Wednesday, 27 May 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 20: “Pressed SEND four times. Now what?”

2015 WORD COUNT = 30132 words



It has been a hectic few weeks due to a lack of ideas, leaving things to the last minute, and even coming up with an extra story that I didn’t realise I was going to write. The main thing is . . . all four of my FlashDog Anthology pieces made it to FDHQ on time. In fact, unlike any homework I’ve ever done in my life, the assignment was completed a day early. Check me out.

Obviously I have to give a massive thanks to Emily Livingstone and Chris Blackburn again. They were extremely patient with me throughout the whole process and both threw back ideas at me that I have no doubt improved the original drafts (and in the case of my story, POTENTIAL, it was many, many drafts).

So now it’s over to the legends at FlashDog HQ who are currently going over everything and working on putting the project together ready for release. Obviously, as with the last Anthology, I will give you details closer to the time, but I think it’s due for release sometime late June.


So what now? Well I plan to put more focus back on my Flash Fiction contest entries. It’s been a very lean two months with zero results. I have no doubt that that’s partly because my heart hasn’t been in it, and my attention has been elsewhere.

Talking of Flash Fiction, this Friday marks my Flash! Friday anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I first attempted a Flash Fiction story with my entry, THE LADY OF THE WOODS. Next week I will be devoting a whole post to the past year as well as including some milestone entries.

In a few days I will start the planning stage of this year’s Camp NaNo project. I’m going to be adapting my ‘Chris and Mike vs’ stories into a collection of novellas. I’ll be doing a bigger post later in the year on the history of the characters and what plans I have for them going forward, but for now it’s all about expanding the background and building the world.

And that’s about it. The other main change is that I will hopefully be getting back into the blog post writing as they have been a little lean as of recent.

See you in seven.



Wednesday, 20 May 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 19: “Crunch Time”

2015 WORD COUNT = 28088 words

These short posts are becoming the norm of late. Hopefully, once the Anthology deadline of next Monday (Bank Holiday – woo hoo!) is over, and the stories are in, I can get back into the swing of things.


ANTHOLOGY

So, update: The Anthology pieces are coming along great, in no small part to the very helpful Emily Livingstone and Chris Blackburn. These guys have offered very useful feedback over the last few weeks and, as well as being extremely grateful for their input, I’m especially grateful for their patience.

My first completed story, COST OF FREEDOM, was sent in to FDHQ over a week ago.

Next up was KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR (slight title change). This is the story set in the same world as TANKS FOR THE HELP, from Anthology one. I enjoyed revisiting some of the characters from that original story as well as introducing a fresh look at the barren world they reside in. I finally got it wrapped up and sent in on Monday night.

So I’m half way there.

All that’s left now are the last minute rewrites on POTENTIAL (I’m close to having that better ending) and MERELY OBSERVING, a piece I thought wasn’t there, the mystery fourth picture that had me shaking my head and walking away in defeat. Well something arrived in my head, half formed, and should hopefully be ready in time.

And that’s been my week. Offering feedback to Emily and Chris while incorporating their feedback into my work. It’s been a crazy ride and it’s almost over. I’ll have a better update and take a look back at the writing process for these pieces next week.

See you in seven.




FLASH FICTION

It’s been a busy week, both at home and work, but I still managed to get a few pieces of Flash Fiction done. Going forward I’ll be dropping the Sunday Flash updates and, instead, will post the previous weeks pieces on the end of my Wednesday night blogpost.


MICRO BOOKENDS

Another Thursday brought with it another Chris and Mike vs story. I’m starting to realise that I’m writing myself into dead ends while trying to keep a plot going over several weeks. It wasn’t too bad in the early days just developing the characters over weekly one off adventures. But, with the prompts and photo being random, it makes it difficult to include everything in 100 words. Take this week’s entry; there’s Chris, Mike, the bookends (Face and Book), a photo of two fencers . . . young Chris, time-travel, Chris’s father, Argentina, and a witch. It’s a hell of a lot to tie up in such a small piece. I’m thinking of going back to those one off and seeing how that goes.




CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE PHANTOM FENCERS FROM HELL

“Face facts,” said Mike. “Your Dad has gone and screwed us over.”

Chris had to admit, things weren’t looking good. For reasons unknown, his Dad had used his younger self and an ancient spell to drag them both back twenty two years, only to scarper, leaving them at the mercy of two phantom swordsmen.

On top of that he’d spotted the corpse of the witch named Eva, his father’s contact in this part of the world, crumpled up in the corner of the room.

Chris gripped the candlestick. “Nonsense,” he said. “We deal with these two spirits and then we go get back that spell book.”



FLASH! FRIDAY

I’m closing in on my first Flash! Friday anniversary and still searching for that elusive win. This week we had to use ‘Downtown’ as the setting. I was worried that the story behind the story of the first entry would be lost but people got it. And the second entry? That was just plain fun.


HERITAGE

I remember I ordered the Kobe Beef.

The firm had just closed a big deal and the bosses wanted us out celebrating. It was a nice day and the piazza was bustling. Everything was New York and normal.

And then the Native American Indian turned up.

A crowd started building just down from our restaurant so a couple of us went to check it out. A Native American Indian was stood there wearing next to nothing. People took pictures, someone called the police.

And then he started touching people.

Nothing violent or crass. He just touched their foreheads with the tip of his finger. And it wasn’t everyone, either. He was choosing people from the crowd as if he had a purpose. Those touched just stood there with an odd look of realization on their face. It was a surreal thing to watch.

And then he touched me.

My world changed. He’d awakened something in me, in my blood, and I saw the world for what it really was. My heritage rose up inside me. Looking around I could see the others he had chosen, the others like me. Each one was nuzzled by a red halo. Each one knew what they had to do.

And then we were many.



SIDE EFFECTS

Maurice’s heart was beating fast. He’d talked the talk and now he was walking the walk.

“There you go,” said the teller as she nervously placed the last money bag on the counter.

“Thank you kindly, ma’am,” said Maurice. He tipped his hat because manners are important, grabbed the bags, and walked out of the bank.

“Hold it right there!” yelled a vulture dressed in black.

Maurice spotted the Sheriff’s badge and cursed. His trigger finger itched. “It don’t have to go down this way, Sheriff.”

“Drop the money and the gun, and lay on the ground,” said the vulture.

Maurice smiled at a fine looking crocodile in a pretty dress across the street. She smiled back. In the blink of an eye his pistol was drawn. Each thump of the hammer sent a small Native Indian flying through the air, little axes swinging. The Sheriff dived for cover as Maurice backed away down the street.

Maurice could taste freedom. His horse was just across the street. He made to run, but failed to see the stagecoach barreling down the street.

R R R


“Dispatch, the bank robber’s down. Hit by a bus on the corner of Fifth and Eastwood. Looks like he was high on something. We’re gonna need a coroner.”



Wednesday, 13 May 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 18: “One story down, two to go”

2015 WORD COUNT = 24930 words


Just a quick post today regarding the state of my Anthology entries.

Things are still going well. I took a big, big step on Monday by posting the first of my stories, COST OF FREEDOM, into FDHQ. I had a lot of help from Chris Blackburn on this one and I feel he deserves some of the credit (unless people hate it and he’d rather not be associated with it J).

I’m still searching for the ending to my second piece, POTENTIAL, but hope to have something in place before the weekend.

My third story, the one I like the most from my Anthology triplets, now has a title. NIGHT AND SHINING ARMOUR is a sorta-sequel to TANKS FOR THE HELP, which was my prompt piece in the last Anthology. While it features the main character from ‘TANKS’, it’s told from the point of view of a new character and watches how their paths cross in a post-apocalyptic world.

I’m still rolling the forth prompt around in my head, even as the deadline looms ever closer (12 days!). Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Who knows?


So what next? Other than the regular weekly contests where will my writing take me? Well, obviously there’s FRACTURED DAWN (better get this week’s episode typed up!). Still going well, nearly eight episodes young.

I have a new project I’m starting in a few weeks. It’s something I’m looking to take into Camp NaNo in July, something I’ve wanted to get stuck into for weeks now. I’ll update more on this in the build up to Camp, probably dedicate a whole post to it.

After that the sky’s the limit. When August rolls around it’ll be like that moment when you finish a book and wonder what you’ll read next. I have some small projects I’m considering but part of me is itching to start a novel. Unfortunately I have too many ideas that I’d like to be the first. Maybe when August rolls around I’ll just flip a coin or run a poll.

Well, I’ve got two (or three) stories to get finished that won’t just write themselves.

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 17: “Time To Get My Edit On”

2015 WORD COUNT = 23834 words


I have just 19 days to get my Anthology stories written, proofed, and sent in to FDHQ so that they can be included in the second FlashDog Anthology.

·         19 days.
·         456 Hours.
·         27,360 Minutes.
·         1,641,600 Seconds.

(arrrggghhhhh!)

Right, that’s that out of the way.

It’s been more of a struggle working on this second Anthology. I had a complete lack of ideas back in the first few weeks and I’ve talked previously about the ‘second album fear’ I suffered. But, despite these silly problems, I’m seeing the light at the end now and I think I might just do it.




WHAT CAME FIRST

Last year’s anthology includes four of my stories but only two were especially written for it.

IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY is a 150 word piece of Flash Fiction I wrote back in July of last year. Despite the fact that it was short (350 words off the allowed word count) I wanted to include it because it means a lot to me. I have a lot of pride in it.

GLASS OF MILK was a failed competition entry that I thought would be nice to include due to its Christmas theme. The Anthology was coming out in December, after all.

MY NEMESIS was the first of the two original stories I created for anthology. I spent an afternoon brainstorming this one and was determined to have one of my contributions be a superhero story due to my love of the genre.

And then there was TANKS FOR THE HELP, my prompt entry. I had struggled to get anything from the prompt and started three different stories before this one popped into my head. I love that it’s silly but serious.




WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

When the second anthology got started, when the four prompts were revealed to us, I was just going to do four separate stories, much like last year. But then my brain stepped in and said ‘No. Let’s do something crazy.’

At first I thought about a single story in four parts. I spent lunch breaks with the four photos laid out in front of me, every few minutes changing the order. But nothing happened.

Next I tried four stories linked together and something actually came from this. It started with the tale of the father losing his son in a terrorist attack. This led to story set in an AI controlled world where crime and terrorism are nearly eradicated but freedom was fading. The third story showed the war between man and machine before all being tied up in the last piece set in a future where mankind finds a second chance without relying on technology.

I liked it and it took a lot to walk away from it. Four separate points of view at moments spread across an epic conflict. But man vs machine has been done before, the end story didn’t really have a solid plot, and 1000 words per story was a little too short for what I wanted to do (although I know a few Flash Fiction writers out there who could easily manage it).




WHAT CAME NEXT

Last week I made the decision to let go of one of the prompts. Since day one I’ve had an idea for a story (in those barren first few weeks it was the only idea I did have) but it’s not fighting to be told. Its clich├ęd and I don’t think it works. I won’t write the prompt off completely; anything can happen in the next two weeks. But for now it’s gone.

The story I have closest to completion is a piece titled COST OF FREEDOM, which I’m quite happy with. It’s recently come back from a fellow FlashDog with quite positive feedback. It just needs a few tweaks and another look over and then I’m sending it in.

Next up is a story called POTENTIAL. I’ll admit that it’s a little flawed at the moment but I’d guess this was to do with its ‘birth’. I originally planned to send in a different story for critiquing but I was having problems with it. So instead, I ingested a whole 250g bag of Fruit Pastilles and wrote a 1000 story from scratch in forty minutes. But, something irked me. It was only once I got it back with notes attached that I realised what I already knew; the ending stank. Some authors might be annoyed being told this but the feedback I got actually put a smile on my face. I wasn’t being told something I didn’t know but something I wasn’t admitting. It was like being caught out. So now I’m going to fix that ending and hopefully improve the whole story.

My final piece is the trickiest. I’ve started it from scratch four times now. It’s a follow up to a piece I put in last year’s Anthology. Originally I didn’t want to do sequels but this bends the rule a little. It’s set in the same world as the previous story, a world I wanted to go back to, and includes some of the same characters but it’s told from a new characters point of view. The only problem I’m having is the start point. I know I can do it in a 1000 but I keep starting slow. Fingers crossed it’s ready in time because I really like it.


Hopefully, with the deadline looming, and the pressure pushing me forward, I will get these done and they will be of a standard I’m happy with. I want to look back at this anthology and know that the stories I contributed belong there and meet with the standard of the tales they are surrounded by.

Hopefully, when the book is released, you can let me know.

See you in seven.

(art work courtesy of Tamara Rogers)