Sunday, September 25, 2016

Down for the Count and Recovering - Journal

Hello Lovelies,

So, based on a few e-mails that I've found waiting for me, I know some of you have been chomping at the bit for part 3 of Xenophobia. That said, I wanted to apologize for my absence in the last couple of days.

Unfortunately, I've been in the hospital.

While I won't go into the finer details, the last few days have been a rather unhappy rollercoaster of medical fun. I'm doing ok for the moment and have plenty of follow ups with OTHER doctors now that I'm back at home, but I should be able to return to the regularly scheduled program from here.

I'm going to be resting for the evening and potentially through tomorrow. My intent is to begin putting out content again starting tomorrow (probably Xenophobia so long as I can work out a good arc for it). IF I don't post tomorrow, I promise to put something out come Tuesday. I don't want to break my cycle over this but, unfortunately, it's not easy to put out content from a hospital bed.

Thank you for everyone's patience. Again, I intend to have something out by tomorrow but, worst comes to worst. Tuesday.

- RB

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Xenophobia - Part 2

    Darrian couldn't believe the number of people before him. He couldn't think of anytime he'd ever seen so many different souls in the counsel chambers, particularly of so many different species from around the galaxy.
    While the initial discussion about the "humans" and their planet had surprised him, it was how the Galactic Consortium responded that made him realize something was truly amiss. At any given time, the Consortium could take as long as one tenth solar cycles to arrange and host a hearing regarding a new space faring species. This new one was arranged within five rotations.
    Now, standing at the precipice of the room, he felt himself go numb with shock by the size of the turnout with such little warning.
    He could see ambassadors for the Gorderians and Tulguks already waiting at the counsel tables while a massive Jigger was doing what he could to get settled. A small group of Urreaneans and Kaeel were floating several feet off the ground, discussing something in the back corner of the room. The old judge and several other Merrinians were trying to help a gaggle of Yool, Bivvie, and Cadrax to their own seats. And those were just the species Darrian could readily recognize.
    "Alright, alright!" the judge called angrily, his robotic voicebox amplifying tenfold over the rabble. "Let's get this meeting underway. I know we're missing some people but we've waited long enough."
    The next fifteen minutes was a barely contained riot of activity as everyone did what they could to get to their assigned seats. Darrian was jostled several times before he could get settled and even got accidentally slimed by a passing Yool.
    "We're here to discuss the potential of quarantine for planet AV32784 along with reports of a species that might be acquiring space faring technology kno..."
    "EXCUSE ME!" yelled a creature at the far end of the table. Darrian didn't recognize the species but he thought it might but an Olgan?
    Ambassador Uu'lassna of Planet Olanta 23 has the floor spoke a robotic voice that Darrian had never heard in the regular counsel meetings.
    "Yes, Uu'lassna?" asked the judge, looking quite displeased to be interrupted.
    "We seem to have a mismatch in data. You're claiming that this species is developing space faring technologies, yet they don't seem like they're capable of flipping a switch."
    A confused babble of discussion and questions broke out around the table.
    "I'm not sure I understand Uu'lassna. Our Merrinian analyst team has clearly identified space faring technologies." the judge said, looking perplexed.
    Uu'lassna tapped a few buttons on the console nearest to him and the holographic imager gave birth to an image of scales and feathers and claws and teeth. A massive beast not greatly dissimilar to a carnivorous lizard species in the Ijulen system, but drastically larger and more terrifying looking. It stood on two legs and was in the process of tearing apart another scaled creature limb from limb in a horrific display of savage violence.
    "These images were captured just after you sent out the announcement about this planet. These beasts might look terrifying, but I doubt they can fly."
    The judge said nothing initially but instead responded with a secondary image of his own. This time of a primitive looking urban area made of stone and metal with mechanized transports zipping about on roadways. A number of bipedal creatures, strangely smooth and weak looking, lacking any obvious natural decoration or defenses, meandered about the sides of the roads.
    "These were also captured during that time period." the judge said with annoyance. "Now tell me, what kind of imaging technology was utilized?"
    "Lightcore telescopic lenses, of course." Uu'lassna said with a colorful photochromatic display under his mouth. Not readily knowing the species, Darrian could only presume this was some kind of show of pride.
    A number of the other ambassadors trying to contain their snickers.
    "Ambassador. Your planet is 67,000 light cycle from AV32784. While LTL scopes might be useful for something relatively nearby your planet, you are viewing images that are 67,000 cycles old! Even worse, the solar rotation is drastically intensified for that planet, so the images in question are something in the range of 67,000,000 rotations old!"
    The judge was clearly livid at being interrupted, particularly with such an impudent mistake. The other ambassadors couldn't contain themselves any longer and began to openly laugh. Uu'lassna sunk back and turned several shades of blue.
    "Now, before I continue, does anyone else have anymore terrible lizards that they want to show us or can we get back to the topic at hand?"
    Darrian resisted the urge to request more pictures.
    "Good." he growled out. "Let's begin..."


(Hello Lovelies, After the extremely positive response that I received, not to mention the fun I had writing Part 1, I decided to continue with the concept. I'm not sure it's going to be an actual 'story', but anything is possible. I couldn't help putting in this tidbit though to start since the idea of looking at something millions of light years away has always amused me. I hope you enjoyed and check back for Part 3 later!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Xenophobia - Part 1(?)

    "Uughhh...these meetings always take forever." Darrian groaned.
    "I know." said Ferris with a strangely happy lit to his voice. "But at least the best part is coming up."
    Darrian looked over quizzically at his friend. To his surprise, Ferris's expression matched his tone and he looked genuinely excited.
    "I didn't know you were such a fan of the Celestial Commission reports."
    "Really? You aren't?" Ferris looked almost offended. "They're great! We get to hear about all the new planets that are being considered."
    "Yay? It's a bunch of pencil pushers talking about which ones will be colonized and mined and such."
    "Yea, but who knows what they'll find out there!"
    As if on cue, the old judge at the far end of the table banged his gavel several times to garner the group's attention.
    "Alright, alright. Now before we start wrapping up, Cherryl, would you care to offer any new proposals to the counsel?"
    Cherryl was a mousey, timid little thing a few seats away from Darrian. He saw her nervously look up at the old judge and nod a few times. Despite this, she spent a few more seconds flipping through notes and pictures on her datapad.
    "Um, y-yes. Well, if you all remember, a little while ago the surveys team identified a planet in the AlphaVirgo Quadrant."
    One of the survey team nodded.
    "Right. AV32784." he said offhandedly flipping through his own datapad. "It was heavily aquatic, if I remember correctly. Something in the range of 70% water?"
    "That's right." Cherryl agreed.
    "Wasn't there talk of colonization?" Ferris asked excitedly.
    "W-well...yes..." Cherryl trailed off, suddenly looking disconcerted by the question.
    "They must of found something interesting." Ferris whispered to Darrian. Similar whispers were breaking out all around the table.
    "And is that proposal still on the table?" the judge asked, ignoring the scattered gossip.
    "No, sir. The results from the analysis suggest...well...quarantine."
    The table went dead silent. The judge looked nonplussed.
    "Quarantine?" someone finally asked. "That planet is mostly water! We can't just ignore a planet covered in water!"
    Cherryl was hastily looking back and forth from her datapad and making little squeaks of despair. She was clearly trying to find an answer but was caught between the panic of being put on the spot and not knowing where to even start.
    "I must agree." the judge said, having regained a bit of his composure. "Why would we avoid a planet that's 70% water?"
    "It's not drinkable." Another voice spoke up from the far end of the table. Harris, the lead of the analytics team, stood up.
    "The water is contaminated." he continued. "At least, the majority of it. There are some pockets here and there, but I'd argue that only 5% of the water on the planet is even usable."
    "Contaminated?! With what?"
    "Sodium chloride."
    In the center of the table, lights flickered on and the holographic imager gave birth to a beautiful green and blue planet that hovered just over the table's surface. Harris motioned to the mostly blue sphere.
    "The water is so saturated that consumption is impossible. We simply can't use it."
    "Damnit." Groaned the guy from the survey team, clearly upset at their misstep.
    "While I'm sure we all agree that's most unfortunate," replied the judge, "I'm not sure why that would make the planet up for quarantine."
    "That's not all." Harris said, seemingly enjoying the build up.
    "That's right!" Cherryl nearly shouted.
    Harris gave her a dirty look, clearly having accepted that he simply needed to explain at this point. "There's more problems than just the water."
    "Like?" Darrian asked, quickly becoming annoyed with the theatrics and still surprised at the fact that an entire planet's water source could be utterly useless.
    "Weather, for one." Harris replied. He tapped a few buttons and the holographic imager display boiling black clouds with bolts of energy arcing in every direction. The table erupted in frightened whispering and talking.
    "What the hell is that?"
    "An energy storm. Coupled with heavy buffets of air currents, these storms wreak havoc across the landscape. We've seen them kill flora and fauna and even start fires."
    "This place sounds like hell." Ferris whispered a little too loud.
    "Oh, you think that's bad?" Harris chuckled. "How about the fact that the planet's surface is unstable."
    "What? Are we talking tectonic tremors? That kind of thing?"
    "Well, yes. They've got those too."
    "This planet has MAGMA ON IT'S SURFACE!"
    "Wait, wait, wait." said the judge. "Magma, by definition, is in a planet's core. The exception is when a planet is forming."
    "I know! That's the craziest part!" Harris was clearly getting excited. "There are these great mountains that literally explode and spray molten rock everywhere!"
    "This is insanity..."
    "Are you ready for the final ringer?" Harris asked, looking even more excited.
    "How much worse can you make this place?!"
    "The planet's atmosphere..."
    The occupants of the table were unconsciously leaning forward now.
     The table went silent for several moments as they all considered what they'd heard. Energy storms, contaminated water, exploding mountains of molten rock, and, worst of all, an oxygen atmosphere. It was like someone had taken a nightmare and made it real.
    The judge was the first person to break the silence.
    "Fine. We get it. Oxygen atmosphere alone is enough to disqualify it for colonization. Why, then, do you feel the need to propose we quarantine this barren wasteland?"
    "Because it's not barren."
    "You're full of shit." Someone yelled. "Nothing can live in oxygen!"
    "That's the thing." Harris said quietly. "The planet has a full ecosystem and even a species that is playing at being space faring."
    "Alright. Stop." The judge had clearly heard enough. "If we're talking about a new space faring race, we need to get the Galactic Consortium involved."
    There were a few accepting nods. Darrian couldn't help but feel sick to his stomach. How anything could breath that poison and live was beyond him, and here Harris was telling them that somehow a species that breathed oxygen was becoming space faring?
    "We'll schedule a secondary hearing to discuss the implications of this species." The judge said curtly. "Does your team have a name for them?"
    "Nothing official. We hadn't even realized they were there until the analysis. But it would seem that some of the creatures call themselves 'human', so that's as good a name as any to start."


(Hello Lovelies. Thank you again for all of your comments yesterday in the Open Discussion and I hope that you enjoyed this bit today. I personally am a huge fan of the idea of 'humans as the scary aliens' instead of the other way around and decided to play with it. I very well might do more in the future. Have a wonderful day for now, you dirty oxygen-breathers!)

Monday, September 19, 2016

For the Sake of Comdy - Open Book Discussion

Hello Lovelies,

Today I wanted to take a moment to talk about Comedy.

Anyone whose read my work for more than a few days can pick up on a very obvious theme. I tend to like the dark. I like horror and suspense and things that go bump in the night. I'm most comfortable when my characters have their hearts racing or when there's some kind of drama going on. Overall, the comfort zone for my writing is just in the serious and spooky.

That said, easily my weakest link in my writing has to do with comedy. Sure, it's easy to throw in snark and sass; hell, I have plenty of life experience to pull from on that one. When it comes to  experience, I've dealt with enough roguish devils with a sideways smile and a sharp tongue to make me want to beat them all to death with a lute. Yet, I don't have anything to draw upon for making a character legitimately funny.

With that said, I've been starting to look around. A chain is only as strong as the weakest link afterall and, while I can certainly keep my head in the dark and broody forever, I'd like to be a bit more well-rounded as an author. I've been reading pieces about writing comedy to little effect so far. I've been considering sitting down and trying to really watch and break down comedy movies and books to identify what makes funny...well...funny.

But here is where you come in. Obviously I can research all the livelong day (and have been), but it's always much more enjoyable to engage in a dialogue and build off the of the knowledge and the experience of all of the wonderful readers that we have. We have plenty of talented and amazing writers in our readers, so I wanted to ask for today's Open Book Discussion:

Do any of you have issues writing comedy? Yes? No? Likewise, what has helped you improve?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dean and Mort's Gym - DBTC

    Dean set down the crystal tumbler with a heavy sigh. It was empty, but his throat still burned with the scotch. His room was dark, as was the rest of the gym, except for the single neon sign that glew red and yellow in his office window.
    Dean & Mort’s Gym” it read.
    Most days, he would chuckle when he read the sign. Not tonight though. Not with the man across the desk.
    Normally, if someone asked about the name, he might recant the tale of how he and his friend Mort were so desperate for a place to box, that they went out and opened a gym of their own. He’d tell them how people started to show up just to watch them train with each other. Family and friends at first, but soon they had to charge admission and were putting on little boxing matches of their own.
    Depending on who the person was, Dean might go into more detail for them. He’d tell them about how he was the heavier hitter but Mort was tougher. He could never stay on the mat no matter how many times Dean put him down. Every time he went down, Mort would jump right back up. Every time…except once.
    “That one time.” Dean would say. “That one time it was all my fault…” his voice would trail off quietly. Theatrically. “I saw the opening and I took the swing. I wasn’t really looking. Wasn’t thinking. I caught him square in the temple.”
    Most people stopped asking after that.
    A few brave souls might want to know more. They’d listen to his voice crack as he told them how he tried to get Mort back up. How he screamed for a doctor or an ambulance, but by the time the men in white had arrived, it was already too late. Then he’d go on about how he took off his gloves and hung them up that very night and how they still hang in his office today, soaked with the blood of his only true friend.
    No one ever wanted to know more after that.
    Not one except the man across the desk from Dean.
    “What would you tell them?” the man asked Dean. “Would you tell them the truth or more of the story that you’ve practiced so well?”
    “Would you tell them about the money on the fight? Or about the offer from the loan sharks? Would you tell them how you sold out your friend for the cost of a debt?”
    “No.” he said to the man. “I would tell them I made an awful mistake.”
    “Some would argue pre-meditation doesn’t allow mistakes, only regret.”
    Dean had no response.
    His eyes drifted to the sign in the window. The neon flicked and buzzed. A constant drone that Dean had long ignored but now sounded ten times louder than ever.
    “You’re right, of course. I thought it was the right thing to do.” Dean said. “The business wasn’t failing but it was built on a snake’s nest of bad investments and back alley deals. There was never enough money to pay back the sharks.”
    “It’s funny. When you think that you’re looking death in the eye, you do some crazy things.” Dean said with a hollow chuckle. There was no happiness in that sound. It was a low, deep thing that sounded more sinister and sad than truly amused.
    “Irony.” Dean said, shaking his head.
    “So tell me,” the man continued. “How would you make it right?”
    “The gym never belonged to me. Not me alone, anyway. That was my only real mistake. As you pointed out, plenty of regrets…but only one mistake. I should have been the one to take that punch.”
    Dean felt his guts twist into a knot as the man across the desk rose from his chair. He knew what was coming. He deserved it. He’d always had. Yet he didn’t have the stones to see it coming. Instead, he turned in his desk chair so that he could see his gloves hanging on the wall. They were ugly and old and still splotched with his friend’s blood.
    “Before you finish it.” Dean said quietly. “Just one more thing.”
    “And what’s that?”
    “Can you forgive me for what I did?”
    The police didn’t find Dean’s body until the next evening. A concerned regular had called in when he happened to look in the office window and saw Dean with his head caved in, slumped over in his chair. They cordoned off the area, checked for prints, and did what they could, but never found any evidence that pointed to the killer. After a few months of searching, they gave up.
    The building is still there though. The landlord has tried to sell it, but no one ever wants to buy. There always seems to be the smell of blood and the sound of blows landing whenever you’re in there late at night. No one dares stay another night.
    And so it sits. An empty old gym with a half burned-out red and yellow neon sign hanging in the window of a dumpy little office.
    Mort’s Gym” it still reads today.

(Hello Lovelies. I hope you enjoyed today's little flash fiction. I was challenged by my friend to try out a writing prompt that she herself was working on. "Write a ghost story 1000 words or less that involves a neon sign." It was a fun little experiment for me. Personally, I think it might have come out a little too dark and broody, but I'd love to hear your opinions!)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Making Some Changes

Hello Lovelies,

So, as you may have noticed, there is no new fiction today. Instead, if you take a look around, you should notice that there have been a few changes. Some of these were inspired by commentary I received from readers, others were ones I've been meaning to do.

First and foremost, the current popular story "Smithy" now has an official main page where you will be able to find all of the book's chapters. It will be regularly updated as more chapters come out and, down the line (if and when I finish the book) it will have Amazon links and things of that nature. BUT, if you'd rather go piece by piece, all "Smithy" chapters will have links forward and backwards so that you may read at your leisure without the need to reference the "main page".

After that you will notice that we have added a number of tabs to the top of the website. Aside from the previously mentioned "Smithy" page, we now have "Don't Break the Chain", "Short Stories / Flash Fiction", "Open Book Discussions / Writer's References", "Site News", and finally "Writer / Editor: For Hire".

The majority of these tabs are pretty self descriptive and will take you to the main collection page of the associated pieces. Any pieces that are created to "not break the chain" will go under the DBTC tab. These can consist of literally any writing project that doesn't fall under a larger category. "Short Stories / Flash Fiction" has to do with any one-shot tales that won't be expanded upon any further. "Open Book Discussions / Writer's References" will act as a location for any articles that are set up having to do with the art of writing and is meant to help fellow writers. "Site News" will entail pieces like this! I.e. telling you what's up. Finally, "Writer / Editor: For Hire" is a tab for any individual wishing to commission my services.

Last, but certainly not least, you will notice two new icons there on the right side of the website. Again, very self descriptive, but the icons link to our website associated Facebook and Tumblr sites. In this way, those individuals that partake in either of these forms of Social Media might enjoy our updates and, for Tumblr specifically, our writing tips that we come across.

That is all for now. Thanks for taking a moment to read and we promise we will return to our regularly scheduled program tomorrow!

Site News - Main Page

Site News

"The only thing that is Constant is Change." - Heraclitus
 The world is evolving. Our writing is changing. The site is adpating.
Check here for updates with regards to things that have or will happen.
Easy as that.