Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Word That Doesn’t Exist

Tierra de Fuego

That word doesn’t exist, Randy thought, suspecting Patrick, his neighbor, to be either under the influence or raving mad.
Raving mad was a good option, considering that Patrick decided to fill his garden with truck tires recently. When asked why he was doing that, Patrick replied it was for the aliens to land safely in his back yard. Randy laughed.
“But where did you hear that word?”
Patrick, the neighbor, replied, “From the aliens.”
Randy would remember this many years later. The mystery word meant hello and it would be the first word Randy had to learn after the invasion.
100 Word Stories

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

Milk Wood

The Virtual Troll Convention was highly anticipated by the troll community. The sessions went quite well until a man stood up and started yelling incomprehensible sentences. The trolls were appalled. This was a serious event where they learned new tricks to annoy others in-world. Suddenly, a troll grabbed the man by the collar. “You are destroying our event.” The man calmly ignored the troll and started banning them all, one by one. “I always wanted to do this,” he said, an evil tone in his voice. In fact, he was the owner of the place and the trolls didn’t know!

***

I think this week’s story is easy to understand even if you’re not a resident of a virtual world. However, if you’re not, I can tell you that when you’re the owner of a location in a virtual world, you can ban people from visiting your location by ejecting them and placing them in a ban list. If they try to enter your location again, they’ll get a message informing them that they cannot enter. The trolls got trolled, but some things never change and they got banned too!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Fit

Lust

Nothing prepared him for the strenuous race. They told him it would be easy peasy. They lied. They told him to watch out for the spectators who, in their enthusiasm, tended to try to grab the runners; he didn’t see any spectators. Nevertheless, he ran like never before. He knew he’d be the winner. But the finish line was empty. Why? He didn’t understand. Suddenly, he realized that the “Finish” banner was nothing but a clothes line where t-shirts and a few diapers were hanging from. “Damn, I should’ve worn my glasses. This thing of looking handsome is not easy.”

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Survivor

Betelgeuse 5

“I refuse to sink” read the tattoo on her chest. Decades of wars and narrow escapes turned her into a survivor. Yet, she knew. The capsule injected under her skin was her anchor. 

As a child, she disappeared for a week, to her parents’ frantic despair. When she returned, the stories of strange looking beings with oddly shaped eyes and white skin were hurriedly dismissed. 

When they finally came back for the data in the capsule, she smiled. That was the moment she had lived for. She asked them “take me with you” and they did. She’s over 250 today.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The God of Boredom

H220

Against his will, he had just been promoted from a minor deity to a major god. They told him that people were always bored nowadays, so being the God of Boredom would be good. He knew why he was bored. It was because Patrice, his neighbor, had stolen his favorite book, the one about minor deities. He hated it when people messed around with his things. Could he become the God of Hatred? Noooo! He was stuck with boredom now. That’s why, before promoting anyone, the High Council of Gods should offer options! Free will and all that? Gods… Pfft.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pan

BCC

Frying pan in hand, Linda looked outside. Tony was late; her darling husband who swore to wed her for better or for worse and all that crap, until... She waited for hours and hours.

When Margaret, the owner of the house, arrived, Linda gave her the pan treatment first.

The problem was that Tony had years of experience. He entered the house through the back and… Let’s say Linda’s life suffered a slight rearrangement and there it was… till death do us part.

Frying pan in hand, Tony thought “amazing how easy it was to solve two problems at once”.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pen

Betelgeuse 5

“When we were kids, we had pen-pals. This was when people used pens and paper. To open the mailbox and find a letter from some exotic location was beyond words. Sometimes, we received letters from places we had never heard of. We would dream of going there to meet our new friends!”
The kids looked at their great-grandfather, a puzzled look in their eyes. “Is that why you got stuck up here in Colony800?”
The old man sighed. How could he explain that there had been a life before the Colonies, a life at a place everyone called “the World”?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Story Waiting to Happen

Roche

... at Roche (click for full text).


This post is part of a series of monthly articles for the Virtual Writers Inc. website about sims in Second Life that could be the source of inspiration for writers. My goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. Enjoy!




Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite differently, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided. 

***

Roche


If there’s one thing we can trust about Second Life is the fact that it is constantly changing.


Many locations we have grown to enjoy and even love have disappeared. As a result, I have deliberately tried to avoid sims that are fairly new in Second Life exactly because I realize that, as I write this column, that sim could simply vanish. Fortunately, there are still a few old-timers that can be visited.

One of them is called Roche. Owned by ddsm2 Mathy, this sim was created many years ago and it has been featured in a countless number of blogs, i.e. of virtual photography and fashion.

And, as happens at sims created with passion by someone with a sharp eye for detail, Roche’s blunt simplicity and open spaced areas offer us very interesting writing possibilities. Without any further ado, let us explore around and find whichever stories this place has in store for us today.

As we arrive, a sign confirms we are at Roche and announces in a rather rusty and cryptic way that we should head east in case we wish to go towards “yesterday”. Finding that rather enigmatic for the beginning of our story, I decide to take you into the present instead, so in the complete opposite direction. Let’s go to the train station. Perhaps we will need to go to “yesterday” later in the story. We’ll see.


It is very clear that in this village live hard working people. The station is alive. Cable reels, barrels, fuel tanks, a few wooden crates, a water tank and a tractor.

On our way towards the entrance, we see flattened cardboard boxes leaning against the wall. A few rice bags are piled on top of each other while three cement bags keep company to two milk cans.

Oh, wait! A hand-truck packed with a number of wooden boxes presents our first interesting clue; one of the boxes says “danger, blasting caps”. Questions start brewing!

It’s 9:40. A train should arrive within the next few minutes. It is then that I notice a warning scribbled on a blackboard hanging to the left of the entrance, right next to the mailbox. Apparently all trains have been cancelled due to some eminent maritime catastrophe.

I wonder if that is the reason why the tickets’ booth seems to have been abandoned in a hurry. Several tickets have been forgotten on the desk and some sort of register book is still open. There’s a radio as well. When I turn it on… Morse code?! Then I hear a few voices speaking in a language I don’t understand. The message is playing on a loop. Odd. I walk inside and notice someone has forgotten a bag. I decide to leave it untouched.

Many details are recorded here as possibilities, as bits and pieces of stories, of settings, of characters. Some will be part of our plots, others will be discarded. So, don’t feel somewhat overwhelmed by this jumble of information. The process of gathering ideas by noticing details in a sim is a lot like sitting in front of a blank page and jotting down random ideas while brainstorming the next story we will write.

Back outside, I spot a makeshift garage. Perhaps there is not much movement and the trainmaster doubles as a mechanic. Someone, whoever it is, does have a cool bike parked next to the gas pump!

I’m suddenly hungry. A stand is selling hotdogs, apparently oblivious to the doomed fate awaiting us all. The vendor smiles; he is used to the promise of tragic events. He believes that a terrible incident of catastrophic proportions could simply be a synonym for someone wishing to take the day-off to spend it with some nice lady somewhere. And he winks, knowingly.


Slightly relieved, I must admit, I try to find out more about the mysterious character(s) of our story waiting to happen. I decide to try the Misaki’s Bakery. The scent of freshly baked bread is irresistible and the coffee, just brewed, is the perfect combination.

I can’t help but noticing that upon opening the door, a bell rings, like in the old days. This is a place created with love. Small details are so important.

While I wait for my coffee and bread, I see a newspaper lying on the counter, the “Second Times”; it states that “speech impediments are the next hottest trend”, according to an expert. Taken aback by this piece of news, I decide that even this detail could be transformed into something useful for the story. One of our characters, perhaps the mechanic/trainmaster will have a lisp.

The owner of the bakery is quite the talkative fellow and I find out that, in fact, the trainmaster and the mechanic are brothers! Their love of anything motorized, including trains, bikes and tractors, had brought them to this remote place more than two decades ago. They had decided to stay after becoming helplessly infatuated by Millie (you’ll decide if this is the right name for your female character when you start writing the story!).


“Millie owns a small farm up the hill, you see,” says the bakery owner. She’s a hard working woman in her mid-thirties. She grows some wheat and raises a few animals as well. The three have become quite inseparable in the past few years, spending hours upon hours by themselves at Millie’s talking the night away.

I suggest that they are friends and friends do enjoy one another’s company. However, that seems not to be the case. A water pump at the back of the farm house had been boarded up and covered with a few rocks. Whenever someone approaches the place, either Millie or one of the men, if Millie is in town visiting relatives, scares unwary visitors away aggressively.

“Whichever the secret the three have, no one else around here knows about it. When asked about that water pump, the three exchange guilty looks amongst themselves and walk away in complete silence to which they would stick for weeks, if not even months,” says the bakery owner.

Curious about this story, I go up to the farm while the place is empty. If there is indeed a secret hidden here, the way it is secured seems quite fragile to me. A few planks and two rocks, two! That is it. Strange.


As I stand at Millie’s farm, overlooking the lake, an eerie feeling invades me. The small fishing shed is empty, a lonely fishing net flowing in the wind. An old row boat sits motionless on the waterbed, strangely motionless. It doesn’t seem to wait for its next fishing trip. It seems… to mark a spot.

A herd of sheep graze peacefully across the lake. A few people sit at the Café and Gallery. The birds chirp merrily. Two ducks swim around, content with how simple life is.

Yet, why do I have the feeling that something terrible has happened? Something only three people know of. Something they have sworn never to tell. Unless…

And this is where I leave you, dear fellow writers. I hand you this mystery, because… there’s a story waiting to happen at Roche.


THE END

***

A Story Waiting to Happen is a series of monthly articles about sims in the virtual world of Second Life®. The goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. If you write a story prompted by the following post, do consider leaving it in the comments or a link to it. Thank you.

***

Disclaimer: Virtual Writers Inc. and I are in no way affiliated with any shop located in the sims featured in this column nor do we intend to promote them.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Correct/Connect

BCC

The identification of that mysterious liquid recovered from the landing site was correct. At first, no one believed Professor Grant. Then, when the matter started to break and beautiful blue lights fought their way out of the vials, everyone panicked. They called him back to a frantic lab. “What should we do?” they asked. The Professor knew there was nothing to be done. “Seal the base. Let’s hope for the best.” It took them a long time to connect the dots and find a way out. Many were left behind… fatally. However, the blue planet continued to be beautifully blue.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Paint

Cica Ghost - LEA


Bits of paint came off the wall as Tim scratched it with his only nail. All the others had been chopped off by that wretched machine at the factory, along with two-thirds of the fingers they were attached to. That didn’t bother him though. He got used to it. He did miss his thumb. He enjoyed going thumbs-up, for some reason. The remaining intact finger was an index; it was useful for pointing, granted. However, the really big problem was not having a middle finger. He felt like his ability to… express himself had been hopelessly destroyed because of that.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

South

Santaurio

“South...?” the man said, but Peter’s sense of orientation relied much more on pointing and showing the way than cryptic instructions like North or South.
“Thank you,” he replied, trying to look savvy in the secret ways of… finding the way.
He walked aimlessly through white aisles, past the milk and butter shelves, the yogurts and some mysterious small bottles announcing they’d make anyone’s lazy intestines work just fine.
“South, huh? Why is it always so difficult to find someone who can give a clear, objective reply to a clear, objective question? Where are the bodies? It seems simple enough.”

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Trench

Collins Land

Words trenched into the stone. They could be seen clearly, even forty years later. The excitement of revisiting this secret place made him recall the pact of silence with his sister. He knelt to greet her. Her blond hair had grown thin. “I came back.” She smiled continuously, half of her teeth missing. “Yes, they don’t know you’re here. They never will.” As he slid the stone back in place to hide the entrance to the cave, he read those words one last time. “I hate you.” He had written them himself with great effort back when he was ten.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

After

Tierra de Fuego

After dark, evil spirits haunted the town for weeks. “A warning against nuclear tests,” old people said. The Mayor called in all sorts of experts to solve the problem, to no avail. One day, a man showed up, claiming he could end the torture. He had a jar. “It’s magic,” he said. Everyone went home and waited. The next day, the man was gone. Under the jar, a note. “Done.” Inside, dozens of them; they looked like a cross between crickets and fireflies. They were nice to look at, but were they loud. Sometimes, things are simpler than we think.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Strike

Collins Land


Unaware of his demise, Nolan was about to lose everything. His wife Linda, along with her lawyer lover, prepared everything quite thoroughly. “Trust me,” she said. And, foolish as he was, he did. The car, the house, the weekend cottage, everything was gone. However, there was Nikolai. “My darling,” he said, “I’ll take care of it.” Nolan never saw Linda again. The lawyer disappeared. And the properties were magically in Nolan’s name again. “How?” “My darling,” he replied, examining the barrel of his gun, “there’s a monster at the end of everyone’s path. I just happened to be that monster.”

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I've Got Nothing

The Tower by Rebeca Bashly

Two lonely hearts, pulled together by circumstances and pain. They talked and danced. They shared their stories and their moments. They shared the others, the others in their lives who didn’t know they were being shared. They shared and got closer. They got as close as that illusive closeness of nothingness, with nothing but fragments of lives and the excitement of the unknown, of warm familiarity, of love. Loneliness is a high price to pay for the determination of commitment. So, they decided to seize the moment, not caring for anyone else but themselves in a selfish illusion of nearness.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Story Waiting to Happen

Kats Beach

... Kats Beach (click for full text).

This post is part of a series of monthly articles for the Virtual Writers Inc. website about sims in Second Life that could be the source of inspiration for writers. My goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. Enjoy!


UPDATE: It's amazing when someone, especially when a good friend like Qt, feels inspired by something I wrote (that is the purpose of these monthly columns, to inspire!) and adds a bit of inspiration of his own to write a story! Drop by his blog Qt's improbable blog and read Running to the Sea. Enjoy!



Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite differently, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided.

***

Kats Beach

Night time at Kats Beach welcomes us as we arrive to a pleasantly quiet and somewhat melodic seashore. The sound of waves bursting on the sand and the seagulls screeching in the distance invite us to explore.

I, as many others, have been visiting this location for a long time. It is, after several years, a favorite location for photography and fashion bloggers. If you have been following this column, you know that I firmly believe that many sims portrayed for their beauty by photographers and machinima makers alike are also a very good resource for writers.

The owner, Kat Chauveau, states in her profile that she is a passionate educator with a love for professional development and personal insight through innovative and creative experiences in Second Life. Kat also states that her passion is life; that it is important to find something beautiful and stretch our imagination. I fully agree and I think she has done an amazing job with this location.

Considering that February is the month love, I thought exploring Kat’s Beach would be a good option for a love story. So, let’s go for a walk and collect a few ideas for our story waiting to happen.

I decide to take you first along the beach. I spot a few sit-down areas and dance balls. While the shrimping boat bounces against the waves just off shore, I imagine a few couples enjoying the cover of night to exchange secret vows and stolen kisses.

A loud group gathers for a barbeque, interrupting the quietness lovers yearn for, however, no one complains. The boardwalk of wooden planks takes me to a waterfall that signals the entrance to a tunnel, the floor paved with cobblestones and the way dimly lit by wall lamps. Are any of our characters here?


A few market stalls open the path to a small port where the fishing trawler is waiting. Fruit, vegetables and fresh fish draw the attention of a cheeky seagull, especially the fresh fish, flipping its tail, trying to avoid an unavoidable destiny.

Perhaps this will be the story of two lovers. He is a fisherman, who has just arrived from a fishing season several months long. She is waiting for him, back at the village at the top of the hill.

We walk up the stone ramp, and suddenly we have to decide whether to go left or right. Curious about going further up the mountain, I choose to continue to the right. Let’s see if this is a trail we can use for our story. Steep steps made of stone, framed by wooden posts linked by an old rope lead us all the way up to a plateau from where we can see the beach we arrived at earlier. An apple tree and an olive tree, as symbolic as they can be, we imagine, have offered shelter from the merciless sun many hot afternoons during which our female character sat here, longing for her lover to come back. Perhaps this is a good location to inspire a flashback in our story, perhaps a moment to show how they met, how they came together and how a silly argument over something they couldn’t even remember anymore, drove them to make irreversible decisions that led to our male character to go away.


We go back down and up the small ramp, into town. A cozy plaza greets us with a refreshing fountain. Il Messagero, the local newspaper store, offers an array of magazines, books and postcards as well. A newspaper is always an interesting way of conveying a turning point in our plot.

Holding a magazine, I head to the Bar. Yes, a coffee would be good; it’s a bit chilly tonight. As we flip through the pages, the phone rings. The owner covers the mouth of the phone and lowers his voice. It was something about the cargo. I couldn’t quite make what he was saying.

Determined to find our female character, I pay for my coffee and I decide to take you, dear reader, with me to explore farther. That’s when we stumble upon a Libreria, a bookstore. I think we have found where she works. She loves books, she loves giving books away, she loves lending books and she is quite famous in town for not making too much money simply because ultimately she wants people to read and dream.

The restaurant, at the end of the alleyway, looks promising, but as the owner sees me approaching, he closes the door and picks up the phone. These phone calls are slightly suspicious.

I walk left and right, aimlessly, through the narrow streets. Here and there, someone comes to the window to hang some clothes or shake the dust off of a rug. An elderly lady waters her flower pots generously.


Suddenly, I find myself at a central area where a church, with open doors, invites any tired visitor to sit down and rest a bit. Our characters are not particularly religious, I think, but, as it often happens in small villages and towns, the priest becomes a friend and a confident. Perhaps he could be another one of our characters.

This central area also has a Fiori and Piante shop, a flower shop. I think the owner of this shop will also be a character in our story. She is always busy, attending to her flowers, but she sees and hears a lot more than people think. For instance, from the side window of her shop, she sees a strange group of men arriving at the terrace. They sit underneath the pergola, right next to the barrels of fresh wine. While some pretend to busy themselves with the crates filled to the brim with grapes, the others look around anxiously. To the left, they can see the beach and the lighthouse; to the right the port. There is something happening. Could it be that our male character got himself involved in smuggling contraband, in an international net of drug dealers?

I exit the plaza, southbound, through a narrow street and come across a Pizzeria. It smells deliciously. I try to engage in a friendly conversation with the owner, but he soon suspects my intentions are twofold, being nice and finding a bit more about this couple of our story and the mysteriously self-conscious men that populate the town in silence. The owner shrugs and offers me an extra slice of pizza for free. I’m sure that means I should ask no more questions.


As we approach the end of our visit to Kats Beach enriched with the very first ideas for our story, a few characters suggested, a few mysteries put forward and a complex love story as the backdrop of this month’s column, I can honestly say that this sim is utterly fascinating.

Walking through the cobbled streets and getting lost in the twists and turns of an absolutely gorgeous Southern European town, is a strong inspiration for any writer, whether you choose to consider the whole sim or one street only.

I have presented nothing but a small fragment of this location. There’s so much more to see. I invite you to visit the sim and draw inspiration from it, because… there’s a story waiting to happen at Kats Beach.

THE END

***

A Story Waiting to Happen is a series of monthly articles about sims in the virtual world of Second Life®. The goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. If you write a story prompted by this post, do consider leaving it in the comments or a link to it. Thank you.

***

Disclaimer: Virtual Writers Inc. and I are in no way affiliated with any shop located in the sims featured in this column nor do we intend to promote them.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Eat Your Words

MOSP

Everything was ready for the recording. The film would be released in just a few days. While the actors grabbed some food from the catering and slowly took their places, a crazed director stormed in. “Don’t you people have food at home? I’m hungry too. I’ve been working since 5 a.m.” One of the actors lost his temper. “Well, Mr. Director, no one will record anything today then…” And he looked at the script. “You can eat this.” That film was never concluded. Since then, all actors eat something right before starting to work, even if they are not hungry.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Organized

Sands of Time

Getting lost in the desert was as far from their plan as going to the moon. The ill-organized adventure ended with a group of four friends stuck in a van. Six months later, when the police finally found them, they were mummified. Years of studies followed with no results, until surprisingly they came back to life. "We told you not to touch that stone!" A pursuit ensued; three furious men chasing another. The authorities, perplexed, ran after them too. Last time that long line of people running was seen, it was heading towards… somewhere. At least the line was organized!
100 Word Stories
(Prompt: The Mesopotamians)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

If you're happy and you know it

Vice City


What an awful place to die, he thought, staring down from the overpass. Make a wish and be happy, but his mind... Don’t jump. Jump. Don’t jump. Make a wish. Quick, make a wish. But secrets are meant to be kept, aren’t they? At least some of them are. His mind raced as fast as the cars underneath. I hate you so much, I can barely breathe, he thought. Make a wish. Yes, make a wish, just any wish... When he plunged towards that perfect white line, there was no clapping; there was no sound, there was nothing at all.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mess

Land of Glory

When he woke up, the TV was on and he saw his face splattered all over the news. The previous night was a total blur and the woman slumped on the couch of this unfamiliar living-room remained eerily silent. He wore nothing but a black t-shirt. Slightly embarrassed for being half naked, he mumbled an apology and dashed for the door, holding his pants. Don’t worry, he heard. But it wasn’t the woman’s voice. Her head rolled to a halt by his feet. At least, I got rid of one of them, he thought. Yes, one voice at a time.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Piracy

Franceportnawak


They approached the ship at night. Two went up to the control room. The rest looked for the crew quarters; everyone was fast asleep. The captain wasn’t. After a scuffle and a black eye, he gave up. Much to his surprise, the leader of the group demanded the cargo. “But… It’s books.” The boxes were unloaded and taken away. The school of the village would finally teach proper English. The media hurried to state that even pirates have a heart, the authorities protested vehemently and the pirates’ only thought was that in the future, they’d make their demands more efficiently.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Value of Time

Collins Land

When Mary left, she hinted something about the box especially that he shouldn’t open it. Obviously, Louie decided to open the damn box. Last time he found one, it contained thousands in diamonds that someone left in the attic of their new house. After hours of failed attempts to pick the lock, he felt totally inapt. Mary loved that. Hammering the box open seemed like the only option. Louie hit it a few times until the lid popped. Inside, a note. “You made it! Oh, by the way, I’m several hours ahead… with the diamonds. Catch me if you can!”

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 in a Nutshell!

Amar en Meleth

Now that 2014 is over, it's important to take stock of what I achieved as a writer. It completely took me by surprise to go back and realize that much more than I expected was actually produced.

Let's see.

I started the year committing to a challenge, to write 500 words a day. This challenge, no doubt daring, was nevertheless the opportunity to push forward and create a very interesting body of work.

*For the website iRez (non-fiction about writing and virtual worlds)

    1. Of Stories, Writers and a Virtual World
    2. Immersive Writing

*For the Virtual Writers Inc. website (non-fiction with suggestions for stories and virtual inspiration drawn from sims in Second Life)

    1. A Story Waiting to Happen, Collins Land
    2. A Story Waiting to Happen, Gehena Vampire Clan
    3. A Story Waiting to Happen, Hazardous
    4. A Story Waiting to Happen, Annwn Willows
    5. A Story Waiting to Happen, Taka no Sakura
    6. A Story Waiting to Happen, The Far Away
    7. A Story Waiting to Happen, Milk Wood
    8. A Story Waiting to Happen, MOSP
    9. A Story Waiting to Happen, Toshigi Japan Cybercity
   10. A Story Waiting to Happen, Amar en Meleth

*100 Word Stories Weekly Challenge (fiction drabbles; this has been an invaluable creative opportunity that has kept me aware of how fragile writing can be and how much each word matters)

*500 Word Stories (fiction)

*Twisted Stories (fiction drabbles)

*Black and White Spring Challenge (fiction, stories up to 1000 words)

*Writing resources for my own blog (non-fiction about the writing process)

*An interview conducted via email about my writing path


*The novel "A Month of Sundays" written during the NaNoWriMo (fiction, thriller, to be revised)

*Poetry (one single poem; I think I'm shifting away from writing poetry)

*A very short story in the form of sentence-snapshots (photo caption style) called "I Met a Guy" (fiction, unpublished)

*A short-story called "True Love Never Fades" (fiction, unpublished)

*I also did quite a bit of writing while taking these MOOCs:

    1. Start Writing Fiction - Fiction writing, focusing on creating characters. - Review
    2. Forensic Psychology - Obtaining evidence from eyewitnesses in police investigations
    3. Good Brain, Bad Brain: Basics - The form and function of the human brain
    4. Introduction to Journalism - Key principles in journalism within an escalating story
    5. How to Read Your Boss - Linguistic techniques to enhance business communication
    6. How To Read a Mind - Application of cognitive science to literary reading

*Finally, I hosted a weekly write-in in the virtual world of Second Life within the context of the 500 Word Writing Challenge, Saturdays at noon SLT/8pm LisbonPT

For those of us who work better when setting goals and working towards them, the aim was to reach 182500 (500 words X 365 days). I managed to write 167745, which means I was about 29 days short of reaching the goal. Considering that there are 104 weekend days in the year, I think I did a pretty good job!

Looking back, I cannot help but think that this was an amazing year for my writing path. The goal to develop my ability to write longer pieces was achieved. I also wanted to start creating a few stories, apart from the novels, that I would keep in the back burner for publication in the future; that was also accomplished.

One aspect I failed miserably in was revising last year's NaNoWriMo novel "Obscure Connections". Oh, well... 2015 has just started and now I have TWO novels to revise BEFORE November (if I decide to go for a third round of the NaNoWriMo, that is)! *evil grin*

A final word. Thank you, you know who you are. Despite everything we went through, you were there with me all along. You pushed me forward when I wanted to give up. You praised my work when I thought it was a piece of garbage. You comforted me when my sorrows were far too overwhelming to continue to write. And you believed in me when I doubted myself. Thank you.

And let 2015 unfold!

"And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name."
A Midsummer Night's Dream
William Shakespeare

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Underground

H22O

A faint line of smoke came up from the manhole. It smelled deliciously of grilled food. Sean found that odd and decided to investigate.

The manhole led to the sewers. At some point, these connected with the old tunnels of the underground. That’s where he met Henry.

“Why do you live here?”

Henry replied “Why not?”

“Well, it’s too dark.”

“It’s not what you see with your eyes that matters.”

There were hundreds of people living there, adjusting.

Sean decided to drop his life above ground.

“We’ll be ready,” said Henry.

When the catastrophe happened, they were the only survivors.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

New Jersey

Kats Beach

Jonathan won the writing competition! He just couldn’t believe it. The prize was one night spent in the lighthouse, the main attraction of his town. It was said to be the residence of a dreadfully horrid ghost.

With great disbelief, everyone saw Jonathan enter the place triumphantly.
A few hours were enough to drive him crazy. He screamed, he yelled, he begged for help.

The next morning, Jonathan emerged through the door to face everyone’s curiosity, his eyes looking down. After all, he managed to single handedly ruin the main attraction. No one would see that poor ghost ever again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Story Waiting to Happen

Amar en Meleth



... Amar en Meleth (click for full text).


This post is part of a series of monthly articles for the Virtual Writers Inc.website about sims in Second Life that could be the source of inspiration for writers. My goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. Enjoy!



Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite differently, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided. 

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Amar en Meleth


Some locations in Second Life (SL) become more than just a sim to visit. They turn into a safe haven away from our SL home. Amar is exactly that, a quiet place where you can sit down and find inspiration for stories without any interruptions, stress or drama.

The sim was created by the charming couple Kelley and Stewie Wonder and it’s clearly a labor of love, love for each other (they have recently married in Real Life), love for creativity, love for people and love for sharing. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with them several times and they truly enjoy the fact that others take pleasure in spending time here.

This friendly sim is just perfect for us writers. Every time I drop by for a visit, there is always something new to see. It changes frequently, following the seasons and several celebrations, such as Halloween and Christmas.

I must admit that I have been rather selfish, keeping Amar well hidden. However, the colors of winter and the lights of the holiday season have finally convinced me to share this wonderful sim with you.

Let’s get to work. Although popular, seasonal stories are rather difficult to draft. Instead of focusing on Christmas, my suggestion is to focus on the characters. This will be the premise for our story. Join me in this journey throughAmar en Meleth.

As we reach our destination, we immediately see that this sim is just the right place to go for a walk.

Clad in tones of white and sprinkled here and there with the warmth of light, winter has arrived in Amar. Amidst the whiteness, a pathway to the right invites us to walk farther into this wonderful world.

Let’s make our characters a couple. Well, why not. In our story, this couple has been married for a long time. We’ll see where this idea takes us.

A dock with colorful lanterns and two pillows, overlooking a few rocks across the sea, claim our attention. This leisure site is guarded by Jasper, the owl. We don’t usually talk to animals, but Jasper seems eager to share something. I sit on the tree stump and the welcoming bird whispers “All because two people fell in love”. That seems to be a great way to start our story.

We continue down the path towards a pergola, across a stone bridge, where a man and two women are sitting. They share the same sofa and they share one another. Are they friends or lovers perchance? We don’t want to disturb them, so we move on across the lifting bridge towards a small beach.

Perhaps our couple is having a few problems in their relationship and they decide to take a vacation, hoping it will help overcome those problems. Along the way, they are confronted with their past, their present and are maybe presented with a promise of a future. Our story starts collecting moments and recollections, as a string of beads.

A Bedouin tent overlooks the sea and the warm, sizzling fire invites us to sit down and enjoy the sunset. Seagulls fly above and foamy waves stop shy of a love promise written on the sand.

Right next to the beach, there’s something new. Let’s take a look. This sim is often a place for lovers to enjoy some privacy, so we are careful to check and double-check if no one is inside.

Fishnets, a life-preserver, an anchor and an old wooden boat, this could be a story in itself! For our plot, these elements become symbols of a life spent together, good and bad moments alike.

The boat has a few interesting animations, including some adult (as happens in other locations of the sim). An erotic story could be an option here as well.


Onwards towards a central plateau where to the right a watch-tower brings nostalgic memories of a woman waiting for her long departed lover. Perhaps our male character is a sailor or a traveler.

We move on to a rustic pavilion. The fireplace is on. We decide to sit down for a while and rest. Crickets and birds chirping in the distance offer some peace of mind. This is a beautiful location, the waterfall at the back, and the sunset, a magical sunset.

I’ve seen this sim go through a whole year of seasonal changes and if there’s one thing that never ceases to amaze me is its magic, the way change is not overwhelming; it is, in fact, welcoming and comforting.

Throughout the festive season, while we celebrate life and togetherness in our story waiting to happen, I would like to emphasize the fact that small details often become some of the key elements of a plot.

A string of bright lights, the intense colors of a sparkling fireplace, the sound of birds in the background, can easily become the trigger for an important part of the plot, a recollection, a feeling, that will bring our couple to find something of extreme importance.

Our characters go back in time and remember those years of love. They yearn for inner peace. They yearn to rekindle a seemingly lost love. In Amar, there are several elements that point towards this. The stone pavilion, past a grazing horse, has a gong, an invitation to contemplation. Also, by the beach we’ll visit in a bit, lays one of my favorite locations, the Tai-Chi area. It’s a very immersive site, where we can use the inspiration of colors and sounds.


However, no story is a good story without a darker side to it. Right behind the gong, there’s the Dead-End Cemetery. My characters want to avoid it, but I push them to go in and explore. A deep, guttural voice welcomes us, the piercingly cold wind blowing and a storm brewing in the far. A beautiful tune whispers eerie notes while a cat meows a short warning.

Inside the cemetery, we stand at the door of the crypt. Whose body is that? We tiptoe closer and see the ghost of a girl closely watched by a broken skeleton, sitting under an iron gate…

Music and thunder, laughter and crickets, seemingly disparate elements that can nevertheless enrich the past life of our characters, perhaps even with a terrible common secret, a secret they haven’t talked about in decades. Our characters may have a few ghosts they need to take care of.

We are then drawn across the field to a frozen lake. There used to be a bridge there where a white wolf howled. As I have mentioned earlier, this sim is continuously changing, offering new details and fresh options for more stories. So, don’t be surprised if you decide to visit it and some of the elements mentioned in this column are no longer there.


Let’s walk forward through a path covered in snow amidst a short row of trees covered in snow. I can see the waves in the distance and I feel drawn to the beach. Apparently anachronic, this summery place suspended in time, will become part of a longer flashback. Perhaps our characters met at the beach, perhaps they spent their vacations there, nurturing their kids, watching the family grow each year first with their kids’ friends, girlfriends and boyfriends, later husbands and wives and grandchildren.


Up a small slope and through a forest of frozen trees, we approach the ballroom. This location alone could be a story in itself (Amar has a number of locations I feel could be the inspiration for a whole story). Dancing together, living together, a life shared with love, with anger, secrets and time. A jazz tune plays in the background and our couple dances on a transparent floor over a turbulent sea, a symbol of honesty, yet with the constant threat of agitation and trouble.

We then walk down a ramp that announces “Home Sweet Home”. It’s somehow reassuring to see this sign. Perhaps our story will have a happy end, after all.


It’s snowing in Amar en Meleth. While I stand at the bridge over the iced water that in the summer flows freely towards the sea, a snowman and a Siamese cat skate on the lake, a stork oversees the perimeter and a distracted white momma bear looks for fish to feed her two cubs.

As we prepare to wrap up our story, I decide to sit on the comfy bench under the bridge. I lean against the inviting pillows and pull a warm blanket over my knees. This is the power of Second Life, people creating places that inspire other people to create something new, something special, in my case, stories.

I hope this very special sim will inspire you as well, fellow writer, because… there’s a story waiting to happen at Amar en Meleth!

THE END

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Disclaimer: Virtual Writers Inc. and I are in no way affiliated with any shop located in the sims featured in this column nor do we intend to promote them.