New Flash Fiction Story Published

Hey, everybody and Happy New Year! We’re starting 2017 off right: a new short-short So-You-Found-Mestory of mine has just been published. It’s about a self-conscious story. This is how it starts:

So you found me. Well done.

Don’t think for a moment that I’m merely a story. Oh no, not even close. I have thoughts, feelings, ideas, just like you. Just like any other sentient being…

If you want to read the rest head over to Between Worlds magazine and read the story, it’s called “So You Found Me.” You can also read the full new edition of BW magazine which has new stories from a bunch of up-and-coming writers. And, as always, I encourage you to contribute to the magazine which you can at the bottom of this page. Between Worlds is a paying market (for short stories, not flash) and we need to preserve and nurture these markets. Thanks!…Enough promo!

Hope you enjoy the piece and please leave a comment there or here on my blog. Would love some feedback on it. And thanks to Between Worlds for considering and publishing the piece!

See you again soon.

,DJ

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Short Story Title Reveal: Pacha-Mama

…and I’m back.

Back to work, back to writing, back to civilization, which after all, is simply writing + fermentation, like Faulkner said(?). It’s true that it’s hard to think of a civilizacelebracion_pacha_mama_01.jpg_2033098437tion that didn’t have BOTH. Just think about it. The Mayans, the Babylonians, ancient Chinese, ancient Persians, Egyptians. They all had the two…but I digress…

What have I been up to? Writing-wise that is? I’ve finished off a new short story…It actually runs a bit long to about 8,000 words. It’s called Pacha-Mama and I’ve sent it off to a few of my Beta readers. Initial feedback has been good: I need to polish the work and figure out a few of the transitions a bit better. Overall, I feel pretty good about it. I’m going to give my B-readers a little more time to get back to me and then I’ll hit it again. Smooth out those remaining parts, proofread it and then start the submission process. I don’t want to talk too much about it here, I’ll only add that the idea came to me after a trip to Peru a couple of years ago. I was sitting on the deck in our hotel on Taquile Island watching a big storm blow in from the Amazon across Lake Titicaca and it hit me. Or should I say the kernel of the story’s main idea began there?

Anyway, more on that later. I just wanted to get down a few things I think I got right on the latest story. The common thread in the two is that I did what worked for me—Darius—as a writer. Some might be able to write a story without plotting it first. Some might be able to write a piece thinking “This is going to be young adult urban fantasy” or “This will be Islamic steampunk.” And good for them! They can do it and should. But for me, I know it would never work.

So, here are two things I did with this story that I’m proud of:

1. I plotted the hell out of it.
I wrote a detailed plot arch outline before I started writing. You know, with an introduction, rising tension, climax and resolution. As I wrote, when I got caught or something didn’t make logical sense, I stopped. One day in particular, a day I was intending to keep jamming on the first draft, I realized something didn’t quite make sense. I didn’t panic. I just came to a full stop. I stared at the screen, thought about the consequence of the action on the page and worked out a solution. I spent an hour or so doing that. Once I had the solution, I went ahead and kept writing.

That’s how this story went. That strict plotting let me write more freely once I had it in place. That structure helped guide my writing and how far it could go before I had to reel it in.

2. I wrote without a thought about what genre it would fall in.
I originally thought this was a horror piece, but going along I realized that wasn’t quite right. It makes sense much more as a fantasy piece or, if you will, a piece of urban fantasy. The bottom line is that the story and the characters come first. They dictate what your story is. They had to bring forth the truth of this story and, in tone at least, I had to follow where they led. (Yes, I’m aware this contradicts 1 above somewhat). So, I just wrote it. And you know what? As soon as I wrote the last word of the last line, I knew it wasn’t horror. I knew it was something else. After a little thought, I decided what it was: fantasy.


So, that’s it. A little recount of the writing of my latest story. Like I said, I’ll be working on it in the coming weeks and then submitting it. I also am continuing to submit my earlier works. No editors seem to be biting yet, but I’m confident it’s only a matter of time.

Until next time,

Darius

Rare B Sides: The Invention of Morel

[This post is part of a series on literary works that deserve a wider audience.]

This is the first in a new series of posts I’ve been thinking about starting for a long time: Rare B sides. The whole point of these posts will be to share literary works that I think deserve a wider audience. They will usually—but not always—be works of fiction.

Think of it as the literary equivalent of listening to those rare B sides of your favorite musicians that are so hard to find.

First up is a B side that is not particularly rare, but does deserve a much wider audience: The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares.


I’ve only recently been sucked into the world of Argentine and Latin American literature. The gateway for me, as it is no doubt for many others, was Jose Luis Borges. I still love his stuff, especially his poetry. And I’m very, very sparing with my love of poets.

I’ve been slowly branching out from Borges and one of the first things I discovered was The Invention of Morel. There are three compelling things about the work: the mood it casts, the slowly rising dramatic tension and the novelty of its central idea.

The mood (or tone?) is right there from the very first sentence.

Hoy, en esta isla ha occurido un milagro. [Today, on this island, a miracle occurred…]

The mystery deepens quickly and the mood builds in the next few sentences.

…Summer came early. I moved my bed out by the swimming pool, but then, because it was impossible to sleep, I stayed in the water a long time. The heat was so intense that after I had been out of the pool for only two or three minutes I was already bathed in perspiration again. As day was breaking, I awoke to the sound of a phonograph…

Beyond the marsh where the narrator lives there is a chapel, a museum and a swimming pool. The feel of the novel is deftly captured by this clip of a movie based on the book:

9 minutes, no words.

Soon, the narrator discovers other people on the island, including a “gypsy” woman who wears a scarf.

As I watched her, I could hear the ocean with its sounds of movement and fatigue close at hand, as if it had moved to my side.

As he unwinds the mystery of the island and its inhabitants, we’re sucked into his world by trying to guess the exact nature of the place. That brings in the plot, the slowly building tension. Will the narrator discover the true nature of the island and what will his reaction be? It kept me reading and reading until almost the very end.

Finally, there is the novelty of the idea. But what can I say about that without giving it all away? Even after it is revealed, it’s interesting to see how the narrator decides to react.

On a recent trip down to Buenos Aires, I knew I had to secure my own Spanish edition of the book. At the amazing, museum-like Ateneo, I found a beautiful copy with a beautiful cover.

It has a chronology, hand-written notes by the author and photos. Why is it that foreign editions are more desirable objects than American books? I plan to read it some day, but have to improve my Spanish first.

That’s about all for now, have to RUN. I hope that setup gets you interested in the book. It’s a great, atmospheric read that deserves more readers.

,DJ


What would Rare B Sides be without an actual rare B side? Here’s a great one from the Verve, So Sister.

“I wrote your name in dust…”