Diary of a Half Human: 13th Day of Midsummer, 1187


I knew it, today was my birthday! Though not a regular custom, celebrating the day one was brought into this world, the circumstances of my birth are quite exceptional. Mother’s words, not mine. She likes to remind me of how I came to be as often as she can. You see, it is common for people of different lands to live and wonder in this country but ironically the liberty comes not without its prejudices.

Before I was born, the ruler of long ago saw fit to open the borders to the many known races and cultures of the known world, granting opportunity to those who swore fealty to the dominion. Skilled, wealthy and committed denizens who weren’t from an unfriendly nation, flocked to this continent with the promise of a new and prosperous life. With the condition thou commit themselves entirely. It was proclaimed that a grand civilisation of man opened its boarders to the vast world of the unfamiliar. It happened so long ago, history is surely blemished by time and generations of speculation.

Some will argue that it was all a ploy designed to instigate an alien levy on first generation settlers. The same people mutter opinions that this land never belonged to the throne in the first place. Hence the animosity between certain militant cultures, shall we say. But that is a different matter altogether. I for one am certain it was an economical solution to the Grim Deluge. A great flood that killed indiscriminately by means of destruction, famine and plague. Many were met with ill fate, ultimately dwindling the population to an unprecedented number. What better remedy than to replace lost citizens with people from beyond the seas. One might assume much as to say their prospects were better suited before arriving here. Alas, their perseverance and sheer desire to live somewhere anew, paved the way to the eclectic nation we live in now.

You see, my father came to this town an immigrant via the merchant ship called the Cypran, the biggest of which has ever docked in these waters. I am uncertain as to the true nature of his visit but what I can tell you is, my mother succumbed to his charm the moment they gazed upon one another. His skin a shiny bronze from the ocean spray, hair like the sun and eyes like a clear sky in summer. A handsome exotic from a foreign world. He would carry a spear with him everywhere he went as if threat awaited around every corner, besides that he seemed a relatively immaterial man. Yet mother was smitten. Elf kind of any diversity is most unheard of here, for many are said to be illusive creatures who rarely settle in the company of man. Idle talk I am sure but father is the closest bond I have to any semblance.

He would hunt game in our neighbouring woods at the dead of night and one would think made an honest living selling game and pelts to the townsfolk. All the while living on the beach like an irresponsible hermit. They first met formally on one of mother’s barefoot strolls across the black sands, which she still walks this day on occasion. One peaceful evening brought them together and they both bartered memories of days gone. It did not take father long to plot his way to my mother’s heart and from there on they were as good as wed. She insisted he occupy our guest room until the day he found himself in my mother’s. It is rather strange to talk about my parentage in this manner but I am not a child anymore, I am aware of the intimate nature of love. Though the thought of them both committing the act resulting in my existence, does make me a little ill.

The morning after he had vanished, leaving mother alone and with child. I will never forgive him for that, no matter what his reasoning. Mother would never tell me the particulars, should my mind become burdened with more questions.

I would tell you his name but I do not know it. Regardless I would not be permitted to utter it within the walls of our home. I only know this much because our homekeeper Editha told me in confidence. She has been in mother’s employ for almost twenty years and knew father as long as she did. I am so very fond of her and her loving demeanour, she’s an aunt to me in many ways and might as well be a permanent member of the family. She baked us all orange fire cake today, the first time I have ever tasted such a zesty fruit even if they do grow not a day’s journey inland. Editha is a wonderful cook amongst other things, I think I shall request this recipe again for future occasions worth celebrating.

I must proclaim, there is more good news! I have thought of a name for you. Two winters ago, I befriended a girl who was so very fond of climbing. The baker’s daughter, one of five and the oldest of her sisters. She could climb anything from the stone walls surrounding us to the tallest pines along the cliffs. Like a cat, she clawed her way to the apex of her obstacles. But she was never very good at descending. One evening, we both rose to the forest top and watched the sun set on the horizon, the air was clear and all was beautiful.

I could never climb as high as she did but perhaps it was for the best. The fall was long and every branch was disturbed. I can still imagine the pine cones dropping around her like the early signs of heavy rain. Her father, a simple man of salt and rye, could never support a cripple along with four other children. He had little choice but to offer her to the Raffteilis convent where she will be kept whole. If she continues to live, she will be forever nameless under the eyes of their God. I do wish to one day see her again.

I don’t think I’ll make a habit of naming inanimate objects but henceforth, you shall continue her name. Yes, Heidi sounds nice to me, I do hope you like it.



Into the Mind of Ci

damon-siYour memory drifts, Blattbyte. If perchance it has strayed too far, gather what faculties remain and learn from this. I am not known to believe in wonder but should you not have forgotten the workings of your cryptograph, read, read and read once again until you have discovered.

Take heed, your former self demands it.   

The following texts interpret the necropsy report and study of whom one believes to be the Illusive Damon Si. A thorough examination is necessary to make certain the subject is in pertinent condition for the disputable, rite of influence. Regrettably, all hope of any wisdom hinges on this very element. An undemonstrated method for a desperate man.

I have precluded the exact location of the proceedings, should any being decipher this tome and discover what I have learnt. If eyes other than my own bear further witness to the potential knowledge inside, know now, that you are my enemy. I will not hesitate to hunt you to the corners of this world and melt your balls into candle wax. This will be my only warning. Leave what you have found or suffer peril.

Very well, I shall begin. 

I first came to the vast wintered shores of Manelci upon hearing fishermen’s tales of the Sailing Soul. A face in the bark of an upright floating tree stump, to be unambiguous. I have removed myself from the comfort of what I call home and found a suitable compromise on the island. No simple task but my life may very well depend on it, so it is necessary. The risk is all mine but I am confident I have found what I seek.  


The stump was retrieved from the eastern coast. At dawn, near three full days ago. Fascinating how the waters carry it along its current. Weeks may pass before setting eyes upon it again but with a consistent speed and direction known to be natural to the indigenous. They do not fear it, nor do they attempt to understand it. It simply, is.  

It was not difficult to anticipate its migration over time. Bringing it to shore proved more intricate however. Many nets were cast over to secure and bring it to the beachhead. A sense of urgency was needed but I could not bring myself to look away from what clearly resembled an iron skull than the likeness of a face. Notions of a body cocooned within bark and sap provoked me to press on but I must confess, my excitement was difficult to contain. 

Nearby cliff dwellers offered much assistance in hoisting and securing the stump onto a horse-drawn wagon for amidite parting. Paid handsomely in black pearls for their assistance but more notably, their silence. If this procedure is to succeed in any form then inconspicuousness is of paramount importance. Traversal across the coastline to my cavernous retreat proved most uneventful but for the adverse weather conditions. I would stop at nothing.

1st DAY, NECROPSY TRIAL, Winter’s End,

The year of our rebirth 1199, Brake of Dawn

Performed solely by S. Blattbyte

Upon arrival, the tree stump remains intact and well-preserved, however a small quantity of bark had shed away along my travels. I shall keep these samplings for later use should the moment arise. The colouration is, unusual to me, with veins of lavender beneath the tree’s most outer layer. A foreign strain indeed that refines the senses at a whiff. I dare not consume it in any form at such a premature moment in my findings.  

Chipping away at the bulk has revealed an inner layer of faint crystallized lavender sap, that is seemingly uninterrupted by the new change of surroundings. The very same form of sap that masks the iron skull. This will take time to strip bare.

Fascinating, little to no wood remains and my preliminary examination has revealed what I had hoped, for so long. A body, idle and cocooned but further still, adorned in a complete suit of armour. The helm is partially detached from the rest revealing the lower facial features of a face. An unkempt ebony beard, left ear and left ruby red eye are clearly visible, as is the snarling expression. Both hands have a firm grip around the hilt of a worn bastard sword, held in what appears to be a roofguard stance above the head. Sap has formed significantly under the feet suggesting the subject may have leapt, or perhaps been knocked back with measurable force prior to its now suspended position.

Curious, it is as though he was frozen in time of impassioned conflict.

The sap itself makes very little sense to me. It pains me to defy all I have learnt in my years as a scholar but one must not rule out the possibility of, capable sorcery, if such a thing truly exists. In time I shall learn. There are no signs of measurable damage or imperfections to its exterior, in spite of my tampering. More like diamond than hardened sap and extremely cold to the touch even still. No amount of flame nor any momentum of blunt force can bring it to ruin. A more methodical approach is required. Come first light I will have devised a plan but for now, I grow tired and must rest.

2nd DAY, NECROPSY TRIAL, Winter’s End,

The year of our rebirth 1199, Brake of Dawn

Performed solely by S. Blattbyte

Salt of Moira has been applied to surgically melt the sap composed cocoon. Enough to completely remove the body from within. In doing so the salt appears to have exuded a cool vapor almost as cold as ice itself, refreshing with a vinous fragrance, odd as it sounds.

The sap has been successful in preserving all within. Nothing has been exposed to the elements, nor have the elements disturbed anything in any way. Though clearly worn by time, the armour displays little rust and must have been wholly shielded from the harsh salty waters surrounding this land.  

The body however, has now been stripped and cut away from the armour but its appearance puzzles me further.   

It is as though the skin is made of sap. It resembles a close colouration to the sap but not quite as rich. Be that as it may, further study of the veins bears similar in colour to the main body of the sap itself. The toughened molasses has affected nothing else to the extent of the flesh. 

Heat from many hot coals has been applied close to the subject’s joints and with great ease this has granted a more manageable alignment for continued study. It would be apparent the harshness of the sap is weakest in these areas and at a great convenience to me. It now remains merely as a gloss.


  1. One (1) Old suit of armour, partially maintained?
  • One (1) Bastard sword of considerable quality with custom Pommel 
  • One (1) Throwing axe
  • One (1) Scarf, aquamarine in colour
  • One (1) Utility belt containing a wet stone, a lump of bread, dried meat of unknown description, a sprig of sky herb and two gold pieces. Nothing otherwise of importance.
  • Seven (7) necropsy drawings.

As foretold, the body is indeed that of a man at least forty years of age. Adult male genitalia confirm this. The subject measures somewhat above average for a human male in height but it is difficult to determine an exact weight according to retained sap. Despite several examples of lividity across the face, arms and upper torso, the body shows no peripheral signs of catastrophic damage. Notwithstanding there are several scars spread about the body, consistent characteristics of beings with a martial stride. The face is now more visible. The black of the eyes are wide open and the colour displays a natural red, not common amongst human kind. The hair is long and not particularly well-groomed showing traces of lice close to the roots. The sap has done well to keep any stench or aroma at bay though the general cleanliness of the skin may propose otherwise.          

Calluses are present on the soles of the feet and also the palms and fingers of both hands but predominantly on the left.

The head displays a large scar from the left temporal to the chin, the largest on the body in fact. His teeth are in surprisingly good condition with the exception of two wooden replacements to the rear of the top left row. No major abrasions can be seen on the flesh and bone surrounding the top of the skull. The brain it would appear is untouched and perhaps within the correct parameters for the purported ritual.  

Name – unconfirmed at present

Race – Human (Emanated from Namorithia?)

Sex – Male

Birth Year – Unconfirmed

Age – Approximately four decades


It is quite impossible to conduct a thorough examination of the subject’s inner workings, without causing a considerable degree of irreparable damage, or worse still. For now, he shall remain untouched in this regard but for a small vile of blood extracted by needlepoint. It is tough to penetrate the thickened skin with such a delicate tool but I endured. Five samples have been taken from the neck and all four limbs.

His blood gives the impression of a healthy man of his figure. Crimson in colour and an ordinary consistency akin to that of the living and breathing. Quite unusual for certain, considering the circumstances. Could it be?

Placing one’s ear upon the subject’s breast, I am beside myself with both worry and ecstasy. His heart beats still. At first, I gathered it was the deepness of the cave playing tricks on my senses but the man lives on with but a flutter.   

The Sailing Soul is brought to bear.

Why write in a coffee shop?

Three years ago, I imposed a question on the popular social media site, Reddit. What is the appeal of a coffee shop?

For context, I posted this on the screenwriting sub-reddit where lots of aspiring and professional screenwriters come for a chat about writing resources, feedback on their work, advice and general questions about the industry. The question I threw in was in relation to why writers often decide to write in a coffee shop. At the time I had never given it a try and at best, the only public establishment I had written in was a library which isn’t really a fair comparison on account of the hush, hush enforcement.

It’s hard not to conjure up the thought of a conventional hipster, barefoot, wearing a pair of thick empty frameless glasses and a beanie on his head at the peak of summer, beard down to his bollocks, sitting on his MacBook, sipping a soy latte. Ah, who am I to judge? I love me a soy latte. But at least this guy’s trying his best to write that next big thing and for some reason chose to do it in this popular public establishment.

You can follow the link for the complete discussion and accreditation but here is a breakdown of what I discovered…


In this day and age, you have to travel pretty far and wide to avoid the internet and let’s be honest with ourselves, it might as well be the number 1 source of all global procrastination. Say for a minute you don’t have your phone on you but just a laptop. If that laptop’s only hope of reaching the glorious Elysium fields of the internet is via a decent wi-fi connection, then try and pick a café that doesn’t provide one. If you are prone to reaching for that monolithic device in your pocket or clicking on those social media shortcuts lingering around your search bar, avoid the Internet altogether. That one is pretty simple to understand, which kind of seeps into the next point.


If you have little to no will power when it comes to deviating from the task at hand, there’s an app for that! For Apple users there is an open source application which will allow you to tailor a suspension of internet functions. For a limited time of your choosing, you can have the app prevent you from using anything on your internet fuelled device that might harm your efficiency. If you are hard pressed to find a café a million miles from modern civilisation, maybe this is just the ticket.   


There is a truly fascinating study which in summary suggests that our brain is capable of processing distracting sounds, channelling the energy into creativity. Or at least that is my thin paraphrasing of the concept. When I was a wee lad, I often watched the old man manage to read a book in a room full of people talking with the television on full blast and seemingly ignore everything but the page. I suppose reading is a little different from writing in that respect but it is similar. I can’t make the assumption that this works on everyone but it is an interesting notion. YouTube offers an oddly varied range of background coffee shop ambient videos, that you can listen to on whatever platform supports it. So, you don’t even have to leave the safety of your own home to experience the pandemonium of chatter, clanging and steam wands whistling. Might be worth trialling it this way first before committing to braving the sunlight.


Distractions are everywhere but you may find that there are more distractions at home than at a coffee shop. No matter how similar distractions may be in form, whether it’s sight, sound, smell or touch or anything that tweaks the senses, there is always a more personal bond with home distractions that can appear absent in a public place. If a relative is present at home, you could easily engage in conversation with them but if an espresso enthusiast speaks at a café you don’t even need to acknowledge their existence. It’s not rude, you’re a stranger to them! Plus, there are some things you can get away with at home that might be frowned upon out in the open. Don’t think I need to mention what that might be. Think about it as preventative treatment.


Nobody is going to scrutinise you for being nosey or eavesdropping on conversations people are having around you. If what they are discussing is private, they shouldn’t have chosen to conduct their business in a place full of members of the public. People are a great source of inspiration and you might be amazed what observing them will spur on creatively. Got a touch of the ol’ writers block? Watch and listen.


This one is particularly relevant to aspiring screenwriters living in Los Angeles but I guess it could apply to anyone anywhere, given the right circumstances. If you’re watching people, people are likely watching you and if you’re there sitting on your laptop going ham on that keyboard, you’ll likely turn a few heads. I live in the outskirts of London so this is completely out of my personal experience but the theory is sound. Hollywood is filled with creatives in the Film and TV industry and although the obvious sight of you working on your project isn’t uncommon, there is great opportunity to network and perhaps one day you’ll connect with the right person who’ll offer you that big break.   


Lastly, if you like coffee and writing, a café is probably the place to be. There is nothing quite like a professionally crafted mug of artisan coffee brought over to your table with a smile. It sure beats instant made with water from a limescale-ridden kettle of eight years.   

Why do you write in a coffee shop? Leave a comment and let’s find out.


You’ve probably already guessed what gave me the inspiration for this short script. It’s been on my mind ever since I saw The Force Awakens and I often express this theory to anyone who shares a love for the universe George Lucas sparked off those many years ago. For the uninitiated, this little story is part of my Anecdotes of an Extra series where I completely make up the lives of screen extras both in character and actor form, from popular television and cinema. An industry standard format of the script written in Fade In can be found below, with correct spacing and margins and such. Or you can just scroll past that and read it here. Enjoy!


It’s a quiet Thursday and the night is young with only a few patrons present.

A young couple (early 30’s) sit close to each other at a high bar table. The man, TREVOR, a tall square shouldered gentleman, rests his arm on the shoulders of his girlfriend BETH, who is contented in his embrace.

They’ve come straight from work and remain mostly in their office attire. Both have a pint of local ale nestled between them, Trevor’s is almost empty and Beth isn’t far behind.

A what? -You mean from Star, Trek? -No.

(shakes head)
The other one. Spooky white plastic armour.

Yeah… No way you played a storm trooper.

I bloody did, the Force Awakens. I was a storm trooper, man! It must have been… two years before I asked you out I reckon. I’d just been made redundant right, from that long printing stint I did-

-You worked in print?

… Yeah. You knew that?

I thought you said you worked for a newspaper, assisting columnists weren’t it?

I did, they ain’t gonna print their work are they.

That’s not the same thing.

That’s not important – let me finish what I was saying.

Beth gives a cheeky grin before taking a sip of her ale.

So, I got a nice payout because of how many years I worked there. I was an apprentice straight out of school more or less so they owed me big. I made more than enough money to mooch about for a few months, and it happened just when my cousin Jim mentioned he was gonna have a go at film extra work. You know Jim, you met him at the wedding.


Well Jim ain’t got a theatrical bone in his body, so I’m thinking I can do one better because I learned guitar an-that.

I do go weak at the knees when you break out the Yamaha.

It’s in my genetics, I love to entertain babe. Stop taking the mick. Anyway, I join this agency he recommends, and who at the time were looking for tall blokes. Told them I was interested and available to work straight away, on anything they had to offer -proper get stuck in. When they eventually tell me more about the gig, I hear it’s a job on the new Star Wars, playing a military role. I’m beside myself at the prospect of being the most iconic goon in cinema history.

Beth takes a second to process this new fact about her boyfriend.

You were one of, like hundreds though right? And you never see their faces, they always keep their helmets on don’t they? Like a unified faceless terror.

That’s not the point. It was all about the experience of living a childhood dream… To begin with anyway.

You enjoyed yourself then?

I did. It was the maddest thing I’ve ever done. And I must have been half decent at it because I was picked to say a couple of lines.
Beth raises her eyebrows in bemusement, turning to face Trevor proper.

A load of us were asked if we were comfortable and capable enough to speak on camera. I put my hand up along with like eight other troopers, and one by one Mr. Abrams tells us in our best American accents -all storm troopers are yanks for some reason, don’t ask me why -to repeat the sentence…
(with an American accent)
‘I’ll tighten those restraints, scavenger scum’.
(back to British)
Wicked line, did not have a clue what it meant but still wicked. When he gets to me, I smash it don’t I? The director loves it and I get a chance to up my rate a bit, everyone’s happy… So it’s all very secretive, I’m not told a lot until the day of this scene I’m in, quite on the hush hush -I don’t even know who, if any, is gonna be in the scene with me. They bring me to the sound stage, this is the first time I’ve seen this awesome set that looks like a space interrogation room -hearts racing, shitting myself but never been more excited. The AD blocks the scene out with me, showing me where to stand and that.


Like one of the assistants to the big boss director. Shares some of the work. Real nice person, makes me feel right at home while we rehearse the sequence before the top talent are ready for us.

Trevor leans closer to Beth.

Now from behind the camera I can hear a crew member say double O seven is in the building. There are celebs all over the place at Pinewood and if it really is the gentlemen in question, he probably wondered over from the Bond sound stage they got over there -which actually burnt done once I might add. But I digress. There’s me trying not to get distracted but now I’m thinking of Daniel bloody Craig as well as the epic sci-fi I so happen to be a small part of. At this moment I’m just waiting around and trying to stop my brain from melting. Then, from behind one of these mental backdrops or whatever, I hear more talking. It’s the big boss himself having a conversation with…
(opens his hands)
Daniel Craig. There’s loads of people chatting among themselves but I can still hear what they’re talking about. I could even see them both just about, through a gap in the partition wall like a real creeper. It’s the usual stuff I’d reckon film-stars spurt about to each other, but just when I’m thinking this could be some big break for me, J.J. shouts ‘Hey Dan, I’ve got an amazing idea’-

-Then you got replaced.

They fucking replaced me.

Trevor smiles and shakes his head, a self-deprecating charm.

…How’d you guess?

Saw it on a top ten twenty celeb cameos vid.

Bloody-hell. Feel like an arse now, thought you might have liked that one.

I did. A near claim to fame.

…Who was only I kidding really? Probably would have dubbed over my voice anyway. Least I took home a few quid more. For-ma troubles.
Trevor looks down at his pint glass that he hasn’t touched during the whole anecdote. The golden liquid is near spent and the thin layer of foam sitting on top, somewhat depicts the Mickey Mouse symbol.
Beth notices her boyfriends light somber mood, a sympathetic grin on her. She steps up off the stool behind him, wrapping her arms around his neck.

I still love ya.

She plants an audible cartoon kiss on Trevor’s cheek, picks up the glasses, then heads over to the bar.


What did you think? Drop a comment and if you’re interested in short films or screenwriting or whatever, share your work!


ivor-aconiteI suspect Countess Manfrah will sleep well this evening, having been reunited with her stolen creations, if only in part. Though a site untoward usual woman of her posting, she looked colourful and out of place among the grim tapestry of weathered storehouses. As payment for our services we received the gold as promised, which I will see none of, of course. She has wealth, that much is certain for any who know of her family’s lofty stature. I should feel grateful for receiving anything at all being an apprentice, a mere neophyte at best, but her generosity stretches only as far as her embrace and the lady has but only one arm. A small price for ingenuity.

Praeceptor Arttura, my mentor and provider, reminds me often of my place beneath his wing and that any form of praise or dues will come from him and him alone should he see fit. I can still see the steadfast gaze on his face when coin crossed his palm. It is the same as always. I know my place and I am grateful for it, if a half full belly and a choppy education has anything to say. But I did not expect a gift, least of all from the one-armed countess.

Arttura would never allow it under normal circumstances but this affair was far from normal and he would not dare argue with a member of the Makers Guild. They are an unpredictable bunch with little patience, all of them. I am told this contrivance is the future of warfare, a combination of exotic materials and an over productive mind. Weaponry with a purpose, to distance oneself from the enemy, to put restraint on the intimacy of killing. A pitfall in dwarvish tinkering, if my word is worth a damn. Or perhaps an ideal harmony between unstable people. The appellation ‘firearm’ was used in abundance during our discourse. It is aptly named. 

I am far from a marksman and I have never hunted for a meal, that I will sadly admit but it appears to be a cumbersome substitute to the simplicity of bow and arrow. At present I see it as nothing more than an ornate arbalest and just as troublesome to operate but it is quite pleasing to the eye. The woman said it was a precursor to something far greater. Something tells me she wanted rid of it, or at least it no longer served her a lucrative purpose other than to curry favour with me. A fitting gift for a young man supposedly destined for better things and the first gift I have ever received. I relinquished the rest to her attendants of which there were plenty and in much finer condition by a glance. She declared that I should call it Cardinal. Swords and metal alike are given names all the time and considering there are none in my holding this seems appropriate I gather.

A brief schooling of the mechanism was given over the bustle of men at work but I retained the instructions as best I could. The process is akin to lighting a fire with flint however black powder is used in place of bone-dry roughage. I have heard very little about this pepper like substance used overseas in far-reaching conflicts and likewise in the advancement of mining. Though I cannot say I would ever sprinkle it on Marcellas humble turnip stew. Once ignited, it creates a fiery force strong enough to send a lead ball down its bored-out metal neck and if one is skilled enough, it will land true. Will it stop a man dead in his tracks? The thought of being on the receiving end transfigures the imagination. I will need to take considerable care of it I fear but not before learning how to use the bloody thing.  

Damned now are the men who stole these contraptions, though I doubt they had much notion of what they pinched. Guild sigils adorning locked crates attract thieves like a moth to the flame but this one burnt them and burnt them proper. They will be less careless in their coming days, should they escape the rope and public scorn. But only a twit would think that.

She is a curious being, the countess. Forthright, dangerous. I believe she may require more of us hereafter.

Diary of a Half Human: 7th Day of Midsummer, 1187

reshana-tinchild-1Mother said it would be wise for me to write down my thoughts. The words are to be written exactly how they are in my head now, so that I may look upon them as I grow and learn how dreadful I once was. She says I have a fiery spirit and an escape like this would help to extinguish the flames. It is hard not to agree with her, but dreadful? That is entirely a matter of perspective.

I almost blinded a boy today, with a pebble from the river. Cannot imagine his perspective will sway in my favour, however. The sun caught me at a disadvantage, which made me miss his eye by a fraction. He’ll have a lovely nick on the side of his head to remember the occasion and that thought makes me smile. He pushed me too far this time but I think the unbearable heat has contributed somewhat. Bochy is his name and he never wonders anywhere without his three younger brothers. He takes great care of them but has little care for anyone else in the settlement, especially a half-blood like me. “Wide Eyes” the zealots call me but not for the reasons you might think. I barely look any different from them. Do they fail to see that my ears are a little pointier than theirs? Or would that be too obvious an insult from those unbathed creatives. 

I’m not naive, I know they torment me more for coin in my family’s coffers. Just because we are more fortunate than most, does not make me any different them. Or perhaps it should, perhaps they should hate me? Nonetheless, I shan’t wright about this gloom any further, my head aches from it.

I suppose I should introduce myself to you? Is that how this practice works? It might help you to understand me a little more. Then I must give you a name. Should I be naming you I wonder? Perhaps that it is not the best of ideas. It is one thing to confide in a book of empty pages and another to make one appear more, civilised. I will decide in the morning, it will give me time to think of a good title should I be that way inclined. Speaking of which, where are my manners? My name is Reshana Tinchild and I live on a small patch of earth called Yetna Falls. It is a town perched on a coast of ash coloured sands and a canvas of ancient red wooded pines. The mighty Yetna river spans for weeks until it reaches its end here at the falls. Everything inland eventually finds its way to the sea and it is truly a sight to behold. My home rests right on the edge of the cliff and offers quite the view from my bedchamber. I look out upon the vast waters as this is written, the sun beats hard on us this summer and I embrace it arms open mostly. It’s warmer than past years but it still feels good on the bones. 

Mother gave birth to me on a bright day like this, twelve years ago next week. She is unaware I know. Thinks I have lost count of the days but I know full well. It is a key requirement for a diary after all is it not? One hopes she will gift me the books I requested. Body Beyond Steel, a comprehensive study of unarmed combat from the anchorites of the winter provinces and a copy of Tyrannical Botany by Lady Jayne Borrers. Those are what I desire the most. An odd combination I realise but such are my interests. Though the practice of putting my own thoughts to paper is not beyond me, I would rather read about the minds of others any day. Great literature is few and far between out this far west, and I only know of these books through voices of travelling merchants and Lord Tene’s scribe. I consider it a treasured gift that I was schooled at home and if there is any given thing, I take for granted, my education is not it. It was mother who is mostly responsible for my undying tolerance for knowledge, barring the odd mentor here and there. Between them, they taught me to read, write and question just about everything.

I do try my very best not to upset mother, she works so tirelessly in the running of the Crystal Caravan Company. That’s what I call the family business, consequently for the decades of beautiful wares we’ve shipped for the glassblowers. Our wagons are built with an original spring design that absorbs more roughness of the cobble and dirt, thus allowing for an increased average speed and cargo capacity. We also use only the best quality sawdust and hay to hug the fragile cargo onboard. It guarantees their goods will reach inland swiftly and securely. That is the melody we sing to them at least, but it is mostly true, especially if our vast patronage has anything to say about it. Traders will always consider us first and foremost where speed and precision is of the utmost importance. An all-encompassing arrangement, just the horseflesh which gain no real profit. Though we do try our very best tending to their needs. The company’s real name of course is Tinchild Haulers named after my Grandfather Ser Avery Tinchild. I think mine is better but this is the official title. He built our family business from nothing but what little he had as a young travelling field worker, or so mother tells me. Came to this place when it was barely chartered on the map, finding his feet as a blacksmith’s apprentice. Always building and always tinkering until the day he parted from the world, apparently. If it was not for the fair-minded nobility of this community, he made his home, a poor man with radical ideas would never have achieved anything above his precedence. For his ingenuity and service to the Falls, he was granted a knighthood by the Lordship and for that we are fortunate indeed. It is a rare thing for such a title to be bestowed upon a being who has never witnessed nor fought heroically on a battlefield. He earned his, for his mind and ability to turn a steady significant profit and frankly expanding the constitution of local commerce. I just wish I had gotten the chance to meet the old fellow. 

That being said, I always speak more highly of him than my own absent snake of a father. Though I have never met him either. But it is only proper I mention the man, he did bring me into this world too it pains me to say. My distaste for father began when I first enquired after him. It’s odd but my first experience of a father figure was seeing a child struck by a man in the roadway heading to prayer. Unremorseful, the man did not bat an eye to the grief he had caused this child yet appeared to see it more as a fulfilment of duty. The child was scolded for their mischief, but not by their mother. 

To this day my mother has never hurt me, at least not physically. I tell myself she would not ever keep secrets from me even if I am too young to understand the trials of parenthood. However, I fear there are other contributing factors to her methods of upbringing. I am born out of wedlock; it is no mystery. If it wasn’t for my family’s long standing in this community, I am positive the circumstances would be more trying. For mother especially. And as for that dirty charlatan of an elf I refer to as father, he has ceased to exist my whole life. I know almost nothing of father, part from the few belongings he left behind and the even few details mother wishes to share about him. Everything is locked away in the cellar and mother holds the key. I do not know why she doesn’t simply give them away. Will she eventually pass them down to me? Or perhaps part of his charm leaves a mark on her still. 

Absent husbands should be lost at sea or fallen in a skirmish, not disappear forever like a fiend in the night. I hope he is dead, not to ease the pain with some semblance of closure but because he doesn’t deserve to come back to what he abandoned. Enough of this colourless drivel, I won’t let the thought of him upset me.

I believe these words will suffice for one day. Think I’ll enjoy this writing babble after all, whether or not I’m going about it the right way. It has been quite a remedial experience telling you of bliss and woefulness. 

Perhaps I will share it tonight with the friendly voice in my dreams. 

Writing a Best Man Speech

Back in November 2016 I took on the most esteemed role of best man for a dear friend of mine I had known since school. I reluctantly accepted his offer that he sprung upon me one afternoon in the kitchen while drinking herbal tea. I wasn’t hesitant because I didn’t want to do it but more because I didn’t want to botch it up for him and his wife to be. This thought was constantly on my mind running up to the big day! There is a certain responsibility that comes with this position and speech writing aside, for someone with a bit of anxiety hovering over their head, there is an awful lot to consider. But this post isn’t about coping with all that, it’s about what I did to make a room of people listen to me for 5 minutes and make at least a couple of them laugh in the process, with something I wrote about two people in love. If you want to Know more about the obligations of a best man, just Google it, there are countless sites that will put your mind at ease.

I hadn’t practised my public speaking for a long time at that point and to be honest that was the biggest thing I was worried about. Writing the speech however, was a real delight. I’d given myself a week to write it and actually took a week off work to sit down and do it properly. It was also one week exactly before the wedding so I was highly motivated to say the least!


I remember thinking back to when I wrote my dissertation for the final year of my degree and how I cut it close back then too. It’s a good idea to give yourself ample time to put the words to paper but leaving it so close to the deadline did have its advantages. It gives you the opportunity to be as current as possible, especially where jokes are concerned. More people will be able to relate to what you are saying if part of what you are saying is in the limelight. If you can tailor your humour around subjects of public attention, this will help you command the room because the material is relatable. If you write it too early there is a chance you’ll have to rethink your approach when the content becomes unconnected.


On the subject of humour, you’ll want to leave the bride out of this one. Everyone who ever written and performed a traditional best man’s speech will probably advise that the bride is strictly off limits and under no circumstances will she be the butt of any jokes! The groom however, will never stand a chance. You’ll want him to fear you the moment you’re handed the microphone. Personal stories of a comical nature are best suited here and no doubt the stag do/bachelor party will summon some inspiration depending on when that happens. I had plenty of material to play around with but it’s really your decision to decide what you include here. A little self-deprecation goes a long way too.  


If you’ve got children present, which is most definitely the case, you’ll likely want to reel in the profanities a tad. You don’t want to scar them for life or have them badger mum and dad about strange things the man in the suit said about their uncle or whatever. Navigate the room, try to discover who will be attending. If you’re fortunate enough to meet the family and friends of both parties beforehand, either in life or at perhaps at the engagement party, then you’ll gage more the appropriateness of the speech. I made a joke about the reliability of a certain public transport service in the UK that almost everybody found funny, only later to learn three people including the Master of Ceremonies and the groom’s late father used to and presently work for the firm. Be that as it may, I interpreted it as a win.   


Be thankful, appreciate everyone there but also those who couldn’t be. This is particularly important for the bridesmaids traditionally but really anyone who makes the day special for the Mr and Mrs in question. Think of people close to them other than yourself and give them their dues. Offering respect to others is always nice, and who knows, you might get some back in return.


End on a high! This is the last thing they will remember! Not the champagne flute you raise for the final toast but the last sentence you spring from your gob. It can be funny, it can be heartfelt or maybe even a little sad, just make it relevant and make it strong.

This might all be terrible advice to give enlisted best men around the world but it worked for me… just about. Have a read of my speech and judge for yourself.       


Ladies and gentlemen…  Good afternoon. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Alex the Best Man.

Before I begin my speech, I just wanted to say a few words about the day that this wedding shares. I’m of course talking about Armistice Day, a day to commemorate peace and remember those who had given their lives for it. I’d also like to take this opportunity to remember James’ Dad, who as you know is no longer with us, but nonetheless witnessed the affection between James and Sarah when it was simply blossoming.

And so, I ask you kindly to join me in a moments silence, to remember a real character, who would love to have been here today.  


Thank you.

I’ve never been Best Man before and quite frankly I don’t mind telling you how terrified I’ve been about this speech. So please bear with me.

James has already mentioned the lovely bridesmaids and flower girls, but I thought I’d give you all a special mention too, so well-done Ladies. And Sarah, I’m not freighted to admit that I almost lost it seeing you walk the isle earlier… You look stunning!      

And to all you lads who helped me sort out the Stag Do, I couldn’t have done it alone so thanks for that too. We truly left our mark on London that evening… Or at least James did. All over the floor.

I mean a heavy dose of Wheat Beer, Bratwurst Sausage and sauerkraut was enough to blow your mind, let alone your stomach! 

I’ve had the great pleasure of tolerating James now for over 15 years, and I think like me, he’s quite a reserved chap, which has only made the mandatory character assassination all the more difficult. I must say though, that grey suit is a refreshing change of pace compared with the worn-out Metallica T-shirts he normally wares. And it’s nice to see you’ve combed your hair today too mate which makes a change.

I remember when James and Sarah first met back in our college days. Later going on their first “casual” date to the cinema. And like something out of a movie, they found themselves standing side by side, on a station platform in Stains, waiting for the last train home. The carriage pulls up and James stands, awkwardly looking back into the eyes of his crush. This is the longest departure of his life. The doors open up behind him and all of a sudden time stood still. He couldn’t wait any longer, he had to make it all official. He had to give her a kiss.

That’s right guys, there was a time when South Western Railway were good for something. 

The truth is, it’s difficult to find a fault in James. He’s considerate, he’s smart, he’s well organised, and for the most part, he’s got a good sense of humour. But he definitely doesn’t wear the trousers.

Which leads me to my next point…

Now, we as a nation have had a rich history of strong and inspirational women. And little did she know, Sarah became one of them, when she proposed to James. If you ask me, a practice that isn’t done often enough by women. So, I’d watch out boys!

You may have already heard how this chapter of their lives played out, but I leave you with my own take on the story… Here goes.

After several months of subliminal messaging and dropping hints of marriage, Sarah had grown tired of James and his obliviousness. Evidently, she couldn’t wait a single day longer. And so, followed the night of the big question.

Sarah had just got home from a vigorous jogging session. She’s energetic, she’s confident, she’s ready! Meanwhile James is preparing dinner in kitchen and all seems normal in the household.

Later that evening, the two lovers sit together watching the TV, but Sarah’s mind is focused only on the prize. The time to act is now she thought. And in a reckless attempt she reaches for the remote and turns off the TV. “James, I need to ask you something” she says. At this point James is completely dumbstruck, and all sorts of wild scenarios race though his head. 

Sarah takes a deep breath. And just like on their first date, time once again stood still. She asked him “Will you marry me?”.

To which James replied “If I say yes… will you put Game of Thrones back on?”  


Ladies and Gentlemen, I for one could not be happier that these two delightful people are finally married, so if you would stand with me and raise your glasses high!

To Mr and Mrs H!

Writing with a Partner

When a would-be screenwriter and a self-published novelist collaborate.

So, for a bit of context, this year my brother Chris Sergi and I wrote and self-published a book together called Adam and the Goat. A dark comedy about a young bachelor from London who eats a dodgy kebab only later to become supernaturally tethered to a sentient goat, who only he can see I might add. That’s the wild setup at least but this blog post is more about the collaborative process between brothers in different aspiring fields, who despite the ancient code of sibling rivalry, endeavoured to make a thing together. I doubt many would agree writing a book is as easy as pie by oneself but that’s not to say writing with a partner is any simpler. Rather than offer too much advice on the collaborative development, I’ll simply describe what our experience was like and it might just help others get a flavour for their own cooperative. I’m not a lecturer or certified educator of any kind, just a dude who likes to tell stories and if that helps someone in any shape or form then that’s just gravy!

About a year ago, my brother had just completed and self-published his first science fiction adventure novel titled Everscape: The Wings of Embra. It was a totally new experience for him as a completely self-taught writer with no prior qualifications or education but for the past decade had been slogging away at the keyboard, making an acquaintance with the expanding principles and trying realities of being a writer. I don’t like to give him too much credit, being brothers and all but I really do admire his tenacity and commitment to this world he is so eager to be a part of. Anyway, he caught the bug so to speak and it wasn’t too long before he threw the idea of a collaboration at me. I’ve always been a slow writer even in the short story/short film format and I personally felt this venture would do me wonders. I had never written to the extent he had and most of what I had written was more for the screen. Notwithstanding I saw this as an awesome challenge for the both of us but especially me because I’d never been involved in such a large undertaking.

I reckon it’s significant to note that throughout the whole progression of our book, my brother and I were living under the same roof. Now this comes with an exceptional number of pros and cons who anyone with brothers or sisters will understand. It helps that you and your writing partner have similar things in common but being blood related isn’t necessarily something that can help your project. Jokes aside, we are quite similar people in terms of interests, sense of humour and our general outlook on the universe and I truly believe this to be a positive. That isn’t to say two completely different people cannot bond or creatively join forces, this might even turn out better depending on your disposition. We both argued to almost no end at times but on occasions a grand idea rose from the scorched earth we left behind. One thing I would recommend if someone plans to write with a relative, is to act professional around them as much as you can, as if they are more of a colleague or associate. It’s good to be passionate and fight your corner like two adolescents with a belly full of blue smarties circa 1995 but never forget the endgame, the product you both strive towards. Now if you plan to partner up with perhaps an additional sibling, well, I can’t help you there I’m afraid. That potential conflict is your own to discover.

Chris and me… Not the Mitchell Brothers in their junior years.
Dad might have had a bald inferiority complex.

Communication, as in most aspects of life, is of paramount importance. Learn how to talk to each other, what to say and sometimes not what to say, but at least say something and often. Having known one another our whole lives gave us an advantage here but people have been known to meet up with complete strangers online for greater collaborations. Reddit.com is a perfect facilitator for specific online groups and societies and proposes a great way of finding likeminded individuals with the same passion. You’ll have to build up that rapport but with luck it’ll become fruitful in time and who knows, could lead to further prospects for the both of you.

Find and establish roles in the relationship. In my experience, it’s no good two people performing the same task. Once we both spent a few weeks bouncing around ideas, mapping out the plot and establishing the emotional journeys of our characters, we decided who would actually undergo the writing. Since he had already written one book from start to finish, my brother was more than capable and happy to take on this mammoth task, much to my relief. It isn’t that I didn’t want to carry it out, I just felt more confident giving him the honour of the first draft. If there was one thing I contributed to the most, it was the ideas department. Every union is going to be different obviously but we found a happy medium and stuck with it.

My background, if you can call it that comprises mostly of indie filmmaking and freelance videography and I’ve also worked a couple of entry level jobs in TV. Right now, I work in distribution for one of the biggest department stores in the UK, essentially grafting for a living but with a bit of training video production on the side to scratch that creative itch. The job is far from ground breaking but I do get a lot of freedom over the projects. The land of film and television is a colossal industry that I still don’t fully understand, yet still find myself wanting to get involved in the imaginative chaos. Screenwriting, as I mentioned earlier, is a potential career path I always think about and have done since compulsory education. Picture a fifteen-year-old kid, early hours of the morning, sitting at his desk under dim lamplight so not to irritate the rest of the household. He’s writing what he thinks is going to be the next Academy Award winning blockbuster only for his future self to read that same material and wonder what the fuck was he thinking. This is and has probably been the likely scenario for a lot of wishful or now successful writers I’m sure. A lot can be said for overconfidence at a young age as I truly believe growing from your mistakes is the best way to learn that your writing sucks. But we must persevere, eventually it might not suck as much.       

Now that I’ve waffled on about how my writing partner and I differ in experience, I have to add a bit about our professional chemistry. Throughout the duration, there were often times where I might overdo it in the dialogue department for example. My ideas for dramatic quips wouldn’t always translate well to the novel format. I could never seem to get the hang of the ‘third person limited’ rules and this would always irritate Chris. I can’t help but picture every scene like a movie sequence. I never thought it mattered whose point of view we focused on, or which character can see what at any given time. Visualising the book in a rectangular frame, jumping from scene to scene and showing the reader whatever I wanted them to see regardless of the protagonist’s perspective, was a difficult habit to shake admittedly. The rules took me a while to figure out but ultimately the healthy balance of filmmaking and literature was realised. And so, the rough draft was forged!  

On the set of ‘Whole’
A short horror I wrote and codirected

From this point we had a pretty solid idea of the objectives, obstacles, emotional arcs, stakes and effects on plot for each scene. The book was mapped as best we could and ready for fleshing out on the hard trek ahead. As my brother would write each chapter, I would review it, make annotations, reluctantly offer my opinion on the form and then try my absolute best to inject some adult humour into the mix. It is a dark comedy after all. I used to perform this mission after I dragged myself to the gym. I figured my head would be clear after I killed myself on the treadmill for a bit and working on the book might take my mind off the exhaustion. Most of the time, this worked for me.

Chris has always been quick and mostly efficient when getting words down on paper and that’s a quality that I would recommend at least one member of the duo possess. Even if the text is gibberish, you’ll have something to move around, play with and mould into something palpable eventually. This system of ours took about six months in total to complete and this was with a coarse schedule that we stuck to for the most part. When you both work actual full-time jobs for a living, time management is a necessity if you seriously want to get anywhere.    

By the end of draft one, we had booked a critique with a novel editor named Ellen Brock. This type of edit covered an array of advice on our style, plot, characterisation, arcs, marketability and age appropriateness. Not to mention the crappy stuff like plot holes, inconsistencies, point of view issues and ‘anything else that could hurt your odds of publishing success, of which thankfully there wasn’t a lot of in our case. We ended up with a really comprehensive document that ultimately led to the final draft but If you really want to fork out the cash, most editors will offer an even thorough report. It’s not a cheap luxury, to have an expert dissect your work to this extent but for a first-time writer like me I could not recommend it enough. We ended up paying roughly £400 but with two of us fitting the bill, it put less strain on our wallets. Just another benefit of partnering up.       

Once we took Ellen’s advice for near gospel, the next draft was underway. Same process as before, we discussed the story beats, arc and underlying message etc. Chris would commence writing each newly drafted chapter followed by my editorial. Rinse and repeat until unanimous content between both parties is accomplished! The redrafting process took about three months and the next laborious task on the list was to go over every sentence with a fine-tooth comb. A thorough table read, together and with lots of time given to do it. This didn’t take as long because the book had already gone through a vigorous refining process.  Now I would be terrible remiss if I did not mention that often my spelling is worth shit (that is perhaps a subject for another post) and so is my brother’s, I’m sure he’ll love me telling. Perhaps I exaggerate a little but it is a shame because I love words and if the English dictionary has anything to say about it, there is an absolute plethora of words to choose from these days. Chalk it down to self-diagnosed dyslexia, dependency on computers or just plain laziness, I don’t care to find out which. Regardless of this quality we retain, asking a close friend or relative (who is not completely inept at spelling and grammar) to check errors for you, is so very important and if you can get a few of them to do it, then that’s even better.

At this stage we focussed on the book’s illustrations and cover art while we waited for the checks. Other than glancing over the all but final draft for mistakes yourself, this was a constructive way to kill time. My brother has created his own little digital art style which wasn’t totally necessary for the chapter headings but we think worked wonders for the cover. If you are willing to put the effort in yourself, this is the best way to not commission a professional artist.   

All that was left to do, was compile all the elements into a complete, crisp and ironed draft ready to get out there. We decided to go with Amazon Books as our launching platform as quite frankly it’s the best means to promote a first-time self-published novelist. Plus, Chris had his first book already on the platform. They take a big cut of the sales but every book is printed to order. Paying a printing firm for a bulk order, only to find it pretty difficult to sell each unit later on, was a thought that weighed on me in the early days of ignorance. A lot of people prefer Kindle these days and that’s obviously something else Amazon accommodate. Lastly, you have to promote the bloody thing and that’s a whole other beast I’ve yet to slay.

If anybody can take any one chunk of advice away from this, it’s to identify and manage your resources. Self-publishing can be fickle even as a solo act and it is so important to obtain assets wherever possible, whether it is time based, favour based or money based. Snatch up those opportunities together and try not to kill each other in the process! Because after all, the only way from the bottom is up.

What would you do in this delicate situation? Would you try a different strategy when writing with a partner? Maybe you’ve had terrible experiences, maybe you’ve had great ones or at least know people who have, and if there is any vital info I might have missed in hindsight let’s talk about it.

Drop a comment!