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Ever wonder what it's like to be in that moment between struggling artist and published author? Read on and find out.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Writing Prod - Skewed View

            This is it. Today is the twenty-fourth writing prompt and I have finally come to the end of my list. Of course, I’m going to do it all over again, but I was surprised that there were that many ways to give a jumpstart to your creative process. A few of them were similar and could probably be lumped together. And I expect that there are quite a few that I haven’t thought of as well. Still, twenty-four is an impressive number of ways to generate story ideas.
            The last one I call . . . Skewed View. With it, you write a story from a radically different point of view, like that of an insect, or an alien, or even a stuffed animal. Andy Griffith started his comedic career this way when he did “What it was, was football.” The subject matter can be a common, every day event like a trip to the grocery store. You can also use this to retell a story. What might it have been like for the golden goose when Jack climbed the beanstalk and attempted to kidnap her? It could even be based on a conversation you had with a friend earlier in the week. How might that be different if it was between a fantasy hero and his villainous rival?  

            For my example, I have decided to adapt a classic fairytale to a more comedic point of view character. Watch what I do to The Sorcerers Apprentice.



            Stick Man 

            Broom marvels when he is brought to life. Before he was nothing but a tool in someone else’s hands, but now he can act on his own and he has purpose. The water has to be moved and he is just the one to do it.
            Then the world goes crazy when the creator attacks him. Or perhaps it isn’t the world that has gone insane – maybe it’s just the creator. A lowly broom may have no chance against the mighty sorcerer, but that isn’t going to prevent him from fulfilling his prime directive. And anything that gets in his way will pay the price.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Deadly Brunch

        Once again, I am participating in the weekly writing prompt over at Chasing Revery. Hop on over there and check out the other mini-stories linked there. For anyone not familiar with this regularly scheduled prompt, the participants are asked to write something under 500 words, based on the picture below, and using 5 randomly chosen words. The words this week were: Dictionary, Sparrow, Cafe, Ladder, and Spinach. Hope you like what I came up with.

Deadly Brunch 

            Death checked his wrist for the ump-teenth time, only to be disappointed once again when he remembered that he didn’t wear a watch. It was a ridiculous habit he’d picked up from the mortals. They were always so fixated with the minutes, hours, and days of their lives that they missed what was happening around them. He had crossed paths with Time on more than one occasion and found his fellow primal force to be a terrific bore. Until this moment, he had wondered why the mortals paid him homage with their constant watch watching.

            Brunch, as it turned out, was vaguely between morning and noon. Having never been invited to the quirky meal before, he had had to check a dictionary to make sure he arrived at the cafĂ© during the appropriate part of the day. Imagine that, someone had actually wanted to dine with Death.

            Of course, this was no ordinary someone. It had been no less than Love herself who had asked to meet with him today. No matter who you were, she represented the very top rung of the social ladder. Time would be so jealous if he knew.

            He glanced down the street in an attempt to spot her, but found only the mundane inhabitants of the world: humans, a pair of dogs being walked by a woman he was scheduled to collect this afternoon, and a mother sparrow feeding her chicks.

            Looking at the birds as they participated in their own eating ritual made him wonder what he should order when Love and he were finally seated. Death walked over to the menu that had been attached to the window. Today’s special was Spinach SoufflĂ©. That sounded very sophisticated.

            From the position of the sun in the sky, he judged it to be nearly noon, possibly even later. What could be keeping her? He had a busy afternoon ahead of him. In fact, he was due to take his first Primal right after brunch.

            With a sigh, Death returned to the spot where he had been waiting all morning and folded his arms. He hoped she arrived soon.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Writing Prod - What's In A Name

            Good morning, Blogverse.
            This is the twenty-fourth writing prompt in the series. I have one more after this and then will start all over again from the beginning. That is, unless one of my readers comes up with a prod I hadn’t thought of already. Come on – you guys can do that. You’re a creative bunch.
            I call this one . . . What’s In A Name. (Okay, it needs a better name.) Meander over to your book collection and find the shelf where you keep your favorites. Now, pick a title and write a story based on it. There are some great titles out there that should start the ideas jumping out of your head. Then once you have a story go ahead and come up with a new name that better reflects what you have created.
            For my example I took the title of my favorite book growing up: Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny. I love post-apocalyptic stories and this one had it all.

            Alley of Lost Souls

            Maimed, destitute, and homeless Larry hobbles from town to town in search of a new start. When he walks past the mouth of an ordinary alley all of that changes. An old woman, sitting on a trashcan and smoking a pipe calls out to him. Thinking he has found someone in even a worse position than himself he is surprised when she offers to alter the fates and give him a new life – and all it will cost him is his soul.
            Six months later his hip has miraculously mended and spends his time amid a whirlwind of fast cars and faster women. Then he attends a party with the latest upward-trenders and discovers that all of them have met the old woman in the alley and none of them are any happier for the change. But unfortunately for Larry, there are no refunds on this kind of deal.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Writing Prod - Fairy Bad


            It appears that I am getting down to the last few writing prompts in my bag of tricks. This will be number twenty-two, so it is a reasonable large bag. If you have a general writing prompt that I haven’t covered, please feel free to post them in the comments section.
            Today’s selection I call . . . Fairy Bad. Basically, all you do is take a fairy tale, or other well known story, and write it from the villain’s point of view. You may find that when their side of the story is told it may be much harder to classify them as the villain. Or maybe not; a wicked story can be a delightful read on occasion. The story can remain in the original setting, updated, or placed somewhere wholly original. Imagine a steam punk Alice in Wonderland.
            A few weeks ago I offered an example of this for the Fairytale Madness Blogfest. It sticks with the original setting and offers a new perspective on what Goldilocks was really like. However, since I normally make up a new story idea on the spot I will go with revamping The Three Little Pigs in a new genre.

            Alien Winds
            The Schultz brothers are the galaxy’s best construction contractors. When a new planet is opened for colonization, each of them travels to the frontier world to establish once and for all which of them is the top builder of all time. Then disaster strikes. An attack is made on the youngest brother’s construction site. Only days before the first permanent building is to be opened to the public it is ruined by a creature that is as elusive as the wind and as powerful as a hurricane. When the same thing happens to the second brother they decide to join their efforts and beat the beast at its own game.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Movie Review: The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2  $$ 1/2

103 Minutes
Starring: (Are you kidding? Who isn’t in this movie?)
Director: Simon West.

            Just in case you didn’t see the first Expendables movie let me explain it to you. Throw together all of the top action stars into a single movie and have them shoot and endless parade of victims. Then toss in a very vestigial plot to connect all the violence. Ta-da! You have the Expendables.
            Oops. That was the review.
            Really, what is there to say about this movie? It has an all-star line-up: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jason Stratham, and Dolph Lundgren. That is the main attraction.
            Put guns and knives in their hands and give them bodies to attack. The film is E-X-T-R-E-M-E-L-Y violent. There is plenty of obviously fake blood splattering everywhere. And there is a fair amount of profanity. This film earned it’s ‘R’ rating.  
            For those of you wanting more than a grocery cart full of action heroes, here is the plot. Barney (Stallone) owes Church a favor (Willis). Church wants Barney to take his team into the former Soviet Union and extract the contents of a safe that are in the remains of a crashed plane.  The Villain (Van Damme) gets the drop on Barney and his crew and takes the mysterious item. Then the good guys spend the rest of the moving killing a veritable army of thugs.
            You know the story is unimportant when the credits just list the major antagonist as “villain”. Think I’m kidding, look it up. The Expendables 2.
            The one redeeming element of this film is the dialogue. Quips and one-liners are the life-blood of action films and the writers did an excellent job with filling this movie with everything from the clever to the down-right cheesy. And they work.
            I have an unusual situation for this review. The film earns a measly 2 ½ movie bucks for bad acting, horrible writing, and low-to-average special effects, but I am going to urge you to see it in the theaters. Why? Because this is the worst movies that I thoroughly enjoyed watching.       

            Randy’s Rating System 

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.


Monday, September 3, 2012



            Some of you may be asking: “What are you doing, Randy? Only one post last week and now we get two in one day. Have you lost your mind?”
            I won’t comment on the possibility that my mind has wandered off on its own – again, but I can tell you about having two posts. Deana Barnhart has kicked off her Gearing Up To Get An Agent event going on all this month. And I’m taking part in this. If you are a writer, you should be too.
            Today is the Meet and Greet for all of the writers who are participating. This gives all of us a wonderful chance to meet some new friends in the writing community. As part of that we are answering a few questions. Here they are:

Q: Where do you write? 

A: We happen to have a surplus of bedrooms in our house and one of them has been turned into an office for the purpose of writing and game design. I have a super large window that allows me to keep an eye on the weather and occasionally distracts me when I should be writing. 

Q: Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see.  

A: Oops, I jumped the gun. I sort of already answered that, but I’ll look anyways. I see – that I need to pull some weeds in my back yard. Also, I think we have a decent chance at getting some rain later on today. 

Q: Favorite time to write.  

A: It used to be late at night after everyone went to bed. Sometimes it still is. However, I find that in the morning, right after I drop the kids off at school, is the most productive time for me to write. 

Q: Drink of choice while writing? 

A: My favorite is Dr. Pepper. However, that has been replaced by . . . Water. I know that’s not a very exciting answer. Maybe I should substitute it with something like: I enjoy the occasional Pangalactic Gargle-Blaster. 

Q: When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? 

A:  Silence? What’s that? I have a house full of children. It really depends on my mood. Most of the time I keep it as quiet as possible when I write. Once in a while, I pick a song that I think reflects the atmosphere of the story I’m writing and I’ll play that for inspiration. For example, when I wrote Hellathon I played Hair of the Dog over and over. 

Q: What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? 

A: If you spend any time, specifically Monday’s, checking out my blog you will quickly find out that I have been blessed with a really active imagination. Inspiration for story ideas come to me all the time and the how of it really varies. 

That being said, the short story I sold last month was based on the parameters the publisher set down – introduce the zombie apocalypse to a classic fairy tale. Easy-peasy. 

Q: What’s your most valuable writing tip? 

A: I don’t know if this is my most valuable tip, but it is the one that I most often offer to the wonderful ladies in my critique group. Write it and move on. Obviously, you want to fix any major flaws in the plot, but the truth of the matter is that there are thousands of ways the story can be written and the majority of them work. Don’t spend the next six years rewriting the story to be perfect. Have a vision for your story. Write it. Revise it for errors. Move on.


Writing Prod - Holiday Mixer

            Happy Labor Day.
            And since it is a holiday, I’ve come up with another prod based on those special days we choose to celebrate. This one is called . . . Holiday Mixer.
            Take two holidays and mix them together to come up with an unusual setting or an unusual story. Pretty simple.
            Instead of the normal story pitch that I do for this segment of my blog, I’ve decided to post a comedy bit I came up with using this very prompt. This was written in a style that was purposely over the top for Twisted Entertainment. Hope you enjoy it.

Ghosts of Turkies Past
            The holiday season is upon us. It’s a time for traditions and celebrations. A time when we can do things for which we would normally be laughed at, or even locked up for doing any other time other time of the year. (And if that statement doesn’t really sum it all up then I don’t know what does.)
            What if some of the cherished traditions of the holidays were switched? Tim Burton has already touched upon this theme with “A Nightmare Before Christmas” so there goes that particular combination. Fortunately, my mind has grabbed hold of the first big holiday of the season – Halloween – and put it with my personal favorite – Thanksgiving.
            At once I imagined turkeys as the centerpieces for the haunted celebration. Can you think of anything spookier than giblet ghouls, turkey ghosts, and cranberry creepers? Well, I certainly can, not the least of which is my son’s bedroom floor.
            Still, I think it has possibilities.
            Millions of turkeys receive their death sentences each Thanksgiving, while we eagerly participate in the twin sins of sloth and gluttony. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the basic script for about a quarter of the slasher flicks that Hollywood churns out? Here we have substituted the victimized college students with the Thanksgiving main event. Ask any member of PETA; turkeys are people too. In fact, some of my best friends are turkeys. (You can’t tell me you didn’t see that one coming.)
            In spiritual disarray, the victims of holiday slaughter rise up from their graves in landfills and compost heaps around the country. On skeletal drumsticks they shamble across the city seeking revenge on the humans that celebrated at their expense. In their wake, columns of rotting yams and slithering piles of cranberry sauce follow suit.
            Imagine the scenes of people huddled inside their homes, waiting for dawn, in hope of outlasting the phantoms of previous feasts. I can hear the turkey bones scratching at the doors. I can see the cranberry ooze bubbling through the screen doors and vents.
            Oh wait. That would be the movie version of the newly revised holiday. The actual celebration would go much differently.       
            Much like our current traditions for Halloween, we would dress up to confuse the edible haunts that rise on this day of the dead. Instead of vampires, mummies, and the hideously scary clown costumes, we would be dressed as our favorite food. Which for some wouldn’t be much of a change.
            Others may choose to try and frighten the gastronomical spooks by decorating their homes as ovens and posting over-sized knives and forks in the yard. Or possibly even diverting the frenzied leftovers from their true targets by hanging effigies of pilgrims in their neighbor’s yard.
            Once the dinner hour has passed, celebrants gather together and join in singing a slightly altered version of Grace; set to festive holiday music, these blessings on the food are intended to lay the disturbed entrees to rest. This can include forming a circle around the family’s garbage can and sprinkling it with Alka-Seltzer.
            Afterwards, everyone participates in the Halloween Reasonable Snack that falls within the PETA approved guidelines. This usually consists of popcorn, buttered toast, and jelly beans.
            There you have it, a turkey of a Halloween celebration.