November 18, 2018, 10:20:12 AM

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Re: Favorite Fantasy Race(you made) In my WIPs I have Swarhelians. These mauve-tinted folk, colloquially referred to as Bluebirds, are largely humanoid. The men can change colour like a chameleon and often find work in the stealth industry, as scouts or thieves, while the women have beautiful white angelic wings. Sadly, however, following a period of slavery many of the women had their wings - and arms - hacked off, and wear white tops to cover up the stumps. They finance their post mutilation lives through performances at the ballet.
March 09, 2016, 01:11:23 PM
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Re: Hello FF
Welcome!

The captcha is only for the first three or five posts, so you should be rid of it soon. :)

Well, well. This day keeps getting better and better!  ;D

March 09, 2016, 01:28:59 PM
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Re: Writing Goals? Mmm I try not to think in terms of wordcount too much, but more about what I need to do and consider next to make my WIPs the best they can be. Currently I have been stripping out some extraneous characters to focus the readers' sympathise down a little more, and smoothing over some sentences to make them tighter and more relevant and vivid. But that seems to have happened at the expense of inner dialogue! Someone pointed out to me the other day that I don't have much. No-one knows what the character in question is thinking other than by their body language - so that's something else where wordcount will no doubt bloat :)
March 10, 2016, 02:46:20 PM
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Re: Why Do You Want to be an Author? I want to write to give life to the thoughts, characters and situations floating around in my head. They've been there far too long, taking up space and achieving very little, that it's time to release them. And if my WIPs get converted into an HBO series, for instance, so much the better. Anyway it's more fun than my regular job.
April 08, 2016, 12:54:20 PM
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Re: [Oct 2017] - Find the Story in the Picture - Submission Thread Okay ... hopefully I am doing this right!

Spoiler for Hiden:

Image: "Sevensky" by Simon Weaner









The Greatest Theater Under The Skies
995 words excl. title
Twitter: @jd_books


But in the end, no-one could pinpoint just when Sevensky’s Travelling Circus had arrived in Cyanoga. Tattered posters appeared where none could remember seeing one before, and slowly, like a tuberculotic outbreak, from one person to the next, all the talk turned from pressure valves or configurations of hulls to feats of acrobatic mastery, and illusion, and rabbits yanked from hats. The city plied the jetstreams that blew them among the skies.

But Neeton could remember precisely the moment he became involved. For him, it coalesced one workday, a tiny particle from a primordial sea evolving into new life, trembling and uncertain. He shouldered his cart-handle and regarded the flyer.

“That’s where it’s at, boys,” he said. “Showbusiness!”

“You gonna join the circus, old man?” Tarker, their vicious young foreman sneered. “You ain’t no tightrope-walker – hell, you ain’t even a clown!”

Neeton ignored him, but Tarker seemed at first to be right. For while the dog-eared hoardings assured passers-by that the circus was very much in town, no-one he knew or spoke to was able to find it. No instructions or address were given – he checked and rechecked the tiny playbill font at the very bottom before rain and grime swallowed up the lettering – but found nothing.

“Hmm,” he muttered.

“Hah!” came Tarker’s reply as the foreman shouldered a steel beam. “Told you. Didn’t I tell you? Now step-to, circus-clown, step-to, step-to!”

Clangs of metal rolled round the dock, pulling the old cartwright out of his reverie. Still, the notion, the promise of glamour, must have infected his working mood. The ladies shuttling baskets of food here and there – why, they could be ballerinas, dancing and twirling against a backdrop of smelting sparks. And those weren’t boys, kicking a ball about in the muck. No, they were dwarves, midgets – bred to entertain. Even Neeton himself felt the call of the ringmaster, so much so that he took to thrusting an arm up and out every time he spoke, an old-time thesp delivering streetside philosophy to bedarked masses. Frequently he sang.

“Woe is me!” he wavered, “for I am bound to work this old shipyard, mmm, till ohh, my dying day!”

Tarker, that villain, noticed. “We all gots to work, gran-pappy. Now get on with it, ’fore I crack-a-whip!”

Rustbucket hulls drifted by with magisterial slowness. Black pipework issued fumes of lifting-vapour; for Cyanoga’s port was a manner of aeronautical shipyard, and these behemoths would climb the clouds, hauling their ores and grains and goodness knew what else to nameless continents.

But Neeton didn’t get on with it. Rolling his wood-rotted barouche down slick cobbles, he instead took to adopting curious stances at random moments; the sudden pause of the mechanical man, the neverending gape of the mime. At first it just amused him. Streetcars ding-ding-dinged along their iron roadways, and as they did, the bustle of the markets where he traded scrap metal for occasional sweetmeats had looked for a moment as if all who stood in them were about to swing into a sort of synchronised rhythmic step. He almost expected a chipper tradesman to strut out with a maple cane and start singing about a girl he could never have. And when he would snap from these reveries, well, blow him down if there wasn’t a little pile of coin right there in his upturned skullcap.

Overhead, the giant vessels shunted on, bow-to-stern, nose-to-aft. Fly away, little birds, though Neeton; safe travels, au revoir, et bon voyage to all.

He never told Tarker about the skullcap. He told a ballerina though. She hmmphed and walked away, basket on head. But dammit – even her movements were musical. Neeton felt positively glad to be alive. His fellows on the other hand continued to mire themselves in the wet grey slop of the workman’s misery. Could they not see the beauty around them?

Tarker’s whip snapped. And the posters proliferated. Somewhere, somewhere, the circus was in town. And it was all tied into the timeless movements of the enormous steamships and the travels of the trams amid Cyanoga’s ancient, crumbling stonework. Even the spinning seamstresses hinted of its locale in their labour-songs. Their chatter and the hieroglyphic threading of their needlework all spoke of it. Neeton’s skullcap filled, and it filled. Where was Sevensky? Who was he?

Until one day, beneath clouds of black smoke in a copper sky, the leviathans stopped their steady skyward march. The sudden silence boomed louder than a metal thud on any hull.

A shower of sparks, and another. Then a third, until a whole row of flame poured onto the dockside. And – was that a trumpeting, from that massive-bore pipe? It may have been; it may just have been. It heralded – something. Neeton didn’t know what.

A fire-orange line materialised in the hull of the largest skysteamer. Horizontal at first, it curled both of its ends around a pair of bevelled edges until there could be no mistake.

A hatchway.

It was opening, separating from the hull with a scalding pneumatic hiss.

“Behold!” echoed a voice from the pipe’s mouth. “Behold! Your Ringmaster Is Here!”

Every last piece of work in the shipyard ceased. Each set of eyes turned towards the figure in the hatch. Top-hat squared against the fiery glow, cane held smartly in hand. On either side of this apparition was a leashed griffin, ready to pounce.  The only one remaining resolutely not impressed was Tarker.

“Get back at it!” he barked ineffectually. “Get on! Time’s a wastin’! You ain’t paid to loaf!”

Oh, but Neeton knew, and he knew, as the shadowy ringmaster held the foreman in his dark gaze. A flaming lash curled in the blackness. For the world was his circus, his city, his floating Cyanoga, the city that plied the lofty jetstreams that crossed the seven skies. And the crowds that bore witness that night would proclaim, would swear, would know for sure, that Neeton was the finest performer ever to grace their air-ways.





October 04, 2017, 06:23:08 PM
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Re: "Murky middle" problem with outlining a story I think of the beginning as introducing the event (and therefore the goal; resolution of that event) that sets the MC on his or her course; I think of the end as being the aforementioned goal, and the middle being all the things that conspire to prevent the MC getting what they want, and all the ways they react to that, and all the ways it changes them and the things and people around them. As long as they are somewhat oriented towards the goal in all that time, and as long as the stakes trend higher, things should be ok. Just remember to keep batting them away from achieving their dreams whenever they get too close! :)

October 16, 2017, 10:12:13 AM
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Re: [Oct 2017] - Find the Story in the Picture - Voting Thread Oh my Gawd :O Thanks guys, really. This was pretty unexpected, to say the least. I don't think I've entered this comp before (maybe once, a while back) and very nearly got psyched out by the other entries. I particularly liked the epic poem because, you know, epic poem, and the Voyages of the Boutella. But all great reads.

It never takes much for me to put a steamy (erm, as in punk ;) ) spin on things, and when, on close inspection of the poster, I saw something about the circus, and the name Sevensky, it all clonked into place like a bunch of brass tumblers. Great comp, loved the other entries, and will certainly attempt this comp again. Thanks all, again :)

December 01, 2017, 02:51:50 PM
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Re: [Dec 2017] - Alien/Eldritch Artifact - Discussion Thread
Awww YISS. End of the world babaaay!

Or indeed the dawning of a new one :)

December 02, 2017, 04:56:44 PM
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Re: Publisher picked up my book! That's cool! I was about to do the #pitmad thing on the 7th too but something came up and I wasn't about. Was it F&B publishing that took it directly, or an agent?
December 30, 2017, 04:32:47 PM
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Re: [Mar 2018] - Letters - Submission Thread The Beanley Public Rainbow (1485w incl title); Option 5; includes some erotica

Spoiler for Hiden:


The Beanley Public Rainbow

The thump of the rainbow arcing over the city was the echo heard around the world. But that had been a time ago, and the sound was fading.

Quote
Dear My Esteemed –,

The quill scratched and scribbled, then was silent. Was it too pitiful a start? The Well-To-Do Gentleman looked around his oak-panelled study. He had never addressed his rival as “Dear”, not for years, and any esteem between them had long since dribbled away. That sort of overfamiliar classlessness was reserved for people besotted with Onyx van Intensity or the other roaming Muses who possessed the power to reduce citizens to quaking piles of rubble. The Rival, unable to hold on to his basest urges, was doubtless one such ludicrous devotee.

The Gentleman’s quill scratched black lines through the words before resuming its spidery walk across the yellow page.


Quote
As noted in the Philanthropist, it falls to me, your Contemporary, to inform you that the theories that brought you such recognition for a brief spark of time are in fact based on a glut of falsehoods.

For the population was still dwindling. People were tired. Tired of complex romantic rituals and unseemly sex acts and wearisome levels of expectation, and humanity had simply lost interest in reproducing. You couldn’t write it, thought the Gentleman with a knife-edge of a smile. What a way to die out. But in the process it had cleared itself of those gummy, pitiful emotions, and the world – or the district of Beanley at any rate, which had never looked so dignified now that people were focussed on the finest furnishings rather than copulation – was well in to the Enlightened Age. The high-rises of Operator City hosted the finest Post-Present Dinner Parties, and the subways loudly proclaimed their Neo-Goldsmithian architectural splendour.

Onyx van Intensity was another story. The Rival had taken to calling her a public service and human right. Could he not see? She was an exotic dancer, nothing more, a holdover from a dated value system. His poor neighbours must have been in spasms as the bottoms fell out of their property values. Had the man no consideration? Still, the rediscovery of carnal enjoyment was over. The Gentleman wrote these words:


Quote
I’m a little embarrassed to have to be contacting you on this, naturally, but your whorish associate, having failed to reignite the population’s interest in the erotic, condemns you both, it would seem, to the status of Fad. Meanwhile the rest of us are currently enjoying sea bass baked over slivers of honey-roast yam.

But something kept gnawing at the back of the Gentleman’s head. What was it? After a moment, it came to him: why, he asked himself, was he even writing this letter? Well, he supposed, what more civilised way to clarify the worry than by putting it onto his Rival. He pushed his internal protestations aside and penned thus:

Quote
You probably think I am obsessing with you, that I need to send you this letter. It’s a formality, nothing more, so don’t flatter yourself that I am not satisfied with the way things are turning out according to latest figures. I shall expect a written statement retracting your loutish ideas.


And it was true. Such condescension was entirely de rigeur. His own daughter, following Eyebrow-Raising tuition at several hundred dollars a session, was said to have triggered a full-blown panic attack in at least three suitors. Rumour had it that one was still in therapy. The Gentleman smiled, and glanced out of his window. He wondered what Ms. van Intensity would make of that. He had never seen her – few had, they didn’t talk – but when posters swarmed up the walls of the city showing a whip-cracking warrior-princess in a jet-black fascinator, she strode into the civic consciousness. They say she came from profound squalor, and they laughed at how she supposedly trolled the back-alleys for change in her black leather boots now.



A mail had come back. It contained just one word.


Quote
Hah!

The Gentleman twirled his moustache and refilled his pipe. On the back of the paper was a grainy depiction of a grimy establishment. The Beanley Public Rainbow, it was called.

It was franchising. The whole gooey, despicable business was branching out.

How was this possible? The Gentleman banged a fist on the sleek pine of his desk, and all but leapt at his quill.


Quote
You, Sir, are a Disgrace, Sir, to all, Sir, who seek, Sir, to revert to a pleasing order, Sir –

The ink looped furiously across the page, scoring the formal diction of the day into the writing leathers. He’d not have Beanley returned to the sticky hands of his Rival, nor those of his Acolytes and their like. But then, what was happening?

Something was at work in the wine-rooms and around Gin-tables. This new puritanism was wearing thin. Yes, everyone had the latest in tasteful home décor. No-one would be caught saying the wrong thing, or being in the wrong place, or standing in the wrong way. But they missed the excitement, some uncertainty, a little earthy frisson.

And Onyx van Intensity was raking it in. She and her new partner, the Rival.


Quote
If you think, Sir, that you will drag us down, Sir, by the balls, Sir, the balls, then you, Sir, are, Sir, mistaken indeed, Sir.

The handwritten reply came, dropped off by a frizz-haired lettersboy not a day later:

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Why not drop by the Beanley Public Rainbow some time? Come on in! We’re always open.

He couldn’t. Could he? No. What would his colleagues think? What would their wives say? He’d be outcast. No. Never. He wouldn’t do it.



“This way, Sir.” The Gentleman glanced up and down the alley before disappearing under the gaudy neon of the Rainbow’s signage. “The Muse and her Partner will be right along.”

The porter ushered him to a chair in a small side-room. As he waited he scratched out another letter under a miniscule bulb. He had no intention of speaking to the Rival nor his ghastly Whore. They could read his notes and respond in kind.


Quote
Now, Sir, accepting that I have indulged you a little humour, you’ll do me the honour, Sir, of acknowledging that while your backstreet hovel may seem to make you a small mint at the expense of the scattered and broken souls of this world, Sir, it is really not fitting, not fitting, no, to –


There was a scrape. A sound, as though someone had slid back a secret wooden hatchway and was spying on the Gentleman. He peered into the dark corner of the room buy could make out nothing. In his mind, an image rose up of her, readying her lash like some netherworld demon bent on vengeance.

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-  to presume, Sir, that your low ways are any kind of pathway to future happiness for the general populus. Why, Sir, when we dine on squealed gack laid with a bed of mountain rice (I trust you know what that is) it seems that others must languish –

A voice. A breathy devil, right at his shoulder. The tiny light winked out.

… mmm … laid … with a bed…

Was it her – Onyx van Intensity? He spread his hands before him like feelers, could almost feel her dark caress up and down his back.

“Let me out!” he shouted. His hands settled on a wooden partition. He slapped its reassuring solidity. Was he really going to be trapped by his Rival here, in a sex club? “Help!”


… help … help … the voice whispered. … fear … sorrow … others must languish …

The voice. That bewitching voice. But there was no-one there. A dread feeling came over him, simultaneously terrified and yet snared by a maniacal desire to see her, to know what she looked like close up. In his fevered vision he perceived – or thought he did – a vast crushing boot, sensed the passing brutality of a mighty hand, felt the leonine flick of her broad leather flagellate.



The Beanley Public Rainbow
thunked on for good at a quarter-past-midnight.

Its seven radiant colours carved a neon glow through the dark sky, heralding that the Age of Puritanism was over, and I am told that in the meth-dens and places of ale, historians babbled over the Gentleman’s letters, trying to decode what they could mean. Did he live? Was he changed? His last dispatch had undergone a general about-turn:


Quote
I act freely, willingly, a slave made mindless with love and desire.

That is the end of this story. The Public Rainbow is still lit and I sign off with an invite, just a small and informal thing, mind you, to stop by any time, no charge. We are open twenty-four hours a day, and we like to think we have kept the world spinning.

My Warmest Regards.


{{here there is an illegible scribble}}






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March 13, 2018, 11:19:37 PM
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