Tap into Your Dark Side with Drabbledark

Drabbledark

It’s fitting that I wrote my very first sci-fi-themed drabble laid up in bed, expecting an alien to burst out of my stomach at any moment.

I’d been up all night, in pain, so I’d called in sick to work. I was wickedly uncomfortable, but I was also at home, so I wanted to make the most of my “free time.” (You can only watch so many hours of Netflix before the novelty wears off.) I didn’t feel well enough to work on a long-form writing project, but I remembered seeing a call for submissions for 100-word stories. 100 words? Yeah, I could manage that.

It turns out I loved the challenge of writing a drabble. It’s an exercise in brevity and succinct storytelling. And if the author can set expectations, then subvert them quickly (who doesn’t love a good twist?), drabbles are rather delightful to read.

In the end, the rumbles in my tummy were a stomach virus (so, basically an alien), and the 100 words I’d written while bedridden were deemed cool enough to publish.

Today, Drabbledark: An Anthology of Dark Drabbles, edited by Eric S. Fomley, is out in the world! You can read my mini sci-fi story, “Survival,” within its pages, alongside 100 other short-and-sour tales of dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Despite their slight word count, these stories pack a punch.

If you dig micro fiction and dark plot lines, check out the anthology HERE. It’s a fun one!

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Author Meg Archer on Humanity, Identity, and Hawk-shifters

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Last month, I had the pleasure of reading an advanced review copy of Triskaidekaphilia 3: Transformedthe latest anthology from Pen and Kink Publishing. Today, I have the pleasure of hosting one of the authors, Meg Archer, here on the blog!

I absolutely loved Meg’s story in Transformed. In “Red-tail,” hawk-shifter Ruby Vogel toes the line between a mundane human life and her other, hidden self. As a fly-by-night spy for a mysterious contact, she’s often tasked with trailing people, gathering information, and above all, being discreet. In exchange, she gets paid; no questions asked, no names, no trail to follow in the cool night air. But when she unwittingly gets caught up in a dangerous game, the huntress becomes the hunted, and Ruby has to decide whether she can really keep those two halves of herself separate anymore. Is it worth the risk, to deny her shifter side? Is she a woman who becomes a hawk, or is she a hawk who becomes a woman? Is she both, or neither–or is she something else entirely?

Meg’s writing style is sassy and fun, and this particular story kept me laughing and calm during a particularly rough bout of turbulence while I was on a flight to Phoenix (so thank you, Meg!). And spoiler alert, she’s just as sassy and fun off the page.

Without further ado, here’s Meg!

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In my short story, “Red-tail,” a young woman walks the boundary between her human self and the hawk who lives inside of her. Or maybe I should say she soars across the boundary. As one of the stories featured in Pen and Kink Publishing’s anthology Transformed (the third in their amazing Triskaidekaphilia series), Ruby Vogel’s story is about how much of the animal we allow to live in our human selves, and how much humanity can survive when we are at our most animalistic.

(And it’s about sex. Can’t forget the fun parts!)

Like most of the things I write, Ruby’s story came to me in a series of images. One lazy, hot afternoon, I watched a hawk spiral high over my house, seeing its head move as it scanned the ground. I pictured a red-tailed hawk, flying out across a city, heading towards the trees, and wondered how it might hunt in those two very different locales. And I imagined a scene near the end of the story, when a character at their most vulnerable would also find their strength.

From those images—both familiar and strange—the rest of the story began to bloom.

In a world like our own, where rare animal-shifters lived relatively isolated lives, trying to fit in with humans, always searching for a balance with their true selves. Ruby, a hawk-shifter, takes on a variety of semi-legal jobs for an employer who pays well and asks no questions. She spies, steals, and waits for the full moon to pull her out of her skin and into her feathers. It’s been a good-enough life, but she wonders if she’s destined to be alone.

Is she the only one of her kind? Are there others who might understand? And if there were, how would she find them?

Is her morality, her ethics, the same as ours? Does she have a duty to humanity, or to her other-self?

What is it like, being a solitary hunter and a social creature, all at the same time?

Who is she, really?

My favorite thing about speculative fiction—whether it’s about hawk-shifters or brave explorers of alien worlds or space wizards with laser swords—is how it is able to make a statement about the here and now while being set in some other world. In my story, I became fascinated by the theme of identity and humanity.

We all have a little of the feral animal within ourselves, I think. From the adrenaline-powered mama bears who lift cars to save trapped children to the sudden steady calm of a pilot bringing a plane down safely under extreme conditions like a crane gliding elegantly down to the water, there are moments when that strange other-sense grips us. Moments when we’re more than what we are.

We can do the things we think might be impossible, and when we are pushed to our extremes, we sometimes are changed by the experience. If that were always accessible to us, who would we become?

In the tilt of a dog’s curious head or the frantic pace of a mouse in a maze, we see ourselves in animals. We’re busy as bees, snakes in the grass, curious kittens…

We see animals in ourselves, too—although that wilder, less constrained nature is sometimes frightening when it stares back at us in the mirror.

In Ruby’s world, one shifter’s advantage is another one’s nightmare. And when she’s confronted by the lengths to which another shifter will go to avoid the change, her perspective shifts and expands. With a romantic encounter that twists and turns as allegiances are revealed, Ruby’s wish to meet others like herself opens up her world in ways she never could’ve predicted.

I hope you’ll check out Transformed and read all of the great, wildly different stories that are alongside “Red-tail.” It was such an honor to be chosen for an amazing collection. A few of the stories in particular moved me and took me on an incredible journey, and I was so impressed by the range of styles, topics, and approaches to this idea of shifting and transformation.

Thank you to Tiffany for allowing me to share a little corner of her blog’s space!

***

About Transformed: Nothing is quite so deliciously freeing as caving to your instincts. For centuries, shapeshifters have personified our impulse to bow to our animalistic nature. From lycans to skin-walkers and everything in between, shapeshifters give us a chance to connect with our inner-selves and celebrate our intriguing differences, our passions, and ultimately our humanity through their necessity of striking a balance between their human selves and supernatural selves.

About the Editor: Charlie Watson is a freelance editor ready to make her mark on the Edmonton writing community. Through her work with various writing and editing groups around YEG who deal exclusively with first time authors, Charlie is devoted to ensuring that fledgling authors have a wonderful experience publishing for the first time.

About the Series: Triskaidekaphilia is the love of the number thirteen. It’s also the name of our anthology series which explores the more shadowy corners of romance and erotica. There will be 13 volumes in total, each of which will be released on a Friday the 13th.

Buy your copy of Transformed HERE!

 

 

2017 Accomplishments & 2018 Goals

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Yes, this is how I spent New Year’s Eve 2017, and it was awesome!

Though time is a uniquely human construct, there’s something beautiful about the idea of a new year. It’s like a crisp dollar bill, fresh and full of possibility. I use the turning over of one year to the next to celebrate achievements and either reinforce or set new goals. Here’s what went down in 2017 and what I’m hoping to accomplish in 2018.

2017 Recap

In 2017, I published five pieces: one harrowingly personal essay (Shapeless), my first erotica piece (Begin Again), a politically charged (but funny!) vampire romance novella (A Taste of Revolution), and two horror shorts (He Smelled Like Smoke and The Promise). With this motley smattering of writing, I’ve realized that I’m not comfortable boxing myself into a single genre or style. I’ve embraced the fact that I write what I want to when I’m inspired to create it. And I love that approach. It seems to be working for me.  

I read 45 books this year (hitting my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal – whoo hoo! – albeit just barely). My top 7 reads were (in no particular order:

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong bite somebody else

Losing It by Cora Carmack

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Joyland by Stephen King

Bite Somebody Else by Sara Dobie Bauer

rocket raccoon

 

Graphic novels I loved reading this year include:

March: Book One by John Lewis and Nate Powell 

Paper Girls: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan 

Rocket Raccoon #1 by Skottie Young 

 

 

 

I crafted over 100 comic book flowers for my upcoming wedding.

I survived my first hot yoga class (which got up to 106 degrees, thankyouverymuch).

My fiance and I made our wedding bands. Like, mixed-and-melted-down-the-metals-and-cranked-the-metals-through-a-rolling-mill-and-soldered-them-together-and-beat-them-into-circles-with-mallets made them.

I took the stage in an amazing production of The Vagina Monologues. wookie

I learned how to hand stamp metal.

I rediscovered my love for baking pies.

I bought my first onesie and dressed up like Chewbacca for Halloween.

I did a water nymph photoshoot with one of my oldest and dearest friends.

I climbed to the very top of an exceptionally tall indoor climbing wall (six stories!).

I snuggled with an alpaca (which is the perfect way to end a list of accomplishments, right?).

2018 Goals

Read 45 books. I’m keeping this one consistent. Not gonna lie, I read some really short books on December 29th, 30th, and 31st in order to hit my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal. This year, I want to cruise into December confident that I’ll hit my 45-book goal – and then some.

Write one story or piece a month. This one is going to be a challenge. I’ve fallen out of the habit of writing regularly (it’s like I’ve convinced myself I don’t have time because I’m planning a wedding or something!) I lost a little bit of my love for writing in 2017, and I don’t know whether to blame stress, poor planning, a lack of inspiration, a lack of self-motivation, or the monster that hides out under my bed. Whatever the case may be, I want to challenge myself to meet a deadline every month in 2018 to see if I can re-spark my desire to write consistently. Whether flash fiction, a sprawling novella, or a personal essay, I need to write something every month. And I’m going to be gentle with myself. The pieces don’t need to be ready to sell or the best thing I’ve ever written. They just need to be complete.

yogaContinue to cultivate a regular yoga practice. When Bryan and I were living in Phoenix, I was really good about going to yoga at least twice a week. There’s something about yoga that makes me feel incredibly strong and incredibly calm, which I’ve found to be a really powerful combination for me. It’s also a great way to give my lower back and other chronic injuries the TLC they need. I started working toward this goal in 2017, and I’m hoping to build upon it to keep the momentum going in 2018.

Revive my blog presences. My personal blog and the blog I share with my fiance (2geekslife.com) have been grossly neglected. Again, I’ve fallen out of the habit, and I’ve also self-sabotaged a bit. There were times in 2017 when I thought my regular musings were too mundane or too boring to publish. Time to kill that self-doubt and trust that I always have something valuable or funny or thoughtful to say. Time to trust my voice.

Okay, those are the big goals. I’m sure other goals will pop up throughout the year, and I’ll go after them with vigor and an eye for self-improvement and cultivating accomplishment and happiness.

For those of you who create resolutions or set goals each year, I hope you’re off to a great start. I believe in you! Go get ‘em!

 

Author Interview with Danielle Davis of kINKED

Danielle Davis

kINKED, an anthology exploring the intersection of tattoos and kink, was released into the world last week thanks to Pen and Kink Publishing. And though I’m rather fond of my own story, “Begin Again,” which kicks off the collection, I simply can’t stop fangirling over another story in the anthology – Danielle Davis’s “The Courier.”

The story is set in a world where paper is incredibly rare and modern forms of communication don’t exist; thus, humankind has come up with a rather resourceful and…creative way to send messages to one another – inked on the bodies of couriers.

Davis’s story follows Pier, a courier who gets a lot more than expected when he delivers a message to a wealthy and handsome woman named Aubra.

“The Courier” is such an inventive and interesting story, I had to ask Danielle Davis a few questions to learn more about its inspiration and characters.

First of all, your story is absolutely mesmerizing. What inspired this particular tale and, more specifically, a world where paper is scarce and human bodies are used as parchment?

Thank you! I got the idea while thinking about what I wanted for a new tattoo. I wanted to get something important to my life, something that made a stark declaration. Later, as I was getting it inked on my foot, previous inklings (no pun intended) that were floating around my subconscious came together into the basis for the story.

Unfortunately, I knew my courier had a message inked onto them and that it was a socially common thing, but I didn’t know why anyone would do that to themselves until Pier entered Aubra’s library and showed me how shocked he was – then it was “BINGO! Paper’s valuable because it’s rare! How did I not know that before?” This was one instance where it was like I was looking through a magnifying glass at the story, and it wasn’t until I pulled back a bit that I saw the rest of the world these characters lived in.

You mention fairytales in “The Courier,” and the story itself almost reads like a dark fairytale or a piece of didactic lore. In the spirit of classic fairytales, what do you feel we, as readers, are supposed to learn or divine from your story?

I’m so glad that came through, because “The Courier” went through many iterations as a failed fairytale before it figured itself out. I think this story serves as a cautionary tale against the spell fairytale endings cast. Too often we hear “follow your heart,” but we forget that the heart can sometimes lie; listen to your heart, sure, but let your head lead. Pier gets what he thinks he wants, but it comes at a high cost.

You achieve such gorgeous intimacy between the characters of Pier and Aubra, though it’s their first meeting. What advice would you offer authors to help them establish connection and intimacy between characters?

Look at what the characters want (or think they want) and let them see some part of the other character as a fulfillment of it. Even if the other isn’t actually the answer to a character’s desire, they’re more likely to allow an organic intimacy to form faster than if you just put two people in a room and say, “Ok, now chat.”

If you were to describe Pier in one word, what would that word be?

Naive.

And Aubra?

Predatory.

What is a song that you feel sets the tone for “The Courier”?

Definitely Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman.”

Why do you think folks should read romance and erotica?

I think it’s important to be able to connect with those fantasies and desires you may or may not be able to share with anyone. It puts you in immediate contact with the carnal part of you that craves physical intimacy. While some may use it as a substitute for things they aren’t getting in real life (and then it’s a necessary escape to relieve the pressure), others can use it to heighten their own sense of sensuality in order to feed their relationship with their partner.

Where can we read more of your writing? Are you working on anything specific right now? 

My website is www.literaryellymay.com. I post stories on my blog all the time and I have a page that links to my other published works.

About Danielle Davis 

Danielle Davis

Danielle Davis is a liar, a cheater of cards, and a misrememberer of song lyrics; only two of these are true. Her dark fantasy and romance has appeared in Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, and Tailfins and Sealskins: An Anthology of Water Lore, among other places. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and beyond under the handle “LiteraryEllyMay.”

 

 

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Every tattoo tells a story… and you’ll want to read them all! Get your copy of kINKED today!

 

 

Read “No Ice Cream,” “The Remnants,” and “Bring the Llama” in Ironology 2015

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I am having a crazy week as a writer, because as of this morning, I’ve had four stories published this week!

Three of those stories are flash fiction pieces that I’ve written as a member of the Iron Writer community over the past year. I’ve written about Iron Writer before. It’s a concept and community that has challenged and changed my writing style and taught me how to craft quality flash fiction.

This week, The Iron Writer published a collection of flash fiction stories – and I’m in the anthology – three times! Here’s the blurb on the back of the book, which will explain and describe The Iron Writer and this collection better than I ever could:

“Atop the writer’s desk await the tools of the the craft. Four days and the deadline looms. Four elements must integrate the pieces into five hundred words. The pieces begin to fall into place. The competing writers will not relent and every word counts. The Iron Writer is a web-based flash fiction competition. It is about crafting short, element based stories in a competitive environment; winner take all. It was conceived out of the desire to help writers of all skill levels improve the writing through fast, fun skirmishes with other writers using elements common to each story. From around the world, writers have gathered and competed. Some are veterans of the craft; some are new to the game. Yet all of them were willing to do battle to discover if they were worthy of carrying the title of Iron Writer. Contained here are the winning stories by the current champions of… The Iron Writer Challenge.”

Ironology 2015 is a compilation of all the winners of the weekly challenges over the past year. And I am so proud to announce that three of my flash fiction stories, “No Ice Cream,” “The Remnants,” and “Bring the Llama,” appear in this volume.

If you’d like to take a flash fiction journey through a collection that is quirky, emotional, and crosses all genres of fiction, pick up a copy of Ironology 2015.

Me? I’ll just be over here eating cheesecake and sipping whiskey to celebrate!

I Don’t Believe in Resolutions

Photo by flickr user "Angle Torres."

Photo by flickr user “Angle Torres.”

Because I think starting a new year trying to “resolve” something is negative in connotation. Now, I do believe in setting goals. And if you do it right, your goals should build on successes or progress you made the previous year. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to fail because you’re starting from square one (never a fun place). New goals for a new year should be all about momentum, continuing the GOOD things you’ve already done, taking them to the next level maybe–from a place where you’re already ahead of the pack. Doesn’t that sound so much better than making resolutions?

That all being said, here are my goals for 2015:

1. Get four short stories published–with pay. In 2013, my goal was to publish one story during the year, because it was the first year I started submitting my work publicly. Invidia was published that year. In 2014, I set a goal to publish two pieces, and I’m proud to report that I did publish two–Blood Melody and Give It Back. In 2015, my goal is four, because I already have two pieces accepted and lined up to be published. Two more pieces on top of that seems very realistic but also a bit of a stretch goal. Let’s do this.

2. Be more active. Notice how that goal doesn’t mention anything about a diet or losing weight? This is because I’ve identified that I need the happy endorphins released during exercise more than I need to be a size 2. I had a revelation the other day. I get depressed when I don’t have consistent physical activity in my life. That part I already knew, but the ephiphany was that I’m a little addicted to endorphins, because growing up, I was a competitive dancer. I was naturally doping myself up on an almost daily basis through pirouettes and pas de chats. When I don’t get a hit of endorphins at least two or three times a week, I lose energy, get moody, and past body image insecurities come back to haunt me. For my mental and emotional health in 2015, I need to be very conscious and intentional about exercise. Lucky for me, I found a kickass yoga studio in 2014 and I just purchased a Groupon for bellydance classes a couple weeks ago. I’m ready to stretch and shimmy myself to good health!

3. Read 40 books. I’m a better writer when I’m reading. I get inspired by those who’ve come before me. Sometimes, the writing style of the author I’m reading seeps into my writing, and that’s always an interesting experience that I tend to grow from. Most importantly, I’m exercising my brain. Reading isn’t a passive act. It keeps me sharp and engaged with the storytelling part of my brain. On top of all that, I genuinely enjoy it. When I carve out time for reading, I feel like I’m spoiling myself. In 2015, I deserve to be spoiled. And I’m already planning out my reading list. First up, Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, and The Carnal Prayer Mat by Li Yu.

4. Self publish a collection of short stories…or at least make a lot of headway toward this goal. This is the big one, kids! I’ve had an idea for a collection for over a year now. Recently, I talked to a good friend about it and she gave me some amazing ideas for art and the confidence boost I needed to decide it was about damn time to do this. My collection will need 12 short stories, two of which I have already crafted. So, 10 more stories to go. For this goal, I’m giving myself a little leniency. If I can’t crank out 10 stories that are totally worthy of this project by the end of 2015, I’ll publish in 2016. But I want to be intentional about my work and truly start to focus my creativity into this project. It’s time for a book. And the thought of it makes me happy and excited and ready to work.

Okay, those are my major goals for 2015, a continuation of everything I accomplished in 2014. And I’m not the least bit intimidated. Rather, I’m excited. I’m ready. May this be the Year of the Writer.

What are your goals for 2015?

Photo licensingAngle Torres

The Write Place, The Write Time

Photo by flickruser "urbanworkbench."

Photo by flickruser “urbanworkbench.”

My goal is to be published within the next six to nine months. And it’s going to happen. I can feel it in my bones. I’m hungry for it. And I can’t stop writing. I’ve become a literary madwoman. And I’m okay with that.

Revisiting an old short story, See How Her Garden Grows, and a number of my college stories and essays has lit a fire under me. I had this epiphany while perusing my old works and editing them, and the realization was that I’m a really good writer and that I need to be taking more chances with my writing. Posting stories on my blog is great, but it’s safe. Why am I not submitting these stories to contests or literary magazines?

Well, now I am. And each time I hit the “submit” button, it’s a rush of adrenaline to the system. Each time I get a rejection email, I simply go back to the list of publications I want to submit to and I’m inspired again. In fact, some of my best writing has occurred on days when people have said “no” to my writing. Weird, huh? You’d think I’d be discouraged. Apparently, I’m not.  

Within the past couple of weeks, I’ve submitted four poems and three short stories to a number of literary magazines. The submission whirlwind also inspired a story which I don’t intend to submit. I want it to be the foundational piece for a new project I’m working on, a collection of short stories, because I also realized that maybe I’m not the novel-writing type. This new story pushes the boundaries quite a bit. It’s probably one of the weirdest and most risqué things I’ve ever written. I consider that progress.

I’ve researched writing prompts and I’m currently working on a bizarre one: Write about a town that runs out of its sugar supply. Of course, running out of sugar is too easy. It’s not interesting enough for me. My story will involve government conspiracy and perhaps the beginnings of a zombie apocalypse. Well, maybe. It’s too early to tell, but those are my initial musings.

The drive I’m feeling right now is like a high. And I have to admit it’s pretty cool. I’m happy to be working toward a goal right now, one that will leave a lasting impression.

It’s time. Here’s hoping you’ll be reading me soon.

 

Photo licensing – urbanworkbench