Friday, September 23, 2011

Magon the Dragon

My four-year-old son loves stories, and lately he’s been asking me to come up with them out of nowhere.  No books.  No cheat sheets.  Just pure, hardcore freestyling.  So one night last week I ended up telling him a story about a dragon named Magon.  The cool thing is, I also linked it to the Memory Eater.

It also turns out that last week at preschool my son learned about authors and illustrators.  He was really excited about illustrations, especially since he loves art, so I decided to turn Magon the Dragon into an actual story and let him illustrate it.

Without further ado, since it is Friday and I haven’t come up with something funny in awhile, here's our creation:

Magon the Dragon

Magon, a purple dragon taller than the tallest keep in the land, stands before a bookshelf in his cave.  His viper eyes are sunken in, but they jump from painting to painting.  One in particular makes him yearn for the days of old.  He picks the painting up and stares with envy.  His former self, a fat dragon resembling a blowfish, reclines in a field of multicolored flowers while dangling a wagon above his open mouth.  A dozen peasants fall inside.  Such a pleasant afternoon snack.

Magon incinerates the painting with his fiery breath the same way he incinerated the peasant who painted the portrait of him during that wonderful time.  A time when humans were in season.  Now there are only a few hundred left, and they’ve all banded together inside a single castle in the east.  The defenses are too strong for Magon, and as the all skin and bones dragon stares at a painting of him surfing down a grassy knoll with a board made of humans, he realizes that the top shelf may remain empty for the rest of time.

But there is a painting of Magon holding a wand over an open fire, and at the end of that wand is a roasted wizard.  In the background, behind an army of trees, are dozens of sad humans.  And it hits Magon.

“Humans must really like wizards.”

Magon pulls an old wand and book out of a troll skull container.  After doing some boring reading, he aims the wand at himself and says,

“Make me old and frail,
with one hangnail.
Give me gray hair and glasses,
but a hat that will rock the masses.
I’ll wear a robe and carry a wooden staff,
but may my thirst remain to tear humans in half!”

And with the flick of his wrist, Magon the dragon becomes Magon the wizard.


“Ye shall halt!” hollers one of two fully-clad knights guarding the main entrance to the castle.  The knight cocks his battle axe behind his head.  “I am about to decapitate you!”

Magon quickly waves his hands around—one holding a staff—the other holding a wand.

The other knight says, “Why do ye hold both a wand and staff?  Tis overkill, is it not?”

“I couldn’t decide on which one to bring,” mumbles Magon.  “When I left my tent and all.  Over in another land.”

“Wizards are dead,” says the knight ready to chop.  “Magon the dragon roasted and ate all of them.”

Cowering from the blade, Magon says, “But I come forth to entertain the king!  Tis a gift from the last wizard in the land—me, of course.”

The knight with the axe sniffs the air once.  Twice.  Thrice.  He sniffs some more and says, “I smell a dragon.”

Magon snorts as he laughs and says, “You’re silly.”

“No,” the knight says, “I’ve slain many a dragon, and I tell ye, I smell the vile creature’s barf odor lingering in the air.”

Some ridiculously fast pageboy took that information and relayed it to the king and is now back at the main entrance blowing his horn and shouting, “Hear ye!  Hear ye!  King Lumpers desires entertainment, so bring forth ye wizard!”

The knight holsters his axe but not his nose.  “Right this way, you lucky wizard bastard,” he says.  “But heed thy warning—I shall keep my eyeballs ball and chained to ye every move.”

“Even when I’m in the shower?” says Magon.

The knight kicks over a cart full of fruit, and nobody can see it, but behind Magon’s shield-sized beard is the biggest smile never captured in any of his paintings.  The angry knight may desire truth, and King Lumpers may desire entertainment, but Magon the dragon desires a midnight feast of human kabobs.


It’s night time, and everyone is seated in the bleachers of the jousting field.  King Lumpers doesn’t stand from his throne because he weighs over 400 pounds and doing so would take too much effort, so he hollers, “Oh wizard man!  Oh wizard man!”

Magon looks up from the field.  Magon smells the blood of the men who died on the soil.  Magon is so close to fulfilling his dream.  To filling the empty shelf with paintings of him tearing this castle apart.

“Woo me!” the king hollers.  “Woo me right in the face!”

Magon knows a lot about wooing.  Case in point, three years ago, to obtain maximum terror, Magon stuck thirty peasants to the roof of a stable by using spears.  For each day of the month, Magon would eat one of the peasants, then use the spear to clean his teeth.  By the time he got to peasant number thirty, Magon had another brilliant portrait painted of the most horrified human expression.

“Watch this,” says Magon as he takes his staff and catapults it through the air.  The uneven piece of wood wobbles in an arc and ends up clothes lining nine humans in the face.  The lute players play a fail song.  The remaining human audience goes, “You stink!”  And the king begins to eat a pig’s leg.

Magon looks down at his curled, stinky, bare feet and says, “Didn’t expect my opening act to bomb.”  When Magon looks up, the angry knight is holding a decapitated head an iron trowel away from his face.

The knight bellows.  The knight licks his lips.  The knight curtseys and says, “Good day.”  He pauses, then says, “Ye yearns to eat this head, do you not?”

Magon tries to swat the knight away and says, “No thanks.  I’m sort of in the middle of a show here.”

“Well my bad,” says the knight.  He shoves the decapitated head into his pocket and starts to walk backwards.  “I shall take myself into the shadows.”  As he retreats, he points at his eyes, then at Magon.  “Remember—my eyeballs—ye moves.”

“Haven’t forgotten—thanks.” 

In the time that passed, someone in the stands made a sign that reads, “Tis it time to do labor yet?, cause this guy is the privies!” and is pumping it into the sky.  Now people are laughing.

Just blow all of them up with a fireball, Magon thinks.  When they land, they’ll be cooked and ready to eat.  It’s that simple.

Magon shakes his head and everyone thinks he’s loony.  Then I’ll get owned by the guards.  He pulls his wizard hat tightly over his furry face.  There must be a better way to do this, but if I get booed out of here, I’ll lose my chance to slaughter the kingdom. 

Then it hits him, so he plucks his head from the hat and shouts, “Boy!  Boy near my staff!  Would ye be so kind as to toss it back to me?”

The boy does so, and everyone watches with great anticipation.  The king nods to one of his jesters and says, “Thee second time tis a charm.”  He waves another pig’s leg around.

Magon clenches the staff in one hand and cocks it all the way behind his head.  The audience holds their collective breath.  It’s so quiet, the only things that can be heard are insects and farts.

Magon suddenly yells at the top of his lungs, “ARGHHHHHH!” and launches the staff into the air.  The uneven piece of wood wobbles in an arc and ends up clothes lining nine more humans in the face.  The lute players don’t have a song for this fail.  The audience starts throwing tomatoes and battle axes.  And the king is in a food coma.  Someone offers him a piece of candy, but he says the only remedy is a good show.  He also says, “Off with ye wizard’s head.”

The angry knight is on the field rushing toward Magon with his battle axe raised.  He shouts, “Battle on!”  He shouts, “War cry!”  He goes to shout a third time, but Magon aims the wand at him and shouts back, “Unleash an explosion!”  A glowing ball shoots out.  It goes right through the knight.  Right through the crowd.  Right through the king.  Then up into the air and BOOM!

Everyone eats popcorn as the explosion reveals a sparkling butterfly ten times larger than Magon in dragon form.  As the knight is three ticks away from slicing Magon’s head off, King Lumpers yells, “Heed thy attack!”  The king steals some popcorn from his jester and says, “I love butterflies,” and then the crowd goes wild.


After such a wonderful show, the king grants Magon stay in the keep.  It’s the perfect spot in the castle.  Eat all the guards as they sleep, then pose for a picture.  But as Magon tosses and turns in his log bed, he can’t shake the excitement the crowd brought him.  In fact, it’s during this time that Magon leaps out of his bed and then leaps outside his bedroom to come yet again face to face with the angry knight.

The angry knight yawns and holds up yet another severed head.  “Ye know ye want to eat it.”

Magon takes the head and tosses it over his shoulder.  He grabs the knight by the shoulders and shakes him excitedly.  “I really don’t!” he shouts.

The knight yawns again, and Magon and the angry knight become best friends.

Magon skips around the castle, and instead of eating people, he greets them.  He says, “Hi, I’m Magon the wizard!” and they say, “Righteous,” before falling back asleep.  See, Magon always felt he needed to fill his empty shelf with killing, but never did he think of a reusable resource such as happiness. 

The king asks him to stay forever, to which Magon accepts.  He eventually goes on to meet everyone in the kingdom, even a man who says he has a device which can erase memories.  Magon is so happy that he erases the fact that he’s really a dragon.  In the end, Magon lives out his remaining years as a wizard.  He meets an elf babe and has the angry knight as the best man in his wedding.  And he has three kids.  And everyone is happy because Magon the dragon disappeared.  And they spread throughout the land.  And that’s how humans inhabited the entire earth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quick Update/Memory Eater Fashion Show

There are 11 submissions I haven’t made a decision on yet remaining in my Memory Eater folder.  Do they or do they not fit in with the rest of the selections?  I’m debating that now.

I’m also preparing an email to send out to all of the participating artists.  It will include a permission form I’ll need signed in order to include each story’s illustration.

The editing phase will begin next week—WOOT!  Until then, here are two searches people used in the last week to find this blog:

bob ross tattoo
bathroom stall penny loafers

And for your viewing pleasure, here is the Memory Eater fashion show:

This is the literal version of the "hands on" approach.

Not sure what to say here.

Thinking inside the box.

For the kids.

For the fashionable rubber-neckers.

She tried to quit "stuffed turkey".

This one makes me feel really uncomfortable.

Terrible idea?

Terrible idea 2?

Terrible idea 3?

"The mothership will land on Main Street?  Gotch ya!"

Eyeball strainer?


Connected to awkwardness.

Connected to overkill.

The natural way.

The awkward way.

The barbaric way.

The futuristic way.

The hungry way.

The "I'm staring through your windows" way.

Batman's bleached utility belt.

The human mic-check. 


That's all.  Please don’t hate me for my corny comments.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Submissions Closed

I’d like to thank everyone who dreamt up a story for consideration.  I know the dedication it takes to hammer out a good story, so I appreciate every word, even if misspelledJ 

With the flood of final submissions waiting for me this morning, I’ll be hard at work for the next few weeks.  Do note that if you haven’t gotten confirmation that I received your story, you need to email me ASAP so we can figure out what happened to it.

Again, thank you for thinking about the anthology, and I can’t wait to read your submissions!

C. P.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Final Day For Submissions

Tonight at 11:59pm Eastern Time is the deadline for The Memory Eater submissions.  Anything submitted after this time will be automatically rejected.

For anyone struggling to finish, I just want you to know that these people...
...are here for YOU.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me at  Best of luck to those still writing! 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Steps for Writing Success

As writers, I think it’s extremely important that we’re able to balance everything we have on our plates.  From queries for unpolished short stories to book trailers for novels-in-progress to workshops to contests—so on and so forth—it’s important to be able to step back from the chaos and say, “Okay, what do I tackle first?”

The following are steps I take to ensure the maximum quality of my stories.  To eliminate a majority of the paths laid out before me.  To make it easier to get where I want to be.

Stay organized
Neat and clean home.  Healthy mind and body.  Organized folders with clear titles.  These types of systems promote happiness.  You know how the rest goes.

As a writer, I’ve found keeping files in order, maintaining clutter and labeling things properly can go a long way.  But being organized doesn’t just stop there.  I’m also referring to the structure in which we do things.  Outlines, ideas, even notes to ourselves.  What good are these things if we have to spend hours locating and deciphering them? 

The idea is to make the journey ahead flow as smoothly as possible, and with having structure and staying organized, not only will we save precious time, but we’ll also feel better about ourselves.  Sort of like coming home and relaxing in a living room filled with mounds of trash and road kill and lice—it’s not very enjoyable.

Focus your efforts

I’m always catching myself hopping from one unfinished story to the next.  What can I say?  When I’m a few thousand words in, either a new idea pops up out of nowhere, or I lose steam and the story no longer holds my interest.  Thus I dive into a new project.

This is when we need to step back, look at all of the projects going on and choose the one which most fits our needs.  Do we want a story simply for entertaining our friends?  Do we want a story to win a contest?  Is our goal to get a novel published?

My son gets very frustrated with activities he’s not able to complete on his own.  Like certain video games, or pedaling up a hill, or putting together a puzzle.  Once he can’t jump onto the moving glacier in Wolverine, he jumps to building Legos.  Once he can’t put together the pirate ship, he jumps to something else.  The point is, this process becomes routine for him.  He’ll do the same things over and over, failing each time.  But that’s when focus comes in.  I’ll help him work through the frustration.  Through the uncertainty of what to do.  Through the temptation to jump to something else and complete it 50%.  And you know what?  He may not have wanted to do all the work necessary to land on the glacier, but at the end of the day, at least Wolverine didn’t fall into the freezing waters below and sink to the bottom where he suffered a long and grueling drowning sequence because of his enhanced abilities to breathe longer.

Tackling one problem, no matter how hard, will give us the confidence we need moving forward.  That way, when we jump into the next problem, no matter how daunting it seems, we can say, “I did it before, and I’ll do it again.”

I’ve come to learn that when seeking success, we don’t really need to convince others.  We need to convince ourselves, because that’s where we develop confidence, and confidence is important when we’re trying to get published.

Introduce discipline
At one point or another, every author needs a Job Personality to intervene.  A Job Personality refers to how we function at work.  Obviously if the boss hands us a task, we can’t just hand it back half-done and say, “I’m going to work on something better.”

So for our writing careers, we need to introduce discipline to push us over the hump.  You know you want to finish that short story, because you believe it’s your best idea, but it isn’t going to finish itself. 

One thing I do when I get to this point is force myself to open the document and type a sentence.  It’s like getting waist-deep into a cold pool.  At first, you’d never do it.  But once you do, it doesn’t seem all that bad.  Unless you’re like my wife and constantly freezing, then you’re pretty much done hereJ  But for the rest of us, we just need something to get the ball rolling. 

Most of the time we’re not afraid to write—we’re afraid to make decisions.  We write a flawless opening, but then we’re afraid to ruin it.  Perhaps the decision we come to about Marco’s terminally ill dog will destroy our progress.  Which leads us into the next step:

Don’t be afraid
Don’t be afraid to write in the dark.  Don’t be afraid to make tough decisions.  Don’t be afraid to edit.  Don't be afraid of this:

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and receive criticism.  Don’t be afraid to pour yourself into your craft, because eventually, if you dedicate enough time, you will achieve your goals.  Don’t be afraid to do what I’m doing and break rules.  Don’t be afraid of bullies in real life.  Don’t be afraid to be silly.  Don’t be afraid to be dramatic.  Don’t…

Acceptance is key
If you want to be a good writer, you’ll have to accept certain things.  For instance:

·    Your debut novel isn’t going to burst onto the scene as a NYT bestseller.
·    Writing isn’t all fun and imaginary names.  You’ll need to do work—most of the time “a lot”.
·    You will fail. 
·    You will be asked to delete parts of the story you love.
·    You will produce bad stories no matter how hard you try not to. 
·    You will get rejections. 
·    You will be waiting for responses for a long time (even sloths will attest to how slow publishing is).
·    Certain things certain people say will come across as demoralizing.  They will offend you.  You will be inclined to retort.  Don’t.
·    You will want to give up.
·    You will stare at yourself in the mirror, recite out loud your facial descriptions and come up with another idea for a story.
·    You will give up.

If you can accept these things and find the motivation to steer through them, then there’s no doubt you will progress into a better writer.  Once you’re a better writer, you’ll come to learn that as bad as the above sounds, there are positive certainties:

·    No matter how many rejections you receive, a new story clears the slate.
·    Writing eventually becomes all fun and imaginary names.  Especially when you’ve mastered the basics.
·    When you stare into the mirror, you will not recite your facial descriptions because you’ll know that’s a huge cliché.
·    You will set more realistic goals.
·    You will be writing because you love the craft.
·    Anyone can develop into a good writer. You don't need athleticism or contacts or money—only the passion to prevail.
·    In a crowded world, writing becomes an escape where it's just you and the characters you create. Unless you have 39 kids like the Duggars, then you'll never be alone.
·    You will meet others with your addiction.
·    And finally, when you do succeed, it will be one of the best feelings in the world.

As touched upon earlier, every author needs confidence.  We gain this from all of the things we do.  Practicing.  Studying.  Researching.  Reading.  Overcoming obstacles.

Once we’ve gone through the basics a bunch of times (do this, don’t do that), we break off the training wheels and decide there aren’t correct universal rules.  Like NBA players don’t have the same shot.  Famous artists don’t have the same style.  Companies don’t have the same business model.  And as times change, NBA players, famous artists, successful companies, they learn to adapt.

The same holds true for our writing.  Each of us will eventually need to develop a unique voice which separates us from the crowd.  But yet, that voice will need to be good enough to allow us access to the crowd.  What gets us there is confidence, and we gain that from the previous steps.  By knowing we’ll fall.  By getting up and coming back stronger.  By doing what we do even though there may not be a prize at the end of the maze.

Love thy hobby
The bottom line here is, if you just want money, you’re definitely in the wrong place.  Stories need love, because people need to feel emotion when they read your work.  You won’t get anywhere if your work screams, “When can I cash the check?”  And the only way to pull a reader into your story is to make them feel your words.  Make them feel your love of writing.  Of story-telling.

If you love your writing, you’ll spend more time with it, and it will become better.  But unfortunately, nobody can teach you how to love.  You have to find your own way.

So in closing, remember to dive in organized, stay focused, use discipline, don’t be afraid to accept the inevitable, let your passion carry you through the obstacles, and come out with a newfound confidence which will take you wherever you want to be.

Have a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Free Flash Fiction Contest—Win a Kindle!

Over at the Columbus Creative Cooperative’s website, you can now enter their flash fiction “Bland to Grand” contest for free.  First place wins a Kindle while second takes home a $50 Amazon gift card.  For a full list of details and how to enter, click here.