It was the shrieks in the night that I wanted to address first. I could live with the bloodstained walls, the ghostly figures standing behind my reflection in the mirror, and the lights continually flickering like it was a party, but I needed my sleep.
I went to the toy store and bought a cheap Ouija board, made of plastic and cardboard. It was pink, too, because that was the only model they had in stock, and the box featured pictures of teenage girls asking silly questions along the lines of, “Who has a crush on me?”
Later. I promised myself. If it worked with getting me a night of undisturbed rest, then maybe I could spend a few minutes indulging in secret questions about my personal life. I couldn’t imagine any demons being attracted to the ridiculously girly thing tucked under my arm, so I was probably safe in that regard.
Home was an Edwardian bungalow. I had loved it so much when I first saw it, I had ignored the warning signs: like the way the real estate agent had refused to be alone and kept looking over her shoulder. In retrospect, I should have realized something was up. But I was caught up in admiring the original woodwork and the rich color of the brick, and didn’t pay her any mind. I guess you could say that I was too busy geeking out.
The housing market crashed before the ink was dry on the paperwork, and now I was stuck. No money to move, and no one to buy. I was the owner of a bona fide haunted house.
It had been months since I’ve slept straight through the night, and there were dark circles under my eyes. If those ghosts managed to kill me, I vowed, I was going to haunt them to see how they liked it.
I set myself up on the kitchen table. I wasn’t sure if the Ouija board would work with only one person, but I couldn’t turn to anyone else for help. It seemed like everyone I divulged my circumstances to either insisted that I needed to see a psychiatrist, or wanted to worship the Devil in my basement. There were a surprising number of really disturbed people in my social circle, to the point that I decided that I needed to reevaluate my life choices.
Later, after I had slept on it.
I put my fingertips on the planchette and said in my most authoritative voice, “I command you to speak! Who are you?”
The lights dimmed and the fixture started to swing, but the planchette remained completely still. I had the feeling that the ghosts were laughing at me.
I snapped. “Fine, guys, whatever! The fact is, I’m stuck here and you aren’t going to get rid of me no matter what. Could you just cool it during the night so I can get some rest? I’m going crazy here!”
This time, everything went completely still, and even the usual bumps that continually sounded in the background were silent.
“Thank you!” I exclaimed, and this time the planchette began to move. It was a strange sensation, as if my hands were pushing it despite my efforts to keep them limp, and I watched it slowly pick out the letters:
“It’s cool. You were probably just excited to talk to me, and wanted my attention. Right? You seem alright to me,” I said. I wondered if this was the beginning of a strange friendship with my ghostly roommates, but nothing else happened.
I kept asking questions for another half-hour, but got no other responses. I even, on a lark, asked if there was anyone who wanted to date me, but nothing. Sheesh.
I said goodbye, packed the board up, and went to bed. The next morning I woke up feeling better than I had in a long time, and all the usual hauntings picked right back up, including the ghastly image of a corpse glaring at me in the mirror as I brushed my teeth.
I could live with this.
I will be discussing spoilers in this post. Consider yourself warned.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with video game culture, there was a series that started clear back in the 80’s called Castlevania. Many people consider the 1997 release, Symphony of the Night, to be the best game in the series (phew, exposition).
I confess that I have never played Symphony of the Night. All I know is that Alucard is the ultimate gothic pretty boy vampire character.
Anywho, the creator of Castlevania got fed up with video game companies, struck out on his own with Kickstarter, and developed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night as a spiritual successor.
We played Bloodstained because I was in the mood for something gothic, lol. I’d rate it 4/5.
All right, now here are the spoilers: your character wakes up after a ten year long nap, and discovers that her bff is the villain. He is later revealed as being mind-controlled by a demon, and the excessively helpful blonde woman is outed as being the one who is actually evil. She summons the ultimate demon that you have to fight and kill as the final boss of the game.
And, well, I thought that the story line was the weakest part of the game. It was too obvious and predictable, but teased just enough that I kept hoping it would try something new. It didn’t.
The mind control shtick has passed its sell-by date, in my opinion. Whenever characters act like, “You used to be sooo good, but now you want to kill everyone. What’s going on?” you can bet that it’s because of MIND CONTROL.
I dunno, maybe they were abused and damaged beyond what they could handle. Maybe they realized that society is irredeemably corrupt. Maybe, just maybe, something happened that made them change their mind. Characters are allowed to evolve, and it doesn’t always have to be for the better. Even good characters can have a dark night of the soul.
And the main character… she’s allowed to change too; she doesn’t have to statically believe in black and white forever and ever. Wouldn’t it be wild if, halfway through the game, the main character has an epiphany about pursuing the wrong goals, and forms an alliance with the antagonist? No one would see it coming!
It feels like there’s a big, gaping hole in the middle of storytelling that no one acknowledges, ideas that are never explored because we’re too accustomed to stereotypes.
In this day and age where indie is becoming more and more accessible, what are we afraid of?
Need moar goff romance.
I need to find out what these pictures are from, because I think they are ridiculously adorable.
I recently came across this short story that I originally wrote in 2008. I liked it enough to use it as editing practice, and brought it up-to-date to my current skill level.
He was watching them again.
He found his nose pressed against the cold glass window, his eyes locked on the room beyond, unconsciously counting the rising and falling breaths of each dark lump snuggled warmly in the bed, and he had no memory of how he had gotten there. They were bigger. They always seemed bigger each time he huddled against the side of the house, watching them sleep. He wondered how many years it had been, then found it absurd that he would even still care.
He used to also watch through the window on the other side of the house, gazing at the sleeping woman with some unknown regret pounding at his frozen heart. Used to, that is, until a man appeared next to her in bed, and he realized that his former position was no longer empty. After that, he lost all desire to venture beneath that particular window, and the pain that seared him never flared up again.
Now he spent his time with the small ones, peering at them through the blackness. Sometimes he would stay there all night, unable to tear himself away until the threat of dawn forced him into hiding. Those two sleeping mounds, buried under blankets, contained the last living fragment of him. When he saw them, he felt calm.
The littlest one woke up one night. Her head had lifted from the pillow and she looked toward him, riveting him in place despite his desire to flee. She didn’t seem afraid as she slowly slid out of bed and tiptoed up to the window. He could see her face clearly, and her long blonde hair that flowed down her back over her lacy nightgown. Her familiar blue eyes met his, as she put her hand against the glass, and he felt compelled to press his own hand against the other side. Then she whispered a single word,
Something shot through his insides when he heard her speak, and he found himself floating as a silver mist, terrified that the wind would scatter him across the surrounding forest. It was some time before he found the strength to will himself back to solidity. He learned something crucial about his nature that night, and it gave him the resolve to stay away.
He didn’t know how much time passed before he went back, but the longing had become to much for him to deny. There was a third shape now, much smaller than the others, nestled between them with a tiny fist held up into the air. He knew what it was, and was surprised that he didn’t care. Perhaps he was now too far removed from his humanity to experience that emotion again.
This would be the last time that he would gaze at his children. They had moved forward with the life that he could never share, and it was time for him to let go. He was a vampire now, and didn’t belong in the world of the living. The final threads that kept him chained to the place were broken, and soon he would forget that they had ever existed.
I hate those “writing things to avoid” sorts of lists, as I feel that they rather miss the spirit of creativity. After all, slavish devotion to a set of rules will result in limited writing.
Take, for example, the advice to never start with the description of weather. If you say it fast and don’t think too hard, it seems like sound advice. After all, something like, “The sun was shining brightly as Timmy walked down the street” is pretty boring.
But sometimes the weather matters.
The sun was shining brightly, the birds were singing cheerfully, and a cool breeze was playing through the leaves, making it the perfect day to work, Timmy thought as he pulled out his hacksaw and began cutting up the corpse in front of him.
The description of weather is used to deliberately create a juxtaposition with Timmy’s grim work. That’s interesting.
So, if you’re starting with describing the weather just because you don’t know where else to start, then you should probably spend more time brainstorming. However, don’t be afraid of describing the weather if it serves a purpose to enhance the story, no matter what someone on the internet might have said. Whoever wrote those rules was just after page views anyway.
I think that the best way to describe Light Eternal is as a Gnostic romance. Or, as my husband so succinctly put it, I studied up on Gnosticism so I could write trashy fanfiction about it.
I like fantasy romance, and most of my ideas revolve around the simplicity of two people in love. One of my biggest disappointments with the romance genre (and fiction in general) is that very few of them start with marriage, which, in my personal experience, is when I would say the real adventure begins. My novels don’t revolve around the question of “Will they get together?” but rather, “What are they willing to do to stay together?”
I also like magic and larger-than-life characters, so with a touch of amusement I would say that I ascribe to the “One-Punch Man” style of storytelling. The conflict isn’t about how they are going to be strong enough to win, but is instead an almost human interest exploration of what life would be like as the strongest, smartest, etc.
Light Eternal also contains a lot of pagan elements, including soul retrievals and spiritual parasites. The story is about gods and goddesses surrounded by a rich mythology, verging on spiritual fiction. Because there is a strong theme of Light versus Dark, there are a lot of Gothic and horror moments as well.
Finally, it is a novella about trauma, mental health, and dissociation. It illustrates the damage that traumatic events can cause, and the struggle to continue on with life afterward.
It is the best fictional Gnostic romance book out there!
A young woman, fleeing a terrible secret, finds herself beset by a supernatural beast which threatens not her body, but her very soul–and the mysterious stranger who saves her claims that he is not what he appears to be… and neither is she.
Before she knows it, the two of them are traveling across the country, fleeing a mysterious threat that seems to lurk beneath every shadow, while her benefactor races to heal her of injuries to her mind and soul that threaten not only her, but himself, the world, and the very fabric of reality.
You probably didn’t notice that I yanked down all but the first three chapters that I had posted here and on FictionPress, so I can have the book be provided for free with Kindle Unlimited. Go ahead and give it a shot; it’s short and you have nothing to lose. 😉