Transdimensional Cafe http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com A podcast from three creatives figuring things out Tue, 18 Apr 2017 23:56:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 Episode 007 – Rescue Mission http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/episode-007-rescue-mission/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 23:56:30 +0000 http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/?p=74 Continue reading "Episode 007 – Rescue Mission"

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Episode 006 – Last Week, This Week http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/episode-006-last-week-this-week/ Sat, 15 Apr 2017 01:07:30 +0000 http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/?p=71 Continue reading "Episode 006 – Last Week, This Week"

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Processing: Meditative Flash Fiction http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/processing-meditative-flash-fiction/ Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:00:08 +0000 http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/?p=51 Continue reading "Processing: Meditative Flash Fiction"

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One the issues with being a human is we have the innate desire to look at the “oh neat, new, and shiny.” This desire draws away from the most important thing a creative person needs to do: finish things. Halfway through the book an idea pops into the brain screaming “Hey! Check me out! I’m amazing!” And they typically are, but the problem is they all are. The short story, novel, painting, script, program code, or whatever you’re working on started as one of these “oh shiny” ideas and it’s possible it caused the abandoning of another idea. It’s an itch that either has to be meditated away, or dealt with. I choose to combat the desire by invoking a temporary truce with the project I’m working on in favor of a quick jaunt into another land.

Enter: meditative flash fiction.

Flash fiction is short, satisfying, and ultimately helps with those cravings to step away from the sea of ideas I’m trying to wade through to get a project done. Now don’t get me wrong, flash fiction as a project for publication is awesome, and many amazing writers use it to get ideas out there and share their stories. I’ve done this too and may do it again in the future, but it’s not part of my goal when I’m doing my morning papers. Flash fiction in this instance is meant to dump out the night’s ideas and get my head into the right space for the novel or other project I’m working on.

Putting together my morning paper takes one of two processes. If I’m attempting to copy an idea from the night before, that’s all the inspiration I need. Jot the ideas down, setup the slice of the setting that story will represent, and go. If I’m just giving myself a quick mind wipe though, I like to get visual inspiration. And the first place I stop would be the daily deviations over on Deviant Art. If you’re planning on using the writing for anything more than just brain dumping, avoid the fan art. Lots of good stuff in there but your short-short fiction based on Batman may have some copyright issues if you try to make money off it. I try to stick to the original pieces, but not rip off the concept the artists created. Just scanning the last few days here are a few pieces that jump out at me.

Shaman

The Oasis

Deep Fixing

We’ve got our inspiration piece in hand now, now it’s time to start letting it soak up the excess stories. A quick aside: I find it important to me to save a link to these pieces. If an artist has inspired me once, they’ll likely inspire me again. When I revisit some of my flash fiction I’ll often revisit the artist and see what new wonders they’ve created. It creates a sort of feedback cycle in my head.

Since I’m not looking for publishable pieces, I’m not considering a few things I might otherwise. Length, first of all, goes out the window. The definition of how long flash fiction should be varies, but I try not to go beyond 1000-2000 words. Anything more and I might as well write out the short story it’s become. Full story goes next. Flash fiction has a neat treat of being able to imply a larger story and I use that to full effect in my flash pieces, much to the chagrin of some of my readers. You know who you are. I think of the inspiration image as part of that story and use it to set the ground work for the scene or to represent the action coming in the scene.

Finally, there’s the consideration of what I’m doing with the piece. Do I use it just as a brain dump, or am I using it to get a point across? Is the story world building for a setting or story I’m already working on? Do I care if the thing can be reasonably edited or am I happy to let it sit there after it’s been expelled from my head?

Let’s consider our three samples. In Shaman, I’d likely write a scene about a ritual being performed. This will likely be an exercise in world building as I’d set the flash fiction in Draco Artifactium and let this piece invoke things in that setting I might not have considered. The Oasis, while possible for world building, makes me want to consider a standalone story. It has a mythology feel to it, and I think I’d like to explore that side of it. Finally, Deep Fixing works for a future story I’m toying with, and I’d use it for that world building. Because of the way I’d use these stories, I’d expect the first two stories to be stronger in terms of potential future use. The last one, being for a one shot story, wouldn’t see much expansion content come out for it and thus I’d be less inclined to want to “fix it” for publication, even free publication.

From here, we write. Get the ideas out of our head, and just free up space for the projects to come. It’s not perfect, and sometimes the flash pieces end up bigger than I mean for them to, but that’s okay. Just don’t get too attached that you lose sight of the main project. Recorded in the flash fiction piece, the stories will be waiting for you when they’re ready.

The last bit before we head out. If you’re going to share your flash fiction publicly, edit it. Edit it. Edit it. Edit it. I cannot stress this enough. This is you attempting to share your work and even though it’s less than a few thousand words, it still represents you. Clean it up, run it through a spell check, and read it out loud to make sure it sounds sane. And if your work is inspired by someone else’s hard work, link them, thank them in the post, whatever. Send traffic their way to so they get more eyes on their work and maybe tip their Patreon or store. Look, they helped inspire you to write something that might draw people in. Least you can do it pay it forward.

Finally, if all has gone as planned, here’s the three flash pieces I wrote from today’s examples.

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Ramblings: An Introduction to Five Sentence Fiction http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/ramblings-an-introduction-to-five-sentence-fiction/ Fri, 14 Apr 2017 00:01:53 +0000 http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/?p=64 Continue reading "Ramblings: An Introduction to Five Sentence Fiction"

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Writer’s Block
phrase of writer
  1. The condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.


That should sound familiar to just about everyone. Everyone has experienced it in some form or another, and amazingly, it doesn’t just happen to writers. Public speakers fall into this problem, even if they have a script in front of them. Musicians run into it all the time. It is generalized into the inability to move forward on the task at hand due to your brain remembering that it is secretly holding you hostage.

Fortunately, there are some ways to get around this. Granted, these methods don’t work for everyone, or all the time, but they do help quite often. Most would simply tell you “Work on something else for a while, then come back to it.” While this is solid advice, I personally feel it is a bit heavy handed, as you are disembarking from the task completely during the process. You are engaged in something else for too long when adhering to that advice, and you will inevitably lose sight of the initial vision you had for the task.

 

For Writers, it is a bit easier, so that is what this is going to focus on. A project that Justin Diehl and myself started years ago in order to help us push past our Writer’s Block, which ended up being one of our favorite endeavors to work on.

 

Five Sentence Fiction

 

The concept is incredibly simple: Tell a complete scene in five sentences. Easy, right? Yeah… About that.

 

Typically, over the course of an hour, I can pump out anywhere between one and fifteen of these little stories. It all depends on how I’m feeling that day. Today I did three…over the course of the seven hours that I have been awake. That should tell you two things: 1. I’m writing this post from the past, and scheduling it to come out later. 2. I feel like shit today.

So, how does it work? Simple. It doesn’t.

You can’t do it. Just on principle, it is impossible. But then you sit down, you put your dunce cap on and realize that not only is it possible, but that I lied to you in giant bold letters.

 

I’m going to write a fresh one on the spot, right now. I’m going to time stamp each line, to give you an idea as to how this process works, and then I’ll put it all together so you can read it again.

[3:09PM AKST:] A sharp hiss signaled me awake as my ship tumbled through the thin atmosphere of the planet I had been tasked with collecting data on.

[3:11PM AKST:] Red tinted my vision as my eyes slowly hinged open, blood splattered across the cracked view-panel of my helmet.

[3:12PM AKST:] Johanse’s vitals on my HUD showed a vibrant, pulsing ‘Loss of Signal’ warning, telling me that the body draped over the co-pilot’s seat was, in fact, his.

[3:13PM AKST:] Reaching up, I forced the manual override on the canopy shutters, cringing as the loud cracks of small explosive charges sent the protective plates sailing off into the sky behind the ship, leaving me with a view of the jagged, crystalline mountainside we were hurtling towards.

[3:19PM AKST:]I watched on in horror, paralyzed by fear and shrapnel that rendered me immobile, only able to stare on in horror at the IMPACT WARNING message upon the navigation console.

 

See. Ten minutes. Easy. Only I rewrote each line about three times to make it feel right. Let’s look at it all together without the fancy time stamps:

A sharp hiss signaled me awake as my ship tumbled through 
the thin atmosphere of the planet I had been tasked with 
collecting data on. Red tinted my vision while my eyes slowly
hinged open, blood splattered across the cracked view-panel 
of my helmet. Johanse's, my son's, vitals on my HUD showed a 
vibrant, pulsing 'Loss of Signal' warning, telling me that 
the body draped over the co-pilot's seat was, in fact, his. 
Reaching up shakily, I forced the manual override on the 
canopy shutters, cringing as the loud cracks of small 
explosive charges sent the protective plates sailing off 
into the sky behind the ship, leaving me with a view of the 
jagged, crystalline mountainside the ship was hurtling 
towards. I watched on in horror, paralyzed by fear and 
shrapnel, only able to stare on in horror at the 
IMPACT WARNING message upon the navigation console.

So we more or less did it. We told a story in five sentences- if you can call them that.

I could actually elaborate more upon that. I could turn that entire scene into a larger piece of flash fiction if I desired, because during the process of writing it I had to think about what caused the situation in the first place. I had to consider the possibility of what happens after the fall. And I answered it all so that I could actually put the words down.

In ten minutes, I completely sidetracked myself from my original task of writing this post you’re reading now, and I have returned to it with renewed vigor. I still remember the message of the article, and I still know how I want to make it come around, as you’ve been reading.

This exercise is how I deal with my Writer’s Block.

It is also going to be a feature of the Cafe here. Once per week, I am going to write up and compile somewhere between two and five of these stories, and post them, with a little more insight into each story as a little bonus for checking back in to the site.

 

Hopefully, you can try the exercise yourself. Feel free to leave your own Five Sentence Fiction piece in the comments of this post, or any other Five Sentence Fiction post. I, for one, would love to give them a read.

 

</ramblepost>

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the Trans-Dimensional Café -or- Echoes of the past http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/the-trans-dimensional-cafe-or-echoes-of-the-past/ Fri, 07 Apr 2017 20:00:09 +0000 http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/?p=43 Continue reading "the Trans-Dimensional Café -or- Echoes of the past"

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Cross-posted from JSamuelDiehl.com.

I became a fan of podcasts back in 2006, when my wife bought me an iPod Nano for my time working in the corporate world. I filled that thing with what I thought was enough music to keep me sane in the cubes, and The Flaming Lips, Journey, and Pink Floyd filled my ears during those 10-key days. But eight months of the same music started to burn me out. I craved more; something to keep my mind active while still letting me stay productive at the day gig. Enter podcasts. NPR at first, but then onto Escape Pod and Pseduopod. The latter lead me to Mur Lafferty and from there to the world of Farpoint Media and the dozens of shows I latched onto from there. In 2007, things got kind of muddy as the expanding 2007-2010 web of podcasts lead me to audio fiction, new favorite authors, great interviews, and more. Through all of that, I kept hearing the same echo “podcasting has a low bar of entry, you should do it.” Heck, many of the shows on the network shows I listened to had blossomed from fans of other shows, so why not?

In late 2010, my friends Andrew Henderson and Dakota Lewis worked together to form the first podcast I would take part of: The Trans-Dimensional Café. Over the next half dozen years, this show would start and stop four times as it took us through various stages in our creative journeys. It was always something to try to keep us on task though, to check in and see if we’re keeping up with our writing, our other podcasts, our game design, or production on other larger scale items. It was fitting as TDC basically started as a bet between me and Andrew about who could finish a book first. But last year, one of those journeys came to an end. Andrew left us in the midst of another set of goals being set. We had talked in the weeks before his passing about the idea of resurrecting the show. Of using TDC as our white board for a fifth time.

I was left with a desire, but at the time I felt like I had no one to share it with.

Dakota was the one to get me prompted, indirectly, towards continuing to relaunch TDC. We talked about new Role-Playing designs in early 2017, and it gave me the nostalgia of our talks on the podcast. It made me want to continue to poke the kindling until the fire of creativity sparked again. A chance conversation with Brian Hessee made me realize that if we were going to bring it back, it needed to be a trio. Duos work for one offs but TDC was always best when it was three, and so I invited Brian to be our third wheel. We are now a writer, a musician, and a game theorist, with each of us bringing a portion of these three seeds into our works.

Now we’re back. We finished posting our fifth public episode, our ninth recording together, to the world last week. Five episodes away from submitting to iTunes. Five away from starting a Patreon. Five away from feeling like this might be here to stay. I’m excited for the work, and where the podcast is going. There’s an itch to bring more people in too, to try and start back the interview portion of the show we once had. We each want to share more of our works, from short fiction to music and podcasting, and I think the podcast is actually helping that happen.

I don’t know if 2017 is the year TDC becomes a permeant fixture in my productivity. I’d like it to be. For now it’s serving the purpose it was meant to back in 2010: to keep me honest, to keep me on track, to keep me moving forward. Maybe there will be a time I’ll be past the need of tools like this, but until that time I’ll keep stepping into the café.

TDC will live on.

]]> Episode 005 – He’s On Fire http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/episode-005-hes-on-fire/ Fri, 31 Mar 2017 22:44:47 +0000 http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/?p=40 Continue reading "Episode 005 – He’s On Fire"

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Episode 004 – NaCl http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/episode-004-nacl/ Wed, 29 Mar 2017 00:17:40 +0000 http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/?p=36 Continue reading "Episode 004 – NaCl"

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Episode 003 – It’s Too Soon To Reuse Titles http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/episode-003-its-too-soon-to-reuse-titles/ Tue, 21 Mar 2017 21:52:13 +0000 http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/?p=33 Continue reading "Episode 003 – It’s Too Soon To Reuse Titles"

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Episode 002 – One Out Of Three Ain’t Bad http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/episode-002-one-out-of-three-aint-bad/ Tue, 07 Mar 2017 22:23:36 +0000 http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/?p=27 Continue reading "Episode 002 – One Out Of Three Ain’t Bad"

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Episode 001 – Making Promises http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/episode-001-making-promises/ Fri, 03 Mar 2017 20:37:16 +0000 http://www.transdimensionalcafe.com/?p=12 Today’s Topic Menu

 

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