This blog is a catalogue of my published fiction, a collection of short stories either unpublished or available online, and a discussion of all things writing. Here you will find tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and everything in between. Enjoy.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Update 4: Leeches and Rhinos

Updates! Updates! Updates!

I must first announce here that my science fantasy novel, The Leech World, is going to be published by Hunt Press. It's all still in the early stages, with a tentative release for February, 2014, but get excited because this is happening. I've been working on The Leech World since 2010 or so, and the manuscript actually served as my senior thesis in college. Since then I've been editing it like crazy and shopping around for agents or publishers. Others have shown interest in the book in the past, but I've waited patiently until now, and Hunt Press is a good fit. Expect more updates about the novel soon!

As for short(er) fiction, my novelette, "Into the Light," recently received an Honorable Mention in Quarter 2 of the Writers of the Future contest. I mentioned "Into the Light" in a previous update. I don't think I've ever worked on any story as hard as this one. It's gone through a ridiculous number of drafts, and has grown from around 9 or 10,000 words, still a sizable story, to 18,000 words. Now I just have to find a publisher willing to accept this absurdly long fantasy story.

My short story, "A Hero's Only Request," is going to be published by Deepwood Publishing in their Ruined Cities anthology. As a teaser: this story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where its citizens occupy themselves by destroying microwaves and clocks, which they deem evil relics of the past. Things get sort of insane from there, and I don't want to ruin it, so we'll just leave it at that.

Remember that my short story, "Second Chances," is still on its way; it will be out in December through Another Realm, which you can read online. "The Haunted and the Bereaved" should also be out at some point from Static Movement. When I know, you'll know. 

If you simply cannot wait to read more of my fiction, and you think you'll black out and free all the animals at the zoo if you do not read another word from me soon, there's a backlog of stories on this blog. If you've read all these stories, good for you, but you're fresh out of luck. Remember to free the lions last so they don't terrorize the other animals. It might also be a good idea to ride on top of a rhino, if possible. It'll be harder to catch you. Also take pictures.

Until next time,
Daniel Kason     

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Update 3: Playing with Twine

Twine, for those who do not know, is not just a light string or strong thread composed of two or more smaller strands or yarns twisted together, but a tool for making interactive stories. Some of the best Twine stories are actually games, with the crucial element being the addition of choice. Allowing the reader a set of options through a nonlinear, meandering storyline adds an extra layer of interactivity to the experience of reading. Suddenly, reading isn't just a passive experience of taking in necessary information, but one in which the reader's choices are a crucial part of the act of reading itself. Suddenly, the issue of agency (who is in control: the author or the reader?) is questioned, and the text itself is destabilized, no longer linear and repeatable, but nonlinear and variable.

This is why even the more literary hypertexts composed using Twine resemble games as much as stories. The common metaphors used for composition of stories, like the puzzle, the map, or even the maze, are more appropriate than ever.

As an assignment for my Introduction to Digital Humanities graduate class, I decided to adapt one of my short stories, Dark Creation, as a Twine. The reasons for this were actually quite practical. 1) I noticed that the page for the story on Indigo Rising Magazine's website is no longer active, 2) This was my first published story, and I have no problem desecrating the integrity of its supposed stability by altering the text, 3) I still think the story holds up and thought it the appropriate for Twine for its style, length, and even its message, and 4) I own the copyright.

You can read the finished product itself by clicking Here or by going to the story's page. My adaptation (and I prefer to think of it as an adaptation, even if I made it myself) is by no means perfect. I also did not take advantage of Twine's more elaborate features, such as setting up conditions and variables, but I also reasoned that these features wouldn't be appropriate for this particular story.

I didn't try anything radical, and I kept the story basically linear. It might help to read the story first if you haven't already, but I will provide here the guidelines I followed in adapting "Dark Creation," and what I was trying to accomplish creatively.

The links start off as a set of regressions that the reader could choose to explore if they are so interested. The paths do fork, but always arrive back at the correct (and only) storyline. Things do get interesting as the story progresses, though. I play around with rhythm and the choice of how much or how little text to display on the screen at once. For example, do the words, "That is why I have come to you" not mean more when displayed alone?" I tried to take advantage of this relatively simple constraint. Most significantly, while the links start off as regressions (mere options the narrator/protagonist was courteous enough to provide), eventually they become a way for the narrator to attempt to hide information, to suppress the details and ugly facts he would rather forget. But the story presses on, and while the narrator (self-styled "The Imposter" by the end) still includes these repressed omissions, eventually the story changes gears again, and he becomes proud of these flaws and mistakes. When this happens, there are fewer and fewer choices for the reader, as The Imposter gains confidence and becomes more sure of the way the story is supposed to go. When this happens, the story becomes even more linear, and the possibility of alternate paths disappears entirely, until by the end the rhythm is too fast, there is too little text on the screen, and the links themselves are composed of not single words anymore, but every remaining word on the screen. The nonlinear form of the hypertext thus collapses into linearity, but for The Imposter this is a positive thing. And this is how the story ends.

Now that I have veered into the territory of interpreting my own fiction, it is time for me to stop, but I hope you enjoy my Twine story. I have no prior experience with using this tool, and I'm sure there are issues that remain, perhaps even flaws in the storytelling itself, but like The Imposter, I am proud of them regardless.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Update 2: More Nonsense, Publications, and Foolish Dreams

Greetings earthlings,

I know I haven't updated in a good long while. In the time since my last post, two of my short stories were accepted for publication, and I received a book offer for my novel. I will talk about each of these in turn because this is my blog and I do what I want.

The first story, "The Haunted and the Bereaved," was accepted for an anthology by Static Movement called Deathly Encounters. From what I understand, there have been some issues with the printing, but the anthology should still be out in the near future. For those interested, this was actually one of the first stories I wrote in college. So it's quite old at this point. Looking back, there are probably a few things I would like to change or revise if I got the chance, but it would also be nice to inform my eighteen-year-old self that he got published at long last. The story, about a man who confronts the ghost of his dead father, along with his terrible crimes against the dead, should hopefully be out soon.

The next story, "Second Chances," is another piece I wrote in college, this one towards the end of senior year. It involves the last survivor on a mission to discover alien life, his dead crew, and a second Earth, but that is all I will say for now. The story will be published by Another Realm in December, and will be available to read online. 

Finally, it is worth noting that over the winter I did receive a book offer for my novel, "The Leech World," but I ended up turning it down for various reasons (including the contract, the publisher, ect.). Rest assured, dear reader, that between reading and writing for graduate classes, I am continuing my search for agents and small publishers. I will not rest until my science fantasy novel finds a home. Well, maybe I'll rest a little bit, but only because it's probably not healthy if I don't rest. But that does not diminish my determination to get my novel published! Okay, I think you understand now. I promise to update sooner rather than later. I know you're all dying to see more from me, and who am I to deny your wishes?  


Daniel Kason