An Illustrated Alphabet for the Illiterate

Many of you probably know that when Elizabeth Kurz was sixteen, she co-wrote and published a book with her father Rudolf entitled An Illustrated Alphabet for the Illiterate. What you may not know is that you can see a handful of pages on Google books.

In Alphabet, Elizabeth and Rudolf take alternating letters of the alphabet and provide short vignettes for each. As Rudolf puts it in the introduction, “The old voice is silly and nonsensical whereas the teenaged girl sounds brooding, mysterious and melancholy. I like this contrast very much!”

As do I. Here’s one of my favourite passages, from Elizabeth’s take on the letter F:

Forgotten: Every morning I was served two eggs, as was the custom in that place, until one day I noticed a crack in one and heard a noise coming from my plate. One of the eggs started to move and I stepped back from my chair in surprise. I turned away and bit my lip because I don’t handle the unexpected easily. When I looked again, both of the eggs were empty and then I heard the same noise, coming from outside. I ran to the window and confirmed that the noise was definitely coming from the sky, then I sat down again to finish my breakfast.

I suggest you check it out, and get a glimpse of Liz’s sixteen year old self. There are several sample pages to read, and if you’re intrigued, it’s still available on Amazon.

While snooping around to write this post, I also discovered some more of Rudolf Kurz’s illlustration work. There is an Indian riding a muzzled tyrannosaur in a parade, a woman in a conch-shell helmet riding a mutated crustacean, a fetal child parachuting into a half-Boschian–half-Seussian nightmare and more. It’s gloriously absurd and lavishly detailed—give it a look.

Concrete, Metal & Meerschaum: Sticky City Gets Stickier

This excerpt of my unedited draft is a little bit longer, so I’m going to keep the preamble short. If you’ve been following along, you’ve already met the magician Pavel Fell, and we pick up his story in the first of these two chapters. In the second we meet a new character, and if you haven’t been following along I suggest you skip forward to that, since it is (hopefully) a fun read just by itself.

If you want to catch up, check out parts one and two. I hope you enjoy this installment in the working draft of A Sticky City Story. Continue reading “Concrete, Metal & Meerschaum: Sticky City Gets Stickier”

Madness, Fire & More Parrots: A Sticky City Story Continues

Well, NaNoWriMo is almost at an end, and I am most definitely not going to be a winner, hovering as I am at barely more than twelve-thousand words. I made what I now realize is a classic NaNo mistake: I got way too invested in the project. As I noted in my warm-up short story, I have a tendency to labour over every piece of prose, which is something I rather enjoy doing but not a habit that jives well with writing 1,667 words a day.

That being said, I am quite absorbed in my work so far and I have no intention of stopping. In part I’ll be relying on the readers here at Stranger Than Truth to keep me motivated: your eyeballs and your feedback are much appreciated. Tomorrow I’ll be back here on the blog with a recap of what we’ve all done during NaNoWriMo, and a look at some of our plans moving forward. Until then, please enjoy the next unedited slice of my ongoing novel!

(If you missed the beginning, read that first. Otherwise this will be even more confusing than it already is.)

Continue reading “Madness, Fire & More Parrots: A Sticky City Story Continues”

Guns, Magic & Parrots: Welcome to Sticky City

This week we’ve seen the NaNoWriMo beginnings of Elizabeth Kurz, Geoff Micks, Halton Stoves and Tasty Yumyum, and we’ve had teasers from Ian Worte, Ekstasis Amor, Drew Beaudoin and Tim Dallimore. Meanwhile, I’ve been falling further and further behind on my NaNoWriMo word count. I don’t even want to type out the number—suffice to say it’s around a quarter of what it should be.

That being said, I’ve finally hit a reasonable groove, and I’m ready to present the first few pages of my presently untitled work, to be temporarily referred to as A Sticky City Story. I realized that whatever I wrote for NaNo had to be something I could have some psychotic fun with, so I send you into this fictional world with a warning: it will be surreal; it will be whimsical; it will contain elements of science fiction and mystic realism; it will be filled with unreliable characters and related to you by unreliable narrators; and it will very likely be full of plot holes until I edit it in December.

For the tone and style I took a little inspiration from Kurt Vonnegut and Samuel Beckett, with a splash of Cory Doctorow (though I’ve only read one of his novels). The structure (a series of short chapters from various points of view, which by the time I am done will number in the dozens) is inspired by one of my favourite novels, a WW2 epic by Louis de Bernières.

Read on and enjoy—and may I be the first to say: Welcome to Sticky City.

Continue reading “Guns, Magic & Parrots: Welcome to Sticky City”

Artistic Differences (a last-minute warmup)

This past weekend I found myself eager to get started, even though NaNoWriMo hadn’t begun. Then I realized it might be a good idea to warm up a little anyway, so I set out to write a short story.

When the concept for Artistic Differences came to me, I knew I had to see it through—but I also knew it was in danger of becoming cheesy and gimmicky. I tried with all my writer’s might to stop this from happening, and I’m fairly sure I succeeded.

It was a good exercise because it alerted me to a habit I need to break during NaNoWriMo: labouring over every piece of prose. Read on and enjoy!

Continue reading “Artistic Differences (a last-minute warmup)”

Recap at the Outset

And so it has begun! NaNoWriMo 2010 is already twelve hours in, and I know more than a few people got started at the stroke of midnight. It’s going to be an interesting month.

There’s been a lot going on here at Stranger Than Truth in the past couple weeks, with our writing team ballooning to nearly a dozen—plus injuries, rivalries and more. So I thought now would be a good time to give a quick recap, in case you’ve missed any of the drama or the great short fiction that we’ve been posting in its wake. Read on and familiarize yourself with the incomparable team that is Stranger Than Truth.
Continue reading “Recap at the Outset”

My Attempt at NaNoWriMo 2009, Part 6

Time for the next chunk of my NaNo ’09 effort. In this part we get introduced to some new characters (the first of whom was going to play linchpin at a crucial moment in the story I didn’t even get close to reaching), and also get more from Cam & Jeromy. We’re getting close to the end now, but there is some very exciting action to come.

If you missed them, check out parts one, two, three, four and five first.

Continue reading “My Attempt at NaNoWriMo 2009, Part 6”

Those With Similar Intent

A little while ago I opened up a thread on the Toronto board of the NaNoWriMo forums, asking if anyone else was keeping a blog of their NaNoWriMo efforts. There were quite a few intriguing responses, some polite demurrals, one post that I think was a snarky rebuff, and one discussion about Star Trek (check out the thread, if you’re curious).

Here I’d like to highlight some of the more interesting blogs (and one interesting not-blog) I was introduced to:

Continue reading “Those With Similar Intent”

In a Box (The birth of Marcus Carab)

This is a story I wrote in college (and have revised since), and it is the first appearance of the name Marcus Carab. Here Marcus Carab is the name of a character, though I have since adopted it as a pen name for no good reason. It is inspired by a famous thought experiment—I suspect you can guess which one. Enjoy!

Continue reading “In a Box (The birth of Marcus Carab)”

False Starts: Supertanker

I know wasn’t the only one who found it somewhat surreal when pirates suddenly became a daily topic. South Park tackled the subject brilliantly, but long before that episode aired I had an idea for a story about a man who, upon discovering the re-emergence of piracy on the high seas, goes quite mad and attempts to become a pirate in Lake Ontario.

As is often the case with these whim’s of mine, I didn’t get very far. But I think the beginning is quite fun, so I thought I’d share it. Here goes:

Continue reading “False Starts: Supertanker”