It’s finally here! (part 2?)

I finally got my author’s copies today! Feeling really psyched to get started on this, but far and away the most surreal feeling has got to be seeing my name right there. Hopefully the first of many! Now watch your fingers boys and girls. Here there be monsters…

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Close shave?

Headed out to get my hair cut today. Now I’m not really a salon guy. I’m pretty happy to get my hair cut by a barber who doesn’t ask too many questions and just gets the job done. Today I think I realized the reason behind that. I’ve never been too fond of making decisions. I grab my morning coffee from one of those coffee dispensers at work that has two buttons for coffee, ‘Black’ or ‘Coffee with Milk’. Whether any of these can legally be called coffee is another question altogether. I take set lunches as much as possible and have more or less the same routine for dinner.

So when I sat down at the chair of the salon I had the good fortune of visiting today, I started to wriggle a little with anxiety. I knew what was coming.

“How do you want your hair done today?” Those dreaded words. Probably right up there on my list of things I never want to hear beside “You’re fired” and “A beloved actor has died today”. It was at this moment that I realized there was no fuss with my regular barber. He just did my hair the way he’d always been doing all these years and I was fine with that. I don’t recall ever telling him how I wanted my hair done.

I stared back at the hairstylist through the mirror, my mouth searching for words I knew wouldn’t come.

“Err…the normal I guess.” I figured he had to have a normal haircut he gave his male patrons right? Wrong. Haircuts were apparently as unique and customizable as Pandora bracelets.

He looked stunned momentarily, probably figuring that this was only my first trip here (it was my third, and when all of them start out this way, I remember why I resolved after the last trip to just go to my barber for the rest of my life). Then I remembered how to talk.

“Slopes up the sides and back,” I said. He nodded in response. Hey I was good at this. I only remember the slopes thing because I distinctly recalled the last time I requested for no slopeba2gs I got a very sexy bowl cut. So yeah. Slopes this time.

“How about the comb direction? You want to comb it back? Or to the side like you have it now?” Oh God please let it end. How many ways are there to comb hair? Just fu**ing surprise me!

“Oh yeah, to the side is fine.”

“Alright no worries, I’ll have to improvise a little to work with your curls, but everything should work out.” Should? Haven’t you been like styling hair for years or something? I’m starting to think the sign that said “You’ll Love Your Haircut, or Everything Off!” meant something else.

After deciding the hairstylist had the right idea, I came to that dreaded moment all spectacles-wearing customers fear. The removal of spectacles. Everything was a blur to me now. My face in the mirror was nothing but a smudge of paint to me. The hairstylist could do anything to my hair short of shaving it all off and I wouldn’t know anything was amiss. Most people got contact lenses to avoid wearing glasses when playing some physically demanding sport or something, but I realized I may be the first person in the world who was going to walk up to an optician and request contacts so I could get better haircuts.

Now I know everyone says they know what suspense and horror is (shameless plug for our book Shadows and Teeth vol 2 hehe), but trust me they haven’t a clue. Stephen King, Anne Rice and Bram Stoker pale in comparison to the horror that is waiting for the moment to put your glasses on post haircut and finding out whether you’d have to wear a hat for the next 2 months.

And that’s what horror boils down to doesn’t it? A fear of the unknown. What’s under the bed? What’s in the closet? What haircut did I get today? And I think coupling that with a self of helplessness and vulnerability just serves to amplify the terror. In my case it was vulnerability at leaving my hair to the whims of a hair stylist. If you think about it there’s terror everywhere around us. Strangers prepare our food. We don’t know the person who’s driving us around in the cab we just hired. Heck, Sweeney Todd showed us that taking the time to pick a good barber might save your life.

So besides hair stylists, what scares you the most?

It’s finally here!

It’s amazing how much time just flew by anticipating this release. Shadows and Teeth volume 2 is finally released!

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See that one of those little names on the front cover? That’s me! I was really excited when Darkwater Syndicate first approached me to use my story in the book. And now, almost a year on, it’s finally here! The book is a collection of the works of 10 other authors and is a great expression of indie horror writing.

You can grab yourself a copy from Amazon. Brb while I spend some time with my nose in this one.

For a change

How does one avoid sounding the same in everything one writes? I’m guilty of this. Probably lacking the experience or knowhow to attempt anything different, all my short stories seem to follow the same beat. The exposition, the introduction of an oblivious character in first person and the final twist showing just how oblivious the main character was.

I recently wrote my fourth short story that I intended to self publish, but I got some feedback that, well, I guess discouraged me. There doesn’t need to be a twist. To which I vehemently insisted that the story needed the twist to work. Once it reached the part where they started talking, it got kind of predictable and boring. I knew how it was going to end. I guess that is sort of the downside of having the same beta readers. They kind of know there’s going to be a twist so they keep guessing what it is. And 1 time out of 10 they will be right. Because there’s only so many ways you can fashion a twist.

That of course is not an excuse. If your writing has become predictable, then you need to seek different ways to entertain your audience. Short stories, I think, offer the easiest space to experiment. For instance, if I’ve decided I don’t like something, I can shelve it without too much remorse, considering I’ve only put in a week’s effort into it, instead of say, a year’s effort.

They say a writer starts off by copying the styles of other writers, until they have mustered enough experience to form their own style. I recently bought a few books including The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King. I’ll be spending a little time curled up on the couch with this tome, at least until I formulate how to go about my next story. I already have an idea, but I need a little frame work before I start writing (I’m unfortunately not a panster, but a plotter. I can’t sit down and write until I have a plan of attack).

In the meantime, I’m not letting my fourth story go to waste. I did a little editing and looked up an appropriate magazine to submit to. Thought I’d try something different for a change.

A taste of things to come

Keeping with the Shadows and Teeth theme in the run-up to the official release of Shadows and Teeth, vol. 2 (Apr. 30th by the way, in case you haven’t bookmarked it already), the folks over at Darkwater Syndicate have released a little snippet of what to expect from the horror tome.

May I present to you Toll Road, just one of the many entries in the upcoming anthology Shadows and Teeth, vol. 2. Written by the extremely talented Antonio Simon, Jr.Toll Road follows the adventures, or rather, misadventures, of Merritt Owen Galloway, when a seemingly ordinary job goes awry.

I hope you find this story as creepy and engaging as I did. And remember, if you like the story, look out for Shadows and Teeth, vol. 2, coming to you Apr. 30th 2017 through various distributors!

Toll Road by Antonio Simon, Jr,

Of shadows, teeth and syndicates

Back when I first started self publishing my stories in 2016, I always felt I was doing this because it was something I genuinely enjoyed doing. I listed all my short stories permanently for free and went with Smashwords because they had a pretty good delivery network (the e-books I write also get distributed to iBooks, B&N and Kobo among others). I still haven’t figured out how to distribute books for free on Amazon though, so if anything I ever write does end up on Amazon it would probably be an anthology of all my work, just to make it worth the price of entry. I guess you could say I was really thrilled just to get my work out there and have people actually read it (though there’s an argument to be made about whether folks who download your free e-book actually read it vs someone who paid a small fee to buy it. More on that in another post).

So when I got an email from Darkwater Syndicate (DS for short), needless to say I was ecstatic! Here was someone who not only read my work, but actually had a positive opinion about it. What I didn’t know at the time was that DS was an independent book publishing company. They actually wanted to include my story, A Murder of Crows, in their upcoming horror short story anthology Shadows & Teeth Vol. 2 (obligatory nightmare inducing book cover for reference)!

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And boy, their editors worked wonders with my story. They took it places I didn’t know it could even go. They polished it from top to toe and I’m thoroughly impressed with the final result. I’m really proud to announce I will be published in Shadows and Teeth vol. 2. come April 30th 2017 when it is officially released!

Fumbling in February

Here we are, one month into the new year. And guess what? No new short story yet. Again, I am frustrated by my inability to churn out great material with anything resembling consistent frequency. I did start a few different stories (which I may some day eventually finish), but I never did find that spark with any of them. You know what I’m talking about. That love at first sight  moment. Writers have that too you know. Only thing is we have them for inanimate objects (Harry from In Bruges anyone?) like a mug of coffee and a well written read.

Though probably some of my time the past month was spent being unproductive by design. I took a little vacation to visit some family Down Under. It was refreshing, and I do think I actually stumbled across a few good ideas I could try for February. And that wasn’t all. I did contribute to a couple of writing prompts in reddit (read them here) in the past month. That was a fun experience. I do think I’ll pop by there more often when I’m having a dry spell. The prompts can be…stimulating.

Well…here’s to a hopefully more productive February ahead!

New Year, Same Me?

Happy New Year 2017 everyone! How has your first week of 2017 been? As for me, I can pretty much say nothing has differed too much in how I usually do things. I.e. procrastination and distractions abound.

I started 2017 off with the ambition of increasing my writing throughput. One short story every month with various word limits of 5000-12,000 words (just shy of novella range). We’re 1 week into January, and well, besides some editing work, I really haven’t started on my next piece of fiction yet.

While we’re on the topic, exactly what are the various word limits for the different formats of writing? Writer’s Digest, a great resource for writers, puts short stories between 1500 and 30,000 words, novellas 30000 – 50000 and novels from 55000 – 300000 words. While that’s a great guide, I tend to go by this one that I found in Writing World. Micro fiction (up to 100 words), flash fiction (100 – 1000), short story (1000 – 7500), novellete (7500 – 20000), novella (20000 – 50000), novel (50000 – 110000) and epics (>110000). Whichever way you do it, I find it’s best not to worry too much about a word count unless you’re intent on submitting your piece to a magazine or for a competition. Just really write the story as long as it needs to be. The amount of words that you need to tell the story from start to finish.

Back to my ‘resolution’, so to speak. I initially started out self-publishing in Smashwords back in May last year, with this idea of publishing once a month in mind. But somehow, I think procrastination and a general lack of a steady writing led to me only publishing 3 short stories in that space of 7 months. The response though has been really encouraging. I’ve gotten a few reviews on some of the stories and that really has given me some confidence that I’m not just writing pure drivel.

But steady writing as a habit is really important, as highlighted by Reddit user shnit123 in his/her post here. 1 piece of flash fiction per day is a fantastic achievement. I can only hope that I manage to maintain a steady pipeline of stories over the months to come. So far, the results have not been too good. New year, same me in a way. I looked back at my latest story, Wish You Were Here, after some comments from my beta readers and realized I had a few plot holes and continuity errors to fix. I’ll be writing about those another day, but for now, here’s to a great 2017 and may you keep whatever resolutions you’ve made. If you haven’t got any resolutions, here’s to a happier and more productive year all around!

 

 

It’s ALLIIVVEEE!!

Finally the blog is up! Just shy of 2017 so it still counts as a 2016 resolution complete (hehe). If only I could remember what my other resolutions were…

Firstly, a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone out there! 2017 is just around the corner. Do you have a goal you want to achieve? Perhaps writing 1000 words a day? Or finally self publishing that complete manuscript on your desk?

I digress. Welcome to my humble blog. I’m an aspiring writer (yes, another one of those guys/girls), and while I haven’t actually published anything you may have heard of yet, I hope to one day lay siege to bookshelves in bookstores near you.

This site is my journal, where I jot down anything from my muses to musings in an effort to get to know other like-minded individuals and discuss the highs and lows of indie writing.

Feel free to explore the tabs above to get to know me a little better, or see my complete works. Or better yet, drop me a comment or an email if you have something you’d like to talk about.

You can find my author profiles in Smashwords and Goodreads in the sidebar, as well as my published work. Check out my latest story for a taste of what I write about:

Wish You Were Here

I’ll be adding more content in the weeks to come, so stay tuned!!