Friday, December 26, 2008
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
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
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) :
Monday, December 01, 2008
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
Saturday, October 04, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
Friday, August 22, 2008
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.
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
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
Yeah, and she's mighty pretty, too.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Get it, while it's hot...
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
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 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
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...
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
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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:email@example.com or 07854 435217or Academi on 029 2047 2266.
Hope to see some friendly faces there!
Friday, May 23, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Go here to cast your vote. If you have time. Thanks!!!