Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Newsday Two-Hundred

(Image by Chris J. Fries, using a template from Presentation Magazine)

I've been toying with the idea of creating a recurring theme post, and thought this might be a fun way to do it -- how about a (semi) regular Tuesday post, which features some original blog-exclusive writing?  Like maybe a 200-word story?

Two-hundred words offers more room for expansion than the stories I've written for 50-Word Stories, but it is still much in the same vein -- it would be a snippet of a story in exactly two-hundred words (not 199, not 201). This would allow a little more creative possibilities, still be short enough to be able to put one together consistently, provide a little exercise for my writing muscles, generate original content for my blog, and yet not cut too deeply into my limited time for my other creative writing and my music. And at only two-hundred words, it would hopefully not demand too much time out of my busy blog visitors, either.

So I think it sounds like a fun thing to try.

But what to write about??? 

Hmmmm....  Well, how about using the news as inspiration?  Maybe I can find something for each post in the recent news and give it a twist, or simply use it as inspiration for a fictionalized piece.  I mean, it's worked for Law and Order for years, right?

So then this would be a Tuesday, Newsday, Two-Hundred-wordplay post.

Sounds like a plan!

Well, let me give it a try and offer the piece below, which is based closely on an article I found in the recent news.  I call it "Crazy in Love", and I hope you enjoy it.  To find the source of the story, you can visit the original news article via the link at the end. 


Crazy in Love 

The wedding will be small and intimate -- an understated ceremony, performed with guarded restraint. 

The young bride is ready to be committed, and eager to be the star of the day. "This is what’s right for me," she says. "This is what I was born for.” 

The groom is older. A bit jaded. It's not his first wedding and he's never been one for ceremony. He grumbles about the whole thing. "That's trash," he says. "We're just playing that for public consumption."  But if his bride wants it, he'll go along. It's not like there's any risk of him running off. His intense emotions have kept him a prisoner. 

Secretly, he doesn't really mind the attention. Having an audience has always given him a certain gleam in the eye.  Even the playful way he lays a finger against his nose in the engagement picture captures his flair for the spotlight.

Unfortunately, there won't be a honeymoon. The bride would love to get away with her new husband, but she knows that sometimes life puts up bars against what she wants. 

So the newlyweds will make do.

When you're crazy in love, you don't let anything stand in your way.

(Source News Story from UPI:  Qu'est-ce que c'est?) 


Thank you for reading!  

I also hope that everyone of my US readers has a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving this week!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rejection, Writin', and Reggae

A while ago, I made a post and mentioned that I'd submitted my science-fiction short story "Apologies" for consideration of publication.  Well, as happens to virtually all writers at some point, my story was rejected.  I didn't get a lot of details -- just a form e-mail that essentially said it just "wasn't right for us at this time."  I confess that it's frustrating, but at least their turn-around time was relatively quick.

(image from Wikimedia Commons)
I could take it personally, or choose to feel dejected, or decide that it means that I am a complete failure as a writer.  But I don't think any of those would do me any good.  Rejection is part of a writer's life. And it's certainly not the first time it's happened to me. Nor will it be the last.

Because I choose to keep on writing.  "Apologies" is going back out again to another potential publisher, and I'm (slowly) working on several other writing projects, including an idea for a novel that won't go away, no matter how hard I try to convince it that I simply don't have the time.

But in the spirit of "keep on writing." I also have another Prehistoric 50-word story to share.  I really appreciate all the kind words of support in the comments from my last post where I talked about submitting two micro stories to Tim Sevenhuysen's 50-Word Stories for the upcoming Prehistory Contest.  So I thought you might like to see another one. Here's a second story that didn't make the cut -- a visit once again with Oona and Og: 


The Birth of Literacy

Oona found Og gouging the cave wall with a rock.

Exasperated, she sighed. "What are you doing?"

"I call it 'writing'," Og said. "Each symbol represents something. Now mankind's greatest thoughts can be preserved for millennia."

"Uh-huh. So what's this squiggly one?"

"I call that a 'LOLcat'. Isn't it cute?"


(image from wikiloops.com)

And finally, since I haven't made a musical post in a while, let me offer you a piece from wikiloops where I added two guitar tracks to a reggae jam. The original drums were done by the user "nofish," keyboards were then added by user "rastafari", and the user "Carpenter" added bass.  I added a rhythm guitar track and a lead track.  I called it "Rasta Reggae Redux" since the previous version of the Jam was called "Rasta Reggae." You can listen to it HERE or click on the icon.

Because the jam was so structured and full, I didn't want to clog it up with too much guitar. And the horn fills in the middle break were so cool, I wanted to complement them instead of overpower them.  So this is a track that shows that I don't have to layer tons of improvised guitars to a piece, that a coherent part designed to be part of a tune can also be a lot of fun to do, and that many times -- just like in writing -- less is more.

Thank you very much for reading and for listening -- I really appreciate it!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Prehistoric Brevity

(Image by Chris J. Fries)

One of the first (OK, one of the ONLY) places I've had some of my writing accepted is at 50-Word Stories, a site created by Tim Sevenhuysen that features daily doses of micro-fiction.  Specifically, fifty-word stories, as you might have guessed from the name of the site.

Over the time I've been an off-again-on-again struggling writer-in-development, I've really liked working in the very-limited space a fifty-word story gives. Maybe I'm weird (OK, there's no "maybe" about it), but I find that limitations and constraints often-times tend to actually help spark my creativity.

Although I haven't lately, in the past I had written many pieces and submitted several for consideration of publication, with some success: My entry "A Trashy Story" was one of the winners of a 50-word contest Tim hosted at GeekingOutAbout.com; I've submitted entries for past "Pirate Week" events (HERE and HERE); and my story "Expectations" remains as one of the top-ten rated stories on Tim's site.

Well, guess what?  Tim's having a new contest -- A Prehistory Contest.  And I've been playing around with a few 50-word stories and am submitting two.  I wrote several, but two is the maximum that a single writer can submit.  The contest is accepting entries up until November 23rd (so if you're interested yourself, you need to be quick about it). I'll let you know how my entries do.

But in the meantime, I can also offer you one of the stories that I didn't think was quite as good as the two I actually am submitting:


Log Potato

Oona was disgusted. 

Og sat transfixed, mouth agape, staring at the flickering sparks. He'd been there all afternoon.

"So where's our meat for dinner, oh great hunter?" Oona asked. "And our new furs?"

Og just grunted.

Oona shook her head. She was starting to wish that she'd never discovered fire.


Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wha Da Funk?

(Image from Wkikimedia Commons)

For another musical piece to share on my blog, let me offer the latest thing I've created.  This is something I call "Wha Da Funk".

It started as another wikiloops jam -- the original drum and bass track was done on wikiloops by members "Baer" and "FunkT." It's an older track I found when I was looking for something to jam against.  The original backing track on wikiloops is HERE.

I loved the beat and that slappin' funk bass by FunkT, and thought this would be a blast to jam to. So I downloaded the track a while ago and started messing around with it.  But my original intent to just add a guitar track or two kind of expanded.

In the end, I came up with this -- take a listen:

(Note that if for some reason you cannot play the embedded SoundCloud mp3 above, you also can go directly to SoundCloud and find the track HERE, or listen to it on wikiloops HERE.)

So do you hear a lot of different guitar parts?  You should -- there are eleven distinct tracks of them:

  1. First rhythm guitar -- lots of chorus and heard in the first bit of the song.
  2. Second rhythm guitar -- doin' the wah-wah funk rhythm, transitions over from the first rhythm.
  3. Base melody guitar -- at the beginning, and returns for the other times the melody line is heard.
  4. Third rhythm guitar -- long chord strums deep in the mix, but also does melody an octave lower.
  5. "Metal" section first rhythm guitar -- mixed to the right channel.
  6. "Metal" section second rhythm guitar -- mixed left.
  7. Delay-heavy 3rd melody -- heard 2nd and 3rd time of melody, and before the metal section.
  8. High 4th melody -- highest octave part, distorted, at 2nd and 3rd time, also adds fills before metal section.
  9. "Metal" lead -- freak-out guitar soloing over the "metal" section.
  10. First lead -- doubles melody parts and also does the cleaner lead parts.
  11. Second lead -- also doubles melody. The reverb-heavy distorted guitar lead parts.

There is a lot of mixing and fading in and out going on in this piece. But I hope it's not all just a mass of sonic confusion -- there's never more than three or four guitars heard at the same time.

As you can probably tell by now if you've listened to any of my other musical pieces, I love to blend different parts and add a variety of tones to a song to make it interesting.  Adding a heavy freak-out guitar section to a funky track like this might not make sense to everyone, but it does to me. :)

Yet I also wanted to have a cohesive, unified feel to this piece, which is why I created that melody line that is returned to.  And the lead guitars come and go, but both return at the end. I think this helps tie everything together.  So the overall feel is hopefully one of exploration and unexpected twists, but also with a sense of resolution and completeness.

So what do you think?

As with probably everything I'll ever do, I hear parts that I could perhaps "make better" (see my previous IWSG post), but as a whole, I think this tune worked out pretty well.  It was certainly a lot of fun to put together.

I hope you like it, but if nothing else, I hope the power of da funk comes through enough to get your toe a'tappin'...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My First IWSG Post -- Sorry If It's Not Good Enough

IWSG Badge 

I've been blogging for a while. In my blogging life, there have been many fits and starts, stops and gaps, endings and beginnings, and even a reboot of my whole dang blog.  So I've been around the blogosphere long enough to have seen many, many Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) posts. On the first Wednesday of every month, hundreds of writing blogs bloom with the above badge as writers post about their insecurities, commune with other IWSG bloggers, share commiseration and support, and generally saturate the writing corners of cyberspace with a mix of artistic angst and altruistic allegiance.

The brainchild of blogging phenomenon Alex J. Cavanaugh -- talented writer of the excellent "Cassa" series of science-fiction novels (CassaFire, CassaStar, and CassaStorm); ninja captain to an ever-growing band of blogging brethren; omnipresent commenter on an endless sea of blogs; and all-around great guy -- IWSG has evolved from a small support group of a select few writers to a blogroll of 350 members.  It has even outgrown Alex's blog and now has its own web site.

I've always admired the thought behind the IWSG and greatly respect Alex for starting it. Over the time I've been blogging, I've grown to really appreciate it, and like reading the many monthly posts. I think it is wonderful to learn that writers everywhere share the same basic fears and insecurities; to know that many have actually overcome those fears to achieve success; and to see the kindness and support they share with the new wanna-be's who are dipping their first toes into the turbulent waters of writing. 

But I've never taken part.

Until now.

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long. Maybe it's because I wanted to avoid the pressure of HAVING to blog a certain thing at a certain time.  Maye it's my general distaste for me-too-ism -- I usually try to avoid the herd, and I certainly never want to be one of the last ones signing up for the next-big-thing.

Well, maybe...

But it could also be that perhaps I've thought that I might not have much to say compared to all the great IWSG posts I've read over the many months of its existence. Or that I could never say it as well as so many others already have.  Or that no-one would even be interested in whatever inadequate, fumbling thoughts I might try to post on my small, unheralded backwater of the blogosphere.

Uhhh... Wait a minute...

Has the dreaded "it's not good enough!" monster made me too insecure to even sign up for the insecure writers support group!?!?

Oh, the irony!

Well, no more.  

When it comes to my writing -- or any creative thing I try to make -- I may never be able to completely eliminate that nagging inner voice of self-doubt, that annoying tummy-flutter of insecurity, that heart-stopping vision of being either ignored or berated as being not-good-enough!!!  

But I can damn well not let it stop me from writing and creating anyway. 

And I can absolutely not let it stop me from letting me from taking part in a support group meant to combat it, fer cryin' out loud.

So here I am.  Joining the IWSG, adding my voice to the community of writerly support, and making my own very first IWSG post.

...sorry if it's not good enough.