Hey, Where’s That Novel Project You Were Working On?

Does anyone remember Dysontopia, my serialized fiction novel project? For a while, I was posting about a thousand words of it every week. It has been a while since I’ve even brought up the topic, so I would imagine one or two of you are wondering if it ran away, took an extended vacation in the Caribbean, or perhaps got sucked into a giant planet-eating black hole. Well, Dysontopia looks nothing like the fragments scattered about Normal Happenings anymore.

When last we checked in, it was undergoing a reformat with the intention of me releasing it chapter by chapter instead of in small portions. But here’s the thing – Dysontopia has blossomed into something really quite special. I don’t want to speak too soon, but reworking this novel has completely shifted its core concept into something that I actually consider particularly unique, mature, and sophisticated as far as novels are concerned. It’s more than just that girl named Sydney, though she still remains the focal point of the work. Don’t worry, I love that character too much for her not to be the main protagonist. Continue reading “Hey, Where’s That Novel Project You Were Working On?”

Dysontopia Rebranding Mode Activated | Zero-Point Update 0.4

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Related: About Dysontopia

We need to talk about the Dysontopia project. I know I haven’t published a new section in a couple weeks. Two weeks ago I made this tweet:


While true, and content for the novel is indeed something I’m working on, it’s not really the big issue that’s keeping me from publishing another section. You see, and I think you’ll agree with me on this, I think Dysontopia has a branding issue. I’d like to get this fixed before proceeding.

I’m putting Dysontopia on temporary hiatus until I’m happy with its branding and I retroactively apply that branding to all previous sections. Continue reading “Dysontopia Rebranding Mode Activated | Zero-Point Update 0.4”

Dysontopia | 4/4 4:44 | 4.1

<< Metal Conducts Electricity 3.4 | Patch Log | 4/4 4:44 4.2 >>

Related: About Dysontopia (Start Here) | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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Chapter 4

“4/4 4:44”

Opening my eyes, my vision is doubled and I feel nauseous, like I’m spinning. I immediately think something is wrong, so in a panic I try to jerk myself awake. The feeling reminds of the time I randomly woke up with vertigo five years ago. I spent two hours spinning, then it just stopped as I sat in the waiting room of the doctor. I never want to go through that again. Luckily this time the sensation passes after a moment.

The glow of the lights outside filters a dark shade of blue through my curtains, reminding me of the lights mounted above the kitchen window of my grandparents’ old house. Funny, the lights outside are usually a lot more yellow. And that shadow is not supposed to be there. I barely make out the silhouette of a person in the corner. Long hair. Glasses. I scramble around madly for a weapon of some type.

I knew it before I turn on the lamp on the bedside table, which illuminates that distinctive face and hair (and those nails). She’s back. Continue reading “Dysontopia | 4/4 4:44 | 4.1”

Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.4

<< Metal Conducts Electricity 3.3 | Patch Log | 4/4 4:44 4.1 >>

Related: About Dysontopia (Start Here) | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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A lot can happen between the months of January and May. That final semester at Azure Coast did not live up to the seven that had come before it. I got falsely accused of plagiarism on a paper in a required class I didn’t even want to take, knocking my GPA down from a perfect 4.0. That meant I graduated magna cum laude, not the summa cum laude title I had my heart set on. No gold and silver honor cord. No graduation speech. I just walked up to the stage and grabbed a fake piece of paper with the alma mater lyrics and an alumni association ad in it, just like everybody else.

While that was going on, one of my best friends since childhood, Mae Albritton, and I got into a falling out over this guy I was dating, and as so often happens with sororities, they turn on you when the drama starts. Considering Mae had just as much involvement in Pi Beta Eta as me, basically a she-said, she-said civil war broke out. It didn’t take me long to just give up and let her spread her gossip about me. It didn’t matter, I was leaving anyway and she was just a junior. No hard feelings. I’ll just got out and let her do her thing. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.4”

Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.3

<< Metal Conducts Electricity 3.2 | Patch Log | Metal Conducts Electricity 3.4 >>

Related: About Dysontopia (Start Here) | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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“What,” I resisted. “I just told you what happened to my mom. She’s dead and that’s that.”

“I know you better than that, Sydney Winters. You were the star of Azure Coast University 15 years after your mom died. You loved your life, and you really loved the nightlife. Losing your mom when you were three years old did not turn you into…” she motioned at me with her hands, fumbling for the right words to describe the mess of me. I’d thought I’d help out a bit.

“What? A jerk? A smartass? An insensitive prick who thinks everyone around her is a –?

She retaliates, “A person who absolutely is dealing with depression, a mental illness which affects literally a billion people.”

“What the hell are you saying?” I feel this powerful surge of anger. I can acknowledge that I’m an asshole. I can get behind the fact that I’m mean to people and deserve to be treated likewise. But depression, that’s the thing that put my mom in the ground, and I wasn’t about to let that girl start flinging around words like depression and mental illness. I am not weak. I am better than that. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.3”

Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.2

<< Metal Conducts Electricity 3.1 | Patch Log | Metal Conducts Electricity 3.3 >>

Related: About Dysontopia (Start Here) | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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I remember one time, when I was sixteen-years-old and finishing up another lazy spring day in the life of high school sophomore, Dad got off of work from the lab early. He pulled up blaring some deep cut from Soundgarden or something – I’m not sure, I wasn’t really into that kind of music at the time – and said he wanted to take me to a baseball game. I think I had plans that night with one of the hundred jerks I dated in high school, but something about hanging out with my dad just felt like the right thing to do. I didn’t much care who the Jacksonville Suns were even playing or how they were doing in the standings, I just remember eating this really big hot dog and cheering when the crowd did. I was also a fan of pulling for the underdog during those stupid half-inning mascot race games. That night, it was The Great Office Supply Race, featuring Nicky the Sticky Note, Armstrong the Rubber Band, and fan-favorite Jim the Paperclip.

One thing I had always found odd was that it was just my dad and I living in such a big house. The residence at 1228 Halcyon Drive, with four bedrooms and this awesome loft, was clearly big enough for a family much larger than our little dynamic duo. That loft, which I eventually named the Sky Roost, was my sanctuary and favorite room in the house. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.2”

Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.1

<< A Study in Bad Acronyms 2.3 | Patch Log | Metal Conducts Electricity 3.2 >>

Related: About Dysontopia (Start Here) | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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Chapter 3

“Metal Conducts Electricity”

“You know you’ve got a bed, right?” Millie says, closing the apartment door behind her. Knowing my dearest roommate, she was out until 11:00 p.m. with her friends. And by “with her friends,” I mean quizzing each other on possible drug interactions using flashcards. You have to think that on long nights things devolve into something a little dirtier, like competitive ganglia nerve cluster diagramming.

I must have turned the heat in the apartment up to like 75 degrees, drawing a short complaint from Millie as she walks by, but I still feel cold. I’m sprawled out on the couch in my purple tank top and a pair of mismatched running shorts I changed into when I got back. Honestly though, I’m wide awake thinking about everything that’s happened today and how much I miss the people I love.

“There’s, um, some pizza in the refrigerator if you want it,” I mutter, unsure if I was speaking loud enough for her to hear me. Gosh, I must have been just staring up at the ceiling for hours now. It has become so incredibly hard not to cry. It’s like you can build that long-term toughness where you don’t cry at anything anymore. With practice you can sustain that stability for a little while, but then the dam breaks and you find yourself depressed even deeper underwater. I must have cycled through that process three or four times over the past two years. Millie is heading to her room, study materials in tow, without any intention of saying another word to me. The way I treated her this morning, I don’t blame her. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.1”

Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.3

<< A Study in Bad Acronyms 2.2 | Patch Log | Metal Conducts Electricity 3.1 >>

Related: About Dysontopia | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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Dude comes back to take our food order, but of course I don’t have to say anything because Val’s already got it covered with my favorite. Large thin crust. Bacon, bell pepper, mushrooms, and that oh so scrumptious pineapple. Pure pizza bliss.

“Sector… Zero?” I’m trying to comprehend what that has to do with society or history or really anything of the sorts. I understand the words, of course. Land is often divided into sectors forming a grid. So are areas of three-dimensional space. And they’re often numbered 1-100 based on a predetermined position and established area size. Meh, who knows, maybe the office just got together and voted on a cool name.

“And you’re saying that’s somehow less ominous than CHASR?” I quip. Continue reading “Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.3”

Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.2

<< A Study in Bad Acronyms 2.1 | Patch Log | A Study in Bad Acronyms 2.3 >>

Related: About Dysontopia | On Curse Words in Fiction

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She shrugs, of all things, and says, “As a matter of fact there is.” Then she smiles, and it’s all rather peculiar. I’m trying to comprehend why someone would be so happy-go-lucky about apprehending me, or whatever is going on.

“Go on,” I say, tilting my head, feeling more annoyed than anything.

“Are you hungry?” she changes the subject. I quickly shake my head no, furrowing my eyes behind the sunglasses. That was actually a lie. Millie was right about the sugar crash.

“Are you going to tell me what the hell you want?” I fire back.

“Hey, relax. I’ll tell you everything, but can we do it over lunch? Please? Something tells me one granola bar just isn’t enough.” She pulls out the empty wrapper I had dropped on the ground.

“How the –” Continue reading “Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.2”