Congratulations to last week's winner Bibi. Who will sweep the voting this week? Help us decide. You have until 11:45 pm EDT on Thursday, July 30th to cast your vote. Be sure to leave a little feedback for our writers in the form of #commentlove.
Word Count: 350
Title: Emotionlessly Emotional
Author: Bibi Nafeeza Yusuf
Word Count: 350
Warnings: none, i think
Word Count: 350
Title: He Was Foretold
Author: Kathy Boles-Turner
Word Count: 344
Warnings: Mention of death; witchery
Title: The Countdown
Author: Kristina Van Hoose
Word Count: 349
Title: Glitches #1 - #3
Word Count: 350
Warnings: some sex
Title: The Chinabot
Author: Shane Bell
Word Count: 350
Author: Sonya Oldwin
Word Count: 344
Warnings: mature & murder
As a writer, a glitch is a great device for change or chaos. It is neutral, yet mischievous. It causes aggravation, panic, economic disasters, or just a bit of distortion that laymen try to slap back into line with a firm hand.
Root out your glitch. Tell us what happened and submit it by 11:45 pm EDT on Saturday, July 25. The week three contest is limited to the list of Embers below. There is a max word count of 350 and only one submission will be accepted per writer. Poetry and other forms of written expression welcome. There are no JFF entries this month.
For those of you who are writing with us for the first time. Your entry should be posted to an online blog or journal with public reading access for the duration of the voting process (anywhere from three days to a week). Work you submit to the contest always belongs to you. It should be original work and first written for the prompt provided.
This week's contestants:
Kristina Van Hoose
I'm here to ask you to sign up to write for Week Three of the July Month-o-Minis.
Week Three! Can you believe it?
Of course, it doesn't technically start until you get your prompt on Sunday (7/19).
Since the sign-up post is here on a reasonable day, this contest will be limited to those who sign up to participate by Friday, July 17 (get your name in before midnight Eastern time).
Shane Bell and quill_quirks are already counted on the list.
In addition to the verbal prompt you'll get this weekend, the week three contest will have a word cap of 350 and only one submission will be accepted per writer.
Put your name in below. I'll see you Sunday.
Good morning! For those of us in the States, today is observed as Memorial Day, a 24-hour block once a year that we are meant to pause and show respect and gratitude for the men and women who have served our country's military. Understandably, not all people have clear feelings about military service, so today's chatter is not about service in general. It's about the difficulty of grasping something one has not experienced.
Appropriately, this month's theme is reality, and the question of its nature. Because every perception of reality is different, it is a dangerously fluid concept. The good news about that is, one hundred people could write about the same subject and we'd get one hundred very unique glimpses into the world. Some would even be so far a deviation from our own understanding that we may be forced to question our own perceptions altogether. I open up with the topic of military service simply because, even though I was raised by ex-military parents, I have never served and I know myself well enough to say I never will. It isn't a lack of patriotism, it's more a matter of knowing exactly how capable one's self is of accomplishing certain tasks. I was not built for service, so I know confidently that I will never serve. Because of that, I will never have the hands-on experience needed to truly understand what it means to be a soldier.
For me, not being able to experience something does not always mean I can't or won't write about it. Surely those of us who've written science fiction do not expect readers to believe we've flown in starships or had tea with alien life. I write about werewolves. I don't expect you to believe I've met any. But that's the double edge on imagination, isn't it? With the one blade, one can imagine into existence any and every world and situation possible. Yet, we turn the blade over and discover the opposite edge is a bit duller than we'd hoped, and we know it is from lack of use and care. The imagination can take us many places, but there are some experiences (like those of enlistment, as exampled above) that cannot be replicated without having lived it, or without a very intense course of research.
How do you approach topics you know you do not fully understand? How are you able to lend reality to a life you've never lived?
Remember to delve into your own answers to the question, What Is Reality?
There are just five days until pencils down on our musings on reality.
I would ask you today if you've ever had occasion to alter actual events in your memory to reconstruct reality, but if you had you wouldn't know...
If I could do a survey, I wonder what percent of people would insist that there is one reality - one fixed set of known data about the universe - and all those who do not see it as THEY do must be mentally deranged. Probably close to 100% right? Unless we queried some crazy people. 0_o
Philip K. Dick wasn't just an author who imagined alternate realities for his characters and the future of humanity. Outside of his fiction, he suffered from the persistent belief that the reality accepted by the common man was a version given to us by external forces that wanted to control mankind. He would regularly vacillate between the forces keeping us ignorant so that we would work to attain awareness and those same forces being motivated by the power derived by our obliviousness. PKD alternately attributed the signal he had tapped into - revealing true reality - to divine powers, alien beings, and government agencies.
He just didn't know.
And he spent years trying to work it out. Eight thousand words later, he was no closer to an answer than Einstein came in his quest for a unifying theory of everything. (To which we now know the answer is 42. Sorry Al.)
PKD pushed this new information on everyone he knew well enough to pen a letter to, and made new friends with anyone who would listen. He believed that the books he'd written prior to his first true revelation - when the signal first broke through - came from pieces of that same signal he had unwittingly intercepted throughout his past. Then he began to use his own works of fiction as foundation material for his study of reality. What he wanted more than anything was to be heard and validated. PKD's quest for answers was lonely, infuriating, depressing, and manic. Even the people who listened and nodded (instead of shaking their heads in denial) were on the outside looking in. Other than the rare blurt that it was all a result of having taken too many psychotropics in prior years, he never stopped believing in the signal and the message.
RicoChey asked at the beginning of the month if it was possible that the creative mind is actually a sign of mental illness. If you use PKD as the yardstick, then maybe we writers are all on the precipice of madness.
Have you ever met a person who can swiftly convince themselves of little adjustments to their reality. I don't mean they lie convincingly to you, they lie to themselves and the next moment it becomes their truth.
I was once in a relationship with a man who had this ability. It could be a scary thing to witness. The first time I realized that he wasn't just a stubborn liar - the first time it dawned on me that he believed his own lies completely - I was at a loss on how to handle it and it made me question every anecdote of his life he'd shared. It was never about the big stuff, but there were plenty of little things to make a case for delusional behavior.
Would you tell them that they are wrong? How do you make a case with the proof of your senses against another who is just as convinced their senses reported something different? How long until you start to wonder if they're right and you're deluded? Without a live camera feed recording every shared moment, you can't. In my preferred genre of writing, it makes for an interesting character. But in the real world it makes for a terrible relationship.
Talk to me about your experiences colliding with another's reality.
Then #gowrite while there is still time.
There are only six writing days left until the May contest ends!
Get your submissions in no later than 04:00 EDT on 5/26 in order to have your story included in the voting. That's 4 am for those not oriented to a 24 hour clock.
The prompt (which you should have started writing for well before now) is "What is Reality?"
We've had some writing sprints along the way. If you're having trouble with your inspiration, read through them to see if something sparks.
Good weekend, all? I hope so. I spent part of my Sunday sprinting on Google Hangouts with Tami, Cedar, and Kathy. This month’s contest will play host to a few different sprint events for those of you who need the exercise, or just thrive on prompt writing. Conveniently enough, it’s prompt writing I’d like to discuss.
Here at the Flame, we’re more than familiar with the idea of prompts and topics. We literally live off of them. Over the years, we’ve seen the gamut of prompt possibilities, ranging from open-ended one word prompts like “fire” and “fate”, to the challenge to begin all entries with a particular phrase. The Mod Hydra continues to strive to deliver the best variety we can provide, aiming to target each and every member of our diverse writing family.
I, personally, am easily prompted. I’ve learned this about myself over my years here at the Flame, both as a player and an administrator. The first prompt for which I ever wrote was “reap” back in 2009. My first mini-contest was a personalized four-part prompt provided to me by random selection: “cattle prod, dungeon, deus ex machina, written as a mystery”. It is worth noting that we also had a limit of 3k words, that mine reached 2,998, and I chose to be complete buffoon and add “the end”. I won. ;-) And my favorite “begin your entry with this sentence” prompt? “There it goes…” I didn’t win, but the entries were so diverse, it truly proved the myriad potential of even the most specific prompt.
I think the prompts to which we respond well say a lot about us as writers. Those of us who respond best to one word at a time need freedom and room to move. Those of us who thrive on selective challenges like the aforementioned mini-contest are thirsty for challenge and creative adversity. Those of us who can pull something from nothing regardless of topic? Well, I guess we’re just the floozies of the writing c0mmunity.
By what brand of prompt are you most easily inspired? Do you need to roam wild, unbound by bullet points and specifics, or do you need to be pushed to find a way to put a square peg through a round hole? What sort of insight to gain into yourself, as a writer, when you consider this question?
Click here to learn more about May’s prompt, and refer to paragraph one for links to information on sprints and more about Google+ Hangouts, a free service for all GMail users.
We are down to the third Act, the final scenes of retaliation, recovery, and revelation. RicoChey inspired us with another quote of the Bard - "The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose."
This was taken from The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene III and was spoken by Antonio against the money lender Shylock. [ASIDE] Another instance of Shakespeare influencing our modern language. Shylock is now used as a slang term for loan sharks that charge impossible interest rates and are ruthless in their pursuit of repayment. Prior to Shakespeare's use of it, the word or name shylock had never been heard.
In the scene, Shylock is rationalizing his profession by making an example to Antonio on why interest should be due the money lender and retells a story from the Bible to make his point. Antonio, who professes to never lend money for the purpose of gaining a profit, says his piece about the devil to his friend Bassanio directly after. Thus begins the drama in The Merchant of Venice which erupts around a cultural conflict that was highly discussed in Shakespeare's time.
Where did our writers find their conflict? Was it personal, cultural, internal? Let's slip in to find out.
Your reading list:
Title: Ilya's story.
Warnings. I suppose. It is a gangster story.
Title: Cite the Dying
Word Count: 265
Title: Willa the Wisp Act 3
Word Count: 744
Title: The Devil You Never Consider
Word Count: 2,680
Title: A King Falls.
Word Count: 712
Warnings: a death, of course.
The polls close by 11:45pm on Wednesday (EDT).
With this competition the goal is to write a four part story, so we will suspend weekly eliminations and choose the best, complete work that meets the three acts and an epilogue criteria at the end of the month. There will be a poll each week to provide feedback for the writer on how well received their story was, but the votes that choose a winner will not happen until May 1st.
Remember when you are voting to consider how well the writer has met the criteria given.
The contest is now closed to new competitors, but we encourage any latecomers to submit as JFF if their inner bard is provoked by a prompt.
Be sure to spread some comment love, let your fellow writers know they are appreciated. If it's an off-site blog and you have trouble with commenting, feel free to share your comments here and we'll pass them along. In fact, I encourage you to share some [constructive] public thoughts below with the community. Let's talk about what we read, together.
We love it when our Embers write, but we also need the community to come together and read what's being submitted. Even if you didn't have time to write this week, please take a few minutes to read and encourage your friends to read as well. Share our fire!
I want to talk to you today about something on the internet that I found strange. Something strange...on the internet...try not to be shocked.
I've been spending a fair amount of time on Youtube these days. I'm trying to improve my skills with this über doodling fad called Zentangle®. It seems like everyone who has ever picked up a pen to do it has made a video about it. Sometimes it's just a person drawing with music laid over the recording. Sometimes it's a person giving instructions as they draw. Typically I mute the vid and just watch what they're doing.
So the other day, the mute was off when I came across a video of someone drawing a particular tangle who whispered the whole way through it. I thought maybe she had lost her voice. Out of pure nosiness, I clicked on one of her other videos and found myself in a very uncomfortable place watching this young woman recording her vlog in a whisper and making flirty eyes at the camera. She was describing her upcoming wedding and the stress of planning it, in what struck me as a coy whisper.
All of the videos on her channel were labeled ASMR and by intentionally clicking a non-doodling post, I suddenly had a list of ASMR video suggestions made by tons of other vloggers. "What is ASMR?" I wondered. Do these people have severe asthma and can't talk above a whisper? Is it a society of people offended by loud talkers? Do they share some big secret of which I am not yet privy? I had to know, so I asked my buddy Google.
Wiki chimed in with the answer. "Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a neologism for a perceptual phenomenon characterized as a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli." Whispering is one of the many triggers of this response.
Well, I like pleasurable tingling sensations, so I figured I'd dig a little deeper. I went back to Youtube and looked for a different Vlogger. This one had a binaural mic, so if you are wearing headphones you can experience the sound on each side of your head independently (which was always super cool when Pink Floyd did it). She whispered, shook a shaving cream can then smooshed some on her ear mics, dropped gelcaps into a wooden bowl...
I got through about ten minutes of this next video - skipping around and fast forwarding some - until I just couldn't take it anymore. The whispering, the hand gestures, her face so close to the camera and all of the facial language that seemed designed to be alluring and sensual. It was far too intimate. Like I was eavesdropping on some long distance Skype foreplay - but not in a happy voyeuristic way.
This thing is supposed to be relaxing, but I have yet to watch a video that doesn't make me completely uncomfortable. And I'm evidently not the only one. An article I read about the controversial phenomenon of ASMR reiterated multiple times that it is a non-sexual sensation and that it is not associated with sexual arousal. Me thinks they doth reiterate too much. No, I don't think the intent of the vlog caster is to provide sexual stimulation, but if they have to underline the point so much I'm not the only one who feels smarmy watching it.
In preparing for our conversation today, I found a Reddit thread that shares many videos from ASMR connoisseurs with the triggers provided by the video in brackets. Talk to me about how they make you feel.
The whole discovery got me thinking about those tingling sensations and my own triggers. There is frisson style tingling that is on the border of painful for me. I get that from scratching across a finely grooved surface. Like old LP's when people drag the needle across, or thighs rubbing together in parachute pants. Probably the worst for me is when a guitarist drags his pick up or down the finely coiled metal strings. This reaction (and my complete lack of understanding of music) is the reason I will never play the Cello. (I actually just got a tingle merely thinking about the sound.)
But are there good tingles to be had from sounds? Circling back to Pink Floyd, I remember as a teen feeling a sense near euphoria listening to certain parts of Dark Side of the Moon with headphones on. As an adult, I've felt the same listening to some tracks by Portishead & Massive Attack. There are certain songs in the bodies of work for Tori Amos, Sarah Mclachlan, and even Alanis Morissette that when they hit a certain note I get tingles up the back of my head. And then there are the random things I come across that trigger an emotion that is neither always happy or sad, but make me cry and get choked up. It's just a feeling of intensity that is almost always brought on by empathy whether it is for strangers reported about on the news or characters in a movie. It can be embarrassing at times.
How do you relate to ASMR style triggers and the videos attempting to connect that community? What would your triggers be? There is more to the phenom than just sounds, would you have a stronger chance of reaction from tactile experiences or scents?
Let's chat about this today.
Don't miss Act III - it's due on Sunday.
Have you read Acts I & II? Check out our reading lists here and here to share some comment love.
APAD is nearing a close. Read the poems and add your own. Bardi and Kathy have shared some true gems in there.
First thing’s first, Week Three is underway! Draw us toward your epic conclusion in ACT III.
April’s collection of poetry is still growing. Check it out here.
I consider myself a gifted writer. I have to, or I’d never share anything with anyone and you’d be reading a Chatter hosted by some other weirdo with a silly nickname. I like to think my strong point is short fiction, but I’m working on novel projects, so I’m hoping to hone that skill. I specify “fiction” because I’m not a non-fiction writer. I mean, I can write about myself in the sense of a blog entry, but to write a true memoir? I don’t know. I think my tendency toward makin’ stuff up would interfere at some point, such that the lines between fact and fairy tale would blur pretty dishonestly. My mother tells me it’s because we’re Irish. “We’re just full of blarney. We really can’t help it.”
So, alright then. I’m full of blarney. You’d think a person so full of blarney could put a talent like that to good use whenever the fancy strikes. After all, isn’t it the same drill, just applied to different subject matters or goals? Let me stop beating around the bush. See, there’s a new position open in my office and I’m trying t0 go for it. The application process requires a cover letter, and so I set about writing one. I didn’t even manage the first paragraph before I realized I was only spinning bull-spit and just barely representing myself truthfully. So, I tried again. On the second draft, there were more hard facts, but entirely too many superfluous words (kind of like the word superfluous, am I right?), and a lot of flowery language. It didn’t take me long to get frustrated.
Dry, straightforward reality just doesn’t appeal to me. It never has, and maybe that’s why I’m a writer. “I reject your reality and substitute my own.” Why? Because my version of events is far more colorful and interesting. Problem is, no prospective employer is going to use my walking-talking-human-Thesaurus skills to evaluate my eligibility for a desk job that requires, at best, only the ability to use spell check. Alas… the artist sabotages herself by doing the only thing she knows she’s good at.
Does your talent or style as a writer ever bleed into other parts of your life, with unwanted consequences? Does a tendency toward verboseness ever muddy the waters when all you need is to be blunt? Are they little inconveniences like an overly poetic cover letter, or truly disruptive complications?
Welcome to Week Three, my budding playwrights! Remember, April is a themed month, so if you need help understanding the goal, visit this link to read the preamble I presented before the prompt for Week One. We can also address questions in the comments, if you need a little clarification. To put it basically, we are dividing up the four weeks of April into four parts of a “play” (the entries do not have to be plays): ACT I, ACT II, ACT III, and Epilogue. Visit the aforementioned link for specifics!
Week Three: ACT III – “The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose.”
I should like to think I have not yet reached the third act of my life, but that I should be prepared for the idea that it is nearer than I anticipate. Time passes so quickly, and what seems suspended in poetic action today may come to swift and dramatic conclusion tomorrow. I hope the opening act and rising (but perhaps not thrilling) action of my life will lead to great purpose. The worst and most volatile part of standing upon the brink of my own unfolding destiny is having no clairvoyance for the details of its unfolding. So many dangerous and enticing traps lay before me, baited with whistles and siren songs. That I may be unable to resist sends a delightful tremble of terror up my spine. By what deceptions shall I be seduced? How will the lessons I learned in the Spring of my life armor me in the Fall? The blackened, blurry future is the proof that the trials we have faced until now have not been for empty value. It is by the scars of a life thus far that we can endure the new lashes of a life still to come. Or, is it bright unknown that softens us anew and keeps us blind, despite our journeys through the undergrounds of adversity and toil?
The tradition of act three is to move down through the falling action and arrive at the conclusion. I challenge you to imply the end is near, but hold me waiting another week to know for sure. Are you already a master of cliffhangers? Ensnare us so cruelly that our comments are devoted to begging for Week Four spoilers. The end draws nigh!
Remember that entries are meant to complement one another as a series, and that the concepts of “Act III” and the Shakespearean quote provided are for inspiration and do not necessarily represent a requirement for content or word use.
The poll is below. Week Three closes at 2345EDT on Sunday, April 26th (my birthday!) -- make me proud!