Welcome to Seal Cove, we hope you survive your stay.

I’ve published 4 short horror stories online over the past few years, and all of them share something in common: they all take place in the same world.

They take place all within the same region for the most part. The town of Seal Cove was first introduced in “Loon Harbour”, but is also the setting for “Deep Sleep” and its upcoming sequel (to be released later this month). The apartment that the unlucky narrator in “The Forgotten” calls home is the same apartment introduced in my earliest work published on creepypasta.com, “The Balcony.” This apartment is also visited by RCMP officer Kevin Porter – the narrator of “Loon Harbour” – in an unnamed cameo.

Of course, all of these connections are tenuous at best, and not knowing that these stories are connected isn’t going to take away from the average reader’s experience. It does, however, make a difference to me. When I’m working on one of these tales, I’m constantly working out in my mind where these stories fit in the timeframe of my world, and what characters are connected in what way. For me, having that shared universe really heightens the mood and makes the writing experience all that more enjoyable.

Because of the connections between these stories and upcoming stories, I’d like to create a compilation, organized in my preferred reading order, so that a reader can follow the events of what’s happening in my terrible little world. I am considering having this made downloadable as an ebook, but if that doesn’t work out I will dedicate a portion of the website to this compilation so that anybody who is curious can enjoy it.

As for now, I am editing the sequel to “Deep Sleep” and hoping to have it online by next week, and possibly even sooner. I also have a new story that I’m working on that will be my longest piece of horror yet: a five chapter piece of work that I’m very excited about. In case you were wondering, yes, it is connected to my other stories, and yes, it takes place in that lovely little seaside town that I can’t get enough of. My hope is that this next piece of work will start to tie my fictional world together, bringing precious characters and locations explored to the forefront again.

Keep an eye out for more coming soon.

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Thoughts on a Sunday Morning #2

Another lazy morning, another beautiful day. I’m sitting in a chair by the open window and a cool breeze is coming in, bringing all the smells of spring with it. I wanted to share something small, but something that bears a lot of weight with it for writers.

The importance of writing things down, that is.

Now, that seems obvious. As writers, this is something we do constantly. What I’m referring to, though, is writing things down immediately. As soon as they enter your head. From time to time lines or ideas drift into our knowing, uninvited but not unwelcome. More often than not it is these random thoughts which I find most inspiring, rather than the stuff I write when I’m focusing on writing.

For example, just this morning I was cleaning up around the house, and a line popped into my head without my anticipation: “pray the lock right off the church door.” I don’t know where that came from, but there’s something in there that has caught my attention.

I write these lines down as soon as I can, because if I don’t do it right away they’re gone. Forgotten. A maybe it was a little seed of a poem, or that description that my prose has been missing. Either way, if you don’t reach out and grab it right away, it’s lost. Inspiration is hard to come by, so it’s be a shame to see those little freebies go to waste.

On a side note, happy mother’s day to all you mothers, moms and mommas out there. Have that second cup of coffee, read a book. Relax, if you can.

That’s all for now. Happy writing.

Horrible, Nasty Things

I’m quite happy at the moment, all thanks to short fiction. I’m feeling very inspired.

I’ve spent the last couple of months revisiting some short fiction works from my past (most of which were prescribed reading during school days) and have more inspired than usual to write some short stories. When I write short stories, I almost always write horror.

I don’t know what it is about short horror fiction but it’s really quite the formula for atmosphere. Those fleeting glimpses of a larger story draw you in and open your mind to possibilities and… end. They leave you after a handful of pages with so many unanswered questions, so many possible explanations and backstories lingering in your mind. It’s totally intoxicating.

My little journey in rediscovery started with HP Lovecraft via the delightful “HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast” and rereadings of works like Dagon and The Outsider. Other works that I dug up from assigned readings included WW Jacobs’ The Monkeys Paw and Will F Jacobs’ Side Bet and… was every short story I read in school authored by somebody called Jacobs?

I’m getting off track. The point is, short fiction is fun. Horror is fun. Short horror is fantastic. Since publishing my last horror piece “Deep Sleep” online, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring what I can do with my own short stories. I’ve got so many ideas I want to try out I’ve actually started plotting them out ahead of time, which is something I never do.

I’m not exactly sure what my intent was with this post, but I’m in the writing mood and wanted to share some thoughts before I get started.

There’s a thunderstorm going on outside my window right now, and the lightning is flashing on the trees outside. Time to get to work.

Happy writing, ghoulies.

Finding the (right) time to write

Our environment influences us, no doubt. It changes our mood, our attention span and our train of thought. I’ve come to find (without too much surprise) that it has a direct influence on my writing.

I’ve spoken before about atmosphere and writing – with respect to music and background noise in particular. But location isn’t the only thing that changes the way we write. For me, time of day is extremely important. Depending on whether or not I can see the sun shining, how long it’s been since I’ve slept, the knowledge of what’s going on in the outside world… all of those things can play a role. In my experience it really depends on the type of material I’m writing, but knowing the right time to write can be just as important as finding the correct place. Let’s start at the beginning.

Morning.

Mornings are damn productive. Get up and go. My preferred method? Empty stomach, lots of coffee, empty cafe. For some reason I do my best long prose writing in the mornings. This is when my novels get a boost. It’s a great time for brainstorming and even better for a high word count in a short amount of time. Mornings seem to be a great time to express a lot of emotion and thought without over thinking things. It’s easy to get into a flow. My favorite time of day for poetry.

Afternoon.

This is prime dialogue time. I’ve had my coffee, I’ve had something to eat. People are moving, talking, commuting all around. This is when I can really focus on word choice and character building, making conversation-writing a dream. In the morning I let my imagination run wild with ideas, and in the afternoon it all comes together. Not a good time for poetry, I’ve found. Stream of consciousness is much more predictable (and less interesting). I love writing fantasy in the afternoons, as this is when I do my best technical thinking and problem solving.

Evening.

For me, this is the least productive time of day. In the evenings I enjoy reading other people’s works, watching movies, listening to music. It’s nearly impossible for me to focus on my own writing in the evening, unless I’m especially inspired or have found the perfect location. This is when my mind is on other things.

Late night.

This, my friends, is where the horror happens. After-dark writing produces an atmosphere that I just can’t seem to tap into at other times of the day. Emotions are easy to unlock, settings become much more vivid in my mind and – perhaps most importantly – I’m tired. This is when the thoughts that come at the end of a long day – thoughts that we tend to push out of our minds in the lighter hours – start to creep into full view. If I dim the lights and turn my back to an open door and start typing, I can really unsettle myself at times. When I start glancing over my shoulder and double checking to make sure the door is locked, now I’m in prime terror territory. Poems and short stories thrive here.

Of course, this is just my experience. You may find that your right times for writing are totally different. Whatever the case, try out different things. If you’re stuck in a rut or running out of ideas, leave it for later. Get up early the next morning and try again. Have a go after supper. If that’s not your thing, wait until the lights go out and try again. Style is a tricky beast to master, but experimentation will help you figure it out. And if it doesn’t work? Try again later.

Happy writing.

What NaNoWriMo Taught Me

This could be a huge post, but I’ll keep it moderately short, as my education via NaNoWriMo can be summed up in one sentence:

I can’t write a book in a month.

Now, there’s a few reasons. One is my style. I’m a slow writer without a doubt when it comes to large projects. I get excited, then work frantically, then lose interest, and then become absent for a while. Then the cycle starts anew. It’s probably the most important reason I’m not a professional writer – I’m not reliable when it comes to time constraints and deadlines for a story.

Next is my inherent inability to judge scope. What I mean by this, is that I constantly over or underestimate the size and scale of my projects when I start them out. One of the novels I’m working on started out as a poem. After two pages, I decided to make it a short story. Eighty pages later, I’ve decided I may as well give in and admit it’s a full-length novel. The Keeping of the Light is facing a similar dilemma: I keep telling myself it’s a one-off, but the truth is clear: the story is too big, and the lore is too complex. It’s almost definitely going to become a two or three-part series.

And then came Everwander, my NaNoWriMo project. I thought that writing a story in my pre-existing fantasy universe would speed things along and make me spend less time on lore and mechanics, but what happened is the exact opposite. Since stating Everwander, I’ve spent more time working out magic systems, languages, cultures and geographies than ever before. With TKOTL, I opened a can of worms. With this project, I’ve started dissecting the worms.

Needless to say, I’ve come nowhere close to finishing the project this month. NaNoWriMo has been an unsuccessful venture for me – but I won’t say that it’s been a complete failure. I’ve learned a very valuable thing from this experience: I can’t rush my writing.

As many times as I’ve impatiently waited for the release of a new novel or part of a series, I can honestly say now that I see why deadlines get pushed and wait times are underestimated. I started out the month planning to write at least 50,000 words, and ended up writing only 7,134 words. Also, I haven’t written so much as a chapter title since the 6th of November. My stories are going to take their time, whether I want to or not.

So I may as well take my time and do it right. The book will be finished, but who can say when. When it is, I’ll let you know. Until then, keep looking for new chapters posted here. Thanks for reading, and happy writing. Cheers.

I’m Entering NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year. November is coming. The month of mustaches and and panicked, frantic novel writing. I’m participating in the latter. I’m going to write a novel in a month. Why. Why oh why do I do this to myself?

I’m already partway through the writing of two very large projects, so it’s safe to say that those will take somewhat of a back seat while I focus my efforts on my NaNoWriMo entry. I’m planning on writing a fantasy, but nothing as complex as The Keeping of the Light. Something straightforward, something fun, and something undoubtedly more lighthearted. An adventure story, like the ones I used to read in school.

I have zero plans. Mostly because I have no time to plan, but also because I want to see where my imagination takes me. Stories like TKOTL take so much time planning and preparing that by the time I start writing I sometimes forget what I had planned to do. I enjoy making a complex plot, and being able to include bits of foreshadowing and hints for the reader, but this will be an exercise in spontaneity. We’ll just see what happens! If I’m happy with the results, I’ll share it here.

Cheers.

Whistle while you work: Thoughts on music and writing

People, and writers especially, tend to have quirks. Some of us find it hard to work unless the conditions are just right. When it comes to writing, sometimes extra attention paid to little details in our environment can make the process a little easier. It might seem bizarre to somebody who hasn’t spent their time authoring a story or poem, or even a song, that sometimes a room can be too quiet to work in.

For me, listening to music doesn’t seem to help all that much. I’m too easily distracted, and perhaps that comes from being a musician myself. I can’t help but be drawn in by lyrics and my own thoughts get put on pause. Instrumental music is better – acoustic arrangements, classical or jazz guitar for me – but it still tends to draw me out of the creative process, rather than ease me into it.

What I have found to be helpful – especially for longer projects – is noise. Not radio, not music, but straight-up background noise. People talking. Wind. Rain. Cars driving. Crowds. Busy places. It’s something about being alone in a coffee house, park, or library that I really find inspiring. It can also be distracting, but in an entirely different way. Sometimes I catch snippets of people’s conversations, or even them talking to themselves. Other times the smells of food or dusty books or a warm breeze will put me in the scene I’m writing. There’s something about the noise in those places that helps me to concentrate, even though I feel like it should have opposite effect. If I can’t put myself in those situations physically, I’ll load up a Youtube video of ambient noise that varies depending on the mood I’m in or the piece I’m writing. Anything to break the silence and put me in that environment.

For me, it’s the music of everyday life that helps the most. Being around people while still being in my own little world. Maybe it’s simply that sitting with a laptop in a library or cafe makes me want to look busy, and if that truly is the case – what the hell? It’s working.

Cheers