Monthly Archives: December 2013

New Free Story!

Back in the days of the Book and Candle Pub, we held a writing contest, with the challenge to write a story in the world of Stephen King's opus, THE STAND.  You could use the characters, the settings, whatever you wanted. I chose to write a story about a vignette set in my own town. As I recall, I didn't win - but I still think the story was pretty decent. If you look under the "Free Stories" tab, you'll see it:  CHOOSING SIDES - Fan Fiction set in the world of THE STAND. Check it out! ***

The World of Silos – Hugh Howey’s WOOL saga

First, let me start off by saying that these books by Hugh Howey have been a great influence on me.  Not only do they tell a captivating story about a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been exterminated except for a relative handful of people selected to be saved in "silos", vertical cities dug into the ground somewhere in Georgia, but the story of the publication and Howey's subsequent success grabbed me like not too many other stories recently. Nitpickers can find all the problems with the writing and the story that they'd like to, but I read a story about a strong female character who fights to learn the truth that is withheld from the descendents of those original Silo inhabitants.  And I was inspired by the tale to read more independent fiction in the subgenre that WOOL and SHIFT and DUST reside in. But even more, I was inspired to self publish by Howey's story of success - something he wrote became popular simply because it was a story that grabbed others as it grabbed me, and he became a self-publishing success story.  What does it matter that he's made millions from the product of his imagination?  That's just a difference in degree from what other self-publishers, including myself, are doing. And then, Mr. Howey opened his world to others, who could write fan fiction (basically) and publish it and perhaps make some money off of it. So I thought I might try something.  It isn't really coming together like I wanted it to.  My story doesn't really want to play nice with the facts as they're already established by the stories that exist.  Facts that I asked Mr. Howey about, and received a prompt reply with plenty of helpful information (hence, my post a few weeks back about Howey being a really nice guy). Here are those facts.  The nanobots that are used to exterminate the human race - they aren't sprayed or released on the day of the Convention, when everyone is hustled into the Silos (in the book SHIFT).  They are already in everyone, and everyone who goes into the silos has to be immunized against them.  They become active when they do because they are tiny computers and they have a "clock" in them.  There is no time frame for how long they remain viable in the environment.  Howey envisions many years, I think.  Maybe a hundred.  But he says that it isn't specifically spelled out in any of the stories he wrote, nor is it spelled out in any of the stories that others wrote that he is aware of.  He said I could make it whatever time frame I wanted. It didn't work for my story, anyway.  I wanted to write about people who were living with the aftereffects of the nanobots' activation and the death that it entails.  Trouble was, there was no way to have survivors.  Well, there is, actually, a way to have survivors, but those people weren't the story I wanted to tell. I may still tell the story I wanted to tell, if I can figure out how to make it work without the backdrop of Hugh Howey's WOOL saga.  But for now, it won't be a "Silo" story. *****

Horror vs. Science Fiction (for me as a writer)

My collection, 14 DARK WINDOWS, contains a mix of horror stories and stories about people from everyday life.  All were written a while ago, and when I selected the stories for the collection (and to publish individually), I felt that these were the ones that held up best. It wasn't that I didn't have any science fiction stories, but I didn't feel they held up all that well.  Technology bypassed them.  Computers have gone so far past the imagined systems in my story, which is titled "An Artificial Yearning".  The story was ABOUT computers (well, it was actually about people and isolation and some other things, but computers were integral to the plot), so to have them be so different from what I wrote back then made it lose credibility, even to me.  I can rewrite it, but so much would be changed, it might be a completely new story. My other story of note was "No Time Like The Present", and it was about a time travel paradox.  I submitted it to a few different publications and was told that it was sort of the same old thing as far as the plot went.  That doesn't really mean much; I think it's still a good story, but I don't know.  I read it and think it reads okay.  But does it hold up over time? Horror holds up over time.  A ghost story is a ghost story, a tale about demonic possession is still the same after ten years.  Maybe after a hundred years.  Look at Lovecraft - his stuff still inspires people today.  Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, shapeshifters, zombies - they're all still out there scaring people today.  Yes, the "feel" of the writing is different (thanks, Mr. King!) but the old tales hold up. I guess that's why the horror stories worked.  I guess it's why the stories about people worked, even after 10+ years.  It's why my science fiction did not hold up nearly as well, even in my own eyes. *****