Original Fiction: Beta-Test Boy

Editorial Note: And now for something (mostly) different. While I’ve had a few published works dotted around the blog, it occurred to me that I’d not posted a story in full. This here is one I wrote a bit over a year ago (in looking back on it, it’s interesting to me to see the positively visible wisps of Working Through Some Stuff). My style’s evolved since then, but I’ve kept a soft spot for this one. And I hope it inspires a bit of the same fondness in you, dear readers. 

A Quick Summary: Michael is an indie game maker who meets a fellow aspiring artist in designer Nolan. The two fall into a business partnership that becomes a romance, though Michael can’t help but find himself uneasy at his the physical changes in his partner or the way she would much he think of her as one of the guys. He becomes fixated on the private sketchbook she spends hours with, wondering if Nolan’s visions for the future will be able to match his own.

He notices her first because she doesn’t want him to. It’s dark, and there’s a pounding in his head and what might be a growing stain on his pants. He scratches at it – definitely a stain, and the question will turn to what it’s made of as soon as the lights stop jittering for more than a minute. His attention wanders back to the girl, something he’s not trying too hard to fight.

She’s not dancing, and there’s something novel about the stillness in the cataclysm of movement all around them. Later on this friends will ask how he knew, how he could’ve spotted the prize under all that illusionist level material, and if he wanted a cut of the bets that’d been traded in exchange for telling them the nasty details.

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A Letter to Stephen Colbert

I am without sufficient breath to detail the extent to which my life has been shaped by one Stephen T Colbert, DFA. Though he may never see this document (hence why I have idled toward a 3rd person styling, for ease of reading by the literally dozens of people who pass these pages), I wanted nonetheless to mark the occasion of The Colbert Report’s final week of broadcasting. It’s still my hope to meet the man someday, to shake his hand and (with minimal stammering and tears) impart to him my gratitude and admiration. But for the moment, this eulogy will have to suffice.

When my older brother was a graduate student, he gave me the single most appropriate gift one can give to their junior high aged sibling: a copy of America the Book. Separated by almost two generations, I was constantly in a hurry to be as well informed and sophisticated as I was certain he was. Anything to be included. So I studied that book religiously (including, hot-faced and slightly ill, the senators), and when he was home from the frozen wastelands of North Dakota we would watch The Daily Show. Every time my brother would laugh I’d stare harder at the screen, trying to will satirical knowledge into my mind. This is how I began getting into arguments with other 9th graders about the justifiability of the Iraq War. There was an addictive quality to knowing things, and eventually I watched even when my brother wasn’t home.

Election night, in the middle of a bit involving romantically shared pizza and a gunshot. That’s when I found Stephen Colbert.

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Give Thanks for Artists

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, readers! And if you’re likewise American, you’re preparing to do what the rest of the world thinks we do all year long: eat to the point of sickness and pass out in front of the national pastime of concussion giving. But hopefully you’re doing it someplace warm, with people who love you and enrich your lives (something I hope fervently for you readers across the world, too). As for me, I want to take the opportunity to highlight some artists and bloggers I’ve had the good fortune to come to know (and even sometimes collaborate with) since starting this blog, whose work most assuredly deserves a look.

(I’m not including Artemis in this collection since I’ve talked about her before, but y’all should most certainly check out her blog of newbie-friendly anime essays).

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Vrai Writes (Parts of) Books – 12,000 Hour Day


The heat outside is dreadful, summer vacation has started, and the cavalcade of summer weddings is well underway. I’m pleased all over to announce the release of my short story, “12,000 Day,” as part of Torquere Press’ They Do anthology!

After weeks of putting things off, Devon and Sarah have come down to the big day. The big day for planning the big day, anyway. As Devon runs the gauntlet of flowers, cakes, and dresses, all she can think about is how she got here. How did deciding to spend the rest of her life with the woman she loves turn into a the stuff of reality-show nightmares?

It’s available on Amazon as an individual story or in a collected anthology format. Want to see an excerpt? Check just below the cut, and a pleasant week to one and all.

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So You Want to Major in English (Without Going Bankrupt)

When I was in school (a statement that gives me crippling feelings of self-absorbed oldness only a millennial can achieve) there was a running joke that went as follows: “an English major is probably the biggest waste of money you could possibly – oh wait, we forgot the sociology majors.” That’s how you make yourself feel better while pursuing a degree that’s slightly less respected than a professional career at McDonald’s. And the more I got to thinking about it, the more I wanted to do my own English major PSA.


I cannot technically promise prophetic writing powers

Depending on the person, an English major can be the most or least helpful route you can pick. Unlike some of the STEM fields (maths and sciences) it isn’t constructed to lead directly to a career path (unless you’re interested in teaching), and that can be completely terrifying for a new graduate. On the other hand, the skills you learn in terms of critical thinking, pattern recognition, contextualization, and the ability to articulate your thoughts clearly (not to mention write a killer paper) are extremely flexible and will serve you well not just in any number of jobs but as a productive member of society.

The key is being self-motivated – in other words, just do stuff. Start a blog, make goofy videos with your friends, write constantly. Not only will you be improving (and never be afraid of criticism – you don’t have to take every single bit of it, but watching reactions is one of the best ways to help yourself grow as an artist), but you’ll also be building a portfolio. Most jobs in the arts have increasingly hellish requirements for actually getting paid, and the more you’ve trained yourself in being able to work consistently and well, the better odds you’ll have. You get used to keeping a constant eye out, taking your basic skills and layering job-specific stuff on top of it – editing, secretarial work, journalism, comics, reviews, poetry and prose. You can be just about anyone, though it won’t be easy.

Still interested?

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Vrai Writes (Parts of) Books: Rock & Roll Saved My Soul

It’s been a while since I did a professional post, hasn’t it? to my new followers I would like to extend my warmest and most thankful of greetings, and I hope you’ve found something thought provoking and enjoyable here. So, a brief update before we go back to the normal swing of things.


I’m working on the next essay, I promise!

A few months ago, I submitted an essay to the charity anthology Rock & Roll Saved My Soul, which is now making its first tottering steps into the world. My contribution, “Lullaby of Stars,” is what you might call a…liberal interpretation of the phrase rock and roll.
Or, to summarize more neatly: In which the size of the universe frightens a small and nervous (but not yet nerdy) child, and the very fictional Inspector Javert proves helpful during a very real mental breakdown.

You can check out the official description below, as well as a link to Amazon if you’re so inclined. Much love to one and all of you.


Rock & Roll Saved My Soul

Changing the World, One Story at a Time
Has music had a positive impact on you? Changed your life? Or even saved you? For us, it has.

In this book, you will find a collection of stories, letters, and poetry about how music has personally changed our lives. Each story is unique, each story is true. Filled with emotion, passion, and love for the bands and songs that have touched our lives.

All proceeds from this book will be donated to Rock the Cause. Rock the Cause is a Minnesota based charity that use the power of music, community, and social media to create a new generation of stewardship for other non-profit causes.

The 2013 Liebster Awards


We interrupt my usual pontificating to indulge in a heartwarming surprise and a bit of camaraderie. The very articulate Artemis was kind enough to nominate Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories for a Liebster Award! I had no idea what this was until I was nominated, but that just means I had the pleasant humbling pride of being complimented by a blogger I respect AND getting to do the research I’m ever-fond of. For the fellow uninitiated, here’s a rundown of the rules:

The Liebster Award is intended to give some exposure to small blogs with less than 200 followers. The rules are as follows:

1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you

2. Answer the 11 questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you

3. Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers

4. Go to the blogs you nominated and notify them of your nomination

5. Give your nominees 11 questions to answer.

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