Sunday, March 31, 2019

ARC Review: The Magician's Sin by Alexander Thomas

This is a novel by Alexander Thomas and published by Kyanite Publishing. I had the privilege of being able to read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this engaging story. This title will be available on April 4, 2019, and is currently available for pre-order.
Find out more about this story and where to purchase this it here:
To be honest, I don't think the blurb does this book justice. It certainly sounded interesting to me which was enough to make we want to read it. I suppose that is the goal of the blurb, and, while there's nothing misleading in the back cover, this book is so much more than that. It only takes a few pages for me to realize that and I was quickly hooked.
That first chapter drags you into the world that Alexander created without overwhelming you. A world of magic and mythology in the 1930s. The author weaves in hints of the backstory of our main character, Anson Walker, expertly and, as you read on, more of the world is revealed not only through the eyes of this character but of the other characters as well. It's enough to keep you from getting lost as to what's going on and it's never too much info to bore you.

And in regards to our main character? Well, when it comes to antiheroes, I find some authors miss the mark. Alexander Thomas didn't miss it. This is an antihero that I feel for, that I want to see succeed. Even when his actions and motivations are less than pure, I can understand why he's acting the way he is. And this brings me back to the point above. Alexander does a brilliant job of weaving in that backstory with the right amount of detail at the right time so you are never left thinking that Anson isn't worth cheering for.

With such a wonderful world building and unexpected twists to this tale, The Magician's Sin keeps you engaged and you are left wondering, 'What's going to happen next?' with each chapter that pulls you deeper into the engaging, magical world. Alexander takes you on a wonderful and sometimes frightening, journey with this story that is written with beautiful detail and relatably flawed characters.

Find out more about Alexander Thomas and his work on his website at follow him on Twitter at

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Art of Brevity in Brief

One of the things that I've been working on lately is becoming better at short stories. Since January I've been attempting to do microfiction on a near daily schedule, I've added short stories to my website (, and, as of today, have submitted some flash fiction stories to an anthology.

A lot of writers I know are intimidated by the short story, flash fiction and microfiction format. I used to be too.

Trying to condense a story into a few brief lines can be challenging. There is an art to this kind of brevity. Taking what could easily be a much longer story and punching through right to the heart of it.

Short stories truly show the evidence of editing. Because that is where the true art lies. Well, editing is really what makes most stories in general, but short stories need it the most. Each word must be chosen with care and impact. Then edited to make sure that it moves the story forward and impacts the reader as intended.

Who knew that the art of brevity lay in the editing?

Let's say I wanted to write a microfiction based on a prompt "Life as an Author"

First, let's figure out what I want to say about this? Shall I talk about insanity? Endless cups of coffee? Words that taunt me in my sleep?

So, here is what my brain came up with...

I stare intently at my screen.
Words on words, oh how they taunt me.
I have a deadline hanging over my head.
All but ignored.
I hit like. I hit reply.
Twitter distracts me every time.
36 words. 182 characters. Okay. Not bad. That's pretty short and sounds a lot like my daily life. This is what I want to say in this short tale of a writers life, but how do I say it better than I have?

Editing, of course. Everything here is more or less literal. Not much art to this, but a lot of truth. One thing I want to do is combine some of these lines, possibly even rearrange them to create more impact in the reader.

Words on words staring back at me.
I never let my eyes leave the screen
Deadline hanging over my head
Ignored. Not forgotten.
I hit like then reply instead
Twitter – it distracts me every time.
35 words. 192 characters. Well, if word count matters then this is an improvement. If you're looking at character count, it's a failure. Sometimes this happens. Do I think this one has a better impact than the first? I do. However, I want it shorter. It's time to see if there are cuttable words that aren't needed.

Words stare at me from the screen.
I stare back.
Deadline hanging over my head, ignored.
Not forgotten.
Like and reply, instead of writing.
Twitter distracts me every time.
 29 words. 171 characters. SUCCESS. Succinct. Impactful. And a story. It tells the tale of the writer who is always on Twitter, ignoring the deadlines and having fun instead of writing.

I mean, I have NO idea what that's like. Not me. Never.

That's all there is to it. I know, it seems like it could be hard to do - and it will be the first few times you try - but the more you try these things and practice them, the better you will get. Even get the help of someone else's eyes the first few times.

And this, my friends, is your brief introduction to the art of brevity.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Writing Without a Net

It sounds like a silly phrase, but this is something I say often.

There are many different ways to go about writing a story. You can outline in a million different way from a basic idea to a scene by scene guide. I’ve done it all. One thing I come back to often, especially in my shorter work, is what I like to call writing without a net.

I’m doing it right now with a story called Gateway. It was a story sparked by a misread phrase. It was an idea that worked for an anthology I wanted to submit to and I had a few spare minutes. So, I sat down and I started writing. Until I wrote it, I didn’t know the character’s name or where it took place or what was going to happen. I’m almost 14K words into this short story and I still have no clue what I am writing until I write it.

This is a style of writing that is as mesmerizing to me as it is frustrating. I don’t know how long the story will be. I don’t know what my character is going to say or do until I write it. I am constantly being surprised by unseen plot twists.

I’m blind. I’m flying high. Things are happening. And if I fall, there is no net to catch me. This story could very well crash and burn. All this effort might possibly be for naught.

And I love it.

It’s a very intuitive style of writing that allows me to step out of my head. To stop thinking about what might happen next and just let the story flow out of me.

It’s a hard thing to do, to get out of my own head. It’s hard to not think about how all the elements might fit together or how this scene will make the story progress. I try not to think about anything at all while I am writing other than putting one word after the other.

I hope this story works for the anthology I have in mind, but if it doesn’t, I hope it still works as a story. As something I can submit to a publisher or publish myself or, maybe even, put up for free on my website. 

Who knows?

I certainly don’t. And I’m okay with that.