Monthly Archives: September 2015

Excerpt from “Eden’s Wake”

BEN MOANED AND OPENED his eyes. He clamped them shut again as he sat upright, cradling his head in both hands until the dizziness subsided. He opened his eyes, squinting as the meager light filtered in. After several minutes, he could discern shapes.

He pulled himself to his knees, pausing as another wave of vertigo coursed through his brain.
Ben stood, placing his hands on his knees for support. In each direction were contrasting shades of blue. As his vision adjusted to the new surroundings, he was able to distinguish that the darker shades resembled trees. These were not the trees that one would ordinarily expect, but distorted abominations. Their broad bases grew tightly together. The wrinkled bark swirled in random patterns, until ending at the first course of limbs, which hung close to the ground. The branches grew in tiers that twisted in a spider web-like fashion toward a darkened azure sky.
Something akin to bats, but larger, darted in and out of the menagerie of limbs. Ben couldn’t distinguish details, just the ragged silhouettes as they fluttered by.
He was standing on a path of sorts. From the little he could determine, one way disappeared into darkness; the other led toward a pinhead-sized light.
Ben felt the alluring pull of darkness, beckoning him to follow. It repeated over and over its promise of reward if he would take the first step beginning the journey.
The small point of light also called to him, yet promised nothing, save for help along the way and peace once he reached his destination.
Ben looked into the darkness, hesitated and then took his first step toward the light. One of the flying creatures dipped low, opening a small gash in his forehead.
“So that’s how it’s gonna be.” He swatted at the aberration as it dived a second time, knocking it to the ground. As the creature tried to right itself, Ben brought his foot down hard, twisting until mud oozed up the side of his shoe. The miniature beast shrieked, its shrill cry muffled into a gurgle and ultimately silence as its head sunk beneath the murky goo.
Ben raised his foot, bent over, and reached down. The limp form made a sucking sound as he pulled it from its muddy tomb. He brushed caked-on debris from its body, turning it over several times to examine the lifeless corpse. Its wings hung straight down beside its body, gently wafting each time a light, stagnant breeze pushed its way through.
The creature had a curved beak, similar to an eagle, but with rows of random jagged teeth. The forehead swept back, ending at a dome at the crown of the skull. Black, lifeless eyes grotesquely protruded from either side

of its head, just below close-cropped, rounded ears. Its wings were blue, a nearly transparent membrane that stretched between black arm bones. The bottom edge of each wing was so ragged it appeared they were haphazardly torn from tissue paper.
Overlapping, triangular scales covered its chest, and stiff, thick fur its back. Ben noticed a single talon hung from the lower thorax, with no legs to speak of.
That’s why they’re forever moving. They have no way to perch. He lifted the animal by its wing tips, letting the body dangle. The span was approximately two feet.
Ben loosed his hold, allowing the creature to hang by one wing. He curled his lip in disgust and released his final grip. Before the leathery wing could clear his fingertips, the lifeless head screeched, wrenched upward, clamping its serrated beak onto the soft tissue between Ben’s right thumb and index finger.
With the same hand Ben made a fist, squeezing tight around the thing’s neck. With his free hand he grabbed its torso, twisted and pulled, removing the head. Black fluid spewed from the body as it writhed on the ground in silent agony.
The beak remained attached to his hand, its eyes wide and still afire with whatever demented life inhabited the disembodied aberration. The fluid leaking from the severed head seemed to crawl around Ben’s hand and into the wound, opened by the creature’s mouth.
“Ahh!” Ben tried to pry the beak open with no success. His hand seared as though doused with acid. A muffled cackle emanated from the closed mouth. To quell the pain, he grabbed the oozing neck and pulled, removing a sizable portion of his own flesh as he did so.
Ben dropped to his knees. He pulled handfuls of muck from the ground and rubbed it into the burning lesion. Wisps of smoke curled upward as he removed the last of the caustic blood. He bared his teeth, stood and stomped the cackling head deep into the mud.
Ben watched as several bubbles pushed through the mud over the buried head and then stopped. He kicked the decapitated body high in the air and out of sight into the woods on the other side of the path. He stood there, eyes ablaze, staring into a fevered nothing for several minutes until his breathing slowed and his muscles relaxed. Ben took a deep breath, sighed and sat down exhausted.

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I’ll Huff Then I’ll Huff Again (Completely Bypassing the Puff) Blow it Down and Dine at My Leisure….With a Bottle of MD 20-20 and Lima Beans

dbb8c9f9cf0ef953be31e53fb01984c5Once again a friend of mine has approached me about doing a children’s book. She is an illustrator and thinks collaboration would be a worthwhile endeavor. This friend knows that I write science fiction, fantasy, and adventure with a considerable amount of violence amongst all the nasty critters that I create for that particular volume. That doesn’t seem to bother her (I’m giving it serious consideration) and she doesn’t see a problem.

I think I’ve got a general outline and would appreciate any feedback from my trusted readers.

Imagine a peaceful backyard nearing the end of spring. A sweet little bunny rabbit cautiously nibbles on the tender grass shoots at the edge of a forest and the beginning of the yard. He moves further and further into the lawn looking for the choicest plants to ingest.

A butterfly flutters down and lands on a dandelion just in front of the bunny.

“What’s your name?” the butterfly asked.

“My name is Zorn. I hail from the planet, Remalac.” The bunny stood on his rear legs and crossed his chest with his front paw.

“Very nice to make your acquaintance,” the butterfly said. “My name is Sparkles. Would you be my friend?”

“I do not understand this friend you speak of,” Zorn said. “However, I do require nourishment for I have traveled many parsecs to reach your world.”

“We have many delicacies I’m sure you would enjoy,” Sparkles said.

“I would be interested in sampling your goods,” Zorn replied.

“Wonderful,” Sparkles said. “I will take you to some lovely—”

Sparkles lurched violently with a sucking sound, disappearing into Zorn’s mouth. He moved toward the house that sat in the middle of the lawn. Inhaling deeply, he blew down the back door and ingested any organic beings within the structure. Screams of desperation could be heard followed by the sucking sound as four of the occupants disappeared.

Zorn stepped out of the back door, turned to face the house, and blew reducing the structure to rubble.

A small burp followed by a “pardon” and Zorn skittered away looking for more friends and snacks.

Now you see the problems that could arise reading such a story to a toddler before bedtime?

I think perhaps it’s time to have a heart to heart with my illustrator buddy. If she still wants to proceed with the project, then what the hey? What’s a few nightmares among friends?

Besides, I don’t think we’d have to worry about a children’s bedtime horror story flying off the shelves.

The book hasn’t been written and I wouldn’t endorse it, but you just never know.

Until next week….

Toodles

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How Does One Measure Success? By Their First Novel Sold or Their Last Novel Turned Blockbuster at the Box office…Either Works for Me

I have to wonder what some of the classic writers thought of their chances to become mega stars, especially twentieth century authors.jaws

Hemmingway was able to see his work on the big screen. On the other hand, J.R. R. Tolkien lived well into the twentieth century, but never saw one of his masterpieces on the silver screen. This was due in part to the technology required to produce such a film. It didn’t exist until just before the millennium and was necessary to do the stories justice. Peter Benchley, although not one of the great classic writers, brought us Jaws. I can’t think of any other movie that changed an entire generation’s perception of swimming that still exists today. J.K. Rowling, again, although not a classic author, became a billionaire off the series of Harry Potter books. Stephen King has had more novels turned into motion pictures and television series than I care to count.

I know I’m not the only author who would like to enjoy this amount of success. I would be happy enjoying any amount of success. As you and I have found, writing and publishing can be a daunting task. We have also found that enticing someone to read your book makes the writing and publishing aspect seem like lying in a hammock sucking on a mint julep.

As I lean back in my chair and close my eyes, the wavy lines of a dream sequence send me to a mahogany covered library. This is where I pen my best sellers and decide whether or not to accept this year’s Nobel Prize for literature.

“Mr. French,” I say, to my gentleman’s gentleman, “how many times must I turn down these measly prize offers?”

“I cannot say, sir; you know your immense popularity eclipses the sun.”

I sigh heavily, “The burden I have placed upon myself is indeed hard to bear, but for my adoring public I shall go on.”

“And by the by, sir,” Mr. French says, “your latest movie series has just topped 34 bazillion dollars.”

“See to it that pittance goes to as many countries as possible to end world hunger, and don’t forget the hundreds of wells we’re drilling around the world.”

“Right away, sir.”

“And French, see what’s holding up that—”

My tiny office chair slips, depositing me on the floor, breaking me from my reverie.  I’ve gotta get that chair fixed. Picking myself off the ground along with the chair, I sit back down and decide whether to work on my latest novel or delve into the pit of marketing.

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If My Short Stories in Any Way Make You Feel Uncomfortable Then Call My Friend Suzie….She Cares

images (1)Have you ever thought how your writing (be it short story, novel or what have you) may affect your readership?

Well, I’ve had the good fortune…or possibly misfortune (depending on how you want to look at it) of hearing detailed commentary on a short story I penned several years ago.

To give you a brief synopsis, one of the main characters in the story was killed unnecessarily by someone who thought they were performing an act of mercy. (The story can be found on Facebook on my Short Story page or Word Press, “Author Lynn Steigleder.” The story’s title is “Jack in the Box.”)

The individual who read the story (we’ll call her Suzie) became distressed to the point of suffering physical symptoms directly related to the end of the piece.

Now, to me, I feel like I’ve done my job in so far as pulling a reader into a make-believe world and having her express true empathy for human beings that only exist in the mind.

She can actually see the story as it unfolds and knows where this character lives; not far from where she herself lived twenty-eight years prior.

Suzie has developed such an aversion to “Jack in the Box” that she says she wishes she had never read it. It’s etched in her brain and she cringes when it comes to mind.

This happened recently during a book club meeting. Suzie recounted a small portion of the story to her club members. (Great praise for an author, right?…think again…wrong!) Her description was one of such distaste that you thought she was relaying an account of a true story. “I hated it,” she said, in no uncertain terms.

Now, I had to ask her, “If you hate a story, you normally mean the story itself was lacking in plot and the writing’s sub-standard, don’t you?” She assured me this was not the case and reiterated the plot was loathsome in places. Suzie also made a point to tell me the writing was exemplary leading to the graphic nature of her problem with the piece.

So, I thought as my head began to swell, not too shabby. I still got it! Can mak’em cry, cringe, and puke all in under six thousand words.

The title, “Jack in the Box,” even causes Suzie to shake her head along with a slight shudder.

YESSS!!!

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Book Giveaway “Eden’s Wake”

Eden'sWakeSome have gotten close but no right answers as of yet. The contest continues until October 1, 2015.

The question from the first book  “Rising Tide” is:    What was the name of the character who was murdered in the pool under the waterfall on the island?

Contact me with your answer through (authorrisingtide.wordpress .com   my Facebook page  or   Twitter@Lynn Steigleder.)  There will be two winners from each social media site.

Good Luck!

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