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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Disconnect Excerpt 2

Just to give a little context to this excerpt, Adam and Mike are attending an end-of-finals party in Virtual Reality (or Virtual Conferencing, as I refer to it) for an exclusive club called the Elitists. This picks up right after they arrive at HotSpot, a popular social networking “site” on the Mainframe. –ACE

Mike plopped himself down and leaned to Adam. “Stop making goo-goo eyes at her.”

“What?”

“You’re drooling all over the table man.”

Adam tore his eyes from Vonya to glare at Mike. “You’re not funny.”

He held his hands up. “Just sayin’ you’re being really obvious about having the hots for Fynn’s girlfriend.”

“Shut up; you don’t know anything—”

An enormous sausage of a tentacle slammed into the table in front of Adam, nearly knocking over the whole table. He jolted and yelled, falling out of his chair. A large ruddy face peered at him from around his now vacated chair. One half of the face was encased in a network of wires and metal plating that whirred and blinked. “Haha whoopsie. Scared ya.”

“Watch it Arnold. You almost spilled my download.” The female avatar to Adam’s left scowled, clutching her glass and trying to steady the table at the same time.

“Oh, sorry. Hey anyway…brought you your faaavorite download A’dm. Right here for ya.” He jabbed at the table with the tip of his tentacle. The lone sucker on the end made a wet kissing sound as it attached and detached from the table. In his other hand, he gripped an empty glass tightly with all eight fingers and set it solidly on the table. Arnold released the glass, his eyes widening. The camera lenses creating his eye slid back and forth as he focused on the bottom of the glass. “Hey…where’d the Brin go?”

Regaining his feet, Adam straightened his jacket and tie, disgusted.

“Get lost Arnold. I’ll order my own drink.”

Arnold blinked, confused. He looked back down at the glass. “D’j’you drink all the Brin already?”

“No I didn’t, idiot. Why would I have a Brin when I could get a Page?” Heat rose in Adam’s chest. He turned to the rest of the avatars at the table. “Who let him get overloaded? He shouldn’t be overloaded.”

“Calm down man. He’s only trying to help—” Mike tried pulling Adam back into his chair. Adam ignored him.

“Why do we even keep him around?” He jerked his thumb at the blinking cyborg-octopus.

“For the same reason we keep you around—he’s a genius,” Fynn interjected. “Now get a hold on yourself and sit down. You too Arnold.”

Fynn steepled his fingers for a moment, waiting. Adam slowly sank into his chair, still fuming. As soon as Arnold made his way back to his own chair, Fynn spread his arms wide. “Now that’s settled we can get started. As you all are very well aware, we have reached the end of another testing cycle. Tomorrow you will all receive your scores, and for those graduating, the statistics that will carry you to graduate level and decide your career. As such, each one of these contains 1,000 credits to spend as you like.” Fynn put a thumb and forefinger together then drew them apart. A gold card embellished with purple and black lettering grew between his fingers, rotating in the air a moment before descending into Fynn’s open palm. He pinched the back of the card, pulling up and the card duplicated to fill the space. “Keep in mind they expire at the end of your V-Con session and that Commencement starts at 10.00 hours sharp for Graduates.”

With a flick to the rear of the stack, the cards zipped to each avatar surrounding the table. Adam snatched his out of the air, pulling his suit sleeve up in a swift movement and placed the card on the underside of his wrist. He watched the card liquefy and sink into his skin. A faint tingle spread through his forearm as the credits loaded onto his signature; he heard the sound of children yelling “Hooray!” and a bright purple “+1,000 C” exploded off his wrist in bubble letters, spraying the table with confetti. Adam’s hands shook, fingers aching as he pulled down his sleeve.

A chat notification appeared on his screen; Adam smiled as he read it.

Vonya: Meet you in Sector 12 at 22.00. Come alone 🙂 21.20.00 hrs.

Before he could reply, Mike slapped Adam on the back, almost knocking his forehead into the table. “Come on Adam; let’s catch a round of Code Bender in that arcade over there.”

“Don’t touch me.” Adam growled.

“Lighten up already.”

Adam took a deep breath and followed Mike out of the privacy bubble into the chaos of the club, formulating a plan to lose him.

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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Writing Excerpts

 

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Revision: Its Bark is Worse Than Its Bite

Revision is a scary word, a scary idea, hard to start and overwhelming. Over the course of the past two weeks, revision is all I have been doing and I am here to tell you that “revising is a process more dreaded than dreadful” (Burroway 341).

I have always been afraid of the “R” word. No joke. Ever since I began writing it has been a block to me. Just like with the journals, I have been under the impression that revising would ruin the integrity of the story and take it from its purer form. In this case I am right. It does take it away from its “true form”, but like a diamond goes through many stages of cutting and polishing to produce the gorgeous sparking gem we recognize, a story must go through the same process. While in the cooling stage of first drafting, your diamond is in its roughest and purest form. Don’t be afraid to chip it out of that dirty piece of coal and polish it to perfection (or at least as close to it as you can get, anyway).

This is what I have been doing with my first 25 pages of Disconnect, and I’m happy to say I now have a solid prologue and first two chapters.

Back to the quotation by Burroway, revision is harder the longer that you are not doing it. As I began pulling apart my manuscript (a feat that took a good week’s hard work between classes and riding buses), I discovered that I was actually enjoying myself. I liked returning to old work I had let cool off over the semester while I moved forward with narration from different sections of the book, and seeing how much my character and narrative had developed as I fleshed the story out. Additionally, I found I kinda like the way red lines, scribbles and margin notes look across my sheets.

When I finally finished marking up my manuscript, it was time to take to the keyboard and hash out all my notes. This was the hardest part for me. Once I had all my notes figured out, I needed to bring them to life, make them real. Seeing as my deadline was fast approaching, it took three days of at least 8 hour sessions a day to finish.

I’m going to be frank with you. It sucked. I felt like I made it worse. It’s been a week and a day exactly since I submitted what I had to my professor and still have not gone back to read what I did. I’ll go look back eventually, but not until I have made sufficient distance between me and those chapters.

Now as you are revising your own work, I would highly recommend a few things:

  1. Look for sentences that are unnecessarily long and wordy
  2. Look for descriptions you could succinctify
  3. Ask yourself questions like “Would my character really do or say this?”, or “Is there a way I can show this through dialog/action rather than telling?”
  4. Allow yourself to explore the possibilities. Keep in mind that if there is a gun on the mantle in Act I, it has to go off by Act III.
  5. Keep every draft you complete. I have a program called Scrivener on my laptop that works wonders for this. It has the option to create folders and sub folders that can house multiple revisions and things of the like.
  6. Don’t get discouraged. It takes you nowhere. If you are feeling down, go talk to your wonderful IR and they should have no problem cheering you up.
  7. Reward yourself when you finish. Why wouldn’t you crack open that stash of Cadbury’s Eggs? Or ice cream? Or chocolate bars? Believe me when I say you deserve it.
 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in On Writing

 

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Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway

Here is a book that is absolutely essential to any writer’s library: Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed reading a textbook more in my life! This amazing book is a wonderful guide on how to deal with elements of craft such as characterization (and all types of characterization therein), place, fictional time, revision and much more. Burroway goes through and takes apart the different elements required to effectively write each aspect of a story giving examples of what to do, what not to do and references to authors who are exemplary in their execution of each element mentioned.

This book drastically changed the way I write. I found myself really enjoying the activities provided for practice at the end of each chapter and I found the text to be super engaging. I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking for “How To Write Fiction” help.

Burroway, Janet. Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. International 8th ed. Crawfordsville:                              Pearson, 2011. 410. Print.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Disconnect Excerpt 1

Name: Adam Johnson

Age: 17

Height: 5’ 8”

Current location: UNKNOWN

Last Status Update: 3 Months ago

 

Rex tapped his teeth with a holo pen. This whole thing was a mess. Several power stations shut down, throwing half the population into panic. Entire communities locked down to prevent panic from spreading—

A small beep issued from the ExPC dash and a small microphone icon flashed and faded in the corner of the wide screen. Rex swiveled his chair to the right, placing two fingers in front of his ear. The icon solidified, indicating a successful link. Rex cleared his throat:

“State your business.”

“We have him, sir.”

“Good. Is he cloistered?”

“Yes sir.”

“Let’s get this over with.”

The communication link disconnected. Rex massaged his forehead above his bushy eyebrows. Even with a more than recognizable signature Johnson had proved untraceable.

Blast; he hated hackers.

 

***

BAM!

The noise echoed through the room.

“Come on, let us out!”

“It’s useless Mike. They can’t hear you.”

“This is all your fault Adam!”

“Calm down. Everything will be fine. It’s all according to plan—”

According to plan? Adam, I have no connectivity!”

Adam closed his eyes and leaned his head against the cold wall. He resisted the urge to run his hands through his sandy hair. It fell down to his ears. Turning out around the edges. Too long. An itch pricked the top of his ear and he rubbed his shoulder against it. He couldn’t remember his las hair cut; as soon as The Operation was underway, he couldn’t risk his signature showing up in the Frame and stopped going. The binders holding his wrists bit his skin. He tried to relax.

BAM!

“Mike! Cut that out!”

Mike answered by throwing his broad shoulder into the wall a third time and howling. He slid to the floor. Suppressed sobs reverberated from the walls of the cloister.

Adam breathed deeply, trying to control the suffocating grip of his own anxiety. After living almost 18 years constantly connected to the Frame, it was disconcerting not to feel the omnipresent tremor that came with it.

Out of habit, Adam pulled up the Frame Access Menu on his InPC. The white login screen filled his vision and a small green cursor blinked in the dialog box asking for his signature. An animated icon demonstrated the correct way to swipe his signature across his wrist tablet.

He flexed his right hand. The tendons slid the flexible slice of silicon beneath his skin along the curve of the binders. A distant impulse to ‘tap the Frame’ tugged his mind.

The Mainframe. The government’s base for the entire society. Adam’s brows drew together. He glared at the twisted crest faded into the background of the login screen.

The government penetrated all aspects of life, but no one was awake enough to realize it. Everyone plugged in and tube-fed information. Torrents of information through enormous webs and networks; the useless, the pertinent, the frivolous—shoved down throats of open, willing mouths. And all of it censored. Controlled. Regulated. Nothing came through the Frame without the small official seal signed into its code. Adam minimized the window. The government was hiding something, and he was going to find out what.

Adam blinked the remainder of white from his vision left by the blaring screenlight. The grey walls of the cloister seemed even more foreboding and rose high, ascending into what looked like a black eternity. Across the room, Mike’s silent form huddled on the ground, unmoving. Adam sighed, wondering how much longer they would be cloistered. He dug his heels into the slick floor, using the wall as leverage to stand.

“Mike.”

Silence.

Mike.” Adam walked across the room and nudged him with his foot.

Silence.

Adam swallowed. He knelt beside Mike, leaning over him so he could read the vitality display on the back of his bodysuit.

The display glowed dimly in the half light of the cloister. A jagged line blipblipbliped across the screen, indicating an increased heart rate. His breathing came in quick, sharp breaths, back jerking with each intake. The pulsing light trailing down the micro-coils that lined Mike’s bodysuit trembled and his white-knuckled fists shook in the binders holding his arms behind him. Adam shifted his weight to his heels. He should have realized Mike would be feeling the effects of disconnection.

Adam sighed, rolling his sore shoulders. Nothing he could do but wait until the stress knocked Mike out. Closing his eyes, he began to wonder if all the trouble they’d been through over the past few months was worth the price they were paying. He stopped. Don’t forget why you’re here, he reminded himself. Don’t forget everything you’ve sacrificed this far. There’s no turning back. You have to finish this.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Writing Excerpts

 

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“Heart of Courage”

Play clip while reading excerpt.

Brock stood overlooking the mountain pass. His armies were in place. There was no turning back, and if they were going to survive this invasion, they needed to be strong.

He stepped away from the cliff’s edge as his command officer approached him, beaten helmet under the crook of his arm. A wind blew across the two men.

“The armies are in position Captain.”

Brock nodded slightly. “Yes Gabriel. Prepare the men for the fight of their lives. There is no way through this pass except through us. And only heaven knows if we will survive. We cannot let them falter.”

Gabriel’s face was grim. He, too knew the outcome of this fight. Brock turned his face upward. Dark clouds gathered overhead, and he prayed the gods were with them.

“Gabriel. I wish to speak to the men before the enemy arrives.” Brock placed a hand on the shoulder of his childhood playmate. “Take courage. Think of why we are here.”

Brock strode to his horse at the bottom of the slanted path that etched its way up to the cliff. Placing his helmet on his head, he stroked his Gallantra’s muzzle once, and pulled himself into the worn saddle. Head held high, he rode to the entrance of the pass, where his meager army of one thousand created a barrier to protect their liberty.

He urged his horse up a new trail climbing the side of the ravine until he stood, wreathed in dark clouds on top of the arch of the pass. From there, he could see their faces behind dull and battered helmets. Many of the men were weary, and knew they would not survive this fight. Brock held his head high. The wind grew as he spoke.

“My friends, our enemy has made preparations for an invasion to take what is rightfully ours. I know many of you are weary, and we are few in number, but do not be disheartened! Take courage in knowing why you are here, what you are fighting for!! Along this path we chose to take, we lost many friends, comrades, family members. Do not let them die in vain! The enemy is strong. We are stronger. We are still standing. Do not falter! Show them we will not yield. Show them they cannot stop us. Show them what it means to fight for Freedom!”

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Snapshot Fiction

 

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