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New Segment – Genre Writing

Writing for a specific genre is not always easy. There are elements to consider. Writing styles to keep to. Subject matter to think about. The whole spiel.

I’ve decided to share with you my personal writing processes for specific genres. Every month I will select a genre I have worked on and give insights as to how I write stories for it.

Why am I doing this?

There are so many of us writing out there. There are plenty of advice blogs, writing blogs, and tips galore. You just have to Google “How to write *insert genre* stories” and you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. While I have done the same, I find that not all of them work for me. I don’t expect my little segment to be useful to everyone, but maybe you’ll find something helpful nonetheless.

Am I sharing advice?

While general advice is good, it’s still… general. Yes, you as the author must take that general advice and turn it into your own unique story. We may use the same basics but the results we produce are unique to each of us.

Think of clay. In its liquid state it is shapeless potential. That is your idea. There are techniques used to shape the clay and that is general advice. The kiln used to harden the clay is editing. Adding finishing touches like paint is your final draft.

My goal here is to show you how I turn my clay into specific pottery wares.

What genres will I be covering?

At this point there are four genre’s I’d like to focus on. This will start officially in September.

  1. Horror
  2. Steampunk
  3. Sci-fi
  4. Fantasy

That will take me up to December. If it works well enough, I’ll work on other genres too.

What I hope to accomplish

This segment is for me as much as it is for you, dear reader. My writing processes change so much that I become inconsistent between works. Maybe that is something you deal with too, or maybe you want a different perspective. For me, it is a way to learn more about my writing style, while figuring out the fundamentals I use consistently.

I do hope you will comment your own thoughts, ideas and advice with each segment. This is for both readers and writers alike. I’m no expert so perhaps you have insights I’m lacking. Either way, I do hope we can grow together and help each other.

Now, onward to writing!

Salem’s Lot – Recommendation

Something strange is going on in Jerusalem’s Lot … but no one dares to talk about it. By day, ‘Salem’s Lot is a typical modest New England town; but when the sun goes down, evil roams the earth. The devilishly sweet insistent laughter of a child can be heard echoing through the fields, and the presence of silent looming spirits can be felt lurking right outside your window.

Stephen King brings his gruesome imagination to life in this tale of spine-tingling horror.


I may have read this book before but I was quite young. Memory is shoddy so I bought it and will be reading it. I’m taking a break from Stephen King though.

Friday Fiction: Puddles

Image courtesy of Michael Gaida – Pixabay

Puddles. They form around us slowly with little to no regard to them. After all we are too focused on their initial form pelting us from above while at our feet they swarm together. Coalesce.

“I don’t understand why you have to leave so often.” Her umbrella is a burst of sunshine on an otherwise rainy Tuesday morning. She drapes it over her shoulder so that it fans around her slick hair like a halo. As stressed as I am, and as upset as she is, I cannot help but marvel at her.

“I explained it to you already Aly.” I say. Rather, I plead. Cold droplets sink into my skull like ice.

“The boss needs me is not a suitable excuse Jer.”

“Yeah I know but…”

“But nothing.” She tucks black strands behind her ear. For a moment the spider tattoo flashes on her dark skin then it’s gone.

“I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

She sighs. Both hands clutch the handle of the umbrella and her body twists at an angle. It’s her ‘I’m thinking’ posture. It’s her ‘I haven’t decided’ posture. It’s one she never has on the field. Not that she knows I know.

“Emiliano’s. Seven PM sharp. Or we’re done.” She says. I smile. Her lips twitch but she holds it in.

“Emiliano’s it is. I’m really sorry babe.”

Her lips pout but the dark eyes are smiling. With a whirl she’s slipped through the droplets and for a moment only a shape in the suspended raindrops is evidence of her existence. Then they crash to the floor and become part of the growing puddle.

*

The agency is a maze of business suits, college frat boys in plaid shirts and short shorts, and the sloppy rag-tag team of programmers donning comfort-style attire. One of the Slops is shuffling beside me with his rooted iPhone running an Android OS.

“Alyssa is gonna get you killed Jer.”

“If she doesn’t kill me first.”

“She could. She’s an…” the Slop leans his head towards me, “An Aranea.”

“Tell the whole world why don’t you.”

“Aw man the whole agency knows. You know they know. Don’t understand the secret.”

I turn to the Slop. He’s blonde hair is cut like one of those famous boy bands from the 90’s but his semi-beard ages him to guitar playing bard. Like that guy from Passenger.

“It’s not so much a secret as a taboo-subject. Like how we all suspect the fries of a particular fast-food franchise but never mention it.” Slop from Passenger nods his head sagely.

“I hear she’s on your recon list. That’s some taboo betrayal right there.”

For a moment there’s a surge of cold that hits my chest. And then it’s gone.

“Her ability is unique.” And so is her face I muse, “If we can pass that on to our future kids, it won’t matter that she’s Aranea. Because family always wins.”

“Just gotta watch the TV to know that.”

“Totally.”

*

It’s 6 PM when I arrive at Emiliano’s. A velvet rope separate the chumps from the high-end chumps. For tonight, I’m a high-paying chump. The rain has abated but fine sheets of it plonk down gently. Caressing the quiet lamp-lit streets and passing pedestrians.

“Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him?”

Alyssa is beside me as though she’s always been there. Only the dryness of her trench coat gives it away. Her head is cast down to a reflection of our murky silhouettes on the street. There is no shape to the puddle.

“Then we’re both reflections with that kind of logic.” I slide up next to her. The umbrella hangs at her side unopened. She doesn’t need it.

“That’s so like you.” She says softly, “Missing the depth. Quick to try sussing out the logic.”

“Well I…”

“Sometimes I wish I were the reflection, you know.” I realise then she hasn’t looked at me. I step to her and she’s suddenly facing the opposite direction. “Reflections never have to feel.”

When she turns to me, her eyes are puddles. They do not seep. Or flood. They merely… coalesce.

“Tell the agency I said hi.”

And then she was gone. Her silhouette shaped the air for a moment. Even her tears. Then they washed my feet in a cold splash, forming puddles.


Happy Friday all! Hope you enjoyed my  story. Good luck on your writing fellow authors and hope you have a great weekend!

Mistborn Trilogy – Recommendation

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.


I got this trilogy and have yet to read it. From the synopsis I am so intrigued. I’ll eventually getting around to reading this highly recommended trilogy. Also, there are more books set after this trilogy with equally interesting storylines all set in the same world. Can’t wait to get em!


Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.

The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of KingsThe Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot.

Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.

vN – Recommendation

Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine, a self-replicating humanoid robot.

For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.

Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history – like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed… Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.


Now that is both a cover and a synopsis that will get me to pick up a book even if I don’t know the author. As I don’t in this case but it’s definitely on my To-Read list.

I Am Not A Serial Killer – Recommendation

John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.

He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.

He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat—and to appreciate what that difference means.

Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

Dan Wells’ debut novel is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.


Dan Wells is a thriller and science fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, Isolation, Fragments, and Ruins), the John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want To Kill You), and a few others (The Hollow City, A Night of Blacker Darkness, etc). He was a Campbell nomine for best new writer, and has won a Hugo award for his work on the podcast Writing Excuses; the podcast is also a multiple winner of the Parsec Award.

 

July Updates

Hey all,

I realise I didn’t write my Wednesday Book Review yesterday. I apologise for that. Instead I have been working on revamping my personal website: Nthato Morakabi.com

Here are the updates I’ve made so far:

Book Reviews

While this blog has been going strong with book reviews (okay kinda strong), I’ve been neglecting to update my personal website and it’s book reviews. My last review on it was Tales from Alternate Earths, on October 27, 2016. It’s almost been a whole year. So during the course of this week I will be updating as necessary.

Author Spotlight

I’m still taking book review requests. I’ve been contacted by a few authors so you’ll be seeing more of those books in future reviews. This includes David Meredith’s second book Aaru, J.T Lawrence’s two books Why You Were Taken and The Memory of Water. I was quite pleased to see these books in our local chain bookstore Exclusive Books. Really exciting to see Janita and her books grow!

Author Spotlight is an opportunity to acknowledge the amazing authors out there whose books I had been privileged to read.

Gamecca – Independent Game Developer Interviews

It’s been two years now since I started doing interviews with both local and international Indie Game developers. I’ll be cataloging every interview, studio and game in a new section of my personal website. Not a gaming blog at all, just an opportunity to thank and show off the talented game devs out there.

Gamecca Indie Game Developer Interviews

I’ve also been contemplating a separate game blog. Who knows. Maybe one day.

Writing

You may have noticed I’ve been sort of consistent now with my Friday Fiction. I’ve also been writing on Wattpad under a different pseudonym entering various writing challenges. I’m not participating in Camp NaNo this month but I am working on a number of stories.

Seeing all my writer friends and acquaintances making a name for themselves has been an inspiration.

Nothing else major is happening so far. I guess only the future will reveal itself. Until then, let’s all continue to push the limits of our capabilities.


Remember you can sign up to my SPAM-free monthly Newsletter for all updates here: Nthato Morakabi.com.

Hypocritical

Hypocritical,

These thoughts critical,

To my growth, spiritual

Yet daily I lack the strength and conviction to remain biblical.

Yet Prayers,

On barred heavenly layers,

My heart joining nay-sayers,

I’m disease ridden, call the CDC, I’m just an NPC among real players.

*

Hypocritical,

These thoughts heretical,

I’m at a stage critical,

Falling within pyres and hell’s fires where grace is my only miracle.

Daily invocation,

Sins of a generation,

Lost. I’m in a state of desolation,

No hope just trying to grope the rope leading to salvation.

*

“For by grace you been saved,”

Yet by sin I am enslaved.

Actions so despicable.

I am… Hypocritical.

 

 

Everything Everything – Recommendation

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.


I recently went to watch the movie version of this book and to my surprise and delight, I sincerely enjoyed it. Hoping to capture that magic with this book too.


Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.

Apartment 12B

 

It was a week later that Apartment 12B swayed. Guttural whispers fell against the wooden door padlocked with a series of golden chain locks and a single metal bar as thick as a baseball bat. An ewer from St. Peter’s Basilica rattled across the floor, splattering holy water over the wooden panels, only for the liquid to evaporate in dark tendrils.

Beyond the apartment, harsh pebbles of rain lashed the transom window. The horizontal venetian blinds quivered against the glass, filling the dim room with incessant tapping.  Within the stark room stood a beige second-hand couch, bought from the ancient auburn head owner of Elise’s Pawn Shoppe on the corner of Marshall and Green. A rickety mahogany table, from the same place, angled away from the couch. Dirty coffee cups left stained rings on the wood where a heavy, leather bound King James lay haphazardly open to Matthew 3. Verse two highlighted with the red squiggly circles of madness.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

*

Elise Chambers was an aberrant old hag originating from one of the obscure Scandinavian countries. A refugee turned citizen, she’d set up Elise’s Pawn Shoppe in August 1972 with the help of her now departed husband Nathaniel Chambers. While many had found her flaming auburn hair puzzling, the beauty and presence she radiated left all who met her charmed.

Many who entered the establishment were both surprised and pleased by the quality and value of the items she sold at bargain prices. In fact, rumours once circulated that her husband was merely an accountant by day and an infamous antique embezzler by night. Though these rumours fell away quickly and replaced with darker, ominous whispers. Those that Elise Chambers was secretly a witch. Now in her old age, the constant stoop to her gait and the odd mumblings she spewed every once in a while, seemed to substantiate this ancient rumour.

Josiah Coleman had moved from Lower Parkhurst to Langdon following a prospective job offer. Previously a store clerk at Jay Jay’s department store, a new branch in Langdon promised the possibility of promotion to General Manager.

His long-time girlfriend and hopeful fiancé, Alyssa Walker, followed him to Langdon with devoted attachment.

Green Street hummed with quiet foot traffic and an odd car every few minutes. Garden Court, Waverley Heights, and Sunset Pines rose up along the street in brick and glass and painted walls.

Josiah and Alyssa entered Kamilah Court’s recently paved walkway hand in hand.  Giggles flitted between them like high school lovers in the early stages of their relationship. A selection of vehicles were parked in the lot, particularly a blood red Land Rover with Hamilton Real Estate painted on its sides. They’d been together three years that warm March morning, four in another six months where Josiah hoped to propose. The bricked building rose eight storeys high. Railed balconies stuck out at every odd window like stubs of grated tongues.

They entered the wooden double doors with budding excitement, taking in the drab white painted walls and plain single seater leather seats. There was nothing unique about the place yet the prospect of starting anew sparked something in them.

Esther Washington, their real estate agent, met them at the hallway with a wide smile. She was a tall glass of water. A rich, thick afro glistened under the fluorescent lighting. Her tight fitting bright red dress suit fit her snugly like a second skin.

“Mr. Coleman?”

“Josiah, please.” His voice seemed clogged in his throat. Then, remembering the woman clinging to him, “And this is uh Alyssa.”

Esther Washington shook both their hands then gestured towards the front desk. A bald, portly man looked up at them from the top of his wireframe glasses. They reflected an ongoing game of solitaire.

“Looking good today Esther.” His eyes barely passed over the couple. They drank in the real estate agent with a hint of desire.

“Thanks Joey. We heading up to 12B, that okay?”

“No problemo. Remember the elevator is broken. Gonna have ter take the stairs.”

She sighed irritably.

“We’ll be a’right.”

He nodded at her slowly and turned back to his game.

“That’s Joey. He’s one of the security guards in the building. Anything you need he can help you get. And sorry about the long walk.”

Josiah nodded slowly. Alyssa held on to Josiah’s arm tighter. She didn’t like the way he looked at Esther.

They stepped through the door into a cool aquamarine spiralling staircase. Alyssa gazed up through the oblong coiling stairs that reminded her of the Fibonacci spiral, only in the shape of a square. It ended in looked like a sunroof as she could see the blue of the sky from beyond. She turned to Josiah to tell him and found that he was staring at Esther as she climbed the stairs. Her hips swaying with each step.

She followed quietly though her thoughts were anything but quiet.

*

Following the quick look around the apartment, and Josiah and Alyssa establishing that it might be more expensive than anticipated, Josiah surprisingly agreed to the price anyway. Esther promised to bring the papers the next day and suggested the couple look at Elise’s Pawn Shoppe for cheap but aesthetic furnishing for the place.

So it was an hour later, walking down towards the end of Green Street that Alyssa raised her concern,

“I thought we couldn’t afford the place.” It was a statement not a question.

“Yeah but its real close to work and there’s a kindergarten too where you can find work.” He did his little playful grin but the look on Alyssa’s face told him it was time for that.

“Taken a real shine to Esther huh?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Josiah brushed the comment off. Bad idea.

“Right.” And that was it. But anyone knows that when a woman raises that kind of concern and then brushes it off, it’s not over. Not even close.

 

The pawn shop was a homely little place directly on the corner of Green and Marshall, looking out towards a quiet intersection. Surprisingly there were no hawkers on the street, not that either of them noticed. The large front windows revealed an array of lamps, vases and gleaming vanity sets. While the furniture looked old, they carried an air of newness to them. Like they had been freshly cleaned not moments before.

They entered the store with a jingle from a hanging bell. Immediately they were struck with a waft of nostalgia. Josiah remembered Granny Dorothy’s living room. Of floor polish and freshly washed linen. Of Granny Dorothy knitting a sweater as she sunk into her floral armchair. Alyssa remembered the lime kitchen walls of Mewa Betty as she cleaned counter tops with rigorous flaps of her arm while Sunday lunch cooked in what seemed like an endless series of pots. Of the underlying aroma of something archaic obscured by wafts of fresh pine.

“Ah a budding couple on the cusps of mov’n in togeda yas?” Elise Chambers hobbled from seemingly out of nowhere and approached the parted couple.

“Ah yes.” Josiah replied. He scratched his head out of nervous habit. Alyssa cast an annoyed glance at him.

“Seems like ders trouble in paradise ‘dou.”

Alyssa, in her quiet fury, left the two and moved to a different section. She noticed a glass ewer that was apparently from St. Peter’s Basilica, filled with holy water blessed by the pope himself.

“Just a little squabble.” Josiah eventually replied, “We were recommended here by Esther Washington…”

“Ah yes. Tall woman shaped like a coke bottle yes yes she recommend people all da time. I know what you need.”

Josiah followed the old woman through the shop.

Elise led him past a section of brass instruments gleaming like the sun itself. Music systems both ancient and modern, with speakers and amplifiers lined together on triple layered metal shelves. Near the back end of the store was the furniture section and immediately a beige, polyester couch stood out to Josiah.

“How much for this?” He asked, turning to face her. For a moment he saw Elise as a young woman with fiery red hair and smouldering grey-blue eyes,

“How much would it be worth to you?” Her voice slithered across the back of his head. Warm as an embrace. Refreshing as a breeze.

“Alyssa Walker for Esther Washington.” He breathed.

Her lips curled up into a mischievous smile as she approached him slowly. A sultry tigress about to devour her prey. Josiah’s heart pulsated suddenly and wholly. Heat spreading across his forehead. She pushed him backwards against the couch and he was falling. Falling. Falling. He’d already forgotten the price he’d been willing to pay.

*

It was a week later that Apartment 12B swayed. Guttural whispers fell against the locked wooden door.

Josiah Coleman gripped the couch. Droplets of sweat cascaded down his large furrowed brows, staining the soft polyester seats. His eyes, almost black as coal, stared at the ceiling unseeing. The white boards fluctuating in and out of focus with the wavering apartment. His thick lips mumbled scripture into the air, quivering

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.”

But heaven was deafened to his words and only the rasping whispers beyond the wooden portal heard his words. And replied.

-God can’t hear you now-

-Repentance is futile-

-The roaring lion seeks to devour you-

-The serpent awaits-

“No!”

Josiah bolted upright and grabbed the holy tome from the table, a page tearing out between his trembling hands. And another. And another. They fluttered about him like gargantuan moths.

From across the room, the body of Alyssa Walker gawped at the door. Abyssal apertures gaped where her eyes and mouth should have been. A ragged breath crawled from her throat as a bulbous black insect ruptured its way out of the pink of her tongue in obsidian bubbles. The wings beat once.

Chain locks quietly slid across their respective golden tracks and rattled against the door frame. The metal bar screeched its way open and the door burst open with the fury of a hurricane. Josiah leapt to his feet facing the door.

“Time to pay the price Josiah Coleman.” Esther Washington entered the apartment with a grin. Her dark afro writhed as though it were made of bugs threatening to crawl down her face. The face that shimmered with Elise Chamber’s features.

“Please!” Josiah wheezed. Warmth quickly radiated into glacial surges of fear filling his head, chest and back. A warmth trickled down his pant leg.

“It is already done.”

Alyssa groaned from behind and Josiah spun around to face the woman he loved. The gaping holes in her face were quickly teeming with more of the bugs, wings oscillating to life with the growing swarm covering her body. She quivered to life and rose on her heels like a puppet pulled forward. Arms outstretched. She coughed and hacked and heaved, her body bending forward at an impossible 90 degrees.

A wet, slithering sound filled the room as one last hack coughed up Alyssa’s writhing black heart. It squelched on the floor and burst into a thousands of black shiny bugs that immediately rushed at Josiah. He shrieked. He ran straight into Elise/Esther who burst apart like scattered flies. When he turned back she was in her normal form. But her head was on backwards.

“Dear God!” Josiah screamed.

He didn’t notice the metal railing until the top half of his body was already leaning over. He was falling. The spiral stairs grew smaller with each passing second.

Like a cubical Fibonacci sequence.

Nthato Morakabi

Author | Blogger | Artist | Geek

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