Collected Stories: Volume 2

I am close to finishing Volume 2 – I am getting feedback on the six stories I have already completed and I am trying to finish the seventh. The plan is to publish them in paperback in the late-summer of 2019. Once again, I’ll write a bit detail of each story separately, but in the meantime here is a summary of each:

Foggy Love Bottom: A slightly-supernatural love story set in a little village called ‘Foggy Love Bottom’ – a place where the living meet deceased loved ones.

Book of Giants: Journal 9: The ninth journal of a survivor of an apocalypse that has occurred eighteen months earlier. The reader learns of a solar flare that led to the breakdown of society and the emergence of giants.

Scary Morning in the Woods: a sequel to Scary Afternoon in the Garden. The attack by the creatures from the woods (described in Scary Afternoon in Volume 1) leads the town to take the fight to the creatures in the woods. Again, the boy narrates his involvement – called as a witness to a council meeting before heading to the woods with a group of men from the town to confront the creatures.

The Elephant of Marrakech: A retraces his steps to Marrakech to ‘find the elephant’ and make the decision he should have done seven years earlier. A fable about the passing of time, making choices and not letting opportunities pass.

I’m Not Matt Damon: A lone human being is recreated by aliens (after the destruction of planet earth by asteroids) in their mistaken belief that he was once the great leader of humanity and finest representative of life on earth – Matt Damon.

Sack Truck: A man loses his job as a result of a perfect storm of a confused memory and the fast-changing social mores of the modern world – all prompted by the innocent misunderstanding surrounding the use of a ‘sack truck’.

A Life’s Work: A 100 year old mafia boss is released from prison to be reunited with his family only to meet relatives of the victims of his crimes committed decades before.

Collected Stories: Volume I

This first collection of stories has, I hope, a bit of everything. Originally released as individual stories for download on Amazon Kindle and through Smashwords (including iTunes and Barnes and Noble etc.) these first seven stories have been compiled into one paperback released in 2018. I’ll write a bit more detail on each story separately, but in the meantime here is a summary of each:

The Legend of Muam Tam Say: An encounter with an ancient wonder of the natural world in the shadows of the Himalayas; a short extract from the diaries of a young soldier on the eve of the First World War. The diaries describe the spiritual and psychological impact of the ‘wonder’ on the young soldier. (Think of it as a ‘Jules Verne traveller’ stumbling across the Giza pyramids for the first time.)

The Dot Matrix: A young man re-evaluates his office-bound existence when he comes across the printout musings of an old dot matrix printer.

Scary Afternoon in the Garden: An eleven year old boy describes his encounter with the 'creatures from the woods' when they visit his garden one really, really, scary afternoon. Based in a slightly alternate universe, the story is written in the voice of (and from the perspective of) the young boy giving the account its own particular flavour and humour.

The Florin Smile: A meteor shower brings a new chemical compound to earth resulting in a change to some people’s smile (and/or brain chemistry). The new ‘florin smile’ soon has far more currency than the US dollar/GBP pound as it changes the way people assess (and assign) value in modern society.

Parked in a Ditch: ‘The course of true love ne'er did run smooth for a middle-aged, middle manager stuck in the mire of administration.’ It’s a story of bloke planning to make a (romantic) move on a colleague and how his plans fall apart (and evolve) when confronted with reality. Dark humour of a desperate (even sad) situation.

Fear of Lions: A doting uncle offers advice to his niece on how to confront her fears ... and deals with the unhappy aftermath. Quite a dark tale, but humourous, I think/hope.

The Totty Boat: A grumpy uncle writes a letter to his young nephew offering advice on the stuff that matters.

Having researched the publication options I opted to make the paperback available online  through Amazon but for high street shops through the print-on-demand service provided by Lightning Source / Ingram Spark.

stories in the attic ... and Hiroshima

Industry Observation: I have been considering the (self-)publication of a few upcoming books including 'Collected Stories 2017' and 'Nigel' and have been considering options. Often the talk in self-publication circles is of the efficiency and reach of the e-book. It is the future, they say. I beg to differ. I think the e-book serves a purpose but the physical book will always hold sway for me. Most internet-savvy people already spend a lot of time looking at screens, most often for work. The joy of looking at the paper-printed word will never pass. More importantly, technology moves on and the e-book file in 2016 might not 'open' in 2020. Software companies regularly upgrade software and Operating Systems and, before you know it, your story might be lost. I already have video editing files that cannot be opened by the updated software version a handful of years afterwards. Finally, built-in copyright features mean not only can e-books be prevented from being shared, but sometimes the content is leased to the buyer and can be withdrawn (or fail) at any time. So, if the electronically self-published writer is not careful his or her story might not be found (or rather rediscovered) on the equivalent of a dusty bookshelf, in a box in the attic or in the second-hand bookshop but lost to the e-dust of time in the tens of months. So that is why The Legend of Muam Tam Say will find itself in the traditional printed form before long so that it can be discovered in a hundred years in some forgotten attic.

Promotion: Which, funnily enough, is what 'The Legend of Muam Tam Say' is all about! Hurrah. The short story is the 'publication' of an updated extract from the travel diary of young army officer on the eve of the First World War in 1914. The story begins with a Foreword written by the grandson of the soldier and relates the memories of a young boy listening to his grandfather's encounter with the Muam Tam Say in Tibet. The story then moves on to the extract of the diary itself and the wonderment felt by the young soldier on seeing the spectacle across a green Tibetan valley not far from the Yarlung River, before seeing (and even touching) the natural wonder itself. The soldier spends the night beside the Muam Tam Say and dreams a peculiar but marvellous dream before waking to witness the loss of the wonder. No image or other written record exists of the phenomenon; the old diary is the only record. What is the Muam Tam Say? Well, you'll just have to read and see.

Reading Recommendation: Hiroshima, by John Hersey (Penguin Modern Classics) is re-print of an account (first published in the New Yorker in 1946) in the days (and weeks) following the dropping of the atomic bomb on 6 August 1945. Told through the experiences of six survivors which killed 100,000 people, the 196 page book is a vivid account of what it was like to be on the ground on that terrible day. The re-print includes an additional chapter updating the reader on the six characters in the decades following the harrowing events. It is a sobering read and, I would argue, a must for the average man or woman. The saying goes 'everybody thinks their own suffering the greatest', but one really needs to read something like this to put into perspective one's own ambitions, hopes, plans. To think a 'noiseless flash' can be a life-defining event for an average citizen going about their own business at 8.15 one sunny morning is desperately sad and deeply humbling. The youngsters today don't know how lucky they are...

And so to this interminable blog ...

And so to this interminable blog. I am planning to publish Collected Stories and Nigel later in 2016 and, as so many in the industry say, publicity in the form of a blog is a must. But it is hard, in part because i think I think it is wasteful for the reader. If it is an exercise in self-expression, fine; but nowhere does self-expression require an audience, unlike a story. To my mind a blog is more an expression of self-absorption which does not sit well with one who thinks the story is all. So, I might introduce Nigel to some of these writings. He has a story (in fact many stories) to tell. Perhaps I'll encourage him to write his own blog.

Nigel aside, I shall try to blog myself once a month to 'reach out' to the indifferent masses. Each blog entry will have one observation on the industry (if I can think of any) and information on / promotion of work already published (such as a short story) or an upcoming treat (such as a short story). To avoid any reader feeling s/he has been cheated out of a few minutes of life I shall include a reading recommendation.

Promotion: The Dot Matrix: the first short story published on the DOZ website. It charts a few weeks in the life of an office-drone bound drone who feels his destiny lies beyond the chipboard partitions. He is trapped by apathy and fear. It takes an encounter with a dusty, antique dot matrix printer to force him to assess his options and take action. Having been writing for a while I am learning that I am drawn to 'magical realism'. I suspect it will be a theme in upcoming work.

Definition: ‘Magical realism, magic realism, or marvelous realism is literature, painting, and film that, while encompassing a range of subtly different concepts, share in common an acceptance of magic in the rational world. It is also sometimes called ‘fabulism’, in reference to the conventions of fables, myths, and allegory. Of the four terms, Magical realism is the most commonly used and refers to literature in particular that portrays magical or unreal elements as a natural part in an otherwise realistic or mundane environment.’  Wikipedia; 30 May 2016

Reading recommendation: Gods of Metal by Eric Schlosser (Penguin Special 2015). A short (120 page) account of a break-in at a high security nuclear weapons complex in Tennessee in 2012 by three Christian pacifists (including an 82 year old nun, Megan Rice). Concise and well researched, the book puts the work of the pacifist 'Plowshares Movement' in context and laments the wholesale failure of nuclear weapon security in the USA. The book concludes with warnings of nuclear terrorism made possible by poor management of nuclear materials across the globe. Originally published in the New Yorker, the expanded account both informs and chills the reader.

 

Your Christmas post has arrived ...

Your Christmas post (with DOZ news) has arrived! Various: Overwhelmed by the lack of interest in the ebooks (still available in all good stores!) Multi-star reviews are available on Amazon.co.uk and sincere thanks to Lynette Ferreira for her review on Amazon.com and her contribution to this blog. Other news: The Florin Smile and The Elephant of Marrakech should be available early in 2016. I enclose below the cover I am lining up for Elephant …. Finally, I’m close to finishing the first pass at Nigel which suggests I am on track for a mid-2016 release. Happy days. Happy Christmas.

First Review - The Dot Matrix

The first review of The Dot Matrix on Amazon (US) is now available - five stars. Hopefully more will follow (including of the other five stories). I am hoping to finish the final three short stories for inclusion in the 'Collected Stories 2015', but I keep getting distracted by work on the 2016 stories, including 'Foggy Love Bottom'. In the meantime, feel free to review consider the other stories for your reading pleasure... If you're there.. can you hear me ..? See links to online stores.

Is there anybody out there ...?

My fourth Blog post. This is becoming a habit. I am experimenting with a Free download of The Dot Matrix. If this machine does what it says it will then it should be posted on Facebook and possibly Twitter. If you are out there and can hear me, knock your phone/keyboard three times when you read this. Finally, a mention for my first Comment-er, Kat Stiles. Thank you Kat. Looking forward to the second comment-er, like-er. DOZ.

The Martian (ebook and movie)

A useful read: (Telegraph Article): The Martian: how a self-published e-book became a Hollywood blockbuster http://bit.ly/1QaWBGF It can be done… one day. I do wonder whether self-publishing stories might be the way to attract interest and establish momentum when trying to get projects off the ground.

And so it begins ...

Don't know why I'm writing this; nobody's listening. Zero likes. [Sigh]

The first stories are now uploaded to Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and the iTunes Bookstore. Thanks to Grace Fussell Design for the design work and Sonja Nagy for the illustrations for a selection of book covers. Thanks also to Grace for being my one follower. Early followers will get a special mention, so get in line.

Have been busy with some other (serious writing) work, but hope to have a blast on stories to catch up. A 'Collected Stories' will be available by the end of the year (2015). I have already identified the ten or so stories I hope to publish in 2016. Also, I am pleased to announce the arrival of 'Nigel' - a story that has been haunting me for a few years. I hope to publish Part 1 of a trilogy before the end of 2016.

Wish me luck. Yrs, DOZ

Once upon a time ...

Building the website and uploading the ebook covers. Books themselves to be uploaded to Amazon and others sites later in May 2015, methinks.