Tag Archives: Second Chances

Two free previews added

I have now added the (overdue) previews of The Whisper Kids and Second Chances to the website.

SECOND CHANCES gets rave reviews.

The feedback I’m getting for SECOND CHANCES, my latest short story, has been fantastic. Skeptical readers have liked it, new readers are urging me to give them more. Those of you who don’t know my friends might think this is flattery. But I am friends and colleagues with some very blunt people, and people with extremely high standards.

I want to take the opportunity to thank you, dear readers, for your support and encouragement.

I assure you that more work is in the pipeline and already underway.

Research: Creating believable short fiction

Every Saturday, I offer insight about my current research, or answer reader-submitted questions. Today, I demonstrate how varied my reseasrch is even for a short story like SECOND CHANCES.

I wrote SECOND CHANCES in one week, spending 3-4 hours a night on it. 30% of that  was spent on research, despite the fact the story is present-day and involves no special technology.

The easiest component was an injured worker; as a chronic pain patient myself, I know exactly what it’s like to feel unworthy, harassed, and in constant pain. Experience with temp agencies was also a given, and so a great deal of this story fell within “write what you know” territory. (Though this rule is widely debated among writers, it can help when invoked.)

So what didn’t I already know? Read More →

Free preview: Second Chances, a short story for Halloween

Every Wednesday, I offer a free preview of a current project. The excerpt below is taken from Second Chances, a short story I am writing for Halloween. I am pleased with this project and I believe it represents a leap forward in the quality of my writing.

When the peddler jostled Brian, inflaming his broken arm, Brian wanted to hit him so hard that his rotting teeth skittered across the pavement. It was the man’s face which stopped him. Bloodshot eyes bulged beneath droopy lids, scant strands of colorless hair clung to his scalp. His thin smile was predatory. Brian would probably go to jail for decking this geezer. He stepped away, wincing.

The man snagged Brian’s good arm with a withered claw.

“Wanna buy some souls?” His breath misted in the cold.

“Let me go,” Brian growled, trying to escape the codger and rejoin the throng of downtown Chicago’s pedestrian traffic. The peddler clung fast, his eyes hungry. Read More →

Everything I write sucks.

you_suck_sadLet me try to express this as articulately as I possibly can:

AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Perfect Justice needs more warmth. Woman’s Best Friend needs more depth. New Magic needs more content. Second Chances needs a likable character. Manifest Destiny needs a reason for the reader to care.

Shadows of Prophecy needs real characters. Echoes of Prophecy needs a plot.

Fragile Gods needs a better outline.

And The God Disease just needs a better writer.

Sneak Peek: Second Chances

Second Chances

by

Jason R. Peters

First, Brian broke his right arm playing basketball. Then he was fired.

Not in so many words of course, but that’s what it amounted to anyway.

“I’m sorry, but we have to respect the wishes of our client.” That’s what Jennifer, from the temp agency, had said. Brian’s job was to load boxes from a warehouse onto delivery trucks, and a broken arm was no asset. It was, quite literally, adding insult to injury.

Of course, the agency promised to line up another job soon, but Brian had heard that before; he was not anxious to spin that roulette wheel again. Particularly with a broken arm.

The doctor had put him in a cast and seemed optimistic for a full recovery in six weeks. In the meanwhile, Brian had no income.

Because the injury hadn’t happened at work, he couldn’t claim worker’s compensation. And like many, Brian’s temp agency didn’t offer benefits, including short-term disability.

Brian wandered the streets of Chicago with his head down and his collar up, an ineffectual shield against the wind. Keeping your head lowered made it that much easier to avoid eye contact with panhandlers and street peddlers. There were fewer today than usual. It was a bitter cold October day, even for Chicago.

“Wanna buy some souls?”

One enterprising soul was out in spite of the weather, wrapped in multiple layer underneath a fashionable tan trench coat. He sported thin sunglasses, despite the overcast heavens and the late hour.

Caught off guard by the question, Brian stumbled to a halt.

“Do what?” he asked, eyebrows climbing.

“I said, ‘Do you wanna buy some souls?'” the man repeated patiently, emphasizing the last word with relished sibilance.

Brian thought of himself as part of the working class, a salt-of-the-earth guy, in touch with the common man. He’d worked with all races and colors and had picked up cusswords from half a dozen languages, but this pusher’s slang was completely foreign to him. Brian glanced around to see if anyone else understood, but all passersby made a wide circuit around them. Brian envied their distance.

“Look, whatever drugs you’re selling-” he began firmly, but he was cut off.

“Will you shut up with that?” the vender hissed, glancing nervously around. “Did I say drugs? No. I said souls. Mortal souls, brother, like the kind Jesus and the devil use to play chess.”

Though he was amused by the religious imagery, Brian was no closer to understanding. He started to edge away, but then the man said something which hit closer to home.

“Been down on your luck, brother?”

“What?” Brian said, suddenly conscious of his arm aching in the cold.

“What I’m selling is second chances. For example, you know, get your lady-friend back.” Though the peddler’s eyes were hidden beneath his sunglasses, Brian had the impression he winked. Now Brian was sure he was crazy.

“Yeah, my lady-friend is the one thing going for me right now,” he said confidently. “I don’t need whatever you’re selling.”

“Right, right, I forgot,” the man said with a disturbingly knowing smile. “Well, you go run along to her then. Just remember…you can find me here when you need me.”

Brian moved away as quickly as was possible without seeming outright rude, but the peddler’s grin only broadened.

It worked…

addictedRather than quitting World of Warcraft cold turkey (which I have done before, but it didn’t stick in the long run), I have instead tried the the route of discipline:

Simply playing less.

It worked. When I feel the urge to game, I will attempt to scratch the itch by playing much more cyclical one-player games instead. I don’t know how others feel, but for me single player games don’t cut it anymore; I just get bored with seeing the same content over and over. Cheats, mods, savefile editors and such can add a certain additional replay value, but those grow stale even more quickly than the original game.

So then I pace the apartment. I check chess.com compulsively every five minutes. I watch *gasp* television. (Streaming with no commercials, still, though.)

And then eventually…I get bored enough to write.

Success!

I wrote for some 7 or 8 hours Saturday and another 4 on Sunday. Furthermore, I managed a personal first: Diving directly into another story while the ink from my last project is still drying.

I considered putting up another poll to ask what you want to read next, having now (re)finished Perfect Justice. But then I’d want to give the poll time to gather enough info — the last one took about ten days before all votes were in, and even then I only garnered nine votes in total.

Instead, I decided merely to write the next story.

For those who are keeping up with me, I’ll go ahead and tell you the next one is going to be Second Chances; you can read the synopsis over on the sidebar.

I will also introduce you to a new project on my idea board:

Road Rage is about a guy so frustrated and angered by the idiotic and dangerous ways of rude drivers that he finally decides to do something about it. But he isn’t content with merely taking your license. Violate his rules, and he’ll be taking your life.