Wednesday, 17 February 2016

(vol 3) CHAPTER 03 – “Why We Don’t Succeed”

When I started this blog, I wanted to be honest. 100% honest.

Lying to readers is only lying to ourselves.

So I’m not going to sugar coat this post. I’m not going to bend the truth so that it says what I want it to say but instead of what it should say.

I also want to be clear and state that this post is not a request for people to leave comments that will boost my morale and tell me it will be okay.

It just is what it is.

It’s where I am on my current writing project.


I’m still editing/rewriting CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE RISING DEAD, and I’m still enjoying it. 

But it’s clear that I’m stuck.

I’ve had quite a bit of success since my last post when it comes to fixes and amendments (another character has been ‘killed off’, a psychiatrist become a mother became a psychiatrist, Mike now isn’t made redundant, and an ‘off-screen’ character now has an important role in the final act), but it seems that when I make one change to improve the story, it breaks three other things around it.

And it’s getting frustrating.

I really wanted to give my villain his own story, his own journey, but things keep getting tangled up with the protagonist. It sounds odd, but I can’t seem to get my villain on his own. Some of this is down to the timeline of the story (how can he be here, and then, just minutes later, be there).

One solution has been to drop his chapters, to only tell the story only from the protagonist’s POV. But I’m not sure how I’ll get any of the villain’s story across if I do that, other than a monologue. 

And nobody wants a monologue.


I have to say, the spreadsheet is sort of helping. These are issues and fixes I don’t think I would have come up with had I not listed it the way I now have. And while it hasn’t helped me fix everything (yet), I wouldn’t be surprised if I use it, or something like it, on all writing projects going forward.

I can’t remember how I discovered it (Joanna Penn tweeted the link a while ago) but it’s something that’s obvious now, and I can’t believe I didn’t consider previously.

(WARNING – The below image contains spoilers and has been reduced to obscure text)

Quite simply it’s a list of chapters (column A), a summary of each chapter (column B), the scene locations (column C), and then a mark to show which characters are in the scene.

For the summary column, I’ve marked in grey any chapter that DOES NOT contain the protagonist, in this case MIKE TRUANT.

This way of looking at it has helped with the pacing, though as I mentioned earlier, I’ve having trouble comfortably placing the villain of the peace.


Now, while all this sounds like things are ticking over, the truth is that the above image hasn’t changed too much in the last three weeks. Sure I had an awesome epiphany last week that finally uncovered the theme I was missing, but I feel stalled now. I had several days of chopping and changing and it left me scared to continue, almost like the only way forward now was to step out onto the thin ice.

So I’ve been . . . procrastinating.

Booooo,” I hear you say. “Procrastination is the enemy of the writer, a foot soldier working for the Demons of Distraction.

I know, I know. Believe me, I know. But these things happen. I got stuck, I hit a wall, and turned to the things that make me happy.

So I’ve been playing more on the Xbox, I’ve been reading in my work lunch breaks instead of working on CHRIS AND MIKE (finished AXIS OF ARRON, started REVIVAL). I’ve even stopped taking my notebook into work.

And now that I’m writing this down, now that I’m putting it out there, it makes me sick. Because damn it, I want to write a book and release it this year. I don’t want folders and thumb drives full of beginnings without endings. I keep pining for that end result and then getting scared of doing the hard work in the middle. You know, actually writing.

This is me, kicking myself up the butt, hoping that it’s thirty seventh time lucky, hoping that I can follow in the footsteps of my fellow writing buddies (Craig, Emily, Tamara, and Margaret are my current idols).

I apologise now if this isn’t the last time.


Rant over. I feel better. I think this post is more for me than anyone else. There’s a calm now and I’m ready, once again, to get on with what I want to do.

I apologise for using this platform to moan to myself about myself. Maybe if you’re going through similar things then it may show you that that’s okay, while those that have already published may be looking back and remembering their own weak moments.

A lot of people want to be a writer.

Few people do something about it.

Hardly any succeed.

But the only person stopping you from writing is . . . (all together now) . . . you.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

(vol 3) CHAPTER 02 – “It Is FLASH Time”

It’s been just over a year since the incredible folks at FDHQ unleashed the first ever FlashDogs Flash Fiction anthology upon the world, and in less than a weeks’ time, you’ll get to see their next step for total Flash Fiction domination.


The first anthology, released back in December 2014, was a broad collection of tales, ranging from love stories and character studies to haunting horror and mind bending sci-fi. Some were brief, yet left their mark, while others were longer, more epic, using the extra words to build up a world around the reader.

(If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been reading one story a day since the very start of the year).

The folks at FDHQ decided that the next time they put together an anthology, things would need tightening up with a theme. So last summer, they brought you the two-parter (a left hook and a right upper cut) based on the Solstice. Book One carried the Light tales (the hope and the happiness), while Book Two was more about the Dark (the horror, the desperation, the downright terror that only mankind can bring upon itself).

Which brings us to Anthology number three, due to hit digital bookshelves on February 8th 2016.


This time around it’s all about . . . well TIME. We were all given three photos and asked to write up to three tales based on either Past, Present, or Future.

The deal is the same as with the previous anthologies. As I mentioned, the book is to be released on February 8th. You can preorder you digital copy now over at Amazon (£2.06, or free with Kindle Unlimited). There will also be a paperback version available, for all you touchy feely book people out there (like me), priced at £6.84.

The proceeds will be going to The Book Bus, a charity that helps get books into the hands of less fortunate children around the world. So you read a great book, and it helps others have the opportunity to read books. Can’t say fairer than that.


Once again I’m over the moon to have had the opportunity to be part of this. While I busy myself this year to get my own solo project out into the world, I can’t overlook just how cool it is to have my work included in these anthologies. They’re not little vanity projects hastily mashed together. These books are quality throughout, from the formatting of Emily June Street, to the design work produced by Tamara Rogers, these books sit on your bookshelf and look as good as anything else you own. And, on top of that, they’re full of great stories written by up and coming authors who I hope to join before this year is out.

I enjoyed working with the Time theme, surprising myself with my end results. I don’t hide the fact that I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and my gut led me straight towards time travel with a big old grin on my face. But the last two years of Flash Fiction hasn’t brushed past me without leaving its mark and I found that I can do more than just aliens, monsters, robots and twists.

So, with the help of my wife, as well as the patience and guidance of fellow FlashDog Geoff Holme, I managed to put together three tales I’m particularly proud of.

REGRET: The story of a man looking back over his life, wondering how things could been have different if he’d not made one stupid mistake.

THE LONGEST DAY: What do you do when you no longer have family, or friends, or a job? Or any responsibilities whatsoever? One man decides to pack up and finally see America, with no one to get in his way.

A FISTFUL OF FUTURE: Did your father ever tell you that if you didn’t stop crying, he’d knock you into next week? What if that actually happened?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond my three tales, the book will contain many more stories 
of pure awesomeness. Trust me, I write beside these people. They’re really, really good.


And that’s all, for now. I’m off to write some more CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE WORLD (you didn’t think I’d forgotten about those two, did you). The count down to the third FlashDogs anthology continues.

5 days to go.

Until then, get writing.