The STORM is about to arrive!

The time has come. STORM is available for pre-order on Smashwords! You can buy volumes I (USD2.99) and II (USD1.50) or get yourself the entire collection as separate short stories (which will, of course, cost much more).

Naturally, I spent today (and yesterday) preparing my shorts for Smashwords and they are now available at USD0.99 each.

Click on the cover images below to go check them out!

Beyond_cover The Gravic Exacerbation

 

STORM Authors – Vanessa Wright

Tell me about your journey as a writer.

I have been making up stories; some would call them tall tales, since the age of five. I wrote until I matriculated and university, marriage, work, children; the ordinary things we attribute to life interrupted the flow. In the intervening years, I have always felt as if I had lost a vital part of myself. Now, I have come full circle and the most important thing driving me is the need to tell these stories that make their presence felt whether I am awake or dreaming. The flood gates are open and I have no idea how to curtail the flow.

How did you decide on the names for your stories in STORM?

A storm in a teacup, the science fiction story, was easy as the story revolves around a teacup, much like my grandmother’s set which I still own. It was a precious item which was only brought out when the pastor came around on his yearly visit. I decided to have fun with the item, although I know my grandmother would surely have frowned upon it. Dandelions for Mother was the difficult one. The story had been edited and was sitting there in my files, burdened with the moniker Storm 1. It was only after my friend Linze Brandon suggested a few titles that I suddenly knew what the title should be. It changed the ending slightly.

What was your favourite part of the writing process for your STORM stories?

The joy of telling the tale and laughing out loud whilst writing A storm in a teacup. My youngest son popped in to inquire as to his mother’s insane giggling and I had to admit to entertaining myself with the writing thereof.

What was the most difficult part of the writing process for your STORM stories?

Dandelions for Mother took me to a darker place and I imparted part of my being. Grief and heartache lies at the heart of the story and I lived it while I wrote it. It is always difficult to bounce back thereafter.

What other projects are you working on?

What am I not working on should be the question. Red Tape, a crime thriller is currently being submitted to publishing houses in South Africa. I am putting the finishing stories in place for Bikinis and double fudge sundaes, a book that has grown from my blog and features the inimitable, hilarious Muse. I am working on a sequel to Red Tape, named Something evil comes… featuring the same detectives. I am 13000 words into Dead-Lee, which was born in entirety from a dream. Last, but not least is Fever Dreams, a literary work in four parts featuring transformation, living, dying and regeneration. The A to Z blog challenge and Camp NanoWrimo kicks off in April. Looking at all of this, I realise how insane I truly am….

 

Get into contact with Vanessa:

Twitter: @Artysoul1966

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VanessaWright.Auth?ref=hl

Smashwords author profile: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Artysoul

Goodreads author profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7303329.Vanessa_Wright

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/artysoul1966/

Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/user/Artysoul1966/

STORM authors – Linzé Brandon

Tell me about your journey as a writer.

I wrote my first story in 2001. It was a romance between a professional photographer and his research assistant. It was not particularly good, but it got me hooked. After another year or two, I submitted another story, this time I gathered my courage but it was rejected by a publisher with great feedback. Although disappointed, it did not stop me from writing. Eventually, I came across the online writing course from UCT and it looked like the perfect opportunity to formally learn the craft and test my wings once more. After another rejection, with wonderful feedback yet again, I decided to self-publish. While I continue to learn and hopefully improve as a writer, I have not looked back on my choice to become an indie author.

How did you decide on the names for your stories in STORM?

This is the hardest thing for me to explain – I just know. reGENESIS is the prequel to an existing sci-fi romance series. While it is a narrative, the story behind the stories of the Third Gender Series, there is no romance in this story. The Cutting Horizon was exactly the same. The title just came to me just as I sat down to start writing the first draft. Since the thunder storms in the story impact directly on the main characters, I felt that the title worked.

What was your favourite part of the writing process for your STORM stories?

The writing. I loved to sit down and get to know my characters as I wrote their stories. As a pantser, I never quite know what they were going to do next. The stories turned out better than my original ideas for both of them.

What was the most difficult part of the writing process for your STORM stories?

I don’t like editing, maybe because I am not good at it, but I do edit my stories at least three times to fix plot gaps and cut excess words where necessary. Then I print it out and tackle it once more. I don’t write “fluff” but sometimes a scene is superfluous or in a wrong place, those I delete or move without a second thought – my three sets of coloured pens have become my best friends. I am a firm believer in getting another person to edit my work; it polishes the end product in a way that I cannot.

What other projects are you working on?

I have made a list to help me to keep focus this year, and so far I am not doing too badly. I need to finish the editing on OBSESSION, the third book in the Third Gender Series. I am also in the process of finishing the first draft of my third novel, MICHAEL’S MYSTERY (Camp NaNoWriMo in April is earmarked for that) as well as finishing a bundle of erotic romance short stories. Only two more stories need to be finished before the editing process can begin.

Contact Linzé

Blog: http://www.linzebrandon.blogspot.com
Twitter: @LinzeBrandon
Facebook: http://mrkt.ms/MGHWXK
Books: http://buff.ly/18mCCBe

STORM Authors – Carmen Botman

Meet Carmen Botman! I thoroughly enjoy her company and can’t wait to read her work.

Tell me about your journey as a writer.

My journey has actually been a lifelong one. I knew that I wanted to be writer from a very young age, writing my first story at the age of six. When I was nine, I asked my parents for a typewriter so that I could start typing out my stories. My parents were always (and still are) very encouraging and bought the typewriter (an orange/pink Olivetti), which I still have to this very day. After school I studied something completely unrelated (Occupational Therapy) and stopped writing for a few years. About three years ago I started writing seriously again and I don’t intend on stopping anytime soon. After all these years, things have come full circle, and I realise that I have always known that I still want to be a writer.

How did you decide on the names for your stories in STORM?

Dahlias and Daisies was straight forward – it’s the flowers that feature in the story. For The Icarus Curse, I was trying to think of a metaphor for one of the characters in the story. I remembered the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus that we learnt about at school and thought that it was a good match.

What was your favourite part of the writing process for your STORM stories?

The flow was really easy for both stories. I actually started Dahlias and Daisies first, but struggled a bit because dramas are not really my forte. I got the idea for The Icarus Curse, started on that and it flowed easily. When I was done, I rewrote the beginning of Dahlias and Daises twice and then the words came – thankfully.

What was the most difficult part of the writing process for your STORM stories?

I challenged myself in both of them. This was both the first dystopian story and the first drama I’ve written. It was difficult at times, but very rewarding in the end, so much so that I want to experiment with more genres to see what else I might like.

What other projects are you working on?
I am currently working on another, yet untitled story for The Flight of the Phoenix anthology. I am once again challenging myself to the nth degree, so we’ll see what happens in this one.

Get into contact with Carmen:

Blog Facebook Twitter Smashwords Goodreads Google+

STORM Experiences – Learning

When I started out writing for STORM I was rather self assured of my writing skills. I was sure that I could write up something that would blast my fellow contributors away. It took quite a bit to bring me back down to a position of humility.

But, back to today’s story… I asked a fellow writer, Richard, to help met out with a bit of beta reading… And did he beta read. My oh my. He came back with criticism of 8 pages on a short story of just over 9000 words. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing.

Now, usually when you get feedback on a story, you have to steel yourself. You have to take a deep breath and remind yourself that they are not criticising you, they are criticising your work. (Fat lot of calming down that does. :P)

Richard’s feedback was thorough; it was honest; heck, it was a good read…. But most importantly, it was edifying and positive.  I’m not sure how he did it, but after reading his feedback, I wanted to know more. I wanted to talk to him and find out what he could teach me, what we could figure out together.

If all beta readers could help writers like Richard did, I think more people would make it through the editing/rewriting stage. I really hope that I can provide the same kind of feedback to other writers who ask me to beta read in the future. 

My experiences: Writing for STORM

Since last year October, I have been working on and off on short stories for STORM (Pretoria Writers Group’s anthology coming out in June 2014). It’s been a strange ride. When I just started out, I thought to myself: This will probably be fun. I don’t have any trouble writing flash fiction, how different can it be?

Funny thing is: A short story is not just 500 words.

As you can see from the short stories I’ve put up on this blog, I have tried my hand at stories of 250 words or shorter. Ye olde flash fiction. If you want something that actually hits harder than a kitten’s paw, you’ll have to cut out anything that isn’t absolutely essential to the story. It really breeds a certain mindset.

Short stories, on the other hand, are actually closer to 5000 to 12000 words or so. You really have to think differently to write something of that length. Unlike flash fiction, you have time to reveal a little more about your characters; you actually have time time to describe some scenery…but you still can’t just put in everything. It has to move at sufficient speed to present a whole story in roughly a tenth of a normal novel. (When I say normal…I mean normal young adult fantasy…i.e. 300 to 500 pages or more.)

To me, writing a short story feels like writing a story with only three or four chapters.  As a matter of fact, that’s how I structure them in yWriter5. I create three or four chapters (usually, unimaginatively called “Beginning”, “Middle” and “End”), I make sure the initial exposition goes into the chapter 1 scenes, the story develops in chapter 2 and things wind down (or up, as is the case in Beyond) in the last chapter. (In retrospect, that’s kind of a no brainer, yes?)

But I digress. What I meant to say is: Writing short stories takes skill and developing that skill on the fly is no mean feat. I’ve burnt my fingers more than once. I’ve had more success than I expected. All in all, I’ve learned a lot and I’m grateful for it.

Come June this year, you’ll have the opportunity to see me in action. STORM is coming! And nothing will be the same again!

To my SAfrican fans: Pre-orders are open!

It’s time! The Pretoria Writers Group anthology, STORM, is coming out in June 2014 and the pre-launch sale is on! This is your chance to get your hands on a print version of STORM (Volume I and/or II)!

If you’d like to pre-order a copy, use the contact form below. 

I did it! I indie published a short story!

Cover art

I realised the other day that there was really nothing stopping me from indie publishing short stories. I don’t know why I was comfortable with the idea of publishing a full-length novel, but a short story could somehow not be published the same way. No sirree!

If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you’ll have already read this one, but this is your chance to have your own copy, complete with cover art! The Mystic is now for sale, ladies and gentlemen!

Go check it out on Smashwords (or directly with the link above) and get it for free until the end of February 2014 with this coupon code: JE94M.

A Dark Encounter

Her feet plunk-plunk-plunked sullenly on the metal stairs to the basement. They always sent her. Every time. She stood on the step in front of the door for five breaths and then flicked on the light switch. Not that it would help. She heard the tink-tink of the light warming up inside. Not that it really mattered if the light was on, though. It was always the same in there.

She counted another five breaths.

Her skin started crawling in earnest as she pushed the door open and the fluorescent light spilled out. Though the basement was really just a small, dusty study with stacks of boxes along the walls, it exuded a level of menace that is generally reserved for childhood nightmares.

Just get the photo album, Millicent Antoine, she thought to herself. Just–

Something cold and wet slithered up her leg. She felt a shriek building up in her throat before she could get herself to look down. It was already just over her knee. She forced her eyes open. The whole floor was a churning mess of eyes, teeth and slimy brown tentacles, one of which was wrapped around her leg. The scream tore loose and then the light flickered and died.

When she opened her eyes again, she was curled into a foetal position. The light was flickering on and off, still tink-tinking. There was a patch of warm wetness spreading from her crotch.

I need to see my shrink, the flashbacks have started again.

The Mystic

A pair of quicksilver eyes flicked dismissively over the breathtaking view of EL Tianne’s Enchanted Valley. Pherr had been there a myriad of times before, searching out the Fairy Queen’s help. He waited silently as the minute sentinel, who had spotted him only moments earlier, whizzed down into the mysterious depths of the Charmed Forests. Impatience stirred within him. His fingers felt like tightly wound springs, ready to uncoil. His muscles tensed in anticipation of the Portal to the Hendecagon. It felt as if the time was racing out of the hourglass. Clouds moved by swiftly.

***

EL Tianne, queen of the Fairy, tapped her delicate fingers on her armrest. The Lifeglass before her was emptying far too rapidly to her taste. What is taking Pherr so long? she thought impatiently. The Fairy Queen chafed at the circumstances that forced them to use other means to get him into her domain. He had explained it carefully to her the last time he had come: he would not be able to open the Eleven Gates when he brought the New One through. His power would be sucked dry… Her sentinels were all instructed to report any sign of the Mystic’s arrival.

A miniature bolt of lightning flashed in the Lifeglass. The Sand was becoming liquid. Blue-silver.

She felt her sceptre’s smooth surface. The Seven Keepers channelled their awareness of the imminent commencement of the Hendecagon through the connection she had cast on it. Their combined forces pushed readily against her magic.

The large doors of the throne room burst open. A haggard looking fairy plunged through the entryway.

“The Mystic has arrived, O Queen!” she cried and fell to the floor.

EL Tianne reached for her sceptre and opened the Eleven Portals to the Hendecagon. The Seven Keepers released their combined force. The air began to shimmer and waver. The light bent at peculiar angles, making the air appear to be liquid.

Calmly, a dark figure stepped through the Portal.

“We must hurry,” his voice whispered into the turbulent air. He reached out his dark hand to the Fairy Queen. Blindly she thrust the Lifeglass into his open palm, their hands touching briefly. The glass shuddered in his hand. More lightning flashed across its surface. The liquid Sands were almost entirely gone.

Pherr glanced once at EL Tianne’s face, her violet eyes told him what would come.

He stepped back into the Portal. It closed behind his back – the familiar simultaneous pressure and release reassuring him that he would make this jump. He could see the eleven planes, their portals’ glowing incandescence. His hand was clamped securely around the fragile Lifeglass…the Sand was no longer in sight.

TO KEEP READING, GO BUY THE FULL VERSION OF THIS SHORT STORY ON SMASHWORDS!

<<This is a short story I wrote when I was 17. It was for a Junior City Council competition. I won the Prose division.>>