Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Prompt — When It All Comes Crashing Down

Aimee looked out the large picturesque window of trees and vines and rolling hills of grass. It was pretty, it was seemingly solid. But, she knew it was all an illusion. She remembered a boy a long time ago that died jumping off the edge. How much she wanted to follow him even knowing she would not survive. Some days that was all she wanted to do. She was head of the council for the city and they all looked to her for guidance now.

She had no idea how great she had it being a carefree child running about the world without thinking of the future. That boy woke her up.  She recalled all the grown ups whispering in hushed voices. Certain people disappeared and no one would tell her why back then.

Now, she was an adult nearing forty and she knew things now she wish she didn’t. Her neighbor cities in the sky had started having little issues at first. Repairs were becoming more frequent now.

She clenched a paper in her hand, wrinkling it, twisting it. She could throw it in the garbage by the table of the conference room. She smoothed it on the table reluctantly. She straightened her suit jacket, adjusted her collar. Aimee breathed in deeply, letting the air out slowly.

People began to file in with their coffee cups and idle chatter. They took their seats carefully, pulling their small black chairs out and pushing them in. She watched them fill the room slowly.

“Mrs. Hailey, I believe we are all here now. You have the chair.” Ben Howard gestured toward her being the last to take his seat, the rest had their memo pads with stylus looking serious but unconcerned. The typical expression of the community.

The world’s problems were left down on the Earth. Their issues were usually simple ones, who would coach the girls volleyball team or who would replace the technician for the lawn maintenance machines. Aimee kept thinking back to that boy and his backpack. He thought he was saving her world but perhaps he was just putting off the inevitable.

“You are all here because I have been informed of a problem that has been occurring more and more often among our neighbor cities. I am sure you all know we do  not want general panic. So, what you share must be minimal.”

“I’ve heard some rumors. Some cities don’t respond to calls anymore. Maybe a technical issue with the screens?”

“Oh yeah, I haven’t reached Cerberus in days.

“Had that trouble with Nova City, too.”

” Yes, there have been a lot of problems. However, I just got word that it isn’t the screens failing. We have confirmation from a survivor. Someone with their own personal aircraft. The system that allows the flotation devices are failing.It has been failing for awhile.”

Everyone grew silent, looking around the room in quick glances and looking at phones and watches and screens.

“Don’t allow this to leave this room. We do not want panic. However, we need a plan. Our neighbors are all gone with their survivors back on Earth which is a wasteland. They need supplies and we do not know when or how much time we have left here. We are getting more isolated all the time and I am not sure how much supplies we will have left.”

“Mrs. Hailey, what is that paper about?” Rita Tollingford asked pointing at the crinkled paper.

Aimee took the paper again and crumpled it up putting it in the trash. “Nothing. I don’t want you to worry. We just need to prepare. We need to figure out what we can spare. And we need to make sure we have an evacuation plan that works.”

“Where are we going to go? What’s the nearest city?”

“There are no longer any cities nearby, the nearest one is New Bakersfield, and it is in the same condition we are in. We would have to head down to the Earth where the other survivors are.”

“How do we know any of this is real? What if it is some scam to get free supplies from us? The ground dwellers have done this sort of thing before.”

Aimee sighed. “Ben, not everything is a big lie. You are just going to have to trust me.”

“Like we trusted your parents? How many people disappeared? All over what some kid claimed? Some kid from down there no less. My father just gone one day because of some crayon scribbles in a backpack. And, now you are telling me some people down there need help, and that we are in danger. The information coming from earth dwellers can’t be trusted.” Ben got up abruptly walking out. Others watched him leave some reluctantly getting up others remained seated nervously tapping their stylus.

“I guess we are done here. I will try to convene another meeting later today on a plan.” She watched the others go. Some were unconcerned walking out the same way they walked in. Others were anxious.

Aimee looked back out the window. Picked up her glass of water and took a sip, setting it back down on the table. She felt the world tilt slightly. That has happened before and it always rights itself. It was fine, she thought to herself, watching the trees and the grass as a slight breeze started to sweep through.

Her water glass slid from the table and crashed into the wall sending shards of glass out violently. Her hand reached out for the table to grip something but the table also slid against the wall pinning her hand in place. She felt a surge of pain in her hand and felt the blood begin to ooze slowly. The bookcases tilted over next spilling discs and covers onto the floor in a cascade of paper and plastic. An alarm began to blare piercing into her brain as she sat with her hand shoved into the wall by the heavy table.

she knew this would be the end of her, but hoped that her family was aboard their ferry going to safety. Don’t wait for me, she cried out quietly, her voice dimming as the lights flickered and went out one at a time.

” Maybe I will see you again, my friend. Perhaps you knew more than I gave you credit for.” She said thinking of the boy who threw himself off the edge of the world.

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Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

The Need to Write and Upcoming Birthdays…

There are a lot of  May birthdays for writers. So, I am going to list who is coming up. And of course, there are always some authors whom I have not written down or miss because my brain is imperfect and fallible. But, the ones i have on my handy dandy list are Roger Zelazny May 13th, one of my all time favorite authors. He happens to share a birthday with Stephen R Donaldson who wrote epic fantasy. So, most likely will do a shared post there.

May 27th is the birthday of Harlan Ellison, science fiction writer who also could be quite humorous. May 18th is Fred Saberhagen, another great science fiction writer.

A big oversight for me was skipping Robert E. Howard, the author of Conan the Barbarian. His birthday was on January 22nd in 1906. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs both influenced science fiction and fantasy in their earlier days and would influence the authors that would follow them.

I might deal with him on Burroughs’s birthday because I equate them in style and time period to each other. So, that might be a good place to address Howard.  Much like Tolkien and Lewis, writers of a certain time affect each other and the future and sometimes it is better to comment on them in a joint post anyway.

Part 2–That Need to Write…

I got lucky with a day off in the middle of the week from my day job so I find myself with the desire and time to write. I need to write. If I stop for too long a period I feel like a part of me is missing.

It may be hard to understand to those that don’t write. Although people in the habit of journal-ling I would think could understand, or anyone with a routine that is part of their being. For some it might be running or exercising. For others maybe it is going to the same restaurant at the same time on a regular basis. Whatever is part of your routine, you just feel off sometimes when you aren’t participating in it.

For about a week I got the great feeling of doing what I love to do on a regular basis. Now I am back to work and trying to fit it in around the cracks. I have always had issues finding the balance between work and play, important and not important. But, now I have a sense of urgency in that I don’t want to lose this thread I am on.

I want to continue this writing streak even if it means scribbling on napkins in a spare moment or jotting down ideas in the middle of the night. It is part of who I am and how I see myself. Being a writer is more of a calling than a job. You don’t have to write to survive technically.  But I do get more irritable and agitated the longer I go without it.

It is like listening to the perfect song for the mood you are in. It is work you do for yourself like a good meditation. It is cathartic and soothing. It is like I am letting things out that I have kept trapped in a little cage.

I need to write. It is part of who I am. And, I know I will find a way to keep it going because it means a lot to me.

I appreciate all who come by this way or follow me on twitter or word press because it means so much to a writer to have an audience. It makes it all seem so much more important. It is like the difference between speaking in a mic to a roomful of people or singing in your shower all alone.

Both can be great. No one will judge you in the shower, but it is important if you want to improve to get actual feedback. And as  a writer I am constantly looking for ways to improve. Not just my writing but my health, my life, and how I deal with the realities of a complex world. So, thank you. Thank you so very much. Hugs to all.

JenRae.

 

 

 

Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant — you just don’t know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you’d mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.
Trust your demon.

—Roger Zelazny

Posted in Fiction, Life, Writing

Stream of Consciousness And Why I Sometimes Wish I was a Poet…

Been reading the news online and it is filled with the usual mayhem and death and destruction, and then I proceeded to stare at an empty screen for a bit thinking about how I should be writing and maybe I should figure out what I am going to write about.

Sometimes things come to me naturally, effortlessly. Just add coffee. Other times I need to coerce myself a little. I guess this is one of the latter situations as I am not really feeling it, but I find myself with the perfect opportunity to write. And I know I will regret not taking this opportunity later.

Then I thought about the term ‘Stream of Consciousness.’ It is a type of writing which I have read and I kinda like. Roger Zelazny uses it in his Chronicles of Amber, usually when his characters are changing their surroundings in some manner. It can be effective. It is perhaps the only way I can do anything poetic. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. I love words, and I love stringing them together in interesting ways. So, I should love poetry.

And, I love reading poetry. But, if I try to write a poem, it ends up either being sappy or depressing or amateurish. Or all three. Perhaps it is because it isn’t something I have worked on extensively. It isn’t something that I have sat and thought I could do. If you don’t believe you can do something, it is usually a self fulfilling prophecy where you will convince yourself to the point where— surprise, surprise, you can’t do it.

So, it might be a mind over matter type of thing. I don’t think of myself as a poet, therefore I am not one. But there is something to be said for finding a sentence that works and is visually compelling. I could probably go through my works and cherry pick sentences and phrases that sound cool to me and create a poem from them. Whether it could have a cohesive meaning I am not sure, but I could take the time to find a meaning and make it work.

Ultimately, if you think you can, you probably can. If you think you can’t, you probably can’t. The power of the mind and how you identify yourself, how you think or perceive yourself as a being matters.

My attempt at stream of consciousness:

New Year’s

Red flowers blooming brilliantly over night time skies

where the stars shine down like little paper lanterns

illuminating the fierce nocturnal eyes of a million raccoons

and cats and weasels and varmints as they scurry amidst bushes and trees

looking for tiny prey that is also scurrying looking for nuts and seeds to eat

so they can continue another day and another night

so that the cycle can start anew another day and another night

as the earth turns slowly in space rewinding time

like a loom of silver thread until one day there will be no more

and some other thread will start spinning

in some other faraway place will begin instead.

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Que Sera Sera — What Will Be, Will Be, Or How Twisting Reality Can be Fun

Doris Day recently had a birthday, and of course that reminds me of one of my favorite happy songs. I love the tragic so much, it is nice to like a happy song once in a while since different moods are important to writing for me.

They can make or break a story. I listened to Muse for my last writing prompt, which was depressingly dreary. But, a few years ago I would have ended that story differently.

I wrote a short story that isn’t on here back then about a cool blonde in a cafe, calmly waiting for a bomb to explode. A terrorist without a conscious willing to die amidst chaos because she can, her reasons weren’t explained because she was a cool cold collected character. What made her this way? Hard to say. If I wanted to write a longer version I might delve into her more to see why someone would casually throw away her life and the lives of others.

This time I wanted to explore a would be terrorist that as a kid, would not be fully desensitized to people and could still be ‘saved’ in a sense from being part of the machine of senseless destruction.

I wanted to get into the thought processes and how one makes a decision like this that affects so many people, so many strangers really. We can assume a whole swathe of people is one way or like this or that. But, when we know individuals we realize this is a simplistic way of looking at the world and nothing about reality is simple.

People are not inherently bad or good, they are everything in between, and most people have a rationale for their actions. Whether this rationale is logical or not it is still that person’s rationale for their actions.

A lot of times this is based on personal experience and assumptions, sometimes it is based on information that is readily available via the media. The old adage that if it is on TV it must be true, or the newer version, If it is on the internet it must be true is part of this problem.

Either way, if any of my short stories sparks some thought somewhere, good. Then I have done my job as a writer. To illustrate and propagate ideas and hopefully thoughts that can awaken the minds of the sleepers out there.

Honestly though, I just enjoy getting into the minds of people that are far removed from me, it is like untapped characters are exciting and intriguing. I like to get out of my skin and into another. Same reason I love fantasy and Science-Fiction so much. I like to take normal on its head, and tilt it. I get a perverse pleasure out of skewing reality.

Maybe it is because that is a magical power of a sort. To be able to take something mundane, add in a dash of a little experience and somehow voila; it is something extraordinarily weird. That kernel of truth is still in there, way deep in the center of the acorn hoping the astute reader can get to it amidst the layers of shiny metal and fire breathing dragons.

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Prompt — One Possibility

*This is inspired by James Mascia’s Other Worlds: Writing Prompts for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer.

 

“It is so beautiful here, isn’t it?” Aimee swung her feet casually over the ledge back and forth enjoying the whooshing sound.

He held back, reluctant to look down. “Come on, there is nothing to be afraid of. Where you come from, is it so different?”

“Well, Aimee, I came from a dirt town, on the ground. We would be lucky if we had a tree tall enough to climb. This place is beautiful, and I am not used to it. That is a long way down. Wouldn’t your mother be scared to know you were sitting on the edge like that? I mean, shouldn’t we be heading back?”

“My mother isn’t worried. She knows I won’t fall.” Aimee smiled an innocent friendly smile. She had short blonde hair, freckles and green eyes that were large and luminous. Butterflies and birds flitted about and the majestic birch trees added to the picture of intense beauty.

They were on a very large platform way above the earth where the air was still pristine, where plants and animals could breathe and flourish. Not like the deserted barren place he had been living.

He won a lotto pass to live here. Every now and then the elite threw a bone to the lower classes allowing a fraction of them to ascend to the cloud cities. He was one of the lucky few. It was breathtaking but frightening.

And then there was the task left to him by his brothers. He looked away from Aimee. Her family was his foster family. He was staying with them, eating with them. Sharing little moments like this. Yet it was all a sham.

When it came time to have a position here, he would at best be the janitor while she would be a councilwoman or Professor or some other such profession where her hands wouldn’t need to get dirty. He was here for the grunt work, the work they didn’t want to do.

He was also older than Aimee. Older in years, older in experiences, older in all ways. He felt like he had lived a couple lifetimes all ready. Sometimes it was too much. What was expected of him by his family. What he wanted to do, versus what he had to do.

There were others here who were also planning, and they had contacted him not long after he arrived. He watched Aimee kick her legs a few more times, the birds chirping above them. It seemed like the garden of Eden, paradise on Earth. Only this garden could come crashing down all too easily. Maybe more Tower of Babel, Or Sodom? Not all here were as innocent as Aimee.

In fact, it was the fact that there were Aimee’s running around, laughing skipping, and jumping that gave him pause. His mission would be so much easier, so much  more fulfilling if somehow God could come down and save all the Aimee’s. All the innocent children could somehow be spared.

But that was  a fool’s dream. God doesn’t work that way anymore. Besides, these children would grow up to be monsters. Perhaps it is a kindness, he rationalized. Yes, better for them to leave the world pure of mind and heart. They will go straight to heaven like the angels they are.

They will not ever know suffering, starving, pain. They will not know what it is like to watch your baby brother be burned alive by bombs, or have a mom who is crippled by a landmine that wasn’t defused from some past conflict.

Or a sister who was raped repeatedly and eventually ended her own life in shame. A father who no longer spoke, having witnessed most of this. And, then like magic, his family perhaps because of all their sufferings gets the elusive and rare lotto pass. But why did he not feel lucky?

Sometimes he felt that some strings had been pulled; he was not put here by accident. He was here to serve a purpose. God himself may have willed it. But, there was definitely some mortal man’s hand on it. He could not believe his family would ever be so lucky. Luck had left them a long time ago.

“Aimee, lunch time!” He heard a voice call out. Aimee reluctantly got up, brushing the grass off her leggings. “Aimee!” The call came again with  a tinge of annoyance added. “I’m Coming! Sheesh!” She yelled back, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.

“You don’t know how lucky you are, Aimee. To have a mom that cares about you.”

“I am sure your Mom cares about you too. All mom’s care.”

“Oh, of course, my Mom loves me dearly. But, she needs to be taken care of, she cannot take care of me anymore.”

“Is she sick?”

“In a manner of speaking. She stepped on something that blew up her leg. So, now she is bedridden, and we take care of her.”

“I’m so sorry that happened to you. That must be awful. I will send some good thoughts her way, that maybe she can be healed and good as new.”

“That would be very kind of you.” Aimee gave him a strange look and ran in the direction of her mom’s voice. He watched her recede. He knew no one would be calling or waiting for him so he took his time taking the view in. He took a step toward the edge and looked down. He could see clouds, and sky and a receding base of metals and vines going into nothing, for eternity.

His heart started to beat fast, and he backed away. It was too much. Man should not reach out to heaven like this. There was something artificial and wrong about this. That his people should be starving and these people should have paradise. What did they do to deserve this?

They had a birth lottery, where they were born into paradise. Maybe it was time to even things out. But Aimee’s smile. She didn’t deserve this. Why was he chosen for this mission? He just wanted to be a kid himself and not have a care in the world, run after Aimee and have cheese sandwiches and juice and then be sent out to play once again.

That life appealed to him. It would be so simple. Just agree to everything, and then not do it. Just act like the kid he was supposed to be. Just play. Live and play. Forget the past, forget that others are still out there suffering. Just enjoy his lucky situation.

Would the others let him walk away? Probably not. They might tell on him. He was just a kid. Who would believe his word over an adult’s? He felt stuck. He had to follow his mission, but he didn’t want to. What was the right thing?

Aimee ran up to him out of breath, her blonde hair all over the place. “Aren’t you hungry? We got peaches and cream, and orange juice, and some grapes. Why didn’t you come? The food is for you too.”

“I’m sorry, Aimee. I’ll be a long in a few minutes, okay? I just have a lot to think about, and if you could tell your Mom to just save the food for later? You’re a good person, Aimee. A good friend, I hope you know that, and never forget that. You have helped me more than you will ever know. ” She looked at him confused, and ran back, shouting, “Okay.” on her way back to deliver the message.

He walked over to his backpack that had some crayons and a coloring book and some trail mix in it. He ripped out the last page out of the coloring book and took the black crayon and started to as carefully and simply as he could write out his brief story, and who were the conspirators in the plot to blow up the suspension system. He made sure and wrote names down so they would know.

It wasn’t our job to end life, that was God’s. And, he felt that Aimee had shown him the way to what he must do. He added at the bottom, ‘Please do not blame yourself, Aimee. You are the best, and you showed me the path. I will miss you. God Bless.’  He put it on top the coloring book where it would be seen and carefully zipped up the backpack.

He placed the backpack carefully where he knew she would see it when she came back. He walked up to the edge, and looked straight ahead, and calmly, walked off the edge of the world into the clouds. People would believe him now he knew. He would be with the angels because his conscious was clear.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Have Laptop Will Travel…

So I am taking a week off from work to get my groove back, creatively and emotionally. Been working a lot of six day weeks and even though it isn’t labor intensive work, working with the public does after a while, unravel the mind. So, I decided I needed some R and R, and also some time to re organize and do some deep cleaning. Need to make my environment more conducive to productive living and help me channel more productive thoughts. Been just surviving when I want to do so much more.

I have a mental list of things to get done, among them, writing. So, I took the laptop out with me today and went to a local coffee shop. I think I will do this throughout the week, maybe going to different ones.

This time I chose Rainshadow Coffee, because honestly I have been here before and it just has a great vibe to it. I feel like I get a lot done and it is just perfect. There is food if you are hungry, fresh locally roasted coffee which is awesome, and plenty of electrical outlets which is invaluable when you are using a laptop from 2009. Which I am.

One thing about old laptops, it has had a ton of its parts upgraded so it isn’t that slow actually, but yeah, it lasts for maybe 15 seconds unplugged from the wall, so, yeah, need an outlet, battery will not take you far with this one.

But, in defense of using an ancient laptop, a lot of the newer models you cannot upgrade at all, they fuse the parts to the motherboard. Apple started this trend, so blame them, they have been doing this for years.

Shame on IBM/Lenovo  and others for joining them in their desire to force people to buy an entirely new machine every few years instead of replacing parts.

I mean, how wasteful! Think about it? Perfectly good computers that just don’t have the video cards to handle modern games or applications, go into the trash because they can’t run anything anymore, but most of the parts work just fine.

GRRRR.  My laptop has a fairly new hard drive, which I installed myself, along with a WiFi card, and new better dual channel ram. All for much less than a new laptop would have cost me. Much less. Plus, the monitor and casing isn’t in a landfill somewhere, or the toxic motherboard isn’t poisoning children in India tasked with getting the mercury or some such evil thing. Doing my part, no matter how small.

Anyway, yeah, good food, great coffee, and WiFi plus electricity equals the perfect equation for a happy writer. Thumbs way up to Rainshadow.

I hope the competition is half this good, although I know of at least two other places that are in range. Scooter’s coffee, has WiFi, and an abundance of outlets, food and coffee. They actually have Rainshadow  roasted beans, ironically. All locally produced deli items which is amazing.

Hurricane Coffee is another place I frequent. They have an advantage that when I am with my son they are the only one with ice cream.

So, if you have a child, immediately Hurricane has an edge.  This edge is also a minus however, as it is also a local hang out spot for teens, so after school hours, they kinda take over half the place and tend to be kinda noisy.

You need some good sound canceling head phones to work in there at those times. Rainshadow is the most spacious of the the three by far, all three are in proximity of down town and are convenient. They are all good, and the food is decent at all places, although I would give Rainshadow the top marks on food because they offer breakfast burritos and hot foods while the other two are more sandwiches and bagels and that kind of thing.

Price wise, I think Scooter’s is the most economical if you are sticking with drip coffee. If you are getting food or espresso, I would say they are all within range of each other. All are great places for inspiration and public writing spaces. There is something to be said for being in your own world while simultaneously surrounded by people. It is just a completely different feeling than being at home in your jammies with your computer. although that is good too.

There is also Starbucks, of course, but Starbucks is the same wherever you are pretty much. The McDonald’s of Coffeeshops, unless you count McDonalds which also has free Wifi and coffee, so, yeah, also an option. But I prefer to support the independents when I can. The little guys have the best atmosphere, the best vibe, and you can’t replicate or buy that, it just is.

And some places have it and some places don’t. I can’t explain it. It is an emotion not something quantifiable. I just know it isn’t something chain stores can cultivate. Starbucks culture is so snobbish and highbrow. It is kinda artificial and forced. It isn’t a natural culture. It is something marketed to itself by somebody in Seattle somewhere.

They try, just when you become big, something happens. You lose the dynamic culture of something crafted for a small audience, you start to cater to the masses, and the masses are a lot more blase and boring than a more specific audience ever is.

The smaller place will always have a more eclectic and interesting feel. I need to try Suzon’s as well. I remember it being cozy and having decent coffee but being more quiet and contemplative. Not a good option to take a kid, but those without children might prefer a quiet space. There is a place for everyone it seems even in a small town.