Regine Allison Claire: Author of YA Fiction

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Release Day! “Out of the Shadows” Flash Fic Anthology with My Story “Burden”

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Experience three chilling tales of darkness and hidden secrets.

 

Burden by Regine Allison Claire

Fifteen-year-old Keldie has a terrible secret—her cousin is locked up in her parents’ house.

She’s never seen him but she hears him, frightening her almost as much as the visions of the yellow-eyed bear that haunt her.

After another boy is rescued from a similar situation nearby, Keldie is at the crossroads of truth. Is she a monster for hiding her parents’ secret? Will confession set her guilty heart free?

 

Everyone Knows My Name by Andrew P Weston

Tony Roberts was a man who, for years, had been forced to suffer the ignominy of ridicule and ostracism because of his outlandish scientific theories.

Shunned by his contemporaries, he sought to justify his methods by any means possible, just so his name would end up on everyone’s lips, where he felt it belonged.

One day, he got his wish. Little did he realize it would be for all the wrong reasons.

 

An Act of Faith by Ed “CC” Emerson

Imagine the fear.

Fear of being discovered.  Fear of being caught.  Fear that any one of your neighbors might turn you in.  Fear that, at any time, the Secret Police might break down your door and drag you off into the night—never to be seen again.

All simply because of An Act of Faith.

 

Available as an eBook from the following retailers:

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Also on Goodreads

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Journeys with Flash Fiction: Whoosh, There They Go

Booyeah.

4 flash fiction stories down, each significantly different from the next and all within the 1,000 to 2,500 word count. Boom, baby!

So let’s back it on up. In May, I wrote about diving into writing flash fiction despite not having done it for 14 years or so. Kind of intimidating but I was willing to meet the challenge. I suppose it’s like getting back on that bike, once you get the wibbly-wobbly part out of the way and the body goes, “Oh, yeah, THAT.”

Out of the five anthologies presented to our group of authors, I thought I’d whip up a little something for four – the more YA-friendly themes. Almost immediately, the ideas began to flow which was great. Even better, they seemed like small ideas that could be expressed in a teensy space. Two ideas came more easily than the rest; the other two eventually came around after some deep thought and random bits of fluff in the middle of the night.

The first week of June was a bit of a bust on the writing front, unfortunately. Something about not getting much sleep and feeling tapped. There’s a good reason but that’s a different story and a completely different pen name.

On the other hand, the next week was kinder and allowed me to catch up. I finished them on a Saturday night. I spent the following Sunday night and Monday morning taking the ever unkind and never sorry “red pen” to the pages. Choppity chop chop. Submitted by Monday 10am then I threw the red pen out the window and dragged my zombie-brained body off to bed. Oddly exciting even if overly tiring. And that’s not the craziest thing writers do. Oh, no.

(And if any fellow writers have crazier stories, feel free to share! We’re all in the same boat.)

Now that I’ve had sleep and some recovery time from the intense focus, I thought I’d share a tiny little bit about each since I love talking about what I’ve been working on. But no spoilers! 😀

 

Shift
This was the first one to be written, mostly because it was the first, fully-formed concept that came to me thanks to musical inspiration. Most of the story was written to 2 versions of the same song by Conjure One, “Center of the Sun”: the album version and Solarstone’s Chilled Out Remix from the compilation album, “Relax Music”.

I gushed in the previous post about how brilliant I think the song is, so I won’t this time. Let’s just say that it helped immensely, keeping everything on track. Not just because of the delicious, dark sound but the lyrics tipped me off to the original concept: the idea of being in a dark market where the girl is poorly treated and there’s a boy who cares about her.

So how did that translate?  Almost literally, actually. There’s a dark market, catering to the needs of the thirsty patrons of the paranormal world, and a human teenage girl who needs rescuing. There’s the shifter boy who loves her, desperate to free her by the means available to him as a teenager. And then there’s the man standing between them: the Head of Human Resources … except not the type of HR we’re used to.

One of my favourite things about this story is the title, which I had a bit of a time with until the word “shift” got stuck in my head. I wasn’t sure about it but grabbed my paperback dictionary and did some looking. Jackpot. Almost every definition works. Double-checked with The Free Dictionary (my favourite go-to site for wordsmithing!) and made up my mind. It feels so awesome when a story has a title.

 

Burden
This one I’m equally happy with and it’s a bit creepy, at least in my head. Hey, it says “dark” in the anthology theme so I went there. It’s thanks to a matter of timing, really. In the previous post, I talked about the boy locked up in a bedroom for up to 2 years. That’s pretty dark stuff. I was taken with the story – which isn’t the first, by all means, nor the last, sadly – and was intrigued with the concept that this couple would allow their daughter freedom and not their nephew. My inspiration was pulled to it.

Except I wanted to explore a little more than that, leaning into a bit of further darkness. I can’t get into it without spoilers but I took it into a new direction from the real, live story. It revolves around Keldie, a young girl in high school who has a family secret she’s too scared to keep. The story is about her struggle to do the right thing … even though the result is far from what she expects.

My thanks to Conjure One and Poe, again, though there were two other songs which provided great inspiration for what ended up on “paper”: Florence + the Machine’s “Heavy In Your Arms” and Within Temptation’s “Dog Days“. Without these, the feel wouldn’t have been quite the same. Rawr.

 

The Flying Dead
This story took a while to come around. I had originally kicked around a more somber idea, catering to the serious side of Samhain as the Celtic celebration of our dead.

Yeah, no. Wrote that idea off. Instead, I wanted to write something fun. And funny. Shift and Burden are dark so I wanted something amusing!

The idea came around when I was trying to get back to sleep one morning: the concept of the Ouija board. I’ve been around one once and we had an interesting experience for the rest of the day, so I’ve got something personal to work from and not just TV shows like Charmed. Except I wanted it to be about something more than that.

Enter fantasy; my love, my sanity.

There always has to be something that happens in the story which the main character has to resolve. I dipped into the fantastical world for this one to give it some spunk. The protagonist is Kurt and his family is different: they’re pledged to protect the dead. Samhain is a huge to-do for them with all the dead who cross the Veil and this Samhain isn’t any exception.

I also gave Kurt a bit of something special to make him even more amazing: he’s a transgender youth. He knows who he is and has courage, throwing off the mantle of “Katie” to be himself. This is important to me, not just because I love diversity of all sorts, but because it’s real and something worth putting out there in a way that isn’t derogatory or unkind. There are a lot of kids (not just adults, like those I know and love) who go through this and aren’t as supported as he is, but they need it. I believe gender shouldn’t determine whether you’re a hero or not, just like it doesn’t determine whether you’re a good person or maybe need some help in that department.

It’s not a long, in-depth story but this one’s for all of you. You know who you are. ♥

 

Words Needed
And the fourth flash fic. Arg. This one gave me a right good run around. To tell the truth, I don’t find as much inspiration in writing “real world” stuff, unless it’s urban something-or-other where magic, other dimensions, or something spices it up. (I’m so completely about speculative fiction!) But this one had to stay real.

Best remedy? Personal life.

I was thinking about one thing, which led to another, and then another. Finally, I gave into the concept of a girl discovering paganism very much in the same way I did. Some of the details changed but the essence remains the same. So you’d think it was easy, right, writing from precisely what I know because I lived it?

Nope. Not even close.

This was the most difficult of the four to write! The editing went a bit more smoothly. Still, laying it down … not as easy as I thought. I couldn’t even get the soundtrack right for it – and that’s strange, considering I always manage to find something to play over and over. It’s also the shortest of the bunch. I tried not to ramble. We’ll see how it fares.

 

And that’s how my journey into flash fiction has fared. Right now, they’re in queue for consideration and I’m busy doing some other things. It’s been a thrill, though. I’ll have to try this again sometime.  New worlds to explore and all.


Writer’s Resource: Giants, Monsters, and Dragons (Carol Rose)

 

Encyclopedia of monsters2

Giants, Monsters, and Dragons:
an encyclopedia of folklore, legend, and myth

Carol Rose (2000)

Buy @ Amazon

 

What lay within the bounds of human knowledge and was relatively familiar could be reasonably and comfortably accommodated, no matter what its size. But that which lay outside the bounds of human knowledge was monstrous and awesome. Explanations for the chaotic, precreation nature of the world and the universe, the vast fissures, the threatening geographical features of the earth, the unexplored regions, and the disappearance or transformation of those who ventured into the unknown were accommodated in the concepts of the monstrous. Those beings that existed beyond the human realms of order were the constant threat that challenged the human world and had to be appeased, controlled, banished, or defeated.

– Carol Rose, “Giants, Monsters, and Dragons” (2000), pg xxv

 

I can’t remember when exactly I got this book, or from where, but it’s been sitting on my shelf for a few years. My partner says I received it as part of my Children’s Literature class when I was in university, which isn’t impossible since I received a huge box of books for that one class alone!

In any event, I finally pulled it out to consult it. Originally, I was looking to get some ideas for one of the flash fiction stories I’m working on, Shift. The intention was to obtain a little extra information on werewolves. While I found it, there was more. I came out with the idea to explore the ideas of a were-bear in another flash fiction story, Burden.

And then I couldn’t stop looking. It’s been hanging around my desk while I’ve been working on these short stories and every couple of days, I can’t help but pick it up and skim over it.

I love this book.

Other than discovering that “were-bears” are a thing (despite the fact that I giggle because it’s way too close to sounding like Care Bears), this book is packed with useful information, names, geographical references, and other info. In the introduction, Rose reveals that material was drawn from a variety of sources: encyclopedias, dictionaries (of mythology), ancient and medieval texts, classic literature, folktales and folklore, chronicles and annals of historic events, fables, chapbooks, nursery rhymes, and surveys (genealogical, heraldic, anthropological, topographical). Way cool. It makes me want to have been there writing it with her. Then again, I’m a sucker for research projects … especially any that include ancient texts. YAY!

Reading it reminds me of watching the TV show, Charmed, or Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (the Robert Tapert/Sam Raimi version with Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hirst Hurst) – which is cool because I enjoy those shows. And there’s gorgeous artwork included, taken from a variety of sources, just to give your eyes a break from the text. It’s also easy-to-read and accessible, good for everyone.

It’s a big book and offers a little on everything, including monsters like Champ, a cryptid who is said to live in Lake Champlain between Québec, Canada and Vermont, USA. (A fun little tidbit for me, since I live in the province next door.) And I’m happy to see the likes of Grendel (and Grendel’s Mother) from the ancient tale Beowulf  included. Tolkien‘s Ents and Shelob are in it, too, along with Lewis Carroll‘s Jabberwocky!

In the back are a “Selected Bibliography” for further reference and Appendixes categorizing the beings, including “Beings associated with weather”, “Beings from literature”, “Heraldic beasts”, “Beings by country, realm, or people”, and a long list of others. Useful.

Though I think my favourite thing is how it touches on so many different areas of interest and subjects. History, anthropology, linguistics, geography, religion, spirituality, mythology, literature … it’s a little bit of a lot of things rolled up in one nice, pretty, neatly bound volume that fits well on any shelf without feeling like a brick. It has an international feel, taking the reader on a journey to peek inside all of the different human cultures. This book is one that ties us all together; for as different as we may seem, our monsters aren’t all that different. Dragons, giants, shifters, and similar creatures are everywhere! They might have different names but they share a lot in common. It’s a gentle reminder that while we fight each other and believe we’re completely different, we’re actually very much the same.

Now, I might be terribly biased because I fell in love with cryptozoology as a teenager, but I’d recommend this book to anyone – everyone – in the speculative fiction world who writes about creatures and beings, whether you pen fantasy, horror, paranormal, science fiction … whatever. You know, just in case you need a little help or inspiration. Or if you just like looking at the pictures and awesome names.


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The Flashing Lights of Flash Fiction

Flash fiction.

I read these words and the warning alarms, bells, and whistles start to go off in my head. Probably because writing teensy stories has not been my forté – well, maybe just not my default. Once upon a time, I used to write really short stories … and that was when I was a kid. But when I was about 13, I got it in my head that I wanted to write novels, inspired by one of my favourite authors at the time: Carolyn Keene, responsible for the Nancy Drew mystery series (with warmest thanks to a long list of ghostwriters and publisher, Edward Stratemeyer of Stratemeyer Syndicate). The last time I remember writing something considered flash fiction was when I was 15. Again, for class. Amazingly, these stories were 500 words or less. Except I think that was thanks mostly due to the amount of time we had to craft said stories, which wasn’t very long. It was kind of like pop story-writing: sit down, shut up, and write until told to stop. And I loved it.

But now I find myself knocking on that door again. A new submission call came out this week from my beloved publisher for a few flash fiction anthologies and I’m ready to pounce on them like a strawberry trifle topped with Belgian chocolate. Why? New challenge, that’s why! Well, you know, other than my obsession with writing … but that’s always to be implied.

Yes, I love the challenge. In the last 14 years, I’ve leaned towards writing novels and poetry though I’ve also discovered the joy of novellas. Recently, I’ve been reintroduced to short stories (we’re talking 8,000+ words) and found I haven’t completely lost the ability to write them, either. So, next stop: flash fiction.

In a way, it’s liberating. More than that, it’s a fantastic exercise to keep the writing mind sharp and cleanse the mental palette before launching into longer works (because brace yourselves … there’s a trilogy coming once I get through some smaller projects!)

On further reflection, I think it’s one of the suggestions I’d pass along to aspiring authors and fellow writers: write across the spectrum of length, or at least give it a solid shot. As in 3 times or so before packing it in and deciding what works and what doesn’t. Every length has its own challenges and blessings, with poetry at one end and novel series at the other. Poetry demands brevity and clever word play around imagery, emotions, and other things that draw in the reader. Flash fiction equally demands brevity, though it’s a tad bit more forgiving around the word play but still, you can’t go running off in every direction but pick and choose and cram. Longer short stories and novellas allow for more words, assuming they’re used well, and are great for delving more into characters and landscape. Novels, too, which are perhaps the most forgiving of all – or so I’d say. They still require clear focus and well-pruned language, but there’s a lot to work within the length. Although it’s the length which is one of the most challenging aspects because of the little R word that’s imperative to all storytelling: restraint.

Rest-whaaaaat? I know. It can be a scary word, especially when our characters run off and insist we follow them down the rabbit hole (thanks Lewis Carroll). It’s easy to get carried away when we see “90,000+ words” and the potential it holds. And you know, it’s true for novel series, too. So is the fact that a novel series, while the longest on the spectrum and certainly great fun, is so utterly challenging. It has the added fun of keeping everything straight from one novel to the next which isn’t always easy, as well as making sure it keeps going (but not for the sake of going) while always being fresh and exciting instead of blah and ugh and “Whyyyy?

(And as I’m writing this line and staring at the blog platform, I’m thinking that in our 21st century, all of this is applicable to the art of blog writing. Also a valuable exercise for any author.)

 

Time to Play in the Pool

So, here I go. This week (also known as “from now to whenever this week apparently ends”) I’m jumping into the flash fiction scene. Of the 5 specific anthologies in the submission call, I’m planning on going for 4: paranormal romance, Hallowe’en/Samhain, Pagan Contemporary, and dark/urban fiction. So far I’ve got ideas for 3 which have been slowly creeping into my head since they were announced.

Thanks to Conjure One‘s “Center of the Sun“, the paranormal romance was the first to pop up. I LOVE that song so, so, so bad; partially because Rhys Fulber is amazing and mostly because Poe (aka Anne Danielewski; aka Jane) is a unique brand of awesomesauce that I’d serve with any meal. I managed to outline the story early this morning between naps so now it’s just a matter of putting the fingers to the keyboard and watching the letters fly. Shape shifter, werewolf, and a human girl. Could be interesting.

The Hallowe’en/Samhain anthology is a bit up in the air right now. My original idea, inspired by the song “A Thousand Years, Pt. 2” by Christina Perri, is bittersweet. To be honest, it’s channeling some of my emotions from losing my mum, who was born on Hallowe’en. Not sure if it’ll stick or not. A bit somber but that’s part of Samhain – not all just fun and games.

Still haven’t figured out the contemporary pagan story yet. Feels like a mental 404 HTTP error (you might recognize this as the “not found” error you get sometimes when trying to access a webpage).

And thanks to catching the first few minutes of the local news last night, I think I’ve got a lead on the dark urban fiction. A terrible story about a boy here in my city: 10 years old, locked up in the master bedroom by his aunt and uncle for an estimated 18 to 24 months (read: 2 years), living on 2 servings of fast food a day in a room with nothing but furniture and access to the bathroom (though there was still bodily waste found in the room). Apparently their kitchen was filthy and they have a 9 year old daughter who went to school, enjoyed freedom, and basically got to be a kid.

It’s one of those moments where I think the Tom Clancy quote can be aptly applied:

The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.

Because, at this point, this real-life story doesn’t make ANY sense. The poor kid. Though there’s hope for him. He apparently had two requests: real food and to go to school, even though he’s never been. Something tells me he’ll pull through this yet.

I have to admit I’m interested to see what happens as police and media question the aunt and uncle and trot them out for their trial. Just what possible reason could they have for locking him up for 2 years, while letting their own daughter run around without the same treatment? There’s always a motive, an impetus, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface.

I don’t know exactly where this little tidbit of inspiration is going to lead, but I’m feeling a pull towards telling a story from this type of darkness, possibly from the POV of a girl in the same situation of the daughter. We’ll see what happens.

But then again, that’s the way of all things, isn’t it?