Tortured Soul Available for Preorder

Tortured Soul coverCheck out Staci Troilo’s final book in the Medci Protectorate series! I enjoyed books 1 and 2 and need to get round to reading book 3 before number 4 releases 🙂 …

Bittersweet. That’s the only way I can describe it. I’m proud to have completed the final installment of the Medici Protectorate series, but I love this world so much, I’m sorry t…

Source: Tortured Soul Available for Preorder

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Write What You Want

Over on Story Empire today, Joan Hall has a great post for us on writing what we want to write …

Hi, SE Readers. In the course of your writing journey, many of you have probably had someone say to you, “Write what you know.” You may have heard, “Write what you don’t know.” The latter designed …

Source: Write What You Want

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My Week in Review and Writing Links

Hello everyone. Happy Friday! I hope you’ve all had a good week. Lot’s done here, with a busy week and lots finished. I also found time for a story based on more Storymatic prompts, and am having fun with that. Already, it’s at 3,000 words and is based on a meteor striking Earth, and the MC is a shoplifter. I’m not sure how long it will end up. I’ve called it ‘Impact’ and here’s a teaser:

‘I’d say it was a pleasure meeting you, but …’

Jake guffawed. He laughed so hard and long that his mirth soon turned to tears and sobs—the whole thing bordering on the edge of hysteria. Gill fell down the same rabbit hole. It took a while for them to regain any semblance of equilibrium.

From the darkness, Gill said, ‘You don’t look like a street bum.’

My birthday is on Monday, and this weekend will see the celebrations … so, I might not be around an awful lot, lols. Inspired by a TV series, I have added Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to my e-reader, and when I came across this quote from her, it resonated strongly, so with that happy conjunction, it seemed perfect for today’s post. Have a good weekend everybody 🙂 Check out the writing links below for some good resources …


FROM STORY EMPIRE

Problems Naming Things by C. S. Boyack

See the Forest and the Trees by P. H. Solomon … all about manuscript critiquing / feedback and editing

Friday Book Share by Staci Troilo … The Bone Curse

 

FROM AROUND THE WORLDWIDE WEB

5 Conflict Making Choices Writers Can Make by Fae Rowen from Writers in the Storm (part 2 of the post I linked to on last Friday’s week in review)

7 Tips to Ruling a City of Monsters by Charles Yallowitz on Legends of Windemere

What to Write About when the Dreaded Deadline is Looming from Just Publishing Advice

Picture This! It’s a Blogger’s Life! by Carrie Peters from Romance University … some useful links for free graphics here

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates from Just Publishing Advice … all about Google Keywords and SEO

A Simple Method to Market Your Book by Penny C. Sansevieri from Writers in the Storm

How Do You Lead Readers to Your Theme? by Sacha Black from Writers Helping Writers

3 Reasons to Embrace the Prickly Synopsis by Orly Konig from Writers in the Storm

The Importance of Revision by Wendy Davies from Romance University

Microsoft Word Alternative by Derek Haines from Just Publishing Advice

 

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See the Forest & the Trees

Hello everyone! Happy Wednesday 🙂 Over on Story Empire today, author P. H. Solomon gives us a lovely post all about criticism and feedback on our books. Well worth a read …

There’s an age-old idiom which we still use today and which goes something like this: “You cannot see the forest for the trees.” The meaning for most of us is plain; we tend to be…

Source: See the Forest & the Trees

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War and Peace

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good weekend and that this finds you well. As promised on my Friday post, which you can find HERE, I am posting one of my short stories based on prompts from my Storymatic set. The prompts were:

  1. Survivor
  2. Vet
  3. Memory of a kiss
  4. Family member reincarnated as a parrot

After initially wondering what I could come up with for the fourth prompt, the writing flowed readily, and I had great fun. In the end, I used both meanings of ‘Vet’ and included both a war veteran and an animal veterinarian. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below … especially for that darned parrot!


War and Peace

 

The explosion lifted the Humvee three feet into the air. The smouldering rubber tyres disintegrated upon re-impact with the ground. The vehicle hit a rock on its now-bare wheel rims and rolled. The final bounce ruptured the fuel line, and diesel poured onto the dust-and-dirt road. Flames and smoke billowed. Sounds of despair and mortal pain abounded—moans, cries, and incoherent screams.

Becca had stood in the gun turret, on watch. She’d missed the IED. Had not seen the artfully arranged shrubbery and disturbed dirt. The nature of the crash saved her life. As the Humvee rose into the air on the initial updraft of the blast, the concussive lurch threw her from the vehicle and deposited her some six feet away, lying on rough dwarf shrubs. While prickly and uncomfortable, the sparse vegetation did cushion her landing somewhat. Had she not gotten thrown, the insurgents now approaching the burning wreck would have gunned her down—point-blank execution. Her squad-mates never stood a chance.

Quietly, Becca wriggled inch by inch until her body rolled off the back of the bush, leaving her on its far side, out of sight—for now. Excruciating pain ripped through her whole torso. Stunned and afraid, she wondered what kind of luck shone on her right then … good or bad? Would she survive and make it home intact? Would they capture and torture her before beheading her during a live internet feed? Would she die of her injuries? Would they find her and shoot her dead, as they had with her buddies?

The automatic-weapons fire ceased. Silence descended, eerie in its abruptness. Nature, it seemed, refused to lend any credence to such a horrific scene by adorning it with sounds or any other overt signs of life. And then a babble of excited, exultant shouts erupted, splintering the brief limbo. Becca understood neither Pashto nor Dari but could comprehend the men’s celebration and congratulations. No different to any other man on the planet giving himself a pat on the back.

Tearless, voiceless, Becca cried for her lost comrades, waiting for discovery. Her back hurt, and her legs didn’t seem to want to move properly. While the dwarf shrub had cushioned her landing, it had also overextended her spine. Pulled? Broken? Torn? With her teeth gritted against the expected agony, she inched over the dirt until she lay half-under the bush. The vegetation didn’t have enough girth to offer full coverage. She craned her neck and scanned her immediate surroundings. Hungry flames devoured the skeletal remains of the Humvee. With any luck, the blaze would mask the fact of a missing crew member. The bastards knew precisely how many personnel manned which vehicles on these sorties. For the first time since early childhood, she closed her eyes and prayed, biting her bottom lip.

 

Nighttime came. The insurgents didn’t. After an hour or so, they had grown bored and slouched away in ones and twos until Becca lay beneath the bush, quite alone. The pain in her spine no longer bothered her. Nothing did. Consciousness greyed to black and back until, finally, she closed her eyes and didn’t re-open them. In the distance, a whump-whump-whump noise grew as it neared the ambush site.

 

2

 

Little Ellie stared into the open coffin, not understanding. Aunty Vanessa had told her what dead meant, but still, she stood there waiting for her nanna to open her eyes. Everybody knew that you couldn’t really sleep forever and ever and ever. That was just in fairy tales. And even then, a handsome prince came and kissed you and woke you up again. But Nanna hadn’t woken up yet. And she kept ignoring Ellie, no matter how much she cried and pleaded. In unconscious mimicry of her mother—currently a world away—she bit her bottom lip. In the end, though, youth showed, and she swapped to sucking her thumb. If Nanna never woke up, like they all said, then who would look after her now? Aunty Vanessa seemed nice enough, if a bit grumpy, but Ellie had never met her until today.

The sunny warmth of the morning gave way to rain and chill. And all the grown-ups kept telling her off: ‘Be quiet, child.’ … ‘You’re in the way.’ … ‘Nanna’s dead. You know that. Now, stop being so silly.’ … And, at last, awfully, finally, Aunty Vanessa looked down at her, all stern-faced and rigid angles, and not giving way at all. ‘Haven’t you packed your bag yet? Come on. It’s time to go. And I won’t take any tantrums from you.’

Uncle Willie seemed like a nice man, though, and he snuck Ellie a sweetie when she promised to be a good girl and do as ‘Aunty V’ asked. What she wanted most in all the world, though, was a cuddle. Nanna used to snuggle in and feel all squidgy and nice. Later on, when Aunty Vanessa hugged her goodnight, Ellie felt bones poking out in the wrong places, and it didn’t feel nice one little bit. If Nanna had to have such a long rest, then why couldn’t Mummy come home and look after her?

That night, Ellie cried herself to sleep. The next night, even as her tears dried on her pillow, she wet the bed. Aunty V was not pleased. While the bony woman had washed Ellie in a shallow bath, scolding her the whole time, Uncle Willie had grouched from the landing, ‘Don’t tell her off so. She didn’t wet the bed on purpose, you know.’ Later, dried and in a fresh nightie, she had lain in bed sobbing her little heart out, and Uncle Willie had come in and cuddled her to sleep, telling her she was a good girl and not to pay Aunty V any notice.

As the days drifted into weeks, and the summer nights shortened and cooled, Ellie grew wan and pale and thin. The once-vibrant girl grew listless and lethargic. Then the summer holidays drew to a close, and the prospect of starting at a new school loomed. Ellie wanted to go to her old school. In her first year, she had made lots and lots of friends. It wasn’t fair. But mean old Aunty V said it was too far to drive to her old school, and so she had to go to this new one. Ellie didn’t believe her when she said that Ellie would make lots of new friends at Whitebridge as well. And when Ellie sulked and wouldn’t eat her dinner, Aunty V told her, impatiently, ‘You’re a big girl now, and you have to act like it. What would all the girls think if they knew how a six-year-old was behaving. You’d be the laughing stock.’

From beneath lowered lids, Ellie snuck a glance at Uncle Willie, who shook his head and sighed but held his peace. No help there. That happened a lot now. Ellie hung her head, bottom lip stuck out in a pout, and pushed away her plate. Aunty V lost her temper. ‘You spoilt little brat. Eat that up right now, or you’ll go to bed hungry.’

Ellie screamed, ‘I hate you!’, shoved her plate over the edge of the table—where it clattered to the carpet and spilled spaghetti Bolognese all over—and stormed from the dining room, stamping her feet all the way up the stairs. At her bedroom, she slammed the door closed behind her and threw herself onto the bed. ‘I wish I was dead,’ she sobbed into her Frozen Disney pillow.

 

Four days later, school started. Ellie ignored Aunty V all the way there. And when her Aunty bent for a kiss goodbye, Ellie turned her back on her and stomped away. All day, she felt miserable, and when one of the bigger girls pulled her ponytail, and Ellie got in trouble for smacking her on the chin, she locked herself in a toilet cubicle and refused to come out. In the end, the headmistress had to get the caretaker to come and ‘jimmy’ the lock. Ellie didn’t know what Jimmy from her class had to do with anything. But, anyway, she got in a lot of trouble after they ‘jimmied’ the lock and dragged her out.

Aunty V shouted at her all the way home, and when they got back, she made Ellie sit on the naughty step. When Uncle Willie got in from his work at the veterinary surgery a couple of hours later, he gave Ellie a look of sadness and went in to talk with the mean old cow. Ellie tried to listen in on the muffled conversation but couldn’t make out much, except things like, ‘It’ll do her a world of good.’ And then, in a raised voice, Aunty V yelling, ‘I’ll not have that filthy beast in my house!’

A little while after that, Uncle Willie came out into the hallway. He gave Ellie a wink and went out to the car. Intrigued, Ellie sat up straight and wiped the tears from her cheeks and chin, sniffling up the snot dangling from her nose. Not satisfied with that, she swiped the rest off with the back of her hand. Uncle Willie came back in, holding something big in both hands, and a pink knitted blanket covered it. From within, a soft squawk sounded. With a screech, Ellie jumped to her feet. ‘You bought me a puppy!’

Uncle Willie shook his head but said, ‘Nearly right. Take a look.’

Nervous, hardly daring to peek, she pulled back the blanket. Confused, but her heart swelling with love for the fluffy baby-thing inside, she looked up at her Uncle. ‘What is it?’

He beamed down at her, and pride puffed out his chest. ‘It’s a parrot. It’s only a baby just now, but she’ll grow big real quick. We can train her, together—you and me—if you’d like.’

Too full to speak, with her heart in her throat, she nodded up and down frantically, until Uncle Willie laughed and caught hold of her chin. ‘Careful, or you’ll nod your head right off your shoulders.’

Ellie giggled. Happy for the first time in forever. ‘Can I keep her?’

‘Yes, sweetheart. She’s all yours.’

Flushed with pleasure, she reached a finger through the bars. The baby parrot craned its neck forward, and Ellie stroked its beak and head. ‘What about her Mummy?’

Uncle Willie frowned. ‘She’s all alone. One of our customers found her abandoned and brought her to us.’

Ellie sucked on her thumb, deep in thought. ‘What’s she called?’

Uncle Willie knelt by her side, so that his head reached her level, ‘Well, what would you like to call her?’

‘I can choose?’

Uncle Willie nodded, and his eyes glistened wetly. While she thought about it, he cleared his throat and then blew his nose into his hankie. Her Uncle could be so gross sometimes, but she loved him all the same. At last, she declared, ‘I’ll call her Olaf, like the snowman!’

Uncle Willie chuckled and nodded. From the kitchen doorway behind them, Aunty V scoffed, ‘That’s a boy’s name.’

Uncle Willie surprised them all then when he said, ‘Hush now, V. It doesn’t do any harm. I think it’s a good name.’ Then, to Ellie, he said, ‘Olaf it is, then. Now, we need to find a place for her in your room, and I can teach you how to look after her—how to keep her clean and feed her.’

‘And love her,’ Ellie whispered, hugging the birdcage.

Uncle Willie cleared his throat some more. ‘Somehow, I don’t think I need to tell you how to do that.’

 

3

 

Olaf the lady parrot didn’t like Aunty V and bit her every chance she got. Before long, she perched on Ellie’s shoulder anytime she was home. She liked it up there. And if Aunty V got too close, Olaf would flap her wings and squawk loudly. Over the next few months, Olaf learned to talk. At first only one word, ‘Hello,’ over and over again, which drove Aunty V mad, so the parrot did it more and more. Then she learned to say, ‘Go away!’, and that became her knew refrain.

 

4

 

Once Ellie heard Olaf speak, the girl talked to her all the time and shared her secrets. They became best friends. One day, after a particularly acrimonious row with Aunty V, Ellie yelled, ‘It’s not my fault you never wanted children!’

Shocked, Aunty V put her hand to her mouth. ‘Wherever did you hear that, child?’

Ellie mumbled, ‘Olaf told me.’

Aunty V shook her head. ‘Nonsense. Overheard it from somewhere, more like.’

‘It’s true.’

Aunty V walked away. Later, when Ellie told Uncle Willie, he just smiled at her and said, ‘Is that so?’

As time went on, Ellie mentioning things she shouldn’t know about became the norm, and for the most part, the adults ignored it. Until the day Ellie announced, ‘Mummy’s coming home!’

 

5

 

Becca took the prognosis in stride—well, not quite, not from her wheelchair, but the main thing was she could go home. At long, long last, she could see her little girl. How much she had missed her. And then had come the awful news of her mum’s sudden death. She hadn’t found that out until about three months afterward because she had still been in a coma. Becca had only awoken a few weeks ago, and they had fed her the bad news in dribs and drabs so as to avoid overwhelming her. And then her bloody sister had decided that it would upset Ellie too much to speak to her mummy on the phone when they wouldn’t see one another for months yet. Accurate enough, for Becca had a lot of rehab and further treatment to endure, but she still hated her sister for doing that to her and Ellie. Her appeal to the doctors and her next in command fell on deaf ears. ‘Best not rock the boat,’ they all said, in their infinite male wisdom. And though Becca raged inwardly, she could do little about it.

And so, she endured the rehab. Endured the pain. Endured the failures—far more numerous than the successes, it seemed. And bided her time. One abiding memory kept her going throughout her ordeals—kissing Ellie goodnight and snuggling in for a bedtime story. As well as memories of the smell of her freshly washed hair and soft, creamy skin. Of course, Ellie would have grown so much bigger by now. And they would have to get to know one another all over again. Before the IED attack, she’d been on tour for a year with her next leave just around the corner. And then she’d died, twice, and ended up in a coma. Would Ellie ever forgive Becca for her absence? For abandoning her after Nanna died? Would she ever understand?

 

6

 

The big day arrived. The sun shone down as if in celebration too. And even Anty V smiled on occasion. Uncle Willie picked up Ellie and swung her around and around until she squealed and begged him to stop. Then, laughing and dizzy, she threw her arms around him and gave him the biggest, bestest hug. ‘I love you!’ she told him, face upturned toward him.

Uncle Willie knelt and pulled her in for a cuddle. ‘I love you too, pumpkin.’

Just then, a minibus pulled up to the kerb. Ellie went very still. All of a sudden, she didn’t know what to do. When Olaf had told her that Mummy would come home soon, she had felt so excited and deliriously happy, but now she felt scared. And when the woman appeared from the back of the bus in a wheelchair, Ellie didn’t recognise her. Uncle Willie rested a hand on her shoulder and said, ‘It’s okay. Just come and say hello. I’ll hold your hand.’

Perched on her shoulder, Olaf squawked out, ‘Becca, Becca, Becca!’ and made Ellie jump.

Stiff and clumsy—not knowing what to do with her legs—she stumbled over to her mother, clutching Uncle Willie’s big hand. He would know what to do. For a long moment, Becca and Ellie gazed at one another. The love and longing shone from the woman’s eyes, and Ellie felt compelled to lean in and hug her. Olaf flew up into the air and then settled on Uncle Willie’s car, watching it all unfold. Once enveloped in Becca’s arms, Ellie recognised how Mummy felt and smelt and sounded. All at once, she let go of Uncle Willie altogether and threw herself at Mummy. Then she burst into tears.

‘Shush now, baby girl. Mummy’s home. It’s going to be okay. I’m so sorry, sweetie. I’ve been away too long. I missed you.’

Through her sniffles, Ellie said, ‘I missed you too.’

‘I love you so much,’ Mummy said.

Ellie hugged her tighter, ‘I love you too.’ And she meant it, even though she did feel angry and hurt at the same time. She would talk to Olaf about it later on—the parrot always knew what to say and how to help. She reminded Ellie of her nanna.

Then Ellie pulled back from Mummy. ‘Don’t go away again.’

Mummy looked sad. ‘I won’t.’

Ellie grew stern. ‘Promise?’

Mummy smiled and held out her little finger, ‘Pinky promise.’

Ellie looped her finger with Mummy’s, and they shook on it.

And though a long and arduous road lay ahead, for the moment, happiness buoyed them, lifting their hearts high.

©Harmony Kent 2018


I hope you enjoyed this bit of fun fiction. Thanks for stopping by!

Story Empire (Co-authored)

Harmony’s Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @harmony_kent

LinkedIn: Harmony

Goodreads: Author Page

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Problems naming things

Hello everyone! Today, over on Story Empire, Craig Boyack has an interesting and fun post on naming things …

 

Hi Gang, Craig here today with a little confession to make. I hate naming things. This can be almost any form, I’m just not comfortable with names. This can be countries, planets, characters,…

Source: Problems naming things

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My Week in Review and Writing Links

Hello everyone. I hope you’ve all had a good week, and that those of you in America had a good July 4th. It has continued hot and humid here with only the smallest bit of rain. Moors, fields, and hedges all keep ending up ablaze this year. My back pain has lessened but remains an issue. Still waiting on various referrals to bear fruit. I’ve been busy with work this week but still managed to get some good writing in 🙂 I now have four short stories using the Storymatic prompts …

  1. The Missing Link at 1500 words (which I’ve posted on the blog HERE). 
  2. Atonement at 2500 words.
  3. The Legacy at 7500 words.
  4. War and Peace (sorry Tolstoy!) at just under 3000 words

The prompts for W&P were:

  1. Survivor
  2. Vet
  3. Memory of a kiss
  4. Family member reincarnated as a parrot (!!! … I was, like, what the bloody hell am I supposed to do with this one??!! lols … anyway, I did come up with something).

 

I will post War and Peace here on the blog on Tuesday next week and would love to know what you think. Well, that’s it from me this week. Now on to the writing links and resources …


FROM STORY EMPIRE

Basic Plots: Quest by Staci Troilo … part 5 of the 7 basic plots post series

Five for Friday by Joan Hall 

 

FROM AROUND THE WORLDWIDE WEB

Top Ten Success Tips by Cheryl Strayed from Writers in the Storm

Occupation Thesaurus: Ethical Hacker from Writers Helping Writers … a great resource on different occupations for your characters

Seven most useful legal tips for writers by Lucy Taylor from Nicholas C Rossis

How to Spy on Keywords from Just Publishing Advice

Top Ten Things not to do if you fall behind … from John Howell … a bit of fun for a Friday! 🙂

Top Kindle Book Promotion Sites from TCK Publishing (Thanks to P.H. Solomon for putting me onto this one!)

The Key Features of Great Blog Writing from Just Publishing

How to Level Up your Character’s Wound by Tamar Sloan from Writers Helping Writers

5 Conflict Making Choices Characters can make by Fae Rowen from Writers in the Storm … and the final part of this posts sometime today

Author Inspiration and Writing Links from Staci Troilo

Hazy Days, Fireworks, and Week in Review from Joan Hall

 


Story Empire (Co-authored)

Harmony’s Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @harmony_kent

LinkedIn: Harmony

Goodreads: Author Page

 

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Basic Plots: Quest

Hello everyone! Happy Monday. Today, author Staci Troilo brings you a great post on plotting. Check it out over on Story Empire …

Ciao, SEers. Today we’re going to discuss our fifth of the Seven Basic Plots as defined by Christopher Booker. If you’ve missed the others, you can find them here: Rebirth, Tragedy, Comedy, and Voy…

Source: Basic Plots: Quest

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My week in review and writing links

Hello everyone! Well, it’s that time of the week again. Over here in the UK, we’ve had a heatwave, and it’s been lovely to have some rare sun. Last weekend, we couldn’t have asked for better weather for going out on the Polruan pilot boat and scattering my fiance’s father’s ashes. His whole life was at sea, firstly as a submariner, and latterly as a boat pilot at the local harbour. And the boat we went out on happened to be the last boat he’d piloted before his retirement. What a great send off. Sunday saw more family hellos and farewells and more great weather. On Monday, I saw a physiotherapist about this pesky back issue, and she wants me to have an x-ray of my hip, as she identified a problem there … oh, the joys of ageing, lols. On the positive side, it is getting looked into, and my back pain is much less this week, although I’m still having to be very careful. As promised in the comments on last week’s Week in Review, I posted the 1500 word story I came up with from my first time playing with Storymatic. If you missed that, you can find it HERE. Mid-week, I drew another four cards, and those prompts are:

  1. Person with a devastating secret
  2. Plastic surgeon
  3. Awkward hug
  4. Phone calls aren’t returned

Oh, have I had some fun with these! My story from the prompts comes in at a little under 2500 words 🙂

 

On a funny note, life certainly can be stranger than fiction. The other night, I queued a whole boxset series to download. It should have been 30 in all (10 X 3 series). One missed, and we had 29. When I went to find the errant episode and re-queued it, guess what its title was? …. A Glitch in the System!!! lols. You couldn’t plan it better.

That’s it from me for now. Have a fantastic weekend everyone 🙂


FROM STORY EMPIRE

How To: From Word to Book by little ole moi … all about the hidden formatting in MS Word and how to work with that to best format your book.

When You Hit a Brick Wall by Joan Hall

Television and the Craft of Writing Fiction by All of us on Story Empire!

 

FROM AROUND THE WORLDWIDE WEB

Author Inspiration and Week in Review from Staci Troilo … Why we write and useful writing resource links

The Week in Review from Joan Hall … vacation memories and writing links

The Senses and Sexual Tension from Romance University

How to Punctuate a Book Title from Just Publishing Advice

How to Write a Book and Stay Focused from Just Publishing Advice

Occupation Thesaurus from Writers Helping Writers … some great resources on here.

Dive Deep into Dialogue from Writers in the Storm

One Word Separates us from Psychopaths by Sue Coletta

Wax On Wax Off from Writers Helping Writers … areas to polish in your manuscript

An Addict’s Take on Writing Contests by Tracy Brody on Writers in the Storm

E-Commerce Blogging by Skubana from Nicholas Rossis


Story Empire (Co-authored)

Harmony’s Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @harmony_kent

LinkedIn: Harmony

Goodreads: Author Page

When You Hit a Brick Wall

What do you do when you hit a brick wall? Check out what author Joan Hall has to say over on Story Empire today! 🙂

Hi SE Readers! Joan here today to talk about the dreaded “writer’s block.” Okay, some writers say it doesn’t exist. Others will swear it does. I’m not here to debate the issue, although of late, I …

Source: When You Hit a Brick Wall

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The Missing Link

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well this Monday and have had a good weekend.

As promised to some of my blogging friends on my post on Friday, which you can find HERE, here is my 1500 word short fiction, based on four cards drawn from my Storymatic set:

The cards were …

  1. Subject of a medical experiment
  2. Person who never gives up
  3. Guessing game gone wrong
  4. Invisibility

From these, I came up with ‘The Missing Link’ …


The Missing Link

 

Barry was an ordinary guy with an ordinary life. And, as with many students, he seemed permanently strapped for cash. The only thing that made him stand out from the crowd was his tenacity. Once he committed to a thing, he went at it like a dog to a bone, or the stink around a noxious fart. His interest lingered long after most people’s initial motivation had waned.

When John first suggested them signing up as guinea pigs to earn a bit extra dosh, Barry had felt reluctant. However, like a tic, the idea had wormed its way under his skin and infected him. And now, two days later, he had quite warmed to the prospect.

And so it was that they found themselves at the Shaw Medical Research Centre on a dreary, misty Saturday in June. Despite the insipient damp, the warm air felt heavy and cloying. The freshness of the centre’s air conditioning brought frank relief within seconds of passing through its doors.

Belying the building’s chill and stark clinical milieu, the staff couldn’t have been warmer or more accommodating. Until things began to go awry, that is. Panicked, his friend John demanded that they let him leave. At this point, it became all too apparent that the idea of being a volunteer now proved quite the misnomer. Unwitting test subject offered a much greater degree of accuracy.

Amidst the contagious fear and protestations, Barry—in character—knuckled down, determined to see the thing through to its final conclusion. He had, after all, made a commitment in return for promised remuneration.

The doctor who’d administered the drugs had split them into two groups—one to receive a placebo and the other to get a dose of the real thing. The purpose was to commence human trials on a new wonder pill that, purportedly, vanished fat. In defiance of the vast array of frauds on the market, this tablet really made your excess weight disappear.

What the doctor hadn’t mentioned was that the dosage for human consumption came down to little more than a guessing game—educated guessing, but still—based on how the test rats had reacted and the difference in body mass between Roland Rodent and the erstwhile volunteer.

Initially, nobody noticed when number 23 disappeared from his bunk in the far corner. Only when they failed to link his cries of alarm and dismay to a visible person did they follow their ears instead.

Barry had laughed along with the rest, thinking it a neat trick and fantasizing about all the ways a guy might use this freak side effect to his benefit. Then John had tried to touch the guy. At that point they came to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. He had not only disappeared from the visual realm, but also from the physical dimension. Within a minute, even his voice had faded to nothing. What did that mean? Was he alive or dead?

Then number 16 from the bunk next to Barry and John held up arms no longer there, his eyes wide and appalled. Then the staff had rushed in and removed the unfortunate fellow.

The low hum of confusion soon grew to a din of alarm and outrage. Then John tried the door. Locked. And no emergency exit presented itself to the frantic searches of the occupants.

Eventually, Dr Pearson returned, looking simultaneously drawn and energised. In light of the current catastrophe, he had coerced the overseer to open the sealed documents, which identified which group had received the actual drug. Then he told all the placebo recipients that they could go home. John, part of group A, jumped to his feet and rushed for the door with nary a glance for poor old Barry, who sat with the remains of doomed group B.

Though nervous and apprehensive, Barry didn’t spare any energy for regret or thoughts of trying to escape. His natural curiosity and perseverance dictated that he needed to see how things worked out. He did, however, give a little of his focus to his chagrin at how easily and readily his friend had abandoned him and left him to his fate.

After a while, he too faded to invisibility but didn’t cease to exist. His consciousness persisted, along with his sharp wits and keen observational sense. When the doctor came in to check on him, the medic didn’t realise the last of his subjects remained. Barry used that to his advantage and snuck out of the test room at the doc’s heels.

Unwittingly, Pearson led him to a conference room, currently a debriefing area. The facility employees—those in the know—appeared shocked and upset. All but the doctor and a man in military uniform, who displayed only excitement for the potential of such a drug if they could tweak it to stop the recipients from expiring at the critical point of invisibility.

Enthralled, Barry sat and listened to the arguments and theories thrown back and forth. And then one of the female assistants screamed and pointed. Right at him. Or, rather, at his now visible midsection. Dr Pearson leapt to his feet and fled from the room.

A few minutes passed with people talking at once and an awed babble while more bits of Barry reappeared. Then the doc returned and bade everyone follow him. He took them to a long tiled corridor with doors leading off on either side, every six feet or so. A glimpse through the glass panel of one such portal revealed number 16 sitting on his bed, now hearty and whole.

As the group walked past a branch corridor with just a single door at its far end, Barry heard cries for help and demands to be let out. Chief amongst those voices, he recognised John’s deep baritone—now raised in indignation and anger. So much for ‘free to go’.

Barry, of course, quickly agreed to receive another—higher—dose when asked. How could he refuse such an opportunity? Somewhat redundantly, the doctor offered him big money. And even though he would have done it for free, he managed to haggle an extra twenty thousand. All in all, he felt quite pleased with himself.

During his second stint of playing the invisible man, he discovered the ability to move through walls and any manner of solid objects. His wanderings took him to a lab, deep underground. Animated voices drew him closer.

A man in white scrubs pointed to an emaciated and sad-looking rat. ‘There’s the missing link! It’s not about mass at all.’

Movement at the back of the room caught his attention—Dr Pearson and the military guy. The doc rubbed his chin, ‘Explain, please.’

The scientist said, ‘We assumed that the dosage needed to increase to achieve the same result on a larger body.’

Pearson nodded. ‘Go on.’

The scientist chewed his bottom lip. ‘It’s not about mass but about potency.’ Then he launched into a lot of medical speak that went over Barry’s head. The upshot was that they found another group B subject and got him to agree to a much smaller dose of IB10—a minute amount, in fact.

After three hours, his clothes hung limp from his once chubby frame, and he had to cinch his belt down to the furthest hole to keep his pants from slipping over his hips. His before and after body weight showed an impossible loss of 45 pounds.

Meanwhile, Barry’s extra dosage kept him out of sight for a full forty-eight hours. His biggest problem came when he grew hungry. Not until he rematerialized could he ingest or even pick up food, or drink liquid for that matter.

Over the ensuing week, army and government types replaced the civilian medical and support staff. They hypnotised all but Barry and number 16—who had agreed to work with them further after signing non-disclosures—and ‘suggested’ that the volunteers had experienced acute hallucinations in reaction to the drugs they’d received. They also convinced the placebo group that they had, mistakenly, received the test drug also.

With everyone compliant, they allowed them to leave the facility at long last. Number 16—a lad called Jack—didn’t stay much longer. They soon had all they needed from him regarding the weight-loss nature of the trial. Again, they hypnotised him to ensure his silence. Barry proved far more useful to them, especially when he divulged the bit about moving through solid objects.

Having seen the fate of his fellow test subjects when they’d outgrown their usefulness, Barry planned ahead and took full advantage of his invisible freedoms, gleaning as much information and data as he could. And then he disappeared.

©Harmony Kent 2018


I hope you enjoyed this bit of fun fiction. Thanks for stopping by!

Story Empire (Co-authored)

Harmony’s Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @harmony_kent

LinkedIn: Harmony

Goodreads: Author Page

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How To: From Word to Book

Hello everyone! Happy Monday. Today, you’ll find me over on Story Empire, talking about how to format your Word document to best convert your manuscript into a book for print and ebook. Well worth a look …

Hello SErs! Harmony here. When I posted about using Calibre to convert and edit your ePub, a couple of you asked about formatting Word ready for that conversion, and also for print. Today, I attemp…

Source: How To: From Word to Book

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My week in review and writing links

Hello everyone! Happy Friday 🙂 I hope you’ve all had a good week. Mine has focused more on getting things sorted out than on writing or creating or even that darned audio editing growling at me from the corner, lols. With regards to this bad back, which seems rather persistent, I have a physiotherapy appointment on Monday next week and have also procured a brace for when I absolutely have to be up and doing, so that will hopefully have things looking up soon. After reading Mae Clair’s post on creative tools last week (which you can find HERE), I ordered the Storymatic, and this week I had a play. I drew 2 cards for the character and 2 cards for the plot. The lines I got were:

  • Subject of a Medical Experiment
  • Person who never gives up
  • Guessing game gone wrong
  • Invisibility

From these, I came up with a 1500 word story called The Missing Link. Who knows, that might become a detailed outline for a novel or novella! And, not doing serious writing or working at the moment, I have been reading and reading and reading, hence Virginia Woolf’s quote for today! So, that’s my week in review, and now I have more links and resources for you. Here they are:


FROM STORY EMPIRE

The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine from P.H. Solomon … all about marketing

The plate of peas part of writing from C.S. Boyack … food for thought on writing

Friday book cover share from Harmony Kent … I cheated here and chose two covers that caught my eye instead of one!

 

FROM AROUND THE WORLDWIDE WEB

The Week in Review from Joan Hall with useful links

Author Inspiration and Writing Links from Staci Troilo with loads of great writing links

The Satisfaction of Excellence from Writers Helping Writers … stretching ourselves and sticking to it

Market Trends and POD and ebooks from PRNewswire via Don Massensio … worth a read

And also from Don Massensio’s week in indie publishing … Amazon Criticized for removing reviews

Morality clauses: are publishers right to police writers? from The Guardian and also via Don’s week in publishing above


Story Empire (Co-authored)

Harmony’s Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @harmony_kent

LinkedIn: Harmony

Goodreads: Author Page

 

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Friday Cover Share: Cusp of Night & The Alternative

Hello SErs! Happy Friday! 🙂 Harmony here. Today is my turn to share a book cover with you that caught my attention for one reason or another. As you will see from the post title, I couldn’t …

Source: Friday Cover Share: Cusp of Night & The Alternative

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The plate of peas part of writing

Over on Story Empire today, author Craig Boyack gives us some ‘food for thought’ on writing stories …

Hi, Gang! Craig with you again, with another way to think about story. I used to talk about this with my children when it came to life choices. They hated it, but hopefully it will resonate better …

Source: The plate of peas part of writing

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The Lost Dutchman’s Mine Gold Mine of Authors

Hi everyone! Over on Story Empire, author P.H. Solomon has a great post on marketing for you …

It’s the stuff that makes for a great story and grabs people’s attention who enjoy one: The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. The stories about the fabled mine in Arizona’s Superst…

Source: The Lost Dutchman’s Mine Gold Mine of Authors

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My week in review and writing links

Hello everyone! Happy Friday! Once again, this is me readying for the weekend. I can’t rightly say winding down, because all plans ended up off this week.Today’s quote reflects the kind of week I’ve had. I’ve had issues with a bad back for a while now, and this week, it decided to get playful, lols. So, instead of diving into all that audio editing I had planned to do, I’ve had to rest up and avoid the computer chair like the plague! The upside is that I got caught up on a lot of reading, lols! Consequently, I only have the one link for you this week, and that’s because it landed in my inbox, but I do have links to some great Story Empire posts as well as Staci and Joan’s blogs with some awesome writing links for you on there, so please do check them out. So, without further ado, here they are:


FROM STORY EMPIRE

Tools to Engage Your Creativity by Mae Clair (I loved these so much, I ordered myself a set of the Storymatic cards 🙂 Can’t wait to have a play with them!)

Basic Plots by Staci Troilo … from her seven basic plots post series … well worth a look.

All About Conflict by Staci Troilo

 

FROM AROUND THE WORLDWIDE WEB

The Week in Review from Joan Hall … with lots of great links

Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links from Staci Troilo … with some great resources

Diving Deep into POV from Writers Helping Writers


Story Empire (Co-authored)

Harmony’s Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @harmony_kent

LinkedIn: Harmony

Goodreads: Author Page

 

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Writing Question: Conflict

Hi everyone! I have a post for you from Staci Troilo over on Story Empire today that’s all about conflict … 🙂

Ciao, SEers. Seems my time for a Friday post has rolled around again. This is the week of the month where we pose a question for discussion. I’m going to discuss first, then pose my question.…

Source: Writing Question: Conflict

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Basic Plots: Voyage and Return

Hello everyone! Happy Wednesday. Today, over on Story Empire, author Staci Troilo brings us another great post on the seven basic plots. Entertaining and Informative, it’s definitely worth checking out …

Ciao, SEers. I’m back again today with one of the Seven Basic Plots as defined by Christopher Booker. If you’ve missed the others, you can find them here: Rebirth, Tragedy, and Comedy. Today’s post…

Source: Basic Plots: Voyage and Return

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Mae Clair: Cusp of Night book release

Hello everyone!

Today, it gives me great pleasure to host author Mae Clair with her latest Supernatural Thriller book of fiction: Cusp of Night!

Some of you will know that Mae has a special interest in all things supernatural, and today she talks about Spiritualism and Séances through the Centuries.

Take it away, Mae! …


Spiritualism and Séances through the Centuries

 

The mid to late 1800s experienced a growing interest in spiritualism. This was especially true after the Civil War, when family members were desperate to communicate with the husbands, brothers, and loved ones they’d lost. Mediums grew in popularity, promising to to reach beyond the veil of Summerland, allowing the living to speak with the dead.

Even those unskilled in the spiritual world tried their hand at breaching the Aether. The desire for communication was so great, the practice of trying to contact the dead so commonplace, “home circles” became popular, replacing dancing and games of charades as entertainment. Family and friends gathered for weekly séances, hoping spirits would interact with them through table tilting, rapping sounds, or automatic writings.

full body beautiful girl ghost witch bride sitting on a vintage copper bath with a white canopy in a long white dress with vintage high vinazhnoy hairdo. Studyai shot.

False mediums saw an opportunity and began to advertise their skills in the personal sections of local newspapers. No dark séance was complete without the appearance of ghostly ectoplasm, spirit lights, or the medium sending his or her “spirit trumpet” soaring through the air. In an effort to expose fraudulent mediums, the American Society for Psychical Research made it their mission to investigate those who presented themselves as authentic. The era produced a number of well-known mediums who were later exposed as frauds, including the Fox Sisters, Margret and Kate, who lit the spark igniting the Spiritualist movement.

In my upcoming June 12th release, Cusp of Night, my main character, Maya Sinclair learns that the brooding brownstone she’s rented once belonged to a renown spiritualist—Lucinda Glass, also known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill. Maya finds herself caught up in the twisted history of an old urban legend and a specter of evil from the days when Summerland, table tilting, and home circles were commonplace.

In order to save herself and those she cares about, Maya must reach through the barriers of old world spiritualism to stave off a spirit who transcends centuries—and who has every intention of destroying those in the present.

Forli, Emilia Romagna, Italy: narrow dark alley in the old town – ancient Italian street at night with lampposts and cobbled pavement

BLURB

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend. 

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .


 

PURCHASE HERE

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

 

 

 

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These look like fun: Tools to engage your creativity!

Hi everyone, happy Monday! It’s so hot and humid here … Well, not to worry, as we have author Mae Clair over on Story Empire today with a great post on Creative Tools. I’m off to do more investigating because these look like fun! 🙂 …

Hello, SEers! It’s Mae in the wheelhouse today with some handy tools to spark your creativity. Let’s face it—every now and then we get a little burned out with our writing projects. Okay, maybe mor…

Source: These look like fun: Tools to engage your creativity!

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Friday Book Share – Boneshaker

Author C.S. Boyack tells us about Cherie Priest and Boneshaker over on Story Empire today for their Friday Book Share … it looks like a great book!

Craig here today, and this post is a bit challenging for me. I know I don’t read as much as the other Story Empire authors, and rarely get the chance to read something that isn’t from o…

Source: Friday Book Share – Boneshaker

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My week in review and writing links

Happy Friday everyone! Well, this is me winding down for the weekend, and I thought I’d share my week with you as well as some useful writing links. This is my first such post, and my intention is to try and do one of these each week … we’ll see!

I started the week with a bang and got my book Backstage narrated for audio in just two full days. And now starts the arduous work of audio editing … headphones at the ready! My writing muse seems to be doing a kind of on-off thing at the moment, so we’ll see where that goes 🙂

On a personal note, I’ve done something different and daring (for me) and had my hair coloured and highlighted, lols. I quite like the look! So, just now with the new hair and my recently-new reading glasses, I hardly recognise me!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Here are some useful links I’ve come across through the week:


FROM STORY EMPIRE

Summer and Writing by Joan Hall

Formatting for ebook the easy way by Harmony Kent

Friday Book Share by Craig Boyack

 

FROM AROUND THE WORLDWIDE WEB

The Week in Review from Joan Hall … with lots of great links

Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links from Staci Troilo … with some great resources

Working with an Editor from Allison Williams

As a Writer, Do You Make Time to Read? from Don Massenzio … he has lots of great reblogs on his site


Story Empire (Co-authored)

Harmony’s Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @harmony_kent

LinkedIn: Harmony

Goodreads: Author Page

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Working with an editor – some tips and advice #amwriting #writinganovel #writingtips #selfpublishing

Having had a bad experience recently, I had been toying with a post on ‘How Not to Treat Your Editor’. However, this post from Allison Williams says it all on ‘what to do’. Please do check it out. And seriously, it’s not the editor’s job to chase you or your manuscript. And if you change email address, you MUST let your editor know ASAP! Thanks for an awesome post, Allison! 🙂 …

 

I’ve been editing for a while now and have worked with some truly lovely writers. I understand that it can be quite nerve-wracking to approach an editor, and if you’re a new writer, you…

Source: Working with an editor – some tips and advice #amwriting #writinganovel #writingtips #selfpublishing

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Abracadabra: Transforming Your Book

Hi everyone! Today, over on Story Empire, I talk about easy ebook formatting. Go check it out 🙂 …

 

Hello SErs! Harmony here 🙂 Happy Wednesday. Today, due to popular demand, I’d like to outline an easy way to format your books for ebook publishing. In the past, you had to know HTML to do a…

Source: Abracadabra: Transforming Your Book

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Summer and Writing

Author Joan Hall has a nice post on summer and writing over on Story Empire today … ooh, now that cocktail looks rather inviting! …

Hello, SE Readers! Hope all is well in your world this Monday. My post today is short and sweet, but I think it’s something most of us can relate to. Summer doesn’t officially arrive until later th…

Source: Summer and Writing

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Five For Friday: SF&F That Should Be A Movie Or TV Epic

Check out this awesome list of SciFi and Fantasy books brought to you by PH Solomon over on story empire today. I have to say, I adored Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books when I was younger 🙂

 

Hello again, to all the story Empire readers. Somehow, I drew double duty this week with the Wednesday post and today’s Friday post. We’re trying something a bit new in our repertoire o…

Source: Five For Friday: SF&F That Should Be A Movie Or TV Epic

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Get the Most Out of Dictation With These Tips

For any writers who’ve thought about saving time writing by dictating, this is the post for you! 🙂

 

Hello to all the story Empire readers. I hope everyone had a good Memorial day weekend. For those of us not on vacation, it’s been back to work and with that in mind I thought I would provide…

Source: Get the Most Out of Dictation With These Tips

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Whatchagot Stew

Check out this great post from Craig Boyack over on Story Empire from yesterday (I’m late posting!) … clever stuff …

 

Happy Memorial Day all the SEers in the USA, and welcome to everyone else out there too. Many of you will be celebrating with a pot luck get together, a slumgullion, or whatchagot stew of some kind…

Source: Whatchagot Stew

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Friday Book Cover ~ Old and New

Joan Hall gives us an interesting comparison between three book covers today over on Story Empire … Old versus Modern …

 

Hello SE Readers! As a reader, a good cover is often the first thing that draws me to a novel, particularly with a new or unknown author. If the artwork isn’t impressive, I’m likely not…

Source: Friday Book Cover ~ Old and New

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