Lairé (Flash Fiction)

A/N:

This was my entry to a flash fiction competition. It was my first time submitting and even writing a story this short, and I managed to get first place!

This story honestly came from nowhere. I had a completely different idea to begin with, then this just popped into mind. Whatever the reasoning behind its origin, I’m very proud of it.

As it’s currently the freshest thing I’ve written (as in completely original and unrelated to my first novel), I’m excited to see what directions my increased ability might open for me.

Enjoy!  


Lairé

At the sandy shore of a coast, there was a boy who asked a simple question. “Are you a siren?”

And at the edge of a shallow sea, there was a girl who gave a simple answer. “No.”

“What are you then?”

The girl frowned before gesturing to her scaled tail. “A mermaid, of course.”

The boy mirrored her expression. “What’s the difference?”

With hands on hips, the girl eyed him wearily. “Sirens are not born.” And then suddenly, she tugged on his shirt and pulled him close for a kiss, before swimming off into the morning sun.

The boy spent the rest of that day thinking only about the gracious dips and dives of the majestic creature. So, of course, like any enamoured youth, he ran back to the same spot the following day. She was there again, still singing her sweet songs.

This time, he asked her name.

“Lairé,” she told him.

Thus, began the first of many shared mornings for the following decade.

They each told stories of their side of the world, his of land and hers of sea. They laughed at the foolish misconceptions that one thought of the other. They sung together… or at least, Lairé sung. And after Lairé taught the boy how to swim, they sometimes swam together.

And of course, they aged together.

It was only a matter of weeks after his eighteenth birthday when the letter came. As the boy turned man held the paper in his hand, he cursed his fate.

He went to the coast on that morning. He knew what he had to say, but lacked the strength to. Lairé swam over in that mesmerising way she always did, humming a smooth tune that gently swept across the sea.

At first, Lairé’s eyes were bright, but then they dimmed. “You’re going to war.”

“What gave it away?”

“I have felt the change in the currents for a long time. I’ve always known this day would come.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You could come with me,” she says, hopeful. “There is a small island not far from here. Nobody lives there, but you could. I could bring you food from the sea, and supplies from downed ships. We could be–”

“No.” He had spent many hours pondering the possibilities. He even knew of better, more sensible ones than she suggested. But the choice was made. “I have to go, Lairé. Not for king and country, but for my family. If I leave to be with you, I will forever hate myself.”

Lairé gave only a somber look as she said, “Come back to me.”

With all the honesty of his heart, the man said, “I will.”

From then on, Lairé waited for many moons.

She waited.

And waited.

And waited.

As the world slowly changed, so did she. Something within her grew cold and weary. There was a wave of something resentful, a steady increase of ire. Her once-sweet songs became bitter things soaked in spite and vile, and her soft hums became harsh whispers.

On one cold and quiet night, she came across a shipwreck. She dived beneath, scouring for whatever treasures she may find. Most of the crew had perished. Except one.

His face had changed just as hers had. It was clear he was now a man of many battles, not all fought with weapons of war. But beneath that, was that same boy.

Lairé brought him as close to their shore as she could. She held his limp body close to her chest, his gentle breaths a final blessing.

Her kind possessed only one power, one she had forever considered a curse. But tonight, on this first and final night they would share together, she was thankful for it.

Lairé closed her eyes and placed her hand on his forehead. She removed any trace of her existence from his memory. She took these memories not out of anger, but out of her last piece of love.

This was Lairé’s final gift. A chance for him to continue living without the pain of remembrance.

She whispered in his ear. “Sirens are not born.”  She then kissed him one last time. “Because they are made.” She pushed the man she once loved into the sea, letting the currents bring him ashore.

Lairé took one last look at him before swimming away across the moonlit ocean, leaving him to a life of lost memories, as she lived on with forlorn melodies.


Other things you can follow me on:
Website: https://nextgennovelist.com/
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Anime List: https://hummingbird.me/users/NGN (where I get a fair amount of my inspiration)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things Going Forward

It’s only been a little over a month since we came into the new year and I laid out my resolutions for 2018, and already I’m backtracking.

That’s not a bad thing in this case though, there’s actually a very good reason for it. In fact, I reckon things will get a lot better as a result of these changes.

Now, before I said I’d continue my podcast, I even went so far as to tweet saying I would release the episode (that was a matter of weeks ago and I’ve since deleted that tweet lmao). However, as you might be able to guess, I’ve decided I’m not going to bother with the podcast further as of right now.

Why?

Because I remembered who I am and what I actually want.

I have strengths in areas of writing that are far better suited to a certain style of content. Whilst I’m quite a good talker, I don’t think a podcast is really for me. I’m glad I tried it out as it’s something I always wanted to do, and I fully intend to return to that format (with my original podcast idea, hopefully).

So, if not podcasts, then what will I be doing?

Let’s split this into three sections: my website, my YouTube, and other social media.


Website

I’ll use my website primarily to showcase my writing from now on, and I won’t be posting much of anything else on here, other than links to videos that I deem relevant (such as milestones).

So, in terms of written content on this page, it’s going to be exclusively stories from myself for the most part. Short stories, extracts, anything like that.

I may also write posts that expand on topics addressed in my videos, should I feel they don’t fully cover what I want to get across.


YouTube

This is perhaps the most interesting part, and where most of the change is happening.

YouTube is ma boi! I’ve been using it since 2009 to make videos (vastly different to the ones I make now ofc), and it’s my favorite thing on the Internet to be honest, even if it has taken some odd turns over the years.

As I said earlier, I’m good at talking, and I don’t feel like I’ve ever fully taken advantage of that ability, nor my understanding of everything else to do with video content.

A couple hours ago, I posted a video called “Why You Should Start Writing RIGHT NOW“, which marks the start of my channel’s new direction.

I want to make videos in scenery that doesn’t fit the typical “writing advice” landscape. I always have. But for some reason, perhaps because of my book, some lingering insecurities, or the British weather, I rarely did anything of the sort, and even when I have, I’ve yet to be fully satisfied with it.

To this date, I can say I’ve not made a video on my channel thus far that makes me go: “Yeah, that was a banger.”

Not one.

I’m satisfied with them enough to post them, especially because they’re authentic. But I’ve always known what I want my videos to look like, what I want my channel to look like, and I’ve yet to achieve it.

That is why from here on, my videos will be focusing very strongly on the mindset of being a writer.

Rather than try to pump out content all the time, I’m going to try and make videos I feel are actually meaningful and helpful, whilst keeping them as concise and to the point as possible.

That doesn’t mean they won’t ever be 20mins+. Some of the videos I want to make I can tell will be bigger topics that will take a bit of time to fully explain. However, the videos shouldn’t be longer than necessary, and I’ll cut as much fluff as needed to make certain of that.

Could I not just talk about the mindsets and philosophies for writers in podcast format?

Sure.

But I don’t want to.

I prefer video. I like the dynamic background, the sounds and scenery. I don’t want to sit with books behind me or in a quiet room. I can see how some of my future videos would be shot in such a way, but I don’t want that to be the standard.

Here are some examples of video ideas I have for the future:

“Should you be a writer?”
“Why writing takes you so long”
“You’re allowed to be wrong”
“Avoid romanticism”

Those ones are pretty standard, here’s a few to tease how deep I’m willing to go.

How athletics can teach you to write fantasy novels”
Should writers be modest?”
“Writer vs Storyteller”

And many, many more.

(Those titles don’t even capture the half of it, to be honest).


Other Social Media

I don’t plan on doing anything special with these things. Expect the odd tweet on Twitter here and there (I don’t really care for it), and perhaps a post or two on Facebook.

To be honest, most of those things just exist so I look more professional, and to give me a couple pretty logos on my pages.

It may sound like I’m being lax, but the previous section should tell you I’m doing anything but.


The Moral of The Blog Post

As with most things I do, I want to be different.

I want to catch your attention with something unfamiliar, lure you in by your curiosity, and then sooth you with comforting words of familiarity, before shell-shocking you with ideas that may ignore convention.

I’m not here to be like every other writer, or to do things the way they’ve been done a thousand times before.

It’s time I remember that, and it’s time I show all of you that too.


Other things you can follow me on:
Website: https://nextgennovelist.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nextgennovelist/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextGenNovelist
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nextgennovelist/
Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/novelicity
Anime List: https://hummingbird.me/users/NGN (where I get a fair amount of my inspiration)

 

The Skill of Subversion

Episode 3 of the From Zero Podcast is out!

This week’s topic is about subversion and the skill required to adequately pull it off. I use the example of Chosen Ones, and refer to my own subversion of the overplayed trope, and share some of my thoughts and feelings on it.

To be honest, most of what you need to know about this podcast is already in the video. So I won’t waste words here, if you’re interested, take a listen.

iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/from-zero-podcast/id1204112738?mt=2

The Birth of A New Writing Podcast

A podcast dedicated to the documentation of the thoughts, views and ideas of the young aspiring author, Alexander Thomas as he begins his journey from zero.

I’ve wanted to do a podcast for a long time. When I say long, I mean since I was about 15. Back in July 2011, when I was 14, I uploaded my first ever gaming commentary. This basically just meant I would talk behind a full gameplay (an in-game match that was considered decent/impressive). If you think of most current YouTube gaming channels and Twitch streamers, you will see this is extremely commonplace now, but not as much back then.

One thing I had always spoke to my friends about was making a gaming podcast. I had the idea in my head for ages, and really wanted to make one. I love talking so I knew it was the perfect format for me. Unfortunately, it just never happened.

But the idea never left me. Not too long after my transition from gaming to writing content, the podcasting desire caught up to me. Again, I wanted to do it with other people. All the podcasts I have spent considerable time listening to were mostly enjoyable because they had a group dynamic, with friendly banter and occasional chit-chat. But most importantly, they bounced ideas off one another, or interviewed people of particular interest.

However, I could never get this exact format to exist. The honest truth of the matter is that I have ideas and topics I want to talk about that aren’t commonly spoken of. This would mean the other writers not only need to have a competent understanding of the craft, but also a more specific knowledge of the things I would be discussing.

Those writers surely exist, but I don’t know of them, and I would have to become comfortable with them before I could podcast with them. All of that would get in the way when I could just start the podcast, and literally talk about these things perfectly fine, in a shorter time, in the way I want, whenever I want.

Freedom to do things as I see fit is something I’ve grown to consider rather important in my life of late. Probably a bit contradictory considering I plan on becoming traditionally published, but even then, I expect a degree of respect to my work and control over it. Maybe I can’t choose my cover art, but I decide what words weave my worlds, and if the publisher has an issue with any of it, I have all the power to walk away. Maybe that’s something writer’s don’t like to consider, but to me, the vision is more important than making a quick buck.

And that is a nice segue into the topic of this first podcast. Vision. I discuss what ‘vision’ is and its understated importance in the construction of our stories.

For future podcasts, I plan on speaking on various topics. Some of those topics are: Ethnic and Narrative diversity; Emotive Writing; The Skill of Subversion; Japanese Storytelling; Sex and Violence in Fantasy; Do Writers Need Talent?; Series Lengths, and many more.

The podcast will be released every Friday at 8PM  (GMT), 12PM (PST) and is currently available on YouTube and iTunes.

Since you’re still reading this, I’m going to assume this is of some interest to you. Why not take a listen to the podcast? I spend about 7-8 minutes explaining the purpose of the podcast and how it will work, and in doing so, accidentally give it it’s title. The rest is dedicated to the topic of ‘vision’.

Here is a link to the iTunes version! https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/from-zero-podcast/id1204112738?mt=2

But if you want immediate access, here is the first episode of my new writing podcast, From Zero.


Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDnLNFFvXx4gzXggS24G9KA/about
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The ‘SECRET’ to Writing Female Characters

I made a video over on my YouTube channel sharing some of my thoughts and ideas on how to write female characters in what many might consider an ‘appropriate’ way. In all honesty, I don’t like to prescribe viewpoints or impose any ideals or stuff, but this is just the way I feel about the matter as someone’s who’s consumed media from various places and seen these similar patterns. I’m just sharing my ideas of how to perhaps avoid some of the rubbish I too often see.

Link to the video: youtube.com/watch

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say, and I’m out!

Peace!


Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDnLNFFvXx4gzXggS24G9KA/about
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My First Manuscript Submission Experience

This is an old post. I was supposed to release it on the actual date, but apparently I’d left it in draft. The actual date was the 20th. It got to them perfectly fine, and now I eagerly await their response! Hopefully the next blog won’t be about ‘My First Rejection’, but ‘My First Accepted Submission’ or a similar title seems kinda unlikely.



In a word? Exciting. In another word? Maddening.

The submission was to the UK publisher Gollancz, which until recently I’d been completely pronouncing the wrong way. And yes, chances are you have been too, and certainly if that was your first time reading it.

So what was it about this experience that was so exciting and yet so maddening? Well let me tell you a story.

Around November last year, I heard about Gollancz opening up to unsolicited direct submissions (physical only), and I was immediately psyched about it. I’d finished my manuscript back in August and had been editing it since. I began a query, proposal one-page synopsis, and the first 50 pages of my novel, on the same day.

I won’t lie to you, I found the one-page synopsis to be an utter nightmare, and it still ended up rolling over onto a second page. Thankfully, Gollancz were being rather lenient with their submissions, which I appreciate.

So the official deadline was fast approaching, but my deadline had already come. By that, I mean I set myself a deadline earlier than the actual one, to compensate for my occasional unreliability. Because my internal editor sneaks up on me at the worst of times.

I had printed out several versions, only to read through them and obsessively underline and make notes around the page each time. I know that it may seem obvious to edit to pristine condition before printing anything, but I think self-doubt takes hold whenever I’m about to do something remotely out of my comfort zone, so every time I thought I was ready to send it, an anxious part of me wasn’t and resorted to editing.

By the time I was satisfied, there were only two days until the deadline. So I’d been right to give myself an earlier one. But even the postage was a bit of an issue.

I was in the post office and like any young aspirant, I was all wide-eyed and exhilarated, until it occurred to me that I still needed two things: an envelope and the postal address.

Both proved harder to get than you’d think. Oh and did I mention that I had only 5 minuets before the post office closed? Surely that’s enough time though right? It’s just an envelope and an address. Right? Right…

Not quite.

I’m in the post office, which very helpfully has a shop section with envelopes. But my query, not-one-page-synopsis, and the first 50 pages of my manuscript, were… rather thick. They had every single envelope except the one my manuscript could fit into. Or so I’d thought.

Only after desperately trying to squeeze the pages into the envelope about fifty times, did I realise it wasn’t the right fit. The envelope I needed just happened to be buried underneath a clutter of… I don’t actually remember what. But it was stuff that had no business standing between me and destiny. Regardless, I finally found the correct sized envelope, I could purchase it and be on my merry way.

The second thing was equally irksome. Within all the excitement, I had foolishly forgotten about the postal address. I knew it was on their website, so I tried to use my phone to pull up the info. BUT OH NO. The Internet wouldn’t connect, because why would it? Why would life be so simple? I can’t recall how many times I pressed the refresh button, but I’m sure I surpassed some kind of physical limitation.

There was literally only a minuet left when it finally worked. At which point I went over to the desk, got the package sorted out, and managed to leave without any issue.

Hopefully I wrote the address properly…

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say, and I’m out!

Peace!


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