Friday, December 26, 2008

Resolutions Update

Well, it's been a year since I made my last set of New Year writer resolutions. So, how did I do?

1) I will start/finish the damn book
Did that. I completed my short novel 'The Hotel Galileo' back in August and sent it to small US small press Wolfsinger in early September. No response yet...
2) I will always have at least three stories on submission, while working on a fourth
This has been a year for taking a breather, taking stock of the past four years and then going back into it with renewed energy. I see the last two stories which are still on submission as the end of a "first phase", and the new stories I'm working on are part of a new phase. Suffice to say I'm quietly excited about the new stuff.
3) I will attend at least one writer's conference, and introduce myself to agents, editors, and other writers
FantasyCon 2008 back in Septemeber. This is the achievement of 2008 I am most proud of. It took a lot for me to go out into the world and meet other writers and publishers, being a shy, retiring type.
4) I will subscribe to the magazines I submit to
Subscribed to Black Static for six issues, but that has now lapsed. Need to either renew my subscription or subscribe to something else. Murky Depths, maybe...?
5) I will join a critique group. If one doesn't exist, I will start one at the local bookstore or library
Joined Critters Online Critique Group three months ago. First experience has been phenomenally good.
6) I will finish every story I start
Still working on that.
7) I will listen to criticism
Something I've always striven to do. As well as needing a colossal amount of self-belief, the other important quality for an upcoming writer is having the humility to listen to criticism. And act upon it.
8) I will create/update my website
Voila: the Steam-Powered Typewriter. I would still love to have a purpose-built website but this will do for now.
9) I will master the query process and find an agent
Not quite ready for that, yet. Soon, though, fingers crossed.
10) I'll quit procrastinating in the form of research, outlines, synopses, taking classes, reading how-to books, talking about writing, and actually write something
Yes, add to that the process of social networking. Necessary in these modern times, but oh-so-time-consuming. Damn you Facebook!
11) I will refuse to get discouraged, because I know JA Konrath wrote 9 novels, received almost 500 rejections, and penned over 1 million words before he sold a thing--and I'm a lot more talented than that guy
Refuse to get discouraged? The thought never entered my head.

And that's me for 2008. Not bad, I think, even if I say so myself. Not a very big year for publication credits admittedly, but as I've mentioned before, this year has seen me take a deep breath before coming back at it. I've never suffered from writer's block, because part of me thinks it doesn't actually exist. I think all writers get jaded occassionally, and at some point all writers suddenly find that what they're writing has lost it's mojo. That's right and proper and part of the process of improving. That's the time to go away, read some good books, read some good short stories, watch some good movies. And whilst doing this you will find yourself in quiet moments thinking to yourself, "wow, that was really good. If I'd written it, I would have done this . . ." And before you know it, you're back at the writing desk again. It can't be all output. There has to be input, too.

Have a great 2009, everyone.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Some haikus

Just stumbled across three haikus I wrote in my notebook last year. Poetry is something I'd love to write a lot more of. These are quite sweet, I think:

Rain runs down the glass
The clouds above cast shadows
On my empty lawn

If she says 'No way'
I will walk out that door now
Never to return

The flowers I bought
Are beginning to dwindle
Water cannot save them

And there you have it. I have no recollection of composing them, either, but knowing my state of mind in recent times it's not a surprise. Amazing what you find in your old notebooks, though.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Estronomicon FantasyCon 2008 Special

The FantasyCon issue of the FREE Estronomicon eZine is now available. Although I don't have a story in this issue my "Newbie's Guide to..." report is in there. Lots of great fiction from other writers including Allyson Bird, Neil Davies, Charles Black, Stephen Bacon, Tony Richards, Paul Kane and Marie O'Regan. The cover art is by Award-winning Vincent Chong.


It's a great issue, containing short stories by some of the FantasyCon attendees, art by award-winner Vincent Chong and lots of pictures of the event. I thoroughly enjoyed this convention and yes, there is a photo of me in there somewhere, but keep it quiet, won't you?



See the webpage for more info and to download :http://www.screamingdreams.com/index.html?target=d90.html


or you can get it directly here (2.48mb) :


http://www.screamingdreams.com/ezine/FantasyCon2008.pdf

Monday, December 01, 2008

Incoming

It's been a relatively quiet year for getting stories published, but I have a handful of stories about to be published in the coming months.

First up is "The Weight of Shadows" which is a science fiction story due to appear in the next issue of Jupiter SF in January 2009. This is my second appearance in this fine sf zine and I'm pleased to say there will be artwork accompanying my story provided by yours truly. I admit I have neglected my art for the last few years to concentrate on the fiction side of things. It was the encouraging comments from an old school friend that made me pick up the brush again. I hope the result isn't too shoddy. If feedback is positive I may look at doing more artwork in the future. We'll see.

Second imminent publication is in new online venue Arkham Tales, the personal project of editor Nathan Shumate. The first issue is online now and available to download as a PDF. My story "Inheritance", a weird western story, should be published in the second issue due around February next year. http://www.arkhamtales.com/

Still awaiting the publication of "The Man Who Ate Planets" in the anthology Best New tales of the Apocalypse. The collection is edited by D. L. Snell and Bobbie Metevier. I recently saw the table of contents and it looks like my story is first up - how exciting is that!!! The book is to be published by Permuted Press any time soon.

All being well, "Deus Ex Machina" should appear in the next edition of Estronomicon. Watch this space for updates on that. http://www.screamingdreams.com/

In other news, I submitted another story to the Aeon Award. The final deadline was yesterday, Nov 30th. Results will be announced in about two weeks. The story I sent in was inspired by something my five year-old daughter said to me one day. I hope it does well for that reason alone.

So lots of stuff coming up. And of course, there's the second draft of the novel. Work on that starts very soon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Stop the world I want to get off!


Blimey! Where did that month go? I've been so busy lately that I haven't even had a chance to blog! So, what has happened in the last month? Well, I started my latest Open University course, Advanced Creative Writing. Submitted my first TMA last Thursday. Despite it being an added pressure to everyday life, I am enjoying the course a lot so far.


I've got a stack of stories that have either been published or are about to be published. Since my last blog entry, a new issue of Estronomicon has appeared: The Hallowe'en Special, and it contains another one of my stories, 'The Witch is Dead'. It originally appeared at Whispers of Wickedness, but I thought it was perfect for Halowe'en. You can find the issue over at Screaming Dreams:
Hallowe’en Special
Coming up: 'Inheritance' is scheduled to appear in a future issue of Arkham Tales; 'The Man Who Ate Planets' to be reprinted in the Permuted Press anthology Best New Apocalyptic Fiction; two stories ('Guardian' and 'The View from the Bridge') to be reprinted in the Year 4 Anthology of From the Asylum; and 'The Weight of Shadows' is due to appear in issue 23 of Jupiter SF. I've also submitted a piece of artwork to editor Ian Redman to accompany the story. Also coming up, my story 'The Devil's Bones' has been accepted for the final print issue of acclaimed small press magazine Whispers of Wickedness. I am very excited about this, as it was one of my ambitions to appear in their zine since I started all this business. I've been honoured to have my story edited by Peter Tennant who recently won the British Fantasy Award for his work as head of Whispers Review Team. I can't wait to see the story in print. Chuffed is what I am!
I've been writing lots, too. Well, not as much as I would like, but more than in recent times. Working on several interesting short stories and really enjoying the process again. Maybe I needed to get the first draft of that novel out of the way in order to come back to the short form refreshed. Speaking of which, I would really love to start work on the second draft of 'The Silver Sea', but there's only so much a guy can fit into twenty-four hours. Still, I feel hopeful at the moment; tired, but hopeful.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A World Without Men

Ever wondered what the world would be like if every single man disappeared tomorrow? Come on, you've all thought about it at one time or another.

Well, I'm very pleased to have my story "A World Without Men" published in the latest edition of Estronomicon magazine. This story was actually my final piece for my Creative Writing course last year. The mag comes in PDF format, downloadable for free at the website. This link will enable you to download the issue directly: http://www.screamingdreams.com/ezine/Recovery2008.pdf
Or, if you prefer, you can visit the Screaming Dreams site ( http://www.screamingdreams.com/) first and check it out. There's lots of free stuff there, including back issues of Estronomicon available for download, as well as free ebooks and excerpts from their range of excellent print books.
I would be proper chuffed if you found the time to read my story and if you do, and it moves you in any way (good or bad), please feel free to leave me a comment. Thanks for your time. Have a good one!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Reading

Taking some time out to do some serious reading (as opposed to jocular reading which is not to be encouraged). My To-Read Pile includes such works as Temeraire by Naomi Novik, Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, Shadows and Other Tales by Tony Richards, Lisey's Story by Stephen King and many more. But first on my list are two collections which I'm zipping through now: Allyson Bird's Bull Running for Girls and Twentieth-Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. Both are collections of similar length and in similar genres, so it should be interesting to see in what ways the "girls" may differ from the "boys", as it were, in terms of style. After I've completed those two I'm jumping straight into Joe Hill's much-acclaimed debut novel Heart-Shaped Box. So, as you can see, much great fiction to devour over the coming few weeks/months. I begin the fifth year of my Open University course on Saturday, Advanced Creative Writing, so I will seriously have to manage my time better than I have been doing recently if I'm going to fit in all this reading for pleasure.

One new story publication to announce: the latest issue of Estronomicon contains my story "A World Without Men". The PDF download is here: Screaming Dreams (Just click on the Estronomicon eZine link in the sidebar and then click on 2008 issues). I hope you have time to check out this great zine; it contains fiction by such writers as Peter Tennant, Gary McMahon, Garry Charles, Hugh MacDonald, Allyson Bird and many others.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Report: FantasyCon 2008

What is a ‘FantasyCon’ and what can the first-time attendee realistically expect? Men dressed as Orcs? Women dressed as Ice Queens? Well, not quite.

FantasyCon is an annual event hosted by the British Fantasy Society which takes place in the spacious surroundings of The Britannia Hotel, Nottingham. The convention is open to everybody, although BFS members get preferential membership rates.
The website (http://www.fantasycon.org.uk/) states: “At FantasyCon, you can meet your favourite authors, attend book launches and listen to panels. Or, if you prefer, you can sit in the bar with friends old and new and perhaps win a prize in the acclaimed FantasyCon Raffle!”

I went primarily as an observer, to sample the delights (and the beer) of this auspicious event. As a writer who is relatively new on the scene it was a great opportunity to say “Hi” and shake the hands of some of the publishers I have had the privilege of being published by, including Steve Upham of Screaming Dreams Press, Lee Harris of Hub Magazine and Terry Martin, the man behind the exciting new publication Murky Depths. It was also a chance to sit in on some very interesting discussion panels, my favourite being “Crafting the Short Story” in which Christopher Fowler, Stephen Jones, Tony Richards and living legend Ramsey Campbell waxed lyrical about their favourite short stories and what made each one so special. The moderator was Peter Crowther of PS Publishing who was absolutely brilliant, managing the discussion in a relaxed and highly amusing way. I also enjoyed “New Directions in SF”, with Ian Watson and John Grant sparking off each other to such entertaining effect.

The overall highlight for me was the British Fantasy Society Awards ceremony on the Saturday night. It was wonderful to be sitting at the same table as Allyson Bird and Vincent Chong when Vincent won the award for Best Artist for the second year running. (He provided the cover art for Allyson’s stunning debut collection ‘Bull Running for Girls’, amongst many others). A great moment. The entire ceremony was never less than entertaining, from the inspiring moment when Ray Harryhausen won the Special Achievement Award and Stephen Jones read out a letter from the great man himself, to Joel Lane’s exclamation (“F*** me backwards!”) after winning the award for Best Short Story. I’ll never forget his face as he walked away from the stage proudly clutching his statuette.

If there were any downsides to the event they were the age-old restraints of money and time: I regret not being able to buy more books. There were so many wonderful novels, collections and anthologies on sale; and although I aim to purchase as many as possible over the coming months it’s not the same as picking up a copy at FantasyCon and having it personally signed by the author. The other slight downside was not having the time to talk to more people. For example, I met Paul Meloy on the first night and never got a chance to talk to him about his collection ‘Islington Crocodiles’. But things like that make me determined to return next year. Next year I aim to be a member of the BFS. Next year I hope to be able to make recommendations for consideration, and then vote for the authors/stories/artists/publications I think are deserving of the prestigious awards. And that, in a nutshell, is what FantasyCon is all about. It is a welcoming, gracious society and you cannot help but be drawn into their circle. When you’ve been once, you just have to go again—for the experience, for the fascinating company. And yes, okay, for the beer, too.

Monday, September 15, 2008

On Writing, On Waiting, On Stuff

Well, I'm very happy to have just completed the first draft of The Silver Sea this weekend. As well as the huge sense of achievement which comes with completing any such undertaking, I also felt an odd sense of surprise at completing it without any real strenous effort. The best way to describe it is that the novel sort of wrote itself. I never nailed down the plot specifically (keeping only key moments and scenes in my head as markers to guide the narrative to its conclusion), and yet the story just flowed along quite nicely, filled with drama and tension and conflict and surprises; and a bitter-sweet ending which ties into the second volume, which I hope to be writing at some point in the near future. Very very happy with how it's turned out, and although I have forced myself to put it away for a few weeks I am already chomping at the proverbial to get back to it and make it even better.

Good news on the story submission front: The Devil's Bones is now slated to appear in the final print issue of Whispers of Wickedness. It sure was a long wait (I submitted it last hallowe'en) but I'm glad I waited. Since I started out down this road one of my ambitions was to get a story into the print version of Whispers (I have several pieces of flash fiction on the website). Whispers doesn't pay (only contributor copies) but it has some major kudos. A proud moment for me; just a shame it's the last issue.

This coming Friday I will be travelling up to Nottingham for my first major Con. FantasyCon, run by the British Fantasy Society, is one of the biggest events of the year and I can't wait. Nervous, but excited.

Finally, the other day I submitted The Transmuted Engine to the Aeon Award, a short story competition run by the folks at Albedo One. I was lucky enough to have my story Juju make the longlist back in 2005. Fingers crossed this new story does even better.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Murky Depths Review

Murky Depths #5 has just received its first review, and a very positive one it is too. With regard to my story Halls of the Tollomai, reviewer Michele Lee had this to say:

In the war story “Halls of the Tollomai” by Lee Moan, a group of Marines are stuck in combat on an alien world with shifting landscapes, a mind-controlling enemy, and infectious locals. The heart of this isn’t about who wins and loses, but what it costs to get there.

You can read the entire magazine review here: Murky Depths Review

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Silver Sea hits 30k

Some great advances this week during my time off work. Managed to hit the 30,000 word mark with my steampunk detective novel The Silver Sea. Right now I'm in that all-consuming, totally invigorating period where the characters are really coming to life and the fluid plot elements are slipping into a configuration that is very pleasing, and I am finding myself jotting down sentences, character nuances and snippets of dilaogue at the strangest times. This, for me, is the true joy of writing.

This novel is more challenging than anything I've done before because it is the first volume in what will be a five-part series featuring the detective character, Inspector Darknoll. I am constantly thinking "how will that affect future events?", or "will we see this character again, if so, where and why?". It's all very exciting. Right now, I am desperate to get the first draft finished, so I can begin the exciting process of hammering it into shape.

So you want to be a writer?

Great article on the true value of devoting your life to being a writer by R J Ellroy, author of A Quiet Belief in Angels:
http://www.orionbooks.co.uk/blogDetails.aspx?id=6.

Here's a quote from Kaari Itrio which I like:

I can’t help but to write, I have a inner need for it. If I’m not in the middle of some literary project, I’m utterly lost, unhappy and distressed. As soon as I get started, I calm down.

Then there's Jack Dann:

For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I'm surprised where the journey takes me.

And finally from Jules Renard:

Writing is the best way to talk without being interrupted.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Getting Somewhere

I'm off work for a week, so I've been working on two projects:

First off, finishing The Transmuted Engine. This long short story (it's come in around 7500 words) is all but complete now. One more polish and then I shall be submitting it for the Aeon Award. I have a lot of faith in it.

The second project is my novel The Silver Sea. I am very pleased with the work so far. I'm just about halfway with this one, and desperate to get that first draft done.

Sent The Hotel Galileo to WolfSinger Publications back on August 3rd. Waiting with bated breath... Also waiting to hear back on some stories with painfully-long response times. Feel like I'm starting to get somewhere, though...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Steampunk Girl (2)

Okay, I can reveal that the mystery girl in my last blog entry is model and fashion designer Kato, who, amongst other things, has a fashon line devoted to all things steampunk. You can check out her gear at: http://www.steampunkcouture.com/. As a lover of all things steampunk myself, it's hard not to love someone devoted to this wonderful style.

Yeah, and she's mighty pretty, too.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Murky Depths

When I was a young lad I wanted to be a comic strip artist. I would have given my right arm to draw for 2000AD (which would have been a problem as I'm right-handed!!!) Okay, things change. Now I'm a thirty-something father of four who is carving out a career as a writer and trying not to get too jaded by the pressures of life and work and all the crap in between. But my love of comic strips hasn't faded at all. And here I am, at the age of thirty...well, in my thirties...with one of my stories appearing in Murky Depths, one of the most exciting venues for upcoming writers and artists I've seen in a long time. The production values are of the highest standard, and the content, a generous mixture of prose and comic strips, is nothing short of inspirational. Is just works. If you don't believe me, go check it out yourself. Nothing is more convincing than feeling the magazine in your own sweaty hands, turning the glossy pages, smelling that fresh-print smell. Terry Martin has produced a modern marvel. In an age when the doomsayers are decrying the death of short fiction, Murky Depths is out there shouting its defiance at the world.

Get it, while it's hot...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Finished!

The final edit of my steampunk mystery The Hotel Galileo is complete. I feel a massive sense of achievement right now. This project began back in 2005. It's been through several big changes, and to see it now reading so coherently, so complete, gives me a wonderfully warm feeling. I am hoping to submit the manuscript to Carol Hightshoe of Wolfsinger Publications at some point in the next few days. Just tinkering with the formatting now, making sure I've done everything correctly. I don't want to jump the gun (but I'm going to anyway!) but I have so many ideas for marketing the book, as well as some exciting ideas for further mysteries for Barclay Heath.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Steam-Powered Typewriter Rides Again

I use this title for my forum page at Whispers and just figured that as my longer works are all firmly embedded in the steampunk/dieselpunk/alternate history genres, it would be a wise move to give my blog that title too. I love the entire steampunk universe, both aesthetically (all those cogs and wheels and dials and valves!) and dramatically, too. My completed short novel The Hotel Galileo is set in alternate version of the Roaring Twenties, one in which humanity has branched out into space. The novel I am currently working on, The Silver Sea, is a crime novel set in a much darker universe, an alternate earth circa 1898, with airships and steam-powered automatons, and many other retro-sf ideas, all observed by a detective from our own reality lost at sea in this grim dystopia.

I'm very excited to have found (possibly) the perfect publisher for The Hotel Galileo. Right now I am doing one final sweep of the novel before it goes out into the big wide world. Watch this space.

Friday, July 25, 2008

GUD Goodies Contest

GUD (Greatest Uncommon Denominator) has just launched a pre-buzz contest to promote the release of their third issue. You can check out the details out here.

GUD is published twice a year and chief editor Kaolin Fire has already implemented many good ideas which are innovative and realistic for the publishing world of today (such as being able to download individual stories for a small price and promotional contests like the one mentioned above). They seem to be going places. Good luck to them, or should that be GUD luck?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stories and Longer Works

Things are moving steadily in all areas at the moment. In Short Story Land I've just done a "final edit" on The Transmuted Engine before sending it to my first reader for a serious critique. I'm looking at entering this one for the Aeon Award this year. I made the long-list with Juju in 2005 (see here) which made me very proud. (Juju went on to appear in the second print issue of Hub Magazine). I've also been working on a dark fiction piece called The Postal Worker, which is delving into some creepy new territory for me. It's very much in the tradition of "weird" fiction. Spiders of Suburbia has a strong start but I'm putting it on the shelf for the time being as I'm not too happy with the way the story's heading.

In Novel-Land I'm steaming across The Silver Sea, which is demanding mosty of my time right now (I'm actually thinking about it the moment I wake up, which is disturbing!) I'm bracing myself for a final-final edit of The Hotel Galileo before I start looking for a publisher. Trouble is, it's an odd-length--publisher word count is about 45k--and that's a hard-sell any time of the week. Looking at all options for this one, but obviously I would dearly love to see it published as a stand-alone volume, possibly the first in a series. Time will soon tell...

Imminent Publications
Halls of the Tollomai - Murky Depths #5, due early August
The Man Who Ate Planets - Best New Tales of the Apocalypse (Permuted Press), due September
Guardian and The View From the Bridge - From the Asylum Year 4 Anthology, due September

(Medea's Children which was due to be published as an ebook at Screaming Dreams has been indefinitely postponed due to publisher Steve Uphams's ill-health. My thoughts are with Steve and his family.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Doctor Who Series 4

I went off the series last year. There was something missing from the show that I couldn't put my finger on, and even now, a year later, I'm still not exactly sure what it was that 'stuck in me clack'. I know for certain that I disliked the Daleks in Manhattan episodes without apology, and the series finale was ruined for me by the way the Doctor got out of the (almost) impossible situation. It was a nice idea in theory, but dramatically it was only one step away from a deus ex machina resolution. Then again, maybe I was just in a bad mood. I would love to watch the series again, just to see if the problem lay with me or the series itself.

Anyway, that lengthy preamble brings me to the current series which finished last Saturday with a bang (lots of them actually), a screaming Davros, and a plethora of guest characters all getting their moment to shine in the biggest series finale yet. And I enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, the series as a whole was, for me, the most enjoyable so far. The naysayers (and there are oh-so-many naysayers out there, just waiting in the nay-saying trenches of cyberspace to nay-say at the first given opportunity!) gave Catherine Tate a rough ride the first time she appeared in the Christmas special in 2006; so when it was announced she was returning as a regular companion for an entire series, well, I think the nay-sayers went into overdrive. However, history shows that they also did this to Billie Piper before the revitalised Doctor Who was even screened on TV! And what happened? The majority of people loved Rose by the end of the first series. Well, fans of the show did, anyway. The naysayers will never be satisfied.


Catherine Tate showed she could handle the drama and the comedic moments with equal aplomb. Her performances both in Turn Left, when she was about to be transported back in time, and her final scenes with the Doctor at the end of Journey's End showed she was an actress as well as a comic performer. I enjoyed her portrayal of Donna throughout the series, and if we occassionally saw shades of her "am I bovvered?" persona creeping in, what does it matter? That's a part of her, innit? Her story arc and its low-key conclusion were brilliantly performed by all, especially Tate and, of course, David Tennant, who carried the weight of the show to its heartbraking denoument with true class. I love his Doctor, and he is now so comfortable in the role it's hard to imagine anyone else taking over. The fright we all had at the cliffhanger ending to the penultimate episode ("I'm regenerating!") really brought it home how much I enjoy him as the Doctor and how much I would hate to see him leave the show. The good news is, he's happy, the producers are happy, and, on the whole, the fans are happy, too. I understand Tennant will be present for at least next year's specials (two Christmas specials and two further specials over the course of 2009), and things look set for him to be around for the next complete series in 2010. Let's hope so.


News that Stephen Moffatt (The Empty Child/Doctor Dances, Blink and Silence in the Library/Forests of the Dead) will be taking over from Russell T Davies as chief writer is very welcome news. Roll on Christmas and the Return of the Cybermen!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Art for Art's Sake



















Just thought I would post some of my art on the site, if only for the sake of having it in one place for future reference. It's only a small selection, some of it new, some old. The first pic is the most recent: it was a sketch I did the other day using Artweaver software. I'm moving more into digital art of late. More to come soon...


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bits and Pieces

A few bits and pieces of news.

Story Acceptances:

The Weight of Shadows has been accepted by Jupiter SF and is due to appear in issue 23 (Jan '09), my second appearance in this quality UK-based sf quarterly.

The Man Who Ate Planets has been accepted for the Permuted Press anthology Best New Tales of the Apocalypse. This is a reprint anthology, and "Planets" first appeared last year in the final issue of Revelation Magazine which is sadly no more.

Conventions

The Welsh Event (see earlier post):
Due to forces beyond my control (most forces are beyond my control, unfortunately!) I was unable to attend this con. I've seen some reports of the day already and it looked like a great success.
Back on January 1st, I made myself a resolution to attend one con this year, so I have now resolved to make it to Fantasycon in September. Paying my membership fee this week. Can't wait.

Writing Progress

Finished 'The Transmuted Engine' last week and very pleased so far with the first draft. Trying to leave it alone for a while but I keep going back in and tinkering here and there. Made a start on 'The Spiders of Suburbia' and there are a couple more stories vying for my attention. Then, of course, there is still the matter of the two novels: one completed, one in progress.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Niteblade Anthology Poll

The e-zine Niteblade is running a month-long poll to decide which stories and poems from the first four issues will be included in the Niteblade print anthology Lost Innocence.

Two of my stories appear on the poll: "The Midnight Men" (Issue 1), and "The Glamour" (issue 3). "Midnight Men" got a very favourable review at Whispers of Wickedness a while back. If you managed to catch either of my tales, and you thought they were spiffing, and think they're deserving of inclusion in the anthology, I would much appreciate your vote. Here's a link to the poll: http://niteblade.com/lost-innocence/

Voting closes June 30.

Thank you for your support!

Friday, June 06, 2008

General Update

Writing
Have been getting down to it with new short story 'The Transmuted Engine'. This piece has turned into something quite remarkable and, after such a long hiatus, deeply satisfying. It's proved to be the perfect forum in which to let my imagination run wild. I am close to completing it, despite suffering from bouts of inexplicable fatigue over the past couple of weeks. Can't wait to finish this one and move onto 'The Spiders of Suburbia'.

Still wondering what to do with my completed novella The Hotel Galileo. Have looked at various options but none of them particylarly satisfying. I want to find the right publisher for this special story and am prepared to wait a while to find them.

Convention
I'm planning to attend the Space, Time, Machine and Monster: A Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Conference for the Valleys on Saturday 21 June 2008, 10:00am - 4:30pm at the University of Glamorgan, Treforest. (Tickets £5 / £3 concessions; available on the door only)

On Saturday 21 June 2008, Academi will be holding a Science Fiction,Fantasy and Horror Day Conference as part of the new South Wales Valleys Literature Development Initiative. The event will be held in the University of Glamorgan, Treforest campus. Professor Mark Brake, originator of the 'Science: Fiction and Culture Course' at the University will introduce an exciting day including workshops, discussion panels and presentations from a wealth of talented authors, scriptwriters and creative artists from Wales including Jasper Fforde, Philip Gross, Tim Lebbon, Steve Lockley, Stephen Volk, Catherine Fisher, Terry Cooper and more.

There is a long and lasting fascination with Fantasy and ScienceFiction in the Valleys in Wales, dating back to the Mabinogion. This also includes a story about alien contact written by the Bishop of Llandaff in 1638 andcontinues with others including Lady Gwen written anonymously in 1891, Godwin's writings and more currently Peter George and Terry Nation,with the most current and successful writer to raise the profile of the genrebeing Russell T Davies with Dr Who. The Conference aims to attract and celebrate the creative talents ofpeople of all ages and abilities with a variety of stimulating talks andworkshops throughout the day. It will be an ideal event to showcase a particulargenre of literature which is gaining ever more popularity and interest andwill help to promote its enjoyment and relevance today.

Scintillating sessions from:
* Jasper Fforde - creator of the 'New Weird' genre of writing
* Stephen Volk - Horror script writer for TV and film in the UK andUSA
* Steve Lockley - Horror writer
* Tim Lebbon - Horror writer
* Dr Dimitra Fimi - Lecturer in English Literature specifically theworks of Tolkien
* Rev Neil Hook - History of Sci Fi and Fantasy in Wales
* Rhys Hughes - talk on Magic Realism/Readings
* Louis Savy - Presentation and screening of three winners of theLondon Sci Fi 48 hour film challenge
* Rhys Hughes - OuLiPo presentation on how to write impossiblestories
* Andrew Cartmel - scriptwriter for Dr Who, Dark Knight and TorchwoodSessions particularly for young people include:
* Creative Sci Fi Writing with Philip Gross
* Graphic Novel Character and storyboard workshop with artist andauthor Terry Cooper
* Fantasy Fiction for children with Catherine FisherFor further information please contact Louise Richards, South WalesValleys Literature Development Officer on:swvldo@gmail.com or 07854 435217or Academi on 029 2047 2266.

Hope to see some friendly faces there!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Killing Gloria

Just about to be published: the latest edition of Estronomicon, the short-fiction ezine published by Screaming Dreams Press, featuring my story 'Killing Gloria'. It's one of my earlier stories, and still one of my personal favourites. The story appeared previously in Scifantastic #2, and received a very favourable review at Whispers of Wickedness. Steve Redwood had this to say:

Quite different in tone is Lee Moan's Killing Gloria, a successful action-packed mixture of serious and a bit tongue-in-cheek, as a man tries to rid himself of an android or replicant who (though more like Desdemona than Othello, but I do so want to throw in the one Shakespearean quote I can remember!) 'loved not wisely but too well', and more to the point, 'one not easily jealous, but being wrought, perplexed in the extreme'. After the husband has 'killed' the too-devoted lady for the second time, she is getting tetchy, and indeed rather ominously 'perplexed': "I'm finding it very hard not to be angry with you right now." Retribution swiftly follows, as it is wont to do in fiction. This would make a wonderful Twilight Zone film.


There is also some fantastic fiction from the likes of Hugh MacDonald (Dead of Night Award Winner), Robin James Hutton, Sean Parker and Charles Black, amongst others. Go here to download the latest issue: Estronomicon Fiction Special

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Three Books

I’ve read more books on the craft of writing than I care to remember, but there are three in particular which I frequently return to, each one for different reasons.

The three books are:

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
On Writing by Stephen King
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E. B. White.

The Brande book I go to for inspiration. It sets itself apart from most books about writing, because it isn’t really about the nuts and bolts of writing – it’s about what it means to be a writer, what it takes to be a writer, and what you need to do (both internally and externally) to write successfully.
The King book I go to for rejuvenation. I’ve posted before about the healing powers of King’s fiction and how, for me, a dose of King can set me back on the right path when things have gone awry. That also applies to his brilliant non-fiction pieces, too. (Danse Macabre is also great, but it’s really concerned with horror, not writing.) On Writing is a fantastic, heart-warming book about the joys and pains of writing, all told by the most human, enthusiastic writer of his generation. “God loves an enthusiast?” King’s enthusiasm rubs off on me every time I dip into this precious tome.
And then there is Strunk and White’s bible of style. If you’re a writer, then this book is an essential purchase, and should always remain close to hand. The book may not exactly save your life, but it can save you from looking like a (literary) berk.

Dorothea Brande’s Tip of the Day:

“If you are unable to finish a piece of work at one sitting, make an engagement with yourself to resume work before you rise from the table. You will find that this acts like a posthypnotic suggestion, in more ways than one. You will get back to the work without delay, and you will pick up the same note with little difficulty, so that your story will not show as many different styles as a patchwork quilt when it is done.”

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Back to it

After a long and unexpected hiatus on the short story front, I'm pleased and relieved to be working on some new material. It was down to a combination of factors, but mainly burnout, I think. After producing forty short stories in four years I think the short story well just dried up, and I figured it was best just to walk away from it for a while, let it refill, even though at times it seemed to be refilling at a very slow trickle, if at all. I was never too worried during the drought, though. I mean, it wasn't exactly writer's block--I was still working on my novels (one all but finished, one awaiting editing, one being written now), and writing other bits and pieces--so I didn't get myself all depressed and tearing my shirt in frustration or anything. In fact it was a nice break from the (self-imposed) pressure to keep coming up with new short story ideas. It also helped to have a clutch of about eight completed stories in the out tray (which are still being subbed hither and thither as I write).

Now, though, I'm hopefully entering a new phase of short story writing. The involuntary hiatus has given me time to sit down and think about stuff I really want to write, about issues that are burning inside me, and about ideas that truly excite me. I've been reading, too, reading the kind of stuff that makes me kick myself and say "Damn, I wish I'd written that!" Things like that often spur me on to come up with something as good or better. This never happens, of course, but as the old saying goes, if you aim for the moon...

So, first up is a piece of weird fiction inspired by a children's book called 'Angus Rides the Goods Train'. The concept for my story actually came to me as I was reading the book to my kids! No definitive title as yet, but the prospect of writing it is so exciting I don't care about that. A title will come, no doubt, somewhere along the way.

After that, there's 'The Spiders of Suburbia' which is an idea I've been mulling over for a very long time, just waiting for that central key scene which helped kick it into life. There's more to come, and it's all very exciting. And, of course, those novels...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Murky Depths

As a writer it's good to have goals. Some of them are easily attainable, some of them you know are going to be a long shot, and others are the kind usually relegated to the realms of fantasy. This is applicable to the kinds of magazines you wish to see your work appear in. Hey, wouldn't we all love to be regularly featured in F & SF, Asimov's, Analog, Interzone, Weird Tales, and the like? I know I would. Unfortunately, most of us have to find other venues for our work. But that doesn't mean you have to compromise on quality. There are a good few small press magazines out there which actually look fantastic, streets ahead of the Big Mags in terms of presentation, art design, etc. These magazines include such labours of love as Zahir: Unforgettable Tales, Midnight Street Magazine, and 'new kid on the block', Murky Depths. None of these mags pay vast amounts, but what they offer the submitting author is a wonderful home for their story, a place where you know it will be well-treated, pampered almost; and, sometimes, the promise of specially-commissioned artwork to nestle alongside your prose in a rewarding and heartwarming symbiosis. What it all comes down to is finding the best market for your work. That doesn't have to be (or shouldn't have to be) in the pages of pro zines.

That long-winded preamble was my way of saying how proud I am to have recently had a story accepted at Murky Depths. Edited by Terry martin, Murky Depths is "a quarterly anthology with a difference. It features top quality speculative fiction with sprinklings of horror and fantasy that push the boundaries of science fiction..."
My story 'Halls of the Tollomai' is scheduled to appear in the September '08 issue, No. 5. I can't wait, and I urge you to check out the mag in the meantime.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ebook Publication at Screaming Dreams

Medea's Children
This long short story, my longest to date, is scheduled to appear as an eBook at Screaming Dreams Press in the very near future. I'm very excited about this. Screaming Dreams is growing in reputation as a serious small press outlet, publishing paperback books, ebooks and, of course, its quarterly ezine Estronomicon. Editor/Publisher Steve Upham is also publishing my story Killing Gloria in the next issue of the zine, which I am very pleased about.

Writing
Whilst my short novel The Hotel Galileo is having a final read-through with friends/relatives, I've been concentrating on writing my next book. The work so far is incredibly exciting, and I'm literally bursting to talk about it to anyone who might listen; but long ago I made it a golden rule never to talk about a project whilst it was 'in progress'. I found early on that this can be the kiss of death for any project. You can never describe to someone in a few words what you are imagining in the minutest detail inside your head. You can try, but it's usually best to wait until at least the completion of the first draft. Then, any criticisms or openly negative comments you may receive can act as fuel for the second draft. But maybe that's just me.

I'm also hoping to receive a few responses from magazine editors in the next week or two. I've got eight still on submission, most of them having been under consideration for two or three months. Fingers crossed for some more good news.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Year of Anthologies

Antho, antho, antho...
Up until now my stories have only ever appeared in magazines. I've submitted to a few anthologies over the past few years but without success, but then, if I'm honest, I haven't really pursued that avenue with any great verve. No particular reason. When looking to sub a new story I always weigh up the pros and cons no matter what the potential market, be it zine or antho: response time, pay rate, level of potential exposure, print vs. electronic, being the main considerations. Most of the time, magazines win out.

This year, however, it seems to be all about anthologies.
Of the eight stories I have on submission at the moment three of them are with anthologies. Also, 'Wizard's Gambit' is due to appear in the Arcane Whispers anthology from Sorcerous Signals editor Carol Hightshoe in May. Two of my stories, Guardian and The View from the Bridge, will appear in Tales From the Asylum's fourth annual collection later this year.
And Niteblade editor Rhonda Parrish has just announced that the fifth issue of her fab ezine will be a print anthology featuring the best of the first four issues as well as some new material based on a piece of artwork. There's no guarantee the two stories I've had published in Niteblade will make it, but wouldn't it be nice if one of them did?

A Note on Prolificacy
Following on from the anthology thing, Lawrence Dagstine, on the Whispers of Wickedness forum, is testing the water with an antho idea based around the work of prolific writers - that is, writers with publishing credits in the hundreds. Knowing I was nowhere near my first hundred stories, and just out of interest, I went back and totted up my total short story output over the past four years. The result? Including flash fiction, I've just finished my 40th short. Hmm. Forty stories in four years. Is that good, bad, or mediocre? Dunno, really. But considering all the other things constantly demanding my time these days, I think it's a ruddy miracle I hit the big 4-0!

Friday, February 22, 2008

New Look

After seeing the blog of fellow writer Lawrence Dagstine, I decided to give my blog an overhaul and try and make it look a little more like a website. I really must get round to doing a website one of these years, but this old thing will have to do for now.

I'm very pleased that The Hotel Galileo is finally finished--well, almost. I'm sending it out to friends and relatives for a read and, hopefully some feedback, before I try sending it to publishers. But after all the hard work editing it, it's a really nice feeling having something solid and substantial ready to send out.

I've got about eight short stories being considered at the moment at various venues, and I'm hoping for some good news soon. This has been the longest period in recent times where I've not had an imminent publication. The only thing lined up for 2008 is the appearance of 'Wizard's Gambit' in the Arcane Whispers anthology due in May.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dead of Night Awards Update

Oh, yeah, just to mention: I didn't win the coveted Dead of Night Award (obviously). Instead the award for best author went to Hugh McDonald, and best artist went to, deservedly in my opinion, Vincent Chong. He provided the cover art for Hub issue 2 (featuring my story 'Juju'). He got my vote! Congrats to Hugh and Vincent.

Arcane Whispers Anthology

Wizard's Gambit

Great news yesterday that I wasn't expecting. My story 'Wizard's Gambit' was published in Sorcerous Signals ezine last May and it was voted the favourite story of that issue. Praise enough. Now editor Carol Hightshoe is producing a Best-of Anthology: Arcane Whispers: The Best of Sorcerous Signals, and 'Wizard's Gambit' has been selected to appear in it. The antho is due for publication in May this year. Fantastic!

The story is still available to read online: check it out here: Sorcerous Signals


The Hotel Galileo - Update

This 35k novella (short novel?) is virtually completed. The extensive re-jig has taken a good few weeks (and much eyestrain) to get it into shape ready for submitting to prospective publishers. And although I don't expect publishers to be falling over each other to get their hands on it (novellas are notoriously hard to sell anyway) I do think it's a great little story and I had an absolute ball writing it. I've completed three novels since 2004. The first one I dislike intensely, and it sits on a disk somewhere never to be seen by human eye. The second is a "troubled child", for want of a better term, but may still be a viable piece. But I am very fond of my third book, The Hotel Galileo. It's a murder mystery set in an alternative Roaring Twenties where mankind has reached out into the stars. The book is intended as the first in a series, featuring a 'gentleman detective' named Barclay Heath. I will post further updates once I start sending it out. Very excited. Very tired, too. But it's worth it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dead of Night Awards 2007

Hello folks! I'm pleased to say my name has been included in the annual Dead of Night Awards for work published through the Screaming Dreams publishing stable. I've only had one short story, Defence Mechanism, published in issue 6.5 of their ezine Estronomicon (you can still download the issue for free at the website!) so I don't expect to be walking away with the award this year, but hey, if you have a few moments, and that's all it takes, please mention my name in passing, as it were. I'd be eternally grateful if you did. I have two stories due for publication in future issues of Estronomicon, so if I don't win this time around, there's always next year.

Go here to cast your vote. If you have time. Thanks!!!