Monday, December 1, 2014

Cyber Monday Special - Mind of a Writer, the Evolution of a Story... Andrew

Welcome to CyberMonday! Today I have for you a blog about the evolution of a story.

Once a short story, now a novella, it is called, "Andrew". Want a free download of it? If you wait, you can have the re-edited version, but it might take a while, we're working on it now. Or you can have both! Either way.

Currently I am re-editing it with my editor, Ilene Giambastiani. If you are interested in reading it as it is now, here is a coupon ( GN32P ) good through this week. If you contact me later after we re-released it, just let me know you read this blog, I will give you a coupon for a free copy of the new version at that time. But stick with me, there's more coming.

This, is a story that has had big ramifications for me.

"Andrew", cover by Gosling called "Andrew's Final Vision"
This is the story of that tale....

Before we get started however, allow me to invite you to read my ongoing story on Wattpad titled, The Unwritten. A mixture between old fashioned horror, sci fi and biblical nightmares, I doubt you've ever read anything quite like it. But then, that's my forte. The odd, the unusual, the macabre and the horrifying.

Okay now, let's get on with it....

In 1983 I was a senior in the Psychology Department at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, up near the Canadian border. I was taking my first university fiction writing class. Finding that I had enough credits to get a double major if I took another two or three quarters of classes, I decided I would settle for a minor in Creative Writing .

I took Fiction 101 as my first class toward that minor. I wanted to force myself to actually write a story, beginning, middle and end, as I had written quite a few interesting stories with no endings, much to the frustration of my friends.

Our professor in Fiction 101 tasked us to write a story, make enough copies for all in class, then everyone would read the stories for the next day, the night before, and the writer would read the story in class. We would then round table and critique it.

There were some interesting stories, but mostly as I remembered it, there being more females than males in the class, there was a high degree of romance based stories. The Assistant Editor of our school magazine wrote a story but I found it rather dry, though well written. Then it came to my day. I wrote a story that I titled, "When Fades The Shadows" (later titled, "Andrew").

After I read it in class, I discovered two things. They all liked my story. Our Professor hated it. Perhaps partly because I was overplaying my hand, writing beyond my capabilities, but also because he didn't like how melodramatic it was. He especially mentioned a scene in the TV room when five year old Andrew envisions a horror all around him in the room.

Cover art by Marvin Hayes
I was voted along with another, to write one extra story than the others in class to be read on finals day, as we had no finals in that class.
Also available as an audio book
My stories were, "Mea Culpa" (which I've expanded now and have included in my collection of short stories, "Anthology of Evil" and as a standalone ebook); and, Sarah (same situation), about a woman with Alzheimer's disease and based upon the story of a coed's grandmother that she told me right after Abnormal Psych class one day at Western Washington University.

Cover art by Marvin Hayes
Over the years I fooled around with Andrew and it grew and changed. But the core of the story is the same. A child who is very advanced, who has parents who were into using their child as an experiment, did everything in their power to push his intellectual capabilities to their extreme limits and beyond. This is juxtaposed with his adult pursuits and an ending for Andrew that is really just a new beginning.

Years later, I had an opportunity to put my stories into a collection of my works but it was over 1,000 pages. So I made one volume ("Anthology of Evil") with the stories in it that I couldn't fit into a more novel like book I titled, "Death of Heaven" (for more see, Here is a coupon for this book, good through December 7th: RM89D - feel free to share this with your friends and their friends.

Here is what one reviewer had to say about it:

"[Death of Heaven] ... has a Books of Blood vibe [referring to Clive Barker's seminal book series], which really works well. It's in these tales that the author's writing ability shines. He demonstrates a lovely turn of phrase and some of the writing is almost poetic in its beauty.
Michael Brookes - Author & Reviewer

All that from two tiny little stories. Well, little stories with massive story lines. Story lines big enough to evolve into an epic science fiction horror story.

To create that book, I also took another short story I wrote on a lark at midnight one night on a single page, single spaced and then turned it in to my Psychology professor the next day. He then made copies and passed them out to all his classes so that I walked in the next day and received an unexpected handout of a purple inked, mimeographed copy of my own short story, "Perception", which is now included in the back of "Death of Heaven".

Between those two stories, in 2012, "Death of Heaven", was born.

I finally got an editor, end of 2013 and she agreed to work on Death of Heaven with me. We republished that on my birthday August 30, 2014. Because that book meant so much to me and the reviews were so good,
Cover art by Marvin Hayes
I realized I should try to re-edit all my stories in my first book. In that book was my first ever published story, "In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear" and the last story was "Andrew", the lead in to my next book, Death of Heaven". I just thought that Andrew and In Memory, both, especially, deserved to be properly cleaned up and re-released finally.

So now I am working on the re-edit of Andrew, my first short story written for Fiction 101 at my university in 1983. Now a novella, it is the basis in part for my book, Death of Heaven, along with another story titled, "Perception".

I had originally labored so hard over this first story while both fear and trepidation watched over each shoulder as I concocted this story that brought such great irritation to my writing Professor and yet such awe and fascination from my fellow students on that day that it was read in class for the first time.

Now after so long, so much tinkering with it over decades, after publishing it and now working on it with my editor (thanks Ilene Giambastiani), it is so very strange indeed to be thinking once again on those words burned so long into my mind. I find myself once again struggling to find the rightness in the morass of meaning and words that it is or maybe, has become.

The words are there and like a sculpture chiseling at stone, I'm trying hard to find the art that has been set in stone for so very long. It's a process of birth and death, joy and sorrow, of rebirth and, like a phoenix rising, honing it down to a deft flame of time and tale into an appropriate foundation for what a vast story that has come of it since it was originally conceived and shared.

Here is the original version presented to my class that day in 1983, the first published version released in 2012 and the newest version, so you can see how it has changed over the years. In these three snippets, you can see how I was writing in the beginning, how I had gotten to be after several decades had passed, and finally how I am now after several very intensive years of writing in the public eye.

Original version of Andrew:

When Fades The Shadows (1983)
"Invisible movements. Billowing, cotton-like breaths of pressure descended gently from on high. "Appearing to be only a breeze, the molecules conveyed along ever so imperfectly, the breeze gathered unto It any and all particulate matter; whatever was accessible to it; thereby hiding somewhat, It's violent loneliness. The gregarious animation of those particle's, was forced plastically, and yet...gently...tenderly, even perhaps, affectionately. One whispering sigh of wistful ardor, slowly succoring up to the clean, bright, and powerful Lifeforce of...a child; listlessly sitting within the confines of a window frame.
"An owl, sensing something amiss, swooped serenely into the midst of the Entity's presence. She then stumbled, surprised, in mid-flight. Never had she ever come across anything with such purpose, and yet, almost completely hidden within Nature."

Then I published it in a book, Anthology of Evil and after that as a standalone ebook novella.

Andrew (2012)

"Invisible movements of a honeysuckle fragrance; billowing, cotton-like Breaths of gentle Pressure cautiously descended into the suburban neighborhood from on high. It hesitated, looked down into the white, picket-fenced yard, and pondered on Its achievement. Appearing as a mere cool dry, fall breeze, the molecules conveyed along ever so— imperfectly; it gathered unto Itself any and all, particulate matter in proximity. In fact, whatever was accessible to It, hiding somewhat in a loneliness of vast and violent proportions.
"The gregarious animation of those particles was forced plastically and yet— gently, tenderly, perhaps even affectionately, up against a window. A whispering sigh of wistful Ardor that slowly succored up to the glass and the clean bright, powerful Lifeforce of— a little child. Listlessly, the boy sat on the window bench, one leg bent partially beneath him, looking out the window. He shifted his feet allowing them both to dangle loosely at the ends of his legs.
"Sadly, he remained crowded within the white rectangular confines of the untattered window frame, vacantly staring off into the yard beyond the panes of glass, bearing forth no remembered regrets.
"Trailing the breeze at a distance was an owl."

As I said, I am now re-editing it with the help of my editor, Ilene.

Today as I write this it is November 30, 2014. I wrote the following and including this version of the first few paragraphs, in an email to Ilene.

"Here are the first three paragraphs, of Andrew, reworked. It took me all week to get up the strength to work on this, though I had the week off from my day job. I was a bit hungover from a great time on Thanksgiving. Today, I think this sudden cold change in the weather is messing me up and I feel pretty lousy. But bucking it up, I finally tried to work on this, but after only three paragraphs, I feel artistically and emotionally drained.
"You know, I wrote this living with Monica in college and I wonder how much of that is tied up in this. In working on this, aside from the poetic nature of my attempts in writing this originally, to expand myself artistically and creatively, this is like reliving my college years, including a long term, intense and failed relationship and memory of how much has happened since with two more failed marriages, living alone, and so intensely wanting to quit my job in IT work, being where I am now and also where I'm headed to.
"What a chump, right? I do find working on this story much harder than anything else I've worked on, and not because of the difficulty of the piece, though that is some of it, but for all the emotional reasons. SO here is today's pass: "

Andrew (2014)
"Invisible movements of a honeysuckle fragrance; billowing, cotton-like Breaths of gentle Pressure cautiously descend into the suburban neighborhood from on high. It hesitated. Looking down into the white fenced yard it pondered this achievement, concealed somewhat in a solitude of vast and violent proportions.
"Appearing as no more than a cool, fall breeze, airborne particulates of all kinds were gathered unto it and carried along ever so lightly into the picket fenced perimeter. The gregarious animation of those particles was forced plastically and yet— gently, tenderly, perhaps even affectionately, up against a window. A whispering sigh of wistful Ardor slowly succored up to the glass and the clean bright, powerful life force of— a little child.
"The young boy sat on a window bench, listless on the warm side of the glass, one leg bent partially beneath him as he gazed out. Shifting somewhat he unfolded his slightly numb leg, allowing both feet to dangle freely. He remained sadly crowded within the white rectangular confines of the untattered window frame, vacantly staring off into the yard beyond ancient panes of glass, bearing forth no remembered regrets.
"At a distance an owl trailed the entity, sensing something amiss."

And well... that is where we have gotten to so far and there is much more to come. It may get another run through of these passages as I've not yet heard back from my editor. We will continue to edit and re-edit until "Andrew" finally becomes the story it could always have been.

Once we finish, I'll repost this blog and update it.

Stop by my web site for information on any of my other writings. at

Cheers! And have a great holiday season!

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