Category Archives: Authors Answer

Authors Answer 125 – Is Short Better?

You know the advice where authors are told they should be as brief as possible? Cut out any unnecessary words. Keep it simple. Everything short. Easy. Yes? No? How did this paragraph sound? We talk about this very topic.

Question 125 – Use short words, sentences, and paragraphs. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Elizabeth Rhodes

Exclusively? No. You need variation in your sentence length, or your writing will sound monotonous.

Paul B. Spence

Only if you are writing for children. I assume my audience to be thinking adults with at least average IQ, probably even educated. If they can’t handle a word like existential or thermodynamic, they aren’t going to understand my stories anyway.

H. Anthe Davis

If this was a law, I would be in jail for life.  I have to consciously control the amount of dashes in my work — lest I end up with six sentences broken up like this one inside a single paragraph.  Semicolons are also my BFFs.  When I edit, I do try to break down some of my impossibly long sentences, especially since I often write them in the rough drafts because I’m still trying to figure out a concept; it’s sometimes possible to replace a whole clause with just a couple words, once I actually get what I’m trying to say.  But as I’ve had few complaints over my endless chains of words, and as I’ve read others’ novels which are just as wordy and tangled as mine, I don’t think the commandment to keep things short should be considered as anything more than a suggestion.  Yes, reread your stuff — out loud if possible — and chop it up where it needs it, but don’t chop it up Just Because.

Cyrus Keith

Agree, depending on the pace you want to keep. You may have a fight sequence. Short words and phrases move the pace quickly, because the action is brisk. Each punch, each kick, each shot, stands on its own. But if you’re waking to a pastoral scene next to a peaceful, meandering river, you want to slow down and relax a bit. Use the flowers, their scent, the taste of the water, the warmth of the summer sun, to lull the readers just a little. Just before you pour gasoline on your characters and set them on fire.

D. T. Nova

You shouldn’t use longer words just to show off your vocabulary, but to avoid them when they do seem more natural to you will come across as dumbing things down.

Sentence length should vary. Having too many long and complex sentences in a row can be hard to follow, but having too many short ones in a row can get monotonous.

Extremely long paragraphs should be used very sparingly, and never without reason.

Eric Wood

If you write children’s books, then yes. Keep it short, simple and easy to understand. If you write YA or for adults then feel free to expand upon the sentences. When short sentences and paragraphs are used too frequently the writing seems choppy and incomplete. To provide the reader with ample detail and imagery longer, more complicated sentence structure will be required. However, when writing a children’s book you need to take care to watch length and vocabulary.

Beth Aman

There’s a place for everything.  You’re a writer; words and sentences are your tools.  They are the building blocks that you use to create worlds and breathe life into characters – you should know how to use them.  Long, rolling sentences take longer to read.  They serve a purpose when used properly; I use them to explain things that take a long time to happen, or need a lot of words for.  They come across as luxurious, like thick carpet.  Short sentences are the opposite: they convey urgency.  They show that things are happening quickly.  I try to use short sentences (and words a paragraphs) for fight scenes and tense moments.  I think the trick to sentence length is this: read a lot, pay attention when you read, and pay attention to your own writing.  Read your writing aloud, get it critiqued, write a lot of things, and eventually it will become second nature.

C E Aylett

No, no and no. Please don’t. Variety is the writers friend. Learn how to use different word and sentence lengths to create effect. Some shorter sentences have a bigger impact if preceded by a long one. And some long sentences can convey wrought emotions better than any fluttering hearts and shallow breaths (read Pride & Prejudice for examples). There has also been a trend to substitute the use of commas for full-stops (periods). This not only creates a lot of fragments in the grammar, it also ruins the fluidity of the prose. Sometimes it works, depending on the voice, and intended style. But generally speaking, if you are not writing a story from a robot’s POV, avoid the stilted narrative and structure your sentences correctly. Except for when they demand you don’t for the purpose of effect. Using too many short sentences can also suggest the author is unable to handle complex sentences and concepts.

In my own writing, I tend to err on the side of short to medium paragraphs (though one paragraph could be one whole single sentence :D). I find white space is a writer’s best friend.

However, no matter what I say, it’s more important the writer finds their own style, what they feel comfortable writing. There’s no point inserting long words you don’t feel confident using, as that will be transparent. If using simpler text works for you then do that. I just finished a brilliant book called Chicago Loop which is an intricate exploration into the mind of a man with sexual psychosis. The vocabulary is not overly demanding but it didn’t stop the author from creating complex layers of character, so it read a lot more densely that it would have in the hands of a less experienced or talented writer.

What I would say all writers should avoid is the use of too many function words. Even with a good story too much <<to have/to be/doing/went/got/looked (my worse faux pas in first drafts)/etc.>> combinations and weak verbs and nouns will make an interesting concept bland.

Jean Davis

Disagree. That sounds like a choppy staccato mess. Variation in word, sentence, and paragraph length help a story flow more naturally and appear visually pleasing on a page.

Gregory S. Close

No.  Short words are not better words.  Short sentences are not better sentences.  Neither are short paragraphs.

Wait…

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Disagree. It all depends on a number of factors. I definitely agree that sometimes a thought can – and should – be written in the simplest, shortest way possible, but sometimes a bit of a ramble is necessary. Complex thoughts require complex words/sentences/paragraphs, and simple ones should be quick and to the point. All in all, any story should use a wide variety of all possibilities. There should be short sentences/paragraphs, and long ones, and the complexity of the word should depend on the point that particular word is trying to get across. Trying to keep everything as short as possible – or alternatively, trying to go the long route – makes a story boring. There needs to be variety, always.

Jay Dee Archer

I disagree, mostly. The length of sentences can affect the pacing of the scene. The length of paragraphs can affect how you read. The length of words can affect how you view the age level. But that’s not all. Ideally, there should be varied length in paragraphs and sentences, as well as words in some cases. If you’re writing an action scene, short sentences can be beneficial. It can make the scene feel more exciting. Shorter words can make you feel like you’re reading a children’s book. Shorter paragraphs can look like you can’t expand on anything. On the other hand, a wall of text can be difficult to read.

Shorter words can dumb it down. Don’t do this. Shorter sentences can be useful for action scenes. Use when appropriate. Shorter paragraphs are more common in dialogue, not narration. It really depends on the conversation. Vary the structure to make it sound more natural. That is important.

How about you?

What do you think? Do you prefer shorter or longer words, sentences, and paragraphs? When is it appropriate for them to be shorter? Let us know in the comments.

Authors Answer 124 – Should You Write With Plain Language?

Harry Potter is filled with British slang. Lord of the Rings is filled with constructed languages. Is it worth doing that? Or should books be written with easy to understand plain language?

Question 124 – Avoid foreign words and regional slang. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I’m on the fence with this one. On the one hand, using foreign words and regional slang can enhance a character. A foreigner in America, for instance, might let a few words from their primary language slip every now and then to remind the reader that they’re not originally from the book’s main setting. Similarly, certain types of characters would be a lot less believable if you didn’t use certain dialog quirks. A simple example would be that Americans tend to say “soda”, when Canadians tend to say “pop”.

With that in mind, you should definitely carefully consider the types of regional slang you use and whether anyone is going to understand it. For example, I once described a school bus as “the big yellow limo” in a short story, and almost all of the people who read it (online) asked me what on earth a yellow limo was suddenly doing in the scene because they didn’t understand the regional tendency to refer to school buses in that manner.

Gregory S. Close

I think an author should be careful using foreign words and regional slang, but as long as you’re doing it right – go for it!

Jean Davis

Disagree. If we all sounded the same, writing would be pretty boring. There is certainly such a thing as too much when it comes to slang and foreign words, but using them for spice here and there can enhance the story and personality of characters.

C E Aylett

Slang is something that intrigues me no-end. It can say so much about a place, its history, and its people, far more sometimes than the confines of straight English. I’m a massive fan of Irvine Welsh, who writes in Scottish phonetics, and he deliberately wanted to get away from the starchiness of English grammar in his works. I use slang a lot in my own writing, and some foreign words too, if the story requires it. I think the key to using these styles is to make sure the context is clear from the surrounding text or actions within the story.

Beth Aman

Again, depends.  If you’re writing Sci-Fi/Fantasy, it can make or break your story.  My favorite speculative fiction does this well: Eragon, Lord of the Rings, Mortal Instruments, Six of Crows, etc – all these stories have their own worlds with their own words.  The idea is to do it in such a way that feels authentic and also Not-Overwhelming.  Let it come slowly and naturally, and I think it can add a lot to your story.

Eric Wood

I disagree. As writers we need to know that our readers are smarter than we give them credit for. As long as you are using the foreign/slang correctly, the context clues will help the reader figure out the meaning. Just remember to provide the proper context clues. Also, a reader will feel smarter if you allow them this opportunity.

D. T. Nova

They can both be good for establishing setting and for being a part of a character’s voice.

However, if the meaning isn’t obvious from the context, words that aren’t as commonly known should only be used if explaining them is appropriate; or if understanding the word is of secondary importance.

Slang should only be used in dialogue and first-person narration, and it probably is a good idea to avoid slang words that mean different things in different regions.

Cyrus Keith

Disagree. To an extent. They add flavor and spice to your characters. But give them a context so readers can keep up. I have several characters in my books that are either foreign, or speak in a foreign language. I keep it short, use it rarely, and make sure the meaning is implicit in the context. Example, in Unalive, Jenna says to a nurse in Tahiti, “This is critical, Madame … This woman is a very important diplomatic attaché. We must leave for Europe immediately, for her safety. Nous devons partir tout de suite. C’est trés importante.” She finished in French, to make sure she was understood.

H. Anthe Davis

Disagree.  One reason is because of my main genre, fantasy, which has a history of using constructed (imaginary) languages — see Tolkien with Quenya, not to mention all the made-up and tweaked terminology that any story that deals with magic, monsters, et cetera has to get into.  I have several of my own conlangs, and while I try not to use them too much, conlang linguistics is important to the story in places.  Likewise, I think that in things like literary fiction, the use of foreign words or regional slang can be very evocative of place, time, et cetera, and possibly necessary to works translated from a foreign language, where there might be no real equivalent of the desired concept in the translated-to language.  I mean, who would strike deja vu from a manuscript just because it’s not English?  (Pardon my lack of accent marks etc.)

Paul B. Spence

Unless you need to use it. Not everything translates well into English. Ennui, for example. Conveys far more in one word than you can express in a paragraph. I don’t even like French, and I like this word.

Elizabeth Rhodes

This is a rule? It’s news to me. I don’t agree with it in any case. Regional/foreign words are great for establishing that sense of place or filling out a character by giving them an origin. And do we really want all characters to sound the same?

There are also connotations and emotions conveyed much well with regional slang or the dreaded profanity. I dare anyone to put together a string of words that have the same impact as a well-placed “Fuck!”

Jay Dee Archer

Totally disagree. I’m fascinated by languages, and I find that foreign words and slang bring a lot of flavour to a book. If it takes place in the southern US, I want to see some southern slang. If it’s fantasy, and there’s a culture with another language, I want to see some of that language. Of course, it shouldn’t be overdone to the point where you can’t understand what’s going on. But when it’s done right, it makes it quite a bit more interesting. Although it’s not literature, I’m very interested in learning the Klingon language. But I’d also like to learn Quenya.

Another thing about slang is that it can provide you with a clue about when and where the story takes place. Slang evolves over time, and when used in the correct context, it can make the story feel much more authentic.

How about you?

Do you think slang and foreign languages should be used in literature? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Authors Answer 123 – Should You Write What You Know?

Authors seem intelligent, right? They probably know a lot of things. But are they experts on what they write? What happens if an author writes about something they know nothing of? Should authors write only about what they know?

Question 123 – Write what you know. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Elizabeth Rhodes

Absolutely not. If every writer followed this rule, there’d be no such thing as fantasy, horror, or science fiction. We don’t “know” these things because they aren’t a part of our everyday lives, and yet authors churn out books about magic, robots, interstellar travel, or zombies all the time. By all means research what you’re planning to write, but to say you have to experience things in order to write about them is absurd.

Paul B. Spence

Know? Understand? Have experienced? I have never experienced a space battle, outside of dreams/nightmares. So how could I ever write about it if I followed this rule? I incorporate more of my real experiences into my writing than people would believe anyway.

H. Anthe Davis

Seeing as I write fantasy, sci-fi and horror, none of which I have actually experienced, I would have to mostly disagree.  While it’s great to speak from the heart (and essential in some genres/stories, where you’re trying to speak for someone with a specific experience and the text would be harmed if you didn’t have a real knowledge of that experience), research and imagination can fill in a lot of space.  If you doubt your take on an experience, you can always seek out people who embody it or have actually had it; it’s always good to pass your work through a variety of hands to get a variety of opinions anyway.

Cyrus Keith

Dis…agree. Write what you want to write. If you don’t know it, find out. So I guess really, it’s not “write what you know,” It’s “Know what you write.” I knew nothing about antimatter before I wrote Becoming NADIA. But I researched it. I have an historical novel set in Roman times warming up on the back burner. I REALLY didn’t know some of the awesome things the Romans did, or how their legions were actually organized. I guess I agree, only on the premise that even if you find out five minutes before you actually put the words on the screen/paper, it counts as knowing. The bottom line is, you want readers to be able to live easily in your world. Make it easy by making it believable. Make it believable by doing some research on the world/science/culture. If you write about any real cultures, at least do them the courtesy of getting to know them. If you’re making up a culture, have a culture to know. 90% of them will never be seen by the readers. But if they are there, they make your world more real. So write about what you know, but don’t be afraid to know more than you do. Don’t let yourself stagnate by thinking you have to be an expert with a doctorate and 20 years’ experience before you write about it.

D. T. Nova

I agree with some interpretations of that advice, but not others. You certainly don’t need to have actual experience with what you write about, and in some genres of fiction it’s less applicable than others.

Eric Wood

I definitely agree. If you know the material it will show in your writing. The best example I have of this is when I answer my kids question in my Friday posts. The better I know the answer the better I can explain it. Most times I need learn it (aka Google it) before I can start writing about it because I don’t understand it. So if you know what you write your writing will easily understood. Like Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Beth Aman

Again, somewhat agree?  Depends on what this means.  Yes, draw from your experiences and your life as you write, but also use your imagination.  Use empathy, step into another person’s shoes.  Also, don’t be afraid to talk to other people and draw from their experiences as you write.  In terms of “what you know” of the plot: write the parts of the story that you already know are going to happen.  If you’re struggling to write chapter 1 but you have a perfect vision for chapter 3, then write chapter 3.  Write what you can, always.

C E Aylett

I do agree, but in the sense that if you want to write about something you know nothing about, then do the research. Once you are familiar with what or whom you will write about it’s much easier and will seem authentic to the reader. I’ve written many stories in areas I knew nothing about and managed to pull off the authenticity because I thoroughly researched my subject and characters. That’s the job of a writer. But if authors only wrote what they know (as in, only from your direct experiences) then there would be a lot of good fiction not in existence — books involving murders and magic for starters. I think half the fun of a book is the author discovering the unexpected as much as the reader. That kind of spark seamlessly carries over from one party to the other and stops it from becoming dull.

Jean Davis

Agree. Not to say researching what you don’t know is also valid, but using what you do know as a foundation to build from makes a story more believable and more enjoyable to write.

Gregory S. Close

Sure, write what you know.  But if you don’t know, learn it and write about that too.  Writing fiction is about imagination as well as craft, so I don’t believe you should limit yourself to only what you know and are comfortable with. I think inserting what you know into stuff you don’t is a neat trick, though, and it can add a nice nuance when the truth of your experience peeks through without strangling the spirit of your narrative.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Yes, and no. I agree in the sense that it is significantly easier to write about what you know, and there is much, much less chance that you’ll make glaring errors that annoy readers. For instance, I do my best to avoid my characters using guns, because I know absolutely nothing about them, and I don’t want to screw up the terminology or imply that a particular gun can do something it doesn’t (say, a character changes the magazine in a gun that takes individual bullets), because that can really turn a reader off if they know the difference.

That said, I definitely think that we should push our limits, do our research, and take chances. If we always stick stubbornly to only what we know, we’ll never learn, and our writing will get stale and boring.

Jay Dee Archer

I agree, mostly. I say mostly because knowledge can be gained. If an author doesn’t know something, they do research. After research, then they know the subject and can write about it in a more accurate manner. But there are things that authors write that simply don’t exist. Take fantasy, for example. Much of what’s in fantasy is completely made up. I guess the author is the most knowledgeable person about that fantasy world, though. They invented it. If I don’t know something, I research it. I find it to be a very interesting part of writing.

How about you?

Do you think authors should know what they write? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 122 – Should You Write Every Day?

This month, we return to regular questions and answers, but we have a theme for the month. We’re looking at common advice that may be considered either bad or good advice. We’re starting off with how often we should write.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 122 – Write every day. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Although I might possibly be the worst person in the world at actually adhering to this advice, I do actually agree. In order to be a writer, you have to write, and write a lot, so the best way of accomplishing that is to write something – anything – every day. In that way it becomes a habit, something that you do automatically. Additionally, if you’re writing daily – even if it’s not anything that goes toward your current WIP – you’re getting lots of practice in, and that is never a bad thing. The more you write, the better you’re going to get, and even if what you’re writing is complete crap, it could eventually become something that you come back to and turn into a masterpiece.

Gregory S. Close

Sure, write every day.  If you can.  If you can’t, don’t waste any time worrying that you aren’t writing every day – just write when you can.  It’s great to set goals, so if a realistic goal is writing x amount of words every day – then set it.  If it’s not a realistic goal, then please don’t.  I would substitute “consistently” for “every day” and that’s a more accurate measure.  Write consistently, push yourself when you can (don’t just let yourself off easy), but there’s not a hard and fast rule that says you have to write every day to be a good or successful writer.

Jean Davis

Disagree, sort of. Should you try to write every day, sure, it’s a good way to train your brain to be productive, but my writing also benefits from taking a break for day or two when my creative juices run dry or my head just isn’t in the game. Forcing myself to pound out words I know are no good or stare at a blinking cursor isn’t good for me or what I’m trying to write.

C E Aylett

Yes, I do agree. Writing every day gets you into the habit, then you find you can’t NOT write. I also don’t believe in waiting for inspiration to hit. That may have worked well back in the days of the Brontë sisters when the aristocracy had nothing better but to gaze out of their country manor windows, but in our current lifestyles, when so many things compete for our time, we have to
set aside time for it. Once you make it a part of your daily routine, ideas begin to pop so fast you can’t keep up with them. Also, if you are working on bigger projects, keeping them in mind on a daily basis, even if it is only writing 100 words, keeps you connected to the story.

In saying that, I have writing bouts. Usually in the school holidays I don’t work much on novel projects, and I can go for several weeks not really writing anything. Maybe I’ll edit instead and leave the creation of new material for when the house is quieter. Once I get back into it, I’m on it every weekday. Weekends I reserve for writing blog articles.

Either way, some sort of writing or editing will occur on a daily basis.

Beth Aman

Somewhat agree.  There’s definitely something to be said for writing consistently, for setting aside time daily to meet with your story.  That’s part of the beauty of things like NaNoWriMo: they force you to stay in your story, to keep your head in the game.  HOWEVER.  If you have a life outside of writing, it’s not necessarily practical to write every single day.  And it can be counter-productive to teach people “you must write every day or else you’re not a writer.”  The important thing is to write whenever you can, and to forgive yourself when you can’t.

Eric Wood

I guess it depends on why you’re writing. If you’re writing a book with the hope of being published to make money then I would say yes, write every day. The more you write the more the ideas will flow. I count the editing process as writing, too.  If you’re just writing a blog as a hobby (as I do) then write just enough to keep you interested. If your interest feels more like work than play then it’s no longer interesting.

D. T. Nova

The fact that many writers simply can’t do this should not be minimized.

I would say “Write on every day that you reasonably can.”

Cyrus Keith

Of course, write every day. You want it to be a job? Treat it like it’s your job. In a good way, that is. But still, discipline yourself. Many pro’s have daily word quotas, even if it’s unassociated drivel. You’re a writer. Write. Stay on rhythm.

H. Anthe Davis

I agree with making an attempt at this.  It’s one of the things that pushed me from only periodically hacking at my manuscript to actually making leaps and bounds of progress, and publishing three books (with two more still being worked on).  I used to feel that I could only write when I was inspired to, and while that still stands for short stories (which otherwise I hate writing with every fiber of my being), with novels there’s a lot of material that’s just setup, or explanation, or rough-draft raw material that doesn’t require you to be possessed by the creative fire at the time.  I’ve found myself far more capable of writing decent text even when I feel like a lump of crud; this delusion I have that I’ll forget how to write if I’m in a mood or put it off too long is, indeed, just a delusion.  Most of the work in writing is the refining of the drafts anyway.  What you put out from day to day isn’t the final version that everyone will see.  So even if it does happen to be sludge, it’s the sludge of progress.

That being said, everyone needs their rest days, or has days when opening the document is just too much stress.  Still, constant progress is a good habit to get into, as is understanding that every word doesn’t need to be perfect right as it’s first spilling out of your pen (or keyboard).

Paul B. Spence

Disagree. I write when I can. I have a life, career, etc., outside writing. I write well when I think about my subject and let it percolate in my brain. Seems to work for me. If you average the number of words I write in a year, it comes out over 500 words a day. So even when I sleep, I’m writing. *grin*

Jay Dee Archer

In principle, it’s a good idea to write every day. Realistically, I don’t think it’s possible for most people. If you do it full time, then write as much as you can. If you want to write every day, then go ahead and do it. But even authors need to have days off. Between books, some authors may take time off to promote their books, go on signing tours, and so on. But do they write during that time? Some might, some may not. Personally, I’ve been terrible at writing my book every day. But I do try to write something every day, and that is this blog. I’m doing something, even though it might not be fiction.

How about you?

If you’re an author, do you agree or disagree? Should you write every day? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 121 – The Parting of New Shores

The Parting of New Shores. What in the world could that mean? I thought this would be an interesting title, and I was very interested in seeing how it would be interpreted. And now you’ll see!

So what happened with last week’s stories? Check out Dodecahedron to read the stories. The winner is… a tie? C E Aylett and Paul B. Spence share the win this time!

On to this week’s story!

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 121 – The Parting of New Shores

Elizabeth Rhodes

The Parting of New Shores, a fantasy story set on a tropical island.

A survey crew shipwrecks on an island not marked on any known maps and populated by a yet unknown race of people. They quickly find that these people wanted to remain unnoticed, and why – their island is a wellspring of magical power that civilized nations could only dream of, and can harness this power to make just about anything happen. The people are none too pleased with their new guests, but they’re also reluctant to allow them to go home. And when one of the crew falls in love with an island native, the situation is complicated even further.

Gregory S. Close

The Parting of New Shores (from The Nine and Ninety Tales)

Fantasy Adventure

The Padrah Imesxh has issued a challenge to the people of Isht’in: “Go forth, and part the shores of the unknown!  For the man or woman that can reach the faraway Eastern Realms and return with alliances in trade and knowledge, the reward shall be a Royal Charter of land, coin and a seat among the Wise.”

There is no war to win.  No Dark Lord to defeat.  But power, riches and respect are there for the taking, and Ahtma Ku has need for all three.  With her father’s mare, her mother’s lucky copper coin, and an indomitable will, she sets out to find the eastern end of the world, and all the adventure between.

D. T. Nova

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: the age of exploration, but with magic

Summary: Explorers set sail in search of new lands. What they find is a strange new continent that seems to get farther away the more they try to approach it.

Eric Wood

Mystery

Jack and Annie Shore are pregnant with twins. However, both babies mysteriously disappear from the hospital during their first night. Who took the babies and why? What secrets are they hiding?

Beth Aman

Genre: Contemporary (not really)

Setting: Ocean City, Maryland

Summary: Valarie and John met on accident.  They didn’t mean to fall in love; they didn’t mean to get married; and they certainly didn’t mean to turn into vampires… it just happened that way.  Now they will spend eternity in Love’s Happy Bliss, always seeking the next pair of Young Lovers lounging on the night beaches – after all, teens are easy, delicious prey.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Genre: Sci-Fi

Setting: Deep space

Summary: Humanity finally accomplishes what it has been dreaming of for millennia: discovers intelligent life on a distant planet. All seems well at first, as the two species’ curiosity in each other takes precedence, but soon a grave event sets in motion the beginnings of the greatest war the universe has ever seen.

Paul B. Spence

Genre: Romance Comedy Horror

Setting: California, near future

Synopsis: The big quake finally hit, and California has separated from the mainland and is moving north rapidly. It wouldn’t have been so bad for Jill and Tom, except that the zombie plague erupted out of the fault, and now they are trapped on a large island, moving into an uncertain future, with zombies trying to eat their brains.

Cyrus Keith

Genre: Science Fiction

Setting: Deep space

Summary: A billionaire has a dream, in which he receives orders from God: “Leave this place, and go to another planet I will show you, a land flowing with milk and honey.” He overcomes resistance, bureaucracy, and sabotage to build and launch the first colony ship, destination unknown. But among those who join him are some who are determined to make him fail, at all costs.

Jean Davis

The Parting of New Shores is dramatic story set in New England. Newlyweds, Jim and Sandy Shores return from their honeymoon only to learn that marriage is a lot tougher than it looks. Divorcing is even harder. Amidst angry parents, opinionated friends who hire hitmen, and a war over the wedding china, the one-time lovebirds must amicably sort things out before death parts them forever.

Jay Dee Archer

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: The continents of Shandar and Torollen

The Carvalians fought a three hundred year war that saw no end. The Gods had no other solution: separate the warring nations. The continents of Shandar and Torollen were born. Kendar Dragonspur lost the love of his life, a new sea forcing them to live apart. Can he find a way to cross the waters and find the woman he loves?

How about you?

Now it’s your turn. Choose a book that you think should be written. Which best fits the title “The Parting of New Shores” in your mind? Vote below, then leave a comment explaining your choice.

Authors Answer 120 – Dodecahedron

A geometric shape as a title? This could be anything. And it’s a shape people most likely don’t even know. It’s a twelve-sided polygon, and if you play role playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, you most likely have used one.

Before we get to the stories, let’s find out who won last week’s story. It was called Fender Slander, and the winner is Gregory S. Close again!

So now on to this week’s story.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 120 – Dodecahedron

Jean Davis

Dodecahedron is science fiction. The Council of Twelve acts in the shadows, pulling the strings of planetary governments, crime lords, and the galaxy’s financial markets. Matthews, a scientist who’s funding has suddenly vanished, hunts down the council, slowly exposing its supporting structures until the Council must reveal its faces and answer for all it has done.

Cyrus Keith

Genre: Science Fiction

Setting: Near-Earth space

Summary: A strange, immense 12-sided structure is found during excavation on the moon. Found inside are humanoid aliens, long dead, along with animal forms — a total of twelve different species. But not every life-form is truly dead. What was the original purpose of this mission: to save a race, or to exterminate another?

C E Aylett

Genre: Sci-fi Thriller/Cyberpunk

London 2035

Heston is a cop in search of a gang of arsonists. His investigations lead him into the murky depths of London’s criminal underground where a new recreational drug is sweeping the streets: Dodecahedron. But this drug is like none ever seen before, a plethora of multifaceted highs that no single user shares with another. Sometimes stimulant, sometimes hallucinogenic, sometimes opiate, among a few; users take a gamble with each dose as to what experience they will get. Then there’s those who ‘pop out’ —an effect created by more industrial-scale usage that is hotly rumoured to make people literally disappear into thin air. No one can swear to have witnessed this; objective judgement is but a minor sacrifice for the hedonists involved in abusing the substance, and no one can be sure if it’s real or an imagined side effect. Those who ‘pop out’ return, unscathed, even if they can’t remember much of what went on in between. But as Heston navigates his way through a maze of alternative society in drug-induced psychosis, and the lines between reality and possibility begin to blur, he soon finds out that not everyone comes back. And especially not the women. Inexplicably, he is certain the disappearing women and the arsonists are connected. He just can’t quite figure out how.

No one else believes him — his chief superintendent has written off testimonies from ‘Dodecaheads’ as tripper’s folly and assigned the cases to the sex trafficking unit. As the city fires become more and more frequent, Heston’s under pressure to find the arsonists, yet that voice inside keeps nagging him that the disappearing women are connected in another way. He can’t help but involve himself with Merena, the DI dealing with the trafficking case, to stay abreast of any developments.

His appetite for updates on its progress seems exacerbated by a sense that he’s being watched and a recurring dream he’s had every night for weeks that turns him into a trembling mess and makes him soil his bed linen. A dream of fearsome creatures raining down from the sky. Creatures with razor-sharp fangs or glowing eyes, tails or blue skin. Creatures who like the taste of human flesh. Heston can’t help but feel as if something awful is coming, and the end of the world is nigh.

Compelled to follow his instincts, he’s going to be horrified at what he’s about to find. Something that blows all perceptions of reality out of the water and takes him through a myriad of trails, from the dingy dens of London, to the corridors of Whitehall and across Europe. Even to the beyond. Heston is about to find out just how dark the world really is. Can he save it before it’s too late?

And does he even want to?

Paul B. Spence

Genre: Historical Crime Techno-thriller

Setting: Ancient Rome

Synopsis: Decimus had entered into the priesthood after serving his time in Imperial Army. Things had been going well, until priests started mysteriously dying. What had caused their violent deaths, and what was the role of the strange bronze dodecahedrons found at the scene of each crime?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Genre: Mockumentary

Setting: Back-alley America

Summary: This book follows a young D&D addict as he leads the reader through the seedy underbelly of underground tabletop gaming. He’s known as a legend among his friends, but will his velvet dice bag be enough to get him through the challenges ahead?

Beth Aman

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: The Library; time and space

Summary: There have always been twelve stories that Librarians had to know by heart.  But one morning, Librarian Zack Stewart awakes to find that he has forgotten a story, as have all the other librarians.  The Twelfth Story has been wiped from everyone’s memory, and it will take a search through time and space to recover the lost story – and the lost souls.

Eric Wood

Science Fiction

Post apocalypse world. There are 12 people left – 6 men, 6 women. The storyline will follow from each person’s perspective on how they intend to reestablish the human race. Which one will succeed… or will they?

D. T. Nova

Genre: Historical/thriller/mystery

Setting: Ancient Greece

Summary: Someone has been murdering Pythagoreans, and their newest inductee works with an outsider for find why. But the murderer isn’t the only one who wants the reason behind the crimes to remain unknown. And will the two investigators be able to keep their relationship purely platonic?

Gregory S. Close

DODECAHEDRON (Book One of the Sacred Geometries)

Cosmic Horror, New England

Mal and Ben Algernon had always seen the world in numbers as much as words, more comfortable discussing theorems and proofs than sports or pop culture. Adults found their intellect unnerving.  Other children thought them odd and withdrawn. But by the time they were sixteen, their talent had attracted the attention of Professor Allan Edgars, the foremost theoretical mathematician in academia, and they found themselves the youngest in his exclusive cadre of students at the esteemed Blackwood College.

Mal and Ben find more than they bargained for in Professor Edgars’ lab.  He is obsessed with an ancient mathematical mystery, dubbed “The Unknowable Truth.” He believes that it is the only answer to counter an awakening evil, the Slumbering Dread – a malevolent other-worldly being that seeks to rule and feed on the mortals of Earth. But when their mentor and classmates are all horrifically murdered, its up to the twins to discover the Unknowable Truth, where arcane rituals of magic and complex geometries of mathematics intertwine.

The sum of this equation may be the survival of humanity.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Dodecahedron, a science fiction story set in the near future.

Allison Morris is a post-grad math student who has just discovered how to travel through time. Half the department gathers in secret to test her theories to some measure of success – but in the process damages the very fabric of spacetime. The fallout is unpredictable and needs to be contained fast, but it may be something that requires more than academia to fix.

Jay Dee Archer

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: Geo-Earth

Twelve kingdoms, twelve fates. The Gods of Geo-Earth gamble with the futures of the kingdoms to satisfy their desire for entertainment. With the roll of a twelve-sided perfectly-shaped piece of ivory, they unleash one of twelve horrors on a chosen kingdom. But Toss Arnegax has had enough. Can the twelfth son of the hero Sparc Arnegax resist the gods? He must first find the twelve blades of Gyneson.

How about you?

Now it’s your turn. Choose a book that you think should be written. Which best fits the title “Dodecahedron” in your mind? Vote below, then leave a comment explaining your choice.

Authors Answer 119 – Fender Slander

Another interesting title. To be honest, this one seems a bit difficult, doesn’t it? What exactly is Fender Slander? Check out our ideas for stories, and you can then vote for your favourite.

But first, last week’s winner. The best story, as voted by you, the readers, is by Gregory S. Close! Check out the entries for Bonbon Journey.

And now, this week’s story!

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 119 – Fender Slander

Elizabeth Rhodes

Fender Slander, a thriller set in modern-day Seattle.

Carl Gallagher just made his big break. The video he put on Youtube playing his song went viral, and record companies are knocking at his door. He attracted near-instant fame… and attention from a supposed superstar on the other side of the world who now accuses him of theft. The man lays claim to Carl’s signature song, look, and even the custom Fender passed down from his father. Now Carl has to defend his good name in court, and defend his life from this man’s rabid fans.

Gregory S. Close

Magical Realism, Louisiana Bayou

It started small, like most storms do.  The stranger sold the car to Jeb for a pittance, with a strange warning to “just take things as they come, or it’ll go worse for you .”  It was in bad shape, rusted out, covered in bumper stickers like “My other car is an F16” and “Better Dead Than Red.”  Jeb needed wheels, and he was low on cash, so he ignored the twitch in his gut that warned him it was too good to be true.

The next morning, that twitch was like the kick from Pappy’s old mule.  Sittin’ there in the drive, parked next to his new-to-him car, was a shiny jet fighter, all glimmery in the sun.

Jeb dropped his cup of joe, shaking as he surveyed the words on that rusty old bumper in a whole new light.  Which one would be next?

“Just take things as they come…”

D. T. Nova

Genre: Courtroom drama

Setting: any typical city, particularly the courtroom

Summary: A man has to appear in court for a car accident that he knows wasn’t his fault. Though he has no alibi to prove it, he wasn’t even there.

Eric Wood

Romance

Ellie gets into a car accident when she’s rear ended by a macho model named Yuri. After refusing to pay for the damage, Ellie begins a slander campaign against him. She wants nothing more than to destroy his posh, playboy career. But then something happens and she finds herself falling for him instead.

Beth Aman

Genre: High Fantasy

Setting: The stone castle of Fender

Summary: The royal court, the servants, and all the guests see only one version of the Great Stone Castle that has been the jewel of Fender for a thousand years.  But Meredith-Dragon-Keeper sees what no one else does: the disappearances, the bloodstains on stone, the secret hallways between the rooms.  It’s up to her to find out who is behind the killings, and fast, because if her evidence is right, then she’s next on the list to die.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Genre: Crime/Mystery

Setting: Urban America

Summary: The police are baffled when a serial vandal, who carves demeaning insults into the victims’ cars, begins to work his way back through his targets in order to murder them in a variety of increasingly horrifying ways.

Paul B. Spence

Genre: Postmodern Literature

Setting: California freeway, today

Synopsis: One man’s journey through rush hour hell. The hours trapped in his car without AC will change him forever.

Cyrus Keith

Genre: Thriller

Setting: The NASCAR community

Summary: An up-and-coming driver is accused of the assault of a young racing fan. He must prove his innocence, race with the best, and restore his reputation. But the rapist is on his crew, and determined to get away with his crime–even if he has to kill.

Jean Davis

Fender Slander is a legal thriller set in New York. A hit and run car accident ruins Chuck’s drive into work and his new BMW. The article in the next day’s paper, though full of lies, ruins his career at the firm. With his car in the shop and unemployment barely paying the bills, Chuck must hunt down the person intent on ruining his life before he’s out on the street.

Jay Dee Archer

Genre: Science Fiction

Setting: Late 20th century USA

In a time when mind transference to androids is possible, one young man has been accused of assault. What’s unusual about this man is that his mind has been transfered into a 2063 Toyota Prius. Crime fiction meets science fiction in this thrilling novel. Can the young Prius and his android lawyer beat the odds and prove his innocence?

How about you?

Now it’s your turn. Choose a book that you think should be written. Which best fits the title “Fender Slander” in your mind? Vote below, then leave a comment explaining your choice.