February 28, 2011

Free Sample Publication Day Countdown Nr.2: 'The Bar Sinister'!

In nervous anticipation of the publication of my first collection of horror stories Beneath Dark Waters, I'm releasing a sample a day from each story!

Today: The Bar Sinister

After traveling all his young life, Edward, now 30-something, settles down in his provincial hometown. One night, after a day of unpacking boxes and settling into his new home, he decides to go for a drink in the local bar and write about his adventures.
Although the bar is a run-down dark pub without much in the way of decoration, it gets quite full as the evening goes on. Edward notices the strange attire of some of the guests and is definitely disgusted by the men sitting at the bar and looking like they've been sitting there forever. Slowly, he comes to realize that the bar is more than what it seems and that a terrible tragedy took place in his absence.

This was one of the later stories for Beneath Dark Waters. I wanted to incorporate the coming-home to the countryside, because it gives a new perspective on the place. One tends to see things differently after traveling for many years. Some things are better than remembered, some things are worst. It also deals with the changes a small town goes through, changes that are not always apparent at first, but that will be soon enough...

Check out the sample below:

Tomorrow:What Hides in the High Grass!

For more free stuff: Click Free Stories

February 26, 2011

Free Sample Publication Day Countdown Nr.4: 'New Life'!

In nervous anticipation of the publication of my first collection of horror stories Beneath Dark Waters, I'm releasing a sample a day from each story!

Today: New Life

There are many things in Max' life that upset him: his school, his family, even his friends, sometimes. He has this girl in his biology class he wants to get close to, but doesn't know how. He needs to get good grades and he needs to stop being such a prick to his parents. Sometimes he takes some time for himself, and the odd cigarette, in a small abandoned woodland area. It is here that he finds an egg, bigger than any other egg he's ever seen. Soon the egg becomes his private secret and he can't wait for it to hatch. But when it does, it might show him more than he wanted...

Written while my soon-to-be-wife was on holiday to Milan with her sister, I took the weekend to patch up an old story of mine. The idea of this came to me many, many, many years ago and I've written countless versions which never got anywhere. Max came to me when a friend of mine told me he knew beforehand what an asshole he was going to be when puberty hit him. Like my friend, Max loves his parents and he rightly doesn't understand why he has to behave like such a prick. I like to think that it is this that the previous versions were missing. Enjoy!

Check out the sample below:

Tomorrow: On a night filled with evil!

For more free stuff: Click Free Stories

February 25, 2011

Free Sample Publication Day Countdown Nr.5: 'Rumours'!

In nervous anticipation of the publication of my first collection of horror stories Beneath Dark Waters, I'm releasing a sample a day from each story!

Today: Rumours

The intricate political workings of the small village dictate that Father Swart will always be the pastor. And even though he's retired and Father Decker is a young and very capable replacement, he's still called upon when a series of mysterious deaths occur. 
He politely declines the call for help, but one summers evening he finds out just how much the parishioners still need him when the village comes under attack of a satanic force...

'Rumours' is one of the more mature stories in the book. It gives a better overview of the world Father Swart lives in and especially the political workings of a small village as do some of the other stories, without sacrificing too much of Father Swart's noble character.

It was the last story I did for Beneath Dark Waters and it was inspired when I watched a flock of birds approach as I sat on my balcony one beautiful summers evening. I hope some of that beauty is apparent in the story.

Check out the sample below:

Tomorrow: New Life

For more free stuff: Click Free Stories

February 24, 2011

Free Sample Publication Day Countdown Nr.6: 'Little Monsters'!

In nervous anticipation of the publication of my first collection of horror stories Beneath Dark Waters, I'm releasing a sample a day from each story!

Today: Little Monsters

Little Timmy is a wonderful boy. He's smart and lively and his mother loves him very much. But after he flushes a spider down the toilet one night, he finds out that nature's creatures have a law unto themselves...

Since I used to collect bugs as a kid, there had to be a bug-story in here. Spiders just seemed the most logical choice, because this is just everybody's worst nightmare, isn't it? There's not much in the way of literary contemplation here, just a horror story...

Check out the sample below:

Tomorrow: Rumours

For more free stuff: Click Free Stories

February 22, 2011

Free Sample Publication Day Countdown Nr.8: 'Those strange beautiful fishes'!

In nervous anticipation of the publication of my first collection of horror stories Beneath Dark Waters, I'm releasing a sample a day from each story!

Today: Those strange, beautiful fishes

One Saturday morning, on his way to his job, Joris finds a fisherman on the side of the canal. Not in any hurry, he takes the time to talk to the man about fishing, the countryside, working and the like. The old man tells him some remarkable stories about his own life, including the type of bait he uses for the fish. Slowly, Joris gets the sneaking suspicion the friendly, old man is not all he seems to be.

I wrote this story back in 2003/4 when I first decided to give up writing Serious Literature and focus more on horror. I handed it in to Holland SF, a small Dutch magazine, and it was published in the spring issue of 2006. When I translated it into English, I rewrote the passage where Joris catches the fish. The rest is much like the original. 

Check out the sample below:

Tomorrow: Strangely Calm and Satisfied

For more free stuff: Click Free Stories

February 20, 2011

Beneath Dark Waters: 10 days 'till publication!

Yes, people, I finally got word from the printer, saying the book will definitely be printed and in my hands by the end of February. So we put the publishing date on the 1st of March! That means, ten days from now, the book will be available both as a paperback as well as PDF-format.

For those of you who don't know yet, the book is my first collection of horror stories. There are ten bone-chilling stories inspired by the place I grew up in and its people. It features, among other things, flying vampires, creeping monsters, mysterious old hags and just plain old evil people. For a full background on the book and the setting, please read my earlier post The Making of 'Beneath Dark Waters'.

While waiting in nervous anticipation for its publication, each day I will give a small synopsis of the each story in the book.

Today: Lost to the Raging Storm.

A strange old farmer goes out at night to check on his cattle. Outside the autumn storms are raging as he makes his way to the small barn where he keeps his temporary cattle. Soaked and cold, he feeds it and gives it water as his thoughts stray from his standing in the village to his life as a farmer. All the while the cattle hides in the shadows. It is only when the old farmer leaves the barn that we find the horrific truth.

This was one of those lucky moments that came to me while trying to write. Sometimes it happens. You look at the blank page before you and the words just pour out. I chose it as an opening story, because it basically sums up the entire collection and gives the reader a good idea of what it's all about.

I love the vile nature of the story and the twist at the end. It reads like a character description which turns darker as the pages turn, giving the reader, hopefully, an terrific punch at the end of it, which will set the tone for the rest of the book.

Free sample below:

Tomorrow: With the Strength of her Conviction.

February 12, 2011

Rant: Saluting the creative writer...

About a year or two ago, a new Dutch writer took the country by storm. This has been happening on a regular basis since the mid-90's, when Serious Writers stopped writing about WW2 or the sixties and started writing about current events. Most of these are devoured by the masses and loved by the critics. It seems like a win-win situation, doesn't it? Well, they lost me at Hello. Here's why. 

The guy that sparked this rant is called Kluun and his book is called 'A Woman comes at the Doctors'. The book is basically about a woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoes a series of horrible treatments and surgeries (described in very graphic detail) while her husband screws around with several other women. Yup, they made a movie out of it that was a huge hit. And it sparked a host of copycats.

Lovely, isn't it? But the Dutch writer is not alone. There's tons of writers of general literature who employ shock-tactics to make a point. If they do, that's fine. Thomas Hardy used it in Jude the Obscure and Tess of the d'Urbervilles. They're great books which show the evil side of Victorian class system in England of the 19th century. 

BUT, and this is all too frequent, some writers just like to shock people and there's no point whatsoever! This is my pet peeve. They put their protagonists through a world of hurt, rape, torture and all sorts of horrible events to the extent that it can't possibly be for entertainment-purposes anymore and they show or describe it in such graphic detail that the only word that comes to mind is 'Sadistic'.

If they'd say: "Hey, here's an extremely nasty story that I wrote," still I'd have no problem. But they call it 'Literature' and, funny enough, everybody agrees. And my main question to the world is:

Should literature, like art, not be uplifting and inspirational? Rather than leaving you feeling numb and depressed for three days? I always thought so.

Whatever it is you're writing, people, do it because it you love what you're writing. It'll show through the words. Make it entertaining, make it fun, make it so I want to run faster, jump higher, try harder, reach for the skies! Make me laugh or make me cry, but please, do not make me want to take a swan dive off my third floor balcony. The world can be a shitty place from time to time already without these 'literature' writers making it worse with their sadistic fantasies.

So I make an appeal to all the truly creative writers, the ones who have true imagination and can think up worlds filled with creatures both nasty and good. Or the ones who can dive deep down into the human psyche and turn all of us inside out. To the satirical writers who confront us with us, and do so with love and good humour. I appeal to the ones who take the time and effort to think up something to entertain us, to make us forget the world and our worries for a few hours and make us feel Alive! again.

Those I salute.

February 8, 2011

The State of Affairs

Okay, so I've been talking a lot about my upcoming collection of horror stories 'Beneath Dark Waters'. I've added this thingy to my banner saying I've won an honourable mention in the Lucid Hills Spring Contest and I've been talking a lot about writing horror and literature in general.

But what of my stories? What do I do on my days off? And what can you expect of me in the future? In other words, The State of Affairs as of February 2011!

Past - Until about 4 years ago I made my money traveling around the world and working as a freelance photographer. Most notably I worked as a photographer on cruise ships for three years, but I also did work as a nature photographer and I shot some weddings in my day. Before that, I studied Marketing, specializing in Copywriting. If you want to know how that ended, read my earlier post on Doing What You Like.

I gave up my photography career in the spring of 2008 when I found myself shooting families in a small town studio and hating it. In May of that year I started on the first stories for Beneath Dark Waters. I submitted the collection to various publishers, but not to much avail.

In the winter of 2010 I decided to go rogue, or indie, or self-publisher, or whatever the term is you use. I decided to offer my stories to the public myself, instead of going through the traditional channels. I spent a good deal of time learning the ropes, getting to know my way around the Internet and trying a whole bunch of stuff that didn't work.

Present - And that basically leads to where I am today. 'Beneath Dark Waters' has been proofed and is on its way to be printed now. It'll soon be available to anyone through this blog or the Floating Robes website. 

I'm revising a short novella I wrote called 'When the Ground's too Hard for Digging', which is basically a rework of a long short story. It features Arthur Stoffle, an elderly man living in the rural flat-lands of North-Western Holland. He's quite content with his life, until one night he is visited by a dark stranger who has nasty plans for the world in general and Mr. Stoffle in particular.
The book is now in post-production Hell, which basically means I need to find the time to sit down and revise it properly, reread the third draft and pick out the little flaws and such. Then I need to design the cover and send it off to the printer. Of course I'll keep you posted on this.

In the meantime I've been keeping myself busy with writing more short stories, one of which 'The Art of Bullying' has won the infamous honourable mention in the Lucid Hills Spring Contest. It's about a high-school bully who dies and goes to Purgatory. Since it's quite humourous, I'm thinking of turning it into an illustrated story, but I've yet to find an artist whom I can afford. Anyone?

Two more short stories are in post-production Limbo, 'In Darkness' and 'The Angel' (working titles). Both are due for the end of March when I plan to submit them to various contests. 'In Darkness' is my first attempt at writing flash fiction and so far I'm liking the experience. I plan to publish an article on flash writing soon, so keep checking back.

Future - For now, I think I have my hands full. Nonetheless, since Easter 2010 when we visited family in Switzerland, I've been thinking about a humourous novella set in a fictitious country in the middle of Europe steeped in dark history, witchcraft, necromancers and what not. It won't be full-blown dark fantasy, but there will be some elements there. I've written the first part (around 10.000 words), but I need to 'percolate' some more. So that's on hold for now.

In this day and age, with the Internet and various ways of consuming entertaining fiction, I need to redo Beneath Dark Waters in various formats as well. These include MP3 and E-Book publication. I need to figure out how those work and market them properly. This will also be very time-consuming, but also very enjoyable.

So I have much to keep busy with. Writing is just one part of the whole experience. But then, JUST writing the stories might become a bit dull after a while. I'm happy to have set myself this challenge and am curious to see how things will work out. 

If reading this post has whetted your appetite for some of my writing, please stake out the Free Stories section and see what I can do. I agree, it's not a fair representation of my range yet, but I'm sure you'll find something enjoyable there.

Until next time, take care and keep reading!

February 4, 2011

11 tips for the Survival of the Human Species!

Okay, okay, we all have to stick together, right? Look out for each other, help your neighbour, etcetera. I mean, there's a lot of weird and dangerous stuff out there and we have to be careful if we want to have a fighting chance of survival. It's a jungle out there, right?

So, okay, I've put some things on paper that might just help us to get through our daily lives in this topsy-turfy world of ours. It's a small list of do's and don'ts which you can take to hard in order to be brutally mauled by some unspeakable monster or drained by some blood-sucking fiend or even hacked to pieces by some deranged human being! Of course, you are very welcome to add anything to the list you feel might be helpful.

1) First of all, pets. Be very aware of any loving Fifi's or Bello's that come back a few days after you buried them. Chances are, they aren't so loving anymore. Even when you encounter a completely different cat that has an uncanny resemblance to the one you hung from a tree a year ago. They simply cannot be trusted.

2) Be very aware of little girls that tell you're all going to die tonight. The same goes for little girls that are the only survivors of a village massacre. I don't care how cute they are in normal life, as soon as they get that green-faced look, get yourself near a crucifix or at the very least a gun with silver bullets.

3) Ladies, please, be very careful when your lover or husband intends to get frisky with you in those dark woods or close to an abandoned farmhouse. Even when you are alone. Tell him calmly that this might not be the best time or place for this. Honestly, it's up to you, because, let's be frank, men DO only think of one thing. 

4) Men, be very aware of any voluptuous, pretty women who come on too strong. Especially when they are shrouded in a strange, green mist and bring their even prettier sisters/friends. Tell them kindly, thanks but no thanks and bolt like your pants are on fire. Even though you might think your wildly attractive to the opposite sex, really, you are NOT.

5) A mob of slow-moving, empty-gazed undead should never be approached. Not even if they reach out their arms for you. Lock yourself in a house with a group of other people and make sure they speak, before letting them in. One of them will probably try to overthrow your frankly, dictatorial reign over the small group of survivors, so deal with him as quickly as possible. 

6) If your village gets cut off from the normal world by a strange and invisible force field, do not choose the side of the first one who loudly exclaims to have a survival strategy. You, and every other villager, are very apt to end up in the cellar under the police station. Instead, choose the side of the lonely stranger with the mysterious past. Believe me, you'll live longer, and if you don't, at least you'll have a clear conscience.

7) Odd, old fishermen yelling:'Yog-Shottoth!' should always be approached with extreme caution! Especially if they have scaly, fish-like skin.

8) Ancient books
bound in leather should never be read out loud on nights with a full moon.

9) If you go out at night to investigate a strange noise, just go ahead. It's the way Mother Nature weeds out the smart from the less intelligent in our society.

10) Girls, please, do NOT fall in love with those mysterious guys in your class that wear sunglasses all the time and look like they could really use some sun. You might not die, but you'll find yourself caught in the middle of an age-old feud. Really, it's not worth it.

11) Don't trust your lover if he/she disappears once a month for the entire night and comes back with torn clothes. Believe me, cheating is the last of your worries.

Okay, people, as long as we keep this in mind, we should be fine. So when you go to bed tonight, check under the bed, in the closet and behind the curtains. And whatever you do, do not look into the mirror and say Candyman three times, as so often happens.

Keep Safe!

February 1, 2011

Five random writing contests #2

Searching around the web, I found these five random writing contests.

1) Winter Flash Contest

Styles: Flash Fiction under 500 words. Any theme. No porn/gore.
Award: $100, $50 and $25 plus writer profiled and web publication.
Entry fee: $7,00 per story. $20 for three.
Deadline: February 10th 2011
Impression: Just starting out, but friendly.

2) Meridian Writing Spring Short Story Competition.

Styles: Any. Open Theme/Genre. 3000 words max.
Award: 100 GBP, 50 GBP, 25 GBP
Entry fee: 5 GBP
Deadline: March 31st 2011.
Impression: Business-like, but established.

3) A Very Short Story Competition

Styles: Fiction (max. 1000 words)
Award: 50 GBP.
Entry fee: 4 GBP.
Deadline: February 28th 2011
Impression: Light-footed (check out the Bunny Blog).

4) Chapter One Contest

Styles: First Chapter of unpublished work. Up to 6500 words.
Award: $500.
Entry fee: $10,00
Deadline: March 15th, 2011.
Impression: Stylish with a hint of humour.

5) Bristol 2011 Short Story Prize

Styles: All genres. 3000 words max.
Award: 1000 GBP, 700 GBP, 400 GBP plus 17 other prizes of 100 GBP for shortlisted stories.
Entry fee: 7 GBP.
Deadline: March 31st, 2011.
Impression: Big, well-organized contest

Good Luck!
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