Fall is coming! (I promise, even if it is hot and sticky right now.) With fall comes Halloween. I’m working on getting ready for October episodes and am looking for Halloween themed stories.
Ghosts falling in love
Werewolf puppies trick or treating
Secret lives of jack-o-lanterns
My piece has a werewolf, a witch, and a vampire. Not that they’d be recognizable as that compared with modern versions, but hopefully a bit of a more old-fashioned tale. But old-fashioned doesn’t mean horror!
I’m a great horror wimp, so, please, nothing that would give me nightmares. I’m still recovering from Dangerous Metal and real life. Though the nightmares of the later may last a while longer still.
An Axe is a Smoke Jumper story. Look for Faye’s novella, Summer Solace, in the spring.
Mariah Avix is the creator of 600 Second Saga. A space for developing authors to explore the realms of science fiction and fantasy in 10 minutes or less every week.
Mariah writes magical tales of how technology will change our world, and technologically laced tales of magic, that probably isn’t real.
She is currently working on a series of novellas about shapeshifters who fight wildfires, a trilogy about a woman who refuses to admit that she has the M word (magic), and endless flash fiction.
When she’s not writing she walks along the rivers and parks throughout her city looking for inspiration.
A flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig. Two subgenres mashed up. Mine? Fairytale and parallel words. Sort of the princess and the pea across the worlds. Sometimes you really, really just want a good night’s rest.
I’ve been working on the studio so I did a quick round of audio for this story to test it out. (Check out the podcast for lots more audio!)
The Perfect Mattress
I woke up from another rotten night’s sleep and peeled apart the layers of reality. None of them looked all that different. They usually didn’t. The ones that changed everything slipped away from me pretty quick. I found one where it seemed like I’d gotten an extra few minutes of sleep and slipped into that reality.
I let the layers slip back into place and stretched. The mattress was fine, it was my fourth in the last year. I’d gotten really good at making sure the mattresses I selected had trial periods and good return policies.
In fact, I was pretty sure today was a day for returns. My phone reminder popped up. Sure enough. I could return this mattress today and go mattress shopping this afternoon. A new place, The King Of Mattresses had opened up, I figured I’d check it out.
One of the other versions of me might use the ability to jump to parallel worlds to win the lottery or grab power or become a celebrity. I just wanted a good night’s rest.
The King Of Mattresses went all out on their theme. The cement on the walk up to the door of the store was painted red and textured to look like a carpet. The pillars outside the standard strip mall were painted up to look like round towers.
Inside the store, I glanced around and peered through the options. An old man with a crown walked toward me, a girl and her mom bounced on a bed, an empty store, I picked the reality with the cute guy and a crown.
“I am the Prince of Mattresses, welcome to my castle.” He bowed in an obviously preplanned maneuver to keep the crown on his head. He winked and waved his arm around. “How can I assist you fair lady?”
“Nice speech.” I grinned. At least looking for mattresses here could be fun. “I need a mattress. One with a good return policy and a guaranteed good nights sleep.” Some places got suspicious when I said that, I was much better off just saying it up front. Good stores took it as a challenge. I hoped the prince would take it as a challenge.
“We can find you a mattress, have a guarantee and a return policy. What have you already tried?” He took and took a step toward me. He even smelled sexy. I definitely picked the right reality.
“Everything up to and including hammocks. Not good. Only room for one.”
He waved to a nearby bed. “Start here and tell me what you think.”
I flopped on the bed. It felt like I flopped onto the cement red carpet out front. “Too hard.” He offered me a hand up and I stood. He raised his eyebrows at me and then stepped away and pointed to another. I might as well have flopped through a bag of cotton candy. “No. Ugh. Way too soft.”
After eight flops I was tired. The prince had shown me the priciest model, the high-techiest model, the model absolutely everyone loved.
“I’m usually better at this. Usually, I can get it right in three tries.” He frowned and walked over to one near the back. He sat on the edge of it and I sat next to him.
“Don’t worry. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve never really gotten a good night’s rest.” I shrugged and flopped back. “This one feels like it has a boulder under it.” I shifted uncomfortably.
He seemed frustrated and got up and came over, waving me to stand. He hoisted the mattress up, clearly determined to prove I was a crazy person. I sighed. And then something golden glinted under the bed. I reached past him and grabbed it. “Not a boulder, but I doubt it belongs there.” It was an old-fashioned pocket watch.
He grabbed it from me. “Wait…please, wait here, this…” He nearly ran to the backroom, not even stopping when his crown flew off. I picked up the crown and set it on the bed next to me and flopped back down on it.
It wasn’t nearly so bad without the watch underneath it. It was actually quite nice. I glanced through my options. Most of them seemed about the same. I closed my eyes for just a moment.
I woke to a hand shaking my shoulder. An old man with glistening eyes. I sat up confused. Out of habit, I looked through the options of reality. In some, I was still asleep. I considered slipping into one of those. In one the prince was smugly asking me out. I decided to find out what the old man wanted.
“You found the pocket watch.” His voice was shakey. I sat up on the bed and he sat beside me. “It was my grandfather’s and I thought I’d lost it. I had lost it. It means everything to me.” He took my hands in his. I noticed the prince, hands shoved into his pockets and with a sort of sad smile on his face watching us.
“We have had so many people come through here, looking at mattresses, buying them, cleaning them. No one until you. You are truly a princess to have felt the watch, this I will never forget this moment. Anything. You can have anything, any mattress, anything. You’ve done an amazing thing today.” A couple tears fell down his face and he turned the pocket watch over and over. He finally stood and walked away, stopping to pat the younger man on the shoulder.
“My grandfather’s been looking for it since we opened. I swear I looked under every single mattress. That was really a miracle.” The young prince sat down close.
“This one. I think I take this one.” I laid back and he laid next to me. “I still get a guarantee though right?”
I’ve been a bit busy and haven’t been posting as much last week and this. But it is all for a good reason. I’m putting the finishing touches on my novel and getting it ready for launch. Dangerous Metal is a cyberpunk thriller and I’ve got some brand new things to share.
Dangerous Metal ebook cover
I will, of course, be doing an audiobook version as well. (Recording is what has been devouring my time.)
Dangerous Metal audiobook cover
Eva is happy to get her life back to normal, or as normal as it can for a woman who had half her brain replaced by a computer implant of her own making. Then Ernie, the ex who put a hole in her skull, shows up for dinner with her parents.
It isn’t up for preorder on audiobook but as soon as that is live I’ll be sure to post a link. I’ll also be giving away a few audiobook codes.
I keep warring with myself about this. Do I warn people? This isn’t a nice book. One of my beta readers called it unglamorous and a book that sits cold in your gut. This isn’t a warm fuzzy book. This isn’t about people taking a happy vacation. It is a cyberpunk thriller so it really shouldn’t be, but even for cyberpunk…it isn’t just a noir with pretty tech. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of pretty tech. I love the tech. But it isn’t a detached story.
Part of me is like NO!! don’t tell people to not read your book, you have got to be kidding me! That is the worst idea. You are supposed to tell people how awesome it is. (And it is awesome, another beta reader said it had all the feels.)
But…I don’t want someone to pick this up thinking it is a light-hearted romp. So, buy my book, but be aware.
As I mentioned I still have some finalizing pieces to do so I think I won’t likely post again this week. Podcast episode on Friday (and it will be a light-hearted romp!) but that’s all until next week.
It is Friday and that means another challenge from Chuck Wendig. This time it was a knock on the door. Never one to follow directions I went for a crash into a door. An axe. A couple peregrine falcons. A bear. And a fire.
Trees on a cliff in the Rockies
The impact on the solid pine door reverberated through the house.
Faye was out of bed and running to the front door in a heartbeat. She flung open the door and stared down at her half boy, half falcon son. His wings twitched and stretched out as they tried to shift to arms.
He croaked out the worst word. “Fire.”
She shifted in a moment. She couldn’t stay. He would be ok. He had to be.
Her husband came out of the bedroom.
She dove off the edge of the porch and spread her wings. He would stay, he would raise the alarm, he would take care of Jacob.
Faye angled toward an updraft. The gulch. There were always fires in the mountains, but fire could go from small and local to drawing unwanted attention quickly.
She spotted the orange lick of flame and pulled her wings in. Faye aimed for the fire and let her instincts take over. Her speed increased. (more…)
I’ve had a little bit of a writing oops recently. I’m not really sure how to feel about it. I feel like this whole write something fresh is advice I need to say and hear constantly. I know this is a thing. I know I get frustrated and my work suffers when I’m not working on anything new and I’m just struggling through a thousand edits.
So what have I been doing lately? Struggling through a thousand edits and not doing anything new. Even the “new” piece I was working on wasn’t really new at all.
So a writing oops
And then…Wednesday or so I think I started to get this idea. And I wrote a bunch on the iPad in bed. And then I kept waking up with more ideas, and kept sitting up to write more and more. NO! BAD! Sleep is important. So I made as good notes as I could.
And then the next day it haunted me all day. And I had to make more notes and more. And it was fun and delicious.
I realized that what I had written, which was just going to be like a throw away doesn’t matter was a later scene for something. And then I started to outline a story.
I really like writing. It is fun. I enjoy seeing the thing I have eating inside my brain on the page. I’m not sure I really like editing. I like the final outcome, I like when I have the thing that was on my brain in a form that is better than I could have imagined it. I like when I sit down to read the thing later and it makes me excited and nervous and happy and scared and whatever else. I like when people listen to (or read) my work and say it feels like I’m just telling them a story. That’s what I want. I want to share all of that. I’m willing to do the work of the editing to get it there. But I just like the writing all by itself too.
I do love that about flash fiction. The writer gives just the barest brush strokes of the world and the reader can come along and fill it in. Let’s be real. Flash fiction is like adult coloring books. We are super trendy! Go us!
If you aren’t sure I’m really happy to answer any questions. I am also very willing to work with new authors or those who aren’t sure about writing flash. If you’d like feedback or notes please let me know.
(I’m not very good at or comfortable with plugs, but I really to want to bring more authors in and help spread the word about some very cool authors that we’ve already had on the show. So I’m trying to learn.)
So what do I do with my oops?
I finish it. I don’t know that it will see the light, and I’m ok with that. It is fun, it is short, it makes me remember that OH! I like writing! And that makes me very productive in all the rest of the writing tasks.
Over at Terribleminds Chuck Wendig issued a challenge. Write a flash fiction with words from his small child. Challenge accepted. I wrote about your future. (Or his, if his child turns out to be a super sarcastic partly alien living in a colony growing up in the J cohort. Seems unlikely, but not impossible.)
I even made a quiz. (should be at the bottom of the page too) You can find out your own future. Now excuse me while I go say some not sarcastic things to work this out of my system so I can do other writing.
I looked around the room and peaked at tests. I looked down at my own. 500 questions. I was never going to finish. I only had my name on it.
“Please remember, this is not a test of your knowledge. There is no right or wrong answers.” I rolled my eyes at the teacher. She smiled at all six of us.
No right or wrong but it would determine the rest of our lives.
“Well some answers will be wrong.” Julie, who knew everything, mumbled just loud enough for everyone to hear. Jason chuckled. I rolled my eyes and my shoulders.
“Every job is important. Every position matters. Without each person and their specific talents the colony would not thrive as it does. Soon you will all be important, powerful members of the colony. This will help identify what your skills are.”
Someone made a sucking sound. Probably Jacob. I scoffed and sighed. At least when this was all over I’d be done with the Js and we’d all be off into the rest of the colony. It was so annoying to deal with these immature idiots all the time.
I sighed and looked down at the questions.
What is the most important thing in your life?
◦ The colony
◦ My cohort
◦ Discovering new worlds
Finishing this test. Not being annoyed by the Js to death. Being done with this damn test. Pff. I marked Discovering new worlds.
During free time you…
◦ Study the colony details, history, and optimizing my capacity for learning
◦ Spend time with friends and develop relationships
◦ Tending the animals
They had to be kidding. Ugh. Fine. I selected volunteering. At least my actual record would show I didn’t do that.
In the morning you notice your________first when you look in the mirror.
◦ My eyes
◦ My smile
◦ My fangs
◦ My aural stalks
Come on. Were they all going to be like this? Nothing even about what I was actually good at. I skimmed through the test looking for anything even the slightest bit relevant.
Which trait is the most important?
Diligence would be something like janitorial duty. Compassion would make me deal with the dumbest of the colony, oh wait. I looked around the room…I already did that. I marked Determination. I was determined to be done with this test.
What is your favorite animal?
Oh, I really didn’t want to end up in the barns. I wrinkled my nose. Hawks, I guess. I looked around. Jill was reading each question carefully and stopped to actually ponder the answers. They’d just shove us into whatever jobs they had open. It wasn’t like they’d let the medic job sit empty because no one was naturally inclined to do it. Why were they making us waste hours on this damn test?
Under pressure you are:
◦ A natural leader
◦ A follower
◦ At my best
Oh good. We aren’t biasing our answers at all here. Nooope. Not even a little. Where’s the question about preparing these exams?
When evaluating others it is important to be:
All over the place, random, obtuse, and dismissive wasn’t listed. Which of course just meant that I was absolutely right about shoving us into whatever job they needed filled.
B. I was going to go with B for everything. Nah. Every fifth answer I’d switch it up a little. I started checking boxes. B, B, B, B, A – oh fun!
Jacob was just drawing boobs on his. Maybe they’d make him the medic.
All my questions were answered. Well none of my questions were answered, but that wasn’t going to change any time soon. I filed up to the front and passed the test over to the teacher. I was the third person done. Jacob of course had been first. Boobs were apparently the way to finish fast. I snickered to myself.
Jill had finished before me too. I couldn’t quite figure it out. She was smart, sure. But she’d been thinking about the answers. Maybe I dozed off and took a nap and didn’t notice.
The teacher took the sealed print out from the machine and handed it to me. Putting her fingers to her lips and baring her fangs at me, she pointed out the door.
I headed out. My last day of class.
Jacob was slumped on the floor in the hall. “I’m a janitor. A goddamn janitor.”
“Hey now, you will be the second in charge. You jumped right to the front of the line. And all jobs are very important. And you’ll get to go outside the habitat. You like getting out of here right.” Jill was crouched in front of him with her hand on his knee.
“What’d you get?” Jill sat down next to Jacob and I came over to sit next to her.
I ripped open my envelope and held my breath. “I am queen of the goats.” Lead Goatherd
There was silence for a long moment and then both Jill and Jacob burst into laughter.
Chuck Wendig had a challenge and while his challenge wasn’t, stop editing and write something new, mine was. The challenge was pick from a list of titles (The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis) and then go forth and write 1,000 words.
I’ve been editing and working on writing related stuff so much I haven’t done anything just straight up out of whole cloth lately. So I took this challenge with gusto!
I’m posting here before I get all out of gusto and start feeling crummy about my work. Listen to the audio. (And for more audio tune into the podcast!)
The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis
I don’t remember when I started, mom said I always loved to go out when we were absolutely not supposed to be outside. I’d sneak past everyone and head down to the water.
My older sisters were supposed to watch me and they’d get in trouble because I’d still sneak out. I didn’t care. I still don’t. I want to be in the water. I know when the water is angry, I can feel it coming.
I never get hurt, and I bring home cool stuff I find in the water. Once, I found a really shiny ring, it was hanging from a tree branch. Mom and dad sold it, they don’t complain about me going out anymore.
The best thing I found, was a surfboard. I didn’t take that home. Mom and dad would sell it. I’d seen people surfing, but they always got out of the water when it was getting angry. They were scared.
I wasn’t scared.
The surfboard was twice as tall as me and it was hard to get it out my hiding spot.
I giggled as I walked down toward the shore with the surfboard on my head, it was too big to carry under my arms. Mom said I shouldn’t laugh when the water got angry. But it was funny just like when grandfather got mad and his face got puffy and red.
I knew the water was bad for some people and for the fields. But mom got to be mad, and dad, and even my brothers and sisters could be angry sometimes. Because I was the littlest everyone just laughed when I got mad.
Most of the people were gone by the time I got all the way to the water. I tried to remember what I’d seen people do on the surfing movies. I laid down on the board in the water and slapped at the water. My arms barely stretched across the board and I couldn’t get them to go very well.
So I got off and pushed it in front of me and swam out as far as I could, kicking my legs behind me.
When I was out far enough that I couldn’t see my house up the hill anymore I pulled myself onto the board. I tried to stand up and fell. I had to try four more times before I managed to stand up and stay up. I looked around. There was no one else on the water. There was no one I could see on the shore.
The water was very angry. I giggled.
I wasn’t sure how to get further out into the water without laying down again, I managed to stand on the middle of the surfboard and kick one foot in the water but I didn’t go anywhere. I decided I’d just stand and wait for the big wave to come to me.
It would be here soon. I did a tiny little shuffle on the board and fell in again. By the time I managed to climb back up on the board and turned to face out, I could see the wave coming toward me.
I could hear the water, it was screaming mad. I screamed with it. It was good to scream sometimes when you were mad. Mom said I had to behave and be a good little girl, but it felt so good to scream. And no one was here to yell at me. I knew the water wouldn’t mind. So I screamed with the water.
It was so much louder than I was, I couldn’t even hear myself. The water under me started to bob up and down.
My feet slipped again and I dropped to my knees. The water was much higher. I thought it would be better maybe to lay down on the board. I slipped as the water moved faster around me and knocked my chin on the board, but I managed to wrap my hands around the sides and my toes hooked under the end just as the first wave pushed me way up into the air.
I screamed and squealed. I felt like the wave was as tall as my house.
The wave kept going but I stayed where I was, I couldn’t see my house or the shore at all. Then another bigger wave lifted me up. I squealed with excitement, I was definitely as tall as my house now.
I stayed on top of this wave. I held onto the board but pushed myself up a little bit more so I was kneeling on top of the giant wave. Shore was racing toward us. The water felt so angry I screamed for it.
The wave got smaller, maybe the water was angry that it got so tiny when it was on land.
I watched the wave eat some of the trees and the little hut that sold candy for kids and drinks for grown ups along the shore. I wondered how far it would climb. I looked behind me and there were no bigger waves.
The water wasn’t so angry any more. It was almost all screamed out. I was too. I wasn’t sure how to get off the wave. I tried to think about the surfing movies.
The water smashed me into a tree. And then it went away. I clung to the top of the tree, and tried to hold onto my board. I had to let the board fall, the water took it away.
I watched the next waves come in, less and less water, less and less angry. All yelled out. Then the water started to leave, go back home.
I climbed down the tree and looked around for the surfboard before everyone else came back out of their houses. It was gone. But I did find a new pair of shoes and a surfboard that was barely taller than me.
Entirely off topic
Searching for a picture to go with this that would be usable with the right license I managed to come up with lots of dudes surfing (even though I specifically searched for girl) and strangest of all…a how to avoid teen pregnancy ad. Not even like water, surfing, or anything related. Just some dude standing there with how to avoid teen pregnancy.
Would you be willing to let an app edit you? I mean chances are extremely good you already have auto correct turned on, you use spell check. Why not have an app weed out words you don’t need.
I looked a bit for a site (or better yet an apple tv app) that compiles all the bird/bear/shark/etc cams from different DNRs, park services, and other resources. I couldn’t find one. If anyone knows of one please tell me!
Yesterday I posted about how to listen to podcasts, today I’m going to share some of my podcast recommendations. This is only a slim selection of what I listen to, but they are some of my absolute favorites.
600 Second Saga – 10-minute science fiction and fantasy delivered weekly (I promise!)
I Should be Writing – Interviews, thoughts, suggestions, support – this is a great podcast for writers who are looking to get encouragement (check out Ditch Diggers for a more harsh get in there and do some work view of it).
Writing Excuses – Billed as 15 minutes long they are usually closer to 20 but entirely worth it. I cannot recommend going back through the entire season 10 enough.
Science-ier (because that’s totally a word)
Quirks and Quarks – Canadians! – This is a great science news show. I really recommend this (and go for the complete show) over some of the other public science news shows.
Astronomy Cast – Everything you want to know about Astronomy. The back catalogue is amazing too.
The Titanium Physicists Podcast – This is several brilliant currently working in the field physicists explaining things to people who do Not Science stuff. It is an amazing example of great science communication.
(I would still say I’m not a huge history fan, but I really love both of these podcasts because they are about stories, not here’s a bunch of dates, go memorize them without context.)
Stuff You Missed in History Class – Another podcast with a huge back catalogue. Whenever I need to know a quick and dirty about some historical thing I go look to see if they have an episode on it.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – This is the podcast I listen to when I have a really long travel thing. Most of the episodes are in the 4+ hour range. Generally only a couple episodes a year, but really chock full of information.
Like knitting? Gardening? Shadowrun? Warcraft? Owning your own business? Elearning development? Other thing?
Yes, there is a podcast for you. I really enjoy podcasts for when going for walks, commuting, and cleaning.