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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:

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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.