Archive for the ‘ Free ’ Category

AGATHA’S BARN: A Carpenter’s Farm Story

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Agatha’s Barn: A Carpenter’s Farm Story is nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. This recognition means a lot to me because this story came out during a very difficult time, and it wouldn’t exist if not for the wonderful individuals mentioned in the story that follows. A story about a story based on story . . . and music, and poetry, and life.

For those curious about Agatha’s Barn, or for those who haven’t yet had a chance to read the novella, or even if you never plan to but are curious about its origin or about Carpenter’s Farm or the many faucets of that crazy-incredible project, here’s how it all came to be, and how it quickly evolved.

The pandemic hit. I’m not sure it was called a pandemic just yet (or maybe February / March / April 2020 is now pushed out of my mind for good), but times were rough. I hadn’t written a single word since the bad thing spread. I couldn’t see myself ever writing again . . . 

Jobs were lost, money tight, and most needed distraction(s) from the real world. This is why most read and write and listen to music and create / enjoy art  in the first place, right? So, I listed all Written Backwards titles I could as free on Amazon, for as long as I could. A few thousand copies moved in that short time and I can only hope those books helped others through their own struggles. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted to write, but the words weren’t there.

Then Josh Malerman decided to do something completely daring, as he always tends to do. If you’re under a rock, he’s the author of Bird Box (you know, that huge Netflix thing that happened?), along with A House at the Bottom of a Lake, Black Mad Wheel (which I like to call Red Piano), Unbury CarolInspection, Malorie, Goblin, and others. You can find links where to purchase his books here. And purchase them all.

Josh put himself out there, offering to his fans first draft chapters (after a quick polish, so maybe second or third) of a serial novel called Carpenter’s Farm, which ended up around 76,000 words. He wanted to work on this book prior to Covid (that should be stated) to release the old-fashioned way. And his web developer, Todd Jackson, wanted something new on the site: a short story to read for free, perhaps. Long story short, they decided to just go for it, and post new chapters of the novel Carpenter’s Farm directly on the website, as the chapters were written.

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An entire novel.

Raw. Powerful. Nothing like a first draft at all.

A handful of chapters were posted, and then a few more, and soon he casually mentioned to the world that if others would like to play along, well . . . to ‘just do their thing’ (or however he phrased it).

Not long after, poet and all-around badass Shane Douglas Keene started posting poems to go along with Josh’s chapters, posting those at Inkheist. You can read the entire set by clicking that link or the image below. I guess you could say it was Shane’s poetry that first got my creative wheels turning again, although something else quickly became equally as inspiring, or, at least, what follows is what I remember happening.

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Josh’s chapters hit hard and sharp as they were released. Shane’s poetry did the same. I found myself pulled to them, eager. Then a ‘chicken / egg’ moment. I can’t for the life of me remember which came first. Around the same time, musician and composer Chris Campbell started creating and releasing audio tracks to go along with the chapters. He was making a score for the serialized novel, I soon discovered. Hollywood level stuff. His work eventually evolved into a 76-minute score, and you can listen to it in its entirety here, or by clicking the artwork for the soundtrack below.

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I thought: Something’s happening here. I’m not sure what, no, not yet, but something’s happening and wants out. Josh put the invitation out there, so why not? Something about the jars in the story stuck with me, and, of course, the barn. We wouldn’t find out what was in the barn for quite some time (toward the end of the novel, in fact), but the barn held my attention most. Quick fast-forward: later Josh and I discussed events I was writing around the 10,000- to 15,000- word mark in my story, and we were apparently on the same page, so to speak, with things that were not yet revealed in his story hinted at in mine. Some sort of magic between us. Rewind . . .

I hadn’t written for a long stretch (6 months, 10 months, longer?), and considered I might never write again. But I thought, Let’s just let out what wants out. The barn. Agatha.

Her name came to me quickly, one of those characters who write themselves onto the page and you just go along for the ride letting those fingers dance. The farmer, sure, he was there too, just out of reach, as well as a few of Josh’s other characters. We were on a synchronous wave with a character named Ever, and I would later write things about him before they’d happen in Josh’s tale. Magic. But we’re not there yet. I had only read the handful of Carpenter’s Farm chapters Josh had written, and the poems Shane had written, and the music Chris had composed.

So, I asked Josh if he would mind me writing a tie-in short story about the barn, and he said to go for it, and so I put the music created for his project on a loop and hashed out what I thought would be a short story in a single day. 5,500 words. I started at around noon on a Saturday and put it through multiple drafts by midnight. I sat on it for a week, touched it up, sent it to Josh. He absolutely loved it. And then I thought, You know what would be perfect for this?

I then reached out to my pal Glenn Chadbourne (widely known for his illustration work on various Stephen King projects). I put it to him this way, knowing he was following Josh’s progress:

“I just wrote a companion piece to Josh Malerman’s serial novel, Carpenter’s Farm. It’s about 5,500 words, and takes place in that same world. Want to supply a few illustrations for it? Writers and artists and musicians working together and whatnot?”

Glenn wanted to play along, and sent me me three illustrations in a matter of three days. I believe I sent him the story on Friday and by the following Monday he had them ready for me.

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Fast-forward to the end of Agatha’s Barn, and Glenn would create 24 illustrations, which really brought this story alive. Josh’s writing and Shane’s poetry and Chris’ music and Glenn’s illustrations kept me on my toes, and kept the inspiration going to write, and to create. Words wanted out of me, and quickly. Rewind . . .

The very next weekend, I dedicated those days to Part 2 of the story, another 6,000 words. I mixed poetry throughout the narrative because that wanted out of me too. I listened to the Carpenter’s Farm soundtrack, and then decided to put the Bird Box soundtrack in the mix as well (by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross), since those two go so well together. That music inspired Agatha’s Barn greatly.

And the following weekend, I dedicated those days to Part 3 of the story, another 5,000 words. I soon found myself not with a short story, but a novelette pushing into novella territory, and I thought, Why not? Let’s keep this going.

I sent another message to Glenn, something like, “Hey, still want to play?” and he did, and kept cranking out those illustrations. A few others had written tie-in work at this point, and I enjoyed those as well. And by the time Part 4 came around, John Skipp came into the picture and the project further evolved . . .

John was inspired to create music by Carpenter’s Farm, and the results were incredible. The music meshed well with all the other magic around this project, and so I put his work into the mix as well, using it as inspiration to write what I thought would be the end of Agatha’s Barn. But no, she wasn’t done with me yet.

Quick sidebar: There’s a character named Chris who plays a vital role in that finale; although that name was directly “Tuckerized” into my story from musician and composer Chris Campbell because of his music, it’s by name only.

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What I thought was the end of my part of the project ended up around 5,000 words, the story a tad over 21,000 words. but, as previously mentioned, Agatha’s Barn didn’t want to end. The story wanted / needed to be a little longer. And so Josh kept creating his longer narrative, closing in on the end, and Shane kept writing his companion poetry, chapter by chapter, and Glenn kept sending me wonderful illustrations as I sent him the words ahead of posting, and John kept producing his own music. What an incredibly wild, creatively-inspiring ride this had become!

In my loop of music while writing: the ever-growing Carpenter’s Farm soundtrack, the Bird Box soundtrack, the instrumental four-album Ghosts I IV by Nine Inch Nails (to get some of those uniquely odd moments down), and music by the amazingly talented John Skipp. Every time I sat down to write, the words (and characters) wrote themselves. I was the vessel, the man behind the “Black Mad Wheel” you could say.

The novella ended up at 26,800 words, far longer than the short story I originally set out to create, and ended up getting nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award somehow, a nice (huge) surprise. And just the other night, I was able to watch a Carpenter’s Farm soundtrack listening party hosted by Mother Horror. You can check that out (and I highly recommend doing so to learn more of the magic behind this crazy endeavor) here, or by clicking the image below.

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So, thank you Josh Malerman for getting me out of my funk. Post Agatha’s Barn, the words have begun to flow, and I have now created something the range of 100,000 words of collaborative material in the form of poetry, short fiction, long fiction, and even a screenplay or two. And thank you Shane Douglas Keene for pushing the wheel that got me rolling with your poetry. And thank you Chris Campbell for heavily inspiring the novella throughout with your soundtrack. And thank you John Skipp for heavily influencing what ended up being “The End” of Agatha’s Barn. And thank you Glenn Chadbourne for not only illustrating the novella throughout, but inspiring creativity. And thank you to all the other creators out there who played a part of this, whether or not you knew you were involved.

My suggestion for the perfect Carpenter’s Farm experience?

  1. Watch the video by Mother Horror to get inspired about this project.
  2. Before reading, put the Carpenter’s Farm soundtrack by Chris Campbell on a loop.
  3. Add in the Carpenter’s Farm 12-track soundtrack by John Skipp.
  4. Read Carpenter’s Farm: Chapters 1 – 4 by Josh Malerman, but . . .
  5. Have the companion poetry by Shane Douglas Keene handy throughout your entire reading / listening experience so you can follow along chapter by chapter.
  6. Read Agatha’s Barn: Part 1, also enjoying the artwork by Glenn Chadbourne.
  7. Read the tie-in story “Name Tag” by Jimmy Doom.
  8. Read Carpenter’s Farm: Chapters 5 – 12 (and the poetry).
  9. Read Agatha’s Barn: Part 2.
  10. Don’t forget to keep that music flowing.
  11. Read Carpenter’s Farm: Chapters 13 – 16 (and the poetry).
  12. Read Agatha’s Barn: Part 3.
  13. Read Carpenter’s Farm: Chapters 17 – 20 (and the poetry).
  14. Read Agatha’s Barn: Part 4.
  15. Read Carpenter’s Farm: Chapters 21 – 25 (and the poetry).
  16. Read Agatha’s Barn: Part 5.
  17. That music still going? May want to switch to those last tracks by Chris Campbell.
  18. Read Carpenter’s Farm: Chapters 26 – 30 (and the poetry)
  19. Seek out any and all other works inspired by this project. They are out there.
  20. Push out those positive vibes for an eventual printed copy of this monster.

If you have already read Carpenter’s Farm by Josh Malerman in its entirety, be sure to also check out the other attached projects if you haven’t done so already. But if you just want to read Agatha’s Barn, for whatever reason, you can download a PDF of the entire novella.

FREE HOLIDAY E-BOOKS!

Free e-Book Holiday

Midnight Dec. 24th through midnight Dec. 28th, the following are available as free downloads for Amazon Kindle. This is a sampling of work by Michael Bailey: short fiction & poetry (including illustrations by Daniele Serra), a composite novel, and themed long fiction. Fill up your Kindle. They’re free!

Trade paperback and hardcover editions are also available.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00073]

INKBLOTS AND BLOOD SPOTS, a painfully beautiful collection of short stories and poetry by Michael Bailey that reaches deep into the imagination, breaking hearts and boundaries along the way. Features an introduction by Douglas E. Winter, and illustrations and cover artwork by Daniele Serra;. This book was originally published by Villipede Publications. This second edition is now published by Written Backwards.

AmazoneBook trade paperback | hardcover. Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan, and a part of Kindle Unlimited where available.

Barnes & Nobletrade paperback | hardcover

Books-A-Million (BAM!)trade paperback | hardcover

PR - Cover

PHOENIX ROSE, a composite novel. Michael Bailey returns to the strange town of Brenden, Washington to expand the events of Palindrome Hannah. A family is torn apart after a horse foaling goes terribly wrong; a sickly man recounts getting mauled by his neighbor’s dog; an undead priest is reborn into the world a hundred-fifty years after his untimely death; two brothers run for their lives through a dead field of wheat. Holding all of this together is a young boy named Todd, whose survival pivots on the balance of life and death, and a deranged mental patient with a burnt rose tattoo, whose reality is paradoxical. Cover artwork by Michael Ian Bateson.

AmazoneBook | trade paperback | hardcover. Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan, and a part of Kindle Unlimited where available.

Barnes & Nobletrade paperback | hardcover 

Books-A-Million (BAM!)trade paperback | hardcover

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00094]

OVERSIGHT, a themed collection of two novelettes and a short story by Michael Bailey. Includes “Darkroom” and “SAD Face” (novelettes), and “Fade to Black” (short story).

AmazoneBook | trade paperback | hardcover. Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan, and Kindle Unlimited where available.

Barnes & Nobletrade paperback | hardcover

Books-A-Million (BAM!)trade paperback | hardcover

FREE READING MATERIAL (continued)

Thousands of free eBooks were downloaded during the last Written Backwards giveaway within the first few days, which means readers need books now more than ever. So, let’s do it again. Let’s keep the love of the written word going, helping however we can.

With the recent pandemic hitting the world, many are in self-quarantine, or being forced to work from home, or have lost their jobs (or will be looking for work soon) or are under mandatory shelter-in-place, thus turning homes into offices and classrooms. And it looks like we might be in this predicament for a while.

If you find yourself needing reading material during this difficult time as a distraction from life, I am making the entire Chiral Mad series of anthologies available for free on Amazon Kindle starting midnight on 03/20/2020 through 03/22/2020. This is about half-a-million words of fiction, poetry, and artwork, by some incredible creators.

Simply click the covers for direct links in the US, or see other options below if you’re in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, or Japan (that’s as far as my reach is capable at the moment).

If you find yourself not short on cash, consider helping out this small independent press by purchasing other titles available on the www.nettirw.com page. Check out the different tabs for Novels, Collections, Anthologies, and Misc, or simply donate to help keep this press alive.

Support Independent Writers / Editors / Publishers

If you feel like making a donation to Written Backwards (even just a dollar), know that your money will be going to a good cause: helping an independent writer, editor, and publisher survive in this cruel world.

$1.00

Written Backwards can be contacted via email at written@nettirw.com, or reached on social media at facebook.com/nettirw or twitter.com/nettirw, although the press is not open to submissions at this time.

Stay safe, everyone …

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AmazoneBook (free 03/20 thru 03/22/2020) | trade paperback | hardcover. Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan, and a part of Kindle Unlimited where available.

Barnes & Nobletrade paperback | hardcover

Books-A-Million (BAM!)trade paperback | hardcover

9780999575444 CM3 CS_Cover (2nd Edition)

Amazon: eBook (free 03/20 thru 03/22/2020)| trade paperback. Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan, and a part of Kindle Unlimited where available.

Barnes & Nobletrade paperback

Books-A-Million (BAM!)trade paperback

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]

AmazoneBook (free 03/20 thru 03/22/2020) | trade paperback. Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan, and a part of Kindle Unlimited where available.

Barnes & Nobletrade paperback

Books-A-Million (BAM!)trade paperback

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]

AmazoneBook (free 03/20 thru 03/22/2020) | trade paperback. Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan, and a part of Kindle Unlimited where available.

Barnes & Nobletrade paperback

Books-A-Million (BAM!)trade paperback

FREE READING MATERIAL

With the recent pandemic hitting the world, many are in self-quarantine, or being forced to work from home (or will be soon) to cope with both schools and businesses temporarily closing. If you find yourself needing reading material during this difficult time as a distraction from life, I am making all my books (that I can) free on Amazon Kindle starting midnight on 03/14/2020 (the soonest I can), through 03/18/2020.

Simply click the covers for direct links in the US, or see other options below if you’re in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, or Japan (that’s as far as my reach is capable at the moment).

Stay safe, everyone …

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00094]

Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00073]

Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan

SP - Cover

Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]

Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan,

PR - Cover

Also available in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan

All titles are also available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Paul Michael Anderson is also making his fiction collection available as well:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]

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