A New Short Story

Although it will not be ready for another month or two, I finished a new long short story last night. Right now it stacks up at 22 pages, but with my scant writing style, I can see it expanding to almost 30 pages.

The end came as a pleasant surprise. #NaNoWriMo ended almost a month ago, and I’ve been furiously editing my fantasy novel “An Easterly Sojourn.” For some reason, I got the #amwriting bug a few days ago and hammered out the last half of the new short. The first half had been floundering in stasis for over a year. Then in an instant, the rest of this very complicated plot flashed in my mind.

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Public Domain Image Courtesy of Pixabay

I never told or discussed this story with my resident grammar nazi…editor…wife…um…The Queen. I felt that it would be important for her to read through it without any previous knowledge. Therefore, I’d know if the plot got too confusing, had glaring holes, or paths of least resistance were sufficiently blocked. Also, some characters have more than one name. I was somewhat worried about that as well. In the end, she read through it without confusion. Phew (*wipes brow), looks like I’ve managed to handle those potential baddies.

What will win in the end, love or greed? Well you’ll have to read it to find out. You didn’t really think I’d offer a spoiler at this moment, did you?

At first, this short story had the working title “The Psychic.” However, after numerous attempts to re-title, I’ve narrowed it down to two others, either “Psychic Games,” or “Psychic Confidence.” I’m leaning heavily toward the latter over the former.

Keep an eye out for a cover reveal in January

What have you written lately? DON’T GO – COMMENT BELOW!

Click the Pic and Go Straight to Ernesto’s Author page on AMAZON!

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Night Flights: A New Sci-Fi / Horror Short Story

Hi all! So it’s been a while, but at last I have a new release out on Amazon called Night Flights, and I’m really excited to share it with you!

Strange, terrifying images plague the mind of Peter the artist. Are they memories? Nightmares? Visions of the future? What is spawning them, and how is his wife experiencing the same delusions?

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About The Cover Art

Some of my research took me into the 1960’s. Of course I can’t tell what I specifically looked into, because that would be a terrible spoiler. However, that inspired the thought to design a cover reminiscent of movie posters and other cover arts from that era.

Other 1960’s Inspirations

Most of you know from previous blog posts about my favorite films that one of my degrees was in Cinema Studies. In a post about my Favorite Films from the 1960’s, you’ll see the film Once Upon A Time In The West sitting at number fifteen. Director Sergio Leone incorporated an ingenious technique when he would occasionally cut to an out-of-focus image. With each successive cut, the image becomes clearer and clearer, until the final revelation when the shot is completely sharp.

I sort of played with that technique in Night Flights. The main character is an artist who has trouble faithfully reproducing his odd visions on canvas. Of course, you’ll have to read it to discover if he ever pieces everything together. But will it give him an answer?

A Long Road

I started writing Night Flights while travelling from Texas to Idaho. Motels can get rather boring when you’re on a road trip. So I passed the evening time away with my trusty laptop, a cold soda, and some Marlboros.

Moving to a new home brought some other priorities, so I didn’t finish the first draft until a few months ago. After a few critique sessions, multiple editing passes, and beta reads, I can proudly say it’s done.

Of course I’ve written other things during that time that are not yet released. I completed the first draft of my fantasy novel, and have edited the first ten chapters. Also, I’m working on a collection of shorts to be released later this year called “Pressure Points”

Night Flights is a single release because it doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the “Pressure Points” collection. Night Flights is a Sci-Fi / Horror story, and there are no others of that genre in the forthcoming collection.

Go check it out! Tell me your thoughts about Night Flights. Did you have a favorite line or scene? Did it keep you up at night? 🙂

Today Is Not Your Birthday? Here’s a Present Anyway

After a partial revamp of my social media (this blog included). I’ve decided to create a page for Free Short Stories. Now I’ve always been against giving things away. I’ve seen too many Tweets concerning free novels, and I’m still against that practice. I will not chastise anyone or get in their face about it. I mean, they wrote a novel and it’s their property. Therefore, it’s theirs to give away.

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Birthday Cake by Theresa Thompson Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

I’ve been working on a fantasy novel for quite some time now. The thought of giving it away for free wounds me. However, the occasional short story is a bit different. Most of them are only 8-12 pages, and while I do work hard to rigorously refine them, they do not represent the same blood, sweat, and tears, that go into a novel.

When it comes to freebies, I sort of “get it” from a marketing standpoint. Maybe if I had a series of five novels, I may be prompted to do a free give-a-way of the first one for a week or so.

This leads me to the point of this post and your “non-birthday” present, namely, the new page tab for offering Free Short Stories. After all, it can’t hurt, and it may pose as a good platform to introduce you to my “wordsmithing” abilities. You may love them, hate them, or feel ho-hum. But they’re out there waiting for you.

Enjoy the first one called Gematria², and leave a comment. I am truly interested in your opinion.

***Put Ragged Souls on your kindle at Amazon U.S.***

Little Red Revolution Published!

For Your Reading Pleasure, I’m glad to announce that Fiction on the Web has published my short story “Little Red Revolution.” This is the first and only time that I’ve submitted a piece for publication. I’m a bit worried about readers thinking that all of my material is as raucous and raunchy as this particular piece.

All of my stories have a bite of humor here and there, but I’ve never written a complete comedy before.

Fiction on the Web is a free reading site, so be my guest and enjoy a read of “Little Red Revolution” at no charge. Also, remember to leave acomment. Get ready to meet John the ex-coal miner, Mistress Vanessa the vampinatrix, Grunt the winged goblin, and others.

There are quite a few stories of all sorts at Fiction on the Web. So read to your heart’s content and make a direct comment to any other author as well.

The Twilight Zone of Reviews (Part III)

 

I’ve discovered the danger of altering my basic writing style and subject matter. Normally, any short story of mine can be seen as a quirky tale laced with dark humor while delivering a very serious sub textual message concerning the downfall of Western Civilization.

I have one short story that deviates from my other works called Gematria². It’s not part of any collection because it is so different. However, that difference has turned around and bit me in the bum.

Like any other author, I have my favorites. Incredible wordsmiths who can make my jaw drop open and stun me. Two of those authors are Julio Cortázar and Jorge Luís Borges. For me, they are the unchallenged masters of the short story. Therefore it should come as no surprise that I had wanted to emulate them at least once. I couldn’t think of a better way to offer homage to a couple of my literary heroes. Thus, the short story Gematria² was conceived.

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When I presented Gematria² to my San Antonio critique group, I was quite proud of the results and feedback. The hairs on the back of my neck tingled, when one member announced to the group, “This is a work of pure literature.” I knew that I had accomplished a very difficult writing goal. I had written a piece that successfully played with the notions of time and space laced together with Jungian synchronicity. All of those ideas and themes were delivered in true Rioplata style in less than five pages. In hindsight, I should’ve put more emphasis on the fact that some members didn’t have an exact opinion. They neither liked it, nor disliked it. However, their non-reaction should not have surprised me. Most North Americans and Europeans are not familiar with the narrative style of magical realism, and would be taken aback by its stark differences from the norms that they’re accustomed to reading.

This short story by Julio Cortázar called The Continuity of Parks is only two long paragraphs and can give you a quick insight as to how the concept of reality and fiction are toyed with in the Rioplata style.

Well, Gematria² has received its first review on Amazon UK…a three-star review. Huh! To add insult to injury, the review was left by one of my biggest fans. Double huh! That’s right, someone who discovered me on Facebook, purchased my works, and has left several glowing reviews was disappointed by this one.

My guess is there were two forces were at work. The first was caused by the same effect that the piece had on some members of my critique group. Gematria² was just too different for him. Second was the expectation factor. He had read all of my other works and was probably expecting more of the same, and was therefore disappointed.

I’m glad that I can laugh, smile, and write happily about these quirky encounters with the reading public.

Gematria² is available for free on Wattpad (no download required) and Smashwords .

Have a quick read and let me know what you think?

And don’t forget to get your copy of Ragged Souls

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Click the Pic and go straight to Amazon

 

Short Story Status Report: Stasis & Other Dystopian Tales

I’m hoping to release Stasis & Other Dystopian Tales by March, 2015. Here are the story titles and their current level of completion.

Stasis *extended edition              (Completed)

A Pound of Flesh                              (Ready for Beta Reads)

The Clinic                                             (3rd draft)

Preppers                                             (1st Draft)

Glossies                                               (3rd Draft)

A Most Generous Man                  (Completed)

There is another story that would fit in called Adrift, but I do not think that it will be done in time.

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Editing a Paper by Nic McPhee used under CC License

More short story news items.

I’ve reached a compromise with “The Queen” concerning the #shortstory Little Red Revolution. If it does not get accepted for publication by April, then it will be released as a short story single for e-readers. The Queen and I can see the possibility of some magazine editors shying away from its raucous and raunchy humor.

The first draft of the Sci-Fi / Horror short Night Flights is done. I have to give it at least two more drafts before I have the nerve to bring it to my critique group.

The flash fiction piece entitled Everyone’s a Winner is almost completed. Perhaps I should not refer to it as a flash piece, because it is greater than 1,000 words. Most magazines / e-zines have a strict rule about the word count of a flash fiction story, so I think that submitting it now will be a lost cause. If I can trim it down a bit then I’ll submit it. If I can’t get it under the magic mark of 1,000 words, then I’m going to post it here as a freebie.

Two #StarTrek fan fiction pieces are in the works. The one for TNG is still in its 1st draft (#amwriting). The other which concerns ST original series is ready for a second draft. Both stories are of a humorous nature, because I just can’t resist doing things like that.

What’s your current writing / reading status?

Reviews: Stepping into the Twilight Zone Again

I once did an earlier blog post called “The Twilight Zone of Reviews.” I tend to lean toward that old television classic because one of my first reviews referred to me as “Sinclair Lewis meets Rod Serling on Main St.”

I tend to agree with that assessment. However, now I’m in the Twilight Zone of reviews again, because I just can’t figure out why different groups tend to see my work in totally different ways.

I don’t blow a proverbial gasket over a review that has an unfounded criticism. Why? Because I know that the reader/reviewer missed the cues.

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In my first short collection Ragged Souls, there’s a story called “Martha’s Kitchen.” When I first wrote that piece it was a big hit among my fellow scribes in the San Antonio Writer’s Guild. They loved it and laughed at the right moments. They even pushed me into reading it during one of their “open-mic” nights.

Therefore, when it was published on Amazon and I received my first reviews, I was eagerly awaiting to see how readers would react to the story. Unfortunately most of the reviewers just “liked” it instead of “loving” it.

Of course, this came as a bit of a shock to me. They didn’t load on a huge pile of praise for the story and they also criticized it because they saw it as a “horror vignette” rather than a story.

Color me surprised!

I intended “Martha’s Kitchen” to read like a wry dark-humored Twilight Zone episode. The difference between the Amazon reviewers and my writers group gave cause for me to scratch my head and try to figure this one out.

After pondering for a long while, the light bulb turned on and I think I had the answer. The story is sown with many subtle seeds. For some, it may take a second reading to turn those seeds into humor. That was the difference, my fellow San Antonio authors had read or heard it a few times.

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And…

Those same on-line reviewers also lumped on accolades for the lead story in the collection, “A Purveyor of Odd Things.”

Phew! In my mind, that lead story was the cleverest piece I have ever written.  So what’s the problem? Well…my writing buddies from San Antonio received that story with a rather “ho-hum” demeanor. I haven’t figured this one out yet, but I’ll try.

#Writing Motivation: Don’t Write!

Earlier today, an idea for a #shortstory came to me in a flash. Immediately I started making notes – even about foreshadowing and small details, which is not something I usually do. I’m dying to start slamming the keys, but I have to face the reality that I have too many stories in various stages of editing.

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Carrot on a Stick by Ben Sutherland used under CC License

Some are completed first drafts and others are partially-written first drafts. Still more have had a few editing passes and have been presented to critique groups. But those critique notes still need to be compiled and addressed.

Therefore, although I’m itching to get started on Night Flights (a working title) I’m going to use it as the proverbial carrot on my writing stick. Better yet, it could be seen as a rap on the knuckles by Sister Atilla the Nun – “No dessert until you finish your carrots.” I need to finish all the stories I’ve started before I allow myself work on this one.

Besides which, Night Flights wouldn’t fit in thematically with any of my planned short story collections, or even my current release Ragged Souls . You can check out my recent Progress Report for details on those.

So in the end, I’ll continue to make notes as inspiration strikes, but this story will just have to wait.

How do you motivate yourself to write each day?

Ragged Souls

The title of my latest short story collection is Ragged Souls: 3 Tales of the Holy, the Strange, and the Bizarre. It was my editor, Ruth, who created the subtitle for this book. She read and pondered the three stories before having a flash of insight into a connecting theme.

Let’s take a look at “Holy” for a minute. In Martha’s Kitchen, one could discuss the concept of misguided piety. For A Purveyor of Odd Things, it would be a general lack of Holiness. Finally , in Cactus Valley, worldliness is the cause for impiety. However, we get to witness an attempt at Angelic intervention in this last story.

I can sum up the usage of “Strange”, and “Bizarre” quite readily. Within Ragged Souls you’ll meet Angels, Demons, Dopplegangers, Murderers, and Mummies. Need I say more?

Here are excerpts from the three stories that you’ll find within the pages of the Ragged Souls collection.

A Purveyor of Odd Things

Meet Detective Renner Branson, a man so enslaved to his work that he’s forgotten how to live. In his newest baffling case, he will discover secrets – not just about the world, but about himself. The terrors lurking within may shatter his grip on reality.  Or they may show him just how beautiful reality can be.

Excerpt:

Branson squeezed his eyes shut. His sense of real and unreal, of possible and impossible, was shredded by these apparitions. He wanted so badly to run, run anywhere, to the car, to the gate, anything to get away from this insanity. But he wouldn’t – couldn’t – leave Hannah. Through his panic he became aware of her clammy hand clutching his, and though he tugged on it, she seemed unable to move. Paralyzed by that cold stare. Fight or flight…or freeze.

Available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Smashwords for all other formats.  Free extended excerpt at Wattpad.

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Martha’s Kitchen

Martha and Jillian, two sisters from a dying town, cope with the hollowness of city life in a bloodcurdling way. Come explore this bizarre case of nostalgia gone horribly awry, but beware the secret recipe at Martha’s Kitchen!

Excerpt:

“His pants and suspenders are still on. I hope he didn’t soil himself,” Martha said.

“No, I heard the toilet flush.”

“It figures,” Martha said. “Mr. Jenkins always was a proper gentleman.”

Available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Smashwords for all other formats.  Free extended excerpt at Wattpad.

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Cactus Valley

One New York couple’s vacation turns into a horrific nightmare. Ancient forces of good and evil do battle to win their souls – but which will be victorious?

Excerpt:

In a tense voice, Andrea said, “There’s still enough gas for thirty miles. Turn around.”

“We’ll never make it back that far. See if there’s another one ahead.”

Andrea studied the road atlas. “Okay. Get off at the next exit and make a right. There’s a service station about fifteen miles away.”

Available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and on Smashwords for all other formatsFree extended excerpts on Wattpad.

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Cover Reveal: Ragged Souls

I’ve been doing a lot of market research lately, and found that it’s better to publish short stories in small collections of three to five than as singles. With that in mind, I’ve decided to re-release “A Purveyor of Odd Things”, “Martha’s Kitchen”, and my new short “Cactus Valley” together (Read Extended Excerpts Here).

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The themes running through all of them are the battle between good and evil, with a touch of the paranormal.  This collection will be available for $.99 in all formats as of March 23rd, 2014. Look for it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo!

We’ve put in long hours on this cover. What do you think of it?