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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

(vol 4) PART TWO: “A Day in the Life of Horror”

So, THE INFERNAL CLOCK has been out a couple of weeks now and it’s been doing pretty damned well.


A collection of 24 horror tales, each fitting snugly into its hour slot on the devils clock, the anthology was the brainchild of twitter regular and 50% Father of Flashdogs, David Shakes. Available now on Amazon in both futuristic e-book and classical paperback.


As an added bonus, you can head on over to ‘The Infernal Blog’ and check out interviews from the collective contributors, and get an insight into the authors that gave their blood, sweat, and tears to this most awesome of projects. And find out which foods we all hate (seriously, these are in depth interviews!).


Aaaand, if that wasn’t enough, below is an added, added bonus as I delve into the making of DELAYED, my entry for the anthology that sits in the shadows of 6am.


WARNING: spoilers for DELAYED follow (duh!)


ORIGINS


When David’s idea exploded on twitter last year, I was extremely happy to be allowed entry among such a revered group of writers. But it didn’t take long for me to realise that I’d taken a bite out of a genre that I wasn’t normally comfortable in.


I’ve never really been drawn to horror. I’m the guy that waits for the scary movies to hit DVD so that I can turn the sound down and have the bright sunshine over for company. I have never read Barker, or Herbert, or Jackson, so reproducing their chills and frights would be difficult.


But I have read (and enjoyed) Stephen King, and more recently his son Joe Hill. And they do horror in a way I can identify with. A horror not of the slasher style (like Myers or Krugger). Their stories are of the human horror and of everyday objects or situations twisted and evil.


I didn’t want to mimic King (sacrilege), but it was a starting point.


I’d avoided the time slots I assumed would be snapped up, and instead settled on 6am without really thinking about it. Looking back now, I’m so glad I did. I can’t think of another idea I could have done in any other time of the day.


Now, to me, 6am is the start of my day. It’s when I get up, before anyone else in my house. It’s discovering on the news which new horrors have beset the world. And it’s when I say goodbye to my wife and son and hop on a train that takes me two stops to my place of work.


Right now we’re heading into summer and the mornings, though still a little chilly, are becoming gorgeous. But Autumn and Winter can can produce some very creepy vibes as I stand on the platform, waiting for my train to arrive. The foggy glow of platform lights. The distant sounds of the world waking up. The electric charge as trains, unseen in the darkness except for that blinding lights, ride the tracks closer and closer.


It was one such morning when my story began to form.


PETERS STORY


The basic plot came quick. I wanted a character who done something bad in his past, and I wanted that character to get on a train in the cold, dark, early hours, and never reach his expected destination.


Peter appeared almost fully formed. In fact, he literally hit the ground running. It comes a little later in the final piece, but the scene where he’s running for the train was where his journey originally started for the both of us. I saw him as an overweight, lazy, tardy, idiot, and that’s what I got. He’s a friendless screw up.


The next thing I worked on, after getting him to the station, was the train ride itself. I tried several things; from and out-and-out spooky ghost train rushing past and ‘grabbing’ his soul, to Peter getting on an ‘earlier’ train (much to other commuters shock) and falling into another realm, to a train over a train, a dimensional slip if you will (that’s still in there, that moment where Peter feels a little sick, while no one else gets on board).


Gareth was there too, in the early drafts. He started as an old best friend, before turning into the bully. In fact, in the second draft, Gareth was a mean sonofabitch from the off. It was only after a few more rewrites that I gave him a softer edge in the present day. He became a man on a mission, and less the bad egg he used to be.


But it wasn’t all plain sailing.




THE ACCIDENT


The thing I had the real trouble with was that train accident. Originally the train aspect was only the setting. But as I went on, I decided to make a better reason why events had to take place on a train, I had to link the accident from the past to the form of punishment Peter was about to receive.


So I hit Google and looked into train accidents. I considered using real life ones at first, and picking something really dramatic. I had Peter as an older guy, and made him a signal man who had neglected his post. I then changed it to put Peter on the train, but that made it tough for him to survive (without turning into Bruce Willis in Unbreakable).


I constantly found myself tangled. So I did what has worked for me in the past; I took a break.


I was several weeks later that I returned and two things happened that solved my issue. Some more research led to the discovery that a mere coin on a rail track is enough to derail a train. I was also perusing my books to find my next read when I stumbled onto Stephen King's DIFFERENT SEASONS (specifically STAND BY ME) and had a spark that solved my accident in the past.  


THE END


And so another rewrite commened. It was so close to being done I could taste it. But, like several King novels, while I was happy with 80%, the ending irked me a little. I just couldn't tell why. It was short, sharp, and had Peter being thrown from the train into a stereotypical infernal abyss.


My wife agreed that it was rushed and not in the same quality as what had come before. But it was all I had. Was I just going to have to accept it as was?


No.


So I turned to fellow FlashDog and awesome author Liz Hedgecock for a second opinion. She agree with me that it wasn’t right, but it was the last few words of her comment that seeded a new and improved ideas in my mind.


I found this bit quite incongruous with the rest of the story - it feels medieval and Biblical, whereas the rest is contemporary. It seems not quite a fitting or appropriate end for Peter - thinking of ancient hellish punishments like Tantalus and the grapes, where you're tortured by the thing that sent you to hell in the first place. I was expecting something train/crash related. -Liz Hedgecock (27th July 2017)


Liz had hit the nail on the head. While I had linked his ‘crime’ to the mode of transport that would carry him to his punishment, shouldn’t the punishment also reflect this? Of course. So all I needed was a suitable threat to end on. Enter another King inspiration; Blaine.


I’m a massive fan of The Dark Tower, and Blaine the Mono is a truly insane creation. The thought of a maniacal engine barreling down a track evolved into a monster of a train and a Peter trapped and forced to run the rails forever and then some.

PRIDE


And that’s that.


I’m proud of all of my published stories to date, both the anthologies and the Flash contests, but this one is my favourite yet. For starters is the biggest piece I have out there, but also, the process was a great journey. And I’m grateful to Liz Hedgecock for helping me over that final hurdle (seriously, go check out her books - at the rate she publishes, there should be a million titles to chose from by the time you finish reading this).


Go and buy the book, and read those interviews.


And then go write some horror yourself. Or what ever genre you normally avoid. It might produce something great.



Wednesday, 5 April 2017

(vol 4) PART ONE: “Indie Author releases”

I’m back.

Not in a proper way. Not formal. Not with my own book out.


But this week is so full of cool news that I just couldn’t hold back.





LITTLE CLOCK OF HORRORS

So I mentioned last year about the birth of an awesome project from the mind of one man and his tweet.

David Shakes came up with the idea for a new anthology, one a little different than we’d all worked on before. This time he wanted Horror, and he wanted stories short, and he wanted 24 of them.

Within an hour of his initial tweet (how fitting), 24 slots were booked up by us eager authors. The plan was to give each author a 1 hour time slot within which to set their haunting tale in. Thus the book would contain a 24 hour period of hell.

And so THE INFERNAL CLOCK was born. David roped in fellow authors Tamara Rogers (fantastic cover), Emily June Street (fantastic formatting), and Steph Ellis (fantastic editing) to help bring his idea to fruition. 

The book is available now in amazon both as e-book (£2.40) and paperback (£9.98).

My story, DELAYED, is included; a piece I’m extremely proud of. I don’t normally write in the horror genre; I don’t read much of it either (outside of Mr King). But I wanted to have a go, and I’m grateful that David let me. I read through the piece a few days ago, and it’s the first time I’ve read a story of mine some time later and not hated it, or wanted to go all George Lucas on it. Either I’ve learned to accept a story as complete now, or I’m getting better as a writer. Or both.

So, if you like horror stories, if you like short stories, or if you just like supporting talent, then head on over to Amazon and pick up a copy today.




OUT OF LUCK

In other publishing news, one of my favourite indie authors, Craig Anderson, has released the third and final book of the Lucky Beggar trilogy.

Regular visitors to this blog will know that Craig was the author who pulled me into the world of Flash Fiction. It’s because of the path that he set me on that there exists actual books’ containing my stories.

His first book, GETTING LUCKY, was the first e-book I downloaded onto my first ever e-reader. It was pretty self-contained and well written. Then out of the blue came the sequel, as well as information that it was part of a trilogy. LUCKY SHOT was a great follow up, but now the problem was that I expected more, I expected the finale.

Well the wait is over folks. Craig has launched LUCKY BREAK, thus completing the tale of the Lucky Beggar, and doing so with the same wit and drama as previous installments.

                    AMAZON     or     KOBO





BACK IN THE HOUR(GLASS)

And finally, I dipped my toes in Flash Fiction again this weekend with my story I AM A GOD. It's been a while. I've had a tough week (a trip to A&E last Friday was part of the inspiration), and I just wanted to write. It was a compulsion on Sunday night that I hadn't expected. But write I did. Scroll down further for my entry (and try not to read it in Chris Hemsworth's voice).



SIGNING OFF

And that is all. Lots of good news, indie author wise.

My own project, UTOPIA FOR PAIRS (working title) is still coming along nicely, despite life really (REALLY) trying to get in my way. I’m still on course to have it out by the end of the year. The sooner, the better, but I won’t rush it out unfinished.

So until I step up to the blog again, get reading, get writing, and get publishing.

Words don't write themselves.






I AM A GOD
(Sunday, 2nd April 2017)

I am surrounded by illness.

For five hours I have sat in his sterile place, suffering in agony while watching the drunk and the drugged cause havoc, drawing the attention from the nurses and doctors.

I should not even be here.

Pain? What is pain? Something that bothers mere mortals. I am a God, and so above such things.

“You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?”

She rubs something on my forearm before sticking a needle into a vein. It hurts.

“You’re talking out loud like a crazy person.”

“And I keep telling you; I am not crazy.”

She attaches a receptacle to the end of the tube and dark red blood starts to fill it. Once she is done, she pulls it apart, screws a lid on the receptacle, and places it in a tray atop the trolley beside her.

“Careful with that. A God’s blood is the most precious thing in the universe. It can cure any illness, fill a dying man with the strength of twenty-”

“It’s not a God’s blood, it’s your blood.”

“I will forgive you for your ignorance, your people are primitive. But you must cure me so that I can return to my realm.”

“Why do you need curing? You know, if you’re a God?”

She pulls the needle out and places something soft and white over it.

“I am as mystified as you. Something has torn me from my home, and dumped me within your plane of existence. Perhaps that is why my powers do not work at the moment.”

“Course. That’ll explain it.”

“So, you do believe me!”

“Take your stuff, go around the corner, sit in chair seven, Someone’ll be with you shortly.”

I want to shout at her, to call down the very thunders of my realm and smite her. She talks to a tall man wearing a yellow vest. He gives me a look, one I have given mortals many times over the centuries.

I will bide my time then. I will wait until they fix me. Then I will find a way-

“Yes, yes. I’m going. Chair number seven.” I sit down. She’ll rue the day.





Wednesday, 28 December 2016

(vol 3) PROLOGUE: “TIME FOR A REBOOT!”



Well, I’m glad that year’s over. Not only did my writing take a dramatic nose dive in both quantity and quality, and my personal life take a beating, but the onslaught of celebrity deaths has left no stone unturned in its vengeful quest for misery. And while every death is a loss to our world, we can all agree 2016 took out some of our brightness lights.

It makes me feel a little shallow talking about my own lows. That was the original plan for this final post of the year; a look back at my failures, and the events that have dragged me down, because this year has been my worse since I started taken writing more seriously; a big step back.

But I don’t think I can do that now, not in the Eeyore style that the first draft came out like.

So, instead, this will just be a look back, with the moaning kept to a minimum. Because at the end of the day, even though I failed on my writing goal once more, and even though my emotional state took a hell of a hit, I am alive, and the people I love most are alive.

And for that, I’m ever so grateful.



FIRST QUARTER

Films of interest -Deadpool’, ‘Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice



The year started sad with the loss of two Flash Fiction contests that had been the centre for the FlashDog group. I’m a man of routine, and suddenly my Thursdays and Fridays were empty of imagination and writing.

So it was good that Microcosms popped into the world just when we needed it. With a fresh take on the method (a spinning wheel for character, setting, and theme!) it not only pulled the group back together and gave us a new home, but new FlashDogs joined along the way.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, I managed a win with only my second entry, A GLASS DIVIDE.

There was also the release of the third (yes, third!!!) FlashDogs Anthology; TIME. Once again I was lucky to be invited in, and have three tales included. Still find it hard sometimes to comprehend that my writing is out there in the world in paper form. While I’m still letting myself down in my major goal, I have to remember that I have my foot on the ladder.

Unfortunately other writing took a back seat, as the CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE WORLD books I was working on started to bog me down. I was working on the second drafts for books 1-3, but with the overall series planning weighing me down and tangling things, I slowly pulled away from the project. At first I didn’t notice it. Then I did, but I denied it. Then I just stopped.

For a short time, I just didn’t know what to do. I felt suspended in air and aimless.

And then a man came along with a plan, and with the help of social media, I had a new project to pick me up.

David Shakes spent an evening on twitter blowing up a small idea until an Anthology was born, and twenty-four writers (me included) were signed up and rearing to go. THE INFERNAL CLOCK is a collection of horror stories spread over a twenty-four hour period, a day in hell, so to speak. Each author was given an hour slot, an hour that their story must mainly take place in. I got 6am, and got stuck into an story called DELAYED, born from my morning commute to work.

The book is due out 2017, and I be sure to keep you all posted.



SECOND QUARTER

Films of interest – ‘Captain America: Civil War’, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse




The low points kept coming as the months passed. The word counts dropped considerably (see word count totals). I began to realise where I was going wrong, but it took a lot to admit it to myself. It took a lot more to do something about it. In the end I decided to take a hiatus from the blog. I’d already dropped from weekly Wednesday to fortnightly, but I was still not only struggling with content, but fed up of talking about progress when none was really being made. As I mentioned in that last post of June, how could I blog about a process I had yet to write about. So I couldn’t, not until I was worth listening to.

The final post, prewritten and dated, went out automatically (thank you Blogger) while I was sunning it up in Corfu, enjoying my first family holiday abroad since becoming a father. It was tough, due to my son’s autism; three hours on a plane, high temperatures, lots of people, lots of noise, and routines thrown out the window. Yet despite all this, we made it. He made it. And despite some ‘red’ days, it was an experience I look back on fondly. Corfu means a lot to me and the wife. But it never felt right until all three of us could be there together.



THIRD QUARTER

Films of interest – ‘Suicide Squad’, ‘Star Trek Beyond’



July 1st should have been the start of CampNaNo, and the fruition of the forth CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE WORLD book. Instead, dragging myself down further, and avoiding new projects, I dropped out at the last minute (and by last minute, I mean 8am July 1st).


And it wasn’t only my own writing that suffered. I was letting other authors down, authors I considered friends and had promised to help. I was taking on a lot of beta reading, something I enjoyed at the tail end of 2015. But with real life intruding, I probably should have said no. Instead, fearful that they’d remember that I’d turn them down, I just said yes, yes, yes. And suddenly I had my project, and four other authors’ projects, all spinning on plates. And instead of turning them down first off, I let them down much later (Craig, I’m sorry I never fully beta read THE COLONY, but I’ve read it now, and it’s awesome).

And while it’s not an excuse, my personal life was getting its arse kicked.

A moment of lost temper at work with someone who took pleasure in pushing my buttons, and I was put on paid leave and advised to seek help. It was tough. And embarrassing. But seek help I did, through italk. Phone meetings followed. Then I was sent on a four week class for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress.

Like I said. Arse. Kicked.

So thank god another mighty FlashDog stood up and created something new, something fun, for us writers to get our teeth stuck into.

#VSS365.

Mark A King devised a project where one word or phrase was dished out each morning and we had a single tweet to tell a story.

Very. Short. Story.

It’s a breath of fresh air, and has my creative juices working again, just like in the good old days of 2014/15. Routine was back. Quick ideas were back. Word count limitations were back. And I loved it. Am loving it. It’s still going, has been since September 5th. Over a hundred twitter stories under my belt. And I’m aiming for the whole 365.



FOURTH QUARTER

Films of interest – ‘Dr Strange’, ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’



After avoiding CampNaNo in July, I almost did the same again in November. I wanted to focus on something else, personal things were bringing me down, and I just didn’t think I could handle a month writing something from scratch. I was low.

And then, with less than a week to go, I changed my mind. Because, though I don’t have anything published, NaNoWriMo is one of the few things I do that makes me happy and makes me proud of myself. And this year was to be my 10th entry. My love of stats and figures couldn’t let that go by.

So I scrambled together a plan for a book I’d started several months previous. I set up my spreadsheet, threw together a quick cover, and waited for November 1st to roll round.

Looking back now, I’m so glad I did it. I’ve never felt so alive, so confident, and so happy while working on a project. I hit no walls. I never once tied myself in loops. I didn’t end the month with chapters missing, nor did I reach the finale with time to spare. It all worked out perfect, and I smashed a lot of personal records along the way. It ended up being my highest word count for a NaNoWriMo. I hit 50,000 earlier in November than I ever had before. I even donated for the first time ever (don’t worry, I’m wracked with guilt).

NaNoWriMo has given me so much in the last decade and I’ve never once said thank you (I have promised that when I sign my first movie adaptation deal, they’re getting a large cheque).

So now I have a first draft of UTOPIA FOR PEARS (working title). I’m beginning the second draft on New Years Day. And I’m getting through it. I’m finishing it. I’m releasing it. Because, as I’ve said before, if I don’t do it now, I don’t think I ever will.



And that’s it really. A brief look back at 2016. Not how I’d envisioned it, but I hope that it’s a year that I look back on as the only low point, the only glitch, in a healthy writing career.

I hope you fared better, I know some of you did. Keep writing, keep editing, and keep publishing. I’m right behind you, and your success is what I’m holding onto.

See you in 2017.







Wednesday, 26 October 2016

(vol 3) CHAPTER 14: "Another NaNo, Another WriMo"

Hello.

So I mentioned back in June that I was taking a break, that there would be no blogging until I had something novel like to release into the wild.

And then I broke that promise in August by lifting my head out of the sand, telling an anecdote about my then WIP, before hiding away once more.

Well, I’m doing it again.

2016 has been a bit of a downer year, both on the personal front, and also with the writing. Though I’ve still to finish a project in anything close to a published manner, in the past I was at least always writing. 2014 saw me stumble into an online group and discover a new form of writing that I took too quickly, while 2015 was all about anthologies and expanding projects.

But this year has been meh. Part of that was the loss of the Flash Fiction contests at the end of 2015 that had sustained me. But I also lost faith in myself and my abilities and slowly began to hide from my stories and ideas, all while other factors in my life assisted becoming the ammunition for this process of closing.

It’s the final quarter of the year which means NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. A few months ago, at my lowest, I’d decided to drop this annual activity like I had most of my other writing. I didn’t feel like I had a good idea anyway, and the motivation to write 50,000 words was stuck in traffic somewhere, ETA unknown.

But on October 1st something happened. The e-mail came through, the one I used to look forward to, the one that announces that the website is set up ready to prep your NaNoWriMo profile for another year. I almost deleted it, my thumb hovering over that negative decision. But then a little voice spoke up from deep inside, a voice I had not heard from for many months. It showed me something from my ideas folder, hidden deep within my imagination, and told me not to give up.

Sounds stupid, right?

Well, maybe it is. But that little voice sounded desperate, like it wouldn’t be around much longer if I kept ignoring it. Like it had better places to be, better minds to encourage. I think this November is my last chance, I really do.

So, NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words. 30 days.

Let's see if I can not only add to my growing collection of first drafts collecting dust (see below), but actually so something about it this time.

Fingers crossed.


________________________________________



2007 - DEATH IS JUST A DAY JOB

Back in the summer of 2007 I had a short term fling with my first online writing group, while also taking part in my first SFX Pulp Idol competition, when someone pointed me in the direction of www.nanowrimo.org. I was told that it might just hold the key to dealing with my inner editor.

It seemed simple enough. Sure, 50,000 words looked like a large figure but I didn’t, at the time, have any concept of how much writing that was. I’d never written that much before and I had no idea what the word counts were of books I read.

As I passed through October of that year I signed up to the site (under the now deleted Briman79 profile) and started looking at my ideas folder (my ‘ideas’ for stories greatly outweighs actual written product). I settled on something I’d been toying with for a few months that involved a down on his luck guy who becomes friends with the Grim Reaper. All I had was a pub scene that I'd written while bored in the office one weekend, so decided to take it from there. No other characters, no setting, and no plot.

And then November 1st hit.

It started well. I’d spend the work time just daydreaming ideas before getting home, booting up the PC, and writing whatever my brain felt like ejecting; a little before dinner and then a lot after. My wife loved it because she owned the TV for those first few weeks.

I did hit some road blocks along the way but, instead of stopping, I thought about where I was heading next and just started from there, knowing I could go back later. Of course, this led to some strange happenings, especially when a character was killed off and then returned five chapters later with no explanation. I guess that’s what editing’s for.

So I ploughed on until I hit a much bigger road block in the form of an Xbox 360. It was a stupid time to get one and my word count took a massive hit because of it. As I neared the end of the month it looked like I wouldn’t cross that finish line on my first attempt.

And that made me mad. So the video games stopped and I knuckled down. Three very late nights later and I crossed the finish line on November 29th.

Of all the things I have written or will write, DEATH IS JUST A DAY JOB will always be the piece I’m most proud of. While it still lingers in first draft limbo I always have an eye on it and am determined to dust it off one day and release it into the wild.



2008 - THE ADVENTURES OF MAXWELL COOPER

With something now complete, I moved straight onto my next project and began planning a superhero novel. I’d just finished reading Austin Grossman’s ‘Soon, I Will Be Invincible’ and had an urge to novelise a comic book I’d written in college.

Unfortunately when November came around I wasn’t feeling it and instead started a project I felt was more manageable; THE ADVENTURES OF MAXWELL COOPER. This was a YA fantasy that was designed to be built of five different adventures across one single quest. I thought I could write it bite sized and get through it a little easier.

Wrong.

I didn’t make it past day one, and have never really counted it as taking part that year.



2009 - JUSTICE

I was determined to not miss another year and so I went back to my super hero novel called JUSTICE. This went smoother than my previous two attempts with only three days of non-writing across the month. Unlike 2007, I never found myself stumped and went straight from beginning to end in a nice, cohesive manner. Probably the smoothest NaNoWriMo project to date.



2010 - I AM BROKEN

By the time this NaNo rolled around I had received some bad news that inadvertently lead to a very nice silver lining. In September of 2010 I was made redundant and put on Garden Leave. This meant that for three months I was still getting paid but was not allowed to look for another job. With November approaching I found myself with a lot of time on my hands and was determined not to waste it.

With thirty whole days and nothing else much to do, I got on with I AM BROKEN, another of the many, many stories I'd started years before. This was the first NaNo that I began with anything close to a full cast and not much more was added. The plot however exploded thanks in part to the music I was listening to. 

I’d been using movie soundtracks as the background to a lot of my writing including all the previous NaNo’s. But 2010 was the first time I picked one specific soundtrack and played it on a loop as I wrote. I think this helped keep things coherent theme wise.

Thirty day later I was done. At 57149 this was the most I’d managed to date and I only had one lull around the two thirds mark. I crossed 50,000 on the 24th and just kept going. Despite the free time I had though, I AM BROKEN still doesn’t have an ending.



2011 - THE ADVENTURES OF MAXWELL COOPER

After 2010 I went into the following NaNo with a lot more confidence. Other than a new job I’d started a few months earlier, I had no other commitments.

I decided to take another stab at my failed 2008 attempt. I planned a lot more this time with character sketches and chapter plans, something I hadn’t really done in previous years. There was a hell of a lot of ‘Pansting’ in the first few effortds but I decided to give ‘Planning’ a try.

Once again this story beat me, although I managed to get further. Still, I knew it wasn’t working and, two weeks and 15,000 words later I gave up.

One day I will finish Maxwell’s story.



2012 - DEAD DOLLARS

If the last year was bad, this one was much worse. I don’t like excuses, but for this one time I think you’ll agree that failing wasn’t much of a choice.

With another idea from the vault, I dived into DEAD DOLLARS, a zombie western inspired by the scene from ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’ where Eastwood is shot several times but just won’t die.

I say dived in but, due to the circumstances surrounding November 2012, I’m surprised I even thought about trying to write anything at all.

The wife and I had chosen to move in with her father while she was pregnant, and we looked for a bigger place to live. The space we had in my father-in-laws bungalow was limited as was TalkTalk’s excuse for Broadband. This is in itself would have been a challenge for most NaNoWriMo participants but for me it was just the tip of the iceberg.

Add that to another redundancy, and suddenly writing a zombie western didn’t seem like a priority in life. During the last week of October I decided to skip it and focus on other things but, fickle as I am, I changed my mind back by Hallowe’en. Why not, I thought. It will give me something to focus on during all the crap.

So I began. It was as tough as I thought with limited internet access and nowhere to sit down and write comfortably. But none of that mattered by the middle of the month. Our son was due at Christmas of that year, but he decided that that was too far off and wanted out sooner. Right in the middle of November.

Needless to say, DEAD DOLLARS didn’t get much further.



2013 - MIGHTY GRAY: SEASON ONE

A year into a new job, still stuck in a bungalow with no room to move and now I had a one year old son.

I should have failed.

Instead, my episodic ode to Buffy became my most successful NaNo project to date, breaking all kinds of personal NaNo records on the way.

Somehow, by taking my crappy Samsung NC-10 Netbook to work, and writing a little before shift and a lot during lunch, meant I hit the daily target of 1667 before I even got home in the evenings. Sometimes I was managing  up to 3000-4000 words a day which for me is impressive.

I powered on with each ‘episode’, hitting around 17,000 words and finishing on a climax before moving onto the next and the next. These mini endings made it easier to move on instead of aiming for that one finale that was miles off in the distance.

Even now I don’t know how I managed to accomplish what I did that year. Not with so much against me when I struggled on much easier years. The main thing is it became another project under the belt and another NaNoWriMo certificate on the wall.



2014 - FALLEN SWORDS FRACTURED DAWN

During the summer of 2014, while working on my CampNaNoWriMo project TATTOO, I looked at projects I might want to pick up when that year’s November rolled around. Was it worth taking another stab at my 2011 or 2012 failures? What about the planned sequels to several of my projects?

No and no.

I decided, instead, to try a different approach. Inspired by fellow Flash Fiction writer Betsy Streeter’s excellent ‘Neptune Road’, I planned to write a long story that would be released throughout the following year as weekly episodic. Inspired by Game of Thrones, mixed in with the backstabbing and politics of the offices I worked in, I molded the company who employed me into a Fantasy novel continent, and transformed my work colleagues into witches, warriors, monsters, and bandits. The idea was to build up 50,000+ words as a head start, and then release each chapter (roughly 2000-3000 words) once a week, while continuing to write more and more.

So how did this backfire, I hear you ask?

Well, quite simply, things changed too much between December 1st 2014 and February 6th 2015. And not just the name (turns out that Fallen Swords was an online Fantasy RPG). I altered a massive chunk of the pre-story, some characters were expanded upon, the start point was altered. It turned out that by the second episode, I already didn’t like the MNA having amnesia, and the rewrites were so extensive, I was pretty much writing from scratch instead of having a healthy back log to present as I carried on writing.

By the time Episode 11 came around on June 26th 2015, I was switching my attention to starting my CampNaNo project, and the Fractured Dawn project was pissing me off.

And that was all I wrote.



2015 - CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE FOREST OF DEATH
            CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE TEMPLE OF GLOOM

Last year was a continuation of a huge output of Flash Fiction. It was from one of these story ideas, the 100 word, weekly adventures of CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE WORLD, that all of my larger 2015 writing projects were ironically spawned from.

July’s CampNaNo was the expansion of the first Chris and Mike Flash Fiction story. I aimed for novella length with the first book, ‘CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE RISING DEAD’, at around 25,000. So I figured November’s word count allowed me to write two more novellas back-to-back.

While editing the first book through August and September, I had one eye on where things could expand for the future adventures. Everything went smoothly. I finishing book 2 halfway through November, before getting the majority of book 3 complete in the remaining two weeks.

Again; big plans, but nothing to show for it. I spent the end of last year planning the remaining novellas and short stories. But you’ll notice a common theme with me; ideas don’t pop into my head to be born. It’s where they go to die.



2016 - UTOPIA FOR PEARS (working title)

Having over 200 Flash Fiction stories written means I have fertile ground for book ideas. Couple one of my Flash Fiction stories from 2015, with enthusiastically published Author Liz Hedgecock’s placeholder name for her 2015 NaNoWriMo project, Utopia for Ducks, and I now have a Huxley/Bradbury-esque sci-Fi novella ready to get stuck into in less than a weeks’ time. 

The Scrivener file is almost ready to go. I have the lunch breaks almost freed up (just have two books to finish reading).

And then who knows, maybe, just maybe, this’ll be the one.

Because you know what they say; 10th time’s the charm.


(This is an updated version of the October 29th 2014 post, “Never Forget Your First NaNo”)


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UTOPIA FOR PEARS

Selena is a worker. She spends long days in a factory making stuff she'll never use. All she does is build, eat, and sleep. But she is different than the others; intelligent, inquisitive, rebellious.

Then one day she is moved to a new site to assist with low quotas, a site where her peculiar ways attract the eyes of the staff, and where she finds herself in real danger for the first time in her life.

And so begins a journey as Selena discovers fear, friendship, and the truth behind a world she didn't even know existed.

A world beyond the factories.