Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Actor, the Elopus, and the Queen

Have you heard of the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen? If so, you're probably one of those cool people who call it GISHWHES. Maybe you're even a past participant, in which case you're super cool and refer to yourself and teammates as GISHERs.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I'd never heard of this event. Then I received a peculiar request via Facebook.

Would I, a published science fiction writer, be willing to write a story for charity?

Maybe, I said. Tell me more.

The charity is Random Acts of Kindness. It was started by actor Misha Collins. Each year, there's an international scavenger hunt organized and run online, to raise money for the charity. One of the items on the 2014 list is a particular kind of story, to be written by a published science fiction writer. Was I still interested?

Yeah, sure. What are the story requirements?

Write a story, 140 words or less, with the following characters: Misha Collins, an Elopus (head of an elephant, body of octopus ... it's the GISHWHES mascot), and the Queen of England. Oh, and you have 48 hours.

At that point, I slammed on the mental breaks. It wasn't the cast of characters that gave me pause. It was the word limit. 140 words. That's WORDS, not pages, not paragraphs, not lines ... words.

Writing short short stories is an art form, one in which I am not proficient, and there sure as heck wasn't enough time to become proficient.

I almost said no.

Almost.

Three things made me decide to go ahead and say yes. One, the person requesting I write the story is the wife of a man who inspired a character in my published science fiction novel, The Heart's Fire (did you know that, Sarah? True. I'm not telling you which character. No worries, your J.P. is a total hero.).



Two, at the time of the request I was fresh from my win at the AMA-Con 2014 Steampunk Poetry slam contest, and feeling pretty good about my ability to write under pressure.

And three, I just love a challenge.

The scavenger hunt has concluded, so I'm now allowed to release my 140 word effort to the public! I hope you enjoy:



Protector Beyond the Seas
 
A blood bead smacked the floor. Embarrassed, Misha Collins murmured, “My apologies, Your Majesty.”
 
“We told you to expect difficulties,” Queen Elizabeth serenely replied.
 
Misha tugged his sleeve over the wound. Quickly, he pulled a hefty copper disk from his satchel.
 
“Why the octopus symbol,” Misha wondered, gesturing at the disk.
 
“Kraken,” Queen Elizabeth corrected. “It's for identification.”
 
“I thought Kraken were mythical.”
 
Queen Elizabeth shook her head. “Our friend Frederick owned one, once.”

On cue, an Elopus heaved into the room, slapping and surging across the floor. It's elephantine head bobbed atop writhing tentacles.

“Frederick, Mr. Collins located the tag from Kraky's collar,” Queen Elizabeth informed the Elopus.

Awestruck Misha stared at Frederick and gasped.

Smiling, Queen Elizabeth proceeded, “You've prospered our adventure, Mr. Collins. Now, meet the untold.”

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Joy of Writing

The request I received was unexpected. The challenge, exacting.

By the time it was over, I realized I wouldn't have it any other way. This kind of challenge, strict and time-pressured, seems to be where I thrive. Heck, it's the second thing like this in a month! See details of the July steampunk poetry contest here.

What am I talking about this time? In short, I wrote for charity. The request was part of an international scavenger hunt.

That's all the details I'll give about the challenge for now. When the scavenger hunt results are released, I'll tell you everything. I'll even release the short story. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 30, 2014

And Now for Something Almost Completely Different

This blog's been quiet for a while, but every second's been lively at the writer's desk. The latest novel, Deadhand Control, finally moved off my desk and onto the editor's. Three more are in process - Undead Bar Association #5, Heart's Trilogy #2, and Tales of My Mother Road #2 (Oklahoma Fairytales).

Today, another adventure began - audio books! In recent months, I've received many requests for audio books. I started to record one, but hit a snag. My teaching job at the local community college requires me to lecture four hours a day, four days a week. It leaves me with very little voice by the end of the week. After trying to record for a time, it became clear that if I were to do it right I would have to take a leave of absence from the college. That's precisely what I've done.

It's exciting, reading and recording my books. This is one of the rare times I can combine my acting experience and training with art I wrote myself, and I like it. The first full day recording was hard work and a lot of fun.

As I begin this new chapter, there's a group of people I want to thank: my students. They inspire me, push me to be my best, and consistently amaze me with their energy and drive. I can't remember the last time I had a job where taking a vacation proved to be so difficult. By the way, y'all, the send off potluck was both and incredible gift and a speed bump - you really had me hating to leave. I keep reminding myself that it's temporary, and I'll be seeing you all soon.

At present, I don't have a final date for release of the audio books. It's not clear how long post-production will take. The end goal is October, but if my publisher Peacock Pygg Publications can get the books out sooner, they will. The books being recorded are: Matriculated Death (Undead Bar Association #1), Shadowed Demise (Undead Bar Association #2), Heart's Fire, and Chicago Screams (Ghostly Mostly #1). I promise to keep y'all updated.

Wish me luck!

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Book: Chicago Screams


Chicago Screams - Ghostly Mostly 1


Now available on Kindle and Nook, and through Amazon.


See the book trailer here.

Twins Ted and Fred Knight carry on the family business – ghost-hunting – with enthusiasm and pride. They've assembled a team of unique ghost-hunters and even started their own show, Ghostly Mostly, to chase their obsession.

One thing threatens everything the Knight twins have built: Damian Rook, host of their own show. Damian is brilliant, dark, and scares more viewers of Ghostly Mostly than the ghosts. The Knights need a new host, but they don't want to anger Damian, especially during a ghost hunt in Chicago.

Damian's made his own plans for Ghostly Mostly. He's decided who the new host will be, and no one – not the Knight twins or even Damian's new recruit, Kat Pojim – will get in his way.

But there's one thing no member of Ghostly Mostly can control – the supernatural. Once the team is locked inside Chicago's haunted Castle, an evil spirit takes control. If the members of team Ghostly Mostly are going to survive, they'll have to work together. If the Castle has its way, no one – ghost or human – will make it out alive.

















Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Young Adult series Premieres Cyber Monday - Ghostly Mostly

Available Cyber Monday, December 2, 2013, on Amazon, Kindle, and Nook.


Ghostly Mostly 1 - Chicago Screams

Twins Ted and Fred Knight carry on the family business – ghost-hunting – with enthusiasm and pride. They've assembled a team of unique ghost-hunters and even started their own show, Ghostly Mostly, to chase their obsession.
 
One thing threatens everything the Knight twins have built: Damian Rook, host of their own show. Damian is brilliant, dark, and scares more viewers of Ghostly Mostly than the ghosts. The Knights need a new host, but they don't want to anger Damian, especially during a ghost hunt in Chicago.
 
Damian's made his own plans for Ghostly Mostly. He's decided who the new host will be, and no one – not the Knight twins or even Damian's new recruit, Kat Pojim – will get in his way.

But there's one thing no member of Ghostly Mostly can control – the supernatural. Once the team is locked inside Chicago's haunted Castle, an evil spirit takes control. If the members of team Ghostly Mostly are going to survive, they'll have to work together. If the Castle has its way, no one – ghost or human – will make it out alive.

About the Series

Ghostly Mostly tracks the adventures of a group of ghost hunters as they explore haunted sites and history tied to Old Route 66. The series shows how love, friendship, and family can withstand any trial, even death.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Swimming With Pantyhose

The last few weeks were a painful and deliberate challenge.

I posted few updates to my social media accounts and almost nothing to this site. Books languished on the desk and in the computer, waiting for attention from their author. I didn't touch them; I didn't write a single word.

Intentionally.

Back in junior high, I did a brief stint on the school's swim team and learned all about swimming with pantyhose. Yes, we really did this. Our training uniforms consisted of 2 - 3 swimsuits and at least one pair of pantyhose.

Why where pantyhose in the pool? Better training through stress. The pantyhose (and the extra swimsuit) created drag. They slowed me down and forced me to work harder to improve my time. Come race day, I wore one swimsuit - no pantyhose - and flew through the water.

Weight yourself down so you work harder. Come race day, the weights come off, and you fly.

My competitive swim career was short-lived (choir and theater took precedence), but I never forgot the pantyhose. That feeling of flying through the water on race day, knowing everything I overcame to achieve that moment, was amazing. Every now and then, I reach out and try to grab that feeling anew. Not in the pool, but in my life - I find a way to swim through life with pantyhose.

A few weeks ago, I agreed to double my workload at my day job for a specified period of time. I knew what the price would be - no time or energy to write. But, I wanted that. I did. There are huge and grand challenges coming in my writing career, and the next four months promise to be extraordinary. Looking ahead, I decided it wouldn't be enough to welcome the challenges. I wanted to attack them. How do you get ready to attack on race day? Swim with pantyhose. So, I doubled my work load.

It's been exhausting and amazing. Though I didn't have time to write or edit, I did fit in one book signing / reading, made some new contacts, finalized a new marketing plan with my fabulous business team, and started an amazing new project with some incredible local artists. I swam with pantyhose. Dang it, I owned those hose, and the pool, and the moment.

Did I mention that I'm exhausted? I am.

But, I'm ready for the race. I can't wait! First up, relaunch of this website (new banner and overall look went up last week). Next, publication of Ghostly Mostly- Chicago Screams, first book in a new Young Adult series.

 


Have you ever chosen to swim with pantyhose? Or, was there a time in your life when you had to swim that way and amazed yourself with how you performed come race day?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Open Book Festival 2013 - Thank you

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2013 Open Book Festival, and thank you Friends of the Amarillo Public Library for putting on the event.

Maryanne M. Wells at Open Book Festival 2013
 
To see more photos of the event, visit my Facebook page. For video, stay tuned! I had a camera crew at the event, and we're putting together a video including my reading of "Mission Bell" from New Mexico Fairytales.
 
Special thanks to storyteller Indiana Bones for his help at the event. You should check out his Facebook page. He's a great storyteller and historian with a wonderful collection of antiquities.
Indiana Bones talks about T-Rex tooth (tooth held by fan).