Your grandmother always warned you not to make promises you couldn't keep. However, you never thought she was being serious. Until you met the odd neighbor when you moved your new home. He invited you over for a dinner but you made an excuse not to go. After finding an excuse each time he tried to get you over, you figured you would simply placate him. "I promise I'll be at your next event." He smiled and shook your hand. "Make sure you do," was all he said. When it came up, you found every reason not to go, but you suddenly find yourself compelled to go. You spot a letter left on your door that simply reads "Promises must be kept!" What happens and what did your promise make you do?
Here is a little taste of my next story, The Promise ... i hope you enjoy it.
The well was no longer used and sat in a copse of large oak trees. To Finn it was a secret and magical place. The canopy was large and thick, and grass no longer grew here. It was quiet but for the leaves moving in the breeze. Shady and cool, Finn liked how slips of sunlight made it through the thick mass of leaves and branches.
The well itself was capped with a large a wire grate.
"Too bad I'm not more skinny. Then I could fit down there."
So far, in his animated and expressive imagination, the well had been a cave, a home for a lost dragon, and this morning, a place where riches beyond measure lay hidden.
The little boy pulled the University Ring from his pocket. "Ah ha! So this came from the secret treasure cave? Excellent! We must go there and find out what more is hidden. Jackson, bring the car around!"
As he played Finn leaned over the well, his smooth-soled leather shoes slipped, the ring bobbled in his fingers; he reached for it and missed. His daddy's special and most favourite ring fell into the water below. The subsequent plop was not at all satisfying today. "Oh … no."
Finn sat on the ground next to the well and cried hot tears. "I am going to be in so much trouble. I wish I didn't take that stupid ring! I wonder if a frog on a string could help me?"
He sat there and wiped his eyes. It was midday and warm, and after his tears, Finn Green fell asleep with his forehead on his knees.
Something poked his arm once, and then again, and several more times before he awoke. "What?"
"I heard you crying."
Finn looked at the … little boy? "Who are you?"
"I can help you. I can go down and get your treasure."
The boy was odd looking. A bit pasty and his features were flattened, making his face seem rounder and smooth. Big, round, golden eyes looked back at him, and Finn noticed the boy, if that's what he was, smelled a bit like freshly caught fish. He wore only a tunic, not proper clothes.
"I don't have a string to pull you out, and how can you fit through the wire?"
"I can climb. See." The boy held out hands with long slim fingers. "I can climb up. I'll go get it for you."
No sooner had he said it than the boy pulled off his tunic, slipped through the wire and climbed down the well. Finn, now on his feet, leaned over to watch.
Once at the bottom, his new friend slipped into the water and disappeared for several long minutes.
When he popped up again, Finn realized he'd been holding his breath. "Did you find it?"
"Yes, I'm coming back up." He easily climbed the inner bricks of the well.
Finn helped the boy back through the wire. The tiny fellow was dripping wet, as he handed the ring over.
"Oh, thank you so much. I need to give you a present. Thank you."
The small boy pulled his tunic back on. "You can't tell anyone about me, because my parents will be angry."
"Okay, but what can I do to say thank you properly?"
The little thing smiled. "Just a promise."
"Promise? Promise for what?"
"Just a promise, if I need help one day, you'll help me, like I did you."
Finn nodded and answered simply, "Yes, of course, I promise."
By Renee Stevens
As a child you had promised a creature your friendship and protection if it would fetch the ring you had accidentally dropped down the well. The creature retrieved the ring, you took it and quickly shoved it back into your father’s jewelry box. Now an adult, the creature has unexpectedly showed up demanding you keep your promise. What do you do?
How fast the year has already seemed to go! Hopefully you found the time to enjoy Mikiesboy's story, The Pledge. Or, if you've read it already, maybe you tried one of his newer stories like "After the Past". Or, if you're a fan of his work, you've already read his work... well this is your chance to share that love with fellow readers who might be new to his work. I've asked a few questions to kick things off, but don't be shy asking Mikiesboy what you want to know too!
Have you ever gone out in public, realized your shirt is on backwards, and just don’t care?
No. I’d never do that and if I did I’d be mortified! I’m paranoid and terrified of making a mistake. I am a perfectionist, with a capital P. Though obviously I make mistakes all the time…
What’s something personal about you people might be surprised to know?
Most people know I love to cook, some know I went to cooking school, but my fav recipe is one of my Grandmother’s. It’s Sheppard’s Pie, simple, not fried and my fav comfort food. It actually won a local Sheppard’s Pie taste test!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
If I’m not writing, I can be found reading, cooking/baking, or snuggled up with my giant of a husband watching British TV shows! There’s a full-time job in there somewhere, too!
What’s the best part of being an author?
Oh, gosh I think listening to people’s opinions, especially about how a poem made them feel. It can be so different from what I felt when I wrote it. There’s no right or wrong, and that fascinates me. The other thing is learning, trying new things, stepping out of that comfort zone to write something new.
Do you prefer to write one project at a time or do you bounce from story to story as inspiration strikes?
I sort of bounce around until I feel ready to finish something. Sometimes there are things I just don’t want to write. For example, the abuse scenes in Out of His Mind. It took me some time to get that finished. Once I’d done it, I put all else aside and finished Tait’s story. It was time.
Do you have any special tricks when you write to get you in the right frame of mind to jump into different time periods?
Tricks? No. I try to read a lot about things I’ve not experienced myself. I watch shows about them if I can and I just try to imagine myself there. People are people no matter where they are, I think. They are affected by the things around them, but they don’t really change.
The Pledge has both a medieval aspect and a paranormal one. Why did you decide to mix the themes?
Oh, people have challenged me to write about zombies and vamps. So I did in me, Zombie and now vampires in The Pledge. But I didn’t want the same old thing.
With The Pledge, I was interested in exploring in things I’d read in Anne Rice’s novels, the Vampire Chronicles series and in my research. Anne Rice talked about the origin of vampires, so I wanted mine to be old, to live through centuries. I wondered how they’d respond to changes that happened through the centuries they’d experience. I wanted to explore if they’d remain human in some ways, or if that old adage, power corrupts absolutely, would apply.
So to make them old, I looked back to Elmet, which was a real place in the north of England, where West Yorkshire is now, between the 5th and 7th centuries. Elmet was just a framework; I’m sure it was nothing like I’ve written it.
Can you sum up this story in one sentence?
One? You don’t know me too well, LOL! The Pledge is a story of power, love and life immortal through the ages. There, how’s that?
You tend to bounce around time periods, such as your recent story of After the Past which went in a completely different direction. Do you have a preferred time period to write?
My last couple of stories have been bouncy for sure. I prefer to write in modern times, it’s a bit easier to do I think. There is often less research required, but I’d look at other time periods again if I’m inspired. It’s fun to delve into the past or to try and make the future realistic.
Do you have any recent, current, or upcoming stories you think fans should read? Why would you recommend them?
I think I’d recommend Levko. It’s pulled from my own experiences when I was a rent boy. I think it worked well and seemed to be well received. After The Past as well, I’m rather proud of that one. It’s my longest story and I think the effort I put in and the effort of my editor, AC Benus, really shows in the quality.
I have two stories I’m actively writing, the first with the working title of Magic Beans should be fun and while modern, it’s not about humans.
The other I’m hoping will work out into a longer novel. It’s called Changes and it’s about Don, a very active guy, who is married to Louis and how their lives change after a terrible accident, and how they go forward together. I’m really exploring their relationship, Louis’ feelings and fears, as well as their relationships with their families.
By Renee Stevens
Have you thought about writing your first story, but it seems a little daunting? Don't worry, every new author has been there at one point or another. Thankfully, you're part of a great community that has plenty of authors willing to share their knowledge, and/or what they wished they'd known when they first started. If you're thinking that you've heard that before, it's because you have, but that's the best intro to this feature. Back in December we first introduced the "New Author Advice" feature and it seemed to be well received. So let's take a look at what advice our site authors have this time.
Building Readership & Criticism
Ok... building readership... read others work, comment/review, be active in forums, say hello to people be friendly. That's what I did. Works from my experience. It can't be a one way street. And reply to people who comment. They took the time to read your work, you should do the same in return.
Criticism? Well that can be hard to take, depending on how it's written and the kind of person you are. If you're unsure, ask the person who commented what they mean. I've not experienced any sort of mean-spirited criticism on GA. Most people are pretty helpful and thoughtful. At least the ones I've met.
You can also use the Your Status thing to advertise .. but I don't personally.
Encourage readers to give you honest feedback. Reviews pointing out what they liked are great, but the ones where they tell you what they didn't like are even better in my opinion.
If you want to make your stories the best they can be, knowing what didn't work for readers is a priority. If you react badly to criticism, you may miss out on great advice, your writing may suffer, and in the end you could end up losing readers when your style stagnates.
Before You Start
First, read a lot. Read a lot of different authors, different genres and different styles. Read with an eye towards not just the plot but, the craft in which the story is developed. You will see that some authors do a great job in this respect while others- not so much.
Second- Start with short stories. They can teach you a great deal. Unlike a novel, you can't wander around for a 40,000 words to make a point. Short stories require a certain discipline to do them well. You have to balance things very carefully with an economy of words while providing characterization and description while advancing a plot. Don't expect to master this over a few weekends. It's more art than science. In fact it's a lot like golf. When you are in the zone, you can do great things. If not, you bogey every hole.
Finally- before you embark on a novel, learn how to plan it out. We all make the mistake of sitting down at a blank page on the computer, write a great beginning and then hit a wall. There are numerous GREAT but INCOMPLETE novels on the web. Unfortunately several of them are my own. Know where you are going because, if you don't, your chances of getting there are slim.
If you're a current or experienced author and have some advice for newbie authors, send me a PM with your advice and be featured in a future "New Author Advice" feature.
If you're a new author, or even an existing author, what questions would you ask your fellow authors? PM me your questions regarding writing and if there is enough interest, we'll start a new feature where I post your questions for the various site authors to give their opinion. You can choose to remain anonymous if you'd like.