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Flotsam

Hey! Hi, howareya?

Kept you waiting, huh? (for all you MGS fans out there.)

Well then. Busy, busy, busy. But finally back to working on my own stuff once again. The Negative Bind hasn’t been forgotten about, it’s still very much on my mind. It has, however, been shelved for the time being, as my short story collection keeps rearing its ugly little head and distracting me.

Once upon a time I had a title in mind for this collection but as time went on I came up with another name for it and ran with that for a while. This new title – A Dog Barked Once – made perfect sense. To me, anyway. You see, the vast majority of my stories contain, somewhere in them, the line “…somewhere in the distance a dog barked, once, twice…”, and so A Dog Barked Once seemed very fitting. Hell, I could even write a second collection and call it A Dog Barked Twice!

Genius.

But no. Again time has moved on, and I find myself favouring my original title – Flotsam.

Why Flotsam, you ask. Well, dictionaries define the word as:

  • pieces of broken wood and other waste materials found on the beach or floating on the sea.
  • anything or anyone that is not wanted or not considered to be important or useful.

If you were to ask me where I get my ideas from, most of the time I’d be unable to tell you. They just kind of appear in my head. The closest I can come to explaining it is to say I view the imagination in my head as a vast, and mostly empty, ocean. Floating around in this Imaginocean are idea boxes – some complete and whole, the majority only a part of the entire story, pieces of wreckage from a fractured tale.

Whenever one of these boxes floats close enough to the shore, I wade out and grab it with both hands before it can float out of reach again. I’ll open the box, see what’s inside, and write it down, before settling back to await the next idea box to drift into view.

So yes, I’m slightly weird. No matter.

A lot of writers like to do cover reveals. They like to keep the image hidden until they feel the time is right, and then release it with great fanfare, or in a more subdued manner, depending on their style. Well, not me. Once I have a cover I like then I don’t mind showing it around (mainly because there’s a very good chance I’ll change my mind and make another cover before long).

And so, without further ado, here is the cover for my upcoming short story collection, Flotsam.

CompleteCover

 

When will it be released? Who knows. Whenever I get around to finishing it, would be my best guess. Until then, at least you have a pretty picture to look at, right?

Right.

As always, that shallot.

Laters…

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Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Books, Writing

 

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The Key

Quite a long while ago I was challenged to write a story based on a certain image.

key This image, to be exact.

Well, as so often happens, life, and various other things got in the way and the story never got written, although I had a good idea of what I wanted to write. Time has gone on, far too much time, and I’ve been so caught up in doing other things – earning money in order to be able to pay the bills and feed oneself, what a drag that is – that I haven’t done any writing for myself.

Plenty for other people. None at all for me. Now, that kinda sucks, so I decided it’s time I did something about it.

And shock horror! Today I actually put pen to paper. Well, typed words on a screen. Same thing. I didn’t produce much, a thousand words or so, as the writing machine is kinda rusty due to lack of use. But it is oiling up nicely. The words aren’t exactly flowing, but they are seeping out slowly.

Who knows, if you’re good I might even post an extract.

Or not.

Anyway, as always, that shallot.

Laters…

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Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Writing

 

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Just Do What’s Write… Right?

I have been asked why I’ve started writing so many stories, but seldom (if at all) finish any of them. At the last count I’ve got eleven stories on the go, so I suppose it’s a fair question. And the answer is… none of your damn business, leave me alone!

Just kidding.

There are two answers to this. The first is to do with me and my writing style, and how I come up with ideas.

I’m always asking ‘what if’, as in what if three people were waiting at a deserted train station? What if a little old lady constantly brought household items to a charity shop for donation? What if a bus full of passengers took a wrong turn? What if a mother and father lost their only child? What if an author ended up in a world he created? The obvious answers to these questions are instantly discarded by my inner writer, to be replaced by the unexpected, the strange and often the downright weird.

So when I have an idea, I’ll kick it around in my head for a while, looking at it from every angle, and then I’ll write the beginning. I’ll usually run out of steam after a little while, so I’ll put it away and leave it alone. Then when I go back and reread what I’ve written I’ll get a clearer idea of what it’s about and how to write it. Just jotting down notes about the story, characters and plot doesn’t work for me. I have tried doing it that way, but I found that when I went back to those notes I’d lost the essence of the story, lost the spark. I’d forgotten the tone of voice I wanted to use, forgotten if it should be slightly humerous, or dark, or emotional, or surreal, or gritty, or… you get the idea. So I’ll write the first few pages as I want it to be written, so that I can capture all of those elements in the words. Yes, I’ll also write notes about where the story is going, but those first few pages are THE most important ones. To me, at least.

“That sounds like a good system,” I hear you cry. No? Well, tough, I’ll carry on regardless.

If you have a clear idea, then write it. It doesn’t have to be the beginning, that’s just the way I do it. Take Romany Skies (part one of the Sam Creedy Chronicles), I’ve got bits of that from all over the story – start, end, middle, even something that I’m sure belongs in book two. But anyway, write it as well as you can, and if you do run out of steam, shelve it and come back to it weeks or even months later. Sometimes you don’t run out of steam though, sometimes it keeps going, the story dragging you along in its eagerness to be written.

And that brings us to the second answer to the original question – namely, the inability to write.

“Ah, yes,” you’re saying, nodding sagely. “Writers block.”

Wrong.

I haven’t written anything worthwhile for quite some time purely because of personal circumstances. There’s a lot going on in my life at the moment, and most of it isn’t good stuff. As a result, I just don’t feel like writing anything. I’ve tried, I’ve opened up one of my stories with every intention of writing a few thousand words more, but I just end up thinking what’s the point? Why bother? I should be getting my life back on track, not scribbling words. So, I’m NOT blocked, I’m just choosing not to write until things are better. (If I had writers block I wouldn’t be able to write this, would I?)

That said, I don’t really believe in writers block anyway. Sure, there are the rare individuals who wake up one morning, after years of being able to write freely day after day, and are unable to write a thing. Poor souls. Mostly though, when writers say they’re blocked, it’s because there may be something going on in their life which is distracting them. But what it usually turns out to be is just the lack of a clear direction for that particular story.

If that occurs, don’t get dejected if it’s not happening, if the story isn’t coming. Move on to something else, anything else, even the 30 Writing Challenges will do. I say it all the time, when somebody says they’re stumped on a story – “move on, write something else.” Because, ultimately, that’s all there is too it.

Your 'inner writer' needs peace to be able to create.

Your ‘inner writer’ needs peace to be able to create.

I guess the point is not to get hung up on just one story and try to make it work no matter what, and then get downhearted and give up when it refuses to go any further. It might just be the beginnings of an idea, an idea your inner writer needs to work on for a while in peace. So in the meantime, write the beginnings of more ideas. And by write I mean really write, not just jot down an outline with a few plot ideas.

New ideas find it hard to push their way past existing ideas, especially when the existing idea in question has the writer stumped. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. Let your creative mind do what it does best – create. Don’t hold it back by trying to force it to work on something its had enough of, for now. When it’s ready it’ll go back to the story it wants and finish it off.

So just write. Write anything. Write that you’re stumped. Write that you want to write, write that you’re angry with not being able to, write that it upsets you. Just write.

You won’t be writing for any other reason than you just want to write. Anything. Don’t think about it. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation. Don’t even worry about it making sense. Free your mind of everything and just put words on the screen, or on paper, whichever. 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, whatever it takes. And when you’re done, keep what you’ve written. You never know, there may be something useful in there for a later date.

If you do that, you’ll have written something. And if you’ve written something, then you can’t have writers block.

Right?

Write.

Anyway, enough. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for putting up with my ramblings. Now, haven’t you got something better you should be doing?

Laters…

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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in Writing

 

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When nature provides the perfect inspiration for horror writers…

Deep in the Nicaraguan rain forests of Central America there lives a large, venemous ant, Paraponera clavata, known commonly as the bullet ant. This large ant survives by hunting for food among the fallen leaves and undergrowth of the extraordinarily rich rain-forest floor, and in the trees above its nests.

On occasion, while thus foraging, one of these ants will become infected by inhaling the microscopic spore of a fungus from the genus Cordyceps, one of millions of such spores raining down upon the forest floor from somewhere in the canopy above. Upon being inhaled, the spore lodges itself inside the ant’s tiny brain and immediately begins to grow, quickly fomenting bizarre behavioral changes in its host. The creature appears troubled and confused, and now, through no choice of its own, it leaves the forest floor and begins an arduous climb up the stalk of a vine or fern, or even a tree trunk.

Driven on by the still-growing fungus, the ant finally achieves a seemingly prescribed height, whereupon, utterly spent, it attaches its mandibles to the plant it has been climbing and, thus affixed, waits to die. Ants that have met their doom in this fashion are quite a common sight in certain sections of the rain forest.

The fungus, for its part, lives on: it continues to consume the ant’s brain, moving through the rest of the nervous system and presently through all the soft tissue that remains of the ant. After approximately two weeks, a spikelike protrusion erupts from what was once the ant’s head. Growing to a length of about an inch and a half, the Spike features a bright-orange tip heavily laden with spores, which now begin to rain down onto the forest floor for other unsuspecting ants to inhale.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, apparently there are thousands of varieties of Cordyceps, and each one specialises in an individual species of insect.

Mostly, being a writer is a blessing. Sometimes, especially if, like me, you have a tendency to write horror, fantasy, and the weird, it doesn’t feel like a blessing. Imagination takes over, fuelled by articles like the one above, and all sorts of horrific outcomes come to mind.

What if Cordyceps decided to feast on small rodents instead of insects? What if it progressed onto larger mammals?

What if it decided that human beings would make the perfect hosts…?

Sleep well tonight, won’t you.

~ABC~

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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