Posts Tagged ‘John “JAM” Arthur Miller’

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.

werewolf

Book No. 1 Tooth and Claw (You can purchase individual stories, too!) This enhanced e-book anthology began with a howl within this office, and it echoes stll among the hills of Facebook, Twitter and in the hearts of werewolf lovers everywhere!
Tooth and Claw

Book No. 2 High Moor by Graeme Reynolds
I highly recommend this novel! It felt like I was reading something put out by the big publishers. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. I’ll be writing the book review for this one personally, and it will be full of praise.
High Moor

Book No. 3 Battle of the Two Paths (coming soon) by John “JAM” Arthur Miller
Battle of the Two Paths

Book No. 4 Wolves Dressed as Men by Steve Lowe
The werewolf novel that sunk its claws into me and pulled me back to face my greatest fear.
Wolves Dressed as Men

At SNM Horror Magazine, my story Cracks is Story of
the Month! YIPPIE!

Go here to read it (and scroll down): Cracks! (Remember
to scroll WAAAAAY down. They put the Story of the Month at the end, to try to
get readers to read all the stories… which you will probably want to do
anyway. I get $30.00 for this story, and it will go into their next anthology.
YIPPIE!!)

Here’s the top finishers:

SEPTEMBER WINNERS /
STORIES OF THE MONTH:

1st Place – John JAM Arthur Miller – Cracks /
SOTM

2nd Place – Matthew Nelson – Sunset Consequences

3rd Place –
Marius Dicomites – Where The Dead Live

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!!

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:

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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.

by John “JAM” Arthur Miller

 

Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

 

          -Friedrich Nietzsche

I gazed into the abyss. Something looked out. A large eye the size of our sun, glaring with hostility. Who dares? it demanded. I smiled and said, Just me… just me. It became confused and blinked.

Each time it blinked the light of the universe went out; a total darkness of the soul seethed with an icy chill that permeated and enveloped all. Stop blinking, I cried. It laughed and shouted, Stop confusing me. But I couldn’t stop confusing it because I couldn’t stop asking it questions. My finite intelligence, although genius among my own kind, was far below its infinite epiphanies; the finite was too much for for the infinite. I crippled it when I informed the beast from the abyss about love. Love? What is love? it cried.

The beast from the abyss slid back into its sludge of bile. Nietzshe rolled over in his grave, and the sun became a new day’s dawn somewhere back in physical reality.

I remained where I hovered, at the edge of the abyss in the bubble of a dream. Aren’t you going to wake up now? the monster from the abyss demanded, its giant eye permanently opened, unblinking.

I smiled and said, But I have more to teach you.

Then I leapt into the abyss, splashed within the bile, felt cold logic slip up my flesh and cover my head. Black, cold vomit slid into my mouth. I swallowed down jagged little pills. The monster screamed in agonizying joy, shouting, It’s too much… too much!

It was just enough – just enough because now I shared the secrets of the abyss. Nietzsche was right: the abyss met my gaze. But more besides, for the abyss crept inside my face, inside my mind even as my essence seeped into it. I sucked in wisdom it had vomited out, and it coddled me by the cold embrace of eternity.

Together we become one, the finite and infinite—organic flesh and the cold kiss of graveyard soil.

10 words per day is the price of admission What is it? Join Liquid Imagination’s private web office. Writers and editors gather to chat and write, to workshop and edit. The price of admission is just 10 words per day, written by you. If you only show up once per month, then when you log into the site all you have to do is post 10 creative words of prose or poetry. How much you write beyond the 10 words is up to you.

You should join to jumpstart your writing, each and every day. You should join if you’re a writer who wants to network with other writers. You should join if you’re an editor who wants to network with other editors. Over 370 writers, editors, poets and artists belong to this private office. Members have contributed work to a wide-range of publications from “Necrotic Tissue” to “GUD Magazine.” A lesser number of members edit a wide-range of publications.

Simply log on to American Zoetrope and sign up. It’s free. American Zoetrope is a website created by Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather fame) for directors and producers to work in an interactive online community. It’s also used by writers of script and fiction. They have open boards to post stories and poems, as well as open boards to post artwork and music. Everything from writing flash fiction to novellas entices you to get involved. Once you join, look up “John Arthur Miller” and request an invite to my private web office called “Liquid Imagination.” Then begin to network with writers and editors, and be prepared to pay the price of admission: 10 words per day.

Let your creativity flow at Liquid Imaginatoin’s private web office (weblink won’t work until you’ve joined American Zoetrope) located at American Zoetrope.

Welcome!

I was at school between classes when I wrote this today. I couldn’t stand it. Had to write something, anything. Sometimes if I don’t write… I get grumpy. It’s not pretty. And I’ve been so busy it’s not funny, so I’ve been grumpy. So I wrote this through once and it’s rough like the character and his dead girlfriend’s unshaven legs.

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

Sky blue canopy above, hard pavement beneath. The road stretches forever. The cigarettes won’t last, can’t last. Like life and the breath in my lungs, both are bound to give out one day. Like the road. And at the end? Hardship and bullets. Wolves and dogs. They lie in wait. My nine-millimeter Beretta rests in my waistline, the Glock in my size-fifteen snakeskin boots. The wind rushes past. Makes it hard to smoke. No windshield on my chopper—those are for wannabes’—although sometimes I wish. Can’t smile and drive or I’ll collect bugs in my teeth. Just ride the steel and climb the wind along this lonely stretch of road. Just think about the good times and the bad.

She’s gone now.

Jasmine. Met her at O’Leary’s on the bad side of town. She was the best damned thing in that neck of the woods. The concrete jungle’s skyscrapers and nightly gunshots gave way to a slum, which gave way to the ol’ Irish pub that had transformed into a strip club. I was going in, she was coming out. Wasn’t looking where I was headed. I guess that’s why she was on her ass looking up after bouncing off my chest. “Damn, you’re big.” I smiled and helped her up. “I’ve heard that before.” I flirted with a grin. The smile didn’t leave her lips as she trailed past. Neither did my eyes. I watched her ass on the way out, wondering if I’d gotten soft in my old age.

Ten years later I’m still old. Old and mean. Body’s scarred. Each wound cemented in my body’s whitewashed scar tissue tells a hell of a story. I’m full of stories, from knife wounds to bullet holes. My body’s full of conversation pieces. My heart’s full of sin but my mind’s on Jasmine, now resting in the ground.

My guns are full of bullets.

Vengeance is mine. It’s always been mine.

Skyblue canopy above, hot pavement beneath. And death at the end of a long, hard road.