the pilgrimage begins

Hello all,

If you are on this site, you are about to look inside my brain.  In my brain are fantasy worlds and worlds just like this one, there are heroes and villains and people just as boring and disturbed as each one of us.  Welcome to my head.

Every week, I’ll give you something else to read; maybe something long, maybe not.  The topics will range from children’s stories to fantasy tales, to more realistic fiction, to fiction that will make you question, if not your sanity, then certainly mine.

Go to the top of the page and click ‘Menu & Widgets’ to navigate the site if you don’t fancy trawling through the entire blog.  The ‘Stories’ page is precisely that, stories written by me.  The posts are arranged alphabetically, and right at the bottom is the option to search by category.

Read, spend some time, relax, shoot me a line.

Peace,

J

weeks upon weeks of inactivity

I can make excuses, but it won’t help. For those who follow me, I apologise. I have something on the way, though it may take slightly longer than first thought. Until it arrives, I’d like to ask you a question I’ve been wondering about recently:
 
What exactly is ‘purpose’? Where does it come from? And how do you know when you’ve found it?
 
Let me know.
 
J
Emblem Black (2)

that elusive needle

short-story2
credit to Tom Gauld for the cartoon

Just been checking out one of my favourite websites, NeedleInTheHay.com     I saw this great guide by Jeanette Stampone on writing short stories, and I thought I had to share the wealth.

7 Tips for Writing Awesome Short Stories

monstress – issue 1

Cassiopeia’s Moon is doing sterling work over at her literature review blog.  This one in particular caught my eye as the book is creating quite a buzz.  Monstress is a graphic novel by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, set in a world torn apart by war.  But for a more in-depth look at the series, click on the link and head on over to her site.

A book lovers corner

24426209Monstress – Issue 1 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

My rating:4 of 5 stars

I’m still new to the graphic novel genre but it seems like I chose well when I pick something up. Monstress is a new series about a girl, Maika, living in a world torn apart by war. In this 72 page issue you only get a glimpse of the world, and what a world! It already feels complex, filled with politics, history and mysticism.

In the beginning I had some trouble understanding what was going on and missed the insight into her, Maika’s, head you usually get when reading a novel. But then explanations came. There had been a war, those who lost have become targets for slave trading, something mysterious happened at the war’s final days. And then there is something about Maika.

I do recommend to not read any synopsis. I did…

View original post 204 more words

next stop: here

As the Boyznite blog tour continues, I’ve thrown my hat into the ring with a selection of questions for Devin Peters.  Devin isn’t the main character though; that’s his brother, Ian.  So why aim the interview at the brother?  Well, through the story, we can already get a pretty good idea of who Ian is, but for me, Devin represents the place Ian left behind. Devin is Ian without the advantage of his brilliance.

That’s why I think we can get a great insight into the world of the story through the brother’s eyes.

And don’t forget to scroll down for details of the giveaway!

blogtourbanner-boyzniteBoyzNite-cover

Law school wonder student Ian Peters chronicles his first night home for the summer in Piedmont, Washington. What starts with a pleasant drive up the Pacific Northwest Coast leads him into a night of self discovery, contemplative self-assessment, and ultimately the question of what kind of man does he want to be? Along the way, he reconnects with friends, family, and an old flame who changes his world forever.

What started as a typical night of partying quickly becomes BoyzNite.

Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Kobo/iTunes/Indigo

Smashwords/Goodreads


About Xane J. Fisher:

XaneFisherAuthorShot

Originally from the Salt Lake City area, Xane Fisher has spent most of his life living out of a backpack or suitcase. Along his travels, he has been blessed with an amazing family, a college education, and the opportunity to see the world from the skyscrapers of Abu-Dhabi to the third world markets of Angola. From a young age, he has felt compelled to write and share experiences through a pen or keyboard. He is currently living in southwest Germany, serving in the United States Air Force with his wife Autumn and their son Judah. He hopes to have his first novel completed soon.

WEBISTE/FACEBOOK/GOODREADS


BoyzNite-character-interview

Describe your hobbies and where you like to do them. 

Wow, Umm.. I’d say I like to hike? I mean I live in a pretty suburban area so I like to drive out to the woods and hike sometimes. I tried my hand at guitar for a summer but I broke my hand at work and had to lay off it. Now that Ibanez collects dust I guess. Haha, but hobbies? I mean I’d like to travel, see the world. Maybe backpack Europe or Central America. I thought about doing PeaceCorp next spring, but who knows.

Do you have a job?

 I do! I work over at ACE hardware off 2nd street. Mostly customer service but occasionally I get to help offload the truck.  It’s not ideal, but it is helping me pay my way through community college. Eventually I want to maybe teach school, or something like that. I’m kind of a free spirit like that I guess. Nothing really ties me down except a lack of opportunity.

What values would you/do you look for in a boss?

Honesty? But also some serious chill. I don’t like being micromanaged. I work best when I know my boss is cool with me being me. I got lucky here, my manager at ACE is a nice lady. As long as I’m there on time and I’m good with customers she lets me have a good time.

What was the last thing that got you angry?

 Oh dude, Ian pissed me off that night. I wasn’t making any headway with that girl. I tried to find my brother and that jerk bailed on his own party, for a girl he used to know?! That wasn’t so bad, until I found him in my car passed out. He burned the rest of my gas to keep the A/C running. That was some bullshit.

Do you have any childhood secrets? 

Sure. I mean all kids do I guess. I was angry at my mom for a long time. I still get sore sometimes about her leaving. Sometimes I wish I had gone with her, but that’s kid stuff. To be honest, I’ve always been jealous of Ian. He always got more time with mom, she never took time for me. I guess that’s my secret, I love/hate my mom for what she did to us.

We’ve got an idea of how you party, but can you describe an average weekday? 

Pfft. Off the record? I wake and bake. Get a good buzz going, and then grab breakfast at Jack in the Box. Head to work, do my shift. Troll Tinder and try not to stare at hot customers. Guilty pleasure? I kinda like older women. Haha. Just kidding. Maybe I’m not. Sorry man, to be honest, I’m a little blazed still from this morning. What can I say? Unless I’m in class I like to keep it pretty fuzzed.

Tell us about a highlight of your life so far.

Umm…Probably when my dad finally let me buy the Volvo. That was his old car, and my step-mom had been pressuring him to sell it for a while, but when he finally did he asked me “Dev, what are you going to do with this damn rust bucket?” I didn’t know what to say so I said the obvious “Drive it? Maybe take it to Seattle?” Pop smiled and said, “Well make sure you love it. Ok?” That really meant something ya know? Like he was subtly saying “I love you kid.” but in his own way.

On the other side of that coin, perhaps you could tell us about something you regret, or a negative experience that has stayed with you.

Oh hating my mom and Ian. He was always faster and smarter than me. Made me feel dumb, and I blamed him for mom leaving before I was old enough to know better. I wish I didn’t do that.

Do you have a favourite quote, or words you live your life by? If not, perhaps you have someone you idolize? 

“One Life, One Love” Bob Marley. Haha I think that sums me up entirely. I love all people, and I want the best for everyone I know. I had it a little crumby when mom left, so ya know. I want to make the world a better place.

How would you complete this sentence: ‘If only I had __________, I’d be set.’ 

10 Million Dollars. So I can buy dad a new house. Myself all the travel stuff I want, and hire someone to find my mom.


BoyzNite-giveaway

Enter to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a Q&A with Xane himself!

Click here to enter the giveaway

OR

Visit Xane J Fisher’s Facebook page or Royal James Publishing’s Facebook page.

trusted with a review now . . .

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WARNING: This review contains certain plot points which could be construed as spoilers!

I recently received an advance copy of the short story BoyzNite for review.  The title suggests a night of boyish revels, something frivolous, an expectation further supported by the comic-style font on the cover and the non-standard spelling of the title. In this, I was proved to be quite wrong – ironically so, as the story takes a hard stance against judging a book from its cover.

The author is Xane Fisher – a young but well-travelled man from Salt Lake City. The story is loosely based on the coming-of-age genre, though in this incarnation the journey of self-realisation is condensed into one night.

Mr Fisher’s style is aggressive and to the point. His metaphors are punchy; reading his story, I felt myself slowly tenderised by the battery of his language, by the coarseness of the night he recounts, and by the unapologetic nature with which he recounts it.

I freely admit, the assault was quite enjoyable.

Our protagonist is Ian Peters, a gifted young lawyer from a small town on whom great expectations have been placed. Peters, however, seems more concerned with remaining down-to-earth: he wants to hang out with old friends in his old town, and he wants to be free of the “political dick measuring” of his law school.

Despite his surface world-weariness, he actually turns out to be quite naïve – fitting for his age. I can certainly relate to Peters’ wish to kick back and have consequence-free fun like in the old days. How many of us have felt disgust at the personal and professional one-up-man-ship of the world in general? And how many of us have gone home and tried – unsuccessfully – to relive old memories?

The other characters, unfortunately, fall victim to the short story format. Each one was credible, well-described – and forgettable. There just wasn’t enough time to include the scale of characterisation required to build rapport with each one. Peters’ brother, Devin, gets a lot of page-space, but mostly serves as a foil for the protagonist. The friends at the party are strong characters, but I don’t feel any connection to them. We must wait until the end of the story to meet another relatable character: Peters’ old sweetheart, Kristen, who is now a dancer and sometime prostitute.

Mr Fisher clearly believes, as do I, that even at a relatively young age, people’s experiences of life can be so vastly different that it is a mistake to judge anyone by your own standards, and that most people are simply trying to do their best with what they have. BoyzNite presents two opposing viewpoints: in the first, we are animals, our pleasures base and immediate; in the second and more human viewpoint, people are shown to be products of their circumstances.

On his nocturnal journey of self-discovery, Peters personally experiences both viewpoints: first, he watches a stripper and becomes disgusted after he has “seen everything”. Just moments later, he becomes disgusted at himself after speaking to Kristen and realising that she doesn’t particularly like who she is or the things she does to make ends meet.

Though the writing is slowed by an over-reliance on the present participle, on the whole it is an entertaining read, and certainly food for thought. I liked the style, the visceral descriptions, the way Mr Fisher places the reader in the environment he creates. His vivid yet disjointed descriptions of the drunken revelries at the party are excellent.

Although I agree with Mr Fisher on the perils of prejudice and the relative unfairness of life, given his travelling credentials, I had hoped to confront a viewpoint I hadn’t previously encountered, something designed to open me up to new ways of thinking. The prostitute with a sympathetic back story is a good vehicle, but it is a vehicle that has been used before. The main lesson – that empathy is better than condemnation – seems to be self-evident. To me this doesn’t represent a new angle on prejudice. In fact, this idea of prejudice, identity, and hasty conclusions is older than Beth Gelert.

The story ends at a point which is more convenient than complete. I feel like there’s more to discover: Peters is on the upswing of some self-realisation; I don’t know how he will act with his friends and his brother, who don’t seem to be on the same philosophical plane as him. I want more of this, I want a conclusion. Perhaps this is part of the author’s message; that there is no conclusion to self-discovery.

To summarise: BoyzNite is a concise but in-your-face examination of prejudice and social status, a ‘fight for authenticity’ that traverses social boundaries: from the lowest layer, forced by circumstance to stay there, through the middle layer, who choose debauchery over self-improvement, to the protagonist’s gifted, rosy-futured top layer (if BoyzNite is anything to go by, it is only here one can afford morals). If you are looking for a quick read that nevertheless has a clear message on modern morality, BoyzNite is for you. It would make a great discussion topic for class, or at home with older children.

I am looking forward to reading more from Mr Fisher. His punchy style and lively descriptions make reading a pleasure.

Xane Fisher’s website is http://www.PoetryForPeopleIHate.com

channelling poe

NeedleInTheHay.net called it “lyrical beauty”.  I like that.  The challenge this time came, fittingly enough, from a dead man: Martin Heidegger.

Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man.

I say ‘fittingly’ because the brief called for 600 words of horror, into which contestants also had to somehow work the theme of the “power of language”.

Those of you who know me know that I am not the kind of man to write about ghosts and ghoulies and that, when I dip into the horror genre, I like to do so in a more creeping, subtle way.  When the themes of language and horror came together in the same brief, I thought about Poe.  What would he do?

If you go and check out the WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT, you’ll see that Sophie Macdonald took the trophy with her excellent story My Best Friend, a story with remarkable – but not obvious – links to my own.  In both our stories, we explored the question: ‘Can you be cursed by language?’  And although Ms Macdonald and I both said ‘yes’, the way we went about it is different.  In her story, it is a quite literal curse, and in my own – in a humble homage to Poe – the curse comes entirely from the mind of the protagonist.

Following judges’ feedback, I have made some minor improvements which have pushed it over the 600-word mark, but – as always – I am glad to receive any and all feedback from my readers.  Enjoy!

Read up on Sophie Macdonald HERE

Swallowed Whole

It’s time to go out.

The poem will never be finished. I understand that now. For when it’s finished, it will swallow me whole. How arrogant to even imagine I could capture you, trap you down on paper.

The diamond of her face as she slept

Her scent, drawing me as a beacon draws ships to the safety of harbour

The silver sheen of her hair at night. . .

Pure arrogance.

Outside, the night is black and full of everything. Everything. A year I’ve been trapped, exiled in that room, eating because food was brought, sleeping only from exhaustion, my head upon the desk.

And still it isn’t finished.

But outside: Everything. My bare arms prickle with sweat in the warmth of the night, my feet moving as if they’re only now learning what it is to truly walk. Not to pace. Not to pace one room, endlessly, from wall to window, but to stretch and move.

So many smells. So many good smells: seafood; the sharp tang of spices; rich, greasy meat; baked bread; cocktails of sauces and dressings; piss from the alleyway, strong with ammonia – but that’s good, too. Everything is good.

Lanterns festoon the street, end to end, and the colours . . . had I forgotten about them? I must have written the colour of your hair. I must have, but now . . .

All the things I’ve missed, my year alone. You weren’t there.

You aren’t here either, in this street lined with bright pools of light, with tacky jewellery stands, with mountains of deep-fried doughnuts lost in clouds of sugar, all of it undeniably alive. Of course you aren’t here. You don’t belong here any more.

I drink the Everything in, I touch every surface. My senses draw me on, ever further from my door. I want to remember, not to disappear again. At home, there is only silence, and a poem that can’t be finished.

I open my mouth, taste the air. Midnight approaches and still people boil along the market street. Elbows scrape against my ribs, hair brushes my arm, something wet and cold – I don’t care what – splashes my leg.

The voices . . . a mad grindwheel, scratching at my ears like passionate fingernails. After the silence of my room, it’s agony, but if I had the power to stop it, I wouldn’t. I’m alive. You died, I remain. Perhaps I forgot to die with you, perhaps I wanted to finish your poem first. Perhaps, even, I hoped it would bring you back.

Foolish.

Arrogant.

It lies unfinished, and I’m alive And I know now: I want to stay. I cannot embrace your cold, lingering traces any longer. It’s time to colour our memories with new experiences, fresh ones to flavour the old. It’s time to–

. . . drawing me to her . . .

Your scent.

No.

I take the alley, forging into darkness. Here it’s cooler, with vague silhouettes lurking from the shadows. I must escape. I burst out into a street lit not by lanterns, but by streetlights. More puddles lie on the road here, shining–

. . . silver sheen. . .

No!

I run. Why has it come? Why now?

Ahead, the harbour. The last place you ever were. We met here, once. But now I see: my poem isn’t at home.

It’s here, waiting for me at the jetty.

And here’s how to finish it:

A kiss.

It washes my feelings away, washes everything away. The silence feels like bliss. The waters close over my head, harbour lights shimmering above me. Below me, the diamond of your face.

Finally finished.

Emblem Black (2)

it’s official

Ladies and gentlemen, and especially those who have been following this blog for a little while, I have a little news: Royal James Publishing has seen fit to publish one of my short stories.

As a writer, it is a source of great satisfaction to know that not only does someone like what I have written, but that they are ready to walk the tortuous – and expensive – route of publishing it.  Both myself and Royal James are going to work our socks off to make a success of the project.

As with any artistic endeavour, though, there is an element of risk.  The alignment of the stars, the ambient temperature of the earth, or any one of a number of esoteric happenings could affect the outcome of this venture, which is why I am grateful that, out of the great heap of talent in the world, Royal James decided to roll the dice on me.

Here’s to you, and to many successful projects together!

The full press release is available HERE