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Short Story Challenge Episode 2: The Old Sergeant

Welcome to the Mat-Cave!

I’ve just finished up week 2 in my 22-week Short Story Challenge. For those of you who missed it, in an effort to force myself to be more disciplined with my writing, I issued the “Short Story Challenge” to myself — write 22 stories in the 22 weeks remaining in the year (down to 2o/21 now). Upon completion, I would follow the lead of Dean Wesley Smith and toss an excerpt up here on my site for all to see. From there, all of the shorts will head out to places like Amazon, BN.com and Smashwords for digital distribution.

Really, this has become more than just an exercise in discipline, it’s become an exploration of how to build a personal brand, content development and of the incredibly fast-changing world of eBook distribution.  I have to say, it’s been fun so far…of course, that being said, I’m only 2 weeks in to a 22 week challenge, that “fun” may turn into hatred and self-loathing before too long. At least you, my loyal readers, will get a front row seat for it all!

The Barnes & Noble Nook is my preferred ereader for digital books

This past week, I worked on a short entitled “The Old Sergeant,” although, as with “Cora and the Clockwork Men,” the title changed a number of times over the course of writing it. This time around I went for a fantasy-steampunk style setting (as opposed to the straight Victorian Era of traditional Steampunk) that’ll I’ll be using for a lot of my upcoming work.

While the story itself flowed out very easily for me – total writing time was about 4 hours over 3 days for the 8300 word piece – I had original started the week writing a completely different story. Initially, I had been writing a follow-up piece the last week’s “Cora and the Clockwork Men” short featuring Cora and the Walker. After 3 or 4 hours and 1500 words, I found myself in a place with the writing I didn’t like. So, I did something very difficult as a writer and threw it all away – hit Ctrl-A and deleted the offending piece from my computer. It was pretty damn liberating, I must say.

Starting fresh the next day, “The Old Sergeant” came rushing out of my hands, definitely inspired by things I’ve gone (and am going) through as flounder in my late 30s. Phantom pains, gray hairs and not being able to keep up with my kids all very much played a part in this story. If you’re up there in years like I am, you’ll probably get a kick out of it.

Final, pre-edit total: 8424 words and around 4 hours of work. 

You can find the short at:

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Mat Nastos
TV, Film, comic book, fantasy & steampunk writer/director, known best for bad horror movies about giant scorpions, killer pigs & dinosaurs in the sewers. You can find his work on Smashwords or at his Amazon Author Page.

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