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The Beast: Flash Fiction

The Beast is copyrighted to J F Castillo. Installments of Flash Fiction are unedited.
Theme: Making an ordinary task exciting

I approached the beast with deliberate care. With one foot slowly in front of another, I moved with a silent grace I never knew I possessed. My gaze never left its many eyed face as it watched me. It remained perfectly still as it waited for me to make the first move. It was a predator and I was the prey that thought it had a chance against such a terrifying beast.

Letting out a slow breath, I knew I DID have a chance. I would vanquish the monster that so many failed to defeat before me. I could do it!

Steadying my feet, I brought my dull weapon up for it to see. The creature seemed laugh at me with its many eyes as it beheld my dull weapon. Anger filled me and my vision went red. I lunged! Grabbing hold of its tail with all my strength, it began to thrash. My arm ached and my knuckles were white as bone, but I didn’t waver from my objective. I took my dull weapon and thrust it into the monster’s gnashing, razor toothed mouth! With a mighty roar, it retaliated. It chomped at my weapon over and over. I could hear it being destroyed bit by bit as it drew my fingers ever closer to its destructive mouth.

Fear at last filled me. Was I going to fail? Had I taken on a foe I had no chance in the world of defeating? No! I refused to give up! I would conquer this foul beast if it was the last thing I did!

Determination shoved aside fear and I redoubled my efforts. I thrust my weapon further into its maw and my arm screamed from its angry thrashing. And then… it was still.

Gasping for breath, I peeled my fingers from its tail. They throbbed something terrible, but I didn’t care. I had defeated the monster! I had done what everyone had thought impossible. But the true test was yet to come as I looked down at my other hand. My heart pounded in my chest as I slowly withdrew my weapon from the silenced beast. Bits and pieces of the creature’s innards fell to the ground around my feet, but I paid them no mind as my eyes went wide and a gasp escaped me.

A victorious smile slinked across my lips as I at last whirled around. I thrust my weapon into the air with triumph as the shouts and cheers of those around me split the air. I had succeeded! I had sharpened my pencil!

To Outline or Not to Outline

As a writer, I like to hear the opinions other people have about writing. From outlining, to drafting, to editing. Sometimes what they say is similar to what I do while other times, it is very different. So I thought I would add to the noise and post my own thoughts and techniques.

One argument that I hear a lot is whether someone should outline their book before writing or jump in headfirst. One argument against outlining is that some say it restricts creativity, that you are confined by what you have put into the outline. I, myself, am an outliner. I have made one where I outlined each and every scene in the book by chapters (The Royal Thirteen) to only writing general ideas for the beginning, middle, and end of a book (The Desert Seer). Either way, I never felt confined by the outline. For me, it is like a guide or a map. You may pick a route before you leave but on your way, you might find a shorter route, a longer scenic route, or you might change your destination entirely.

I stuck strictly to the outline in The Royal Thirteen, but in my series A Realm Hereafter, scenes were added while others were omitted. In ARH many of my characters had endings planned out as early as when I finished The King’s Son. However, by the end, only the two MAIN characters had their endings remain the same. The four major characters had endings that were wildly different from what I originally had down for them. This is because the storyline changed as I wrote it. I didn’t let my outline confine my creativity. It simply gave me a direction. And as the route changed, the characters had to adjust.

Perhaps you have to be a certain kind of person to have an outline but not be defined by it. To me, it’s not a prison cell as some seem to think it is.

Another debate I’ve heard is how to write the first draft of a manuscript. I’ve heard of writers who write one page and will not move past it until it is “perfect”. Then there are people who blow through the first draft, not worrying about perfection until the editing round. As for me? I fall into that second category. Maybe that’s because I don’t stick solely to an outline and I allow my story to change as I write it. In the past, I’ve gone back and deleted scenes or had to change them because of how the story turned out. Therefore, I don’t want to “waste” time perfecting something that might eventually change. I just want to get the story down on paper. That’s my only goal for a rough draft.

Finally, yet another opinion I’ve heard is to not force your writing. Creativity will be harmed if you force it and your writing will turn out terrible. Yikes! But guess what? I have these magical things called an eraser and a delete button. If what I write turns out awful, I just whip out these magic items and, presto, the offending passages vanish! I know, quite impressive… Okay, so setting aside my sarcasm now.

For me, I have to force myself to write. Even if I’m not “inspired”. This is because writing is like a musical instrument. You must practice so that you can become better at it and you must continue to practice to maintain your skills. Even if it’s difficult to get my ideas down on paper, it’s even more difficult for me to come back to writing after a long (or even short) hiatus. I get out of the habit and my writing becomes less refined. (Not sure that’s the best word but we’ll go with it). I love to write and I want to maintain it to the best of my ability. And if it’s not great, well that’s what editing if for folks.

So my advice? Use an outline. Or don’t. Force your creativity. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter what I say or what I do. What matters is what works for you. If you love to write as much as I do, you’ll read someone’s opinion, nod politely and then figure out what works for you. So good luck!

Happy writing.

Mangled Dictations

So I have this program called Dragon Speak Naturally and one day I was playing with it. I was trying to dictate my writing but if I was too far from the mic it would totally screw up what I’d said. So I decided to have some fun with it by reading parts of my book and The Arabian Nights. Chances are you won’t find this as hilarious as I did but still, I thought I would put it up here since I have nothing else to post. Enjoy these mangled dictations.

The first paragraph of the chapter “The Days Preceding” from The King’s Son:

Is the seasonal following and reading storm alone? A man that is the Lord-chair, at the bar in the room, gets short gray hair and warm weather is posthumous. He sounds quite large with a high ceiling overhead hung for beautifully crafted metal chandeliers. They each multiply flickering candles that are shining stars of life along the metal arms. Be honest. Gracefully upward the main source life, however, came from a large window and enter me bars on the outside that were as much for adornment as they were to see people out the window. It was covered with steerage rates that are usually in the gentle breeze came through and I think having records will be pulled over it. The many freestanding and woman’s kids to be let along with the unlit seasonal.

The synopsis on the back of The King’s Son:

David Ishaq suffragist and both the owner dark secret as he embarks on a journey to Satan’s kingdom called commonly eat that the princes then the question recoverable oil from a key event in the wrong hands could distribute Exendrik’s travel the kingdoms of the time of saying I will donate about life dance unit visiting his brother talk with you Keith and the unwary round but at least venture continues a more sinister plot begins to unravel for him demonstrate against time to discover the culprit behind Chuck scheme with the help of the unlikely allies for the truth is one never return

Readings from The Arabian Nights:

I’m a miserable order from Tailor, according to Hollywood. Will definitely talk to Blake Taylor and made-for-TV movie film, which is to be no effect.  Appear online as a child as an adult.

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TBoK Proof

Yay! I’m excited to get The Blade of Kingdoms proof today. It looks super awesome. It’s a little darker in real life than it looks here in the picture. Normally, I would just post these to my FB page but since there is all that stuff going on about them taking their users’ images, I just decided to post them here. So here is me with my newest book…

Pretty awesome isn’t it? It’s quite hefty compared to the others. Sad thing is, you can’t see all the awesome little things Bryan put into it. There were a lot of details in the moon and you can hardly see any of it. :(  It’s kind of like The Witch of Belasi. He put tiny threads coming off the cloak, but of course you can’t see them on the cover.

And here is a picture of the spines…

A pointless picture really, but I wanted to put it up here so I did.

And finally, all four books in a row. Aren’t they pretty? Bryan is such a talented artist. I am so lucky that he is willing to create the covers for my books. Now I can’t wait to add the fifth and final book to the line up. 😀


TBoK Release Set for Feb. 1

That’s right, with the completion of the first draft of book 5 during NaNoWriMo, I was able to get back on track with editing The Blade of Kingdoms. Once again, it is set to be released February 1, 2013. It is currently in its final round of editing and will soon begin preparation for publication. Woohoo! The series is almost done! :)

TBoK Release Postponed (for now)

So when I originally began NaNoWriMo, my plan was to make it through the month and then, when it was over, set Book 5 aside and return to editing The Blade of Kingdoms. Now that I am currently in the middle of Book 5, that plan has inevitably changed. Perhaps someone witih more foresight would have seen this coming. After writing so much for my new book, I feel that I am on a roll. The ideas are coming more easily and I’ve gotten lost in the storyline. I am excited about it and I don’t want to stop this magical moment :) to go back to editing The Blade of Kingdoms. TBoK is finished but Book 5 is coming to life and I can’t stop in the middle of that.

Now what does this mean for the series? Well, it means that TBoK will take a little longer to be released than I had originally planned. I do intend to put out a trailer and I will also post the current first few pages of the book in the coming weeks. That will be all you’ll get for TBoK for a while. Once I finish the first draft of Book 5, I will set it aside to resume editing TBoK.

So it is unlikely that I will keep the original release date of The Blade of Kingdoms as some time in February. But who knows, I might surprise myself.


Although NaNoWriMo still continues, I reached the word goal of 50,000 on the 19th. This was my first time participating in this event, which I learned about only last December. I was very excited about the opportunity to push myself in a way I never have before and am quite proud of myself that I was able to succeed my first time.

Having said that, I am not sure I will participate in NaNoWriMo again. This is because I found that I was focusing so much on the word count that the quality of writing is not even close to my usual first draft (which, to be honest, is not always that great to begin with). When I arrived at a difficult part in my story, I forced myself to continue through it without consideration to my characters or plot. I wrote just to get through it. This can be helpful sometimes but not when I do this at every somewhat difficult part just so I can reach a certain number of words. I found that it has made the story disjointed and confusing. The characters have contradicting emotions which do not follow their personalities as they have developed over the past four books. It has actually caused me to question why I am writing this book. And perhaps I am to blame by finishing in 19 days rather than 30 but I don’t really see that making much of a difference. But now that it is over (well the 50,000 word part) I am going to slow down and put more thought into the book.

Now I am not saying that NaNoWriMo was a waste, or bad, or whatever. I am glad I did it because I learned that I could. It also made me realize what does and does not work for me. However, I can see how it could work for others. If you are someone who has a great story idea but is too “busy” or procrastinates, it is definitely a way to push yourself. This is especially true if you tell people who are interested and will ask you about your progress. It keeps you accountable. And even if you don’t reach the 50,000 word goal, it can at least get you to find time to sit down and DO IT. I think that is the problem a lot of writers have and I recommend WriMo as a way to get you into the habit of writing regularly.

So will I do NaNoWriMo again? Probably not. For me, every month of my life is NaNoWriMo. I don’t need to force myself to write. For me, writing is a necessity and something I must do. I’m not a happy person if I’m not writing. However, it was a great experience and I wish all who are doing it, and will do it in the future, the best of luck!

Prince and Thief – original meeting

In this post you will read the original draft of the meeting between the prince and thief from TKS. This was one of the very first pieces I wrote for TKS back when I was in highschool and even before I knew what the stolen item would be. It is very rough so be warned. :)

**Though this is not how the meeting ends up happening in the actual book, it does contain spoilers if you have not read TKS.**

Scene set up- Exendrik has just entered the town of Dexper as they are executing their criminals.

“I have been sent by the king’s oracle to seek out the best thief in the land. Therefore, I must order you to cease the execution of your thieves.”

The executioner looked up at the man in charge. Looking disappointed, the man said, “If it is the will of the oracle, then I have no choice but to obey.”

The executioner pushed the girl back the way they had come, but her expression was that of delight.

Exendrik turned to the stranger, “I thank you for your company and advice. But now I must depart and be on my way. Please take this as a sign of my gratitude.” He placed three gold coins in the man’s hand.

“I thank you very much good sir,” the man cried as Exendrik walked away.

That evening, Exendrik went to the town inn and sat down at the bar. The bartender eyed him with interest, “You’re the fella who called off the executions aren’t you?”

The prince’s eyes briefly flickered to the man’s face and then back to the table.

“Yes,” he responded as he made sure no one could see his face.

“So that was you?”a voice said from behind him. He turned and faced someone cloaked as he was. “You were sent by the oracle?”

“Yes, I was,” he said quietly, “what can I do for you?”

The figure sat down next to him.

“I heard you were looking for someone.”

Exendrik nodded, “I am looking for the best thief there is. I was told he goes by the name of Fen.”

“Ah, Fen. I know him well.”

“You do?” he asked excitedly.

“I certainly do,” the figure said with a nod, “I have known him all my life.”

“Would you be so kind as to bring me to him?”

The stranger stood, head shaking.

“I fear I cannot do that.”

As ther person turned, the sound of a sword being drawn sounded from behind. The figure turned to face the sword Exendrik held. Holding up a small pouch, he whispered, “It does take a good thief to steal from me. Now I ask you to remove your hood and return the gold.”

The thief hesitated but, seeing no other noice, removed the hood and returned the gold. Exendrik stood staring at the woman he had seen being led to the gallows.

He looked at her curiously, “How did you get out of the prison?”

She smiled, “That is my secret. But how can you expect less from the greatest?”

The prince stared at her for a second before it clicked.

“You are Fen?”

“That I am.”

“Please, I beg you to help me.”




So this latest fairytale outbreak on TV and in the movie theaters has made me both happy and nervous at the same time. Right now (the three I can think of at the moment) there are Once Upon a Time, Grimm, and Snow White and the Huntsman. There might be others that I’m forgetting. So what does this have to do with me? Well about two years ago, before this sudden farytale hype, I was watching Tangled and decided I wanted to try my hand at a farytale type story. So I thought about it and came up with some ideas and a storyline. Of course, I wanted to wait until after I completed A Realm Hereafter so I’ve kept a tight lid on it. So how how is this new farytale craze good and bad for me? Well, it’s good because people are apparently interested in it. When I first thought of the idea I wasn’t sure if there would be a fanbase. Now I know there is. The bad part? Well I need to finish A Realm Hereafter. By that time, I am worried this will have fizzled and people will once again lose interest. Another worry is that it will continue and my story will be buried under everything else that is out there or will be coming out. I guess that’s just a risk I’ll have to take.

So for now I just wanted to put it out there that this story is waiting to be written. It will likely be the next thing I write after ARH. I am also trying to go with a storyline that is much different than your average fairytale. Now whether or not I will put out any information on it is yet to be determined.