“Power Unlimited” is in Daikaijuzine’s Anguirus Issue

Those wonderful, brave, and intelligent folks at Daikaijuzine published my short story, Power Unlimited, today. These are the wonderful, brave, kind, and intelligent folks who published another of my short stories, Cold War, last September.

 
Power Unlimited originally appeared in the April 1992 (and now defunct) ARAASP and my self-published anthology, Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires V1 2016.

Daikaijuzine’s editors and publisher have exquisite taste. Don’t you think?

 
The story behind the story Continue reading ““Power Unlimited” is in Daikaijuzine’s Anguirus Issue”

The Last Drop

The following piece started life as an exericise in mood, atmosphere, and tone.

I’m waiting for some first readers to get back to me on it. One first reader offered, “I got a sickening chill when I got to the end.”

Hurray! I won!

Let me know what you think.


The Last Drop


People use to come from miles around to watch my father pour gas. He could pour gas through the eye of a needle into a siphon-tank without spilling a drop. They’d come, their near empty gas cans on the back of their buckboards, the cans braced all around so they wouldn’t fall over, spill, slosh around.

There were special gas pouring days back then and dad was the only one in our country who had a license to pour.

It was a wondrous thing to watch. He’d put one can on the ground in front of him, walk around it a few times, maybe put his hands on his hips or cross them over his chest and lift one hand to stroke the stubble on his chin, considering. Real difficult pours, he’d get down on his knees and hands, put his head down at ground level, looking around the can, checking for balance; would the can teeter as it filled? Would it slide as it neared full?

Then he’d start with a single, small, drop. A “test drop,” he’d call it. Everybody held their breath. He’d check the neck of the can after the test drop, make sure there was no spillage.

Warm days were the worst. Everybody’d have to stand back lest the fumes got inhaled. Couldn’t have that. Other pourers weren’t as careful as my dad. The fumes would escape and everybody’d have to go see the magistrate, explain what happened. Why weren’t proper precautions taken? My father never had to face that, never had to worry about asking the community to make a decision; make them decide what value would this person bring us? Is their contribution moving forward worth the gasoline fumes now resting in their lungs, in their blood? We can extract the fumes, reconstitute the gasoline, but the person would die.


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The Grand Ture

The following piece has been in my unfinished pile since April 1991 (and probably predates that by a few months). It’s gone from 5,000 words to its present ~775. The core idea has remained throughout, it’s framing and presenting it properly that’s taken me years to figure out.

I’m waiting for some first readers to get back to me on it. Let me know what you think.


The Grand Ture


Mace stepped out of his tractor and into the early August heat of the Boston blast zone. He listened for the ocean. It shouldn’t be too far away. Much of Boston was landfill and the bombs – the big ones hidden for years in abandoned buildings – caused the sea to reclaim its own. The stench of The Charles entered him like swallowed bile and he watched the waves come up from the east, from the Atlantic, as if the ocean pushed The Charles’ filth back, refused it, said, “No thanks, those bodies and wrecks are yours, keep them to yourself. I don’t need them.”

The young girl’s voice called him from the bunker. “Hello? I’m not going to open the door until you tell me who you are.”

Mace lifted his service pack out of the tractor, strapped it on his back, and tightened its belt around his narrow waist.

“Hello? Can you hear me?”

Just inside the tractor’s door, on the right and only visible when the door’s pneumatics opened it fully, rested like a high-resolution mezuza; a photograph of a little girl, her arms raised and waiting to be lifted in someone’s arms, her eyes and smile open and wide, her blonde hair caught in some wind.

Mace’s fingers went from his lips to the photograph and he tapped the door to close.

“Hello? I know you’re out there. Who are you? Answer me!”


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To-ing and Fro-ing

We’re going to build on elements from Using One-Line Summaries to Write Better Stories and Flashback as Story Frame to deal with another story challenge that often leads editors and publishers to stop reading and reject a story: To-ing and Fro-ing, something I first wrote about in Quit Stage Directing.

Simply put, To-ing and Fro-ing occurs when the writer/author has their characters move around or do things for no real story purpose; there’s no character development, no character revelation, the atmosphere doesn’t change, no plot elements are furthered or revealed, the movement is irrelevant to any established or impending plot points, the movement is unnecessary to the dialogue, et cetera.

The end result is weak writing, exposition, narration, and lots of uninteresting things happening just to fill the page. Most writers/authors fall down on “movement is unnecessary to the dialogue.” They’ll have two or more characters talking and feel the characters should be doing something while they talk.

The desire to have characters do something while talking is good, the execution is usually poor, and now we’re dealing with attribution via action which I’ll cover in another post.

Eating my own dogfood
I’m currently editing Cicatrix, a work-in-progress last picked up and put down in late Feb 2019.

What follows is the ninth scene in the story. I’ll share the scene’s original form first with brightly colored “Problems” buttons after each weak paragraph. Click on the “Problems” buttons for examples of that paragraph’s problems. Next I’ll share share a rewrite with brightly colored “Solutions” buttons. Click on the “Solutions” buttons for explanations of why the rewrite is better.

PS) this is more for my edification than yours. Feel free to disagree. Please make sure you explain your disagreement and offer suggestions for improvement. Always happy to learn, me.


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Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone. Enjoy!

AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JOSEPH CARRABIS

Elizabeth Chatsworth, kind, gentle, and giving person she is, interviewed me and published our exchange at AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JOSEPH CARRABIS.

We talked about

  • My The Augmented Man novel and how the story originated
  • The bizarre path to publication (took 31 years)
  • My sister, Sandra, and her influence on my work
  • My author heros
  • Favorite scenes, favorite characters, and my writing process.

Enjoy!