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It’s all par for the course

Image

Photo © Anton Zhyzhyn

Direct intervention, subtle sedition.

Ignorance and apathy; a system.

Don’t Push. Avoid, Avoid, Avoid!

The battle cry of the indifferent. The illusion of change. The illusion of justice.

The failure of one. The failure of all.

* * * * *

Writing a Novel is Like Starting a Long Term Relationship

Photo  © Jhayne 

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing a long format story. I recently wrote a short 20,000 word Novella and self-published it via Amazon and Smashwords. The process was daunting at times. I experienced a lot of ups and downs, from challenges with grammatical errors to the success of seeing the first copy sold on-line. I learned a lot about formatting, publishing, and the challenges of being an indie author. I set my expectations accordingly when I published my work. I sold a couple virtual copies, and even had some decent reviews via Amazon – but for all intensive purposes the book never took off. I did promote my work, and even submitted it to some magazines and on-line book reviewers. It’s definitely not the best thing I will ever write, though I feel as though there is some value in it. I think it’s perfectly okay for an artist to admit when they have created something exceptional, as well as mediocre. Being honest with yourself as an artist will only improve your craft.

I’m probably in the red for the amount of money I’ve invested into the creation, formatting, and promotion of my book. I’m okay with this. I never wrote a book to get rich. I write because it’s one of my passions. Very few people can make a living out of what they truly love to do. It’s a goal, one which we should all strive for.

The publishing industry has changed drastically in the past ten years. Authors do not need a publisher, or an agent to sell their book or content. Though the e-Book market is saturated with indie authors. Through websites like Amazon and Smashwords users are able to upload their own content and sell their work to readers in various formats. I pursued this option for several reasons; one, it was the easiest and fastest way of getting my work out there, and secondly a Novella isn’t something most agents and publishers are interested in. It’s a niche market.

I completed an Author Interview for an Indie Author Blog around the time I published my Novella. One of the questions asked was if I was interested in writing another book, and when? I said that I needed a moment to breathe as I had just ended what I liked to call a long term relationship with a piece of writing. The relationship between an artist and their work can be turbulent at the best of times. It’s unhealthy to end a relationship and immediately begin another. It is necessary for an individual to pause, reflect, and analyse the experience. If  people do not give themselves the necessary time to reflect, mistakes may go unnoticed. Growth may be inhibited by a person’s ego. Some of the questions I’ve asked myself is, why didn’t the book sell better than it did? What did I do well? and lastly, what can I do in the future to improve my writing? I’ve developed a way of thinking to keep my ego in check, not that I consider myself an egotistical person. I am generally open to the possibilities that I may be wrong in almost all situations. I give every person the benefit of the doubt that they may have more knowledge, experience, or understanding than I do. People who are closed minded think they are the best suited, smartest, and usually the most qualified person to have an opinion on a specific topic.

As I write this post I have begun the process of writing a new Novel. I have supports in place to make sure I attain this goal. I recently downloaded a program called Scrivener. The program helps structure a story by visually arranging characters, chapters, and the plot. There’s a ton of other cool features that I haven’t figured out yet. When I wrote my Novella I used Word for the entire process. I was flying blind and relied on paper notes to help create a structure. Part of the process that scared me about beginning another long format project was the organization needed to complete such a project. I feel confident that I have the necessary tools to make the writing process a smoother transition this time. My current goal is 40,000 words. By breaking the book down into parts it’s approximately 3,500 – 4,000 words x 10-12 Chapters. One of my challenges I face as a writer is my word count. I prefer to write simple to the point sentences. Elaboration isn’t a challenge for me, though I tend to steer clear of long winded sentences that amount to nothing more than fluff.

My goal once completing the work is to find an agent and share my work with a larger audience. Publishers generally do not deal with unknown writers. Getting an agent is essential for any writer looking to sell their work to a publishing company. I’d like to share this experience with people on WordPress. I will upload some of the content once I feel as though I have made significant headway. For anyone thinking about writing a Novel or Manuscript, Scrivener is an easy to use program that helps compile and present your work in an aesthetically pleasing way. Presentation is important, but what’s more important is that writers concern themselves with writing. That is why I’m extremely excited to be using Scrivener.

* * * * *

I Breathe In and Hold It: Part 2 of 2

Photo © of Emiko and Daniel 

Swish. An arrow behind me darts two feet above my head and lands straight into the back of the boys skull. His body jerks forward as he falls face first into the cold wet grass. His body twitches momentarily then stops. I drop to the ground and turn my body to face the camp. An archer is holding a bow and looking towards my men.

I gesture my men to hold. “We haven’t been spotted yet”, I say to myself.

A large man in leather armor with a full beard walks up to the archer. “You hit that piece of shit quick” laughs the robust man. “Easier than hunting rabbits” laughs the archer. “How many more men do you think are out there?” asks the large soldier. “Probably a lot” smirks the archer.

I can see my men waiver in fear. If the camp sends out a search party my men and I would stand little chance. Once the archer calls for reinforcement a hundred bows would rain arrows down on us. I weigh the options carefully before making my next move.

Silently, I raise to one knee and lift my bow. My men’s eyes are locked on me. I draw an arrow and aim it at the archer. I hold tight and release. The arrow goes high but dips. It catches the archer right in the throat. The man gargles a scream as he falls to his knees placing both hands on his bloodied throat. The fat man panics and begins to run. I draw another arrow. Methodically I aim, and release it. The arrow catches the man in the side of the head. He falls flat on the green grass. I hear a large stir in the camp. Men are on the move. We have run out of time, and options.

My men turn to look at me. I muster only one word. “Run”.

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I Breathe In and Hold It: Part 1of 2

Photo © of Emiko and Daniel 

I breathe in and hold it. I dare not breathe out. My body is sprawled on the thick green marshes of Bannockburn. Concealed with me under the green flora is twenty of my men. Many of whom I call brother.

The earth below us is soft and wet. It is comfortable, but cold.

A hundred feet away is a host of one thousand enemy soldiers. The army has setup camp for the night. Large tents and fires illuminate the field a mile wide. One slight movement by me or my men, and death would surely follow.

Fear keeps us calm. Fear keeps us silent. Fear may cost us our lives.

The camp beams with laughter and song. The sweet smell of roasted pig carries far and wide. It openly taunts us. My stomach groans and claws at my insides.

“Patience”, I tell it. Hours or days may come before I eat my next meal.

One of my soldiers to my rear makes a noise. I turn to look at him. It’s a boy of only seventeen. He looks at me, and then jumps to his feet.

The boy turns and makes a dash for the forest. I sit up on one knee and reach for my bow. I place an arrow between the string and aim.

**********TO BE CONTINUED**********

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Cliffhanger | We Saw the Flags of our Fathers Hoisted on Banners Above our Heads (Part 2 of 2)

Photo © petersb

An eruption of death occurred. Horses crashed their bodies into our wall of spears. Men flung from saddle to ground. Swords clashed, and spears stabbed. The force knocked me to my feet. Blood splattered all over my hands and face distorting my vision. An animal dying screams no less than a human. I heard both.

Archers from across the field began to rain arrows down on our position. Men dropped to their knees and used the dead as shields. I lowered my body under a half dead horse. Once the first volley had landed, the horse was nothing more than a carcass. I peeked my head out to look around; arrows had  littered everything in sight.

The archers had cut down many of my allies. The wall of spears had been crushed. Defeat seemed imminent. I could see the archers across the field reloading their bows. I stood up and looked death straight in the eye.

Just then I heard the sound of horses galloping behind me. I grabbed a sword from the ground and turned to defend myself.

Through the bush to our rear several hundred of our horses cut through the open field and made a valiant charge towards the archers. The arches tried desperately to run. I watched as they were cut down like weeds.

Followed by the horses was several hundred spear men who came running out of the forest to reinforce our living. I wiped the blood from my face and grabbed a spear from the ground. I placed the butt end of the spear in the earth once more. I looked up.

I am no longer a farmer.

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Cliffhanger | We Saw the Flags of our Fathers Hoisted on Banners Above our Heads (Part 1 of 2)

Photo © petersb

We saw the flags of our fathers hoisted on banners above our heads. The rain beating down on us was relentless. I was surrounded by a legion of my countrymen. Patriots, farmers, but not soldiers. Still the spears clutched in our fists were ready at any moment to draw blood. It was cold and damp on the green fields of Bannockburn. The cold wind cut through our clothing like daggers. Clothing, wooden shields, and the armour we took from the bodies of those we killed was our only protection.

The drums began to beat; thump, thump, thump. A loud horn blew and the horses began to gallop towards our position. The men surrounding me did not waiver, nor run. We knelt on one knee and placed the butts of our spears solidly in the earth below us. I wiped the rain from my face, and looked up.

**********TO BE CONTINUED**********

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Cliffhanger (Part 2 of 2)

This is a small excerpt taken from my novel, The Carpenter’s Son. This is from Chapter 11, entitled Food From the Ocean. A description of the novel can be found here

As the two men arrived below, Michael turned to Brian and shouted “On the table”. Both men placed Scott on the table. “Get a towel or cloth and wrap it around his foot, and apply pressure” said Michael who was searching for something. Brian dashed across the room to find something. He started throwing items, and double-checking places he already checked, but to no avail he could not locate any cloth. Finally Brian realized he was wearing a shirt, so he took it off and wrapped it around Scott’s leg. Michael re-emerged with a knife in one hand, a small kit in the other. He also had a rope wrapped around his neck. Michael placed the knife on the ground with the small kit. He then took the rope and put it beside Scott’s head. Michael looked down at Scott and told him to open his mouth. He didn’t listen, so he told him once more. Nothing.

Scott was convulsing in pain, Michael kept telling him to calm down. Michael had reached into Scott’s mouth and was trying to manually open his jaw. At this moment Jim arrived. “What can I do?” asked Jim who was covered in Scott’s blood. “Take over for Brian, and Brian help me get his mouth open,” explained Michael. Jim came over to Brian and placed his hands where he previously had them. Brian moved up to the table to Scott’s head, which was swaying back and forth. Brian reached his hands into Scott’s mouth and helped pull his jaw back. Michael grabbed the rope and slid it between his upper and lower jaw. Scott’s screams were now muffled, but still felt. Michael reached down into the kit and pulled out a needle and vile. He poked the needle into the vile and cocked it back. Once it was full he pulled the needle out of the vile and pushed it forward, excess liquid poured on the floor. Michael then bent over, looking at Scott’s arm for a vein. Once he found it, he shot the needle into his arm. Scott’s screams became less frequent and even his jaw loosened.

“Where’s the whiskey?” asked Michael. “Under da sink” replied Jim. “Go grab it” said Michael who was looking directly as Brian. Brian shirtless ran across the room, behind the makeshift serving station and found a bottle of whiskey beneath the sink. Brian returned with the bottle. Michael grabbed it and put it beside Scott. At this moment Michael moved towards Jim, he took the shirt off his leg and began to inspect the wound, “Several toes are flattened, but still attached. Gonna’ have to chop them” he stated. “Brian, hold Scott down” said Michael who was clearly in charge of the situation. Brian laid his weight on top of Scott and placed his arms over his. “Jim hold his legs while I do this” said Michael. Jim braced Scott’s legs and Michael grabbed the knife he previously placed on the ground. Before using the knife, Michael bit the cap off the bottle of whiskey and spat it on the ground. Using one hand he poured the entire bottle of alcohol on his hands and the knife. After sizing up the cut he was going to make, he told them he was going to count down from five. “five, four, three, two, one” said Michael followed by a loud swing. Scott shot up against Brian and opened his eyes fully. Brian could distinctly see Scott’s eyes meet his. Scott’s entire face went white as a ghost, and within seconds he was unconscious again. Michael managed to keep Scott’s foot; however, only one toe remained. As Brian lay there on top of Scott, he could not break eye contact with Scott’s face. It was thirty minutes after Michael had finished stitching Scott’s flesh that he told Brian he could let go. Up until that moment Brian was firmly pressed up against Scott.

Jim sighed “Good work Michael, you too Bri”. Jim then went up deck, which had seemed to calm down a great deal. “What exactly happened?” Asked Brian who didn’t really understand how the hell this had happened. “One of the metals pots crushed his toes. The boy is lucky he still has a foot” explained Michael. Brian was overwhelmed, he knew this was dangerous trade but he never once considered that he would ever get hurt. “Michael, where’d you learn this?” asked Brian. “The war, I was a field medic” said Michael who was moving about the room making changes to Scott. “I don’t get it, why are you cutting onions?” asked Brian, who clearly couldn’t see why a man this talented was doing something so beneath him. Michael laughed, “Cause we all got to eat, and no hospital wants to hire a black man”. Brian felt ashamed. He wanted to say or do something, but realistically nothing he said or did would make a difference. Brian spent the rest of the day tending to Scott, and assisting Michael where he could.

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Cliffhanger (Part 1 of 2)

This is a small excerpt taken from my novel, The Carpenter’s Son. This is from Chapter 11, entitled Food From the Ocean. A description of the novel can be found here

The following afternoon Brian woke up feeling awful. He had barely slept, and had a massive headache. He stood up and looked for water, luckily he found a jug across the room. Brian grabbed the jug and found a place to sit on the floor. He sat there for quite awhile, just chugging water. Once he felt slightly better he stood up again. Brian desperately wanted to go back to sleep. However, he had responsibilities to attend to. He was already late and assumed his crewmates let him sleep longer only to harass him. Brian quickly got dressed and headed up to the top deck. As he emerged, he felt the wind press up against his skin. The temperature was not stifling, as it was usually overtly aggressive in the mid afternoon. Everything felt just right. Across the ship Jim could be seen working with Scott, Brian walked towards them. “Ah Mr. Morrison, glad to see you graced us with your presence today” laughed Jim, as the crew looked on with delight. “Apologies sir, I indulged too much last night” admitted Brian. “I swear to god boy, if you call me sir once more…” warned Jim.

Jim took a deep breath, “But I spose’ I had some part in your current state. Though I expect you to not be so courteous to someone when they’re trying to take the piss out of ya” laughed Jim. The crew had seemed to surround the two, all eyes were on Brian and Jim. “Sorry what were you trying to say?” asked Brian, who looked confused. “It woulda’ been nice to see you have a backbone boy” smirked Jim. Brian smiled, “I’m about two steps away from puking, and have lost all good sense of direction. I’m a hazard at any rate to be on this deck, though I assume still less of one than you,” bragged Brian. As Brian finished his sentence he could see eyes and mouths both open staring directly at Jim, obviously wondering what the old man would retort with.

Jim grinned, then smiled “You cheeky bastard, off my deck and down below you go. You’re gonna help the cook prepare dinner, that is if you’re able to control that sensitive stomach of yours” mocked Jim. The entire crew roared with laughter, even Brian let out a little laugh. Brian headed below deck and sat down at the wooden table for a couple minutes trying to regain his composure. He eventually got up and moved towards the kitchen. Brian never talked to the cook much. He knew his name was Michael, and he was a tall, thin, black man with a light complexion. There wasn’t a particular reason Brian hadn’t talked to Michael before, for Brian had very little communication with the majority of people on the ship.

The two men introduced themselves and shook hands. Michael asked Brian to start chopping vegetables, as he was busy skinning and cutting fish. Both men did not initially share much conversation; given the event that just unfolded there was no time for small talk. Panic erupted; Brian nearly cut his hand while chopping an onion. There were sounds of screaming terror. Both men looked at one another and instinctively headed top deck without saying a word. When both men arrived, Michael headed left, and Brian headed right. There was men arguing, pushing one another, and shouting. Brian looked down and saw red everywhere. It was blood. Brian heard a blood-curdling scream, he thought it might be Scott, but he couldn’t be sure. Brian pushed his way through the crowd that was surrounding the screams of terror.

Brian looked down; it was Scott covered in his own blood. Brian saw the captain in a panic telling men to shut their mouths and back off as he was trying to get closer to Scott.

“Michael!” the captain yelled. “Yes Jim” replied Michael who was crawling over others to hear him. “The crate crushed his foot, get him below deck. It’s a fuckin’ bloody mess!” exclaimed Jim. Brian stood there, looking down at Scott screaming in pain. Beside Scott were two individuals who were helping him the best they could. Michael finally made it to Scott and bent down to grab him. As Michael was trying to help Scott up, he looked and Brian and said “Brian”. He did not hear him even though he was beside him. Brian had never seen someone severely injured. “Brian!” Michael screeched this time. Brian turned his head towards Michael. “Help me, get him below!” yelled Michael. Brian did not reply, he knew exactly what to do now. He reached down and grabbed one of Scott’s shoulders and helped carry him below.

**********To Be Continued**********

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