Destiny Reborn and Pacific Dunes – the future of my writing

Hello, folks,
While I haven’t been doing much writing per se lately, I have been submitting older stories to publishers and continuing to improve the website. I’ve also been working on the direction that future net-new stories will go (not including ones already in flight).
A good chunk of them will be part of the Destiny Reborn series I have in the works. This is an epic, global Fantasy\SciFi novel series that is several years out, but the universe of it will cover many other stories. ‘Endless Skies‘ is the only story out now which is related to it.

A large set of stories – both Destiny Reborn-related and not – will be local to Orange County, California, where I’ve lived since I was a toddler. Fact and fiction will be blended together here, with most locales being true to real life but with an additional town called Pacific Dunes being added. This will be a somewhat seedy city, complete with corrupt officials and a long history of unusual happenings. To be located north of Huntington Beach and south of Seal Beach. Some fictitious individuals in this area will be in multiple stories.

Not all stories will be in Orange County \ Southern California, nor all related to Destiny Reborn, but after I finish up the stories in flight this will be the trend. The upcoming short stories ‘Ally’s Dog’ and ‘Blackstar,’ as well as the standalone novel-in-progress ‘Ursa Major’ are all related to both – being at least partially located locally, and having some kind of tie-in with Destiny Reborn.
More to come!
~JM Ames

AFOW Interview #6 – Eldred Bird

Today, I am featuring author Eldred Bird whose story “A Family Thing” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian.”

If you had to do one thing differently with your story, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a thing. At some point you have to stop editing and embrace what you’ve created.

What was the inspiration for your story?
Imagination in children today feels like it’s being replaced by technology. We need to learn to look for that spark in them and then fan it into a flame.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
That moment came when I finished my first novel. I’d been writing non-fiction shorts and personal essays. I never thought I could write an entire novel, let alone one I could be proud of, but the first time I held that book in my hands…

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
Fitting all of the elements of a complete story into such a limited space is a challenge. The key is word choice. Every word has to carry weight matter.

Do you write every day?
I try to, but sometimes the rest of life gets in the way.

Does your sexual orientation play a roll in the development of your character?
Not on a conscious level, but I write from my own experience so I’m sure that has an effect on the final character.

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
No, I use flash fiction and short stories to try out new genres and POVs.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
Cycling and photography are my two.

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most?
I grew up on E.A. Poe and John Steinbeck, as well as Earl Stanley Gardner and a whole host of pulp authors. I never tried to write like they did, but some of their influences do come out in my work.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
Absolutely. As a kid, I was Owen. I often escaped into my own imagination. Now instead of just playing out the adventures in my mind, I write them down.

What is your writing space like?
Cluttered, just like my brain.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
There are always surprises when I write. I never outline, so I’m never quite sure where I will end up.

How long did it take to write your story?
The first draft took about an hour—then came the rewrites, presenting it to my critique group, more rewrites and finally, one last proof read. All in all, I’d say there was better than ten hours in the story.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
Word restriction is extremely challenging. Think about drawing a picture with the 64 crayon box. Now try to draw the same picture with only ten crayons. What colors you choose becomes paramount. It’s the same with writing. Words are our crayons. When you can only use a few, you need to choose each one very carefully.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
The comforting meal from my childhood—a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good. – William Faulkner

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW

Significant content updates to the website

Hello folks,

I’ve spent the day updating the website. Among other changes:

Stay warm, my friends! Cozy up to a fire with your favorite beverage and book.

~JM Ames

AFOW Interview #5 – R. Roy Lutz

Today, I am featuring author R. Roy Lutz whose story “The Abortion” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian

If you had to do one thing differently with your story, what would it be?
Use even fewer words than the 100 words I used.

What was the inspiration for your story?
The pain and conflicting emotions I saw when I heard a girl tell her story of an abortion she had had.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
The day I realized my characters tell their own stories.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
Using the imagination of the reader to fill in blanks with the unwritten words the author has chosen.

Do you write every day?
Well, I think about writing every day. I do some of my best writing in the shower.

Does your sexual orientation play a role in the development of your character?
No, not on a conscience level at least.

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
Yes, this was my first flash fiction. I have since written several others. I enjoy writing stories that require the reader to take an active (if unwitting) role in telling the story.

What was your favorite story in the book besides your own?
Everyone’s life is a compelling story. All my character have compelling stories, even the bad guys. It’s my job to document their compelling stories.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
Read ― mostly fiction. Social media.

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most?
Frank Herbert. I fell in love with his ability to develop strong 4-dimensional characters.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
Only in my imagination. All readers have their own imagination and will relate (or not) in their own ways.

What is your writing space like?
Eclectic. I modeled my office space after that of Ray Bradbury’s office, filled with unusual, imagination-inspiring objects.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
Yes, it turned out how I planned, but how it got there was unexpected.

How long did it take to write your story?
A couple days total including a lot of tweaking.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
The challenge is figuring out how to trick the reader into filling in the blanks.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
A hacksaw pie.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
“Beginnings are fragile things.” – Frank Herbert, Dune.
Every great story starts with a great beginning.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW
http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-flash-of-words

Release Day! ‘Charmed Writers Presents Flash Fiction 2019’ is available NOW.

Folks,

Charmed Writers Presents Flash Fiction 2019, featuring my WWII drama ‘Waves,‘ is available NOW – and the best part is that is FREE! You can get the entire ebook by either downloading it from here, or by messaging any of the 41 authors in it for a copy – myself included.

WCUnne4The blurb for the book is below. I encourage each of you to come learn more about all 41 of us in the Facebook Group The Charmed Connection.

Welcome to the Charmed Writers 2019 Flash Fiction Anthology! Charmed Writers is a special group of authors who support each other, learn together, share their knowledge and write together. We write in various genres and are at different places in our careers. In these pages, you’ll find stories from USA Today, NY Times and Amazon best-selling authors, from authors well on their way to achieving those goals, and new voices being read for the first time. There are science fiction and fantasy stories, historical flashes, romances and so much more.
We hope you enjoy our stories, find some new favorite authors and that you’ll join us in our Facebook reader group The Charmed Connection.

Expect updates to the website in the coming days to reflect the availability of both Flash Fiction 2019 and A Flash of Words. Most of all, Expect the Unexpected…

JM Ames

AFOW Interview #4 – Elizabeth Montague

Today, I am featuring author Elizabeth Montague whose story “Albatross” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian

What was the inspiration for your story?
Inspiration for my story came from two sources. The first was a prompt given to me by a colleague at work. I asked him to give me three words and he provided me with banana, melon, albatross. That seemed to lend itself straight away to comedy so I decided to challenge myself by writing a story that was tragic rather than funny. I always look for music to inspire my work and when thinking of songs that made me sad the song Another Man’s Cause by The Levellers came to mind. Combining the spirit of the song with the words slowly became Albatross as it is today.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
You have to grab the reader in the first sentence. With such a story if the reader is not invested early on then it will be an unsatisfying conclusion if they reach the end without having truly been gripped by the story.

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
I’ve written a lot of flash fiction before Albatross. I started very much in the world of fan fiction where 100 word drabble challenges were common. As I became serious about writing my own material I found them to be a great form of writing practice, helping me make my writing tight and as a way to get the annoying little stories that were in my head down on paper.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
I’m an avid reader and enjoy reading the works produced by the authors I meet through my work as well as challenging myself to read a wide range of available fiction. I’m love theatre and am lucky enough to work in one so I get to experience all different styles without having to travel far.

What is your writing space like?
I’m a really messy writer and my work space is situated on my sofa in my living room. My ideal writing session involves no one else being home, cushions piled up behind me, local radio station on and a nice candle burning. I have my laptop on a stand on my lap and notebooks, sheets of paper and anything else I’ve scribbled ideas on spread out on the seat beside me. I’ve tried having a more formal space but it didn’t work so it’s back to me on my couch with a candle.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
It originally started out being set in the First World War but, bleak as that scenario was, I wanted it to be bleaker so I set it in a future where humankind is still fighting only this time they don’t know how or why, they’ve just been fighting for so long that it is what they do.

How long did it take to write your story?
It took several weeks to get the story right. The bare bones of it I wrote in one sitting but it took several rewrites and trips to my lovely supportive writers’ group to get it ready to send in. I think I worked harder on Albatross than I have done on much longer pieces.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
It’s definitely a challenge but a great one that I think every writer should undertake. You have such a small amount of space but you still have to fill it with plot, character and emotion. I could easily spend the length of a flash fiction piece just setting up a scene so to write an entire story really focusses your mind and skills.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
I’d definitely have to start with my Nan’s salmon mousse, so brilliantly 1970s but I have so many fond memories of it. For the main section, definitely my Mum’s roast dinner with Beef with French mustard, garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, peas and proper thick beef gravy. Dessert would be a chocolate brownie sundae with whipped cream and sprinkles. Preferably all would be provided with some form of getaway gear, possibly stashed inside the Yorkshire pudding.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
The quote I have always carried with me since the first day I heard it comes from the musical Rent, ‘the opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.’ Whilst I know the world will never be a perfect place I hope that in my little corner I can create works that make people try to find a common ground with their neighbour so we can all be a bit kinder to one another.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW
http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-flash-of-words

AFOW Interview #3 – Sarah Kaminski

Today, I am featuring author Sarah Kaminski whose story “First Thanksgiving” is included in the anthology A Flash of Words, alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian.”

If you had to do one thing differently with your story, what would it be?
• The opening could have been stronger, and I probably shouldn’t have bashed Brian’s favorite football team. But in my defense… they are the Patriots.

What was the inspiration for your story?
• I wrote this story based on a prompt. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of, “an unappetizing Thanksgiving meal.” I initially thought of my mother-in-law’s excessively salty food, and, well, I expanded on that idea.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
• In writing this story, no. In other works, occasionally, most often when I find myself making a particularly amusing metaphor.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
• I have no idea. I suppose to limit yourself to one scene, but use a scene that illustrates a much larger dynamic at play. Many of the writers in AFOW did this brilliantly, but I especially think of Laurie Gardener’s story and the way my feelings of pity and sympathy toward the narrator were quickly turned to disgust.

Do you write every day?
• Well, I have small children. So, sadly no. But I think about writing every day.

Does your sexual orientation play a roll in the development of your character?
• It’s easiest to write the stories we know, right?

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
• Yes

What was your favorite story in the book besides your own?
• That’s a difficult question to answer. There were so many excellent stories. I’ve already mentioned Laurie’s story. Pyra Kane’s was as beautiful metaphor for mental illness as I’ve ever read. Eldred Bird’s story made me snort with laughter, which is a little embarrassing to admit, Marlon S. Haye’s made me nostalgic for an experience I’ve never even had, and I loved the surprise ending of Mika Spruill’s.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
• Repeatedly tell my children not to jump on me, various yarn crafts, and sleep. Sometimes I think about painting, but that rarely comes to fruition. I live an exciting life.

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most?
• Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, John Green, Stephen King, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, it’s really difficult to narrow this list down. I love practically everything I read, and you can learn style or character development or plot development from anything you read if you’re observant enough.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
• Yes.

What is your writing space like?
• Nonexistent.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
• I didn’t plan it, so, yes.

How long did it take to write your story? 
• Not long to write it, four or five weeks to edit it.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
• Yes

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
• Macaroni and cheese, and brownies, and I suppose I should throw something healthy in there – strawberries.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
• I don’t have a specific quote that keeps me going, but I do keep a document of various kind things that people have said about my writing over the past year, and when the feelings of inadequacy start creeping in, I open it up and read through them.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW
http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-flash-of-words

AFOW Interview #2 – Lozzi Counsell

Today, I am featuring author Lozzi Counsell whose story “The Consequences of Grief” is included in the anthology A Flash of Words, alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian.”

What was the inspiration for your story?
When I was studying creative writing at uni, a fellow author (can’t remember who unfortunately) came to give a talk. We practised an exercise where we shut our eyes and Imagined ourselves led down. Where are you led? What’s the weather like? Take notice of your surroundings. I imagined myself in a dark field at night.
After taking notice of your surroundings (eyes still shut), turn your head to the left, there is a shadow approaching. Wait for it to get closer. What or whom is it? When they reach you, what do they want? I imagined my cat who had died years back approaching me.
From this I came up with an idea about going to a field to visit my dead cat every night because I couldn’t let her go. The cat soon became a child and ended up as the basis behind my story.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
The ending. It wasn’t what I was originally going to go with, but I thought it would give the most emotional impact.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
For me it would be not too many characters. I sometimes get a bit lost when someone has a lot of characters, but especially in flash fiction there’s just not enough time to learn who each and every character is if there’s too many of them.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
I’m very crafty and am always making things. Painting is an especially big hobby of mine — mostly watercolour animals.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
Yes, I really relate to the MC. I am not a parent myself, but I still know what it’s like to grieve.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
Easy. A chicken chaat from my local Indian restaurant as a starter. Afterwards, an Oreo crunch waffle from Kaspa’s and also Kinder Bueno cookie dough. For drinks, a Coke Zero, Oreo milkshake and Snickers milkshake.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW
http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-flash-of-words

 

AFOW Interview #1 – Dawn Taylor

Folks,

Starting today, I will be doing a biweekly series of interviews with other Authors whose stories appear alongside mine in the anthology A Flash of Words.

Today, I am featuring author Dawn Taylor whose story “For the Want of a Name” is included in the anthology A Flash of Words, alongside my own brand-new Speculative Fiction story, “The Californian.”

What was the inspiration for your story?
My friend shared his childhood memory of coveting a radio, but being too poor to buy it. As he told me the story, I imagined him as a young boy going into the store to look at the radio and wishing he could buy it. I originally wrote the story as a birthday gift to him, but when my editor told me it was such a powerful story told in few words, I submitted it for publication.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
My best advice is to convey one scene or emotion. Your word limit doesn’t allow you to offer much more.

How long did it take you to write your story?
About one hour, I already had the inspiration.

Do I write everyday?
No. Do I think about writing everyday? Yes.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD! #ScoutMedia#AFOW
http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-flash-of-words