Soap Bubble

Soap Bubble

A typical Calculus problem:

“Given that the circumference of a sphere increases at a rate of 15 millimeters per minute at what rate is the volume changing when the circumference is 120 millimeters?”

One might wonder why this is so important. Well, consider a soap bubble. If it keeps inflating, it eventually reaches a breaking point and bursts. Now I don’t know about you, but the idea of expanding to the point that my insides burst out of my skin is not at all pleasant; if fact, it’s something I would like avoid at all costs. A soap bubble might feel the same way.

Take the soap bubble pictured above. As I look at a it, I notice its surface shimmers with a rainbow of blue, green, and purple. I can see miniature houses and trees reflected and rotated through its origin. I can imagine a tiny head peeking through the window. This soap bubble could be a place that people call home.

Oh, no! What if the bubble bursts? What would happen to those little guys? What would happen to all their tiny trees and houses? What if they are WHOs and I am their Horton?

Going back to the math problem: In someone’s world, finding the rate at which the volume increases is important. For that reason, I would calculate that the volume increases at a rate of 10,942 cubic millimeters per minute.

I think caring for something as fragile as a soap bubble expands a person’s capacity for taking care of other fragile things, like children, friendship, and peace.

Please don’t burst my bubble!

Daily Prompt:Volume

The Muse ~ Part Two

(Or How My Secret Gift Became Not-So-Secret)

In our last episode, a schoolboy discovered a way to learn math from a very-talkative-and-totally-annoying math teacher. During her lecture, he let his mind wander into a trance-like state in which he had a vision. The vision imparted to him perfect understanding of the math.

Well, I not only got an “A” on my homework, I aced the test Mrs. Fletcher gave at the end of the week. In fact, I was the only one who even passed! Cool beans! I decided to do the mind-wander thing again when Mrs. Fletcher launched into a new topic. It happened again; I had another vision during Mrs. Fletcher’s lecture on “Probability Distributions.”

This time, I saw a smooth hill, kind of like the one in Close Encounters, only rounded, not flat, on top. A skateboarder was at the bottom of the hill and was inching his way up the slope. Only this was weird. The dude wasn’t pushing himself at all; he was just gliding along like he was riding a wave downward, only he was going up. An inky stream of liquid trailed from his skateboard and drenched the side of the hill in his wake. He rode the slope of the hill to the top and then rode it back down to the bottom on the other side, all the while covering the hill in black. He turned to me and waved.

“Dude, that was awesome!” I shouted. Laughter broke into my vision. I was sitting at my desk and the students around me were busting up.

“What was awesome?” Jarrod wanted to know.

“Nothing.” I said.

Cynthia turned around.

“Mrs. Fletcher thinks you were talking about her,” she whispered.

I looked at Mrs. Fletcher. She had a pleased smirk on her face. Sick! She looked like she was going to say something to me but luckily the bell rang. I grabbed my books, papers, and backpack and made a beeline for the door. That was a close call. I was glad for the vision ‘cause now I knew what a probability distribution was, but I was going to have to keep quiet about it. Maybe I could put some tape on my mouth if it wasn’t too noticeable.

This continued for the rest of the quarter. For every math topic Mrs. Fletcher taught I had a vision that gave me perfect understanding. “Asymptotic Functions” was Jack-in-the-Beanstalk on steroids. “Logarithms and Exponents” was a Betty Grable dance review. My favorite was “Tangent Line Approximations”. It was a bunch of girls running the fifty-meter dash—naked. I was acing every test.

I felt kind of guilty because two of my best buds were also taking Advanced Math and were struggling just to keep from failing. I considered telling them about my secret gift, but what if it worked for them too? One “A” in the class was okay; it would be an outlier. But what if suddenly there were three A’s? It would look suspicious. So I helped them as best as I could after school in the library and at home on the weekends. Still, there were limits about what Jeff and Carlos could learn the regular way, and the best I could get them to was a C.

Second quarter was halfway through when trouble hit. I was sitting with some friends having lunch when Jeff and Carlos confronted me; Jenny Vue was with them.

“Dude,” said Carlos, “we need to talk to you…privately. Over there.” He nodded in the direction of the basketball court.

“Sure thing, “ I said.

I gathered up my stuff and walked with the three of them in silence to the far side of the basketball court. I had an idea of what they wanted; in fact, I had just about made up my mind to let them in on my secret. But they had Jenny Vue with them. They knew how I felt about her…was that why she was here? Was this to tempt me? I had to be on my guard.

Carlos planted himself in front of me.

“Hey, dude, we want to know what’s up with you. All of a sudden you’re Mr. Math who knows everything, and we know you don’t know shit!”

“Carlos!” Jenny Vue gently but firmly pushed him aside. “Let me,” she said. Jenny Vue then placed her hand on my arm, which suddenly went numb, and looked up in my face. My eyes felt numb.

“It’s just that we noticed that you are doing better than anyone else in Mrs. Fletcher’s math class. It seems so easy for you.”

“Too easy,” Jeff interrupted.

Jenny Vue frowned at him. “Jeff!” She looked back at me and continued.

“We were wondering if you could tell us your secret. We don’t want you to cheat or anything; just, you know, help us out. Tell us what to do, and we will do it. We promise.”

Oh, man! What could I do? Jeff and Carlos were my two best buds and Jenny Vue was, well, she was Jenny Vue. I stood there searching my brain for a way I could tell them what they wanted without sounding like a lunatic. After a few moments of silence, Jeff exploded.

“Man, he ain’t goin’ to tell us nothin’. He just wants to keep it to himself.”

“Wait,” I said. “Remember in Mr. Chavoor’s class when we read Romeo and Juliet? He said not to try and understand Shakespeare word for word but just to relax and let the words surround you? It was like listening but not really concentrating. Well, it’s like that in Mrs. Fletcher’s class. I don’t really concentrate or try to take notes or nothing. I just let my mind relax, and the words seep in.”

“Yeah, right.”

“No, I swear; that’s what I do and somehow I end up understanding the math.” Their expressions bugged me. “Hey, I’m tellin’ what I do and it works for me.” I shrugged. “It might not work for you but you might as well try it. It can’t hurt anyhow.”

We spent the rest of lunch period talking about about Mr. Chavoor, Ms. Hart, and the Great Honk. When the bell rang, Carlos, Jeff, and Jenny Vue had agreed to try out my technique next time they were in Mrs. Fletcher’s class.

It turned out that the technique worked for them, too. One thing that was weird was that none of us ever had the same vision. For example, I experienced “DeMoivre’s Theorem” as a battle between Transformers taking place on a polar ice cap. Jenny Vue saw a series of constellations in which the stars danced around right triangles. Carlos’ vision was of French zombies disemboweling the football team. And for some strange reason, Jeff had a vision of a bunch of girls running the 50-meter dash naked. Hey, whatever works!

We all got A’s in Advanced Mathematics, thanks to Mrs. Fletcher and the visions she inspired. There was no doubt that woman could talk!

Terrible Minds Writing Prompt: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2017/06/09/flash-fiction-challenge-ten-random-titles/

Daily Prompt: Revelation

Multiple Interpretations

PGWodehouse

Mr. Meggs thought he was smiling the sad, tender smile of a man who, knowing himself to be on the brink of the tomb, bids farewell to a faithful employee. Miss Pillenger’s view was that he was smiling like an abandoned old rip who ought to have been ashamed of himself.

P. G. Wodehouse ~ A Sea of Troubles

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse is a master of multiple interpretations. They are the basis of most of the trouble Bertie Wooster encounters in Wodehouse’s Wooster and Jeeves novels. They can also be found in many of his short stories. In a few sentences, Wodehouse can show us more about his characters than several pages of telling us would. He uses the technique of multiple interpretations to perfection.

I think what makes this technique so effective is that we recognize it; many of us probably experienced it at one time or another. Have you, like me, ever been asked why you are angry or upset when you are not? C. S. Lewis wrote that at school he was often accused of having a “look” that invited trouble.

I recently considered the idea of multiple interpretations when Donald Trump, in an interview, said James Comey was a “showboat” and a “grandstander.” Now I have seen James Comey on television giving press conferences, making speeches, and testifying before Congress. I never would have interpreted anything about him as showboating or grandstanding. The multiple ways that people interpret the same thing is a source of amazement and amusement to me.

Donald Trump hinted in a tweet that there might be secret tapes of his conversations with James Comey. I am hoping there are videos. In the interactions between the two men, I have a picture in my mind of who would be Mr. Meggs and who would be Mrs. Pillenger. I would love to see if my particular interpretation is true.

Daily Prompt: Tender

Temptation

Parrish-Willow
It was approaching midnight, and Amalia lay awake on her bed. A week ago, Amalia had formed a plan that she meant to implement tonight. The sounds in the household indicated that the family was asleep. Amalia slipped from under the covers, fully dressed, grabbed her small satchel, and quietly crept down the stairs and out the back door. Tonight she would discover the wickedness inside her soul.

It’s one thing to see or hear of it from another, she thought, but to truly understand it, I need to experience it for myself.

The evil path Amalia had chosen to walk involved stealing some apples from Goodman Anselm. She made her stealthy way to his apple barn, using the moonlight for a guide. A path along the river took her behind the main road of the village and out of sight of any curious eyes. After about twenty minutes she reached the barn. The scent of apples was heavy in the air; Amalia was in such a nervous state, the fragrance nearly made her sick. It will soon be over, she told herself. There was a small door on the side of the barn. It was unlocked, and Amalia slowly pushed it open just enough to admit her slim frame. She shut the door quietly and turned around to face a mountain of apples. Apples everywhere! In crates, in barrels, in careless piles on the floor – more than enough for her purpose.

Amalia walked over to one of the piles and selected five smooth, crisp apples, which she stowed in her satchel. Then she let herself out the side door as quietly as she had let herself in. Following the river path, Amalia set a brisk pace until she reached the large oak tree behind the inn. Although the night air was cool, Amalia was perspiring and not just with the exertion of her walk. Her palms were sweaty and her mouth was dry; both her heart and her head were pounding. If second-hand evil was such a terrible experience, Amalia could only imagine the horrors awaiting her when she encountered her own.

With great trepidation, Amalia bit into the apple and felt…nothing. She frowned and took another bite. The apple was delicious. Amalia took a third bite and felt a lovely sensation thrill her inner being.

There is no doubt, she thought, that this is the best apple I have ever eaten.

As she finished the apple, Amalia became aware of a sense of well being enveloping her. She leaned back against the oak tree and reveled in an overwhelming presence of calm and peace. All was well, very well with the world.

I could stay here forever, she thought, sitting under this tree and eating apples. If I asked him, I am sure Goodman Anselm would give me as many apples as I want.

Amalia entered a happy reverie in which she imagined herself going to her father’s friend and asking for the apples. “I am honored”, he would say,” that of all the apples in all the orchards, you wish to have mine. Allow me to take you into my apple barn so you can pick out the crispiest, juiciest apples.”

Amalia bolted upright. The thought of being given the apples somehow spoiled her happy mood.

I don’t want to be given the apples, she thought, I want to take them myself, just like I did tonight. I liked sneaking out of my room and into the apple barn. No one but me knows what I did. In the morning, when I see Mother and Father, and Anna and Cyril, they won’t know anything about this, but I will. And I will look at them with all my knowledge and keep them in their ignorance. And when I smile at them, they will think its because I thought of something amusing. They won’t know its because I know something they don’t know. I know what evil feels like. Hmm…I wonder if Eve felt like this.

Amalia picked up her bag of apples and stole back up to her room. Once in bed, she promptly fell asleep.

(From The Book of Rhino)

Daily Prompt: Crisp

The Muse

(Or How I Learned to Love Invasive Words)

Dude, that woman could talk—Mrs. Fletcher, I mean. Talk, talk, talk! She talked like a talkative man about anything and everything. I should know because I was in her third period Advanced Mathematics class. Now I don’t know about the mathematics as much as I know about Mrs. Fletcher. I know that she is forty-three years old (her birthday being the same day as Napoleon’s), that she has been divorced for six years (her husband being an emotionally distant, philandering SOB), that she has three children (all girls, thank goodness, so they did not inherit their father’s cheating ways), that she has four siblings (she being the only one to go to college on a swimming scholarship), and that of all the teachers on campus, she is the only one who drives a Renault (having bargained with the dealer for the best deal anyone who has ever bought a Renault has gotten.) Yes, Mrs. Fletcher can talk.

It’s that way all during third period. She talks so much it’s hard to understand the math. She asks a lot of questions but she either answers the questions herself or makes the questions too simple to answer. Now when a teacher asks a really easy question in an Advanced Mathematics class it’s either because she thinks the students are a bunch of morons so she has to spoon feed them or it’s because the question is really hard and when you give the obvious but wrong answer you look like a moron. Like when she asked about the exponential function.

“Okay, everyone,” she said, “Is the exponential function odd or even?”

I knew right away that it was neither, but just to make sure, I tested it. When no one answered, she then showed us a graph of the function on the overhead. Obviously, it was neither. But still not one student dared to speak up. I knew that I was not going to say anything. None of us would say anything. We all knew it was a trick to make us look stupid.

Then Mrs. Fletcher began to talk to us about what it means for a function to be odd and what its graph looks like and what the graph of an even function looks like.

“An odd function is a function that is symmetrical to the…what”, she said, pointing to the origin of the axes.

“Origin?” someone responded.

“Right, the origin. Now does this function go through the origin?”

“Uh, no?”

“Exactly. This function does not go through the origin. So if it doesn’t go through the origin, can it be symmetrical to origin?”

There were a few tense moments of silence before someone volunteered.

“No?”

“Right again. So if the function does not go through the origin and is not symmetrical to the origin, then the function cannot be what type of function?”

“Odd?”

“Excellent! Now getting back to our original question. Is an exponential function an odd or an even function?”

It’s neither, you jerk! I wanted to shout. Why are you torturing us with a trick question? Finally, after several more minutes of Mrs. Fletcher’s questioning, some poor girl in the back finally broke under the pressure.

“Mrs. Fletcher, isn’t it neither? It’s not odd or even, isn’t it?”

Mrs. Fletcher beamed and raised her hand in the air

“High five, sister,” she said, making her way over to the unfortunate student for the obligatory hand slap. “Everyone, Mai has gotten the answer. Let’s give her a round of applause.”

I clapped twice and sat there fuming. It was my answer. I had it all along but couldn’t bring myself to say it because it was too obvious. This is an advanced math class, right? Shouldn’t the questions be hard to understand? Shouldn’t the answers not be so obvious?   Like I said, Mrs. Fletcher talks a lot and with all her talk has managed to make us all dull and stupid. I hate this class. I wanted to transfer to another teacher but my counselor said my schedule didn’t have an opening unless I wanted to drop Theater Movement. No way would I give up my favorite class so I decided to suffer through Mrs. Fletcher’s third period Advanced Mathematics. Then something amazing happened.

The next day, Mrs. Fletcher introduced a new topic, “The Null Hypothesis,” with the following scenario:

A produce manager at a supermarket wanted to know if he should stock more apples or bananas in order to market to women. He took a survey of one hundred fifty customers one day, sixty men and ninety women. Of the sixty men, fifteen preferred apples and forty-five preferred bananas. Of the ninety women, seventy-two preferred apples and eighteen preferred bananas.

As soon as Mrs. Fletcher began speaking, I adjusted the expression on my face, got myself comfortable, and let my mind wander. I just emptied my mind of all coherent thought and relaxed into sort of a trance. Then, as Mrs. Fletcher droned on, I had a vision.

In my vision I saw a large room filled with apples and bananas. The room was in the shape of a barn and there was music playing. The apples and bananas seemed to be dancing together in the center of the room while the rest of the fruit clapped in time to the music. It was a colorful sight of red, green and yellow swirling shapes and wonderful sounds. Suddenly the music stopped and there was a great silence. Then all of the apples and bananas ran about wildly and flung themselves into four large bins.   After much shuffling and jostling the fruit settled down and began calling out, in sweet, tiny voices.

“Eighteen apples here!”

“Fifteen bananas all here!”

“Here we go, forty-five bananas!”

“All seventy-two apples accounted for!”

The little fruits seemed pleased with their efforts and were patting each other on the back and shaking hands. So preoccupied were they with their congratulations, it took them several minutes to notice the shadow of a large knife snaking its way into the room. At the shadow’s approach, the sounds of laughter died away and the apples and bananas beheld with apprehension the outline of the knife in the doorway.

“THIS IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED!” the knife roared. With that, it began scattering the fruit in the bins, hacking and stabbing and forcing the apples and bananas to jump from bin to bin. At length, the knife seemed satisfied and grimly observed the fruit cowering in the bins.

“Now,” it said, “account for yourselves.”

The apples and bananas hesitated a moment as they looked over their numbers in the bins. In thin, reedy voices, they called out.

“Th-thirty-eight bananas here.”

“Twenty-five bananas here.”

“Fifty-four, uh, no… make that, fifty-three apples here”.

“Thirty-four apples here.”

The knife stalked back and forth between the bins. It paused and snatched one apple and one banana from the bins.

“THIS IS STILL NOT WHAT I EXPECTED!” it cried. And with that, the knife hacked at the apple and the banana until they were in two pieces. It then flung the pieces back into the bins. “Now account for yourselves.”

The fruit was in shock. They gathered the broken pieces of their comrades in tender arms and whispered in cracked voices.

“Thirty-seven point eight bananas here.”

“Twenty-five point two bananas here.”

“Fifty-two point two apples here.”

“Thirty-four point eight apples here.”

The knife slowly nodded. “This is what I expected. It makes a difference.”

The bell rang, signaling the end of class. I sat at my desk, stunned, while my fellow students scrambled for the door. The fragments of the vision swirled and vanished like passing smoke. I looked down at my frequency table; it slowly dawned on me that I knew exactly what the null hypothesis was. I smiled as I gathered my things and left the room.

Later, that evening, the vision remained close at hand while I did the homework Mrs. Fletcher had assigned. It was easy. Everything about the null hypothesis made sense. Well, that’s one lesson down, I thought. Only a million more ‘til the end of the semester.

Terrible Minds Writing Challenge: Invasive

 

Litmus Test

Precipice

I’ve been to the edge

And there I stood and looked down.

You know I lost a lot of friends there, baby.

I got no time to mess around.

Van Halen ~ Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love

 

In my innocent youth, I read Lord of the Flies. I read A Handmaid’s Tale and Atlas Shrugged. I read these and other novels, safe in the assumption that I would never mistake their imaginary worlds for the real one. My assumption was valid, but the real world was not.

As I grew older, I discovered that the barrier between the real and the imaginary is not solid but porous. Vampires, zombies, and trolls started showing their faces. I began to put names to their characters. I learned that the imaginary world is no longer a temporary diversion. Sometimes it follows us home.

Now there are some things with which I sympathize most unwillingly because I’ve been to the edge and have looked down.

Note to self: If the word “natty” is out of place in a novel, then it’s probably not a safe place. Tread carefully.

Daily Prompt: Natty

The Slipper Still Fits

Overalls

Life is too important to be taken seriously. Oscar Wilde

Calculus is best studied wearing the appropriate uniform. Not many people know this (if they do, they hide it well.) For students of calculus, the right uniform is a sign of independence; it says to the world, “Yes, I run with irrational numbers and am proud of it.”

Even more important, the calculus uniform reminds the wearer that life is not all limits and derivatives; it’s also integrals. It is particularly valuable if one encounters an indefinite integral in an alley on a dark night. One glance at the uniform will unravel all but the most undifferentiable function. (As well it should; I mean, what is a function doing out at night past its bedtime?)

Of all the uniforms I have worn, the calculus uniform is one of my favorites. Once in a while, I take it out and put it on just to make sure it still fits. It does, like Cinderella’s glass slipper.

Oh, the world is full of zanies and fools, who don’t believe that calculus rules.

And who don’t believe what calculus people say.

But despite these daft and dewy-eyed dopes who haven’t any calculus hopes,

Calculus keeps on happening everyday.

(Rodgers and Hammerstein wore their calculus uniforms secretly. Not many people know this.)

Daily Prompt: Uniform

Black Spot on the Sun

Black Spot on the Sun

Stay away from the light—that is what they all say (or is it “go towards the light”). It doesn’t matter; there is no light to speak of anyway, except from the window.

I can see it all from this great height. I can see myself sitting at my usual table, surrounded by the usual empty tables and chairs. How nice I look, almost as if I were alive.

Wait! What’s this? That couple over by the window…something is wrong! They—I can’t believe it—they are not distant from one another. One could say they are close.

It’s just the two of them, sitting across from one another, face beholding face, eyes to eyes, breath to breath without any shield, any barrier. How can they stand it? Oh, I can’t bear to look.

Yet I feel drawn to them. Perhaps I should edge a bit closer… No! There is no protection. I must remain distant. Stay away from the light.

Daily Prompt: Distant

Imaginary Numbers

The LimitI believe that an artist, fashioning his imaginary worlds out of his own agony and ecstasy, is a benefactor to us all, but that the worst error we can commit is to mistake his imaginary worlds for the real one.

H. L. Mencken ~ What I Believe

In the beginning was the real world, and the world was with us, and the world was us. Then a clever storyteller created an unreal world, and all hell broke loose.

S. M. Hart ~ The Book of Rhino

You just gotta love mathematicians. When they discover something that does not fit the known properties of numbers, they create a new one. They needed something to handle the square root of two so they created irrational numbers. They needed something to deal with the square root of a negative number, so they created imaginary numbers.

What is so interesting about these new creations that they follow so many of the established rules for real numbers. They obediently submit to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They respect real numbers’ properties and don’t trespass on their lawns or trample the flowerbeds. They even do well at parties and never tell off-color jokes. In essence, the imaginary numbers behave as if they were real; that is what we love about them.

I think it’s the same way with writing. If a storyteller discovers a situation that does not fit the real world, he or she creates an imaginary one. You want a dragon terrorizing the countryside? Voilà! You’ve got your dragon. You want your dragon to be nice? Hey, presto! Your dragon is dripping with kindness. There are virtually no limits to a writer’s imagination—except one. We want our imaginary world to behave as if it is real.

If readers do not have some link to what they know, the most imaginative writing in any world will not make sense to them. It’s all “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.” And we would never mistake that for the real world.

Daily Prompt: Imaginary

Author Interview ~ Charley Daveler

Daveler Headshot

Charley Daveler is an American author and playwright, best known for her online series of shorts, Stories of the Wyrd. Writing with a dry humor in supernatural worlds, her fiction tends to focus on the close bonds of two people in their darkest hour. Growing up in Wyoming, she currently moves from city to city, meeting new people and their animals, missing her own little black cat along the way.

  1. You have FAQs and author interviews on your website. What are some things you would like people to know and remember about you?

As weird as it may sound, my biggest wish is people would naturally skim my writing instead of reading so closely. Not because I’m not precise or what I’m saying isn’t important, but because I see the world in a sum-of-its-parts sort of way. I write as I read and describe as I observe, and though I do consider it my job to factor in how other people read and observe, I’ve found that I really love having Easter Eggs and foreshadowing and puzzle parts that people tend to get hung up on.

For instance, I once wrote a now deleted scene (in an unpublished manuscript) where the protagonist runs to his wounded brother hiding in a hut. He steps under a broken door frame and over a stripped engine… and a whole slew of critique partners couldn’t get past why there was an engine in the middle of the hut. Why was it stripped? The question was very much a part of the point. People were supposed to wonder about it, but more or less accept it as a part of the world and continue with the scene until that part of the story became evident. I didn’t do this intentionally. I’m never trying to be obstinate; it’s just seems like a very inherent part of my way of thinking, and it’s a pretty common controversy. I’ve played with it for a while and I don’t know if I will be able to successfully write in this style, but if I was known for anything, I honestly would like to be known for my readers just “going with the flow.”

  1. What do you write? Why do you write?

I tend to write speculative fiction, which is a fancy way of saying something magical, fantastical, paranormal, or plain ol’ sci-fi. When you say you write fantasy, people tend to picture Tolkien, and while I admire him and love the whole Dungeons and Dragons sort of reality, my worlds tend to be lower density magic with less European-inspired cultures, and just a whole lot more humans.

I like to tell people that I write for all the reasons. Which is true. I write to stave off boredom. To feel empowered. To ignite my imagination. To connect with people. For money. For fame. For bragging rights and something to do on a Saturday night. But I suppose the biggest reason is just to have something to look forward to. Writing can make you feel good about yourself and is an amazing supplement when your life is lacking in other areas, or even enhance an already great day.

  1. What are your literary influences? In what way do they influence your work?

My biggest influence both consciously and subconsciously is the Calvin and Hobbes comics. I can see how I write like Watterson in surprising ways sometimes, and there are other occasions in which I intentionally want to create the same effect that he did and analyze the ways he went about doing it.

Douglas Adams and Jonathan Swift didn’t entirely write like how I want to be, but they are my favorite authors and come pretty close to some of what I’m trying to do. Neil Gaiman successfully creates ambiance that I’m looking for, and his magical worlds tend to have rules that are both grounded yet enigmatic. I suppose that if I could write something along the lines of Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle but with a touch more horror and higher stakes, I’d be a happy camper. I love Harry Potter’s iconic world building and over the last year attempted to find ways to achieve that same sort of effect.

  1. You have written plays for theatrical productions, children’s theatre, screenplays, and short stories for journals. Will you eventually add a book to your repertoire? If so, what can you tell us about it?

I just finished my 16th unpublished manuscript a few weeks back. I tend to like writing, but not submitting, and even sometimes editing is hard to force myself to do. For the past four years I’ve been heavily revising a manuscript that I love to pieces, but I’m not sure there’s a market for. I finished the first draft right before the Divergent movie came out and dystopian novels hit their peak. What I am currently calling The Dying Breed is dystopian, possibly best called young adult, and isn’t easily pitchable, even without the issue of trendiness. I’ve been submitting to agents with pretty informed expectations, now turning my focus to other works.

I have two manuscripts that I think are more “catching” but I haven’t done nearly the same amount of revision with. One has an epic beginning that has yielded shockingly positive results from my critique partners, the other has a much more quippy pitch. I plan on pursuing traditional publication for the next few years, but if that doesn’t yield results, self-publishing isn’t out of the question. So yes. Hopefully a novel is on the horizon, but in the literary world, who knows?

  1. What are Stories of the Wyrd?

About the time when I really felt a kick in the butt to pursue publishing, I realized that it would be a while before I could ever have readers even if everything went amazingly well. I had been writing in isolation for so long that I really just wanted to connect with people. Plus, having started getting active in my social media/blog, I was getting asked about where my writing was pretty frequently. I pointed them to the short stories and plays, but nothing was really an example for who I feel I am.

Stories of the Wyrd is a pet project of mine, free online short stories featuring the same characters in a world where humans have to deal with the mystery of a dangerous other realm appearing and disappearing amongst them. It was a means for me to take the stress and seriousness of trying to get published and just write directly for my readers, see how they respond, and just have an author’s catharsis of making exactly what I wanted to without artistic snobbery or commercial value getting in the way. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s romantic, and while I’m still figuring out where I want to go with it, I think it really is a demonstration of the kinds of things I want to do ultimately.

  1. How do Stories of the Wyrd compare with Might Morphin’ Canine Powers? Are you the artist who illustrates them?

I am the artist. I draw all my graphics on my site and social media using a Wacom tablet and Adobe photoshop, although my web comic, Mighty Morphin’ Canine Powers is first drawn on regular paper with Sharpie and then colored on the computer. I use acrylic paints on canvass and watercolor paper sometimes, but I’m not as strong with that medium. Not being able to zoom in is a real handicap.

The tone, I find, is pretty similar. Both feature duel protagonists, male and female, in a supernatural world, and, if I was being completely honest, I haven’t entirely developed Canine Powers’ setting too fully yet and so some of the assumptions I make about it (as I have to draw the background for instance) are similar to how I picture the world of Stories. My web comic is more of a romance, however, and the shapeshifting demon, Levy, is far more reserved, suspicious, and powerful then the altruistic hero Rasmus Kondori in Stories of the Wyrd. Rina Maker has a darker back story than Kaia Kondori, Kaia being far more optimistic, curious, and immature than Rina, though they both are similarly sarcastic.

  1. You are a writer, an artist, and you make beautiful quilts. What is the connection among these different avenues of creativity?

Possibly just being able to do things. I like learning and I often look at something and think, “I can do that.” Then I do it. Poorly. So then I say, “No, that didn’t count. I know I can do this. Let me try again.” Repeat until I actually create something I’m proud of. I believe actually a lot of people think just like me, get inspired just like me, but then have something better to do than to sit and create thousands of crappy projects. Like socialize. Have fun. Enjoy life. Not for me though! Once I put my mind to something, I have the unrelenting compulsion to complete it. I don’t think I’m more creative or focused than most people, I just think I’m more determined to do something when I’ve mildly considered it.

  1. What do you love best about the things you write?

I do genuinely make myself laugh at times. I’ll be reading through something I’ve written long after I’ve forgotten about it and the characters will say the damnedest things. Sometimes in real life I feel like I have no personality at all, but my writing reminds me how bizarre my train of thought can be.

  1. What trends, tactics, styles, or genres would you like to see become popular? What trends would you like to see disappear?

I’d like to see so-called “purple prose” come back, though only to a certain extent. I’m not a big fan of reading too many dense novels and have read writing (by my own hand no less) that was cringe-worthy via trying too hard. But simple prose grates on me sometimes. I like a little bit of challenge in my books, I like to be impressed by a good turn-a-phrase, and I’ve never been a fan of the way Hemingway or Carver work, though I will say I can admire it strictly from an objective point of view. I enjoy over the top, not-so realistic dialogue and a good play on words. Poetry with plot is beautiful. The whole writing at a “fifth grade level” advice is limiting.

In that same vein, I could do without so many of the Hemingway copycats. ‘Said’ is like me at a party. Typically it doesn’t say much and you won’t notice it’s around, but after a while you start asking, “Why is it always there and not actually doing anything?” I DO notice too many saids, especially in audiobooks. I mean, it takes a lot of them, and I’m not saying avoid using them, but the heavy-handed way people insist it’s the only dialogue tag feels completely against what I’d like to be reading. It’s also something that people push as if it it’s the Coca-Cola of the 1900s, the miracle drug that will solve all your ailments when in reality solutions require a whole lot more than a dose of cocaine.

  1. Any final thoughts about writing?

Whether you’re a writer or a reader, I think it’s important to remember that you’re not like everyone else. We want the literary world to be diverse, for people to be writing books that not everyone’s going to like, that not everyone else is doing. The entire point of writing is to communicate, to show a perspective, to share how the author sees the world so we better understand how we are different and how we relate to those that aren’t exactly like us. The number one thing a writer figures out by being read is just how weird he is, and just how normal. It’s shocking the ideas that you think are so bizarre that are actually very common, and the parts of your life you considered mundane that are actually really strange.

This factors in, of course, to the way you critique and edit. I’ve found a problem with critique partners who consider themselves the voice of the people. Some are way, way smarter than the average bear and don’t realize it. Some are less informed. Some are pretty savvy but with a weird sense of taste. But in a lot of causes, I’ve had someone telling me what ‘other people are going to think’ and I knew, having gotten a wide variety of opinions already, how wrong they were. In fact, it becomes a part of the process to explain that I’m asking questions and digging deeper into a criticism because no one else agreed with them, because I’ve heard responses directly contradicting their insisted suggestion, and I’m trying to understand. Their opinion is still just as important, but it doesn’t mean I, or their peers, immediately see eye-to-eye. It doesn’t make them wrong, but it’s useful if they understand that not everyone is telling me the same thing.

As a writer, it’s your job to figure out how weird you are. Sometimes common sense is actually incredibly insightful and needs further explanation. Sometimes something you think is complicated is really obvious and needs less explanation. Sometimes your assumptions are actually inaccurate to other people’s lives. Sometimes you are too poorly informed about something to realize how poorly informed you are. Literature is supposed to be telling us exactly that, so it’s important that before you shut someone down or feel wrong for thinking the way you do, you might prioritize diversity over acceptance.

www.CharleyDaveler.com

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