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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

About Writing: Penning A Flash Fiction

Flash Fictions are very short stories that command words of at least 300 and up to 1000, maybe with an allowance of about a hundred more.

Psh! You say. What's in a 1000 words that I can't drum up in... just give me one hour?

And I'll say, Go ahead. If you can prepare something sumptuous to feed my eyes and mind and understanding in that short a time and using accurately that much number of words, kudos! Now close this web page or switch to something else more worth your time.

Truth is, writing an actual short story (2000 - 5000 words) is easier than a flash, I find. I've tried. I'd failed countless times and it was until recently that I started to get the hang of it.

What makes writing Flash pieces difficult? Economy, summation and summarization. You don't have the freedom you get in writing short stories and novelettes in development and expatiation. So how to go about it.

Of course, to begin on any writing (both fiction and non-fiction), you must have an idea. But an idea is too big for a flash, that I first found out. Because in an idea are many facets of events that any creative mind can spring up. Luckily, you don't need to utilize the whole idea to write a flash, no. Those clamoring facets your mind gathered, just one will do.

For example, early last month, I tried to write a zombie flash. What terrible choice. When I picked it, a lot of serious, crazy, stupid and funny ideas were kicking around. I couldn't focus on any one without having a stream of subplots engulfing my thoughts. So what to do...

I picked my pen and started a tree. At the top was apocalypse in bold, then subplots events, subsubplots group survivors and I kept going till I had a character, in a family, in a group, escaping together, through an overrun city, where government had promised protection... I concentrated on the character and on one happening, simple but complex, tuned down to its very basicness. Now with that achieved, I had my character, his placement, a beginning, a middle and eventually an ending that left me hanging.

Once you've picked your outline, then it's time to start. How? Easy. The first few lines (or more appropriately, the first three paragraphs) must contain details about the character and his situation. You could say the back story should be defined within these paragraphs. The reader should, by the end of these paragraphs know what's happening and who's involved with or in what's happening. With that achieved, we can move to our main body.

In the main content, the situation that involves the main character, and others, plays out, where the main action takes place. This is the trickiest portion of a flash as one can become too involved to write beyond planned. Here, you must know how to tell a lot with very little words, which unfortunately falls beyond this scope. It's another topic for another week. (I have however left some pointers at the end of this post.)

If you have reductivism under your control, then brilliant! The end part is, well, the end. Here, your reader must have gained the satisfaction similar to that gained from completing novels and other large pieces of work. I like to leave cliffhangers in mine. It's a flash, yes, but why did it end there? What would've happened next if it had gone on?

How to minimize your work without affecting quality
  • Avoid over-description. In the end, you would've used up more words in describing a place than in describing what's actually happening in it which is of more interest to the reader.
  • Avoid using metaphors and similes (In short, keep a very minimal use of comparisons. In fact, it would be best if you completely do without them. They waste words. As fast as, as strong as)
  • Use contractions. He will can be shortened to He'll and Will not can be shortened to won't.
  • After writing a sentence, cross-check to see that there is a way to further shorten it.
Thank you for having my tips occupy you. Have a great day.

Quote Of The Day
Normally, I work out a general summary of what I mean to do, then start writing, and the details can be different from my anticipation. So there is considerable flow, but always within channels.
~Piers Anthony

Sunday, 16 June 2013

My Artwork Monday


Another day, another week to share my artwork, new and old. So I did some digging and came out with a couple of my drawings. The ink on the pages had already begun to misbehave so I hurried and digimmortalized it as quickly as I could.

Enjoy.


(This was a year before high school valedictory. I drew it from a comic where X-Force fight... (forgotten the name of the rogue gro... wait, yes, it's X-Factor. Then the X-Men came into the picture at the end. That's Quicksilver)


(I drew this during the period I was expecting varsity admission letter. Can't place an actual date, things were very tense then. Here I am now, though. This is Magneto)



(One of my treasured pieces. The Batman, but who doesn't love Bruce Wayne in that cape. Can't place the date on this one too but it was during high school, I'm certain of that.)




(This was also drawn in high school from a magazine titled "Heroes Illustrated." I remember it being in 5th year, yes. A November day.)

Thank you for staying with me and rifling through my handiwork. I hope I'll be able to dig up and upload higher quality artwork next week for your viewing pleasures. Stay cool.

Have a great week ahead. ^_^

Quote Of The Day
Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad.
~ Salvali Dali







Saturday, 15 June 2013

What's Going On In The Publishing Industry

Happy New Week.
 Without wasting much time, let me just dive into the past week's happenings and leave you with something to mull over, unless of course these information is no longer new to you, dear reader.

Getting cranky already.

It's just I'm looking forward to a hectic week. My final, final year exams will be starting Friday. Beyond this hurdle is a Bachelor's Degree waiting for me at the finish line. Couple that with research work for my project and a supervisor sitting snapping hungrily at my heels. Plus, I've really got to finish up Supernatural 8 (I'm 7 episodes to go so I believe that's the only realistic target I can attain this week).

Well, here's the news...

  1. First off, Stephen King's newly published novel, Joyland (published June 2013), is enjoying a brilliant, and for me expected, measure of success, especially if Goodreads reviews are something to go by.
  2. A mighty round of applause for David McFadden and Fady Joudah, winners of this year's Griffin Poetry Prize, Canada's most generous poetry award. Want to know what they wrote and how they won? Well, here you go. Oh, I'll be winner of the next 10th edition after this one btw. You bet.
  3. Back to the novel front, Quirk Books launches an opportunity for new romance writers to gain exposure through, you guess, a contest. Only, this time, you don't win an award.
  4. Recent Study suggests that Digital Magazine readership rises up to 50%
  5. And in the combined print and ebook bestselling list for fiction, Entwined With You by Sylvia Day makes an entrance
Wish me luck in my exams. I really need it.

Quote of the day (applicable to week)
Lie back and relax; but you must be prepared first!
~ Artie Margrave
 

Flash Fiction And Book Excerpt Day: The Curse In The Chest

It's another weekend, one I've been looking forward to after a really, tiring week. Today's plans? Lie back, watch Supernatural Season 8. (And I have final semester exams starting on Friday but hey, I just need to relax and live a little bit of life. I'm not coming out of it alive anyway). I'm where Kevin (the Asian-American prophet) has told Sam and Dean about the quests to undertake in order to permanently lock Hell's Gate. So far, Sam has killed and bathed in Crowley's Hellhound's black blood. Enjoying the season so far.

Today, I want to share the excerpt of a supernatural-ish novella I wrote and published last year's March. I was pretty new into publishing then and it was my second published work.

Enjoy.


TODAY'S EXCERPT: THE CURSE IN THE CHEST By Artie Margrave

“It’s seen him,” Marcus announced. They looked to see the heavy mass drift forward. It corrupted the river with thick, slow moving ripples and pushed heavily soaked
clumps of weed that stayed in its path below the surface. It had changed its course from towards the boat to towards Matt.

The clergyman purposely decided not to take notice. Whatever he’d seen beyond those patches, he regarded with greater importance than what was coming for him.

“Matt! Hey, Father or…” Fisher shouted.

Matt stopped reluctantly and turned to fully analyze the extent of the situation he was caught in. The dark-brown mass stopped too. The distance between himself and it was considerably safe. He was in no immediate danger and he wasn’t ready to forgo his quest on account of the questionable strip. He was suspicious of what it was but Fisher, back on the bank, had told him otherwise. More to the point, about the same time they’d spotted the floating, irregularly shaped mass while on the boat, a glint from the patch that was now his prime target had stung his attention. He’d noticed something hidden behind the wet reeds and had made for it.

Now he forced a halt out of himself and reckoned his level of safety. As he considered the living, locomotive mass, he bore the grim feeling out of nothing extraordinary that it was trying to keep him from pushing forward, or monitoring him closely, the latter reason more than three-quarter percent proven right. He hurriedly discarded the feeling and took a wade to attend to his quest, simply to find that the thing moved too, simultaneously as he. He declared himself right and unsafe. He remembered Fisher’s rifle. Now was a good time to put it to use.

He turned his face over his shoulder to see the two of them, Fisher and Marcus, casting nervous glances at him and at the creature. Marcus kept the rifle aimed at the mass.

“Good,” he said, quite alertly, “keep it in your crosshairs. If it gets too close you know what to do, don’t you?”

Marcus nodded. Fisher still looked agitated.

Assured Marcus was very well on guard, Matt continued to the reeds, slightly ignoring the mass. It however did not ignore him. Silently, stealthily, it crept forward. It took him a few effortful lunges forward to get to the outer boundary of plants. He easily pulled the long branches far apart, almost letting their entire length drown in the water and his eyes fell on the chest.

It was as grim as its surrounding was. It was wide open too and contained emptiness. Its weight was doing a swell job at pushing it below the surface. Had it been noticed far later, it would completely have disappeared, swallowed by the dead water, probably never to be seen again or at most, for a long, long time. Its jewels, the many of them, blinked with dull grace. One of those blinks was what had caught his eyes from the boat. He was glad he hadn’t missed it. He with two hands raised it fully out of the water and inspected it. And his fingers ran over the Latin words inscribed on it:
Teloque animus praestantior omni
He read the words in his mind over again and instantly realized what it meant and what the chest was supposed to keep. A powerful sealing spell had been placed on the chest, which meant whatever had been sealed inside was on a high level of evil. The bodies of the girls flashed across his mind surreptitiously. This was what was responsible for the murders.

He glared around. Nothing was in sight that wasn’t unexpected. Now he understood why the sun was darkened, why the deadness around him was grave. The demon, because he was now entirely certain that it was, that had been released from this chest was a highly feared demon, one that called for an intervention from the forces of nature. It would’ve taken a measure of the beast’s personal nature to have unlocked and released it and then probably the recital of the spell.

Having the knowledge that it was a demon, he believed whoever had released it had been automatically possessed. That person was now the demon’s vessel. It could be anybody. It could’ve been someone he’d passed on the way to the bank. It wasn’t those two on the boat though. They looked lethargic enough.

He plucked the chest out of the water. It was almost weightless, probably as dense as Balsa. It had no handles but that didn’t give him a problem lifting it. He knew the only way to keep the monster from further rampaging was to first find its vessel, like that was easy, exorcise whoever it was and trap the demon in the place that had once held it.

As he picked it up, he momentarily flinched as a shadow ran past him over the water. A raucous squawk filled the air. He looked up and caught a brief glimpse of a black bird. It resembled a crow. The instant he saw its outline, it disappeared into the rolling clouds.

He was brought to by a similar high-pitched note, only this time human, followed solidly behind by a gunshot. He turned around sharply. And found the large mass right in front of him, only inches away. He stumbled backwards against the reeds. Now that it was close, it was definitely scary. Staring at thick lines of wet scales, he knew what it was. And the others knew too.

“It’s a crocodile!” Fisher shouted. He was right

He meant to turn at Fisher and say “Thanks. That was extremely encouraging” but he flashed a scowl instead. He shifted to the right, freeing himself of the tight corner he’d placed himself in.
The reptile was still half immersed. On its left side, blood oozed, turning the blackened water into a deep shade of red. It stayed still, so still that Matt believed it was dead. He turned and made for the boat and saw Fisher yell.

“Behind you!”

He swirled and saw the animal making for him. Glum, yellow eyes flared. It revealed more of itself. This thing was monstrous. The huge body that was hidden beneath revealed itself. Large, puffy flesh, designated by thick scales pumped out of the river. Another gunshot rang. The water spurted upwards as if in panic. The crocodile swayed backwards. Its yellow eyes disappeared beneath the surface once more. More blood flowed. This time it came from beneath the surface to clog the top.

Matt waded backwards, keeping the crocodile in his line of sight. He knew he had to be mindful now. He clung to the chest tightly like it could conciliate his fear.

“Is it dead already?” He heard Marcus ask, not sure that it was to him or to Fisher.

Fisher fired home an answer first. “Not sure.”

Matt stopped when he found himself out of close attacking range. He sighed. For the first time he noticed the goose pimples that had broken out on his skin. He looked up. The bird he’d seen previously did not reappear.

A long piece of cane (he almost thought it was a water-snake) was floating past him. He picked it up, holding the chest under his left arm, to his ribs. The cane was flexible and about a foot long. Just perfect.

He moved forward a bit, towards the near sunken beast, armed only with the cane. The water around the beast was fast becoming bloodied. He still had to be sure that it was dead. The way the thing had come for him before, that moment would go down as the hairiest moment of his life. His skin was still white with the fear, blood drained from his face.

“What the hell are you doing, Matt?” Fisher said, noticing. His voice was on edge.

Matt heard Marcus reloading cartridges into the rifle. Yes, what the hell are you doing, Matt, he wondered.

He stretched the cane in front of him till it was nearly poking the beast. It had not moved yet.

“I simply want to be…”

You can download The Curse In The Chest for free on Smashwords with this link... or on Barnes and Noble with this link... or on Kobobooks with this link...

Have a more productive than mine weekend.

Quote Of The Day
"That is exactly why our lives suck. I mean, come on, we hunt monsters! What the hell? I mean, normal people, they see a monster, and they run. But not us, no, no, no, we search out things that want to kill us. Or eat us! You know who does that? Crazy people! We are insane! You know, and then there's the bad diner food and then the skeevy motel rooms and then the truck-stop waitress with the bizarre rash. I mean, who wants this life, Sam? Seriously? Do you actually like being stuck in a car with me eight hours a day, every single day? I don't think so! I mean, I drive too fast. And I listen to the same five albums over and over and over again, and I sing along. I'm annoying, I know that. And you, you're gassy! You eat half a burrito, and you get toxic! I mean, you know what? You can forget it. Stay away from me Sam, OK? Because I am done with it. I'm done with the monsters and the hellhounds and the ghost sickness and the damn apocalypse. I'm out. I'm done. Quit."
~ Dean Winchester


Friday, 14 June 2013

Being Me: What Early Years

Last week I shared a little bit, as much as I permitted myself to and just about as much as I could remember (and an appreciative memory I had) , about myself and family and immediate extended.

I remember a time long before my little bro (who's quite the man now himself) came along. Indeed, that time the thoughts of being the only son had been hardwired into my living. I had my sister for company then. It was me, her, mum, dad, and my Uncle, Mike, Dad's younger brother and the youngest in dad's family who became my oldest best friend, besides Mum and Dad.

Oh, how quite unrosy things were that time. First, there was me and my polio. Money difficultly earned went into ensuring I received adequate attention at the hospital. And my dad was the only one working then. I developed my infrangible bond with mum during those times while she held my arms as we traveled crowded sidewalks and my fingers when I looked into the eye of the syringe right before they pierced my flesh (which they did with abandon anyway), while she pouched me in her arms when I could walk no longer. She never gave up on me and by God! she thought me to never give up on myself.

Despite my disability, I never missed daycare which she was in charge of. In fact, I've never missed any part of schooling.

I went to Nursery and Primary School with my sister. Though I was two years ahead of her when I started, she caught up with me in no time, scaling levels because the teachers found her too good to be behind. Educationally, she was my inspiration. Dad was my hero. Even with the very tight, almost nothing, budget, our school fees always got paid and never came in late. How he used to do it, I never know, don't still know, because as much as I know, he has this no borrowing policy that I have strictly adhered to and which has kept me away from undue trouble.

Those times, I used to wear calipers on my infected right leg. It was in my final year I got rid of it after training myself to walk without it, an arduous task I continue to fail at today.

We took the Common Entrance together. We passed. Confident of my progress, Mum decided I move to a boarding school (the best decision ever) that was as far from home as another city while my sister attended a Day School close to home. Oh, it was about this time, my brother came.

Oh, the memories.

High school started a whole different story for me as a whole lot of important events that would shape my life started to take place. Exactly what High School does to any man in his life.

(Keep it a date with me next week for What Late Years)

Love you all.

Quote Of The Day
"Growing up means learning what life is. When you're little, you have a set of ideals, standards, criteria, plans, outlooks, and you think that you have to sit around and wait for them to happen to you and then life will work..."
~C. JoyBell C.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

eBook Reviews - The Boy Who Melted by Travis McBee


Review of The Boy Who Melted by Travis McBee



Book Blurb: John Woodward suffers from one of the strangest afflictions the world has ever seen: whenever he is caught in the rain he quite literally begins to melt.

I rated this book 4 of 5 stars

This book is the first I’ve read from this author and what prompted me to pick it to pluck it from the site of download was the fact it appeared to be the author’s first published work there. I got it for free so no one loses.
It started up well, it had a very good premise that set a good foundation for the story to build upon. But built fairly it did. First I didn’t understand why the story was classified as horror. It should’ve been put under the mystery section as it poorly contained elements of horror, which I was disappointed with as I had downloaded it to read some mindbending gory stuff from some new guy.
Then somewhere close to the finish, grammatical errors started to peep through the story, though not much to deter my interest in it.
However, the writing was clear and precise and easy to read. It took me about an hour to read and absorb the story. Though it didn’t leave me wanting more, it was very interesting, fair justice done to a genuine idea. And now it has made me anticipate forthcoming works of this author.
You can download The Boy Who Melted by Travis McBee on Smashwords with this link and drop him at least a line telling him how much you enjoyed his story.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Just Random Stuff That Comes Up: Between Grave Encounters And Grave Encounters 2

News Flash: I've just seen a movie that made me retch really hard in my sleep!
     I thought I'd seen the most terrifying movie in my life when I watched 28 Weeks Later (It'd been Silent Hill 1 (Before that Mirrors)). I was wrong. Very wrong. Now I've taken ill for my error. But I will live.

     The rave had been on since last year, I think. I'd even checked its three-minute trailer on Youtube. But what made me go on and watch it was after seeing it on several top lists of horror movies of the decade. You know what was worse? Because I didn't believe it would totally freak me out, I got the 2 too. Imagine that.

     Grave Encounters Storyline: For their ghost hunting reality show, a production crew locks themselves inside an abandoned mental hospital that's supposedly haunted - and it might prove to be all too true.



      I don't know if it's just me but it's appearing that the found footage format for movies is becoming the fad these years. Quarantine 1 was a success. Yeah, that movie scared the shit out of me too. Thank God for The Blair Witch Project. It has proved to be a revolutionary movie. Exactly what Night Of The Living Dead has been to the zombie genre so far.
     The movie started off innocently, in fact so innocent that except for the originality the characters portrayed in their roles, I had considered shutting it off to turn to some writing. Then when the crew go in and tell the caretaker to keep them in lockdown, I was, "Ok, this is getting interesting.". The plot behind the plot took me too. The haunted building had been a dumping ground for lunatics. I mean, what's more terrifying than mad specters. Really mad specters. Which (now I'm really pitying myself) Grave Encounters had aplenty. But it wasn't... how should I describe...
      Her...

 

...that freaked me out at first, though she really did a number's number on me. And that tongueless demon something that was hanging from the ceiling. Why would any sane scriptwriter put that there? It was disturbing. Goddamn disturbing.
      What scared the shit out of me (really) the most was the no-way out part, when T. C. tries to break the front door down and finally succeeds only to find that the front door was no longer the front door and instead opens to more wards. Around back, the Exit sign points to a blank wall. Then everything goes to hell! Like an insane representation of Hell. Eventually, badass, phony, overbrash Lance gets more truth than he tried to find.
 Grave Encounters 2 Storyline: A film student who is obsessed with the movie Grave Encounters sets out with his friends to visit the psychiatric hospital depicted in the original film.
     I was hooked after the part one that I dove headfirst into the two, partially so find how much more it would mess with my mind. And it did not disappoint. In fact, it was more original than the first, from my point of view. It had everything the first had, except with more involvement of...
this guy...



... and his entrance was even more dramatic. However, the sequel let me down in that someone finds a way out of the madhouse. (Not the first time, which was a more intriguing twist the story had. The lead actor and a couple of folks get out of the building and actually make it to their room and then they take the elevator down and the door opens back into the same building. That was more riveting than the first part.) That kind of dampens my belief that there might be a three. Still, I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping.
     I'm still reeling from the long night's unrest. I'll get well soon though. All I need's a good meal and a decent high school movie. Then after that The Cabin In The Woods. Because I can't hear anything else but it everywhere around me now.

Quote Of The Day
While seeking revenge, dig two graves - one for yourself.
~Douglas Horton