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Author Archives: Nthato Morakabi

Fear and Fervor – A Patreon Fiction

Today’s fiction is an excerpt from this month’s Patreon work. I’ve combined my two favourite genre’s – Romance and Horror – with a dash of Lovecraftian influence. Enjoy!


Up upon the attic’s bare wooden floors, in the bodega of Casa Del Potro, between discarded paint bottles and torn canvas. Therein lies the young male we know only as Eduardo. He sits with his back against the raised mattress, naked save for a pair of dirty boxers. They reveal the stringy black threads of hair covering his legs and arms and have begun to crawl past the navel to his chest. Smudges of paint cover some of his brown skin, and the whites of his hands are lost to a swirling grey rainbow of colour.

He sleeps deeply and soundly. The dark tendrils of oily curled hair tumbled down to his chin like a frayed curtain. Near his bare feet lies a canvas still heavy with wet paint. Each corner holds a random item that keeps the canvas from rolling in. An iron stands in one corner, the severed cord wrapped in dark tape. In another corner is the one half of Eduardo’s wearable Jordan’s, the bottom half yawning with yellow strands of loosening superglue. The foot of an aged table, and one of the three metal stools keep the remaining corners down.

Caressed over canvas is a visage of improbable beauty. Flaxen tresses that divulge in hues of orange and red cascading down the back. Golden braids coil the hem of the snowy dress that sits below the smooth skin of bare shoulders. An elegant face gazes out at the viewer with gleaming emerald orbs that reach into the soul and tug it to the surface. Pert upturned nose sits perfectly on the symmetrical face above thin pursed lips. There is a haunting glare accentuated by her slightly raised brow, as though she notices something behind the viewer. Perhaps she feels the tiny pinpricks of an insect crawling up her leg below the separation of canvas and real life.

Or perhaps her gaze from canvas onto reality bears a truth she wishes not to comprehend. The artist, a living soul, tethered to the encroaching darkness ignorantly rejected as merely death. Only she, the portrait, the art, the creation, has any semblance of what awaits beyond the veil.

There is more to this corporeal existence than we can see. More beyond the ethereal presence that on occasion slinks along our spine with icy tendrils.

I will tell you the story of Eduardo and his paintings for it is a story that must be told. Perhaps it shall restore the madness that rattles my bones like arthritis.

Pray the madness does not pass on to you, for there is no fetter back to this blessed ignorance.


 

What Does Your Story Say?

When I initially began writing, I was purposed to write stories with meaning. Not just fluffy fun tales of over-powered heroes saving damsels in distress, beating the familiar evil villain, and then riding off into the sunset with said damsel. It was too cliched. Too fake. Too fictional.

Hence that amazing quote by Anais Nin on the title of my blog. “Not what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” There could be many reasons why we might not be able to say something, but in our writing we can most certainly elaborate on them. Explore and expound for others to read and comprehend.

I’ve thought about changing that quote a number of times in the past, but I can’t get past the truth it speaks. It guided my tentative steps into serious writing. As fun as writing fan-fiction and ghost stories can be, sometimes I needed to write something with substance. Something concrete, addressing a personal issue or belief. I attempted a lot these in the past, ranging from Christianity to relationships to my greatest fears.

Here’s an excerpt from a piece of writing I labelled The Past:

The Past…

…is like a dark cave, contaminated, murky, fearsome place, one that we cordon off and try to forget about, ignoring the signs all around us that point back to it. But we cannot escape it. We sometimes linger at its entrance, gazing within the dark confines to see what can be seen. Safe enough. Safe enough away from what we know is within its depths. We know of the familiar creature within, one that bares an undeniably resemblance to ourselves, except for its blank dead eyes, dead in trespasses and sins, blinded from the truth willingly.

I was in a dark place for a while.

Self vs Other

These days I seem to be driven by concepts that are ‘out there’ rather than close to me. Removing self from the story and characters to create something outside of me. It’s much easier to ignore introspection. To escape to books and movies and music and art.

I could only hope to recreate those sensations in my readers. However, what I failed to notice, was that each creator of those inspirational  works had their own directive to their creation, a source that guided their work. It not only made them unique, but I as the recipient of their creativity, was able to experience what they experienced much deeper and fuller.

Combining self and these external sources, can create something beautiful. For example:

  • Adele’s soulful musical style was inspired by her own heartbreak, relationships, and a desire to making up for all the lost time through nostalgia and melancholy – yet she was inspired by Amy Winehouse and the album Frank.
  • Masamune Shirow (Masanori Ota) is a qualified oil painter, and creator of Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed. He writes thoughtful post apocalyptic cyberpunk futures with female protagonists – inspired by (and creator of) erotic art.
  • Stephen King’s stories involve the “every day man” thrust into a horror-fueled adventure, with running commentary on abusive, religious mothers (or priests) – the king of horror was inspired by other kings of horror H.P. Lovecraft and Richard Matheson.
  • Quentin Tarantino’s non-linear stories driven by gore and satire, are a manifestation of his creative mind – inspired by old music, where he uses the music to create scenes in his head and bring them to life.

Prolific creative figures who have combined their own experiences with their inspiration to produce amazing works.

When I make a film, I am hoping to reinvent the genre a little bit. I just do it my way. I make my own little Quentin versions of them.

~ Quentin Tarantino

Truth in Fiction

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying every story I write will be an obscured memoir of things I want to say but can’t say. I am saying, however, that there will be elements of ‘my truth’ to each story. Drawing from me and drawing from outside of myself to create. Ultimately sharing my truth in fiction, and still having a great story to tell. Combined with world building and character building, I can fully embrace a character and world without feeling like a stranger in my own story.

Like a ghost in a shell.


What does your writing process entail? How much of yourself do you put into your stories? Is your main character usually you or a version of you, or do you draw other people as your characters? What’s your inspiration?

Greedy Pigs by Matt Wallace – Review

Title: Greedy Pigs (Sin du Jour #5)

Author: Matt Wallace

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Book procurement: Received a copy from Tor.com for Gamecca Magazine Vol 8 Issue 94.

Synopsis:

The Sin du Jour crew caters to the Shadow Government in Greedy Pigs, Matt Wallace’s fifth Sin du Jour Affair

I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.

Politics is a dirty game. When the team at Sin du Jour accidentally caters a meal for the President of the United States and his entourage, they discover a conspiracy that has been in place since before living memory. Meanwhile, the Shadow Government that oversees the co-existence of the natural and supernatural worlds is under threat from the most unlikely of sources.

It s up to one member of the Sin du Jour staff to prevent war on an unimaginable scale.

Between courses, naturally.

Review:

First Thoughts

 

First I just want to say I love the very concept of chefs and cooks who cater to both humans and supernatural entities. A clandestine operation in the most unexpected setting.

Sin Du Jour is definitely one of my favourite series, it just unfortunate how each novella is so short, and yet it is that very fact that makes the stories work.

This fifth book in the Sin Du Jour series is yet another great piece of writing from the talented Matt Wallace. He keeps the drama and intrigue going with just enough wit to lighten the load while getting the point across. Character growth. Excellent setting. Perfect cliff hanger ending. Looking forward to the next book.

 

Writing

The writing is as crisp and humourous as usual, with a weighty, earnest realism to it. Events from Idle Ingredients continue to escalate when politics came in to play and a massive war creeps to the fore. The staff members are still reeling from the last demonic entity that entrapped them, and the consequences of their actions haunt them.

What I enjoyed most about the writing, is how well the characters are captured. There was growth to the main female character Lena, and a foreshadowing of what is to come. Nikki brings a different perspective to the second female character the novel follows. Both are strong and as similar as they are different. I like both.

The roster of characters balances out well and adds a dynamic experience to reading the novel. We don’t see the whole team this time around, but Bronc the main chef and Darren are suffering more after the last encounter. How all of this will proceed opens up a ton of speculation. And let’s not talk about the big baddie who remains in shadow yet oozes an ominous presence throughout the books.

A couple of recognizable celebrities make cameos, and Matt Wallace doesn’t need to use names to capture their essence. You’ll know immediately when you read them. It’s clever. It’s sneaky. It’s great!

Final Thoughts

Perhaps I was a bit biased when I read the book, considering how well I enjoyed it. I can’t say if I did found anything wrong with the pace, the writing or the characters. I don’t know when the next book will be available, but I hope I get a chance to read that too.

Rating: A gratifying 4 out of 5


What book have you read with a unique setting and character roster? Is there a series out there you enjoyed immensely? What are you currently reading?

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Microcosmsfic Flash Fiction – The Daughters of Nereus

 

This was my entry to last Friday’s microcosmsfic. Hope you enjoy.


299 words
Nymph / Underworld / Myth
Special Challenge: Death

Within the depths of the great ocean lay a vessel of stone and wood and metal. As ancient as time. A primordial husk borne of demise. Upon the splintered furrows etched into the wood, emblazoned in gold aged and weathered, remained a single word that spoke of times past: Nereus.
From the hollows of the great sunken ark, worn trembling fingers wound gleaming gears onto the bosom of coral shaped as one of human descent.
“Ne’er shall ye taste the bitter elixir of death.” The voice rumbled. Creatures of the sea squiggled away from the words. Fearing entrapment. The old fingers slid the final piece into place, a soft caress and an ancient chant of a forgotten tongue sealing the alabaster skin of the slumbering creation.
She gasped to life with a flurry of froth and foam and the quiet tick of clockwork. Spiralling lashes fluttered open to reveal dark orbs reminiscent of Hade’s realm.
“Bring me souls dear one. Forty-nine more. The surface shall know our woe. This domain shall be Sheol to them.”
The young creature of the sea swam from within the dark abyss to the bright cerulean waters above. To the passing ships and echoing shouts of passing sailors. One of which gazed upon the waters to see a creature of immense beauty. Long dark tresses flowing down bare shoulders. Pink pouting lips whispering promises of love and pleasure.

Unperturbed, he dove to the waters and let the creature drag him into the watery depths. Death clawing at his lungs and throat until it seeped into him and faded into darkness.

She brought the sailor to her father Nereus. The ark thrumming with life as yet another coral-created form waited for the sailor’s soul.

“My daughters… no my Nereids. Long shall ye live with me.”


Shout out to Carin Marais who shared the Community Pick win with me. Read her microcosms entry: The Sisters Oath.


I built this story from the mythology of the Nereids:

THE NEREIDES (Nereids) were fifty sea-nymphe daughters of Nereus the old man of the sea.  They were goddesses of the sea’s rich bounty and protectors of sailors and fishermen, coming to the aid of those in distress. Individually they represented various facets of the sea from the salty brine, to the sea foam, sand, rocks, waves and currents, as well as the various skills possessed by seamen.

The Nereides dwelt with their elderly father in a silvery grotto at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. The Nereid Thetis was their unofficial leader and Amphitrite was Poseidon’s queen.

The Nereides were depicted in ancient art as beautiful, young maidens, sometimes running with small dolphins or fish in their hands, or else riding on the backs of dolphins, hippokampoi (hippocamps) and other sea creatures.

The name Nereides means “Daughters of Nereus” but also “the Wet Ones” from nêros the Greek word for “wet”.

~ theoi.com/Pontios/Nereides

Rhyming Rings by David Gemmell

David Gemmell was the UK’s number one fantasy and historical novelist until his death in 2006. A regular Sunday Times bestseller, and international sensation, his legacy lives on through his novels, his influence on the genre, and through the David Gemmell Legend awards.

Rhyming Rings is a never-before-seen Gemmell novel, discovered in his papers by his widow, Stella Gemmell. Merging autobiographical details of Gemmell’s life as a journalist in South London with a serial killer and a tinge of the supernatural, this is perfect for fans of David’s work, as well as readers of gritty crime novels. Set against the backdrop of a London simmering with poverty, change and racial tension, this taut thriller is a fitting legacy for the great writer.

This book includes a brand new introduction from massive Gemmell fan Conn Iggulden, and an afterword by Gemmell’s friend Stan Nicholls.

An ambidextrous killer is murdering women, leaving virtually no evidence behind, and struggling journalist Jeremy Miller wishes he was covering the case. Instead, he’s stuck with heart-warming local stories about paraplegic teenagers and elderly psychic ladies.

So when his stories and the murder case start to converge no one is more surprised than Jeremy.

Or, it turns out, more at risk.


Drew from The Tattooed Book Geek picked this up in his book haul and I was immediately intrigued! Looking to pick this up too!

David Andrew Gemmell was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Gemmell had his first work of fiction published in 1984. He went on to write over thirty novels. Best known for his debut, Legend, Gemmell’s works display violence, yet also explores themes in honour, loyalty and redemption. With over one million copies sold, his work continues to sell worldwide.

 

Focus: The Bane of my Writing

I am working on three novels at once. The other is a prequel to one of the novels, written as a collection of short stories. There’s also the Friday Fiction, a number of side novellas, and Wattpad writing competitions. There are also books to read, games to play, social events to attend, and the elusive activity known as sleep.

There’s also a folder full of ideas and stories that have been bubbling since I was in highschool. I have been craving a good horror story and since I haven’t found one, I’ve resorted to that age old writer’s quote “If the book you want to read doesn’t exist, write it.”

All of these have made me aware of something I struggle with when it comes to my writing… focus.

One Story at a Time

You might think this is easy to do. Take one novel  (or idea), write it, edit it, send it off to the publishers and work on the next one while you wait. In truth, it should be. Fortunately/Unfortunately my mind is a single bee in a gargantuan field of flowers. Buzzing with activity. Jumping from one flower to the next to the next to the next. Never satisfied with just the one. Seeing all the potential. All the benefits to reap.

Hence why I’m writing four novels at once. This is my attempt at appeasing my restless mind while being productive. The novels are all different genres, different worlds, and different characters. Each week I focus on one novel. Of course, I end up getting ideas for “that other” novel, or ideas for a new story and have to battle against writing them.

The Solution

I write everything down. I have a multiple notepad .txt files with ideas. Each in their appropriate folders. I don’t want to lose the idea. I also write what I was feeling and what I was trying to achieve with the story. This means I have a reference point to the me now, with the fresh idea as it is now. The me today, won’t be the me next month (or next year) when I revisit the idea and realise I have no idea where I was trying to go with it.

It doesn’t always work. I spend too much time in my head thinking of what I want to do next instead of just doing it. Sometimes all it needs is discipline. And sitting down to write. I’ll keep working on it, and writing.


Do you struggle with focusing on your current WIP? How do you keep writing one story down without losing interest? What inspires to keep going?

 

Blood Moon by John David Bethel – Review

Title: Blood Moon

Author: John David Bethel

Genre: Psychological Crime Thriller

Book procurement: I was contacted by the author for an honest review.

Synopsis:

On a hot, steamy afternoon in Miami, Cuban-American businessman Recidio Suarez is brutally beaten and abducted. Handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded, he has no idea why he has been targeted. What he discovers is heart-stopping. What he endures during almost a month of captivity compares only to the most horrendous stories of prisoners of war. He is tortured, and under the threat of death, and worse – the rape of his wife and torture of his children – Suarez is forced to hand over his multi-million dollar holdings to his captors.

Suarez survives and then spends the next few months staying one step ahead of the murderous pack. During this time, he and his lawyer, Nolan Stevens – a former Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the FBI – are having difficulties convincing the Miami-Dade Police Department that a crime has been committed. Their efforts are complicated by Steven’s difficult history with the head of the MDPD Special Investigations Division, who is not interested in pursuing the case.

Review:

First Thoughts

It’s quite difficult to write a review on such a tragic story. To filter past the horrendous events the story tells, to focus on seemingly petty things such as writing style, emotion and general narrative devices used. However all of these combined make for compelling story telling which Blood Moon was not.

Nonetheless, the story begins right into the action. We get a glimpse of the man that is Recidio Suarez. We experience his kidnapping, and his confusion. As the story unfolds, and characters come to light, there was a sense of sickness at the inhumanity his kidnappers were willing to display.

Writing

From a writing perspective, Blood Moon was not thrilling. Not suspenseful. This is due to how close the novel was to the truth. Sitting through the thirty days of a man’s torture is not supposed to be fun or easy or thrilling, and on that merit, Blood Moon is spot on. At the same time, without all the context of “based on a true story”, there isn’t anything gripping about the story. Disturbing, yes, but not engaging.

I did not relate to, or felt moved by Recidio’s perilous situation. The writing was more of a journal than a delve into the frayed mind of a man who is on the brink of losing everything. No internal monologues. No thoughts about “what ifs” or “could haves” or anything that would give us an emotional tie-in during the horror of his experience. Just the gritty day to day of surviving. Not to undermine what he went through, but a little humanity would have made it more digestible.

Humour was thrown in here and there to show how Recidio was working to cope with the fact that he’d been kidnapped and would most likely end up dead. The unlikely friendship forming also broke the monotony. The violence was gruesome, descriptions visceral, and it all made me wonder just how depraved humans can be.

Final Thoughts

While this wasn’t my favourite book to read, it was respectable. I applaud John Bethel for the amount of research and effort he must have put in to write this novel true enough to the actual tragedy. The foreword and afterword put a real perspective on the whole thing. That it’s not just a fictional tale, but a reminder of a tragedy re-written in fictional form.

Rating: A fair 3 out of 5


J. David Bethel is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. He has been published in popular consumer magazines and respected political journals. He is the author of Evil Town, a novel of political intrigue that is receiving praise from a number of Washington opinion leaders

Facebook: Facebook.com/Inspiredbytruecrime

Amazon: John David Bethel


Have you read any books based on real events? How did that affect you during and after reading? Would you recommend any?

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I want to be Sedated

I want to be sedated.

Escape the cold grasp of reality,

To slip the thin realm of insanity,

To experience all things – elated.

The Lamb Will Slaughter The Lion by Margaret Killjoy

Danielle Cain is a queer punk rock traveller, jaded from a decade on the road. Searching for clues about her best friend’s mysterious and sudden suicide, she ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. All is not well in Freedom, however: things went awry after the town’s residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner.

Danielle shows up in time to witness the spirit—a blood-red, three-antlered deer—begin to turn on its summoners. Danielle and her new friends have to act fast if they’re going to save the town—or get out alive.

 


Margaret is an itinerant author, editor, and photographer whose interests include forest defense, anarchism, and the serial comma.

Website: birdsbeforethestorm.net


This book was exactly what I needed when I was craving a dose of good horror. There was even a point during the night (after reading) when I was standing in the kitchen, in the dark, expecting a blood red deer to be standing there, waiting to chew my heart out of my chest.

*shivers*

Doubt – The Writer’s Killer

I was writing. A lot. Too much perhaps. Drowning in an endless sea of fictional stories and characters all crying to see the light of day. Sometimes I was writing for myself. Other times I wrote for my future fans (I can dream). Occasionally I wrote because that’s what I do. There were days when I wrote only a few words and days when I scribbled notes and days when it was entire sections of story. Yet in each of these instances, there was that little sense of discontent that lingered in the dark recesses of my writing. Stalking every thought process. Every idea. Every word.

It didn’t stop me from writing. No. It merely created a sense of doubt to my writing. As though something was wrong with my strong female protagonist, or not enough depth to my wandering male character. The world I built wasn’t rich enough. The plot – not enough sustenance. How my previous works were written by a distinct version of me, in a different mental and emotional state. A literary genius with a fantastic grasp on what he was creating or a bumbling fool trying to sprint through oceans in baggy clothing.

Dissatisfaction rearing its ugly head, telling me “Your writing will never be good enough.” or “Stop this madness, you’re just another sub par writer.” Quit-since-your’re-behind kind of thought process. It can really be crippling.

It would be easier to lower your standards. To pass it off as a hobby for fun and nothing too serious. To give up.

But that is a mistake.

Writing is my passion above all other things. One thing I can claim as my own. That I embrace. To not write would be to die. Not because I have spent so much time and effort and energy into writing and to give up now is foolish. Rather because if I did not write, where would all these stories in my head go. How would I be able to express the feelings that rattle through my bones? To live vicariously through created characters and have the ability to alter their destiny with a couple of letters put together to make logical sense.

Doubt, like hope, can be fickle but powerful. I once wrote this beautiful, meaningful story that resonated with me on so many levels. Doubt snuck in once and I deleted it. I regret it so much, there’s not a time that doesn’t pass when I don’t think about that story. All that potential. Gone. What a waste.

I also, currently, have a story that is brimming with life and potential. I have random bursts of inspiration that mold this story into a masterpiece. Hope spurring it forward to completion because I think it’s a great piece of writing. If only I could have the time and energy and effort to sit through the whole thing and complete it and raise it above the masses like Moses splitting the red sea. Okay maybe that’s pushing it, but that’s what hope does.

I won’t sit here and tell you it’s easy to push doubt away. Or that you can simply manufacture hope on the spur of the moment. It takes sitting down and putting in the effort. To write. To take a break. To enjoy the process and hate it. To take long walks or lie in bed soaking up music or watching your favourite series. To work through your story and write even when it feels like it’s not doing anything.

I know the doubt will pass. I know hope will not be enough. What will remain, however, is every word I have written. So I will continue to write.


How do you deal with doubt in your writing? What has been the most crippling moment in your writing? Have you ever deleted a story and do you regret it?

this-is-my-truth-now

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