Monthly Archives: February 2014

My interest in physics and intention of this project

The inception of my passion for physics can be traced back to an astronomy class I took in primary school that introduced me to constellations, Greek mythology, planets, and astronomical phenomena. I was fascinated by these topics but I was most interested in various theories that exceeded the boundary of imagination and subverts my understanding of the world. Continue reading

Raising the Dead, But Not the Zombie Apocalypse- Taylor

My last literary sketch based on the prompt, “She must live!” was a great success and I’m very excited to share it with you all in this post. I will admit, the piece does have some necromancy in it, but if you’re expecting something along the lines of the Zombie Apocalypse, you’ve come to wrong place (though please stay and read on anyway!).

Before I get to my sketch, however, I quickly wanted to provide another writing resource I found here on WordPress. StereoTopical Blog is a space that offers advice, tips, and tutorials on writing. It’s also a spot for new writers to display their work in prose and articles, and, as the site put it so nicely, a place “to build a strong community of writers of all walks of life and of any caliber.” Their posts range from Writing Basics and How-To’s, Tips, & Hints, to Book Club, Competitions, and Writers’ Review. You can check it out here at!

Now, as promised, here’s my short story, entitled, “The Other Side”:

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. It should’ve been him lying there, not her. Controlling the tremors of his hand, Griffyn reached out and brushed Narissa’s cheek with the tips of his fingers. The paled dark skin felt unrecognizably cold. Moving closer, he mimicked a memory of him caressing her face, touching her as if she might turn to dust. Only this time, Narissa’s still features didn’t light up with a smile, her hand didn’t move to tuck her dark curls behind her ears, and her eyes didn’t flutter open to gaze back at him. With every passing second she lay on the stone altar, she seemed deader than before, and Griffyn couldn’t take it.

“You’re sure this’ll work?” he asked, his voice and demeanor still able to maintain composure over the ache in his throat and the piercing pain in his chest.

“For the second time, yes,” said the melodic voice, still eerily beautiful in its tone of annoyance. “It takes time. I won’t tell you again.”

Tearing his gaze from her corpse, Griffyn glared at the thing that had the audacity to speak to him with such condescension. The creature stood on the other side of the altar, eyes closed and pale lips moving as he whispered in his cursed language. His gloved hands were lighting what seemed to Griffyn like the fiftieth candle. The rest were arranged in a circle around them, the burning smell of incense mixing with the musky air of the forest. It unnerved Griffyn to see the flames so close to the ground, yet harmless to the blades of grass they licked.

“Then get on with it!” he snapped. “I don’t have all night!” Though Griffyn would wait decades if it meant getting Narissa back, he refused to let this thing know how desperate he was. The creature called Raphael opened his eyes, his silver stare sending a chill down Griffyn’s spine. Griffyn disguised his unease by readjusting his grey suit jacket and running his hand through his usually immaculate blonde hair, now tousled from this nervous habit.

“If you hadn’t messed with dark magic in the first place, your girlfriend wouldn’t be dead,” Raphael said, the moon lighting up his translucent face and reflecting in his ebony hair. He placed the candle above Narissa’s head. “Be grateful I’m willing to break the law for this.”

Both of them knew any demon caught practicing magic would be arrested on the spot and a twenty dollar bill would erase the company of any human present. That being said, it puzzled Griffyn why Raphael was helping at all. From the lessons his parents had taught him to the crimes on the news and the deal-gone-wrong that had put him in this mess, Griffyn rightly believed that these things were demons in human form. Yet, Raphael wasn’t like any other creature Griffyn had met, not that he frequently interacted with their kind to begin with. The thing had even offered to do the job for free, though Griffyn wouldn’t be fooled by another one of these abominations. Being left in its debt would be the second worst mistake of his life; he was already trying to fix the first.

“Just do what I’m paying you to do or I’ll call the authorities,” Griffyn threatened.

The creature narrowed his eyes at him. “Mind your tongue, human. Your patience isn’t the only one that runs thin.” Griffyn grimaced before taking a step back, allowing Raphael to continue with the ritual.

Raphael pinched the tips of his leather gloves and pulled them from his hands, revealing his black magic-stained nails. He closed his eyes and raised his palms, chanting in the cursed language again. Every foreign word and syllable burned Griffyn’s ears.

Suddenly, the still forest burst with a violent rush of air and the flames of the candles erupted skyward, blazing above Griffyn’s head. He gasped at the rising ring of fire and felt his skin crawl at the rush of the magic gale. The atmosphere felt thick with heat, the smell of sickly sweet smoke now filling his lungs. He looked back at Raphael and found the creature unfazed, the wind pulling at his hair and his words echoing louder into the night.

Though his heart was ready to leap out his chest, Griffyn found himself smiling; he could feel Narissa’s presence coming from the other side. At that moment, the smoke from the flames billowed upward and swirled like a tornado, the heart of the mass, now glowing gold, whirlpooling down in the direction of Narissa’s body. Griffyn used his arm to shield his eyes from the rapid gusts; nothing would stop him from watching his love’s soul reenter her body.

Before the golden tip plummeted into her chest the ground shook. Cracks ripped through the earth beneath the altar and the flames of the candles wavered. The swirling smoke possessing Narissa’s soul hesitated before vanishing in front of Griffyn’s eyes.

“No!” He rushed forward, grabbing his love’s body in his arms. “What’s happening?”

Raphael’s eyes were now open, staring at the helpless man and the lifeless body he held.

“It’s too late,” he said as the ground settled. “There’s nothing I can do.”

“How is it too late?” Griffyn exclaimed. But the creature merely shook his head, the flames around them dying down.

“No!” Griffyn yelled, clutching Narissa’s body tightly against his. “She must live! Bring her back to me!”

Nature didn’t respond to him as it had to Raphael. The ground remained still and the candles went out with a puff. Griffyn was left with his face buried in Narissa’s hair, her curls drinking his tears, and the wind carrying away his helpless pleas.

Thanks for taking the time to read my work and I hope you enjoyed it! I’d also love to hear your thoughts and advice in the comments section, as well as other writing resources you find particularly helpful. My next writing prompt is “Shatter the Bone,” and I’m drifting towards connecting it with notorious tomb raiders. Look for my next post to see how I take a crack at my next short story!

“The Last Chance” – Taylor

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who responded to my last post. The advice and links you shared with me were fantastic! Here are just a few of the writing tips I picked up from other sources:

Author of “Wired for Story”

From Lisa Cron’s 8 Random Writing Tips…

1. “Make sure every scene gives new information; never tell the same information twice.”

2. “Everything must be earned; there’s no such thing as free lunch–unless it’s poisoned.”

3. “There are two basic motivating factors for all human action: Fear & Desire.”

Author of many works, such as “Slaughterhouse-Five”

From Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Basics of Creative Writing…

1. “Every character should want something, even if it’s just a glass of water.”

2. “Every sentence must do one of two things: reveal character or advance the action.”

3. “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them so that your reader can see what they’re made of.”

For more tips from Lisa Cron and Kurt Vonnegut, you can find them at and

And as I said last week, here’s an excerpt from my literary sketch based on the prompt, “The Sun Will Die Tomorrow,” titled, “The Last Chance”:

“Brandon stared at her door with the extinct ocelot motion-poster, the familiar brown feline eyes shifting from side to side. Becky was supposed to have met him at the mudflats of the pond in the Dome Garden. There, they always dug up good material for research and experiments. Even with the Emergency Announcement that was broadcasted in everyone’s homes last month by the holographic Mr. Finney, their parents wouldn’t extend their bedtimes past 8:30; work had to be done on the weekend mornings. But meeting her today was especially important. Wednesday, April 15, 2153, would be a day to remember, which was why Brandon insisted that Becky find him before all the chaos started. She hadn’t.”

Thanks again to everyone who gave me advice! My mentor and I will be reviewing my sketch this Monday. Until then, my next sketch will be based on my interpretation of the phrase, “She must live!”

Music in the Stars – Asking for Help – Anne Katherine

If I were to write a self improvement book it would be entitled Asking for Help.

I began the project seeking the mentorship of one of the most highly esteemed astrophysicists in the field today, Dr. Greg Bryan of Columbia University. Continue reading

First Assignment – Taylor

After making some final touches to our plans, it’s been decided that for the rest of the semester, my mentor and I will be working on lots and lots of short literary sketches! My final project will include two of these sketches to be edited and refined into finished pieces, logs of the conversations I have with my mentor, and a sit down discussion of my work with a small committee of peers and faculty. Continue reading

Music in the Stars – Solid Footing – Anne Katherine

Solid footing – a phrase that has frequently been on my mind as of late. I feel that over the past two weeks I have gone from feeling confident about the project’s success to total confusion and doubt and back again. Currently, as I’m writing this I’m feeling positive about my progress. Continue reading

Change in Plans – Taylor

This past week, I tried writing the next five pages to my novel and found that not only was I struggling to get through the first page, but that I was in fact, stuck. Why? One would think writer’s block, which many people have come up with various solutions to. But soon, I realized that the problem wasn’t as much of a mental block as it was a chink in my plan. Continue reading