Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guest Story Editing Part 7

Today is the final installment of Guest Story Editing and possibly the final Saturday post.  Enjoy.       

        Fluffy realized that Wiggles knew about the taffy situation. Wiggles decided to follow and watch Fluffy's every move. He now referred to himself as “Wiggles the Stalker.” He watched Fluffy steal a piece of taffy everyday. But one day...
        “Do you want any saltwater taffy,” Wiggles asked politely one day.
        “No thanks, I don't want anymo-er I mean any taffy, but thanks anyway,” Fluffy stuttered.
        That's when Wiggles caught Fluffy red-handed.
        He screamed “BUSTED!”

        Fluffy became more and more nervous when coming to Wiggles' home.  She could not help but notice his rapid glances between the mantle and her.  Her secret was out, she knew.  A grand apology was in order.
        "Wiggles," she began.
        "Yes, Fluffy?"
        "I have something that I need to talk to you about."
        "Oh, and what would that be?"
        "I think you've found out that I took quite a bit of taffy without asking..." Fluffy trailed.  "I'm sorry."
        Wiggles was somewhat taken aback.  He hadn't thought that Fluffy would admit to her fault.  "It's okay.  I forgive you.  And for goodness sake, it was only lousy taffy!"  Wiggles laughed and gave his friend a hug.
        The two creatures' friendship went on as usual after the so-called Taffy Strife.  It grew in later times into something far greater.  All is well in Pumpkin Town.  Today, it's even better in its chapel.  The sound of the wedding bells is sweeter than any candy.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Schlock Mercenary

I've always wanted to write stories about mercenaries.  I wrote Zento the Mercenary, Espionage, and the beginning of an unfeatured story with a mercenary protagonist, and that was great, but Howard Tayler gets to write about a large group of them every day.  Not only did he have the privilege of getting a great idea involving them, he now (after several years of it being moreso a hobby) makes money off of his idea.  His characters, Schlock (an amorph who looks like a bile of goo), Kevyn (a great scientist), Tagon (the leader), Dr. Bunnigus (the doctor part tells you enough, I think...), and many more, are well-built and attention-grabbing.  The strip has evolved over the years into a beautifully drawn and colored masterpiece with almost epic complexity.  Mr. Tayler is also one of the hosts on Writing Excuses podcast, which I plugged over a month ago.  Please check out Schlock Mercenary, a comic space opera that you can find here:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Writing Widely

Some people are only fantasy writers.  Others are only sci-fi writers.  These people may be highly talented at their genre, but their limitations are high as well.  Reading other genres can aid in learning how to work with their tropes, but writing short (or longer) fiction does even better.  My main interest in novel-writing is epic fantasy, although I've tried my hand at horror, whimsical fantasy, literary, mystery, historical fiction, comedy, military sci-fi, contemporary fantasy, dark fantasy, action, and alternate history flash fiction pieces and my only complete short story is secondary-world military/war action.  Granted, I'm better at some genres than others, but I've at least tried and am getting better at writing several.   

One example is my piece A Cat Lacking Curiosity.  It was my first attempt to blend action and horror.  It bombed, but I learned from it: a) I would have to practice a lot to figure out how to fix the two effectively, and b) if I ever tried it again there are certain things I'd have to do.  One of those things is that there has to be a lot of build-up and the protagonist should not be developed in horrible info-dumps.  I took some of the things I learned writing A Cat Lacking Curiosity into consideration when I wrote The Destroyers, which in my opinion was a lot better.

If anyone has a genre request for next week, please leave a comment.  I'm open to any genre that is "school appropriate" (no, this blog has nothing to do with school, that's just the best comparison I could think of).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Reminder: this piece is a sequel to last week's piece, Zento the Mercenary.

Zento strolled down a granite sidewalk.   Sparkling white skyscrapers loomed to one side.  Hovercrafts zoomed by on the other, their path made straight due to running magnets in the street.  Zento’s objectives overshadowed the sights.
He pulled a small piece of embroidered parchment from the inside pocket of his grey blazer.  It read: 427 32nd Street.  Zento stalled to check the sign on the next building.  The wall shined brightly, undoubtedly coated in Lumin-Wax, a recent fad.  A large bronze plate was fused above the doorway.  The building was identified as “Medi-Core Corporate Headquarters”, with an address matching that on his slip.  Zento grinned.
The room he entered into was vast and, truthfully, somewhat intimidating.  Zento loved it.  He made his way to the end of a line of people, the front of which was a granite desk managed by a dark-haired woman in a black dress.  Zento ran his backstory through his head one last time.  His name was Geori Henderon.  He was the assistant to the CEO of the largest producer of medical machines on Karont, Medical Tech Inc.  Sent by Medi-Core’s strongest rival, Joen Haridy Medical, Zento was to get some key information by sitting in on a meeting scheduled for today.
The line diminished quickly, leaving Zento face-to-face with the receptionist.  “I’m here to attend a meeting on behalf of Medical Tech, Inc.,” he told her.
“I’ll need to scan some identification, sir,” she replied.
“Yes, of course.”  Zento reached into his back pocket and presented the forged I.D.  “My boss, the CEO, couldn’t attend.  I’m his assistant.”
The receptionist took the card from Zento and ran it in front of a scanner, wired to the computer to pull up the database of authorized personnel.  “Thank you, Mister Henderon,” she said, handing him the card.  “The meeting is in the Conference Room on the sixteenth floor.”
Zento found an empty elevator and entered.  He struck one of the lower panels on the back wall, stunning the security scanner that to him was common knowledge.  The elevator ascended slowly, picking up a few suited men on its way.  A computer voice came out of nowhere, and stated, “floor number sixteen.”
Zento stepped out onto smooth marble.  He scanned the room plaques on the lustrous white walls as the door shut behind him.  One of them, his destination engraved within, pointed down a hallway to his left.  Zento took it casually.
Several doors down was the room he seeked.  Inside sat eight men in similar garb to himself.  They smiled up at him.  “Samile Totoro,” one said before shaking Zento’s hand.  “I’m guessing that you’re sitting in for Mister Brirri of Medical Tech?”
“Nice to meet you, sir, and yes, I’m the assistant CEO, Geori Henderon.”
The men in the room nodded simultaneously.  One of them stood up with a small metal device in his hand.  With the push of a button the machine expanded to the size of his chest.  “Medi-Core third-quarter planning,” he said into a hole at the top of the expanded screen.  A bulleted list laden with statistics popped up. 
Zento’s mind blurred at all of the percentage signs.  He pulled out a notebook and scrawled as the man spoke.  The numbers didn’t matter much to him, but he didn’t want to lose an employer with a bad report, they were hard to come by.
After the list was taken care of and several slideshows run, the man shrunk his computer down and asked for questions.  “Sir,” Zento said, “can you please repeat that part about raising the price of scans for newer hospitals?”
“Certainly.  Our data has shown that eighty-seven percent of new hospitals are built in areas where one or more already exist within ten square kilometers.  The average insurance coverage in hospitals less than one year old is twenty percent better than in older hospitals.  Also, Medi-Core has recently upgraded their…” the man cut short.
Zento looked up from his pad and cursed.
“I thought you looked too young to be Geori Henderon.  We need security!” bellowed Samile.
Zento bolted to the door as a zooming erupted outside.  Two hovering robots flew in from his left and two more straight ahead.  He reached up his blazer and pulled out a palm-sized laser pointer.  At least it looked like a laser pointer.  Zento drew back a switch on its top, coinciding with a buzz.  The security bots closed in as the buzz morphed into a roar.  White light blasted out in a narrow stream knocking Zento back and slicing through the bots in front of him with a flip of his wrist.  He pivoted on the floor, blackening both a section of the wall and the mid-sections of the other two robots.
Zento whipped his head in both directions and disabled his laser.  A glass wall reflected light in a pool several meters from his feet.  He ran into the light while turning on the hidden bug behind his ear.  “I need my transport moved up against the glass, stat.”  A few seconds was the full duration of his pause before leaping into a free fall.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Fabulous Blog Ribbon

I was passed my first blog award, the Fabulous Blog Ribbon, by Jeff Hargett.  (I'm also counting this as today's post.)                                                              

The Rules:
  1. Post the rules on your blog.
  2. Name five of the most fabulous moments, either in real life or in the blogosphere.
  3. Name five things you love.
  4. Name five things you hate.
  5. Pass the ribbon on to five other bloggers.
5 Fabulous Moments

Scoring two goals in one game after two years of being scoreless
Getting the top G.P.A. award in three subjects
Discovering the Stuff You Should Know podcast
Listening to my first Writing Excuses podcast
Getting 1st place in Jr. High Impromptu speaking after three meets of not placing

5 Things I Love

The Christian God
American Football
Great steaks

5 Things I Hate

Calling people I don't know very well
Being in chaotic situations
Rap ruining otherwise good songs
Death Metal
Overly rude people

I pass this award on to...
Matt Hayes of Matt's Writing Lair
Peggy Eddleman of Will Write For Cookies
JeffO of The Doubting Writer
David Powers King of David Powers King
Charlie Holmberg of Myself as Written

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Guest Post Editing Part 6

        Wiggles noticed that the bowl of saltwater taffy on the mantle was starting to empty gradually.
        “Have you been eating any of that taffy from the mantle lately?” Wiggles asks his mother anxiously.
        “No sweetie, why?” MPFBV pondered.
        “Because it isn't as full as it was before,” he replied, then left the kitchen.
        Wiggles goes to his room to ponder the mystery... Well if mom hasn't eaten any taffy, and I haven't eaten any, then somebody has to have been! He thinks for a while, then comes to a conclusion: Well if mom and I haven't eaten any of the taffy, then it has to have been Fluffy. Wiggles thinks to himself. Well since I never granted Fluffy permission to have any, that means he's been stealing it from us! Well wiggles didn't like the fact that his new friend was a thief... it was time to seek REVENGE!

        Wiggles wafted around through his living room.  He noticed that the fire had stopped crackling in his fireplace, provoking him to chuck a piece of rugged pine into its ashy waste.  A quick glance at his mantle gave him a start more powerful than that of the sparking hearth.  The taffy bowl that had sat full upon it for as long as he could remember was nearly empty.
        "Mom, have you eaten any of the taffy we keep on our mantle lately?" Wiggles asked.
        "No, I haven't."  His mother knit her eyebrows.  "Why do you ask?"
        "Just wondering.  It needs refilled, oddly enough."  He stayed long enough for a nod from his mother and retreated to his bedroom.
        Wiggles settled himself on his bed and got to thinking.  Nobody in his house even liked taffy.  He was puzzled as to why his mother had the bowl out in the first place, let alone filled with the candy.  There was only one possible culprit.
        "She's a thief..." he muttered.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Write Like

Have you ever wondered whose writing yours resembles?  If you have, I Write Like may be perfect for you.  I have had over a dozen short fiction pieces analyzed by their website  The site can analyze any text that is at least a few paragraphs long and will give a result of what writer's work the text is most in common with.  Go out and check it out, it's a lot of fun.

Patrick Stahl

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Types of Fantasy

Fantasy is a rather complex genre.  However, the concept of fantasy is simple.  This causes fantasy to be broken down into many different sub-genres to specify.  The main sub-genres of fantasy are: epic, heroic, contemporary, and urban.  Epic fantasy, also known as high fantasy, is massive in scope with a large cast, high word-count, and an intricate plot.  J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert Jordan were prolific epic fantasy authors.  Heroic fantasy is less complicated and generally shorter than its epic cousin, with action and danger very prominent.  Contemporary fantasy is the simplest fantasy sub-genre in theory, although it can be broken down into further categories that can be experimental, fresh, and more literary.  Urban fantasy stories take place in urban settings, often with a secondary world or plane coming into contact with our world.  Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and the Olympians are series that can be put under both urban and contemporary genres, while another of Rick Riordan's works, the Kane Chronicles, is moreso the later.

Patrick Stahl

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Zento the Mercenary

I was lacking motivation to write a new flash fiction piece today, but I'm still posting something.  Below is a flash fiction piece I wrote several months ago and had on Facebook.  Next week I will post the sequel that I started a while ago (which will probably run long, making up for this one being shorter).

The lights flickered on and off.  The feeling of electricity filled the air, prickling Zento’s skin.  He kept his head low, and crossbow at his side.  The quiver on his back was filled with specially made bolts.  The broadheads were soaked in fire oil, a solution that caused anything struck to instantly combust.  Zento veered to the right as footsteps became more evident to his left.
A sizzling sound could be heard, but the cause could not be seen.  Zento lay prone with his crossbow in hand and waited.  He knew that something was in here, the small lump of platinum in the inside pocket of his steel-aramid vest was proof of that.  New security drones had made his line of work far less common, but Zento did his job for the thrill and not for the money.  He inherited a large sum of money from his father, who had died fighting as a Grand-General in the Verion Army.  The crossbow was also part of his father’s Will, constructed by the Muriis several parsecs to the east and virtually unbreakable.  It was made of a native material called yirthal, a metalloid thirteen times stronger than steel made of elements previously unrecorded.  Yirthal was a hot commodity on Earth.  Only the most prestigious and wealthy possessed anything with even a trace.
The sound deepened to a piercing whistle.  The atmosphere turned hot and the taste of static filled Zento’s mouth as he took a deep breath and steadied himself.  Sparking brass cords could be seen several feet ahead dragging along the ground flanking two legs made of greyish metal.  Zento lifted his crossbow to his right shoulder, loaded a bolt with the automatic mechanism, and fired.  The rogue android burst into white flames, searing off Zento’s eyebrows.
Zento stood and peered down at the lump of steel on the tile floor in front of him.  His mission was accomplished.  It was time to cash in.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I'm on vacation this week in Chincoteague, Virginia.  I'll still be posting, but the posts may be later than usual.  I've had fun so far doing some flounder fishing and crabbing and had less fun reddening in the sun.  Tomorrow I'll hit the beach on Assateague Island, home of the Chincoteague ponies.  Have a nice week!

Patrick Stahl

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Guest Story Editing Part 5

        As the day went on, Fluffy longed for another piece of delicious saltwater taffy. For the next week or so, Fluffy went over to Wiggles' house everyday; everyday that he went, he would take another piece of taffy from the mantle.

        Fluffy craved saltwater taffy progressively more as the sun descended.  She left at dusk and went immediately to bed, dreaming of the candy.  For the next few days, Fluffy returned to Wiggles' house and ate a piece of his taffy on each visit.  She denied her subconscious claims of addiction.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Charles Schultz was a genius.  I cannot stress that enough.  Schultz did not just create a comic strip, he invented a world, a separate plane that was both simple to a young child and incredibly sophisticated to a witty adult (or young adult).  He blended satire with humor in a revolutionary way, using children and a four-panel format to make something that was light-hearted enough for a chuckle or as complex as a political cartoon on subsequent days.  Charles Schultz was a funny philosopher ahead of his time, or perhaps more precisely the creator of a new time.  Charlie Brown was used to convey true solace and wishy-washy fight in a way that only a depressed and brilliant mind could.  Snoopy, who began as an almost normal puppy, brought whimsy and wit to the strip at the same time, luring hoards of adoring fans, both young and old.  Linus van Pelt once said "John Ruskin once wrote 'The best grace is the consciousness that we have earned our dinner'".  Schultz was a humble man.  He never really believed that his efforts were worth much.  It's a pity, because if anyone earned his dinner it was him.  He did it for nearly fifty years.  I applaud the Peanuts comic strip.  Fantagraphics have been releasing every strip Schultz drew one volume at a time.  I thank them and recommend the books to all.  R.I.P. Mr. Schultz.

Patrick Stahl

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stained or Translucent

You enter a cathedral.  The pews are crafted from the best wood carved by master craftsmen.  They sit on a floor of polished marble.  Mass is orthodox and appreciated (or at the least put up with) by people of all ages.  Light breaks as it streams through the elegant windows, the glass stained with Biblical scenes.

You enter a newly built Protestant church.  The pews are more like comfortable benches with backs than anything else.  They sit on a carpeted floor.  Mass isn't called mass, it's a worship service, streamed along by a praise band that brings in children from all around.  The windows are clear glass.

These two extremes have their own pluses and minuses.  A cathedral is grand, but has a bit of a weakness in the main event, while a new church is simple, yet draws in crowds with its incorporation of media into scripture.  The two extremes for writing can be thought of as viewed through the windows of each, that is, stained glass and translucent.  If you are a writer of literary fiction, you will probably lean farther toward stained glass writing.  The prose is breath-taking on its own without any regard to the story, rather like the atmosphere of Mass in a cathedral.  On the opposite side, where I reside, writers of fantasy and other speculative fiction genres go for more translucent writing.  The plot and setting are mystic and brilliant, while the sentence-to-sentence language is plainer, coinciding with the standard appearance albeit fun experience of a band-headed worship service.   As a writer, you should experiment a little with both sides, and use your findings as a base.  To create great literature, you will need to find a balance between the two, a perfectly glossed pane.

Patrick Stahl

Where do you lean?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Case of the Drowned Barber

       “But…he could be a suspect,” Detective Wesley fumbled as he scanned the contents of a large folder.  Scrawled notes were headed by “The Case of the Drowned Barber” in bold ink on each page.
       “No, Mr. Wesley, he is in prison.  You always give that excuse.  This time you will have to find some real suspects,” his assistant responded, looking through his steel-rimmed spectacles with a tight brow.
       “Yes, I suppose you are right, Daughtry,” the detective said with a curved smile.  “How do you suppose I find some?”
       “My stockings, Mr. Wesley, I’m always puzzled at how have you’ve managed to keep your license all these years.  You must have some relevant information in that file of yours.”  He poked a finger at the detective’s folder and winced.  “Is that an etching of a hound dog in the midst of your official records?”
       The detective pouted slightly.  “My sketches help me to remember things, you know that.  I caught that emerald-thief after realizing that the owner’s cat was of a strictly non-shedding variety from one of my illustrations, causing what we thought was feline hair at the scene to be undoubtedly of the red-haired butler.”
       “Fine, fine, I’ll give you that, but I would wager you cannot name another lucky instance.”
       Detective Wesley stopped himself in the middle of shuffling his papers.  His gaze was hard-set on the mocked drawing.  “You would have lost a farthing, I’m afraid. Look here.”
       Daughtry peered again at the image.  “At what?” he asked.
       “The dog’s fur was quite dry and scruffy when I drew it,” the detective began.  “If the barber had been hustled into the water by a criminal the dog would have come to its master’s aid and therefore been sopping wet. This drowning wasn’t a murder, it was an accident.”
       “Mr. Wesley, that’s brilliant!  I only wish it was true.”
       “How can you be so sure that it isn’t?”
       “Sir, that dog was clearly a stray.  It’s right there on your parchment, the dog was skin and bones.”
       The detective cleared his throat.  “I suppose you are right.”
       “However, you have given us a lead with your idea, I do believe.  Even if that dog was a stray, it would have started barking a torrent if it watched two men thrashing only feet from the dockside.  Whoever the killer was, he was clever and quiet.”
       “A hired man perhaps.”
       “I was thinking that as well.”
       “That leaves quite a question though.  Who would be motivated to have a humble barber killed, while also having money to spare on the act?”
       “Indeed.  Was he associated with any of the higher-born in this area?”
       The detective thumbed through his papers yet again.  “Of course, Laurence Black, the owner of his tenant-house.  I’ve heard many tales about his—the dog!
       “Not that beast again…” Daughtry trailed.
       “No, I’m not referring to that mongrel.  Sally Black is known for her many courtships to men of lower birth.  That must be it; Laurence Black had the barber drowned to keep him from marrying his daughter.”
       Daughtry looked at his boss wide-eyed for a moment.  Then he stuck out his hand and chuckled.  “Bravo, Mr. Wesley. Bravo.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Last Minute "Flash Blogging"

I very nearly forgot to post today, so I'm going to keep it extremely brief.  I was gone most of the day on a trip to see a portrayal of Jonah.  The play/musical was great.  It incorporated animals and quality scenery into the standard singing/dancing/acting of theater.  Final thought: I have absolutely no clue what I'll do doing for tomorrow's flash fiction.  Let's hope it goes well!

Patrick Stahl

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Guest Story Editing Part 4

        Fluffy and Wiggles wandered outside to play catch.
        “Do I smell chocolate?” Wiggled asked.
        Fluffy became nauseous and nervous, struggling to come up with a manageable lie to cover up his theft.
        “Uuhhhh, yeah... I stopped at the Pumpkin Town Candy Shoppe,” Fluffy lied.
        “Oh cool, what did ya' get?” Wiggles wondered.
        “Just some chocolate truffles,” Fluffy replied nervously.

        Wiggles walked over to a ball lying in the dewy grass and tossed it toward his friend.  Fluffy caught it in her mouth and launched it back.
        Crinkling his nose, Wiggles asked, "Do I smell chocolate?"
        Fluffy's head swam.  She looked off toward an oak tree to her left.  "Oh, yeah," she said, trailing.  "I stopped at the Pumpkin Town Candy Shoppe."
        Wiggles nodded.  "Oh, cool.  What did you get?"
        "Just a few chocolate truffles.  That was a few hours ago.  I'm sorry, I meant to save one for you."
        "That's okay.  Let's play some more catch.  I love your throw."