A free short story, just for you.

For those who don’t know…

I am Paul White, a multi-genre author of fiction, non-fiction, and semi-fiction.

Many of my short stories are available under the ‘Electric Eclectic’ brand, some are eBooks, others paperback collections, while a growing number are those wonderful Pocketbook Paperbacks that are increasingly popular because of their size, as they really do fit into your pocket. Perfect for reading while commuting or away on vacation.

You can find my books on Amazon and many other bookstores. All are shown on my website

Now, on with the story.

This one is titled ‘Free Spirit’, enjoy.


FREE SPIRIT

.

When I walked into the apartment, I knew this project was going to be fraught with difficulties.

Firstly, the place has been unoccupied for some time; a musty dampness prevailed its entirety. I sensed this staleness was not simply neglect but an ethereal odour of others’ lives, of previous tenants.

Secondly, there were many pieces of furniture still in situ; old, dusty brocade curtains hanging at the windows, personal effects, a small trinket box sitting on the dark wooden sideboard, a silver-backed hand mirror laid on the dresser, and a time-worn leather-bound book on a side table, near the musty, torn chintz-covered armchair, all emitting a staleness of abandonment.

Before I could start the repairs and redecoration, I would have to clear all this old junk from the building. That would involve putting in some extra hours, late nights I had not planned. I was sure the extra effort would be worth it in the end because it is not often one can find such a large home for such a low rent in a neighbourhood of this stature.

On Friday, after work, I hurried to the apartment, eager to begin the clear-out and clean-up.

Once achieved, I could start on the repairs. Tearing off the old wallpaper, ripping up the musty carpets, filling the holes where pictures once hung, all that sort of stuff.

Then I would be in the position to begin to decorate what was to be my new home, my first home.

Fresh paint, light colours on the walls, modern, sleek, designer-style furniture, new light fittings, and mirrors. I like mirrors, they lighten even the dullest corners. I wanted the place to be what I can only describe as understated urban chich.

I was excited.

Tonight, I would be alone. My friends, the ones who offered to help, were all out on the town, or so they said. I don’t blame them for not being here today, after all, it was a Friday night.

Tomorrow, I had promises, commitments from them. I would have a small troop of workers grafting away all day in return for cold beer and snacks, oh, and pizza at the end of the day.

But tonight, it was just me.

My first task was to wrestle the largest items of furniture into a group by the lounge door, so my team of workers could easily carry them out to the skip, which was due by eight o’clock in the morning.

I was surprised by the weight of the old furniture. I’m uncertain if it was Mahogany or Oak, but it took all my effort to ‘waltz’ it across the room. No wonder the previous occupiers had left it where it stood.

By the time I had shifted all the pieces, I was sweating from the effort.

Opening the window did not cool me down. The air was too heavy and humid, and too weak to do more than slightly move those heavy curtains.

It was now midnight, but before I finished for the day, I wanted all the drapes removed, the litter from the floors swept and binned. I wanted this room ready for paper stripping, and carpet removal.

By the end of the weekend, I would be happy if this room and the hallway were ready for my creative attention. If I could get at least one of the two bedrooms stripped too, well, that would be a bonus.

Right now, my stomach was grumbling. I needed to eat. Anyway, it was time to take a break. A stroll to the all-night cafe on the corner, where I could grab a coke, a sandwich, a pork pie, or toasted sandwich. It would do me the world of good to eat something.

Once in the café, I decided I would be wasting time if I stayed to eat, so I carried my refreshments back to the apartment.

Wearily lowering myself into the tatty chintz armchair, I froze. Looking around the room in disbelief. The coke slipped from my grasp, spilling over the threadbare carpet.

The furniture, and I mean all the furniture I spent the last few hours moving into a group close to the doorway, was now back in its original position.

It was as if I had not moved a single item.

The window was closed, the curtains still, the lingering scent of neglect somehow stronger than before.

There was something more.

I could hear a faint melody floating into the room. Trumpets, brass. Smooth music. Perhaps a nineteen-forties swing band?

I shook my head, trying to gather my thoughts. This was not possible.

I moved the furniture. Placed it by the door.

I was trying to convince myself I had not, purely for my sanity.

The music was playing softly.

Surely it was coming from another apartment. Yet it sounded far closer, emanating from somewhere in this apartment.

Maybe I was overtired. Whatever; I needed to get a grip on myself.

I followed the sound, walking slowly along the hallway until I was outside the room where the music was coming from.

Someone was playing a joke on me. My friends have seen me leave, deciding it would be funny to mess with my head.

Angrily I snatched open the door, ready to yell at whoever was doing this, whoever found it funny to try and scare me.

The volume from the gramophone blasted out a crackling version of Chattanooga Choo Choo as I stepped into the room.

I halted, standing stock still.

I could not comprehend what I was seeing. This room was perfect. A nineteen-forties parlour. No damp, no faded wallpaper, no rotting furniture.

It was bright, new, perfect.

“Come in, David,” she said, “sit yourself down. I have been waiting for you.”

To my right, I saw a handsome-looking woman. She was wearing a flowing evening gown, long white gloves, and a pearl necklace.

In front of me, a well-ordered room, brightly lit and warm. Behind me, a cold dank hallway, the discoloured wallpaper peeling from the walls.

This was surreal.

“Don’t be shy,” she said, “come, sit, enjoy some champagne.”

She was holding out a wide-rimmed coupe glass at arm’s length. Hesitantly, feeling I had little option, I took the glass from her hand.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Oh, you young people, you are always in such a hurry,” she replied, smiling, and lifting her glass towards mine.

We touched glasses. Automatically I said, “Cheers.”

She smiled at me again, replying with a “Chin, chin.” She sipped her champagne without wetting her dark red lips.

I sat, bolt upright, in a small chair, and as nervous as hell. She lay back, relaxing on a chaise lounge opposite my chair.

If I were dreaming, this was far too real.

The woman spoke. “So, you want to move into my home, to come and live with me. Do you, David?” Her eyes were firmly focused on mine.

“There must be some confusion,” I said, “I have just bought this apartment, it’s mine.”

“Oh no, David,” she answered, shaking her head, “It will never be yours, it belongs to me, and forever will.”

 “I don’t understand,” I replied.

 She nodded understandingly, reaching out, placing a gloved hand on my knee, patting me like a reassuring aunt.

“My husband built this building back in the early 1930s. I have lived here ever since the day it was completed. I shall never leave. Now, I like you, David. You are a fine young man, so I am willing to let you stay if you wish to share my home with me?”  She left the sentence hanging.

I sat motionlessly, my mouth ajar. I did not know what to say.

“Well, David” she prompted, “what have you to say?”

“This place, it’s a mess, all old and rotting. I need to clean it up, do repairs, redecorate, get new furniture… except this room, your room, its lovely, I mean it’s really nice.” I knew I was gabbling, the words tumbling from my mouth faster than I could think.

“Oh, David.” She said, “don’t worry about that for now, just tell me if you will be happy sharing my home.”

“But when people come, my friends, family. How do I explain this room, or you?” I asked.

She smiled like an understanding aunt looking at a child. Patting my knee again she said, “No one will know, David. No one except you.”

“But this room, when people look around, they’ll…”

She interrupted me. “More Champagne. You look pale, you’re shaking. A good drink will settle your nerves.” She continued, “Think, David. This apartment, how many rooms are there? Don’t answer, but this room is not one of them, is it?”

I was mentally counting, walking through the apartment. She was right, this room was not one of them. This room did not exist.

My mind was in a whirl. “I, I, I don’t know. The furniture, I moved it. I put it by the door, now it is all back where it was. Then I heard the music and… and, I followed the sound. It led me to this room.”

Her laughter filled the room, “Oh my dear boy,” she said, “I have thrown you into a right tizzy, haven’t I?”

I gulped the last of my champagne.

“I have something stronger if you prefer?” she said, “a whisky, perhaps. I know what you men are like.”

I was nodding. It was an almost unconscious action as my mind was whirring. Random pieces of thoughts flew through my mind.

“Do not fear. You may decorate the apartment as you wish. I will not stop you, David. That is, if you want to live here? Now, before you worry too much, I don’t leave this room, well, only when the need arises, and I am sure I‘ll have no reason to venture out while you’re here.”

“I would like to live here but, who are you?”

“Oh, my. I have been remiss, haven’t I? How rude of me for not introducing myself. My name is Evelyn, Evelyn Keyes-Johnson.” She held her hand towards me. “So, David, are we friends. Shall you be sharing my home?”

I took her hand and shook it, although slight, Evelyn had a firm grip.

“I would like to stay, and I would be happy sharing with you,” I said, although I had not totally convinced myself. “I do have a question though.”

“Ask away, young man.”

“Are you a ghost?”

Her laughter filled the room with lightness. She smiled a wide, bright grin.

“As I died many years ago some people may call me that,” she said, “but I prefer to consider myself a free spirit.”

END.

Free Spirit©PaulWhite2022

Projection of Thoughts through Space and Time… or Show, don’t Tell.

It’s been a while since I found time to write an informative post for ‘Ramblings’. The reason is, I have concentrated on writing, publishing, and marketing my books, as all good authors should.

The stimulus for me to write this blog post is, recently I have seen many people asking about ‘Show don’t Tell’. Questions such as “How do I do it?”, “What does it mean?”, and ‘why!”

In my regular rambling way… (hence the title of this blog), and without using any more technical terms than necessary, I shall endeavour to share not only what ‘show don’t tell’ means but why it is the golden criterion for all creative writers.


SO, HERE WE GO…

Firstly, and without any reservation, to write well an author must understand narration.

Creative writing, which includes fiction, principally relies on narrative. The purpose of narration (sometimes referred to as the story’s voice) is to tell a story or ‘narrate’ an event, or series of events.

Inevitably, a major quantity of narration involves description. Description creates, invents, or visually presents a person, place, event, or action, allowing the reader to visualise what the writer is attempting to portray.

Descriptive narrative aims to make vivid a place, an object, or a character. It acts as an imaginative stimulus, allowing the reader to relate to the writer’s notions.

The writer should not simply aim to convey facts about the subject but give the reader a direct impression, thus allowing the reader, the recipient of those words, to create a mental picture that is in union with the writers’ thoughts.

Simply put, through the correct usage of narrative, a writer can project their thoughts into the reader’s mind. Virtually, a form of compliant subliminal connection. One which can transcend both space and time.

To achieve this, writers utilise a practice generally referred to as ‘Show, don’t Tell’.

<<>>

SHOW, DON’T TELL.

This term is often attributed to the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, who is reputed to have said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

What Chekhov factually said, in a letter to his brother, was,

“In descriptions of Nature one must seize on small details, grouping them so that when the reader closes his eyes, he gets a picture. For instance, you’ll have a moonlit night if you write that on the mill dam a piece of glass from a broken bottle glittered like a bright little star and that the black shadow of a dog or a wolf rolled past like a ball.”

You may notice Chekhov does not go into a mass of detail in this explanation. Descriptive writing does not mean the author should attempt to portray the subject in every excruciating detail.

Ernest Hemingway, a notable proponent of the “Show, don’t Tell” style, sustained his ‘Iceberg Theory’, also known as the ‘Theory of Omission’, which he developed while employed as a newspaper reporter.

The term itself originates from Hemmingway’s 1932 bullfighting treatise, Death in the Afternoon.

Hemmingway writes.

“If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows, and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.”

Creative literature, in general, hinges on the artful use of a wide range of devices (such as inference, metaphor, understatement, the unreliable narrator, and ambiguity) that rewards the careful reader’s appreciation of subtext and extrapolation of what the author chooses to leave unsaid, untold, and/or unshown.

<<>>

George Singleton explained this concisely with this notable quotation.

“You do not have to explain every single drop of water contained in a rain barrel. You have to explain one drop – H2O. The reader will get it.”

These examples suggest the writers understood the need to respect their readers, who should be trusted to develop a feeling for the meaning behind the action, without having the point painfully laid out for them.


Examples follow.

Telling:

He knew something was wrong because he could see the fear in her eyes and that she was trembling.

Showing:

She trembled, looking up at him with fear in her eyes.

In this example, ‘Showing’ uses fewer words but packs twice the punch, because you are seeing her actions demonstrating her fear, instead of being told what one character noticed.

It is rarely the function of a character to notice something, that is the reader’s role. By showing the action, the reader (and the characters) figure it out simultaneously, creating a wonderful ‘aha’ moment using a gripping narrative.

<<>>

Telling:

Roger was never very bright when it came to figuring things out, he could never seem to do even simple things right.

Showing:

Roger worked on the crossword puzzle for two hours, scribbling out more incorrect answers than correct ones. The result of all his hard work? Ink stains on his hands.

This example demonstrates the character’s qualities by showing he cannot complete a crossword puzzle and does not realise a pencil would be more practical than a pen.

Showing how your characters behave, readers will interpret their traits automatically. You should not need to endlessly describe every characteristic they have.

<<>>

Telling:

There was broken glass on the floor and a pool of blood behind the bar.

Showing:

His boots ground the glass shards on the floor with each step. He let out a gasp as his eyes focused on the puddle of blood behind the bar.

Showing allows the reader to experience the scene through the character’s experience, and places it in context, as does the character’s emotional reaction.

<<>>

Telling:

The pancake tasted bitter; he couldn’t stand it.

Showing:

He spat out the pancake. The congealed mess landed on his plate. “Darlene, why have you put so much baking powder in these pancakes again?”

<<>>

You can use dialogue to show ideas, emotions, and actions, which is far preferable to telling the reader. Tasting, for example, is an experiential verb, never tell readers about the experience a character has. Let your reader find out by being part of the action.

When your characters have experiences, you should be showing your reader those experiences through strong scenes and action, not by talking to them from a third-person perspective. This disengages the reader from the story.

If an author understands and utilises ‘Show don’t Tell’ effectively, they will project the essence of their narrative onto the reader in such a way the reader will become fully immersed.

Once the author has ‘captured’ the reader, and they become ‘lost in the book’, then the book becomes ‘unputdownable’, simply because the reader, by their own will and desire, creates a compulsion to find out ‘what happens next’ to the characters within the tale, with whom the reader will now be totally, and emotionally engaged.

This is what makes a good story, a great story.

It is why people read, to escape, to be immersively absorbed and entertained.

It is what sells books.

Remember, someone could be reading your book, anywhere in the world, and at any time in the future, even one hundred years from now, an exchange of extraordinary connection through space and time.

This is one reason I love being an author.

Keep happy, Paul 😊


Paul White is a prolific author with more than twenty-eight published books, including an Amazon no.1, and an international bestselling author.

He is the Principal of Electric Eclectic books, a founder member of the Authors Professionals Cooperative, and a member of #Awethors, an independent authors’ international alliance.

A good introduction to Paul’s works is, ‘Within the Invisible Pentacle’, a collection of short, and not so short, stories.

Available via Amazon. UK, https://amzn.to/3HRUGrC All other areas, mybook.to/wtipentacle

A writing prompt for you

Regular readers of these Ramblings will know this post is a little ‘off-beat‘ to those I generally write. However, read on, I am certain you’ll find this entertaining if not a little… well, read on to find out

I have the sunglasses.

Racing at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi

Although I am a multi-genre author, I do not tend to write science fiction and have never attempted a dystopian novel.

However, this does not stop my thoughts from wandering into such realms, such as it did a short while ago.

I was contemplating the forthcoming lifting of travel restrictions and therefore, by default, thinking about the pandemic, when this idea entered my mind.

Now, I have heard several conspiracy theories which claim Covid 19 is fake. Many of these theories then speculate about mass public control, or Illuminati culling the human species and so forth.

I am sure you have read many such posts on social, especially at the start of the Pandemic.

As part of my thought process, which was an uncontrollable stirring of the muses, I recalled the 2007 film ‘Invasion’ and the ‘Pod People’.

For those who are not familiar with the film, this is the explanation on Wiki:  

“In ‘The Invasion’, the aliens are a virus. After the person falls asleep, the virus re-writes human DNA.

Then, these Genetically Modified (post-humans?) vomit a gelatinous substance to continue the invasion.

As their invasion snowballs, the pod people transform humans by injecting them with the substance under the guise of ‘influenza vaccines’”.

 So, you may be asking… if you are still reading this… what my mind was doing with all this information.

Well, simple, it was drafting a rough outline for a novel that goes something like this. (Conspiracy theorists get your pens ready!)

What if this Covid 19 pandemic is fake?

What if it is planned unilateral action taken by world leaders?

What if they are doing it to appease an extra-terrestrial lifeform who have returned to ‘Harvest’ their human crop?

What if our governments are attempting to assuage the aliens by offering a limited number of humans, hence the major number of ‘deaths’ in the first wave?

Then, a lesser number in the second and third waves of the pandemic and the lockdowns, as our leaders negotiate with the extraterrestrials?

What if they are hiding the truth to protect us, to protect society?

It is said the human race may have come from stardust… maybe our ancestors were simply seeds?

Many peoples ask what is the point of life, of being… maybe we are just being bred as food, on a farm we call the universe?

Maybe we developed beyond that which was expected, maybe we have a chance of survival if we give up some of our numbers every 1000 years or so… maybe, one day we could fight back, even escape?

Maybe… You write the story… I’ll read it.


In the meantime, could I temp you to read one of my books? Check them out if you will by visiting my website.

Interior Book Layout & Design Principles

I have recently been helping several new-ish authors, along with some quiet well-established writers, with the design and layout of their book’s interiors.

It appears many authors, even those with some experience, do not understand the established and recognised principles of interior book design.

The standard layout of books is no accident. It has evolved from the first medieval printing presses to the current day online publishing, and POD.

The issue here is, if these basic conventions are not followed, at least to the greater degree, your book will look and feel amateurish to readers.

Thus, leading to slow take-up of your title, and possibly, maybe probably, eliciting poor or bad reviews.

In short, an inadequately formatted book, even one which has undergone meticulous copy, line, and development editing, will fall short of the standards expected and required by today’s avid readers.

This post, unusually for me on this blog, directly addresses the basic principles and concepts of interior formatting of paperback & hardcover books and, to some degree, that of their lesser cousin, the eBook.

I have not called this post ‘Interior Formatting,’ as that covers a much wider and far more complex set of procedures, and is covered elsewhere in greater detail, as in my books ‘The Frugal Author’ and ‘Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know’.

At the end of this post, you will find links to these two books which address many, if not most aspects, of independent and small press authorship.

Both books are ready to download now and, I am certain, you will find the answers to many of the questions you have, but have never asked.

NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, HERE IS THE PROMISED POST….


BOOK DESIGN AND SECTION LAYOUT

Note: a page is one side of a leaf.

When you ‘turn a page’ you are actually turning the leaf of a book, which is two pages. Each side of the leaf is a single page.

In this post, ‘Blank’ indicates a page typically left blank by traditional mainstream publishers.


FRONT MATTER

The front matter of a book consists of its very first pages: the title page, copyright page, table of contents, etc. There may also be a preface by the author or a foreword by someone familiar with their work.

First Page: Blank/Flyleaf

Leave this blank.

2nd Page: Frontispiece/Blank

Page 2 is the back of page 1 and remains blank unless you include an illustration.

Such an illustration is called Frontispiece.

This decorative illustration or photo appears on the page next to the title page.

Traditionally, a Frontispiece will be placed on a left-hand page.

Title page

Usually opposite the Frontispiece.

It shows the full title of the book, along with the author’s name as they appear on the cover.

Copyright page/Colophon

The Colophon or copyright page includes technical information about copyrights, edition dates, typefaces, ISBN, as well as your publisher and printer.

Usually positioned on the reverse of the title page.

Blank Page

Accolades

Quotes from esteemed reviewers and publications in praise of the book.

This praise, or some of them/it, often appears on the back cover too.

Dedication page

A page where the author names the person, or people, to whom they dedicate their book, and why.

This typically comes after the copyright page.

Blank Page

Table of Contents

A list of chapter headings and the page numbers where they begin.

The table of contents, often abbreviated to ToC, should list all major sections that follow, both within the body and in the back matter.

Blank or Epigraph

A quote or excerpt which indicates the book’s subject matter.

An Epigraph can be taken from another book, a poem, song, quotation or almost any source.

It generally immediately precedes the first chapter.

Preface:

Reason for writing, word of thanks.

An introduction written by the author, a preface relates how the book came into being or provides context for the current edition.

Blank

Foreword

An introduction is written by a person other than the author.

Often written by a friend, or scholar of the author’s work. Otherwise by a recognised authority of the books subject’s matter.

It is an honour to be asked to write a Foreword.


BODY

The body of a book is pretty self-explanatory: the main text that goes between the front matter and back matter. For readers and writers alike, this is where the magic happens — but it’s not just the content that’s crucial, but also how you arrange it.

Prologue (for fiction)

The section before the main story begins.

A prologue aims to set the stage and intrigue the reader.

Many prologues contain notes of intriguing events which only become contextualized as the reader gets deeper into the story.

Introduction (for nonfiction)

A few pages that usher the reader into the subject matter.

The introduction clarifies the book’s setting and/or events linking to the content, along with other information relating to the main narrative.

Note: The difference between a preface and an introduction is a preface is personal to the author, discussing why they authored the book, and what their process was.

An introduction relates directly to the subject matter, it establishes the position of the book in relation to its content.

Chapters

All books have chapters, or sections, into which the narrative or content is divided.

Epilogue (for fiction)

An Epilogue is a scene that wraps up the story in a satisfying manner.

Often an epilogue takes place sometime in the future from the last chapter.

If the book is part of a series, the epilogue may raise new questions or hint at what is to come. A technique known as a ‘Hook’.

Blank

Conclusion (for nonfiction)

This section sums up the core ideas, values, and concepts of the text.

Explicitly labelled conclusions are becoming less frequent in nonfiction books, which now commonly offer final thoughts in the last chapter, but academic dissertations are still formatted this way.

Afterword

This allows giving final notes on the books content not otherwise addressed.

It is a useful tool for edited, revised, and new editions.

The Afterword can be written by the author or another person.

Postscript

A brief final comment after the narrative comes to an end, usually just a sentence or two.

For example, “Mr Archibald Carruthers died at his Cotswold cottage three months after this book’s publication. Happily, he saw his story come to fruition.


BACK MATTER

Also known as the ‘end matter’ is the material found at the back of a book.

Authors utilise the back matter to offer readers further context or information.

The back matter is also an excellent marketing tool, listing the authors ‘other publications’ and giving links to websites.

Acknowledgements

A section to acknowledge and thank all those who contributed to the book’s creation.

The acknowledgements generally appear directly after the last chapter.

About the author

Is where the author gives a summary of their previous work, education, and personal life.

For example,  “John Doe lives in Hampshire with his wife, two wayward daughters and two, even more wayward, Great Danes”.

Copyright permissions

If the author has sought permission to reproduce song lyrics, artwork, or extended excerpts from other books, they should be attributed here.

Such items may also appear in the front matter.

Discussion questions

A section rarely used nowadays, but worth considering for inclusion.

Thought-provoking questions and prompts about the book, intended for use in an academic context or book clubs.

Appendix or addendum (nonfiction)

Additional details, or updated information relevant to the book, especially if it’s a newer edition.

Chronology or timeline (nonfiction)

List of events in sequential order, which may be helpful for the reader, especially if the narrative is presented out of order. A chronology is sometimes part of the appendix.

Endnotes

Supplementary notes relating to specific passages of the text, and denoted within the body by superscripts.

Most often used in nonfiction, but occasionally found in experimental/comedic fiction.

Glossary

Definitions of words or other elements which appear in the text.

In works of fiction, the glossary may contain entries about individual characters or settings.

A glossary should appear in alphabetical order.

For example, in a science fiction book, the Glossary could list the names and details of individual planets in the story.

Index

Generally used in non-fiction.

A list of special terms or phrases used in the book, along with the pages on which they appear, so the reader can find them easily.

An index should appear in alphabetical order.

Bibliography/reference list

A formal list of citations, a comprehensive breakdown of sources cited in the work.

Blank


Here are those two books I mentioned earlier, books no author should be without.

The Frugal Author

Amazon Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/2EYcJjZ

Amazon Worldwide: http://authl.it/B07B27SPBL

Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/3JynnB

Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/301nGYY

Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/bP5O9

Amazon worldwide: http://authl.it/B07K5Z3F9K

FLOYD, an excerpt.

It is rare for me to post about my works in progress (WiP) on this blog, but today I make an exception.

Following is an excerpt from a novel I am working on titled ‘FLOYD’, which is a fast paced ‘slasher’ style story, about the deranged psychopath, Floyd, who is on a mission of revenge against all those involved with his committal to an institute for the insane, after he murdered his wife.

WARNING: The following contains scenes of extreme graphic violence and more than a sprinkle of bad language & swearing, so readers discretion is advised beyond this point.

… Floyd did not expect the Bitch to run at him. Neither did he think she would seize the carving knife from the counter. He was wrong on both counts.

She crossed the floor fast. He managed to dodge the blade as it whistled past his face. Instinctively he grabbed her arm, twisting it so she would drop the knife. But the Bitch continued to struggle, the long steel blade sliced the top of his thigh. It was damned painful.

Floyd kicked her knife-wielding arm away with his foot, keeping hold of her other arm. Then she was spinning towards him again. He took hold of both her forearms as they wrestled. Bending her wrist, forcing the knife away from his face caused the tip to sink into the top of the Bitch’s left breast. Floyd heard her flesh pop like a sausage.

The Bitch seemed oblivious. She pulled the blade free and stabbed it towards Floyd. This time he was ready, he knocked the knife from her grasp and took hold of her hair, jerking her off her feet.

The other Molly, Floyd’s new Molly appeared in the kitchen doorway. “Go on Floyd,” she shouted, “give the Bitch what she deserves. Go on Floyd, give her hell.” His Molly was bouncing up and down with excitement. Her presence bolstered his reserve, Floyd’s blood came back to the boil. Without thinking he dragged Bitch across the floor by her tangled blond hair.

“Stop, stop, you bastard,” she screamed. He ignored her, pulling her roughly up the staircase. She half bounced, half backwards scrambled, her legs flailing as she tried to keep her body moving to stop her entire scalp from ripping off her head.

Floyd lost his grip as they reached the landing, he stumbled to his knees, a great clump of tangled peroxide hair entwined between his fingers. In an instant the Bitch was on him, her small fists ineffectually battering against his back. He pushed her off easily. Standing, he grabbed her by her left arm, pulling her to her feet.

For a second they stood, panting and staring into each other’s eyes before the Bitch spat into his face. Flecks of spit, snot and blood-splattered Floyd. He hit the Bitch with a sweeping backhand. Her head bounced off the wall and she collapsed, an unconscious heap on the floor. Blood began pouring from her nose and the puncture wound on her breast.

The new Molly cheered. “That’s the way Floyd, you teach that fucking Bitch a lesson.”

Floyd hoisted the Bitch from the floor, carrying her limp body into the bedroom and tossing her onto the bed, noticing for the first time the red weal’s adorning her buttocks. So that is what the Bitch was into now, was it? So, she found she likes a bit of pain with her pleasure. Well, she could certainly look forward to some pain now.

Floyd took his leather belts from the dresser and strapped the Bitch’s hands together, tying them above her head to the bedstead. He used her stockings to fasten her legs to the bedposts at the base. The Bitch was now restrained. Spread-eagled and at his mercy, something he would have her begging for soon enough. She could not fight him now. She would have to answer his questions… or suffer the consequences.

“Let me look at your leg, you poor thing,” said his Molly, crouching on the floor in front of Floyd. “It’s quite deep. I think it will need stitches. A clean-up and some tape will help for now. Come on.” Molly led him into the bathroom.

“Oh, oh, look at this,” Floyd said pointing to the floor. “That fucking bitch has bled all over my fucking cream carpet. I’ll never get the blood out. For fuck’s sake, it will cost a fortune to replace.”

Molly bathed his wound, temporarily taping it together with some plasters from the medicine cabinet. He changed his dishevelled, blood-soaked clothing. “Grab me a cold beer, Molly,” he said, as he made his way back to the bedroom. “I am certain the Bitch will make this thirsty work.”

Floyd splashed the Bitch’s face with some of the cold beer. She blinked and coughed as she regained consciousness. “Now, now Molly, my dear,” he said looking down at her, feigning a smile.

He spoke softly, much like talking to a child. “Now I have your complete attention, your undivided attention, you will answer my questions, no lies, no evasion. Do you understand me?”

The Bitch struggled against her restraints. “Untie me, let me go,” she demanded.

“Oh, but I thought you liked that type of thing, a bit of bondage, a good thrashing?” He kept his smile in place as he spoke.

“What?” she asked.

“The red marks, the welts on your fat arse. There is only one way they got there,” he said.

“You’re not man enough for me to let you do that. You don’t excite me or stimulate me enough, not one little iota. You never did. Now untie me, you bastard.” The Bitch’s voice was screechingly loud.

“After you answer my questions.” Floyd perched himself on the edge of the bed and gently stroked the Bitch’s head, brushing the hair away from her eyes. “That must feel better. I know how you hate it when your hair covers your face.”

“Let me go, Floyd. This is not funny anymore.” The Bitch spoke a little quieter but through gritted teeth.

“Oh Molly, you must listen to me,” he said, bending close and grinning.

“Fuck you.”

His voice changed to a spiteful hiss, “For once in your fucking life listen to me, hear me, answer me, you bitch.”

“Fuck you.” Molly was shouting again.

Floyd punched her full in the face. He found the crunching sound her nose made is it snapped deeply satisfying.

The new Molly stood behind Floyd, her arms wrapped around his waist, she rested her head on his shoulder as she spoke. “You know the truth. You know she’s been cheating. Why not finisher her off now, so we can be together.”

Floyd looked at the Bitch laying on the bed. Her face was turned away. She was crying. Her body shaking with each sob. The fuck, she looked so pig ugly with her mouth screwed up like that. Besides, there was blood and snot everywhere.

Glancing over his shoulder, the pretty face of his new Molly was smiling at him. There was no contest, no contest whatsoever.

“Your right. Let’s get rid of this bitch,” he said.

Molly stepped backwards and held up the kitchen knife, the one Bitch Molly picked up in the kitchen, the one she used to cut Floyd’s leg.

“This should do it,” she said.

He took the knife and held it in front of the Bitch’s face. “So, you like something long and hard inside you, eh? You like some pain, do you?”

This was it.

This was it. This was his dream.

This was the moment he recalled from all his nightmares.

The Bitch lying on the bed, looking up in fear, in terror. During his dreams it seemed wrong, it frightened him. But now it all made sense. It was a premonition. A warning about this evil Bitch’s intentions.

“Go on Floyd, do her.” Molly was bouncing with excitement again.

“Oh, I shall. I am going to slit her throat from ear to ear.”

The Bitch was staring at him. “Who the fuck are you talking to? You sick bastard.”

He smiled, “Say hello to Molly, Molly.” Floyd reached out and pulled the new Molly to his side. “Look, isn’t she beautiful? She looks like you used to before you changed, before you cheated, before you became an old haggard Bitch. My new Molly is taking your place now.”

“You’ve lost the plot, Floyd. You’re sick. Sick in the head.” The Bitch spat out a mouthful of blood. “You’re hallucinating, seeing things.”

“She looks like you did once, do you know why? Eh, do you?”

“There’s no one there Floyd, you’ve turned fucking psycho.”

“She looks like you because she is you. My new Molly’s from a parallel dimension, a multiverse.”

“Fuck you, fuck you. You sick cunt. Now let me go.” Molly began to scream. Loud, high pitched screams and shouts for help.

“Shut her the fuck up, Floyd,” new Molly said. She had stopped bouncing up and down and was covering her ears with her hands. “It hurts my head.”

Floyd straddled the Bitch, one knee each side of her chest. His left hand forced her chin up, exposing her throat. He held the knife inches from her eyes, “Say goodbye, Molly. Say goodbye.”

The Bitch shrieked an ear-piercing, spine-tingling scream which vibrated every bone in his body. The knife sliced through the Bitch’s flesh like a butcher cutting pork. Her screams turned into a bloody bubbling gurgle. Floyd noticed the realisation and saw the disbelief in the Bitch’s eyes as the last moments of her life soaked into the crisp white linen bedsheets.

“Oh, my love, you did it, you did it,” said the new Molly, slinging her arms about Floyd’s neck, smothering him kisses. “You are such a darling.”

“Time for another beer I think,” said Floyd…


FLOYD continues to be a Work in Progress, I’ll post more here when I’m nearer to completing this story.

In the meantime, why not read another of my books, perhaps an Electric Eclectic novelette like ‘A New Summer Garden, a classic Crime Thriller.

The Orb, a fast paced Urban Fantasy Thriller.

Or maybe Mechanical Mike‘, a retro, pulp-fiction comic book yarn?


The above are available as eBooks/Kindle, with A New Summer Garden and Mechanical Mike also as Pocketbook Paperbacks.

You can find all the above books, with details, along with my other books, on my website, http://bit.ly/paulsEEbooks 

Feel free to browse around, ask questions and follow me on Facebook,  https://www.facebook.com/paulwhitewriter

Realistic character building, regarding novels, series and sagas.

character

While many authors are proficient in creating individual personalities for their fictional persons, it is imperative when developing such characters’ lives, for one to write in a convincing and accurate mode to cultivate believability from the readers perspective.

Failure to originate plausible credibility of personality and interactions of fictional characters, over prolonged periods, proves detrimental to the reader’s gratification as it detracts from the overall principle and foundations of the author’s storyline, the very premise of which the reader chose for their entertainment.

Reality is fiction is all-important.

Therefore, understanding the social structure your characters inhabit is paramount to building such authentic originality. National, regional, fiscal, domestic and public constructs all constitute facets of each fictional character’s composition and structure.

Below is a list, created to assist with placing your complex and sophisticated character natures in a sound literary context. Therefore, accurately reflecting personality traits found in factual, genuine, true-life people of your chosen genre of state.

Such traits are often referred to as the ‘Hidden rules among Class.’

Following the subject heading, in bold text, are three subtexts. In order, they refer to; Lower Class (poor) – Middle Class (rich) & Upper Class (Wealthy).

Example,

Money: To be spent (Lower class) – To be managed (Middle Class)  – To be invested (Upper Class)

Money: To be spent -To be managed – To be invested.

Personality: Sense of humour – Achievement – Connections.

Social emphasis: Inclusion – Self-sufficiency – Exclusion.

Food: Quantity – Quality – Presentation.

Time: In the moment- Against future – Tradition.

Education:  Abstract – Success & Money – Maintaining connections.

Language: Casual register -Formal,(Negotiation) – Formal,(Networking).

Family structure: Matriarchal – Patriarchal – Heir/Sucsssesor, (Who has money).

Driving forces: Relationships – Achievement – Financial/social.

Destiny: Fate – Choice – Expectations.

 

I hope this helps as a useful guide for your character creativity and development.


I am associated with Electric Eclectic, the place for authors and readers, so why not follow Electric Eclectic on Facebook.

TopTip

Where to Start?

pooh_bear_and_friends_by_karesilver-d4quhfq

I shall start this post with a quote attributed to that most literary of bears, Winnie the Pooh.

“The beginning is a very good place to start.”

I cannot agree more.

BUT…

Knowing where the beginning is, is not always as clear cut as many may think.

You see, your story, any story, must start somewhere, but that start is often not at the beginning.

Take yourself. Take a tale you told about yourself the last day you did something… silly/forgetful/made a mistake… whatever it may be.

Now, consider how you began to tell your tale the first time you related it.

I bet it was not at the beginning, at least not the real, the true beginning of the string of events which led you to such an occurrence.

First, you would, by our very nature of communicating, have plugged it with a strong opening statement, or a soft lead-in, dependant on whom you were telling the tale, be it your Boss, you Mother, BFF or Lover.

You may have said something along the line of…

“You know, Sally and I often go to the bar on Staithes Avenue? Well, we went this lunchtime and, you’ll never guess what happened….”

OR

“I’ve driven down that road for the over ten years and I have never before…”

MAYBE it was, “Oh, my goodness, you just have to listen to this…”

None of those are really the beginning of anything but are leads to an section which is part way through your story, one which, during its telling, you will flit back and forth in time, building your tale of joy or woe into as a believable an anecdote as you can manage/feel right in doing, according to the circumstance.

Therefore, the same story told in the office to your boss will differ slightly to the version you tell your colleagues, or your family, once you are in the comfort of your own home.

girls-talking-restaurant-windowIt will definitely not be as richly dressed as your recount of the occasion in the bar later that evening, or as detailed with the emotions you felt during its unfolding when you share it with your lover while lying in bed.

The same is true of our fictional novels and stories; because the way we perceive them as we write is only a version of the whole. What we feel today will alter by tomorrow. By the time we re-write ‘that’ section of the first chapter, our entire viewpoint has altered.

Therefore, what we once perceived as the beginning was, in fact, only a starting point for us to begin writing. The true beginning is still to reveal itself to us.

The matter is, we should never believe our own opinion during one sitting, but allow ourselves the opportunity to alter and change the picture we carry within our mind. Each time we reconsider our work we must see it in differing light, simply because we are not writing to entertain ourselves, but others.Bloods-Veil-page-one.png

Consequently, by revisiting our works and by teaching ourselves not to become immovably fixated on any factor of it, such as the juncture where we originally started to tell our tale, we can then see our story from the viewpoint of others, those who will read our story.

Once again, Winnie the Pooh says it well…

“When you are a Bear of Very Little brain, and you Think Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

We want other people looking at our work, it is, after all, the whole point of writing; yet we want them to understand, to feel and to ‘live’ our story, empathise with our characters and lose themselves from the real world into our fantastical fictional world, we want and need them to believe.

To do so, we must see our books through their eyes, not our own. If that means starting the story from another place, be it a location, another moment in time, a different character’s perspective, then we must change the start of our story to this new beginning.

It may still not be the real beginning, you may alter it again before publication, write a prologue, an introduction, a prequel, or another book which leads on, even in an abstract fashion, to this one.

The point is, there is no true ‘right’ place to start your story, even the true beginning of your own life was far, far before any human existed, so where would you begin to start that story?

Now, while I much admire the genius of Winnie the Pooh and agree, “the beginning is a very good place to start,” I often wonder where the start actually is.


Looking for more literary insights, articles and short stories? Then look no further. The Electric Press magazine is available to read right HERE, for free.

Electric PressMay2019pub (2019_01_08 20_58_35 UTC)

Why reviews don’t count for much… unless…

I am not above posting articles which could be classed as controversial, such as this one, because I think it is a writer’s duty to bring into the open topics which can be discussed and debated among one’s peers.

Therefore, your comments and viewpoints are most welcome, even if they are incorrect!

shit-hitting-the-fan


Many indie authors tend to ‘chase’ reviews for their books.

Many more coerce family, friends, co-workers, fellow authors and the like to write a ‘good’ review, even a ‘five-star’ review for their newly released novel(la).

After which, the race is on, posting to social networks, giving away volumes of volumes, (pun intended), to gain several more one or two lines like:

I loved this book, you will too.”

Or

I spent all day reading this book as I was sick in bed. It is good as I spent all day reading it and have only just finished reading it after all day. I liked it alot.”

(YES, these are genuine ‘review’ quotes I stole from the internet.)

There are those which babble on about very little, and end up with lines such as:

“Five stars from me.”

While others focus on the ‘writers’ style and what they ‘got wrong’ and what they, [the reviewer] personally agreed with, so ‘sorry’…

I can only give this book three and a half stars.”

It all makes me chuckle, especially as many of the self-righteous sounding comments, I hate to term them as reviews, are written either by self-proclaimed literary reviewers or by a paid-for review service.

Neither of the above being literary or journalistically trained, none can be classed as successful authors in the ‘household’ name sense, and none have any doctorate or master’s degree in the art of book reviewing.

All which is self-explanatory, when considered in the cold light of day.slepatdesk

 

Now, personally, I believe the time and investment an author puts into creating a book, the concept, planning, writing, re-writing, editing, cover design, re-writing, formatting, proofreading and so on, is enough money spent.

Once the book is published, the idea is it starts to return the investment made. (see The Frugal Author for details.) It is NOT the time to be paying someone, often with little talent, to scribble a few badly drafted, ill-advised comments and call such a review.

It is NOT.

Neither will their comments give any true credence to your book’s status, even if they say a ‘seven-star’ review… or a ‘ten thousand star’ review… they mean absolutely next to nothing, if not less.

One reason is, ‘stars’ or even the concept of ‘stars’ hold no value. There is no academically, or commercial accepted value to these ‘stars’.

They hold NO value because any Tom, Dick or Harry… or Sharon, Karen or Portia for that matter can ‘award’ these ‘stars’ to anyone for any reason whatsoever.

Recently, there has been many a disgruntled an author complaining to Amazon because they removed several ‘reviews’, or disallowed others from appearing on the Amazon book pages.

imagesThis is a good thing.

 

I SHALL EXPLAIN WHY.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the coerced reviews, those from friends and family etc.

Now, consider the facts.

Anything any of these people write, as so-called reviews for your book is, by the very nature of its inception, biased.

Therefore untrustworthy.

Given these untrue reviews, any person buying the book ‘off-spec’ and finding the reviews posted were false, will most often leave a scathing review of their own, which will often impact with a far greater force than a dozen fake reviews could ever deliver.

The author will then run the risk of being classed as fraudulent.

Which is one of the reasons why Amazon have, and are, clamping down on the reviews they allow to be presented to their potential customers.

Read about Amazon A9 algorithm updates, Amazon’s A9 algorithm, dispelling a myth and the future…Amazon-A9

This is something I fully support.

One more thing to seriously consider regarding friends, family and colleagues.

IF… and I mean IF your friends and family really want to help you succeed, if they genuinely want to help with the sales of your book, the best and MOST effective way is the simplest… to buy a copy of your book. Not a free copy, not an ARC, not a discounted edition, but actually buy, at the full retail price, a copy of your work.

This will increase your book’s exposure and move it higher up the rankings with almost immediate effect. This alone is worth more than a mass of fake reviews.

IF they don’t or won’t buy your book, you will know who your true friends are and which members of your family truly support your efforts.

(Or… you will find your book is so bad even your nearest and dearest do not want to read it.)

Either way, it will save you a ton of long-term heartache.

blog_11

The second point is, ‘paid reviews’.

To pay a person to review your book is worse than asking your Mum to write something nice about it.

As with the family and friends’ gig, paid reviews are fake.

They are false because the reviewer has a vested interest to keep you happy. After all, you are paying them and they want your money again in the future when you ask them to read your next book.

Also, they [the reviewer], will not want you posting remarks about their ability or aptitude regarding reviews. So, they will keep you, the author sweet by writing nice, or at least a less critical review of the book in question.

BUT… here are a few things to consider.

Amazon is cracking down on paid-for reviews and will be doing so again, soon.

They know ‘who is who’. They do this by monitoring who, where from, when and how reviews are written and posted.

So, you could be risking your hard-earned cash on a review no one will see because Amazon will either refuse to publish it or they will remove it soon after it shows on your books page.

Secondly, many so-called ‘professional’ reviewers boast about the number of books they review in a year.

Many of these numbers would mean the books have to be speed-read to manage those figures. So, the reviewer will never read your book in the same manner as a ‘normal/regular’ bookworm.

There are some who have a pool of readers, each of whom gives their comments to the principal reviewer, who then uses standardised templates, altering a few words here and there to ‘personalise’ the ‘review’ of your book.

Not that it matters to the reviewer, they don’t care about you or your book, they just want their fee.

istockphoto-659202320-1024x1024
Gimme your cash

Genuine reviews are given by people who read your book without any other reason than something attracted them to it.

It could be the cover, the back-cover blurb, the ‘look inside’, a book trailer you have on YouTube or a post you made on social… it matters not.

What matters is their review will be honest and unbiased.

This is the ONLY form of review which has any genuine validity whatsoever, be it the one-liner which says,

“I liked this author & want to read more.”

Or the long form of essay, sometimes greater in length than the book reviewed which ends in,

“I give this book five stars.”

See, I told you anybody could give you five stars.

That is why reviews don’t count for much… unless.


Do you, as an author, want to know and understand more about the ‘Stuff’ of being indie, about books, the publishing and printing processes?

Then you need to download ‘Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know’ right now.

AuthiorStuff

Inspiration does not have to be Pretty.

vampire1

A good writer has no need to look for inspiration and ideas, they will come flooding unto them.

The fact is, each moment of every day we are surrounded by a million and one stimuli which only need us to recognise their being. We must feel, hear, sense what is around us, what is happening in front of our eyes.

We must allow our perception to absorb, to let our mind create fiction and fantasy from implied interpretation. We must permit our creative seed to run wild.

nathanblog4-700x375I have written on this subject before, albeit from another perspective, in a post called The Curse of the Muse

 

This post is a little different.

A short while ago, possibly a good few months past, I read a post on a social media site from one of my connections. I think ‘friends’ is the general term used.

I was touched by the raw honesty of the post; so much I saved their words so I might use them as a basis for my own writing, either in situation or character creation.

I feel a little guilty for ‘stealing’ these heartfelt outpourings, yet, I am acceptive to the reasoning of creativity and the understanding of where, how and by what means we writers find our inspiration.

You see, most of my works, regardless of genre or setting, focus on our humanity, on social and personal interactions and on life itself.

The following is an edited version of the social media post mentioned. I am sure you will understand the reason it resounded with me, especially if you are a reader of my books and other works.

***

This is it… 

“This isn’t poetry.

It’s not placed on a pretty post.

There are no pictures to pull you in.

This is just me needing to vent and I suppose those who want to know will read it through; there are a few thousand of you, maybe more and I’m just this sickly, tiny, thing who is easy to overlook.

My life isn’t an open a book, but should the play ever be released it will read like a tragedy of comedic design, one that tears the heart and rips the mind.

Irony, you’ll find, is the underlying theme.

I was everything I was told I would be; yet with time viewed through a rear-view mirror, I am nothing which holds value beyond the front door and those therein are on their way out.

I’d leave too, but domestic skills, they don’t count and writing words has yet to pay the bills; besides, without a degree to back up the lines, there are those who say I’ve spent the last three years wasting my time.

It’s pride, I know, but I’m pushing four decades old and I’m not sure I’m equipped to go back to the shit I did before I became a mom and wife.

I mean no offence, but I’m better than a burger to flip, or the next bag of groceries to sack, my mind knows too much to do that any longer.

I could go back to school, try and educate, but what do I do with the stack of debt that’s all late?

I have no resume. That’s the cost, the loss, of being nothing more than a stay at home mom.

What now?

Who am I without the domestic, the wife, the parental role to play, day to day?

So much needs to change and I’m scared to death I’ve waited too late.

Surely this cannot be my fate?

Even this, the sound of my self-pity makes me sick; but this decline of mine, it didn’t happen overnight.

It wasn’t quick.

My worth was stolen by minuscule measures, so slender the slices, I failed to feel the knife and yet looking at my life there’s nothing left but a bloodied mess.

I should find my way out of this.

I’m not as weak as I seem, but at this moment, I am on my knees.

This is not who I am, but damn, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be.

I’m a little lost and there’s no one looking for me.”

***

I titled this blog post, ‘Inspiration does not have to be Pretty’.

It does not.

Neither do the resultant writings. But I genuinely believe our words should be honest, open and emotional. After all, these are the driving factors of life, our lives. It is what we all have in common, it is what we all respond to… even in fictional stories.

Thank you for reading another of my Ramblings.


Please subscribe/follow this blog if you have not already done so. The button is on the top right of this page. I appreciate your support, Thank You.

Visit my website (HERE) to see my books, works in progress and other projects currently underway.

https://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/artworks/boggleeyes
Selfie!