Welcome

Welcome to my blog. The home page will always display the most recent blog post so please use the tabs to navigate your way around. Keep up to date by visiting the 'News' area. The 'Short Stories' area and the ‘Flash Fiction’ area contain everything produced thus far, and comments would be much appreciated! Be sure to check out the 'Three Words' area that will explain how you can get involved in influencing the written work to come, or for details on contributing your own artwork visit the 'Artists' area! You can read my 'Blog' (in the truer sense), additional content is also available via the 'Other' section and don't be afraid to leave a comment in the 'Guestbook'. Thanks for visiting!



Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Picture Perfect


Picture Perfect

The sun sets behind the trees, stoking the thinner patches of foliage to bleed through as though from behind a brighter filter. A golden streak of light exposes a gap between the leaves to cross the grass blades, stopping just shy of my feet. I will it forward, but its constant failure worries me I might have become a place where the light cannot penetrate.
                My brother jostles my arm and I let the thought fall onto the breeze, favouring him with a smile. We're squeezed together onto an aged park bench, Mother complaining about the state of it and causing the commotion as she frets over a weathered stain on the brittle wood that is probably older than I am.
                "People are staring." My brother complained. Well I can't say I blame them. Dressed to the nines in our summer finest, the park appeared to be nearing capacity. The photographer is struggling to capture the moment without granting Frisbee catching youngsters or small inquisitive dogs honorary membership to our family. He's stood arms crossed and brow furrowed as he analyses the latest snap on his tripod mounted digital camera.
                "We can't get her to wear a jacket or something?"
                "I'm not cold." I said instinctively. The breeze is not unpleasant. Mother looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes of hers. This morning when choosing my dress I made an effort to match them. Twirling in the mirror I thought I'd done it, but the fabric had been unable to replicate the soft nervousness an eye can hold. I got Father's brown eyes, and right now he is narrowing his, a surly expression on his face as the man approaches with the camera. He'd brought it over to prove a point.
                "The pose is perfect." He explained, all the while my father's anger rising. "It's just-"
                As he turned the camera to show him the image I accidentally caught a peek, and my world began to crumble like so many times before it. I pitched to flee, but Mother caught me and took me in her arms. I looked at her and she looked at me, those blue eyes of hers truly a beauty I'd lost the chance at forever, and suddenly she grew steely. She reached around for the arms I had hidden behind my back. I tried to fight, but her grip was so strong. She pulled them out in front and held them up for me to see.
                "Look at them." She said, stern yet kind. It took every ounce of will to shift from gentle blue to the horror that was to follow.
                Searing pains shoot out across my arms. I watch a helpless passenger as the red streaks reveal themselves to me, one by one in assorted order, crawling across my flesh, etched in by memory's painful quill. As they twin and twist I wish I'd had the foresight to select a kind of pattern, instead of giving in to life on an edge, especially when they're so readily available.
                Over time I'd trained myself not to see them. I'm so good, a mirror can't even break the spell. But somehow a photo, that subjective third eye, had punched a hole in my self deception, and the tears flowed freely.  Through the murky filter I stared for as long as I could, my mind's eye confusing a second or two for a lifetime. Too deep, I grasped for the shallows of her eyes once more.
                "I'm sorry." I whispered. Mother shook her head.
                "Stop hiding and embrace it. Your past makes who you are." She released my arms and reached down for her blouse. Before I could render what was happening  she'd removed it completely. It was like a dream, the petals woven into the fabric's design dropping to the ground like nature had called them back to wither.
                A group of boys cheered and wolfed a whistle. Father, who had his back to us span round before freezing in shock. My brother buried his head in his hands in embarrassment. Mother, though, cared for none of it. She pointed at the discoloured cross section on her exposed stomach. "This scar tells me about one of the proudest moments of my life." She declared. "Even if it did turn out to be your brother." She added, with a wink.
                "Hey!" I gawped at it, not quite sure how to react. There must have been something solemn in my expression, because out of the corner of my eye I saw my brother's face soften from outrage to understanding, and he began unbuttoning his own shirt. He threw it to the ground in triumph, the same shirt he spent over an hour ironing this morning, and pointed to a line of damaged flesh on his stomach.
                "Appendix." He grinned. "Doctor said I needed it removed or the pain would be unbearable. I held out for six weeks." He framed it in a grid made between his thumbs and his forefingers. "Hashtag Legend." I couldn't help but smile a little at Mother's frown.
                "The point is," She said, taking my arms again, "they're a part of you now. When I look at these scars," softly, she began tracing them with a finger  "I think of every battle you've fought against a darkness that many would not be strong enough to conquer. Every battle you've won. I see them," she said, and it rang true - every ragged path she followed matched the order I'd woven them, "and so should you."
                I know now, that I've been doing it wrong. Denial is the choice I'd made. A secret buried further and further over time, though a fresh layer of earth added to the grave has turned that hole in the ground of my subconscious into an unusual looking mound that draws suspicion. Secrets crave discovery. All they want is for one strong wind, one shift in the plates beneath the earth, one glimpse of a tiny screen on a digital camera.
                The photographer still sneered at me, the ribbons I wear more offensive to him than the clothes my family lack. I wanted him gone, and that meant taking this damn photo. I look down at my brother's ruined shirt, shrug Mother's hand free, and then my dress. Another round of cheers goes up from those nearby and I expect my mother to panic, but instead she laughs heartily. It is a good sound. Father, however, lost control of the lower portion of his face. I think it came with a dawning realisation of the direction things were heading. He had a nervous glance towards my brother, which on reflection, was probably not the wisest decision. My brother's expression twisted with devil, and he cupped a hand to his mouth.
                "Off!" There it was, one single word. The key to bedlam. The wolf pack started first, baying at random before falling in line with my brother's pulsing decree. Those nearby stopped to stare before joining the chant, spreading to the far reaches of the park like wildfire.
                As the circle closed, Father looked around in panic before settling his eyes on me. I smiled sweetly and shrugged my shoulders. He smiled back. "You know me and your mother met in A&E." He said, fiddling with the button on his collar. "You didn't know it was because of an incident involving a lot of alcohol and a broom handle." He ripped his shirt free, popping the buttons from their thread restraints like the Hulk, exposing a nasty score that cuts a line in the hair of his chest.
                Those around us erupted in cheer. He span round, seeking the photographer who looked very small amidst the conflagration. "Take the picture Dammit!" He commanded, barely audible over the crowd. As the photographer failed to shake himself free of whatever nightmare he thought he was having, my father marched over and ripped the camera from him, turning it over and thrusting it back into his hand with the lens pointing towards us on the bench, wrenching him from his stupor.
                Eventually his hand steadied long enough for him to take the picture, tripod lost to the encroaching throng, and he traipsed over to us uncertainly, flinching at every new voice bawled from the shifting mass that surrounds us. He flipped the camera round, and showed us the image on the screen. Of course, my red ichor twists were the first thing I noticed. But somehow, they seemed in place, flanked either side by those borne by my family. A collection of tales sat side by side against a backdrop of half a clamouring community, all crammed into one chaotic frame.
                "It's perfect." I said. No denial. I meant it. As Mother put a hand on my shoulder, I looked down to see the sun's dying light dance upon my painted toenails. We'd broken through together. I vow to accept its gracious end as my new beginning.

__________


__________

Share using the buttons below!

Friday, 9 December 2016

The Button - [Redacted] - Dead Man's Bar

Flash Fiction / Micro Fiction
Length - 100 words each

Three pieces written for the competition theme 'America'.
* '[Redacted]' finished 3rd Place in the competition!

__________

The Button

It started as locker-room banter. The big 'What if?' Now he's President.
                His first tour of the office, he nervously bides his time until they show him the button, and the old man breaks free of his handlers to slam reset.
                It's not a flex of power. It's not about building walls, or breaking them. 'What if?' has graduated to 'What now?' and he simply wants out.
                'These people can't look after themselves anymore.' I whisper into the microphone hidden inside my sleeve. 'Things have gone nuclear.'
                We gave you your chance, but the joke is over. Democracy has failed.
__________


[Redacted]

The report, said to have been leaked following an alleged 'incident' at the infamous Area 51, has since resurfaced.

'Attention to all residents of [Redacted]. With immediate effect [Redacted]. Until further notice [Redacted]. If you suspect [Redacted]. If symptoms persist [Redacted]. Avoid the elderly. [Redacted]. Do not attempt [Redacted]. Serve your country, be vigilant, and remain indoors.'

In light of the outgoing American President's directive, some of the following words have been recovered, though their order or placement within the document remains unknown:

Outbreak. Virus. Host. Candelabra. Execution. Global. Defenestration. Airborne.

The truth is out there. Have a [Redacted] day.

__________

Dead Man's Bar

'Hicks' hangs above the saloon door on a wooden sign, but the locals know it by a different name. It's empty, 'cept for one man propping up the bar.
                'They credit me the man with the fastest hands in all America,' I tell him in warning. I reached into my pocket for my warrant and immediately decided to take a seat right there in the doorway instead.
                'Fastest man.' I heard, as the cold crept out from a hole in my soul, and dumbly I looked to its dealer.
                An unturned head. A smoking gun. And lipstick on the glass.

__________


__________

Share using the buttons below!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Blog - 08/12/16

Hey,

Just a quick one to say I'm winding things down a bit.

It's been almost a year and I have had no interest in the Micro Pic Competition, so I'll officially close it for the turn of the year. I'll leave the contest page up in case there's a call for it in the future, but for now if anyone wants to contribute an image for the Social Postcards just look ahead to the schedule which I'll keep updated on the Micro Pic Competition page, follow the instructions, and there's a good chance I'll use your image.

That goes for the blog posts too. As I feared, I'm just not productive enough to justify a round up. I'll go back to posting when I have something significant to talk about, but I'll be keeping up with the Micros and the Social Postcards, and maybe, just maybe, the odd piece of Flash Fiction or a Short Story here and there.

On that note, I'll hit you up with the new short story 'Picture Perfect' on the 20th. Have a good Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hopefully I'll have more to shout about in the near future. 

Thanks for sticking with me. 

Until next time, buh-bye!

__________

Follow me on Twitter - www.twitter.com/PaulJIsaac

"Like" my page on Facebook - http://on.fb.me/HKJOXk

Follow me on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/paul106i/

Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Month That Was... October '16

Intro

Hello!

Welcome to, The Month That Was - October '16 !

----------

Achievements

Finished third in MorgEn Bailey's 100-Word Free Competition this month, with my entry 'Good Decision'.

You can view this month's winning tales here - http://bit.ly/2dBXH1F

----------

New Content This Month - (What can you actually read this month!?)

All three entries to  to MorgEn Bailey's 100-Word Free Competition , including third placed finishing piece 'Good Decision', have been added to the site. The theme this time was 'Cool'.

You can find them here - http://bit.ly/2eaRUFm

Two of the Micro Fictions have been turned into my Social postcards, and hit Media on the first and fifteenth of the month.




(I'm still yet to receive a single entry into the Micro Pic Competition ! You could have your artwork seen by a wider / different audience AND win a free coupon to an online Writing Course!)

----------

The Graft - (Daydreaming is well and good - you've got to have goals. But what have I actually done this month?)

Not a lot. :( The Micros didn't require much attention (excluding the time it took to generate a few ideas!), and a couple of attempts proved satisfactory. Got a little bit more done on TfTT, and for MFS I finished another couple of sections. The current section is a lot longer, so in future I might change to tracking words written as a better reflection. It's a struggle - writing an entire section that is already a candidate for the chop in the next revision! Certainly slows down the process for me when I'm trying to 'get though it'!

Monthly Micros (Three pieces at 100 words each, set theme)
- Draft 1, Draft 2
- Submitted to competition

Project X (Competition Short Story - x words)
- Nada :(

MFS (Ongoing fantasy series, broken down into events, plus any note overhauls)
- Planning + Ordering
- Creation - 1c , 1d

Bigger Project (Aside from MFS *MFS1 currently occupies this slot until I can finish the first draft!*)
- Nada! :(

TfTT (Special project)
- Planning
- Most of a section

Micro Pics (One Micro Pic taken from last month's best reaction to recent three Micros, plus one pic generated from archives)

This month, the popular Pic was 'Good Decision', and the archived Pic was 'It's All in the Planning'. Don't forget, by voting on the Twitter poll each month, you can have an impact on which Micro gets 'The Complete Treatment'! :)

     
Peripheral Tasks of Note
Nada! :(

----------

What I've Read

**********




























I loved the 'Dynasty Warriors' series on the Playstation growing up, 'Dynasty Warriors 4' being the pinnacle in my opinion. I finally got round to reading the literature the games are based on, and much enjoyed the alternate perspective. I managed to get the first of three volumes for 85p! The next two are over £10 each... so unfortunately it may be a while before I return to series! :(

Being close to Halloween and all, I decided to read a stand alone horror from the books on my shelves. I was surprised how difficult this was! Mainly because I'd read a lot of them and fancied something new, but the eye opening thing was that it was difficult to find one that was not part of a series! It made me think about my own writing, and I hope to learn a lesson in this - not every character or idea deserves a series!

I also read a couple more stories from each of the compilations I currently have on the go.

----------

Useful Articles I've read

Nada. :(

----------

Competition Results + Reader Contributions

I've yet to receive any entrants to the Micro Pic Competition that I run on this site! :( Don't forget you can get more exposure for your artwork, and even win a free coupon to an online writing course!

At time of writing, the current competitions that are open are;



The results of this month's Twitter poll, regarding which of the three Micro Fictions you liked best, was a tie between 'Fool's Gold' and 'Taking the Biscuit' with one vote apiece!

----------

Any Other Business

The next batch of Micros have been generated for the Micro Pic Competition . I've been running it for almost a year now without a single entry, so the curtain may be falling on the idea shortly. :(


----------

Outro

Must. Try. Harder.

Until next time, buh-bye!

__________

Follow me on Twitter - www.twitter.com/PaulJIsaac

"Like" my page on Facebook - http://on.fb.me/HKJOXk

Follow me on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/paul106i/

Friday, 4 November 2016

The Money Tree - Oh Snap! - Show and Tell

Flash Fiction / Micro Fiction
Length - 100 words each

Three pieces written for the competition theme 'A Crime Story'.
* 'The Money Tree' was 'Highly Commended' in the competition!

__________


The Money Tree

'Curiosity killed the cat'. Misquoted so often, we humans have sprouted a cautionary tail. But you know better. After all, satisfaction brought that cat back.
                It's why you're here... no?
                Speculative small ad in a magazine, an impossibility. But what if it wasn't? What if that cat came back filthy rich?
                Hey now, 'just a tree' to you, but that cash investment you brought sure looks like money to me.
                There, there, little kitten; when they find you downstream in a sack with the others, know that one of us was satisfied. I'm really more of a dog person anyway.
__________

Oh Snap!

'Well done,' the police officer said, handing her back her phone. Witnessing an attempted assault, Haley had instinctively started filming. 'Although we didn't need to see you collecting your parcel.' He smiled, and Haley blushed accordingly.

Panting, the man withdrew his phone. The girl had filmed him. He opened the App, searched 'Nearby' and began watching the stories.

One new notification. Huh, she thought, must have left it on 'Open'. Her new follower sent her a video. A single angry emoji followed by a full profile view. She recognised his clothes instantly. 
                The last segment showed him approaching her porch.

__________


Show and Tell

'Colour me impressed.' The big boss said, rolling a cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. He clapped his hands together, more clang than slap, and his cronies relieved me of his rival's head which I'd presented in a once white drawstring bag.
                'My men say you had no weapon?' He chuckled, 'That you just walked straight into his office and BAM! The guy was dead!' He smiled, displaying a full row of golden teeth. 'So tell me, how did you do it?' 
                'Well,' I said, my own smile mere ivory, 'probably easier if I show you.'

__________


__________

Share using the buttons below!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Good Decision - Fool's Gold - Taking the Biscuit

Flash Fiction / Micro Fiction
Length - 100 words each

Three pieces written for the competition theme 'Cool'.
* 'Good Decision' finished 3rd Place in the competition!

__________


Good Decision

'Sorry mate. It's all over the internet.'
                Johnny set the cracked wing mirror down atop the wreck as his friend showed him footage from his smartphone. In it, Johnny's now ex-girlfriend appeared to lay into his new car with a sledgehammer.
                'She asked me to choose,' Johnny said, shrugging his shoulders. 'I guess she didn't like my answer.'
                'You seem remarkably cool about this.'
                Johnny grinned, took his car keys from his pocket and raised them into the air, pressing the button. Behind him, an identical make and model blinked into life.
                'I bought mine because I liked my neighbour's...'
__________


Fool's Gold

He hauled the heavy rune-inscribed stone door shut, the remainder of their company catching a breath after their flight through the volcano's sweltering basalt passages. Odd then, that he could see it, their deep expulsions lingering as mist in the guttering torchlight.
                'Why's it so cool in here?'
                A brittle tinkling melody encroached their position. Panicking, a man cracked open the native's special fire ward and it lit the room, dazzling them from a multitude of ice facets all about them. It'd do little else.
                He slumped down. 'Tricked'. A blue-white scaled beast shot into view. 'Wrong type of dragon.' 

__________


Taking the Biscuit

'So you poured them over his head? Are you crazy!?'
                'They were clearly labelled! He used my chilli sauce too!'
                Chris looked at the mess. Light biscuit fragments scattered from an upturned bucket by their new flatmate's bedroom door. A flaky trail led to the bathroom where he was about to shower.
                'Well at least you didn't pour that over him as well.'
                'I said he could use my shampoo...' Michael sat at the table with steepled fingers.
                Then Chris noticed the empty chilli sauce bottle, a jug full of white, viscous liquid beside it. 'Not cool, man. Not cool.'

__________


__________

Share using the buttons below!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Month That Was... September '16

Intro

Hello!

Welcome to, The Month That Was - September '16 !

----------

Achievements

Finished with another piece on the 'Highly Commended' list in MorgEn Bailey's 100-Word Free Competition this month, with my entry 'Emily'. It's a year since the competition's inception, and brings me to a grand total of ten out of twelve placings on the shortlist or higher. The aim this year is to win one outright! Haha.

You can view this month's winning tales here - http://bit.ly/2cfnjk1

----------

New Content This Month - (What can you actually read this month!?)

All three entries to  to MorgEn Bailey's 100-Word Free Competition , including the 'Highly Commended' piece 'Emily', have been added to the site. The theme this time was 'An Unwanted Birthday'.

You can find them here - http://bit.ly/2cc307j

Two of the Micro Fictions have been turned into my Social postcards, and hit Media on the first and fifteenth of the month.




(I'm still yet to receive a single entry into the Micro Pic Competition ! You could have your artwork seen by a wider / different audience AND win a free coupon to an online Writing Course!)

----------

The Graft - (Daydreaming is well and good - you've got to have goals. But what have I actually done this month?)

Admittedly not a lot has happened on paper this month. Mostly it's been about ideas and planning, so we're a little bit light on the ground for actual content. The Micros required a bit of extra work this month to make them right, and I was unable to achieve any of the peripheral tasks I set out to complete.

I'm most annoyed I haven't found time to type up handwritten drafts of MFS1 events as I write them. It's a problem that most modern writers probably don't have to worry about, usually going straight to laptop, but better for me in that I prefer to have the time off screen. It actually feels like writing to me that way too! My chicken scratch handwriting has become a bit of a problem though - if I don't type it up straight after, I struggle to make sense of it most times... Although this month I've started to write in CAPITAL LETTERS to try and help myself on the return journey!

Following the introduction of TfTT Tuesdays, I've actually managed to make a start on a project I've wanted to for ages, (almost) guilt free! Though at a rate of four days a month, you shouldn't expect to see anything in the near future... :(

Monthly Micros (Three pieces at 100 words each, set theme)
- Draft 1, Draft 2, Draft 3, Draft 4, Draft 5
- Submitted to competition

Project 10 (Competition Short Story - 1700 words)
- Submitted to competition

MFS (Ongoing fantasy series, broken down into events, plus any note overhauls)
- Planning + Ordering
- Creation - Two events :(

Bigger Project (Aside from MFS *MFS1 currently occupies this slot until I can finish the first draft!*)
- Nada! :(

TfTT (Special project)
- Planning
- Part of a first draft of a section :(

Micro Pics (One Micro Pic taken from last month's best reaction to recent three Micros, plus one pic generated from archives)

This month, the popular Pic was 'Emily', and the archived Pic was 'Stain(Ed)'. Don't forget, by voting on the Twitter poll each month, you can have an impact on which Micro gets 'The Complete Treatment'! :)

 
     
Peripheral Tasks of Note
Nada! :(

----------

What I've Read

**********


Finished 'The Wheel of Osheim' this month, concluding the 'Red Queen's War' series from Mark Lawrence.

I've mentioned before how it feels like a very successful re-skinning of his previous series 'The Broken Empire', set in the same world and time frame with glorious crossovers, and that feeling remains true, right down to a moment where both main characters are rescued by an unexpected moment of 'modern' technology. Not only that, but I feel this series did it better. I think I can pinpoint it to the feeling I had upon walking away from the series upon completion. I distinctly remember walking away with two major criticisms of the first series.

Firstly, I felt the story held up so well as a medieval series, that when more and more technology was introduced (it's set in a post apocalyptic world of the nuclear variety) I didn't like it. Of course the story is all about it, and a gradual revelation of what happened and how it's changed the world going forward, but I'm not particularly fond of technology / sci fi, and just wanted it to stay medieval. But here's the thing, during 'Red Queen's War' I was now prepared to accept it as part of the world / story, that familiarity now improving my overall experience.

Secondly, I remember walking away from the first series unhappy with the ending. By which I mean the end ending. The, let's call it 'mortal' ending was suitably epic, but what happens next left me feeling unsatisfied. Well this series did it better. Whereas in the first, the endings are sequential, this series had them running parallel and I feel it was a vast improvement, all things coming to a head at once, the best stacking of the main character's nemeses, collected throughout the series, (they just kept coming and coming to the point you had to applaud the character for getting this far!) I've ever had the pleasure to read, and an ending, crucially, that made sense to me - again better knowing how it all worked from the first time. It's hard to describe the two layers of the story, but first time round he addressed them separately as an ending, this time they tied in together.

The world is finished now, aside form a collection of shorts I'll get called 'Road Brothers: Tales From the Broken Empire', but I'm much looking forward to reading his next series when it comes out, the first book being 'Red Sister'.

**********


I've started using this book as a 'tone text' read before I start work on TfTT on a Tuesday. I've mentioned before how closely tied the worlds are, so it's a perfect read to get into the right head-space for a dark, apocalyptic, and dreary atmosphere / environment. The story I've read this month was 'The Case of the Scarlet Cell', which is my favourite from the book, mainly because it focuses on my favourite army from the world, Chaos, and the division therein. It's an interesting application of the rivalry from a great army, scaled down in a practical metropolis setting to a detective murder mystery.

----------

Useful Articles I've read


Following on from last month, this would be better titled 'Useful Articles I've Listened too.' Bingeing on all things Brandon Sanderson recently, I've now added the Podcast he is part of 'Writing Excuses' to my consumption. It's a weekly release packed full of useful tips and practical applications thereof, all compacted to around fifteen minutes, and has been so helpful to me in terms of ideas and understanding of things already. The content is not just limited to the art of writing, and includes information and advice on 'being a writer' too, such as the publication process and interviews with those involved for a different industry perspective. I'm catching up from deep, not wishing to listen to more than one a day, because I want time to process / practice what I'm learning.

----------

Competition Results + Reader Contributions

I've yet to receive any entrants to the Micro Pic Competition that I run on this site! :( Don't forget you can get more exposure for your artwork, and even win a free coupon to an online writing course!

At time of writing, the current Competitions that are open are;

 

The results of this month's Twitter poll, regarding which of the three Micro Fictions you liked best, was a tie between 'Emily' and 'Betrothed' with one vote apiece!


----------

Any Other Business

Finally got the judges' critique back for my short story 'Picture Perfect'. To say I'm disappointed would be a bit of an understatement, and I certainly won't be paying extra for it, at least from that site, again. Raw and defensive I may be, but there was one glaring contradiction I can't get my head around, so it may be some time before I decide to give it another shot from a different source.

Now I did get a sneaky idea to release 'Picture Perfect' this month at same time as Skylar Grey released her new album 'Natural Causes'. It's that mad thing, as soon as I came up with the title I started noticing it everywhere, starting with the old film starring Jennifer Aniston popping up on Amazon Prime, and culminating in one of my favourite musicians releasing it as a track on her upcoming album! I thought maybe I could piggyback some success if people enjoyed the song (she herself describes it as her favourite song off the album) and maybe snatch a couple of hits via an unwitting google search or two.

But! I decided against it. No, it was not a retreat on moral ground, (just google the title of my site for an example of my desperation, I've tracked a whole three hits since the blog's inception as a result) instead, it's the result of a new fear I've developed when releasing fiction online.

Nobody reads anything now without a picture! When I release the three Micros and link to them with plain text, I get zero hits. You just keep scrolling down until something catches your eye. It's why I developed the Micro postcard idea, the stats confirm the same story released with one of my terrible little drawings get multiple interactions! Some social media platforms have a 'media' feed that text links just don't get onto. I asked a friend if he read my Micros, and after some gentle probing, it turned out to be just the Micros released as postcards. I re-linked to an old story 'Head Full of Memories' with added picture a while back, and it got a jump, 'Mount Wulf' despite its hideous picture did comparatively well too, and now I'm scared to release anything without an image!

So I bailed! I'm not prepared to pay for an image to go with a lowly short story released on an unknown's blog. I'll probably draw a picture similar to those I draw for the Micros, just to have something to accompany it with. Missing that window, I'll probably release it on the blog at Christmas.



----------

Outro

So that's it. Nothing much to do but reiterate an intention to try harder next month. Thanks, and it's a big one, to anybody sticking with me.

Until next time, buh-bye!

__________

Follow me on Twitter - www.twitter.com/PaulJIsaac

"Like" my page on Facebook - http://on.fb.me/HKJOXk

Follow me on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/paul106i/

Friday, 9 September 2016

Emily - Betrothed - Class of '89

Flash Fiction / Micro Fiction
Length - 100 words each

Three pieces written for the competition theme 'An Unwanted Birthday'.
* 'Emily' was 'Highly Commended' in the competition!

__________


Emily

Back again, drawn from nowhere. Dad sits with his party hat on, Mum busy lighting the candles on my cake whilst I dance alone in the dress she bought me, all mauve with stencil flowers on it.
                The last candle won't light, the wick is wet with sorrow. Dad doesn't even bother to comfort her, a me-shaped chasm open between them since Mum miscarried all those years ago.
                Dead before I'd even lived, a special kind of ghost. I am an anomaly, though they'd have called me Emily, a conscience born of tragedy, on the day that hurts them most.
__________

Betrothed

She pulled back from their secret moonlight embrace, resisting his questing fingers.
                'I'm betrothed to Count Valer, Sir Henry. Tomorrow when I come of age, Father will have his wish.' She went to kiss him again, but he stood firm, a dark expression staining his face.
                'Suppose Count Valer isn't around tomorrow.' Fingers danced atop his sword pommel.
                'Father has gambled our meagre lot arranging the ceremony, I have to marry someone.'
                'Marry me, instead.' She drank in the murder that spilled from his eyes, her breaths growing heavy.
                'There's not much time.' She said, quivering, 'bring me his head.'

__________


Class of '89

All my friends are dead. I thumb through pages of an open yearbook, reading by mounted candlelight their signed, hopeful messages.
                'Something to drink, General?' She hands me a glass, looks from me to her departed brother, centre page, and raises her drink in silent toast. All the women do, clustered in solemn huddles about our old school hall.
                Turning point in the war. Emergency conscription. The class of '89, wiped out after one week of fighting.
                'Happy Birthday.' She whispers, and takes her leave.
                All my friends are dead. Born a week earlier, and I'd have shared their fate.

__________


__________

Share using the buttons below!

Monday, 5 September 2016

The Month That Was... August '16

Intro

Hello!

We're onto month two! It's the fifth of the month today, which will be the new regular time spot going forward! Welcome to, The Month That Was - August '16 !

----------

Achievements

Make that 9 out of 11! Back to finishing with a piece on MorgEn Bailey's 100-Word Free Competition in the 'Highly Commended' position this month, with my entry 'Binnie'. :)

You can view the winners' tales here - http://bit.ly/2bcISWJ

----------

New Content This Month - (What can you actually read this month!?)

All three entries to MorgEn Bailey's 100-Word Free Competition , including the 'Highly Commended' piece 'Binnie' , have been added to the site. The theme this time was 'Holiday'.

You can find them here - http://bit.ly/2bc3Ssn

Two of the Micro Fictions have been turned into my Social postcards, and hit Media on the first and fifteenth of the month.




(I'm still yet to receive a single entry into the Micro Pic Competition ! You could have your artwork seen by a wider / different audience AND win a free coupon to an online Writing Course!)

----------

The Graft - (Daydreaming is well and good - you've got to have goals. But what have I actually done this month?)

Frustratingly inactive this month! It doesn't make a lot of sense. As discussed last month, I wanted to scale things down and just focus on MFS. While that is the case, for the most part, the reintroduction to the project was overbearing and almost paralyzing! I managed to eek out a bit of actual writing towards the end of the month, but it's become unnervingly clear that it's not going to be as straightforward as I'd like. I've got about ninety 'scenes' left to write for the first draft. But even writing just the one actually split into three...

According to Brandon Sanderson's lectures (more on that later) I'd say I'm mostly a 'discovery' writer that likes to think he's an 'outliner'. So when I have my neat frames and plot structures which take ages to construct, I'll be in the process of writing and suddenly actually putting pen to paper (literally, I like to do my first draft by hand) I'll get a few ideas that change EVERYTHING! Which means I doggedly finish the small section I'm working on, and then proceed to overhaul the entire project! It's massively time consuming, and also mentally exhausting, and then I'm at risk of walking away from the project for 'space', coming back after too long and oh here comes that lengthy reintroduction period again!

I do however feel the project grows stronger each time through the process. But I'm not the type of person who can churn out 'dead' text, just to have finished something. At least I know my foibles though right? Maybe one day I'll learn another way...

Ultimately not a lot has visibly happened. I finished the scene in question on the final day of August, coming out fourteen pages in my handwriting, which usually equates to about 250 words per page. So that's... something! Hopefully September will see an improvement!

Monthly Micros (Three pieces at 100 words each, set theme)
- Draft 1, Draft 2, Draft 3, Draft 4
- Submitted to Competition

Project X (Competition Short Story - ??? words)
- Nada! :(

MFS (Ongoing fantasy series, broken down into scenes, plus any note overhauls)
- Reformatted and overhauled Noting system of everything to this point (but not beyond active chaps)
- Typed up all produced so far, formatted into Kindle for easier re-reading
- Creation - One scene! :(

Bigger Project (Aside from MFS *MFS1 currently occupies this slot until I can finish the first draft!*)
- Nada! :(

TfTT (Special project)
-Nada! :(

Micro Pics (One Micro Pic taken from last month's best reaction to recent three Micros, plus one pic generated from archives)

This month, the popular Pic was of course 'Binnie', and the archived Pic was 'Last Ride'. Don't forget, by voting on the Twitter poll each month, you can have an impact on which Micro gets 'The Complete Treatment'! :)



Peripheral Tasks of Note
Devising this very post!
- Desperately trying to come up with a new timetable...

----------

What I've Read

**********


Finished the second in the 'Red Queen's War' series by Mark Lawrence this month. Fantastic stuff, and that ending! Last month I talked about how Snorri's tales gave the author his format for recounting the past as new material for the reader. This time around it falls on the main character, Prince Jalan, to fulfill that role and it's done expertly, and crucially, entirely feasibly. By this point in the story we've uncovered enough information about the past to want to know more, not as often happens an annoying sidetrack that we have to 'get through' until we get back to the good stuff, and the author delivers it seamlessly, the passing of the baton a really practical thing from a writer's viewpoint, but so effective in the storytelling too. So now, I've finally 'earned' my place at the foot of the third and final installment, 'The Wheel of Osheim'.

**********


Another story rattled off, I need to figure out a way to schedule my reading from the short story collections more often. The problem I think is that a lot of 'short stories' in this collection and collections in general are a little misleadingly titled. Maybe we all have different interpretations of the word 'short', but I would prefer to able to read a story in one sitting without having to allocate 'extra time'...

**********


See above...

----------

Useful Articles I've read

This should probably be re titled 'Useful Articles I've Watched'. On an email from Goodreads (which tell you about new posts from authors you follow) I spotted one about 'World Building' from Brandon Sanderson. I regard Brandon as the best world builder I've ever had the pleasure to read after an introduction from a friend to his 'Mistborn' series. The link was to a class he teaches that has been filmed for Youtube and was the fourth in the series. Captivated, I'm slowly caching up on the series, learning lots of potential techniques and terms in the process.

You can view them for yourself here - http://bit.ly/2bW2Fdj

Aside from that, I'll just quickly mention Dan Purdue again, as he had some success recently, finishing on the shortlist for a competition held by Writing Magazine and Just Write - having his story put in print as well being invited to a reception evening to announce the winner. The fact he blogged about it is invaluable for writers like me looking up, as it's not a million miles from what I hope to be the next step in my development, so little windows into the world of a successful writer both educate and inspire. Similarly, he also blogged about his attendance to the Curious Arts Festival which provides a similar effect.

You can read his account about the competition evening here - http://bit.ly/2bVcjLO
And his visit to the Curious Arts Festival here - http://bit.ly/2bVcjLO

----------

Competition Results + Reader Contributions

I've yet to receive any entrants to the Micro Pic Competition that I run on this site! :( Don't forget you can get more exposure for your artwork, and even win a free coupon to an online writing course!

At time of writing, the current Competitions that are open are;

     


The results of this month's Twitter poll, regarding which of the three Micro Fictions you liked best, was a tie between 'Sentence' and 'Sunken Valley' with one vote apiece! Always interesting when the tide goes against the one that the judge of a competition chose! (I am painfully aware that both votes may be cast by spam bots, Twitter uses anonymity on their vote polls!)


----------

Any Other Business

So I got the results back from Project 4's competition this month, and sadly, I didn't make the top six. I have no problem with that. I do however, feel a little misled. It's my own fault, you should always be cynical to avoid disappointment. That may not be a happy way to lead your life, I'll admit, but sometimes it's a necessary way to cope in an industry grounded in continual rejection.

So you may remember, I entered partially because I was drawn in by the promise of publication. Every entry guaranteed! It boasted. Who knows? I thought. Maybe somebody new, aside from the judges I'm paying, will cast my story a glance and tell me they enjoy my writing! Which may have been the case if they were presented as a free giveaway eBook collection, or a recommended article sent out on a weekly email and with third party backing or announcement. Maybe not however, if you just list 289 entrants in an alphabetic list on a static webpage. As expected, the shortlisted have a few shares and comments, but a quick glance at a few other entries show that's where exposure seems to end.

 Yes, if I hadn't been so needy at time of submission I'd have chosen against publication so I could rework the story for another competition. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out though, so I'll be posting 'Picture Perfect' to the site at some point in the near future, and removing it from my active project list. I'm still waiting on the judges critique I paid extra for, so I'll reserve judgement on the overall degree of uselessness until such a time.

----------

Outro

Thanks for reading! I'm thinking of trying a tactic to devote one day a week to a certain project. So TfTT Tuesday for example. I wonder if it will be nice to wake up thinking I can give it all to a certain project without feeling the guilt of neglecting what I should really be doing... We'll see how that goes! 

Until next time, buh-bye!

__________

Follow me on Twitter - www.twitter.com/PaulJIsaac

"Like" my page on Facebook - http://on.fb.me/HKJOXk

Follow me on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/paul106i/