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Michael Jasper
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 10:35 am:   

Okay, something sort of new here -- I want to read a paragraph or three from whatever it is you're working on these days, fellow writers. And I wanted to share a couple paragraphs from my own works-in-progress as well.

So give us a short excerpt (not TOO long), something intriguing that leaves us wanting more, and tell us what it's from -- a story or novel -- and its working title. And your name, of course!

Anyone can play.
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Michael Jasper
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 10:36 am:   

"Pay attention," she told herself, focusing on the empty road in front of her leading to Interstate 40. Snow was beginning to fall again, dotting the wide expanse of Bessie's cracked windshield. Claudia twisted the squelch control on the CB and flicked on the wipers. With the cold wind and dropping temperatures, not even the crazy drivers were out tonight, testing themselves on the unfamiliar snow and black ice. Claudia had relaxed and was enjoying the heat that had finally started to sputter from Bessie's vents when she saw the blue lights a block away on her right.

Just keep going, she thought at first. But Claudia knew this neighborhood, just half a mile from the interstate. She had friends living in the row houses here, had dropped off riders here almost every shift. Something about the way the blue lights of the cop car ahead of her played with the shadows made her think of the blurred shadow she'd seen off of Bloodworth the other night. She turned right and touched the brake with a glance at the stubborn smudge of paint on the back of her hand. Something flickered in that mix of red and blue and mostly black paint, catching the lights of the Wake County police car parked in front of the yellow Raleigh Taxi resting on its side.

"Jake," Claudia whispered, killing Bessie's engine. She stepped outside and lost her breath immediately in the wind.

-- from a dark fantasy story tentatively titled "Painting Haiti," by Michael Jasper
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Michael Jasper
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 10:55 am:   

"Damn it," I said, picking myself up from the piles of garbage around me so I could look her in the eye. "Buy me a drink and I'll tell you all you need to know. This is some way to treat a fellow 'rider, Amity."

"I'm buying, but only black tea for you," she said as she pulled me down the ally. "Your tunic still has vomit on it."

She needn't have wasted so much energy. I was coming with her regardless of anything I may have wanted to do. I looked at the stain on the bottom of my patched overshirt.

"Details," I muttered, trying to keep up with her long strides. "I don't worry about the details."

"That's right. You see the big picture."

I didn't answer that one. I was too busy preparing all of the facts from that morning, all that had happened a few hours ago that had led me to spend the last of my savings and rack up even more credit to drink away those events. Thanks to Amity's use of the command word from our Outriders days, I was going to have to relive that morning with her over a stinking mug of black tea. And probably not for the first time.

-- From a mixed-genre/fantasy novel tentatively titled Fog of War, by Michael Jasper
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 02:19 pm:   

Okay, I'll try this.

I like the Fog of War excerpt, Mike. The other piece is pretty neat as well.

From Homesick Commo Dog

Someone was banging on the door of the rig. Vannoy lifted her head from the floor, where she had curled up on herself.

“Go away.”

The banging switched to kicking. Vannoy uncoiled herself and shoved the door open.

“What the fu . . . ? Oh,” she noticed the Captain’s bars on the soldier standing outside and whipped up a salute.

“At ease, Sergeant,” Captain Maria Santoyo said, returning the salute. She grinned, “Glad I hopped off the steps before you shoved the door open.”

“Sorry, ma’am,” Vannoy said, letting Santoyo in the tachtrans rig.

The CO of Alpha Company, First Sharpshooters Regiment was a short, tanned, barrel shaped woman. Santoyo’s pulped potato nose, broken several times over, stood between coffee brown, warm eyes. Around her waist was the distinctive french blue sash of the U.S. Army Sharpshooters, wrapped around her waist like a tuxedo’s cummerbun. A black, patent leather Sam Brown pistol belt held the sash in place. Over her left breast pocket was the wreath and Kentucky long rifle of the Combat Infantry Badge, crowned with two stars.

Santoyo set a cooler down on the floor of the rig as her fatigues swirled from the pink-white of outside to match the washed out lime green of the rig. She sat down in the spare chair, looking Vannoy’s uniform over. “I see you still aren’t wearing your CIB.”

Vannoy looked down at the bare spot where her own badge should be. “Well, it makes the other commo dogs nervous. I do without the bells and whistles.”

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 02:56 pm:   

Hey, this is fun! Okay, here's an excerpt from a story I wrote last year called "Symmetry Breaking." In the past few weeks, I've been trying to revise and expand it:

--------------------------------------

He turns, startled and somewhat angry. The grip on his shoulder loosens, and a ratty pamphlet is shoved into his hands. The street preacher gazes into Jim's eyes; he stinks of shit and piss and stale beer. His mouth moves, but Jim pays no attention to what he says. After all, he's heard it all before. This same guy stops him every evening on his way to work, gives him the same speech and the same pamphlet. Jim wonders what the old man sees in him. Why does the preacher stop him and no one else, day in and day out? Does he see a need to believe in Jim's eyes? Some strange form of kinship?

Jim shudders at the thought of having a bond with this homeless derelict. He turns back and continues on his way. The preacher calls out after him, "Don't turn your back on the word of the Lord, son! Look into the sky and see His glory!"

Jim glances skyward for just a moment, immediately hating himself for doing so. But wait — there's something up there. No bigger than a distant star, but somehow brighter, hanging east of the sun. What the hell is that?

He notices for the first time that he isn't the only one looking up. Around him, the crowded street has come to a standstill; there are gasps, frightened looks on a hundred different faces. He looks heavenward again, and thinks, My God, is this the end of the world?
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 03:13 pm:   

I should add that if any of you have masochistic tendencies, you can read the original version of "Symmetry Breaking" here.
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Tribeless
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 03:42 pm:   

Stephen, I finally get to read some of HCD. Chris, that was good.

My turn. I wrote the below over breakfast, so its first draft only! - its the start of a flash fiction piece (under 500 words) that takes a tilt at the post modern subjectivist ethic - by the way, I love Vukcevich, just don't agree with the philosophic world view that I take from his work).

------------------------

It depresses me to think how I was a free man when my hand pushed the door to enter that room. A free man within limits, of course. It was still against the law to smoke at my local pub and I had to pay my taxes.

The door squeaked. Not loudly, but enough. Bob's eyes turned on me. There was nothing in the room other than the table behind which he was sitting, on it a book open, spine cracked, at a Vukcevich story.

I blinked. Blinked again. All was not as it seemed. Something was wrong, for he was sitting on a chair that was not there. Blink. His face was ... a smudge. It was like when you see a vision out of the corner of your eye, but turning to capture it, its not there, like Bob's chair. Blink. His body was in sharp, dark focus against the white of the walls, but I could only catches glimpses of a nose, eyes, his mouth.

He did not speak, just in my mind pointed at another chair that was not there and asked me to sit and break bread with him.

"But there is no chair, there?" I looked, tried, to look him in the eye, shrugging my shoulders to show my confusion.

He made me feel shameful at my distrust. I was not being fair, there was, of course, a chair there, I was just a Judas not open to it. Look again.

[mmm. Perhaps a little much of the Dr Suess :-) Tribeless ... aka Mark Hubbard]
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Laura Anne
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 03:40 pm:   

Hrm.

This if from Curse the Dark the caperish fantasy novel that's scheduled for, um, July 2005, after this year's Staying Dead.


He deposited the food on the counter and came back out into the hallway in time to see Margot and P.B. doing an awkward sidestep around each other, her trying to leave, him trying to come in. He was wearing a coat today, thank God, a long windbreaker sort of thing, with his usual messenger’s bag over it. But his head was uncovered, and there was no way in hell that anyone could avoid seeing his flat, white-furred face, or the rounded, bear-like ears, even if they somehow missed the fact that his eyes were the color of dried blood.
“Oh. Sorry about that.” P.B. seemed flabbergasted, and if the situation were a little less potentially disasterous, Sergei would have laughed at how the demon, clearly uncertain how to react, was hedging, looking to Wren for rescue.
“You were leaving, mother,” Wren reminded her, taking her by the arm with one hand and picking up her shopping bag with the other. “And yes, I will call you.”
P.B. looked up and saw Sergei standing there, and made for him like a safe zone. Considering that P.B. knew how Sergei felt about fatae in general, and demons in particular, that was a sign of his panic.
The door shut behind Margot, and Wren turned around to put her back to the door, looking at the two of them with a wide-eyed look of disaster averted.
“Jesus wept.”
“Valere. Your mom’s a babe. How come you came up so short?”
“Shut up, P.B. You got the goods?”
“Handy and dandy.” He placed one clawed hand on the messenger’s bag. “Am I not da man?”
“You da demon, that’s for sure. And I am totally tapped out, so you’re going to be da demon who takes it on credit.”

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Michael Jaser
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 03:36 am:   

(Great excerpts, folks! Y'all inspired me -- I read your stories and was driven to get some of my own writing done this morning. Thanks!)

Like the smudge on her hand and the blurry shadow she'd seen a few nights earlier, the night the first report of the attacks had probably been made, the cop's eyes flashed white, then red, for an awful instant.

"Move along," the policeman said in a low voice. "Nothing to see here, miss."

-- From "Painting Haiti," by Michael Jasper
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Michael Jasper
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 03:37 am:   

The Darkened Days. Therein lies many more tales, but they must be told at a later time. While I do my best not to bog myself with details, I do try to see the connections between events and people. What happened this morning definitely has threads leading back to the Darkened Days as well as to our current, ongoing war against the unholy.

-- From Fog of War by Michael Jasper
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Tribeless
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 04:28 am:   

[The below is from the short story I've mistakenly sent to The New Yorker (as they don't read the slush pile apparently ... I'm re-writing parts of it over the coming week for the time when I can send it somewhere else - problem is I need to hear back from New Yorker first otherwise it will be a simultaneous submission?]

----------------

Delicately Cassie dabbed the iced flannel to her bruised eye. She was sitting on the side of the bath, one half of her blouse ripped open and hanging round her waist, her bare breast and side showing clearly his finger marks from the slap. The punch to her stomach had been so hard she had not been able to draw breath, knocking a pot plant to the floor in her panic as she had doubled over in pain. She had cleaned that up first, directly after he had stormed from the apartment. Even now the irony of that made her smile, then grimace.



The ice had taken the sting out of her face, although she would not be able to make it to the brokerage again this week -- god, how many days sick leave had she taken now? Cassie suspected that some of those she was closer to there knew what the score was, however, none of them knew her well -- she always ensured that. And latterly, since DeadDog had hacked into the brokerage's heart that day, she'd begun to shut herself down from everything other than the silicon escape being encoded on the monitor before her.

From 'The Gouge'- Mark Hubbard
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Tribeless
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 04:31 am:   

God's curly haired and bloodied head rolled down the rough concrete steps of the University's theatre and into the lap of the madman Nietzsche, who paused only briefly from doing donuts in his wheelchair to catch it as it bounced off the bottom step.


"Wee hee, God is dead, long liv me. Just me and ma’moorality," the madman wheeled figure eights, his hand bouncing the head like a basketball along the ground, "oh yes baby, me and ma moorality ..."


"Okay okay", Professor Roy transposed into the podium light, unable to stop a chuckle, "That's enough Colin ... It's, um, not quite what the assignment called for, is it?"

From 'The Gouge'. (Time for bed).
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 03:15 am:   

Half a dozen of her students were waiting for her in the small second-floor workspace above the homeless shelter off of Fayetteville Street Mall. Claudia unloaded her paints and chatted with Briana and Derron. The rest of her students, ranging in ages from sixteen to sixty, were already turned to their canvases, dabbing at them uncertainly as if afraid to waste the tiniest bit of paint.

Claudia was just about to give a quick mini-lecture about perspective when Marlene popped into the room. The social worker's face was pinched with concern, and she curled her finger at Claudia to come outside the makeshift classroom.

"Go ahead and get started," she told her students on her way out, aching to stop and look at each canvas. "I'll talk to each one of you individually today. No lecture."

She left the room to a sarcastic round of cheers and laughter, accompanied by the magical sound of brushes touching canvas.

Next to her own painting time, this was her favorite part of the day. Her students all had hidden skills that painting brought to the forefront, surprising both Claudia and the students themselves. She loved being part of that process of discovery.

-- from a dark fantasy story tentatively titled "Painting Haiti," by Michael Jasper
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Michael Jasper
Posted on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 06:09 am:   

(Hey, where are all the excerpts! I'm lookig forward to read more snippets from works-in-progress. Otherwise it's just me here, yammering away...)

Joshua was leaning forward, on the verge of losing his balance, when the Wannoshay stopped talking. He thought the alien had said some sort of name. Something like "my light." Or "twilight."

"Who?" he whispered. "Who did you find? What about twilight?"

A shiver passed over Johndo's long body, starting at his bare gray feet and rippling up through his bony torso and stopping at his lipless mouth, which was almost hidden in his face. His sweet smell had turned salty.

"Johndo?" Joshua said, stepping closer.

"Easy, father," the colonel said, and the sound of his voice cooled Joshua's curiosity. He'd forgetten about the colonel and the three other soldiers in the room with their weapons now resting in their arms.

-- From the revision to "Redemption, Drawing Near," an SF tale being fixed up for an editor... (fingers crossed he likes it!)
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 01:28 am:   

Okay, here's one from a creepy ghost story I've been fiddling with for awhile:

------------------------------------

I say it could have been a deer, but deep down in my heart I know what I really saw. I can see it in my head just as clear as I see you sitting in front of me right now, Kathy.

It was Judith Green, alright. She was on all fours like a wild animal, her hair hanging in her face, but all the same I could see it was her. She was holding her baby in her teeth, and there was a gaping hole where the top left part of her head used to be before she blew her brains out in 1954.

She was crawling across the road, right on the edge of where the headlights met darkness. And then she stopped. She stopped and slowly, slowly turned her head and looked right at me. Her mouth opened, the bloody fetus dropping to the ground with a splat, her mouth opened and God help me, she stared right at me with those awful, empty eyes and screamed my name.

And then, just like that, she was gone.

"That's what happens when you die," David whispered, gesturing toward the now-empty road. "You come back, but not as the person you were before. That . . . THING you saw in the headlights had nothing in common with the real Judith Green. She was a husk, an empty shell -- remember that, Johnny."

"Why? Why did you come back to show me this?"

"Because in 1982, the only woman you'll ever love will be decapitated in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. That night, you'll hold a pistol to your temple, figuring that life without her won't be any kind of life at all. But then you'll put the gun down, because suddenly you'll remember the conversation we're having tonight, you'll remember the look in my eyes, but most importantly, you'll remember the look in HER eyes, Judith Green's, that look of pure, eternal EMPTINESS, and you'll get scared. You'll put the gun down, and you'll go on with your life."

------------------------------------

from "Recursions," by Chris Dodson

http://www.livejournal.com/users/loveboatcaptain/
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Matt Jarpe
Posted on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 06:45 pm:   

Pushing a rock, pushing a rock, pushing a rock, pushing a rock, pushing a rock, pushing a rock.
Jerry Coleau awoke from a dream about pushing a rock. It was 4 am, and it was time to push the rock.
The harsh sunlight shone full onto his face, so he couldn’t see the stars. He blinked and felt for the snaps that held him in his mesh sleeping bag. He groped to the left to find the tie-down where he’d left his jumpsuit. He fumbled with the garment for a few minutes until he figured out which were the legs and which were the arms. He wondered, for the twentieth time now, why he bothered.
His eyes were slowly getting adjusted to the light. He could just make out the dim outlines of the food locker across the space station. To his right he saw the ghostly imprint of his hand where he had touched the rock for these past weeks. To his left he saw his two naked companions. Katjia was sleeping, and Bazos may as well have been. After five weeks of looking at them through their invisible clothes the beautiful woman stirred his desire no more than did the wrinkled old man.
Jerry didn’t say good morning to either one of them. To break Bazos’s concentration was to invite their doom, so he kept quiet as he pulled open the food locker. He felt for a morning bar and a tube of water. He munched the bar without tasting it as he turned his back to the sun and searched the stars.
He looked for the constellation Delphinus to get his bearings. Then he found Orion, his favorite ever since he was a kid lying on top of his parent’s camper under the clear New England skies. Finally, he found the four planets that were the guide to his progress. He could see the stars in any direction as long as he didn’t look directly at the sun. The Salyut and everything in it, and the rock to which it was attached, was invisible.
Almost everything, Jerry reminded himself as he pushed the bar wrapper and the empty tube into the trash bin. Bazos’s power didn’t work well on living things. He could see mold colonies growing everywhere in the garbage, and there were colonies outlining the food locker. The mold was starting to overgrow the walls. Soon, he’d be able to find his way around the station easily, that’s how fast the mold was advancing.
He wiped his right hand on his leg as he settled into the flexible channel that led to the rock. He found the most comfortable position for his hand against the rough but slightly greasy surface. He stilled his mind, fixed his position by the stars and planets, and he pushed.


****************************************

From "The Ubiquitarians" now with a retooled ending, thanks to some insightful notes from Jim Kelly

snifffff.... aaaah, still has that new story smell
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Michael Jasper
Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 04:35 am:   

Joshua gently removed the hands reaching out for him. "Follow me," he said in a voice that silenced those around him. His chest gave one final twinge of pain as he walked up the steps, and then he forgot about everything but his people and the book. He had the pages free by the time walked through the security arch, and his congregation sat in the pews, watching him in a shocked silence as he arranged the metal pages against the walls of the church. He placed them below to the stained glass windows and next to the Stations of the Cross.

This time, Father Joshua knew he'd get the pattern right. Of that he had no doubt, just as he knew he'd see Johndo again. But first, he had to show his congregation as much of the People's true history as they could handle. This time he held back the blank pages of the Wannoshay book, not wanting to disrupt the pattern.

Long before he put the final eight-sided page covered in swirling gray symbols in place against the wall, the energy in Father Joshua's church had already begun to build. Just before white light filled his church, Joshua prayed the People would have time to complete the blank pages of this book, and many more books after that.

-- From the revised version of my SF tale "Redemption, Drawing Near" (almost done, I hope!)
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 11:25 am:   

Hey, they both have that "new story" smell to them.

I should polish up an excerpt from The Limb Knitter and get it posted. Maybe I'll do that here in a couple of days.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 12:35 pm:   

Polish? There's no need to polish. I notice I have a couple of typos in my excerpt. But that's sort of the point, y'know? Just share what you worked on today. It's our way of saying HEY, I DID THIS.
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Michael Jasper
Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 06:19 pm:   

On the drive home, away from the smoke of the explosion and the lights of the city, the night sky was painfully clear above them. Skin was wide awake while Lisa napped with her head on his shoulder. The roundness of her belly, he noticed, was starting to become more prominent.

He knew he was going to have to talk to Matt about the explosion. As he thought about that unappealing, upcoming encounter, Skin caught himself slowing down on the deserted two-lane highway. He needed to look at the constellations again. He stopped the truck when he finally found a constellation that looked familiar. Probably the Big Dipper, maybe Orion. Skin killed the headlights and turned off the engine, and for once it didn't backfire.

Still staring up at the sky, he stepped out into the cool night air filled only with the gasping sound of crickets and the ticking of his truck's engine. I'm going to be a father soon, Skin thought, standing at the side of the road in the darkness with his wife stirring in their truck next to him and the fires of Vermillion far behind them. I've got to make something good out of all this. Skin looked at the brightest of the stars and vowed to learn all of the constellations, and he vowed to do it soon, while there was still time.

-- from "Skin and Blood," the other story I sent off today after a quick once-over
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 11:01 pm:   

I've been told that I dance like a one-legged Parkinson's patient who just walked through a spiderweb, but I sure as shit didn't let that stop me from taking Julie May Jameson out to the center of the field when I heard the opening chords of "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" blaring from the speakers of Maness the Anus' old Chevy S10. It was still early in the day and there were only a few of us there at the time, so I wasn't too awful worried about being seen. Plus I had about a gallon of Bud Light swimming through my bloodstream, so my judgment wasn't quite what it should have been.

So there I was, swinging my arms back and forth like tree limbs in a tornado, when all of a sudden I heard Maness the Anus screaming, "The sky! The sky! Good Lord Jesus, the sky!" Of course, we both stopped dancing and looked up, just in time to see one of those damn ships block out the sun. I can't say I was too surprised; I mean, hell, the things had been all over the TV and radio, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a little strange to be seeing one with my own eyes.

I guess disappointment was the main thing I was feeling. See, I'd been trying to get into Julie May Jameson's pants for damn near two weeks, and I was hoping that after the dancing and the contest, she'd come back to my place and we'd do a little pokey-pokey, heh heh heh. That sure as hell wasn't going to happen now, though. Those goddamn aliens had to show up and ruin everything.

--------------------------------

-- from "The Incredibly Strange Tale of What Happened at the Forty-Second Annual Hogslop County Baloney Sandwich Contest," which is turning out to be totally different from anything else I've ever written

Chris Dodson
Journal: The Passion of the Chris
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Michael Jasper
Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 06:48 am:   

We are here, Nonami's look had said. We must make the most of it.

A caravan of windowless electric buses rushed by Shontera, filling the air with the stink of ozone. The buses left a hot breeze in their wake as they rushed up Clybourn Avenue. The aliens were being taken away on the same buses that had brought them here just a few months earlier.

Shontera started walking again, not looking back, her legs shaking. The air was cold now on her sweaty skin, and she could barely catch her breath. After ten more steps, she was running.

-- From a story I went back to polish up, "Back in the Old Neighborhood"
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 07:57 pm:   

Gorged on raw steak, Diana wasn’t about to eat any children no matter how defenseless and tender they looked. She glared down at her killing sickle toe. And besides, who knew what diseases could be contracted from eating them? Aids slicing through her immune system? Annoying. Ebola shredding her capillaries until she bled from every orifice? Disconcerting. Cooties? Any disease that traumatized adults into denying its existence while sending children scurrying could only be terrifying.

The door to her dressing room opened an inch. The tang of stale adrenaline and fermented fear crept into her nostrils. Undoubtedly, Rick had hired a sniper with a .410 rifle to climb up into the rafters and keep a bead on her just in case. Better not even flick her tongue out at a kid if she knew what was best for her. Damn that Allosaurus!

No carnivore should ever sacrifice meat for ratings. The moment Albert started getting pudgy and pink with every child wanting to hug him, he should have gulped down the nearest bovine. But he just had to keep eating those bean salads and tofu casseroles. A meat-deprived Allosaurus could eat a child every ten seconds. Albert lasted seventy-three seconds before his bullet-riddled body ceased to feed.

From, "A Pink Shadow," a short story currently in progress.
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 09:07 pm:   

"Gorged on raw steak, Diana wasn’t about to eat any children no matter how defenseless and tender they looked."

Now THAT'S what I call a hook! :-)

Chris Dodson
Journal: The Passion of the Chris
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 06:51 pm:   

I just had a bad thought. Does anyone know if posting snippets of your work here counts as a form of previous publication, thereby making it nearly impossible to sell the work later?
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T Andrews
Posted on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 07:27 pm:   

Snippets probably are okay, but I think some publications are pretty strict about a work having been on the internet, unless it is posted in a restricted environment, viewable only by a small number. I had a couple of stories that I really wanted to send out to specific publications, but because they appeared in open internet writing workshops, I couldn't.
I'm sure different editors have different feelings on it. I'd err on the side of caution, personally.
But I'm new to this, so someone else may have a better answer.
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 08:23 pm:   

Well, if you posted the whole thing on here, it'd count as prior publication, but three paragraphs aren't going to hurt (unless, of course, the story's only three paragraphs long.) I can't really see any pro editor rejecting an otherwise good story just because a few lines were posted on a message board somewhere.

Chris Dodson
Journal: The Passion of the Chris
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 09:57 am:   

I use the 10% rule, which I heard somewhere, maybe Cory Doctorow's web site, which states that you can put an excerpt that amounts to 10% of the total of your story or novel online and it won't be considered "already published."

So if it's a story, keep it short. Novels you have a bit more leeway. But if you really want to play it safe, don't post excerpts. This is still a somewhat fuzzy area.

Of course, I'd be highly surprised if any editor has the time to troll the net looking for 1-2 paragraphs exceprts of a story or novel he or she wants to publish. Call me naive, I guess... ;)
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 11:01 am:   

Thanks for your responses. Maybe if I post, I should make sure the story isn't under the title I'm going to use and isn't in its near finished state. I always agonize over the first part of a story, spending days getting the proper tone. One I get the tone down, though, the rest of the story flows a lot easier.

Alas, I may have messed up in posting. I think if nothing else, the last paragraph I submitted could in and of itself work as a piece of flash fiction:

No carnivore should ever sacrifice meat for ratings. The moment Albert started getting pudgy and pink with every child wanting to hug him, he should have gulped down the nearest bovine. But he just had to keep eating those bean salads and tofu casseroles. A meat-deprived Allosaurus could eat a child every ten seconds. Albert lasted seventy-three seconds before his bullet-riddled body ceased to feed.

Oh well. It's a long cry from being the only idea I have.
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T Andrews
Posted on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 03:58 pm:   

I like that 10% suggestion. I would be comfortable using that as a guide.
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T Andrews
Posted on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 04:09 pm:   

'It was planting season, but you wouldn't have known it by looking. Dusty crows filled the trees where new leaves should have hung and the river, like his wife, hadn't swelled after the thaw. Bruni didn't expect this hint of a child to see the harvest.
Bruni spat on the ground. Thinking of soil and roots and dead things, he turned back to his house and waited for nightfall.
That's when he came to me, of course.'

~from Planting Season. Short story in the works.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 01:06 pm:   

The sour, yellow puss oozing under the bandage almost made me forget the fever. Gangrene. Gods, the wound was barely even an inch deep and a mere hand’s span across my thigh, the result of just another successful defense of my mother’s honor. A few stitches and a week or two should have had me standing as easily as ever. Instead, in a week, I might be missing a leg.

Why couldn’t it be my arm? I could almost look forward to an arm amputation. Arm prosthetics had potential. Who would dare say lies about my mother with me waving an enormous, iron hook in their face? Even better, I could have a sword attached to where my arm used to be. Get a limb amputated at the thigh, though, and what did I have to look forward to? A peg leg. The only bright side to having a peg leg was that at least I’d have a ready supply of toothpicks. There had to be another way. I hobbled to the corner.

My hair stood on end as I watched the crowd swarm up and down Sacrifice Avenue. Master Laogar was right. Most people were nothing more than rats scrounging for the stray barley kernel. The only difference between me and the swarm was that at least I knew I was a rat, a rat with gangrene.

I sniffed for danger like the good rat that I was. Burnt pork marinated in garlic sauce. Fermenting sewage wafting up from the city’s bowels. I sniffed deeper. Nectar perfume on the foreheads of those who thought they were women. Blade oil on the swords of those who thought they were men. I don’t know where my training went wrong but I didn’t catch even a hint of sorcerer’s apprentice.

I staggered out onto the avenue. Arms merchants slid their thumbs along their knives until blood oozed onto the cobbles--an ancient transaction between merchant and gods: blood for gold. To the chagrin of many anemic peddlers, only the gods seemed to know the current rate of exchange.

Tentative beginning of CHAINS OF APPRENTICESHIP, a novel in progress.
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Laura Anne
Posted on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 07:31 am:   

Wren looked at Sergei, who gave a little shrug to indicate that it was her call. He tried to keep his features as still as possible, to not indicate his preference one way or the other, because what he really wanted was to lock her away somewhere well out of this entire mess. The lonejack code, what there was of it, could be summed up as ‘don’t get involved. Don’t join anything large enough to become a target. And most of all, don’t get tangled up in the Council.’

But the Council was already gunning for her. Bugging her apartment, that was almost certainly their work. The Council’s ire had forced them both into this devil’s bargain with the Silence, to make sure she was protected.

How could you stay unentangled, when you were already caught?

“Yeah.” Her voice was dark and thick, coming from her throat only with effort. “Yeah, okay. I’ll try.”

Lee’s breath of relief was audible even over the tiny speakers. “I wouldn’t ask this, Wren. But I really think you’re the only chance we’ve got to stop this now, before more people get hurt.”


again, from Curse the Dark, scheduled for July 2005.
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Rinaldo
Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 07:44 am:   

The

From untitled future nebula winning story not yet finished. (Please, don't steal my idea).
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 08:35 am:   

ROFL!

I think Mike's got dibs on that, though. His original post in the thread contains no less than 25 "the"s. Sorry, Rinaldo. You could always try "hamburger" or "snuffleupagus", as I don't think those have been used here yet. Good luck!

Chris Dodson
Journal: The Passion of the Chris
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Michael Jasper
Posted on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 07:18 am:   

"Yeah," Claudia said, wiping at a tear that had slipped from her eye. When she lowered her hand, she saw the smudge of paint again, even though she knew she'd scraped it off this morning with a brush and a bit of turpentine. This time, the colors kept swirling even when her hand stopped moving.

"Claudia?"

When she looked up, Claudia realized she was now sitting on the floor, with Marlene hovering over her like a wide-eyed owl. Her legs must have given out on her.

"Listen," Marlene said, taking charge as always, "I'll cancel your class for you, and you can go home and get some rest. You work too hard -- when was your last day off, girl?"

"Mmm," Claudia mumbled. Her eyes kept straying back to the smudge on her hand. "What month is it?"

-- From a story-in-progress tentatively titled "Painting Haiti" (a title I'm starting to really not like)
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Mike
Posted on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 07:20 am:   

(Chris -- I can't believe you counted the "the"s!!)
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 12:26 pm:   

Oh, I didn't count 'em by hand! I just used the "Find" feature in Internet Explorer. :-)
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 07:10 pm:   

I glared at the club in my hand. Nothing but three feet of polished wood, utterly useless, a true sorcerer’s weapon. What exactly did Mandethk expect me to do with it? I couldn’t even fall on it and put an end to my misery. Gods, I hated the forest. No swords. No ogre brandy. No rat sausage. No women cloaked in nothing more than a cloud of nectar perfume. No women at all.

I lifted another chunk of beef to my lips. Suddenly, a wonderful scent exploded upon my nose--the bite of cinnamon mixed with the tang of fresh-spilt blood and an unknown effervescence that went straight to my head, made me feel both humble and awe-inspiring. My heart beat faster. The ultimate perfume! I could make mounds of cobras in Trangilok if I knew how to recreate the scent on demand.

My nostrils flared. I bent down and sniffed the ground. I had found the source. I stood up straight. How well would my club serve as a shovel? The hairs on the back of my neck suddenly stood up straight. Maybe the smell wasn’t coming from the ground. Now it seemed to emanate from the air. I sniffed my armpit and got a strong burst of the scent. My fingers tightened around my club. The smell seemed to come from everywhere.

She stepped out of the underbrush. Normally, small breasts don’t interest me. Breasts should instill in the lover a proper fear of drowning. This woman’s breasts, though, managed to be small yet overflowing. Perhaps it was because she had six of them, one for each of her arms.
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - 08:39 pm:   

Here's one from a story I just started today, "The Nine Billion Names of Todd".

------------------------------------------------------

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

Jill looked from the window to her brother in the back seat with an evil grin, and then said, in the very best sweet-little-girl voice she could muster, "Moooomm, Todd's destroying the universe again."

"Jill, what have I told you about tattling?"

"But, Mom -- "

"No buts, young lady. Turn around and leave your brother alone."

Jill faced front again with a theatrical huff and read a little more of her Shonen Jump before taking one more quick glance back at Todd. He was just sitting there like he always did, wide-eyed and drooling, a huge smile spread across his chubby face. If she squinted, she could almost see a halo gleaming around the little brat's head. She huffed again and mumbled under her breath, "He always gets away with everything."

Suddenly Mom slammed on the breaks and pulled the Nova over into the breakdown lane. She just sat there, staring straight ahead, for what seemed like forever, and then she turned to Jill. "Now you listen, and you listen good, because this is the LAST time I will ever tell you this. Your brother is a very special little boy, and you WILL stop treating him like you do. I have a hard enough time dealing with his . . . specialness as it is, and I've had more than enough of you trying to make me choose between the two of you. Now would you please just be quiet and read your comic? We're almost to Houston, and I'd like to drive the rest of the way in peace. If that's okay with you."

Jill thought about explaining to her mother that she was reading manga rather than a "comic", but then wisely decided against it. Instead, she settled for another drawn-out sigh and went back to the adventures of Shaman King while Mom put the car in gear and continued down the highway.

Chris Dodson
Journal: The Passion of the Chris
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Wednesday, May 05, 2004 - 10:54 pm:   

Not until ogre brandy turned to water, not until blood turned to urine, not until wise men turned to wizards, would I step into that tower. Gods, I’ve never seen a more hideous sight like a misshapen penis poking out of a pubic patch infested with the rot. The problem was obvious--too much cover. Whether the cover came from tree or hair, the cures were the same: steel and flame.

The cause was equally obvious--sorcerers thinking that being a man required nothing more than a little hair in the right place. I didn’t know much about being a man but even I knew that manhood--nay, even civilization itself--was nothing more than the constant struggle against chaos. Whether in one’s pants or on one’s land, what could be more chaotic than a forest? And besides, a properly burned forest only made a tower look taller than it actually was.

from CHAINS OF APPRENTICESHIP, a novel in progress
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Sunday, June 27, 2004 - 10:06 pm:   

From The Limb Knitter:

The trooper ducked at the crumps of near impacts and hollered back. "What? What did you say?"

Severis tried and failed to ignore the fecal atmosphere and flyblown, crucified enemy corpses on the reverse slope of the trench. Their brown, ridged carapace armor was cracked and holed in several places, spilling a bounty of bright white maggots onto the ground. The dead creatures shivered in their death slumber.

Severis raised his voice above the chaos. "Did you see that Limb Knitter? You just walked past her."

The grimy trooper turned pale and began to shake. She pulled away from Severis, clutching her brass-ringed railgun at port arms. "What Limb Knitter? Did you see one?"

The Limb Knitter was gone.

From The Limb Knitter, which is finished. She'll be pounding the market pavements by the middle of July. :-)

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Mike Van Wie
Posted on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 09:45 pm:   

I hope it's OK to post here (I'm far from a regular!). This is from about the midpoint of a novel I'm working on. Right now, it's called "Sweet Medea."

#

“Ursula can tell you what it was like when she had her baby,” said Diana to Rix.

Rix’s instinctive reaction was: Oh, dear God. But after a moment he realized it might be good to hear what he was in for, straight from the mouth of another human host. But first...he checked Clarence: still there, still slumped in his chair, but staring up now at a flight of mephits, blowing imaginary bubbles from his lips. “Tell you what. I’ll join you in a few minutes.”

Aris looked as if he couldn’t understand a word. Diana frowned. “Where are you going?”

“There.” He pointed at the cafe.

He knew her well enough to understand her look: _don’t_disappoint_me_. He looked at the perfect pout on her perfect face, and he wished being with her didn’t mean he had to feel so torn up inside. He wanted nothing but to please her. He wanted only to be human. He wanted to act, to make decisions, to move in the world, to move the world. He wanted Diana. He couldn’t decide which way to jump.

Maybe she could see it in his face. Her expression turned tender. She stood on her toes and kissed his chin. “Hurry back,” she said.
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Sunday, July 25, 2004 - 08:33 am:   

Hey -- thanks for adding an excerpt, Mike! I'll do the same. The following is from a journal entry by my protagonist while his baseball team in in Cuba in December, 1916, and this passage is a tribute to one of John Kessel's stories, in a way:

The hour is late, and I still have to check on my centerfielder, who seems to have gotten hooked on cigars, before I can go to sleep. Mack says the strangest things while he smokes, and I find it disconcerting. The tales he spins are like his predictions, but wilder, and he doesn't smile as he shares them, like his talk about a tunnel that links -- or will link -- this part of Havana to the eastern portion of Havana and row upon row of tall buildings and houses. He also talked about a bearded pitcher that he kept calling "the Franchise," because of his impeccable control, but then he'd contradict himself and say that this pitcher named Fidel was going to be some sort of politician. I think the tobacco isn't agreeing with Mack. I really do need to keep a closer eye on him, and the other the young bucks out running in the streets at all hours.

And on that note, I must get some sleep. Until my next entry, ˇAdios!
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Jamie
Posted on Sunday, July 25, 2004 - 02:03 pm:   

Here's a teaser from a story I just started today, inspired by an official sign posted in a public washroom ("Please flush objects down toilet"):

The properties of the downstairs toilet at 15 Holmwood Avenue in East Lairdman first came to light when young Mary Prescott's pet goldfish Sara was found floating belly-up in her goldfish bowl. She was given a proper goldfish send-off, and sent swirling down into the East Lairdman Island plumbing in mid-afternoon. That night, while the whole Prescott family slept, unseen forces toiled away in the background, and the next morning Mary and her parents awoke to find the goldfish bowl reconfigured into a fish tank more than ten times its size, and Sara reborn as a gorgeous specimen close to one foot in lenght.

(From "The Redemptive Toilet of East Lairdman Island, Ontario")
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Mike Van Wie
Posted on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 07:25 pm:   

Here's some more sweet, sweet Medea. :-)
---

Alexander didn’t have to say a word. Kim saw him coming, and rose to meet him. She came all the way around her desk to stop him. “No, no, no,” she said. “You aren’t here.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean. How long were you in jail? Five days?”

“Four.”

“We don’t need you anymore.”

Alexander stared at his friend, and she stared back, looking very much as if she wanted not to. Her eyes were twitchy and wide. Was she scared? Of him?

“Don’t worry,” he said. “Jail isn’t contagious.”
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 03:12 am:   

From the wild and wooly chapter 14 from yesterday marathon writing session, a little Santeria action for ya:

"Is he okay?" Boles hissed. He was leaning so far away from Buddha that was almost sitting in Mack's lap.

Prieto and Torri leaned over the man nicknamed Buddha, and George could've sworn he heard them blowing in Buddha's face and ears. They sat him back up again in his chair, and his grin widened.

"My worshippers," Buddha said in a voice that seemed to come from outside the room, above them. He reached out for the headless pigeon and shoved most of it into his mouth.

"Muchas gracias," he mumbled. Somehow he was still able to retain his grin while he ate the bird whole. George reached for the bottle of aguardiente and took a long pull, hoping that would drown out the wet sounds of snapping bones and chewed feathers.

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Mike Van Wie
Posted on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 07:06 pm:   

Hilltop was not such an insult as upper Elbow had been. Even in her day it had attracted mostly the idle rich. However, the name made her wince. Two hundred years ago it had been called Hillside, which was in fact a far more accurate description. Perhaps the change reflected a new pessimism among humankind -- finding that they had climbed as far up Jason’s hill as the Pollys would let them, they simply redefined what it meant to be on top.

Whatever the name, the guards in their booths were new. There were no cameras here. Medea craned her neck and got a glimpse of a buzz-cut head, a bald spot, a face like a beetle’s behind mirrored shades. The gun was held in plain view, and it moved -- she was sure for her benefit -- to reveal the heavy stock, the IR sight, the wire that connected the sight to the glasses. There were too many guns, produced over too many years, for Medea to have a clue what kind this one was. Was it a hundred years obsolete? Two hundred? It would kill her just as dead. She had a doubt that there would be much left of her to bury.

The guard wore no shirt over skin the color of varnished cherrywood. His smile was broad and full of tiny, flattened teeth.
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Michael Jasper
Posted on Thursday, March 31, 2005 - 05:50 pm:   

The war as well as the wet weather was hurting attendance at our games, which was to be expected, but I never could've foreseen what Boles called the "food police." We witnessed all sorts of variations on the new policies of Hoover's Food Administration at our games as people tried to conserve food for the war effort. One night in Buffalo was a meatless day, the next night in Rochester was a wheatless day, then we got stuck in a tiny upstate New York town called Victory where we had to leave the team bus parked all day on a gasless Sunday. We saw signs in Oneida reading "If U Fast U Beat the U Boats" and handouts in Ithaca on how to build your very own vegetable garden for victory. Seemed like everyone watched how much food you ate, as if gauging to see who needed it more, you or the soldiers on the Western Front. With all this talk about not wasting food, I felt hungry all the time.

-- From The All Nations Team

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