Welcome 2017!

1 01 2017

I have to say, I’m more optimistic about starting a new year than I normally am. New Year’s is really just an arbitrary point in time that shouldn’t have anything to do with changes in your life or making new beginnings and for the past many years, I’ve avoided making resolutions because I’ve never felt I could actually act on them.

This year is a little different. I have plans. I have ideas. I have something to actually act on. Because I have a story that I’m love with and that I want to finish and put out in the world for other people to read.

So that’s my goal for 2017. To first rewrite Wildfire, then revise it and edit it and figure out how to self publish it.

I’ve gone so far as to have chosen a pen name, even. And today I went ahead and set up a new Facebook account for my alter ego. Once I’ve put the finishing touches on it, I’ll put up a link for it, but for the time being I want to just keep it to myself.

But yes, I’m excited for this and that is an entirely new feeling for me. And even if the whole rewriting, revising and editing thing is scary as hell, I’m still looking forward to it!

Bring it on! At just short of 41 years of age, I’m finally ready to make this dream of being a published author come true.





Goodbye and Good Riddance, 2016

31 12 2016

2016 was a miserable year, I think most of us can agree on that. But I think that rather than delve on all the misery that happen both in my personal life and with all the crap that happened around the world and the far too many of my idols and heroes who died, I want to focus this post on the few good things that also happened.

Despite the awful event (my best friend had an aneurysm, but survived and is much better today) that led to me cat-sitting for almost six months, it was really wonderful to experience life with two cats in the house. I could get used to that kind of life, the playing and the company, but sadly I’m only allowed one cat where I life and now Malik (my friend’s cat) has been adopted by another family. But it was good and I do miss the silly bugger.

In September, the same friend and I went on our first holiday together to Fanø to attend a Knitting Festival. We learned some important lessons on that trip, but overall, it was a wonderful experience and one that we will almost certainly try to repeat with better results now that we know the do’s and don’ts of travelling together.

Also in September, a very good online friend of mine was kind enough to chip in half the money to purchase a copy of a video editing software, so I could begin making fan videos, and though I’ve so far only completed one fanvid and a promovid for an RPG I play on, I am eternally grateful for that gift.

Come November, I participated in NaNoWriMo as usual (see post below this one) and though not everything went as planned, it’s possibly one of the most satisfactory NaNo’s I’ve completed, coming out with at least two stories that I would like to work on further (more on that in a later post).

And here in December, against all odds, I found some Christmas spirit, decorated for the holidays and spent Christmas Eve with my best friend.

I’ve been to the cinema more often this year than any other year since I began suffering from anxiety in my early twenties, and with the cinema buddy I’ve made, I’ve also been to a boardgame café a couple of times, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

Other things have happened on the unemployment front. I’m still unemployed, yes, and probably will always be unemployable, but I’ve had some ‘work experience’ at a place called Centre for Danish Jazz History, where I do the kind of work I moved to Aalborg to study for, which is cataloguing and registering records.

So yes, though 2016 has been a shitty and awful year in large parts, good things have happened and I just wanted to share a few of them with you.

Still… as the headline says: Goodbye and Good Riddance, 2016.

And here’s to a Happy 2017!

 





NaNoWriMo 2016

30 11 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner

30 days, 50,000 words. That’s the challenge. I took it. Again. I’ve done it seven or eight times before with six “wins” under my belt. For me, it’s always exciting doing NaNoWriMo, but until this year I’ve never really ended with a good feeling about the stories I’ve written. They’ve all just ended up in the digital drawer where they gather dust.

This year, I changed it up a bit. I decided to write short stories instead of a full novel. I started out wanting to write a collection of short stories against a background of climate change, but at some point the main focus changed to centre around LGTBQ characters, which I’m really quite happy with, because they are awesome characters.

I ended with six (more or less) finished stories and there are a few of them that I will definitely want to pick up and work on further:

Whiteout has 5,956 words and is a story of a woman getting stuck in her car in a blizzard and through flashbacks tells a story of her relationship with her first girlfriend and her struggle to come out to her parents.

Spindrift is a 4,345 word story, half of which is pure M/M smut. Enough said.

Wildfire is the short story that turned into a novella that wants to be a novel (standing at 20,470 words currently). A twisted tale of a young addict getting kidnapped and ending up falling in love with his captor who has a secret. This is one of those stories I’ll probably work further on.

Sirocco (Ghibli) ended up with 4,595 words and features a bisexual doctor, trying to do her best when there’s an outbreak of a super-flu in the refugee camp where she has volunteered.

Dust Devils is another short story that turned into a novella that wants to be a novel (at 13,814 words). Set on Mars, the main character is a trans/ace man, trying to sort out his feelings while at the same time being part of the first crew to spend any significant time on the Red Planet. This one I’ll also likely try to work more on.

Squall is the shortest of the lot at only 2,524 words with the same MC as in Wildfire, six years after the events in that story. So this one might be merged with Wildfire when I rewrite that.

So that’s my experience with NaNoWriMo 2016. It was good and it taught me that I may need to pull in the reins when writing short stories, but that in writing them it keeps my momentum going.

And it taught me that while I’m most certainly a pantser, it’s not a bad thing to have a few prompts lying around before starting out.

In the end, I’m satisfied, and happy that I’ve finished with 51,704 words in total. But now I’m going to take a short break from writing (maybe just for the weekend before I get back to my RPGs) and reward myself with binging Westworld, which I still haven’t managed to watch a single episode of.





(Inter)National Coming Out Day

11 10 2016

 

aalborgpride

Since I’m in Denmark, calling it National Coming Out Day doesn’t really fit, so you get (Inter)National Coming Out Day from me.

So, where to start? What label do I put on myself in these times of so many different labels when it comes to sexuality (or lack thereof)?

As a child (way back in the late 70s/early-mid 80s), I never gave sex or sexuality much thought even though sex-ed is something that is (was?) taught in school starting in the 5th or 6th grade when I was eleven or twelve years old.

About the time I hit puberty, I guess. But still, sex wasn’t something I thought about in the sense that I wanted to try it myself. Well, not entirely true that. There was a rather infamous television channel here called Kanal København (Channel Copenhagen), that aired unscrambled hardcore porn after midnight. I watched that. And experimented with masturbation. I liked that. Still do.

But actual sex, with an actual different person. No. As the years went by that lust never appeared. Not at sixteen (which from some quick and dirty research is the average sexual debut here in Denmark), not at eighteen or twenty or twenty-five. Now, at forty, I still don’t feel that need for sex with another person.

For a long time I thought it was just me being insecure, feeling unattractive, being shy or an introvert. All those things that could easily explain the reasons why I had no desire to jump into bed with someone. Back then, there was no Internet to answer those questions and me being me, I never tried to find the answers by asking others.

I was probably in my mid-twenties before I knew there was a thing called asexuality. Even then, I wasn’t sure it was a label that fit me. Because, let’s face it, I had crushes, I fell in love with people and I could definitely see what was attractive in certain people. So for a while, I identified as bisexual. But still never felt the need for sex or even to have the company of another human being in my life (that’s possibly a whole different story, though it might be connected and intertwined with everything else, but it would need a post for itself, I think).

So here I am, trying to find a label for myself on Coming Out Day. The closest I’ve come so far is BiRomantic Ace and Genderfluid. But that’s a hell of a mouthful and too much to explain to most people IRL, so usually I just go with Ace, or better yet, Queer and really only when people ask.

So. Happy Coming Out Day, everyone!





First Time Loser

30 09 2016

Alright, alright, gloomy title is gloomy. And I never really expected to win or even really get an honourable mention, but it still sucks.

So, a couple of months ago, I entered a writing contest for the first time ever. Just a small one with very small prizes, and it was really just to get over that horror inducing fear of putting my work out there, that I did it.

And I suppose I’m not all that disappointed, since the story I entered wasn’t one that I felt particularly good at. The brief was ‘It Came in the Mail’and there was a 500 (yes, five hundred!) word limit, which wasn’t all that inspiring to me, nor do I feel that I can really fit a good story in such few words.

Anyway, now that the results are in and I’m not a winner, I can share the story here. So here you have it:

His Final Advice

The first package was small enough that it fit through the mail slot, so Emily hadn’t had to open the door to sign for it. She’d thought it was someone’s idea of a bad joke when she opened the flat package and found a motherboard inside. But who would play such a joke on her? She didn’t have any friends or even acquaintances.

She’d put it away intending to throw it in the garbage and then forgot about it. Until the next one arrived a week later. This time in the form of a small box full of microchips. She’d had to sign for that, much to her chagrin, and had done her best never to meet the postman’s eyes as she did so.

And so it went; once a week a package would arrive with no note or return address, all of them containing various components of… something. She thought about reporting the mysterious gifts to the police, but that would mean talking to them and perhaps even having to invite them into her flat. But she allowed no one inside her home, let alone strangers investigating something that probably wasn’t even a crime.

Last of all, after several months of packages arriving on schedule once a week, the letter arrived. Just an instruction sheet on how to put the components she’d received together. Not that she needed any instructions. She’d been an electrical engineer before becoming homebound and she knew perfectly well what had arrived piecemeal through the mail.

It didn’t take her long to put all the components together once she started, but plugging the device in and turning it on was a different matter. It took her weeks to gather up the courage for it. She was scared. Scared of who might be on the other end and scared that she might accept the fact that she wasn’t as alone as she thought she was. Scared that she might be right about who had sent her the packages.

Finally, one late night, she turned on the communication device, waited a moment and spoke quietly with a trembling voice, “Hello? Are you there?”

Reaching across time and space, a voice from the past came over the speakers, telling her gently but firmly that she wasn’t doing him any favours by locking herself away in her flat. “Get out there and live again, love,” he told her in a tone that sounded sad and upset. A pause, then the bubbling laugh she remembered so well. “Start with the postman. I think he likes you.”

Years later, lying awake at night, she wondered if she’d made the right choice in building the device and switching it on. If that had really been her deceased husband contacting her from beyond the grave to tell her off. The only thing she knew for sure was that it had gotten her out of the flat, that she had started to live again. That, in the end, was all that mattered.





Something a Little Different

25 09 2016

Writing isn’t my only hobby, though it’s what I primarily post here (hence the change of the blog name). But aside from writing, I also take photographs, I knit and crochet, and recently I’ve begun making fanvids again, something that I took a 5+ year break from. Now I have some decent software and a renewed interest, and here is my first attempt at using that software.

 

It’s a little tribute to my favourite episode of one of my favourite shows. Firefly’s Out of Gas, and I hope you all like it.





The Artist

8 08 2016

This week’s TerribleMinds challenge was to mash up two subgenres as decided by a dice roll. I’m not saying I cheated, but I did roll a couple of times to get something that I thought I could work with, and ended up with Cli-Fi and Noir. Now Cli-Fi plays right into Still Turnstiles at Station 6, but what about Noir? I can’t say it’s a genre I’ve written in before and I had to go look it up, only to discover that written Noir is, apparently, different from Film Noir. Anyway. I like what came of it, even if I rarely write in first person and it’s my first time dabbling in the Noir genre.

The Artist

The pouring rain made short work of the artwork I’d created, washing away the blood in only a few minutes as I crouched beside the body of the young man. A shame, really, that he had to die so soon. I wouldn’t have minded spending some more time with him, but circumstances had necessitated a change of plan and I’d had no choice in suspending our relationship sooner than I cared to. Reaching out, I brushed a strand of soaked dark hair away from his pale forehead before slipping my fingers down to close the lids over his pale blue eyes. He’d been dead for only a few minutes, but the chilly wet weather had already turned his skin cold and there was no longer any enjoyment in touching him.

“Goodnight, sweet prince,” I whispered, quoting the old bard as I took one last look at the piece I had left for the authorities to find. The young man had been a street dweller; skinny and pale, but attractive with his pale blue eyes and dark hair in stark juxtaposition to each other. He wore the new clothes I’d given him and he wore them well even now that the rain had soaked them through. The designer jeans fit him perfectly, as did the charcoal grey shirt with the black tie to go with it. The black leather shoes still held a shine, which certainly said something about the quality of them, not to mention the cost.

The cost had been worth it, of course. In the grand scheme of things, money and wealth meant nothing when the world was ending in a slow but catastrophic climate disaster. Leaving my little pieces of art on the streets was merely one of a thousand ways to protest the inaction of previous generations that had left us with a dying world. My contribution was simply to say that no matter how much money was spent on external and material matters, death came to us all, and that included the world itself. Just as death had come to this young man in front of me all too soon.

The statement I’d made with this piece was in the quick and violent end that the young man had faced. The long gash across his throat had severed both carotid arteries and he had died in less than a minute. A much faster and less painful way of dying than what was offered to the world and the rest of humanity. You might say I was doing the boy a favour by taking his life in such a manner, keeping him from living through the death spasms of the world, but I’m not so philosophical or vainglorious. I’d killed him to make a statement, that’s all. Nothing more, nothing less.

It was time to go. I stood, took a last look at my latest masterpiece and smiled in appreciation. The rain might have washed all the blood away, leaving a relatively clean body behind. Lying like that on his back with his hands on his chest where I had carefully placed them, he looked at peace, at least as long one could ignore the gaping wound across his throat. It marred his beauty, but that was the point, wasn’t it? To take something beautiful and turn it ugly, just the way our predecessors had done to our planet. My work here was done for the night. Now it was only a matter of time before the authorities came to view it.

* * *

I ordered a whiskey as I sat down at the counter of the dimly lit bar. The place was all done up in dark woods, leather upholstered seats and tarnished mirrors. The shades of the lamps were green glass and there were candles in red glass bulbs on the tables. It was the kind of place where you could expect to be left alone with your drink, where no one asked you any questions or even bothered to notice you in any way. I liked the privacy this place offered, but mainly I had chosen it for the television that was permanently tuned to a local news channel.

The news was the same as they had been for years now: constant rain and flooding in our part of the world, eternal drought in most other parts of the world, all resulting in famine, wars, and refugee crises everywhere with nothing but talk about what to do about it. The latest and most ridiculous plan put forth yet was to evacuate the whole planet and resettle the entire population in the already established colonies around the solar system. Some even suggested striking out for interstellar space, looking for new systems to settle. I very much doubted that those colonies would want to accept more than eight billion new souls in their midst even if it was at all possible to get them off the Earth’s surface before it was too late. I supposed it had to do with hope. People needed that, and the media was all too happy to provide it, right alongside all the dismay.

Two drinks and an hour later, I had waited long enough. I paid up my bill and left the bar without so much as a glance back, letting a small smile play across my lips as I heard the news anchor on the television report on a body found and though the police declined to comment, they had it from an anonymous source that this was very likely another victim fallen to the serial killer they had named The Devil’s Designer. Stupid name, but it had sprung up out of the way the killer – that is, me – dressed their victim in expensive designer clothes. I suppose it could have been worse. There were some reporters who still insisted on comparing my work to Jack the Ripper’s, after all. Quite insulting, that, but I chose to simply ignore those ignorant bastards and go about my business. A true artist couldn’t expect the press to get it right, could they?

* * *

I took my time with my next piece. Starvation, by its nature, necessarily takes a long time. And as I wanted this masterpiece to have a particular aesthetic, it took even longer since simply starving the boy to death would not have accomplished the skin and bones appearance I was aiming for. And so for some time when no new victims turned up, the press speculated about what might have happened to the Devil’s Designer. Some said that the killer had died in the flash flood that had occurred shortly after the last murder, others were convinced that the killer had moved on, found new killing fields either abroad or out in the colonies. So little patience the press had, and soon enough the stories about the Devil’s Designer vanished from the television screens or were buried deep in the digital media’s online editions.

For three months I kept the boy alive on a bowl of rice a day, all the water he could drink, while every now and then, I gave him a treat in the form of a candy bar in order to keep his hopes up. I lied to him, of course, telling him that once I had accomplished my goal of turning him into an image of starvation, he would be free to go, that he would become famous for what he had gone through and what he had survived. The media would love him, I told him, and he would never have to live on the streets again. In the beginning, he hadn’t believed me; he was a smart kid and had already figured out that people weren’t to be trusted. But in the end, with his body and mind weakened, he began asking me questions about what it would be like to be famous and whether he would like it or not.

Comforting him, I continued lying, telling him that everything was going to be just fine, though at the same time, I began cutting back his rations, feeding him less and less every day. His face was gaunt now, to a point where I could almost see the skull through near-translucent skin. Skin which had a rather unhealthy yellowish colour now, that was mirrored in the whites of his eyes. The rest of his body was now at the point I had aimed for: skin sagging around bones with the joints sticking out as hard painful looking angles with no fat at all, and barely any muscle. I could count all the ribs and all the bones of his spinal column just by looking. It was a cruel and horrendous change from the slender but well-muscled young man I had picked up three months prior, but the statement such a change made was beautiful and powerful. It was, in fact, hard to imagine how I could possibly go on from here. Perhaps, indeed, this masterpiece would be my last. Perhaps I could retire now.

By the time I stopped feeding him completely and cut off his water supply, the boy was too weak and confused to realise what was happening and in those last few days, he simply cried and when he couldn’t cry any longer, he just lay there quietly, lips moving though no sound came from them. At that point, he must have known that he wasn’t going to live, but there was no fight left in him and one thunderous night, he slipped away peacefully as I sat by his side, holding his hand. “To die, to sleep,” was my whispered quote for this young man, who was now at peace, in pain no more. I sat with him for a while before I got to work, dressing him in the clothes I had purchased for him that first day when I had met him and lured him in with the promise of new clothes, a hot meal, and a warm bed for the night. The expensive slacks, the designer t-shirt and jacket, as well as the shoes had fitted him perfectly then, but now they sagged unflatteringly around his emaciated starved body, just as I’d planned.

The very last, and most important, touch I made to this piece was to slip a handful of photographs into the pocket of the jacket. They pictured the young man in his new outfit, beaming happily at the camera, clearly thrilled to not only be photographed but feeling comfortable and sexy in the clothes he wore. He had been quite beautiful then with his short blond hair, chocolate brown eyes and a deep, albeit fake, tan. He had worn the surfer look well, and I smiled as I recalled talking with him as I took the photos. He’d wanted to go to California, learn to surf and just lie on the beach when there were no waves, soaking up the sun. I hadn’t had the heart to tell him that the image of Southern California as a paradise had long since been shattered by drought and rising sea levels. I had allowed him to keep that dream safe and sound to take with him to the grave. It was the least I could do, after all, in return for him to become part of my own legacy.

I left him in public, lying on a bench near a high-scale and expensive restaurant that specialised in gourmet burgers and made my usual wait at the bar, watching the news and waiting for the report on my latest masterpiece. When it finally came, after almost three hours of waiting, it was buried between a story of record high temperature average for the month of December, and an item speculating on the building of space elevators in order to assist in the evacuation of the planet. I sighed, finished my drink with a feeling of defeat and left the bar to walk home in the pouring rain, trying to assure myself that most of the great artists had rarely been appreciated by their contemporaries.

THE END