Friday, May 27, 2011
After a month 'dry' I was barely myself and worried I didn't have it in me, so I threw myself back in with something light: A Doll House story! When I just want to write something fun, I write something shamelessly goth. Sweet Dreams was like that, a contrast from Wild Children, which I wrote because it was a story that needed telling. The Doll House is a series of stories about a place where the rarest girls have been stored for safekeeping. They can only leave if a visitor takes them back with him for a day. Each story features a different girl, and they give me a chance to take an old supernatural concept and twist it into a shape I can tell fun stories with. I just finished Doll House: Lapis Lazuli, the story of the last mermaid. She's as friendly as any man could hope for, including in the nudge-nudge-wink-wink sense, so... why is she the last?
That makes three Doll House stories finished so far, and I've decided to make them my next publishing priority. I'm finishing up the cover art, which won't be as fancy as for the books but should do okay. I'd like to offer Doll House: Inventory for free because it introduces everyone, and then put up the others for 99 cents each. Amazon doesn't like 'free', so we'll see how that goes.
I must decide what to write next. Parthenogenesis has taken such a beating. Do I have the will to finish a book that's had so many interruptions and had to be restarted once? Do I have the responsibility as a writer?
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
But with this out of the way, I'm back to writing new stuff. I'd like to finish the third Doll House short story and put them on the market next. After that... I'll get either my novel Wild Children or my book of fairy tales out for sale. Depends on cover art opportunities.
Meanwhile, why not a sample taken from the middle of Chapter I of Sweet Dreams for those who'd like to know what Fang's life and problems are like?
Sample from Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Teeth
In a few nights I’d gone from avoiding everyone but Jeffery to having personal conversations with people I would have sworn would never want to talk to something like me at all. The whole idea made me feel uncomfortable at first, but then I just gave up.
“It’s an act, right?” I asked her frankly. “You’re putting on a show. I don’t talk to a lot of demons, but you don’t look or act like this.”
Rather than be offended she reached out a wing, heedless of the occasional drop of blood it left on the flowers, and brushed the pile into an arc. “Is this an act?” she countered with an impish smile, “Are these really your feelings?”
“Sort of?” I hedged. She’d made her point.
She held out her hand, smiling, and introduced, “I’m Lily.”
I laid my paw in it. I can shake. “Fang.”
We both ended up snickering. Half the demonesses in the Dark are named something like Lilith, and half the nightmares are Fang or Claw or something. Names so generic they had to be real.
She had never put down the flower, and now she was touching it again. I had to listen to a demon actually try to sound gentle as she asked, “The girl these are for – she’s another nightmare, I take it? Are these really what she wants?”
She’d gone straight to the question I’d been trying to avoid. Of course. “I don’t know what she wants,” I had to admit, “But probably not. Someone suggested flowers and the best I can do is give her so many it has to get her attention.”
“I know I’d be impressed by the effort,” she admitted, “But I’d trade a house full of regular flowers for just one, if it was picked because it was perfect for me. Think about that.”
I thought about it. It was an idea. This certainly wasn’t working.
It also would have been easier without an actual angel hanging around behind the border watching, but Lily seemed to be interested and how do you tell someone like her she makes you nervous? Thanks to Jeffery’s never-ending attempts to teach me to be more subtle I thought I knew what to do. It wasn’t hard to find the right dream. All this hunting for dreams with flowers in them had made me sensitive, and the hard part was waiting for one to drift close to the border. I wanted one on the edge.
When I broke into the one I’d picked I saw flowers, but only a few. The dream was a sort of a forest, or a garden, or something in-between. I couldn’t even tell if the dreamer was male or female. They were just a vague shape drifting peacefully through a lush arbor.
This wasn’t about the chase. It was about setting a mood. I hid myself inside a tree until the dreamer floated past. As it did I shoved my head out through the trunk, letting the skin of the tree cling to me as I snapped and growled, claws showing through a branch and thrashing at the dreamer. By the time I ripped through and leaped out onto the grass the whole dream had changed. We were in the Dark now, and everything had turned grey and shadowy, and the dreamer had sharpened into a young man in bulky pajamas. He wasn’t drifting anymore but running, dashing through bushes and between trees to escape me in the little forest.
But most dreams just aren’t that big. Seconds later I leapt out of the dark at him from another direction, and when I let him pull out of sight I just waited for him to loop around and did it again. Now he was stuck in the Dark and everything was changing shape, but I couldn’t let this be a dream about a big, black dog. The next time he passed by it was a pile of moss that fell out of the web-haunted branches in front of him and I was inside it, just snapping teeth and a body forming out of the grey strands. When he escaped that I found a little patch of sunflowers in a clearing. They had almost faded into the shadows, but I hid myself in one and as the dreamer was about to run right through them I lunged.
I didn’t break out. Like the tree I stretched the skin of the flower over me, giving it a muzzle that reached, snapping with violent bloodlust to either side because I was getting into it now. The rest of the sunflowers stopped fading and grew their own teeth, and as I forced an arm out and started dragging myself towards him with my claws they were mutating too. Behind him thorns sprouted from the trunk of a tree and its branches curled around to yank him in, and as I burst free of the sunflower the dreamer woke up.
Around me the dream spasmed, but it didn’t pop. I was actually proud as I looked around. Every vine twitched threateningly, every leaf had an oozing sheen, bushes thrashed and bit with a hundred mouths. The dream had taken on a sense of identity. It knew what it was. A new nightmare was waking up.
I had come here with a purpose, though. A clump of flowers with heavy purple-and-black blooms edged with teeth and shifting, slitted eyes between the petals – that was perfect. I grabbed a bunch of stems in my jaws and tore them free, and with a squeal of pain the dream broke up.
They were gorgeous and the dream had been so close to consciousness, so specific, they weren’t going to fade any time soon. They might never fade at all. That didn’t mean I wasted any time. I bolted through the vague mists that are so much of the Dark as fast as four legs could go, only partly because Lily was whistling appreciatively behind me.
My Muse’s house had lodged in some kind of withered field, so dead grass stretched all around it as far as I could see and above its peaked roof hung a crescent moon. It was a good place for her to have wandered, and I hoped she’d stay there because I thought it looked very pretty. At least, I thought that as I barged in through her front door and raced into the sitting room. I might have been hurrying too much. I had to make turns through several rooms, ducking back into the same hallway a second time until I found the right door. The house was trying to keep me out.
But there she was. The flowers from before were gone already, but they’d been so out of place here it was no wonder they hadn’t survived. These flowers were better, and I padded up to her as calmly as I could and laid them in her lap. The vivid markings of them, with the wine colored lace on her dress, were the only real colors in the room. The eye in each flower still moved, peering up at her, at me, at everything, hostile and staring and not quite intelligent.
But still nothing happened. I sighed as the quiet sobbing continued. The flowers at least would last a long time. I hoped they’d be there in her lap forever.
Something touched my shoulder. Lily had caught up to me, or that weird little girl Anna had dropped by again. I looked around, both proud and embarrassed, but what I saw was a thin chain stretching out of the floor, hooking itself into my spiked collar.
I felt a sudden tension. A light thrill of fear that didn’t come from anything, that was impressed from outside. Shadows in the corners of the room went pitch-black, and the four statues were looking at me.
A dream had formed around the house, but this time there was no dreamer. This was my dream and she was my nightmare. More pale lines snaked out and took hold of my legs, and they were starting to pull me back towards a blank stretch of wall. The four statues, a man and a woman and two little boys, were watching me with expectant faces. Four people encased in something white and stuck in the wall.I was in trouble.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Teeth
by Richard Roberts
Available at Smashwords.
Have you ever had the nightmare of being chased by a beast? Then you've met Fang. He'll be the first to admit that he's a very simple nightmare. All he knows is hunting your dreams and dragging them into the Dark. He's not ready for his life to get complicated. He's not ready to be dragged into his best friend's schemes to make dreams so terrifying they break people. He's not ready to love, or to be loved, or to meet someone who makes him happy. He's definitely not ready for those to be three different girls.
He's not ready to grow up.
When he does, one thing will stay the same. He'll stay an artist, and he'll paint your dreams with fear until they're beautiful.
This is my first published novel. I need to discuss the book and what it's about and why I wrote it, but for now I just want to sit back and enjoy that I did it.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Insincerely But Honestly,