Tonya R. Moore's Blog: Tonya R. Moore

February 24, 2018

I think it was Cowboys and Aliens or maybe that Doctor Who episode set in the Wild West that first triggered the desire to bend the sci-fi and western genres. Never a huge fan of westerns, I just let that notion slide to the back of my mind and there it quietly lurked.


When approached with the invitation to submit a western—a strangely different kind of western—I must admit, at first, I was intimidated by the idea. I mean, writing a western was way, way outside of my comfort zone. Still, I was oddly thrilled by the prospect of trying something new, taking that step into the unknown.


At first, I desperately tried dredging up those ever so vague memories of every cowboy movie or television western I’ve even seen. The movie, Young Guns quickly came to mind but I was drawing a blank on everything else. I was, I admit, at a loss for a while. Then it came to me, not exactly in a flash but real steady like water that suddenly comes pouring out of a tap.


It started one day when I was humming along to The Real Folk Blues after re-watching an episode of Cowboy Bebop. I think it was after the ending credits, just before the fadeout, I watched as the nostalgic words flickered on the TV screen “See you, Space Cowboy…”


I suddenly knew that my story would be a sci-fi western and it would not be set on Earth. Almost instantly, my mind reached back to an old piece of flash fiction about shape shifting alien beings on some faraway planet that humans had colonized. I remembered wanting to explore that particular story idea just a little bit more. This seemed like the perfect time.


I started writing and in no time at all, Ephemera, a story about grave diggers leading the charge to re-colonize an alien frontier, sprang to life.


Ephemera is merely one of the thirteen stories in The Nettle Tree anthology. In this awesome collection, tales from the past, present, near future and far future collide. From gun-toting robots to aquarium-bound zombies, I—along with twelve amazing authors—bring forth a medley of colorful characters who delight, perturb, and plumb the depths of the human soul.


Ephemera has also been published in Becoming, my flash fiction and short story omnibus. The digital version of Becoming is free to download.

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Published on February 24, 2018 20:23

Niara’s people inhabit a village within a walled enclosure on an alien planet. Humans must stay within the confines of the wall. The obedient live out their lives and die, never setting foot beyond the great barrier. Heretics dare to discover what lies beyond the wall. When the village chief dies, Niara is expected to assume leadership but to carve out a future for her people, she is convinced she must instead, disobey their alien benefactors and venture beyond the wall. She journeys east and encounters Wendi, tribal queen of the eastern village.


Niara and Wendi forge a bond stronger than blood as they uncover the secrets of their buried history and incite the wrath of an advanced alien force.


Excerpt

Calamity was the oldest word in the language of Niara’s people. It was the word for their old world which had fallen to pieces. They used that word for falling and for failing grace. They used it for the loss of life and for the leaving of love. Two and a half days away from her foster mother’s deathbed, Boabab’s prodigal daughter woke up shaken–from a strange dream and so she; despite her disdain for those who would rely on them; listened to the bones.


The bones telegraphed that one word repeatedly and relentlessly. Calamity–they sang. Calamity had befallen Niara and would soon again and again and again.


 

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Published on February 24, 2018 07:14

Hegira is a leviathan ship, home to thousands of sapient alien races. The ship of legend, left behind by a nearly extinct race of beings called Starchasers, is a powerhouse barreling across galaxies. There are many who seek to take control of this rare jewel, but to rule this ship, one must control her pilot. Sesili, Hegira’s current pilot, is dying. There are two candidates to take her place, Sumida and Laila. These are their stories.


Slumfairy

Bex Atria is many things. Violent. Human. Mercenary. She is one of two billion sapient beings living aboard Hegira, a wandering world of horror and boundless beauty. Bex has lived in the slums of Hegira all her life. She’s done it all. She’s seen it all. Nothing can surprise her.


Sumida is everything Bex isn’t. She is soft-spoken. Inhuman. Sheltered. She’s about to turn Bex’s world upside down.


Excerpt:

Winny always said, she kept forgetting, that she saw things that Bex couldn’t, that some things needed to be explained with words. Bex was only human, and always judged wrongly. Too quickly. Now that her eyes were opened, everything Bex figured that she knew about the runaway Starchaser was being turned upside down.


“It’s interesting.” Sumida sank back down onto the seat of her craft. “Not an entirely bad way to die.”


In the falling light, she was comically mucky, scared and yet she smiled. Stars….when she smiled, everything tilted. The girl was a menace, an irresistible and unbalanced wreck, Bex thought. Were the old Starchasers insane too? Was it this strangely endearing quality that had drawn so many other races to them and allowed them to make a menagerie of their massive ship?


Read “Slumfairy” in Becoming.


Starchaser

Laila sets out across the galaxies alone, in search of the ultimate trump card to help her to wrest control of the leviathan ship, Hegira from those who would seek to steal her ancient birthright.


Laila’s pride and passion war with love, fear and her inferiority complex caused by her luminous rival and soul twin, Sumida.


Excerpt:

The rickety suspension bridge swayed under Laila’s feet as she ran. Way down below, frothy rapids threaded through the lush valley between the two mountains. The shrill cries of one alarm after another nipped at her heels. She kept running full tilt across the divide. She ran until she saw nothing but red.


She didn’t even realize that the alarms had stopped. She plunged into the mist, blood roaring in her head. She reached the other side, setting foot into the savage Wild.


At first, there was only a deathly silence. Then like some dark greeting, out of the thick of the brush rose a creature, the likes of which she’d never seen. The beast was six-legged, covered in bristly black fur with a triad of eyes the color of molten sulfur. The predator’s stare burned with intelligence and hostility across the distance between them. Laila’s trembling hand went for her weapon before she even knew it.


The beast snarled, double edged tongue and fangs glistening in the poor light. The muscles of its back bunched. The creature launched itself at her.


Read “Starchaser” in Becoming.


The Novel in Progress

Laila and Sumida are on the run from Koros and the Merchant Guild, two factions seeking to take control of Hegira. Laila hides on the planet Tilaat Amat, dodging assassins and a power-hungry deviant while waiting for Sumida who is accompanied by the mercenary, Bex Atria and an alien named Klang. The group’s survival will depend on three things: dumb luck, Laila’s talent for weaseling out of a sticky situation and Klang’s penchant for secretly murdering anything that threatens the well-being of his beloved Bex.


Excerpt

Sumida smelled the blood before she even opened the warehouse door. At first, her brain couldn’t even process what she was looking at. In the dim light, she could at first, only make out a bunch of dark shapes on the ground. Then her eyes adjusted. She gasped. She was looking at ruined bodies. Bodies torn to pieces. Blood of various hues splattered everywhere. Sumida’s gut lurched. There was brain matter. There were scattered limbs. There was spilled guts. Sumida knew only of one species capable of killing with such ferocity. This was the handiwork of a Bolen. A real, hardcore Bolen.


One mercenary was still alive. His weak, agonized moans reached Sumida. There was a flutter of movement. Sumida stood there, frozen to the spot, as her suspicion was confirmed. Klang towered over the broken bodies. Klang was four armed, quadruple jointed, and deceptively delicate but all Sumida could see now was a killing machine. A perfect killing machine.


The blood-splattered, alien beast that stood over that last survivor, brought his foot down and stomped the life out of him was a monster, not her soft-spoken friend.


Sumida drew in a sharp breath. Instinct said that if he saw her right now, he’d kill her too. If he knew she saw him, she’d be dead in an instant. She closed her eyes and backed out of the warehouse but not quickly enough. There was a rush of wind. In an instant, the overpowering scent of blood intensified. Sumida couldn’t move. Couldn’t run. Couldn’t scream.


Icy fingers gripped her shoulders so tightly she wanted to cry out from the pain, but she was too scared to make a sound.


“You saw, didn’t you?” Came the deadly whisper.

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Published on February 24, 2018 04:44 • 8 views

February 23, 2018

The main character of this classic manga is a tragic young girl named Su. She lives in a futuristic society where the military has sought out gifted children who possess the innate ability to magically affect technology, achieving incredible feats such as, teleportation and materialization of weaponry at will. Dubbed “clovers,” these gifted children are caged and isolated from other humans, due to the fear that anyone for whom they develop affection, would then be able to use them as weapons to destroy the government. Classed according to how powerful they are, the children are branded with a symbol of the Clover Project. Su is the most powerful, the only “4-leaf clover” ever discovered.


Su has one simple wish: to escape from captivity and visit a place called Fairy Park.



Only four volumes of Clover have been published.  Each volume recounts a different tale of these children, backtracking from the past when Kazuhiko, an ex-military Private Eye and former lover of a dead 1-leaf clover takes Su to Fairy Park to the present day, when Gingestu, a 2-leaf clover became the guardian of Ran, a 3-leaf clover.


Clover was serialized in Kodansha‘s Amie magazine from 1997 to 1999.  Sadly, the story was never completed. The manga was discontinued when Amie magazine ceased production in 1999. Dark Horse Comics released an omnibus of the existing volumes of Clover in May of 2009.


Clover was the brainchild of the famous creative team known as CLAMP–Satsuki Igarashi, Ageha Ohkawa, Tsubaki Nekoi, and Mokona. CLAMP is well known for their visually arresting and idealistic artwork.  The worlds and characters are vibrant and imbued with energetic colors that somehow manage to transport us into surreal fantasies and nightmares all at once.


Clover is a wonderfully cerebral and wistful body of work. Even incomplete, it still counts as one of the most unforgettable mangas that I’ve come across. I’ve always hoped that someday, someone will be inspired to take on Clover as an anime project—someone who will recognize its sheer genius and do it some justice.

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Published on February 23, 2018 21:15

When I set out to write my first horror story, one thing immediately came to mind. It was that episode of “The X-Files” in which Mulder and Scully encounter that red-eyed creature that might have been one of the Conquistadors who came to Florida with Ponce de Leon in search of the Fountain of Youth. My mind drifted back to the last scene of that episode where Scully exits her hotel room and the last thing you see is that red-eyed creature watching her from under the bed.


Tightrope Cat isn’t so much an attempt to recreate that moment as it is an endeavor to capture the feeling that delightfully horrifying scene evoked.


I’m not exactly sure what else inspired this story. There are some tribal elements and, in the story, but while the protagonist suggests that her experience might be steeped in African lore, that isn’t something I know for certain. It’s a purely made up story, concocted from the flotsam and jetsam of my memories and many a half-baked notion.


Tightrope Cat aims to entertain and quietly horrify. I can’t say for certain that it achieves this goal but at the very least, I can confess that among my older works, it’s a definite favorite.


Tightrope Cat is on of the short stories included in my free ebook collection, Becoming.

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Published on February 23, 2018 16:56

February 22, 2018

Claude dreamed that he was back in the old rainforest. He dreamed that he was surrounded by the blanketing moss that crept out of the dark, crawled over wood and swept across the earth under his feet. He dreamed of his dead twin.


He dreamed that her lifeless body was still sprawled half-in, half-out of the shallow end of the river, the soaked hem of her red summer dress bobbing in the inky wet. There was a noise, an awful noise that came rushing into his head. That strange sound followed him down and back up the old road, in and out of dreaming.


Jolting wide awake, he squeezed his eyes shut against sunlight streaming in through the cracks in a wooden window. He frowned up at the soot-clouded ceiling of the shack that he and Caroline Dewitt, an ex-student of his father, had taken shelter in during the night.


Then he remembered where he was: Cockpit Country, Jamaica, a lush expanse riddled with limestone sinkholes, snaky rivers and hoary caves. The terrain was treacherous. This was a land where ancient gods and demons once roamed, a place shrouded in secrets and myths. For Claude, the dark heart of this Caribbean jewel was the stuff of nightmares but this time, he hadn’t just been dreaming.


He’d really come back to this godforsaken place. For the next few minutes, all he could do was lay there trying his damnedest to remember what the hell had possessed him to do a thing like that.


 


Caroline was already awake beside him. She sat halfway unsheathed from her sleeping bag, fiddling with the thick braid into which she’d gathered her hair. How long had she been sitting there watching him, catty eyes lit up with avid curiosity?


“I really wish you wouldn’t do that,” he muttered. “It’s creepy.”


“What were you dreaming about?” She asked, blatantly ignoring his complaint.


Caroline had a thick, lyrical voice, which she’d laughingly credited to her West African ancestry the day before. It seemed a strange assertion coming from one he’d heard locals call a coolie. Her eerily feline eyes bored into his now, searching. It was as if she expected his answer to have some deeply profound meaning.


He didn’t answer.


“Fine,” her fingers stopped working briefly. “Don’t tell me.”


Claude doubted the academic had any real intention of leaving it at that. Her clinical interest and insight were unnerving, left him feeling that she could see things he didn’t want her to see, didn’t want anyone to see. He didn’t like it. Not one bit.


“I keep having these dreams,” he finally said. “I’m always dreaming about this place. It’s like there’s something important I forgot. And I’ve been hearing this… sound.”


“What kind of sound?” Caroline asked, as if nothing else he said was of any consequence.


“I don’t know. A noise.”


The academic seemed satisfied with that answer. She tugged on her sneakers and fussed with the laces. “What are we doing about breakfast? I brought bun and cheese. I could maybe scare up a granola bar if you’d rather skip the local fare.”


Claude wondered whether bun and cheese was really all she’d brought or if she was just amusing herself at his expense again? “There’s canned fruit and soup in my backpack,” he offered.


“Fruit and soup….” She made a beeline for the doorway, chuckling for reasons known only to herself.


 


“Claude!” Her panicked yelp had him bolting right out of his sleeping bag. “Claude, get out here!”


He stepped into the unforgiving morning light. Someone had left quite the grisly gift on the doorstep. An indigo and yellow snake had been killed, chopped into eight pieces. Its head had been piked on a rusty-bladed machete and the crude tool jammed into the hard earth. The ground around the big nanka’s carcass was sprinkled with vivid, red spider lilies.


His eyes settled on one of the hapless blossoms. Was someone else here? Was there someone following and watching their every move?


“Do you know what it means?” Caroline asked, sounding strained. “I know the people here, but I don’t know about this.”


Claude met her worried gaze with kind of a wry half-smile half-grimace. “Guess I’m just not welcome here.”


Not like he needed to be told. He didn’t realize that he was biting down on his bottom lip until he tasted blood. He’d gone numb, couldn’t even feel it.


He bent, grasped the machete by the handle and yanked it up, out of the dirt. He pointed the tip at the spider lilies. “Where do these things grow?”


Caroline hesitated. “Why?”


“They were Tarah’s favorite,” Claude frowned down at the bloodied blade. “There’s no deeper reason.” Not for him, and he got the feeling, not for the one who’d left it at the doorstep either.


Caroline pointed vaguely north-westward. “Roughly a quarter mile on. There’s a whole field of them. They bloom there all year round. Strange thing. They’re not even indigenous.”


“Thanks,” he turned to go back inside. “I can pretty much figure where I’ll need to go from here. You can just wait here, right?”


“Kelvin told me about what happened here when you were a kid,” Caroline said suddenly. “About your sister, the way she went missing.”


“Yeah,” he stopped, back still turned to her. “What about it?”


“Nothing,” she murmured. “Never mind.”


Tarah had died. She’d drowned in the river, deep in these hills. There was no use in talking about it.


 


He found the field east of the main river, where the spider lilies thrived in abundance. He’d brought the bloody machete that had been left at the doorstep that morning. He chopped off enough of their red little heads to fill the bamboo bucket. He waded to the deep end of the fiery flower-sea.


A path to the place where his twin had died was hidden by bramble and brush, but he found it easily. Even if he’d been blindfolded, he would have found it as effortlessly. He stood at the foot of the slippery steps carved into the steep mountain slope. Those steps must have been there for centuries before Claude first climbed them as a teen. He doubted anyone in this country even remembered who had carved them anymore. From there he ascended into the thick of the hills.


The way was obscured by morning mist and the crush of trees. Halfway to the top, Claude stopped. He turned. Seeing no one there, he released a shaky breath. A second ago, he’d been so certain there was someone behind him. Would being right have made him less uneasy? The mountain had gone silent, save for the sound of the wind spiraling down through the trees and a waterfall’s distant thunder. Claude continued. His grip on the machete tightened. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something or someone was watching his every move.


Ancient steps led to an arced tunnel carved into the karst near the summit. Claude stepped into the darkness and was thrust into daylight on the other side of the slope. Vertigo grabbed hold. The steps continued steeply downward. The thick foliage downslope obscured his view of the river, but he could see the radical divide where the verdant valley was split into extremes of day and night.


On the darker side, the woods were blackened by what he was inexplicably convinced had to be something far more fearsome than the shadow of the next ridge. The air was swollen with the cries of birds in the wild, the roars of scattered cascades and gurgling rills. Brimming with trepidation, he descended into the seething maw of the hollow.


By the time reached the bottom, his guts were all knotted up inside. He couldn’t shake that sick feeling. Slivers of that awful day kept battering at his splintered memory.


As the world around him tilted, Tarah had floated to the surface as if unseen hands were raising her body up from the deep. Claude remembered with stark clarity, her lifeless body bobbing in the water. That image burned brightly in his memory, tormented him endlessly. There were gaps in his memory. The crucial moments before and immediately after his sister’s death escaped him completely.


Tarah had been in the water, but Claude couldn’t remember pulling her from the river. He could only remember seeing her lying there against the bank, still partially submerged. He remembered kneeling beside her body, pressing his lips against the dead flesh. He remembered how cold she was, like she’d sunk for hours into the depths before slowly rising back up to the top.


Here he was now, after all this time. Boot heels sinking down into the slippery soft mud, he cast Tarah’s favorite flowers into the murky water. He watched their slow procession into the vein of the river where they were swallowed up by the dark.


What was he doing? Tarah was long gone and she wasn’t coming back. What the hell was he doing here after all this time?


He saw it then, that thing.


The tall, shadowy figure stood upright, expelling air in ragged breaths. It stepped closer to the river’s edge. Claude’s eyes went wide. No way was that human! The horrible realization made his body tremble. The beastly body was completely covered in the breathing moss that grew on everything. It crouched there, the white of its wide eyes spearing across the small distance between them. It flashed Claude a toothy grimace. Had it had smiled or simply bared its teeth? It crouched there watching him, watching him and watching him.


“You!” An indescribable rage bubbled forth. Claude glared into the eyes of his ancient foe. Somehow, he found his voice. “It was you, wasn’t it?” he pointed. “You’re the one,” machete gripped tightly in hand. “You’re the one!”


Brandishing the blade, he dashed forward into the river. The backlash was instantaneous. Some unseen forced knocked him backward, sent him flying. His back slammed into the muddy riverbank. The world tilted, went dark.


Claude let out a choked cry as pain lanced through his right leg. Something was broken. He was on the ground and broken. He couldn’t seem to remember how he’d gotten that way. His vision kept going blurry. He heard footsteps, and then the monster was looming over him. He flailed, tried to scramble away, but couldn’t. He reached blindly for the machete—anything!


He heard it again, that strangely ominous sound.


That awful noise was like a train hurtling by. The earth beneath him shuddered like it was being torn apart from deep inside.


The creature crouched low. The scent of green and rot became overpowering. Pain radiated through every cell in Claude’s body. He couldn’t move, could barely breathe. His eyes failed him. Helpless and terrified, he waited for the fatal blow but the gruesome attack never came. He felt something light and wet fall on his chest. It happened again. It took him a while to realize that they were the flowers he’d thrown into the river, every last one of them.


As Claude lay there stunned, the dark body backed away. The mad noise that filled his head was receding. He heard brambles breaking as the strange one retreated, plunging into the arms of the darker side of the river. It slowly became easier to breathe. Lightheaded, Claude struggled to keep his grasp on consciousness.


 


When he came to again, Caroline was with him. She was seated on the muddy ground beside him with her knees drawn up to her chin.


He tried to move. Pain radiated through every cell in his body. He bit down on a hoarse yelp.


“Keep still,” Caroline ordered. “I called for help but they’ll be a while and I don’t know how badly you were hurt.”


“I told you not to come,” Claude croaked but he was grateful for her presence.


She’d bandaged his leg with a section of her shirt, using skinny limbs from a nearby tree as a splint for his leg. The rest, she’d used on her own hand. There was blood soaking through the fabric wrapped around the space between her forefinger and thumb.


She noticed where he was looking. “Nothing serious. I just got a bit careless.”


“Caroline…”


“What happened?” She drilled. “You didn’t come back down, so I followed even though you didn’t want me to. Good thing I–”


“Did you see it?” he demanded, still dazed.


Caroline’s brow furrowed. “See what?”


“That thing!” He bit out impatiently. “It was here. It was right here. I thought it was going to kill me but it didn’t.” He looked to his companion helplessly. “I don’t know why it didn’t.”


Caroline’s expression was odd but she only shook her head. “If there was something here, it was gone by the time I came.”


The tributary had widened. Because of the quake, the water was and ruddy from the topsoil that had tumbled over the bank and spiraling down into a whirlpool. Soon, there would only be a gaping cavity where the dark water once flowed.


“I don’t get it.” he reached out for one of the wilting red flowers. “All it did was give these back to me.”


If that thing—whatever it was—had killed his sister, wouldn’t it have killed him too? How had Tarah really ended up in the river?


“I couldn’t remember. Still can’t,” he murmured. “What if all I did that day was just stand here and watch her die?”


Caroline was staring at him strangely again.


“What?”


“It’s just,” her fingers curled into the wet earth. “You keep talking like the day you found Tarah was the day she died.”


“Well, yeah. She wanted to show me this really cool place she’d found. We came here.” He swallowed, but just couldn’t dislodge that painful lump in his throat. “Then everything went to hell.”


“I’m telling you, that’s not possible.” Caroline rummaged around in her backpack. “Claude,” she asked. “Know anything about this island’s history?”


“Just the textbook stuff.”


“This island has seen a lot of death,” the scholar explained. “That was long before the likes of Columbus reached the West Indies. The people who lived here his time were the Taino but they weren’t the first.”


“I know at least that bit,” Claude scoffed. “Before that, there were the…?”


“The Ciboney,” Caroline supplied with a brief grin. “Before them, the Igneri inhabited the island. Before that—who knows? For a long time, this island’s history was a repeating pattern of people settling here, and then vanishing from the face of the earth. It happened again and again. No one know how long this kept happening, or why.”


“Then the Taino settled. You probably know the rest. The Europeans came, bringing disease and slavery. It didn’t take long to wipe out the native population. Well,” Caroline clarified. “Some managed to escape into these lands.”


Claude peered into the darkness across the now raging river. Rampant moss and shadowy foliage masked whatever secrets Cockpit Country kept. What had become of the runaway Taino? What had they found waiting here?


“I don’t understand what any of this has to do with my sister,” he finally said.


“I looked into it before agreeing to take you here, you know.” From her backpack, Caroline produced a worn notebook. She flipped through the pages. “By all accounts—except yours—Tarah went missing. She’d already been missing for three days when you found her body in the river. You say she was with you the whole time but Claude, no one else remembers that. Not Kelvin. Not your mother. I mean no one.”


“That’s insane!” He shook his head. “That doesn’t even make any sense. I remember. I remember every second of it. She was here. She was—hell.” His head hurt. It felt hot inside his skull. It felt wrong, so wrong. “You think I’m just making this up?”


“No,” Caroline firmly denied. “I don’t think that at all.”


“Then what?” He demanded harshly. “Am I going insane?” He asked, and just couldn’t dull that bitter edge to his words. “Then maybe my mom isn’t the only one who belongs in a–“


“That’s not what I’m saying at all.” Caroline cut him off before he could finish that tirade. “I do believe you. I believe it happened. Everything. Just as you said.”


“Then what?” Claude didn’t know what to think now. “What exactly are you getting at?”


“I’ve heard a few old stories; they all went down pretty much to the same tune.” Caroline stuck the notebook back into her backpack. He was dazzled by the light streaming down and lighting up her liquid-amber irises. “The older locals avoid this area. It’s too unnerving for them.”


“Ridiculous,” Claude muttered. “Do you really expect me to buy into that garbage?”


“Can you deny it?” Caroline challenged. Her fascination and envy were palpable. “Can you honestly deny it, after you’ve actually lived it?”


Claude’s protest died in his throat, as he contemplated the horrifying possibility. For three days—all those years ago–there had been something living and breathing beside him. Something no one else could see.


Had Tarah encountered some forgotten relic of the Tainos’ tragic history or was the creature he tried to confront something much more primitive? What about the one who’d led him here in the first place? Had that been his sister or not?


Claude shuddered. “I just can’t make any sense of this.”


“You don’t get to make sense of it,” Caroline snorted sympathetically, prying the muddy flower from his trembling fingers. “You just make your peace with it.”


Scores of doomed crawfish and river fish writhed and twisted in the thickening mud. This branch of the river was gone, had slipped away through the crack the quake had made in the earth. Gone like Tarah. Gone like the atavic beast that had waited for Claude on the darker side of the river.


Burrowing deep down into the bones of the earth, Black River twisted sinuously through the heart of Cockpit Country.

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Published on February 22, 2018 16:14

It is with regret that I must announce the shut-down of www.specfics.com. Spec Fics was community for fans and creators of speculative fiction. The Spec Fics community was designed around the idea that creators and fans need to interact and collaborate. We made it very easy for members to promote themselves and their work or interests in several ways.


Authors, artists, and bloggers were able to create pages with links to their homepages or blogs. Authors could create pages for their books. Bloggers could create pages for their blogs or podcasts. Members could create groups. The community was basically a social network that gave each page and group a wall that owners and audiences could posts to and deliver updates or carry on a conversation.


Unfortunately, I have not been able to dedicate the time and effort required to make a successful community of it and I don’t anticipate that I will any time soon. It was a hard decision but I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I can’t really justify the expense of running a website that I don’t really have the wherewithal to maintain or update.


I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who had signed up, were active, and submitted flash fiction to the site for injecting some life into the community.


I wish you all success in your endeavors.

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Published on February 22, 2018 05:02

Mushishi is the title of an anime that I watched sometime ago. The anime is derived from the eponymous manga by Yuki Urushibara. This transporting story has spawned two anime series and a live-action movie. Mushishi occupies an imaginary timeline set somewhere between Japan’s Edo and Meiji periods, against a backdrop of lush mountains, seething valleys and quaint seaside villages.



The premise of Mushishi is eerie and difficult for me to explain.


Consider existence as a whole. Say there is a part of existence called life and another part called non-life. Between the two, there is a vague and primitive third existence which is neither alive nor not-alive.


This is as close as I can come to defining that which is called the “mushi” in my own words.



The mushi are a ghostly and ever-present existence. Diverse, ethereal and supernatural, the mimic both living and non-living things. People. Insects. Rainbows. Bodies of water. You name it.


Most humans are oblivious to the presence of the mushi. The few who encounter them are bedeviled, transformed or even spirited away.


Each poignant tale in Mushishi revolves around different characters and types of mushi.


Ginko, the protagonist, is a mushishi (a mushi master/researcher). He himself has been infected and forever transformed by the mushi. The mushi are attracted to Ginko’s existence. They gather to him like bugs to a light. For this reason, he can never remain in one place for too long.


Ginko leads a nomadic life. Traveling on foot from village to village, he renders aid and advice to some of those who have been adversely affected by the mushi.


Others, he is powerless to help, and he listens to their stories in order to gain new understanding of how the mushi interact with the human world.

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Published on February 22, 2018 03:50

February 20, 2018

The digital version of BECOMING is now free forever. Earlier this week, I decided to run a promotion where I would make the digital version of my short fiction omnibus, Becoming, free for the rest of the month of February. I thought it over though, and two weeks will go by quickly, so I thought, why not just make it permafree?


Free forever! That notion put a smile on my face.


About the Ebook

A grand total of 31 pieces of flash fiction and short stories have been compiled into this omnibus edition titled Becoming.


Space-faring vampires and gravediggers colonize the stars while sea monsters, killer gynoids, spy androids, and mad cities inhabit the earth. Sometimes, a bug isn’t just a bug and the loudest voice might be the one you can’t hear. A hapless traveler encounters a devious monster in the backwoods; a primitive monster brings an urban nightmare to life; two mediums wrestle with their gifts and an earthbound deity haunts a distant future witch.


Download Free





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Becoming - PDF 620.20 KB 4 downloads
A grand total of 31 pieces of flash fiction...





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Becoming - MOBI 708.05 KB 0 downloads
A grand total of 31 pieces of flash fiction...





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Becoming - EPUB 320.59 KB 2 downloads
A grand total of 31 pieces of flash fiction...





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Excerpt

Terry could hear the clickety-click of the prosthetic leggings on Number 876’s spacesuit as she ambled down the ship’s corridor. The octopi didn’t really care about names. Terry called Number 876 Klara because it made her feel better to call her partner something other than a number. The nickname scrawled on Klara’s helmet in radical ink had been her own choice though.


“Water Baby,” it read, though in Japanese.


Dinner was a strange affair. Half of the mess hall was a dedicated habitat for their aquatic nakama. Before taking her place on the human side, Terry watched Klara shed her suit and slip beneath the surface of the limpid pool. There was a succession of splashes as other members of the octopi crew dove in to feed and frolic. Though they chatted more with the humans than each other, in the habitat they furtively engaged in their ancient war dances…


~ BIG VOICE


Other Download Options

Smashwords


Amazon Kindle (Currently $3.99. Free Version Coming Soon!)


Buy in Print

Of course, I’d be delighted if you if you still want to buy the book in print.


Amazon.com ($12.99)

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Published on February 20, 2018 19:05

February 18, 2018

For the past month or two, I’d been struggling with crushing self-doubt where my writing is concerned. I’m not really sure what triggered this downward spiral. Every writer has thoughts like “jeez, my writing sucks” from time to time, but for one reason or another, I wasn’t quite able to get that particular voice out of my head. I’m realistic enough to know that my writing isn’t all that stellar but I also know that it isn’t totally abysmal. Even so, insecurities about whether anyone will ever read, much less like my work kept building up to the point where I wasn’t able to bring myself to work on a single piece of fiction for the eight whole weeks. The thing is, I’ve gone through phases like this before. I think every writer does, but this time, the malaise was lingering and I wasn’t entirely sure what to do about it until someone suggested the obvious to me. Write about it, that self-doubt.


First of all, I needed to figure out where the anxiety at the root of that self-doubt was coming from. My guess is it was the pressure to succeed. I had neither written enough nor been published enough in 2017 to allow myself to consider it a successful year, writing-wise. Plus, I placed sixth in the first writing contest that I’ve entered and was pretty disappointed because my story wasn’t good enough to at least make the top five. Later, a single rejection letter became my undoing. The funny thing is, the rejection letter wasn’t scathing or anything like that. My story was good, but too short. It felt, though, as if I’d once again fallen hopelessly short of something crucial.


Last year, I made a couple of monumental decisions about my writing. For one thing, I decided to take writing seriously enough to pursue it as a career. For another, I even changed my university major from Communications to Creative Writing with this new career path in mind but by the end of the year, it felt as if I wasn’t accomplishing enough fast enough. I really had to take a step back and remind myself that none of this is going to happen overnight. I’m still learning and trying to juggle school and a full time job with writing. For the time being, it’s an uphill journey but I am making progress every day, slowly but surely.


Now I’m sure my anxiety won’t simply dissipate. I’ll probably continue to wrestle with my self-doubt and having to remind myself that it takes time to accomplish the type of goals that I’ve set for myself. For the time being, it’s enough to simply remember why I write. Writing is something that I simply love to do. Whether I excel or suck at it is beside the point. Like Ray Bradbury said:


Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.

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Published on February 18, 2018 19:31

Tonya R. Moore

Tonya R. Moore
News, reviews and insights:
Hacking the job, bending genres and learning to love life.

http://tonyarmoore.com
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