Are you ready for Fiction Shots #2? Giddyup! A Drift of Quills are writing again—It’s a flash of fiction! Three different stories inspired by one picture.
The catalyst for these stories comes from the whimsical “Non Lo So,” by Zhiyong Li on Artstation. It tickled our fancies, for sure!
Pour yourselves a nice cool glass of lemonade (or a delightfully warm cup of hot cocoa, depending on the hemisphere), and see where our imaginations have travelled…
Fiction Shots #2
Flash #1: Opposite Tricks
By Robin Lythgoe
When Toady says they’re to paint the Widow Grayling’s house, Akasha stares along with everyone else.
“Orange.” Uneven teeth make his smile particularly fiendish. The gang erupts into hoots and shouts of laughter at that. The widow’s a quiet woman of modest means. Her house used to be brown, but most of the color’s chipped off now. It would no more willingly wear orange than would the widow.
“She needs some brightening.” Zekan always backs up Toady. If their illustrious leader decided they should all become acolytes at the local temple, Zekan would hand out the cassocks and thump anyone who questioned the choice. Same if Toady resolved to filch grub down in the Bellows—Royal Ghost territory, where Toady’s Azure Fang Gang would swiftly find their end. Hopefully not a permanent one… Did the Ghosts kill children? Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots #2 (Little Girl, Big City)→
Terrible Books—Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em? A Drift of Quills reads a lot of books. It’s our job. (Stinks, right?) We are bound to come across lemons now and then—and this time we’re talking about what we do with them. Do we keep reading? Throw fits? Recycle them and hurry to the next? Read on to discover our take on Books We Hate…
We’ve all come across them—those books that are so badly written you wonder if the author was even an earthling. Or, assuming that they weren’t hatched on another planet, if they bothered to attend grade school. Or if they live in a sensory deprivation chamber and have no freaking idea what the real world is like. The first pages of such a book are usually painful. Do you risk the agony of finishing the entire book? You want to know my philosophy?
Life is short.
I have been known to read books I don’t like, but there has to be a good reason. Like loads of wildly good reviews. Lots of awards. Inclusion on allegedly important lists. And even then I don’t always finish. Why should I? Life is short. And there are so many other, better books to read!
I used to wonder if I might not learn something from these “good” books.
I did! There’s no accounting for some people’s taste. This world would be a really boring place if we all liked the same things, did the same things, thought the same things. Thank goodness we don’t! And thank goodness there are a meeeellion more books to choose from when I come across drivel labeled as “an enthralling adventure bound to captivate,” “a book that touched me in profound ways,” “heartfelt,” or “unputdownable.”
I can put it down.
I can list it on my Did Not Finish list and withhold any and all fancy-schmancy stars on any review sites.
And sometimes (if the writing really makes my blood boil) I write a passionate review with lots of bolded sectionsand underlined phrases. Vehement outrage. And flames. I shake my fist, too, but that doesn’t translate well to paper. But I never post it. I tuck it away in a folder, and go find another book to read.
Let me point you to a few good ones right here, just in case you need some salve after writing your own fiery non-review: Flinch-Free Fantasy.
What to do with a book you hate? Or, even worse, a book that was just, ‘meh.’ It doesn’t even warrant the energy of hurling it against the opposite wall. It barely deserves a sigh and a shrug, and certainly won’t get a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Too much effort for a story that simply didn’t captivate. So what do you do with that story? Are you a finisher? A staller? Or a tosser?
Do I finish books that I start, but hate? I can answer this question with a single title: Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. I found Moby Dick to be utterly, incomprehensibly, annoyingly, mind-bogglingly boring—and odd—and downright awful. I hated it. Hated it! Nothing, nothing anyone could say about a color, or its significance, or what Melville may have mean to symbolize through the use of a color, could ever possibly resurrect this title for me. I found a solid 70% of the work to be complete nonsense—a waste of ink and a waste of paper. Lest I be mistaken, let me put it simply: I truly and completely abhor this work. Perhaps more than any other I’ve ever read. So… (Read on. You know you want to!)
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What do you do with the books you hate? We want to know! Tell us in the comments below!
Here’s how it is: When I think about this blog endeavor, I think about posting something new and awesome—or at least entertaining—for you to read every Friday. Most of the time, I do that. So yay!
Okay *I* think it’s awesome. Your mileage may vary.
I want to keep posting every Friday, but this particular bit of writing has slipped down my list of priorities.
Since December of last year my family has been going through a really difficult challenge, and I’ll be blunt about it, then toddle along. My husband was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. There’s no cure. Average life expectancy is 2–4 years, but he appears to be have drawn the short straw, and things are moving along pretty quickly.
He’s always been an avid and active outdoorsman. This thing is tough on him. Still, he maintains a pretty positive outlook, and he’s managed to keep his awesome sense of humor.
My kids made it possible for us to take a vacation in Florida with them at the beginning of this month. They are amazing. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. They helped at the airport, on the plane, with transportation, food, and paying for stuff. They treated us like royalty. I get sniffly thinking about it.
It was over too soon, and back to the fun-and-games of collecting (more) proper paperwork, combat with internet demons, dealing with insurance, disability, the trick questions served up by myssa-dot-gov. Because this situation isn’t hard enough, right?
After a day in which all e-mail except e-mail from my husband’s employer and the neurological clinic landed in my box with gleeful abandon, I think (tentatively) that things might be progressing. Hopefully. I’m not holding my breath.
So expect random updates here on my blog. I have a book I’m (trying to be) editing, and I’d much rather do that! And there’s a new Crow plot just begging for my attenton. Lemme at it! In the meantime, I absolutely love hearing from you. Shoot me an email, track me down on Facebook, or join my extremely rare newsletter. I read—and answer—all my emails!
Conlang—constructed language—is today’s topic for A Drift of Quills. Do we make up our own languages for our books? How? If not, why not?
Pull up a chair, grab yourself a cookie or twenty, and read on to find out how the gang feels about fictional languages!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I have a kind of lazy love for language. My copy of the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style makes me crazy, but… I’m one of those readers that will highlight passages in novels that sing to me. Sometimes I copy them into a file to come back to later so I can oo and ah over them. And I did take the equivalent of seven years of foreign language in high school. (I think I learned more about English there than I did in English classes!) Then there was Tolkien. Was my experience a recipe for conlang or what? Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Conlang (What’s That You Say?)→
At a recent family gathering the conversation degenerated into a listing of all the Horrible Things going on in the world—especially in our own area. Shootings, robberies, neglect, abuse. All the typical frightening events of our dystopian society.
“What about some good stories?” I asked, but the discussion was stuck on the general doomsday scenario.
“I read that a cow was rescued from a ditch in our city,” I provided. Happy news, right? No one died, was broken, destroyed, or otherwise doomed. I’ll bet the cow was relieved. The topic got some laughs, but I was left wondering (not for the first time) why people are so determined to dwell on the negative aspects of life.
Terrible, trying things happen, sure. My family is currently facing its toughest trial ever. It’s taking a lot out of me, and it’s going to change my life drastically. But among all the tears and terror, there are beautiful things happening:
• A son-in-law finishing a yard project we had to abandon
• The awesome people at my husband’s company sponsoring two fund-raising events
• Friends and neighbors fixing our broken appliances (Doesn’t it figure they’d go out in the middle of disaster?) and ailing garage door, bringing treats, mowing the lawn, volunteering rides, offering relief
• Our amazing son and daughters mending, researching, fetching, cooking, organizing, supporting, and generally being… well, amazing
And you know what? There are lots of amazing people in the world doing amazing things. I’ve rounded up Five Good Things for you (Don’t worry, no cows in ditches…!)
Exploring the Brothers Grimm Museum “The parts about the fairy tales and the lives of the Grimms were fascinating, but I think the best thing about the museum, for me, was its celebration of language.” ~Nicola Alter
City of Yphyrion
Since I previously featured a map by Maxime Plasse, I meant to choose another artist. But… well… I really like this one! “This map was intended to show some late 19th century city cartography style, with a fictionnal city.” I don’t know about “late 19th century,” but it’s sure got my wheels turning for doing some city mapping!
So Hubby and I binge-watched the first two seasons of The Frankenstein Chronicles. A horror, mystery, sci-fi series from Rainmark Films in the UK, the show follows the crime-solving John Marlott as he tries to discover whodunnit. While Mary Shelley’s book does indeed figure—and Shelley even appears as one of the cast members—this is certainly not just another interpretation of the original novel.
It’s time for some Fiction Shots — flash fiction, that is! A Drift of Quills are at it again: one picture, three authors, little bitty writing space. The inspiration for our tiny tales comes from an untitled piece by the artist JuYoung Ha on ArtStation. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
It’s always fun for me to see how other authors interpret a picture or invent a story from it. Isn’t it delightful how wonderfully, crazily different we all are? Let’s see how these fiction shots play out…
Oatmeal Brownies—because we can’t have too many delicious brownie recipes, right? These came about after a little experimentation with an old recipe that had a good flavor but was a little too dry. And let me tell you, experimenting with brownie recipes is such a trial! (Not!)
Brownies are a traditional go-to treat, and why not? One bowl, a few minutes of prep, and then the delicious and mouth-watering scent of chocolatey goodness baking in the oven.
On movie night when our kids were still home, my husband would team up with one of them in a race to get the brownies into the oven during a commercial break (or two). It was a very popular activity.
“All the secrets of the world are contained in books.” I love this quote by Lemony Snicket. Books are like treasure chests, full of the most wonderful things. When I first began reading, it was to discover adventures—And those adventures taught me all kinds of things, from moral ideals to exciting new ideas. To my delight, I discovered that the learning never stops. Whether we’re reading fact or fiction, reading helps us understand the world we live in and the people we live with. It introduces us to different ideas and inspires us to think. To make sense of our existence. To indulge in creativity.
There’s no such thing as a passive reader.
All those amazing little squiggly lines on a page require brain activity. Not only are we interpreting them into concepts we are familiar with, but we use them to create.
“The arrival of food interrupted his construction. A thick steak, roasted onions, and a loaf of bread washed down with stale water to fatten up the jansu’s prize.”
Can you read that line (from my forthcoming novel, Flesh and Bone) and not imagine a savory, aromatic meal? Do you not wonder what’s being built? What’s a “jansu”? Why is the prize being fattened up? (And do you envision something like the wicked witch fattening up Hansel and Gretel?)
I challenge you to go forth and exercise your brain. Learn some stuff while you’re taking some virtual adventures.
What things have you learned while you were reading fiction? What novel taught you the most? Share how and why in the comments below!
I’m in the mood for a little library heaven. Books comfort me. I love being surrounded by them, teased by the words and the worlds tucked between the covers, soothed by row upon row of orderly spines inviting me to come discover new places and people and things.
Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No… eight days a week.
So let’s take a walk through some gorgeous pictures of heavenly libraries and pretend for a little while that we can visit. Or, better yet, import some of these ideas into our own homes!
A room with some views (books AND a lovely big window!)… (Via Tumblr)
This cozy nook by John K. Anderson just begs me to curl up and indulge in a good book! (From CrunchLipstick)
What’s not to love about twinkle lights, lots of green plants, bright windows, and books in this downtown Los Angeles loft? (Via Apartment Therapy)
More inviting coziness… Don’t you love the look of that cushy chair and the oversized ottoman, all surrounded by books? (From Pinterest)