IAM15 Guest Feature…Competition Writing

IAM 2015 - Topper Back in January, I saw an advert for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge and whilst I was mulling over whether to have a go at it or not, I posted the link onto my Facebook Author Page to share with others. As it was, I got distracted by something else shiny and didn’t sign up to take part, but a friend – on his way to being an Indie Author – did and completed the first couple of rounds. In today’s guest feature, Christopher William Kinsey, shares a re-blog of the post from his own blog The Kinswah Reflective discussing the experience and sharing the entry he wrote that took him through to Round Two!

NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge – Round One: Weighty Words

Having never managed to keep a short story below 8,000 words before, I took it upon myself to enter this year’s NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. I had no expectation of progressing but thought it’d be a good exercise. For Round One the participants were given eight days to write a story with no more than 2,500 words. In addition to the time and word limit, the genre, subject and character would be random along with the distribution of the writers across the forty-eight groups.

After weighing up the possible genres I decided comedy was the least preferable. The literary gods must have been listening because – you guessed it – I got comedy. Doing a competition just for fun is one thing, attempting a clean-cut comedy is another. After five days of ignoring it I sat down and bundled the following words together. I’m not particularly overjoyed with the results but in one of the biggest surprises of the century, it managed to finish fourth in my heat and progress. Heat 28 – Genre: Comedy; Subject: Unemployment; Character: A Fitness Instructor.


Dale, a former fitness instructor, ponders why he was fired from his last job as he works out in his mother’s basement.

Weighty Words

Dale couldn’t help wonder if he followed bad advice based on what seemed to fit at the time. What at first appeared to be breadcrumbs – offhanded remarks, disguised as advice – now dangled the proposition they were just innocent remarks. Working up the type of sweat he used to force upon his old clientele at the gym, life seemed grim. His pectorals heaved, metal clunked as it echoed around his mother’s basement, while thoughts kept persisting on what job he’d get next.

He’d been a fitness instructor. At the time it was a natural fit. During his high school years he was the typical introvert. When his peers laid on the wise cracks he tried to crawl for the shadows. What he couldn’t build up with banter he’d make up with brawn. The obsession with a better body allowed little time for much else. This included girls and grades.

His folks hinted he could follow family members into their respective fields. His father had repeatedly said:“It’s not what you know but who you know.” The usual follow up sentence his father often added was, “Think about what you’re good at and what those in the family can do.”

To Dale these tips were handy pointers from his father, Bob Tasker, a successful accountant. His old man obviously hadn’t wanted to feed the information on a plate but the hint was snatched upon. He could work in the fitness industry. His hobby was keeping in shape; it made sense to extend this to others. And his father, the cheeky scamp, had left the important subtle hint: think about what those in the family can do. Both Dale and his father were good with figures.

It was after starting work for Mr Nobbs at Fitness Forever he realised another important family trait would come in handy. Dale spent his days pushing people beyond their limits, shouting as they endured pain they wanted for psychological pleasure. Metaphorically cracking the whip during one hour sessions as their personal trainer/torturer. Dale’s ability to do this like a seasoned pro probably came from his mother’s genes. She worked as a dominatrix. The main difference was she literally cracked the whip.

Thankfully tucked away in her basement, like he was now, the sounds of her business remained just that – her business. His new role in life was to ensure the clients left on time and his mother was okay. His parents split years ago, Bob Tasker, being good with numbers, reduced the amount of digits that ended up going his wife’s way. Maggie Tasker had been getting her revenge on men ever since.

It was only her son that received the soft touch from her.

Bob never understood why his advice was ignored the first place. He specifically recalled – on numerous occasions –telling Dale to stick to what he’d be able to do, and to get a job through the family. Short of driving him to Uncle Chad’s store, dressing him in the uniform, demonstrating how to stack shelves, there wasn’t much more he could have done.

These thoughts would have devastated Dale, but he would never hear them, to do so would have meant breaking the Tasker family long held tradition of never speaking clearly or directly to one another. It was much safer and politer to live in a world of assumptions and silence.

Continuing his own fitness regime had kept his mind sharp. Well, as sharp as Dale’s would ever be, it was still more like a spoon than a knife. Still, he reasoned if he worked out why he had failed as a personal fitness instructor then he could avoid similar outcomes in the future. To date this in the most logical thought Dale has ever expressed.

It should have been his dream job. Once he started for Mr Nobbs it became apparent that a lad without an imagination struggled to see the pluses. His lack of drive meant Dale never became certified. This lack of qualification was a bonus for Mr Nobbs for the purposes of hiring – Dale could he palmed off with a lower wage – and an aid to firing.

Study was a reminder of the dark days. The high school days. Boys full of bravado, girls with condescending stares. Those same characters had frequented Forever Fitness.

Instead of performing wedgies on underwear, the boys – who hadn’t grown into men, they’d just become bigger boys– pulled their bodies up on frames instead. They dropped testosterone everywhere they walked, it dripped on the bench press, it acted as steam in the sauna after a workout. Dale’s safe haven had been invaded by those he’d tried to escape.

He wondered if the “geeks” from school had made the right call. No former football captain was ruining chess nights or giving scorn during online gaming sessions. They definitely would never enter a comic book convention or Lord of the Rings fancy dress re-enactment.

The nerds had fewer women in tight fitting spandex to look at, Dale thought. This should have been a glimmer of hope, a perk and a pick-me-up. It was not. Dale saw those same mean girls from school now. Except they, unlike their male counterparts, had grown up. They had become bitchy women. They pretend flirted, as if part of an elaborate act Dale couldn’t comprehend, whilst focusing on everything but the simple goals he’d lay out.

They cared little for running times and lifting weights. They seemed preoccupied with their stretch marks, then in a contradiction cooed over the ones Dale had gained across his shoulders and chest from getting ripped too fast. Bob Tasker laughed at how his son never had enough brains to go around and now it seemed he was short on skin too.

The women also found it more important to update social media. Getting fit would be an accidental side effect of what was in reality an exercise in public exposure. Instead of doing the four sets per station Dale gave them, it was four selfies. Rather than risk breaking a sweat, which would be a disaster for the carefully applied make up, it was more pressing to get a shot near the big machines. Later they could pretend they’d used them while acting drained over a coffee. And a cake.

It should have resulted in a fairly easy day. Only a handful of his clients wanted to lose weight or gain definition. The bored housewife majority could have been his brain off hours. Problem was, his brain off hours started when his eyes opened in the morning, only finishing at bedtime.

This lack of foresight gave a rise to Dale aggravating the paying public. Mr Nobbs cared little if the people with gym memberships used the establishment, he cared even less if the ones that paid extra for Dale actually tried in class. Their lack of motivation equalled more cash. If they never won the battle of the bulge then Mr Nobbs would continue to fund the arms race. Complaints that Dale was too strict, too rude, or too insensitive were a problem.

Most of these came about due to misunderstanding. Take Penny Pinnerman, she asked for a simple request, that from his perspective, Dale attempted to stay on top of. She wanted a “Better tone.”Penny Pinnerman thought it wasn’t too big of a task. She was naturally a thin woman, even the smallest lycra shorts had excess material in the bum region, it was as if she’d been stretched on a rack.

Instead she got Dale snapping at her every other sentence. “Watch how you answer me back in that voice,” he’d say.“Enough of whining in that pitch,” he had once snapped. She felt bad telling Mr Nobbs but it got too much.

Dale was dumbfounded when the complaint was read out during his informal warning. He had prided himself on going that extra mile for the customer. He liked to take a holistic view. That was an alien word to Dale, but so was the cause of this complaint.

Mr Nobbs received Dale’s best apology face. Dale left the office more certain than ever that all women were from the same type of high school clique.

Dale was used to the female clients having perverse views of their bodies. “My bum looks massive today,” was a popular one, when in reality their rears didn’t catch the eye quite as much as the flab bubbling over the waistband. Penny’s request was a new take though. She hated her voice, or more exactly, her tone. Well, that’s how Dale perceived her request. So during work outs he’d point out when her nagging got to that grating level that was most unattractive. Was it really his fault if that happened to be every few seconds? People shouldn’t ask for the truth unless they can take it.

Dale placed the dumbbells on the floor, as he did they kicked up some dust, no carpet had ever been laid down here. He flicked off the dance music he always used during workouts and turned the television on.

A daytime chat show host was shouting at a man for not paying his child maintenance money, then shouted at the woman for not knowing if this guy was even the father – DNA tests after the break. He was glad his father never asked for such a test, just in case. Not inheriting his brains was bad enough, zero cash would have been worse.

Dale sat on the exercise bike. A stationary device to reflect how his constant efforts and peddling would get him nowhere. He did this bit of cardio now to keep an eye on the time. The mystery guest in his mother’s bedroom didn’t have long left.

His mind drifted to the formal warning he received. This time Katie Renton, whom everyone cruelly called Cakie Ten-ton. Her request was simple, a reduction in size. Dale thought Cakie, sorry, Katie, need to lose more than just one dress size. She needed to get to a size where dresses were just that – dresses – and not recycled tents and bedspreads.

After one session she lay slumped on the exercise mat after performing three of the most trying and all-consuming sit-ups ever witnessed by mankind. Had she been the first person to attempt them under study conditions sit-ups would have been outlawed on grounds of danger. People would have placed them above anthrax and napalm on a list of things to avoid.

“I’m struggling because of the weight today,” she wheezed.

This irked Dale, “Maybe avoid the snack shop before the session then.”He was perfect when it came to punctuality; the wait today was her rolling in ten minutes late with a ring of cream around her lips. The audacity of some people never failed to surprise.

Mr Nobbs reminded Dale that while it was perfectly acceptable to offer basic dietary advice, pointing out missteps in a derogatory fashion was something that couldn’t go unpunished.

Dale made the situation worse when he said, “That snack bar should be shut. I know it makes money but too many are in there eating.” To Dale it was like having free beer on tap during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

The end of show music made the old TV vibrate and hum; this brought Dale back from his daydream. Maggie should have text by now.

He stopped peddling.

Dale had never been one for dramatics– they took up to much energy, imagination, thought – but this was worrying. His mother stuck rigidly to a system once it was in place. Especially when it was for safety purposes. She couldn’t be killing people in her line of work by accidents and oversights.

He walked slowly to the blaring screen and removed its power. The house was perfectly silent. The niggling voice of doubt pointed out it would be in the basement so he took purposeful steps toward the upstairs entry. The stairs creaked as they absorbed his weight; the door to the main corridor gave a warning groan.

On the other side there was still nothing but silence. Had the client left, his mother would be running hot water for a shower or bath. Had the paying pervert stayed the crack of leather or a howl of pain would be filling the walls. He took the staircase to the upper floor.

At the door of the main bathroom, facing the top of the stairs, Dale saw his mother’s dressing gown. He bounced over the last steps and pushed his way into the room. She was sat on the toilet, lid down, using it as a chair. The gown covered up her work clothes, only her black boots were evident.

“What’s up?” Dale asked.

“I pushed myself too hard today, love,” she said. Her face looked drained as she spoke. In his dressing gown her tired face and messy hair made her look more like an inhabitant of a care home than a mistress.

“Why didn’t you call for me?”

“The client is still her,” she said.“I was only taking a break before getting back to him. Then my chest – don’t worry, it’s passed – but my chest was aching a little.”

“Well you definitely should have called me,” he said with a pained expression. He wondered if he needed to give CPR. He’d seen it performed on a first aid video. It didn’t look like she needed help breathing so they could skip that – thank God, only he knew where that mouth had been today – but a few chest compressions could help.

Or the Heimlich manoeuvre, he’d seen that get people going again, but that was after they’d been gagging and his mother wasn’t. Well, she had been, but he hadn’t seen that, it was minutes before she took a turn for the worst.

“He’s still here,” she said. “The client. You’ll have to untie him.”

“Wow! No way,” he replied.

“Please, love,” she said. “He’s blindfolded, so just unclip one hand and leave the room. He’ll see himself out. I’m not up to anything else today.”

The look on her weathered face pulled on all his compassion. “Okay, you go and get a cup of tea and relax,” he said.

The walk to his mother’s “Workroom”was more nerve wracking than the one he’d taken from the basement. He swung the door open, expecting the seediness to suffocate him. Instead his eyes relayed information that replaced fear with shock, confusion with anger.

Spread star-shaped on the four poster bed, tied at his wrists and ankles, a blindfold covering his eyes with a gag in his mouth, was Mr Nobbs. Dale walked over and unfastened the gag.

Mr Nobbs coughed, spittle landed over his face, and he said: “You had me going. But it was good. A tease is good. Now finish me off.”

As always Dale understood you had to adhere to the wishes of the paying customer. And true to form, his understanding of the context was some way off.


If you enjoyed this, you can check out Chris’s entry for Round Two here. At the moment Chris is working on finalising his first novel release as an indie author, which will be available soon!


IAM15 Guest Post…Five Things I’ve Learned About Self-Publishing

IAM 2015 - TopperToday’s featured author is Charles E. Yallowitz, sharing his experiences of self-publishing and advice for doing it yourself. Seeing what other authors have done and learning from the challenges or successes they’ve had is one of the best ways to see what being an ‘indie’ is like. Let’s see what Charles has to say on the subject 🙂

Charles E Yallowitz


First the formal introductions! My name is Charles E. Yallowitz and I’m the author being the Legends of Windemere epic fantasy series. Also the recently released short story Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts.

I published the first of my series, Beginning of a Hero, in February of 2013 and it was in April of 2015 that I published the seventh, Sleeper of the Widwood Fugue. To be fair, I had the first 3 books of my series written and mostly edited before I ever found out about Amazon Publishing. I became a full time author with a year’s worth of publishable books almost ready to go. Just needed cover art, which was worth the rate. This ended up making me an oddity instead of the rule, which sounds kind of like gloating to get to my point. So let me recover by saying something less arrogant.

EVERYONE is an exception to the rule in the Indie World.

You see, I came into this thing knowing only what I imagined and hearing horror stories from other authors. So I came in with assumptions that were quickly proven wrong. This is still going on today because even when I think I have something figured out, a new friend turns up to be an exception. It can be anything from a promotional site working for them while it failed for me to mastering a writing style that one would think is totally unmarketable. I could go down the list of every author I know and pull out something unique about them. Instead, I’m going to talk about 5 things I’ve learned since taking the Indie Author plunge. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a big planner, so a list isn’t too surprising.

  1. People will claim that their way is the best way. You may even find yourself doing this and you’re right. The thing is that they’re right too. I’ve found that an Indie Author works best when following their gut. If a marketing technique, promotional site, style change, or whatever else is presented to you doesn’t feel right then you probably shouldn’t do it. This isn’t to say forget the idea because you might click with it for another project or when you’re more experienced. It’s very important to remember that you have to follow your gut here.
  2. Every Indie Author has their own dream and goal. You may think everyone wants to be a published author for the sake of it. Yet, there are always differences in the dream. Some are in it for quick money and others fame. Some just want to get a story out to the world and will walk away. My own goals include creating a fantasy world that I can eventually open up to new authors and let them cut their teeth there. So I learned to not go in and assume everyone is after the same thing.
  3. There are slow periods for the book industry and they are more common than people realize. When I started, I had no idea that this was the case and it only became really noticeable during my second year. Typically, these moments occur around a big holiday or traveling period. For example, my first November was terrifying because I didn’t find out until Thanksgiving that many people are saving money for Christmas shopping. It was a jolt to my system, especially since I’d avoided the summer slump because I debuted a new book in July. So I got lucky for the first one and my pride got knocked down a bit during the second. 2014 had an even harsher slump and I saw a bunch of authors and promo sites quit during that time. My advice to get through these periods is to either publish something you have ready or take every sale as a victory and push on to better times.
  4. This one might be a little odd or only be me. Be very careful when announcing deadlines on your social media sites. I did this a few times and it always left me scrambling to change things. I’d announce a date before I had the cover art, editing, or even an acknowledgment of those things. Then a delay would happen like the author deleting the wrong file and losing five chapters worth of edits. Kidding . . . I lost an entire book’s worth of edits on that blunder. So as an Indie Author, we have full control over our debuts and marketing, many of us still need to be patient. Believe it or not, we do have plenty of time to release a book and that means we can wait for all of the pieces to be together before announcing a deadline. (Again, this could just be my impatient butt who has this problem.)
  5. Finally, something I wish people told me before I started is that there is an amazing community if Indie Authors out there. This is where social media, especially blogging, becomes essential. I had no idea what I was doing as my first debut loomed, but I connected with other Indies. Some were at the same stage as me, some were veterans, and others were still far away from publishing. There was such a big array of feedback and support that it really helped me keep going when I thought there were days I’d fail. These are people who have an intimate understanding, which you don’t typically get from friends and family. If I’d known about this community earlier, I’d probably have started blogging and publishing earlier too.


legends of windemereThe final champion stirs and reaches out to any who can hear her voice. Yet all who heed her call will disappear into the misty fugue.

Awakening their new ally is only the beginning as Luke, Nyx, and their friends head south to the desert city of Bor’daruk. Hunting for another temple once used to seal Baron Kernaghan, they are unaware that the game of destiny has changed. Out for blood and pain, Stephen is determined to make Luke wish he’d never set out to become a hero.

By the time the sun sets on Bor’daruk, minds will be shattered and the champions’ lives will be changed forever.


Want to know more? Check out the links!

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. ‘Legends of Windemere’ is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

 Legends of Windemere Blog

Charles E. Yallowitz Website



Amazon Author Page

IAM15…It’s here!

IAM 2015 - Topper

Indie Author Month 2015 is finally here! Thirty-one days, thirty-one indie authors for you to meet, sharing the best of what it is to be an indie author from their own experiences…

So, welcome to the first day of our Indie Author Month – now in its fourth year, we’re excited to be hosting more fantastic indie authors during the event, which will run throughout July.

As in previous years, the event aims to bring indie authors into the spotlight, helping them find new readers, as well as letting them share their experiences of writing and publishing as an indie author. There are highs and lows to this creative life and everyone’s experience and approach is slightly different…

This year specifically, we have opened up the event to authors of every genre – variety is the spice of life! The only thing we’ve asked from each of them is to tell us about their experiences as an indie writer…from their personal writing journey, to the things they’ve learned about self-publishing, you’ll find it all here this month.

We hope you’ll keep coming back each day through the event, to meet the authors and chat with them about their writing.

Indie Author Month is BACK!

baby bookOK – so anyone who pays much attention to what we do here 🙂 will have noticed that our annual indie author month hasn’t happened in May this year, as it has since we started the blog in 2012. This is purely down to:

  1. Workload – in real world and writer world (Yes, that’s right, we’ve been concentrating on writing our own stuff!)
  2. Mild case of disorganisation – I was fully prepared to get the Indie month going back in January, but somehow everything else got in the way…
  3. Deciding what we’d do this time – as each year we’ve tried to do something a little different, either in the types of features or authors we feature

So, that being said, what’s the plan? (I’m imagining you crying the question enthusiastically!)

For 2015, we’d like to invite indie authors of ANY genre to get in touch. All features will be posted during the 31-days of July, with one author per day taking the centre stage on the blog. As with previous years, we’d like to feature your latest book and a bit about you, but what we’re really looking for this year is your experience – so if you can offer a guest post on one of the following topics, along with your information, then we want to hear from you 🙂

My Writing Journey…so far…

How I became an indie author

Why I love being an indie author

Write a “day in the life” post

5 Things you’ve learned about self-publishing

OR…pitch us your own post idea – let’s get creative!

Email us at: bonniesyorkie (at) gmail (dot) com

And we’ll send you the 2015 author pack across. Your date in the event will only be secured by providing back to us the completed packs with all your links, images and post information – so, as they say, it’s “first up, best dressed!”

I look forward to hearing from you!

Mel x