IAM ‘Sorry’ Post…Aside from Writing

I have no idea what’s happened in the last couple of weeks in my email – my only guess is that it has something to do with my inability to use googlemail when I log into it online…

I’ve spent some time in the last couple of weeks, trying to find the information for posts sent back to me by authors to feature. For some reason – the whole conversation on the subject of Indie Month has disappeared from my inbox, along with everything anyone sent, and also everything I sent out. I’ve got a feeling that the new fancy looking googlemail page has let me delete the whole ‘conversation’ rather than the single message I meant to (yes, it’s gmails fault – not mine!)

So – I’m really sorry – if you are one of the authors who sent stuff back – I have no trace of anything!

If you see this and would like to re-send me the stuff, I’ll post as author spotlights – and I promise, I’ll use gmail in the way I normally do and not try logging in online again!

Sorry 😦

 

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IAM Guest Post…Why I Write Indie

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

 Today we have a post from one of the regular Aside From Writing blog authors, Mel Cusick-Jones. Today she tells us what she loves about writing as an indie and why she self-published in the first place.

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I’d written for a long time before I published Hope’s Daughter, and even though I had worked on the novel for over two years (part-time around work and the rest of my life!) and taken it through numerous revisions and read-throughs with friends there are basic elements I would change now, especially with an extra 18months of reviews and feedback to take into account. But that’s the best part about reviews, and was the main reason I published the book in the first place…I wanted to know what other people thought of my story.

What I should say is that publishing isn’t what it was once… you can self-publish easily and relatively cheaply (promotion is tough though) where that was not really an option before ebooks came onto the scene.

I published Hope’s Daughter myself because:

I’m really impatient and didn’t do well with the traditional agent/publishing route. What I’d do is get a piece ready, send it away, wait X months and when it came back as a negative would begin something completely different thinking “well if they didn’t like this, maybe they like this” (hence I’d done several books before Hope’s Daughter). I think I’d sent one proposal to three places and Hope’s Daughter to one, before I decided to go the indie route – and that took me five years because of what I did in between.

A friend of mine works in product design and marketing and she agreed that it can be SO subjective whether they take on a project/design or not, and imagines it’s the same with publishing houses. You’ve got to get the individual liking it and then also from a business perspective it must fit with their operating model and where they want to spend their money at any given time – that’s a lot of considerations and a ‘business’ approach for a book. And look at some of the dross publishers do put out, simply because they want to replicate Twilight or another success story!

Personally – that wasn’t what I needed. Of course I’d love to hold a ‘real’ copy of my book in my hands or see it on the shelf in a shop – but the ‘virtual’ world bookshelves aren’t much less exciting. Your first good reviews are no less wonderful because someone’s read your book on a kindle and not in hardcover.

Creative writing is something I do when I’m not working and so it didn’t have to pay the bills (if that’s what you want – good luck – I’ve read that only 5% of authors make a living doing solely that), so when I was happy with the book I put it out there: I wanted to get wider feedback on the book beyond my local readers. And also, I’d written it so ‘why not’? It wasn’t doing anything sat inside the laptop.

And I suppose – from the occasional self-pub success story you see – if you are good, sometimes generating your own readers can demonstrate to publishers that you are viable as an author…without having to wade through dozens of slush piles to show them (also another long shot – but it does happen).

Hope’s Daughter had been through five full MS edits as well as numerous localised ones – so I was happy with the story. Four pre-readers had gone through it and given me feed back. I’d read it so many times I could probably recite scenes from memory – so I did it!

If you are going self-pub, make sure you’re ready to market – ideally before the release of the book – as you can get REALLY bogged down in the writing/publishing side to organise this properly. One of the best prepared launches I saw in 2012 was Marie Landry for Blue Sky Days – she used her network of blogs to ensure there was excitement for the book before release and then a very strong blog tour starting immediately after. Plus – it’s a good book! 🙂

Also – couple of good places to hone your skills – try Miss Lits (I’ve seen them on facebook) – you get to write short or full stories, everyone reads, reviews, etc. and you get constructive feedback, which like Ann says, you can then work on. Also – goodreads groups often have writing areas which you’ll get support and feedback on for your stuff so try there.

Phew – sorry – I got on a bit of a roll there – but hopefully it’s a little helpful and not just waffle. Basically, if you love writing – do it! Get the feedback, take it on board and practice. And when you’re really happy, try whichever route you want to go and that works best for you

Mel x

Tony’s Thoughts…Finishing A work in Progress

In September 2012, I blogged about the start of something new. Well, now it’s nearly finished! Crack open the champagne and celebrate with a pizza. Woohoo, when I finish Book Five, let’s roll that puppy out to Kindle and the world!

Except, of course, I won’t have finished it at all.

I’ll be nowhere near finished. In some ways, I won’t have even started.

What I will have is 50k-60k words of a first draft story, a story I wrote just for myself and posted extracts on Facebook just for fun.

So here’s what happens next…

Draft Zero

I suppose most people would call it a first draft, but I’m going to call it draft zero. Draft zero finishes with me writing ‘The End’. There are words in zero that no one else will ever see…because now I start the re-writes, and with the re-writes come the deletions and the inserts. A suggestion from Stephen King is that drafts should always be 10% shorter when you’re finished, and as I much as I try to follow it, sometimes it’s 10% longer. It tends to balance out though, between the scenes I want extending and ones I want cutting.

What I’ll be doing is looking at the notes I made for myself when I write – I put them in bold so I can see them easily – and I’ll be working my way through the whole book, looking for ways to drop in the extras – or not, as the case may be. I’ll be cleaning up my grammar and characters as I go and making it look a little prettier.

—-

Wow, so you’re done right? I hear you say.

—-

First draft

Ahh yeah, sure I am. Sure. I. Am.

Here’s one of the strangest things you do as a writer. You take your (what is now) first draft, print it out carefully, and then: Put it in a drawer for six weeks and forget it.

Yep. Spend the best part of a year writing a book, and then do your best to forget it exists. Write something else. Learn to juggle. Get some fresh air – I hear that’s nice, although I don’t get much of it. Whatever you do, do not touch it.

How will you know when the day is right to pick it up again? It’s one of those annoying answers, because for me, I just know. Sorry, I don’t have a better answer than that.

So one day in the future, when you know you’ve forgotten that you ever wrote this pile of papers, you take out your first draft and you do exactly what you did with draft zero: Edit it again, rewrite where you have to, take parts out, put them back.

The reason I like to do this with a printed copy is that the change of format really does help me see mistakes. I can look at it as a reader, and not as a writer, and I can see the changes I’d want to make it a book I’d want to read. Killing the parts that don’t add to the story. And this is when it gets weird people, because there are parts in there you don’t remember writing. Which is pretty freaky when you think about it.

—–

Now you’re going to self-publish it?

—–

Second Draft

Sure. After this:

Wow. This is a biggie. I’m actually going to show someone else what I’ve been doing in the spare bedroom since September. For me, that person will be my wife. She’ll – hopefully – pull it apart and tell me where the plot holes are that I didn’t see…and I’d rather it was her than a reviewer on Amazon. She’ll correct the grammar and spelling mistakes that got by the spellchecker (and she’ll complain about my two word paragraphs).

Back for another round of editing, although at this point it might only be a sentence or two.

—-

So it’s got by Mrs Talbot, and it’s ready to go?

—-

Third Draft

Yeah, right. (<—There’s one of those two word paragraphs….)

NOW it goes out to my beta-readers; the first people in the world who are likely to want to read it. More edits? Maybe, but they may love it as it stands and I might be lucky.

Beta-readers are a new one for me on this book, so I’ll get back to you on that one.

Fourth Draft

With Eight Mile Island, I used a professional YA editor (Jennifer Moorman) for the first time, and I’m going to be running the manuscript by her this time as well. Last time she spotted a major flaw in EMI that my wife and I missed, so I think it’s worth it.

And after Jennifer has been paid, I’ll be thinking about a book cover. But there’s enough back and forward between myself and Jennifer to call the next step…

Fifth Draft

Wow, it’s been a long way getting here. How long has this taken? That depends on how quickly my beta-readers read it, how quickly Mrs Talbot read it, and a dozen other things. And don’t forget those vital six weeks sitting in a drawer.

But NOW Book Five is finished. Now I can order the pizza! Now all I have to do is start promoting it. And converting it to Kindle. And the formatting of the Lulu.com paperback…

—-

So after all that?

—-

Start thinking about Book Six, of course…

IAM Guest Post…Why I Write Indie

Guest Feature

We’re nearly at the end of Indie Author Month – IAM2013 – and to close the event we’ll be featuring some special posts today from the authors who contribute most frequently to Aside from Writing. For our first feature of the last day, regular Tony Talbot is here to tell us why he is an indie author. 

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Believe it or not, way back in the mists of time (I’m talking pre-2009), there was a mark of shame upon certain writers.

This mark meant they wandered the literary world, lost and forgotten, their voices echoing, unheard. They were The Unworthy, the ones who failed the climb The Five Steps of Publishing. Instead, they toiled in the mines and the valleys and could only look at the shining lights on the summits, dreaming and writing their dreams.

They were The Self-Published.

They all dreamed of one thing, these lost men and women. They dreamed that one day they would find themselves the most precious gifts of all – an agent and a publisher – and their voices would be heard across the world.

Those on the mountains scorned those below. Not good enough, they would shout, loud enough to be heard in the valleys and the mines. The insults would fly from the hills: Self-published! Vanity Press! Might as well throw your money away! No one wants to read what you’ve written! Not for us!

The music makers and the dreamers of dreams below would tell themselves anyway that they were good, they were worthy, that one day They Would Find an Agent, that someday their voices would be heard. They told themselves that, and toiled on.

And so it began to change. There were whispers of rebellion down in the mines. Fires were Kindled. Words were Smashed. In Nooks and crannies down in the dark, things began to change. Slowly at first, but they changed.

The men and women of the valleys slowly stormed the hillside Palaces of The Agents, broke down the Gates of The Publishers and simply rolled over them. No longer would they be needed.

The Lost had found the power of digital light in their hands, and the light was good, the light was powerful. The light had set them free.

***

I was one of those who toiled in the valleys and looked skyward. I was one of those who dreamt of agents and publishers, of seeing my name on a bookshelf in a bookstore (They still had those in 2010, would you believe).

For a while, I think I was getting there. I jumped through all the hoops the agents wanted, some of them incredibly restrictive: Submit only one story at once, double spaced, one sided, loose leaf, first three chapters only, Times New Roman size 12. We do not accept emails. (Seriously. What century were these people in?)

I got a few interesting replies, but if an agent looks at an extract and thinks it won’t sell a million copies, they aren’t interested, and they weren’t. Fair enough; they have mortgages to pay like the rest of us, but what that lead to was a blinkered vision of what they wanted.

You have a short story of 3000 words? Forget it.

Book of Poems? Hold the phone away from your ear until I stop laughing.

Want to publish your book on the 19th century sewage system of Vienna? No chance.

And it was a stigma, that’s what the writing magazines and books called it, a mark on your failings as a writer and human being if you couldn’t get an agent and had to…(rinses out mouth)…self-publish.

It was a dark time for the rebellion.

 ***

It took me a while to realise I didn’t need an agent. I’d already written two books and was starting a third when I read a magazine article about electronic self-publishing. That was when I decided to join the revolution and storm the gates. (This same magazine was one of those who looked down upon the self-published as the lowest of the low – I picked it up again recently, and how their tune has changed!)

So I joined Amazon’s publishing program. I joined Smashwords. Later, I joined Goodreads and Facebook and Twitter and Booklikes, and I did guest posts and blog tours and all the other electronic stuff I do alongside making people and places up for fun. I joined them because I wanted to be in the revolution. I joined them because I wanted my voice to be heard.

 ***

I self-published my first short story on Amazon – The Trunk – on Christmas Day, 2010. Mainly because my mother-in-law had received a Kindle for Christmas and I wanted to see if I could send her the story, and it seemed a good place to start, with something small like that.

Something small. The Trunk is a VERY short story – about 2000 words – about a small boy who hides from the Holocaust. No conventional publisher would ever have touched it; there would be no profit in printing something that short.

I’ve made about $40 from sales of The Trunk, but more importantly to me, there hasn’t been more than two months when I haven’t sold at least a copy. I’m as delighted to sell one a month as when I sell twenty.

Even more important to me, I’ve had reviewers comment that it made them cry. My writing is out there, it’s in the world and making people cry, it’s making them think. I’m pretty proud of that and not ashamed to say it.

And not an Agent in sight.

***

The Agents told me I was not good enough, that self-publishers were the lowest of the low, with no talent and no voice. The people who matter – the readers – tell me the opposite, again and again.

Yes, I stormed The Palace of The Agents. I screamed with the rest of The Lost that we are good enough. We will be heard across the world.

I’m proud to be an Indie. Hear me roar.

IAM Guest Post…Why I Write Indie

Guest Feature

We’re now heading into the final stretch of Indie Author Month – IAM2013. Today, we’re welcoming back author Michael Cargill to the blog; some of you will know the name from previous reviews of his books Underneath, Shades of Grey and our forthcoming review of Jake. Michael featured in our first Indie event in 2012  and being an all-round nice chap, we were very happy to invite him back to join us again this year. Enough from me – let’s find out what Michael has to say on the subject of Indie writing. 

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Why I Write Indie, by Michael Cargill

Ah, what a question.  Well, it’s not really a question I don’t think – but when the Aside from Writing peeps sent me a list of things to talk about, this particular option had a question mark at the end of it.

For the moment, let’s assume that the lovely ladies at Aside are correct in everything that they do, and it is actually a question.  Let’s imagine that I’m sat in a coffee shop and Lady Aside is thrusting a pencil up my nostril, demanding an answer to a question that has been bugging her for years.

“Michael Cargill, why do you write indie?  You must tell me before 1st May, otherwise WordPress are shutting me down.”

To be honest, it’s something of an odd question to ask.  It’s a bit like asking me why I get up at six o clock each morning and go to work.  Ultimately it’s because I have to do it, rather than because I have a burning desire to purposefully do things the hard way.  That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy it, because I do (enjoy writing, that is.  Getting up for work is a complete arse), but believe me when I say that it’s not all romance and unlimited goblets of wine.

It’s probably easier to talk about the positive sides of being an indie writer.  First up: I’m my own boss, which means I can do whatever I want (unless I’m at work).  There’s no deadlines for me to concern myself with.  I don’t have a legion of editors, agents, and grape-peelers harassing me about upcoming milestones that need to be hit.  In fact, editors are probably the worst out of that lot.  They smell, they want to shove pencils up your nose, and they never seem to stop talking about apostrophes and continuity errors.

And quite frankly, who the hell needs any of that?  I’m a creative (well, unless I’m at work), yeah?  I need my space, I need to sit down and experience time as it slips through my fingers.  It’s no good shackling me down with all your talk of calendar appointments and contracts.  That’s for Nazis (well, unless it’s me who organised a meeting to discuss a pay rise at work).

Another nifty little thing about being an indie writer is how close you can be to your readers.  Yes, all three of them.

Goodreads is where most of my interaction with readers goes on.  It’s a nifty little place where friends and foes can be made in a matter of minutes (such is life on the Internet), and it’s something of a thrill when someone sends me a message to say how much they enjoyed one of my books.  In fact, even Lady Aside herself went to the trouble of sending me a message by Twitter about one of my books.  I didn’t reply immediately, as I was on the toilet playing Angry Birds at the time, but hey!  That’s just another example of why being an indie writer can be so good – I’m doing my own thing, in my own time.  Does Stephen King have that kind of luxury?  Of course he doesn’t.  He has publicists doing it all for him and no doubt they badger him at all times of the day:

“Ooooh, Steve, what’s your favourite colour?  Amazon want to know.”

“Ooooh, Steve, do you like quail’s eggs?  The Queen is putting together next week’s breakfast menu at Buckingham Palace.”

God, can you imagine it?  What an utter pain in the backside life as a fully-fledged millionaire writer must be.  No doubt he’s got a Dyson Airblade up in his bathroom, but he never gets a chance to play around with it.

So, er, yeah.  Indie writing, then.  It’s good, it’s fun, and it offers a chance of being able to live the writer’s dream.  Every day that I trudge into work, there’s a little ray of hope reminding me that it might just be the very last time I have to do it.

I won’t be giving it up any time soon.

(Note from Lady Aside – Michael is correct, our heading list was not correctly phrased as a question. The person responsible for this administrative error is being suitably punished: they have to locate all the incorrectly positioned apostrophes in every take away and cafe menu in the UK…they may not be back for a long time.)

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Want to know more about Michael? Check out his links!

Blog – http://michaelcargill.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @MichaelCargill1   Facebook

The Books…

Author Page on Goodreads

 Trailer for Underneath  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUBrxs38Dkc

Smashwords

UK Amazon

IAM Guest Post…Editing a Story into Shape

Guest Feature

It’s the start of Indie Author Month – IAM2013 – and who better to get us started than blog regular author Tony Talbot? In a special feature, Tony takes us through how he approaches editing a book – and when you’re an indie author, this is a vital part of the writing process. 

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Stories are never complete until the editing is finished…and editing is never finished. I’ve run over my books six times, had three different people look at them…and still had people find typos and flaws.

But this is a typical editing process for me for a very short story. I started with a single word and started typing, making up things as I went along, some of which made it to the final edit and some didn’t. I’ll try to explain as much as I can as I go along…

If you’re new at this, some of these edits come from experience. The more you write, the more you know what you want to aim for. There’s a passage in Misery by Stephen King, where he compares writing with firing a long-range missile. It could be aimed to land exactly where you want…but you have enough explosive power in the nosecone, close enough is good enough.

Notes at the bottom of each story.

Extinction(1) – First Draft

               “You really think we’re the last?”(2)

Fitch stubbed out his cigarette on the stone balustrade of the bridge and tossed it one-fingered over the edge into the seething water. “Have to be. We’ve only seen that one guy last week, the one in Penzance.”

Wilson pursed his lips and rested his hands on his palms. “We should have done something about him.”

Fitch shrugged away Wilson’s concerns. “Like what?”

Wilson sighed. “I don’t know. I keep thinking we should have told someone and then I remember there’s no one to tell. Still it don’t feel right.”

“Yeah. Still. It’s all happened so fast, nothing feels right.”

Wilson lit another cigarette and offered the pack to Fitch, who shook his head no.(3)

They turned away from the balustrade and continued walking through the dead streets.

“Day of The Triffids.” Wilson said from behind a cloud of cigarette smoke. They’d found themselves on The Mall, strolling towards Buckingham Palace. (hand in hand) (4)

“We’ve done that one. Dawn of the dead.”

Wilson shook his head. “Doesn’t count. No zombies.”

“Mm, yeah, that’s one thing to be grateful for. Twenty-Eight Days Later.”

“That a good one?”

“You haven’t seen it? That one’s great. Come on.”

Fitch pushed open the gates of The Palace and they strolled inside (the entrance hall). They looked round for a few minutes, then at each other with raised eyebrows.

Wilson whistled. “Veryyy nice. This is what my taxes did, eh?” He stretched himself out on a long and luxuriant sofa.

Fitch kicked a leg of the sofa and laughed. “You’re getting mud on it. Her (his) Maj’ would not be pleased. Come on, there’s got to be a DVD player (bluray) here somewhere.”

Wilson raised his head from the sofa. “You really think they got a copy of…what did you call it?”

“Twenty-Eight Days Later.”

“What about ‘lectricity?”

Fitch walked over to a bank of switches and flipped some (them). Chandeliers of spun crystal turned the (semi-dark) hallway into a blazing corridor of light.

Wilson stared upwards at the beads of hard light (and followed Fitch down the hall). “You got to love Her Maj’ (Charlie). Should have known (he’d) she’d have her own generator.”

 

***

Wilson tossed the last of the popcorn into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. “I don’t think it counts.”

Fitch stretched beside him and looked shocked. “Huh? What are you talking about man?”

“Well, they were zombies. In a way.”

Fitch shook his head. “Engineered, mate. Engineered. Human weapons research, or whatever it was they were doing.”

Wilson pursed his lips and tilted his head towards the roof of the private cinema. He crossed his arms. “If you’re having that one, I’m having The Stand.”

Fitch made a disgusted noise. “Oh, God, not this again. Give me a break.”

Wilson crossed his arms tighter. “If you can have Rage in Twenty-Eight Days later, I can have Project Blue (Captain Trips) in The Stand.”

“Well, fine, then. Have it. See if I care. I hate Stephen King.”

Wilson put a hand on Fitch’s arm. “Oh, come on. Don’t be like that.” He rose from his seat and walked towards a wall of blu-rays, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Fitch came up behind him and squeezed his arms around his waist. “Sorry.”

Wilson twisted his head and kissed his cheek. “Ass.”

“Ditz.”

They laughed simultaneously.

Fitch looked at the wall of blu-rays. “What else have they got?”

Something caught Wilson’s eye. “The Birds! How did we miss that one?” (5)

Fitch frowned. “Does it count if there are still people?”

Wilson sighed. “I don’t know. I’m just making this up as I go along.” He waved the blu-ray at Fitch. “Want me to stick this in?”

Fitch blinked. “I don’t want to know where.”

Their laughter rolled down the empty hall into the empty city and across the empty planet, until it faded to dust. (6)

 

 

 

Notes

The bits in brackets are what I came up with as I typed.

 

(1) The title came from the WRITERS BLOCK, book. I opened it and came across a spark-word: EXTINCTION.

 

(2) So my original thought was ‘the last two humans throw themselves off a bridge, after discussing what they think will come next, what will happen, etc.’ Hence the discussion and the seething water.

 

(3) They had other ideas and went for a walk through London instead!

 

(4) At this point I decided they were gay; it has no bearing on the story whatsoever, but makes them a little more ‘real’ to me. Plus all these end of world stories are always man + woman and I wanted to be different. So they start talking about end of the world films and books, obviously an ongoing conversation. Since they were walking through empty London, 28 Days Later and Day of the Triffids came to mind.

There was an old advert for Kit-Kat chocolate bars where the two characters are road-line painters. One of them is trying to find a new topic of conversation, and it went something like this through the advert:

 

Character 1: Football.

Character 2: (Talked about that in) Liverpool

(They walk a little further)

1: Horse Racing

2: Ascot

…Etc…

 

(5) This was going to be The Sound Of Music, but I decided it was too stereotypical to have two gay characters watching it. Then I remembered The Birds; since birds are what will be left after we’ve gone.

 

(6) This is almost a straight lift of a last line from a Ray Bradbury short story I AM MARS, about a man left alone on Mars for years.

 

 

 

Now the edits… (Underlines are inserts, cross outs are…well, cross outs)

 

 

Extinction – Edits

 

“You really think we’re the last?”

Fitch stubbed out his cigarette on the balustrade of the bridge and tossed it one-fingered over the edge into the seething water. “Have to be. We’ve only seen that one guy last week, the one in Penzance.”

Wilson pursed his lips and rested his hands on his palms. “We should have done something about him jumping.” (1)

Fitch shrugged away Wilson’s his concerns. “Like what?”

Wilson sighed. “I don’t know. I keep thinking we should have should’ve told someone and then I remember there’s no one to tell. Still it don’t feel right.” (2)

“Yeah. Still. It’s all happened so fast, nothing feels right.”

Wilson lit another cigarette and offered the pack to Fitch, who shook his head. no.  (3)

They turned away from the balustrade and continued walking through the dead streets. They’d joined hands and found themselves on heading down The Mall, and strolling heading towards Buckingham Palace before Wilson spoke again. (4)

“Day of The Triffids.” Wilson said from behind a cloud of cigarette smoke. They’d found themselves on The Mall, strolling towards Buckingham Palace. (hand in hand)

“We’ve done that one.” Dawn of the dead.”

Wilson shook his head. “Doesn’t count. No zombies.”

“I am Legend.”

“Yeah, that’s good. Chuck Heston or Will Smith?”

“Oh, Chuck. Has to be Chuck every time.”

“Dawn of the dead.” (5)

Wilson shook his head. “Doesn’t count. No zombies here.” (6)

“Mm, yeah, that’s one thing to be grateful for. Twenty-Eight Days Later.”

“That a good one?”

“You haven’t seen it? That one’s great. Come on.”

Fitch pushed open the gates of The Palace and they strolled inside the entrance hall. They looked round for a few minutes, then at each other with raised eyebrows.

Wilson whistled. “Veryyy nice. This is what my taxes did, eh?” He stretched himself out on a long and luxuriant sofa.

Fitch kicked a leg of the sofa and laughed. “You’re getting mud on it. Her His Maj’ would not be pleased. Come on, there’s got to be a DVD player bluray player here somewhere.” (7)

Wilson raised his head from the sofa. “You really think they got a copy of…what did you call it?”

“Twenty-Eight Days Later.”

“What about ‘lectricity?”

Fitch walked over to a bank of switches and flipped some them. Chandeliers of spun crystal turned the semi-dark hallway into a blazing corridor of light.

Wilson stared upwards at the beads of hard light and followed Fitch down the hall. “You got to love Her Maj’ Charlie. Should have known he’d she’d have her his own generator.”  (8)

***

 

Wilson tossed the last of the popcorn into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. “I don’t think it counts.”

Fitch stretched beside him and looked shocked. “Huh? What are you talking about man?”

“Well, they were were zombies. In a way.”

Fitch shook his head. “Engineered, Engineered, mate. Engineered Engineered. Human weapons research, or whatever it was they were doing.” He waved towards the now blank cinema screen. (9)

Wilson pursed his lips, and tilted his head towards the ceiling roof of the private cinema and . He crossed his arms. “If you’re having that one, I’m having The Stand.”

Fitch made a disgusted noise. “Oh, God, not this again. Give me a break.”

Wilson crossed his arms tighter. “If you can have Rage in Twenty-Eight Days later, I can have Project Blue Captain Trips in The Stand.”

“Well, fine, then. Have it. See if I care. I hate bloody Stephen King.”

Wilson put a hand on Fitchs arm. “Oh, come on. Don’t be like that.” He rose from his seat and walked towards a wall of blu-rays, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Fitch came up behind him and squeezed his arms around Wilson’s his waist. “Sorry.”

Wilson twisted his head and kissed his Fitch’s cheek. “Ass.” (10)

“Ditz.”

They laughed simultaneously.

Fitch looked at the wall of blu-rays. “What else have they got?”

Something caught Wilson’s eye and he pulled at it out. “The Birds! How did we miss that one?”

Fitch frowned. “Does it count if there are still people?”

Wilson sighed. “I don’t know. I’m just making this up as I go along.” He waved the blu-ray at Fitch. “Want me to stick this in?”

Fitch blinked. “I don’t want to know where.”

Their laughter rolled away from them through down the empty hall and faded into the dust of the dead city. and across the empty planet, until it finally faded to dust. silence. (11)

 

 

 

Notes

 

1. I wanted to be specific about what they’d seen the suicide doing. It’s also more of a hook to the rest of the story. Why didn’t they do anything about a suicide jumping?

 

2. Making Wilson’s language a little less formal.

 

3. Most people who shake their head mean no.

 

4. Lose a bit of stage direction; I’m more interested in getting them to Buckingham Palace than how they walk there. I moved this up from after Wilson’s dialogue to make the conversation terse and speed things up a little so they would get there faster. Short fragments of dialogue pull you down the page.

 

5. I added this snippet about two versions of I am Legend just for fun.

 

6. Trimming dialogue for pacing again.

 

7. Changed Her Majesty to His Majesty and changed DVD to Blu-ray. Pushes the story a little further into the future.

 

8. Bit of unnecessary stage direction, we don’t really need to know that Fitch is following Wilson, and following on from point 7, changing the monarch again.

 

9. They needed to watch the film somewhere!

 

10. Added stage direction so we can tell who is doing what to who.

 

11. I really thrashed around with the ending, to give it the loneliness I wanted.

And here’s the final product…

Extinction – Final

 

“You really think we’re the last?”

Fitch stubbed out his cigarette on the balustrade of the bridge and tossed it one-fingered over the edge into the seething water. “Have to be. We’ve only seen that one guy last week, the one in Penzance.”

Wilson pursed his lips and rested his hands on his palms. “We should have done something about him jumping.”

Fitch shrugged away his concerns. “Like what?”

Wilson sighed. “I don’t know. I keep thinking we should’ve told someone and then I remember there’s no one to tell. Still it don’t feel right.”

“Yeah. Still. It’s all happened so fast, nothing feels right.”

Wilson lit another cigarette and offered the pack to Fitch, who shook his head.

They turned away from the balustrade and continued walking through the dead streets. They’d joined hands and found themselves heading down The Mall and towards Buckingham Palace before Wilson spoke again.

“Day of The Triffids.”

“We’ve done that one

“I am Legend.”

“Yeah, that’s good. Chuck Heston or Will Smith?”

“Oh, Chuck. Has to be Chuck every time.”

“Dawn of the Dead.”

Wilson shook his head. “Doesn’t count. No zombies.”

“Mm, yeah, that’s one thing to be grateful for. Twenty-Eight Days Later.”

“That a good one?”

“You haven’t seen it? That one’s great. Come on.”

Fitch pushed open the gates of The Palace and they strolled inside. They looked round for a few minutes, then at each other with raised eyebrows.

Wilson whistled. “Veryyy nice. This is what my taxes did, eh?” He stretched himself out on a long and luxuriant sofa.

Fitch kicked a leg of the sofa and laughed. “You’re getting mud on it. His Maj’ would not be pleased. Come on, there’s got to be a blu-ray player here somewhere.”

Wilson raised his head from the sofa. “You really think they got a copy of…what did you call it?”

“Twenty-Eight Days Later.”

“What about ‘lectricity?”

Fitch walked over to a bank of switches and flipped them. Chandeliers of spun crystal turned the hallway into a blazing corridor of light.

Wilson stared upwards at the beads of hard light. “You got to love Charlie. Should have known he’d have his own generator.”

***

          Wilson tossed the last of the popcorn into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. “I don’t think it counts.”

Fitch stretched beside him and looked shocked. “Huh? What are you talking about man?”

“Well, they were zombies. In a way.”

Fitch shook his head. “Engineered, mate. Engineered. Human weapons research, or whatever it was they were doing.” He waved towards the now blank cinema screen.

Wilson pursed his lips, tilted his head towards the ceiling and crossed his arms. “If you’re having that one, I’m having The Stand.”

Fitch made a disgusted noise. “Oh, God, not this again. Give me a break.”

Wilson crossed his arms tighter. “If you can have Rage in Twenty-Eight Days later, I can have Captain Trips in The Stand.”

“Well, fine, then. Have it. See if I care. I hate bloody Stephen King.”

Wilson put a hand on Fitch’s arm. “Oh, come on. Don’t be like that.” He rose from his seat and walked towards a wall of blu-rays, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Fitch came up behind him and squeezed his arms around Wilson’s waist. “Sorry.”

Wilson twisted his head and kissed Fitch’s cheek. “Ass.”

“Ditz.”

They laughed simultaneously.

Fitch looked at the wall of blu-rays. “What else have they got?”

Something caught Wilson’s eye and he pulled at it. “The Birds! How did we miss that one?”

Fitch frowned. “Does it count if there are still people?”

Wilson sighed. “I don’t know. I’m just making this up as I go along.” He waved the blu-ray at Fitch. “Want me to stick this in?”

Fitch blinked. “I don’t want to know where.”

Their laughter rolled away from them through the empty hall and faded into the dust of the dead city.

Guest Post…Write or Wrong? by Jade Varden (Part II)

In the second instalment of her guest post Write or Wrong? Jade Varden discusses ‘non-traditional’ publishing routes. 

(Read Write or Wrong? Part I here)

Self-Publishing

These days, writers don’t need to impress the literary agents or the publishing houses — they simply need to complete their work and get to feeling ambitious. The world of self-publishing has been blasted wide open by the Internet, providing opportunities that never existed before. But that doesn’t mean that the possibility of rejection no longer exists.

In fact, some writers are feeling it more acutely than ever. Publishing houses and literary agents often follow certain formulas. They look for specific ingredients in the books they accept and the authors they choose to favor. Books and writers that don’t meet this criteria end up feeling the sharp sting of rejection, which is all the more painful when the writer knows deep within themselves that their work is good.

Until they self-publish it…and the readers seem to hate it, too. Some who set out to prove the publishers wrong find themselves facing the pain of low readership, mean-spirited reviews and other agonizing experiences. No matter how you publish, when you publish you leave yourself vulnerable to ridicule and derision from readers. This is only tempered by the fact that you are also open to love and praise. But for some writers, even this possibility isn’t enough to assuage the pain — or even to relieve the potential for pain.

Some of the world’s greatest writers never intentionally shared their work with it. Many people are required to study the poet Emily Dickinson in school, and more than one fantastic college paper has delved deeply into her unique, somber works. But she never intended for any of us to see that poetry. Emily was a shut-in who rarely left her home, choosing instead to spend her days scribbling about the sights she saw from her window and the amazing thoughts that rolled around in her head. She asked that, upon her death, all her poetry be burned by her sisters. They had it published instead. One can only assume the same fear that kept Emily hidden away her whole life made her hide her wonderful words away as well.

The Alternative

So, to sum it up, I have very little in common with any bestselling writer I’ve ever studied. Like many writers, I’ve felt the sharp sting of rejection from publishers and from readers. I’ve struggled to get down one sentence and somehow magically sped though certain chapters. I’ve cried at rejection slips, and I’ve ignored rejection slips. I’ve felt pain and elation thanks to my writing efforts. And, like Emily Dickinson, I’ve even flirted with the fantasy of simply locking myself into a room so I can simply write in peace and try to ignore what the world thinks of it.

So I guess the question is, why the heck am I still writing? In one blog post alone I’ve expressed bitterness and anger, resentment and confusion — and I found a way to be somewhat unflattering to two popular American writers. But that’s the thing about writing: it’s a roller coaster, and it’s filled with emotion. Part of putting emotion on the page is in feeling it yourself.

And besides that, there’s only one alternative: not writing at all. What kind of fate is that for any writer? It hurts to be rejected by anyone, it’s scary to put yourself out there for everyone and it’s incredibly difficult to write an entire book from beginning to end. But isn’t all of that infinitely preferable to being haunted by the words not written?

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