Thursday Writing Prompt No. 147

Ah, it’s past midnight, so technically this is a Friday writing prompt, but I’m not going to break with tradition and change the name of the post. It’s been a long week at work and my eyes are bleary, but I just can’t sleep, and so here I am working on the blog.

I lay awake in bed for an hour and I kept seeing airplane lights out the window until I realized that it was fireflies that I was seeing. Here it is mid-June already, and usually I’m peeking out the window in the evening waiting for the fireflies to appear, but this year I haven’t even thought about them. I suppose that has a lot to do with my troglodyte existence these days, although I did pry myself outside today and went for a walk in a local park and got some sunshine.

My zombie short story is coming along very, very slowly. Actually I should say that it is shambling along, which is par for the course as far as zombies are concerned. We are still hoping to have the anthology out by Halloween (in case you missed my earlier post about it, this book will be Corrugated Sky’s third anthology and will contain four short stories). In other news, I signed up for the Zombies, Run! pro app and I’m restarting season one.

I was going to do a prompt about alliteration, but since I’ve spent so much time writing about zombies, I guess that gives us a natural topic for this week, doesn’t it? Okay, maybe zombies are not exactly “natural,” but let’s go with it. Your task is to create a zombie character and write a description about it. Put some effort into making the zombie a real character so it’s not just another moaning shambler out on a brain-search. How did it become a zombie? What was it before it turned? And can a zombie have a goal other than eating brains? Maybe … that’s your department. Now go forth and write, and don’t let the zombies bite!

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Thursday Writing Prompt No. 146

Tonight is that moment when I wonder if the internet is broken.

I’m so used to signing into my email accounts and wading through tons of unsolicited offers for everything from food to clothes and trinkets that when I launch my browser and find no emails waiting for me I wonder what’s wrong. Have I been deserted? Is the power out? No, the lights are on. Hmm…

Time for a writing prompt! You’re just getting to your computer after a day at work or school or whatever else you do in your life besides sit at a computer. You turn on the computer and look at your email inbox. It’s empty. You go off to do something else and get busy with life, and it isn’t until the next day that you sign back in to your account. Still no email. This goes on for a week. What gives?

Write a paragraph about this that you could develop into a short story based on the theme “abandonment.” Take that prompt loosely: someone could have abandoned you, literally or figuratively, or you could have abandoned someone or something else, whether it’s a love interest, a job, or a way of life. Think outside the normal parameters on this one, as abandonment can be both positive and negative. You can abandon bad habits as well as abandoning the things you love. And don’t forget that the noun “abandon” pretty much means the same as “carefree.”

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 145

We’ve had some record rainfalls in the Maryland area and some nasty flooding. While there have been jokes about building an arc or buying a boat, the floods have had devastating effects on some areas, such as Ellicott City, Maryland.

I don’t want to make light of a serious situation, but the constant rain and overcast skies are taking their toll in more ways than one. And so for today’s Thursday Writing Prompt your topic will be rain. (Surprise!) And to mix things up even more, I’m asking you to write a short poem about rain. Even if you never write poetry, do the exercise and see what you come up with. It doesn’t have to be an award-winning verse, just write whatever comes into your head.

One way to approach poetry is to pick up a pen and paper rather than use a computer or tablet or phone. I find that doing things old-school tends to slow me down, but for writing poetry that’s just the mindset you want to cultivate. Typing fast is great when I’m on a roll with a story or novel, but sometimes it’s just better to take the extra time for musing.

 

More Steam!

This week we are promoting our Steampunk anthology, Smoke and Steam, Corrugated Sky’s second title. The four stories are novella length, and yes, there are airships!

I’m answering the question about what inspired my story “Hekatite.” When we first decided on a Steampunk theme for the second anthology I began thinking about Victorian adventure stories, which is something that’s always had appeal for me. Journey to the Center of the Earth? Check. The Time Machine? Check. The Mysterious Island? Check. Check.

Combine that interest with the fact that I’d written about Arctic and Antarctic exploration a couple of years back for an encyclopedia that is coming out this year, and I suppose the germ of an idea was hatched. Oh, and throw in a James Bond-esque island with a hidden warehouse inside it, and you have Seacombe.

My story “Hekatite” takes place in the same world that my novel Seacombe Island is set, and includes three characters from the novel. The events in the novella take place roughly five years before the events in the novel and the story fills in some back story for the characters as well as information about Hekatite, the mysterious fuel that everyone wants to get their hands on. Hekatite is a volatile energy source that is refined from the Hekate orchid, a fictitious plant that grows only on Seacombe. Unfortunately, while the Hekatite is a great source of energy, it’s also quite poisonous.

Ha! You knew there was a catch, didn’t you? Well, there wouldn’t be much story if everything was so easy!

Now as it happens, I wrote “Hekatite” before I finished the final round of drafts on Seacombe Island. I found myself stuck on a few details about the protagonist and his interactions with a few of the characters, and writing the short story helped me sort out quite a few plot issues that I hadn’t managed to get a handle on. “Hekatite” is a fun read and I think you’ll be hooked and want to read the novel. Or, if you’ve read the novel, pick up the anthology. And if you haven’t read either, get both books! It won’t matter if you read the story or the novel first; while “Hekatite” fills in some blanks, it won’t spoil the plot of the novel and you’ll feel superior when you have an inkling of what’s happening while the novel’s protagonist, Thomas Ashton, is still trying to figure out what’s going on at Seacombe Island.

And actually, I’m still trying to figure out Seacombe Island. I’m sure the island is big enough for a few more mysteries — and a few more stories.