Laiton en Vogue

Fish Notes

 

I was recently tasked with whipping up a piece of trailer/promotional music for Shauna Scheets’s Steampunk Serials (say that five times fast) to be used for its upcoming fourth volume.

I ended up doing a less techno-oriented (and more appropriately clock-y) rendition than this for production, but I like how this one turned out well enough to share it.

 

 

Folio 4: Stars of a Type is available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle.

 

Bene scribete.

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10-Minute Story: Dincton Flatt and the Cherry Grove Fiasco

Time for some more spontaneous nonsense, I suppose.

(Though I may not be feeling quite punchy enough today.)


 

House of No

 

Dincton Flatt sat cross-legged on the floor of one of his empty properties, shuffling through a deck of cards and frowning.

The sound of padding on the carpet and the soft voice of his robot coyote broke his trance.  “What’s wrong, sir?”

Flatt turned at the prompt and raised an eyebrow.  “I’m missing some cards, Featherby.”

The coyote tilted his head.  “Are you trying to say that you’re not playing with a full deck, sir?”

Flatt narrowed his eyes.

“Which cards are you missing?”

“The diamonds, of course.  It’s always the diamonds…”  He shoved the rest of the deck between Featherby’s jaws.  “Go fetch a new deck, will you?”

“I’ll see what I can find, sir,” was the coyote’s muffled response as he trotted away.

A buzzing rumble shook Flatt’s trousers, and he reached in to fetch his mobile.  “Flatt’s Flats – this is Mr. Flatt.”

A husky voice answered on the other end of the line.  “It’s Watley.”  Abberson Watley, one of his top agents.

“What is it, Watley?  News on the Clumpsworth listing?”

“No, Flatt, I’m afraid not.  There’s been a murder.”

“A murder?”  Flatt shot to his feet, eyes squinting at the horizon he could not see beyond the wall in front of him.  “A murder most foul, you say?”

Watley sighed.  “Most foul, I fear.  At the Cherry Grove property.”

“Cherry Grove?  Damnation, Watley, it’s only been two days on the market!”

“It seems people are literally dying to get into your suites, Flatt.”

“Yes, well, they could do us the courtesy of popping their clogs on the way there, now, couldn’t they?”  He wiped his free hand down his face.  “Very well.  I’ll be right over.”

Only a moment after he hung up, Flatt’s phone buzzed again.  “Yes, Watley – what now?”

The voice that answered this time was not Watley’s, however, but one which heavily implied the perfection of its owner’s immaculate white suit.  “Abberson Watley?  Come, now, Flatt, you mistake me for someone who cares as little about his closure rate as he does his attire.”

“Cheverly,” Flatt grumbled.  “I’m sure you’re looking splendid this afternoon.”

“Mm, yes, quite.  I hear there’s been a murder.”

Flatt glowered at nothing, nearly crushing the phone in his hand.  “If fact, there has.”  His voice grew low and sharp.  “Was it you?”

“Don’t be daft, Flatt.  It’s unbecoming.  You must understand, however, that a murder would never happen at one of my properties.  No, I imagine this will not be good for business.”

“Imagine what you will, Cheverly – we’ll see how things play out.”  He hung up as forcefully as modern technology would allow.

A moment or two later, he dialed Mr. Cheverly back, but only reached his answering service.

“Good,” he spoke into the recording, “is how things will play out.  Because I shall solve the murder with wit and good manners and make the property worth double.”  He hung up again and dropped the phone back into his pocket as Featherby returned with a much slimmer stack of cards in his maw.

“I’ve found the diamonds, sir,” he said, dropping them.

“Excellent work, Featherby.  But,” he began, then continued, without stopping, “where are the others?”

The coyote’s gaze wandered the room.  “I haven’t the slightest idea.”

Flatt crossed his arms and shook his head.  “Oh, Featherby, why did I build you?”

“For good times, sir.”


 

Bene scribete.

Describing Protagonists

A man being drawn

 

The other day, I encountered a conversation on Facebook prompted by a question on how best to describe the main character of a book, and when several responses amounted to “don’t”, I figured it was a topic worth discussing further.

Descriptive minimalism is all the rage these days – and don’t get me wrong, I hardly yearn for a return to multi-page-long tangents of flowery irrelevance – but I always find my reader side irritated when an author can’t be bothered to describe the protagonist without a thematic reason not to do so.  In short stories, sure, it’s not so big of a deal, as they’re usually more about ideas than characters, but if you’re going to have me follow someone for an entire novel, at least give me a clue as to whom I should be picturing. I can fill in the blank, but it’ll probably be with something pretty stock, and I’m reading for a glimpse into your imagination, not mine.

Physical appearance should certainly take a back seat to personality and actions as far as defining a character, but it’s still an avenue for interesting subtext, and something worth taking advantage of.  Personal imagery is a powerful thing; we’re visually oriented and strongly wired to pay it mind.  Let your readers make assumptions about how characters might act based on what they look like, then challenge or confirm them as you see fit – a motif equally applicable to reality.  Forcing your readers to assume what characters look like based on how they act is something that doesn’t make sense outside the context of a story – assuming the characters interact with others and aren’t invisible.

As to the how of the original question, there are plenty of non-intrusive methods to describe a character.  As long as the narrative isn’t strictly perspectivized (and the perspective has no reason to draw attention to it), there’s nothing wrong with a simple declarative sentence or two: “He was a short, tan, and lumpy fellow, not unlike a potato.”  Sprinkling adjectives onto actions (“She tied back her long, brown tresses”) or using dialogue from others (“Aren’t you a little too tall for that?”) are quick and seamless.  Even reflections, as tropey as they are, are a natural way to bring up appearance within the bounds of the narrative if the perspective character is self-critical, vain, or recently changed in some way.

All of that said, though, this is one of those things that ultimately comes down to a matter of personal preference.  So, as a reader (and/or writer), what’s yours?

 

Bene scribete.

Peanut Butter

Crunchy, creamy, hue of wood.
Salty, spready, really good.
Mash those peanuts to a paste.
Smear it on – enjoy the taste!

 

Peanut butter is really good.  Not exactly really good for you, though.

So you’ll find certain brands sold with certain key factors reduced or removed to mitigate the guilt – sodium free, sugar free, even fat free.

Until a couple days ago, however, I would not have expected to encounter an utterly, indigestibly calorie free peanut butter.

 

Peanut terror

*Contains Trace Calories

 

There’s something mildly creepy about the notion of eating something as rich as peanut butter (or an approximation thereof) that’s so dietarily insubstantial that your body doesn’t derive any energy from it.  I mean, it’s technically not even food at that point.  (>^-‘)>

…O.K., yeah, I’d probably try it, though.

 

Bene edite.