Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Beneath the Surface of the Soil (experimental fiction, 1092 words)

They had grown comfortable in each other’s skins, like old friends having lived together for a very long time. They weren’t married, but in many ways they were like an older married couple. Although they had never enjoyed their silver or golden wedding anniversary, had never even lived together or gone on a date, they were right for one another. Despite their close bond, their relationship was not sensual, never sexual. It simply was, like the bond of old friends who were closer than siblings. And the strange thing was that they’d never met, not once, except in the ether of cyberspace within a private web office called Liquid Imagination.

She had heard these words many times before: Why don’t you do the things you used to? And, Why can’t it be like it was before?

She would just smile and nod her heard knowingly, then turn away to tend her garden. When asked what she’s doing, the gardener would speak of planting things not yet discovered; she would speak of things that hadn’t grown up out of the ground: invisible things, living things planted deep in the soil of this private web office.

“Why does it have to be like it was in the beginning?” she asked once. “Why can’t it be what we’ve become?”

It was true that their relationship had become comfortable, and they could both slip into brutal honesty. They could both say what they wanted, they could both reveal how they really felt. If a story needed written, she would plant the seed and it would grow. The writer would harvest what the earth produced and post it in the private web office for all the other writers to admire.

“See what I grew?” the writer would say. “See what I did?”

But the truth of the matter was that the writer had done nothing; he had merely taken a seed given him by Liquid Imagination flowing through his mind, a gift from the Gardener. The power of growth was contained in the seed, and the writer merely dropped the seed into the ground, simply posted the story within the web office. It was the power contained within the seed that wrought forth growth. The writer had to do nothing but simply deposit the seed, after crafting the seeds intricate inner-workings along with the Gardener’s inspirations.

“Why can’t it be like it was before?” the writer asked her again.

She smiled and turned away. A wave of cold enveloped him as he watched her bend, her hand reaching into the beautiful garden that she and her host of writers had cultivated. She pulled and brought up a story from their garden of dreams. Turning around, she beamed and presented the writer the beautiful story.

“This is flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood,” she told him. “Isn’t that enough?”

The writer received the story like a ring, like a promise etched in gold. The writer slipped it over his finger. Later, he took the story and sent it off without a moment’s thought. Months later, an acceptance letter came in the mail; the story would be published.

That very same day, after telling others in the private web office about his recent acceptance, he posted still-yet another question: Why can’t it be the way it was before?

She smiled and turned her back. A wave of cold washed over him the way it always did when she ignored him, and he shivered, dejected. When she finally turned around, the Gardener wasn’t facing him anymore, but instead stood before another writer, a woman. This second writer was a lover of words like him.

“Here,” the Gardener said, handing her a story. “This is flesh of my flesh, life of my life, words of my words… take and eat in remembrance of me.”

The woman took the story and began to consume it. The words tumbled down into her mind, and vine-like tendrils and shoots grafted along the framework of her soul. “Why can’t it be like it was before?” the woman asked the Gardener, just before sitting before her laptop to write out the divinely inspired tale.

“Why does it have to be like it was in the beginning?” the Gardener responded. “Why can’t it just be what we’ve become: old friends?”

The woman shook her head and began to write, while another writer—this one, an angry young man—approached the garden. “What is this?” he asked the Gardener. She laughed and said, “What does it look like?” Then she explained that it was a garden.

“I don’t like to garden.”

“This is a writing garden, young man.” She turned around and handed him a story.

He took it unappreciatively. “Seems kind of quiet, a bit dead here.”

The Gardener smiled. “It might seem dead, but you can’t see the roots and life growing deep in the soil.” She turned away and the angry, young man took his gift and left the Gardener to her work. His story was about the undertow that existed far beneath the surface waves of the ocean. The angry, young man thought his story was about a cursed cove in which swimmers and divers would be pulled down by evil forces, when in reality it was the Gardner trying to teach of the deep things, trying to reveal the invisible things growing deep in the soil—the powerful undertow that is hidden deep beneath the surface of things.

They didn’t understand, but if they could only see what SHE could see, if they only knew what SHE knew, then they would see that beneath the surface of the soil were shoots and seedlings and roots forming a tapestry unseen. And the abundance of these interwoven threads—unseen, and thus invisible—stretched out in all directions, to the north, south, east and west. This tapestry of interconnectedness and thought breached into all directions, hidden, still growing into characters that could never die, into splintered paths and dying dreams and empty promises and stories sprouting up in other gardens halfway around the world, tales sprouting up across the Atlantic.

When asked the question they always posted, the Gardener would always gently chide them with these words: You can’t see beyond the surface of things; you can’t fathom what’s growing along the splintered path; and you can’t feel the undertow deep within the earth’s belly, primal forces rippling outward.

Although none of her children could see, they still enjoyed the undertow at it pulled them along at twice the speed of light within the confines of their combined liquid-imagination.

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What have we (my dynamic team of editors, artists and publishing gurus) accomplished in the last year at Liquid Imaginaton Online? For starters, for November our website received 72,404 total internet hits. We began a marketing program to promote New York Times Bestselling author David Farland’s newsletter for writers. I, personally, graduated college with an associates degree in journalism to be applied to marketing, and I also obtained the National English Honor Society’s Sigma Kappa Delta. Besides that, the fruit of a novel-seed I planted a ways back will be published through Dopamalovi Books.

We also published a werewolf anthology in several different formats for your convenience. You can hear the wolf howling here: http://liquid-imagination.com/toothandclaw/

Below are the stats of Liquid Imagination Online (www.Liquid-Imagination.com). The stats can be found here: www.Liquid-Imagination.com/webalizer. Within the pages of LI, you may glimpse something beautiful, you may get a whiff of magic. That’s because dreams are sealed within each webpage, like the dreams within your own heart. We, at LI, believe we can fly. We believe in the magic of stories and poetry and artwork. We embrace technology in all its forms. And while many other webzines, ezines, publications and print journals are folding, Liquid Imagination will be around for a long time.

This is the future! This is 2012! And we represent what you’re reading!

Never forget: we’re all in this together!

Yippie!

Monthly Statistics for November 2011
Total Hits 72404
Total Files 39976
Total Pages 14656
Total Visits 6285
Total KBytes 1148240
Total Unique Sites 4477
Total Unique URLs 1879
Total Unique Referrers 1169
Total Unique User Agents 1221
. Avg Max
Hits per Hour 107 2538
Hits per Day 2585 6571
Files per Day 1427 3525
Pages per Day 523 961
Sites per Day 159 485
Visits per Day 224 283
KBytes per Day 41009 109470

It’s called convergence media. Pass it on!

Liquid Imagination

The story is called Wholly Matrimony by Kenton Yee. The voice talent is none other than the fabulous Robert Eccles, a talented horror writer in his own right. Sue Babcock, business director of Liquid Imagination, converged the media.

Enjoy!

This story “Monsters in the Basement” made it into TMND’s The Devil’s Food Anthology, and it’s now live at The
World of Myth
.
If you go there, just click on the cover to enter the curent
issue. Then look under horror. If you read it, please grade it. You can give me
an A, B, C, D or F. The more people to vote the better. If you love it, give me an A. If you loathe it, give me an F.

Thank you very much!

Go here to read and vote/grade: Monsters in the Basement

Thank
you!!

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it
is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.“
E.L. Doctorow

Ramsey Campbell on AWE!!!!

(While Campbell writes
horror, it IS possible to use the same template for AWE while writing
fantasy.)

(My book) ”Midnight Sun I’m fond of as an honourable
failure. It’s so far short of what I wanted it to be that in some ways I can’t
even begin to consider that. It lacks a cosmic scope; a sense of awe that I was
trying to achieve for once in my career – the sort of thing you find in H.P.
Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space. But it’s as good as I’ve been able
to do in that area. Give me another twenty years and I’ll have another shot!
Midnight Sun was going back to Lovecraft’s roots rather than my own: that cosmic
vision was something that I found in Lovecraft. There was an American review
which compared it favourably with Algernon Blackwood and I suppose you can’t
expect better than that.”

At this website
(http://www.darkecho.com/darkecho/horroronline/999.html ) authors were asked,
“Where does horror stand at the start of the new century?”

Ramsey
Campbell’s response:

“While I won’t presume to know the future of
horror fiction, I don’t mind expressing my hopes for it. I very much hope it
will return to its roots, both in the classics of the genre and in the wider
field of literature. It’s worth remembering how many of the great tales of
terror were the work of authors who didn’t specialize in the genre. When I came
into the field in the mid-50s two things were commoner than now: horror
anthologies would include tales written by writers better known in the
mainstream — Faulkner, Balzac, Graham Greene come immediately to mind — and
mainstream anthologies would include horror fiction. I don’t say this to
denigrate the specialists; on the contrary, writers as different as M. R. James
and Lovecraft, as Leiber and Aickman regarded themselves as writing, or trying
to writer literature. These days too many writers seem to know only their own
field, which then tends to implode. I believe there is no genre that can not be
literature, and it’s time more of ours set itself that ambition. One
quotation…I’ve quoted it before, but it strikes me as among the most important
comments ever made about our field…comes from an essay on horror by critic
David Aylward in the defunct Canadian journal BORDERLANDS: “Writers
[of supernatural fiction] who used to strive for awe and achieve fear, now
strive for fear and achieve only disgust.” Since he wrote that, we’ve seen a
number of writers appear to strive only to be more disgusting than one another,
but I doubt their popularity will last. Traditionally the field has reacted
against excess by rediscovering restraint and subtlety, and I hope it will
again. Add to those qualities the will to evoke awe, and you have the potential
for fine work…

Two more days to enter the “Daily Kick Contest” and receive
recognition from a New York Times Bestselling author. Prize money and Recognition! Go here to view contest
details: http://www.liquid-imagination.com/farland/contest.html

Do you want a New York Times Bestselling Author to Promote Your Writing?

How, you ask?

Simple. Simply enter and place in our “David Farland ‘KICK’ Contest!” (That means get 1st, 2nd or 3rd place.) The top 3 entries not only receive prize money, but after the contest David Farland will publish their success stories in their own words at his website. Their success stories will be published at his pro-website, and links will direct readers back to their stories at Liquid Imagination! WOO-HOO!!

Enter the David Farland ‘Kick’ Contest here where you can learn where to sign up for his “Daily Kick” (for writers)!!

WOO-HOO!! Issue No. 9 is here! This could not happen without the talent of Kevin Wallis, Sue Babcock, AJ Brown (blog post), Dare Kent, Jack Rogers, Brandon Rucker, Robert Eccles, Jezzy Wolfe and Stephen W. Roberts! A HUGE thanks to all of our contributors!

Liquid Imagination No. 9!

This is directly from Dean Koontz’s Dark Rivers of the Heart. In all honesty, I hate that title. The book should be called The Red Door.

I just wanted to share this. Here is the quote:

*******

Through he looked into her eyes, Spencer seemed to be gazing at someone or something far away, and he was speaking in a rush of words, more to himself than to her: “It’s a chain, iron chain, it runs through me, through my brain, my heart, through my guts, a chain, no way to get loose, no escape.”

He was scaring her. She hadn’t thought that she could be scared anymore, at least not easily, certainly not with mere words. But he was scaring her witless.

*******

What do you think? The part in italics, I love. What he does with Spencer, his main character, is have him sleep, and while sleeping he dreams about some atrocious event in his past when he was fourteen years old, an event that is to terrible he can’t remember. Through his dreams – which entertwine with events in the present, as his past creeps up to cement itself in his present -Spencer is beginning to remember. When he dreams, Koontz writes in present-tense (italics). So as the main character is speaking in italics above, it makes the reader realize he’s speaking about his nightmares, bringing them forth. In this scene, he’s been injured, and he’s fading in and out of consciousness.

I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

*****************

Is there a scene you’d like to share from a novelist? A favorite scene or paragraph? Go fetch your book and look it up, and type it in the comments below. List the author’s name. I’m interested in what is meaningful to you guys in the way of literature. Doesn’t have to be your favorite author (Koontz isn’t my favorite, but I highly respect him); it may just be something that sticks out or impresses you from ANY novel.

Validation

Validation comes in many forms. When your significant other looks into your eyes and you know; no words are needed, yet often three words follow: I love you. That is a type of validation we all need: to be accepted by the person we love. Yet there are other forms of validation that are important.

Sociologists have taught that the reason gangs are so powerful is because they allow people the chance to fit in, to join something and be a part of the group. They have taught us that belonging is one of the most important human needs (once the basics of food, shelter and clothing have been taken care of). I disagree, however. I think the act of simple belonging is not enough; the act of self-expression means more, and validation from our peers is more powerful than even self-expression.

When we join a group or organization, when we join a “click” of friends that are like-minded, then we are able to express ourselves, and it is this self-expression that is most important.

The man who landscapes his front yard is expressing himself. It is a form of self-expression. The writer who pens a story is expressing himself. The artist, the politician sharing his world-views, the writer sharing his opinion of the short story, the preacher before his pulpit—all these people are expressing themselves to those organizations they’ve linked themselves to. The mere act of belonging isn’t complete in and of itself; it’s the act of expressing themselves that means more.

But self-expression isn’t the end-all to this little epiphany of existence. The human experience goes beyond the need of belonging to a group, it goes beyond the need to express ourselves. The human being must not only express himself, he must feel validation for that self-expression.

Validation comes in many hues and colors. For the writer it may come from getting his fiction published or winning awards. For the landscaping homeowner, it may come from strangers stopping on the street to admire his handiwork in the front yard. The validation comes from others, usually our peers, but sometimes it comes from complete strangers. Validation comes from readers, other writers, admirers of our work and appreciators of our endeavors.

Validation completes the cycle. It begins with belonging to something, usually networking with writers. It moves into self-expression. Rejection comes into play many times, but ultimately some form of validation comes, and not a moment too soon.

After a time, the validation needs to increase. The writer needs to move from for-the-love ezines to semi-pro publications, and then from there to pro-markets (without EVER forgetting the for-the-love ezines). Otherwise, it’s just a hobby. Otherwise, the landscaper is just decorating and refining his front yard.

Validation is the magic word for the quality of human existence. Belonging to an organization is great. Enjoying the liberating freedom of self-expression and freedom-of-speech is wonderful. But validation is the drug that incites writers to trudge through the muck of rejection notices. Validation is the power that calls to us all. Validation from our peers, from readers, is the reason we write. Otherwise, why would the artist sculpt his masterpiece, if not to try to get it placed in the middle of the park? Why would the painter try to get a showing at the local gallery, if not to show off his art? And the writer—why hide your light beneath a bushel? Let your light shine before all men, that they may see your writing and enjoy it.

Validation is a step-by-step process for the writer. It involves workshopping, practicing (see my article on The Truth about Genius and ten-thousand hours of practice), and constantly learning. How I write today is much better than how I wrote last year. The writer must continue to grow, but validation from his peers doesn’t happen without growth and practice. There is rejection after rejection from publishers; there are harsh reviews and workshops from other authors; there is the need to accept the truth, to concentrate on one’s flaws and shortcomings, to take a good and hard look at the truth. Before validation can take place, the writer must examine his work beneath the scrutiny of the editorial microscope. Vainglorious remarks about past achievements must be laid aside. What was good enough last year is no longer good enough this year.

It is a process, to be sure. A process of painful self-scrutiny: the process of admitting that this piece isn’t as good as you felt it was when you’d written it the previous year. We have to lay aside hubris (for those who have it) and take up humility; lay aside preconceived notions of what we think quality consists of, and decipher what editors and readers and other writers believe is quality; try to master the cookie-cutter story template, and then move on into more experimental styles. We’re not here to become famous first and then finally get around mastering the craft of storytelling; we’re here to master the craft of storytelling, and to let carnal and vain imaginings fall to the wayside.

Life is about validation: validation from whatever god/goddess we believe in (even if it’s our atheistic principles); validation from the organizations we belong to; validation from the publishers we submit to; validation from our loved ones. The first-step of the validation process is self-validation. Some call it confidence—having the confidence to say, “This is my best work,” and putting it out there.

The second step of the validation process is learning from rejection: knowing when editors are wrong; knowing when we are wrong; bouncing our stories off our peers and writing groups; identifying and concentrating on what others label as our weaknesses; stretching our boundaries and learning new ways; perfecting and mastering what we’re good at, yet without abandoning our weaknesses; and comparing our work written today with what we wrote the previous year.

Is it better? Or does it read the same? Are we better adapted to write non-fiction than fiction; Romance rather than horror; Mystery rather than fantasy? What style and genre of our writing has produced the most complements?

Growth and evolution is the only way the validation process can commence. Along the way, personal changes will occur. Genres may be changed; styles may be altered; voices may alter due to “voice lessons.”

I think that’s it. In the end, it comes down to growth and evolution, being adult-enough to recognize that the weaknesses pointed out by our peers are things we need to work on. Working at our craft until self-validation erupts from within (that writer’s confidence). And to continue working on this slag of metal, hammering at it, until the true sculpture begins to manifest through blood, sweat and fears; banging at this craft we call writing, hammering at it until it our writer’s voice begins to shift into the self-expression already contained inside our hearts and souls; and time becomes our greatest ally, because it is only through time, patience and practice (ten-thousand hours of practice) that self-validation will eventually turn into validation from our peers.