In the Beginning…

A few weeks ago I mentioned the Writer’s Curse: that odd brain aberration that affects all artists, but especially those at the beginning of their creative careers, in which one’s appreciation of one’s chosen artform means that you’re never convinced that you can do as well as all these other writers you’ve read and adored over the years.

It’s a toxic mindstate, sufficiently removed from self-awareness to be its own debilitating and debasing thing. It’s unfair for a newbie to be compared to someone who has been in the game for decades. It’s unfair for anybody to expect a similar level of skill from somebody who is fresh onto the scene. Such people are few and far between. Most of all, it is unfair when new artists put such high expectations on themselves.

Luckily, I have a solution…

Pick a writer you admire – any writer, though preferably one who has been around the block a bit. Let’s say twenty years of back catalogue as a minimum. Now, scour your collection, or Amazon, or wherever else you can  think of, and pick up their earliest work. Okay?

Now, read it.

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‘The Cult of Ocasta’ by Mark Allan Gunnells (2017)

Author: Mark Allan Gunnells
Title: The Cult of Ocasta
Released: 2017
Publisher: Evil Jester Press
Format: Kindle, 288 pages
Type: novel
Genre: horror

Years have passed since Emilio Gambrell fought the creature that lives in the Quarry on the edge of the Limestone College campus, but he remains ever vigilant. Ready in case he is called to fight again.

That time has come. Worshippers of Ocasta, the name given to the ancient entity, are gathering, intent on helping him rise from his watery prison and once again torment humankind.

Emilio will come face to face with his worst fears while trying to figure out who in his life can be trusted and who may be an enemy in disguise.

A showdown is coming, and Emilio can only pray he is ready to battle not only the creature itself but THE CULT OF OCASTA…

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‘The 3rd Spectral Book of Horror Stories’ edited by Joseph Rubas (2016)

Author: Various [edited by Joseph Rubas]
Title: The 3rd Spectral Book of Horror Stories
Released: 2016
Publisher: Spectral Press
Format: Kindle, 227 pages
Type: anthology
Genre: horror

‘Foreword: A Word on Fear’ by Joseph Rubas (2016)
‘Huenco Mundo (Hollow World)’ by Dan Weatherer (2016)
‘Lacey’ by David Wellington (2016)
‘Portfolio’ by A. H. Day (2016)
‘Dysfunctional’ by William F. Nolan (2016)
‘Playthings’ by Eugene Johnson (2016)
‘Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion’ by Lou Antonelli (2016)
‘Sins of the Father’ by Mark Allan Gunnells (2016)
‘Cotton Face’ by Dan Weatherer (2016)
‘Disappearing in the Desert’ by Billie Sue Mosiman (2016)
‘It Knocks’ by Paul Longmate (2016)
‘The Eyes Have It’ by Tim Major (2016)
‘Boat Trip’ by David A. Riley (2016)
‘And the Woman Loved Her Cats’ by S. L. Edwards (2016)
‘The Day the Leash Gave Way’ by Robert Clarke (2016)
‘The Door into Envy’ by Adrian Cole (2016)
‘Penelope’s Song’ by Samuel Marzioli (2016)
‘Government Work’ by Richard Farren Barber (2016)
‘Static’ by Dave-Brendon de Burgh (2016)
‘”Grave ‘Neath a Willow”’ by Alexander G. Tozzi (2016)
‘Trigger Fate’ by Lisa Morton (2016)
‘Coulrophilia’ by Jason V. Brock (2016)
‘Beyond the Grave’ by Alex Marco (2016)

Twenty-two tales that will keep you up long past the midnight hour and will etch fear into your very being.

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Topping up the Toolbox

A couple of days ago, I downloaded the trial version of Scrivener, a writing tool/word processor/project management thingamajig.

Yeah, I can’t really explain it any more than that. Basically, it takes all the organisational side of long-form writing (character sketches, scene cards, plot outlines, research and the like) and digitises it so that you have it all in one easily navigable program on your laptop. It means that you can make instant amendments to the story, hop backwards and forwards between scenes, change the entire layout of the story to one better suiting,  if that’s what you need to do.

That, at least, is the theory.

I’ve only played around with it a little bit, and it’s certainly a versatile piece of kit. There are so many options and tools, settings and configurations that I imagine you could do anything you want within the limits of text on paper. However, at this  early stage, it’s also a little bit daunting.

However, I get thirty days before I have to decide whether or not to invest in the beast, so I’m going to write my next couple of stories using the software, to  see if it works alongside my traditional approach.

We shall see…

‘Outliers: 2016’ edited by James Fadeley (2016)

Author: Various [edited by James Fadeley]
Title: Outliers: 2016
Released: 2016
Publisher: Thunderbird Studios
Format: Kindle, 462 pages
Type: anthology, mosaic novel
Genre: superhero, science fiction

‘Introduction’ by James Fadeley (2016)
‘Iridescent’ by James Fadeley (2016)
‘A Bloody Business’ by Jonathan Ward (2016)
‘Subject: England Situation’ (2016)
‘The Line’ by Alec McQuay (2016)
‘The Los Angeles Incident’ (2016)
‘A Deal in Ajo’ by James Fadeley (2016)
‘Subject: Can’t Make It Tonight. Sorry.’ (2016)
‘Heartfire’ by Robbie MacNiven (2016)
‘Legion Funding’ (2016)
‘The New Pantheon’ by A. R. Aston (2016)

“We’re losing control.

Director Zimmerman won’t admit it of course, but the projections are bad news in all directions. Outliers, men and women of extraordinary talents, are exploding in numbers across the globe thanks to the new drug “Illumination.”

We think the clandestine group “Legion” is responsible for spreading the substance, but not for producing it. And they’re not the only ones on the move, as others are playing in the shadows. AURA has begun operating in other countries, and our network is growing to match that of the CIA. But I can’t shake my gut feeling that we’re making a mistake, that we’re spread too thin to see what’s really coming.

The future is a jigsaw puzzle that we try to rearrange into something pleasing, but the image it’s taking is horrible…”

–Dr C. Reynolds, PhD

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The Writer’s Curse

I could have written the artist’s curse as a title, I suppose. God knows it’s not only writers who suffer from it: musicians, directors, actors, artists, illustrators, poets, photographers. Anybody and everybody who is drawn to the arts knows what I’m talking about.

You see, if you’re a creative type, it’s almost a given that you’re drawn to your particular vocation because you love the artform. Indeed, why else would you embark upon such an enterprise? The money? Ha! The fame? Double-ha! The adulation and adoration of fans? Well… maybe…

For most, it is a love of the art form that first stirs the desire to produce something in their particular arena. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, and have had a love of writing for almost as long as that. As the years have gone by, my passion has bloomed and blossomed, encompassing more than just the words themselves, but matters of plotting, tropes, etymology, characterisation, story arcs, plot devices, dialogue and… well, you get the picture I’m sure.

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New Story: The Flesh Is Weak

My last story – NIGHT STORIES – was not strong enough to make it into the finals of  the Tiny Terrors Tournament… so it goes.

I had already written another 50-worder to use if I had made it to the final round but, since it was not to be, I decided to submit it a site that seemed custom-made for the job: 50-Word Stories.

Got the email through this morning, from editor Tim Sevenhuysen, that it’s been accepted, and would be going live later today.

And here it is – enjoy.


The Long and the Short of It

And so, the DarkFuse magazine Tiny Terrors Tournament has come to an end for me. Like any true Englishman, I was knocked out before the finals, in my case by the very-talented Evan Dicken.

I’d like to thank everybody who voted for me in the three rounds through which I survived. In total I amassed almost 450 votes on my journey to the semi-finals, for which I’m most grateful. Moreover, these three stories (and another I’d already written, which I now have to find a home for) mark my first writing projects for the year, so there’s certainly something in that.

Plus, you know, I got paid. $12 for 150 words published. That’s 8 cents a word: nothing to be sneezed as I take my tentative steps towards a more rounded writing career.

More importantly, I’ve got four pieces of nanofiction of which I am extremely proud. Flash fiction is an art form, and one that’s far from easy to write in.

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An Interview with Monica J. O’Rourke

And so we reach the end of Women in Horror month, and what better way to wrap things up than with the doyenne of darkness, the savant of splatter and, indeed, the viscountess of vileness… the one, the only… Monica J. O’ Rourke.



Kevin G. Bufton: It’s Women in Horror month, so I guess the first place to start is this: limitations of genre aside – do you classify yourself as a horror writer?

Monica J. O’Rourke: Actually, since I believe horror is an emotion (Google Douglas Winter and that phrase, you six people who never heard of it), I feel it applies to almost everything we write. Horror as a category didn’t exist before the 1980s as far as books are concerned. I believe books were just labeled as fiction before some bookstore (B&N perhaps?) came up with a new category. So I write horror, but I don’t necessarily consider myself a horror writer.

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