Wednesday, 29 July 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 29: “CampNaNo 2015 – Day 29 (+ FF Bonus!)”

2015 Flash Fiction Word Count =         39588

2015 CampNaNo Word Count =           21106

2015 TOTAL WORD COUNT =           60694

Notice anything different about the above banner?

That’s right, I’m a winner (in more ways than one, but more on that later). Yesterday I crossed the finish line for my CampNaNo 2015 project. Admittedly the word count is shorter than the one I’ll attempt in November, but I see CampNaNo as the smaller brother, warm-up project.

There’s still two more days of writing to go, and I’m determined to keep going, instead of dropping of early like I normally do.

Let’s take a quick look at the last seven days.

Day Twenty-Three – 1167 words.

The story became a sort of chase movie at this point. Escaping the clutches of Dr Gellibrand (damn, just remembered that I meant to add a moment of ‘villains dead body is missing’. Do’h!) I got Chris, Mike and the old man, Jonas, onto a train heading south. It was another exposition scene (and one that will get chopped up in edits) so I threw another bout of action at our heroes. I ended the chapter with a vague location and some running, but I’ll fill things like that in later on.  I then got everyone back into a car (I can’t stop myself putting people into cars) and carried on the journey.

Day Twenty-Four – 1604 words

This was a fun scene to write as Chris returns to a place from his younger years. I didn’t have time to build up the tension required in the scene (one more thing to do later), but it was good to explore his past a little and get to the thing our characters have been trying to find for a while.

With only an hour lunch to write, if ideas come to me, I just need to get them down. When this is the case, my draft can have the feel that it was written by a child who’s spent all afternoon at a party and had all the e-numbers he or she could get their grubby little hands on. But this is a first draft; no one should see it. It’s the first rewrite where things get a little cleaner, a little more coherent. So, for now, it’s okay to vomit ideas onto the page. This part is just emptying the box of all the puzzle pieces.

Day Twenty-Five – 0 words

You may start to stop a pattern here. Weekend equals no writing. I didn’t even have time to enter Angry Hourglass. I spent the morning playing toy cars with my son, an afternoon of dealing with ‘angry son’, and an evening of Formula 1 qualifying and dinner. But at this stage I was nearly 2000 words ahead of my necessary target, so I didn’t beat myself up about it. However, if this had been November . . .

Day Twenty-Six – 0 words

Oops, I did it again. This takes my total of non-writing days up to six, but I’m hoping that that’s where it will stay. Today’s excuses were sponsored by, shopping, dinner at my mother’s (hello mum – thank you for a great roast dinner), and of course, the best Formula 1 race of the season so far. I went to bed with 1288 words profit, so things were still good.

Day Twenty-Seven – 932 words

If you don’t count my zero days, this was the lowest amount produced since July 16th. I was a little annoyed that I didn’t hit four figures, but better 68 short, than 680.

I finished off the scene where Chris and Mike retrieve the journal of Chris’ father. Next I moved onto what should be the final confrontation with Dr Gellibrand. That’s right, dropping her out of a window wasn’t enough, and neither was leaving her on that train. Who is this woman? Hopefully we’ll find out later.

Or will we? I decided to use an ability that, in the Flash version of the Chris and Mike vs stories, doesn’t come in for quite some time (see adventure 26 – vs SCUM AND VILLAINY). I’d kept Chris’ ability to control two tattoo’s on his arms in the back of my mind, but hadn’t decided if he would gain within the stories or already have them.

When the fight came up, and I realised that Chris and Mike were easily out matched, it seemed like the only way to victory. Of course, things don’t go well for our evil psychiatrist and her bodyguard, but hey, they were evil, right?

I wasn’t sure if it was too much until I went onto the next chapter . . .

Day Twenty-Eight – 1070 words

Chris and Mike had finally come to an agreement and were on the same page. But buddy movies don’t work like that, right? When the friendship looks like it’s at its most solid, something has to come along and spoil it.

The overpowering use of Chris’s tattoos did just that, as Mike outright disagrees with how Chris handled the situation, totally not agreeing with the violent method that Dr Gellibrand was dealt with. A wedge has been drawn between the two now, a line representing justice. Chris stands on one side, willing to do what it takes. Mike stands on the other, firm in the belief that murder shouldn’t even be a last resort (I’m guessing he wouldn’t have like the neck snap at the end of Man of Steel).

I ended with a short chapter where Mike realises that Chris is holding onto the memory of his childhood when they were best friends, and he understands now that Chris’ childhood was stolen from him.

Sadness all around.

Day Twenty-Nine – 1020 words

I was over the moon yesterday with crossing the finish line but, as with all of my NaNoWriMo projects, just because I’ve hit my word target, it doesn’t mean that the story’s over.

I thought it funny that, the day after I hit my word target, I started on the scene that is based on the original Chris and Mike story from back in January. That’s right, the boys are finally at the church and, as my i-phone game sometimes says, “zombies are coming”.

It was a little strange building on top of what was a 100 word story / scene. The stuff about Chris’ medication is out (having been much of the first half of the novella this time round) but the gravestones, the baseball bat club, and the hand grabbing Mike’s foot are all there.


So, as I said, there’s still two days of writing to go, and I am planning to use them (as well as writing the latest Chris and Mike adventure tomorrow). After that I’ll take a little break before diving into this projects edit phase and seeing what I can do with the mess. More on that next week.

Before I go, there is just one more thing I wanted to talk about.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you’ll know that the main thing I write is Flash Fiction. Since switching to this format as my primary writing method, I’ve had some fantastic accomplishments.

I have a few weeks of contest judging under my belt thanks to Rebecca Allred.

I managed four Angry Hourglass wins at the beginning of this year.

I had a story picked for June’s NFFD Flash Flood.

Two stories have been posted up at Paragraph Planet.

And of course, I’ve had eight stories published in print thanks to those amazing folks at FDHQ.

Through it all though, there has been one goal, one trophy, one flaming badge of honour, which I’ve hunted with a passion. I came close on a couple of occasions, but I’m tremendously excited to announce that this Friday just gone . . . I got my first ever Flash! Friday win!!!!!!!!!

It was an odd Friday, one where I went into work two and a half hours early to get some writing done. I managed 1604 words for CampNaNo and even found time to get my Flash! Friday entry done. I thought I could relax for the rest of the day, even so far as taking a book into read over lunch.
But something kept nagging me all afternoon, something at the back of my mind wanted out, so that evening I wrote it down. It was a mess in that early form but I moulded it, taking influence from where I could. I thought about the Arabian Tales I’d read when I was younger, and how I couldn’t wait to see the same excitement for reading in my son’s eyes when he was old enough. I looked to the work of fantastic director Guillermo del Toro, as well as fellow Flash writer Voima Oy. And when it all came together, I felt it was the best I could have done.

I posted it up and thought nothing more of it.

When the results went up on Monday night I couldn’t believe it. It reminded me of my third driving trust when my brain heard the word ‘fail’ despite the driving instructor saying ‘pass’. I scrolled up the page and back down again, making sure I’d seen my name in the correct place on the page. I refreshed the page. I closed down my browser and pressed the twitter link again.

And then it sunk in. I had finally accomplished the goal that I’d set myself.

14 months.

61 Flash! Friday contests.

89 stories.

1st Flash! Friday winners badge.

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 28: “CampNaNo 2015 – Day 22”

2015 Flash Fiction Word Count =         38979

2015 CampNaNo Word Count =           15313

2015 TOTAL WORD COUNT =           54292

Just over a week to go now and the pace is picking up.

I’m loving this phase of the story. I’ve gone from expanding on the original 100 words story I wrote back in February, to building on everything I’ve written and planned in the last two weeks. New characters are evolving, changing the story in interesting ways just by being there, and little seeds are dropping, ready to blossom in later adventures.

Although it can be a struggle to create, when the process is working, it can be very exciting for an author.

Day Sixteen – 520 words.

My lowest word count of the week (ignoring two non-writing days – see below), the 16th saw me cross the 50% word count target. It’s all downhill from here (although, ironically, the characters driving up a hill in this chapter). I wanted to get our heroes back into proactive mode. No more running away, no more being confused. It’s all about getting answers now. Chris wants to find out who’s manipulating him, while Mike just wants his old life back. And what better way to get info than to track down an old friend of Chris’ dad.

The old house on the hill, surrounded by woodland, forgotten by the world. Our heroes meet a cranky old man called Jonas who unknowingly gets dragged into their problems. Interestingly, I didn’t realise when I created Jonas, just how intricate he’d be to the plot. It wasn’t until a few days later, walking to work and listening to a movie soundtrack, that his actual backstory revealed itself. Can’t wait for that to unfold.

Day Seventeen – 1227 words

The first of my more productive writing days (anything over 1000 words in a hour lunch break is awesome), I got to finish up the chapter from yesterday. And I decided to mix it up a little.
When I left Chris, Mike and Jonas the previous day, they were deep in exposition with the plan being to take the car and go for a trip.
No danger, I thought. Needs a bit of action, a bit of livening up.
What better time for the bad guys to track them down and attack Jonas’ home. 

Day Eighteen – 0 words

I struggled to find time to write today. On the plus side, I had a fantastic day out with my mate and our sons, so it wasn’t wasted time.

Still, there’s always a little twang when you go to bed, and the word count reads zero.

Day Nineteen – 0 words

Another busy day meant I had my first consecutive ‘zero days’ of the project. I was not happy. I was busy all day and the only writing I got done was for a Flash contest. After that it was off to the cinema to see Ant-Man in 3D. But even a great Marvel film couldn’t wash away the guilt. And the only thing worse than a zero word count is seeing my word count target slip into the red.

Day Twenty – 1360 words

Today was a change in that I decided to take a break from the main characters. Instead, I used a chapter to pick up the shadowy villains plot from chapter one. Although it’s still secret to both the reader and the main characters, it’s good to update the parallel plot with the hero’s journey, to keep it fresh in the readers mind.

And it also gave me the opportunity to ‘kill off’ and office colleague who was getting on my tits.

Day Twenty-One – 1029 words

Back with Chris and Mike and I managed another 1000+ word lunch break. I realised that I knew where my main characters were going next, but I realised that they didn’t. So this is investigation scene, an info gathering scene, as our heroes learn the identity of the mystery woman who is hunting them.

And it also digs a little deeper into Jonas’ past, so serving two purposes.

It was a short chapter so I finished my lunch break by setting up the next chapter, one where Chris and Mike return to the block of flats from earlier in the story, and meet the delinquents outside the lobby.

Day Twenty-Two – 1245 words

I had a fun writing session during today’s lunch. After finishing off the chapter with the delinquents, which was getting quite confrontational, I got to the scene where Chris and Mike meet the mysterious Dr Gellibrand.

It was fun writing it because I’d trapped my two characters in a room with no real plan on how they would escape. But as the villain revealed her plan (just a little), I found myself in the scene, searching for escape myself. As the dialogue flowed, I saw an idea and grabbed it.

That should have been it but, in dealing with one villain, Chris and Mike had left themselves vulnerable to another. I panicked, considering for a moment whether I’d needed to scrap the scene and start again when I got home from work.

Then suddenly, my brain remembered another character was still in play, and a rather silly solution presented itself.

The relief and the satisfaction from moments like that really make creating this stuff enjoyable. It’s all world building, character interaction, and puzzle solving.

I can’t wait for readers to get hold of it.

Nine more days to go and only 4687 words before I cross my target. I don’t think that should be a problem, and I plan to go past 20,000. Even if the Rising Dead story line is wrapped up, I still have twenty six more ‘Chris And Mike vs’ adventures to adapt.

This project’s far from over yet.

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 27: “CampNaNo 2015 – Day 15”

2015 Flash Fiction Word Count =         38413

2015 CampNaNo Word Count =           9932

2015 TOTAL WORD COUNT =           48345

Give or take a few hours, it’s the half way point of CampNaNoWriMo July 2015.

I’m still ahead of target and haven’t slipped into the red yet (although it’s been close). I’m not as focused as I’d like though, never getting close to the daily word target of 1667 that I normally achieve in the November contest. But things are busy, July is supposed to be a warm up, and I’m in that horrible middle section of the novel where the preproduction was thinnest, causing me to create on the fly.

I went away with the family this weekend, a nice long weekend on the Isle of Wight. My trusty laptop came with us so that, once my son was asleep, I could hopefully get some writing done. And I did. Friday and Saturday nights saw me reaching around 1000 words. Unfortunately, I slipped on the Sunday and got zero done so all that ‘word profit’ was wasted.

But for now, let’s take a look at how my NaNo writing has gone.

Day Nine – 307 words

A half day at work and then home to see my poorly wife and son. I managed to find a small window in the evening and used to tie up the scene from the previous day involving a creature breaking into Mike’s house.

Day Ten – 1078 words

A long day of packing, a ferry trip, a drive round the island, before finding our caravan site and settling in. Once my son was asleep (or pretending to be) I fired up the lap top and took advantage of the peace and quiet.

Chris and Mike have fled the house and have a ‘body’ to take care of. This was all about Mike denying what he had seen, while Chris begins to get frustrated by the attitude of the one person he thought he could rely on. It’s here that their friendship gets thin.

Day Eleven – 935 words

A tiring day out at Robin Hill; nice weather, good food, and a very well behaved son. I was shattered when we got back to our caravan but somehow managed to find a refreshing angle on the story.

I used the next chapter to fold Mike back around to the institute. With Chris having no family, this is really the only place he can go for help. He has a meeting with the quite helpful Dr Gellibrand, knowing that he’s let his friend down and needs to find him again.

Day Twelve – 0 words

I said I wouldn’t do it but it happened again. It’s not that I didn’t feel like it, more that it just sipped my mind. With rain came a lazy day, a lot spent in the caravan, reading and watching TV. It was halfway through watching the excellent ‘Unforgiven’ with Eastwood, Freeman, and Hackman that I realised, too late, that I hadn’t contributed a single word to the story.

Wrist slapped.

Day Thirteen – 414 words

This was the start of Mike’s search for his friend. I took him to a rundown block of flats and then found myself sticking him in an awkward conversation with some youths outside the front doors. I don’t know where it came from, or if it will remain past the draft, but it just fell out of my brain and onto the page.

Day Fourteen – 679 words

Today was supposed to be a relaxing day, just me and the wife. Unfortunately our childminder thought it was the best time to hand in her notice. The day quickly disintegrated into two angry parents and the search for somewhere to send my son in four weeks.

Despite this hiccup, I still managed to get a little writing done before we headed off for a much needed drink at our weekly pub quiz.

At the end of the last chapter, Mike was trapped in an unfurnished flat with nowhere to hide, and someone was knocking on the open door. The ‘visitors’ are revealed and I think my brain went in two directions at the same time. One ‘visitor’ is an earlier character who, in a twist, is not all that they seemed. And the other? Well I leave that for now, but I think it’s going to change. I know the ‘Chris and Mike vs’ stories are weird, but this might be too weird. We’ll see.

Day Fifteen – 587 words

Another car scene, another argument between our future monster hunters. This is another scene that may exit the final version, or perhaps merge with another chapter. But for now, it has information that I needed to get down somewhere, so what better place than a first draft.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the middle of the story was the thinnest but I’m confidant that momentum will give me more words per day as I get closer to the ending. It’s the most complete stage of planning seeing as it’s where the original Flash Fiction tale was set.

I’m trying to focus more on the ‘Chris And Mike vs’ project going forward and so, with a heavy heart, I’ve made the decision to put Fractured Dawn on hiatus. It’s not over, but even getting it done at a fortnightly pace with the other writing I do is causing a little stress. I need a little more focus and so something had to go. I have three more parts to post that lead into a nice point in the story to break, a kind of end of season one episode cliff-hanger.

It’s not over. Fractured Dawn will be back.

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 26: “CampNaNo 2015 – Day 8”

2015 Flash Fiction Word Count =         38159

2015 CampNaNo Word Count =           5932

2015 TOTAL WORD COUNT =           44091

So, I’m a week into this year’s CampNaNo, and things are going well. Chris and Mike’s first adventure, CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE RISING DEAD, is coming along nicely. Here’s how:

Day Two – 799 words

Another lunch time session saw me start work on the first chapter to contain one of our heroes. Entitled “What’s On Your Mind”, we get a look at a Chris who is still a resident of the mental institute. Here he undergoes a session with his psychiatrist, Dr Gellibrand.

The chapter shows a playful side to Chris, one that comes across through the original Flash Fiction stories that have inspired this project. My only fear is that I have a feeling it’s a chapter that won’t make the final draft.

Day Three – 1016 words

Following Chris’ intro the day before, it was time for Mike to step up. The chapter delves straight into painting Mikes life the colour of miserable; setting the scene in his office, meeting his annoying boss, and getting his point of view on the wife. Once the sad state of Mike’s life is out of the way, we move onto the phone call that will lead him to the reunion with his old pal.

Day Four – 0 words

There was a tiny screw up today that led to no words being written. Due to the fact that my most regular writing time comes with my one hour work lunch, I kind of got carried away through the day and completely forgot about CampNaNo and ‘Chris And Mike vs’. It wasn’t until my wife asked around 8pm if I was going to do any writing that day that I remembered, and by then we were settling down for Formula One quali. So that’s one day, so far, with zero word count. I don’t plan on doing it again.

Day Five – 835 words

Sunday afternoon had me wasting time for a Flash contest story that went nowhere. Frustrated, I scrapped it and turned to Chris And Mike instead. This chapter has Mike arriving at the Institute and eventually finding out that his responsibilities have grown. I had an ending for the chapter in mind, that final realisation by Mike, and I wanted it to be the punchline to the chapter. The rest of it was building to the line from nurse Foy saying, “He’s your problem now.”

Day Six – 716 words

Although not much had happened in the way of action and monsters, I wanted a slowdown scene with the two characters before the rest of the world set in. I took the pair to a dinner where Mike tries to get his head around the new situation he’s found himself in and Chris is oblivious to the disruption he is causing.

I have had a thought about changing the setting from a diner to the car, on the ride home but, we’ll have to see.

Day Seven – 1068

This was the first day I crossed chapters. The bulk of the writing went on a scene at Mike’s house as his wife reacts to Chris’ sudden appearance by leaving. There is also the first real sympathy from Mike regarding his old school friend before the pair finally call it a night and go to sleep.

I still had fifteen minutes of my lunch break left and an idea popped into my head about the next chapter, so I opened the scene and set it up ready for my next writing session.

Day Eight – 681 words

A day off work ill meant I probably didn’t get as much done as I’d have liked. And with the regular blog posts to write, Wednesday will always be light on NaNo word count. However, I did finish the scene I started yesterday.

I’d been worried that there wasn’t much going on action wise for the first week of writing, but I didn’t want to throw the main big bad at them just yet; Mike is still unaware of the world Chris is part of and I didn’t want to rush the discovery. So I decided to bring a little bit of that world to Mike’s doorstep; literally. This is where he’ll start to wonder if his friend really is crazy or if he is crazy himself.

And that’s it so far. Obviously not a lot of that would make sense, even if you do read the weekly Flash Fiction adventures of the pair. And, going forward a little (or a lot) of it could change through the rewrites, once July is over. But for now that’s how it’s going and I’m enjoying the way the story is unfolding.

Hopefully the fans will like the finished product.

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 25: “CampNaNo 2015 – Day 1”

2015 Flash Fiction Word Count =        37701 

2015 CampNaNo Word Count =           817

2015 TOTAL WORD COUNT =           38518

What do you do when one writing project is complete (see FlashDog Anthology release)? Get stuck into something else, of course.

If you read last week’s post then you’ll know that I’m using this July, and more specifically CampNaNoWriMo, to begin work on my latest project; upgrading ‘Chris and Mike vs’ stories from Flash Fiction to Novellas.

For the next month, my posts will consist of word count updates, as well as a little background on each days writing (highs and lows), and how the overall story is coming along. So, without further ado . . .

Day One – 817 words

It was both a good and a bad start to Camp. Good, because I managed to get going and bad because, after 45 minutes of ‘going’, my laptop battery expired. Guess I forgot to check its charge last night (Palm, meet face. Face, meet palm).

It wasn’t that bad a thing really though. I lost about a quarter of an hour sure, but the mini intro chapter was done, so I would only have got the next chapter a little underway (although this is normally nice because you hit the ground running on your next writing session).

Originally I’d considered starting the story with Mike, to show how mundane his life was. Then, I changed my mind and thought it would be better to open the story with Chris in a meeting with a psychologist. Instead (I know, I know) I opened with the reveal of a shadowy, evil figure, and his wretch of a human minion.

It’s strange, because I’ve had this story in my head for a while, I have a rough plan laid out, and yet it wasn’t until I wrote the first couple of lines that I realised I could still keep the wit of the original Flash Fiction pieces.

How many people come to a dilapidated church at midnight? It’s not a regular social activity for most people. Maybe drunk kids. Maybe psychopaths trying to ritually murder some poor bastard.
And then there’s your villains.
This villain was a dark as they get. Literally. This villain was a living shadow, a being of pure blackness. And totally evil to match.

Hopefully I can keep this style going throughout.

Something else that happened, as my fingertips were beavering away, was the instantaneous creation of a character. He’s not in a single one of the Flash pieces and I hadn’t planned for him in anyway. I just suddenly thought ‘this evil guy wouldn’t dig a hole in a graveyard by himself. He’d have a minion do it for him’.  A minion called Pesci Cherub.

(And before you ask, Lizzy, no, not one of those Minions!)

With what amounts to a prologue now out of the way, tomorrow I start work on the intro scenes to our two main characters. I’m looking forward to getting into their heads with more than 100 words to play with.


And that’s it. Not much, I know, but that’s what happens when your first NaNo day is the same day of the week as blog posting (and you run out of that thing called electricity). Obviously next week will have a lot more going for it.

Before I go, I’ll just quickly mention that I did indeed manage to write three separate ‘Chris And Mike vs’ stories over the weekend, one for each of the Flash contests I take part in. Thursday was their normal Micro Bookends adventure with CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE BARBARUS BEAST. Then, the following day, and Flash! Friday brought out the sci-fi tinged CHRIS AND MIKE vs INVADERS FROM MARS!, an ode to the classic serial shows of the 30’s and 40’s. And finally the expansive word count of Angry Hourglass gave us the Jaws / Tremors homage that was CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE SECRET BENEATH THE SAND. It was fun writing all three and if you’d like to enjoy them too then just head over to Wattpad where (by fan demand) I’ve stuck up each and every ‘Chris And Mike vs’ adventure written so far.

Now I’m off to plan for tomorrows writing.

See you in seven.