[Insert Empathy Statement Here]

Something disturbing has happened lately. I normally restrict this blog to my own project updates and thoughts on writing, but I had to take a moment to share this story.

I am an independent author. I do not work at writing full time, and I have a “day job”, but writing is something that is very important to me, and getting exposure as an independent author is hard work, especially when you don’t have the time to invest in marketing and promotion.

A few years back, Craig Groshek of Chilling Tales for Dark Nights reached out to me for permission to feature some of my horror short stories on his website’s podcast. Three of my stories were given a fantastic treatment by veteran storyteller, Otis Jiry, and Craig was very respectful and courteous as we correspended about the permissions involved. The folks over at Chilling Tales for Dark Nights are a respectable and admirable group, and that has made it hard to witness what they are dealing with right now.

Earlier this week, their youtube channel was the target of a hacking incident. The hackers changed the channel’s name and privatized most of their videos, in essence erasing their brand identity and destroying their subscriber base in one foul swoop – all in an effort to post fradulent bitcoin videos.

The incident itself is awful, but the worst part is how YouTube is responding to the incident. As a result of posts made by the hackers, there were multiple community strikes made against Chilling Tales’ channel and they have had monetary losses as a result. This incident happened days ago and as of yet all that the channel has received from YouTube as a result of their many pleas for help are automated (bot) replies [insert empathy statement here], and generic messages telling them to await appeal.

This is a time where many are trapped at home, or unable to socialize with friends and family as they wish to. We are divided by a global pandemic, and one of the things that helps bring people together during these times of need is art. Art, and exploring creativity. The team at CTFDN not only promotes an interest in horror fiction, but promotes artists and authors in all that they do. They deserve better than this.

To help, please tweet @TeamYouTube regarding the strikes against Chilling Tales for Dark Nights (their YouTube channel name got changed to Tesla by the hackers). Thier official twitter handle is @ctfdn_official and they need all the help they can get.

Can I do this?

In 2012, I started writing a fantasy novel titled The Keeping of the Light – a story focussed around three point of view characters trying to survive in a post-war country where ancient magic seems to be coming back to life, with dangerous implications. The tale follows their personal journeys as they are forced to leave their homes and try to make sense of an unfamiliar and unfair world.

Pretty vague, I know, but if you’re looking for details, the rough drafts of the first 19 chapters or so are available on this website.

The thing that bothers me is I never finished writing the novel. About 3 years ago I reached the 50000 word mark and just… stopped. I ran out of steam. The tale had grown too large, too overwhelming, and looking back, I found that there were many errors and blunders that would need to be reworked and rewritten in irder for the story to be cohesive and clear. Also, my writing approach and ideas had changed, meaning the atory that I wanted to tell wasn’t the same as the story I had set out to tell. I didn’t feel like I was ready to tackle this task, and because I was focussed on my personal and professional life, writing came to a standstill. Since then, I have yet to write another word of the book.

I think I lost my drive.

Lately, though, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the story. I have always known the ending that I wanted to work towards, but I became overwhelemed with how to get there. Now, though, I’ve spent some time re-evaluating and I think I know where I want to go with the story.

I’m going to try to finish it.

I don’t know if it will be good, and I don’t know if anybody will like it, but I have to try. I want to finish this book, even if it is a peice of hot garbage because at least then I can say that I’ve done it. Then, if it takes me another 8 years to write another draft, then so be it – this is the story that I set out ti write, and It’s what led me to create this blog in the first place. It’s what got me writing, and I owe it to the story and these characters – and most if all, myself – to make it complete.

Happy writing.

I shouldn’t make promises that I can’t keep

Today was a good day for writing. I made real progress with my short story sequence “One Final Round,” almost ready to consider part 2 complete. Exciting stuff!

If you’re new here, welcome. One Final Round is a short story in a collection of horror tales I’ve been working on now – most of which are available for viewing here on my website. The eventual plan is to release the entire collection (a planned 10-12 set of stories) in ebook format.

Days like today, where I’ve made good progress, I feel excited to make some sort of big announcement, like this: “the collection should be completed by this fall!” or this: “expect an update soon on where you can download the completed ebook!”

As much as I want to be optimistic and make those sorts of excited announcements, I’ve been writing long wnough now to know that I shouldn’t make promises that I can’t keep. I’ve done it in the past, setting targets and deadlines for myself. I don’t typically succeed at meet those targets. It’s not fair to myself to keep setting these goals and celebrating them in advance when, in all likelihood, I will actually take much longer to accomplish them. It’s certainly not fair to anybody who is following these posts. Being isolated at home for these past few months has made me take stock of a few things.

So, I won’t say that the stories will be finished soon. I won’t say the ebook will be available for download soon. I won’t say that I have been dedicating all of my time to the project to get it out in the public as soon as possible… (I haven’t).

What I will say is that today was a good day for writing, and it feels good to have made some progress.

A flash of inspiration!

I am just overwhelmed by creative inspiration right now and it is incredible. The last year for me has been a very difficult one, and I have struggled to find a consistent outlet for my creative thinking. I feel like this is coming to an end, and I am enjoying riding the wave. While it may be a temporary high, it sure is a good one. Peace and love, good people. And as always…

KEEP WRITING! – K

The Definition of Fog (a short story)

fog(1)

noun

1. [common noun] A thick(2) cloud of moisture in the atmosphere at low altitude near the earth’s surface that restricts visibility to less than 1km.

‘the flight was delayed due to thick fog’

2. [well that’s an understatement] Thick? You’re damned right it’s thick in these parts. I’ve got a sample of it sealed up in a jam jar around around somewhere that I could show you if you like. Thicker than frozen peanut butter, it is. I chipped it off the corner of a fog bank back when I was a bachelor and held onto it for safekeeping, just in case inquisitive folks like yourself came around and had questions. You can guarantee I like to be prepared for these sorts of things, being the expert that I am on the subject. The problem is getting it out of the jar to show it off, though. The bloody stuff is stickier(3) than wet glue. Now, it’s not quite as bad as it used to be in the old days, but it’s still enough to trip you up if you don’t mind where you’re walking when it rolls into town.

3. [that’s just the thing!] Nobody considers the stickiness of the stuff. My goodness, I remember walking back from the cobbler or the market on a damp morning and having to wash my hair three or four times to get all the fog out of it! It was like syrup – all gloopy and stringy – and sometimes you’d get it all jammed up behind your ears or clogged in the corner of your eye and it would take a dog’s age of digging around with a wet rag to get it all wiped off. I recall more than one embarrassing moment where I got caught with a finger halfway up my nose while I was trying to hook the stuff out. I shouldn’t have felt ashamed, though, because everybody and their mother-in-law was doing it in those days. It wasn’t uncommon to see – during a bought of particularly heavy fog – a crowd of your neighbours strutting down the road with one hand covering their eyes and the other picking away at their nostrils with wild abandon. It was a constant irritation – not that any of us had any time(4) to complain about it in those days.

4. [we just got on with our lives] Consider this: you are a fisherman who works every day. You want to get out on the water (assuming you are not an underwater fisherman) before daybreak to make sure you find a good spot. You could get up at 5 o’clock, dress yourself, eat, and make your way down to the harbour. By the time you loaded your lunch, your bait (all prepared the night before, of course) and yourself into the boat and rowed out to sea, you could probably get in position and be ready to start by sunrise at around 6 o’clock. Sounds reasonable, right?

Now, consider the following: in order to get yourself from your house to the harbour, you need to accommodate for the bank of fog that rolled into town the night before. You spend 10 minutes trying to shove the door open (and many people switched to inward-swinging doors to avoid this) only to be faced with a blinding-thick, sticky mass of fog all piled up against the side of your house and blocking the road downtown. What’s a sorry fisherman to do but grab the axe and shovel and dig yourself a tunnel(5) to get to work in the morning? And then, upon reaching the harbour an hour or so later, you find your boat piled 10 or 12 feet high with wet, sticky fog and need to dedicate another hour – at least – scooping the blasted thing out so it doesn’t capsize with all of the added weight. Most folks had to get up as early as 2 o’clock in the morning to make it out on the water on time, and some became partially nocturnal to accomodate for the extra planning and preparations.

5. [and it was dangerous work, mind you] Oh, I remember one poor fellow who – in the process of digging a tunnel from his front door to the market – found himself in a very unfortunate situation. A pickle, as they say. He had made it about halfway to the market – about 50 yards deep into the fog – when the wind picked up. Now, the wind is a wonderful thing when it’s foggy because it will blow the stuff away, but a seaward breeze can be a frightful thing when you’ve got yourself burrowed into a bank of fog the size of a small mountain. As a result, the whole mighty pile of fog – with that poor fellow trapped inside – blew itself about 10 miles offshore at 8 o’clock in the morning. Visibility being as poor as it was, he didn’t even notice he’d been carried away until he finished digging his way out the other side of the bank and nearly fell overboard. Luckily, another shift of direction in the wind carried the fellow to a small island, where he was treated to some fine hospitality by the local lighthouse(6) keeper. By the time he was able to hitch a ride back home, we’d given him up for dead. He was always bitter about that, and argued that a week was hardly enough time for his wife to remarry and sell the house in the process.

6. [the lighthouse keepers had it hard back then] Those poor souls had their hands full, that’s for sure. My great uncle – I’ll call him my grandfather’s brother from here on, to avoid confusion – used to work as a lighthouse keeper back in the day. He moved out there at the young age of 14 to work and stayed there until he was too old to look after himself any longer. At that point my father and my father’s cousins made arrangements and had the poor fellow put in a home so some nice nurses would blend up his food for him and give him a sponge bath once in a while. Before he went senile he used to tell me stories about things that happenned out there at the lighthouse. They would spend much of their time tending to the fog cutters as they used to call them – great, long blades that would be hoisted up on masts along the shoreline surrounding the lighthouse. These were used to slice up the fog bank as it rolled in and stop it from piling up against the lighthouse and blocking the beacon altogether.

According to my grandfather’s brother, sometimes sea creatures would get tangled up amongst the fog banks and be carried for days at a time through the air. The fog, you see, would graze the surface of the ocean and if a creature was near the surface of the water it ran the risk of being sucked up into the fog and whisked away with the wind. Taking advantage of this, my grandfather’s brother and my grandfather’s brother’s wife used to set up great butterfly nets behind the fog cutters, all in an effort to catch the fish as they fell out of the sky. It was not uncommon to see a school of mackerel or a sea turtle or even monstrous sharks gliding through the air on a particularly foggy day, basking on the wind like paper kites.

People today will tell you that much of the sea life has disappeared but my grandfather’s brother would disagree with their argument. In his final days of clear-headedness he would tell us stories of the many creatures that were lifted up by the fog. Fog, as we all know, rises away in time. Those thick banks that we used to curse did eventually lift up and drift off into the clouds, and the fishes and creatures trapped within must have risen up with them. My grandfather’s brother believed to his final day that after the many years of drifting and rising fog there was now a second ocean floating in the sky, above the one we know, and that if we were to explore above the clouds with a keen eye we would find the creatures that had been spirited away – the schools of fish, the turtles, the jellyfishes, the seals, the auks, the krakens, the sting rays, the schools of capelin and bait herring, the swordfish, the tuna, the great sea birds, the megalodon sharks, the long-necked sea reptiles, the last of the great whales – all safe, all still swimming and thriving and breaching on the wind under yet another endless sea of stars and constellations, far from the hooks and lines of fishermen far below. “Oceans under oceans under oceans,” he would say, staring out the window of his sterile little room. He would watch for hours on end at the long clouds rolling by, every now and then chuckling to himself and nodding his head, though I was never quick enough to catch whatever it was that he had seen.

All nonsense, I’m sure.

The Last to Leave (a poem)

I will be gone from this place before sunrise.
bone weary and moving fast,
burning memory with light.

those miles, hours, will pass
in a haze of disinterest.
forgotten.

but this?

eternal.
I stay, long after the rest have gone,
departed in the dying light.

lingering, pausing before that sky.
I will never watch the day end
from these shores again.

and now the night has fallen,
that void horizon navy cold.
and I turn.

Even deeper… and even sleepier.

It has been almost a full year since I had “Deep Sleep” published on Creepypasta.com and what an interesting year it has been.

If you haven’t already, please check out “Chilling Tales for Dark Nights“, which is a fantastic website featuring narrations of weird and horror fiction spanning centuries. Craig Groshek and his team over at the site took the liberty of reaching out to me and having four of my stories featured on their podcast, “Scary Stories Told in the Dark“, hosted by fantastic story teller, Otis Jiry. I was so pleased with the treatment they gave the stories and I’m honored that they chose my work to be featured. Please check out their podcast network and subscribe for endless hours of horrific entertainment. One thing that I really respect about CTFDN is they respect classic weird fiction, and aren’t afraid to feature stories by HP Lovecraft and other historic writers in an era when the deep web and spooky Nintendo games seem to occupy the majority of modern online fiction.

Obviously, I haven’t released many new pieces of work since then, seeing as the blog has been very quiet, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on new things. I’m still chugging away at completing my short story anthology, and I’ve been focusing a huge part of my writing energy at completing the 5-part series entitled “One Last Round” that will act as a sort of climax to the Seal Cove stories. That being said, I am one hell of a slow writer.

In a way, I’m glad I haven’t achieved any significant level of success, because I can’t imagine the amount of pressure that puts on a person. It’s bad enough as it is, and I don’t have any “fans” to let down by being slow – I’m just letting myself down. I think of authors like George RR Martin and Patrick Rothfuss and how much abuse they take in the digital world on a daily basis for not having completed their series yet and I think to myself: “I would probably just give up.”

I probably wouldn’t, of course – I’m too damned stubborn to give up. But I would feel like I’m letting the fans down; like I’m disappointing them. I have so much respect for those authors, because they take it all in stride and don’t allow themselves to compromise their art for the sake of quick delivery. They don’t let the pressure force them ahead. They keep working as they have for years, honing their art and crafting their stories so that when they are completed, we will appreciate them even more.

That being said, it’s still tough.

It’s tough, not having the time to dedicate to my writing, when every year I feel more and more that writing is the thing I want to do the most.

I started this blog a few years ago by stating that I did not intend to become a full-time writer, but now I’m starting to think that has changed. It is one of the things that brings me complete and utter joy. I love crafting my stories. I love my characters. I love the worlds I have created.

But, in the end, life takes precedent. I have a job. I have a family. I have a life outside of my weird little worlds that I need to attend to. And so, the stories will have to wait. They will have to carry on in my mind until I find the time to write them down. Until I find the time to share them. As long as I don’t lose them, I will have done them justice.

And, I suppose, the entire purpose of this rant was to say that I’ve submitted “Deep Sleep (Part 2)” on creepypasta.com for publication. It was one of the scariest things I’ve done for a long time. I didn’t think it would bother me as much as it did, but I guess that means that the story is more important to me than I thought it was, originally. People really connected with “Deep Sleep” and gave it some good reviews, so I really hope that the continuation of the story is received well. I hope, I hope, I hope.

But if not, I will continue to write. I’ve come to realize, after this last year, that writing means too much to me to give up. It allows me to explore, to create, and to let go. It’s one of the greatest things in life.

Now, I wait to see if it’s published. I hope that people will like it.

Thanks for sticking with me, thanks for reading, and as always:

Happy writing.

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.

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