Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Endless Exchange

Life sat at Earth’s Great Oaken Table, hands resting in Her lap as She waited for Her partner to arrive. The ivory chess pieces before Her whinnied and neighed, rustled and shouted. She smiled, watching the green, living board and all the creatures on it. Soon, a shadow darkened the other half of the board. Gothic ebony pawns, knights, rooks, and bishops materialized from thin air, followed by a King and his Queen.

“Let’s skip the pleasantries, shall we?” Death said. “We have a game to play.”

Life nodded, heart heavy, and hit the clock. Death rapped skeletal fingers against the table. Life sent a pawn forward, and thus began a timeless game.

In a matter of turns, dark knights reared, cutting through Her pawns, sieging Her rooks, beheading Her bishops, and savaging Her Queen. White pieces lay scattered beside the board. A pale lonely King was on his knees amidst a sea of blood. “I thought you’d be better at this by now.” Death remarked, taking him. “I always win, friend. Why we still compete, I never know.”

“Hope,” Life replied, eyes shining with tears.

Death smiled, realizing why he loved his dear foolish companion so. “You beautiful romantic.” He hit the clock.

In a stronghold, nuclear weapons were armed by another pawn. Then launched.

Hey, all!

I wrote this piece for the 200-Word Tuesdays Magazine. I selected November’s theme of "Checkmate." 

Thanks for reading!

Take care!


Disclaimer: Picture of Peter Ganine Vintage "Gothic" Sculpted Tournament chess set is not mine.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Writing Pet Peeves

Pet peeves.
Things that drive us nuts.
We all have them.
Since taking writing seriously, I’ve acquired some dedicated specifically to the craft. I acknowledge that writing is difficult sometimes. Occasionally we don’t feel motivated, inspired, or are just plain stuck and suffering from writer’s block. I personally see that as part of the experience and thus, not so much an annoyance, but something writers have to learn to overcome through continuous trial. It’s a challenge. A measure of perseverance against our own nature. So, that said, my true beef isn’t with the craft itself, but rather the networking side of writing.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve encountered amazing, talented writers who have been nothing but supportive. A handful will be listed below with details and links to their blog. However, what I am referring to is more of the toxic or unprofessional aspects of networking.
Here we go!
  1. Writers Who Don’t Write
This is rightly first on my list.

We all know someone who has been brainstorming notes for their debut magnum opus for years. They haven’t gone past scribbles in a notebook they take to Starbucks. They never try harder than telling everyone about their great ideas. They don’t even attempt to get themselves involved in the writing community (online or otherwise). Simply put, they expect people to acknowledge their alleged brilliance without having put in any work.

I get that at some point we’re all aspiring. We have to start somewhere. I also realize some people merely write for hobby. However, my issue is with writers who want to be taken seriously. People who want us to open our pockets for them one day and buy their work. Thankfully, talk is cheap. So cheap it’s worthless.

I am a firm believer in surrounding yourself with motivated, like-minded individuals who want to succeed. Those are the kind of people who will inspire and challenge you. Unfortunately, wannabes tend to be stuck in an ambitionless rut and are best to steer clear from until they decide it’s time to actually write.

  1. Auto DMs
These are the bane of my Twitter existence.

Everyone has gotten these. Someone follows you, you follow them, and minutes later you’re sent a cold message about buying their book, connecting with them on other social media, and in rare cases, offering to 5-Star your book on Amazon if you 5-Star theirs!
I find these to be thoroughly obnoxious and in the latter example, disgustingly unprofessional.

When I get an automatic direct message, I block the user. I don’t want spam. Nor do I want to interact with a bot.

I only buy books from authors on Twitter if I’ve scoped out their work, interacted positively with them, and if they haven’t pushed their novel on me. Online, I want to get to know an author before I buy their work. I hate to say it, but that’s because some self-published authors aren’t selling quality work like the aforementioned Author McFiveStar. (That said, I do question how some authors have gotten traditionally published, as well.)

I understand that authors are busy. I get that writers can be socially awkward. However, if you’re not willing to put in the time, effort, and commitment to putting yourself out there, you won’t have much success with an online platform. Readers want to interact with genuine authors. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  1. Defensiveness to Feedback
This one makes me cringe.

From my old fanfiction days to now, there’s always someone who asks for me to critique their work and doesn’t take it well when I’m anything less than wild over it.

I give constructive criticism. The kind where I take into consideration someone’s attachment to their work, being sure to mention all the positives, and then where I have my concerns and what can potentially be done to improve upon them. I know my opinion isn’t the end-all and be-all. But chances are, they respect it in some way because they wanted to hear it in the first place. So when people become upset with me, I regret wasting my time.

Writing has to be held to a standard. As a writer, if I have concerns with the work of my peers, I will tell them. We must elevate each other’s work, not hide behind niceties because we’re scared to burst someone’s bubble.

If you’re approaching other authors for an ego stroke, don’t come to me. I have better parlour tricks than blowing smoke up someone’s arse. Only come to me (or anyone else, for that matter) humble and ready to accept more work may potentially be ahead of you. After all, every day we should work hard to become better at what we do, no matter what level we’re at.
After all that venting, I can finally do some praising! Check out these folks below if you’re interested in checking out some fantastic authors and good people.

J.D. Estrada is one of the most hardest-working and interactive self-published authors I’ve encountered. His urban fantasy series, The Human Cycle, features vampires, werewolves, demons, angels, and more on a quest to save the world with the human protagonist, Nathaniel Runnels. But he has more than just novels under his belt! J.D. has a great variety of content including poetry, YouTube videos, and of course, blog posts. Check out his blog For writing out loud.

“The story that cheerfully breaks the rules and gets away with it.”
“Thanks to the skill of this storyteller—who concocts a delicious blend of mystery and history—we are blown away by the premise and the structure. A delight to read from beginning to end.”
“One of the best opening lines I’ve read.”
“Brilliant comic timing!”
Dialogue that shows “remarkable command over the spoken word.”
“… a light touch to leave the reader both pensive and thoroughly entertained.” 

People who should know better have said these things about the work of Dublin-based writer Richard Gibney, who compiled these quotes for this bio on Larysia’s blog all by hisself. Also an editor, he’s keen to work with fellow creatives in this area, rather than the mind-numbing assembly-line stuff he often has to otherwise churn out. He’s currently seeking an agent for his novel The Quantum Eavesdropper, and he hopes to publish a short story collection, Fade to Black, in the near future. Read his blog Ragtag giggagon!

Eric Syrdal is a wordsmith unlike any other. This Poetic Planeswalker hails from Louisiana and is a proud geek, playing D&D, Magic the Gathering, and plenty of videogames. Read his work to be taken to another time and place. And, if you’re a writer, be prepared to be jealous when it comes to his word choice and achingly beautiful romanticism. Truly, he’s one of my inspirations when it comes to poetry. Have a look at his blog to don My Sword and Shield!

California resident Stephen Cleath is newer to Twitter, but has had made quite the impact with his sincerity, enthusiasm, and imaginative flashfiction. Highly introverted and empathic, he’s a sensitive and creative soul (who would like a red panda as a pet). A Whovian, Browncoat, Wizard, and most importantly, a proud uncle, Stephen has many titles he adores. Read his blog An insatiable reader ...

If you live in Edmonton, chances are you know Azeez Ahmed. This social butterfly is an aspiring indie screenwriter and filmmaker. His favourite directors are Christopher Nolan, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorcece, and Matthew Vaughn. Azeez’s also a fiend with words, doing anything from writing exquisite poems to spitting rhymes. Breaking into the Twitter scene as of late, he’s getting into the groove of social networking and would love to interact with everyone! Check out his blog and board The Eh Train!
Thanks and take care, everyone!

All Hallows

Fog crept through the pumpkin patch, moving to the cemetery beyond Farmer Duggan’s fields. Against the backdrop of night, a raven cawed, watching the precipitation reach hallowed ground. The bird blinked, a heavy moon reflecting in its black eyes. With curious knocking at the back of its throat, it rested upon a dying branch, shifting its weight as it waited.

A figure pulled itself from the cold white: a hellhound with glowing crimson eyes. It put its nose to the earth, inhaling. It sneezed and padded to the tall gravestone belonging to Donovan Jacoby. The murderer.

The raven cocked its head.

Underneath a praying angel, the hound dug with its massive clawed paws.

With a cry, the raven flew down, taking on the form of a man in a black suit with ebony wings. The hound stiffened and looked up slowly, a snarl on its muzzle.

“The veil may be thinnest this time of year,” the angel said, “but that doesn’t give you permission to enter sacred ground. Not even for this monster’s tantalizing bones. You don’t cross our paths, we don’t cross yours. That’s the deal. And so, you must be brought to heel.”

After agonizing minutes, the raven took to the sky again, hearing yelping echoing from the cavernous pits of hell.

Image by John North/iStockphoto

Hey, all!
I wrote this piece for the 200-Word Tuesdays Magazine. I selected October's theme of "Deal Breaker." Inspired by the season, I came up with this. 

Thanks for reading!

Take care!


Monday, 17 October 2016

Dark Arte

Pure ink
Heart of pitch
From the beating inkwell
To the instrument
In my hands
Within me
A dark alchemist’s reverie
Madness spun in formula
Order in delivery
Arcana most abhorrent
To nature’s unbending reality
Let me breach
Mortal limitations
And reach
For the immortality
Found within twenty-six letters
One alphabet
A recipe
For a false god’s divinity
Structure immaterial
Turning parchment to gold
Ink to filigree
Ambition to fruition
As the dust
I once came from
I return to again
Kept alive
By the kiss of a pen

Image by Saria135 on DeviantArt

Thanks and take care!

Friday, 14 October 2016

The Waiting Room

She sat in the room.

Her knees were pressed up against her chest and her back was against the wall as she stared at the door. The walls framing the only means to escape were a faded yellow, stained with the rust of dried blood. It decorated the wall in a myriad of gruesome splattering that could almost be considered intricate. The stench of copper turning foul churned her stomach.

Her left arm throbbed in pain. She did her best to ignore it.

Footsteps came down the hall. And shouting. Crying. Begging.

She sniffled, her left hand tightened around the hatchet. Her right hand tugged at a tattered sleeve to hide a smiling wound. She slowly rose to her feet, back sliding against the wall as she braced herself.

With the rattling of keys, the door swung open. Hands shoved him into the room and locked the door behind him. He wasn’t much older than she was. She took an uneven step forward, weapon raised.

“W-wait!” He cried, face tear-streaked. “T-thuh bad man said we had to fight.”

She nodded, motioning to a rusted knife in the corner for him to pick up.

“I don’t wanna! I wanna go home!”

So did she.

But she never would if she let him live.

Hi again, all!

I did this piece for the flashfiction magazine, 200-Word Tuesdays. I chose October’s theme of “Myriad.” I was unfortunately inspired by the horrors of human trafficking. Sadly, this work of fiction doesn’t compare to the brutality of real-life.

Thanks and take care!

Again, not sure where the picture came from. If you want credit, let me know!


My act
Star of the show
Dead eyes
Pale skin
Comically large teeth
A grin as vast as the ocean

If only they could tell
See beyond the miming
Comedic timing
Perfect delivery
And flashy costume
That they’re actually watching
Houdini’s escape

Bound in chains
Around my chest
And throat
With an anchor at my feet
An Ishmael
With a Herculean feat

I pick up the roses and pennies
At my feet
Bow again
Let the curtains fall
Lights dim
Allow the darkness find me
Until tomorrow

Backstage is a world
I cherish
Comfort in solitude
Where the shackles loosen
Just enough
In a dressing room
To remove the paint from my face
Revealing Old Marley’s ghost in my vanity
Staring back
With haunted desperation

I turn the phonograph on
Listening to sad, strange songs
My rattling of chains
A crescendo
Words unsaid
And words said without regret

Falling into restless sleep
“Little Nemo,”
I ask,
“How do you reach this Slumberland
As you wake?”

Dawn inevitably comes
New tickets are sold
I am bought again
Done up to the nines
A primadonna
No ego to behold

Life is a stage
We are all actors
Big and small
Until we are nothing at all
And the show must go on
But for how long?

Hi again, all!

I did this poem for the flashfiction magazine, 200-Word Tuesdays. I selected August’s themes of “Unseen” and “Strange Songs.”

Thanks and take care!

Again, not sure where the picture came from. If you want credit, let me know!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

More Human Than Human

Sometimes our darker half destroys us. Other times, it makes us whole.
Following Only Human is Shadow of a Human, Book 2 in The Human Cycle series by Puerto Rican author, J.D. Estrada. The supernatural, philosophical, and gritty urban fantasy ushers us back into its world with one of its many heroes, Nathaniel Runnels. Transformed (quite literally) from saving the world, he’s coming undone, dependent on an ethereal substance known as egnalem. This ochre dust has a connection between worlds, as does his vampire friend, Daniel. Going through his very own hell (of sorts), Daniel struggles to alter the future while sleuthing for the reason for the egnalem’s wicked refinement into gEl, a narcotic like no other. Their separate paths intertwine as a new and yet familiar threat comes to wreak havoc on the planet again.
Shadow of a Human is a sequel that manages to be quite a bit different from its predecessor while still striking the same tonal chords, albeit with more of a grindhouse feel. It’s darker and more grounded than Book 1, but still keeps its mystical and dreamlike qualities. Mix that in with more Easter Eggs spanning across anything from pop culture to mythology, and this is a fun, wild ride!
Book 2 shows J.D. Estrada’s evolution as a writer. The writing is smoother and page-turning while treating its audience with intelligence. That said, at times I did feel like I was on a chaotic quest I couldn’t occasionally keep up with. However, while re-reading it, I found all the pieces of the puzzle fit together just right. Aside from that, the book does have the rare punctuation typo and it occasionally becomes confusing when there’s a quotation mark when no one is actually speaking. Again, it’s rare so it won’t be too disruptive.
Check out this series if you’re a fan of supernatural urban fantasies! You might even embrace your own darkness doing so.
Follow J.D. on his Twitter, Blog, YouTube, and Google+!
Purchase Only Human here and Shadow of a Human here on Amazon!
Thanks and take care, all!