Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Prize

A rainy March is coming to an end, but being indoors gave me ample time to write. Flash Fiction World published my humorous flash fiction story "The Prize" which takes place at the Academy Awards. If you read it, I encourage you to explore some of the other stories, with a limit up to four hundred or a thousand words. Flash fiction is an art in itself. On this website, there are some rules around writing these sort of pieces. For example, telling is better than showing in order to maintain brevity. Metaphors and similes are unnecessary. Contractions also are useful to keep the word count low. However, flash fiction should also be a complete story with conflict and a conclusion. Plot is paramount.

In a world that seems to spin faster and faster, flash fiction has a role in delivering entertainment in snack-size bites.

Flash Fiction World runs quarterly competitions for new and experienced writers. For those who may be experiencing writer's block, writing flash fiction may give them a different approach and fresh perspective.

Inspiration for writing comes from many different sources. I continue to fine-tune my editing skills and look for opportunities to publish my work. If you have any suggestions of good places online to sending writing, please leave a comment here.

Sometimes payment isn't only limited to dollars but to exposure and a feeling of accomplishment to be acknowledged by the public, by editors for other websites or through comments from readers.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cursed Drum of Julius and a thank you

A UK writer Cleveland W. Gibson sends me an email once in awhile about opportunities to be published online. Some of the sites he suggests are in the UK but others are elsewhere.

I met him years ago when I joined zoetrope.com. At the time, I was discouraged about my writing and he and I wrote a poem together. I really appreciate his ongoing support and thank him in the introduction of my memoir, My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness. 

Sometimes it takes the encouragement of one or a few people to guide someone to accomplish a goal. A voice saying, "you can do this or try this," is a much needed nudge.

He also showed me that being a writer means you need to write often. I realized I need to keep generating ideas and work on the craft but also focus on the process, because the process is where magic happens. It's a journey of discovery and learning and using life experience and knowledge to grow stories. Writing is a lifestyle not only a profession.

Gibson has written 200 stories and poems, including two published books, Moondust and Billabongo, which are available on Amazon. Here's the poem we wrote together.

Cursed Drum of Julius 

In the darkness, the battle ended, the dead and dying bled,
Romans filled the drum of Julius, the cursed drum of lead.
The wild-eyed soldiers in the lion's den passed it all around
To create the undead, they spat hot blood full upon the ground.

Buried deep within the Earth, the blood sought out the secret curse,
As a scarecrow, I felt terror then the shock of something worse.
It awoke in me the taste for blood to kill the pure of heart.
The dark of night gave me life; from the field, I could now depart. 

The years slipped by relentlessly controlled by a vampire's will;
I saw the girl in pure white, the one I loved but had to kill.
No slip of knife or tight scarf around her throat so very pale;
Thirsty, I sank my fangs into her flesh, silencing her wail.

The hunters roused in rage, their bows primed, dogs barked thro’ out the night.
Fearfully, I faced the pack, unable to escape or fight.
They lit the corn, engulfing me in flames-- revenge has its price.
With heat so fierce, I felt the sheer pain, the end to all my vice.

My remains, a demented scarecrow, a mute, a troubled mind.
My best victim, the girl in white destroyed, the last of her kind.
With the curse to kill or lust for young girls’ blood taken away,
Finally I could rest, my ashes left to rot and decay.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Caught in the act of offering Hell's Fire for free

So about a week ago, I wrote a blog about whether or not writers should give away their books for free. One person commented that book giveaways are good for getting reviews and getting one's name out there. If someone doesn't read your work, how will others know the quality of one's work? Also, this person said that if your book does well as a free download over a 24 hour period, the author may receive bestselling author status.

My response was that she was right, but there's a difference between giving away books for reviews versus giving away a free book to everyone.

So I went on my merry way, until I received an email from Smashwords who are having a Read an Ebook Week from March 4-10th. Authors are invited to sell their books at a discount or for free for a week. It sounded like a good promotional tool.

So now I was in a quandary. Would I lose credibility if I were to give away my 99 cent science fiction novella Hell's Fire for free? Would I stand to lose thousands of dollars? No, very doubtful! Would I feel good if people were interested enough to download my book? Yes.

So there you have it. I'm jumping on the bandwagon and joining the free ebook frenzy. Maybe I wasn't totally right the first time. I'll give it a try. Thanks, Malika!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Should I buy an iPad or e-reader in lieu of a vacation?

I had lunch with a friend who is going to Mexico on Saturday for a week's holiday. I know a lot of people that fly to different places around the globe to experience different cultures, environments and people.

Because I don't travel much, I found myself with some money saved up. It's been on my mind that I'd like to buy an iPad or e-reader in lieu of a vacation.

First, I would have to know exactly what purpose I have in mind. Would it be used mostly for reading e-books or do I want to access email or work on documents or watch movies? Originally, I thought I'd like to read, answer email, surf the internet, and work on documents. I considered if would be best to purchase an iPad. I've always liked Mac and own an iMac computer. I found out that Microsoft will release an Office app for the iPad this year which is good news for me as I do a lot of word-processing as a writer.

However, the iPad isn't recommended for editing long documents said one reviewer. If you link up a keyboard to type and free up screen space for viewing your document, you have to bounce back between using the touch screen and the keyboard. I'm still used to using a mouse so I'd have to adapt. iCloud stores all your music, photos, documents, etc. and transfers them to all your devices, so if I download an iTunes song on my iPad, it will show up on other devices and vice versa.

But what about other devices? The more research I did on the Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Blackberry Playbook, and iPad, the more confused I became. Kindles are lower in price and compact but have limited functions. If you have Wi-Fi access you can stream your movies and music to Amazon.com cloud and only store apps, books, email and docs and images on your device. The Nook reserves part of its storage for Barnes and Noble purchases. As I'm already linked to Amazon, it would make sense to go with a Kindle if I want something less expensive but then there's the question of compatibility to what I have now.

So I'm not sold on any of them yet. Maybe I should wait for iPad 3.