THE WORD ON THE .NET

Writer T. James' Exploration of Words, on the Internet.

Category: Fiction (page 1 of 2)

I’m Still Alive – Just Working on Other Things

When I started my latest project I thought I would keep posting regularly on this blog, but alas I haven’t had time to do both. This blog isn’t dead, and new material may surface from time to time, but until Out of the Darkness is complete that’s where I will be committing the bulk of my writing time.

I’m blogging about the progress of the novel; just click on the picture below if you are interested in finding out more:

Out of the Darkness is a science fiction novel set in the Elite: Dangerous universe. Release estimated to be Q2-3, 2014.

Blog Tour: “Witch Hunt: Of the Blood”

This week I am hosting five, count ‘em, five talented authors as part of the Witch Hunt: Of the Blood book blog tour. Following the success of Devin O’Branagan’s original novel Witch Hunt, they have come together to compile an anthology of five novella-length stories to answer some of reader’s remaining questions and to flesh out Devin’s witchy world.

I caught up with them via the ultra-modern medium of email to get a brief inside scoop:

Me: Devin, what was the inspiration for the original Witch Hunt novel, and how did you develop those ideas in your follow up novella, Of The Blood Of Witches?

Devin: I was inspired to write the original Witch Hunt as an exploration of the dangers of religious fanaticism. In my novella Of the Blood of Witches, I further explored that issue via both the witches and their hostility toward Christians because of historical persecutions, and through one of the Christians who reacts with disgust upon discovering the woman he loves is a witch. There is no spirituality within religious fanaticism, which is emotional, judgmental, and self-righteous. It doesn’t matter what one’s religious faith is, if there is hatred, then there is not spirituality.

Me (question put to the other four authors): What aspect of Devin’s writing inspired you to write your novella, and what is the individual spin you’ve put on your story that makes it unique?

K.L. Schwengel: Devin’s tag line sums it up: Art should be fearless. Her approach to writing and to telling her characters’ stories is bold and fearless, and she pulls no punches.

I’m not sure how to answer the second half of this question. I don’t know that I consciously put any kind of spin on my story, outside of my writing voice. I like to keep things tight, and not dive into long descriptions, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks on their own.

Krista Walsh: The subject of the Salem Witch Trials was my first inspiration, but I also appreciated how much Devin included under the surface of the story. Each character was trapped in different ways, which left so much material to work with after her story ended. With the structure I chose for my story, I was able to play with some nightmares and what-if scenarios for Bridget and Rebekah’s characters.

Keri Lake: The women in Devin’s original Witch Hunt novel were strong and nurturing.  I found these traits to be most inspirational for Miranda’s character, a physician in 1918.  I think what makes The Banishing unique is the science that I’ve weaved into the supernatural.

Suzanne Hayes Campbell: Of all of Devin’s books, I think the characters in Witch Hunt were the most fully realized. That made for exciting reading—each chapter became a time capsule in the story of the persecution of a group of people. While the Hawthorne family of characters in each of the historical chapters were different—juxtaposing them with the struggle of the modern Hawthornes held the story together. It was brilliant—and that inspired me. While my novella is much simpler, dealing with one small set of characters in a specific time period. To some degree I did rely on that family struggle as an underlying thread—but in my story it manifests in a single character’s quest to find herself and her place in a world that betrayed her. If I put a “spin” on it, I suppose it was to give her a crisis of faith—in her heritage, her beliefs, and in herself. Ultimately, she comes to know that everything that matters is the same to every people—just clothed in different costumes.

———————

Well, there you have it: fiction writing based on themes with depth and characters that have compelling personal stories to tell. And now your appetite is whetted, here are some more details from Devin:

You’ve closed the cover on Witch Hunt, but the story isn’t over … yet! I’ve handpicked writers to take up my characters’ stories and explore what happens next.

The anthology begins with my own novella about Hawthorne matriarch, Vivian. Vivian and her fellow British witches work together to prevent a Nazi invasion during World War II. Then there is Colonial maiden, Bridget, who struggles with the guilt of failing her family in Salem, 1692. Her younger sister, Prissy, mysteriously disappears and finds another magical world. Julia, torn by family loyalties, love, and her spiritual quest, pays a huge price to continue the bloodline. And Miranda uses her powers against the great influenza outbreak of 1918—but finds the ultimate foe is prejudice against her kind.

Discover what was left out of Witch Hunt and revisit your favorite characters with these exciting novellas. The story isn’t done until the battle’s lost and won.

———————

This anthology contains novellas by Devin O’Branagan, Suzanne Hayes Campbell, Keri Lake, K.L. Schwengel, and Krista Walsh.

All five authors of the anthology are available for discussion at Devin’s writers’ forum. This is the link to chat with them: Chat With The Authors!

Witch Hunt: Of the Blood is available in both print and eBook formats and may be found at AmazonB&N, and Smashwords. (Smashwords provides copies compatible with almost all types of eReaders including Sony, Apple, Kobo, etc.) It is also available internationally via Amazon worldwide!

Two of the stories in this anthology are bridges to the upcoming sequel, Witch Hunt: Resistance, which will be released in 2013.

The original Witch Hunt is an international bestseller first published by Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books. It has been translated into German and Turkish and is consistently on the bestseller lists. It is the story of 300+ years in the history of a family of witches, from the time of the Salem trials to a modern-day witch hunt. It begs the question: could it happen again?

Witch Hunt is available as both a paperback and an eBook. It is available at AmazonB&N, and Smashwords.

———————

Devin O’Branagan can be found at: www.DevinWrites.com“Art Must Be Fearless!”

With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends? A Science Fiction Short Story.

This week I promised to put a sample of my science fiction writing online, but things haven’t gone according to plan. Yesterday a WordPress update totaled this blog and it took an afternoon to resurrect it in the form you see here. (Some features are still not functioning properly. My apologies if things aren’t working as they should.) On top of that my son and I now both have stomach flu, which isn’t pretty, but we’ll live.

What won’t happen is me being able to post as much of the SF story as I intended, fit it into the Elite mythos as thoroughly as I wanted to, or edit it as much as I’d like. So, there you go. It’s still in draft stage, and I only have part I even remotely close to completion. Hopefully it will give you some idea about my writing style and what you can expect from Out of the Darkness.

What it is not is an extract from Out of the Darkness. I may rework the scenes/characters below into that story, but I suspect there isn’t enough here to fill a much longer work. Please also note that this work has not been seen or endorsed in any way by Frontier Developments, and Out of the Darkness may be different in style depending on FD’s eventual writing guidelines (which I know nothing of at this time).

With all that said, I hope you enjoy it and would think about contributing to the Out of the Darkness Kickstarter project so I can write a much longer Elite story for you. (Part II of the story below will follow as soon as I can get it done).

I’m Kickstarting Out of the Darkness, an Elite bookhere:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tjameswriter/an-elite-dangerous-book-out-of-the-darkness

Thank you for your support.

With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends? Part I.

KerriK stretched, trying to ease the eternal cramp in his muscles. The nyrolon fibres of his flight suit creaked—the inbuilt decontamination enzyme-sheaths too long overworked. The dried sweat had left salts and proteins crystallised in a cocoon-like coating on his skin that cracked whenever he moved. His eye muscles pulled against the encrusted gunk gluing his eyelids together, but nothing happened—he hadn’t been able to sleep for… how long? He pawed at the sticky mess with a stubby gloved finger. The crust came away, tearing several eyelashes with it.

“—.” He tried to swear but the curse stuck in the thickness in his throat. At least he could see again, even if it was only in blurred smudges of colour. Muscles vibrated like torsion cables as he stretched out a trembling hand toward where he remembered the provisions dispenser to be. He stabbed at the phosphorescent green blur and missed. Frakin’ Macruin tub. How am I supposed to fly something built by eight foot squid? Ah! Somewhere inside his sponge-filled skull a neurone fired. He felt down the outside of his left thigh, and found the bottle carefully wedged between two of the pads of the anti-G harness. Come to Daddy! He wrapped the bottle in his gloved fist and, as lovingly as a father holding his newborn for the first time, lifted it to his mouth. The cork had a reassuringly moist, woody smell—there was still some left. He pulled it out with his teeth and let it fall into his lap. The stinging smell of the liquor ploughed furrows up his nostrils and set a neon light show off inside his brain. So much better than that fermented urine from Earth. He tipped the bottle up, and like a babe nursing at a teat, took the tiniest drop onto his tongue. Nothing. His breath caught, heart accelerating until he thought it would jump through his ribcage. Mustn’t panic, there’s still some left. KerriK knew the effects. Complete lucidity, connection to self and everything around you, and no need to sleep. It was incredibly expensive and illegal in every civilised star system. But its unique effect on human brain physiology was the only reason he was still sane—alone in this wreck of a ship.  But to stay sane you needed more… and then still more. He wondered if he could ever be normal again. He’d been on the stuff for three months.

The liquor began to wind tendrils through his thoughts, seeking them out and pulling them into sharper, painful, focus. This was the worst part, but he’d already pushed through it more times than he could count. He had to be quick, before he lost the ability to function. He scrabbled at the cork, catching it in the bulky gloves on the fifth try. He twisted his head sideways, shoved the cork between his teeth and screwed the bottle up onto the cork with both hands. He recognised his  own desperate need to protect the precious contents of the bottle. I’m probably addicted was the last thought he would be able to control for some time.

***

Hunched over the table, the warm numbness filling his head was pleasant; the beginning waves of nausea were not. KerriK had been drinking through the night and now he had no more money for beer to fend off the incoming hangover. This was not going to be a good day.

“KerriK, you pile of shit. I knew I’d find you here.” Like balls of lead being forced through his ears, the words squeezed into his head, crushing it from the inside.

“Whaddya wan’, Shane?” He didn’t open his eyes, even the subdued lighting was enough to drill spikes through the back of his retinas.

Officer Shane to you.” Through the fug of alcohol he was dimly aware of Shane’s fingers weaving between his dreadlocks.

“Piss off. I’m restin’ me head. Stop feelin’ me up, you queer.” His head was yanked up and back. KerriK felt lancing hot pain as several dreads parted from his scalp.

“Frak it! Gerroff!”

“I said Officer Shane.” Shane pushed down, hard, and KerriK saw the table top coming up to meet him. His nose exploded wetly across his face. He screamed and bucked but Shane still held him by whatever was left of his hair. The wild swing he made at Shane’s stomach was batted aside like a child’s. Shane dragged him off the seat, out of the booth, and forced him to kneel. KerriK felt the hardness of a gun barrel pressed against his temple.

“Say it.”

“Say, wha’? Wha’ do yer wan’ me t’ say?” Kerrik’s thoughts circled tighter as panic gripped him. He couldn’t focus.

“Say it.”

“Don’t kill me!” I’ll say anythin’, anythin’.” He could barely make out his own words through the sobs, and the blood which filled his mouth.

“You’re a dumb fuck. ‘I’m sorry Officer Shane.’ Say it.”

“I’m s-s-sorry, Officer Shane. Really sorry.”

“Better. Now listen. The Bureau’s called time on your loan, KerriK. Today you’re going to pay them back. Now move.”

***

So Where’s Part II? Reality and My Writing Process

I started writing on Tuesday evening, full of hope, excitement and a plot. This will be easy, I thought: plotted, written and edited in a few days. Easy.

By Wednesday I’d realised that the story wasn’t going to be as short as I’d thought. In fact I was now estimating it was going to be about double the length I’d originally envisaged. (The new estimate: 3000 words.) OK, a bit tougher, but still do-able, I thought. So on Wednesday I posted part I above. I now had hope, more nervous excitement, and a longer plot.

On Thursday I caught stomach flu, from my son who was now off school with, what else, stomach flu. Writing completed on Thursday: next to nothing. I still had some hope, more nervousness, the excitement, and the longer plot unwritten. I would catch up on Friday. Yes.

Friday came, and my boy was better. Hooray! Writing? No. School rules say it’s forty eight hours after the last episode of vomiting before he can go back. So, there’s an active small boy at home who needs looking after. I still have stomach flu. My wife goes out to a party in the evening. My son is in bed. At last I can write! I thought. But I still have stomach flu. My brain feels like dead-lead in a steel box with rocks in it. I wrestle with my plot, thick-headed as I am, and guess what? My ending is rubbish. Deus ex machina is writing jargon for the struggles a character faces being solved by a contrived, heavy-handed intervention from the writer. That’s what I’d done. More thinking, another possible ending. Hope was now fading; the nervousness was increasing; the excitement was still there and the plot was getting longer. Saturday was coming…

It’s Saturday as I write this and I am feeling much better. Hooray! My boy is at home, as is my wife. For reasons best known to them, they like to spend time with me. I can still get some writing done, I think to myself. They go out. I start to think about the story. My second ending is also rubbish. It works, but will actually be pretty dull to read. I think of another ending. This one is better! Yes! It has more drama, a twist, and even some action. I like it. I have a story I can write. I start to write the story. I realise that this more involved ending is going to require a much more substantial back story to support it. I’ve just doubled the length of the story. Again.

So, it’s now Saturday morning and I’m looking at a weekend with the family, which is lovely, but not too great for productivity. I also now need to outline (I do that sometimes now :-) ), write, re-write, and edit a six thousand word (or so) story in less than a week. In all honesty, to polish this so it’s going to be worth reading is going to take longer—this story is unlikely to be finished any time soon. Hope gone, nervousness gone. The excitement is back now I have a decent, longer, plot.

Where does that leave things? It’s a story I intend to finish, and I’ll post it when I think it’s ready. I don’t like to do less than my best. It almost certainly won’t be finished before my Kickstarter project deadline ends on the 23rd of December. So, I’m doing what any decent Kickstarter organiser should do: I’m being honest and up front with my (potential) backers. If, for whatever reason, I can’t deliver I’ll let you know, and give you reasons why. And if my stories get delayed, they do so so I can get them right. It’s up to you if you want to back someone like me, because that’s the way I work: right on time? Not if there’s not enough time to get it right.

If you want to see some finished short fiction follow the link below:

http://thewordonthe.net/category/fiction-2/flash-fiction-fiction-2/

My finished full-length works (both completed in twelve months) are here:

http://writerandauthor.com (“Faye Ling” is me too!)

And if, after all the melodrama you are still interested in funding my project, it’s here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tjameswriter/an-elite-dangerous-book-out-of-the-darkness

 

These are the joys and the realities of the writing life, but I am sorry if any one feels I have let them down.

An “Elite: Dangerous” Book – “Out of the Darkness” (Kickstarter Project Launch)

And so it begins…

Anyone who has been attempting to email me, Tweet me or generally contact me in any way what-so-ever this week will have noticed how anti-social I’ve been. (I’m sure you’re all big enough not to take it personally.) I’ve been consumed, gripped, and generally possessed by a sudden impulse to try my hand at a Kickstarter project: to raise money to purchase the rights to set a science fiction book in the Elite universe.

Writers are always being told they need to find their audience and write about something they are passionate about.  I’ve found both. There’s a community of dedicated fellow fans of Elite and I’ve loved the games for years. It’s a no-brainer for me to have a go at writing a story in the setting but, as usual, there’s a catch: I need to buy the rights to the franchise…

So, if you’re a fan of science-fiction books or an avid gamer, why not come over to Kickstarter and take a look—I tell you a lot more there. There are some rewards on offer too if you want to give me a “kick” by pledging.

Thanks for your support, but the clock is ticking… there is less than two weeks left.

KICKSTARTER LINK: An Elite:Dangerous Book – Out of the Darkness

The money raised also funds the development of the game, so everyone is a winner!

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I was asked by talented writer of thrillers and paranormal tales, Sandy Coelho, to take part in this blog hop, which started on the She Writes website.

(If you’re an author I tagged for this blog hop, your instructions are at the end of this post.)

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

1. What is the working title of your book?

This blog hop caught me at the beginning of the project, so I only have a working title: The Making.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

The original idea came from a rough short story I wrote over a year ago, as background and a prequel to the novel I was working on at the time (now on hold, as it needs a full re-write and major fixing). I don’t want to give too much away at this stage, but the central plot arc is based loosely on a story from Greek mythology.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Although inspiration came from the Classics the setting is high fantasy, although elves and dwarves are notable by their absence. (At least at the moment—I’m still planning, so anything could happen.)

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Continue reading

Violated

Dark eyes of flint, blue of loss, hazel of new growth broken, avaricious emerald, hopeless grey.
They watched him, held and helpless, suffering the torment of impotence—unable to choose, to act, to change.
Hair flailing to shoulders in tresses, locks, hanks. Falling crimson to earth.
Metallic bands of fear gripped his wrists, ankles, temples.
Livid bruises discolouring the skin where they/he fought. Humiliation running warm and wet down between legs. Tracks of wetness, tracks of red.
Constricted throats filled loud with silent animal cries. Silence: a wall of accusation.

In the icy stillness, still they stared.
Unable to bare their gaze, he opened his eyes.
Through the blur of remorseless tears of sweat, he saw the Governor press the switch.

A flash-fiction/poetry composition © T. James, November, 2012.

Getting Your Book Out There, the Saga Continues – Website Design

With the release of My Mirror Self And I last week I have begun to explore the dark and murky world of marketing and publishing. It turns out that I should have done both whilst actually writing the book, instead of leaving it until after its release…

However, before getting in too deep with either, I felt I should have a reasonable website to direct people to, and that’s what I’ve spent the last few days working on. This is where I need your help. I’d love to know what you think of the website, whether it would encourage, or put you off buying the book. If you have any ideas for extra content, they would also be welcome. Continue reading

My Mirror Self, and I – Is Finally Out!

DESCRIPTION: “The novella My Mirror Self, and I is an intimate exploration of a young woman’s struggle with breast cancer and depression. Described as “powerful”, “compelling”, and “uncompromising” by readers, this story puts you inside Cassie’s head as she tries desperately to find a way out.
Cassie is a small town girl with everyday dreams: a happy marriage, a fulfilling job, and eventually a family. In eighteen short months her life and hopes slide from her grasp – her marriage to David is failing, and her career prospects are fading fast. Already struggling with her isolation as depression tightens its grip, she is devastated to discover she has breast cancer…

Now Cassie has to choose. Does she let her downward spiral continue all the way to the bottom or can she find something – anything – to fight for and make her future worth living?

This novella touches on themes explored in books like Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, but it is written in a style more akin to Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, combined with Victoria Hislop’s The Island.”

—o—

It’s been several months in the making, but I’ve finally managed to self-publish my first work. Anyone who thinks self-pubbing is the easy option either isn’t doing it right or they’ve lots of help. There’s been plenty of hard graft, as a researcher, writer, editor, graphic designer, typesetter, HTML programmer, website builder, chocolate eater, and to come: promoter and marketer. Anyone who’s been keeping an eye out won’t have seen me online as much, and this is why.

Self-pubbing is satisfying though, and not as solitary as some may think: thank you everyone who gave their precious time and valuable insights. The story is much improved from earlier versions because of your input.

I didn’t know how it would feel to have something actually finished and available. Am I overjoyed? Am I struggling with negative feelings as I have nothing to work on? I don’t know how I expected to feel but the most obvious emotions are a sense of the surreal, as technically (depending on who you talk to) I am now an author as well as a writer. There’s a huge sense of satisfaction, of seeing something worked on for so long come to fruition. Excitement? Anyone who reads writer’s blogs knows that most eBooks don’t set the world on fire, and sales figures for many writers range from meagre to ‘not bad’.

I’m more ‘cautiously hopeful’. I’ve always known Cassie wasn’t mainstream, and I hope some readers will appreciate the character focus, where I’ve taken the story, and why I’ve made some of the choices I’ve made; there’s at least two blog posts that could be written about that alone, but I can’t write them today.

I was up until 3am attempting to get the website online before this blog post, only to be informed by the host site that although the files should all be there, it can take the internet another 48 hours to get all the signposts in place so that people can actually access the web page. Currently writerandauthor.com points to my old author website. The link may be live (or broken) by the time you read this. There should be an extended free sample available there when it goes live (hopefully – the Amazon Kindle’s limited 10% doesn’t give a prospective reader much to go on).

I’m hoping at least some readers will be moved by what I’ve written, but I know not everyone will enjoy a piece like this. If you do like it, I’ll make a brazen request that you tweet it, ‘like’ it, and review it all the way into the Top 100. :-) (I am available for blog interviews, discussions, opening supermarkets, and guest speaking at bar mitzvahs and weddings).

My Mirror Self, and I is now available on Amazon Kindle via:

Amazon.com

and

Amazon.co.uk

It was a challenge to write, it’s challenging to read – I will find out over the next few months how a writer fares when they walk a road less travelled.

“My Mirror Self, and I” – Cover Design

Well, after three iterations and lots of really helpful advice I’ve come up with, what I hope will be, a final design.

If you love it or you still think it sucks please tell me why in the comments below.

I want to say another “thank you” to everyone who had taken time to share their opinions and advice, it’s much appreciated.

(I hope to release “My Mirror Self, and I” very shortly on Kindle, with a paperback version to follow).


Continue reading

Cover Art & Description Version 2, for My Upcoming Novella, “My Mirror Self, and I”

After a round of discussion, I felt as though there was room for improvement in both the cover design and the ‘blurb’ for my novella.

Please leave your constructive comments and suggestions on the new attempt compared to the old in the comments section below…  Thanks again, I really appreciate all your feedback.

A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who contributed opinions and suggestions after I posted the first versions of my cover art (post link). Continue reading

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Older posts