimes the bushes are abloom with bright red and yellow flowers, sometimes they’re nothing but twigs. I’ve seen the trees go from tall and strong, branches reaching for the sky, to almost rotted completely through in the space of a single hour. Sometimes the entire house looks like it’s been attacked by spiders, cobwebs wrapped around it so tight, there’s no way of telling if the bushes decided to bloom that day or not. Sometimes the entire yard is dead, and there are holes in the sides of the house. The wind makes an eerie sound when it blows through the neighborhood on those days.

But there is something interesting about that house. No matter how many dead spots in the lawn, or holes in the walls; no matter how dangerously those dying trees creak and sway in the wind, the front door? Is always open. On Halloween, the porch light is on. Christmas lights go up the day after Thanksgiving, and don’t go down until after the New Year has come and gone. Every year, the owner throws out all the stops. Sometimes the cobwebs hide the decorations, sometimes only half of the lights work, but anyone passing by can still see that a lot of care has gone into the work.

I think that’s why no one else in the block likes to talk about the house. Because they can tell that work does go into the house. You see, everyone else is so concerned with keeping up appearances, and go to such great lengths to hide any imperfections, they don’t stop to think about the people who are able to peek over fences.

I’ve seen the backyards of my neighbors. Festering cesspools fill half of them. The other half are either overgrown with weeds, empty, or so full of dead spots, no amount of fresh grass seed will ever fix it.

I’ve seen the backyard of the House of Seasons. I have seen a garden that would put Paradise to shame.

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[A Story & A Song] Monster

Song and a story-todokonai


He said it would be quick. He said – compared to the disease slowly eating her alive – it would be painless. He didn’t say she would change. He didn’t say-oh, God, he didn’t say…



From the album THE ELEVENTH DAY ~SINGLE COLLECTION~. 

Available now.

Gackt.com

[A Story & A Song] Starlight

Song and a story


I see it coming. Even moving at the speed of light, it’s slow enough for me to slip out of the way. The gas had collapsed on itself, then burst outward. Waves of stardust arching out into the void around it. Around me.

I’m tempted to trail my fingers through it as it passes by, let the particles stream between my fingers before they make their way across the universe. A millennium ago, I might’ve, but I know better now. I know to look ahead in time, and watch all the different paths my interference could set these particles on. The last thing I want to do is to cause the death of an entire solar system. Again.

Besides, I’ve waited too long for this. I spent half of eternity going from one end of the universe to the other, searching for a way to bring you back to me. It took me another three millennia before I thought to look into the patterns of the dust around me, and the atoms that made them up. The way they changed in time, but eventually I found it.

At the very edge of the universe – past what any electric eye on Earth could see – the dying star that would give birth to another – smaller – star, and the death of its child and so on and so on, until eventually it spews forth one final burst of energy before collapsing into itself.

That energy will travel through the cosmos until it collides with another star’s dying breath. The collision setting a chain of events that will give rise to your soul again. It will take a long time, this star is only on its second death and it still has at least three more to go, but it will happen.

In the meantime, I float here, untethered and unafraid, bathed in the light of a thousand galaxies as I wait for you.

From the album Vessels.

Available now:
| iTunes | Amazon | Google Play | Spotify |

#DarkLightChallenge – Killer Bunnies

He tightened his grip on his sword and shield, edging a step closer. The rabbits turned their beady eyes on him, and he remembered his clients claims of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog breeding with the local bunnies. He had thought they were kidding.

They weren’t.

#DarkLightChallenge – Prayer

She dug the knife in a little deeper. His screams echoed, filling the room with a prayer for mercy.

She smiled and gave the hilt a sharp twist. “Sorry, Kal. Looks like God has more important things to worry about.” She leaned in closer to whisper in his ear. “So much for being the favorite son, huh?”

World building: Putting It Together.

And now for some more advice on building your world. Last time, I talked about things you would need to help you keep your information organized. This week, it’s a bit more general advice. Ways to help you think yourself through issues/ideas you may be confused or unsure about.

Remember, this isn’t something that is 100% going to work for you. Everyone is different, so your mileage may vary – quite a bit, at that.

  1. Talk it out.
    cooperate-2924261_1920If you can’t decide on one idea or another, open up a blank document and “talk” it out with yourself. Or, better yet, with a friend or collaborator (I recommend Google Docs for this).

    Some people like to argue with themselves about which way they want a story to go, or the pros and cons of using one idea or another. If that’s you, hey, that’s fine! It’s wonderful, even. It helps sometimes, believe me, I know. The problem is: sometimes you get so caught up with chasing this idea or that idea, that you forget where you were going with it. Have it written down helps you 1. Stay on track, 2. remember all the ideas you come up with, and why you discarded them, or kept them, and 3. Oftentimes, you will come across an entirely different idea that completely blows all the others out of the water.

    Just remember, when/if you use this method: do not delete anything. No thinking, “oh this sounds stupid” and hitting backspace. Type it out: “This is stupid, what was I even thinking? ARG! Next idea, please? Brain?”

    When you are entirely done discussing whatever issue you’re trying to work out, and you have a final decision on what you are going to do, then go back and delete all the extra crap.

    Bullet point the information you want to keep (remember: keep it organized). You may even want to bullet point the ideas you rejected and why they didn’t make the final cut. That can help prevent the wishy-washy “Why didn’t I do this instead?” question that likes to rear its ugly head halfway through the damn book. You’ll be able to go “Oh yeah, that’s why!” and move on much quicker.

  2. Diversity is good.
    Think about it. Look around you. Chances are, unless you live in a backwoods small town, you’re going to see people of all colors and beliefs. There’s going to be families with mostly blondes in it. Another with mostly brunettes. There may even be a couple redheads in your community.

    Now look at the world you created. Is everyone exactly the same? If they are, you might want to make sure you have a really good reason why. I’m not saying you need the “token black guy” or the “nerdy Asian” stereotypes. You just need to have more than busty blondes and chisel-jawed heroes. Spice it up. Why can’t the hero be the Average Joe or Jane? Why can’t the guy with the sculpted muscles be the spunky sidekick?

    And don’t get me started on the sexualities. Just, seriously, spice. Spice is good. Spice is wonderful.

  3. Pointed diversity is insulting.
    This goes back to the “token black guy” thing. If you are just including a character of color/sexuality/gender to be “inclusive” – DON’T.

    It’s an insult to the people you’re “trying” to include, your story, and yourself. 
  4. Do your research
    This is where it can get fun, believe it or not. You just have to make sure you don’t fall into the Wikipedia abyss. This actually also ties into a major pet peeve of mine regarding research vs. creative license. I understand that sometimes it’s tempting to just write whatever you want, and claim creative license – research can be tedious, believe me, I know – but when you do your research, it shows and it really helps to make things so much better. It feels more authentic. Plus, a person who reads a lot of that particular genre will be able to tell that you’ve put in the work, and will appreciate your story all the more.

    There’s also the chance you’ll get a new idea to play with, which is always a bonus.
    And now for one that is slightly off topic, but still important:
  5. SAVE YOUR SOURCES.
    This one probably sounds insulting at first (“Psh, like I don’t know how to bookmark a site!”), but trust me: sometimes that’s not enough. When I say “save your sources” I mean save them. If the site won’t allow you to download the page, screenshot or copy and paste the important information into a word file and save it (as well as the site address and/or authors of the article). Writing a book can take a long time; you don’t want to do what I did, and lose one of your sources when the person running the site loses interest and lets their domain expire. The internet WayBack Machine can only do so much. 

    On that same note, however, make sure your information is up to date. Don’t use information from the 1950s to write a book in 2018 (unless your story is actually set in 1950s, in which case, your characters can/should only act on the information available in their own time…).This bit of advice is mostly aimed at those of you who are working with ideas that aren’t very well known, or societies that a lot isn’t known about (ie: Sumer, FreeMasons, certain types of cults, religions, etc.). Whether it’s because people lose interest over time, or other reasons – in the case of cults, societies, and religions, anyway – a lot of the sites with somewhat useful information tend to disappear.

    I know some/most of us probably use Wikipedia for our sources, but even those pages change sometimes, so the point remains. Save your information.

 

Keep in mind: I am not here to tell you how to write. We all have different styles, and let’s be honest, there is no real expert on writing. There are professionals in a field, but that does not make them “experts” and what works for them might not work for you.

The suggestions I’ve made here are not rules. These are simply ideas and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way – ones that I wish I had heard about/figured out long before I did. I hope you find them at least somewhat useful.

#DarkLightChallenge – Kids and Killing

He laughed. They screamed. He played. They died.

 


She pressed her cheek against the trunk – whip thin and dead fast – whispering, “No more killing, dear one. We’re safe now.” Flowers bloomed at her feet in answer.

 


He would’ve offered Kathy a drink of it, too, but the hole in her throat and vacant eyes told him she wouldn’t be able to appreciate it anyway.

 


Later came his favorite part though: an ice cream cone from the corner shop. Other kids had the tooth fairy – he had a double scoop strawberry and chocolate.

#PhotoStoryChallenge – Tunnel Vision

It’s late – this is the challenge from last week – but it’s here.

“Are you sure this is the right place, choti bahana?” Sarika Surya asked. “I’m not sensing anyone.”

Ash turned her attention away from her scrying plate to watch her sister twirl a makeshift staff around her body. Two hours ago, it had been a shovel. (“For disguise purposes,” Sarika had claimed.) Twenty minutes later, the wood had abruptly cracked, dropping the head to the ground behind them as they walked on.

“I’m positive.” Ash sent her vision higher. At the edge of her Sight, the city loomed, neon lights bright against the dark of the surrounding buildings – she could almost hear the honking of cars and chatter of people. Where she and her sister were though, huddled in the dark of the tunnel, all she could see was treetops and the road – empty for miles in both directions.

“I don’t get it.” Her shoulders slumped. “I followed the directions exactly. This is the tunnel the Healer is supposed to be at. It has to be.” She dissolved the thin sheet of ice she was using as a scry plate, letting the ice melt and reform around her wrists as bracelets. “Why isn’t she here?”

(Thanks for the Hindi translation, Alex!)

REVIEW: “Seven” by Sarah Krenicki

SFF Reviews

Review of Sarah Krenicki, “Seven”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal.

I cannot express just how much I love this story. It has magic, and children, and growing up, and fireflies, and magic. Sarah Krenicki takes us for a short trip into a world where children gain magic on their seventh birthday, and lose it the day after they turn eight. It’s a rite of passage all kids go through to become “big kids.”

All kids except for little Katy. She turns seven, gets her magic…and never loses it, even when she turns eight, then ten and twelve. In this, Katy is almost a Peter Pan figure, with her older sister (or so I assume) playing the part of Hook. Or perhaps it would be better to say that Katy is Peter, her magic is Wendy, and her sister is the jealous…

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