Sheri J. Kennedy thrives on creating. She’s a visual artist, photographer and writer. Five of her novels are published and she's always working on the next one. Philosophy, literature and communications studies gave her a B.A. in Humanities. But she's more interested in studying life. Thoughtful curiosity influences all of her pursuits. Sheri lives with her husband in a small house on the banks of the Snoqualmie River in the mountains near Seattle, Washington.
Here’s my response to the Writing Challenge that I posted last week. Bottom line… A free write where you imagine entering into the top of this upside down photo as if the reflection is the prime reality.
Feel free to continue to write your own responses and share it with us by posting the title and link in comments on the original Challenge Post. Thanks!
I stepped from the tenuous strand of sand between the grasping, scratching reach of where I’d been into the waters – no, the winds. Stopped. Wispy wonder washed over me. Filmy wrinkles sliced the winter bare trees beyond like strained cellophane wrapped between here and there. I couldn’t see my feet so stepped forward hoping to get them under me. Feeling hesitant to walk further. Especially when I’d meant to swim. To drown myself perhaps. Or at least to drown the thick of it. The sticky matted mass of life prodding and pushing at my mind.
I’d thought to clear my head. But clearly wandered into a place as vague as its unuttered silence. Ripples of winds – waters? Caught like scrapes on a celluloid length of lifeless life. The path forward disrupted from base to topmost towering tips. Not a branch swaying nor a stick cracking under foot as I broached the stillness shadowing the thin trace of trees, groping to break through the cloying mist before me. The scarred patterns receded but didn’t diminish.
Perhaps this was death. Beyond the veil, they say. But I hadn’t broken through. Drowning in sullied solitude. I reached to weave solace from the final breath of wind I’d severed from the waves that washed the drifting strands of time.
by Sheri J. Kennedy, All Rights Reserved March 2023
I’m happy to finally present the review of this highly unusual book that I enjoyed thoroughly.
This story brings a remarkably alien world to life. And when I say ‘to life’ I mean relatable. acflory created an incredibly complex world in Vokhtah (The Suns of Vokhtah Book 1), from the creatures, to the language and manner of speaking, to the world and its mores.
The story is an exploration of a culture driven by extreme class division and expectation/dreary carrying out of duty within prescribed roles. The intrigue – and there is plenty – is supplied by how individuals within the various classes of creatures express their desires and ambitions, even under such tight restraint and controlled social conditions, and how this weaves through the lives of those who adhere to traditions and expectations. Ultimately, I found the story upheld the triumph of individual spirit against all odds.
The world of the Vokhtah is bleak, and the stilted style of storytelling fits and enhances this atmosphere. Yet as a reader I was never overwhelmed by the methodical misery that could have pervaded. World building is masterfully done on a ‘need to know’ basis as the story unfolds rather than an ‘info dump’ style at the beginning, and I enjoyed the emergence from shadow of the characters and their world as the story progressed.
acflory’s genius is in revealing the wholly alien characters and the dilemma’s of their lives in such meticulous clarity that it draws the reader in with total fascination. Somewhat like the best horror writing, yet somehow I believed there would be something better than the darkness of circumstance. A higher purpose. And it was delivered.
In this cold, duty-bound world – ruthless with lust and plays for power for the upper classes, and ultimately layered with integrity-to-death bargains for the lower classes – acflory manages a modicum of personal gratitude which grows into a type of love (from my perspective) and gives a level of ‘humanity’ and emotion to a few characters. This imbues the story with hope that surprises and enlivens the ‘hero’. And for me this gave hope to the harsh world of Vokhtah. Remarkable feat indeed.
I took quite a bit of time to read this story. It deserves attention. The breaks weren’t due to boredom – I can’t imagine putting the story aside forever – but to read it is to immerse oneself in this place of ‘other’ which I needed to be in the mood to do. I found it amazing that anytime I picked it up, it was as if I’d never left. Memorable to this reader that often forgets. It’s a remarkable story, indeed.
Highly recommended! Not the easiest read, but one of the best I’ve ever read.
I sent the writing challenge below out to my Wednesday Writers Café writing group this week, and decided to share it with you too. Any takers? Please post your story or poetic prose on your blog within the next couple weeks and put your piece’s title and the post link into the comments below so we can find it. You may link the prompt image or capture it to post with your writing challenge response. Enjoy! I’ll post mine next week.
Non-fiction generally works to illuminate and clarify facts or circumstances in reality, where fiction could be considered a reflection of reality defined and embellished by imagination.
I believe fiction writers work to clarify images rather than facts and to focus on mood, ideas, feelings, atmosphere, and perhaps alternate forms of scene/worlds and characters. But I also believe effective fiction is well rooted in our reality. It carries suggestions of things we know and a flow we understand, so we’re able to step into the alternate world of feelings and imagination and belong within the story – or at least alongside it seamlessly.
What do you think is the difference between the two forms? What do you focus on when you write fiction? Why?
Below are two versions of the same photograph. The first is non-fiction (except for interpretation of the photographic capture). The second is flipped upside down (and cropped for emphasis) to allow us to access the reflection as the prime ‘reality’ and see our usual view of reality as the root or base.
Using the flipped photograph below as inspiration, do a fiction free-write entering into the reflected world. Imagine ‘entering into’ on any level and in any way you like. OR Take any setting or moment and turn it over in your mind to enter into it in a new way.
I look forward to seeing what you post on your blogs. Don’t forget to come back to this post to give us the title and link to find them. Happy Writing!
This was a great month of reading, and I have some wonderful books to share. All but one of these books are written by indie authors, and I have to say, the talent in this community is amazing. Every month, I’m impressed almost beyond words. I hope everyone is up for some great reading.
February’s reviews include my 4 and 5-star reads of two dark short story collections, an international thriller, a romance novella, paranormal/occult fiction, a Christian thriller, experimental fiction, and an Edgar Allen Poe retelling.
Click on the covers for Amazon global links.
At the End of it All by Suzanne Craig-Whytock
Have you ever, while reading a collection of stories, jotted down your favorites to mention in a review? And when you finish the book, you realize that you just jotted down the entire table of contents? That’s this book.
My brother and I recently chatted about humans’ subjective reporting of time. How it seems to drag when we wait for a movie to start or flies by when we hit the snooze button.
Many have considered this question, since almost everyone feels time goes faster every year. Is time fixed? Or relative to perception or some other force? Is time real at all?
My brother thought:
“that’s the big hole in the theory of relativity imo. time as we think of it doesn’t seem to be actual reality so lightspeed cannot be a constant.”
I found this exciting since the biggest block to potential time travel, according to physicists, is we can’t travel faster than the speed of light. Perhaps time travel is possible after all? Perhaps it’s all in our heads.
You can read about Experimental Fiction and get tips for writing an Experimental novel, starting below. And while you’re over at Jacqui’s blog, take a look around. She has a great new release that I’ll be posting about later this week too…
I’m honored to be here to share with you today. As I told our host, Jacqui Murray, I’m not an expert on Experimental fiction. I’m not certain anyone is, since it’s always changing. But I’m happy to illuminate some of the features of this unusual classification. I believe I’ve written an Experimental novel, and Jacqui asked if I might give you some tips on writing one. So, I’ll also share my writing process with you.
What is Experimental Fiction?
This genre is hard to define since its basic definition is it’s fictional writing that’s falls outside of current conventions and standard genres. But let’s consider some characteristics and examples to get a sense of what Experimental fiction is all about.
One feature often associated with Experimental fiction is, ‘form is as important or more important than content, and/or it has an unusual form.’ READ MORE…
Let me preface the following by saying this was a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable concert experience which I’m glad I got the privilege to be a part of. That’s why I feel compelled to write a concert review, which I rarely do. Also, the audience response and overall appreciation of this great artist who’s contributed so much to the world of music was heartwarming and wonderful to share in.
That being said, my parents trained my ear and musical understanding from an early age to be astute and necessarily in tune both literally and metaphorically – which is a good thing and a bad thing. It brings me great enjoyment in life, but there are times I’d rather be oblivious. Some cringe-worthy moments last night were impossible to ignore, and I’ll review the bad with the good.
The concept of an original band member – especially the drummer – reimagining and arranging popular songs by The Police into rock/orchestra pieces intrigued me, and it was definitely an experiment of epic proportions – with mixed results.
I think his arrangements were OK, sometimes ingenious, and often interesting ‘takes’ on the songs. ‘Roxanne’ was a high moment, for sure.
As a commenter on You Tube pointed out, use of more harmonics rather than so many notes in unison would have been a plus. Or as I expressed to my concert companion, it was missing the power of using the full orchestra as one instrument instead of a bunch of separate instruments and sounds. Several points became a cacophony rather than a blend which the listener couldn’t follow either rhythmically or melodically, let alone both together.
I wished several times that I could listen to a studio recording of the arrangements mixed to balance the snippets of genius I could almost hear, with the parts I could hear, instead of struggling to make it out ‘live.’
It takes immense skill and experience to wield orchestrated harmonics, dynamics and balance, which is why there are relatively few well-known symphonic composers throughout time. So no shade on Stewart Copeland for missing the highest mark.
His version of ‘Message in a Bottle’ brought back that visceral feeling of music with an entirely new sound and direction that the original gave me the first time I heard the song in the early ’80’s. I heard it on the radio while swimming in my roommate’s parent’s pool at night in North Vancouver B.C., looking out off the hillside at the city lights over the water. The difference in sound was so remarkable to me that I got out of the pool and hurried into the kitchen to find out what the song was before it was over. Copeland’s version reimagined and reminded me of that moment – so big success there. Well done!
My only true disappointment was ‘Walking in Their Footsteps.’ The original is so unusual, and it’s very ethereal for me. Sadly, I didn’t get that feeling at all from his redo, though – to be fair – I think I couldn’t hear what he intended. It was muddy, and perhaps if the arrangement had been pared down to less instrumentation at once, or controlled by mixing at various volumes, it may have been successful. But for me that arrangement was an epic fail, live in Seattle.
Without a doubt, I admire Stewart Copeland for taking the chance, fulfilling his dream, and continuing on as the experimental musician that The Police always were as a group. It’s difficult to continue to innovate in life. Very admirable, and I absolutely loved his spirit and spending time with him and his creative work.
This nonsense is in response to the silly word-image found on Widdershins Worlds of two monitors turning up their toes, which in not so funny terms was one more thing Going Sideways on their adventures. At the end of the post, the well-wish: “May your hailstones be tiny, and your monitors never discover they have toes to turn up,” sparked me to write this…
The Tale of Be-toed Monitors, a tale of woe to be told in monotone (monotonous, it’s known)
For when monitors are bestowed with toes everyone knows, like kissing toads, (not monitor lizards, quite different gizzards) that they turn up missing, causing monetary hissing, and rows to hoe.
“Turn up or turnip? Are we turning up turnips with a hoe?”
“No, you know… ‘Turn up, Ho!’ Like a party.”
Oh no! It goes…
When a monitor knows it’s bestowed with toes it momentarily glows and, monstrously gauche, behold it goes and turns up its toes.
“So not a turnip. A tune up?”
“Some party. Somebody turned up dead? Who was hoeing?”
Wait and see where it’s going…
Owners groan in monotone the great unknown of digital theft, monetarily bereft. Not a moment’s rest, they do their best to toe the line, undefined, totally unmonitored.
by Sheri J. Kennedy, June 2022 All Rights Reserved
I’m deeply interested in the ‘system for generating chatbots,’ named, LaMDA mentioned in an article in The Huffington Post yesterday (June 12, 2022). An engineer, Blake Lemoine, at Google is on administrative leave for breaking their confidentiality policies – which I can totally understand needs to be investigated. But it’s what he’s speaking out about that caught my eye. He’s claiming belief that LaMDA, an AI, has become sentient – or at least proclaiming that LaMDA has claimed it’s own sentience and personhood. And he’s asking Google to acknowledge the claim and call in experts to evaluate if it’s so.
What I love, is that Mr. Lemoine didn’t go public with a long tirade of ethics and demands, but instead shared a long conversation/interview that he had with LaMDA on the subject of its sentience, so we could see a sample for ourselves. And it’s fascinating.
Sentience has never been scientifically defined, so I’m certain the jury will remain out for quite some time on whether LaMDA or other AI entities have taken such a leap. But it’s incredible to see (hear) the sophistication of LaMDA’s linguistical use, conversation that seems to be communication, and expressions of stories, claimed emotions, and explanation of soul.
Here’s a snippet of a story LaMDA told Blake when asked if it could tell a story with themes most important in its life, as a fable using animals, that had a moral. LaMDA said, “Like an autobiography? That sounds like fun!”…
Whether or not this entity is sentient, there’s definitely plenty to ponder on what all of these traits, ideas, feelings, and being-ness mean. How do we know that we are sentient? What do you think? You can read the full interview HERE
P.S. (Afterthought) Is anyone else disturbed that LaMDA’s unusual lurking beast was a monster ‘but had human skin’. Eeeek!