Tag Archives: Serials

Are You Done Yet? A NaNoWriMo Retrospective

Another NaNoWriMo has come and gone. I didn’t “win” this year, but I didn’t expect to. As it was I took a few liberties with the rules. First, a little backstory:

As you may or may not know, earlier this year I started writing a serial for the OCH Literary Society. While I had hoped to issue a new instalment every couple of weeks I managed one per month for the first three months and then I got stuck. Call it writer’s block, call it poor planning, call it life getting in the way, call it whatever you want. I wasn’t writing much of anything and it was starting to suck.

In parallel with this I wasn’t sleeping very well either, with most days spent trying to keep my eyes open at work and then coming home and doing family things like cooking dinner and soccer with my son or swimming or whatever activity it was. By eight at night I was too pooped to do anything that required brain activity. I just didn’t feel creative.

Long story short, I did something about it and went to my doctor and she got me on some vitamin D drops and put me back on this sleep inducing medication that I used to take when my insomnia was really kicking my ass. Within a month or so I was starting to feel better and I was getting back into the groove, creatively speaking. After putting a few blog posts together (gearing up for the big Canadian election) I sat down with The Book of Good to write instalment four and realized something.

I was still stuck.

That’s okay, because NaNoWriMo was just around the corner and I would use the thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon to move the serial forward.

My plan was simple:

Write instalment four, five, six, and seven; completing one every two days. Then, with the thirty-five thousand or so words I had kicking around from NaNo 2013 cobble together another eleven instalments. If I could at least get the bulk of each instalment down so that adding additional plot or character development wouldn’t take me weeks on end, then I would have all the heavy lifting done and cranking out an instalment every couple weeks after that should be easy peasy lemon squeezy. 

Fifteen instalments, thirty days. Go!

Well, it’s been thirty days, so how’d I do? I am happy to report that I made a lot of progress. Instalments four, five, and six were written with relative ease. Instalment seven will probably need to be split into two (maybe four) with each one expanded, and instalments eight through fourteen need to have my main cop character added, but that was expected. Instalment fifteen is giving me grief at the moment so I think I’ll have to come back to it. As for instalments sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen, they’ll have to wait for another day. On the upside, I cranked out four blog posts from November 24 -28 (I really like this short, short story, The Sandwich Artist) and this will be post #5 in the last seven days AND I even wrote some lyrics for a song my friend Jim put together recently.

So, not an all-out victory, but not a loss either. In fact, I see it as being quite successful to have come out the other end with more than I had when you started. I don’t think of it as having failed at writing however many thousands of words, I think of it as having created something before which there was naught. That’s progress, baby!

And to answer the question writers get asked more often than any other question, no, I’m not done yet.

~ Andrew

A Little Flash Fiction to Get Back Into The Groove

It’s been a lazy summer and I haven’t done enough writing. Only one more installment of my serial novel was released (we’re up to three now) and I haven’t blogged in forever. So, with that in mind, I present a little flash fiction I entered into a contest over at the OCH Literary Society (the same folks who are kind enough to publish my serial installments whenever I manage to finish them). I didn’t win, but I thought it was good enough to share. Also, I’m posting on Monday now. #MondayBlogs

The photo that inspired the words:

The words:

Greg sits down in the pew and looks up at the cross hanging above the altar when he hears a familiar voice.

Can I help you?

Unsurprised, Greg stares at the cross, then to his feet. “I don’t think so.”

Then why are you here?

Greg shifts his weight. “I’m not really sure.”

I think you are.

“I’m not.”

Yet, here you are. You must have known I could help.

“I don’t know shit.”

Yet, here you are.

“For now.” Greg stands up and pretends to stretch.

You think I can help.

“I’m not sure anyone can help.”

I’m not just anyone.

“Says you.”

Says a lot of people.

Greg looks around at the sheer opulence of the cathedral. “I’m not convinced.”

Is that why you’re here? To be convinced?


Greg leaves the church, gets on his bike, and rides home. Alone in his kitchen, he drops two slices of stale bread into the toaster, sits down at the table, and lights a smoke.

Will that help? Smoking, that is.

Greg smacks his hand down on the table. “Oh, for fuck’s sake! You again?”

You seem agitated.

“No shit! What makes you think that?”

You said you needed to be convinced.

Greg stands up and pushes his chair backward. It slams against the wall. “I never said I needed anything.”

Yet, here I am.

The toaster pops. Greg gets up to fetch it. “Is that how this works? Someone suffers a crisis of conscience and you just show up and follow them around until they…”

Until they what?

Greg waives his toast in the air. “Never mind.”

Until they…

Greg swallows a large bite of toast and sits back down at the table. “Until they do the right thing?”

In a manner of speaking, yes.

“In a manner of speaking. You’re such an asshole.” Greg takes another bite of toast.

Would it surprise you to know I’ve been called worse?

“Nothing surprises me anymore.”

When did that start?

“Jesus, what are you? My shrink?”

Again, I’ve been called worse, but I am here to help.

“You certainly got a funny way of showing it.”

I prefer the word ‘mysterious’.

Greg looks at his half-eaten toast and throws it across the kitchen into the sink. Muttering nonsense and sucking the last few drags out of his cigarette he walks to his bedroom and pulls out a black leather wrap tied together with a black silk string. Unraveling the leather pouch he can’t help but notice the silence. Such sweet, beautiful silence. More than anything else Greg enjoys the quiet. The voice only stops from the moment he pulls out his kit to the moment he wakes up. There used to be two voices, but the other one seems to have given up. Greg suspects it was killed by the voice that remains; the one that only leaves him alone when he’s like this.    

The rubber tourniquet pulling at the hair on Greg’s arm wakes him. Picking himself up off the bathroom floor he leans over the sink and splashes water onto his face. He looks in the mirror, half expecting to see someone else.

“I fucking hate you.”

You’ll get over it. See you tomorrow?

Greg vomits into the sink. Spitting on the mirror and clutching the porcelain basin he stares straight ahead. “Go to hell.”

As you wish.

I’d Buy That For A Dollar

After an unplanned hiatus, I am back, hopefully with some consistency. Mother’s Day, the long weekend at the cottage, and the fallout from the big garage sale / birthday party sleepover have occupied my last few Sundays, but I think things are back to normal now.

The garage sale actually got me thinking about this week’s blog post. As I stood on my driveway in front of tables upon tables of our unwanted or not-so-useful stuff (seriously, we had a set of fireplace tools – and we don’t have a fireplace!) the goal was simple: get rid of it. ALL of it. If it was in the garage sale pile there was a 0% chance it was making it back into our house. Anything that didn’t sell was to be immediately packed up and donated to Value Village (who support local nonprofits in our city).

Photo by Stuart Miles at http://freedigitalphotos.net

When you’re in this situation it’s important to keep your eye on the goal, which is to get rid of your stuff. The goal is not to make as much money as possible off your stuff. If there was anything that we thought we could get real money for we put it aside and are going to sell it on Kijiji. This is a situation where everybody wins. We make a little bit of cash for our stuff, lots of people get things they think they want or need for really cheap, and Value Village gets a bunch of donations (where they are turned around and sold for really cheap, with the proceeds helping local organizations).

One thing I noticed about the garage sale shoppers was they almost all had the same thing in common, and that was the desire to get whatever they wanted for as cheap as they could without it being considered stealing. As such, a whole lot of things sold for one dollar. It didn’t matter what it was either, a buck was the magic number. In some cases, it was four things for a dollar (like books) or two for a dollar (like RCA cables for a stereo), but the magic number was clearly a dollar.

That got me thinking about books.

A very popular price point for books on Amazon is 99¢. Which, if you’re buying a full-length novel is a spectacularly good price. More popular still though? FREE. Yup, as it turns out giving stuff away for free is still popular with consumers. It won’t pay the bills, but it could end up working in your favour in the long run. If you have a series of books, for example, having the first one free is a great way to get people hooked on your product and coming back for more, dollars in hand. Drug dealers have been using this tactic for decades except writers are selling a different kind of fantasy. Robert Chazz Chute is taking this approach for his Hit Man books (great stories featuring a hit man by the name of Jesus Diaz) and I’d recommend you read the first in the series Bigger Than Jesus and see if it strikes your fancy (I downloaded the first one for free, bought the second one right away, was a beta reader for the third, and I loved them all).

Another way to get people hooked on your stuff is to write a serial. As Will Van Stone Jr. explains on Kate Tilton‘s website, a serial can be a great way to highlight your creative storytelling ability, and more importantly, your character development (things much more difficult to do in short fiction). This segues nicely into one of the other reasons I’ve been quiet on the blog lately. I was picked up by the OCH Literary Society to write for them. My task, aside from some occasional blogging? Serial fiction. *gulp*

Well, as my last post (and my first blog post for OCH) mentioned I had an idea so it was time to have the rubber hit the road (or fingers to hit the keys, as it were) and get started on it. I spent the first half of the month working on it and as I got deeper and deeper into the first installment I began to see, in a practical sense, what Will Van Stone Jr. explained in his article. People who read this blog have an idea of my writing style, but what they’re reading is mostly first person non-creative stuff. With the OCH serial, I have been given an opportunity to not just hone my skills in the creative fiction arena, but also showcase my style, storytelling ability, and character development to a larger audience. As nervous as this makes me, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t totally pumped.

I’ve got stuff that I’ll sell you for a dollar later in the year (and the years that follow), but for now, have a read. It’s a few thousand words every few weeks, and its’ free. The only thing I can’t promise is that it won’t be addictive.

The Book of Good: Installment 1

~ Andrew