More Subtext

Okay, so…clearly I don’t get this subtext thing, because I blew it on the last exercise. Here’s another try.


She smoothed the apron around her waist and sat down, floating to the seat. The sound of his utensils on the dinnerware made her motion unheard, and he didn’t see her with his eyes riveted to the iPad on the table in front of him.

She looked down, laced trembling fingers through her hair, and exhaled through her nostrils, slow, deliberate.

“Everything all right?” he said, around a wad of food in his mouth.

“Mm,” she said, and the corner of her mouth pulled back slightly.

“It’s good,” he managed as he shoveled another forkful of food into his mouth. “Great.” He never set down his tablet, and his fingers danced over the screen, leaving smudges of residue behind. He scowled at it.

“Thanks,” she said, and the corners of her lips curled just a touch, then fell. Her eyes shined moist.

She listened to him, fingers drumming lightly on the plastic as he swiped and pecked.

“Do you still think I’m pretty?” she said., and tipped her chin his direction.

“‘Course,” he said. “You’re beautiful.” Drum-drum-drum, thump, tap-tap. Swipe.

She sighed and stood up, went behind him, and laced her arms around his neck, resting her cheek on top of his head. She let the smell of his shampoo and scalp drift into her nose, and felt the texture of his hair on her face.

“Do you still love me?” she said, voice barely a whisper.

“Yeah,” he said, and chewed. “‘Course. Sure you’re all right?”

She stood up, and slid the gleaming chef’s knife from the pocket of her apron.

“Yes,” she said, “I think so. I finally think so.”

Subtext

Subtext is one of the most important skills a writer can add to their skill set. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get the concept. Basically, “subtext” is literally “under the text”, or what isn’t said.

To be honest, I stink at this. I think I’ve written stuff too “on the nose,” as the expression goes, which means the characters do and say exactly what they mean to do or say. This makes for a flat, uninteresting story, because the reader’s given everything. To really make the story shine, subtext is key.

There are a lot of ways to add subtext, but dialog is one obvious way. Another is by actions which are discordant with the situation. A simple example is a Southern woman saying “Bless your heart,” when she means, “I hope you die.”

So, this is an exercise in subtext for me, because I really, really need to practice. And I really, really need to write. Like, POST HASTE. I’m rotting inside for not doing it, and I can’t find the convergence of time and energy to do it, to study it, to outline, to do anything except my day job, which is stressing me to the point of high blood pressure.

Ugh.

So anyway…subtext practice.


She heard the floor creak, and her eyes popped open.

The dark seemed to bubble in pockets of black and deeper black, but she blinked, fully awake now, seconds after sound sleep, at the sound.

It was the familiarity of the creak that beckoned her. She strained her ears into the night, through the open bedroom door, to the hallway, listening. A long moment passed, the silence seeming to hiss in her head. Then it drifted to her. The familiar sound of his pace over the floor. She’d heard so many times, so many nights as he padded to the kitchen from bed, or to the bathroom in the night. She’d heard it every day as he got up to shower for work, or he went to turn on the TV or the coffee maker. She knew that pace, that pad across the floor they’d shared for sixteen years.

She knew the sound well, and it became clear now as that familiar, easy walk approached the bedroom where she lay curled on her side.

And her blood ran cold, her eyes widening in terror, and a scream caught in her throat, just like when they lowered his casket into the ground last year…

Guest Interview: Tabitha Freeman

Today, I’m honored to have indie author Tabitha Freeman give an interview here on my blog, one of several stops on her current blog tour. See the details of Tabitha’s latest publication below; for now, here’s TRF!

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1.) Your newest book “Iniquity” debuted August 19, 2014 and has already hit the bestseller status. Tell us a little bit about it!

TRF: It’s a New Age horror fiction read and it circles around a group of six people who committed a horrific crime five years earlier. They are brought together again by some pretty dark forces completely out of their control and the story spins into raw terror from there.

2.) Tell us why this is a perfect Halloween month read.

TRF: October is the one time a year we love to scare ourselves, isn’t it? INIQUITY is practically oozing with everything that makes a person not want to turn off the lights at night.

3.) What does your writing process look like? Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? i.e. Do you listen to music, sit in a certain chair?

TRF: When your career has you working from home the majority of the time, it isn’t always easy—especially for the wild imagination and short attention span of a YA author ;-). So, most days, I’m working in my office from around 6-7 a.m. into the evening around 6-7 p.m. There are definitely times I change it up, relocate myself to a coffee shop or wherever I might travel sometimes for story research or something—but most of the time, to keep my focus, I try to keep a usual routine. I have lots of quirky things in my office and on my desk and walls, which make me feel like I’m in a constant state of “down the rabbit hole”—which is awesome! And I have always made a soundtrack playlist for every book I’ve written to listen to while I’m in the writing process. What’s really cool is that now that I’m eight books in, readers and fans have taken to sending me ideas to add to playlists once my books release and that’s a fun and unique way for me to interact my imagination with my readers’. Something like that is so surreal.

4.) Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

TRF: Nothing too out of the ordinary—though I constantly talk to myself and I do periodically have to get up and pace around my house.

5.) If you could cast your characters in INIQUITY in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

TRF: I normally don’t give answers for this question because I really like to leave that up to my readers’ imaginations, however, I definitely have some Hollywood crushes I see playing Colin Serpan—I’m talking Chris Hemsworth, or Jensen Ackles.

6.) What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

TRF: Not being able to type 500 wpm…I could write so many stories so much faster if my typing could keep up with the speed of my imagination!

7.) Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

TRF: Nothing is off the table for me. I think at this point, after eight books in that are all completely different genres from one another, my readers and fans expect a surprise every new release I do. It’s become like my M.O. as an author.

8.) Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

TRF: I like to keep my stories as “clean” as I can while not risking the integrity of the story so that more readers can enjoy them.

9.) What are you working on now? What is your next project?

TRF: I’m working on some pretty exciting stuff right now! A spin-off novel from my Ghost Story Trilogy, a dark, apocalyptic project, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions since the release of INIQUITY about other horror reads in the works: the answer is yes, you can definitely expect some more scary-ness in the 2015 year.

10.) You have 6 incredibly relatable and complex characters that lead the story in INIQUITY. Tell us what’s on their tombstones.

TRF: Oooo, this is a fun question!

Ronnie-I Guess I Did Need That Map

Tori-Vanity is Definitely My Favorite Sin

Gabriella-(A carving of Grumpy Cat in her tombstone)

Sam-That Third Wheel Eventually Ran Me Over

Mandy-Who Knew Indecisiveness Could Kill?

Colin-At Least I Looked Like Hercules

11.) What about yours? What would your tombstone read?

TRF: “This isn’t where I parked my car.”

12.) Why the theme of guilt? This story is practically dripping with it.

TRF: I think the scariest part of the entire story is just the reality within the fantasy of it: can we really ever escape guilt?

13.) What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

TRF: I’ve always been a big fan of the horror/occult genre, whether it’s in books or movies. I had the most fun writing this story, however the drafting and editing processes were brutal because I was so particular (and nearly obsessed) with not hitting cliché walls. The horror genre and its basics can be extremely predictable sometimes, and have been done over and over and over. I wanted to make sure that I could keep the basic building blocks of a horror novel intact, while still providing a unique perspective that sticks in readers’ minds and sets itself apart from others like it.

iniquity

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Tabitha, thank you for being here today! Be sure to pick up a copy of Tabitha’s work on Amazon!

-jdt-

Merry Christmas

8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is [e]Christ the Lord.12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a [f]manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men [g]with whom He is pleased.”

Merry Christmas and God bless you all.

merry-christmas-roses

“The Journey of St. Laurent” Now Available!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great pleasure I announce the unveiling of Bryce Beattie’s long-awaited, much anticipated sequel to Oasis, entitled The Journey of St. Laurent – now available on Amazon’s Kindle platform, Barnes and Noble’s NOOK platform, and in many additional formats and platforms from Smashwords!

JoSL

From the description:

ER nurse Corbin St. Laurent has had a bad couple of weeks. His hometown was overrun by zombies and then bombed to the ground. Now he finds out aliens are not only real, but hostile. To make matters worse, the government’s response it to tell the everyone to calm down. With washington strangely reluctant to fight back, Corbin searches for a weapon that could give the people cause to rise up – the same zombie virus that destroyed Oasis.

The Journey of St. Laurent is a pulp action adventure sequel to Bryce Beattie’s debut novel Oasis. If you like zombies, aliens, fiery redheads, loud mouth radio hosts or non-stop action, you’ll probably like this book.

Check it out at the links below!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Journey-Laurent-Bryce-Beattie-ebook/dp/B00GVM1N5C

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-journey-of-st-laurent-bryce-beattie/1117495901

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/381116

Guest Post: Irene Helenowski

Note from JDT: Ladies and Gentlemen, I promised this author a guest post some time ago and I’ve neglected to fulfill my promise! Irene, I’m so sorry it took me this long to get to it. Things in The Real World have been dreadfully busy and tough, and I haven’t forgotten so many things as I have these past couple of months. I apologize, everyone. But, without further ado, I present: Irene Helenowski!

Order of The Dimensions

About The Author:

Irene Helenowski, the author of Order of the Dimensions, is a statistical analyst at an academic medical center in Chicago and recently received her doctorate in biostatistics. She also enjoys going to movies and concerts in her spare time.

About the Book:

When Jane Kremowski first began her graduate studies in physics at Madison State University in Wisconsin, little did she know where her work would take her. Now, she is embroiled in a multitude of dimensions all leading to different outcomes. She and her colleagues therefore must act wisely in order to take and keep away the Order of Dimension from falling into the wrong hands for the sake of her loved ones.

From The Author:

Have you ever thought about what you may be doing in another world?  Maybe you’re a painter in Paris, or a rock climber in Colorado?  I have had many such thoughts.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if the multiverse theory as advocated by theoretical physicists Michio Kaky, Brian Green, and Lisa Randall is correct and we could be living such lives in different dimensions within our universe simultaneously?  Such ideas led me to the premise of Order of The Dimensions, where we see the different paths that heroine, physics student, Jane Kremowski takes in different realms.  Adventure ensues with the introduction of villain, Anton Zelov, who schemes to get his hands on her and on the Multiverser, the technology allowing for inter-dimensional travel.

With this work, I not only hope to entice the reader with romance, adventure, and a world of what-ifs, but also encourage young adults, particularly young girls, to look into the wonderful world of science.  I recently read an NPR article about how there is still a major discrepancy between boys and girls in the sciences, especially in physics.  As someone working in an academic medical center, I hope that we can change the attitudes of our youngsters, leading to a new generation of scientists.  Will my book be a vehicle for such an objective, at least in one dimension?  I don’t know, LOL, but it’s been fun so far, thinking about it and trying.

From the Blog Owner

Helen, thanks so much for this post today! And all the best of luck with your ventures in publishing – may you sell a million!

-JDT-

Guest Post: Craig Andrews

Today, I’m happy to introduce guest blogger and author Craig Andrews! Craig is the author of a thriller novel called The Ninth Martini, now available on Amazon’s Kindle platform! So I’ll let him tell you about himself and his book.

Take it away, Craig!

About the  Author

Craig L. Andrews is eclectic when it comes to writing genre, connecting creative wires to whatever sparks a great story that could take the reader somewhere memorable. He tries to develop characters and stories driven by logic and plausibility. He is the author of Broken Toy, A Man’s Dream, A Company’s Mystery, a biography of a man whose small company patented a toy mouse, Micky, two years before Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse. The book was a major reference used for the PBS History Detectives program. He is the author of two works in the horror genre, The Godmanchester Stone and The Bed and Breakfast. He’s a member of the National Writers Association and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. He holds a B. S. and an M.S. degree in physics, was nominated to the Sigma Pi Sigma National Physics Honor Society, holds a patent in design, and has authored physics and automotive engineering papers. When he’s not writing he dabbles in photography and video animation.

About the Book

The Ninth Martini, is a Clancy-type thriller with the best of heroes and worst of the villains.

When hard-nosed Navy intelligence officer and former SEAL, Zack Hawkshaw, reluctantly agrees to use skills from an extinct CIA program for a mission, he has no idea he’ll be plunged into a race to save the world. Zack agrees to one more field assignment and goes head-to-head with a man from an old secret KGB program who has Middle East connections, as well as the same skills Zack developed in the CIA Gondola program. Zack must discover if ex-KGB agent now Shiite, has warheads from a Russian SS-19 missile, and if so, the number and destination. Zack confronts the ex-KGB agent on the mental battlefield trying to stop the nuclear destruction of cities around the globe. You won’t know if he succeeds until the last tick of the clock!
Buy now on Amazon.

From the Writer

I was thinking the other day how literature mirrors reality, tries to explain what is happening, and many times provides a forewarning. A case in point, the latest NSA revelations. I started writing concepts for my book, The Ninth Martini, in 1996.
A year earlier a CIA Technical Adviser went on the Nightline television program and spilled the beans. Yes, the CIA had been engaged in spying, but he wasn’t referring to the usual cloak and dagger routine with men meeting in dark backstreets. He was referring to something that the government started before the 1970s and was so enigmatic that most people would just grin at its description. The Russians had been working on this methodology as far back as 1950s at the Odessa Institute under Dr. A. N. Leontyev. The CIA came to the dance late but soon began pouring money into programs, one of which was called Project Grill Flame. The methodology that psychologists and scientists labored to research and perfect was psychic spying or remote viewing.

This CIA research was said to have been abandoned in the 1990s but why would the agency walk away from something that didn’t rely on wires or electromagnetic waves zipping through the atmosphere? Maybe it’s still alive. What a remarkable premise for a battle between two opposing theologies, societies, and men of conviction. Think of it, two soldiers who can see each other and possibly hear each other’s conversation separated by thousands of miles. There really was an incident in which a Soviet submarine was located by an American psychic spy. Just think what would happen if Jack Bauer of 24 Hours had the same tool.

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Thanks for stopping by today and sharing a bit about you and your story today, Craig! Look for his work on Amazon today!

Race

My lungs burn as I round the corner, the damnable soles of my expensive shoes skidding on the concrete, driving me to my knees. The raking breaths burning in my lungs matches the burn on my palms when I stop my fall with my hands, a hot white bolt shooting up my arms.

I shoot a backward glance, down the dark stairs, suck in my breath and hold it against my pounding heart. Silence and night.

My vision smears the lights in their neat, white globes as I fight back to my feet. No time. No time!

I shoot back to my feet and pound forward, coattails flapping in my slipstream. The station isn’t bright enough, but it’s not dark either. I’ve been in Podunk towns where a single bare bulb swung from an exposed wire wearing a flattened stainless steel funnel hat. The fluorescent bars here offered some illumination at least.

It just doesn’t feel bright enough.

I glance back again, confronted now by the turnstiles and pay booths. They’re unmanned. I check the rest of the area.

No guard. My heart sinks.

I spring over the turnstiles and yank my straining body up the concrete stairs by the cold iron handrail beside me. It stings my scraped hands as I launch myself faster up the flight to a landing, a break in the climb before another set of steps taunts me.

I freeze for a split second.

Did I hear something? Something coming, from behind me?

My adrenalin jumps another notch and scorches my veins. My heart flutters and I dart up the second flight, trying to keep up the pace, but slowing. The platform is at the top, but the loading area is far from where passengers vomit out of the stairwell. Dimly, something far in the recesses of my mind realizes this isn’t ADA compliant as I push with my arms while racing with my leaden legs up the stairs.

Then I do hear it. Clear, definitive, something banging and grinding behind me.

No!

My feet skid on the corner of the stair riser and bark my shins. I scream out, no longer caring what hears me, and I push through the pain. I feel the warm trickle of blood down my shin, and know I’ll leave a trail behind me.

I can’t care.

The sound grows to a din now, and then there’s a scream, a wailing howl like metal dragging over metal, and I can smell the thing now. I can’t look back, I have to press on, move, move, dammit, move!

It’s on me, I can see it as I round the corner of the platform, my damn shoes betraying me again, and I hit one knee on the ground while my feet still scrabble for purchase. I launch myself up, but my equilibrium’s gone and I fall into the brick wall just under the schedule.

Too late! Too, too late!

The shriek sounds again, and the klaxon bangs a tattoo of hopelessness against my ears. In huff it’s moving, foul air rushing into my face and blowing back my hair. It gains speed in an instant, and I fall, helpless, to the cold floor of the platform as it rushes to me, and then past me.

I watch the train’s lights vanish into the night, down the dark tracks, and groan when I see the schedule above me.

Next one’s not due for an hour.


I misread the prompt, too. It said, “plane,” not “train.” *Sigh* Oh well.