Saturday, July 29, 2006

Twisted Tongue

My story 'Death's Head' appears in the new issue of Twisted Tongue, scheduled for release August 1st. The paperback version can be ordered through Lulu.com, as well as a much cheaper PDF. version. I'm really pleased that the story has found a home in this magazine. Can't wait to see it finally in print. 'Death's Head' originally apeared in the now defunct ezine Astounding Tales.com, where it won that issues Editor's Choice Award. So, as you can imagine, I'm very proud of this particular story.

'Lazarus Island' continues to grow. Total word count tonight is the magic 35,000 word mark.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Keep on Keeping on

So far this week I've managed to put down a thousand words of Lazarus Island each night, with the exception of last night which was Torbay Carnival night and we were all too exhausted to do anything once we got home. I'm determined to keep up this pace. At this rate (1000 words per day) I should be able to finish this first draft in a month. That is very exciting.

Current total: 33,300

Sunday, July 23, 2006

30,000 words and counting

Reached a major milestone tonight in the rehabilitation of my novel Lazarus Island. 30,300 words to be exact. I'd always imagined that it would be a short-ish novel of about 60,000 words, which would mean that I've just hit the halfway mark. Great! Fantastico! But as I'm writing, and as the supporting characters are beginning to really come alive, I'm beginning to see the novel open out, becoming a much richer, more exciting proposition. I'm not overly concerned with how long or short it turns out to be, I just want to finish it. The more I think about it, and the more I work on it, the more I believe in it. I was miffed at having to stop writing tonight, but I know that this is a good sign. They say as a writer you should leave your novel at a point where you're itching to get back to it next time. I haven't had that feeling in a long while.

Next stop: 40,000 words.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Resurrection

Slowly but surely I can feel myself being re-energized. Monday night I sat down and finished 'Inheritance', one of my most interesting short stories - one I should have completed months ago. The result needs a good tidy up and polish but it 's very exciting to see something new in the OUT tray. I've also spent the last week making detailed revision notes of my half-finished novel and I am very excited about the results so far. The only thing that's dampening my efforts now is this damned heat. I don't work well in the heat, and there's no escaping this wave of high temperatures. Still, my outlook for the future is positive.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Healing Power of King

It's happened before. Many times. When I'm feeling down, moping about in what Dorothea Brande called that "slough of despond", there's only one tonic I can rely on to reinvoigorate the creative juices, to fight off the shackles of despair and stop the old Muse from draping herself languidly over a metaphorical sofa like a pampered tart with a headache. The name of this miracle tonic? Stephen King.

In tough times I've always turned to one of King's books. Non-fiction works are just as good as novels. 'On Writing' always helps relight the fires. As does 'Danse Macabre'. But anything from the opening passages of 'Carrie' to the epic conclusion of 'The Dark Tower' is usually enough to drag me from the pit of despairing writers and hoist me, breathless, onto safe ground. This latest bout of fear and self-loathing has been a pretty protracted affair (months rather than weeks or days), and even the surefire King cure-alls failed to work. But in the end, I found the pill I needed. (All right, enough with the medicinal metaphors!) The book I needed was 'Cujo'.

I know, not hailed as one of his classics, but when your a fan of King, all his works have a place in your heart. 'Cujo' is one of those books I bought back in my early teens when I just couldn't get enough of the guy's work. I had fond memories of that paperback. It was the Futura edition released shortly after the movie came out with the kid recoiling in horror as the 'BADDOG' lunges in for the kill. I know I read it way back then, but I couldn't remember anything apart from just a few key moments early on. So it was nice to get hold of a reasonably good copy of this little gem off Ebay (sadly not quite the same Futura edition) and to sit down and soak up King at his creative height. And as I was reading I felt the old creative juices beginning to flow again, and within the first fifty pages I had already decided to tackle the difficult second half of my own stalled novel and to complete the unfinished short stories in my 'To Do' list. Once again, Doctor King has worked his voodoo magic.

What would I do with out him? Honest answer: Without King, I probably wouldn't be a writer. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Who Review: Army of Ghosts / Doomsday

Rose Must Die!

The foreshadowing began as early as episode two of this series, when Queen Victoria warned our time travellers of the fate that awaited them if they pursued “this terrible life”. The Beast in ‘The Satan Pit’ predicted it in a more direct fashion with: “the valiant child, who will die in battle so very soon…” All in all, things were looking pretty gloomy for Rose as we approached the season finale. Now of course, we can see that this was all a very cleverly constructed ruse to keep us watching. And it worked. In dramatic terms, to foreshadow something so heavily almost always means there’s a surprise in store. You can’t keep telling an audience one of your main characters is going to die and then duly kill them. That’s not very dramatic. That’s just cruel and depressing. If you are going to kill off a main character it’s usually best done with the element of surprise - there’s great drama to be had in shocking an audience with a big death. But in Doctor Who, the build-up towards what seemed Rose’s inevitable demise was merely leading the audience down one road only to surprise them with something better than a ‘mere’ death. The war between the Daleks and Cybermen was great and epic and fun, but the real highpoint of this episode (and the series) came with the separation of Rose and the Doctor in the final fifteen minutes. In this episode, we saw how good a Doctor Tennant is. Here, in the most dramatic moments of his tenure, Tennant played it perfectly. The fear and helplessness in his face as he saw Rose putting herself in such a dangerous predicament; followed by the scream of undiluted horror and pain as Rose was sucked into the void; to the moments of quiet mourning as he came to terms with losing her, not to death, but to the alternate world she had escaped to (saved at the last moment by her once-dead father). Tennant was at his very best in these moments. And the final farewell between the Doctor and Rose on a beach in Norway (Bad Wolf Bay, would you believe!) was truly touching. “I love you,” Rose says. “Quite right, too,” the Doctor replies, with a lump in his throat. Excellent. And I have to say, Billie Piper equipped herself admirably, too.
Respect to Russell T Davies and the rest of the Doctor Who team. They got it spot on.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Writing? Oh, yes, THAT!

It's been a pretty grim time in the productivity stakes. Due to the many and varied demands on my time (including adapting to a new job and the mental drain of Open Uni studies) I've not been able to work on the handful of stories sitting in my "OUT" folder, nor turn my mind to producing anything new. I feel totally bereft of any drive right now. I've completely lost interest in reading, movies, my Literature course, and, most worryingly of all, my writing. I sincerely hope this is all a passing phase. Perhaps after producing over twenty short stories in two years I have reached a (temporary) "burn out".
The only thing that has kept me going these past few months is my weekly fix of Doctor Who. When Doctor Who reaches its truly epic finale next Saturday, I'm hoping that my old passions will rush back in to fill the void created by the good Doctor's absence. If they don't, I'm going to be seriously worried. I really will need a doctor!