A Blue Happily Ever After

Once upon a time, there was a world in which everyone was very, very sad. All the people in this world were terribly unhappy, and it seemed like there was nothing much of anything to be done for it. A general sense of moroseness pervaded all society.

It was a blue world. Everything everyone saw was blue. The houses were blue, the windows of the houses were blue. The trees, and the leaves on the trees were also blue. Songs were written to commiserate the blueness of this world. It was a very sad, very blue world.

And then, one day, an astronaut journeyed away from his miserable, blue planet, with his blue love interest, and their Blue Tick Coonhound (that ironically was an odd shade of gray with dark colored ears and spots—but it matched the blue world and everyone was too depressed to mention it).

The astronaut finally landed on a new world—it was, predictably, not blue; not that the dog knew any different. Also, as predictable as it was to find a world that wasn’t blue (it was the astronaut’s mission to find such a place) the astronaut was still mostly shocked. His love interest was not shocked; they were mildly awed by the colors, but not shocked.

Yellow sun filled the air, and a light breeze blew the scent of wild flowers through their blue hair. Suddenly, the astronaut and his love interest, even the dog, felt less—blue. Not so very sad. Maybe even a little happy.

The love interest laughed.

The astronaut laughed in response to the love interest’s laughter.

The dog couldn’t laugh, but his tail wagged, and that was cute.

So, knowing this world was happier, the astronaut and his love interest, and their gray dog, returned to the depressing, morose, far too blue world. They talked to Blue World NASA (which was properly funded at the time) and a transplant mission was born.

The blue world wasn’t a very big world, or a very populous world, so it only took about ten moderately sized space craft to move everyone to the new, happier, sun shiny, Not Blue World.

The astronaut, his love interest, their (not blue) dog, and the rest of the blue civilization made it to the Not Blue World, and everyone was happy. The dog was mostly confused, but happy nonetheless.

The End.

This story first appeared in response to a writing prompt on reddit.com and can be found at the following link: 

https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/64vj44/wp_tired_of_all_gloom_and_doom_in_this_world_tell/dg5hnn5/

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Dead Rising

Zane watched as the woman bathed in the frigid river beneath him. The tree he perched in giving him a full visual of her as she splashed the icy liquid against her skin, while the night breeze enveloped her. For a moment, he was thankful that the utilities of the neighboring town had been cut off when healthy humans sought permanent shelter from the diseased, rather than working to keep such civilized accoutrements going.

Her skin seemed to glow in the moonlight. Zane was particularly mesmerized by the water drops that clung to her body as the rest ran in rivulets down her curving hips, and could easily read the tension that racked her by how tight she held her shoulders. She never relaxed, even under his coven’s protection. None of them did, really. He couldn’t blame them, not as he swallowed against the burning in his throat. Scant months ago, he’d be stalking her for a one-time meal, enjoying the sensuality of her bathing in the night, only for a moment, before he made his deadly attack.

A twig broke in the surrounding forest. In unison, they snapped their necks toward the sound, only Zane could hear the soft shuffling of the leaves that followed.

“Damn!” The sanctuary of the river, and his quiet revelry, were abandoned as he leapt from the tree and swooped up his charge. “Thank God you weigh so little, Maria.” He sprinted her back to the safety of the community high school, only yards from the river. He carried her, farther still, into the building’s basement for a fresh supply of clothes from the storage locker.

Maria shook from the cold and fear, and had trouble with the buttons on a yellow blouse he’d grabbed for her. He reached out to assist. She didn’t push his hands away, instead she let her arms fall to her sides in defeat as tears of stress pooled in her eyes.

“Thank you for saving me, Zane.”

“It’s not a favor, Maria.” He reminded her, as he folded down the shirt’s collar, pausing to caress her neck and feel her still racing pulse beneath, lightly gripping her throat, his dark eyes baring down into hers as they widened again in terror.

Her shaking abruptly stopped and she froze in place, her tears drying instantly as the fresh fear gripped her body. He could feel all her primitive impulses rushing to keep her safe. He reveled in it, and couldn’t contain a whisper of a smile as he felt her pulse race faster still. In the school, she faced a danger of a different kind than what she found down at the river, as did all her companions resting fitfully above them behind locked doors and barricaded windows.

The waves of fear that emanated from her served as reminders, to them both, that the alliance between humans and vampires was fragile and born only of necessity. Humans needed protection from a disease born of their precious science and thirst for war, while vampires needed to protect their food source.

“There’s a strict no biting rule in the compound,” she choked out. Her voice trembled in time with the beat of her heart. The whisper of a smile that danced across his lips before grew to a menacing, fang filled, barking laugh.

“The rules exist for our sake, Human Girl, not for yours.” He dropped his hand from her neck and left her standing there wide eyed and alone. He knew she was safe, even in a den of his own kind. Eventually she’d run back to the relative peace of her family’s room and lock the door; a joke in itself, any vampire could break through such meager defenses.

He stalked down a dark corridor, annoyance cloying at him, as he made his way to the pantry refers. The survival of humans ensured the survival of vampires, and as such the coven couldn’t risk succumbing to their own blood lust by drinking from the warm and supple source of their food. Reaching his destination, he walked into the bitter cold of the deep stand up refrigerator and reached for a bag of blood lovingly donated by one of the humans in the herd sleeping above his head.

Zane grimaced against the first sip of the liquid, it tasted vile, cold and stored so far away from its host. But it tasted better than inevitable starvation if the zombies outside infected every human. There were already precious few healthy humans left in this dystopian world.

So, the herd of humans, locked behind the barricaded doors of the high school, were safe; at least from the vampires that needed them alive.

Above is the beginning of a project I’ll  be continuing in the future and you should see more during the coming months. To those of you who’ve encouraged me to continue, you’ve gotten your wish, but the rest isn’t ready yet ;). Like my last piece, it began as a humble answer to a writing prompt on reddit. It’s grown past that for me. 

Remember to like and share. Leave a comment if you have any feedback! I love hearing from you. 

Review of Brad Carl’s Debut Novel: Grey Areas

I first had the pleasure of talking with Brad Carl on twitter, when I was just getting my account started and finding my first followers. Through this entire ‘me trying to review his book’ process he has been the most supportive, understanding guy to talk with. I was supposed to have this review up weeks ago, and then last Friday, and then yesterday… we all see how that has worked out for me.

In the interest of full disclosure, he did offer this book to me for free. HOWEVER, he offers everyone the first book in his Grey Areas Saga for free. And you just can’t beat free. It’s the lowest you can go.

So, I undertook reading it.  And I knew right away that I wanted it to be the first book I reviewed on Amanda Heiser Writes.

The novel opens with Henry Fields moving to the very small town of Gable, Iowa. Please envision corn field after glorious green cornfield. He quickly gets hired at the local gas station and asks to be paid in cash. Across the way is a diner where he meets Claire Mathison, and though Henry is mysterious and certainly shies away from personal details, Claire is very much attracted to him.

The story moves slowly at the beginning. And the action-filled payoff happens quickly. But Brad does well with the characterization of Henry and Claire in the meantime, I’m very excited to read their adventures in the future books (especially seeing as how the first ends in a cliffhanger).

Henry is very clearly running from his past, but the subtle build up and the suspense of waiting to find out what he’s running from was written well. You could also tell that Henry was very practiced at noticing details and categorizing people in the way that each character he meets is described. I’d normally fault an author for showing, not telling, but I really think that it works well in how Henry is developed. It also leads me to question just how long he’s been running, and what kind of background he has. That kind of attention to detail doesn’t come out of nowhere, and I wonder if he’s been trained. I hope to see this explained further as I keep reading this saga.

Claire is straightforward and strong willed. At least in the beginning. Some of her first conversations with Henry really had me rooting for the small-town girl. I was a little disappointed with how she approaches Henry when she’s ready to move the relationship forward. It was a stereotypical weak girl moment, and after being painted in such a strong light, it was a jarring and seemed out of character. I’m hoping to see her strength played to in the next three books. It’s rare to read about strong secondary women, and I don’t want to see her be the classic damsel in distress.

I believe that the next books are set up well. Most of the background information seems to be out front now. This was also Brad Carl’s debut novel; I would expect the pacing to be a bit faster through the rest of the saga as well. I’ll let you know as I read them.

Now, I’m not one for blowing smoke up anyone’s bum; I liked this book. I have every intention of paying for and reading the next three books in the saga. And when there’s a wealth of free reading material on the internet (shameless plug of self-promotion), wanting to pay money for a book by a relatively unknown author matters. You may not walk away thinking you’ve read (INSERT CLASSIC MYSTERY BY WELL KNOWN, FAVORED AUTHOR OF YOUR CHOICE HERE); but I really think, if you give Grey Areas a chance, you’re going to want to read the next three books too.

 

The Way It Feels: Part 1

it’s like sweat dripping

no

pouring

drowning you

like ocean waves

in the very hottest moments of summer

you.

feel.

every.

second.

like clocks ticking

every clock ticking

amilliontickingclocks.

amilliontickingclockssurroundingyouspinningallaroundyou

ticktickticking

your face feels hot-

from the sweating?

NO

that can’t be right

you’re shaking

you’re freezing cold

why are you so cold?

it’s so hot

 you’re sweating

no

you must be cold

you’re shaking

you must be cold

 

your heart is choking the breath from your throat

it beats off time from the ticking clocks

somehow

that’s worse

your mind doesn’t know what to listen too

but

someone punched you in the stomach

you’re heaving

but the vomit

can’t.

make it.

past.

your heart.

so you lay on the floor

your burning face against the cool flat surface

the world tilting

while you shake from cold

your heart beating so fast

and so hard

you feel like you’re dying

you must be dying

your stomach heaves against your protesting body

this is what dying feels like

you must be dying

you can’t breathe your gasping against your hulking misplaced heart while the darkness closes in starting from your peripherals and fading to the center

you gasp

and heave

and clutch your sides

on the cool floor

your face hot

sweating

your body shaking cold

 

 

 

The Convention

Chloe Michaels had spent nearly two hours getting ready for what she’d thought was a local Comic Con. Her friends had bought her the ultimate Harley Quinn costume, it was the perfect blend of comic styles and it fit her exactly how she’d dreamt of looking since she’d learned of the convention. As perfect as her costume was, the day started to shift almost upon leaving her house. In the parking lot of her apartment complex she had found Trent Howard, an odd college classmate, dressed as the Joker, with flowers and a smile that almost surely meant he thought they were going on a date. Her friends had set her up. She sighed to herself. Awkward as spending the day with Trent would be, she didn’t have the heart to hurt his feelings.

She could tell he was as shocked as she when they arrived, not at a Comic Con, but what could only be the largest Clown Convention a small midwestern town had ever seen.

“This could still be fun…” Trent offered, trailing off.  He’d been sweet the whole drive to the convention center, sweeter than she was used to, by a wide margin. He’d let her pick the music, even when he grimaced at her Top Hits selection. He’d turned off the air conditioner when she’d gotten cold, even though he wore a purple suit, in June.  He’d tried his damnedest to make conversation, even though it was painfully stilted when it became clear he’d never actually read a comic before; he’d just really wanted a chance to get to know her. So, she pulled her black lipstick coated mouth into a genuine smile and said,

“Sure! Let’s give it a try.” Taking in the candy-striped fabric wrapped around the front pillars of the convention center, she added, “It looks like a carnival, maybe they have funnel cake.”

After some time walking through throngs of joking clowns, finding a hundred things to laugh about with Trent, Chloe realized just how much fun she was having. But no enjoyment could delay the inevitable for long. Excusing herself, disappointed to be gone for even a moment, she went to find a bathroom. Dazed by her attraction to a man she’d tried to gently avoid for months, she wandered through the convention center, following the signs the best her distracted mind could, and nearly entered the wrong toilet. Pushing a strand of black hair from her made up face, she giggled nervously at an imposing male clown as he scowled down at her from the door frame of the men’s room. Quickly, she turned to the correct door and yanked it open. Her embarrassment lasted only seconds as it was blasted away at the force of the gruesome scene before her.

Frozen with terror, she could only stare at the sight of fresh blood spreading across the tiled floor. The sprawling body of a female clown lay at the center with brightly painted open eyes locked onto the door Chloe stood in, staring passed everything and nothing in view; her long, curly, teal wig soaking up the blood, creating a ghastly ombre.

“Chloe?” She heard Trent call from farther down the corridor. Had she been gone for so long? She couldn’t make herself reply, still spellbound by the mangled body so casually left in the women’s restroom.

“Chlo—“ Trent came up beside her, but stopped short as carnage came into view, she could feel the horror emanate from him and compound her own. As the two stood processing the violence, the body jerked. Chloe leapt to the woman’s side on instinct, realizing the woman must be alive somehow. She looked back to see Trent reaching for her. Had he called her name again? She looked back down at the woman. Had she imagined the dead stare from before? The bloodied clown’s eyes had closed.

Chloe heard a garbled scream and turned in time to see Trent slump away from a clown dressed in a garish red pin stripped suit, its face painted with theater masks on either cheek. A crimson silk cloak dragged behind him, giving him the imposing figure of a villain from her comic books. He wielded a knife forged from her every nightmare, dripping in the blood of her almost lover.

The shocked terror that kept her frozen before turned to a mobilizing panic that had her scrambling backwards, slipping in the blood of the monster’s first victim. Screams roiled in her chest, clawing their way as far up her throat as they could.

She swung her arm at the nearest toilet stall, praying for a way out of her trap, but finding, instead, another mutilated clown corpse hanging from the industrial piping in the ceiling. Now screams did come.

The red clown seemed to float slowly across the floor, stalking her, taking one step for every six thrumming beats of her racing heart. Still she screamed. As the clown neared, with his laughing, crying mouth, twisted by gray paint and prosthetic makeup, he raised his bloodied weapon, ready to strike.

Still, she screamed.

She felt her back push against the cold tiled wall at the edge of her prison. The clown’s knife poised high above her, ready to fall and quell her scream, when the loud bang of a gun fired out, filling the space and drowning out Chloe’s screaming voice.

The clown, face unreadable behind his illusionary grimace, fell onto her, his knife scrapping at the tile next her ear.

Voices and chaos filled the small bathroom as the convention center’s security personnel moved in to take stock of the violence. Voices asked her questions. The clown was lifted off her. She was carried out of the room.

Still she screamed.

This story idea was submitted by R.J. Castiglione, a fellow writer. Check out his author website at https://rjcastiglione.com/ ! 

Sorry the post made it up just a –tiny– bit late tonight. However, I maintain that I did get it up before the final midnight of April 26, 2017. Hawaii is three hours behind Seattle. 

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The Hidden Heart: A Poem

Dear, sweet, Heart,

I see you there,

staring from behind that thick curtain,

behind that bullet proof window,

in that house of brick and steal you built around yourself.

 

Dear, sweet, Heart,

please, just go to the door,

open the top latch,

and then the chain,

and the dead bolt,

and the second dead bolt,

on the steal door you’re barricaded behind.

 

Dear, sweet, Heart,

open that door to me.

Let a small crack of light fall against you,

feel just the tiniest breeze of my love.

 

Dear, sweet, Heart,

open that door to me.

Sydney, The Elf

Once upon a time, there was an elf named, Sydney. Sydney wasn’t really an elf, but she thought she was an elf; and this concerned her mother greatly.

So, one day, Sydney’s mother took her to see a therapist. The therapist asked her,

“Sydney, why is it that you think you’re an elf?” To which Sydney replied,

“Sir, my mother is on drugs. I know that I’m a fully functioning, adult human. I brought her here to see you.”

And then Sydney’s mother went to rehab.

The End.

Once Upon a Winter’s Storm

An introduction so that the below makes just the (tiniest) bit more sense; a prompt inspired this. “Tell Me a story, but include blatant and overbearing product placement.”

 

The earth outside Ron’s window stood as a stark example of why people flock to Walmart before a bad storm. He had braved the early moments of the storm, but he’d made it to the Super Store too late, all the staple items were long gone when he finally made the drive. Thankfully, he’d made it in time to snag the last four cans of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. They were all that stood between him and starvation in the coming 24 hours of blizzard.

Well, he was a rotund man, and had ample food stores, but none of it seemed appetizing at four o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday. So, he’d braved the storm just the same.

He’d made it home just in time for the winds to really get going and the power to go out. But Ron was resourceful, nothing would keep him from his meal. He had fired up his woodstove, grabbed a couple bottles of water from the pantry, and got to the work of cooking up a little bowl of heavenly noodle goodness, right in the copper pot he kept on hand for such occasions.

That’s right, possibilities, right in his living room. He had prepared himself the kind of soup that was so homey it could melt a snowman and leave a small child sitting at your kitchen table. Mmmm Mmmm goodness had abounded in that small copper pot. Ron almost couldn’t contain himself in his bulging red cardigan; the excitement had been that palpable.

And now, watching the snow swirl outside his grand picture window, he ate that wondrous bowl of goodness. It warmed his bones so well it almost felt like a giant snowman was melting off him. Across his yard, Ron could almost see the Campbell’s Soup logo come into focus as the blizzard faded into a deep black screen.

Seattle: A Poem

The further you travel from downtown

the more interesting the shops you’ll find.

But this should come as no surprise,

the measure of wealth falls with the skyline.

 The rent is lower there.

As you travel, don’t worry;

if you ignore the homeless,

while they talk to themselves,

 pressed against tall building sides,

they’ll start to blend in.

And a curious thing will happen;

you’ll lose your humanity (not them).

In this part of town, you’ll notice

there’s a stronger smell of weed.

We all escape how we can.

I’m sure, in the tall glass towers,

with their stirring views,

and unknowable privilege,

the rich escape their gilded prisons too;

the scent of freedom as high as they.

Does the whole world live this way?

Fort Triumph Strategy RPG Game Review

Hey guys! This isn’t the normal post for Amanda Heiser Writes, it’s a guest post by a friend of mine. I’m all for reviews, but I am not a gamer I am horrible at all games more complicated then Computer Solitaire. So Angel Sisson, of TwoGeeksOneCamera, a gamer, a writer, a human extraordinaire, has done me this favor and written up a review of Fort Triumph. I hear it’s an RPG Strategy game, fascinating. 

(Image is from the KickStarter page for the game)

Hello everyone, Angel here! I’m currently writing this blog post on behalf of a company
known as Fort Triumph. They recently approached me to take a look at their game demo,
Triumph RPG -link above-to see what I thought about it.

Now for those of you who enjoy games with a bit of strategy and goofy humor then this
is a game for you. It’s a bit wonky with actual implementation of the fire spell, I burned down the entire village on simi-accidental circumstances, and the strategy part is rather on the nose when scripted but very off in most battles due to rogue AI. I found, after several playthroughs of the demo, that it is a hard game to get far in if you don’t watch your spells. Fire travels quick and you can very well crush your own characters if you target the wrong spot. You need to think carefully before casting anything.

That being said there are a lot of fun little details and ideas this demo did well. There are multiple heroes for one. Each has a separate role and they fall into it very well.
I grew rather fond of the caster myself -cough–flames everywhere–cough- and the barbarian like fighter was fun to kick around goblins with.

The health system was rather straight forward too. You get a small dot counter above your characters that tell you what you have left and, though it disappears on occasion, it can be nice to have when trying to keep up with everyone.

The controls themselves were easy to use and close enough that they make strategy, when it worked with AI, quick and simple.

The best part of the demo, that I found, was the heroes’ little stories themselves. They were humorous and self mocking with just enough snark that I giggled almost every time I played it.

After seeing the game and testing it on several different settings I have a high approval of this demo. For what it is, a uniquely fun concept, it held up nicely even if some of the mechanics did what they were meant to far too well. For those of you who would like to take a look at the game demo yourselves take a look at the kickstarter link found above in the introduction. They have until Tue, May 23 2017 at 2:03 PM EDT to hit their funding goal so if you like what you see then I recommend backing them.

My rating for this demo is 7/10 and one of my recommended games.

Thoryne

Q & A  (for more FAQ, jet on over to the Kick Starter page linked in the intro at the top of the post)

  1. Will there be customizable heroes for the full game? If so will they be preset classes or can you choose?

We are planning to allow players to customize heroes looks and name at the very least, as well as being able to pick their abilities and specialize them to their tactics. There might be more customization if we achieve our funding stretch goals and are able to expand our current plans.

  1. Will the full game have randomized maps?

Absolutely, almost all of the tactical missions will be randomized, some will have greater constraints based on the player’s progress through the campaign, but no two fights should ever be the same.

  1. Will we have talent trees or is the character progress linear?

There will definitely be talents, abilities or skills to pick from, the exact form of our character progression is still being developed. One thing it will NOT be is linear, though.

  1. How long has production taken so far? If uncomfortable with that question no need to answer.

The first doodles of code were written over three years ago, back when the game was a neat concept developed occasionally. However it can be said that full scale development only started once some artists got on board, which means about a year ago.

  1. Through development has there been any parts that you found most enjoyable about working on the game?

We all love gameplay and balance debates best, most likely. We can spend hours theorycrafting and breaking down aspects of gameplay, and often produce basic test builds just to prove our points. Since we started public playtesting it’s gotten even better, with us reading out people’s suggestions and figuring out how they can be made part of our vision.     

  1. Will there be additions to the game after it’s ‘finished’ DLC or Addons? If unsure no need to answer.

            While we are unsure, we absolutely love working on Fort Triumph, which means if Kickstarter succeeds, early access sales go well and we have the resources to continue building our game – we will probably be all over that.

  1. What stage is the demo in? Alpha? Beta? Or is it just a pre release teaser?

Our current demo is a pre-alpha, with a planned alpha period starting after   Kickstarter (once we have full systems prototypes implemented), a beta starting       alongside Steam Early Access, and release coming next year.

  1. Is there anything you’d like to have people know about the game? Anything your team is really proud of?

We’re aiming for a new experience in the genre, and we LOVE the way physics affect the turn based tactics formula so far. Would love for you to give our demo a try, help us gather Kickstarter support, and join our development process with feedback, votes and suggestions.

 

Also find us on Twitter, Facebook, IndieDB, Gamejolt, Steam or Itch.io , or visit our homepage to sign up for newsletters. If you just want to talk, reach out to shay@forttriumph.com .