New Flash Fiction Story Published

Hey, everybody and Happy New Year! We’re starting 2017 off right: a new short-short So-You-Found-Mestory of mine has just been published. It’s about a self-conscious story. This is how it starts:

So you found me. Well done.

Don’t think for a moment that I’m merely a story. Oh no, not even close. I have thoughts, feelings, ideas, just like you. Just like any other sentient being…

If you want to read the rest head over to Between Worlds magazine and read the story, it’s called “So You Found Me.” You can also read the full new edition of BW magazine which has new stories from a bunch of up-and-coming writers. And, as always, I encourage you to contribute to the magazine which you can at the bottom of this page. Between Worlds is a paying market (for short stories, not flash) and we need to preserve and nurture these markets. Thanks!…Enough promo!

Hope you enjoy the piece and please leave a comment there or here on my blog. Would love some feedback on it. And thanks to Between Worlds for considering and publishing the piece!

See you again soon.

,DJ

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Title Reveal: The Sludge Ship Chronicles

It’s time to come clean, as it were. I’ve been writing and working whenever I can, as you all know. That’s resulted in the first draft of a play, and now it’s time to do the title reveal  as I steadily edit, condense and refine the second draft. Sludge Boat

The play’s working title is “The Sludge Ship Chronicles.” What, you’re asking, is a sludge ship? Well, it’s a ship that carries sludge, obviously. In the bad, old days, empty sludge ships filled their cargo holds with raw human waste from sewers. Then, they went far out to sea where they simply dumped their cargo. They returned to port and loaded up again. Apparently, this is no longer done although sludge ships do still exist (in New York City, for example), but now simply transport sludge between processing centers, without releasing the raw stuff into the environment. Something to think about next time you flush the toilet.

So, why did I decide to write a whole play about a sludge ship? Well, I’m merely using it (it’s true!) as a metaphor for something else. And as a plot device. As to what that “something else” is, I’ll hold off on getting into the details for now.

A few more notes on the play. It’s set in a medieval kingdom with an uncanny resemblance to Britain. So, the sludge ship is not like the one in the photo, but of the old sailing type. If it all sounds a bit hammy, it’s meant to be. It’s a comedy/satire. I could go into the plot, the characters and all that now—but I feel that’s getting a bit ahead of myself. I prefer to save that until after a final draft is done, or maybe even later.

The one big concern I have for the play is marketing it. I’ve tried to not worry about this and I don’t overly worry about marketing my stuff anymore. But every writer wants to see their stuff get out there. And I simply don’t have any experience marketing a play. So my plan is to find a local playhouses or festival that is willing to accept plays from new playwrights. I’ve just begun this process. M—, my friend, has put me in touch with his brother who has some experience in such things and I’m hoping to get some tips from him. But I know it will be very different from submitting short stories and novellas like I’ve done in the past. People simply have to invest more in a play (making sets, hiring actors, selling tickets), so the barrier to entry is higher. I have a lurking suspicion that the writing of the play will be the easiest part of it. If anyone out there has any experience with or tips about marketing plays, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Alright, that’s all for now. I will let you know when I arrive at a manuscript I feel is ready to submit. All for now. I’ll see you next time.

Until then,

Darius

The Ghul of Yazd Gets Published

My short story, “The Ghul of Yazd” just got published today in Strangelet’s Journal’s first edition. Click the link to order the print or epub version of the magazine.

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So, the Ghul finally made it…And just to whet your appetite, here are the first 100 words of the action in the story.

Bashar, Alisher, Yusuf, and Hasan carried a funeral bier. It was little more than a pallet with handles. A child’s body, wound tightly in a sheet so that its body was not exposed, lay in the center of the bier. They rested the handles on the top of their shoulders and carried torches in their free hands. A full moon shone down on the slow procession, casting enough light so that the men could see their next step. On the crest of the hill, the white circular walls of the dakhma, the Parsi burial ground, glowed in the moonlight.

That’s it. The start of the journey. To read the rest, you’ll have to click the link.


A Word of Thanks
I just want to use this opportunity to thank all my Beta readers who gave me encouragement, criticism and help along the way. Daniel, B—, Laura and Matt, I couldn’t have have done it without your reading and critiquing. Your editing—and friendship—mean so much to me.

And thanks to Casey, editor at Strangelet and all their staff readers and editors. Thanks for seeing something in the Ghul. And for believing in my original vision and working with me to see it through to completion. It was a great ride.

,Darius

“The Ghul of Yazd” Finds A Home

Finally. My story “The Ghul of Yazd” has been picked up by Strangelet Journal for publication in its first issue due this fall.

I always believed in the “Ghul,” in the story. I knew no matter how many times he got rejected—no  matter how many stabs and bludgeons he absorbed, he’d get back up and resubmit himself. And one day, slowly lurching along in his unique way, he’d find a  home. After all, ghuls are hard to fricking kill. The-ghoul-poster1

So, today, I’m very excited. It’s my second story to be picked up by a magazine after “The Hatchlings.” The “Ghul” helps  show that my writing’s not a fluke or a one-off. More importantly, I think Strangelet will be a great place for it. It seems that the new mag will be right in that “literary speculative fiction” niche I like to be in. It’s also cool to be part of a new mag’s inaugural edition. And finally, the editors aligned with my long-term vision for the story since its inception (a happy marriage of artistic vision there) as a piece of found fiction a la Potocki’s magnificent Manuscript Found in Zaragoza.

I will provide more details in the coming weeks as the publication date approaches. For now, check out my “Rejectionable Ghoul” page for more details. I will only add that the manuscript was rejected seven times before being accepted. So, fellow writers out there on the InterWebs, wherever you are—keep at it. You never know when that next acceptance letter will come.

My First Short Story Gets Published

My short story “The Hatchlings” was published today on Fiction Vortex. It’s the first time anything I’ve written has been accepted for publication. I heard the news a couple of weeks ago, but wanted to wait before it went live to share the news.

The story is set in the distant future. A man visits the planet Kaldar where a forbidden and brutal ritual, the Zakir, is conducted. He plans to gain the confidence of the Kaldarians, see the ritual and betray them by sharing his story with the rest of the galaxy. Needless to say, all does not go according to plan.

It’s very exciting, and more importantly, validating to have something you’ve written get selected for publication. Especially at a great up-and-coming speculative fiction website like Fiction Vortex.  I was so over the moon when I got the acceptance letter, I could hardly sleep. It was a rough day at work the next day, let me tell you. 

Originally, I wanted to do a long blog post, but today I just want to let you know the story’s live and encourage you to check it out. And if you can, please spread the word.

Today, I’ll leave it at that. I will only add that the story got rejected 8 times before finding a home on Fiction Vortex. So to my fellow writers out there, I have this message:

Be persistent.

,Darius

My Novella Is Out and It’s Free

I just published my historical novella, “The Man Who Ran from God” on Kindle. It’s also free this weekend on the Amazon Kindle store (June 22 and 23, 2013).

MWRFG_Kindle8

Here’s the book’s blurb, just to pique your interest.

In a dream, the voice of God commands Jonah to go to Nineveh, capital of the mighty Assyrian Empire. Instead, he books passage to the other end of the world. A storm and a hungry whale are the least of his worries, as Jonah confronts deluded fishermen, befuddled peasants and crooked priests. At the end of it all, Jonah must face the hardest decision of his life: stand and preach to the fervently pagan crowds in Nineveh’s main square or flee back home to Judea.

This modern, secular retelling of the Jonah tale unwinds fact from fiction. The narrative imagines Jonah as a real man who felt compelled to spread his monotheistic belief at a time when paganism was almost universal. Loosely based on the Biblical narratives of ‘Jonah’ and ‘The Book of Kings,’ the narrative draws on recent research on the Neo-Assyrian Empire to paint a lush picture of its forgotten people, cults and customs as seen through the eyes of its determined, cantankerous hero.

Other than that I have one final request. To become a better writer, I need feedback. The quickest, easiest way to do this is to leave a short review (you’d be amazed what 25 words can do, for me and the book) on Amazon, Goodreads or even Twitter. And feel free to send me longer critiques via email. I’d love to learn what worked well and what didn’t. 

Before I go, I want to thank you for following the blog. And for all your support on Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook. Every click on this site and every comment on a post fires me up and helps me keep going. Those little things help more than you know.

A Very Warm Thank You and a Promise of More to Come,  

Darius

PS The book will be on the Kindle exclusively for the first 3 months it’s out. After that, I will reassess and see if it’s prudent to post to Nook. I will keep you updated. 

Cover Reveal for My New Novella

A simple post this week. I just wanted to share the cover for my new historical novella, “The Man Who Ran from God.” Here it is.

MWRFG_Kindle

First, thanks to Dave Fey for a great design. I really think it captures the setting of the piece: the Middle East circa 800 B.C. I like to think of the cover’s scene as the view from across the Tigris toward Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian empire. Nineveh is the setting for about half of the action in the novella and is the destination of the novella’s protagonist, Jonah.

The novella is set to launch on the Kindle store on June 22. I just have to get files back from the e-book design firm and we’re in business.

In the next couple of weeks, I will post some excerpts from the novella here along with earlier drafts so you can see my creative process up close. I hope that helps the aspiring writers out there to see how something very rough can become very polished over time.

Until then,

Darius


In the interest of honing your writing skills, I also wanted to share two great posts from other blogs this week. One is very informative, the other is tongue-in-cheek. I leave it to you to decide which is which.

– “Ten Stupid Writer Tricks (that might actually work),” by Chuck Wendig.

– “If You Wish To Be A Writer, Have Sex With Someone Who Works In Publishing,” from The Onion.


In a continuing sub-series, I’m mentioning each time viewers from a new country visit the blog. This week we have:

– Indonesia.

– Hong Kong.

Welcome, everybody!

Novella Set for June Launch

I’m proud to announce that my new novella, “The Man Who Ran from God,” will launch June 22 in the Amazon Kindle store.

As we approach the launch date, I will be sharing more details about the novella. I’ll post the book cover art, selections from the piece itself and selections from earlier drafts. But today, I just want to share the basics. I will answer these in FAQ style.

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When will the novella be released?
June 22.

Where will it launch?
Only on the Amazon Kindle store. I wanted to take advantage of their free giveaways via their KDP program. After 3 months on Kindle, I’ll reassess.

How much will it cost?
99 cents in U.S. dollars, like the rest of my works.

Will there be any giveaways?
Yes. I’m planning a BIG giveaway for the first weekend, June 22 and 23.

What is it about?
It is a retelling, in historical fiction style, of the story of Jonah from the Bible. My teaser for the book sums it up:

In a dream, the voice of God commands Jonah to go to Nineveh. Instead, he books passage to the other end of the world. A storm and a hungry whale are the least of his worries as Jonah has to confront deluded fishermen, befuddled peasants and crooked priests. At the end of it all, Jonah must face the hardest decision of his life: stand and preach to the fervently pagan crowds in Nineveh’s main square or flee back to his home in Judea.

Is this a religious work? The result of some sort of religious experience?
No. My attempt here was not to write a religious work, but an accurate piece of historical fiction. I didn’t want to write something that aligned with any organized religion, but that sought to unravel the historical Jonah from the figure presented in the Bible.

What inspired you to write this?
I had been toying with the idea of writing something about Jonah for a long time. The Old Testament prophets are intriguing to me because they are revered in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Jewish Joseph, Moses and Abraham somehow remain unifying figures despite the differences between these faiths and all three are mentioned in both the Christian New Testament and the Muslim Koran.

But for me, there was always something special about the “minor” prophet Jonah. The whale segment of the story is famously known and, not surprisingly, surfaces in American literature in Moby Dick where one old whaler doubts the story. I wanted to learn more about the source of the story and one day read the Biblical account. When I did, I realized that the whale is actually a small part of the story. The real driving question is whether Jonah will do God’s will or not.

Jonah is very cantankerous. When God asks him to go to Nineveh, he heads for Tarshish at the opposite end of the Mediterranean. And Jonah’s always getting angry (the word “angry” is used at least twice in the Biblical story). The best instance is in the Biblical account at Jonah 4:9.

But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?’

‘It is,’ he said. ‘And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.’

I loved that.

After I finished the story, I realized that most people had no idea who Jonah was and that the real story was quite different from the one I had been told as a kid. I started playing with the idea of writing something. I read the Book of Kings (where Jonah also appears) for background. And then I saw a video on YouTube and it all came together.

 

Eminem goes through a rough patch.

That was it. To me, Eminem was a sort of modern day Jonah (wow, did I just write that?). He was talking about the same thing Jonah talked about, but using a vernacular he understood. At some point, Jonah (like Eminem) came to a realization that he needed to change, he reached a point where the right thing to do became clear. He just had to have the guts to do it, to follow his inner voice. And Jonah, just like Eminem, was angry…pissed off at an unjust world.

After I saw that video, I sat down and just started writing. Eventually, it became a novella of 20,000 words.

Can I get an advance copy of the novella for review on my blog?
Yes. If you have a blog where you regularly review books, I will review your site and if I feel we are a fit, I will gladly send along a copy of the manuscript (in Word format) for review. See “Contact” above for my email.


In a continuing sub-series, I’m mentioning each time viewers from a new country visit the blog. This week, the blog had its first visitors from:

– Lebanon.
– Malaysia.
– The Bahamas.

Welcome to the blog, Everyone!