Category Archives: dark fantasy

Tagged 7-7-7

Sidney Williams tagged me in a fun meme, so I figured I’d play along. Well, at first I couldn’t, because I was supposed to go to page 77 of my work-in-progress, and the only thing I’ve been doing as of late are novella length, or shorter. But, my genius friend Kate Sterling said I could do what she was doing and go to page seven, and play that way. The rules are, go to page 77 (in my case 7) of your current work. Count down seven lines, and then post the next seven lines/sentences. As I’m a chronic long sentence writer, I chose to copy the sentences, not the lines.

This is part of a short story I’m writing for an anthology on sexuality in fantasy.  I’ve had some thoughts, lately, on the recent sociopolitical push to drag women back to the old prehistoric caves by our hair. It has caused me… Angst. Okay, rage. And you know me, go dark or go home, so this little dystopian piece of bad news was born. This scene is where our heroine, Cherry, is confronted by an official of her church commune whose twisted desires for her cause him to act out in unholy ways:

“To keep me chaste,” she sputtered past the blood.

“Why?”

“As a reminder the Destroyer is everywhere, and that his demons cannot be overcome with manmade Chemical, or the National Church’s polygamist whoring, but by purity’s resistance alone.” If Cherry desired her back as bloody and raw as the Warder made his own every night, she would have added, But, the government keeps pumping me full of hormones and Chemical so I can lure these earthly servants to them, and you let them do it, so how can I be pure when everyone demands something unholy of my virginity?  As she had no desire to be whipped, she remained silent.

The Warder had always been a devout boy, singularly driven to understand the world they had inherited, the life so unlike the antiquated photographs of men and women walking freely in the sunshine, holding hands and pressing together their lips and bodies. He had latched on to the church’s inane assertions that the mouth of hell had opened up and spewed forth the creatures that had one day appeared from underground and carried off the majority of the world’s chaste in less than a month’s time.

*****

As I am very, very late to the game, all of my writing friends have been tagged, so I can’t play the “tag seven friends” part. But, if you’re a writer stopping by here and want to play, go ahead. Just let me know in the comments so I can read your 7-7-7.

Advertisements

A Few Quick Updates

I’m backtracking a little through my progress with the Resonance sequel (titled Harmony), because I’ve decided–no, the story’s decided–there has to be a third book.  I never expected this to become a trilogy.  Well, once I had a notion that there was room within the plot confines for a third book, but I never really gave it much thought beyond that.  Then, the other night I was playing the “what if” game with the Architect and an entirely new idea twisted itself out of the current Harmony plot, and set about weaving itself into a whole storyline.  Because of that, some of the events that were going to happen in this upcoming novel have either been shifted to the final book’s plot, or have been deleted altogether.  I don’t mind the work, really, because it’s all going to make for a much more exciting series.  And that’s a good thing.  It’s just chewing up a significant amount of my extra time.

In derby news, we at SRG had another bout on July 17.  We won, by a significant margin.  I don’t have any photos to post, sadly, because no one I know has a camera that’s speedy enough to take the good action pictures, and I’m too lazy to contact the people who do to see if they’ll allow me publication rights.  But, I was there and I skated well.  Promise.  We had an unofficial scrimmage against another team on Sunday night, and we won with a similar score.  This all makes me very happy, and excited for our next bout in August.

I also got new wheels, Atom G-Rods, and my laps-in-five-minutes count went from 26 to 28.  Yay for magically awesome wheels!  Oh, and I have a new helmet.  It does nothing to make me faster.  But, it does a lot for the looking badass category.

This is probably one of my lamer posts, but the derby and writing have been warring for my attention, and I find I don’t have the time I used to for getting these posts together.  Just wanted you all to know I hadn’t died under a pile of cats or derby girls.

Oh, and I have an interview with Adam Slade up at Editing Hat, today, if you’d like to check that out.  I talk about writing, derby, and wading through flooded streets in nightwear.  It’s more amusing than this most likely has been.  Promise–yet again.

    


What I’ve Learned About Writing From Roller Derby, Part Two: The Flashy Stuff is Generally Useless

A woman cruises along on her skates, leg extended back.  Another skater flies up and grabs the proffered ankle.  With a quick pull, the front skater propels the other forward, giving up her momentum to allow her teammate to fly around the track.  The crowd goes wild at the show just performed for them.  This maneuver is called a “leg whip.”

A blocker sees another blocker coming up.  She leaves her defensive wall and sweeps out like a wrecking ball, smashing the other player into the suicide seats.  The opponent sprawls onto the floor (and maybe a few laps), and the audience is beside itself with glee.

The problem with these techniques is–they’re generally useless.  If a skater is in a tight pack, then there’s probably no room to extend her leg fully.  Even if she does have the space to attempt such a move, she’s just asking to get knocked down.  An arm whip–less glamourous, maybe–will more than suffice.  As for our swooping, big hitter, odds are the opposing jammer has taken advantage of the defensive hole she has left in the pack and has zoomed on through.  Or, the other team has used the lack of walls to form one of their own, and have now possibly trapped the abandoned co-blocker, making her the “goat” they keep behind them (and thereby control the speed of the pack).  In any of these scenarios the result is the same, showboating gets you nowhere.

The same is true for writing.  You can plan in your head a heroine who does flying roundhouses, snaps necks with a flex of her well-toned (yet sensual) bicep, who dismantles nuclear weapons while speaking eighteen languages to six different covert agency operators.  You can implant her into every dangerous scenario known to man.  You can build up the action until it’s nearly boiling over.  But, if your character has no purpose, no meaning, no depth, then all you have is flash.  And while flash can be pretty and cool, it never entertains people for very long on its own.

For instance, have you ever stood in line to see the Hope Diamond?  Waited in that snaking, creeping line to get your turn at the glass?  If not, here’s how seeing it goes:

Seconds one through two:
“Oh, wow! Just…. Wow!”

Seconds two through eight:
“Man, that thing is big.  I’d risk a curse to have a diamond that size.”

Seconds eight through ten:
“How is it blue?  I like blue.  I’d rather have a blue one than a regular one.”

Seconds ten through twelve:
“I think that guy behind me is breathing directly onto my neck.”

Second thirteen:
“I wonder what the big elephant in the lobby is up to?”

And that’s it.  The flash has already waned.  And the more times you see it, the less special it is.  Soon, it’s just a rock in a case that thousands of people stand in line to see, while you walk by and think, “Suckers.”

Sure, that last part was a little jaded, but my every field trip from kindergarten to twelfth grade was to the National Mall and I’ve had more than my share of the Hope Diamond, so you’ll have to forgive me.  Still, I stand by my assertion; just like a leg whip, just like a swooping block, just like an over-hyped stone, writing with the sole purpose of blinding your audience with awesomeness is useless.  Without depth and meaning, those big moments will not be very big at all.  In fact, they’ll reek of the author’s hand in the story, and jade your readers faster than a twenty-minute line to see a rock.  Staging events just to have them will never ring true with fans, and–just like the blocker who swings out to make the grandiose hits–will most likely cause a giant hole to appear somewhere you don’t want.  

Instead, keep it tight.  Keep it effective and meaningful.  And if the opportunity for flashiness arises, be sure first and foremost you’re not doing your story any harm by taking it.



What I’ve Learned About Writing From Roller Derby, Part One: It’s Okay to do This

In roller derby you have to pass a series of physical and written tests before you can scrimmage with the other players.  It’s a safety thing–making sure you’re not going to injure yourself or anyone else when skating in a tight pack.  At one point during the assessment test I fell.  As I regained my feet, my captain said, “It’s okay if you fall.  You have wheels on your feet.  You’re going to fall sometimes.”

I called the corner of the rink in which we fresh meat practiced, “The Guppy Pond.”  In the guppy pond I practiced crossovers, jumping, blocking, hitting, and I learned how to fall.  I learned how to fall correctly, and how to get up quickly.  I would steal envious glances at the ladies scrimmaging on the rink while I skated and dropped to one knee, stood up, dropped to the other, stood up, dropped to both, stood up.  Over and over I skidded across the floor, my legs aching for relief, my eyes darting along with the flashes of blue and red pinnies flying around the track.  I wanted to be out there so badly, to mix with the experienced girls, to play derby.  But, I wasn’t ready, yet.  I had more to learn before I could play the game.

So, I studied the rules and practiced the basics.  I took my test and passed.  And then I got onto the track.  My rabid enthusiasm quickly turned to apprehension as the realization sunk in that I was out of the guppy pond.  The hits would be real, and my newly acquired skills were nothing against the seasoned skaters surrounding me.  Suddenly, the guppy pond didn’t seem so bad.  But, it was too late.  I was in with the big kids and there was no going back.  So, I launched into the fray.  And fell.  And fell.  And fell.  Over and over I tried my best to get around the opposing blockers, eating floor more often than not.

But, there’s a trick to falling in derby.  It’s called falling small.

Falling small is falling in a calculated way.  It’s not flailing, clawing, sprawling onto the track in a miserable heap, railing against that which brought you down.  It’s tucking in your knees and elbows while still descending, hitting the ground in a smooth, protected curl and regaining your feet instantly.  It’s a thoughtful process, not distracted by what happened to make you fall–that doesn’t matter anymore–but rather knowing how to make that hitch in your progress cost you as little momentum as possible.

We’ve all struggled as writers.  Roadblocks–either of our own design or of those forged by the system into which we seek admission–are inevitable, just like falling when you have wheels on your feet.  But when those moments come, we can be ready for them.  As we topple, we can look up to see the track ahead.  We can see the holes in the defense, pleasant little spaces for us to try to squeeze through and attain our goals.  We can tuck in, preparing for that brief moment of impact, but already poised to spring forward with renewed vigor. Sometimes we hit the ground hard, but it doesn’t matter.  We’ve fallen small, and are up again and sprinting, a clearer plan in mind.

Yes, it is okay to fall.

Just make sure you do it right.


Five Years and One Month

That’s how long it’s been since my blog has been running.  To celebrate that milestone (I missed last month’s true anniversary, but I like the notion of thirteen months better than twelve, anyway) I am making some changes.

I’ve been skating for five months now, and I can honestly say the Derby Monster has grabbed me and will not let go.  Instead of fighting my loves and trying to compartmentalize them, I have decided to merge the two.  Derby has taught me quite a bit about being a writer, and vice versa.  I’ll tell you all about it, soon, right after I get this new layout squared away.  
There will still be fantastic stories–of mystical women, some who can control fire and minds, and others who will knock you onto your face with a twitch of the hip, or slide through a fingerbreadth of space as if it were a chasm.  
So, welcome to Hell and Wheels, the next transformation of the dark fantasy writer Avery DeBow’s blog.  I’ll be back soon with my first post about what derby has taught me about being a writer and how “It’s Okay to Do This”
It’s Okay to Do This

RESONANCE cut scene #3

This scene is from the first incarnation of the novel.  It made it through one or two editing rounds, and then I cut it out, mostly for brevity’s sake, but also because I didn’t like the tone it set for Res and Wyatt’s relationship.  But, it’s an amusing read on its own.  It takes place just after the Massawangee Cypress Swamp Stone trial when Resonance is talking to the necromancers about her mother’s growing interest in Doug, and dissipating trust in her daughter.

*************

     “I’m sorry.  If there’s anything I can do,” Wyatt said.

      “You can give me a paycheck,” Resonance said.

     “I’m sorry, what did you say?”  Wyatt’s eyes widened.
     “You know what I said.”  She gave a cool shrug.  “I’ve kinda been telling Mom I’ve been coming here for on-the-job-training for the past two weeks.  I told her it was without pay, which she flipped over, but then I told her it would be given to me in back pay after the three month probation period.”  She paused to gauge Wyatt’s reaction–which took the form of a bulging vein in the middle of his forehead. “Soon, though,” she continued, biting back a smile, “she’s going to start harping on me about bringing home a check, so I thought you could just write me one.  Eight hundred ought to cover it.”
     “I–don’t, I…” Wyatt stammered.
     “Come on, I won’t even cash it.  I just need to show her something to get her off my back.”
     “I can’t just… Why didn’t you…?”  He turned an accusatory stare on Quinn. “Did you know about this?”
      Quinn looked nonplussed.
     “We haven’t been talking too much lately,” she answered, voice flat, eyes daring Quinn to speak.  She shrugged again.  “It’s no big deal, really.  You don’t have to do it.  Of course, Mom might come knocking on your door, demanding to know why I haven’t gotten paid.  She would, you know.  She thinks I’m a drooling idiot.  Even worse, she’ll accuse me of funneling it all up my arm and turn me over to some rehab clinic in upstate New York, which would severely hamper my saving the world and all.”
     “Are you always this manipulative?”  Wyatt asked, the first hint of a smile crinkling the corners of his eyes.
     “Pretty much.”  She flashed a wolfish grin.
     “Why don’t you just get a job?”
     “Please.  I can barely look at people, let alone work with them.  Besides, you’d rather have me here, memorizing all of your family journals and magic books and becoming your personal reference set, right?”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Wyatt said, shaking his head.  “You are a little extortionist aren’t you?”
“If I was that bad, I’d make you give me cash.”
“Thanks so much,” Wyatt replied dryly.  “If your mother has questions”–he sighed audibly–“tell her to call me.”
     

The Contest Winners

Thanks to everyone for playing!  I considered all of your stories of rebellion with a sincere amount of gravity and reflection.  After a difficult choice I have decreed the three winners to be:

1) The Walking Man — For standing up against generational expectations, and sheer determination to stay the course.

2) Christina — For CIA-like antics that could have resulted in a field trip to jail had you encountered a more surly police officer.

2) Jenn Sommersby — For teenaged rebellion that truly resonates with Resonance’s own youthful backlash.

Winners, email me at averydebow(at)comcast.net and tell me which format you’d prefer your eBook to be delivered in: PRC (for Kindle), or ePUB (for Barnes and Noble or iBookstore).

Thanks again to everyone who played.  I had fun reading your little tales of badness.


Contest Ends Friday at Noon

If you haven’t shared your story of youthful rebellion with me, now’s the time to do it.  If I decide it is in the top three, then you’ll win a free copy of RESONANCE–your choice of ebook format (PRC for Kindle, or ePUB for Barnes & Noble or iBookstore).

I’m looking forward to hearing about your dark side!


Win a copy of RESONANCE!

Now that RESONANCE is officially settled in on Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and the iBookstore, I’m thinking I’ll celebrate with an ebook giveaway contest.  To celebrate the characters’–urm–colorful natures, I would like you to read the deleted scene below, and then tell me in the comment section about something you did as an act of rebellion in your younger days.  The three best (decided by me on whatever whim I so choose) will receive an eBook copy of RESONANCE in the file format of their choice: E-Pub (for B&N’s Nook store or iBookstore), or PRC (for Kindle).

It doesn’t have to be a masterful piece of prose, just tell me what you did and I’ll decide if I love it.  That simple.

********

Spider Flashback Deleted Scene:

Resonance had been a reluctant transfer student dropped in a lions’ den of scholastic and social overachievement, forced to play dead just to survive.  There was a big kid who sat near the back in her mandatory freshman music class, one of those boys who had no doubt started eighth grade normal-sized, but freakishly grew a foot in every direction over the summer.  His broad shoulders were the perfect shelter, forming a jersey-clad wall for her to hide behind, unheard and unseen.  Not even her classmates seemed to realize she was more than another empty chair at the back of the class.  Except him—the one with the mohawk.  He noticed.
It was his pattern to slouch into the room, fling himself into the chair diagonal to hers, and do nothing for the first half an hour.  Then, as regular as clockwork, he would turn and look at her, his eyes searching her face as if to be sure she hadn’t died or turned to stone, his constant sneer deepening enough with what he saw to drive her further into the shadows. A few seconds later, he would turn back around, and finish off the class with another ten minutes of apathy. 
One February afternoon, however, he did more than that.
Outside the classroom window snow drifted down, covering the grass and cars.  Resonance stared hopefully at the defiantly clear blacktop, absently mouthing the words to the week’s song.  Knuckles rapped on her desk.  She started, and looked up into the rabbity face of Mr. Bilke.
“Since you are so intent on the song today, Miss Murphy,” maybe you should grace us with a solo.”
Her heart dropped to her feet.  Her body felt numb, leaden, as every set of eyes in the room—all those gazes she had strived to avoid for so long—fixed on her.  “I– I can’t,” she squeaked.
“You can’t?”
“No.”
“Why?  Because you haven’t paid attention all year?”  The class snickered.  Fueled by their amusement, Mr. Bilke continued, “Because you hide behind your hair and pretend this class doesn’t exist?  That we don’t exist?”
Resonance prayed she would stop existing.
“I’ll do it.”  All of those burning gazes and curved mouths turned away at the voice. She retreated behind her wall into the soothing shade.  
“Very well, Andrew,” Mr. Bilke said, his tone one of utter astonishment.
“It’s Spider.” The chair ahead and to the right of hers screeched back and the boy with the mohawk curled out of his chair.  He looked back, threw her a conspiratorial wink and strode up to the platform.  Mr. Bilke moved towards his piano. Spider didn’t wait for the music.  He gave the class a cockeyed leer, turned, dropped his shredded jeans and belted out his version of the day’s song, shouting, “It’s-the-age-of-my-hairy-ass,” at the top of his lungs. 
Her teacher and classmates froze. Their paralysis was intoxicating.  For once, Resonance forgot to hide.  She craned her neck for a better look—and laughed.
Fortunately for Spider, Zero Tolerance had not made its way into schools, yet.  Two months later, after his in-school suspension was over, he walked back into the classroom.  Mr. Bilke seethed at his piano.  The students whispered and tittered, re-living the now infamous scene.  Resonance leaned forward and looked him in the eyes, her chin lifted almost defiantly.  The side of his mouth twitched upwards, and her face split into a grin.  He took the chair beside her.

*************
Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you did as a youth to shake up the Establishment. It could win you a novel! I will post the winners next Friday afternoon, so be sure to get your story to me no later than noon (that’s EST for you non-East Coasters out there).


Free Excerpt of RESONANCE–Right Here!

Kindle has offered up a free, embed-able sneak peek of Resonance‘s innards.  Now, I love innards, and there are a lot of them here (255 pages!) so I feel compelled to share them with you.  So, get started.  No clicky links, no downloading software, just move your eyes a bit south and you’re good to go!  Be sure to pop back in later this week for a contest where you can win a copy of the entire eBook.  Yep.  Even more innards, hundreds of pages more–free. Until then, read and enjoy:

KindleReader.LoadSample({containerID: ‘kindleReaderDiv61’, asin: ‘B004KAAADI’, width: ‘800’, height: ‘471’, assoctag: ‘kindleboards-20’});