Sunday, December 28, 2014



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 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 different, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided. 


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!



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, December 14, 2014



Being impatient has saved me from trouble several times and throughout my life I never looked at it as something negative. Once I started being told to be patient, I became very suspicious of this new demand. They say patience is a virtue, true. However, impatience solves problems. Torn between one and the other, I decided to take turns, Monday – patience, Tuesday – impatience, Wednesday – patience, and so on. The day I met him was, unfortunately, a Thursday. Without being asked for an opinion, he said my dress had an awkward color and I kicked him in the… well, never mind.

Sunday, December 7, 2014



Ronnie walked through the comforting darkness of night time. He wore one shoe and held the other against his chest. No one bothered to make any comment. He was a freak. He knew he was a freak and he acted like a freak. Even when the first snowflakes covered the streets in white, he still acted like a freak, holding one shoe against his chest. Inside the shoe was a black sock, the one he wasn’t wearing. Tucked inside the sock was a tiny bird. The wing will heal beautifully, he thought. And it did, right in time for spring.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Light


A light so soft,
A whisper so low,
Forever embracing
     A murmur so slow.

 Amidst the loss,
A touch so tender
And a sigh.

Though the soul grasps
           The gaze torn apart,
   Dawn murmurs time.

A whisper, a whisper,
So soft and ever so low.

Dedicated to a writer friend 
who lost someone special recently.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


The Celestial Realm (Trace)

Peter hated cranberries and he simply couldn’t eat anything with the darn things in it. Thanksgiving was, as a result, a bit of a tricky time, especially because of his mother’s explosive temper. Anyone refusing to have her special cranberry sauce was an insult to her over-sized ego.
When Peter volunteered to cook this year’s meal by himself, his mother sneered. “You can’t cook!”
One thing is for sure, next year’s meal will not include cranberry sauce.
Peter made it a point of having cranberries decorating his mother’s grave and a nice shiny plaque saying “I’m not grateful for cranberries.”

Thursday, November 27, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014

They say I'm a winner.

The story is written, 50.000+ words. This year, I'll validate my novel (I'm very interested in some of the goodies available to winners only).

It was somewhat of a bitter sweet victory, I must admit.

I worked hard at the beginning (and good thing I did, otherwise I seriously doubt I'd have been able to complete this challenge). The third week was the most difficult; that's when life decided to take a few twists and turns, slowing me down.

This time, I had to use a voice recognition program due to a shoulder and wrist injury. Although it was definitely easier on my body, using this program changed the style of my narrative considerably. The story resembles an oral recount. Its pace is faster, the sentences are shorter and some program (I can't recall the name) tells me that its readability is 7.6/10 (is this good?). I definitely have a lot of work to do in the editing/revising process.

For me, the whole benefit of going bonkers throughout the month of November is that you can do it with thousands of people from around the globe. Yes, we could write and act like complete lunatics throughout the year as well, but there is nothing like sitting at a table with other writers and simply... write. Being there with others is paramount for the success of this endeavor.

I've hosted and taken part in several events, both on Twitter (Scrimmages) and in the virtual world of Second Life (write-ins). Some people write faster, others write slower. But being there is what really counts.

Badges, number of words, winning or losing, that seems a bit irrelevant, looking back. It's done. I'm not sure whether I'll do the NaNoWriMo again next year. We'll see.

To all the winners (and I don't mean only the ones who wrote 50k words; I mean everyone who did their best to write and reach their *own* goals), congratulations. You are truly winners for embarking in such a crazy adventure.

"I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die."
Isaac Asimov

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Collins Land

From the breakfast table to the green garden and back, silence was part of life.

One day, a member of this community of a few dozen people thought “no more”. She felt like singing and that’s exactly what she did.

By nightfall, she had been expelled.

By the end of the week, the community had only two members left, its founders.

One turned to the other and said somberly “Words cannot express how disappointed I am…”

The other laughed. “That’s what you said, remember, when we started this thirty years ago. I guess we’re the only ones who hate words.”

Sunday, November 16, 2014



The remodeling of the offices was finished after two long months. The employees coughed their way through heavy dust; many continued to suffer for months. When one of them, Charles, fell ill, no one was surprised. As soon as Charles returned to work, they noticed that he could breathe much better. They asked him if he could help them. Charles never told them directly what he did, but he muttered “I’ll help you,” whipping off a bit of saliva from the corner of his mouth. In the end, remodeling didn't stop at the offices; the staff got remodeled as well.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Tierra de Fuego

Cal unscrewed the cables and unplugged them. Then he pressed “detach”. He had been taught well. He was never to touch the “reset” area, that small circle the size of a coin.

Many failed to obey and didn’t resist temptation. They touched it. Now, they were beyond repair, doomed to perform menial tasks.

Cal was proud of himself. He always did everything right. He removed his brain and placed it inside the upgrade box. He didn’t like the looks of the new technician though …

After Cal got his brain back, he was placed in the Sanitation Department. Damn smug....bzzzzzt…

Sunday, November 2, 2014



“X marks the spot,” said Sir Thomson a bit too merrily after crashing his plane and killing Lady Thomson.

Mr. Crawford, their guest, was extremely annoyed, to say the least. The idea of flying over Sir Thomson’s deserted island seemed quite idiotic from the get-go.

Persistent as always, Sir Thomson dug until he found a box. Surprisingly, a cell phone emerged.

“Our salvation,” said Sir Thomson, oblivious of the fact that the cell tower of that area had been knocked down by his hazardous flying.

X marked the spot alright, it marked the spot where Mr. Crawford waited and waited.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Forgotten City

Doom was an unhappy robot that got tired of doing robot stuff and wanted to become human. The problem with that decision was the fact that Doom had no idea about how to be human. Doom tried crying. Doom tried smiling. Doom tried sneezing. Nothing worked. One day, Doom’s neighbor robot Calamity came over for tea. They engaged in a philosophical conversation about human beings and Calamity thought Doom’s ambition of becoming one was utterly horrendous, but Doom wouldn’t give up. Halloween was right around the corner and Doom would be a human, even if only for a few hours.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Take a Walk on the Scary Side

Virtual worlds, in this case Second Life, are an extremely interesting resource for writers. The possibility of being immersed in a variety of environments offers an array of ideas and stimuli that are an important contribution to story writing.

This article aims at showing you how easy it is to draw inspiration from different locations in Second Life. I’ll take you with me through the whole process.

* A few tips

1. Choose a sim from the destination guide or follow one of Camie’s suggestions. If you already have a landmark to a location you’d like to draw inspiration from, double-click the landmark in your inventory to be teleported to the sim.

2. Upon arrival, take a few steps away from the landing point. More people might teleport in and they would land on top of your head!

3. Wait a few seconds for things to rez properly. Depending on what exists at that location and the characteristics of your own computer, the location will rez slower or faster. So, it is worth waiting a little bit.

4. After things have rezzed, start exploring. I usually take a stroll around the sim without really thinking too much about my writing. I just try to enjoy it. Then I take a second walk focusing on details that caught my eye. As I walk along, I take a few snapshots (Ctrl+Shift+S > Save As… > choose location in your computer > rename if needed > Save) that I use when I’m off-world.

5. Sometimes, when you arrive at a location in Second Life, you may feel overwhelmed by so many interesting details and you’ll feel tempted to use as many as possible. However, that can be very distracting once you start writing. Some sims are so rich that it is as important to be able to gather information as it is to be able to discard it. So being selective is imperative, otherwise you’ll end up with a pile of unusable ideas simply because they don’t fit. Start by focusing on three or four aspects you think will be of value to your story regarding the setting, the character(s) and/or the plot.

6. Below you’ll find an example of how virtual-reality can assist you in writing a story. 

* The Process

Camie’s challenge was to visit a location in Second Life related to Halloween, and to write 300-600 words. I decide to visit Screaming Woods, one of the sims suggested in the blog.

I have no characters and I have no plot.

As I start walking through the sim, I notice a bay filled with floating, decaying bodies. What impresses me the most are their hands reaching out of the water, as if trying to grasp the last straw of life.

Another aspect that catches my attention is the few men trying to hold onto a rock; some of them are still wearing ragged pieces of clothing. I decide I have my characters, at least a few of them. I don’t know if, along the path, I will find any more.

I have the beginning of my plot; a group of men arrive at this island, after something terrible happened to them. You’ll see that farther up, there is a destroyed ship; it looks like it survived a storm.

When I turn around, I see a house. Inside, there’s a closet with a child in it; she’s surrounded by spooky red eyes. I cannot see who or what is behind her. Her doll-like figure sharply contrasts with her white dress covered in blood. I can also see a pair of claws either threatening to grab her or keeping her safe. I add her to my list of characters.

I continue to walk up the hill towards the house at the top. The area around it is dark and cramped. As I open the door, the first thing I see is a young girl. She’s in a straitjacket, her hair is shaved and she looks scared. I immediately decide to make her a character in my story.

I venture inside, walking past her, and end up in the room that looks like an operating room or rather the decaying remains of one. Amidst stretchers and other objects, there’s a cage. It’s empty, locked, and padded on the inside. What caught my attention was a candle hanging from the ceiling of that cage; it’s lit. Now why would a candle be burning inside a padded cage?

The beginning of a story is paved with a million questions. Answering those questions becomes the process of writing.

Allow me to go back for a moment. What happened to the men we saw when we arrived at the sim? Who are they? Where did they come from? What is this island they arrived at? Why is the island empty? Why is there an abandoned psychiatric hospital at the top of the hill? And why is a child there? Is she by herself? How does she survive? Why was she left behind? What will happen to the men when they arrive at the hospital? And so on.

As you can see, with only a few elements there are plenty of questions to kick-start your story. It may even happen that some of the questions become irrelevant and you end up discarding them. No problem. They probably triggered more questions that became an important stepping-stone for your plot.

Now, let’s get to work. Equipped with images, sounds, questions, ideas and, above all, words, I am ready to write.

* The Story

Black clouds announced a sealed destiny while a ship got mercilessly dismantled by vicious waves.

The small bay was filled with deformed bodies of sailors, rotten and floating aimlessly, struggling to reach the shore, their hands reaching out from under the water. The stench was indescribably horrendous.

Although their bodies were already decaying, they still had hope, that unbroken hope of a dying man scrambling for the last chance to survive. 

The few who survived the storm decided to walk inland in a tight group, desperately looking for signs of life, but knowing that this island was eating them alive. 

There were a few abandoned huts displayed in a circle, but no sign of life was to be seen, no people, no animals, and no food. However, strangely enough, the fire was burning in the middle of these huts.

The small group struggled up the hill, following a narrow path, stumbling on mossy stones and branches of old trees. They weren’t quite sure if it was the result of hunger and thirst, but those branches seemed to be alive, grabbing them by the ankles, slowing their progress.

When they reached the top of the hill, they saw the silhouette of an old building. It looked abandoned and solemnly sad. The men hesitated. Should they go in? Hunger provided them with that last straw of courage that pushed them forward. 

As the door slowly opened, they saw a young girl. The island wasn’t abandoned after all, they thought. Their initial sense of exhilaration rapidly gave place to an ominous feeling of hopelessness though. The girl was in a straitjacket; her head had been shaved bald. Her eyes were filled with fear, an unimaginable fear. 

On the balcony above, someone had tried to write ESCAPE on the wall. Written in a vibrant red, the word was smudged at the end.

A threatening silence began to enclose them. The girl looked transfixed, almost hypnotized, her big green eyes remained wide open. 

As the men entered the hall, hoping for some kind of reaction, she kept still, wrapped in that growingly constrictive straitjacket.

Suddenly, they heard scratching noises coming from a room in the back. They decided to investigate, especially because they were hungry, very hungry, and hunger pushes men to make foolish and hasty decisions.

The room was an old operating room. Rusted surgical tools, a gurney and a few chairs lingered forgotten on the floor. 

In a corner, there was a silent cage. It was locked and empty. Much to the sailors’ surprise, inside the cage, a lit candle was hanging from the ceiling. One of the men muttered “perhaps there is something in there; we just can’t see it”.

The noises grew in intensity and were now followed by anguished shrieks. The men couldn’t figure out where the shrieks came from, until they saw the doors of a closet opening slowly. A chill crept down their backs.

A small child, wearing a white dress, was standing inside the closet. Two pairs of red eyes stood behind her and two clawed hands reached over her shoulders. She looked like she wanted to escape, to run away from an unwilling imprisonment.

Despite the pain they were in, their skin peeling off as if burnt, some of the sailors felt compelled to help. They reached towards her to get her out of the closet but it was like she was stuck inside. The more the men pulled her out, the more her feet sunk in the floor. The small child shrieked in anguish.

The scratching turned into growling, a growling that became louder and louder, a warning no one wanted to pay attention to, a threat as strong and palpable as the inexplicable storm that hit their ship earlier.

Suddenly, the small child’s shrieks turned into a soft, plaintive humming. Before anyone could do anything, all the men were turned into ashes.

As the red eyes closed and the clawed hands retracted, the small child closed the doors of the closet and whispered the words of a lullaby “Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed… Lay thee down now… and rest… may thy slumber be blessed...”

The young girl in the straitjacket left her place by the entrance, walked in the old operating room and into the cage, closing its gate behind her.

Over the next few days, the wooden planks of the ship disappeared under the clear blue water. The fire in the empty village died down. The path up the hill towards the abandoned psychiatric hospital was covered in brittle, orangey leaves. And the dark black clouds parted, giving way to the most beautiful blue sky.

A year later, another ship would be sunk, caring lost and frightened sailors whose skin would be burnt to the flesh. They too would set foot on the island and become hopeful as they see the fire amongst the empty huts. They too would walk up the path, all the way to the psychiatric hospital, to stand before a lost young girl in a tight straitjacket.

And no one would ever escape their destiny. The island would be fed once more, forever keeping those two children as doomed prisoners.

* Conclusion

This story is only an example of what can be done! I have intentionally kept it simple. You can use more elements than the ones I have chosen to use or you can even use less.

It goes without saying that the elements you decide to include in your story are merely a source of inspiration. As you’ll see, if you visit the sim, the closet with the spooky small child is not in the hospital! So, you can, and should, use anything you collect according to what you need and what your story dictates.

(Source: Screenshot from NaNoWriMo @ Second Life)

The ideas you draw from different locations in Second Life will provide your story with the depth it needs to grow into a coherent, interesting and often daring story.

Above all, have fun!

*Blogged at NaNoWriMo @ Second Life.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Gehena Vampire Clan

Peter hated his nickname and he didn’t understand why they called him Skeleton at school. In the eyes of everyone else, he couldn’t care less about skulls, bones or skeletons. He spent days digging in his grandmother’s backyard where he found bones of many animals, yes, but the kids didn’t know that. They most definitely didn’t know about those bones his grandmother buried in the barn. Peter simply couldn’t understand the other kids... The night was too warm and he couldn’t sleep. He got out of bed and went for a walk in the neighboring cemetery. He enjoyed the quietness.
100 Word Stories

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Writing Resources 2014

I've gathered here some of the resources I use often when I'm writing. More will be added as I stumble upon them. I'll keep this list uncluttered though, I promise. During the November frenzy, there's no time to test and wonder and ponder and... well, 1700 words a day says it all!

* Thesaurus
* Dictionary - English/English

* Grammarist - English Usage
* Bartleby - English Usage

* Plot Generator
Seventh Sanctum - Generators
* RanGen - Plot Generator by Genre
* Writing Exercises - Plot generator - Main Character, Character 2, Setting, Situation,
                                                           Theme, Character Action
* DonJon - Generators (especially Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Weird Fiction,
                                                            but useful for other genres)

* Symbols

Word Counter
* Word Counter Tool with typing speedometer!
* Write or Die
* Goal Calculator, in case you fall behind and need to redefine your writing goals

* NaNoWriMo Platform
NaNoWriMo Blog

* Gibberish Translator, in case you don't want to copy/paste your novel as-is into the NaNoWriMo website for validation

*Rewards! NaNoWriMo Offers for NaNo participants and winners.

Interviewed by NaNoWriMo @ Second Life

Photo by Lizzie
Editing by Camie

Camie Rembrandt, a fellow Second Life resident and writer, interviewed me for her blog NaNoWriMo @ Second Life

In this short email interview, I shared a bit about my path as a writer immersed in a virtual world, the experiences I went through and the benefits immersive writing brought to my stories. 

Read the whole interview here.


Quoted from the website mentioned above:

1. How long have you been using Second Life®?

The first avatar I created was back in 2007. In 2008, I created Lizzie who is now my main avatar and my Second Life (SL) identity.

2. When did Second Life® become important to your creative writing? (Was it something that happened immediately after starting using this virtual world? Or did you have to wait a few months, maybe even years, before incorporating SL into your writing routine?)

Back in 2009, I took part in a Poetry Quest and I ended up winning it! Participants were instructed to go to the organizer's SIM every day for 30 days and collect a task card. In the notecard, the organizer explained which type of poetry we were expected to write and the SIM we should visit to draw inspiration from. I believe this was the very first time I realized how big an impact SL could have on my stories.

Then life happened! I dropped my writing for about 3 years, but continued to enjoy SL, developing other activities unrelated to writing.

In 2012, I came across Crap Mariner's weekly writing challenge and started taking part I it regularly. It was clear to me though that writing once a week was simply not enough.

The Virtual Writer's Inc. daily prompts then became the perfect opportunity to write more often. I couldn't be in-world at the time of the daily write-ins, but I did write something offline every day for more than a year, mostly very short-fiction.

It was also in 2012 that I opened my blog, a virtual off-world office. However, it was not only a workplace, my blog also made me visible and many people started noticing and enjoying my stories.

In 2013, I was invited to become a resident writer for iRez, a website that deals with matters related to Identity and Virtuality. It was then that I decided to write longer pieces. It was time for a few short-stories.

This year, I was invited to become a guest writer for the Virtual Writers Inc.; I have a monthly column there especially for writers called "A Story Waiting to Happen".

So, as you can see, it was a process that lasted a few years!

3. Tell us a bit about what you do in Second Life®, as a writer: do you write in-world, attend events, maybe host some of them, do you mentor other writers?

As a writer in SL, I do a bit of all the activities you've mentioned.

Last year during the NaNoWriMo, I hosted a scrimmage on Twitter for the Virtual Writers and attended the write-ins at Milk Wood. I succeeded in completing NaNoWriMo and I have no doubt whatsoever that it was due to the possibility of being immersed in SL!

Now I'm especially fond of the 500 Word Writing Challenge I host Saturdays, noon SLT (8pm Lisbon time), at the Milk Wood SIM, home of the Virtual Writers Inc. group. The aim of this event is to write 500 words in 30 minutes. A prompt is provided if the participants need one to trigger ideas, but using it is not compulsory.

Getting work done on the story we are creating, writing something new, revising, blogging, anything goes. The time limit and word count add a bit of pressure so that we stop procrastinating, something writers are very good at!

I have been a mentor for new residents in SL, officially and now informally, for many years. As a result, one of the most important aspects of hosting a write-in for me is to provide the support and encouragement, the tools and the opportunity for writers to grow in their trade.

I was recently very happy to see the enthusiasm and commitment of a new writer who went from writing drabbles (100 words) to achieving the 500-word mark in half an hour! A word of praise and/or a constructive suggestion in the right moment can do wonders!

4. Is there any SIM/virtual island/region that you find particularly inspirational, the kind of place every writer should visit?

I found many examples of inspirational SIMs in SL. It's impossible to choose one. For my column "A Story Waiting to Happen", I visit a different SIM every month and drop ideas for writers to use as inspiration for their own stories. So, I invite you to check my suggestions there and visit one of those locations. They are all impressive!

5. In what ways do you find Second Life® helpful for someone interested in writing?

I think it's particularly helpful to be immersed in a context that might trigger an array of varied options writers can then choose from (ambiance, sounds, colors, objects, movement even).

Before SL, I was collecting clippings from newspapers, magazines, postcards, online sites and old photos of people, anything I could get my hands on. We all still do that. But walking throughout a SIM, sitting somewhere and just "soaking in" everything that surrounds you makes it a lot easier to come up with ideas. Stories become richer and more detailed.

I also find it very interesting that SL has a multitude of different types of destinations (check the Destination Guide). Looking for and finding a specific environment, going there and drawing the visual information you need for your story is fairly easy.

Curiously enough, when I look at my avatar typing away furiously my writing pace increases!

I am a firm believer that writers strongly benefit from what virtual worlds, in this case SL, have to offer. More ideas, detail-rich stories and a faster writing pace are a great plus when you’re a writer!


Sunday, October 12, 2014



“Zero resistance. And…ahm… that’s it, ladies and gentlemen.”

The large audience was perplexed. That’s it? They paid for an overpriced two-hour long seminar.

The abrupt uproar of indignation caught the speaker running away as fast as he could.

Two members of the audience hurried behind him. When they reached the back exit, there was no sign of him.

Later that night, a cleaning lady touched a small round disk and she too disappeared mysteriously. 

Like so many before, she returned decades later to say “zero resistance”, right before the Great Surrender. Earth became a popular destination, but… not for humans.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Immersive Writing

Milk Wood

As NaNoWriMo threatens to sneak up on us, I return to iRez to share a bit of my experience as a fiction writer in a virtual world. Believe me. It was nothing like what I expected! 
Read more here.

Sunday, October 5, 2014



A year of planning and a 10-hour drive didn’t discourage Gene. He was used to hardship. Well, he was used to corporate hardship mostly, being the CEO of one of the biggest oil companies. His stress levels had been building up dramatically. So, the retreat would be an intense spiritual experience. At the end of his stay, Gene was feeling great. The problem was when this guy drove into the back of his car on the local country road. Gene was definitely not ready for this kind of hardship. He ended up at the bottom of a hole, intensely dead.