Formalising this break from social media, rather.
In the meanwhile, check out the latest In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett updates at inmemorytribute.com
Formalising this break from social media, rather.
In the meanwhile, check out the latest In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett updates at inmemorytribute.com
This cobwebsite of mine could really use more frequent updates. So here’s one for you:
*** THE NEW BOOK IS OUT!!! ***
In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett contains seventeen unique takes on the theme of Memory that will move you from giggles to tears and back again. Brought to you by authors spanning nine countries and four continents, the book is in dear memory of Sir Terry Pratchett. All proceeds go to Alzheimer’s Research UK.
And here is what one of my favourite authors, Robert Rankin, had to say about it:
“This book is a fitting tribute to Terry Pratchett, a little man with a great big heart and an imagination that could not be constrained within the boundaries of our world. His work reached out to millions and will in the future reach out to millions more. Memory is everything and Terry will always be remembered.”
Update, June 8th 2015: Updates will be posted regularly on http://welikethemshort.blogspot.com which is also where you can meet the authors. Thank you, all!
Our short story anthology in memory of Sir Terry Pratchett has reached its first milestone, as the submission window officially closed last night.
Your response has been nothing short of phenomenal. We received an overwhelming number of submissions, and then thrice as many within the last couple of days. If the ongoing yay/nay process caused us pain and loss of sleep until now, then I can only imagine the final selection will verge on excruciating. I for one am already considering withdrawing my own submission, for fear it might not match the level of quality that the final product is shaping to have.
In keeping with our schedule, we endeavor to get in touch with everyone by June 7th. By that time, the finalists will be asked to send us their finalised stories, with a deadline of June 30th. Regardless of the outcome, our commitment is to provide feedback for every single submission.
In the end, I’d like to offer a big THANK YOU to my tireless, obsessively detail oriented partner in crime – Laura, for her help thus far. Since this project stared, Laura has lived in three different countries, has picked up drinking coffee after a ten month break, and has incessantly worked towards adding three very fancy letters to her name.
Update, June 1st 2015: The submission window is now closed. Click here for the latest update.
In memory of Sir Terry Pratchett, we are putting together an anthology of short stories to raise money for one of his favourite charities. If you are an author (or suspect you have the makings of one!) and are one of the millions of readers out there who has been touched in some way by the writings of Sir Terry, then read on.
We have reached out to Alzheimer’s Research UK, offering to put together a fan tribute anthology on the theme of Memory. The book will be dedicated to Sir Terry Pratchett, with all proceedings going to the charity. They were thrilled and have offered their support.
If you’re up to the challenge, here are the details:
Send your submission to WeLikeThemShort (at) gmail (dot) com between April 25 and May 31. One submission is permitted per author. If your submission is accepted, we will contact you and ask for the complete text, with a deadline of June 30. Your initial submission should include:
I met Shen through our common relation Garrett Robinson. You see, though I wasn’t too keen on creating and furthermore maintaining an online persona, it’s times like these – when I realize just how many interesting people I met because of it, that I must give a nod to my Publisher for coercing me into it.
I met Shen as a book reviewer, and an honest one at that. In time, I have discovered her to be a warm person, with an impressive background. That was already pretty awesome in my books. And then, a few weeks ago, I learned that Shen was also an author. How cool is that!
Her debut novel, “Wyrd Calling” is now available on Amazon, and if you want to know more about the mind behind the book, then keep reading.
Sorin: Let’s say I have a little hobby of collecting personal histories about words. Tell me how you first came upon the word “wyrd” and how did the two of you become friends.
Shen: I came across the word wyrd quite a few years ago when I was studying the runes and looking more deeply into Norse mythology. It’s a word and a concept that I feel tied to, the idea of the universe as some tapestry, some interlinking web, and something in constant flux and shifting evolution.
Sorin: How is writing a strong female character different to writing a strong male character? Would you care sharing some tips?
Shen: Hm that isn’t really a conscious thought for me. I think when writing the female characters I’m more aware of the potential threats of violence and the size difference. No matter how strong and well-trained a woman is, she’s still smaller and generally speaking weaker. That means she’s going to be that little more aware of a situation building and how to deal with it.
Sorin: Do your characters ever get out of hand? Does it ever feel like their emerging personalities simply won’t fit in the plot? And if so, would you rather sacrifice the plot or the character trait?
Shen: Yes, they absolutely do lol. They pop up reasonably well formed but sometimes something will emerge that throws a nice big spanner in the works. Characters come first for me, the plot is their story so if their new trait changes the plot, then I’ll follow along and see what new plot forms instead.
Sorin: How does living in Prague affect your writing? Would “Wyrd Calling” be any different if you were writing it somewhere completely different – your home town, for instance?
Shen: Prague inspires me and makes me feel at peace, contented and finally at home. Yes, I think it’d be completely different if I had have written it back in England. I felt caged there, much more uptight, and my head went to darker places. I think the book would be more dense, darker, less of the more positive emotions and more aggression.
Sorin: If “Wyrd Calling” were made into a movie, who would you handpick to star in it?
Shen: I’ve thought about this quite a lot and well, I’ve failed! The only one I’ve managed to pin down is Jackson Rathbone for Dan. I think Jensen Ackles could potentially be a good Ryan, and Tom Hiddleston would be great as Lee, but they’re not 100% right. I have no clue who would play Thalia!
Sorin: As a genre, fantasy has led a rather private life before Hollywood brought it kicking and screaming into the mainstream. What do you think is the next unsung genre to capture our attention?
Shen: Hmmm that’s a hard one. Hollywood is becoming saturated with big heroes, lots of special effects, but there are hints of much more personal and emotional journeys. I think we’ll see a return to literature, things like Cloud Atlas which make us think and give us a fresh perspective and reminder of our place in the big scheme of things. This is a time where a lot’s changing and we’re seeing touches of that with The Fault of Our Stars, I haven’t seen it but my understanding is that it helps people confront the bigger questions and reality of life. We needed to escape from the economic crash, from the terrorism, but now we need to face what’s happening around us again.
That’s it for now. Make sure to check Wyrd Calling on Amazon. I’m leaving you with a quote:
“I cursed the Sisters again. I couldn’t help wondering if perhaps there was some grand prize or something for that. Maybe I’d be given another irritating little mark like the choker once I hit 1,000 curses. Or maybe, just maybe, they’d give in and let me be. I cursed them again, just in case it was the latter.”
I have first met Laura on Goodreads when she was kind enough to post a review for The Scriptlings. She won me over in an instant when she called out a Day of the Tentacle (see below) reference in my story. When, a few weeks later, I found out that she was an author herself, I rushed to order and read her book. Yes, such is the kind of bond that DOTT forges amongst fans.
And so we chatted and we chatted, and there were even mentions of a future project together… I can just imagine River Song smiling cunningly as she says “Spoilers…”
But until then, here is what Laura has to say in her defense:
Sorin: Why do you write? Just kidding – I know how we all hate this question. So let’s try again – what’s keeping you from writing?
Laura: I love writing, and the only thing getting in the way of me doing more of it is my unfortunate tendency to be far too passionate about far too many things: as well as writing fiction and the blog, I’m semi-religious about travelling (not to mention snowboarding and sailing), I run an international NGO, I’m in the middle of starting up my first business, I bake, I work full-time, I hike every other weekend, I have an amazing social life full of wonderful people, I’m always taking up ridiculous hobbies like learning Russian or belly-dancing, I love to read, and both sleeping and sci-fi/zombie marathons are pretty important to me, too (not necessarily at the same time). While I’ve started on the next Radugan book, there’s also another novel in a different genre which I do really want to progress. Sadly, none of my hobbies is cloning myself. Yet. So until I learn to be slightly less excited about all of the fun things to try, writing is one fiddle amongst too many hats (or something along those lines)!
Sorin: Day of the Tentacle. Explain.
Laura: LucasArts and Sierra games from the late 80s and 90s are the best! Day of the Tentacle is one of my favourites, in that it was all animated, you had to use your brain, it was completely ridiculous, and you learned stuff (yay for learning!). Not being American, DOTT was my childhood introduction to US history. So, as I understand it, no cherry tree was chopped down, Benjamin Franklin may have had some kind of drug problem, and the conspiracy about the toxic-sludge-mutated-tentacles was all true! I must say though, while DOTT was fantastic, my absolute favourite game of all time would have to be the Quest for Glory series by Lori and Corey Cole. I’m pretty sure I owe my habit of terrible punning to them.
Sorin: I thought I’ve read all possible puns in Xanth, but you somehow spray coat your entire story with original puns. How does that work?
Laura: Would you believe me if I told you it wasn’t even intentional? That’s how I actually talk (my poor friends and colleagues..!). I had the intention of writing a much more serious fairy-tale, but then I wrote the first sentence about the prince being in a pickle and it was game over: the puns and word-play are just me slipping through, I think. Then there’s the occasional word I’ve thrown in just to mess with my old students—before coming back to Australia, I spent a year teaching English in St Petersburg. My students had difficulty differentiating between ‘ribbit’, ‘robot’ and ‘rowboat’, and so there are frogs, robots and rowboats in the book. Another issue was ‘beach’ and … am I allowed to say the ‘b-word’? So that makes an appearance as well. I like to play with words, and apparently also suffer from some kind of condition which makes me laugh at dad jokes— it’s a blessing and a curse.
Sorin: How has travelling made you a better writer?
Laura: Hmm, good question. It’s definitely changed how I approach life in general, and that could have spilled over into my writing. I spent ten years travelling, moving around every 3-6 months, and it’s made me a much more extroverted and open person. ‘Extroverted’ and ‘writing books’ aren’t usually associated concepts, but being open while travelling meant I met a lot more people and had a lot more conversations than I would have otherwise. Others’ ideas and all of these amazingly different cultures and ways of thinking seeped into me, which in turn made me evaluate my own beliefs and understanding of the world. I definitely couldn’t have written Pickles and Ponies without Russia, and it’s not just because of the Russian folklore I use in it. I didn’t realise until I lived there how different the culture was—it was like I’d suddenly arrived on the moon, and nothing made any sense any more! I remember someone once saying to me, in a thoroughly disparaging tone, that “there’s no point in arguing with you—you’re too logical”. Are arguments not meant to be based on logic? To her way of thinking, whoever was more emotional in their response was the winner. Like I said, nothing made sense to me.
On the one hand I found Russia quite a cruel place in many ways, and on the other there was this abundant and overflowing romanticism everywhere you looked. Things like dating rituals were likewise really different, and these ideas of romanticism and logic which are so opposed in much of Western culture were all smooshed together in a way I didn’t necessarily agree with, but which did inspire me. Pickles and Ponies at least is the result of my ruminations on traditional Western and Russian ideas of romance, with a little Colombian fire added in. To answer your question (finally!), I’m not sure if travelling has made me a better writer, but it’s given me a lot more to write about.
Sorin: Your approach to writing a story seems to me a bit meta, by which I mean that you seem to be equally concerned with writing the story as well as telling a story about the story you are writing. I think this works wonderfully. How do you keep it together?
Laura: There are a few things I can blame this on. One is studying English Literature at school and then later teaching English: I can’t not think critically about what I’m reading, as in tracking the themes, figuring out what the author was trying to convey, identifying recurrent imagery. It’s like a secret language which this stranger is using to talk to you, and the most magical thing about it is that every person hears it differently: in each book, everybody finds a different message, perhaps the one most important or meaningful to them. So I’m a bit ‘meta’ in my reading. Then there’s writing my blog about living in Russia and my travels before and after that—I didn’t want to simply write an account of “I went to a, b, c today”, I wanted to convey what really gripped me and made me think. As a result, I’d usually write each post around a theme rather than a sequence of events, and I’d try to weave it all together (this is my favourite: Magical Realism). Thirdly is my extreme love for the book ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine Saint-Exupery. I love it so much that I actually have a quote from it tattooed on me. TLP is full of these succinct and poignant messages, and it sort of gave me this mental ‘permission’ to write morals and messages into my fairy-tale, even blatantly at times. As far as ‘keeping it together’, I always had all of the hundreds of kids and teens I’ve taught in the back of my mind, and so most of the time I thought about what I’d want to convey to them.
Sorin: If you were born in Xanth, what would be your magical talent?
Laura: Oooh. I can choose?! Best ever! The first thing that comes to mind is being able to grow chocolate trees. Somebody could smuggle in a chocolate bar from Mundania, I’d plant it and it would grow. I would then start a chocolate farm, which would be so overwhelmingly successful that I’d eventually became some kind of chocolate cartel owner. I’d use my powers for good though, don’t worry.
Sorin: If you were born in Raduga, what Princess would you be?
Laura: Hm, well I’d quite like to be the Princess of Bad-Assery, though I think I’d more likely be the Princess of Misadventures—that’s pretty close to what I am in real life, anyway! I’m always finding myself in the middle of one adventure or another, and mostly without even meaning to.
Sorin: In one hundred words or less, outline the plot for a Doctor Who episode which takes place in Raduga.
Laura: The Great Poke finally finds the Holy Poke, and his powers are so increased that he Pokes a hole in space-time, causing the sudden unexpected arrival of the Tenth Doctor (<3). The Doctor realises that Poking is the controlled creation of black holes which send or summon things from an alternate universe, and that the Great Poke’s mastery suggests that he’s not only a Time Lord, but one of the originals who figured out how to use black holes to power TARDISes. The Doctor closes the hole using the countering power of his TARDIS, then they sit and drink tea.
Sorin: That was precisely one hundred words! Kudos for your preciseness!
Find more about Laura:
I wrote this eerie short story for my friend Joel, who then offered to turn it into cross-platform art by coming up with this wicked illustration.
Joel could not remember exactly when he had seen the beggar for the first time. At some point during the last few weeks, or maybe even months, the scruffy, old man had become part of the backdrop in Joel’s commute, just as the hotdog vendor and the ATM had done in their own rights.
The beggar would always wait for him in the same spot, by the newspaper stand at the train station exit, and he would always extend his open palm, garbed in a ragged, fingerless mitten. His gaze would follow Joel hollowly, and the one time that Joel had summoned the nerve to make eye contact he’d immediately recoiled as he subconsciously recognized the cackling echoes of a deranged mind.
The beggar wore a suit and tie that might have been expensive once. Alas, the bespoken silk was now dull beyond any hope of recovery. Underneath the grime, his shoes might also have been valuable once, but today they wouldn’t be worth a pack of cigarettes at a pawn shop. For all Joel knew, the beggar was yet another Wall Street victim of the Subprime crisis – a living and breathing cautionary tale who had failed to caution anyone.
Around his neck, the beggar wore a cardboard sign with the words “WORLD’S GREATEST JOKE” inscribed in red paint, followed by “$1000” on the next row in pencil.
Joel had, on various occasions, offered money to the beggar. A quarter here, a five-dollar bill there, and once – as a joke – a hundred-dollar bill. Every single time, the beggar refused him, pointing madly at the “$1000” on his cardboard.
One day, after closing a particularly juicy deal with a major client in Indonesia, Joel decided it was about time to give something back to society. A sizeable donation for stem cell research or Alzheimer’s, or maybe water pumps in Africa. Something to make him feel good about himself. It was then that he remembered the beggar. Without thinking twice, Joel put on his cashmere jacket and left the office with a spring in his step and a sly smile on his face. A minute later, he was cashing out a thousand bucks from the ATM.
“There you go, old man,” he said as he handed the wad of bills to the beggar. “Now, tell me your joke.”
The beggar counted the money and stuffed it into his coat pocket. Then, in a surprisingly clear and controlled voice, he started:
“A Jedi, a bloke from the Southeast, and a Lannister walk into a bra…”
Joel listened in fascination. The joke went on for minutes, evolving into complex parallel threads spotted with witty non-sequiturs, and accentuated by judicious pauses. It was, Joel had to concede, shaping up to become the greatest joke he had ever heard. Possibly the greatest joke in the world.
“And then, the Jedi said, ‘How should I know? I’ve never met his Aunt Bethel!’” the beggar finished with a wink.
Joel could hold it in no longer. He let out a snort, which turned immediately into a long chuckle, followed by an avalanche of bellyaching laughter, which rapidly degenerated into convulsions and tears.
Beside him, the beggar stood upright, gaining several inches in height. Quietly, he removed the cardboard sign and placed it gently, almost reverentially, around Joel’s neck.
Oblivious to this, Joel continued to laugh, randomly quoting snippets from the world’s greatest joke. “The giraffe had a missing molar! And then, the S.W.A.T. team started to boogie, but the satellites had forgotten the steps… Ridiculous! Absolutely ridiculous!”
The beggar took out a pencil from his pocket and scribbled something on the cardboard that now adorned Joel’s expensive suit. He, then, turned and walked away into the crowd.
The sign now read “WORLD’S GREATEST JOKE,” followed by “$10,000.”
If you enjoyed this short story, chances are you’ll have a blast with The Scriptlings:
I can’t believe it’s been that long since I posted something in here.
I won’t insult you with excuses, so instead I’ll jump right into the reason I am posting something today. Long story short, I got caught into one of those chain letter phenomena, to be more precise – their blogging manifestation. Okay, so “being caught into it” is not the most accurate wording I could have come up with, nor is it fair to the nice lady who performed the actual catching. K. D. Keenan, brilliant storyteller of The Obsidian Mirror, could not have been more cautious and demure when she offered to pass the torch to my lazy/busy self.
Truth be told, I find it impossible to say no to Kathy. You see, Kathy is the kind of person who gives so much and asks for so little, that when she actually asks for something you really feel that you have been granted a privilege.
So what did she ask me for? To perpetuate a meme – that of authors joining a blog tour on the predefined theme of their respective writing process. Her own contribution can be found here.
1. What am I working on?
My day job, first and foremost. This being said, however much I love my job, this blog is not the place for it, so I will gracefully pirouette around the topic. There, I put that image into your heads.
Hobby-wise, I am actually working on four different fronts.
2. How does my work differ from others on its genre?
Well, for one, others probably sell better.
Shattered dreams of independent wealth aside, what makes my work different is that I am not trying to be the best Pratchett, Adams, or Moore impersonator, but rather I’m doing all I can to be the best Sorin that I can be. And if that happens to be dirty-nerdy, then so be it.
3. Why do I write what I write?
Because if I didn’t put those crazy ideas on paper, I would soon become haunted by a constant sense of loss.
But mostly, I write for fun. The thing is, I’m not that confident or accomplished of a public speaker. When I say a joke, I feel obliged to limit its scope and depth, so as not to ruin it with my inability to say it right. Things are different when I write – I have all the time in the world, I can twist that joke on all sides, and I can pace it over the course of many pages or even chapters.
4. How does my writing process work?
I am still looking for a process that works for me. Right now, I’m going for the P.G. Wodehouse approach, whereby I rank a page on the value of its contents and then re-write it until it aligns to the top with the rest of the pages. It is, needless to say, a time-intensive method, but I find it works well with my nitpicking personality.
I divide my creative process in three stages:
Alright, so now for the passing of the torch. I have asked two fellow bloggers to join the joyride. One of them said yes, the other said nothing.
I thus nominate Liliana Negoi, who has the soul of a poet and she is not afraid to use it. She is the one who said yes.
As for the one who said nothing, I am volunteering him anyway, because I know he loves to write more than anything. Garrett, make us proud!
Hey there, Scriptlings!
Well, to prove just how awesome this dude is, here is the latest in his Five Minute Books YouTube series:
I couldn’t be prouder if Douglas Adams himself were to shove a wet fish down my ear 🙂
Few weeks ago, I was watching a documentary about Queen, and I was surprised to learn that one of their most iconic songs is virtually unknown in North America. I’m talking about I Want To Break Free, and apparently the reason for this injustice is censorship. It seems that, back in the 80s, four men ironically dressed in drag were a big no no.
Well, as I was watching the documentary I remember dismissing this as some kind of romanticized story, meant to spice things up a little bit.
Recently, a friend of mine came to visit from Toronto. This guy is a Rock encyclopedia on two legs, so I decided to ask him (totally as a joke) if he knew about this song. Turns out he didn’t.
So now I’m trying to fix that. Without further ado, I give you Queen – I Want To Break Free.
North America, you’re welcome!