Friday, June 29, 2012

Doing Things and Stuff

First, let me extend my gratitude to the masses who have answered my call and pledged funds to the Clarion Write-a-Thon.  It means a lot to me to be able to support the foundation and I will not disappoint my sponsors.  You guys rock.  Expect many excerpts in the coming weeks.

So, I've been watching Breakout Kings recently and its a pretty decent show.  One episode in particular got me thinking.  The plot revolved around the team's efforts to catch an escaped child rapist.  At one point they interview another child molester who knew the fugitive and I found this character to be particularly interesting for a bit part.

He was deeply troubled and admittedly guilty of his previous crimes but he presented himself as 'on the mend'.  That's an old term for 'getting better'.  He spoke about the efforts he had to make to avoid succumbing to his compulsions and that got me thinking.  First about how horrible it must be to live with a mental disorder that forces you to do something that you know is abhorrent.  The lengths you would have to go to justify the behavior each time you succumbed, and people with these problems inevitably falter before they seek out help, would be exhausting.  Secondly, I wondered the whole time if it is possible to present a pedophile as a story's protagonist.

Not a statutory rape style sex offender.  A genuine pedophile with deep-seeded psychological trauma that manifests in an irrepressible sexual attraction to children.  I know that Tim Dorsey has had success portraying a mentally unbalanced murderer as the 'anti-hero' in his books, and the success of Dexter is evidence that people can overlook a lot when connecting with a protagonist, but I am skeptical about whether people would be willing to follow the exploits of someone who abused children even if they were actively working against their disorder.  We can accept murderers as the vehicle for a story's progression but not child molesters.  On that note, would a murderer of children be less acceptable than a murderer of adults?


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Clarion Write-a-Thon

As you should know by now, I am always looking for ways to improve my odds of actually doing some writing everyday.  This blog is one example which, as of late, has been sadly inefficient.  The truth is my work schedule has taken a drastic turn in terms of my time investment and I come home from my 12 hour days pretty beat.  As far as excuses go that one is pretty legitimate but I still hate waking up without having put some words down the day before.

You probably don't know about the Clarion Writer's Workshop unless you happen to be into writing yourself.  It is a six-week retreat where selected writers lock themselves away on a college campus and write until their eyes bleed.  There have been some notable attendees in the past, both on the teaching and learning side, and I hope to apply for it when it comes around next year.  This post isn't really about that, though.

Alongside the workshop, the Clarion foundation also holds a write-a-thon.  They apply the pledged money to funding the workshop and providing assistance to the lucky few who opt to give up six weeks of their lives in pursuit of their passion.  I am committing to the write-a-thon this year, which runs from June 24 to August Somethingorother, whatever makes it six weeks.  I'm shooting for 30,000 words during that period.  10,000 will be devoted to short works that I can refine for my application to the workshop next year, the remainder being used for my current projects (a 10k word story for an anthology of the sword and sorcery genre and a novel that's currently in the early planning stages).

So, if you have money to spare and would like to support the efforts of budding writers I would ask that you check out the link below and consider sponsoring me or one of the many writers on the list.  Additionally, if you are interested in writing, they are still in need of 17 writers (as of this posting) to participate.

Link here:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge: A Tree Far From Home

I've titled this post with every intention of creating more of these.  We'll see how that pans out.  Chuck Wendig is a writer who I became familiar with years ago for his work on Hunter: the Reckoning, a White Wolf tabletop RPG that ranks to this day as my "all-time #1, run-at-the-drop-of-a-hat" system.  He has a blog (link at the end) through which he hands out all kind of free awesome for people interested in telling stories.  Every Friday he puts up some kind of flash fiction challenge to keep the creative juices overflowing and I thought I'd start participating because a) I love writing flash fiction and b) I need something to keep this blog moving while I struggle with my own writing issues.

Chuck's blog is here -

A Tree Far From Home

"Charles Donovan Pierce, you put your respirator on this instant!"

The voice was shrill through the amplification speakers.  Charlie pulled the clear plastic cone off his belt and slid the straps over his head, tugging it through straw blond hair until he heard the soft hiss of a seal being made.  The smell of ozone faded as the device did its work, filtering out the elements that might be troublesome.  The taste lingered, though, like sucking on a penny that had been electrified moments before.

"Sorry, Ma." he said, his own speaker amplifying the volume.  Tearing his eyes away to look at her was so difficult, so unwanted.

"Damn right, you are.  We haven't been here a week and already you're traipsing around like you're on the back forty." Vivian said, her frown visible but twisted unnaturally by the plastic of her mask.  She crunched through the grass, her suit slick with moisture.

"It's just..." Charlie began, his mind struggling for the words as he turned back to the tree, it's bent form swaying so soothingly in the soft argon fog.  "It's so like home, ya know.  The grass, the trees...well, most of them."  His mother reached his side and motioned upwards with a sweep of her hand.

"What color is that sun, boy?"  Charlie didn't have to shift his eyes to know the answer.  He'd stared up at it for hours when they first arrived, amazed at shimmering light it created.

"Blue, ma'am." he replied, reaching out towards the twisted branches of the tree in front of them.  His mother's hand was on his wrist in an instant, pulling it back.

"Right, because this isn't Earth.  You don't know what is out here.  How dangerous it could be." she said, her fingers tightening.

"But, Ma, the scientists said it was ok to breathe here for an hour." he said, his eyes locked to the thin green foliage on the spidery boughs.  A quick tug pulled his attention back to his mother's face.

"I don't care what no scientist's say.  You don't leave the tent unless your father or I give you permission."  she said, her voice tight with anger.  Charlie's eyes seemed to focus at that, pupils constricting as fear of his father's anger flooded his body with hormones.  "Are we clear?"

"Yeah...yes, ma'am.  I understand." he managed between deep gulps of air.  Her hand slid loose of his wrist and she set it on his shoulder instead, the rubberized plastic of his suit rippling at her touch.

"We just don't want anything to happen to you, Charlie.  This isn't home.  We have to be more careful here."  A slow push turned him around and he spared a glance towards the tree as they started back.  It was strange...he couldn't see now why he'd found it so fascinating.  He smiled to his mother as she continued.  "We have a few more holes to dig before he can plant the supports for our habitat but once that's done I thought we might break out the ice-cream your father freeze-dried before the trip."

The tree watched them go.  It slowed the swaying of its branches and let the mist dampen them again.  The chemicals in its leaves ceased to mingle, breaking rapidly down into their respective components.  It was a missed opportunity, to be sure.  The boy had been so close, so deeply entranced by the pheromones.  A minute longer would have been all it would need to finally see what these new creatures tasted like.

The tree sighed, though it only appeared to shudder in the wind from the outside.  It had been new to this place once, too.  Fresh from across the blackness of space when it was but a child, eager to plant roots and entice prey.  The setback was of little consequence.  They would be back, poking the ground with their strange devices and it would be there waiting for them.  So eager to explore, these beings were.

It would sleep until then.  Sleep despite the gnawing in its roots, the pangs of undernourishment.  Hunger did not sit well with its kind, and it had waited so very long for a meal.