Monthly Archives: April 2019

Waterfalls

My latest serial chapter for the Story Mint. Check in and follow the serial so far.

https://www.thestorymint.com/serials/waterfalls


Annie stood trembling, her back to the door. With one hand over her mouth and eyes closed, she waited for the rapping knuckles to stop and leave her alone. But they didn’t. She was frightened. Whoever was outside her door was impatient and probably violent. 
Unable to contain her fear any longer, Annie turned and shouted. “Go away…go away. I’m an olden. Leave me alone. Bugger off ya swine.”
The rapping stopped, and Annie’s sigh of relief was cut short and turned into a piercing scream as the door splintered with a loud crash.
A hand grabbed Annie around her throat, forcing her into silence. Pushed back into the room, she looked into steely blue eyes and a mass of black hair. The gruff voice sent shivers through her.
“Where is it? What have you done with it?”
Annie choked, her frightened eyes looking at the threatening face inches from hers.
“I dunno what yer talkin’ ‘bout. Leave me alone,” she said, defiantly.
The stranger’s voice changed and took on a more conciliatory tone. “Look, lovey, you look as though you could do with some green.” He waved a hand across the room. “How about a grand…cash. I’ve got it here.”
The stranger pulled a roll of notes from his pocket. With a weak smile, he waved the roll in front of Annie.
“I told ya, I dunno what ya talkin’ about.” 
She winced and gasped as the stranger slapped her. A second sent her falling to the ground. She lay in a daze as the intruder stepped over her.
***
Lionel King disliked hurting the lady, but he had to get the painting. Thom was different. He had to be silenced. The two met while sharing a cell at Folsom, and Lionel soon regretted the work promise he made. After being hired to buy the painting and deliver it, Thom decided to keep it after hearing Lionel’s conversation with the buyer. 
“It’s Colin McCahon’s work and worth a million. Trouble is there are copies, so we need them all. The original has initials hidden in the waterfall.” 
Lionel was following Thom when the lad took the painting into the apartment instead of sticking to the plan. 
“Now where the hell is it?” he muttered. He found it a minute later under the bed.
***
Chief Inspector Karen Simonivic flicked the recording back and then froze the picture. A man she knew well entered the small art shop. “Lionel King, your not there to enjoy the art,” she muttered. “But you bought a painting. I wonder if it was called ‘Waterfall.”
Her cellphone buzzed. “Simonivic.”
Her partner, Lieutenant Rizzo, sounded tense.
“We got a real problem. The kid was in Folsom. Guess who his cellmate was?”
“You’re kidding.”
“Nope. Another thing. While I was getting a statement from his Uncle, the old girl you spoke to…she lives next door, had someone break in and slap her around.”
“Find out about that painting. I’m on my way.”P

comments

You captured the characters in their dialogue. It was great – short and snappy. My eye glided down the page and I was in the room. Really good read with plenty for the next writer to pick up on. – Suraya Dewing

Feedback is essential for writers

Giving writers useful feedback is a difficult thing to do. Readers are afraid they might offend and writers worry about upsetting another struggling writer.

Its hard to get a writing career off the ground

They know it’s hard enough to get a writing career off the ground without people saying in blunt terms what they think is wrong. To ask for feedback takes courage. Yet, getting people’s reactions is important. If you get feedback before you publish you might just avoid the horror of discovering some terrible mistake after the book is published.

The purpose of feedback is to assist a writer to create a compelling story. It is not designed to flatter nor should it make a writer feel inadequate. 

Receiving feedback is a critical part of a writer’s journey. Writers who give useful feedback do the writer a great service.

Without it, writers are left to work in a vacuum, not knowing what is going to engage a reader and what might make a reader yawn. As writers, we are close to everything we write and feedback can sometimes be quite confronting.

Writers write from a vulnerable place

That is because what we write comes from our vulnerable selves, a soft fleshy place that is prone to bleeding if prodded too harshly. Yet it is from this place, usually unseen by passers by, that writers produce their best work.

This gives writing authenticity. 

However, writing from our most vulnerable place gives writing authenticity. While getting feedback can be nerve-wracking, writers miss opportunities to attract readers if they do not seek it out. It is an opportunity to involve readers prior to publishing. Readers who have had input into a story feel a sense of ownership and they are more likely to buy the finished book. 

Involving readers

Involving readers in the writing process enables a writer to grow a following. This is important in itself. The world is awash with stories and only the best will survive. The most outstanding will rise to the top with the help of a following that feels involved in the writing process. 

This does not mean that writers compromise their story. Feedback should point out where the story did not deliver on its promise…not suggest an entirely new story line. 

There is a lot to consider when writing

There are so many things to consider when writing. For example, is the writing tight or floppy about the edges? Is there too much or too little dialogue? Is it convincing? Does the story have an inciting event that sets the story on its way? Does it have a convincing climax, a believable resolution…? Those are just a few points to consider. There are many more.

Constructive feedback

The Story Mint encourages readers to give writers feedback. The only stipulation is that the feedback be constructive and helpful. The serials enable writers to practice their storytelling skills and to hear from readers. Writers can leave more substantial pieces of work-in-progress on The Writers’ Pad. This is a place where writers can test the market before they publish…see how readers react. They can get private, more in-depth feedback through The Story Mint’s assessment service.

Here are six tips for giving feedback:

  • Start with at least one positive and end with a positive.
  • Be specific. For example, a writer is describing to characters arguing but you, as reader, are not convinced. Explain why.
  • Be constructive. Come up with examples of how someone might approach a problem area without giving them an alternative. Every writer must retain his or her own voice.
  • Be encouraging. A writer has worked long hours to produce the piece of writing you are reading, respect that.
  • Be clear. The clearer you are with your feedback the more you learn about the craft of writing and why you have reacted the way you have.
  • Be encouraging. We don’t want to leave writers feeling as if they should never write again.

Suraya Dewing is the CEO of The Story Mint and creator of Stylefitan automated feedback tool for writers.

The Bilderberg Diary

This is the latest novel I am working on. My popular hero, Enda Osin, returns in a mystery thriller involving an important diary that will blow the lid off a deadly plot hatched by some members of the secretive Bilderberg Society. I hope to publish by the end of the year.  

***

Adam watched Karla through the window until she walked to the end of the road and turned the corner. Nervous, his fingers fidgeted with the edge of the lace curtain, pulling it back an inch or two so he had a clearer vision of the road below in both directions. Across the city, a bell began to chime, joined unceremoniously by a wailing police siren. Two colored umbrellas flapped open below, catching his attention. The light rain that had persisted all afternoon turned heavy, and within a few seconds, the downpour was bouncing off the pavement. Both of the umbrellas unfurled as the women scurried up some steps and stood in an entrance to shield from the rai
It was then that Adam noticed a large dark green car turn the corner to his right. It stopped at the steps leading to his block of apartments. A man, shielding his head from the rain with an attaché case, slammed the door behind himself and headed up the steps. Adam breathed deeply and wished he had left with Karla. He moved swiftly to the apartment entrance door and stood still, listening for any noise in the hallway.
There was a soft ping as the lift doors opened. Adam tensed. Despite the carpeted hall, his ears picked up the sound of soft footsteps. He stood without moving and held his breath.

Suraya Dewing – This is brilliant Raymond! I could see the people, what they were doing and also sense the building tension. Loved it!

Joe Labrum – Wow, when will it be ready. Great tease from my favorite character.

Ripped from the Headlines

A new serial concept has just begun at the Story Mint; each chapter up to 1000 words. Follow using the link below.

Hubert Franshaw was sure he hadn’t seen things. After all, a couple in front of him had stopped, looked up and exchanged words before moving on. He took one last look up at the dark sky between the skyscrapers along Main Avenue and dug his cold hands into his jacket pockets. He stepped off the sidewalk and was about to cross the road when a harsh bright light accompanied by the loud noise of an engine and the dull whooshing of helicopter blades made him look up again. With a hand to shield his eyes, he squinted and watched amazed as the helicopter dived to within feet of the ground before rising with earsplitting noise back up between the buildings. Before it disappeared, Hubert noticed military markings and a figure sitting on the cabin floor with both legs hanging over the side.
After walking another block, three helicopters flew across the sky at rooftop level as Hubert
pushed his way through a crowd standing outside Rosie’s Diner. Above the hubbub, he found a corner table and sat with eyes fixed onto the TV screen above the counter. A news reporter was making the most of the “unusual military and police force anti-terrorism exercises.”
“Bullshit if you ask me,” snorted Miranda, a large black waitress. “They’re sayin’ this goes on around the country at all big cities all the time. Bullshit…they ain’t foolin’ me. This all goes back to Roswell if ya ask me.”
Miranda placed a mug on the table and poured coffee. Hubert nodded. The last thing he wanted to do was disagree with Miranda. She had a way of explaining how she was right and why at great length without drawing breath. This was not the time. He needed to think.
“Okay, honeybunch, you want your usual or tonight’s special. We got meatloaf and mash with a pile of fried onion…mmm-mmm.” Her big red lips then puckered into a wide grin.
Hubert nodded again, trying to listen to the newscaster. Whatever was happening was obviously being covered up. If this had been going on around the country for some time as suggested then why had there never been other news stories before that evening?“Hi, Hubert.” Penny Stuart, a fellow student, slid into the seat opposite Hubert and removed her gloves. “You look a little down. What’s up?” Removing her jacket over her shoulders, she flicked long blonde hair out of her eyes.
Both at nineteen, the pair had studied for three years together under Professor Long and were hoping for qualifications that would lead to a career in meteorology for Hubert and astronomy for Penny. Although there was no romantic connection, it was Penny who hinted now and again that friendship was not the only thing on her mind.
“My work was rejected by Professor Long,” he replied glumly. “He said it wasn’t good enough and needed more meat on the bone. Ever since his book was published, his head has been in the clouds.”
They both laughed as Hubert realized he had absent-mindedly caused a pun. Professor Long was a distinguished Meteorologist.
“Have you been listening to the news?” Hubert pointed to the TV. “I was buzzed by one of those helicopters tonight, right down the highway.”
“That’s not the only strange thing going on,” answered Penny. “It would appear that there are strange underground vibrations in various parts of the country too That is accompanied by subterranean booms. They have not said anything about that on the news. It certainly has nothing to do with earthquakes.”
“Maybe we should speak to the professor tomorrow and see what he thinks,” suggested Hubert. “I might get back onto his good side.”
***
The tall figure of Quinton Long strode along the university corridor towards his laboratory with a bundle of folders under one arm, and his raincoat slung over the other. His lined face was creased in a pained and concerned expression as he ignored several greetings from staff and students. He stepped into the lift and stabbed the button for the observatory on the top floor.
As the doors opened a moment later, Long was greeted by Hubert and Penny.
“Morning Professor, we wonder if you can spare us a minute?”
Without answering, Long looked past the pair. His face dropped and turned pale. Two men in military uniform elbowed past Hubert and stood in front of Long.
Long sighed. “Good morning General. I’m afraid my calculations were a little out yesterday but today we should-”
“We need you to come with us, Professor Long. The Director at Ground 29 is calling an urgent meeting.”
“I have work today. I can’t just drop everything.”
The General’s adjutant turned to Hubert. “On your way, you two.” He waved them away and handed Long an envelope.
“Orders, Professor.” He noticed the files in the professor’s hand. “I’ll take those. Are they reports on last night’s fiasco? Our side of things went well,” he said sarcastically. “Yours didn’t.”
Frustrated, the general tugged Long’s arm. “This can’t wait. We have three days before the lockdown, and we still haven’t perfected the line-up between the satellites and your damn climate exchanger. Our new government in wai…” He suddenly realized Hubert and Penny were within earshot. “Get out,” he barked.
Hubert pulled Penny to the top of the stairs with a finger over his lips. He whispered, “The news, Penny. The General was talking about last night’s exercise.”
She nodded. “What was he referring to…Ground 29? And what about a climate exchanger? Sounds like something funny is going on.”
“There are over 40 huge underground military installations across the country, all connected. Whatever is going on it involves the Pentagon at the highest level. He began to say there was a government in waiting. Would this be a military coup?”
Penny shook her head. “What would the professor’s invention and satellites have to do with a coup?”
“An invasion of some sorts.” Hubert thought for a moment. “We have to find out more about the exchanger and then find out where Ground 29 is.”

Follow the serial here  –  https://www.thestorymint.com/serials/ripped-headlines-1000-words-chapter

Neon City



Ray Stone 2002

Container port club in Grays Thurrock - this was the roughest night club


NEON CITY

Down in the depths of this living hell
A mass of writhing thighs
Flashing lights and glitter tights
No one wins a prize
Up on the street the men in black
Are lookin for some trouble
The face behind the counter smiles
Blink once he'll charge you double
 
Welcome to the Neon City
The music has just begun
Where coke and weed and cocktails
Are all fused into one
Welcome to the Neon City
Fools dance in time to E
And addicts, pimps and losers
Dream and fly in ecstasy
 
There's a big blonde giving out the drink
Her fingers on the pulse
DJ's talking to himself
Birthday bubbly's false
The noise is crashing off the walls
VIP's are getting high
The singer's playing her new track
There's some stardust in her eye
 
The man with no socks has just arrived
Handshakes all round, Mr cool
Bongos are tapping out of time
Johnny calls him fool
Pied piper plays and still they come
Dance till he pulls the plug
Into the pit of hell they go
The music is like a drug
 
Into the night past the midnight hour
Lights dance across the floor
Upstairs the drunks and riff-raff
Stagger through the door
Music plays, it's getting louder
Bleary eyes can't focus
Jack Daniels laughs, he's done his job
The city's full of jokers
 

 

Writers need Feedback

Giving writers useful feedback is a difficult thing to do.  Readers are afraid they might offend and writers worry about upsetting another struggling writer. It’s hard enough to get a writing career off the ground without people saying in blunt terms what they think is wrong.

The purpose of feedback is to assist a writer to create a compelling story. It is not designed to flatter nor should it make a writer feel inadequate.

Receiving feedback is a critical part of a writer’s journey. Writers who give useful feedback do the writer a great service.

Without it, writers are left to work in a vacuum, not knowing what is going to engage a reader and what might make a reader yawn.  As writers, we are close to everything we write. Our words come from our vulnerable selves, a soft fleshy place that is prone to bleeding if prodded too harshly. Yet it is from this place that writers produce their best work. This gives writing authenticity.

While getting feedback can be nerve-wracking, writers miss opportunities to attract readers if they do not seek it out. It is an opportunity to involve readers prior to publishing. Readers who have had input into a story feel a sense of ownership and they are more likely to buy the finished book.

Involving readers in the writing process enables a writer to grow a following. This is important in itself. The world is awash with stories and only the best will survive. The best will rise to the top with the help of a following that feels involved in the writing process.

This does not mean that a writer compromises the story. Feedback should point out where the story did not deliver on its promise…not suggest an entirely new story line.

There are so many ways writing can miss the mark. There are so many things to consider when writing. For example, is the writing tight enough or floppy about the edges? Is there too much or too little dialogue? Is it convincing? Does the story have an inciting event that sets the story on its way? Does it have a convincing climax, a believable resolution…?

The Creative Mind and Mental Health

Why is the public-at-large so adverse to people with mental illness?  Perhaps because of the darker side of humanity.  Some heinous crimes are committed by people who are mentally ill.  Those individuals are but a speck of dust in the overall population of people with mental illness, yet they get the most publicity due to their deeds. It is time to change the perception.

There are a host of creative and brilliant authors that suffered from mental illness and some created their best work while under the influence of the “dark.”   Following is a short burst of 7 Authors who committed (or rumoured to have committed) suicide due to depression or mental illness.

Earnest Hemmingway, perhaps the best-known author associated with suicide, sank into depression when his literary friends started to pass away, and his family suffered a series of unfortunate accidents, one leaving his son Patrick with a brain injury and mentally ill.  Hemmingway was instituted several times and endured electrotherapy. 

There is a historic debate as to whether he had committed suicide.  He was of very ill health and had extreme pain after a hip replacement.  He also suffered long-lasting effects of several exotic illnesses he contracted while he was abroad. Due to these situations, he had morphine available to him.  Some think it was self-inflicted, others an accident.  Either way, Hemingway known for his love of alcohol, smoke, and food was depressed, and yet wrote the most fantastical stories and poems.  My favorite- “The Old Man and the Sea.”  If by now you have not read that great piece of poetry, please look it up and enjoy.

At the age of 59, Virginia Woolf put rocks in her pockets and waded out into the River Ouse.  Drowning herself.  Her best-known works are “Orlando,” “Mrs. Dalloway” and “To the Lighthouse.”  She has become more famous in death than in life, as have most brilliant writers.  She had a mental breakdown early in life due to the death of her mother, and then a few years later, her step-sister who she looked upon as a mother-like figure.    She was instituted several times for severe depression and had episodes that today would be likened to Bi-Polar I disorder.  Unfortunately, there was no medication that treated these illnesses at that time in history.  She too suffered through several electrotherapy appointments.

Sylvia Plath won a posthumous Pulitzer for her collection of poems, “The Colossus and Other Poems” and “Ariel.”  She is also well known for her semi-autobiographical book “The Bell Jar.” She is one of the United States greatest writers. It is said, she told her downstairs neighbor to call the doctor right before she put her head in the oven and turned on the gas in 1963.  She was clinically depressed most of her life and had been institutionalized, again with several treatments of electroshock therapy.

John Kennedy Toole, a man who was unable to escape the apron strings of his domineering mother, who was always pushing him into the public eye when he was, in fact, a quiet introvert. 

He is best known for his comedy “A Confederacy of Dunces,” winning him a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1981. His manuscript was continually rejected by publishers as an uninteresting piece of literature while he was living.  These rejections are the catalyst for his delusions of persecution and depression.  Later it would develop into paranoia (Paranoid Personality Disorder). He was sure he was being followed and that someone was going to steal his manuscript, even though he had put it in a cupboard sure it was a failure. This paranoia led to even more bizarre behavior as his mental health deteriorated.    On March 26, 1969, at the age of 32, he drove to a secluded area and ran a garden hose from his exhaust to his car window.  Killing himself by carbon monoxide poisoning.  His mother found the manuscript and had it published in 1980. (no doubt the industry had matured since the 1960’s) It sold over 1.5 million copies and was printed in 18 different languages. 

After spending a year on the road with the Hells Angels, Hunter S. Thompson wrote his best-selling book “Hells Angels.”  He was loved by many of the Hollywood elites (his best friend being Johnny Depp who paid for Thompsons unusual memorial- blowing his ashes from a cannon).  Hunter who was suffering from depression over his advanced age, medical problems and according to his suicide note, the end of the football season; shot himself in the head on February 20, 2005.

The last two authors, both coming under the same “was it suicide” scrutiny as Mr. Hemmingway, are Jack London, the innovator for a genre later to be known as science fiction, and Percy Shelly (who happens to be a personal favourite) known best for his poem “The Spirit of Solitude”.  My favourite poem by Shelly- “Love’s Philosophy”:

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle-
Why not I with thine?

See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower could be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea; –
What are all this sweet work worth,
If thou kiss not me.”

Mental illness is an overall name for 4 major syndromes:  Bi-Polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Autism and Personality Disorders.  There are many spectrums to each of these major syndromes, and these syndromes overlap with each other.  Some are common amongst family members who shared emotinal trauma, while others are an unlucky parental lottery of DNA.  Mental illness is not a choice.  It is caused by an imbalance of naturally existing chemicals and hormones in the brain. Sometimes it is situational. An example of situational depression is extreme stress. Stress will cause a chemical imbalance in the brain.  When the stress is relieved, the brain will usually go back to normal function. The imbalance of brain chemistry can also be the result of head trauma.

With the recent increase in entertainment personalities committing suicide, I think it is important that the dialogue start.  I believe the best people to start this discussion are those who have been afflicted. 

Mental illness disorders run in my family. Most notably, Bi-Polar disorder. This spectrum also includes depression.  All my family members have a degree of depression.  A few of us have Bi-Polar disorder.  When people hear Bi-Polar, they immediately think of the hyper-mania which causes bizarre behaviour and depression so horrible that suicide is contemplated.  The highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  Bi-Polar II has fewer manic episodes and longer lasting depressive episodes.  Bi-Polar II episodes are not as severe as Bi-Polar I.   I have been diagnosed with Bi-Polar II. 

I feel strongly about wiping out the mental illness stigma.  My circle of support exists because I am not afraid to educate people about my situation.  I do not feel ashamed.  I do not want pity.  I do not want sympathy.  I want understanding.  Mostly, I want people to understand that mental illness is not a choice.  Do not think that if we force ourselves to smile that happiness will follow.  That certainly did not work for the late Robin Williams. 

While some people who do criminal acts may have a mental illness, not all people with mental illness do criminal acts.  Many in fact are creative geniuses, some people would argue because of their mental illness.

 In large, we are not bad people.  We are people who want to be accepted, not ignored.