Shawn Before Dawn, A Story

I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock – it was 4:58 AM. “Today is an important day,” I remembered. I turned off the alarm before it sounded and slammed the four fluid ounces of coffee I sat by it the night before. I went to the restroom, shaved, showered, got ready as quickly as possible making sure I did not forget anything I considered the previous day. Today is important. My boss is buying me lunch and may even further explain why his daughter left me.

The sun was not yet up and the traffic still sparse. I pulled into the gravel drive, as always, and parked in a familiar place. In only fourteen short months I had moved up in the construction company my boss owns and runs from Laborman to Crew Leader Assistant to Crew Leader. My crews always operated in an efficient and timely manner. They ate my egg burritos like Pavlovian study dogs. Recently I was given the responsibility of an entire project and am currently over three crews in the process of demolition and reconstruction of an entire wing of a colossal warehouse facility.

I am minutes early and I know it. I make a habit of it and no one complains or is ever surprised. For this reason I have the key to the trailer office, our companies temporary onsite headquarters. Today would not be so bad. My crew knows how to do what they do well, and we have our goals to meet by the end of the day. I turn the key to open the trailer and it breaks off inside the keyhole. Just what I need. Closed to half an hour until I see a living human and I am stranded with a sack of egg burritos.

I sat on the wooden steps and watched the dark blueish purple misty sky fade into the orange of dawn behind scattered clouds of thin fog. I thought back. Not too long ago I decided to give college a rest for a while and move back in with parents until I found work. I found work and met Mallen. She and I worked for a small restaurant which sold pizza and tacos; she mentioned her dad owned a construction company.

“Damn,” I thought, “Just when there was no chance of moving out.” I enquired of the difficulty or chances of my working for her father and she said I could probably hire in as labor with no experience, that he was hiring about a dozen workers during the next four weeks.

I am not the kind of guy that ignores the chance of love. This time it did not work out, yet I at least gave the woman no cold shoulder. Mallen mentioned she was in nearly my same situation as she was living with her parents and wanted to find a place. She would starve and die before working for her dad, even though he was probably the single most powerful contractor in our city of over 4,000,000 people.

I got a newspaper and road around with Mallen a few afternoons in a row and we found an inexpensive flat and signed a 3-month form. I went to work for her dad and ‘kicked as much ass as possible,’ so to speak, always being on time and getting as much physical labor accomplished as humanly conceivable. I thought she and I got along fine. I never really noticed how intelligent Mallen really was, nor did I notice that she did not speak her thoughts very often.

Our place was fine and included two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study room, four closets, and a small television room with two couches. She moved plenty of stuff in there including kitchenware and plenty of personal belongings. I kept my work clothes, an old radio, an alarm clock, and a few changes of clothes, only. We were never more than companions, if that.

Still on the wooden steps, I cannot help but remember the night Mallen changed the locks. After work I went to a local bookstore and got a coffee and a best seller. Gotta love that John Grisham. It was late in the evening and I went to a bar. I don’t drink, but the sandwiches there are great and only cost a few dollars a piece. The bartender had no problem telling me of his life’s career, and I had no problem eating five sandwiches and enjoying four complimentary iced apple sodas.

It was 1Am by the time I headed back to the flat. I knew Mallen had been looking for a new job and was interviewing with the airport. When I got back, the locks were changed and there was a note on the door: “Got the job – Mallen.” I was confused.

Sleeping in my truck that night to go to work on Saturday morning was no big deal for me. It was the surprise. Was she okay? Did we not even have a chance at this thing called love? Surely there could have been a spark. If nothing else, I could have grown to like her more.

It did not take me but a few days to find a new place. My crew leader at the time helped me find a one-bedroom flat and I signed another form. Then I had no distractions. I could work, work, work, then sleep, eat, and work some more. As happy as I was, I was still confused with Mallen. Again, I just thought we may have been able to grow closer together, somehow.

Only seconds had gone by and I saw my boss pulling up in the glowing dawn of the morning. Before, he simply said, “Like she said, Shawn, she got the job.” Knowing that is all he would probably say again, today, at least I’ll get a nice lunch and a chance to thank the man.

“Good morning Shawn!” hollered Mr. Bruno, “Sleeping on the job?” “I am sorry, sir. I broke my key in the lock.” I stood and removed the broken piece from the lock and he unlocked it. “Just there for a second I bet you thought my daughter got another job,” chuckled Mr. Bruno, and it was hard not to laugh.

We went about our normal routine and my crew got a great deal of work done that day. Noon was approaching. I gave them the burritos and went to find Mr. Bruno. We made our way to a Deli and he got us both a couple of roast beef sandwiches with smoked parmesan and sautéed peppers. Good stuff.

“My apologies for my confusion, Mr. Bruno. Thank you for buying me lunch and, as always, I know you know I am grateful to be able to work for you.”

“I understand your confusion. Mallen wrote a letter for me to read to you when I mentioned you showed concern.”

Mr. Bruno read the letter to me and it was mostly about being career oriented, human dominance and all. She said I was a nice, hard-working fellow and was sure I would find the right woman, eventually. She would be working two jobs for a few weeks and then for the airport on a longterm basis if all went well, that plenty of people seek leaders in the world, and we both are surely ‘doyens of our herds.’

“So she did not think I was moving to fast or not fast enough or that I was cheating on her or anything. This abrupt separation was solely career oriented and had mostly to do with us both being headstrong.”

“I think that about sums it up,” said Mr. Bruno, “And I see you shaking in your boots there, fearless ‘doyen.'”

“How so?”

“Are you not concerned of your performance at work?”

“I planned to enquire nonchalantly.”

“Well, I want you to know that you are one of my best. Keep up the good work and you will have less and less to worry of. I gave you the promotion because of your good work and ability to lead others, to get the job done right and make our customers happy when the situation presented itself. Three weeks from now we are signing a new contract. You will be a part of it, just below the head foreman. As for Mallen I think she will be fine and appreciate your understanding. Everything okay?”

“Yes sir, Mr. Bruno and thank you.”

“No problem.”

We went back to work and all went well. A few weeks flew by and I was on the new jobsite in no time and we all did great. Two years went by and I moved up to foreman, and was responsible for over two hundred workers. I had put Mallen out of mind, completely, bought a small house not too far from the city, and all was well.

Then, I happened to see Mr. Bruno and his wife at the grocery store one evening when I went to get a frozen pizza. A world of words could have come from my mouth… the weather, work, anything, and I heard myself say, “So, how is Mallen?” I felt about as brilliant as a broken lightbulb at midnight. Mr. Bruno’s wife grinned and looked to Mr. Bruno. He said, “She worked six and seven days a week for 22 months for the airport and started her own business in our neighboring state. She would not even let me introduce her to anyone.”

Somehow relieved, I asked, “What kind of business did she start?”

Mr. Bruno said, “A construction firm.”

··· Post Story Relations ···

The story above is one I enjoyed writing. When reading about writing, we always hear, “Write what you know.” For me, I like to consider what I do not really know much about, research the topic, and go from there with character, setting, and plot development. This time, though, I went with something I am more familiar with. I may not have included very much fancy description and totally refrained from the absence of the passive voice and broke plenty of grammatical rules (hidden verbs included), however I thought the story was fun and hope you enjoyed reading it. I have always found it a difficult thing to write a story in the present while speaking about the past without the infamous passive voice. At least, I hope, it was fun.

I must mention, though, that I wrote this story from an idea from a writing prompt. The real story I submitted to here, was for the Your Story competition held every eight weeks or so by Writer’s Digest. I always check out the contest and read the winners, yet hardly ever make the time to enter. After all, I am working on another book. It is my first full-blown novel. It has been exciting so far, and I hope it will be fun to read for all ages, fantasy. The Your Story prompt this time really sent my thoughts into other universes. It was almost hard to believe that so few words could inspire so much possibility.

My first thought was to go with a discussion between lawyers, then a receptionist speaking with a disgruntled man, then many others. In the story I submitted, which was to be under 700 words, I stuck with dialogue only. After about 550 words I was done, even though I figured I would really have to trim down a first draft to enter. Surprise surprise. I probably could have been more eloquent with the use of our wonderful language – at least I sent them something. In case you have never heard of the word ‘doyen,’ I found it with a thesaurus. I knew it was a rare word for some, the next best thing to a neologism (like jobsite or colloquialisuhm).

As I am not as refined with dialogue stories as many and surely am not the leading master of this planet’s prose, I wanted to write out the story in a fun and rewarding way for my readers and myself as well. I like to use ‘he said’ and ‘she said;’ call me a third grader, but I dislike nothing more than dialogue which confuses the speakers only seven lines into a thirty some-odd line script we commonly see in best-selling novels.

So, I hope you read and enjoyed “Shawn Before Dawn”, and I also hope you take part in Writer’s Digest competitions such as their annual writing competitions and Your Story, no matter your skill level. I plan to become more involved in the world of literary appreciation/presentation, eventually, will die trying if I never meet my goals. I do appreciate you for reading and please, let me know if you entered the Your Story Competition or others. I love feedback and am always happy to hear of others’ attempts in regards to their efforts. 🙂

New Peppers

Recently, I added a few house plants to my home gardening effort. My basil plants are fine and I just re-potted them. My grapefruit trees are still alive, about 3″ tall, and totally healthy. Here are two photos of the new pepper plants I welcomed home a couple of days ago.

black-pearl-pepper

The plant above is beautiful, as it has dark purple leaves. Its small sphere-like fruits are black pearl peppers. They turn burgundy and then red when they are ripe. I am not sure how hot the are, yet I am sure I will put a few of them with a dish once they ripen fully. I plan to keep the plants healthy and watch them grow day by day, as a hobby.

chilli-pepper

The above photo is of chili peppers. While no huge amazing site for many, to me, they are amazing. Mostly because I am happy to have them and cannot wait to maintain their health. The plant is about eight inches tall, currently. Though the peppers look ready to eat, they turn orange and then red before they are fully ripe, from what little I read about them.

For a long time, I was not very good with house plants, as they usually died within ten weeks or so. Now, I keep my gardening simple and feel like some form of a master botanist. 🙂 My secret? I use Miracle Grow. I also change out the soil every eight weeks or so and keep gardening notes on a calendar. I water the plants once or twice a day and make sure the water can easily drain from the bottom of their containers.

When re-potting the plants, I submerge them in water to loosen most of the soil from the roots. It sounds so easy and even seems so, however it has taken some practice to get better with gardening. Some plants are easier to keep alive than others. If you are new to gardening and want to grow something from seed, I suggest pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin flowers are large yellow-orange flowers and pretty amazing. Their small curly vines are fun and like to wrap around whatever is near them, such as long growing sticks or thin rods.

Let me know if you have any gardening photos to share – the more the merrier. Have a nice day and thank you for visiting jcm3blog.

Happy Birthday Baby Grapefruit

gf-1

Around 1.1.16, I put some seeds from a super-huge grapefruit in the window seal. The grapefruit was about 1/2 a gallon in size. They took about seven weeks to germinate. The photo shows two seeds, each with two sprouts and two roots. I think they are twins.  The last time I tried to grow some grapefruit trees they only lived about six weeks, however I think these have the chance of living longer. For now, they are babies. We’ll consider their birthday to be 1.1.16, and we’ll see if they are over ten inches tall by 1.1.17.

Happy blogging. 🙂

Flowering Purple Basil

pb-4

About a year ago, I got a two Purple Basil plants. I am no master gardener, so I have tried to do well with keeping them healthy. I changed the soil out (Miracle Grow) once ever ten weeks or so and keep low-wattage bulbs on them with a timer. I water them only once or twice a day and ‘mist’ them gently with a spray bottle of water. I also give them those little plant food sticks once every two weeks or so.

pb-1

As happy as I have been that the plants even stayed living, I was even happier to see them flower. I did not know they could flower and was pretty amazed. So, I took some amateur photos of them to share. I think they are pretty awesome and cannot wait to see if the flowers make seeds. I am pretty sure they will need to be pollinated – we’ll see whether such a notion is even possible.

pb-2

Thank you for viewing this post. I was happy to share these photos with you.

A Book Review for Stephen King’s “On Writing”

“On Writing” was an enjoyable read. I originally purchased the book to read to improve my writing style without considering its entire title “… A Memoir of the Craft”. Even though King explains life experiences from his childhood to near present time, he still includes a great deal of positive advice for writing. Anyone struggling with writing or open to some inspirational thought will benefit from reading “On Writing”.

One reason the book, and Stephen King himself, gives me so much inspiration is the notion of writing about 1,400 words a day or more. This is a far easier idea than trying to set aside a 6-hour time slot to write as much as possible, and way easier than trying to write out an entire project only pausing when necessary. Producing a small amount of work by often habit is more feasible to justify and stay motivated with.

Another notion that I find inspiring is the idea of writing without too much plotting. I agree with King on this one -even if one plots out an entire story or novel, once one writes it out they generally change what goes on (or not) as you write it. If plotting with an outline helps you, go for it. If simply writing without too much thought of the story before you come up with it is the way you write best, go with that. Do what works for you, in other words, even if you’ve heard it many times before.

The next thing I like about King’s advice on writing was to not spend too much time with technique. I enjoy utilizing as much grammar technique as possible, however I do not always adhere to grammar rules as strictly as I would like. Use of the passive voice, colloquialisms, ect. many times are found in my rough drafts. I do not let these things keep me from the story, though, and King reminds us of what is most important when writing fiction. The story.

Many people who have written about “On Writing” mention Mr. King’s near death accident. The story is in the end of the book. He was hit by a vehicle while on a walk one day, nearly died, and was only half through with “On Writing”. Our hearts go out to Stephen King when we hear of his regaining of health after having most of his body shattered and finishing his memoir on writing. Long live the King, indeed.

King mentions his struggles as a young writer such as struggling to pay bills, even when he became an English teacher. Who would have ever guessed that the world’s most famous and respected horror author would be a down-to-Earth family man? I am not sure, however I have more respect for him after reading his honest accounts of his love for his wife, family, and writing. I also found his ideas on drug abuse inspiring. He declares that while many users may think that use helps their creativity, people write just as well without stimulants or sedatives or both. I agree. I may drink a coffee or vape sometimes, however I find participating in creative writing is best without the use of unhealthy substances. I am glad he decided to clean up his life and live in a healthy way, that he could say people write just as splendidly without stimulants/downers or other temptations.

To further explore reasons I liked “On Writing”, I must note that King mentions telepathy. We are not alone as humans; any religion considers the idea. He suggests good practices for choosing a good place to write and being okay with ‘listening’ while writing. He also mentions that he kept this book slim and tried to exercise some form of concision with his prose. In my opinion, he did an awesome job. I was able to read a few pages at night before going to bed and had the book finished, paying attention to its every word, in about 40 days (if I can do it, so can you). King mentions a Mississippi scribbler, John Grisham, as being found by his agent, Bill who set King up with Double Day many years ago. Many people think that part of what makes Grisham such a great author has to do with the ease in which we can read his work. I agree and think “On Writing” can be easily read.

“On Writing” gives references to a few dozen authors/books with explanations of their style and why to read them or how to compare them to what we may decide to write. King helps us consider what we are after with our writing and how to achieve success. He also includes two extensive book lists in the end of the version I read.

Early in the book, he mentions going to the movies and considering what was going on in the movie, as well as what could have happened to make the story even crazier or better. I think most people have a pretty creative mind, however part of King’s unique genius, other than his work ethic, is his ability to consider a good story and either stick with it or spice it up a little.

As far as real grammar lessons go, there are not many in “On Writing”. King does mention”Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition”, as well as Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”. He advises a cautious study of these texts, yet mentions that once you have learned enough grammar to write well, there is no need to waste your time with studying too much grammar. By saying this, he reminds us that the story itself is what is most important.

The first part of the book inspired my writing a tale upon reading a few things about Stephen King’s childhood. I put the book down and wrote out an outline, and wrote the story the next day. You can read it here. I also wrote down an outline for a novel with a protagonist and a bunch of monsters, however it may be a while before I get to writing it out, as I am working on some other works of fiction, currently. I’ve kept the outline with a few other novel ideas, nonetheless.

I conclusion I do recommend Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”, to be read by most authors, fans, and readers. It won’t give you nightmares, and though it is no new lesson in English, it will definitely inspire you as a fiction author. Stephen King spent a lifetime working hard and stayed dedicated to his goals as a family man and a writer. He did what was best for him and we should, too, so our reading audience will love and enjoy our work as creative artists and writing masters. What more could we ask for? I hope you enjoy reading “On Writing” as much as I and others have. As said by “Entertainment Weekly”, “Long live the King.”

Why Check Out Writer’s Digest and Goodreads?

goodreads          writersdigest

Recently, I sent a message on twitter to a famous author named R. A. Salvatore. I plan to read at least one of his books this year, as I somehow have not read any of his work, before. I sent him a friend’s request to communicate with him on goodreads.com. He said he already spends to much time on the web -I cannot imagine how involved an author of his status is with the web.

Nevertheless, I sent him a message recommending he at least check out goodreads.com and writersdigest.com. Goodreads is the platform for discussing books, finding books others have read, sharing discussions on books, and communicating with authors. For people like myself who have a book with sales under 10 copies and are working on writing more books, goodreads is like a double-cheese hamburger to a hungry American. Just ask Michael Sullivan or check out his Writer’s Digest article; he is a ‘Goodreads Master.’ People seeking to learn more about other authors or who are trying to promote their own work somehow should definitely get involved with goodreads.

Writer’s Digest is the source for all authors. The publication includes novel contests, ways to find agents, ways to find market listings for short stories, and books on writing. The books on writing are great for those with and without college degrees in English. Any author who visits writersdigest.com will find something of interest to them. For writers, like myself, who have not yet ‘surpassed the bell curve’ of becoming a full time author as a vocation, Writer’s Digest is a publication we should subscribe to, as its advice and information in regards to the business of writing is always priceless.

So, if you have never become involved with these two sites, at least check them out. Click on the two links to open a new tab in your browser and click on their tabs for at least a few minutes to see what they are all about. Goodreads is free, and writersdigest has plenty of free and interesting content. You learn even more if you subscribe to their publication and receive current articles on what is going on in the world of publishing. If for no other reason, view them to see what other authors are up to. I like to read what editors like Brian Klems and his colleagues have to say about writing and literary techniques. I just do not think the two sites are a waste of time.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it was beneficial for all who have. To my new followers and those who have recently ‘liked’ a post, “Thank you.” Communicate with me by sending an e-mail to admin@jcm3blog.com. We love feedback here.  🙂

A Day in January

Today has been a wonderful day. The breeze was cool, the sunlight beautiful. This year I am 40. My birthday was last Sunday, and I must say, I plan to live this year to its fullest. I am working on a fantasy novel for an hour or two each day I can, and it is coming along well. On goodreads, I have recently communicated with a few authors I knew, before, and have also encountered many others.

There exists a handful of books I cannot wait to read -have to make time for my writing, too, lest I risk not accomplishing what I hope a reader audience as well as myself will enjoy. I am currently reading a few pages of Stephen King’s “On Writing” every night before I turn in. I was hesitant to read the book, at first, as he is so well-known for horror. I decided to risk the endeavor, however, and have found that his advice on living and writing well are not scary yet valuable. About 170 pages into the book, it is coming along nicely.

It has occurred to me that, while I have studied many grammar books and have read plenty of classics and occasional best-sellers, not to mention a few novels by independent authors, I still have a lot of reading to do. The top ten fantasy/science fiction authors currently in the business have plenty of books available. I have not read 98% of these works, so I definitely have some reading to do.

I am of the mind that the mechanics of a great story involving mystical beings and adventure do not always have to be inspired from what contemporary authors have written, however it will be nice to have read more books once I have. The book I am working on may not even compare to the powerful juggernautic novels currently in the bestsellers lists, however I plan to do all I can for its final text to be something people of all ages will enjoy for many years to come.

To my new followers and people who follow jcm3blog, thank you for reading. I am always a big fan of my audience, as I hope it grows to be a group of admirable thinkers who enjoy reading my writing as much as I do. Study grammar for style – write with your heart. The world will love your every intriguing story. Anytime you would like to contact jcm3blog, send e-mail to admin@jcm3blog.com. We may be low on time, it is only because we try to use it wisely. God bless you and have a wonderful day. 🙂

A Review for Christopher Fielden’s Book on Publishing Stories

Book Review for “How to Write a … Story Get Published and Make Money,

by Christopher Fielden,

Over All Book Review

Introduction

Upon receiving a copy of this book I thankfully turned a few pages of it every night before bedtime. Mr. Fielden describes how to write outside of work as one aspires to pursue writing as a career. He holds an annual story contest online, “To Hull and Back,” and lists many web links within the pages of “How to Write… ” for submitting stories to story contests and literary periodicals for publication.

A wonderful read, there are also many story examples Mr. Fielden includes. With each story example, he explains how the story was published, whether he chose to re-write the story; and why and how revisions were necessary for better success with publication. If you are learning to write stories for publication, this is an excellent book to read. It is also straightforward enough to be able to be read in a relatively small amount of time, as opposed to other books of the same nature that are not as down-to-Earth or as easy to understand. I enjoyed reading this book and hope you do, too.

List of Story Titles

  • “Devil’s Crush,” page 26
  • “The Day My Prayers were Answered,” page 55
  • “Troll’s Head,” page 83
  • “The Treasure No Thief Can Steal,” page 101
  • “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo and the Secret of Whispering Wood,” page 119
  • “Mr. Kill,” page 137
  • “The El Passo Phantom Feeder,” page 155
  • “The Cat, the Bull and the Madman,” page 169
  • “Shot in the Head and Left for Dead,” page 189
  • “The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle,” page 207
  • “Napalm Rising,” page 226
  • “Love is Difficult for Zombies,” page 242
  • “Love of the Dark,” page 245
  • “I am the Warlock,” page 273
  • “Hummingbee Bumblebird Meadow,” page 310
  • “Oleg OG – Cyber Spider,” page 317

Some Thoughts on the Stories

Much to the respect of their author, many of these stories were re-worked into undue perfection. Their quality was enhanced upon their review by other writers, editors, and readers, allowing them to be beneficial examples for use and discussion within the text of Mr. Fielden’s book on writing and publishing stories. I will mention each story and a few thoughts on them, briefly.

“The Devil’s Crush” is the first story in the book and it was an awesome fiction story about a man with no legs and a fire-burning demon. The next story, “The Day My Prayers were Answered,” was about a man in debt, who encountered an Incubus. The story was well written and revised with more than one ending before its final draft and a wonderful story to consider. Every story mentioned within this review was astounding, so I will attempt to not say so in a redundant fashion, even though I enjoyed most of the stories a great deal.

“Trolls Head” was a story about Trolls fighting in an arena much like entertainment in times of Rome. I felt as though more could have been said about the descriptions of the characters during the first of the story, as well as the setting. Such a good idea just seemed to need a few more sentences to further paint the mental images I drew out anyway, in my mind. Some of the characters in this story properly use a limited style of dialogue. I did and did not like the dialogue, however it was well done. I would have also liked a more developed ending, though the conclusion did do a good job of pulling introduced ideas together in efficient summary. All in all the story was a great example of ‘showing’ rather than telling, albeit the idea a cliché obstacle for some.

“The Treasure No Thief Can Steal” was about a man-eating dragon who allowed a female protagonist to live. It was a profound example of a fantasy story. “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo and the Secret of Whispering Wood,” is both a story and a well-written children’s poem. I liked the story so much I re-read it a few times and sang a little song in my head, too… “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo, he flies to save the forest. Smoo Choo, the Magic Moo; he flies to end the forest fires for me and you. Smoo Choo, the Magic Moo, for without him what could we do?” I am sure the poem touches the hearts of all who read it.

“Mr. Kill” is an interesting story that uses what I think of as a ‘looping structure,’ where the story ends with the beginning occurring again. This technique is great, so long as the idea behind the story suffices for its use. Though seemingly complicated, the story was entertaining and thought provocative. It is about a doctor who does not save a worm and becomes a worm. Seemingly boring by the previous statement, the story itself is not.

“The El Passo Phantom Feeder” was a great story about the owner of a bar and his perils on a rainy night with attackers, a pretty young woman, and a man-eating phantom –one of my favorites. “The Cat, the Bull and the Madman” was an excellent story and quit worth the read for those of us who have at some point considered psychology. It was with great skill that this story used ‘imaginery’ characters without explaining why they were there then were not. These notions are covered in the discussion following the story.

“Shot in the Head and Left for Dead,” is a story about a rock and roll singer and includes fantastical beast creatures. As Mr. Fielden knows about rock and roll bands and is a drummer, this story was a good example of how well a story can be done when it is written about something the author knows a great deal of. Plenty of writers advise us to write about what we know about. While true, I usually back up my own ideas with research.

“The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle” is a story well worth its read. If this story was made into a movie, I would be sure to watch it, as plenty of things leave its reader in suspense until its horrifying conclusion. Well done.

“Napalm Rising” is an intense story about a man who interrogates a captive in order to go and rescue his daughter from a dangerous brothel run by armed ex-military criminals. Upon finishing this story, I thought it would be a good idea for the author to write a sequel involving the main character getting caught for his actions when rescuing his daughter. The man could have also been released for reasons due to insanity, as his daughter was in such a tough situation. If a second story is written to follow up with this story in such a manner, I hope it receives publication and that I come across it, somehow.

“Love is Difficult for Zombies” is a story which is only 81 words long. I liked the other stories more, however a story of this nature does take talent and consideration to construct and was well worth its discussion in the book. There exist numerous competitions on the web for stories about 100 words long, and, as with poems, these stories hold their value when they impress their readers (they also hold their value if you win a competition with one).

“Love of the Dark” is an enchanting and story about a woman who escapes a cave with a talking spider. It holds the necessary rules which define a story. It is a pleasant cuddly one.

“I am the Warlock,” was a great example for this book, as its revision was discussed well. I also enjoyed the story itself and the manner in which things occurred. Use of both human characters and those of magical conjuring is impressive, and this story was both fun to read and to consider from a literary, critical point of view.

“Humblebee Bumblebird Meadow,” is a great bedtime story for reading to children and moving, as it paints an emotion invoking sunset. I was near ‘crushed’ with the ending. As powerful as the story was, I wondered if even more description could be added for the sunset scenery.

“Oleg OG Cyber Spider” was a nicely constructed story and a great example. The protagonist suffers a near-death experience, and the story is much like a story within a story. Christopher Fielden is an amazing author, indeed.

Some Notions on Mentioned Techniques

Mr. Fielden includes real advice on useful techniques with getting stories published for payment. He covers such notions as market research, marketing techniques, and conducting the necessary research involved with a specific publication. He even tells us how to communicate with editors or literary publication groups appropriately.

Throughout the text, the author mentions various techniques and how to use them when working with a new story. These techniques and topics, in their near entirety are included in a list as follows:

  • reading, writing practice, market research, story development, story revision for completion, using constructive criticism, story submitting, story publication methods, story marketing, and making money with writing with realistic expectations
  • Christopher Fielden website story contest advice and writing/editing help
  • basic story construction notions
  • writing group advice
  • thoughts on encouragement and finding writing competitions
  • editorial criticism
  • character naming and choice of voice
  • writing advice along with stories
  • subplotting with characters
  • thoughts on the children’s stories market
  • discussion of techniques with proper use of dialogue
  • use of a central character/protagonist
  • use of humor and advice on ending stories well
  • plot twists
  • how to make time for writing
  • submission advice
  • does and don’ts of constructing a beneficial author biography
  • choice of publication opportunities
  • double/multiple publication endeavors
  • advice on healthy living to be productive
  • author website advice and advertising with Google for money
  • links to writing for publication included, including advice for publishing independently
  • entire section attributed by Dr. John Yeoman on winning story competitions

In addition to the links in Mr. Fielden’s book, remember to check out writersdigest.com for many of your needs as an author. The statement is not meant to be an advertisement, but a recommendation for all writers who may or may not have already considered the resources of Writer’s Digest. There, you can find new markets, writing competitions, techniques for writing better, and much more.

Criticism

The stories included, though fun and enjoyable to read, are included for the purpose of learning to publish stories for payment. Some basic notions including literary devices within a simple guideline or discussion of basic story techniques, such as plot, character development, scene development, theme, rising and falling action, climax, narrative hook, and symbol are not covered in an appendix or separate chapter, which I would have liked to have seen. Many literary devices and techniques are discussed within the text, however, which somehow adds to the flow of the book, as mentioned above. Many people who write stories have already learned the reasons to use these various techniques from writing classes or reading, so it is not too big of a deal that some basic notions on writing are not covered in a chapter separate from the rest of the text.

As the book’s purpose is mostly to learn to do better with story contests for publication and payment, the advice Mr. Fielden provides is very beneficial, as it comes entirely from experience. Mr. Fielden resides in the UK, where his writing group is. Many of the links mentioned within his book are United Kingdom based. Some readers in the United States or other countries may have wanted to see more information on the contests outside of the UK, as well as the websites and companies mostly in the US who make publishing stories for payment possible, too. This is not a real major drawback to the book, however, as many of the contests mentioned are online and may not be as impossible to receive publication by as high-volume publications in the US. Google is mentioned, and writers all over the world should not have too much of a problem with publishing via enterprises in the UK.

These things being said, I do recommend the book for anyone who is learning to publish stories or wants some additional hope in regards to writing as a career. The book does contain a uniqueness to it, as Mr. Fielden explains each story and goes into detail about the reasons the stories made it to publication or not, depending on situations. Writing as a career does not come easy for some, and this book uses real world examples of how someone overcame certain challenges to not only to receive publication for payment, but also to share the methods and techniques of doing so with others.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I really enjoyed reading this book. I have plenty of books I am waiting to read, and I simply could not wait to read a few pages of this one every night before bedtime. Some of the stories may not be suitable for children, however they are well-written. As far as how beneficial this book is for people beginning to write and publish stories, it is well worth the time to read it. I enjoyed each story and hope you do, too. Thank you for reading this review; the book can be found here on Amazon, and here on Mr. Fielden’s website.

 

Purple Basil and Baby Pumpkin

pb1 pb2

These two photos are very similar.  As I am not very good with photography, yet, I still wanted to share these two images.  When I began blogging, over a year ago, one of my most favorite blogs was Prairie Views, and still is.  I love to grow pumpkin flowers, as usually anything else I try to grow dies within an 8 week time frame.  I have never properly pollinated a pumpkin flower, however they are sure pretty when they grow to be large and yellow-orange.

The two plants with many leaves are Purple Basil plants, which have doubled in height in the past 9 weeks or so.  The little baby seedling in the bottom of the photo is a sturdy pumpkin sprout I germinated and planted around 10.28.15.  Its roots have already grown outside of its container, so I am sure the seedling will grow to be a tall, healthy vine with flowers.  Will it be pollinated?  I am not sure.  If it lives to make flowers, I may try to pollinate them, even though my past attempts with pollination were of no success. The flowers are nice once in full bloom.

As for the Purple Basil, I am not sure what I plan to do with it, as I did not think it would live this long.  If it lives two years, I will probably give it to a trusted gardener, upon finding one.  Thank you for visiting jcm3blog.com – a great place to discuss astounding short fiction.  Thank you, too, for your understanding in regards to the quality of these photos – I hope you enjoy them. 🙂

A Drabble…

The paragraphs below depict a micro-story I wrote for a blog I found recently.  Interestingly enough, it is always fun to include classic literary devices within a ‘word-filtered’ sentence combination.  I enjoyed editing the story; the original was over 300 words, over 200 words of their submission requirement.  My final submission was 98 words.  Due to the differences of the two drafts, I included both of them, here.  By request I will remove the actual submission.
Sam and Sam
Both car doors closed close to the same time.  A teenage school girl named Samantha and her male friend named Sam both exited their parents’ vehicles in front of the local bookstore known for its darkstout coffee.  “How goes it?” she asked.  “Great,” he said.  They went in to order a coffee.  They both liked cold house coffee; it was cheaper than the more extravagant lattes.  “I will take a house coffee on ice,” said Sam, attempting to hand the cashier with crimson red-blonde hair a five. She then heard Sam say, “I will have the same, however I will pay for both.”  She said thank you and Sam handed the cashier a ten.
After receiving their coffees they explored the store.  There were a great many exciting books and periodicals.  They both loved to read and did well in school.  After noticing how much the bestsellers cost, they visited the music section.  Sam and Sam liked most music, however they loved rock and dance the most.  “Check it out!” said Sam, and Samantha ran over to him.  It was a newly released greatest hits live recording by “nin”.
“Let’s put our money together and we can listen to it later,” said Samantha, too excited to wonder about teenage puppy love.  “Okay,” said Sam – their parents would be back anytime.  Their hour was nearing its death.  They made it to the checkout line and it seemed to be keeping the pace of a sprinting post-storm snail.
Samantha gave Sam her five and it was their turn.  There existed a man behind them deep in thought, holding a book titled, “On Living Well”.  The new C.D. was listed for $11.89; the teller said, “Your total is twelve ninety-six.”  “We are short seventy-six cents,” said Sam on accident.  Samantha was confused; the man behind them said, “Keep your money.  I will buy that disc for you.”  “Wow,” said Sam, “What is your name?”  “Atticus.”
Sam and Sam, by J. C. Martin, III
They exited their parents’ vehicles in front of a bookstore known for darkstout coffee.  “Howdy,” she said.  “Hi,” went inside.
Cold house coffee,” requested Samantha, tried paying.  Sam said, “I will have the same,” paid for both.  “Thank you.
They explored.  “Check it out!” exclaimed Sam, seeing a new release by “nin“.  “Let’s listen to it later.”  “Okay.
Their hour dwindled.  Checkout kept the pace of a sprinting poststorm snail.  Samantha gave Sam her five.
A man held a book, “On Well Living”.  “$12.96.”  “We’re short.”  “I’ll buy it.”  “Okay.”  “What is your name?”  “Atticus.