The Storyletter: A Substack Presenting Fiction

From Substack front page

Hey there WordPress readers, I’ve been MIA but I haven’t disappeared completely. I’ve been trying out a new format for posting my stories but it doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned WordPress. There’s a new site on the block called Substack (new to me) and it specializes in newsletter serialization of content which is delivered directly into your subscribers’ email inboxes. Now, I think WordPress has some form of this with the Weekly Digest emails, but Substack is designed specifically for it.

The newsletter format is great for a lot of reasons. I’ve been seeing very prominent influencers start using it to get their message out there, as well as journalists, politicians, and artists. I even saw that Substack is teaming up with a ton of comic artists for some exclusive content. But the most exciting for me is the emergence of fiction writers on the platform. Serialization of fiction has a long history in the publishing world, to include some of the most famous writers of the past. Unfortunately it has tapered off in the last half century or so…. until now!

There is a prominent Substack writer named Elle Griffin that introduced me to the idea of Substack during one of her podcast interviews on the current state of the publishing industry (found here). I was immediately enamored by the idea of sharing stories directly with the people who showed interest with my writing. Instead of trying to appeal to a mass audience who barely feels connected with me or the work that I’m doing, why not simply have a more connected reader/writer relationship with a small audience that cares? Obviously there are still the major benefits of having a publisher blast out your book to as many people as possible, but there are also the Cons that come with it (but I won’t get into that). She also started a prominent Discord that is open to other writers who would like to network on Substack called Substack Writers Unite (I don’t know how to share invite link, sorry!)

So I’m doing just that, I’m posting my stories on Substack directly to the people who want to read it. So far I’ve built up an audience of 30 wonderful readers in less than 30 days. I mainly post short fiction, like flash fiction and poetry, but I’m getting more into short stories which will be released in serial installments over time. I’m still learning the best method of releasing said stories, like at what intervals and length of posts. Since it’s serialized and people might not have a ton of time, I try to keep each post pretty short and sweet. I’ll adjust as feedback starts to come in.

Here’s my front page below:

I just finished posting the first complete short story from my collection Tales of Havek called Savior of Aemysa Isle. It has been published elsewhere prior, and will be coming to my WordPress page soon (when I get the time to port it over), but if you’d like to read it now head over to my Substack! I’ll be posting more exclusive content to Substack soon, so now is the best time to sign up for free and get fiction right in your inbox.

Have you started using Substack? What are your thoughts on the platform and will it be disrupting any industries any time soon? Will serialization of stories make a comeback?!

Come on over and join me on Substack if you’d like to give it a try, or just want to chat. Thanks! Hope your day, your week, your month, your year goes well!

Until next time! ~ WM

Burn Bright ~ Poem


I don’t remember being born.

I do remember being adrift in the warm embrace of a guardian figure,

a guardian everyone wanted to emulate,

a guardian burning so bright that the rest of them seemed mundane.

I desired to be that, to burn bright.

However, the longer I drifted through life, the more lonely I became.

The longer I drifted, the faster life went.

The figures I’d once admired shrunk to nothing, forlorn and lost in time.

I was alone for what seemed like millennia.

I gravitated to certain groups, then others, each time they watched as I passed. 

No one attempted to reach out and welcome me into their presence.

No one cared.

No one saw the light in me.

I was a blip on a radar, 

thought as nothing more. 

But then an opportunity arose on the horizon.

It arrived out of the blue, 

a wonderful symbol of hope and enlightenment,

my chance to shine. 

I was enticed by its pull.

The gravity of its grand nature could not be escaped. 

I saw the blues and greens of nature like never before.

No longer was I trapped in a dark and empty void.

Warmth and happiness returned after an eon of absence.

I became wanted, a spark igniting.

A shining light burst all around me in every direction.

Wondrous eyes looked up to me. 

They greeted me, noticing me for the first time.

Everyone pointed in awe at my visage.

I burned bright, brighter than I’d ever imagined. 

This feeling touched me to my core.

I’d become the star of my own show, but I knew it wouldn’t last.

Every beginning has an ending.

I could feel the flame dying around me.

 My light faded.

The eyes drifted away slowly, no longer interested as I crumbled into nothing and fell.

It had lasted only the briefest of moments, but I had burned bright like my guardian had once done.

I had shown that I, too, could achieve greatness, if only for a blink of an eye. 

I’d hoped that in that fleeting glimpse I’d given someone the inspiration that they needed;

a wish to be granted;

a chance to be seen;

the will to burn bright among the stars.


About the author: Winston Malone lives in SLC, Utah, works full-time and writes fiction as a hobby. He’s been writing for over a decade, honing his style and ideas, pursuing different avenues of interest. Winston has written screenplays, comics, novels, and short stories while dabbling in poetry and flash fiction from time to time. You can find more of his work on his website Stormfallennovel.com.

Coffee fuels my creativity: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Winstonmalone

O2 Reviews: Minds.com + Review Update

Hello there! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything review related. Here’s why:

In 2015, I had the idea for O2 Reviews which was basically my personal version of a dumbed-down Rotten Tomatoes where I categorized the film-making process and ranked each section with a breathable O2 meter. The downside was that it made the review process overly tedious for me and it was unintentionally super biased and would not remain consistent over time. I only got two versions of these completed and you can find them here on the site for an example. I haven’t removed them because I like the idea of them staying up for historical purposes haha.

The new version of O2 Reviews will be a lot simpler and, more importantly, fun for me write! I’ve decided that when I want to do a review, it’ll be on something that I already like. I figured writing a whole article on something I don’t like, or only have a marginal interest in, would be a giant waste of time. So basically I’m embracing my biases and being up front about it!

This leads me to the next segment of this post: My first review since 2015!

MINDS.COM REVIEW

Bear with me on this one. I’m going to be rambling more than anything else since I don’t have a great structure set up for these newer reviews. This one is going to also be a little unique as it is a website/app rather than a piece of fiction or entertainment. However, let’s dive right in!

BACKGROUND

I started using Minds about 8 days ago (Jan 10) after I saw the CEO on a podcast that I like. They were discussing a decentralized internet, block-chaining and crypto currency… yeah, I know, if you’d like me to break those topics down, I probably can’t. Over my head. But it did sound interesting and got me researching the site itself. They advocate free speech above all else and the ability to monetize users’ posts (more on that later). This was just as Parler was being taken down off Apple and Google stores for harboring “violent rhetoric”, but that’s beside the point and not really a motivator in why I downloaded Minds.

I downloaded the app on my phone while simultaneously setting up an account online at the website. Therefore, this review is of both of them, not either one in particular. The look, feel, and usability of the site/app works as you’d expect a big tech company platform to function. It’s kind of similar to Facebook but mixed with Youtube and Twitter, if that’s possible. There are a few hiccups as the devs seem to be battling with Big Tech to remain available on the app stores, so, for example, they disabled the Comments function on the Apple phones leading up to the inauguration, which has really hampered my experience on the app. But the website itself still functions at full capacity. The CEO has stated that they try to maintain a presence on various servers in order to prevent one company from having full control over access to their platform.

There are many familiar and new features on Minds. It has Groups for people to follow a certain topic and engage with others. For posting, it has the ability for photos and video (the video requires your silent button on the phone to be turned off) and you can tag your posts with up to 5 tags for more specified audience reach. You can filter out ads and also filter to only see Minds+ posts for more original content. You can also create membership tiers for your subscribers much like Patreon and Buymeacoffee. And when you and another member subscribe to each other it links you as a “Match” and you have the ability to DM that user in the messenger tab. The retweet function is here as well, but it’s called Remind. You can remind your own past posts and it brings that post back to the top of your profile along with any posts you have Pinned. I think you can only Pin 3 posts at a time since I pinned a fourth post and the first post I pinned no longer stayed at the top.

Let’s back up really quick. I had completely sworn off social media for all of 2020. Let me say that again, I did not use social media (other than Discord for gaming) for an ENTIRE YEAR! And I felt great. Twitter user engagement was nonexistent before that, not sure how that site works still. And Instagram was a narcissistic black hole for me, as I’d only post the best pictures I’d taken in order to get a smattering of likes. I deleted FB for good in 2019, best decision ever as that place was just a fight waiting to happen on a daily basis. Sorry. I promise this has a point. The reason I got onto Minds.com was to have a portal from my website into a social media platform that I felt was designed for creators. I’ll explain more about that below.

Cryptocurrency golden bitcoin coin. Conceptual image for crypto currency.

CONTENT MONETIZATION + CRYPTO INTEGRATION

The biggest feature I like about Minds is the ability to monetize your posts. So when you go to post an image, video or text it has a money symbol ($) and when you click on that it brings up a Terms of Service prompt which details what content can be monetized. I scanned through it. It’s basically anything that you have created, nothing reposted from someone else or trademarked material. I’m not sure how they are going to enforce that but I bet it’ll be case by case for now. For the monetization itself, it works by how well your post performs and you get paid out of the pool of money that their premium members pay for.

Premium membership is called Minds+. This costs $7/month. Having Minds+ is required in order to monetize your content and get verified by the site and have badges next to your username. I think you can have Minds+, get verified, then disable Minds+ before the 7 day trial period ends. I’ve seen a couple users do that. The site has pretty good analytics and shows you how well your posts perform in a myriad of ways from views to engagement. So with Minds+ you get paid in the form of Tokens (each token is worth $1.25, I believe) and you can spend tokens to Boost your content. Each token is worth 1,000 views. From my limited experience, I’ve gotten almost a token a day after Boosting a post. But overall, the token payout doesn’t seem consistent to me. It does show you the fraction of tokens you will be paid by the end of the day which is nice.

I honestly haven’t gotten considerably more engagement (likes and comments) from a boosted post as compared to a non-boosted post, despite the boosted post saying it has reached 1,000 views. The profile views are addicting though, because a post can lead to a profile view and that leads to more subscribers. Having subscribers and profile views are the big kickers when presenting your reach as a content creator in my opinion. A larger reach gives you more sway when approaching publishers or producers who might consider working with you in the future.

As of writing this I’ve only accrued .9 cents in my USD Minds wallet though, and it states that you only get paid when it reaches $100 AND at the end of the month. Also, it says that to get paid the $100 you need to be a Minds Pro member, which is the third and final tier. I don’t have any experience with this one, but it costs $40/month to be a Pro member. But if you’re making $100+/month on Minds then I suppose it pays for itself.

Last note on the monetization is the crypto currency aspect. It really opened my eyes to crypto since I had done little-to-no research on this subject leading up to Minds. So learning how to set up a Coinbase account/wallet and buying my first crypto currency was pretty neat. Minds tokens are propped up by ETH, or Ethereum, currency and in order to purchase more tokens you have to link an on-chain wallet (ex. Coinbase) to their off-chain wallet (Minds). Kind of confusing at first, but a good first step into the world of dealing with crypto purchasing and trading. Personally, I think this is the future of currency as the US dollar is likely teetering on the brink with the forced stimulus being pumped into the economy to prop it up. But I’m no economist, so I can’t really speak to that.

OVERVIEW + FINAL THOUGHTS

So Minds can be all of things to a lot of people, just as any social media can be. I’ve seen a great group of indie authors and comic book artists/writers on there in the past few days and they have pretty good user engagement. The Groups function is really cool, but I haven’t used it much. I also haven’t used the site’s Blog or Website function yet either. It prompts each post in the top right with a Blog option, which takes you to a separate page dedicated to that specific post. Not sure how it works, but has the potential to upload more than one photo at a time, which is a lacking feature when it comes to normal Posts. I also forgot to mention that the Website is locked behind the $40 Pro member paywall, but with the current climate of sites being cancelled for speech violations, I recommend not having your entire presence limited to one site as it could be taken down at a moment’s notice.

I mostly recommend Minds to content creators due to the monetization features it has the potential to provide. It feels good to re-engage with a social media, however limited that engagement is. I still try to keep it to a minimum due to all the political content being spread these days. And don’t get me wrong, Minds has plenty of that going on. If you pick your tags appropriately, you should be able to mostly filter it out. I do think censorship is a big deal and free speech is vital to a free society, but I also don’t like constant doom and gloom. That’s why I post mostly fiction and photography on my account.

Anyway! Hope you enjoyed this rambling review. If you want to check out Minds, here is a link. This is a referral link, so I will get paid based on any new users who use that link. I’m not being paid by Minds to write this article although that would be nice haha. Subscribe to me on WordPress or Minds for more upcoming content and give this post a Like. It’ll sure make my day!


About the author: Winston Malone lives in SLC, Utah, works full-time and writes fiction as a hobby. He’s been writing for over a decade, honing his style and ideas, pursuing different avenues of interest. Winston has written screenplays, comics, novels, and short stories while dabbling in poetry and flash fiction from time to time. You can find more of his work on his website Stormfallennovel.com.

Coffee fuels my creativity: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Winstonmalone

The Unheard ~ Flash Fiction #3

“Lock him away forever,” the Emperor stated.

Two armored soldiers approached the criminal from behind.

“But, your majesty, I did what you asked. I burned it down. You said–” the criminal was cut off.

“You dare tell me what I’ve said? I do not care,” the Emperor yelled.

The soldiers grabbed the criminal by each arm and began dragging. 

“You gained your station by the honor of your word,” the criminal stated. The soldiers stopped moving, but held tightly on the criminals arms.

“What did you say, criminal? You speak to me of honor? You should be cast into the fire you created. You are lucky I’m only imprisoning you for life.”

“Some life that is,” the criminal spat. “I did your dirty work to be freed of chains, yet you knew I’d stay shackled all along. If your word shines no light with me, then what of the promises you made to your loyal followers? You think the ones in this room are inspired by what they see? I, for one, know they are not.”

The soldiers released the criminal and turned to face the Emperor. 

“What are you doing, you fools? Take him away at once!”

The three stepped forward in tandem. The two remaining soldiers at the Emperor’s opposing sides turned to level their weapons upon him. 

“Traitors, the lot of you!”

The criminal laughed, then spoke. “It’s hurtful when the ones you trust don’t keep their word. It’s almost as if there’s no balance anymore, like anything goes. And when the citizens of this city see the obfuscation of truth from you of all people, then what are they to do? Who are they to believe?”

The criminal stood before the Emperor for a long, silent moment as if waiting for an answer. 

“They are going to believe the person who tells them the truth. The truth that the people can see, not the lies perpetuated by you and your gaudy elites living in your palaces. It just so happens that a criminal has to be the one to show them. The irony of it all. It’s rather funny if you think about it, but you don’t do that much, do you? Think, that is.”

The Emperor furrowed his brow. “This is treason. I will have you hanged for this–”

A sword tip pricked the Emperor’s neck and he pulled away, eyeing the gleaming blade.

“So it’s treasonous for me–a commoner–to demand for you to obey the rule of law, but not treasonous for you– royalty–to instruct me to burn your city to prove a moot point? Seems fair. Look around you, your majesty. What do you see?”

The Emperor looked each soldier in the eye, then leveled his gaze on the criminal. “I don’t see a way that any of you make it out of this alive. The rest of the palace will know who you are and they will make sure you meet the end of a noose.”

The criminal sighed. “All you had to say was ‘I see people who have grievances in which I can help remedy’. That’s it. Instead you deliver more threats to our lives as if that will solve anything. I’m sorry, your majesty, but this cannot continue.” 

“What does that mean? What do you want from me?” the Emperor asked.

The criminal glanced at the soldiers standing around him. 

“Well, the way I see it, we should take a vote like in the old days. You know, give power back to the people. What do each of you think?”

The four soldiers nodded in agreement.

“Good,” the criminal smirked. “Your majesty, these unheard voices are about to speak, and you’re going to wish you had listened long ago.”


About the author: Winston Malone lives in SLC, Utah, works full-time and writes fiction as a hobby. He’s been writing for over a decade, honing his style and ideas, pursuing different avenues of interest. Winston has written screenplays, comics, novels, and short stories while dabbling in poetry and flash fiction from time to time. You can find more of his work on his website Stormfallennovel.com.

Coffee fuels my creativity: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Winstonmalone

Undying Faith

I’ve lost you in body but not in spirit.

You are forever present as long as we remember.

The world may not recall your sacrifice, but your life was not yielded in vain.

My thoughts of you have become memories,

my memories into prayers.

My faith persists.

So will you.

~Spoken by Batyg to her late husband. Excerpt from Tales of Havek: Volume One.


About the author: Winston Malone lives in SLC, Utah, works full-time and writes fiction as a hobby. He’s been writing for over a decade, honing his style and ideas, pursuing different avenues of interest. Winston has written screenplays, comics, novels, and short stories while dabbling in poetry and flash fiction from time to time. You can find more of his work on his website Stormfallennovel.com

Glass Tower ~ Flash Fiction #2

The world can see everything I do and say. I chose this in order to make a living. My life has become a show for others. I laugh, I get likes. I cry, I get downvoted. I’ve learned to navigate the glass tower where I live in such a way that it promotes specific lifestyles and ideas, but, ultimately, they are not mine. They simply increase my chances of staying alive, and at this point living for others has become the only way. Or is it? Glass towers dominate the horizon. It’s beautiful and yet sickening all at the same time. A rage builds within me. I forget what I’m doing. I scream and the cameras–the always recording cameras outside the glass wall–hover closer. They are watching, waiting. Their analytics of me are probably going all screwy. I look directly at them and punch the glass. I’m aware that I’m trending now, but not in a good way. I’m wrecking their illusion. The cameras floating outside the glass turn away. I watch them as they gravitate to the floors above and below me. What has happened? Am I banned? I punch the glass again sending lightning bolt cracks to splinter in every direction. My split reflection is an accurate portrayal of a truly shattered person. No one cares. No one ever did. I go to leave the glass tower with my purpose here no longer valid, but I can’t. The door is locked. The glass on all sides fades to black, hiding me from the rest of the world. No witnesses. The door opens, but not for me, for them. Glass men enter, their bodies simultaneously shimmering yet translucent. I’ll be made into glass, they say. Glass means no one will see me as a person anymore. Glass means I’ll be invisible. Glass means I’ll be the foundation of their new world. Unless I fight back. Unless I break the glass. After all, I’ve managed to do it once already. How hard could it be?


About the author: Winston Malone lives in SLC, Utah, works full-time and writes fiction as a hobby. He’s been writing for over a decade, honing his style and ideas, pursuing different avenues of interest. Winston has written screenplays, comics, novels, and short stories while dabbling in poetry and flash fiction from time to time. You can find more of his work on his website Stormfallennovel.com.

When the Storm Rages

When the storm rages, I feel you there.

You’re in the warm rain, caressing my skin.

You’re in the rush of the wind, whispering in my ear.

You’re the clouds, filling the heavens with your presence.

You’re the migrating gulls,

the crash of waves,

the bending of trees,

and the rustling of their leaves.

When the storm rages, you are the lightning flash against the black ocean.

When the storm rages, you are the thunderous boom that beats my heart.

When the storm rages, I fear nothing except its departure,

for when it no longer rages, I’m reminded of your absence.

My only consolation is that I know another storm will rage again,

they always do.

And when it does, you’ll be there.


About the author: Winston Malone lives in SLC, Utah, works full-time and writes fiction as a hobby. He’s been writing for over a decade, honing his style and ideas, pursuing different avenues of interest. Winston has written screenplays, comics, novels and short stories, while dabbling in poetry and flash fiction from time to time. You can find more of his work on his website Stormfallennovel.com.

Mimicry – Flash Fiction #1

It looks like me, but it isn’t. It’s killing everyone wearing my face, but I only watch in horror. I don’t move, and it doesn’t attack me. I don’t talk, so it leaves me alone. The quarantined island is slowly reshaped, reformed into its gross, biological makeup with what I perceive as my own design. I’m alive, yes, but fellow soldiers, my friends, have been taken. Everything has been stolen, copied, used and discarded, the base components of what defined life in the first place gone in the silent rush. The island is just the first stage of its plan. If it escapes, the planet is next. I clench my fists. It pulses, feeling my defiant rebellion. It somehow knows what is to come. I grab the one thing that it fears and it coalesces before me with my visage. It believes that by using myself against me it can win. Not anymore. I aim. It leaps. I fire. The explosive shot is like being born again. I drop dead at my feet. But it isn’t me. It never was. My resolve strengthened, I escape the secret facility that created it. The world will know the truth. The nightmare will not be repeated. Not on my watch.


About the author: Winston Malone lives in SLC, Utah, works full-time and writes fiction as a hobby. He’s been writing for over a decade, honing his style and ideas, pursuing different avenues of interest. Winston has written screenplays, comics, novels and short stories, while dabbling in poetry and flash fiction from time to time. You can find more of his work on his website Stormfallennovel.com.

In the Heart of Darkness

In the heart of Darkness, I see you,

a dark too Dark to travel through.

The pain you wield is coming down,

why oh why do you leave me now?

I wonder what could have been

had the world not ceased to spin.

You guided me to the crystal light,

a saving grace that gives me might.

My sanity filtered by emerald green,

nothing is ever what it seems.

In the heart of Darkness, can you see me?


Note: Thanks for reading! The battle between Light and Dark rages on. Find out more soon as I’ll be publishing more content in 2021!

2021 Writing Update

2020 was a great year for writing. I should’ve written more but I did get a good amount done that I hadn’t been able to do in previous years. I only wrote about 37k words for 2020, which isn’t a lot I know, but I write for fun, and I find it relaxing and productive. This is up from the normal 20k-a-year that I usually get down on paper. The difference for 2020 was that I had a goal in mind: to write a set of short stories and compile them into a collection.

Short stories are insanely fun. I’m finding my niche, but I think that with my desire for instant gratification, I should hone in on short fiction writing. I have an attention span for certain stories that lasts months or mere weeks, sometimes even days! Finding the drive to complete a full novel based on one story idea has been one of my major downfalls. So the idea of writing short stories intrigued me and allowed me to shift between several settings and characters so that I didn’t get bored, and the stories were fresh and compelling. This does come with its own set of complications and hurdles, but I’m learning as I go.

I think that was one of the major takeaways for me in terms of writing. I discovered that I needed to approach it more as a hobby since that’s how I unconsciously treat it. If I wanted it to be a career, then I would sit down and work on it like one, but I don’t think I can, or want to for that matter. I write to escape and to come up with silly, fun ideas. If I someday get paid to do that, then great! For now, I will enjoy it as much as I can regardless.

I do have my eye on a potential publisher that I hope to reach out to this year. They are local and I find their stories to be exactly in my ballpark/realm of interest and genres. I’ll update more if any developments come along on that front.

Also, I’ve stepped away from Wattpad for now. I want to like that platform but it is simply either too big or the algorithm doesn’t support certain writers or genres. It’s a great place to connect and network when it works, but I personally haven’t found much success there and to be frank, it could simply be that I haven’t written something truly engaging that would find success there. Who knows? But I figured I need to stop worrying about votes and views and worry more about completing content. Likes and views will either come or they won’t.

So that’s where this website comes in. I’m revamping stormfallennovel.com in order to post my content here and not on a 3rd party site. I want to be able to generate traffic via my own means (with the help of WordPress, of course), and WordPress has been a good service during the 5 or so years that I’ve used it. We’ll see!

I’ll end it here by saying that I look forward to posting my written content here, and I hope the readers find it thought-provoking and engaging. The site isn’t fully-optimized for what is to come this year but I hope to get it up to speed soon. Tales of Havek: Volume One will be completed this year, I believe. I’ll update as that progresses. Thanks again! Have a great new year! ~ WM