Exploring the fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L. G. Keltner, Crystal Collier, Hart Johnson, Cherie Reich, Sandra Cox, Yolanda Renee, Melanie Schulz, Sylvia Ney, Michael Abayomi, and Tamara Narayan.
The WEP is a flash fiction
challenge open to all writers, and we
work hard to come up with a schedule of contests that offer just that, an
opportunity for participants to try something new.
most of us start out, we choose a genre and concentrate our efforts in that
arena. My first choice was mystery. I thought mysteries would be my
main calling, but then I found the need to branch out and found writing contests
writing challenge is an opportunity, not only for expression but it's a chance
to learn and open yourself to other possibilities. You'll not only stretch your imagination but you'll meet a new network of people. Writers helping other writers is the key to success and, yes, even that necessary evil of marketing becomes easier as you introduce yourself to new readers via a new genre.
I was recently asked a funny question: do you write scary stuff?
Well, I don't think so, but some people do. A reader recently told me that she had to put my debut novel (MOONLESS) down because of a scene 5 chapters in. I had to take another look. Maybe I do write tense, if not terrifying things.
I really didn't intend to make my entry for the Parallels anthology scary, but when I typed that first line: "Every day I look into the eyes of a stone cold killer", I knew I had to go with it. What kind of bizarre story was spilling onto the page? And yes, it's intense, but like all emotions, you can't experience one extreme without experiencing the other.
An extreme scare=an extreme relief.
The same is true with my Maiden of Time series. There are creatures one might call a cross between a dementor, vampire, and werewolf. Just perfect for Halloween. They're coming out to play in the final book, TIMELESS, releasing November 1. (Shameless plug there.) So what is it that makes a story "scary?" And how do we implement the scare?
1. The setting:
The word choices and imagery depict an ambiance that sets our nerves on end. One scene in Moonless takes place in a 17th century cellar at midnight. A "dead girl" is found hanging from the rafters on chains. (She's not really dead, but that's another discussion for another day.) The setting builds on the shadows, the lack of light, the chill in the air, the flicker of a nearly-dead candle, the dead silence, and the bleeding red skirts of the hanging girl. Did you get all those details there? Full sensory experience based on what we perceive as terrifying--and that's the scene that robbed me of a reader. *sigh*
2. A protagonist you like:
If you sincerely care about a character, you don't want to see them step into the attic and get hacked to pieces by an ax murderer. A likable character builds the tension. That was the case with Jak from The Mirror People. I had to tell his story because I had to know that this sincerely good guy would somehow overcome the monster on the other side of the glass.
We get hints, snippets that tell us something sinister is coming. A shadow on the wall. A scuttling and closing door. A bizarre taste on the wind... These prepare the mind and build anticipation for a future payout. This is one of my favorite tools--especially when it comes to planting red herrings so the reader is caught unawares.
4. Building tension:
The stakes are upped. Things that really matter (like people's lives) are jeopardized. We take it to the next level by throwing something new into the fire. In Timeless, Alexia is already battling the Knights Templar to keep her people alive, and then mysterious murders start happening in her camp. Suddenly there is no safe haven.
This is the best part of a scary story in my opinion--that thing jumping out that you didn't expect. That twist that changed the entire story for you. Surprises are a must.
If you can pull off the tension and bring your readers to that place of relief, you've got them for life. Go forth and scare!
Parallel universes explore the what if – what if one or more elements was different that our own world. But if you think about it, all speculative fiction is about the what if. It’s exploring a place unlike our own, transporting the reader to a world of possibilities.
This type of writing appeals to both writer and reader on many levels.
For the writer:
Fun to brainstorm. We can just start listing all sorts of crazy what ifs.
No limits. This is about things that aren’t real. Not yet and maybe never. We can go as far as we envision.
We become Creator. All writers do, but we can take it a step farther with a whole new world.
For the reader:
The chance to escape reality. When the news and troubles of the world overwhelm, nothing is more satisfying than retreating away from reality.
Struggles easier to handle. The troubles of this world can overwhelm us. But present those same struggles in a speculative fiction setting, and they are easier to handle and understand. We can process them better.
Encourages imagination. The same imagination that created the story flows into the reader and he envisions the world beyond the book. He’ll create his own stories.
What if takes us to a place beyond this world. And that’s a good thing. After all, all of the advancements and inventions of this world came from that simple question – what if?
- Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
One of my favorite stops this summer was at the Reuben H. Fleet museum in San Diego, California. I took my daughters to the traveling exhibit "Science Fiction, Science Future".
We spent the day learning about what has led to our current understanding of science, what humans are currently working to develop, and being teased with challenges for the future. Gallery stops included:
- understanding what we know of sound and light
- move this object with your mind challenge
- become invisible
- design your own cyborg
- interact with robots
- and more than I can write about in one post!
Here are just a few of our explorations:
A section honoring the history of science fiction development - its authors, artists, and innovators. Rare books from the Department of Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA), artwork from comic book publisher IDW, and even displays from the Star Trek franchise were available for perusal - including a very special challenge (see pics below).
Created by the renowned Scitech Discovery Centre in Perth, Australia this exhibit is a visually compelling way to share a deeper understanding of how science fiction concepts of today are becoming a reality: including holograms.
Visitors are completely immersed in possibilities for medical technology, communication, and even transportation. This exhibit includes many innovations, inventions, and challenges - a taste of anything a science lover could be looking for, especially when sharing the concepts with family and friends.
Thanks to this trip, my daughters truly enjoyed a glimpse at the possibilities for themselves and their future. I can't wait to see how they will contribute.
How will you contribute to our science fiction, science future? Will you or someone you know want to compete in the tricorder challenge listed in the above picture?
I love alternate universes.There are so many things we have no control
over in our own lives: life, death, taxes, illness, family, nature.There are of course things we can control, but
somewhere along the line, unforeseen circumstances set in and remind us of just
how small we are in the scheme of things.That is what is so great about creating an alternator universe.Your world can be exactly as you choose it to
One of the things that really
bother me—and probably you—is the politics and violence that are tearing our
country apart.I firmly believe that it
is the inability of our representatives to reach across the table and say, “I
don’t agree with you, but I’m willing to meet you halfway,” that keeps our
country in total turmoil.Today’s
mentality in congress seems to be my way or the highway.
Why am I mentioning this in a
post about alternate universes? Because it was important enough to me to build
it into my new world.In RAINERS, when
Harper Reese tumbles into a world different, but similar to her own, she
discovers that like the United States there is a President and Vice-President,
but unlike her own, one is a liberal and the other a conservative.It had no specific bearing on my storyline,
but something that I wanted in my universe.
What about you?If you are building an alternate universe,
what would you put into it? Unaltered rain forests? Purple dogs? A society that
has eliminated hunger and disease?This
world is your oyster, you can build it anyway you want. I’d love to hear what
would be important enough to place in yours.
Tagline: Save his world or save her own.
Blurb: Out hiking, Harper Reese tumbles into
a parallel universe where a nightmarish virus has infected the sphere’s
pubescent children. While there she encounters bad boy Noah Tanner who’s got
problems of his own. Now, they must work together to track down and destroy the
source of the disease before it travels to her world and infects her
Bio: Multi-published author Sandra Cox writes
YA Fantasy, Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North
Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat.
Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her
screened in porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee and enjoying a good book.
She's a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast.
the realm of parallel universes!
What if the
government tried to create the perfect utopia? Could a society linked to a
supercomputer survive on its own? Do our reflections control secret lives on
the other side of the mirror? Can one moment split a person’s world forever?
fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of
diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L. G. Keltner, Crystal Collier, Hart
Johnson, Cherie Reich, Sandra Cox, Yolanda Renee, Melanie Schulz, Sylvia Ney,
Michael Abayomi, and Tamara Narayan.
Hand-picked by a
panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will expand your imagination and
twist the tropes of science fiction. Step through the portal and enter another
Release date: May 3, 2016
$14.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 218 pages, Freedom
Science Fiction/General ( FIC028000) and Fiction/Alternative
History (FIC040000 )
Print ISBN 978-1-939844-19-4 eBook ISBN
Order through Ingram, Follett Library Resources, or
from the publisher
Since the time when science fiction
appeared on the scene in the late 1800’s, it has helped those who read it look
at the world in a different way. Science
fiction understandably speculated about what the future might look like thanks
to science and advancing technologies.
Yet, like every other genre you can think of, it has gone through many
The history of science fiction is often
divided into eras. Though stories of
various kinds were published during each of these eras, there is a definite
trend in the kinds of stories published during each era. The pulp era of the 1920’s and 30’s was
characterized by cheaply produced magazines that could provide affordable
entertainment for working class people.
They featured heroes who had bold adventures on other planets. The heroes were often dashing and charming and the kind of person people wished they could be.
During the late 1930’s and 1940’s,
wartime shortages brought on the decline of the pulp magazines, and the Golden
Age of Science Fiction began. This
golden age featured hard sci-fi (sci-fi that features science in a prominent
and accurate way).
Later on in the 1960’s and 70’s, the
New Wave came as a response to the social issues of the time. The focus moved from hard to soft science fiction. Soft sci-fi is less focused on the technology
and more focused on the people and how they respond to the world in which they
live. This era also saw a lot of
experimentation with writing styles.
Cyberpunk rose to popularity in the
1980’s as the computer became more accessible to everyday people. The stories took place on Earth and featured
people who interacted heavily with technology.
Sometimes the characters plugged in and escaped the dystopian world
around them through the more appealing world the technology offered. Other times the characters interacted with
cyborgs that made people question what it means to be human.
The trends we see in various genres don’t
spring up in a vacuum. All of these eras
arose in response to the world the authors of these stories lived in. Writers look at their own world and use their
writing to respond to it. They may also
read stories from fellow authors and draw inspiration for their own work.
One of the biggest trends today in
science fiction is YA dystopian. There
has been plenty of dystopian fiction over the years, but most of it today seems
to be post-apocalyptic. It features
protagonists that have to contend with tyrannical governments that were
established after some major disaster destroyed much of the world and killed a
majority of humanity. The cause of the
apocalypse is typically environmental in nature, and what remained of humanity
had to fight for what little resources were left. Why is this such a prominent theme today?
The future of our planet is a big
concern for many people. Is global
warming a valid concern, and if so, what are the consequences? Can our growing population be sustained
without catastrophe? People also worry
about overbearing governments monitoring their every move, which is a common
concern in the world we live in today.
These post-apocalyptic scenarios look at the social impact of living in
a world that looks drastically different than the one we live in today, and we
get to root for protagonists who are fighting against governments that abuse
the people they rule. We like see people
like us triumph against all odds.
One question that often comes up with
trends is this: does the market become too saturated with similar stories? Do readers get sick of reading the same
themes over and over again? If you’re a
writer, should you write a story that fits within the prevailing trend of the
time, or should you try to write something else? Does a story that falls outside of what is
currently considered popular even have a chance?
There are no easy answers to these
questions. Some readers will reach a
point of burn out, while others will continue to scoop up all the books they
can because they love what these kinds of stories have to offer. As a writer, I know we can’t please everyone
with what we have to offer. That’s just
not possible. If you have the
inspiration to write a story and you’re passionate about it, but you fear that
the market has too many stories with similar themes, I’d recommend you try
writing it anyway. Try to give it a
twist or look at events from an angle that you haven’t seen yet. Create the strongest characters you can. If you give the story everything you have,
you have a shot at finding readers for your work.
If your story is something that doesn’t
fit within the current trend at all, I’d also recommend giving it a
chance. The most important thing is to
tell a compelling story.
Remember, stories that fit within the
current trend do so because they are compelling to a lot of people, but someone
also had to start writing many of those stories before the trend existed.Someone had to start that trend in the first
place.That’s why I try not to worry too
much about whether a story idea seems trendy or not.If the idea speaks to me, I try to make it
Hey, friends, yes the book is out, the
reviews are coming in, and we thank you for your kindness in posting them. If
you any of you are still interested in a review copy, please let us know.
We apologize for the long silence, the A to Z knocked a few
of us out, but we've come up with a blogging schedule we hope you'll support.
I've listed it below. We'll post a for sure once a month article on the 4th
Wednesday of each month. A day you can count on,
but also, look for blog hops, contests, and giveaways!
If you'd like to be a guest, or know of someone who would
please send them our way, we'd love to feature other speculative fiction
authors! Just send an email to any of us, or to email@example.com
Look for our first 4th Wednesday post next week,
with L. G. Keltner, author of Felix Was Here!
Thanks for your patience and support!
L G Keltner – June 22
Sandra Cox – July 27
Sylvia Ney – August 24
Michael Abayomi – September 28
Crystal Collier – October 26
Yolanda Renee – November 23
Cherie Reich – December 28
Hart Johnson – January 25
Tamara Narayan - February 22
Melanie Schulz - March 22
If you have a suggestion or question, please let us know!