From The Fishbowl

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Archive for the tag “creative writing”

NaNoWriMo is Go!

Hello.

In all likelihood, this post will be updated soon, but I wanted to do it before I forgot.

Anyway, my NaNoWriMo project for the year, This Immortal Coil has begun. As mentioned in a previous post, I will be updating its progress every day. This might be late, it might be early, it kind of depends. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed for update updates (as it were). I’ve set myself a rule, though, which I think it’s important I make public: no editing. Once a file has been uploaded, I will not go back and change previous sections. I can edit on the fly, but once it’s uploaded, it’s Gospel. At least until the project is over.

Now, I want to warn you that, if you choose to read This Immortal Coil, please do not consider it as perfect. There will be errors. Maybe these will be grammatical or in the spelling, or perhaps there may be some plot holes. I do have a plan for the story – I know where I’ll be going with each scene – but, as with anything I’ve ever worked on, there’s a good chance I’ll be coming up with new ideas all the time. That’s one of the reasons I’m not allowing myself to edit – I have to work with what I’ve got at every turn.If I put an idea in and later realise it’s a terrible mistake, well, I’ll have to live with it. Characters might be inconsistent, or perhaps some parts will seem more rushed than others. Most likely because some bits will be more rushed than others. I’m writing a 50,000 word story in a month. It is unlikely to be the new Harry Potter instantly. Writing, good writing, requires drafting, something that NaNoWriMo doesn’t really afford me. But, if and when I complete the project, I will go back to the drawing board and make it as good as it can be.

This is just for fun. It’s a story that I’ve been wanting to tell all year, and hopefully if you choose to read it, you’ll like it. If you enjoy the tale of Kara, Ankou and Tom, I’ll be happy. If you do like it, I’d really appreciate you sending it on to a friend, or perhaps buying a copy of Not Quite Normal if you haven’t already. That would be super-awesome.

Right then, I guess you’ll need a link. This is it: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/250831 Now go forth, unto Ankou’s bosom. Not everyone will make it out alive.

Ghosts An’ That

Hello.

As previously mentioned, I’m going to be taking part in NaNoWriMo this year with my story, This Immortal Coil. Since I’ve been planning it out a lot over the past few days, I wanted to talk a little more about it than I previously have done. Obviously without spoilers. Because where would be the fun in that?

So, as I’ve said God knows how many times, the story revolves around death. But it’s not an incredibly morbid and depressing tale. Well, mostly. I mean, people die. It’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows. It’s also not going to be out-and-out comedy, because that would almost certainly be awful too. It will be darkly comic at times, though. Look at my recent story Jam for an idea of the style I’d like to go for at least some of the time. To be honest, that story was something of a proof-of-concept.

Anyway, the story revolves around three characters. The central character is Ankou, who is, for all intents and purposes, a grim reaper. If you’ve read some of my stories before – including Jam, St. Martin’s Eve and The Helper – there’s a chance you’ve encountered him already. In fact, all of those stories, but particularly The Helper are in some senses a prologue to This Immortal Coil, but they certainly won’t be required reading.

Anyway, the second character is a young woman named Kara. She’s dead, a spirit trapped on Earth seeking to move on. The circumstances surrounding her death form the backbone of the story of This Immortal Coil, so I’m not going to go into it too much. But suffice to say that Ankou is the one tasked with helping her transition to the Great Beyond.

The third and final main character is a vampire called Tom. Tom is based on the vampire in my story Tomahawk but there isn’t really any relation between them except a similar name and, y’know, the fact that they’re vampires. You can assume they’re the same character if you want, but if you don’t want to, that’s cool too. I’m keeping his role close to my chest for the time being.

Basically, they represent three ‘figures’ of death. The ghost – a lost spirit. The vampire – trapped between life and death. A reaper – neither dead nor living but responsible for all. It’s an unholy trinity.

When November starts, I’ll post some instructions on how you can read the project. As I’ll undoubtedly say many, many times, though, the point of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in a month. This is no guarantee of quality. There will be mistakes. Possibly some on-the-go retconning. It will probably not be my best work. But it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be fun. Hopefully it’ll be fun to read. The story’s mapped out for the most part, so I’m confident that, y’know, things will happen at various points and make you keep wanting to come back for more. All I ask for is a little slack.

Next time I post, we’ll begin. Sit comfortably. Take care.

Updatin’

Hello.

I haven’t written an actual blog post in a little while, so I thought I’d write down where I stand with a number of things. As you’ve noticed, neither This Immortal Coil or The Galaxy have made any kind of appearance of late. This is for all sorts of reasons which I can’t be bothered to go into. However. A new plan approaches!

Next month is NaNoWriMo. I expect you already know what it is, at least vaguely – write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I did it two years ago, completing A Friend of Mine on the 28th November. I was very proud of it, even though it was shit. I tried to write a project last year called You Killed Me, but it never really got off the ground. This year, I’m going to write This Immortal Coil.

The main reason that you haven’t seen any updates from it – well, Jam is part of the series, really, but it’s not the ‘core’ story – is because the story was both too complex and not complex enough. I was adding lots of different ideas, which I’ve now trimmed down. This will hopefully make the actual writing of the project much easier. It will also feature many many less driving scenes than the previous version had. Seriously, it was meant to be a ghost story, but there was more driving down the motorway than there were ghosts. Simplification, but expansion, is the way forward. Less is more.

In addition, because I work better with firm targets – if I hadn’t set a release date for Not Quite Normal it’d probably still be sat on my computer – I’m going to be updating the story ‘live’. Thanks to Smashwords, the wonderful distributors of Not Quite Normal, I’m able to upload new versions of the story as often as I want as I write it. So I’ll be posting a new chunk every day. Which will be nice. And then I’ll get to 50k easily! In theory. As long as Life doesn’t get in the way.

That’s about it. Thanks for reading, if, indeed, you are. Most of the views on this blog are from bots, I’m well aware of that, but I live in hope that there are at least a couple of real people out there who at least vaguely care about all this nonsense. Take care.

Jam

He understood now why people waited.

As Tony’s toes sat a little over the void, he felt his body rock back and forth with the wind. He wanted to reach out and grab hold of something, but there was nothing but air to support him. He looked straight ahead, not daring to glimpse the road below, and thought of why he was doing this. Taking such a permanent step. He thought…

“Excuse me,” said a voice from behind him. It almost made Tony lose his footing right away. “Oh, I’m sorry,” the voice said again. “I didn’t mean to make you jump.” A beat. “Probably a poor choice of words…” Tony looked over his shoulder and saw the embodiment of the voice. It was a man, young, dressed in a sharp suit.

“A…are you the police?” said Tony.

“Oh my, no. Just someone who wants to help you. You certainly appear to be in dire need of some assistance.”

“I don’t need anyone’s help,” said Tony. He was much more confident now that the initial shock of no longer being alone had faded. “Just let me die in peace.”

“Peace? You think jumping from a 30-storey building would be a peaceful death?” The man started walking towards the edge.

“Don’t come any further!”

“Why not? You’re not going to jump anyway.”

“I will if you come closer!”

“Nah,” said the man. He carried on walking, and sat down on the ledge next to Tony. “See? You’re still here, and I’m just sat here next to you. Lovely day, isn’t it? Would you like a jam sandwich?”

“I…what?” The man produced a small plastic bag from his pocket. Two triangular jam sandwiches were inside.

“I made them myself this morning. It’s so hard to find cafés that sell them. I’m not really keen on sandwich fillings that aren’t jam. I’m sure Pret or Subway would get a lot more business if they just made a few every day.”

“Who the hell are you?” said Tony.

“I’m Hank, and you didn’t answer my question.”

“What…no, I don’t want a bloody jam sandwich, OK?! Just leave me alone!”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You’re not meant to die, you see. Not today, anyway. I mean, it seems pretty clear to me that you’re not going to anyway, so I probably don’t need to be here, but, y’know, it’s good etiquette.” He took one of the triangles out of the bag and had a huge bite. “Mmm,” he said, with his mouth full. “That’s a good sandwich. Are you sure I can’t tempt you?”

Tony didn’t answer. The pair were silent for a moment. “So what brings you here?” said Hank.

“None of your business.”

“I know it isn’t. But I’m curious. I mean, a man doesn’t just wake up one morning and say to himself, ‘Y’know, I think I’m going to throw myself off a building today. That seems like a fun way to get my morning going.’”

“Do you think this is some sort of joke?!” said Tony.

“Not at all. I’m sure you’re deadly serious. I just…”

“No, I know what you’re doing. You’re stalling. Yeah. You saw me up here and phoned the police and you’re trying to stop me from jumping for just long enough until they arrive.”

Hank smiled. “This isn’t Lethal Weapon, my friend. Have you looked down? I wouldn’t recommend it, but I can assure you that there aren’t hundreds of rubberneckers staring into the sky while the assembled police force rapidly inflate a gigantic air cushion. Besides, I look nothing like Mel Gibson.”

Tony had had enough. He lifted his right foot and held it over the edge. There was a light breeze which made him wobble like a dashboard toy. “Ah-ah,” said Hank. “Don’t be silly.”

“Silly? SILLY?”

“Let me ask you one last question before you make your decision. If you still believe that an early death is your best option then I shall not stand in your way.” He took another bite of his sandwich as Tony put his foot back on the ledge. He was mildly pleased to do so.

“Good choice,” said Hank. “So. My question to you is: what do you think will happen when your head splatters against the tarmac?”

“Well…I’ll die.”

“Bravo, Captain Obvious. Beyond that.”

“I…I don’t know. Heaven, I suppose. I think I’ve been a good person.”

“Catholics believe suicide is a sin, you know.”

“I’m Anglican.”

“But what if the Catholics are right?”

“Then…I’ll go to Hell.”

“Uh-huh. And your family. What will happen to them?”

“They…you…what the hell are you doing?” Tears started to stream down Tony’s face.

“I’m trying to save your life. What will your family do?”

“They’ll…be better. Better off without me.”

“And I’m sure you’ve convinced yourself of that. But it seems to me that you’re making a lot of leaps of faith before you take your very literal leap of faith.

“I…stop screwing with me!”

“I’m not screwing with you. I’m just telling you the truth. This is what’ll happen to your family. They’ll be devastated. Your wife will be sucked so hard into the black hole of depression that she may never be able to crawl her way out of it. Your children will be taken into care, forced to grow up with people who will never understand their suffering. They’ll forever resent their father for being a selfish son of a bitch who’d rather take his own life than clean up his act and sort his life out. Your son will grow up to be a carbon copy of you. In the space of thirty storeys, you can corrupt him. And you? Well, you’ll just be lying in a hole in the ground with your face rotting off and being eaten from the inside out by bugs smaller than a pinhead, never able to accomplish any of the great things that a man can do with his short time on Earth.

“But if that all sounds better to you, then feel free to jump.”

Tony didn’t say anything, but whimpered softly. He lifted his left foot, but brought it behind his body, not in front. He stepped onto the roof and fell to his backside, crying so hard Hank thought his eyes might fall out. Hank swung his legs back from the ledge and went over to Tony. He crouched down to his level.

“It’ll be alright, I promise. You’re a good man with a great family. Like jam, you’re good alone. But you’re much better when you’re surrounded by the bread of love. Oh my, I’m so sorry for that truly dreadful metaphor. Flowery language has never been my strongest suit. But you get the gist.”

“Wh…wh…who…what…?”

“You don’t need the answer to that question. Here,” Hank put the bag containing the sandwiches on the ground. He’d eaten one of the triangles, but the other was still there. “Goodbye.”

Hank left Tony’s life forever.

AGAIN!

Hello.

A few months back, I launched Not Quite Normal, my first short story anthology. It’s done moderately well, probably about as well as I expected, but I don’t think it’s quite lived up to its potential yet. This morning, I had a radical idea which may or may not work.

On this coming Wednesday, 1/8/12, I will be launching a third and final version of Not Quite Normal to go along with the previously released full and free editions. This new version will be called the Abridged Edition. It will contain a new introduction, a new cover, and ten Not Quite Normal tales, as well as a discount code for the full edition. Four of the ten stories were previously exclusive to the full edition.

In essence, the Abridged Edition contains my ten favourite stories from Not Quite Normal and should therefore, I hope, be the ‘tightest’ edition. Its extent is approximately half that of the full Not Quite Normal. It will be available on Smashwords for 99 US cents from Wednesday, and on all other good eBook retailers soon after that, as well as probably some of the bad ones.

So, these are the editions of Not Quite Normal as of this week and their contents:

Full Edition:

19 short stories, plus bonus content for $1.99.

Abridged Edition:

10 short stories, plus a discount code for the Full Edition, for 99 cents.

Free Edition:

9 short stories, free of charge.

I’m really proud of the work I’ve done on Not Quite Normal, and I’ve had some positive feedback about it. If you haven’t yet checked out any of the editions, please do, it really does mean a lot to me. After Wednesday, though, I’m putting it to bed. I don’t want to be accused of constantly recycling the same content, so I will be devoted to my other projects from now on. But this is one last throw of the dice, one last option for potential buyers, and hopefully it’ll be a good one. Time will tell.

While I’m on the subject, until the Abridged Edition comes out (i.e. until tomorrow), you can still download the full version of Not Quite Normal from Smashwords for just 99 cents. Follow this link to buy – because of the Abridged Edition‘s release it’s unlikely I’ll be discounting the full edition for everyone for quite some time, so this is your best chance to get it on the cheap!

FILDI

Hello.

The next post on this blog – which will be up later tonight – will contain the first part of a story I’ve had brewing in my mind for nearly two years. This story is called The Galaxy and it’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever attempted. It’s only since the release of Not Quite Normal that I’ve had the confidence to put it into motion. So allow me to set the scene.

The Galaxy is set in a distant future where humanity has expanded into the stars and settled on three extra-solar planets, named Barrington, Barrington II and Eden. But even with this brave new dawn, old problems have not gone away. Drugs, gangs and piracy rule the skies and the planets below. Amidst this, a galactic police force attempts to maintain order, while those who seek only profit fight against imprisonment. And in an age of technological revolution, the next step in human evolution is always just around the corner…

The story is, in essence, a combination of science fiction and crime drama, filled with a cast of good, evil, and grey. To say much more would be to spoil it. I would be lying if I said I had every single intricate detail of the fictional universe planned out, but I have enough to get going. If I do not start now, I never will.

The next post contains a short prologue. That’ll be the first and only part of the story you’ll be seeing for a while – think of it as a trailer. But soon – hopefully in a month or so – I will be serialising the story. Hopefully I’ll have some sort of routine. The aim is to, eventually, have enough content in both The Galaxy and This Immortal Coil to be able to produce a piece of each story on Plastic Castle Magic each week. But I’m not going to promise anything right now. All I will say is that more is coming, and soon. And hopefully it’ll be good. But I guess that’s up to you to decide.

So then. Here goes nothing. Enjoy.

The Road

Hello.

I’ve been meaning to write this blog all day. Actually, for the last two. Sorry for my tardiness. (I nearly mis-spelt that ‘tardis’ – I think my inner Doctor Who geek is clawing his way out!) I’ve mostly been panicking about the very thing I’m going to blog about. So maybe this’ll help me vent a little.

Obviously, on Wednesday, I released Not Quite Normal, my short story anthology, at long last. As I write this, it’s actually doing pretty well. The free edition has had 61 downloads and somewhere in the region of 200 page views. That’s a pretty decent return! The actual, paid version, has had one sale. Now, this might not sound like a lot – because technically it, uh, isn’t – but I can’t accuarely put into words how happy that has made me. Someone, out there, has spent actual money on something I’ve made. It just…blows my mind. If the person who bought it reads this, I can’t thank you enough. It’s just incredible. Even if it’s the only copy that gets sold, it’s validated me a little. Made me feel that, with enough hard work, dedication and (more than a little) luck, I can start to make a life of this. I know it’s one sale of $2, and I’m probably overstating it, but it’s how I feel right now. Maybe I’ll feel differently in the morning. Who knows. But thanks.

ANYWAY.

To what I’ve been panicking about. Obviously, I’ve been using a site called Smashwords for my epublishing needs. And great they are too. But there have been some…issues that I want to clear up with y’all.

Firstly,Not Quite Normal is currently exclusive to Smashwords. But Smashwords operates a distribution network which means that it will eventually end up on sites like iTunes and Amazon’s Kindle Marketplace (although I believe they’re having some issues with Amazon at the moment). This process can take a little while, alas. But what’s been worrying me is the fact that my freeNot Quite Normal samples have appeared on Amazon. Seriously. Search Shane Rynhart on either amazon.com or amazon.co.uk. You’ll notice something is a bit…odd.

Amazon are charging for them.

This is a HUGE problem. They are free on purpose. They are samples. I want to make absolutely clear right here and now that, if someone purchased one of them, I would not see a penny of the return. I don’t know who would. Presumably Amazon. Hell, the copy ofMirrors on there doesn’t even have the cover I made! I’ve gotten in touch with Smashwords about it, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet. Which isn’t helping my worry. Obviously talking about it here isn’t going to make any difference either, but it makes me feel happier knowing that it’s out there.

Basically, what I’m saying is that currently if you want to buy or download any of my stories, please do so exclusively through my Smashwords page. I appreciate that that makes it pretty awkward – I’ve had a couple of messages saying that it being on iTunes would make things easier, and I totally accept that – but it’s the only way I know that everything’s alright, if that makes sense. I can keep track of how many people have downloaded things, how many copies of Not Quite Normal have sold and so on. Smashwords does have some information about how one can transfer downloads from their site onto various devices (like the iPad or Kindle) – I highly recommend having a look if you’re interested but concerned. I can also verify that Smashwords is also safe to put card/PayPal details into.

I am looking at other methods of distribution. I can manually put Not Quite Normal on Amazon, but I’d rather not until the whole thing with my ‘free’ eBooks is sorted. And, alas, manually uploading to iTunes is going to be impossible, since you need a US tax ID. You can get one from within in the UK, but with the amount of red tape involved it probably wouldn’t be on iTunes until about Christmas…by which point, I’d like to think, everything is going to have been sorted with Smashwords anyway. But I will look at other ways over the weekend – maybe other eBook distributors or, if it came to it, some sort of manual purchasing system right here. If I could work out how to sort something like that out, o’course.

I’m sure I’m boring you now, so I’ll leave it at that. But please keep reading my stuff and, if you like it, do consider buying a copy of Not Quite Normal. You’d make me the happiest man alive.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

It Just Ain’t Right

Hello.

I’ve never written a blog in advance on this, well, blog before. But I’ll make an exception this time. When this goes up, it will be 29/2/12, the day that I finally bring out Not Quite Normal. A project that’s been a year in the offing and five in the production. I hope that if you’re reading this, you’ll consider buying a copy. When it’s actually been uploaded and formatted, I’ll put a link to it. Once again, there will be a free version and a paid one. That will be $1.99 USD, payable through PayPal (I don’t believe you need an account, you can use their system for a debit or credit card). If necessary, I know of a place where I can sell it outside of PayPal, since I know that’s a point of contention for some people. That’s just how Smashwords, my ‘publishers’, do payments. It’ll be available exclusively through their site for a couple of weeks before they can distribute it to iTunes and Sony and Barnes & Noble and so on. I’m looking into getting it on Amazon’s Kindle store as well. I’ll give an update about that as and when. Frankly, I’ve been focussed more on getting Not Quite Normal completely finished than distribution. But Smashwords are great, and perfectly safe, so there’s no need to worry.

At the tail end of last week, I decided it might be a good idea to make a trailer for the anthology. A little video. I considered a Vlog, and then realised that I’m not very good at talking to actual people, let alone speaking like a loon into my computer screen. So I made a stop-motion animation. Yeah, I know. It took far longer than I had anticipated, but I was very happy with the results. You can check it out here. Pass it on, if you want. That would be nice.

Anyway. To Not Quite Normal. Here is the table of contents. It might give you a bit of a flavour of the stories within. You’ll recognise some of them – the free previews, and maybe one or two more. Items that are bolded are in the Free Edition, everything else (including the bolded items, of course) are in the paid one.

Introduction

The Helper (Part 1)

Red

Not Quite Normal

The Well of Wisdom

Tomahawk

Clacking

Endeavour

Mirrors

The Helper (Part 2)

Genocide by P45

The River

The White Door

Truth or Dare

Late Night TV

Lovely

The Suez Crisis

St. Martin’s Eve

A Perfect Endeavour

The Helper (Part 3)

Appendices:

Notes on the Text

Red (Draft 1)

Image Credits

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Contact

End Note

Essentially, if you download the free version, you’ll get nine stories, plus a little end-matter. (You might have noticed I’ve cheated a little with The Helper – I’m counting it as three stories since they practically are!) This all adds up to about 17,000 words. For free. Don’t say I never get you anything nice.

On the other hand, if you pay $1.99 (around £1.25 Sterling) – which, let’s be honest, in this day and age is barely anything (to send a DVD in the UK First Class is £1.09, let me put it that way) – you’ll get all nineteen stories, plus a lot of extra bonus content. This comes in at around 52,000 words. That’s about six thousand more than The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, incidentally. How good is that?! Some of them are even quite good. I promise.

Making Not Quite Normal has been a great experience. Whether it pays off or not – my aim, if you read my last blog post, is to at least sell enough copies to get paid – I’ve had fun. And it’s certainly not going to be the end. I’ll do it all over again in the future, one way or the other. No doubt. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

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