Monday, 30 December 2013

Part 1 of The Deadlands: Episode 1 Released

I uploaded the first two scenes/segments of the serial story, The Deadlands: Episode 1, I'm working on to Wattpad earlier. It's not a complete episode, but what I uploaded are two scenes/segments I'm rather happy with currently. At least the first segment. I'll upload the rest of the episode by next Monday hopefully. Also, you should be aware that it's very much a work in progress and that I'm a pantster by nature with just the ending in mind. Plus it's being written as I upload parts.

The picture . . . don't be mislead by it. It's essentially a dark fantasy, post-apocalyptic story that's gritty and adult in nature with some heavy themes explored. Basically, a man finds a girl who's alone and she's been taken advantage of. He decides to try and get her home. When he reaches the settlement, he becomes embroiled in the settlement's conflicts. Things such as racism, crime and power struggles. The guns are simply on the cover to try and give the impression of a post-apocalyptic, lawless land. They possibly don't get the right impression across, but I honestly have no artistic skill when designing covers and I have no money to spend unfortunately, so I had to try and make the best of photos I could find where I was free to use them without attribution.

The Deadlands

That's the link to the story. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it and thanks. Also, if you enjoy it, can leave feedback, vote (provided it deserves the vote) and spread the word, I'd really appreciate it.

Feedback wise, I don't want to make major content changes to parts already uploaded unless it's really needed, because I don't want readers to read a part, read a later part and then find inconsistencies. They might have to read the whole thing again to understand things. So, any content feedback and thoughts along those lines will be used to shape future parts. Technical feedback, however, or just letting me know if you enjoyed/disliked the story? That's definitely more than welcome.

If you do like what you read, you can find my short stories for sale at Amazon UK and Amazon US. Personally, I'd recommend Gus, though it's short. I think I have a lot to say about people and society in general with that story. I keep thinking of the phrasing of the first sentence in that story, but everything else I'm more than happy with.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

A Christmas Drabble

A drabble, of 98 words, where a dog finds a new home, primarily written to test the waters on Wattpad. A drabble itself is defined as being a piece of writing of 100 words or less. And I got the idea of just quickly writing something up after seeing a post by Frenchie, a friend on Goodreads and Facebook, where she posted her own drabble. So, even though it was inadvertent, thanks for giving me the idea. :) I figured it'd be a good way to test the water a bit and get people exposed to my writing rather than waiting for a longer work. Also posting it here though as it's obviously not something I want to do anything with.

My Wattpad profile, by the way, can be found at:

Hope you enjoy it. (Please don't forget that my short story, Gus, is free on Amazon until the 28th.)

A Christmas Drabble

Snow falls. A dog, lame-legged, lies on a street corner. Fur partly snow-white. He looks up at passers-by with black eyes and feasts upon scraps. Either ignored or treated abhorrently by tormentors, he wishes for company. Someone to care for him.

Before Christmas Eve’s end, a father and his daughter pass him by, the daughter’s face red and showing disappointment. They walk by, but stop. The daughter’s face lights up, tugs on her father’s sleeve, points.

The father sighs, but smiles slightly, shaking his head. He kneels beside the dog, says, “Hungry?” and ruffles the dog’s fur.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Book Review: Sweet Violent Femmes, by Holly M. Kothe (Short Story Collection)

I just finished reading Sweet Violent Femmes, a short story collection by Holly M. Kothe, an indie author. There are four stories in the collection and they each share a common theme, which the title alludes to, though the stories and characters themselves are quite different aside from said shared theme. Overall, I enjoyed the read, but while each story was well-written, I felt that the last two stories were the strongest, though the first would have been very strong if one little thing had been added in my view.

First up, there’s The Glass Room. It’s a story set in Paris and without going into spoiler territory, it’s essentially one continuous scene where girls are assembled in a glass room, while clients view them and then pay the owners of the establishment to be ‘serviced’. As you can imagine, the story touches on what it’s like to be in that line of business, with the emphasis on what might be felt if they’re abused at the hands of the clients. I liked the emphasis on how greed can affect people and how the rich can get away with things because . . . well, they have money. It’s true to life, sadly.

For me, the reason it’s not as strong as it could be is because there was only really a sentence or two that explained how the main character ended up working in the place. You can draw your own conclusions easily enough. The ending to the story is quite well deserved too.

The next story, Tethered, was not really for me unfortunately. That’s not the story’s fault. Basically, it’s a surreal story with a supernatural element where a woman tries to piece together what happened to her. I can’t really give more details than that sadly, with it being the type of story that’s quite easy to spoil. Again though, it did end on a good note.

Seeing Black, the third story, was really quite good. The only downside for me was that when a particular character was mentioned, it was pretty obvious what would happen. It was just the ‘how’ that was in question. The story itself is about an emotionally damaged woman who’s trying to cope with a breakup that has scarred her. I won’t get into further details than that.

The final story, Feminist Theory, didn’t have the same problem. It kept me guessing right to the end as to who would be on the main character’s hit list. Actually, that’s incorrect. Essentially, the story is about the interaction between a doctor and his ‘patient’. Obviously, the greater story is unravelled through the narrative. That’s just the basics. I knew the doctor was the one on the main character’s hit list, but I didn’t know why until the end, nor did I know who he actually was (in terms of the story that the main character tells the doctor). I rather enjoyed this one at any rate.

Overall, all of the stories were well-written as to be expected from Holly, because I’d previously read one of her short stories published online. They all share the common theme of females getting vengeance on males who’ve wronged them and in closing, I would definitely recommend that people give the stories a try. The only thing is that the stories are definitely not suitable for children etc. and some adults might balk at the content as well. Let’s just say that no punches are pulled, which is how it should be when telling the sort of stories that these are, as you need represent the situations accurately for them to have the necessary impact. 

The story can be found here:

Friday, 6 December 2013

Writing Update & Why Episodic Stories?

I just wanted to leave an update here on my writing. Previously, I'd talked about showing my writing today. While it could still happen, the possibility is very slim. Currently, I have 1,130 words written in rough form and as I expect it to be short story length ('episode 1' of a new project), I hope it won't  take too long at all to write and then edit once it's written and I'm happy with the content. The editing, as long as I'm happy with the content, really doesn't take long. It might go against what others say about writing, but I write pretty clean rough drafts at least far as grammar and spelling mistakes are concerned.

This brings me to the good news. I'm going to be working hard, non-stop, to get this project out the door even if I'm not fully happy with it (please keep reading here before you throw up your hands in anger and think I'm another self-publisher who doesn't care about their work's quality). I'm unemployed, so I can spend pretty much the entire day writing and editing. Now that I've definitely realised that I can't keep on like this and be too much of a perfectionist if I want to have a writing career and earn a living, because believe me when I say my financial situation is dire and that I've been depressed of late, you can expect stories to be released from me regularly. Best of all? They'll be free, at least until the story's completed. At that point, I'll likely take the stories down a few days after or just leave a few sample episodes up. The only thing that'll hold me back from writing and editing is playing the odd game likely in the evening, reading and reviewing one book which I've promised to do, and spending time with my dad (watching Netflix as it's pretty much the only thing we do as sad as that sounds) as he's not well of late.

So, the free writing I'm going to be letting people read and what did I mean by 'episode 1' and 'episodic stories'? As well as 'please keep reading here before assuming the worst'?

First up, episodic writing. Think of episodic/serial stories as being like a TV show. You get a chunk of a story, then you get some more of the story a few days later. As I believe I'm a short story specialist, writing stories like they're a TV show will work out well for me I think (don't assume this means cliffhangers every 'episode', though some may have a cliffhanger). What it'll allow me to do is tell self-contained stories, while adding to the overall story arc with each episode as characters and events carry over. It should be a tight way of telling a story too, with plenty of individual ones, without needing a thick tome to do it. Now, before I continue, I've been looking into serial/episodic writing, in particular the writing of Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant and David Wright, and from what I can make out, they like to leave cliffhangers at the end of a season and episode to entice you to read the next book. While that may work for them, it's not something I have any interest in doing. Despite needing all the help I can get financially speaking, I'm not going to compromise my values and attempt to get every penny that I can out of people (I'm not saying they do that, by the way, but it's just that if I did that, that's how I'd feel). So, when I say a story is complete, there may be the odd question that people have but the story arc for that particular book/story will be complete. That doesn't mean I won't be able to do a 'second season' if I want to, but it does mean that if you only want to read the one story, I want you to be able to read it and not feel like you have to read the next story. In other words, you'll feel like you've spent your time well with a story because there was a satisfying ending. It also means that I don't have to feel pressured to deliver a sequel.

Now, time-frame for each episode to be delivered? I want to say episodes published weekly, but I'm not going to. To avoid disappointment, I'm going to say that I could release more than one episode a week or it could take me longer than a week to deliver an episode (they'll be of varying length at the end of the day and I may get stuck etc.). Also, I have a few ideas for stories at the minute, so it is possible that I'll be posting episodes of different stories online before one entire story is complete.

Right, so aside from thinking I could do a good job with episodic writing, why have I chosen to go this route? And this comes back to what I said above about reading the entire thing (as long winded as it is). I self-edit everything these days, started with Gus (which didn't turn out bad at all I reckon), and I don't have beta-readers because no-one here is able to help me with my writing. I could ask writer friends, I guess, but I don't like bothering people. By writing episodic stories and making them freely available for people to read, I can post work I'm not 100% sure about and get feedback on it without feeling bad because I've not asked anyone to give me feedback or to pay to read it. In a way, look at it as a collaborative effort between me and you, potential readers, as well. While I have specific aims with the stories I write and may not listen to feedback, it doesn't hurt to give it and it might alert me to things I need to change before I start charging. Also, if people tell me that they want specific things in and I can include it without compromising what I want for a story? Then I'll be most happy to do so. In addition, I'll be able to read feedback and possibly use it to shape the direction of future episodes for any given story. I probably won't change the content of a 'published' episode, unless there's a good reason for it, but I can definitely take on board what people say for episodes that are to be written.

Now, you might be wondering why I've chosen to make my writing free until it's completed if I really need the money. You're quite right to ask the question of 'if I can read his writing for free, why should I pay for it once it's done?' The answer is simple. I know people will read my work without paying and possibly steal it, but I'm also going to hope that there are people out there who will do the right thing and pay for something they've enjoyed, assuming that people do like my writing. I'll also be counting on others to spread the word about my episodic stories (once I've started to release them, and again, I expect to release the first one soon), because to be frank, I have no ability to make others aware of my writing. My sales have been around 11 - 13 sales across both short stories that I've published in the 8 - 9 months since I first started publishing. So, the way I look at it, I've got nothing to lose posting my work for free and it's the only way I know of to make aware of my writing because I don't think people are as likely to turn their noses up at free writing. Besides, doing what I was doing even while I was posting on Facebook and such, didn't really do much to help me out anyway.

Now, as for where I'll be posting these episodes, they'll be posted on my blog here (also on Goodreads because my blog posts are automatically posted there and apologies in advance if the formatting is screwed up there) and I've decided that I'm going to try and make use of Wattpad. In all honesty, Wattpad seems suited to episodic writing, so it might be best to read my writing there. I'll give links when the time comes anyway.

And before I end this rather long-winded post, I wanted to quickly talk about the story I'm working on at the minute (currently called The Deadlands). A preview if you will. Basically, it's set in a world that's quite barren after an event had caused many people to die. Creatures roam the land and there is magic involved. At least that's the current plan anyway, which could change, but just know that it's about a post-apocalyptic world and you won't be disappointed. It's quite similar to our own world too in terms of having gas stations, computers etc., though those things would be rather minimal in a post-apocalyptic world even if they still exist. Basically, it's our world but it's not. It gives me creative license with things. It will also be adult in nature due to the content and the focus, right now, will be on people, relationships etc. and power struggles. The creatures and such, again right now, I'm not planning on having a big part in it. Currently, I'm planning on limiting the focus to a shanty town out in the middle of nowhere which is basically a place where trouble is brewing under the surface.

So, in closing, look for the first episode to be made freely available in the near future (again, I'm not too bothered about showing something that's not 100% perfect with not charging people money and I will fix things up before I do if there are issues), and please do support me by spreading the word.