Tag Archives: fiction

Weekly Update: 7/16/2012

20 Jul

Alright. So now I shall unveil the plan for Caustic Cookies 1.5! Monday will be the Caustic Countdown, same as usual. I’m keeping the weekly update and the book notes, but moving them to different days. Thursdays will be the update, book notes on Fridays. And on Saturdays, there will be a normal post. It can be about anything, but mostly will revolve around writing and reading. Of course, Twitter will be updated daily. On some days, there will be extra, goody posts. But this current configuration will help with my increasingly hectic schedule.

These last few weeks have piled opportunities on top of each other. I’ve been getting jobs and opportunities out the wazoo. For one, I’ve been writing a plethora for Yahoo! while also securing an internship. It’s all extremely incredible and the future looks bright! I’m excited to see what the weeks to come bring!

Articles:

I don’t even know where to begin. For starters, my perfect Text Broker streak is unbroken at 21 articles. 21 articles written and 21 articles accepted! Furthermore, I have also accumulated a double-digit streak on Yahoo! as well. I’ve been writing so much and getting so much exposure! Here are the links to my two most popular articles in order to sample just some of the work I’ve done. One and Two.

My internship has also provided me with a new audience. I wrote an article about the conflict between low and high mileage philosophies in running. It’s much more interesting than that previous sentence, I swear.

Short Stories:

Night of the Living Brain-Dead is still evolving. It has developed into a full-fledged novella. It’s development is rather impressive. The characters are actually multi-dimensional and the comedy is appropriately dark. It actually seems believable and the diction is far from mundane. It’s completely awesome and coming soon!

Poetry:

Today was my first excursion back into poetry. I wrote a poem called “Have I? Am I? Will I? Then I Will at Least Enjoy the Ride.” I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. It’s more dark than my usual poetry but it flows much better than any poem I’ve ever written. So right now it’s just sort of sitting in limbo. Maybe I’ll find a market for it. I’m honestly hoping for it.

Other:

My book, The Dimensional Constant, is finished its final editing. It is now in the very capable hands of my friend Irey who is designing the cover. After that, it will be available for sale! I anticipate the date to be within the next couple of weeks. It depends on how well we collaborate on this project. But we have been close friends for a few years, so I anticipate a quick turnaround.

Hey, this list is never too full. If you have an article you need written, or are in search of a flexible freelance writer, e-mail me at peterlicari13@gmail.com. Or message me on Twitter.

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Post: Honesty is the Best Policy

25 Jun

We writers are in a bit of a bind when it comes to expectations. We are expected to entertain, but society often demands us to inform. I personally think it’s funny that we have to be the mirror of the world and reflect the faults through an ultimately empty image, but that’s a post for another time. What I’m currently musing about, is the fact that we are told to entertain at all costs, but we are damned if we don’t properly inform.

I don’t think it’s a conscious stigma or burden placed upon us. I feel it’s just human nature. People want to lose themselves in a different reality- but not one so different that they feel truly alien. It’s exactly why 99% of extraterrestrials in books and movies have a spoken language and desires for expansion (in either knowledge or territory). Hell, it’s why they even look like us. Most of the time, they’re bipedal humanoids with only a few differences in proportion. Why can’t we just tell a science fiction story as it is in reality? The story would at least fill our quota for information. Well, because we all know that it’d be incredibly boring. What would we call it? “The Story of the Microbe that May (Perhaps) -Probably- Existed Beneath the Rust?” Even the title makes me want to fall asleep!

So what gives? Why is it that we’re demanded to tell the truth but society has such fickle demands when it comes to entertainment? I think this is something that a lot of writers overlook in the pursuit of good stories. See, if life were a rally, it would sound a lot like a grassroots political event. You’d have a bunch of people yelling “we want the truth!” and a heck of a lot more merely listening to the speeches and being entertained by their notions. Now imagine that this is a Tea-Party rally and just across the park is an Occupy demonstration. If they both manage to go for more than five minutes without starting a riot, I’d be questioning reality- but let’s pretend for this hypothetical scenario that they can co-exist. On opposite extremes, and on opposite sides of the park, they’re preaching two truths. Now, common sense says that only one of them can be right. But, at least in this case, common sense is wrong.

Many writers begin their careers under the false pretense that there is only one truth. Usually, it is the one that they happen to prescribe to, but that’s not egregious or wrong. That’s merely human nature. The fault comes when one is unable to accept the existence of other truths.

There is no such thing as the truth. There are merely perspective. Writers aren’t tasked with telling a facet to a single universal truth, we are tasked with telling a truth. We’re not particle physicists; imagine if you had to connect every single fictional work through some sort of unified literary theory. It’s not just improbable, it’s impossible. These books represent entire universes and realities endemically separate from each other. Sure, you can find patterns (I’m a huge proponent of “inter-textuality”) but aside from the occasional similarity, you can’t unify all works. So how else could you possibly tell the “truth” and simultaneously “entertain” unless they are both part of the same process?

The process, of course, being lying.

You have to, have to, need to lie. As a writer, there is no other way. Everything from fiction to articles, you have to put forward a reality that inherently fails to account for the totality of everything around you. Whether you realize it or not, by not creating a comprehensive encyclopedia filled with every possible paradigm, you are lying. You are omitting, you are being (in a sense) deceitful. Now, is this execrable? Of course not! This is the very foundation of writing! Stories, lies, and fantasies! These lies tell the story of a truth, just not THE truth- only when they disregard reality entirely do they become empty lies.

We as writers are tasked with seemingly conflicting mandates. Entertain the masses, yet tell them the truth. It is ironically through lies which we can fulfill this contract with the world. It just goes to show how seemingly paradoxical and wonderous writing can be. Honesty is the best policy, but deceit is the best means of implementation.

Book Notes: Calico Joe

16 Jun

Calico Joe has got to be the most recently published book I’ve written about on this site. Which is fantastic! Considering I’m trying to pen fiction in this modern literary climate, it might be considered advisable to sample things from the last few years or so. It may be the best way to notice trends in the fiction world. The alternative to studying modern fiction is just to take USA Today at its word and start selling erotica considering the “50 shades” of porn  series are at the top of their selling list.

Calico Joe is a first person narrative with two separate time-lines: one during the protagonist’s past and one set in his present reality. Of course, something that complicated can only be handled so brilliantly by famous wordsmith John Grisham.  In a surprising move, the story isn’t filled with the legal jargon that usually defines his works (and that  I, as a government and world affairs major, find interesting) but with something notably outside the bounds of the courtroom: baseball statistics. However, I never felt inundated with averages and numbers; the presence of these tidbits actually added to the overall credibility of the novel. That being said, while nothing happened in a traditional legal format, this story definitely contains characters tried and hung in the court of public opinion.

The plot follows the incredible rise of fictional rookie Joe “Calico Joe” Castle and his tragic fall due to a near-lethal bean-ball while also analyzing the execrable actions of rival pitcher Warren Tracey. The story is narrated from Tracey’s son, Paul, as he struggled to come to grips with the hellish reality that his abusive father  has imposed upon his family. This incredibly believable nightmare includes abuse, alcoholism, infidelity, and intentionally hurling the career-ending pitch at Calico Joe’s skull. Warren Tracey is ostracized by the nation for his inexcusable actions. Paul Tracey goes through life afraid of revealing his last name. Paul decides, as he grew older,  that someone has to rectify the wrong. He goes to his now cancer-stricken father and blackmails him into apologizing to the now handicapped Joe Castle.

What makes this an interesting story to me is that it wasn’t incredibly serious. There wasn’t some earth-shattering revelation, nor was there any fighting for a greater societal cause. Everything about this book was entirely personal. The diction was simple and conversational- like a child. Not an uneducated one, mind you, but  a child who has seen and known more about the world than any other should. This wasn’t the world’s story, this was Paul Tracey’s. Through the spitting of statistics and the reiteration of his childhood memories he became an incredibly believable entity.

Books like this are necessary for aspiring fiction writers to study, especially those who are going to try their hands at first-person narratives. It teaches us about more than just what constitutes good writing, but what constitutes excellent character development. The biggest mistake that most novels in this format make is assuming that the character is fully actualized. You’re writing from the first person, after all. As such, you’re either writing it as a journal/ diary entry or with the benefit of hindsight. Why wouldn’t you know everything that’s going to happen? Plus you, the author, usually knows where the story will end up before you ever put pen to paper. The character is already full developed to you and you subsequently write as such.

I’m just as guilty. My first novel The Lupine Institute (an unpublished work that will never see the light of day) was inherently flawed due to the same mistake. I wrote as the character and he was fully matured from the get. We have avoid spoiling our readers with the full picture in the beginning if we’re penning a traditional, linear narrative. If we don’t we’re doing them a disservice. Character development is just as crucial in creating a lasting story as plot and word choice. While this practice of prolonged development will always be a challenge for authors, Calico Joe is a great model for us as we strive for believability and literary merit.

Weekly Update 5: 6/13/2012

14 Jun

This was a busy last couple of weeks. Luckily, that  wasn’t just limited to my personal life; it also translated into my writing. There are so many things to look forward to in the next few weeks. Heck, there are some exciting things to look forward to in the next few days. It’s such an exciting time to be a writer.

Articles:

Again, the articles have been proving to be quite lucrative. I am somehow continuing my un-rejected streak. Every article I have put forward for consideration has been purchased. Over 90% of them within 24 hours. I’m super stoked! As I keep adding things to my portfolio and experience under my belt, I’m becoming more confident in my ability to produce high quality free-lance work. Soon, I look to expand my skills outside of this particular sector of the market. Soon.

Short Stories:

So I canned “Post Card from Heaven” for right now. It wasn’t really flowing; it was incredibly forced. Plus, sudden inspiration hit me. Maybe it’s from all of the zombie jokes about the unfortunate events recently, but it got me thinking about a dark comedy. It’s a dystopian view on drugs, zombies and human stupidity. It’s a first person story called “Night of the Living Brain-Dead.” And the best news? It’ll be available starting this Friday.

Poetry:

I’ve been surprisingly active with poetry lately. Of course, knowing me, I haven’t exactly stuck with traditional poetic forms…

My pride and joy in the poetry sector right now is actually a gift. I generally don’t write poetry for loved ones (my girlfriend will attest to this. Nearly a year and she’s gotten maybe two). I find that one should create from the heart, not for anyone else. If the heart says to create for someone, I will. But I don’t think that I should be so pretentious to shower my family and friends with poetry because I can. I want it to be sincere. That all being said, this Sunday is Father’s Day. My dad is quite honestly my best friend and confidant. I can (and, sometimes to his chagrin, do) tell him anything and everything. So this year I decided to write him a poem. I’ve mentioned it earlier, it’s titled “The House my Father Built.” Although it’s for my dad, I know that the sentiments expressed can be taken for dads in general. It can be found here. I’m showing my dad on Sunday.

In addition, I decided to have some fun with an eastern poetry style: Haiku. Why? I was reading the paper, and I realized that the opinion section was sponsoring a contest. So I made an entry. If it doesn’t make it, I’ll post it here on the blog as a Caustic Cookies exclusive.

Other Media:

My friend Dj ZeroWolf, has recently returned home from a trip to the Big Apple. Now that he’s home, we may begin a collaborative project. Maybe. It’s still in the formative stages, nothing may come of it. But, then again, something really awesome could.

Furthermore, I’m designing two graphic pieces by the end of this week. One is a picture for “Night of the Living Brain-Dead.” Another is an emblem for this site. That’s right! Caustic Cookies is getting it’s own design. It’s so awesome to watch this site develop a little more every day. I can’t wait to see how it develops as time marches forward.

Other:

I have recently gotten ink! And yes, I was of sober mind when I did. It’s not a visual design; I wanted something  that would remain pertinent for the rest of my life. So I decided upon the phrase “Carpe Vitam.” It’s placed on my right shoulder and designed by my brother Jason.

Hey, this list is never too full. If you have an article you need written, or are in search of a flexible freelance writer, e-mail me at peterlicari13@gmail.com.

Guest Post: Jeffree Howell

25 May

It’s that time again where I extend my hand out to a fellow writer and offer them control over the blog. Today, I leave the reigns in the very capable hands of my good friend Jeffree Howell. I’ve known Jeff for quite a while now; in fact, he and I went to high school together. I always knew he was a creative individual, but it wasn’t until we reaquainted ourselves that I began to understand the depth of his thoughts. He generally prefers a soft, yet brief style- allowing little deviation from the truth he dissects. His diction is congruent with a direct, straight-to-the-point format that is usually indicative of a naive voice. His advanced thoughts and concepts dispel that notion and illuminate the true nature of his words. They are elegant in their elementary simplicity and express a deeper meaning that is usually reserved until the final sentiments. He does not currently have a blog or other means to contact him- other than to search for him on Facebook. Without any further adieu, I present the work of Jeffree Howell

Gone Fishing

There she sits, still as an obelisk in Egypt. Calm as the dirt of Montana. Waiting for that
one nibble at her hook. The fish aren’t biting today. Something seems to have scared them off.
Perhaps it’s me. I’m not a usual sight in this park. I generally avoid nature if I can. Today is
different. Today, she asked me to come. To show me the wonders of fishing. To show me that
even though we are doing nothing, we are always doing something. For us, it is simply fishing.
Sitting here with our poles up watching the lure bob up and down. Yet, even though we’re
fishing, we really aren’t. We are really enjoying the other’s company. Reminds me of when we
met. I had been fishing in my own way. Using lines at pulling on any nibble I could find. She
hadn’t taken the bait. I had had to catch her in a net before she paid any attention to me. Since
then, she hasn’t left my side. This trip was her idea though and I went along with it. So, here I
sit, fishing like I used to and beginning to realize. I was fishing all those years looking for
something that wasn’t there. What I was always looking for was a girl who would teach me more
about myself than about feminine hygiene products. What I had been searching for wasn’t a fish.
And neither was she.

If you or someone you know would like to get some publicity by being a guest author, e-mail me with inquiries at peterlicari13@gmail.com

Weekly Update 3: 5/22/2012

23 May

I was spot on in my prediction last week when I insisted that the now proceeding seven days were bound to be eventful. The best part, though, is that everything that happened this last week was incredible. Everything seemed to just fall into place, as if these last  few days were part of a beautiful cosmic puzzle. I had levels of unprecedented success- I didn’t even receive a single rejection slip! It’s very rare when life seems to coincide perfectly to your aspirations; I guess it was one of those weeks that made me excited for present prospects and for future opportunities. Of course, if I want to continue to improve my luck, I need to continually work hard  to improve my skill set. One must never rest on the accomplishments of the past if he wants to be remembered. It’s a curiosity actually: the more one pushes into the future, the more they solidify their eternal legacy.

Short Stories:

Here again, Eden is taking precedent. I swear, this story is like a stubborn college -grad refusing to move out of the basement. It still hasn’t been accepted by the Yahoo Contributor Network, but it stands a really good chance at being so. The only obstacle is time- and since it is an adversary incapable of acquiring casualties, it’s probably best to just be patient. As per the usual, I’ll post up to the minute updates on twitter.

I think I’m going to call “Jumper” “The Descent.” I think it fits both the theme, subject matter, and epic twist at the end. (Enjoy the link. I saw the post and couldn’t stop laughing about it).

I’m working on another piece now that “The Descent” is done. It’s called “A Postcard From Heaven” and it’s another science fiction piece. It’s sort of dystopian, but the wording flows rather well and I’m hoping that the ending leaves an impact… Believe it or not, I actually got the inspiration behind a 9gag post. I love sites like that- it’s amalgamated creativity all packed into your computer screen.

Flash Fiction:

As I mentioned last week, one of my flash fiction pieces “I asked. He answered.” has been published. For more information follow the previous link or click here to read the story itself.

Poetry:

Finally! Poetry is getting some action! I have accepted an assignment to write a Father’s day piece. What I like is that other than the general theme, I get to choose the content matter. Which is excellent because I really love the artistic freedom given in such a construct. I must confess won’t be entirely original though; I intend to re-write a poem I completed about a six months ago titled “The House My Father Built.” Other than the title and some titular repetition, I intend to completely rework the piece. I’m really excited to pay homage to fathers with this piece- especially my own. I don’t know where I would be without the love and support of my Dad. It’s an honor to be able to articulate that to a wide audience.

Other Media:

A few friends and I decided to create a parody of the famous “Epic Rap Battles of History” series titled “Epic Math Battles of History.” We used it as an opportunity to showcase our inner nerds and put integral calculus against differential calculus. Now, the video itself is actually quite terrible (I won’t even put a link to it out of respect to your brain cells), but I will post the lyrics on notyourcommonlunacy.tumblr.com for your amusement. A friend of mine DjZeroWolf heard the song and asked if I could put some lyrics to a couple of his mixes. I’m seriously considering it too if I have some free time. Why not add song-writer to the repertoire?

Articles:

The article on Yahoo has been accepted- and I even received a few dollars out of it!

The Cracked article hasn’t been submitted yet; honestly I ran out of hours last week. I’m excited to post it and hopefully inspire readers through humor.

Other:

My novel has finally finished its editing and now I move forward towards self-publication. At this point, the only thing remaining is to create a cover and then publish it. I’m debating as to whether or not I should do it myself. Most likely, I’ll end up giving it to my friend Iresha who’s a close friend and a fantastic artist. One has to remember their friends if they want to go far in life. Not only are they invaluable connections, but they’re the people who’ll sit down and trudge through your manuscripts and be your biggest fans. Keep them close.

Hey, this list is never too full. If you have an article you need written, or are in search of a flexible freelance writer, e-mail me at peterlicari13@gmail.com.

Post: I asked. He answered.

19 May

Great news! I had another flash fiction piece published!

Granted, I don’t get any financial compensation but the pride I receive in being published makes it worth it. An old sage once said “if you love something, you’ll do it for free.” And while I’d love to be able to make money writing (hence why you can email me to request my freelancing services), I have no qualms about gaining readership by writing for free initially.

However, if there’s one thing I do hold qualms over it’s the destruction of literature by relentlessly pursuing hidden meanings. Granted, as a writer, I will tell you unabashedly that every piece I write and submit for publication has symbolism. That being said, it doesn’t need to be beat to death by an analytical mob. Sometimes water means rebirth, sometimes it means cleansing. Other times, it means the characters are bloody thirsty. One of the most execrable sins against literature is to distort the intentions of the author by over-analyzing his words. Taking words and applying them to one’s personal meaning is one thing; that’s what it means to be art. Insisting that one’s personal view is somehow the sole intrinsic truth within the piece is egregious. So, in order to solve this and make sure that my meanings are clear to prevent future convolution, I am recording my thought processes and intentions. Not to limit the scope of the reader, but to allow them to understand the piece under a different paradigm and perhaps gain a deeper appreciation of it.

The name of the piece is “I asked. He answered.” And like numerous other flash fictions pieces, the title is imperative. The idea is to set the premise that you, the reader, is the primary actor within the play. When you are the actor, when you are the individual asking the question and receiving the answer, there is a psychological predisposition to feel a connection to the piece itself.

Right off the bat, there is entirely a different speaker presented. Why? Why would I go through all the trouble of initiating you as a character and then put another individual within the spotlight? It seems counter-intuitive. That’s fine. It’s how I want it to seem. But I want for you to feel deeply connected, as if you should be in the spotlight. You should have center stage. Damn it, you deserve center stage! Who the hell does this character think he is? He’s not real, he’s a figment of my imagination- you’re an inhabitant of reality. You’re above this creation. At least you feel that way. I want you to carry this primed sensation of superiority.

But what he tells you is confusing. He explains to you that he is indifferent to being imprisoned even if you would want him to feel stronger emotions. This configurations of sentiments is meant to be primordially empowering. This entity which you wanted beneath you has been revealed to be just that. His insistence that you want more though indicates that you are in control. He may be in the spotlight, but you control the light. His indifference does put you off, but the dualistically open-ended and resolute nature to his first assertion entices you to know more.

His last sentence is what gets you. It’s a sucker punch in twelve words. You realize that he isn’t giving the staunch callousness of assumed superiority. He’s demure in subservience. The spotlight is his prison and you are his captor. You realize here that you asked him a question as a tyrannical overseer. And that he answered as a stronger man than most could ever be.

This isn’t meant to make you feel inferior or guilty. The piece is meant to shock the system with the rapid change between two extremes. On the one hand, you feel primal power and jealousy. On the other, within a few syllables, you feel incredible guilt. This almost immediate transition of extremes is indeed reflected in the title. “I asked. He answered.” Notice how the second sentence is the complete opposite of the first? This is the hint at what the piece aimed for. As I said before, the title is extremely important.

Even the wording primes for this awkward transition. Notice the sharp assonance in the first sentence and yet how it simultaneously refuses to flow. As if it could possibly be what you want, yet it sub-textually refuses to do so. Everything about this piece was designed to simulate the sudden departure of power and the immediate transition between two extremes.

Where you choose to go from here with this play on extremes is entirely your licence as a reader. I hope you enjoy it.