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Posts Tagged ‘Hides the Dark Tower’

Pole to Pole Publishing http://poletopolepublishing.com just opened submissions for their next themed, speculative anthology, Dark Luminous Wings. And yes, I’m one of the editors again.

Editing a themed anthology is both challenging and rewarding. As an editor, you have the opportunity to read hundreds of stories – each trying to address the theme in an unique manner. But their “unique” story isn’t as unique as many authors believe it to be.

Pole to Pole Publishing’s 2016 anthology, In a Cat’s Eye, featured darkly speculative stories about cats. Kelly Harmon and I read hundreds of stories, and wanted to have one (and only one) story representing “expected” speculative cat roles, plus a few “out of the box” tales as well.

Therefore, only one cat as witch’s familiar, Egyptian cat, transformation into a cat, cat god, and robot cat story were accepted. There were several good stories in each of these cat-egories (pun intended), but we were committed to a mix of stories, so once a “slot” was filled, we didn’t accept a similar tale. So those writers who discarded their first, second, and maybe even third story idea, and came up with something very different had a better chance of serious consideration – like steampunk cats, zombie cats, mutate space cats, and clockwork world cats. To see the results, you can purchase In a Cat’s Eye here: http://poletopolepublishing.com/books/in-a-cats-eye

We approached Pole to Pole Publishing’s 2015 speculative anthology, Hides the Dark Tower in a similar manner. Once we had a Rapunzel, castle-fortress, sea witch, shot, water, and signal tower story, we didn’t accept a second story which repeated the theme or storyline. We looked for tales which were “different,” like towering circus signs or smoke stacks. To read those tales we did publish, you can check out Hides the Dark Tower here: http://poletopolepublishing.com/books/hides-the-dark-tower

I hope a few of my readers will write and submit a “dark luminous wings” story for the latest Pole to Pole Publishing anthology. What do we mean by the theme? I can’t tell you! As the stories come in, a book will form. It will be a dark, magical, imaginative, winged journey for both the editors and our readers. So think “out of the box” and send us your best story! http://poletopolepublishing.com/submissions

 

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001]Thanks to author Peter Schranz for stopping by and sharing an interesting essay on science fiction writer, Mark Twain! Having visited Twain’s boyhood home this summer, I wonder what Samuel Clemens would think of it?

For those who haven’t ordered their copy of Hides the Dark Tower containing Peter’s story, “Tower of the Sea Witch,” here’s the link. Now, back to the essay. Enjoy!

An Anticipation of Twain’s by Peter Schranz

‘It’s not news that science fiction writers are good at making uncanny predictions about future technological advancements: Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon developed Apollo 11, Wells’ 1903 story The Land Ironclads triggered World War I, and Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein gave birth to the misunderstood English corpses responsible for the gothic rock music of the early 1980s. What a slice of pie it would be if I could justify the argument that I belong on the list because of ‘Tower of the Sea Witch,’ my contribution to Hides the Dark Tower, but unfortunately that story is set before technological advancement was even invented.

I would say that the list, long as it is, has snubbed Mark Twain, one of my country’s greatest science fiction writers. You might not think he’s a science fiction writer, but I intend in this paper to pry that false notion right out of your brain forever.

A French translation of part of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” appeared in the Revue Des Deux Mondes of July 15, 1872. Three years later, Twain discovered the article, took exception to its note that his story wasn’t that funny, and re-translated it back into English to reveal that the French translation was a disjointed shadow of the original, mainly via his feigned and smart-alecky ignorance that French and English syntax and grammar significantly differ.

While the idea of machine translation dates back many centuries, the first actual machine to translate wasn’t available until about fifty years ago. This means that Twain predicted the translation method made famous by machine translators (‘letter-not-spirit method’) by a good nine decades.

I’ve included below a small section of the story in all three versions, or, as Twain himself wrote, “in English, then in French, then clawed back into a civilized language once more by patient, unremunerated toil.”

‘Why, I’ve seen him set Dan’l Webster down here on this floor–Dan’l Webster was the name of the frog–and sing out, ‘Flies, Dan’l, flies!’ and quicker’n you could wink he’d spring straight up and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag’in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn’t no idea he’d been doin’ any more’n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightfor’ard as he was, for all he was so gifted.’

‘Tenez, je l’ai vu poser Daniel Webster la sur se plancher,–Daniel Webster etait le nom de la grenouille,–et lui chanter: Des mouches! Daniel, des mouches!–En un clin d’oeil, Daniel avait bondi et saisi une mouche ici sur le comptoir, puis saute de nouveau par terre, ou il restait vraiment a se gratter la tete avec sa patte de derriere, comme s’il n’avait pas eu la moindre idee de sa superiorite. Jamais vous n’avez grenouille vu de aussi modeste, aussi naturelle, douee comme elle l’etait!’

‘Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this plank–Daniel Webster was the name of the frog–and to him sing, “Some flies, Daniel, some flies”– in a flash of the eye Daniel had bounded and seized a fly here upon the counter, then jumped anew at the earth, where he rested truly to himself scratch the head with his behind foot, as if he no had not the least idea of his superiority. Never you not have seen frog as modest, as natural, sweet as she was.’

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last fifteen years of your precious life doing nothing but feeding a machine translator a perfectly blameless piece of English, instructing it to translate it into another language, and instructing it once more to translate its own translation back into what it swears on a stack of bibles is English. If you haven’t done so, perhaps you will after reading the following brief examples, created using a well-known machine translation service whose name I am too polite to reveal:

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

O Roméo, Roméo ! C’est pourquoi es-tu Roméo?

O Romeo, Romeo! This is why are you Romeo?

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Loin dans l’ombre peering, je me tins longtemps plein d’étonnement, de crainte,

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood full of astonishment, fear,

In fairness to the translation in the Revue Des Deux Mondes, its French (I’m so magnanimous as to presume) is without fault, a feat, considering Twain’s ample colloquialisms (which I guess is the joke), whereas the French in Shakespeare’s and Poe’s machine translations looks about as bad as the re-English.

But this eerily similar, slavish adherence to the “from” language’s syntax (cf. 1875’s “Never you not have seen frog as modest” and 2015’s “This is why are you Romeo?”) and the refusal to translate certain words (cf. “Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this plank” and “Loin dans l’ombre peering”) is what demands that I forward Mark Twain for consideration as a member of the technology-anticipators’ club. The mistakes he made in his translation and those that modern machine translators make are so similar that I can only assume Twain’s capacity for prediction was that of a science-fictionist’s.

Not even Douglas Adams’s Babel fish gives bad translations, but if you, reader, are beginning to suspect that my argument is spurious, you may retort that the Babel fish is not a machine, but a leech-like creature. Firstly, to this retort, I would suggest that yours is one of those irrelevant distinctions favored by students of sophistry, and secondly, I would cross my arms and pout in the corner.’

And here’s where you can find Peter’s books, Astonishing Tales of the Sea and It Spits You Out & 12 More Stories to Rub Your Chin To.

Thanks again to Peter Schrantz for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, quotes, blogs from me, and more. Have a fantastical day! – Vonnie

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weston201415 365 Thanks to author Neil Weston for stopping by and sharing the inspiration for his story, “The People of the Tower.” Enjoy!

From Poem to Story by Neil Weston

‘I’m one of these writers who wants to write stories with a flowery, poetic form as their backbone. Not an easy combination to pull off, as witnessed by a well of rejections! After getting my story, “The People of the Town,” accepted into Pole to Pole Publishing’s Hides the Dark Tower anthology, using a similar format, I was finally able to breathe that this style could work. It was only my second short story acceptance and, more importantly, was an experience in patience and belief.

The story originally started as a short-form poem and was inspired by my earlier poetic creations of servile/servant, warrior Japanese Kimono Droids (soft-faced, androids wrapped in colorful, steel, Kimonos and impervious to almost any munition) and a fascination with Japanese culture, history and mystery. A Kimono Droid inspired poem can be found in issue seven of Eye to the Telescope online.

My imagination is bleak, and I wanted these droids or variations of them to be the only things to survive an apocalyptic scenario. When I hit upon a near future destroyed by over industrialization, the shaping of the tale became evident. I have a penchant for irony and was keen to see the ending reveal painfully downbeat. My favorite poets are Bukowski, Plath, Shelley and of the modern crop of speculative poets, Alicia Cole. I think they all impacted on my vision and approach and to take a chance on some beautiful, brutal words, which then inspired the shape of the landscape in my head. Thanks as well to the Internet and multitude of websites for slowing me to fine tune dress and language and food.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] I like my poetry to be self-contained tales, and I think practicing Twitter fiction was a perfect form by which to learn to choose words carefully. With the editorial expertise of F.J. Bergmann, you can find one of my favorite creations in Mobius: the journal of social change, Vol 24, No 1 (under Neil Weston), which provides an insight into how and why “The People of the Town” evolved in the manner it did. Even though I’m always eager to finish one tale and tell the next, from poem to short story was about a calendar year of adding, subtracting words. This was truly a tale that refused to be rushed into being, much to my frustration! But I think the end result delivers my vision…’

To learn more about Neil Weston, visit his Facebook page.

If you’d like to read more of his work, you can check out a story in Forging Freedom Dimensions and a piece of flash fiction in Big Pulp.

Thanks again to Neil Weston for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more Guest Authors, Quotable Wednesdays, posts from me, and more. Have a fascinating day – Vonnie

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jgottwig Thanks to author Jeremy Gottwig for stopping by and sharing the journey from inspiration to published short story of the science fiction tale, “Who Abandon Themselves.” Enjoy!

Inspiration to Story by Jeremy Gottwig

‘Years ago, my wife (a religious historian) told me the story of the Abelard and Heloise. I’m not sure why it came up. Knowing her, it was probably just bouncing around in her mind.

Either you already know the story or you can use Wikipedia, so I’ll spare you my three penny synopsis. I will say that the story of Abelard and Heloise is sad, scandalous, sexy, and a little bit painful. It stuck with me, and years later it inspired my piece, “Who Abandon Themselves”, which is now available in the Hides the Dark Tower anthology.

Being the science fiction junkie that I am, I plucked these characters from Medieval Europe and dropped them onto different planets in a star system very unlike our own. In other words, I was not kind to these characters, but nor was their own time. “Who Abandon Themselves” focuses on a brief, fictional moment near the end of their relationship, but I envisioned a backstory that resembles historical reality. I recommend that you read my story before you dig into the facts. You shouldn’t encounter too many spoilers, but I suspect the story will be more enjoyable if you encounter these characters without context and fill in the details later.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] I would like to end on a personal note.

The title of my story, “Who Abandon Themselves”, is taken from a quote by Peter Abelard in one of his letters to Heloise: “The men who abandon themselves to the passions of this miserable life, are compared in Scripture to beasts.”

I love this quote, but I have to be honest: being married to a religious historian doesn’t make me a genius at deciphering religious texts. This quote feels like a moment of raw clarity in the middle of an otherwise unrestrained rambling. I encourage you to seek out the letter in its entirety if you want to see what I mean.

This reminds me of the process of writing and editing stories.

I rewrote the ending to “Who Abandon Themselves” half-a-dozen times. It had stagnated, and my cosmetic changes had little effect. My wife listened to me read and reread the thing after each little tweak. She provided honest (and brutal) feedback. My own moment of clarity came while reconsidering the relationship between my characters. Something clicked, and everything changed. I rewrote the entire ending from scratch. My wife liked it, and I submitted the story to Kelly and Vonnie.

employee01 And so I dedicate this story to my wife. She inadvertently gave me the idea, she loaned me her expertise as a historian when I had questions, and she listened to me read and reread the thing until we were both satisfied.”

To learn more about Jeremy Gottwig, visit his website or follow him on twitter and Pinterest.

And here’s where you can find his book, Employee of the Year.

Thanks again to Jeremy Gottwig for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have a fantastical day! – Vonnie

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mcguckin briana Thanks to Briana McGuckin for stopping by and sharing her journey as a reader, writer, and person with cerebral palsy. She has a story in the newly released speculative anthology from Pole to Pole Publishing, Hides the Dark Tower.

Broken, Brilliant by Briana McGuckin

‘My mother once told me: people with cerebral palsy are brilliant minds trapped in broken bodies.

This was not a don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover remark. She wasn’t teaching me about tolerance. This was part of a pep talk.

I was born about a month early, and I fit in one of my father’s hands. When I finally learned to walk, I did it on my toes—knees bent, leaning in upon each other to support my own weight.

Details are boring, but one way or another oxygen gets in where it shouldn’t and damages brain tissue. That’s CP. The severity of the resultant disability, and its complications, are so different across individuals because the damage can be slight or extensive, and affect different areas of the brain.

My hamstrings and heel cords are tight—as dictated by the garbled orders coming down from my brain. My hips were twisting, my knees bending, and my heels rising, all to accommodate the tension in my body. My legs were the worst of it, and still are.

I had a seat belt installed at my school desk when I was very young because I would concentrate so hard on what I was doing that I would fall right out of my seat. Later on in life, I was one of those “lucky” kids who got to walk the perimeter in gym instead of playing dodge-ball, or running the dreaded mile, but I promise you that I had already done my time in the form of physical therapy; for as long as I can remember, there were always kind strangers in the house bearing giant medicine balls, and little toys for fine motor-skill development. (Anyone else remember when Polly Pocket actually fit in your pocket?)

I had major surgery when I was ten, lengthening my heel cords and hamstrings, and getting metal plates put on my hips to set them straight. I missed some school, re-learned how to walk, and then went under once more to have the metal plates removed.

What does all of this have to do with writing? Well, it actually has more to do with reading.

My parents didn’t know how I was going to turn out, you know? A baby is a baby. If I couldn’t walk, they wouldn’t know it until it was time for me to start walking. If I couldn’t talk, they wouldn’t know until it was talking time.

But I was a talker. According to Mom (and moms exaggerate a bit, so bear that in mind) I was babbling full sentences well before my time, and to anyone who would listen.

Encouraged, my mom read to me often, and perhaps my entire destiny as a reader (and thus a writer) hinges upon one single habit of hers: while she was reading, she pointed at the words. She read me children’s books this way, and she even read out from the Danielle Steele books she was reading. It slowed her down, and she had to flip past all the dirty parts, but I bet in her estimation I didn’t have a lot of other ways to entertain myself. She saw a child who was doing a lot of work disguised as play—frustrating work, on giant medicine balls.

One day she forgot to point. She still loves to tell that story. “Mommy! Use your finger!” It was confirmation that she was doing something right for me.

I was reading before we got to reading in school, needless to say. My teacher was annoyed because my mother “might have taught [me] wrong,” and then—the next day, it seems to me—I had been placed in the “gifted readers” reading group. Suddenly I was winning spelling bees and writing little stories that received high praise from my teachers. And from there it just kept growing.

I say all this to contrast two internal pictures that I had of myself. On the one hand, I always understood that there were things I couldn’t really do, and places I didn’t fit in. I have been called ugly names, shoved into lockers, and gotten into little schoolyard scraps over being awkward and clunky.

And surgery is swell and all, but as the years go by old failings of my body creep back up on me. I can walk well enough, but my heels are inching off the ground again, and my knees are turning in. Strangers and acquaintances alike pull me aside to tell me the ways in which I can fix my body – and never because it’s a conversation I have started, but rather because it’s a problem they can see (and think that they can solve).

They mean no harm, but all the same it reminds me of my flaws. Something is wrong with me.

On the other hand, I have these words. I can take them in and spin them out, doing deft and delicate work mentally that is really beyond my physical capacity. In the wild expanse of my imagination, nothing can stop me: my reason is a muscle I can flex, train, and use. I may not be able to undertake whatever I choose, but I can understand. And I can give that understanding to others. Stephen King calls writing a form of telepathy.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] Nothing is wrong with me.

I guess I am a writer because I am not a runner. I choose to cherish myself for the things I can do rather than berate myself for the things I can’t. I choose it every day, and sometimes it’s hard.

It’s so easy to focus on our flaws, whatever they may be. But our flourishing is more important. We are all broken. We are all brilliant. Go with brilliance, I say.

Nothing is wrong with you.’

To learn more about Briana, check out her blog, Moon Missives.

Thanks again to Briana McGuckin for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guest posts, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have an inspired day! – Vonnie

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Thanks to author Steven Southard for stopping by and sharing the Biblical background for his story, “Ancient Spin.” Enjoy!

Alas, Babel by Steven Southard

Steve Southard photo ‘First of all, I’d like to thank Vonnie Winslow Crist for allowing me to post as a guest on her blog, and also for including my story, “Ancient Spin,” in Pole to Pole Publishing’s anthology Hides the Dark Tower which she co-edited with Kelly A. Harmon.

“Ancient Spin” takes place in the land of Shinar near the site of the Tower of Babel, that lofty and legendary edifice whose story comes to us from Genesis. In the Biblical version, God sees the tower and disapproves of mankind speaking a single tongue. God scatters people across the Earth and confuses human languages. In some accounts, God also destroys “‘the tower.

Perhaps it’s all true, perhaps not. But if the Babel story is just a tale, then what is the truth? Was there an actual tower? What was it like and what happened to it? The people of Mesopotamia certainly constructed tall structures, many taking the tiered form of ziggurats. (Ziggurat—what a fun word!)

Some accounts state that Babel was built of fired brick, cemented with clay. At some point the people of the region shifted from sunbaked bricks to the sturdier fired brick. Even so, such buildings had to be built with much shallower angles (sloped like a pyramid) than our modern, vertical skyscrapers constructed of steel I-beams.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] Living in a flat plain, the people of the time must have considered these towers truly imposing. But even buildings constructed from fired brick would not have endured forever, and might have collapsed suddenly. In “Ancient Spin,” that’s the backstory. The Tower of Babel has just fallen and my main character is dealing with the disaster’s aftermath.

The story is very short, and if I’m not careful, this blog post could surpass the length of the tale I’m describing. You’ll meet only two characters—Eullil, and his brother, Ludarat. The name Eullil is my own corruption of the Sumerian words for “may the temple last into distant days.” Likewise, Ludarat is my twisting of “eternal man.”

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories in Pole to Pole Publishing’s new anthology, Hides the Dark Tower. It’s my hope you’ll buy it and enjoy “Ancient Spin.” If you do, and you end up craving more of my stories like:

“Ripper’s Ring,” http://www.gypsyshadow.com/StevenSouthard.html#Ripper

“Time’s Deformèd Hand,” http://www.gypsyshadow.com/StevenSouthard.html#TimesHand

or “The Cometeers,” http://www.gypsyshadow.com/StevenSouthard.html#Cometeers

Visit me on Twitter, on Facebook, and my website where I sign each entry as— Poseidon’s Scribe’

About the suthor: Steven R. Southard’s short stories stack up in ten different anthologies including Dead Bait, Quest for Atlantis, and Avast, Ye Airships! He’s the tall and looming author of the What Man Hath Wrought series, with thirteen stories at last count. An engineer and former submariner, Steve takes readers to new heights with engaging characters in distant places and varied historical periods. He builds stories in the genres of steampunk, clockpunk, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Thanks again to Stephen Southard for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have a well-constructed day! – Vonnie

 

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Daniel Beazley

Thanks to author, Daniel Beazley, for stopping by and sharing how he looked through his older stories, re-wrote, polished, and resurrected a tale suitable for a tower-themed anthology. Enjoy!

Resurrecting an Old Story by Daniel Beazley

When I saw the call out for submissions to Pole to Pole Publishing’s, Hides the Dark Tower anthology, I remembered a short piece that I’d written way back in 2004. My writing was still very raw then, but it’s always interesting to trawl back through your work if you’re willing to brave the horrendous wreckage that normally lies in wait. However, it was only the idea I was after, and once I started reading, I knew it would be perfect for this anthology if I could only polish it into something that resembled readable material.

The anthology’s theme led me to thinking about towers in general, and I considered what it would be like if there was a great tower, but only the tip of it could be seen protruding from the ground. What horrors would lurk beneath, and what would be the reason for such a creation to exist?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001]

Dark Ascent’ is based in a fictional land that I visualised as being similar to North America in its pre-colonial days. I have always had a keen fascination with Native American tribes, and it was from this that I took my protagonist. It follows a young brave who is on a spiritual journey and comes across a sinister scene that prompts a further investigation. This in turn leads him to a village where he discovers something ancient and horrifying, something that could threaten the very existence of his people.

I am certain you’ll really enjoy this anthology, and I can honestly say it is one of the best I have read in a long time. Vonnie and Kelly have done a great job in selecting an incredible collection of stories that will have you perched on the edge of your seats wanting more, especially ‘Squire Magic’ by Larry C. Kay, which was one of my favorites.

Sepherene

I would also like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about my recent book, Sepherene: The Complete Chronicles, which is a dark fantasy and sci-fi tale about a fallen angel, sprinkled with a subtle touch of mythology. If you like the sound of angels battling other angels in an attempt to save their souls, set within futuristic worlds in a time where religion is nothing more than a convenient commodity, then you’ll love this. As you can see, the cover art is excellent and it personifies the angel Sepherene brilliantly. Sepherene is available now as a paperback and eBook on Amazon.

Also if you enjoy humorous fantasy then you might like Goblins Know Best, a satirical tale about a goblin and orc partnership that follows them on some outrageous adventures. This book is available on Amazon as a paperback and eBook.

I’d like to thank Vonnie for giving me the opportunity to share with you a bit about ‘Dark Ascent’ and some of my other work. You can keep up to date with my writing and future projects through my website, facebook and twitter.”

Goblins Know Best

About the author: Daniel Beazley was born and raised in the South West of England. Growing up he became captivated and drawn into the World of fantasy courtesy of the writings of Tolkien, Feist, Gemmell, Lewis, Livingstone and Dever. These together with films like Conan, Red Sonja, The Dark Crystal, Willow and Krull, truly inspired him to want to join the creative journey that is fantasy. He began writing in 1996 whilst spending some time in the sunny climes of Sicily. This continued periodically whilst working in the Army and then the Police; living in various parts of the country as well as overseas. Daniel now lives with his family in the rural countryside of Devon.

Thanks again to Daniel Beazley for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have a darkly magical day! – Vonnie

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