My Writing: Everyone is Welcome! A 996-word story of mine.

So, I entered a short story competition in August 2017. Safe to say I didn’t win. I’ve not heard anything. Ouch for me.

Anyway, here is one of my short stories. It is about an aging employee and his annoying and constantly angry assistant who are just trying to make sure they do their jobs correctly for their very strict employer. Let me know what you think either good or bad but please be constructive. I would be more than happy to return the favor.

“The day begins like all those that have come before it with my big, bearded and always grumpy assistant standing guard to help me welcome the new arrivals. “Good day to you, Sir.” I always say to him. Silence is his eternal reply. Such a grump.

No hassle from the first customer but judging by the look on her face, I can only assume she is not a morning person. I am and why would you not be? The hot and humid weather might have something to do with it. Some act like the weather is nothing to them but I know they lie to themselves. That is the worst thing they could do.

The heat is searing and the sun is easily cutting through the clouds. If only I could reach up so high to calm the heat down and help the new customers. I wonder what it would be like if I could reach so high? More arrive now and are moving in a smooth stream with little to no grump on their faces. It could be a busy day but as long as I remember my routine, they will all get in with no problem. I hope my aches and pains do not come back. That would be a disaster.

Great. One stupid rubbernecker holding everything up. The worst thing that they could do. To be fair, most concentrate on just getting in. The people walking through seem to be shivering slightly. Is there a breeze? I cannot tell. In fact, I can feel something but it can barely be described as a breeze. Do they shiver for a different reason?

What are some of these people wearing? More money spent on their clothes and hair than their bodies and minds. Individuals wearing all kinds of so-called fashionable clothing with not an ounce of class or pride amongst them. Well, except that guy. Tragic really. They look so bad they do not even look good walking past the overflowing refuse bins. How can you look worse than a bin? It is a shame they did not think things through. Or maybe they did. That could be why they are here.

Mid-day approaches and the customers are increasing but they still come in a steady stream so no worries. My assistant barks at the unruly ones. He has such authority. More than me. I think I will ensure the gates are fully open for a while. Until it dies down later on.

Wait. Disaster. I can feel them. The aches and pains. I thought I was getting better. He will be here soon to help me so no worries. He does not spare any expense with me. He knows what to do. Just a few drops of medicine is all it takes…hold on. Where is he? No. He is busy! How could this happen? Now, of all times! I am starting to seize up. No, not now.

“What are you doing? The punters are brushing against the steel? You know, the tall spears that make up the structure with gargoyles atop pillars that hold them together at either side lose their desired effect when it jams like a common garden gate.”

“I need him to come and provide me with my medicine. There are so many new arrivals.” The steel is beginning to bend under the pressure as the punters push against the gate. Look at this one. His red face reminds me of so many others that have come before. Took it too far. Big shame. Moderation is key. Enjoy life but remember to care for body and mind.

“There are always so many. Calm down. I’ll get him. Why can’t you just do your job?!” He shouts like I can help it. Please stop shouting. It is slowly getting better, I assure you. Stop shouting, Sir. Please!

*

What did he just do? Has he managed to get him to come back? It is such an honor to see him. How long has it been since I looked upon the Lord?

There. He. Is. So domineering. So in control. So much strength. He is coming closer. Look at the punters. Cowering. Treat him with respect and he will be your guide. He is your leader now.

“He is unable to perform his duties again, my Lord. Replacement is needed.” Wrong words. And from a Gatekeeper no less. You are lucky to have a role in this at all. You can be mean to me but not in front of the almighty. “Please, I did not mean…”

That sickening thud. Never ceases to make me flinch. Look at him, flying across the land and smashing through the piles of waste. I hope he is in good health and not hurt too much.

For someone so powerful, what great care he takes of me. So delicate. “Thank you, my lord.”

My Gatekeeper is back. I hope he is well enough to continue. He flew faster than I have ever seen him fly to get back. I forget his power and how wide his wings can span. He looks shaken but I feel he will be alright. He is a tough customer and always was. I knew that when he first walked through the gates.

“All I meant was that they are old gates, your eminence. The fear that the gates of hell create for those who are to spend eternity behind them, thus avoiding the white fluffy Lord above and seeing you; the red, brilliant, and all-powerful God below, is diminished when you have to keep fixing its aches and pains.”

“Your words are heeded. And immediately disregarded. The gates will stay and your lack of respect is wasting my time and making the hounds of hell hungry. The refuse bins are empty. The rotting limbs within them are coming with me. Now, let the accursed through. I am in need of torture and…amusement.”

I am fixed and back to work I go!”

Thank you for reading and have a nice week.

Feedback Request: A story based on public transport and giant alien worms invading earth.

Hello,

Now, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and usually, they just hit me from out of nowhere. As they always do. One day, an idea for a story came to me on the Tram on my way to work. This involved, for some reason, the Tram, and the Rockworms, which are one of the villains from the seminal Xbox game Gears of War 2. Combining these I found myself formulating an idea involving alien Rockworms invading Earth. Obviously. Not being sure exactly what would happen, I ran with it anyway.

So, the following is the first page of the first draft of the resulting story ‘They did warn us after all.’

If you have the time, I am interested in what your thoughts are on my work in progress. Also, if you want to, I would be happy to provide my thoughts on yours.

They did warn us after all.

“Maria? Are you okay?” Shouted Joseph, inside the mass of rubble and chaos that a rock worm had caused just minutes before. Their former office was slowly crumbling around them he rose to his feet with a shake and a moan. He stood and checked that he had his wallet, phone, and keys without realising they were not of much use anymore. The internet on his phone did not work and he jabbed and pressed until giving up. He heard something rustle not too far away and remembered Maria could be in danger. His fingers caught in the rip at the side of his green hoodie and he cursed under his breath. Numerous small cuts covered both of hands and only now did he notice the dull pain they produced. He took a step forward and what remained of the building swayed underfoot.

“Joseph…I’m here.” Maria said. He turned quickly and felt the floor buckle again. Her pixie cut brown hair was the only thing above the rubble. She struggled and managed to stand up and dust herself off. They both turned see a huge gap in the wall nearby. They both moved towards it but again the structure moved. Joseph held out his hand and counted slowly down from five. Maria took quick breaths to ready herself.

Sprinting over the broken wood and pieces of rock, they jumped out and onto the pile of debris outside. They managed to run down the pile before jumping as far away from the building as possible. The small quake ran through the floor as the building died in front of them.

“How are you feeling? You know…considering.” Joseph said. Maria jumped into his arms and kissed his neck. She pulled away as he winced in pain.

“Sorry. Force of habit.” She said.

“Don’t be sorry Maria, I can be the man you want me to be. That girl from the bar, I was just talking to her.”

“How can you be thinking about that? Look around you. The world is coming to an end and you’re still fixed upon something I told you I wasn’t bothered about.”

“I was only talking to her about the football that day…”

“Just….stop. Be quiet. We need to figure out what to next. Are you okay?” She said. Touching a few of many small cuts on his neck and hands.

“If they were all one cut, they would match that beauty on your neck.” He replied. Moving her shirt collar down slightly. “It looks worse than it is. Not too deep at all.”

“It doesn’t feel that bad. It will make a cool scar.” She said.

“I bet. Maria, I am not that selfish. And I have looked around me. Look at all the rock worms have done. Bloody government, why not just give them a home? They may have been helpful to us as well. I hear some of them are fiercely intelligent.” He said as he surveyed the piles of concrete, brick, glass, plastic and whatever else that made a building forming small mountains across the landscape. The mid-morning bright and clear sky showed Manchester for what it has become. Many buildings were still intact but more were reduced to rubble. No traffic or trains could be heard, which allowed them to listen to their own heartbeats with clarity.

 

 

Getting back to blogging basics. Let me (re)introduce myself.

Hello,

Back in 2012, March 7th to be exact, I published my first ever blog post. This went as follows:

Well, I’ve took the plunge and created my own blog. Its use is to either:

  1. Read other writers blogs and stories and maybe have them do the same for me.
  2. Rant about stuff.

But which do i do first?

Short and sweet and to the point. Well, two points. Point 2 hasn’t happened that much as I don’t tend to rant that often. However, point 1 still rings true today. I want to read other authors blogs and stories. I want to do this to try and take in all kinds of styles and genres that may help me when I come to do my own writing.

Then, there’s the maybe.

I like the word maybe. When used correctly it can invoke intrigue and suspense. Or at least, I hope it can. But, when I used it in my first blog post ‘maybe have them do the same for me’, it was used incorrectly. In fact, it should not have been used at all. Now, I very much want other authors and non-authors alike to read my stories and blog posts so I can converse with them and learn and grow when it comes to my writing. Happily, I have made that clear since March 2012 and I speak to authors regularly but not as often as I’d like. But I would like to increase the amount of people I speak to.

So, I decided to take a ‘Blogging 101’ course to try and improve my chances and move my blog forward. The course’s first assignment is to introduce myself. As you can see, I’ve already done that but I would like to do this again. If you let me. And…

Good evening,

My name is John Robert Sermon and I’m from Stockport, Greater Manchester, UK. I have been writing on and off since 2001. With more emphasis on the off. But since 2009, I started to write more and more until March 2012 when I started this blog. Since then, I have written 21 stories (3 novels and 18 short ones) and this number is growing. I would like to use this blog to share those stories and the process I go through when I write them. I would also like to read other blogs and stories and interact with other authors.

I would like this blog to help me to improve my writing and to talk to some like-minded people.

There you have it. Happy re-meet you again. Now, back to the writing.

Bye!

 

 

An interesting question following some very useful feedback.

Hello

I recently decided to put my short story ‘Do I have parents at all?’ which is about a 115 year old immortal man living in modern day Manchester trying to find his true calling, onto the writing feedback website www.critquecircle.com. The idea of this wonderful piece of the internet is that you have to critique other authors work to gain credits. These credits can then be used to buy a place for your story to be critiqued on their website. It’s a simple idea that has given me a lot of useful feedback over the years and has allowed me to read some brilliant prose as well. And my latest venture into the critique circle world has carried on this trend.

A reviewer by the name of ‘Fergie’ (Who is Scottish and is a Brilliant name for obvious Manchester United related reasons) decided to read my little tale and provide feedback. Amongst the many things he provided was a closing comment about how he was unsure whether or not he would buy my story if it came to his attention on a book shop shelf.

This got me thinking about how important the first line of a story is but also how important the first page can be. I would read the first page and look at the synopsis before deciding to buy a book so I asked myself, is the first page of my story eye catching enough to persuade someone to read the rest? With this in mind…

What do you think? Here is the first page of my short story and all I want to know is would you buy the rest of my story after reading it? Either way I would really appreciate your feedback. Thank you in advance if you decide to read and comment on it. If not, have a good week in whatever it is you end up doing. Bye!

I have walked the Earth for one hundred and fifteen years but the questions still remain. Where is the First? We should have some kind of connection should we not? Why am I here? Do I have parents at all?

Waking up on the ground of a forest is as much as I can ever remember about my birth. Which is more than anybody else I am sure. That first year is fragmented but there is enough to piece together the story. My story. The story of my birth or my…come now brain, let us do this dance again it may help this time around.

I am born into existence and I grow, develop, and so on until eventually I am found by that rich family and raised for a while until I age too fast and spend the rest of my first year between families. Next comes another year living with various well-meaning poor families who all end up abandoning me but, with reluctant thanks to the rich, I am prepared. By this point, I am the equivalent of a ten year old boy and I find an orphanage and live there for a year through threats and the bending the owner’s superstitious beliefs.

And so, after three actual years upon the Earth and I look fifteen. Each year equals five years until I am thirty, and then I stop growing. I just stop. But why? I travel, I learn, I earn, I frighten, as the anger builds within me and I continue to ask myself why? But remember Henry, take the best parts from life and forget the rest. You promised to stop doing this to yourself! Distraction. It is an overcast Saturday night and I will use it to take my mind off things. Manchester is the best place I know. The streets and buildings are drenched in history. I love how new and at the same time old the whole place looks and feels. The night is starting to get into full swing with people everywhere and I find myself walking inside a bar I do not recall the name of and I do not care to check. I just wish I had a friend I could share this with though I made my peace with that years ago. I will live, I always do.

“Same again?” I forget his name.

“Yes please. Thank you.” I wish these two drunken men would move from the bar. You have your drinks so why are you still here? It is time for the old nudge and move technique. I am glad I committed to the gym all those years ago.

“Hey Handsome, why do you get preferential treatment?” Handsome? Wait…I know that look. She is just after a drink. Women. I have given up trying to work them out. Some say handsome, some say ugly. I do remember one young lady telling me that my light stubble and blue eyes complimented my slightly square jaw and that I must keep my hair short and messy as tall men do not suit long hair. Of all the things I have heard why do I remember what women say about me the most? “Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes. Sorry I got distracted. My girlfriend should be here any moment.” And she is gone. I must stay focused. I cannot fall behind on my schedule. I am sure the First is in Manchester. But how can I be sure? How is it possible that I have not found him, or her, after all of this time?

Writing blindness. Is it a thing?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to get feedback for my immortal around Manchester (England) story ‘Do I have parents at all’? I have had varying degrees of success with this. But the success I’ve had has been very useful.

This success has come in the form of some very useful pieces of feedback that have opened my eyes to something that, if I wasn’t so biased towards how good I thought my story was to notice it, was staring me in the face; A different ending to my story. Each piece of feedback had the same theme that the ending wasn’t believable or that the reader needed more information to believe it. On each occasion, I pondered if what I was being told was just the reader not reading clearly enough or if the current ending to my story was too far-fetched.

Turns out, it was the latter.

Reading through my story’s end again, which has my hero become one of 21 supreme overlords of the world, made me realise that no amount of explanation could make my ending realistic enough. But thankfully another ending came to mind almost immediately. I have since re-written the ending that suits my lead character a lot more. Turns out he wasn’t cut out for world domination. Not many people are I suppose.

This all got me thinking about all the other story’s I have written and whether their endings are correct. I admit it’s hard not to be blinded by how apparently great the first ending that I have come up is, is that writing blindness?, but I think it’s something I’ll have to get over. I am now a lot happier with the new ending I have come up with and may test it out on people in future. I continued to think that at no point have I questioned any of my endings accept for a time travel story I wrote a few months ago. I’ve mostly just taken them as being what’s best for the story. I have a lot of endings to look back over and possibly change. Though I might just write alternate endings for all of them, regardless of how I feel about the first one, and then take it from there.

With all this in mind, I ask you this, do you write one ending for your story’s or do you have several in mind before or after you’ve written them?

Have a good week. Bye!

An interesting question following some very useful feedback.

Hello

I recently decided to put my short story ‘Do I have parents at all?’, which is about a 114 year old immortal man living in modern day Manchester, England trying to find his true calling, onto the writing feedback website www.critquecircle.com. The idea of this wonderful piece of the internet is that you have to critique other authors work to gain credits. These credits can then be used to buy a place for your story to be critiqued on their website. It’s a simple idea that has given me a lot of useful feedback over the years and has allowed me to read some brilliant prose as well. And my latest venture into the critique circle world has carried on this trend.

A reviewer by the name of ‘Fergie’ (Who is Scottish and is a brilliant name for obvious Manchester United related reasons) decided to read my little tale and provide feedback. Amongst the many things he provided was a closing comment about how he was unsure whether or not he would buy my story if it came to his attention on a book shop shelf. ‘Fergie’ was unsure in its current form if he would buy it.

This got me thinking about how important the first line of a story is and also how important the first page can be as well. If I was looking to buy a book I would read the first page and look at the synopsis before deciding to buy it so I asked myself, is the first page of my story eye catching enough to be bought?

I have to be honest and say I don’t think it is. It could be better. And using ‘Fergie’s’ and other’s feedback I hope to make it good enough. With this in mind…

What do you think? Here is the first page only of my short story and all I want to know is would you buy the rest of my story after reading it? Either way I would really appreciate your feedback. Thank you in advance if you decide to read and comment on it. If not, have a good week in whatever it is you end up doing. Bye!

I have walked the Earth for one hundred and fifteen years but the questions still remain. Where is the First? We should have some kind of connection should we not? Why am I here? Do I have parents at all?

Waking up on the ground of a forest is as much as I can ever remember about my birth. Which is more than anybody else I am sure. That first year is fragmented but there is enough to piece together the story. My story. The story of my birth or my…come now brain, let us do this dance again it may help this time around.

I am born into existence and I grow, develop, and so on until eventually I am found by that rich family and raised for a while until I age too fast and spend the rest of my first year between families. Next comes another year living with various well-meaning poor families who all end up abandoning me but, with reluctant thanks to the rich, I am prepared. By this point, I am the equivalent of a ten year old boy and I find an orphanage and live there for a year through threats and the bending the owner’s superstitious beliefs.

And so, after three actual years upon the Earth and I look fifteen. Each year equals five years until I am thirty, and then I stop growing. I just stop. But why? I travel, I learn, I earn, I frighten, as the anger builds within me and I continue to ask myself why? But remember Henry, take the best parts from life and forget the rest. You promised to stop doing this to yourself! Distraction. It is an overcast Saturday night and I will use it to take my mind off things. Manchester is the best place I know. The streets and buildings are drenched in history. I love how new and at the same time old the whole place looks and feels. The night is starting to get into full swing with people everywhere and I find myself walking inside a bar I do not recall the name of and I do not care to check. I just wish I had a friend I could share this with though I made my peace with that years ago. I will live, I always do.

“Same again?” I forget his name.

“Yes please. Thank you.” I wish these two drunken men would move from the bar. You have your drinks so why are you still here? It is time for the old nudge and move technique. I am glad I committed to the gym all those years ago.

“Hey Handsome, why do you get preferential treatment?” Handsome? Wait…I know that look. She is just after a drink. Women. I have given up trying to work them out. Some say handsome, some say ugly. I do remember one young lady telling me that my light stubble and blue eyes complimented my slightly square jaw and that I must keep my hair short and messy as tall men do not suit long hair. Of all the things I have heard why do I remember what women say about me the most? “Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes. Sorry I got distracted. My girlfriend should be here any moment.” And she is gone. I must stay focused. I cannot fall behind on my schedule. I am sure the First is in Manchester. But how can I be sure? How is it possible that I have not found him, or her, after all of this time?

If one road fails, try another.

Hello

The last couple of times out I have requested feedback from you fine people on an excerpt from one of my short stories ‘Do I have parents at all?’ Now, I have only received a few pieces of feedback and they were very helpful and has helped me along. Even though I haven’t received anything more I’m not feeling too disheartened. I’ll just have to take a different road in order to get the feedback I may or may not need.

So, I’ve started back writing my western yarn about a travelling cowboy looking for a new home. It’s moving along nicely and the characters and story lines are taking shape. Up to now our hero, Benedict, has begun to settle into his new surroundings but is still worried that it all might change at any moment like has done so many times in the past. Will my western hero catch a break finally? With a love interest and a new father figure in the picture it might just happen. Though he does have to contend with a clearly jealous wannabe cowboy who has manipulated himself into owning most of the town. And it doesn’t help that our hero has already, within a day of his arrival into town, shot and injured one of the villains, Geoffrey’s, main henchmen. I have the story pretty much mapped out in my head but I’m conscious of making sure said story is not just set pieces and is an actual story.

This is something I started writing without using notes and it was a little bit daunting but I now have some good notes to help me along. I‘m filling in the blanks and now have town and supporting character names, descriptions and potential side stories that I could use. Research is also helping me attempt to get the finer points of the story, which so far is what they would eat and wear, correct. Writing down all of this needed stuff is made all the harder when I have the main set pieces of the story playing in my head. And with all the characters screaming ‘Get on with it!’ I respond, though they don’t listen, I’m trying but these things take time. But never out loud. Not yet anyway.

Those voices are screaming again so I’m going to get back to the writing. I hope you all have a good and productive writing and/or non-writing week.

Bye