Lessons Learned — I Have No Idea. (But I have style!)

My flash project was largely a test to see if I had what it took to be a writer. Did I even have 365 brain cells, each with a story idea, that could produce? By the end I was scraping the back of my skull’s interior for ideas, but along the way I found things other than ideas that could generate a story. Things like style, esthetics, absurdity, emotion, character, or voice.

That may seem obvious to most writers. After all, “character-driven stories” is a very common term. But for a novice—which I still consider myself—you don’t really understand it fully until you’ve done it. One of the payoffs of writing 365 stories in a year is that desperation to produce pushes you in directions you might not otherwise go. I was an “idea man,” but I fell into these other approaches, and they were very rewarding.

Part 1: Style

If I were to be honest, I’d have to admit that at this point I really mean “mimicry” when I say style.

My first example of this was the Muck-About Gang stories. These stories were inspired by the “The Mad Scientist Club” books, but “inspired” I think doesn’t give fair enough credit. Although my characters and situations are very distinct from the MSC books, I must confess I was trying to capture the style of those stories. Of all the flashes I wrote during this project, these are probably closest to fan-fiction. These books engaged a diverse group of friends with creative pursuits and formidable challenges dealing with the troublemakers that tried to thwart them. That’s pretty much what I tried to do with the Muck-Abouts.

In spite of that, and in spite of the lackluster responses from my readers (all four of them!), I loved writing them. If I was in that zone, all I had to do to make a story was choose a few characters, give them a project, and create complications. Sounds easy, right? Well it’s not, but occasionally something would pop from this approach. Style propelled them, and they energized the project as a whole. You can check out the first one, “Day 40: Zip Line,” and click on the “Muck-About Gang” tag to list out the rest of them.

I’m also a big fan of P.G. Wodehouse. I’d written whimsical stories before, but never to the lengths of absurdity, exaggeration, and mischief you would find in the average Wodehouse. I wanted to see if I could achieve such a thing. This required eloquent, well-to-do characters with insouciant wit and farcical morality. My determination to create an American variety of this style eventually produced “Day 185: Mauri and Tish Get It Done.” Considering it was my first attempt, I was quite happy with the results. I tried again with a little caper/mystery in “Day 231: Liberty Head Nickel,” and I revisited Mauri and Tish in “Day 240: The Racing Solution.”

The method I used for writing these were two-fold. First I needed to plot out a caper of some sort. Something silly like getting two people together, correcting the behavior of an over-adventurous spouse, or winning the neighborhood costume contest—whatever. The caper didn’t have to be complex, it just had to be silly. Next, I would create a few characters, figure out their attitudes and biases, put on my whimsy hat, and let the banter roll. A caper with nonchalant banter—doesn’t that about sum up our old friend Pelham Grenville?

All in all, I think I acquitted myself quite well, by Jove!

By the way, you might notice a Wodehousian influence on three stories about a Bichon Frise (“Day 193: Darwin’s Huckleberry,” “Day 196: Emergency Grooming,” and “Day 197: The Rise and Fall of a Bichon Frise”), and your perception would have merit. However, far more than style, those stories were motivated by—an actual dog.

What does this all mean? I think it means that mimicry is a very positive aspect of the art. You may not want to publish something that skirts the edge of copying, but it’s a good feeling to know you can write stories a lot like the ones you are very fond of. Furthermore, it can give you the proof that once you have developed your particular style, you will be able to crank those stories out.

So, what are you waiting for?

By the way–you no longer have to scroll like mad to see my flashes in order. In the menu I’ve included a page of links listed in order for easy access.


Idea Generation Strategies — Ticking off Monsters

Should authors just give up on originality?

I’ve heard a lot said about there being nothing new in fiction. In script writing I frequently run across the saying “the same only different.” Let’s face it, though—a writer wants to convey unique ideas, and such a hope drove most of my efforts this last year.

Classic monsters provided fertile foraging ground. I wrote three such stories in the first fifteen days. Looking for the “different” in the “same only different” among monsters became a routine part of my brainstorming. And why not? Monsters are cool.

By the way, if these “Idea Generation Strategies” amount to mere navel-gazing, it’s all good. It sometimes feels that way to me. Keep writing and more power to you. My intention is to give examples of strategies that got me through three hundred sixty-five stories in three hundred sixty-five days. If you get something out of it, all the better.

Back to business.

(If you want to prevent any spoiler effect, read Day 3: All for Amila before reading the next paragraph.)

I wrote about a zombie in Day 3: All for Amila. I have lots of opinions about zombies, and getting me to talk about them is a lot like asking a few teenagers who the best Avenger is. You’re going to get an earful, and it may or may not be entertaining. So I figured I could find my own angle. I asked myself what kind of person would be most resistant to a zombie infection or curse, and what I came up with provided me immeasurable satisfaction.

Before starting the Flash-a-Day project, I already had a couple ideas regarding vampires that I put into Day 6: Unrelenting Baptism. It’s possible the ideas in this story are the most original in the entire run, and I’m quite proud of it. I’d have to dig a lot deeper into my navel to explain. The story didn’t come from ticking down the list of monsters like the others did, but it highlighted them as a potential fount of new angles.

I struggled to write Day 15: The Mummy’s Last Redress. That day began my third week, and ideas grew thin. I had already floundered late into the night, so fatigue dogged my mind. The decision to write about a mummy pushed me even later because it created the need for research into Egyptian stuff to find realistic names, determine religious references, and assure the geography made at least a little sense.

In spite of the difficulty, it was an important turning point. I’d already burned through some reserves, and completing the story, for the first time, made me feel like I might actually be able to follow this project through. To find that original angle, I asked myself who a mummy might be and how anything in the modern world might be relevant to him at all.

This poor creature from one of the longest lasting civilizations known by man woke up in a completely unrecognizable world, only stone remnants of ancient Egypt still remaining. What could he possibly care about? What could possibly persist? By answering those questions, I found a gratifying new angle for a mummy story.

There’s no specific method to this other than keeping a list of classic monsters and going through it again and again until some original angle occurs to you. Are there any questions you have about their natures that are unanswered? Answer those questions and discover some cool stories.

Here are some questions that I asked and answered:

—How does a little girl deal with a bullyish ghost? (Day 43: Isabel and the Ghost)
—How is Frankenstein’s monster adjusting to the modern world? (Day 278: Interview with Frankenstein’s Monster — 1-2-3-D!)
—What is so horrifying about a werewolf’s transformation that his friends won’t talk about it and refuse to take a video? (Day 295: The Burdens of a Werewolf)
—Who among acquaintances at a dinner party is the werewolf? (Day 32/33: Dinner at Horton’s – Part 1 & 2)

Occasionally I would find a second story for a particular kind of monster, like Day 311: Don’t Blaspheme the Mummy, but most only gave me one. Attempts at sequels didn’t work well for me, either. Although monsters were a finite source, they provided happy moments when I discovered them.

I don’t know if these stories were truly unique, but they were new and original to me. They benefitted the development of my craft, and made this project well worthwhile. And, wow. Look at that. My navel is fuzz free.

Idea Generation Strategies — 1-2-3-Done

Writing is as easy as 1, 2, 3… sometimes.

In my flashes this past year you will find a lot of threes. In fact, I’ve tagged many of them with 1-2-3-D, which stands for “one-two-three-done!”

I first learned of the “rule of three” in humor, which basically sets you up (1), strings you along (2), and hits you with a surprise (3). It’s applicable for many things, but I found it especially useful in creating flash fiction, and I probably wouldn’t have completed a year of flashes without it.

The first thing I realized about 1-2-3-D stories, is that they’re usually much easier to write than most others. When I found such a topic that inspired me, I knew I’d be writing three short vignettes with some kind of twist at the end, and the twist often fell naturally into place. Most likely I’d get to bed at a decent hour.

The second thing I realized was that there were lots of possibilities. I wrote flashes with three dates, three interviews, three wishes, and three iterations of any number of things.

One character had a blind date with three different kinds of creatures, a wood nymph, a vampire, and a zombie. In another flash, it took three interviews for a couple guys to find the right kind of fellow to be a vampire hunter. And what happens when a genie grants three wishes to a zombie? Or an alien? Or a robot? What happens when a genie grants wishes to a thug that conflict with the wishes a leprechaun granted to a little girl? I wrote at least six stories involving three wishes, all of them very different from each other.

There were two ways I would come up with 1-2-3-D ideas. One way was to be on the lookout for situations that would fit that approach. Got a cash register controlled by Artificial Intelligence? Have it interact with three customers—one-two-three-done! Got three Sirens trying to lure sailors to their deaths in the modern world? Have them attempt it on three different ships—one-two-three-done! Here’s one I haven’t done: Trying to perfect a potion that makes someone irresistible? Try it three times with the same person, or once on three different ones. Already I have a feeling a troll will be involved, and that’s the beauty of these kinds of stories—they get you thinking about the twist right from the beginning.

I also intentionally brainstormed for things that can come in threes. Three wishes, three chances, three strikes, three clues, three viewpoints, three flavors, three trips, three tries, and on some of the more desperate nights, three-cheese macaroni.

There’s no hard and fast rule how to implement these; however, they generally write towards some kind of twist for the third iteration. Take the troll twist for the irresistibility potion mentioned above. To get to that twist, the first iteration needs to provide the set up and establish the stage, which usually makes it the longest of the three. Things usually don’t go right in the first iteration. Perhaps the subject is a cat person, and she runs into a bunch of dog people. The second one might go worse or become problematic in a different way. That section can be long or very short, whatever it takes to provide the pattern. For the third iteration, the tester might try it on himself (Ack! Where’d all these trolls come from?), or he might test it on a troll while forgetting to put on his immunity hat. (What beautiful trails of snot you have!)

Yeah—what do you want from five minutes of thought? The imaginative mind will see many possibilities here.

Occasionally I came across happy accidents where the first iteration generated its own story without the need for two more iterations. Usually that meant its substance had greater meaning than intended. “Day 126: Mr. Travio’s Flower Shop” was one of those cases. I started writing it as a slapstick piece with a hitman’s three failed attempts to kill someone. It turned out to be something entirely different. If that happens, embrace it.

In spite of the rich lode 1-2-3-D has to offer, it only went so far for me. Eventually story ideas of that kind became harder to come by, at least ones that inspired me. They would also become monotonous if it was all I did. All the stories would start to seem too similar and formulaic. It was a welcome boost to keep my 365-day project going, but not all stories could be 1-2-3-D, and I wouldn’t want them to be.

On the other hand, some of them were gems.

Let’s see… introduced the concept with examples and experience (1), discussed how to use the method (2), and took a new turn by mentioning some limitations and ending with something upbeat (3). One-two-three-done—I’m outta here.

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who encouraged and supported me throughout this year. Thank you readers, especially Dad and Mom, and thank you to everyone who ‘liked,’ retweeted, or commented along the way. You all made a big difference to me, and gave me compelling reason to push on during the hardest moments.

A special thanks to David Litchfield, whose TED Talk, “How doing a drawing a day changed my life,” inspired this endeavor.

After some rest, I will assess my accomplishments and decide how to further use this site, most likely as a place for discussing lessons learned, developing the craft, and publishing a story from time to time.

Please stay tuned.

Day 284: How Far, the Limit of Love

To survive in the emptiness of time, little room can be given to tears, and despair is always a familiar companion. When Fadderhan snatched my Enta and carried her away, I threw myself into the endless impossibility of finding her, the delicate thread of hope pulling me to the thin line of luck that imparted knowledge of where she’d been and made the impossible seem possible.

The morning after finding the vast warren of hundreds of hives where she still might be, it first discouraged me that the possible had become impossible again, but then I took heart, for I’d faced the impossible before, and look how far I’d come. After all, my entire life—the entire existence of Mallocrest in the emptiness of time—sprang from the impossible, and nothing, no nothing, would stop me from finding my beloved.

Unlike the single hive, disrupting this place with any kind of attack would work against me, and it would destroy me as certain as a Tsheemaroc swarm.

I smiled grimly to myself. I’d survived the Tsheemaroc swarm. But that had been a miracle, and I would never willingly go into one. Without knowing exactly where they kept Enta, storming into these hives would accomplish nothing.

Patience buttressed my mind like stone, holding back the rage that fought to empty itself like lead from the chambers of my guns upon the repugnant atrocities spread among these shallow dunes.

I spent several days walking the perimeter of the entire warren. I counted four hundred seventy-six hives, though I may have missed a few. Shelters for people and feeders sprawled in between them, feeders attentive to the kazhashas, but the men confined like prisoners. The kazhasha escorted the few men that were free in, then directly out. Only the feeders made their way around without restriction, some even going into hives. The bug demons frequently licked them with their curly tongues.

The most obvious way to make my way through was to debase myself to abject corruption and become a feeder. I forced the thought away, but the longer I looked, the more it stood as the only viable option. Not viable, but the only one available.

It returned to haunt me, and eventually I entertained what it would mean. You’ve heard me describe many kinds of feeders, the most repulsive aberrations of men in constant exchange of their deenay, spreading deformities among all who are beholden to the Desiderasha. I would rather eat a porgrent’s rotten, ten-pound egg yolk than participate with any of them. Yet, for the sake of finding my beloved Enta, I studied the ones in the cluster, considered what kind I might join to commingle among the cluster and hunt her out.

Could I tolerate allowing the ickborlas of the crusties, scaled, rat-like vermin, to bite into me, stay attached, and suck my blood, jumping from feeder to feeder, exchanging deenay and the spark of life? Could I stand the falangiks’ hollow pokers growing from my shoulder blades, embedding into my skin, causing me to grow my own and shunt fluids from inside me into them and back? Could I stand the corruption of the mind that causes them all to worship the Desiderasha above all things, even above the welfare of those they love?

To understand my abhorrence for the consideration of it, you must understand I have loathed the feeders since I was a boy, shunning them and growing my enmity. As a man I saw the destruction they wrought among men, and I hated them. Before I found Enta, there was nothing that would persuade me to join with them.

Before Enta, however, these pathetic fiends were mere threats to me, to my cleanliness, to possession of my own mind, and to my life. When Enta came with me, their repugnance increased tenfold next to the purity of her heart, her soul, and her body, and the threats they were to her lit fire to my rage against them. Above all, joining any of them would dishonor her, in life or in memory, and I would never consider contributing to the corruption of the world she lived in. The mere hint of such a thing would horrify her, and she would forbid me from doing it. This I know.

Yet, resting upon the highest dune north of the cluster I considered that perhaps it was my duty as her guardian to accept the corruption. To ignore her resistance to the idea as the mere naïveté of a child, and accept the corruption of my body and spirit for the sake of her salvation.

I have walked so long on the thin lines of hope and luck, where they cross over to bring me closer to my beloved, I cannot imagine they will stay with me for another hour if I don’t willingly accept the poison that might bring me closer to her.

Fatigue overwhelmed me. Hunger overtook me. I curled up between the scrub bushes that I’d been using for cover and closed my eyes. That night I would not pervert myself to find her. The next day, who knows how far I will go? But that night I accepted my integrity as the stone that anchors me and found peace in ignorant sleep.

Day 259: Keeping it Real with the Cheswicks

Chad Cooper was gonna, like, ‘boom!’ spellbind Lisa’s parental units with his charm. They were open-minded Californians, which meant he didn’t have to be paranoid about every freaky thing coming out his mouth. He had his best Capone on, freshly dry-cleaned, and his bridge of pearly whites would span any distance to win them over.

He showed up at the door with a bouquet of wild flowers—‘cause Lisa’s wild—and that’s the way he rolls.

An old guy in a zoot suit answered the door.

“Mr. Cheswick, I am so pleased to meet you, sir.” Chad grabbed his hand and shook vigorously.

The man cleared his throat. “I’m Dodgeworth, the butler.”

“Hey, yo, all right.” Chad let go of his hand. “Workin’ stiff like me, eh?”

“I assure you I am no such thing.” Dodgeworth escorted him to a the library.

“Man, this place is dope! You gotta like working here.”

“Indeed, sir.” Dodgeworth left.

Chad rifled through their books, finding a section of well-worn astrology books, another with battered books on ancient Egyptian therapies, and one shelf of self-help books for grounding oneself in reality—all of them like new.

“Hey, baby!” Lisa bounded over to him, gave him a big hug, and kissed him on the chin. “You ready to meet them?”

“I was born ready, babydoll. I am going to charm… their… pants off. Yo!”

Mr. and Mrs. Cheswick, dressed in formal evening wear, made their introductions and took them to the dining room where they sat Chad next to Lisa’s little brother, Samuel, across from her.

Mrs. Cheswick beamed at Chad as they settled in. “We want an open-minded boy for our Lisa. She’s told us about you, and we have high hopes.”

“Quite.” Mr. Cheswick cut into his roast. “What do you do for a living, Mr. Cooper?”

“UFO hunter, boss.” Chad stuffed some carrots in his mouth and realized too late he was talking with his mouth full. “I’ve been working on a sighting over Ash Meadows Wildlife Preserve. We got neighbors freaking out, I tell you.”

Mrs. Cheswick nodded to her husband. “That’s respectable. Does it pay well?”

“Well, you know, not yet, but when I get my first exclusive I’ll sell it for one big head of cabbage.”

“Nice,” said Mr. Cheswick.

Samuel stirred his vegetables. “UFOs are nonsense.”

“Samuel!” Mrs. Cheswick dropped her fork.

“Don’t be such a closed-minded nitwit,” said Mr. Cheswick. “Continue Mr. Cooper.”

“Not much more to tell.” Chad took a drink of wine. “My theory is that these are some of the grayskins come to retaliate for the operations at Area 51.”

“Lisa tells us you finally found a place to live in the country?”

“Oh, yeah.” Chad flashed his pearly whites and gesticulated with his hands. “I’ve got these awesome digs down at the lake. Got ‘em cheap, too, yo.”

“Why so cheap?” asked Mrs. Cheswick.

Lisa clapped. “Tell them about your houseguest.”

“You have to share it?” asked Mrs. Cheswick. “That hardly sounds ideal.”

“Yo, it’s per-fect, but it’s all haunted and stuff, you groove on that?”

“You have a real ghost?” Mr. Cheswick pushed his clean plate away, and Dodgeworth immediately cleared it.

“No such thing as ghosts,” said Samuel.

Mr. Cheswick shushed him. “What a great find. Doesn’t keep you awake, I hope.”

“Nah. Not at all. He’s my homeboy.”

Dodgeworth placed a creamcake in front of each of them, and poured a coffee for Mr. Cheswick and Chad.

Samuel dug his fork into the dessert. “What sports do you play, Mr. Cooper?”

Chad sniggered. “You don’t have to ‘Mr. Cooper’ me, home broetchen. Just call me ‘the Chad.’”

“Do you play any?”

“Nah. I used to play some B-ball, but I’m into the party scene these days.”

“You ever play football?”

Chad grimaced. “Way too dangerous, homie. Those guys get concussions and stuff. Not my thang. My guardian angel’s got my back an’ all, but, you know, I don’t like to put ‘im to the test.”

“Your what?” asked Mr. Cheswick.

Suddenly, everyone in the room, including Lisa, stared at him like he’d wiped his greasy hands on their show poodle or something.

“My guardian angel. You know—my mystical bro. My spirit warrior.”

“Lisa.” Mr. Cheswick pounded his fist on the table. “You are not to see this boy again.”

“But father—”

“No!” Mrs. Cheswick added her voice to the objection.

“You better leave, Mr. Cooper.”

“Wait a minute,” said Chad. “You’re good with UFOs, astrology, and ghosts, but you can’t deal with a guardian angel?”

Dodgeworth waved to have Chad follow him out of the room.

“You are clearly a madman,” said Mr. Cheswick.

“Dude, that is like the opposite of open minded.”

“Get out!”

Day 250: Troubleshooting the Magic Fabric

Before the Magic Operation Center offered me a job, they sent me on a ride-along with one of their seasoned mages, Paul Weaver, and boy could he talk. He picked me up in his black 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, and headed into town.

“Nice to meet you, Larry. We’ve got a call to troubleshoot some pylons down along Juniper Boulevard.”

He had longish brown hair, about a week and a half of stubble, a green crew shirt, and blue jeans.

“The pylons are everywhere. I guarantee you’ve seen them. We originally set them up to sink the excess magic whirling around the city. That’s what happens when you have a metropolis like ours so full of wizards.

“They’re more than sinks now, though. They literally anchor the magic’s fabric and keep it even throughout so that there aren’t high-concentration areas where a wizard might intend to move a stone with his mind, but wind up crushing a house with it. The other danger it prevents is not to allow places so thin with magic that a wizard is rendered powerless and vulnerable. We all hate that—good and bad.

“Larry, we like to keep things on an even keel here. This isn’t the Wild West. My job is to keep them in repair.

“Have you figured out what they are yet?” I didn’t have time to shrug. “Fire hydrants. The quality of tapping into water was very conducive to magic interaction, so all hydrants were adapted. You’ll be hard-pressed to find even one that has not been fitted with the appropriate magic interfaces, though they aren’t visible to anyone not knowing what to look for.

“We monitor them from the Magic Operation Center where even the weakest of wizards can send beacons of power through the fabric and receive echoes from every pylon. It’s a pretty amazing system. The mages on duty sit in a circle, translate the echoes, and project the pylons onto a three dimensional image between them.

“It’s a great place for any novice wizard to start. They keep in constant contact with archmages such as myself, and they learn new things about how magic really works. Cheez, sometimes they know more about what’s going on than we do.”

He pulled onto Juniper Boulevard and parked with one wheel on the curb.

“We don’t usually lose the pylons altogether.” He unbuckled and popped his door, so I followed suit. “Low water pressure can make the strength plummet, and thunderstorms or odd environmental things can make them fluctuate unpredictably, but there’s not much to cut them off entirely.”

We walked a short way down the street to the first hydrant.

“This is our anchor,” he said. “It’s the last good one before we get to the ones we lost, so we’ll be trying to interweave their magic with it.”

Further down the street, we found another fire hydrant, and an unusual sight started my heart pumping. I could see small creatures clinging to the side, but they were only visible through my second sight. They looked like giant pill bugs, but with spines coming out from each ring of its shell, lacy-looking claws coming out the sides. The bugs shimmered in a way not usual to normal vision.

In my life up to then, I had only encountered my second sight three times. It is by no means common.

“What do you think?” Paul asked.

“Are those bokochiggers?”

“Ding-ding-ding! Nice guess. What do we do now?”

“Remove them? Maybe their preventing the magic from flowing.”

“How do we do that?”

I felt embarrassed because I had no idea. “Uuuuh. Pull them off and bag ‘em?”

“Go ahead,” he said.

I grabbed a trash bag from the back of his truck and shook it open, then put on some thick gloves. I looked at him uneasily, and he nodded toward the hydrant.

The creatures clung very tightly, so it took a lot of strength and prying to get them off, one by one. When I had them all, he told me to tie off the bag and throw it in the truck.

By the time I turned around with a new bag, the hydrant was once again covered in the things.

Paul looked at me and smirked. “I like the fact that you just dug in and got your hands dirty—you weren’t even thinking of treating it with magic. However, an important lesson in troubleshooting is figuring out if something is a cause or a symptom.” He nicked his head at the hydrant. “Them bugs be symptoms. They feed off of a magic residue of some sort after magic is gone.”

“Wow.” I tucked the trash bag in my pocket. “What happens when we get the magic back?”

“They’ll scatter like roaches.” I must have looked worried because he patted me on the back and said, “Don’t worry. They’re perfectly harmless.”

“You want me to let the ones in your truck loose?”

“Heck no. They’re good eating.”

I grimaced.

Paul waved me on. “Let’s check the next one.”

About halfway down the next block, a sticky blue haze flowed in several directions, then receded into a dense dark cloud the size of a buffalo.

“What new hell is this?” said Paul. “The thing is, we’re only barely close enough to the anchor point to draw power and defeat this thing.” He shook his head. “What have the sorcerers come up with now?”

I felt a little timid, but I was pretty sure I knew what it was. “I may have a remedy. Let’s get to a gardening store.”

He looked at me like I was crazy at first, but looking back at the cloud, he shrugged his shoulders. We picked up a battery operated garden mister from a mom and pop gardening store, and I grabbed a gallon of vinegar from a grocery store.

When we got back to the cloud, which was now moving like a pinwheel on its side, I filled the mister’s tank with the vinegar and turned it on. I aimed the mist at the cloud, stepping closer and closer as it receded. Little by little it dissipated and vanished.

When it was gone, Paul scowled at me askew. “What the hell was that?”

“It wasn’t magic. It was rogue nanobots.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Why vinegar?”

“A lot of the nanoswitches for this rogue stuff are pH activated, but if it wasn’t, there was a better than even chance the acidity would disable them.”

“Huh.” Paul called the MOC and verified the pylons were coming back up, and the magic fabric was restored. “How did it interfere with magic?”

“No idea,” I said. “I figured we should at least eliminate it as a possibility.”

“Huh.” He rubbed his neck. “So nanotechnology can interfere with magic now.”


He scoffed. “It’s a brand new world. You’re hired.”