If you sign up to my mailing list, then you will get advance notice of any books or stories available, exclusive previews and announcements, as well as access to an exclusive short story by way of thanks. Please click on the link below and then share it with people who you think will enjoy my work.
I know it’s tough when the words don’t want to go play in the fields of your imagination.
Like a hunger pang which makes you question whether you’re capable of telling the story which lives inside you. You call yourself an ‘aspiring writer’ but you just want to get it down, with the themes and ideas which possessed you to pursue it in the first place.
But it doesn’t quite work, does it?
You see all the writing advice out there, mostly from theorists who’ve studied the game but haven’t set foot on the field.
It’s like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant sometimes.
Well, what if there was someone who could cut through all that, help you find and illustrate what you saw in your story?
I’ve written and consulted on numerous projects. I’ve studied classical story structure and narrative, mythology and psychology as it relates to storytelling and archetypes.
I have also known the pain of an unborn story inside you.
So, why not get in touch and see what my insights and experience can do to take your work to a level where it is out there, and reflecting your passion and craft?
Here is someone who has benefited from my help:
“My main concern when starting this process for our client was whether or not an editor was going to “get it”, and by that I mean understand what the author, a military historian and academician was trying to accomplish with the update of his nearly two decade-old historical nonfiction manuscript. Essentially, your specific editorial task was to make the manuscript less academic while maintaining the author’s voice. Fortunately, you immediately understood what we were going for and did a thorough job of editing the book according to our specifications. It was very refreshing to read your yield. Thank you.” — Florita Bell Griffin, Ph.D., ARC Communications, LLC. Texas USA
If you’re interested, please get in touch with me: email@example.com and see what we can accomplish together.
M B Blissett
Here are some of my favourite books, there are books on the craft of writing, lectures about nihilist philosophy and pop culture as well as fiction and non fiction. For disclosure, if you buy through these links, I have an affiliate account so it throws some pennies in the hat but get these books because I love them and the world needs more sharing the good things in it rather than the bad.
This is what the series of American Horror Story: Freakshow wishes it was. Humane, bizarre and beautifully written. It is one of those books I return to time and again. Dunne is no longer with us, but this book is. I envy you reading it for the first time.
Percy has produced some fantastic cross genre work and this collection of essays speaks to an appreciation for literature and pop culture without casting either one in a negative light. It has a robust honesty which I find invigorating and useful.
Stephen King, much like Prince, was one of the artists which resonated from me at an early age. I’ve followed his work and example and resisted aping his mannerisms but his working class generosity of spirit and craft makes this book indispensable to me. He offers up a toolkit and reflects on his own experiences, professional and personal to give you an idea of what might be possible if you put the work and energy into the writing you do. There’s a lot on offer here, and if you’re looking for good, solid advice on the craft of writing, then King is your man.
Grammar is an important consideration in writing. A poor choice of phrase rips the reader out of the moment and undoes the hard work you’ve done establishing mood and setting. Don’t be precious, you’re never as good as you think you are, so something like this is worth investing in. Learn the rules in order to break them and Strunk tells you the rules in a pithy, elegiac way which makes it a useful reference work when editing.
Holiday has established a niche in mining the wisdom of Stoicism for it’s applications in the modern world and for his fantastic understanding of marketing and media. Here is a united work which talks about finding your own place and developing work which resists trends. He talks about Iron Maiden and The Shawshank Redemption in glowing terms, especially with the factoid that Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise were up for the main roles but Frank Darabont the director went with his own choices instead.
Next I will talk about music, then films with links to them for you to click on and preview/buy.
It’s strange how we will rush to interact with something bad but distrust a recommendation of quality or worth, relative as they are.
My story ‘Women and Children First’ will be featured in the April 2017 issue of Infernal Ink Magazine. The link to the magazine is
It’s a story about a man who survives a terrible tragedy at sea, only to find himself at the mercy of something far worse.
Laura bent down and stared at the scattered remains of the cell phone. It had been dashed to the ground, taken apart and left to float in a puddle of dirty brown water. She plucked the battery and case up from the water, sprayed them with a solution that would clean off the worst of the mud and water, put in a gravity bag and sealed it. The RFID tags would send a signal up through Nirvana, her drone, so she could claim salvage rights.
Nirvana streamed data to her contact lenses, showing high thermal activity and action in the next set of buildings.
Fires and people around them.
‘Shall I activate pacification procedures?’
Laura shook her head.
‘It’s a little heavy-handed. Run scans, see what’s there and we’ll just take a look.’
She attributed emotion to Nirvana because it could not be programmed into it. Its loyalty and ability were hers by virtue of having built it, using a loan from the hedge fund when she was in college. She had two more payments to make.
Her physical needs were taken care of. Her stomach was packed with a nutrient-rich clay that delivered time-released nutrition. There were carbon composites in her bones and tendons reinforced with textiles grown from her own DNA.
Laura’s ability to explore had been engineered but her capacity for it had always been within her.
To come here where her people had come from.
It had been sealed off for a long time. The initial surge of mass evacuations made for some ironic and poignant images of white citizens pleading with foreign immigration officials. Laura’s grandmother had gotten her kids over to England, under circumstances that were considered being a scandal and not spoken of.
Grandma had been a strong advocate for returning and although she loved England, and the life she found there, she passed on that desire to return to her children and in turn, Laura.
She had signed up to REACT, the global rescue initiative and taken on a contract as a scout-responder. The alterations and surgeries had rearranged the feng shui of her head but it had proved vital in the field.
Population scans had shown some unusual growth spikes and REACT had gotten the gig to record what was going on, send it back to the rest of the world. Laura pressed the button on her collar activated the digital camouflage and started to move towards the signal.
Direct conflict was not permitted. You watched, you sent the data, bagged the salvage and got back to your extraction point. Nirvana was insurance, so that she could see what was coming and do something about it.
There was talk of reclamation. Doing the work of burying the dead and finding an accord with the survivors. The remains of the government, situated in Switzerland, had professed that vision to keep its disparate citizens together. They did not have the money to back it up until the Narcos came forward and offered to bankroll REACT as a gesture of good will.
She heard the rough, low signs of chanting. How it shook the air before it as it grew in volume.
The survivors of Potter’s Syndrome had suffered a change in their brain structure. They had emerged from hiding, finding one another and converging into large groups who spread out, building structures and planting things again.
Laura understood the need to come back, but it was not her country anymore. Her mother would not have recognised it. The sounds gained nuance as she drew closer.
The kind of hooting noise you made with your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
Primal, unmoored cries of rage and pain.
Unhinged spasms of ecstasy.
Children bawling in a language that made her temples throb.
Laura recorded all of it. It was streamed up to Nirvana for analysis by REACT. The world had always been interested in America, but this was not the same place anymore.
The camouflage changed as she moved forwards, mapped textures that helped her blend in perfectly with her environment. She felt safe within it, unseen so long as she was sure and careful where she walked.
Which was why the child staring directly at her came as a surprise.
He was around eight years old, lean in the way they all were with his hair stuck up in clotted, stiff spikes atop his head His face was streaked with something that shone in the evening light and yellow chalk.
He clutched a human femur in his right hand and grinned.
Laura sent a status alert to Nirvana.
‘Shit, it’s a kid.’
‘Pacification options are available but you would be in range.’
The child hooted and began to dance, waving the femur in the air as his callused feet beat up splatters of mud into the air.
A guttural cry went up and Laura watched a pack of men come forwards, naked and all the same leathery shade of brown from being out in the sun all day.
The child hooted and swung the femur in Laura’s direction. She scattered backwards as the men stopped around the child.
Nirvana sent an alert to the nearest outpost. It warned her that she would be in direct range of any ordnance deployed in her defence. She appreciated it asking, but she was too unnerved by the fact that they appeared to have seen her.
She moved backwards, drawing her spring pistol.
‘Nirv, fuck it, I think they’ve seen me.’
Nirvana was too far up to be heard. Laura imagined the click and whirr of its systems coming into play. It was a perfect burning lotus floating above her, devoted to her protection.
Especially when she had put herself in danger like this.
Nirvana deployed micro-munitions that exploded at a viable distance above the target. It rained down a non-lethal nerve agent called Purple Rain and also timed release bursts of aluminum and potassium nitrate, producing blinding lights that worked in conjunction with the agent to paralyse targets without killing them.
‘Protocol activated. Laura, get out of range.’
The men advanced, picking up rocks or sticks as the boy led them to her.
‘The suit’ll absorb the worst of it, right?’
Nirvana lapsed into silence.
‘Of course it will. If not, it will pass quicker for you. And if you despair, you need do only one thing.’
Laura closed her eyes as the sky burned and the rain fell. She would live, she vowed, if only to break the news to her grandmother.
I am now 185 pages into Lawful Evil in second draft and already had notes from the agent about it. It’s more technical and descriptive issues than the story, which is a good thing as the story is always the most important thing to me. It is the bass of any book, the foundation and unless that works, not even the prettiest prose will save it.
I have ditched entire drafts and books before. As you write more and often, you find yourself becoming ruthless with the work you do. I don’t want to waste your attention when I have it.
I have finished a few books recently. High Rise by J G Ballard which was brilliant and disturbing, as he wrote in a very unique, cold voice that allows him to slip past some subversive insights and make it all compelling in its ambiguity.
Aftershock by Andrew Vachss was really good, although there were large slabs of exposition when the central story was more interesting but even those digressions were highly entertaining and rich with a ballistic, brutal poetry that kept me reading.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood was incredible. She tells beautiful stories with an acerbic sense of character and frailty, and there are some lovely subplots that pay off whilst weaving fact and fiction into a story that dripped with intrigue and tension.
Underground Airlines by Ben Winters had a really strong concept and was robustly written, but it felt a little slight in the telling. The inner journey of the protagonist was a little too rote for me to really invest in but the reality of the concept held me rapt at the plausible horror of it.
Good Bones by Margaret Atwood was fantastic. Spare and beguiling stories that make you think and entertain you in a few words. She’s hilarious and cruel and warm, certainly someone who I rate as a writer and as a reader of her work. If anything of hers comes into view, I grab it and read it immediately.
I view reading and writing as the highest expressions of my purpose, and derive pleasure from both of them, so it keeps me motivated. Thank you for reading and liking my work, as well as the comments which are deeply appreciated. A writer wants to be read as much as a reader wants to be written to, or for.
Maria stepped out of the car, took in a deep sniff of the afternoon air. It tickled the back of her throat. She spent enough time around fire to know that she worked better with its aftermath, following its spoor and the marks it left.
The tragic circus of emergency services and bystanders had moved on, a day late and a dollar short, leaving only the ruined, stained show they gathered to watch. Participants and witnesses. Maria went to her trunk, got out her kit and crossed the police tape.
Fire, like any living thing, left traces of itself. She would measure, account and assess what had happened and report it to her superiors. She took a quiet pleasure in her work. Her fascination with fire had found a healthy outlet, and it paid well. The how and when became the boundaries of her time spent amongst the ashes.
The why and who. Irrelevant.
However, this was the third fire in as many weeks that appeared to need those irrelevancies; She worked with what was there and what was not. In most cases, the latter provided her with the information she needed
Accelerants set to bloom once the place became conveniently unoccupied.
Precious or sentimental items taken for safe keeping.
Deliberately overloaded sockets.
The ineffective natures of people told her everything. Fire, in its purity, told her of how it was misused, squandered and she paid homage to it. She measured, recorded, tested and observed her findings, typed it up into reports as dry as tinder, free of conjecture and subjectivity and left the rest to people with more dog in the hunt than her.
Except this scene, like the previous two bore similar flaws that disturbed her.
No clear path of accelerants. No accelerants at all aside from the furniture, the possessions, the people and the traces their burning left.
Fire needed three things to exist.
Maria had been to two previous fires. Both were persons reported, which meant bodies. Each site had been stubborn in their refusal to give her tangibles to work with. Nothing splashed or sparked. Her reports were literary exercises in the art of being dumbfounded without coming out and saying it. The excreta of inefficient fire was notable by its absence. Failure, like fire, clung to her with the tenacity of dog shit on a trainer tread.
These were important people who died. The kind who had public officials on speed dial.
Maria was stood in the ruined home of a former senator, without a clue how to proceed. She did the work though. Her conclusion held the confusing elegance of a zen koan.
First, there was a fire.
Then there was no fire
Then there was.
She found a thick, grey pile of ash, the remains of a wardrobe that had collapsed through the floor and was sifting through it when her fingers found the outlines of something. She pulled it forward. A lock box, buckled but intact. She recorded the dimensions of a tentative excitement in her voice into the recording app on her phone. She took photographs.
An order had come from on high. An eleventh commandment.
THOU SHALT REPORT ANY HIDDEN OR WEIRD SHIT.
Maria resented the struggle to make sense of it. Her pride did not take to being thwarted. She got that from her mom, a woman who would wander for hours in a petulant funk if a conclusion to a crime novel or a movie eluded her sense of logic or story. That inheritance was mitigated by her dad’s work ethic. This situation blew fat, sloppy raspberries at both aspects of her.
She put the phone away and got out her multi-tool.
Two tugs and a pump later, she was done. Much like sex with her ex-husband.
The box opened with a whining, raspy creak and she looked inside.
The sickly gleam of flesh on glossy photographic paper.
She was relieved that she had worn gloves. She wished that she had worn a blindfold.
The sigh made her turn and reach for the wheel gun on her hip. A young woman stood there.
She had old eyes that had seen too much of the world.
Her hair stuck up in tufts and clumps, done with blunt scissors in bad lighting. She would have been pretty but for the poor hygiene and claw marks of anxiety. She wore an oversized grey pullover that hung past her bony wrists with black skinny jeans that were bagged out at the knees. Her trainers were cracked like dehydrated lips.
‘You nearly got shot there, miss.’
The woman laughed and looked around the wreckage.
Her voice was flat, resigned to little more than a whisper. Maria gauged that the girl wasn’t carrying but that her eyes were focused on something other than her.
‘There’s nothing here for you. You really should go.’
The woman bobbed her head in agreement but her eyes remained fixed on the box.
‘I know, I just wanted to make sure you found it.’
Maria’s breath stuck in her throat. Perpetrators came back to the scenes of their crimes. To relive them, to tease another moment’s pleasure from the grand acts of destruction they needed for release or success. Maria had a familiarity with the faint, ammoniac scent of desiccated semen that had killed more dates than a statement of religious belief.
People liked to fuck as much as fire did.
‘Miss, you’re going to need to be a little more forthcoming, if you’re trying to tell me something.’
The woman’s face twitched and her eyes bulged in their sockets.
‘Did you look through them?’
Maria glanced at the box then back up at the girl ‘s face.
‘I saw enough.’
The woman wiped away the tears with the sleeve of her jumper.
‘Did you see me?’
Maria had paused her recording. She reached and shut it off completely.
‘I could have you brought in.’ Maria said.
The woman’s hands clenched into fists and she started to back away. Maria put her hands out and kept her voice soft.
‘I don’t really want to do that.’
Maria heard the crackle of flames, caught the scent of ozone and charcoal between one breath and the next. The girl squared her shoulders. Preparing for something. The air between them hot in an instant, enough to draw perspiration along Maria’s hairline.
‘You’ve got your reasons. Normally, I wouldn’t care but -‘
She kicked the lock box to emphasise her point.
The woman smiled and the temperature between them dropped.
Maria took photographs of the lock box, picked it up and bagged it with the contents intact before putting it into her trunk. The woman smiled, still broken by circumstance but clinging to a cause like a sickly child clings to their mother.
Maria suggested coffee. A place down the street. The woman nodded, pensive and polite.
Some people wanted to watch the world burn. Once in a while, Maria figured, they had a reason.
She would follow the evidence, no matter how far fetched it might have appeared.
The woman introduced herself as Ruby.