And then I wrote some romance

Every so often I like to share what I’m currently working on.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m working on the manuscript for a story tentatively titled, ‘Clarice’.   I’ve got around 42,000 words so far.  While story development is slow, because I’m pulled in so many different directions, the story itself is coming along very nicely.

The characters are speaking to me during the day and whispering to me at night.  The width and breadth of action is increasingly expansive, the themes deep and meaningful, and the science—the physics—works to ground the story in realm of believability.

So here is a short extract from what I’ve most recently written.  I look forward to your comments and criticisms.

56

To say that Danny awoke would be a misnomer.  More correctly, Danny was awake.  Fully awake.  More awake than he had been in a very long time—however that might be determined—and that was good.  He wanted to be awake.  The smell of the leaves and the cool, crisp autumn air invigorated him.  For this moment, life was an enviable state to be in, and he wished he could make it last forever.  He was young and healthy and in love, with the entire universe waiting for him to achieve his destiny.

He was standing at the corner of Fifth and Main, with traffic humming by without a break.  And that was just so normal—people bustling down the sidewalks, cars honking, children laughing.  He was waiting for her, for Clarice.  This is where they met every evening after work.  She worked uptown, he worked downtown, and they met in the middle, just a few blocks from their apartment.

Danny paced at the corner.  He watched for her, straining to get his first glimpse of her.  That first glimpse would almost bring him to his knees, it made him so weak with love and wanting her.  He waited, afraid to look away—even at his watch—for fear that he might miss her, and that by missing her he might be lost to her forever.

Like a good soldier he stood his ground and kept his watch.  Then, from the crowd, as one might appear from a mist, there she was.  Tall, thin, and radiant, her long hair tucked under a knit cap.  She not so much walked as gracefully floated over the pavement.  At least to his eyes, there was no fault in her stride, there was only perfection in her walk.

As she approached, and his anticipation grew, he tried to remember when he first loved her, but he found it impossible.  It was like trying to remember his first breath or his first tear.  It just always was.  It was part of his being, and without it there was nothing.

When she arrived at the curb, traffic stopped.  He was sure it was for her that the traffic had stopped, that her stride be unimpaired, that her life be uninterrupted.

© Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh

Two Stories Make One

In my files somewhere I have the beginnings of a story about a man trapped in a dead-end job doing meaningless work who sees the walls of his office melt, revealing another world beyond. I wasn’t terribly satisfied with what I developed because it seemed to be turning into another one of those quest novels without a stronger storyline. So I put it away.

Also in my files was the concept for a story about a writer whose tales of a world destroyed by a mysterious plague come closer and closer to his world until he is consumed by the plague he described. This story begs the question of whether his idea for the plague was prescient or whether his fictional reality somehow became his―and his world’s―true reality. Struggling with this conundrum is a jaded, rough around the edges, cynical veteran cop who has to find the answer before the plague becomes pandemic.  I put this one away, also.

Until now.

Neither of these concepts seemed to work by themselves, so I wondered what would happen if I combined them.

________________________

Deep in the bowels of the ninety-story Heschimer Building, in the third basement, is an office. In the office is a man. The man is surrounded by stacks of paper. These are paper files, some dating back thirty years or more. Shanton Wheezer is the chief archivist of the corporation. He is also the only archivist of the corporation. His job, his sole purpose, is to catalog files, assign a reference number to each file― and sub-reference number for each element in each file―then transfer the files to a storage facility where the files are stored away in case they are ever needed.

Shanton is also responsible for retrieving a file, if anyone would ever request it. In the thirty-five years that Shanton has worked in the office―yes, the very same office―no one has ever requested a file. In fact, not a single person from the corporation, including the cleaning staff, has ever ventured to the third basement. Files are delivered to him, either in envelopes or boxes, via dumbwaiter. Since the dumbwaiter is outside his office, in the main storage area, Shanton receives an automated email to notify him that something has been delivered to his area.

Day after day Shanton sits in his office cataloging files, never bothering to read the contents or attempting to assess whether the files delivered to him should be retained or not. His job is to catalog the files and send them off to storage, nothing more. Cataloging and shipping the files efficiently is important because efficiency generates numbers and numbers look good on a spreadsheet. This being a corporation, there is―of course―a daily production report, which is a spreadsheet. And Shanton’s report always looks good.

But that’s not all there is to Shanton, of course. His real passion is writing―not just reports, but fiction, and maybe even literature. During his self-imposed breaks at work, he sketches out ideas for stories. He immerses himself in his stories and sometimes they actually take him away. It may be to a tropical island or to a strange new world, but he is there. What he doesn’t count on though, is that it’s possible for the stories in his head to become so real that they initiate the process instead of him.

The walls in his office melt away. He hasn’t shut his eyes. He hasn’t ignored the files on his desk. He just looked up and it is happening. And he’s is a world that―

Oh, my God, no! he pleads, but God isn’t there to answer. This world is ravaged by violence and disease and he stands in the middle of it. Worse yet, there is no way out, no returning.

When he fails to file his daily reports, answer his emails, and submit his timecard, Shanton is fired in absentia. His firing brings his position under the scrutiny of corporate management who judge it to be redundant. The third basement is closed until a CEO with the latest vision for the corporation orders a full physical audit of the corporate resources.

After three years, the third basement is opened and workers discover a grisly surprise.

The forensics investigators on the team led by Detective Frank Castaletti are stumped. Shanton hasn’t been seen or heard from for three years, yet he is found in his office in a locked room, an emaciated disease ridden corpse that appears to have been dead less than twenty-four hours.

To make matters worse, the medical examiner suspects that what killed Shanton is a previously unknown strain of virulent plague for which there is no cure. Castaletti has only hours to determine what happened to Shanton, but he may already have a clue if he can figure out what it means.

During the initial investigation, Shanton’s hand closed on Castaletti’s―Through the glove, right through the goddamned glove! ―triggering a terrible vision of a world lost to violence and disease.

Will Castaletti discover the secret that is hidden in Shanton’s life and writing in time to save the world?

________________________

What do you think? Was combining the two stories a good idea? Is this worth pursuing? Most importantly, do you want to know more about Shanton Wheezer, Frank Castaletti, and the fate of mankind?

I encourage you to leave comments or suggestions for my posts. I’d love to hear from you.
© Copyright 2014 by Kevin Fraleigh.

Read My Stories For Free!

I’ve been looking for a new outlet for my longer, full length stories so I thought I’d give wattpad.com a try. If you haven’t been there, wattpad bills itself as a world of unlimited stories. For the reader, wattpad is a place to discover new authors and read some really exciting work.

For the writer, the site is easy to use and well organized. Posting a story is quick, as is notifying the wattpad community that you’ve posted new material. You maintain complete control over your content and can update/edit at any time. You can even build the story while the community follows along, providing comments and suggestions.

And it’s free to join, read, and publish.

Wattpad is a social platform that encourages conversations about writing.  The idea is that by reading and commenting on other people’s stories, they’ll reciprocate by reading and commenting on yours. The comments generate buzz and buzz gets more people to read your stuff.  This will be the most difficult for me as I have very limited time to be on-line either reading or commenting.

Nonetheless, earlier this week I posted “Grayson’s Mountain” (originally published in eFiction, November 2011) just to see how it was received. In the near future I will post a few more previously unpublished stories. Hopefully I will get some constructive criticism, and maybe even some compliments.

If you are a writer, and in it for the money, there is something to keep in mind before posting to wattpad, or even to your blog. Some magazines will consider those posted stories as previously published and will not consider them for publication.  Consider this carefully before posting. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.

On the other hand, if your main goal is to get your work out there to share with the world, then you might consider posting to wattpad. It seems like a great community to be involved in. Publish and be heard. The stories don’t do anyone any good sitting in your virtual trunk!

Are there other writer and reader friendly sites that are similar to wattpad? If you know of any, why not share? We can all benefit from the opportunity to start conversations about writers and the stories they create.

One last thing―don’t forget to jump to wattpad and read “Grayson’s Mountain”.  And be sure to let me know what you thought of it.  Thanks!
© Copyright 2014 by Kevin Fraleigh.

There And Back Again!

I admit that the title of this post isn’t original, but I figure that if it was good enough for Bilbo Baggins, it’s certainly good enough for me.  I am now home again after spending almost a month on the road and slowly beginning to pick up where I left off.

My second novel, Any Tomorrow: The Curse, is out at all the major ebook retailers.  This is the good news.  The bad news is that when I search the Barnes & Noble website for “any tomorrow”, only the second novel displays in the results.  To find my first novel, Any Tomorrow: The Calling, I have to search on the full name.  Other sites display both ebooks in the same results page.  I have a suspicion that although the titles are different, the site is seeing them as different versions of the same book.  I’ll have to contact Smashwords to see if I can get that fixed.

I am in the early stages of writing my fourth novel.  Like the first three it’s horror/fantasy swirled around a core of physics.  Physics, you say?  Yes, physics is why things happen.  In my novels there is no magic, no supernatural, no something from nothing.  There is a reason for everything.

The basic premise is this:  It’s 1933.  The world is changing.  The Great Depression.  Poverty.  Fear.  Social unrest.  Fascism is rising in Europe.  Just when you think things couldn’t get worse something happens that changes everything.  Suddenly time and space compress and everything that is 2011 is imposed on 1933.  All the physical attributes, all the data, but no people.  Think about it, one moment you’re driving your 1928 Ford sedan, the next moment you’re behind the wheel of a 2011 Toyota Prius.  More than that, what about World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan?   Would they have happened if their histories were already known?  How would governments react?  How would you react?

I’ve already developed a framework for most of this ―for how things happen at least ―understanding that there must be certain rules to prevent the possibility of a temporal paradox.  A temporal paradox would be something like if a man is killed before he fathers his children who live in the imposed future, the children would die before they were born.  That could be a very bad thing.

Understandably, the actual story won’t be the story of that strange world, but will take place within it.  Trying to address every issue and event would take too long and the risk of losing focus would be too great.  The trick will be to focus on the pivotal characters and let them take me through the world.  At this point I’ve got only a general starting point, but if this novel is anything like the last three, it should be a wild ride.

So here’s my plan ― let me know what you think of it ― as I make progress on the novel, I’ll post bits and pieces and ask for your opinions which you can provide to me either by leaving a comment or by using the other social media.  This is similar to participating in the Workshop at eFiction Magazine.  In fact, in the Workshop I currently have the whole first chapter up for review.

And I’ll do the same for you.  Here is a link to the first chapter.  Your comments are encouraged.  But the question I really need answered is this: Does what I’ve written make you want to know more? 

[Sorry, the first chapter is no longer available for review.  The full story, however, is included as a bonus in Any Tomorrow Complete.  Thanks.]

If you’d like to leave a comment about this post or any other, please do I so.  I’d love to hear from you.
© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.

Revising the Product Description

Thanks to my friends at eFiction Magazine’s Book Marketing Group, I’ve transformed my long, unfocused product description into a more dynamic pitch for my eBook, Any Tomorrow: The Calling.  Advice from eFiction editor Doug Lance and group member Richard Sutton helped me rebuild my product description following some simple general rules:

  1. Be concise.  Don’t expect the potential reader to sift through a long meandering description.  Attention spans are short.  Keep the description to a few high-impact sentences.
  2. Use the third person.  Doing so seems to help with credibility.  It gives the description the feel of a review.
  3. Start the product description with some information about yourself to establish your credentials, establish credibility, and peak interest.
  4. Introduce the main character(s).
  5. Establish a time reference for when the story takes place.
  6. Describe the plot.
  7. Don’t give it all away, save some surprises for the reader to discover.
  8. Provide a good wrap up to seal the deal.

Keeping these rules in mind, here is my latest product description:

Kevin Fraleigh, a former intelligence analyst, artfully crafts a tale that transcends typical offerings in the horror/fantasy genre by seamlessly blending historical reality with speculative fiction. This first book in the Any Tomorrow Trilogy introduces Gustav Linder, Henry Turner, and Tyler Nolan, three men whose disparate lives are bound together by an ancient, pervasive evil. Gustav Linder is a brilliant young Jewish theoretical physicist in pre-war Germany, isolated in his own thoughts from dramatic changes in the world that spawn the rise of Nazism, whose dreams of a past and future are inexorably linked and of which he is an integral part. Henry Turner is a sociopath and hit man for a Miami drug cartel who as a boy had all the advantages, yet at age thirteen heard a voice that filled his empty places and made him a murderer without remorse. Tyler Nolan, an intelligence analyst for the Agency whose fragile psyche is caught in a struggle between reality and madness, is trapped in a secret deep underground facility alone the day a worldwide nuclear-biological holocaust nearly brings everything to an end.  A common evil that longs for the destruction of everything binds the destiny of the three men.  The challenge to defeat the evil before it can achieve its insidious ends fills this bracing tale with unexpected twists and turns that leave the reader wondering what will happen next.

I managed to pare my description down to seven sentences.  Do you think I met all the criteria for an effective product description?    Does it make you want to know more about my eBook?  Remember that the rules I listed are general in nature and can be changed your personal requirements and style.

I was never really happy with my last description or the one before that, but wasn’t sure exactly why.  Maybe I just needed to step back from it and get some other opinions.  Doing that really helped because I’ve never been comfortable with self-promotion.  It seems like I’m always happy to help others, but I never want to help myself.

I’ve said before in this blog that I’m not a joiner, but I’m glad I joined the eFiction community.

If you have comments about this or any of my posts, please leave a comment by selecting the Leave a comment or Leave a Reply links.  I look forward to your comments.
© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.

Tell me about it!

Now that Any Tomorrow: The Calling is available at the major eBook distributors (Amazon, Diesel, Barnes and Nobel, Smashwords) and a few intrepid folks have downloaded copies of it, I thought I’d provide a place on the blog for readers to provide feedback about the book.

The Review, Critique, Suggest page is expressly for that purpose.  The only thing I would ask is that the comments are honest and the criticism is constructive.  But if you feel like being more concise, that’s okay too.

The great thing about digital self-publishing is that I can not only improve my eBook based on reader comments, but the revisions can be posted relatively quickly.

The other benefit of soliciting comments on the blog is the opportunity for dialogue between me, the writer, and you, the reader.  Dialogue brings you into the creative process and I find the idea of collaboration quite exciting.

So, if you like horror/fantasy with a few twists, download a copy of Any Tomorrow: The Calling, the first eBook in the Any Tomorrow Trilogy, and then tell me what you thought about it.  The Review, Critique, Suggest page is waiting for your comments.

If you have any comments about this or any of my posts, please click the Leave a comment link and leave a comment.  I appreciate it.  Thanks.
© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.