About Writers, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, Writers Co-op Anthology

Featured Author, Paul Stansbury

NOTE: Paul Stansbury’s story,  The Scroll and the Silver Kazoo,
appears in the Writers Co-op anthology, The Rabbit Hole, Vol 1.
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I have been writing for some years because it provides me a creative outlet. I write about anything that strikes my fancy, though I tend to favor speculative fiction and the occasional humorous piece. People who read my work have learned to expect almost anything. The only caveat I have is any member of my family should be comfortable reading something I have written.

I admit I am a Twilight Zone child. I mean the original series – those grainy, black and white television shows where, after an introductory scene, the camera would pan to Rod Serling for his set up for a short stint “in the twilight zone.” I was just 10 years old when the first episodes aired in 1960. After I saw them, I was forever hooked.

From my viewpoint, speculative fiction places us in a world where the Laws, those regularly occurring or apparently inevitable phenomenon that govern what happens to us, operate differently than what we would expect. In this world, the rules as we know them do not always apply. Or could it be the rules as we thought we knew them?

Speculative fiction aims to explore our world as it would be altered by posing the question: What if? While surfing the net, I recently saw a brief video about a well known landmark. I asked myself: What if? That resulted in a flash fiction story. If you want to read it, send me an email request: paulsstansbury@gmail.com.

The most appealing and freeing aspect of speculative fiction is that, like the worlds it creates, it is not bound by the traditional genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. In fact, it is not bound by any genre. It is free to adventure anywhere it likes as long as anywhere is a creation of imagination and speculation.

My process for writing is simple. Start writing, keep writing. When I experience the doldrums in the middle of a project, I keep writing. I don’t fret if it’s not the best work, that can always be fixed with the delete button. I always seem to get back on track. If I can’t think of a subject or theme to inspire a story, I just surf the net asking: What if?

I also seek feedback every chance I get. I am a member of a great writers group. Writing takes practice. I am still honing my skills. I take on only manageable projects. I encounter more than a few would be authors who want to write the next great novel, but can’t get started because they are overwhelmed or they are worried about finding a publisher before the first paragraph is written.

I prefer to write short stories and flash fiction. I have never had the desire to write anything longer than a novelette.  My stories are plot driven. I let my characters grow and evolve to meet the plot’s needs. I am not suggesting that is the right or only way, only that it is my way.

I do self publish collections of my stories through my own Sheppard Press. My first book, Down By the Creek – Ripples and Reflections, is a collection of fictional stories and poems influenced by my experiences growing up along Fern Creek in Kentucky. My second, Inversion – Not Your Ordinary Stories is a collection of my speculative fiction stories, some of which have appeared in print and some which are original.

I also try my hand at being editor. I put together a collection of my Grandfather’s stories, letters and other writings entitled By George – A Collection Of Childhood Experiences and Anecdotes, published through Sheppard Press in June, 2017. Did all the work myself: editing, research, annotation, formatting, and artwork. I will say, I gained a new and increased respect for editors as a result of this process. I did find it a rewarding, albeit exhausting experience. Most recently, I finished a similar project for a good friend to publish his book, Migrant Times and Other Musings, which was published in October, 2018.

Right now, I am working on the final draft of Inversion II – Creatures, Fairies, and Haints, Oh My! I hope to publish it in November, 2018.

Paul Stansbury

www.paulstansbury.com

http://www.facebook.com/paulstansbury

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blogging, Stories, Uncategorized, world-building, Writers Co-op, writing technique

NEXT: Writing for VR

The Adventure
Among the many ways to make money writing is to write for the media. If you want to know how to write for magazines, newspapers, television or the movies, Google it. Or get a degree in it. It’s old hat. But to write for virtual reality productions, you must have the Star Trek spirit and boldly go. The attractive thing is, you’ll be one of the early pioneers in a future tech.

The Ship
First thing is, you’ll need a vehicle. I recommend an Oculus Go. At $199, it’s the starter headset in which to explore the worlds of VR. The Go comes with tons of free software. It seems evreyone with a message to share wants a presence in our heads.

The Markets
Put the headset on and your markets will appear before -er, all around your very eyes. Tourists bureaus world wide, governments and NGOs, news outlets like CNN and The New York Times, video game makers and all manner of commercial interests. I, who hate commercials, now have a favorite one: The Jeep VR video that takes me on a ride along the California coast. I am riding inside the Jeep with  two women talking about finding a good place to surf. The camera view pans out to give me a drone’s eye view of the terrain, an experience in itself because I seem to be flying and can look up & down & all around. I go with the surfers into the water, under crashing waves and then on top, surfing back to shore. I can’t come closer to surfing and stay dry.

The Stories
Door No. 1 is Hulu’s live-action multiple choice comedy adventure about a ten-year high school reunion. The show puts the viewer into the middle of the action by making her or him a protagonist of the show.
Think about writing that short story for a sit-com. Your main character is one of the former students attending the reunion. He or she can see and hear everything around them, but can’t talk. You have to present multiple paths for your character to take. Your viewer will make the decisions for you by clicking on other characters with whom they want to interact during the story. And, of course, make many bad decisions along the way – it’s a high school reunion, after all.
For more details, see: https://variety.com/2018/digital/news/door-no-1-hulu-vr-trailer-1202798528/
And VR novels movies? Mind boggling. But that’s only because VR is an unexplored medium.

Introductory Offer
Available for a brief time only! Writing virtual reality stories is a chance for today’s writer to become a known writer in tomorrow’s history of writing. Be one of the first.

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blogging, inspiration, Research, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Story Fodder (Writers Musings)

How will we identify criminal A.I.? It is all programming and easily changeable. “Nope. I never even thought that. Nothing to see here.”

Cell phones record your fingerprints. That is a positive ID across platforms. Does the NSA capture our fingerprints from our phones?

Voices. “I wonder what they’re saying when I’m sleeping?”

When we awaken, the real world floods in and the world of dreams fade. Just like the real world fades when we dream. Could both worlds be real?

Unreasonable urges: “I must teach my cat to play the piano.”

During the Roman Empire, the Palace Guard often chose the next emperor. Recent reports suggest that our intelligent intelligence community interferes in our presidential elections. Hmmm.

My neighbor just informed me that the Soviet Union beat the US to the Moon… but their cosmonauts never got home.

I read the news again today, oh boy. China’s launching robotic military submarines. Imagine that A.I. going rogue.
Drudge Report links to an article about “Mysterious creatures frozen for MILLENNIA holding lost secrets of past…”
The UK Daily Star headlines, “Sex robot human CLONES: Chinese firm using 3D printers to scan and make replicas of REAL PEOPLE.”
Newspapers print these articles as bait. They know many many people will read them.
The market for such stories already exists.
Hmmm.

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About Writers, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Transitions

We all die. If we’re lucky, we grow old first. Just one of the many things writers must know to connect with readers. Between youth and old age, life transitions and stories happen, real stories that, when well told, connect with most people regardless of their beliefs, culture or ethnicity.

The great writers have told these stories well and great writers will continue to do so. It is worth wondering, are the stories we tell in this tradition? Or, are they cobbled together out of currently popular bits? Do we write only for money? Are we afraid to say anything others will find politically incorrect? Dare we write truths that offend whole groups? “The writer’s job is to tell the truth,” Ernest Hemingway said.

Personally, I suspect we all have truth in us. And all writers have stories that are difficult to write because their truths are unpopular, politically incorrect and offensive. That too, is one of the things that writers know. But these are the stories that last. Because these are the realities that readers know.

Write something true before it is too late.

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publishing, Stories, Uncategorized

Editors Choosing Stories

Imagine an app that lets you capture the email exchange between editors as they work to make the initial selection of stories for inclusion in an anthology. You would probably see comments like the following.
The comments are real. I didn’t identify the writers or their stories, of course. And the editors themselves, I’ll call Billy, Bob & Joe.

Billy: I find that the first read, leading to ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’, is pretty quick – just a matter of deciding if the writing’s ok and the story itself is interesting. After that we could compare lists and consolidate the categories. The main editing is obviously with the ‘maybes’ ones, but how many of those we decide to continue with will depend on how many ‘yeses’ we’ve got and the overall length we’re looking for.
Bob: I’m in. Sounds like fun.
Joe: Excellent! Send me some stories and I’ll get right on it!

Billy: Here they all are then, with names and emails removed. You can look at number #23 if you want, but, having read it, I don’t think it’s good enough to justify being included at over twice the maximum word count, even if we’re flexible.

Joe: My first thought on #23 is, we should only have to put up with writers who break the rules if they’re good writers.

Bob: I often tend to spot potential and think, ‘Ah, that story would be great if such and such…’ But it then depends how ready writers are to accept editorial suggestions.

Bob: Some of my choices are pretty soft. Shorter pieces tended to beneift from their brevity (including most of the poetry). In some cases I liked the quality or originality of the writing but wasn’t sure about the subject matter. A few showed promise but didn’t really have an ending.

Joe: Maybe on #12. I have a hard time judging a 20-page mental monologue. It put me to sleep. But, that’s just me.

Bob: You are right. Taste is subjective but there are objective qualities of good writing. A lot of the stories, even if they are competently wrtitten from a nuts and bolts perspective, are still sadly lacking when it comes to pacing, plot, realistic dialogue, that sort of thing — almost perplexingly so, in some cases.

Bob: As far as #24, I can take it or leave it. It would need a ton of cutting even if we did include it.

Billy: Yes on #14, if trimmed – takes a long time to deal with all the characters for no real gain to the story. Otherwise nice.

Joe: Yes on #47. Good story, well written, even if the hidden weapon seemed to magically appear when needed.

Billy: yes on #22 – dry and mischievous humor, nicely done.

Joe: No on #33. All tell, no show. (It could be brilliant in the end, but, my eyes glazed over before I got there.)

Bob: #48 is an okay idea for a story, but the writing is only meh, and the characters are so dull. They felt like unfinished holoprojections of people. I wish they had been. That would’ve been more interesting than the actual story.

Bob: #27 left me flat from the beginning, and you’re spot on about the ending. It was half a mouthful of nothing.

Joe: Maybe on #18. I like poetry that invokes feelings or images but I find these lines too
obscure to tantalize.

Bob: I wish the author of #38 had flipped the ending in some interesting way. As it is, it’s more like a five minute Hallmark made-for-TV special about how nice guys sometimes win after all. Heartwarming, I suppose, but ho-hum.

Joe: No on #16. Well done, but …thousands of words without dialogue until the last paragraph? My mind glassed over before then.

Billy: A minor flurry of submissions at the end, making a very healthy tally of 56 at the deadline. Now for the hard decisions…

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Stories, Writers Co-op Anthology, writing technique

Anthology April

Curtis Bausse Book a Break Short Story Competition

A big thank you to all who submitted stories for the first Rabbit Hole anthology – 56 submissions in all, a very healthy number for our first outing. Now the hard part begins – the selection process. We aim to get this done over the next 2 to 3 weeks, and all authors will be notified one way or the other before the end of the month. After that, it’s editing, revision, proofreading, formatting… a process on which I’d rather not put a concluding date right now.

But it’s already begun, and for me not once but twice: for The Rabbit Hole and for The Second Taste. That’s the title of this year’s Book a Break anthology (which will also be its last year). The title comes from Anaïs Nin: We write to taste life twice: in the moment and in retrospection. And in the anthology, as befits the theme of nourishment, there will be many flavours. With more still to come – there’s room for another half dozen stories, so if you have anything you’d like to submit, send it along before the end of this month to curtis.bausse(at)outlook.com. Maximum length: (more or less) 2000 words.

So April for me will be anthology month. All this has got me thinking about what makes a good short story. It’s far easier to say what doesn’t work than what does, which I’m not even going to attempt here. Instead I’ll let Atthys Gage give an idea – this is from the announcement of the first Book a Break competition, which he judged:

Let’s admit one thing. You may need to ignore everyone’s favorite writing tip: “show, don’t tell”— or at least, take it with a grain of salt. Telling is okay, just tell it well. Sometimes it’s necessary. You need a quick set up to get the reader involved quickly, because in a very few pages, you’re going to pull a fast one, yank our expectations out from under our feet, drop us abruptly on our backsides. Consider The Open Window by Saki, or The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, or The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke.

Or maybe your story doesn’t feature a last minute reversal. Maybe it’s all one slow-burn, building to a frantic boil. Think Young Goodman Brown by Hawthorne, or A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor. These stories play with our expectations, but you can see the ending coming. By the time it comes, you know it was inevitable all along.

Then there’s this from Heidi Pitlor: A successful short story does not expose its mechanics. Hell, it most likely does not have mechanics, rather a set of characters, a voice, an arc, momentum and a raison d’être so indivisible that to examine one of these aspects might seem pointless without the context of the others.

There’s only one thing I can say for sure – a good short story makes you want to come back for a second taste.

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Flash Fiction, humor, inspiration, Magic and Science, Satire, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Saturday, March 31, 2018

 

rabbitholeThat’s the deadline for submitting your short story. Details at:
https://writercoop.wordpress.com/the-co-op-anthology-submission-guidelines/

Do it.
Send us your best short story, poem, flash fiction or piece of an experimental nature.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
 – Zig Ziglar

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