Flashpulp Podcast

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Each Summer, as part of my change in routine, I go through the list of podcasts that I listen to and swap out a few old ones for something new. I might go back to the old ones in September, but to keep things fresh I like to try out new shows during the Summer when my news and politics podcasts tend to fall prey to the Summer doldrums.

One recent podcast I’ve begun listening to is the Flashpulp Podcast, written by fellow Ontarian JRD Skinner and produced by his partners in crime. For those who don’t know, The Pulps were magazines and books named for the cheap pulp paper they were printed on and filled with genre stories like detective stories, horror stories, romance, westerns, and whatever else people wanted to read. These were simple stories that focussed more on action and lurid details than any attempt at art or style, and they were churned out by an army of writers who were paid by the story and wrote fast and forumulaic. Characters like Doc Savage, Conan the Barbarian and John Carter of Mars were all pulp heroes from this period. The other half of the name, Flash, comes from Flash Fiction, which as a general rule are short stories under 1000 words in length.

So the Flashpulp Podcast is twice-weekly stories of (very) short fiction in a pulp-style genre and written by JRD Skinner, who has so far written and produced 337 of these little tales covering pretty much every genre you can name- detective, zombie horror, sci-fi, urban fantasy, he does them all. Each story stands on its own, but is part of a larger set of stories about a huge cast of characters in different places in time and space who may or may not be connected to each other in some way.

Having listened to some, I have to say I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard so far. He keeps the stories short and punchy because of their length, and not a word is wasted as he tries to pack everything into his limited time. Of course, I do have a few quibbles with his definition of a story (I’d describe some of them as scenes rather than stories) but since he’s limited for time I can forgive him. Also, his music is almost all period 1930’s and 1940’s music, but the stories are set in many time periods, which I find disconcerting since it can be a bit jarring to have what feels like a 40’s gumshoe story where the lead suddenly mentions his mobile phone!

That said, Flashpulp has developed quite a following, and now I understand why. If you’re looking for a few (hundred) fun, quick listens for your Summer commutes, then check it out! You might find yourself carried away into a world of two-fisted adventure you never expected to find!

Rob

The Fox’s Tale- Now Available on Kindle!

A disgraced musketeer without hope. An orphaned native child. A new frontier.

This collection of interconnected short stories follows fugitive Musketeer of the Black Gerard la Russo and his daughter Renard as they navigate life in New France (Canada) at the dawn of the 18th century.

Come get them while they’re hot!

I’ve released a Kindle version of my “Fox Cycle” stories under the title The Fox’s Tale for 99 cents (but free for Amazon Select customers). Funny, tragic, heartwarming and thrilling, these ten stories of a father and daughter trying to navigate life between old worlds and new will bring a smile to your face and a make your heart skip a few beats.

I apologize to my readers on other platforms, I’m going to hold out on the other e-book platforms for now, as I’m trying out Amazon Select to see if it makes a difference. It requires that I be Amazon exclusive while I’m trying it out. Sorry.

Rob

Writing Flash Fiction

Since some people might be considering doing the STC10 challenge, I thought I’d links to a few places with tips on how to write Flash Fiction. Enjoy!

Stories in your pocket: how to write flash fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk.

Tips for Writing Flash Fiction | MattMooreWrites

The Challenge of Writing Flash Fiction | Hubpages

 

 

 

Creative Challenges: The Fox Cycle

I think it’s good for writers to challenge themselves, it helps them grow.

Back in January of this year, I picked up an amazing book for (script)writers called Save the Cat! by scriptwriting guru Blake Snyder. I’d heard about it online, tracked down a copy at the local bookstore, and poured through it to discover it wasn’t as good as advertised it was better. So much better. (So if you haven’t read it and you’re a writer of fiction, go buy a copy- NOW!)

Among Snyder’s revelations was his theory that all movies can be broken down into ten different types, and that when writing a story, a writer should have one of these types in mind to know what exactly it is they’re writing.  This makes a lot of sense when you consider that most movies are only about 110 minutes long, at a minute of film per page of script. 110 pages of script isn’t a lot of time to work with when you actually get into it, so stories of movies must be concise and focussed or you get an unfocussed mess.

When I started to think through his list, I both agreed with it, and found it quite liberating. What he’d done was not just condense standard types of movie stories, but also stories in general, and each of them caused ideas for stories to pop into my head. While they might be a little simplistic for novel plots (or maybe not), these seemed to work especially well for short stories.

So, having just finished The Inuyama Rebellion fiction serial over on my Kung Fu Action Theatre site, and looking for more content to keep the site active, I decided to set myself a little creative challenge. Of course, there had to be rules, which were:

1)      I would write 10 short stories, one for each of Snyder’s ten story types.

2)      I would make all the stories Flash Fiction: 1000 words or less in length, since I was at the start of what looked to be a very busy semester.  This was an added challenge to me because I had very rarely written such short fiction (most of my stories tend to be around 7,000-10,000 words long) and didn’t think I was very good at it.

3)      Each story had to be complete and stand-alone.

I also decided that I needed a unified theme, so I dusted off a character idea I’d had about a young First Nations girl in New France adopted and raised by a former Musketeer and decided to use that as the focus. Of course, this meant I was adding both historical research and language issues (Je ne parle pas francais!) to the challenge, but I decided since it was flash fiction it would be light on the details anyways so I could fudge it as needed. (HA!)

And then, on top of that, a few weeks after I started the project, I got into the DAZ Studio 3D art program, and decided that I should incorporate 3D art into the challenge as well as a way to teach myself DAZ. This required slowly buying up the elements I needed for different scenes, and then composing them into something that worked with the characters and stories. A whole huge challenge unto itself!

So, I got to add:

4)      Write in a new, unfamiliar historical setting about completely new characters.

5)      Generate 3D art to go with each story using a new art program I barely knew how to work.

As you can tell, I like my challenges easy.

I decided to call it The Fox Cycle (as in, a cycle of stories, not a fox on a motorcycle) and posted the first one at the end of January with the intent of posting a new one every Monday for ten weeks.

So, how’d it go?

Well, I didn’t quite pull off the one-a-week schedule for many reasons I won’t bother to go into, but this week I posted the tenth and final story in the cycle

You can judge for yourself how it all turned out. From my side, I think some of the stories came out really well, while others are just so-so. I consistently impressed myself with my own ability to both condense the stories down to 1000 words, and to keep each one interesting and different from the others.  I was also surprised how much humor leaked into the stories.

I learned a lot about the characters, which grew organically as I wrote each story, and the setting grew as well. I’d hoped to use this project to explore and develop this story and setting for other larger future projects, and it worked beyond my expectations. I now have a very firm idea of my characters and the world they live in, one which I couldn’t possibly fit into the small space of the cycle, but which I hope to explore in the near future with other, longer works.

My own writing skills have also improved as a result of being forced to write such short, tight prose. It was a challenge at first, but now that I’m used to it I wonder why my other stories tended to be so long! I’d say this challenge has really helped me in thinking through my own personal writing style by forcing me to keep words to a minimum, and it’s also made me rethink how I frame the stories I write.

On the art side, I’ve learned how to master the basics of both DAZ Studio 4.0 and GiMP because of this project, and I’m quite happy with how some of the art turned out. I’ve never considered myself a visual artist, and still don’t, but I have started to gain a deeper understanding of how a picture is composed, the importance of lighting, and how much work it takes to make a good picture.

 

Would I do it again?

I’m not sure.

It’s one of those artistic challenges that’s good to go through as a rite of passage, but I’m not sure I’m going to be interested in doing it again anytime soon. It was a great way to develop this new setting to write in, and force myself to learn, so I might give it another go at some point in the future. It’s definitely a challenge that I’d recommend to someone else to try, although you might want to drop the visual art element and just focus on the writing and characters.

 

Appendix:

For those familiar with Blake Snyder’s Ten Types and who wonder how my stories correspond to them, here’s the breakdown:

1)      The Musketeer (Dude With a Problem)

2)      The Eyes of a Warrior (Buddy Love)

3)      The Elders of Ville Marie (The Fool Triumphant)

4)      The Bodyguard (Out of the Bottle)

5)      The Beating (Whydunit)

6)      Identity (Institutionalized)

7)      Home (Golden Fleece)

8)      Rennie’s Wedding (Rite of Passage)

9)      The Troll (Monster in the House)

10)   Hero (Superhero)

I leave it you, my readers, to decide the degree to which I failed or succeeded in living up to each of the different types. I think I hit a few dead-on, and came close with a few others. My favorites of the set are Eyes of a Warrior, The Bodyguard, Rennie’s Wedding, and Hero. The ones I’m not quite as happy with are The Musketeer, Identity and Home.

The Fox Cycle, Story Five- The Beating

This week’s Fox Cycle story is accompanied by my most ambitious digital art image yet. Not only was this the most complex image I’ve put together in Daz Studio yet, with five characters and props to co-ordinate, but it was also my first attempt at doing postwork on a rendered image. I used GiMP to blur the forground characters to give it more of a sense of depth of field (which is possible but difficult for me in Daz Studio) and to add the muck to Marlon’s face and neck.  I’m really quite proud of how it turned out.

In other art-related news, I’ve created my own DeviantArt page to start sticking my renders on, so I won’t clutter my blog with everything I’m doing. You can find me at ultrarob.deviantart.com.

 

CG Art- The Fox Cycle

My journey with DAZ Studio Continues. I spent the week working on images to go along with my currently running Flash Fiction series- The Fox Cycle over on my KFAT page. The stories themselves cover a large span of time, but focus on the former King’s Musketeer Gerard la Russo and his Indian adopted daughter Renard. Using my meagre talent with DAZ Studio, I decided to render a few images to go along with some of the stories.

Gerard la Russo at Callais in 1698.

Renard la Russo and Claudette Dupris 1710

Ren and Gerard 1717

 

And a bonus picture, since I had some people suggest Tysen didn’t look brooding enough in the one posted last week.

Troubled Tysen

Creative Experiments- KFAT Historical Flash Fiction

Hi All,

Last week over on the KFAT site, my first weekly webfiction story The Inuyama Rebellion posted its final chapter. It’s been a fun run, and I have to say I’ve enjoyed the experiment of writing a weekly piece of fiction in addition to my other writing projects. Of course, I also got a huge kick out of it, since my friend Brushmen was doing great fan art to go with each weekly chapter. (If you haven’t checked them out, then definitely do so.)

Having enjoyed the process, I’ve decided to continue my little experiment, but to get even more…experimental.

For the next nine Mondays (the first one went up already) I will be posting a single flash fiction (1000 words or less) story each week on the KFAT site. These are a little series I call “The Fox Cycle”, and are me doing a little challenge with myself. Each story will be different, and self-contained, but each story will also connect up with all the others to tell a larger story. All of them are historical fiction, take place around the year 1700, and are what you could call an exercise in both character and world building.

What characters and world? Ah, Mes Amis! That would be telling!

I’ve rarely written flash fiction before, so this will be a real challenge in keep my writing tight and using different styles and techniques to bring across a story in the best possible ways. There’s also an additional level to the experiment, but I’ll explain that once the whole story cycle is finished.

Enjoy!
Rob

The Next Read- Webfiction Publisher

Link

Here’s an interesting site. It attempts to capture the better aspects of a serialized webfiction site (offering chapters at 10 cents each) and a traditional publisher by also letting readers buy the whole book if it’s available and they wish.

It’s been up around a year and a half and doesn’t look like it’s had a huge amount of traffic based on the number of views each of the books they have up has had, but it’s an interesting idea as a startup. I hope they don’t lose steam and can get out a marketing push, because they might be able to make something of this yet!

The Next Read : Serial Fiction Extravaganza.

The possibilties are good for Novellas in the e-book age- But how much to charge?

I just read an interesting short article on the possibilities of the Novella (short novel- 20,000-50,000 words) which have come with the rise of the ebook. In short, Novellas weren’t really practical to produce in print form for their size-cost ratio, but now in the age of ebooks they are very much practical and possible. The issue would be setting a proper price point for them.

Amazon’s Kindle provides a tricky example- on the Kindle your book needs to either be below $2.99 or above it. Below $2.99 you as a writer recieve 30% and Amazon takes 70% of the profit. Above $2.99 that reverses and Amazon gets 30% while you get 70%! So the question becomes- do you charge $2.99 in hopes readers will consider it worth the price? (Especially when some full novels are out there for $2.99?) Or do you charge under that, take the loss in profits, but increase your possibility of people buying your Novella?

Or, are Novella’s the perfect $2.99 product? Quicker to write and produce, but still long enough to justify the cost for the reader? (If only there were a viable $2 price point on the Kindle, to get Novellas in at less than a $2.99 novel , and more than a 99 cent short story.)

What do readers expect? Are they disappointed with only a “short” 20,000 word story? I priced my first outing Hot Soup (which clocks in at just over 10,000 words) at 99 cents, which seemed reasonable since it’s clearly a short story. However, would a reader feel cheated to pay $2.99 for a high quality work only twice that length?

Either way, there are possibilities here. Novellas can let short stories breathe, and keep longer ones from being unncessarily bloated. They may also be a fast form of reading for an ever faster world!

Web Fiction Wiki – Web Novel and Serials – Muse’s Success

Link

Muse’s Success is a directory of freely available web novels and serials, collectively web fiction.

Web Fiction Wiki – Web Novel and Serials – Muse’s Success.