27 February 2011

*Briar Patch

Intro: I have read several stories where the person with the magical ability or talent is desperately trying to hide it from the normal populace so I decided to write a story about the opposite. What would happen if there is a person who has no extra ability and has to hide among a population with strong magical power? Throw in a literary reference and voilĂ , Briar Patch.

Penelope hated walking to work. Magic clogged her nose and throat. Her brows furrowed as she glanced at the young man approaching her. When he past, the magic cascading from him took her breath away and left her hands shaking and her focus blurry. Her world started to tip and she pulled herself upright trying to walk in a straight line. Once again she wished she had magic like everyone else.

“Are you alright?” the young man asked reaching out for her shoulder.

“I’m fine,” she said and hurried on her way.

Two blocks later she let herself slow down but it took another couple of minutes for her hands to stop shaking. She shivered and wrapped her arms around her body. She walked through the doors to her office right on time and nodded to the receptionist.

“Good morning,” the receptionist said. “You have a messages waiting for you.”

“Thank you.”

“Did you have a nice walk?”


“It looks so cold out there.”

“Walking is refreshing,” she lied and walked up the stairs.

Only when the door to her office closed did Penelope let the nervous tension overtake her. Her hands shook and she slid to the floor, her knees no longer strong enough to support her. It was only seven-thirty in the morning and she had almost lost everything she fought to obtain. For several minutes she stayed sitting on the floor with her back against the door, her breathing in ragged gasps she tried to muffle. The red light on her phone blinked reminding her to get to work before anyone realized she was acting odd.

The message was from Janice.

“Hey, Penelope. You up for a lunch date today? Thanks hun. I’ll be there at twelve-thirty.”

Janice’s scratchy voice succeeded in lowering her spirits even more than she thought possible. A lunch date with her old college friend always made her nervous. All of that extra magic in the air would mean she would have to be on edge. Anything, and everything, went wrong when Janice was around. Not what she needed. She pushed the button to call Janice back and got the answering machine.

“Sorry, Janice. I’m too busy today for that. I’ll have to catch you another time.”

With that out of the way, she turned her attention back to work and managing the publication house she started. No matter what else changed in the world, there was always a demand for paper books. The morning was spent interviewing potential authors and working on marketing plans with already established clientele.

“Penelope,” Janice said, sweeping into the room. “You aren’t ready yet.”

The wave of magic hit Penelope while she was unprepared and she had to turn her head away because she couldn’t keep a straight face. Her employees left, all quickly explained what they would be working on while she was out of the office.

“Janice. I told you, I’m a little busy today,” she said once she got a hold of her stomach and facial expressions. “With a new book release coming out, I was planning on eating lunch in the office.”

“Busy?” Janice looked around the room, one of her perfectly manicured eyebrows arching. “It doesn’t look that way to me.”

“You aren’t going to let me out of this are you?”


Penelope sighed and headed to the door following after Janice. The closer she got to her friend, the more she could feel the magic seeping out. It would take days to remove it all from her office so she could breathe normally. She waved to the receptionist and headed outside. Janice’s long black car took up most of the curb in front of the building. With a wave of her hand, Janice unlocked and opened the car door. They both slid in and the door shut behind them.

“The Plaza Restaurant,” Janice said. “Did you hear the news? Another non-magic was found yesterday. He’s in the institution Briar Patch. Thank goodness.”

It took all of her willpower not to run screaming from the car. The car pulled out onto the street and headed into town. This was the reason why she walked to work. All vehicles now required magic. Something she thought was foolish but couldn’t bring up because then everyone would know her disability. The restaurant could only be described as swanky and a place she would never visit with anyone besides Janice. The door opened and she stepped out. The wave of magic from all of the guests floored her and she watched as the world spun and then blacked out.

She woke and stared at the ceiling for a moment before realizing it was her apartment. That nightmare was the most realistic dream she’d ever had. Including a sound of sirens.


“Crap. It wasn’t a dream,” she murmured and turned on her side.

Janice sat with her legs pulled up on the chair staring at her. “Your fascinating with antiques should have been a good enough hint.”

“Janice,” she said and pushed herself into a position where she could lean against the arm of the couch for support. “You don’t have to do this. We can just forget this ever happened.”

“I can’t. Your kind is dangerous.”

“So dangerous I can’t use any modern technology,” she said and lay back down. “I guess I’m not your problem anymore.”

Janice didn’t reply. The sirens from outside grew louder. Janice let the men in and within minutes, Penelope was strapped to a gurney riding to the institution in the back of a van. A team of men in white uniforms and escorted her into the building. The giant door closed behind her and she stared into the sea of people standing in the middle of the courtyard. When the engine of the van finally disappeared the crowd let out a cheer.

“Welcome to the Briar Patch”

For the first time in her life Penelope took a deep breath of clean air.

25 February 2011

The Forbidden Sea

by Sheila A. Nielson

I met the author Sheila A. Nielson at a writing event last autumn. Her buoyant personality and love of books in general convinced me to pick up her book “The Forbidden Sea.” I haven’t read many stories about mermaids, partly because there aren’t many books out there about mermaids, and partly because growing up I never watched the movie. From the cover alone, not to mention the book jacket, I knew this book was going to involve in some way, a mermaid. At first I was surprised that the mermaid didn’t play as big of a role in the beginning but I loved the character development of Adrianne. From the very beginning I felt a bond with the young woman who is hated by her aunt, unintentionally mistreated by her younger sister, and ignored by the young man she likes. The ending of the book, though I won’t give any details, was perfect in its simplicity. The choices at the end made by Adrianne are supported all the way through the story. The change in heart from a couple of the characters also felt natural and I was pleased the end didn’t drag on but gave me all the information I needed to know that there was a happy ending even after I finished reading.

One of the other aspects that I enjoyed about this book is that Adrianne doesn’t stand out from the time period and setting. There are several books that have a female protagonist that refuse to fit into the culture not for any practical reason but more because the author didn’t want to write about more docile women in skirts. Adrianne, though a free thinking, strong young woman, fits into the society and the changes made to her physical appearance and manner explained completely within the story. I didn’t feel like Sheila took a modern teenager and plopped her into the setting of a historic fishing village.

This book is one that I recommend to anyone who likes to spend time in the fantastical worlds. Since it involves mermaids there is not a feeling of redundancy that you might get with other fantasy books.

New Weekly Posting

Once again, after attending LTUE, I decided to add something to my blog. On Fridays I am now going to post a book review starting today. I may flub now and then and do a movie review, or something, but for the most part I am going to stick with books. I say in advance that these books will be of all genres and for all ages. Please enjoy.

23 February 2011

LTUE 2011

This weekend I had the opportunity of attending Life, the Universe & Everything at BYU. This is the third time I’ve attended and once again all of the advice and hope blew me away. Not only do you get general advice when listening to the panels on topics ranging from Fractured Fairytales to Publicity and Marketing to How to Write Action, but you get to rub elbows with some really neat authors. I had the opportunity to introduce myself to Paul Genesse, the editor who accepted my Flash fiction story. I’ve heard him talk in past panels about various topics and knew he was a genial person but he was actually excited to see me, which kind of surprised me. It made my whole weekend. Not only was that experience a blast but I also had the opportunity to talk to several other authors I really admire, James Dashner, Mette Ivie Harrision, Jessica Day George, and Sheila Nielson. I can’t wait until next year.

20 February 2011

*Forbidden Resources

Intro: I am not actually sure I like this story, but apparently I was too lazy to write another one. This idea started out as a title “The Heartbeat of the Earth” and morphed into this. The other idea I had while writing this was to draw on the senses. I wrote this around Valentine’s Day but didn’t post it because I wanted to have something that went with the holiday.

Dark Water paused in mid-step, his head tilted to one side. If he failed now, everything he cared for would be over. The forest remained almost silent. A bird moved through the branches, its claws alighting against the bark in a whisper of a scratch. Small mammals scurried underfoot, their paws pattering on fallen leaves. Satisfied he truly was unobserved Dark Water continued moving, his footfalls sounding extra loud in his ears.

A breeze picked brushed passed him, he could no longer smell the fires but the scent of wet pelts strong strengthened. The no water dripped from the leaves overhead but the smell of mildew was a reminder that the rainy season was not yet over. Only when the sun moved back to the north would anyone, beast or human, feel the damp chill leave their bones.

The calluses on his hands slid up and down the shaft of the spear. Even though the craftsman spent hours working the sturdy wood, only in the hands of a hunter would it become truly smooth. In several places his hands encountered notches, won in hunting expeditions against the beasts of the forest. Though too many notches made spears weak, his still had years left, not because he rarely encountered any beast strong enough to damage his weapon, but because he was fast enough to keep it from them. He was the only one fast enough.

The sound of the birds and the mammals were drowned out. A thumping pulse worked its way up through the soles of his woven sandals. His hand tightened on the spear, the muscles along his arm twitching in anticipation. It took all his willpower to keep his feet from matching the thumping he felt coursing through him. His pace continued as it had been, steady and nearly silent. There was only one chance at this, for the Earth as well as those who lived on it.

Through the trees, shafts of sunlight darted through. Dark Water could see shadows moving, blocking the sun from him for flashes at a time. They were waiting for him and for a moment he wanted to use the beat in his bones to flee. Running did not mean death; it meant panic, confusion, and chaos. Chaos meant death was probable, but not certain. That was enough to keep him moving.

He entered the clearing, hand griping the spear tightly but face remaining calm. The intruders turned to look at him. Their drab clothes mirrored his save for that fact that his had been made by machine and theirs by their own hands. The machines were gone but the clothes still held, patched with clumsy stitches.

“Have you come to negotiate the terms of surrender?” the chief asked.

“No,” he replied and leaned against his spear. “I’ve come to ask you to leave.”

“I don’t think you understand the seriousness of the situation. All humans are to live in government sanctioned camps.”

“No. We will not leave.”

“Your presence alone has caused this forest to whither. Is that what you really want? The factories, the buildings, everything you’ve done has caused problems.”

“Our factories? Our buildings?” Dark Water laughed, leaning on his spear for support. “Tearing the factories down, destroying our homes, that has caused the damage.”

“The forest is dying,” the chief spat.

“Because we no longer have the resources to look after it. You destroyed the factories so we have fewer men and less time to spend tending to things.”

“If you didn’t harvest so much, there wouldn’t be this problem.”

Dark Water picked up his spear and moved closer, ignoring the rifles from the soldiers. A couple of years ago he too would have hunted with a rifle. When the laws passed, he lost his gun because it was deemed hazardous to the environment. No more guns could be made, but they could still be used. Once all the ammunition was gone, that would be the end of it.

“Don’t you get it? Humans aren’t the problem Earth faces. We are the solution to what the Earth has become.”

“What we made it,” the chief said. “It is humans that caused the problem in the first place. If we weren’t here there wouldn’t be a problem.”

“You can’t know that for certain. Take a look around. Can you see the forest? It isn’t here because someone decided to leave it alone. It is here because someone took the time to plant it. To watch over it. Without our technologies the Earth would be nothing more than a wilderness.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Are humans worth less than the dirt they stand on? We aren’t here by accident. The Earth survived thousands of years not because humans were ignorant but because we understand our duty. If we listen we can hear the heartbeat and understand everything.”

“We can fulfill our duty without the infernal machines that strip our home of its resources,” the chief spat color rising to his face.

“Whether we use more now or later, it will still be gone eventually. What will we do then?”

The chief merely waved his hand, and walked off in the other direction. “You have two weeks to get your mess cleaned up.”

Dark Water waited until the men were out of sight and breathed a sigh of relief when he could feel the thumping of the ground under his feet. He needed to head back to the village. Two weeks was plenty of time to prepare for the next attack. They would protect themselves and their way of life. The heartbeat of the Earth urged him on. Earth was meant to be their home they took care of not a museum of what they could not have. That was why humans were there and he was determined to keep fighting for using the resources.

16 February 2011

Science Fiction

When I was younger all of my stories dealt with dragons of some kind. I was fascinated by the whole idea. I still love reading fantasy books that deal with dragons, and magic but I have found my writing, with the exception of my flash fiction, tends towards the genre of science fiction. I think this has something to do with the fact that I have worked for several years with the latest technologies.

Today I read about the IBM computer Watson, going up against the two most successful contenders on Jeopardy. I feel like my Sci-Fiction stories are now ancient history. It truly amazes me how much technology has expanded in my limited life-time not to mention from when my grandparents were young. Some of my co-workers have made funny remarks about a robot apocalypse but there is one thought that makes me happy. While Watson may be a genius, he does not yet have the capability of programming something that hasn’t already been programmed into him. At least, I don’t think he has that capability. As humans we have the ability to evolve, not just learn from our mistakes, but from the mistakes of others. The first night the Jeopardy aired, one of the human contestants gave the wrong response; two seconds later Watson gave the same response. That thought alone helps me breath a little easier at night.

Now my only concern is trying to come up with fresh material that is still science fiction and hasn’t been overdone.

13 February 2011


Intro: In honor of tomorrow’s holiday.

This is my 50th story. Hooray!

The big red box sat proudly on Lindsey’s desk. When she came back with the cards from her backpack in the hall, Lindsey kept an eye on the box. She walked around the classroom handing out the valentines she’d organized a week earlier. One for Bill, one for Joe, one for Greg, and even one for Ryan, though he liked to call her names and was smirking at her. Every time she slipped one of the small white envelopes into another box, she took a peek at her own. It remained alone, no one even walking near it. Some of the other students in her class started taking seats behind their own boxes, twiddling their fingers as they waited for the rest to be delivered.

She slipped the last envelope, Melissa’s, in the box and trudged back to her seat. The bell rang. All of the other students scooped up their boxes and hurried from the room. None of them looked at her. Some laughed.

“Are you okay, Lindsey?” Mrs. Peterson, her fifth grade teacher, asked.

She nodded and grabbed her box and nearly dropped it in surprised. The top fell to floor as she jostled it. Little white envelopes stared up at her, almost filling the box. She clutched the box to her.


“While you were out in the hall, Ryan thought you would enjoy the surprise.”

Lindsey nodded and hurried from the room. Ryan waited by her backpack, his normal scowl there. She walked up to him hesitantly, not sure how to thank him for the wonderful surprised.

“Hi, Lame-sey.”

Apparently he hadn’t changed at all and she turned her face away, flushing. She slid her box into her backpack and pulled it on. She paused for a moment and looked at him. Leaning forward, she kissed him quickly on the cheek. For a moment he stood there, staring at her with a wide eyes and a sort of slack mouth. A second later, he reeled back wiping at his face.


“Bye, Ryan,” she called skipping out of the school. All the way home she thought about which valentine was from Ryan, and how everything had changed.

09 February 2011


With the good news of “your story has been accepted,” comes the usual, “make these corrections.” In both my hobby of fiction writing and my profession of technical writing, I have critiques and work with editors. I have professed several times in this blog alone, as well as real life, I am a writer not an editor. I have no problem coming up with characters, plots, and settings but ask me to put a comma in the right spot and I panic. I am completely aware of the fact that I need someone to make my writing sound presentable and correct. However, I don’t always agree with the editor’s bedside manner.

This latest acceptance and round of edits terrified me at first. It wasn’t that the editor was callous or harsh, quite the opposite he is very pleasant to work with an encouraging. The terror came from staring at the document with lots and lots of edited red text. People tell me I’m a good writer, full of potential, but that potential doesn’t seem like much when compared to an experienced writer.

On the flipside, other editors I’ve worked with just infuriate me because of their presentation. Some of them change things just because they prefer the sentence to read their way, not that there was anything grammatically wrong with my version, they just like the way theirs sounds better. Others point out my mistakes in such a way to let me know that I was an idiot, ought to know better, and did I really think I could write?

Here is the kicker; both types of editors help me improve my writing. Most of the time, I am so angry with an editor’s comments that I want to prove to them wrong and lo-and-behold my story turns out better, not necessarily because of the suggestions but because of their critical attitude. Both types of editors do get me to improve but I prefer the encouraging kind. No surprise there.

06 February 2011


Intro: This story kind of explains itself. This week was really busy so it is kind of rough. I hope you enjoy it.

"Why is it that you can't do your job right, Bertie?"

I merely shrugged my shoulders, and stared down at my fiery red trousers. I clutched my bow tighter in my hand and felt my face burn as the supervisor leaned over his desk.

"It really isn't that hard."

"I know," I whispered.

He didn't hear me.

"If you can't pick up your quota, I'm afraid we're going to have to let you go. This job isn't that difficult. All you have to do is shot the person who isn't interested in the relationship when the other party involved is around. There are plenty of other candidates available."

"I know. I really do try."

"I have no doubt about that," he replied, a little more gently this time. "But what are we suppose to tell people when the wrong couples get together. People don't pay for a realistic love story, they pay for the perfect love story. The one that beats all odds. That is why we exist. To provide that love story."

"I understand."

"Good, now get out there. We've provided a straightforward one for you. Shouldn't have any problem whatsoever. Don't let me down, Bertie."

I nodded glumly and left his office. A few of my co-workers glanced in my direction, their faces almost sympathetic. Other people seemed to be snickering behind hands but I wasn't sure. I was too focused on my shoes to pay close enough attention.

As I left the building, I almost got my quiver caught in the revolving door, again. Luckily, no one was around to see.

"Stupid revolving doors. Stupid quiver. Stupid job," I murmured as I flew off towards my next assignment. "Who wants to fall in love anyways? Perfect love stories are boring."

I sat in a tree waiting for my mark to show up, thinking. If I lost this job, I would be hard pressed to find another one that would take me. My only talent lay in using a bow and in a world focused on technologies that didn't involve wires, let alone strings and sticks. The leaves in the trees shifted and I imagined they were agreeing with me.

"Betsy, can you hold on a moment?" a voice nearly whined.

I looked down and saw my mark. A middle aged man in a gray suit and orange tie. From this view I could see that his hair was thinning in the back, but nothing to be ashamed about. The woman he pled with stalked on by. Her high heels clipped against the pavement punctuating her irritation. I pulled a red tipped arrow out of my quiver and readied it.

"What do you want, Gerald?"

"Are you busy tomorrow night?"

"As in Valentine's Day?"

There was a pause.

"Yes?" Gerald whispered the answer as a question.

"You're asking me out on a date, on Valentine's Day, puh-lease. Show some decorum."

The woman stalked off, her long black tresses bouncing as she tossed her head. Gerald stumbled after her and I raised my bow. The arrow struck directly between her shoulder blades, visible for only a moment before disappearing.

"Besty, wait," Gerald said again.

She stopped and turned towards him. I gripped my bow, knuckles white. This was it. Nothing could go wrong this time. The only person around was Gerald. They would fall madly in love with each other, get marries, have little babies, and I could keep my job. That was the way this was suppose to go.

"Leave me alone," Betsy snapped. "Can't you take no for an answer?"

I nearly toppled off of the branch and stared open mouthed at her. Once again, something had gone terribly wrong.

"But why won't you date me?"

"Very good question," I muttered.

"Because I'm in love with someone else," Betsy replied running her hands through her hair.

"Who? I've never seen you with anyone else."

"Ew, I would take that as a stalker comment if I weren't in a good mood," she replied.

"But who else is there?"


This time I did fall out of the tree. Her finger pointed at me the whole way.

"How am I going to explain this?" I murmured.

She ran over and threw her arms around me.

"Do I want to explain this?" I mused.

"Isn't this just perfect?" she asked kissing me.

"Perfect, indeed," I agreed.

A slow smile spread across my face as I drew her back down for another kiss.

"Why can't a cupid get the girl? Sounds good to me."

02 February 2011


Lately I have been trying to submit short stories to various competitions. I always submit to free competitions because if I lose there is no real negative consequence. Two weeks ago, I submitted a story hoping to get it into a fairly prestigious anthology. If my story was accepted there was a chance for bigger and better things in the future. I sent it off and prepared myself to forget about it because all of the other competitions I entered I didn't receive any feedback until the competition was over and it was still four weeks until the deadline. Last week I received an answer.

To sum it up: "Your story is good, but doesn't fit with what we need. Please submit again."

Really? They liked it enough to tell me to try again? Wow. It's nice to feel wanted.