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Mourning’s Light January 8, 2013

Posted by Rob Diaz in Edited, Fiction, General Fiction, Real Life.
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I posted a new story over on my new site: Mourning’s Light. It is a response to a Today’s Author writing prompt and is a bit of a departure from my normal style. Check it out!

FGC#7: Magnolia Day March 23, 2012

Posted by Rob Diaz in General Fiction, Poetry.
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This post is for the Write Anything Form and Genre Challenge: Write a Tanka Poem

Magnolia Tree, March 23, 2012

Photo: Magnolia tree in my front yard. March 23, 2012.

 

sweet smells fill the air
pink blooms paint the bright blue sky
springtime storm winds blow
petals dance and fall like rain
renewal for weary souls

 

I wrote this poem while staring at my Magnolia tree. It has bloomed several weeks early this year, due to our unseasonably mild winter and early spring.  The blooms only last a few days under the best of conditions, but with the wind, rain and cooler temperatures we’ve had this weekend, the ground has now turned pink from all the petals that have danced to the ground. My family has a tradition of carefully watching the flowers as they bloom and also the weather forecast to predict what we call Magnolia Day –the day where the blooms are best, the fragrance is intoxicating and the weather is nicest. We sit out under the tree and have a picnic. When the winds kick up, the petals fly around the yard, falling like rain. If you look carefully, you may see some petals raining down in this photo, as it was breezy when I took it.

Tanka is a traditional Japanese-style poem written with a 5/7/5/7/7 verse which focuses on love or nature. It is over 13 centuries old, and as a result the rules for it have changed many times. There are forms where titles are not allowed and others where titles are acceptable. There is a tradition of a ‘change’ or ‘pivot’ in the third line as well, though that does seem to be optional. Rhyme, even accidental, is apparently considered a flaw.

 

Coming Soon to a Paperback Near You October 15, 2011

Posted by Rob Diaz in Edited, General Fiction, Publications, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Short Stories.
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Within the next few weeks, you will be able to purchase your very own paperback copies of not one, not two, but three anthologies in which I have stories.

First up, we have two books in the Chinese Whisperings lineup:

RedAndYinAndYang

My story, Out of the Darkness, appears in Chinese Whisperings: The Red Book; my story, Thirteen Feathers, appears in Chinese Whisperings: The Yin and Yang Books.  The Chinese Whisperings books are mainstream fiction anthologies consisting of inter-related short stories which were written sequentially – each subsequent author wrote based on what had been written previously.  Twenty-two authors from around the globe contributed stories (ten of us in The Red Book and all twenty-two of us in The Yin and Yang Books).  The Red Book was released in eBook format on January 1, 2010 while The Yin and Yang Books were released electronically on October 10, 2010.  And now, after many, many visits and pranks from the entity lovingly known as the CW Fairy**, the paperbacks are finally shipping!

See those links above? The ones that serve as the title for my stories in these anthologies?  Click them.  They bring you to a story teaser as well as behind the scenes commentary about the stories.  I’m told the excerpts, and the behind-the-scenes details, are must read material!

The paperbacks were supposed to be available on October 11, 2011.  But the aforementioned CW Fairy decided another prank was in order and as a result the date slipped a bit.  But now you can pre-order the paperbacks directly from eMergent Publishing right now.  And as long as Amazon.com can keep the CW Fairy at bay, you’ll be able to order from them in the next week or so.

The third book coming out in paperback form this month is the Literary Mix Tapes anthology called Eighty-Nine:

EightyNine

My story, “All I Wanted,” appears in this anthology.  The Eighty-Nine anthology has twenty-six authors from around the world creating stand-alone stories inspired by specific songs from the year 1989. The song which inspired my story is “Funky Cold Medina” by Tone-Lōc.  This anthology is speculative fiction.

I don’t have fancy links to an excerpt or behind-the-scenes commentary for this story… but I do have a link that might be even better:  For a limited time, you can enter to win one of three free copies of Eighty-Nine.  That’s right—between now and October 25, 2011, all you have to do is click on that link and then the button in the middle of the page that says “Enter to Win” and you may win a free copy of this anthology!  Good luck—and if you win a copy, stop back and let me know!

I also have a fancy link to a video book trailer for this book, too.  It’s only the teaser trailer at the moment, but it is still fun!

Eighty Nine releases officially on October 25, 2011.  You can pre-order it now through the Literary Mix Tapes website.

As always, I thank you for your support of these projects.  I’ve been blessed to work on these anthologies with some amazing emerging authors. I hope you get a chance to pick up one or more of these books and if you do or if you have already done so, I’d love to know what you think of them.  Post comments here or, even better, on Goodreads.

________________________________________________________________________
**The CW Fairy is a filthy, awful, vile beast that no one has ever seen, but most everyone involved with Chinese Whisperings has interacted with from time to time. Trust me—you do not want to meet the CW Fairy in a dark alley.  Or in an airport lounge.

The Red Book in an Alternate Dimension September 21, 2011

Posted by Rob Diaz in General Fiction, Publications, Real Life.
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Jodi Cleghorn and Dale Challener Roe have thrown down the gauntlet and challenged me to think about my story, “Out of the Darkness”, and what character I might wish I’d have written about if I could do it all again. Not being one to back down from a challenge, and especially not being someone who wants to stop the ball from rolling on this sort of thing, here are my unscripted and written-way-too-late-at-night thoughts on the subject.

As background, The Red Book is the first in the Chinese Whisperings anthologies.  It has been available as an eBook for almost two years and is coming out in paperback form on October 11, 2011.  The book was co-written by ten authors from around the world, many of whom have never met or spoken outside of social media and email.  The book was written in a one-after-the-other process where one author would write their story, the next author would choose a secondary character from the prior story and write that character’s story, and so on… providing a unique and interesting exploration of the lives of ten distinct-but-related characters. None of us knew what we were getting from the prior author until we got it and then had to choose our character.

I was the eighth author in the book.  I was also one of the last authors added to the mix, a replacement player of sorts when someone else couldn’t go.  That meant I had a lot of insight into where the characters had gone and I also had a lot of big footsteps to follow in terms of keeping the story writing at a high quality. Being a computer (software) geek, I built a spreadsheet detailing every major and minor character that appears in every single story before mine, along with details about them and what we knew about them. I had the honor of following Jasmine Gallant in the writing process and her terrific story, “Not My Name” had plenty of characters from which I could choose.  Specifically, (as I refer to my spreadsheet) I had seven choices:

  • Ronnie
  • Professor Jacobs
  • Frankie
  • the short female cop with bushy hair
  • the tall cop
  • Susie
  • Verity

If you read my thoughts on writing “Out of the Darkness”, you’ll recall that I started thirteen separate stories as I wrote (the thirteenth being what became “Out of the Darkness”). Three of them focused on the short female cop with bushy hair. One was related to the tall cop. One was about Frankie. All the rest were about Susie.  Ultimately, I chose to write about Susie, a character who actually appears in two stories before mine, Paul Servini’s “Discovery” and, of course, Jasmine’s “Not My Name”.  In these stories we learn about where Susie ends up and about one of her stops along the way.  But we don’t know how she got on this path in the first place.  In “Not My Name”, we see Susie through the eyes of Sam as she comments about how tired he appears. It was Sam’s thought, “You’d look tired too if you were me,” which made me choose to write about Susie because Sam’s reaction made me wonder why he assumed Susie was not as tired and not struggling as much as he was. I saw an opportunity to look at how we should not just assume we understand what someone is going through, whether they are happy or sad or look tired or energetic.

But what if I could do it again?

If I could do it again and was still required to choose a character from “Not My Name”, I’d write about Verity.

Verity appeared in Dale Challener Roe’s “Not Myself” and is simply a captivating character. I like how she was caring and compassionate—to me she was caring and compassionate almost to a fault.  I like her outlook on life and how she seems to look for the positives even in bad situations.  At least that’s how I imagined her.  She stayed strong and steady, even as others around her felt their world crumbling.  The description of her sigh in “Not Myself” intrigued me. Essentially, Verity just feels like a character who has a lot of positive stories to tell…and if I had another shot I think I might help her story be told.

If I could choose any character in any story, I’d choose the veggie delivery boy who appears in Jodi Cleghorn’s “Mercurial”.  Why? Well, the vegetarian in me feels there are not enough stories about vegetables and the people who love them.  And frankly, I think it would be a heck of a compelling read.

“We should run away together,” said the veggie delivery boy.

“No, no, we mustn’t,” sighed the short female cop with bushy hair. “Mama would be so disappointed.”

“Well…” said the veggie delivery boy as he bent down on one knee, “if we cant-eloupe, then how about we get married?”

“I’m not real sure that’s a good idea,” she replied, scratching at her head.  “I think my cats don’t really like you all that much. But, don’t despair, we all like your veggies.”

Ahem.  Well, I did warn you that I’m writing this way-too-late-at-night.  I’m sure the story would be more compelling if I were writing this in the morning.

Anyway, I’m pleased to have chosen Susie Lim as the focal point of “Out of the Darkness”.  There are things I’d change about the story, things I’d do differently, things I’d add or remove.  But all-in-all, I’m glad I picked her and had a chance to get to know her and the people around her. You can read an excerpt from “Out of the Darkness” as well as read some behind-the-scenes commentary, as well as story excerpts and commentaries from the other authors in the anthology by clicking over to the post on the Chinese Whisperings website.

And I am tagging Paul Servini to talk about what he might do differently if he had another shot at “Discovery” for The Red Book.  Take it away, Paul!

 

Edit: You can read each author’s thoughts on hypothetically revisiting this project by following these links:

Annie Evett

Dale Challener Roe

Jodi Cleghorn

Paul Servini

And for an added bonus, read what Dan Powell might have written had he been involved with the project.

The Supreme Ruler of the Universe: An Autobiography Written Especially for the People of Earth December 28, 2010

Posted by Rob Diaz in General Fiction, Humorous, Short Stories, Unedited.
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Some people say that I’m pretty special.

I just laugh. Me? I’m nothing! I’m just like any other guy of superior intelligence, better than average looks and awe‑inspiring charm, imagination and athletic ability.

Really.

Yet, there are still some people who insist on calling me “special.”

I hear you and I know what you are asking.

You’re asking, “What is the reason for all this hype over a seemingly average Joe?”

You’re thinking there must be something about me that causes everyone to stare at me with that glazy look in their eyes, some reason why people step aside out of respect whenever they see me enter their vicinity. “What could it possibly be?” you wonder.

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And the Winner Is… October 18, 2010

Posted by Rob Diaz in Edited, General Fiction, Publications, Real Life, Short Stories.
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The first thing I want to say is thanks to everyone who posted comments describing their worst travel experiences. I’m sorry that you all had such harrowing experiences, but I thank you for sharing them. I, personally, have had many bad experiences. One of them includes paint can lids flying out of the back of a truck while riding down Route 95 South in heavy traffic. Another is roofing shingles flinging off a pre-fabricated building that was being pulled by a big truck – this also occurred on Route 95 south.

Still another bad experience, and possibly the scariest (more…)

Launch of the Yin and Yang Books (Chinese Whisperings) October 10, 2010

Posted by Rob Diaz in Edited, General Fiction, Publications, Real Life, Short Stories.
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As many of you know, for the past eight months I have been involved with the second set of anthologies coming from the Chinese Whisperings brand. Last year’s debut anthology, The Red Book, was an exciting event consisting of 10 authors from around the world. It is a great book and has generated a lot of interest in the project. (You can read about The Red Book or buy it here!)

Today, the second Chinese Whisperings project launches!  Initially planned to be called “The Jade Book”, this follow-up anthology project was expanded to include 22 authors from around the globe and became two separate but interconnected anthologies known as The Yin Book and The Yang Book (or the combined The Yin and Yang Book). Again, you can learn about or buy these great anthologies right here!

The blurb for the two anthologies only tells a little of what happens in the books:

In the international terminal of a large European airport, Monday morning is about to get a whole lot worse. At 7.35am Pangaean Airlines, one of Europe’s major carriers, is put into receivership grounding all flights, stranding thousands of passengers and impounding tonnes of luggage. But all is not as appears on the surface and the sliding-doors moment of one woman deciding to abandon her suitcase will ricochet through the lives around her.

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Music in the Air July 18, 2009

Posted by Rob Diaz in Fiction Friday, General Fiction, Short Stories, Unedited.
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(written for the [Fiction] Friday >prompt on July  17, 2009: “Your character stops on the way home from work and buys an unusual musical instrument — why today?”.)

Jenny hummed quietly as she sat on the bus and looked out the window as it rumbled its way down the busy street. The rain had passed earlier and the dampness on the street was disappearing thanks to the bits of sunlight streaming through the rapidly waning cloud cover and the cars that were speeding on top of it.  She looked around at her fellow passengers on the bus, wondering how many of them were staying on the bus for the long ride to its eventual Atlantic City destination and how many, like her, were just making their regularly scheduled trip from work back to their homes or, in her case, back to her father’s home for her weekly dinner with him.  Another ten stops and then she would be off of the bus with a five minute walk to his house ahead of her. 

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Broken Promises January 2, 2009

Posted by Rob Diaz in Fiction Friday, General Fiction, Humorous, Short Stories, Unedited.
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(written for the [Fiction] Friday  prompt on January 2, 2009:  write about a New Year’s resolution that’s broken in the first 24 hours)

 

“I am so disappointed in you,” she said in her most disappointed voice and with That Look on her face. 

Oh no, not That Look, Fred thought.  I hate That Look. He shuffled his feet and looked away, then he said, “Oh, not That Look, SaraYou know how much I hate That Look.”

“I’ll give you whatever look I feel like giving you Fred,” she said.  “You blew it, dude, not me.”

“I told you,” Fred said with a touch of pleading in his voice.  “It was totally not what you think and not what it looked like.  It’s not my fault, either.”

(more…)

The Gift December 19, 2008

Posted by Rob Diaz in Fiction Friday, General Fiction, Short Stories, Unedited.
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 (written for the [Fiction] Friday  prompt on December 19, 2008:  write a scene involving exactly two characters that involves a terrible holiday gift)
 
Tim stood there holding the package in his hands, unsure of what to do.  He looked from the package to the crumpled up wrapping paper that was on the sidewalk, to the beaming, radiant smile on Debbie’s face and back again.

 

“I—” he started, then stopped.  He cleared his throat and shifted on his feet.  “I—I don’t know what to say.”

“Tell me you love it,” said Debbie, excitedly.  “Tell me it is what you were hoping for.  Tell me it is just what you always wanted.”

Tim opened his mouth to speak and then closed it when he found no words coming out of it.  He held up the clear plastic bag that was the package and examined the items contained within it and licked his lips nervously despite the cold winter wind.  He was truly at a loss for words.  (more…)

A Holiday to Remember December 6, 2008

Posted by Rob Diaz in Edited, Fiction Friday, General Fiction, Humorous, Short Stories.
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(written for the [Fiction] Friday  prompt on December 5, 2008:  Invent a holiday for which your character is a big fan)

 

Sally walked down the sidewalk that lined the quiet street, chatting happily with the five fellow carolers she had come out with this year.  They were talking about work, the kids and what they were going to do for the rest of the holiday. 

“Did you watch the tree lighting on TV the other day?” she asked the man, Bill, walking next to her? 

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Winds of Change October 17, 2008

Posted by Rob Diaz in Fiction Friday, General Fiction, Short Stories, Unedited.
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(written for the [Fiction] Friday  prompt on October 17, 2008)

 

I drifted, weightlessly, twirling down and down and down, tumbling over and over.  As I tumbled and fell, and screamed with fear and excitement and exhilaration, I thought back upon the days leading up to today.

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Two Short Stories that Stink October 9, 2008

Posted by Rob Diaz in General Fiction, Humorous, Short Stories, Unedited.
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Author’s note:  The following two very-short stories are in response to two simple thoughts.  The first story, Richard Reeks, is from me sitting around and suddenly thinking I should write something about cats.  The second story, School Days, came from listening to my daughter describe — in detail — her dislike of the stupid names companies give to air fresheners.

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