Tag Archives: Writing

Out of Africa – The holiday of a lifetime

29 Jun
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The stunning view from Rourke’s Drift Lodge, as the sun began to sink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The ‘Twelve Apostles’ of the Drakensburg mountains on the way through the Sani pass into Lesotho.

South Africa to be exact.

So I’d say this is by some way the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited, it’s bursting with boundless terrain, Middle Earth-level mountain ranges, endless forest plantations and some of the happiest and friendliest folk you’ll ever meet.

This was a trip in which I breathed in a great deal of history, visiting battlefields predominantly from the Anglo-Boer and Anglo-Zulu wars, as well as visiting the Nelson Mandela capture site where he was arrested in 1962. It was most interesting to hear accounts of these historic conflicts from a local perspective, as opposed to the largely ‘colonial history’ that so often dominates the global dialogue.

As a writer and as a person, it opens you up when you visit anywhere particularly unfamiliar. Absorbing the sights, sounds and smells of another country encourages you to think differently, and helps you embrace that ‘otherness’ of things you have never experienced before.

If you’ve never been on a safari, I highly recommend it. We set out at 6 AM around Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, which is the oldest proclaimed game reserve in all of Africa and we saw the most incredible sights. A herd of buffalo dashing across the road in front of us, several groups of giraffes hogging the road also as well as sightings of elephants, white rhinos, nyala, wildebeest, zebras, impala, monkeys and beautiful bird species such as the African fish eagle.

Of the most memorable moments from the trip was visiting Emdomeni Cat Rehabilitation Centre where I had the great privilege of stroking a fully-grown cheetah. The fur on the back of his neck was really course and fluffy and I learned that cheetahs purr really deeply. Completely unforgettable. It’s tragic though that the cheetah population is in such jeopardy, with infertility and inbreeding both posing huge problems for the specie. In a few generation’s time, I sure hope that people still have the opportunity to experience what I did these past couple of weeks.

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Welcome…to Giraffic Park!

The last-hurrah to this adventure was a two hour horseback ride through the ‘Forgotten Valley’ of the Drakensburg Mountains. I rode a horse once, about nine years ago, so I really didn’t know what I was doing when I saddled up. Despite this I ended up galloping – yes, actually galloping – across the flat fields of the valley. But not up the narrow winding paths up the hillside, no, we walked nice and slowly up those. It was a warm, dry day, with deliciously clean air and the smells of wildflowers all around as the mountains rolled off into nowhere.

I wish to thank Thomson’s Africa for an unparalleled holiday experience, and the incomparable Siboni, our guide, for sharing his vast knowledge of his country with us, driving us over a thousand kilometers and for making us laugh with his brilliant anecdotes and cheeky sense of humour. For now, though, it’s back to writing Robot Wrestler’s in Space, and marketing my steampunky Kindle E-book offering, ‘Voudou and the Machine,’ which as always can be found right HERE.

Thanks for reading, WordPressers! Keep on keeping on.

Before I go though, I’d like to ask; where have YOU been that you feel has really changed you as a person? I’d genuinely like to know what your experience was, and why it had such an effect on you. Just stick it in the comments. Nice one.

 

Photo credits: Evie Wolfe

 

 

Robot Wrestlers In Space – Writing My First Novel?

2 Jun

I might be writing my first novel, but I’m not entirely sure. 

 

The word “Novel” might be five letters long, but to me it is one of the biggest words because it represents a great unknown for me. It is the summit of Everest, it is the Challenger Deep, a potential Pandora’s box of plot-holes, loose ends and unrestrained waffle. 

I am a writer of short stories. They’re easier for me because once I start to write them I soon find myself stumbling into the ending. But what if ‘Robot Wrestlers In Space’ doesn’t develop an ending? What if, once started, it sucks me into a self-replicating vortex of tangential plot generation from which I never escape, inevitably leading to a coffee-soaked demise, slumped in a chair smothered in cat hair and the crumbs of old biscuits? 

I often talk myself out of things. I think most of us do. But I have already written the first 5000 words of this for my MA degree spring semester. The next 14,000 words shall constitute my final dissertation. Will I finish the story by then, or will I be left staring into the gaping jaws of an unfinished narrative? An orphan fragment of something potentially greater?

My lecturer told me not to concern myself, and to “let the story be what it wants to be.” 

‘Are you crazy?’ I thought. It’s going to eat my life. ‘Robot Wrestlers In Space’ will tear a hole in my existence; I will wind up 94 years old, scrawling the last paragraph with what remains of my blood using an old quill pen on the thick padded walls of my own personal hell.

Or, you know, the whole process might turn out to be rather fun and rewarding. 

 

 

Venturing into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

11 May

 I have dipped my toes into the seething, bubbling ocean of digital publishing for the first time. 

I’m a bit lost guys and girls. 

 

My first babies to fly the nest are a couple of shorts I wrote for my masters degree at the university Nottingham – ‘Voodou and the Machine’ and ‘Lab Rats.’ I uploaded them both onto Amazon Kindle as a combined package for the minimum price I was allowed to – $2.99 (£1.80 GBP). I shared my venture on the ol’ Bookface, and one kindly soul agreed to bite and check it out. That’s £1.30 of royalties in the back for Jack. Strange how much that one sale means, you know, that someone actually shelled out some hard-earned cash for some stuff I made up in my head. Feels good, I tell ya. 

At the time of writing – stardate, the 11th May – it’s the only sale i have. That’s because I’ve only done half the work. Writing fiction and getting onto KDP is the first step, but then you’ve market the darn thing. This is where I find myself just treading water. In my professional life I’ve flogged a ton ‘o junk for other folks, but never something of my own creation. 

The ocean stretches far and wide, and all I have this rubber dinghy and a Fischer-Price telescope with which to navigate its choppy waters. It time to learn to ride the waves. 

If there is anybody out there, this is my S.O.S. Let’s ride those waves together. 

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JDL4B8Y is the golden link. If you like Scifi, Steampunk and the like, with dark tendencies then I’d really appreciate you checking out the free preview to Voudou and the Machine. It’s an attempt at a strong female protagonist from the 1st person, something I don’t feel I’ve seen enough of in the genre. 

 

Have a nice day, WordPressers and let me hear your thoughts! 

 

 

 

 

 

Trifextra Writing Challenge: ‘On the count of three…

14 Oct

“This weekend we are challenging you to write 33 of your own words to build upon the following:

On the count of three…

You can choose to include those words if you want, but they do not count toward the 33 words of your own”.

Challenge accepted.

 

Four,’ said The One.

‘You were supposed to tear its heart out,’ said Void.

‘Its beat is stronger than I,’ said the One. ‘The Music cannot die.’

The Void let loose the bagpipes.

http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/  made me do it.

Fire and Shadow

6 Oct

The fire still burns

 

Fire shouts. Shadow listens. In time, Fire fatigues while Shadow is sleep itself, feeding from Fire, engulfing, until only their legacy, Embers, Ashes and Smoke remain.

 

Is Shadow, then, the father? Patient, eternal. While Fire is creation, a bright transitory mark on the world that screams her passion, and is extinguished?

A Shadow, however, is merely the ghost of something. The cold plagiarist, existing only in tandem. Not so eternal after all, perhaps?

 A Fire is an idea, making one thing become another. Shadow, then, is memory. What we keep behind us and can never cast off  until the Smoke comes. Ideas breed memories, a subtle incest that shapes the world.

 
What we are left with is more Ashes, more Smoke, but more Embers.

 

‘A Thaumaturge In Love: Part One’

1 Oct

A randomly-generated story plot courtesy of http://www.seventhsanctum.com

“This story takes place in a university town on a world artificially created by magic. In it, a pragmatic fire fighter falls madly in love with a nun in love with someone of another species.”

This is Part One. There will be more.

A Thaumaturge in Love

‘Fire! Fire!’ The words shouted by a disembodied voice brought John Steinman running into the cavernous thaumadrome, where his apprentice squad were co-summoning a vectorcraft in which to speed them on their way. Holding out his hands, he shot out purple-red sparks, pooling his mana with theirs to hasten the build.

In less than a minute, the thaumaform was ready to take the fire fighters to the scene of disaster at the Cloister of the Sacred Star. The four-strong crew climbed in to the shiny red airship, cast the necessary runes of protection, and shot away.

John upbraided his apprentices whilst the ship punched through the clouds separating the university students from everybody else. ‘Who is going to explain to me, then, why I find a vectorcraft being summoned in the thaumadrome whilst the alarm is sounding?’

John waited as the three youngsters wilted into their seats, stretching the moment out until somebody broke. Worth Fowler, a pale young man sitting in front with curly brown hair said something like, ‘Mumblemrmbr…Inebriziono…’  Barnabus Brent punched him hard in the ribs.

‘So I’m to assume’ said John, ‘that the future of this nation’s lifeline division has been up all night, drinking potions, smoking scrolls, and having careless, unlicensed sexual relations?’ A telling silence followed. ‘And how is the future of this nation’s lifeline division feeling today?’

An unconvincing chorus of ‘not bad’ formed the reply. Worth was sick into his hands.

‘And where, exactly, are the Noctorum twins? In fact, I don’t even want to know. Not after last time.’

The Cloister was consumed with thick black flame, spilling blood-red thaumasmoke into the burning night sky. Hundreds of fire-fighters were already there, pouring their purple mana into the building, negating the accumulated dark energies that had caused this blaze. John hustled his apprentice squad, the 145th division, to the front.

Various ecclesiastical figures spilled out of the high-vaulted edifice of conjured stained glass and steel, their tall hats clutched in one hand and robes hoiked up with the other as they ran for their lives. One particularly distressed high-priest had been ignited, his vestments billowing around him with the black fire before a trio of fire fighters pinned him down, wrapping him in thaumaphagic foil.

The immense size of the fire was the perfect opportunity for John to teach his apprentices some valuable fundamentals; how to pace yourself, with controlled breathing, pooling your mana accurately with your team, focusing  the mind to keep your energy pure.

Jozy Teaguin showed herself to be the most promising apprentice. The quietest among them, she simply got the job done, maintaining a steady, controlled stream of mana most of the time. Blind in both eyes, Jozy had an intimate knowledge of her surroundings, and had learned to diversify her magical talents to an alarming extent given that she was only 18. Beastlore was her favourite, but John was concerned that some way down the line, this careful, soft-spoken prodigy would come to step on the wrong person’s toes, and things would go badly for her.

John lamented the lost cause that was Barnabas Brent. ‘Barn’ was a giant of a young man, and had picked up the brazen habit of ‘shouting’ his mana; that is, expelling the purple-red magic material through his mouth rather than channelling it properly. A popular practice amongst young lads mostly, ‘shouting’ had the unfortunate side-effect of, over time, turning one’s insides to the consistency of bladderfish stew.

And then there was Worth. Poor, pale little Worth. The first time John Steinman saw Worth he declared, on the spot, that the boy had ‘The inherent magical ability of a soggy bunnysprout.’ Not exactly Lifeline Division material, but Worth had very wealthy parents.

Hours later, architects were hard at work putting the place back together. Spires rose up out of green mana streams, curling upwards into twisting cone shapes, becoming sometimes steel, othertimes glass, with occasional blackbrick. Seeing things being built would always hold a fascination with John. His father had been an architect, and whenever he saw them at work, it always got him to wondering.

As they sat, lunching on a park bench and soaking up the sun only a few lengths away from the steaming cloister, John and the 145th division were approached by a clutch of breathless nuns, clucking with gratitude, compliments, and prayers. There were about eight of them, their faces looking like little white eggs wrapped in blankets.

Wicker-hatch baskets brimming with meats, vegetables, fruits and confections appeared from somewhere in their many layers of habitments and were placed at John’s feet while he sat there feeling absurd and awkward, nodding his head and smiling a whole lot. Barn and Worth both had a bit of a chuckle to themselves at John’s discomfort, but Jozy just nibbled an apple, her mind elsewhere.

John thanked the nuns for their kind words, prayers, and perishable gifts, and replied that the Sisterhood of the Sacred Star would be in his prayers also. John was a religious man himself, up to a point, this being the point at which nobody was looking. He had no real faith in the Great Benevolent Star-King, but figured that, logically, it was only practical to make the occasional sacrifice and supplication just in case he was wrong.  Also, with the way things were these days, it never hurt a man’s prospects in the land of the living to be seen as being conspicuously pious in public. In this way, John had both his immortal soul and corporeal body pretty well covered.

As the nuns eventually bowed their heads and took leave to go off and do their holy duties, one of them hung back just a little longer than the others to sidle up to John and whisper something fleeting into his ear.

Part Two coming soon.

Sleepless – A Waking Nightmare. With Bananaman, a leopard, and Mustaine.

27 Sep

 

I have been depriving myself of sleep lately. Brain say make posty click on Pressword. Better to write for a brief time typing tittle-tattle, than much more time blanking empty MS Word pages, shunning my creative duty like a diseased aunt.

Hence the following.

 

 Sleepless – A Waking Nightmare

 

With hornet-stung eyes I plunge my face into a large plastic bowl of fresh coffee. Burn. Honestly, I feel better now. The shapes are making sense, talking even. Like a chatty leopard.

Wait, I don’t own a leopard. Oh, this is my blanket, it just looks kinda leopardy from where I’m standing…wait, crouching…actually I should just lie here.

There are snakes under my sofa. Ah yes, now I remember. The cobra party, on…I think it was Sunday? No. Not snakes. Amp leads! For the noisings of ill-conceived tequila stunts through electric pickups, with too much…Disdain? Sustain? Mustaine?

Does that make sense to you? Mirror-man has pretty eyes, but an ugly mirror. Get a new mirror and toastie maker! Consciousness streaming wet like mayonnaise angels smeared onto the side of a parallel-parked DeLorean.

Word of the day! – Parallelogram. Lellolellolellogram. The word stretches into the far-flung future like a banananana-man. I remember Banana Man.

Do you?

Make way for Prince Ali!

So tired.