Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category
DFQWBS: A Simple Proposal
So Anne Meade (@ruanna3) is getting married. In addition to a traditional wedding–which I’m sure will be spectacular–Anna’s friends, Laura James and Miranda Kate are putting together a flash fiction tribute to the Bride-to-be. Anna’s all about creativity and whimsy and is a huge supported of the flash community, so we all jumped at the chance to write a little tale in honor of her upcoming nuptials. I don’t get invited to a lot of bridal showers (ok, ANY bridal showers) but a writerly bridal shower is something I can get on board with. I will miss the finger sandwiches and tea though. I do love a good finger sandwich. The crunchy thumbs are my favorite!
If you’d like to join in, you’ve got another ~20 hours. Rules are HERE.
And now without further trumpeting and mucking about, here’s my entry:
A Simple Proposal
By J. Whitworth Hazzard
She could take the lousy hours, the terrible pay, and the corporate-image-required fake smile. But these Goddess-damned epaulets were ruining her image. Her beautiful lavender gossamer dress, hand made by fairies and enchanted wombats, looked ridiculous with the would-be sailor uniform of park employees bolted on.
The mice had long abandoned the Dark Fairy Queen’s ticket booth, scurrying far out of their way to avoid a zap from her wand brought on by boredom and rude tourists. She sat, night after night, at the entrance to Fair-ey Tales World™, trading in the dirty silver pieces for faux-gold tickets to enter the park. She was optimistic at first. Working an amusement park will be fun, her friends convinced her. The woodland creatures disappeared first. Then her fairy friends stopped coming by.
“Oh, I totally forgot about our plans. You know how it is.”
“I’ve just been so busy with the new spring tinkering schedule.”
“I pulled a wing muscle, gotta stay in tonight.”
Mierella sneered, “Traitors. The lot of you.”
Mierella’s wand sizzled and snapped, the sudden pop breaking her reverie. A handsome Prince stood at the corner of her booth looking expectingly, like he was waiting for a response. How long had he been standing there staring at her? Mierella’s heart skipped a beat, then she spotted the bratty blue epaulets sewn onto his royal doublet.
“Oh, you work here too,” Mierella’s voice trailed off. “I said… nevermind.”
“You look sad. A beautiful woman like you should never be sad. Is there anything I can do? Prince Erlick at your service.” He bowed deeply.
“I’m not sad. I’m annoyed. I shall warn you but once, Sir. Beware the Dark Fairy Queen’s wrath!” Mierella’s wand crackled with dark energy. Her gown swayed back in the rising current of magical wind. The lights dimmed in the ticket booth and a purple aura surrounded her. “All shall love me and despair…”
Prince Erlick, “I don’t know about that whole despair bit. Look, I have to give another tour but afterwards I was going to go over to Cinderella’s Ball for a drink.“ He shuffled his feet for a bit, then smiled, bowed and moved on.
Mierella looked at him in shock. He wasn’t cowering, or trembling, or fleeing in terror. He simply smiled and walked off towards the cotton candy stand. What a strange Prince!
An hour later the Prince came wandering by her booth. This time he looked even happier and a little stumbley. He walked by her booth three times, back and forth, mumbling to himself and trying to wink at her without success.
“Cinderella’s a bitch. How about you come have a drink with me? Do evil queen’s drink?”
Mierella snorted with shock. “I’m the ‘dark’ fairy queen, not the evil fairy queen. It’s not the same thing. It means I can be sarcastic and mischievous. I’m not evil, you cheeky man.”
“Heavens, I do apologize your Fairy-ejesty.” Prince Erlick bowed a little too deep and took an extra step to recover his balance. “That’s a relief. You know what they say about ‘evil’ girls…” He whispered but didn’t finish the sentence.
“I hope you’re not riding in your condition,” Mierella smirked.
Prince Erlick shook his head. “Can’t. They towed my noble steed last week. Bastards. Hey, Aurora is having an after-ever-after party. It’s right over the hill. Whadya say? One drink!”
The Prince got down on one knee and took off his hat, perching it squarely over his heart. Mierella looked sideways at the creature. There wasn’t a hint of trickery or malice in him. In the glow of the marquee lights, he looked honest, kind, and courageous. For a down on his luck Prince, he looked downright–regal.
“One drink. No tricks. No poisoned apples, or enchanted roses, or cursed spinning needles. Got it?”
Prince Erlick smiled earnestly. “My beautiful queen, I would never dream of using someone else’s fairy tale to win your heart. Our fairy tale is going to be original, wildly adventurous, and epic. And if you but take my hand… it starts, right now.”
My wedding wish for the couple is a simple proposal: happiness. Find it in each other through the smallest acts, the tiniest gestures, the plainest words, and in everyday living.
Book Review: The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I don’t seem like the type of guy who normally reads paranormal romance novels about Irish folklore, but if they’re as good as “The Selkie Spell”, I should probably start reading more. I picked up “The Selkie Spell” for Kindle on a sale weekend because I follow the author on Twitter and Facebook and knew she was insanely talented, but I would have gladly paid a lot more for it.
The basic setup for “The Selkie Spell” is the Irish legend of the selkie (part seal-part woman) coming full-circle through modern actors. The selkie of the island in the legend was controlled and abused by a cruel and heartless man before committing suicide. In order to free the selkie’s spirit, her descendant must return to the island, find the hidden selkie pelt and complete the circle by facing her own cruel and heartless abuser. The novel is a healthy mix of genres and has romance, action, irish folklore, ghost tales, intrigue, and just enough sex to spice up the stew.
The Good: For me this was a fresh and fascinating tale, since I had no knowledge of selkies or really any traditional Irish folklore. The author did a fantastic job at developing presence and atmosphere. I found myself checking on prices for airfare to Ireland halfway through the book. <sigh…stupid airlines> The descriptions are beautiful and the characters are diverse and interesting. The pacing is perfect for this genre and the plot is believable and consistent all the way through. Though, to be honest, you have to realize that fate/destiny plays a major part driving plot points along in places that seem a little too convenient. The legend requires everything transpire in a certain way so all is forgiven. At least in my view. If you’re not as forgiving, this might bother you.
The Bad: There’s not much to criticize here except a few personal preferences. My only real complaint was that the abusive husband is more of a caricature than a character at times and I had a hard time shaking images of the movie Sleeping With The Enemy.
Recommendations: I’d recommend this to anyone and everyone, with the small exception of younger audiences. The sex and inclusion of spousal abuse isn’t appropriate for younger teens. I would HIGHLY recommend this to anyone going to Ireland for vacation who needs a fun, light read for those cozy nights at the pub.
StuffedO’s Zombie Flash Fiction Contest
Let’s keep this simple, shall we? Holly over at Confessions of a Stuffed Olive has invited everyone to join in and submit a funny zombie-themed flash fiction. Rules are at the link above, 250 max, must have zombies, must be funny. And without further ado, I present…
The Texting Dead
by J. Whitworth Hazzard
World Building Blogfest: Dead Sea Games Excerpt
Days 5 of Sharon Bayliss’s World Building Blogfest. A day late, as usual, but today is all about the excerpt. So you’ve built a fantasy world. You want people to read about it? Prove it.
Presenting the brand new cover for Dead Sea Games: Adrift.
And an excerpt from Dead Sea Games: Exiled, fresh off the editor’s desk…
The inside of the building was dark. A long corridor ran as far as I could see, leading to a T-dead end. There were open doors on both sides of the corridor with gore-stained walls.
“No, no,” Jessie struggled against me. “Don’t take me in there. No! We’ll be trapped!”
I was reconsidering the foolishness of plunging headlong into a dark corridor in zombie territory when the decision was taken away from me. The guards burst through the stairwell door and pulled up sharply against the 2nd floor exit of cell twelve with guns drawn. As soon as they saw us, I shoved Jessie through the door and pulled it shut behind me.
The first bullets ripped through the top of the door leaving four tiny pinpoints of light streaming into the darkness, narrowly missing me in the process. I dove away from the door and covered Jessie with my body.
“Go! Go!” I crawled over her and dragged her along with me. We crawled along the waterlogged carpet, soaking in the filth of a year’s worth of rotting zombie feet, until the gunfire stopped hitting the steel of the door and started hitting the diseased fleshbags covering our exit. The white light from the bullet holes flickered and was replaced with grey and red flashes of dead flesh and rotten things.
They were coming for us.
“This is some rescue you pulled off.” I got to my knees and hauled Jessie up with me. “I’d rather be in a holding cell.”
Jessie was shivering against me, her fingers clawed against my shirt.
“Do you have a light? We need a flashlight,” I said.
I could see her head shake, no. “A glowstick? A lighter? Something?” The panic in my voice was impossible to control. I was freaking out. Jessie dug in her pockets frantically and produced a Zippo lighter. She flicked it over and over, producing nothing but sparks. She finally found her voice in the fear and screamed at the lighter, “Light, you fucker!”
The spark caught and a tiny orange flame kicked up in her trembling hand.
“Okay, Okay, just calm down, calm down,” I said.
“I can’t!” Jessie cried.
“I’m not talking to you,” I snapped. “Calm down, Jeremy. You can do this. You’ve been in worse situations. You’ll make it. Keep fighting.”
I got to my feet and pulled Jessie with me. We still had a knife and a tiny bit of light. All we needed was a way out.
“We need to find one of the stairwells. I can boost you up from there.”
We crept along the corridor toward the T at the end of the hall. Jessie’s hand shook as she swept the lighter back and forth, trying to cast the tiny light farther down the hall. She only ended up making the place seem creepier than it already was. The shadows from the lighter moving back and forth perverted our imaginations; the twisted cables hanging from the ceiling turned into intestines, the mold on the wall became zombie blood, and dead eyes peeked from behind every door.
Something moved off to our left and we held our breath.
A flash of black streaked across the hall at our feet and Jessie screamed.
“Jesus!” I felt my heart pounding out of my chest and tried to settle. “It’s just a rat. See?”
Jessie looked over my shoulder at the huge black sewer rat peeking out behind a door. It looked curious, as if it had never seen living humans. And just as quickly as it appeared, it squealed a tiny rat squeal and bolted into the darkness.
“Guess we scared it.”
“Aaaah…” The deadhead snuck up behind us in silence and grabbed Jessie with both hands. She screamed in terror as black lips brushed against her neck and it opened its mouth. I reacted out of instinct and grabbed the zombie by the throat and threw myself at it.
Thanks for reading my World Building Blogfest entrees. I hope I’ve convinced you to give the world of Dead Sea Games a chance. It’s a fun, action-packed ride. Look for the release of “Dead Sea Games: Exiled” on Amazon and Barnes and Noble on February 9th, 2013!
World Building Blogfest: Religion, Food, Holidays, & Culture of Dead Sea Games
Today, I’m combining Days 3 and 4 of Sharon Bayliss‘s World Building Blogfest into one giant post-of-awesomeness. Day 3 was supposed to be Religion and/or Magic, but since my world has very little of either (at least from Jeremy’s point of view) I thought I roll these up into a nice little post about culture of the Dead Sea Games world.
The religions of DSG are not any different that what you’d find in a modern multi-cultural city. The people of the Colony are the survivors of NYC and its surrounding boroughs, so you have a smattering of almost every representative religion in the area. Though most of the ultra-religious flocked to Churches in the early stages of the Emergency and were wiped-out, a few remain in the ruins. Most of the survivors question their faith, and wonder how God could allow the devastation and atrocities to go unchecked. Jeremy’s view of God is in constant flux, as is the case for most teenagers. Sometimes he believes in nothing, other times he truly feels he is being protected by a higher power… to what end, he cannot guess.
Food and Drink
Ah, the meat and potatoes category (and the bathtub vodka made from potatoes category). Food is scarce in the Colony, but thanks to a little help from above and smart gardening it’s not hopeless. Early on during the conversion of the apartment buildings to safe territory, the Triumvirate council put a high priority on moving as much earth as possible to the rooftops to start planting fruits and vegetables. At the beginning of DSG, the Colony is at the height of the season and harvests of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, beans, peas, and herbs are abundant. the survivors get a little help from air drops of supplies in the form of rice, flour, oats, coffee, sugar, and salt, but the “Western”-style meat is long gone. Survivors in the Colony hunt wild game in the form of alley cats and pigeons, but the primary protein is supplied by domestic rabbits and the occasional hen (that stops laying eggs). On the plus side, hard liquor is everywhere and easy to get… even for 13 year olds. At the end of the Emergency, though the grocery stores were wiped out, the bars and nightclubs were surprisingly intact and the Raiders bring in hauls of spirits to trade at the Exchange on a daily basis.
There are only two celebrated days in the Colony, one is Salvation Day, the other is Drop Day. Salvation day is the once-a-year celebration of the establishment of the first cell. Imagine a block party where everyone gets blindingly drunk and all inhibitions are thrown out the window. It’s a celebration of a day where everyone recognizes just how lucky they are to be alive. Drop Day is once a month and isn’t celebrated so much as marked with a huge release of anxiety when the air-dropped supplies finally show up. The entire Colony lives with the knowledge that one day those cargo planes might not show up.
What can you say about a culture built on desperation? If you didn’t think Americans–who are also New Yorkers–weren’t brusque, self-centered, violent, and paranoid enough, imagine those same people after living through a year of the zombie apocalypse. You quickly get a sense that even though the Colony has banded folks together, it’s still very much every man (or woman) for themselves. It’s a veritable Libertarian paradise!
Stay tuned, zombie fans! Tomorrow, I’ll close out the blogfest series with the revamped cover reveal, and a kick-ass excerpt from “Dead Sea Games: Exiled.”