Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Flash Fiction

Annnnd I'm back with more flash fiction for you!

This is also part TBT as what I am about to show you comes from the annals of my Random Scrivner File.

No inspiration today, just falshy fiction stuff.


It was spring, just on the edge of summer, although one could have said it was already summer, but one never said it was really summer until it was and so that is why is must still be spring. Either way, that evening, Miss Abigail Triste of 1456 Pennyworth Lane stepped out of her house with her mother to attend a concert. By any account it was to be dreadful. Not in any fashion due to the quartet playing, but due to the fact that Mrs. Trsite was in no way happy about being snubbed. 

There was in fact a ball that night being held by Duchess Smithweston, the head of London Society and Mrs. Triste’s former close friend. We say former in that they grew up being very close, but upon debb-ing they experienced a breaking as it were and have sense kept in touch only through the faintest of notes. It was however an understanding between the two old friends that when Mrs. Triste’s daughter debb-ed, Duchess Smithweston was to help Abigail along.
Abigail sighed as the hired driver helped her into the carriage, careful about the ruffles on her dress. It was a gift from her father for her return from school. It was pale blue with ruffles of cream at the hem and sleeves. It was by no means extravagant, but she loved it all the same. 
She wore, much to her mother’s dismay, a small watch-like contraption pinned to her breast. The small time-teller, was at once a clock, as well as a great many other things. Most which Abigail had yet to discover. 

The time-teller was a gift from her headmistress upon Abigail’s graduation. It will be a puzzle for years to come, the Headmistress had told her. Having already tried several times to figure out the complex set of locks and hinges, the only thing that Abigail could say about the time-teller was that it told time.  Quite accurately at that, it hardly ever needed winding. 
 There would be no escaping her mother tonight. None at all, and Abigail had so been looking forward to the music.  Lady Worthington had promised her that the finest mechanical pipes would be in use. Abigail was so fond of the strange machines that produced a lovely music all their own. 

“How will we ever expect you to find a suitable match at a concert.” Her mother said the word like it was a vile word of the four-letter variety, which Abigail had only heard at the docks where her father worked. “Your grandfather was a Count! No, we will not go,” Mrs. Triste declared, even as she settled herself into the carriage. Her dark gown of blue with black net overlay, seemed to squash Abigail into a small corner of their conveyance.

“Mama,” Abigail said soothingly.  “We have already hired and paid the driver. Not to mention you promised Lady Worthington that you would be in attendance tonight. What sort of people would we be if we did not live up to our word?” 

Mrs. Triste considered her daughter’s words carefully. “Of course we will attend, darling, but we must consider that we are somehow above this all. It’s our duty, I suppose, as peerage.” 

Abigail fiddled with the small buttons on her gloves. Buttoning them and unbuttoning them. Her mother liked to constantly bring up her father’s peerage. Yes, her father had been a count, a penniless one at that. Mrs. Triste had married Abigail’s father because he was a wealthy merchant and she was a girl with no dowry to speak of.  Let us make no mistake, however, there was money involved but it was in fact a love match.  Mr. Triste was the only one who seemed to not only understand his wife, but also cajole her into submission. A trait which Abigail tried to learn, but had never quite perfected. 

“Exactly,” Abigail breathed. 

The gas lights glowed brightly in the growing dark. Abigail watched the world outside her carriage as her mother prattled on at who was likely to be there. Technically speaking, Abigail was not ‘on the market’ yet. The season would not officially begin until summer and then she could be shuttled from ballroom to ballroom in the hopes of making a suitable match. 
She wanted nothing to do with it. 

The streets of London were particularly busy that evening, but then again they had become this way with the discovery of werewolves and vampires. Not to mention all the other others.  Ghosts, witches, and some even whispered the undead—although all those with a practical mind knew better than to believe in the walking dead— all made their lives in the night.  Abigail was looking forward to her debut in the hopes that she might attend a ball and dance with a werewolf or perhaps even a vampire. Then she might be able to inquire about the transformation process. It had been lightly touched upon in her education, but certainly not discussed at length. Even a proper education respected private matters. If not the transformation, then perhaps what life had been like decades ago. That would be splendid, she thought.  A history lesson from someone who actually lived it.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Music Monday: Soundtracks

I'll keep some of the old stuff. Resurrecting Music Mondays! Because I love alliteration. 

This week and really for the past two months, I've been addicted to soundtracks. This really came about when I hear Joss Whedon talk at school. Yes, he came to my college where I was studying for my MFA. He shook my hand. For a good five seconds he knew my name. It was epic. 

Anyway, his advice was: listen to soundtracks. Since then, I think I've purchased four or five soundtracks and am contemplating the Newest X-Men one. 

So a few quick hits: 

Ramin Djawadi: Falling Away (game soundtrack: Metal of Honor) 

Patrick Doyle: Crewe and the Soldier (A Little Princess) 

John Ottman: The Attack Begins (X-Men Days of Future Past)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Flash Fiction

Sooooo, I love flash fiction; pretty much every book I've written has come from a flash fiction piece.

The process goes something like this: Write 5k on a whim, sometimes more sometimes less. Leave that nugget in my rando file on a computer. Like something about it and dig it up roughly six months later. Write book.

Take a break from book to write more flash fiction.

Flash fiction doesn't have to be long, doesn't have to be complete, doesn't have to be more than a flash in a pan. It's just fun. It's a great way to start the weekend. :)

Today's flash fiction is inspired by this pic:

It's by Michael-C-Hayes (
You can find this pic and more of my random inspirations over on pinterest.

The old bones of a destroyed church arched high over Lo's head. The inky black sky loomed over her punctured by tiny stars. She didn't look at them. There was no point in asking questions of the stars. They were as they always were: silent.

She ducked under the yellow tape line, nodding to a uniformed officer there. People would start to gather soon, the press, the neighbors, the dregs of a leftover society. Since the angels came life had been clinging to the facade of normalcy.

Police officers wore uniforms and tried to keep peace where there was only chaos. Lo was a detective, plunged into the role when no one else wanted it and the department desperately needed one. That's why she was up under the blanket of stars, staring down at the newly dead angel.

Dead. Angel dead. No one knew exactly how they died. There was even a theory that they couldn't be killed. Impossibly strong, miraculously fast, heavenly charged, these winged creatures were not the stuff of dreams. They were the spawn of nightmares.

Lo squatted next to the corpse. No blood. Just a long set in rigor mortis. No pulse, but did these things have a pulse anyway? Snapping on a pair of gloves, Lo took the angel's pulse. None. The skin was rock hard. How long had it been dead? Months? Days? Minutes?

She lifted the edge of the elegant gown the angel had on. Lines spread down her side. Old script written in scar tissue. Lo pulled out a camera and snapped some photos. That was interesting. These things could be scarred. By what? When angels came down, the world had tried everything save for nuclear war. Slowly the world fell, super powers humbled by heavenly force.

Society had stabilized, if you could call it that. Mostly people just tried to go on living. No much else to do. Either get busy living or get busy dying. She'd forgotten who'd said that, but it always stuck with her. A leftover bit passed down to her from her father.

A whoosh of air that made her short hair flap around her face, made Lo pause. She didn't need to look up. The calvary had arrived. The iron fisted angel government. An Arch maybe? Perhaps someone higher. Perhaps not.

Slipping the camera into her pocket Lo stood up. She stretched tired muscles. It had been a long day and a short sleep of a night.

"I'd like the photos, Ms. Riley." The voice was smooth cultured, and completely void of an Earth accent.

"File the paper work and they're yours." Paper works. Systems. Hierarchy. The angels lived by it. Sometimes what you lived by could turn on you.


And that's all folks! Join me with some Flash Fiction!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

On Happiness...Bitterness...and stuff.

Remember how I said this blog is changing?

Well this is change number one. Please be advised there is some mild cursing present.


There is always a question of how to perpetrate characters with disabilities. It's a question that I often get asked because well I have a disability. I'm not an expert and I don't try to speak for a whole population, because as a population we are a diverse group. Our experiences are not the same and in some cases we're so different we can't even relate to each other.

I am however an expert in my experience. I was born disabled and have lived as such for the past 25 years. Also, I will freely admit that there is a level of privilege in my life. I went to a premier medical facility as a child. I saw the best of the best. I have high expectations for doctors in the medical field. I am what might be termed a prima donna patient.

For years I have searched for a character who is just and was just as messed up as I am currently/was as a teenager. While not completely fucked up as a kid, I did have a fair amount of anger and bitterness to the world. It's at this age that I finally realized the world isn't fair, and it's especially, heinously unfair to me.

The one thing that is always discussed is the amount of bitterness a character is allowed to have. I've seen people on twitter request that we stop using characters with disabilities who are bitter. That if perpetuates unrealistic stereotypes. The story of these characters is always how quickly can we--meaning the author--fix them. Take away those nasty feelings and replace them with self love and happiness. Remove the intrusive looks and back-handed compliments and make the character fit perfectly into the world.

Every story, I've read involving a character with a disability tries to remedy them that way. Mostly because most of those stories are about those who become disabled. They are bitter and angry at the world. They are different and the world looks down on them because they now fail to live up to that impossible feat of normalcy. Slowly, usually through a boy or girl--a love interest--they heal. They become a whole person by joining someone else. Their half life is grafted onto someone else in order to make them a bearable part of society. But that's a lie.  How do you heal bitterness?

You don't.

I'm bitter. I can say that after twenty-five years, a year of therapy, happy drugs, and more issues than you can shake a stick at. I am bitter and please, don't take that away from me.

Now, am I going around, verbally lashing people with my extreme hatred 24/7? No. Do I perpetually languish in self-pity and self-loathing and general anger at the world. No.

Still, I am bitter.

I am not 100% bitter, just as I am not 100% anything. Think of it like this: I am 10% bitter and 90% everything else. This 10% is not always alive and kicking. Somedays its buried so deep beneath everything else that no one, not even me, notices it. Then somedays, it rears its ugly head and I am a pill. A horrible, dark cloud of doom and gloom who will verbally take you all the way down town. Then somedays still, I am a pleasant mix. One part bitter to two parts happy--stir until frothy and serve over ice.

You might wonder, Gretchen, how are you bitter? You don't seem bitter. You're a happy person. I have even been called a bubbly butterfly. And again for the most part, I am a happy person. I do love my life and I do have a great time, but it's those times where I stumble and the world around me stumbles that I struggle.

I struggle because as a person with a disability, I experience a different world than most people. I'm told not to be bitter. The working theory of society-and by society, I mean literature--seems to be that I can magically erase these feelings and never have to deal with it ever again. That an ounce of self-love and a boy by my side will change the world. I've read the fairytales, and as my mother used to remind me as a child: I am not a fairytale princess and this is not a fairystory.

For years, I shoved my bitterness away. I acted happy because I was expected to be happy. Society doesn't like unhappy, bitter disabled people. Much like the virgin/whore dichotomy for women, disabled people have a similar dichotomy: you can be "the saint" or you can be "the angry bitch." There is no middle ground and when you try to find that middle ground you get slapped.

No middle ground for you.

I was forced to choose between bitch and saint and for years; I chose saint. Now bear in mind this is not a real question. There was no person standing over me asking me whether I wanted to be this or that. It was simply an expectation by people around me and by society.  I don't blame them for this expectation, but it is an unfair expectation all the same. It makes me ashamed of my bitterness, of the anger I had at an unfair world. And so when I'd have these feelings I'd shove them down, hide them away.

I was perfectly happy going 120% just to be considered normal. When I failed, it struck me big not because everyone fails, but because so often I felt I failed because I could not be better than everyone else and therefore judged on the same level. It was hard and when I let my feelings out, when I showed my friends my bitter side, I got slapped back into my position. So I did what I do best, I compartmentalized! 

People, especially friends, don't like to hear that you are unhappy and unhappy in ways they cannot change. Most of this comes to boys--men, people of the opposite gender, who I happen to find attractive. Because, well society works against me finding a date, finding love. I don't look normal, and trust me in the dating scene, as much as society would like to pretend it doesn't matter--it does. 

When I would start to break down, my friends would say things like: you'll be the girl who at 30 finds the love of her life and then gets married and we'll all be jealous. Or, oh, god, she's starting this again. Or Gretchen, you just need to love yourself. 

I do love myself. I do. But let me break this down for you: this is not Penelope, an act of true self-love does not make you a perfectly normal Christina Ricci. I love my fingers and my missing bones. I even love the cadaver bones that have been implanted in me. I love me. But loving me, does not make me attractive to a society trained to think supermodels are the norm. The discussion of beauty culture is for another post, so back to bitterness!

Playing the saint is tiring. I have listened to people tell me, it's impressive that I work. That I'm their idol. That I'm so strong. For doing what? What am I supposed to say to that? I shelve books for a living, that is not a feat worthy of idolatry. 

This year, I started breaking down my sainthood, letting the cracks in my armor show, being vocal about stupidities in society. It's been hard. It's meant talking very seriously with a people close to me. It's meant being vulnerable in a whole new way. It's meant becoming, at least in part, a bitch.

And I hated myself all the more. 

For 25 years, I was the happy child. The child who could do anything, who didn't mind the constant uphill battle for approval. I am still, mostly, a happy adult. Are there things in my life I would change if a genii suddenly appeared with three wishes for me. Ab-so-fucking-lutely. A new job. Getting rid of my student debt. Healthcare. Notice me not saying I would change who I am--or as society sometimes likes to think of it--what I am. I don't want to change me, I want to change the world's perception of me. To fight this battle, you can't be the happy go lucky girl. You have to have some bitterness, some anger to last in this fight.

I started my road to being a bitch, and that opened up fissures I wasn't sure I could handle. I slipped back into old ways of faking happiness and sinking further into depression. Why couldn't I just be like everybody else? I tried to cover up my new problems, the taste of power that came with anger and bitterness. It wasn't until my therapist told me: it's okay to be bitter and you don't have to let it go, that I began to feel comfortable in my new self. 

Finding the middle isn't always easy. I can slip back into happy-go-lucky Gretchen easily, but bitterness will not leave me. It gives me passion to change the world. Fire to keep telling new and interesting stories. Lives to change, including and most importantly--my own. 

I am 10% bitter and damn proud of it.