Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Magic Pencil

So, a couple weeks ago I was asked to participate in an Author's Tea event at my daughter's school. This was the third year they've had one and it's always been a good time, so I said "sure", I'd love to. The kids had all written their own books for a school project and just had them published, so it was an exciting time.

I've done my fair share of public speaking before, talking about writing, the process, and getting published in today's market. But with the prospect of speaking to a group of elementary school students, I wanted to be on my best game. They are our future after all. So I gave it some extra thought and tried to come up with a few topics that would be relevant, at least I hoped, to kids that age, and tied it into my presentation.

I talked about growing up reading comics and the literary impact they had on me, devouring which-way books where you made choices at the end of the page and turned to a certain page based on your choice, and even taking classes on Shakespeare and how his work still shows up in movies todays, pointing out a few examples. I think it went well. No one threw anything at me, that and I had some help in the form of one Gina Jones, another local writer and motivational speaker, who had the kids on the edges of their seat.

So I had thought about how to end my talk, to give the kids something to remember about writing and using their imaginations. Maybe I could spark the future of the next great novelist of our generation? The night before I'd had an epiphany to buy the whole student body a pencil, their own wands to create magical adventures all their own. A quick stop at the local dollar store and I was set for my grand finale.

When I'd reached the end, I told the kids I had something for each of them and, of course, their eyes lit up. I produced a pencil from the box I'd brought with me and showed them all. Some of the smiles went away but curiosity kept most of them. I told them it was no ordinary pencil. This was a magic pencil! Why was it magic? Simple. Inside every one of the pencils that I'd brought with me was a story hidden inside, just waiting to be let go. Some of the kids' face lit up and I'd figured I'd hit the mark and I felt pretty good as I was passing them out to all these eager young writers. I even got a nod from Gina, saying it was a pretty cool idea.

Afterwards, I was still at the school, stuffing my face with some delicious cake that was provided for the event, and my daughter came up to me. I asked her how I did and she said very genuinely that I was great and everyone enjoyed it. That made me feel even better. But then she paused and said there was only one thing that was bothering her, so I asked her what was wrong. She said some of the kids in her class were cracking open their pencils to find the magic and there was none. I told her to tell them to sharpen both ends and they could still get a short story out of them. Now, she's old enough that she understood where I was going with the pencils, so did the pencil crackers, but kids will be kids, and I still think it was a good idea. Though maybe next time I'll go with stickers.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Last Zombie Standing Snippet #2

Hi all and welcome to another Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday – the best kind of Saturday’s there are. Last week, SFFSat turned four and had a great turn out of writers and authors displaying their wares. I decided to put a short story I’ve been working on out there, Last Zombie Standing, and I’m continuing with it this week, so if you want to catch the first part, just hit last week’s link on my site. Make sure that you  stop over and visit the main site by clicking here - SciFiFanSat and visit all of the great offerings by some equally great writers. Enjoy the weekend and I hope you enjoy this snippet. Please feel free to leave a comment afterwards, feedback for writers is like tipping your waiter. ______________________________________________________________
           “Zulu-2’s already falling apart,” the general barked through Zulu-2’s suit mike. 
          “Sir?”  Kingston’s voice crackled from Zulu-1’s shoulder mike.  “I think his ear became dislodged while taking off the helmet, otherwise they seem to be withstanding the atmosphere.”
           “It ripped its own ear off?  What kind of zombies did you get me for this mission?” the general growled.
          “They’re both Z.G.I. rated, sir,” Kingston answered.  “They adhered to all mission specs, no missing parts and an acceptable stage of decay.”
          “The blasted things better keep it together.  Lose those suits, soldiers.”
          Following their commands, the necronauts stripped away the remaining bulky space gear to reveal a more conforming lunar camouflaged jumpsuit underneath.  Zulu-1’s blond hair had been trimmed into a military style flattop with several clumps missing from his scalp.  Blackened pupils offset his pale flesh as darkened veins strayed haphazardly from the creases around his mouth.  There wasn’t enough hair to give Zulu-2 a proper military cut and his pale head shimmered against the backdrop of space, a scar ran from his missing right ear along his cheek and chin.  They hungrily sniffed the air around them.

And there you have it – this week’s contribution. Nothing like a couple zany necronauts out for a stroll on the moon. But what is this mission and why are we using zombies for space exploration? The answer may surprise you.  Thanks for reading and expect my next novel – Maxx Fragg, V.P.I. out this September from Ink Smith Publishing. See you in seven!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Last Zombie Standing Snippet #1

Happy 4th Anniversary to Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. This is a great site with some truly remarkable people that I've been lucky to participate in for the past few years. When I saw the post, I wanted to make sure I contributed this week. Here's a short story WIP I've been tinkering with tentatively titled Last Zombie Standing. Special thanks to Laurel Kriegler for starting and running the site and her continued support of its authors. It's definitely appreciated. Hope you enjoy the snippet and make sure you stop over at the main site - SciFiFanSat - to check out all of the fantastic authors contributing this week.

          A man’s voice crackled from the tiny speaker bracketed to the ship.

          “Let’s crack this egg.”
          Dust flared as the landing ramp touched down into the gray sod surrounding the lunar module and the seal of an outside hatch hissed as foreign atmospheres met.  Two explorers stepped down the ramp to the surface, their over-sized suits plodding away from the landing site.
          “Okay cowboys, strip off those helmets.” 
           A second voice, sounding nervous and lacking the authoritative tone of his counterpart, cut into the transmission and said, “Cease..desist…I mean, disregard that order.”
          “This is an authorized only channel,” the first man barked.
          “It’s Kingston,sir, with Research and Development.” 
          “Kingston, get off the mike!”
          “But, general, we don’t know if they can withstand the pressure.”
          “I want those helmets off…now!”
          The two men obediently snapped open the hinges on the necks of their suits, slowly pulling their protective headgear away. The robotic scout following behind captured their movements with a top mounted relay camera. One of the men looked up at the surrounding stars, the decayed flesh pulling away from his cheek bone in the lowered gravity landscape. The other necro-naut watched as his ear floated listlessly in front of his face as he made a clumsy grab for it before it floated out of reach.
          And there you have it - I hope you enjoyed it. I'll try to follow up with this short and post some more snippets from it. As always, comments are appreciated. I'll have a new novel out this September and will post from it closer to the release. Thanks for reading and have a great Memorial Day Weekend.