It seems a lot of my recent posts have been apologising for not being around very much. This one will be no different, it seems.
Still, I’m sure you lovely folks don’t exactly live your lives waiting for me to post my next little ditty, so no harm done.
Anyways, I hope you’re all well! It seems that this year has moved along at break-neck speed and I can barely turn around without whole weeks having scurried by. The Steampunk season, as it seems to be to me, is coming to a close, I think. At least in the North. Howarth has a charity Steampunk event in aid of cancer research this weekend which I’ll be attending and hopefully doing some good there. Leeds has its usual Christmas Market coming up as well as an event on the 29th of November (which I can’t remember where it is at the minute but I’ll be there, anyway). There is also a Steampunk craft fair in my own fair Doncaster on the 1st of December which you should all try to get to. It’s their first time so it’d be great to show them some support. I’ll certainly be there if only because it’s above the Salutation pub and the bar will be only a few steps away
And that will no doubt be very much done and dusted until after Christmas, I imagine. At least in my neck of the woods. But with a new year will come a lot of new, fun stuff. I certainly can’t wait for you all to meet Alan Shaw and join in on his adventures. I’m so excited that a wee just a little every time I think about it. I have reports from my excellent editor, Peter, that it’s well underway and the lion’s share of the edits might be done by the turn of the year. I’m really looking forward to reading his comments, as he always has a great insight, especially as a fan of Steampunk himself.
Other than that, I’m off to try and catch up with some more uni work. I seem to constantly be on the back foot this year and I need to get that sorted out.
Anyway, salutations, my friends.
Thanks for reading.
As soon as your novel, poem, screenplay or artwork leaves your hand, it’s open to the interpretation of others. That’s just how it goes. And to a certain degree, that’s the whole point. Especially with books. How I imagine one of my favourite characters, Harry Dresden, is mine alone and will be subtley different from how others imagine him. It’s part of the fun of picturing things in your head.
The way that I’ve come across this kind of thing is in readings, workshops and at signings. People seem to really want to know what Greaveburn “is”.
There have been several theories offered to me:
1. Greaveburn is an alternate history.
2. It’s a parallel universe.
3. It’s an alternate dimension.
And, most recently,
4. It’s a post-apocalyptic city.
That last one came from a recent review by Scott Kinkade, which I won’t link to as it has lots of spoilers in it, but his theory is a good one, as theories go.
I’ve wondered whether to dispel these theories or just let people carry on, and I’ve finally decided to do the latter. What people get from the book is their own personal experience and I’m happy to have it that way.
But it points to something interesting in human nature, I think. The constant search for solid answers. None of the people who made these theories could just let Greaveburn be. It has to be something. Odd don’t you think? And worth bearing in mind when you write your own work.
Thanks for reading.
Someone once said to me “is there anything you don’t do” when I said I’d have a go at pretty much anything when it comes to my writing. Screenplays, comic scripts, prose, haiku, I’ve had a bash at it all. With varying degrees of success (mostly varying into the “that was abysmal” area of the gauge). But one thing I’m really quite terrible at is poetry. I don’t think I’ve read enough of it, or know enough about it, to have a decent idea of what makes a poem good or how one works and another doesn’t.
But… (you were waiting for the “but” weren’t you?)
Despite all that, I kind of enjoy writing poetry. Especially when i’m having a blank spot with my prose. It’s a great way of making your brain take a step back and do something different. And I find that even thought my poems are pretty damn terrible, the occasional line comes out of them that I can then use in my prose later.
And so, because I love you all (or hate you, depending on your perspective) I’m going to subject you to….I mean…let you read some of my poems! These should come with a government health warning, so remember to ward yourself against the dark arts before you read on.
A TreeIn coldness I’m naked, In heat I’m stifled with clothing. My feet are bare in the rain, My skin splits int he sun. I eat nothing, Say nothing, And watch politely as you roll and screech and chew at my feet.
The FenceThey said the grass is greener. So here I am, to find out; To frolic on your rockery; To peep inside your potting shed. I hopped the fence, landing bare foot on your lawn, And marveled at the greener than green, the new scented breeze. But now I’m ready to go back home to familiar soil, I see that on this side the fence is higher from the ground.
Short sightedI don’t want to know every hammer that forged you, only to study you as you are. Let me admire the scar as part of you. the strike of an expert chisel Rather than some half-remembered story. I’ll trace the coloured lines across your skin Not questioning what whim of inspiration decorated you. You were born with them, Only moments ago when we met and nothing you have done matters now. With no past to spit at each other, no future to plan, or weighted expectation, we’ll exist only in this moment and those like it.
Well, I hope you enjoyed them, or at least didn’t pluck your eyes from your head in disgust. Any comments, as always, are most welcome.
Thanks for reading.
I still exist, although in some pocket universe only vaguely visible form your own.
In one sense I’ve been a busy lad, in another I’ve been a lazy bugger.
After the last few years of uni courses, novels, signings, finding a publisher, working and everything else, I’ve decided to take some downtime. I’m not really writing now that The Adventures of Alan Shaw is finished and handed in to Inspired Quill. I’m keeping my hand in by tinkering with some poetry and haiku but nothing constructive (or any good, if I’m honest :D). But other than that I’m giving my brain some time to calm itself before the next push on Alan Shaw part two.
And with that has come a huge lull in my blog posting. If any of you are sad enough to be waiting for my misguided ramblings (Eh, Pete? ;D) then I apologise. But I’m fairly certain I haven;t left a void in anyone’s life
The Deedworthy Adventures blog has been going well, despite the fact that I’ve only been editing the posts of others and not really posting much of my own work. But people seem to be enjoying the adventures of the Airship Deedworthy and the action is really hotting up over there.
At some point, if it’s requested, I might post some of the poems I’ve been working on (or at least the haiku), but I’ll warn you, if you like poetry, your eyes are about to be offended.
Hope all’s well with your little pocket universes, too.
Thanks for reading.
I’ve been a busy boy lately. In the last few weeks I’ve been to talk at my local college about writing, another workshop with a group of young writers, had a radio spot and I’m headed toward another event next weekend.
This all sounds awesome. Except for that I have zero confidence in public appearances and I’m absolutely terrible at talking to large groups of people. Small groups? No problem. Get me stood in front of a class or give me the need to be articulate in the slightest and I’m completely lost. That’s why I write things down!
^ That’s me looking a Goon at the college talk.
But lately the deep end of the pool has risen up to claim me. It started with a talk at Doncaster College as part of the Turn The Page festival run by local libraries. It seemed like a great idea. Go talk to aspiring authors, maybe sign some books, and hopefully not have a heart attack in the process. But it was oh-so-much harder than that. The college had the lovely idea of setting up the room in which I would be talking in a university lecture-style with me at a pulpit and host of faces staring down at me. I became acutely aware of how Loosestrife felt on page 3 of Greaveburn with all those students looking down on him (Which gave me a giggle as life started to imitate art). What made this particularly interesting and a real learning experience, was because most of the atendees didn’t have English as their first language, and as I talked I became acutely aware that either my accent or vocabulary wasn’t getting through. And so I had to change tack half way through and start re-planning on the fly. Yikes.
It was an absolute blast. I got a little adrenalin rush like jumping out of a plane without the parachute. But I survived it! Hell yes, I did. And I reckon I nailed it…or maybe not…
Anyway, the next event, on the very same day in fact, was a radio interview where I had to review someone else’s book as well. That part was kind of fun apart from when the interviewer started asking me historical questions about when the first dirigible was used and what the difference between an airship and a dirigible was. Just for the record, I am neither historian or engineer. But I am the King of Blag. And so I winged it. And I think I didn’t sound too much of a complete idiot so I’m chalking that one up as a win, too.
Don’t argue, just let me have it, ok? ;D
With that done, next came my talk with a local Young Writer’s group this week. As my girlfriend (scratch that, fiance, since I got engaged recently and completely forgot to blog about it. Naughty Craig) is an English teacher, I figured I would be prepared for talking to young adults (read: teenagers) by her stories and advice. Oh, how wrong can you be?
I had lots of fun and we talked about all manner of geeky things, but there was absolutely no order to the proceedings at all
Dear Lord, I’m not ready for children yet.
But they were brilliant, enthusiastic, and extremely insightful and clever. Much more than I was, to be honest. But I think I made them laugh a few times, which was good, and they seemed to really grab onto the idea of Greaveburn being inspired by a funky “cheese dream” which ended up being the catchphrase of the whole evening. So what did I do wrong? Plenty. Afterward I was acutely aware that some of the particularly astute members of the group were very quiet and overpowered by some who were louder and perhaps had a lot less insight. And I did nothing to help those poor quiet kids. To them, if they’re reading this, I apologise profusely. I’m still learning. And I hope you’ll contact me so I can maybe help you on a one-to-one basis as you deserve.
Anyways, what I’m getting at is that public appearances are full of pitfalls for authors. No matter the preparation, something will come up that you can’t account for. Expect the unexpected. And if all else fails, just relax and have fun. I certainly did, and maybe next time I’ll even be better at it. Who knows?
But if nothing else, I hope this blog post helps you to realise that someone else is always worse at public appearances at you. And that person will always be me.
Thanks for reading!
What is the benchmark for when you can finally call yourself an author?
It seems that anyone can put on their profile information that they’re a writer or an author, and that most of these people spend a lot of time complaining about how little of their time their professed title takes up. I never had that problem. Anyone who has been following my progress through the murky world of authordom will see that I’ve only just started to change my profile from “aspiring author” to just “author”. And that was only because my Marketing Womble, Leah, told me to do so. Otherwise I would have happily left it as it was.
Why is that? Performance anxiety perhaps. If I’m an author now, then that comes with all kinds of connotations. I should be professional, knowledgeable, prolific. I quite often feel like none of those things all at once. There’s still so much to learn, so much to do, so many more novels to write and characters to nurture, and I never seem to have all the time I’d like to fire off a few chapters or do all the little projects that I want to take on. But it has struck me lately that perhaps that’s what being an author is all about. The constant striving to be better. If that’s what being an author is, then I’m certainly striving my way forward.
I’m not saying that there’s a list of things that you must do to be an author/writer. Except perhaps one: write! But as I look back over the last few years I start to put together a few pieces of evidence that my low self esteem needs in order to prove that I’m becoming the author that I want to be.
I’ve had a book published (kind of an obvious one, I know), had several great signings, I’ve done workshops and talks in colleges and with writing groups, I’ve helped others to edit their own work, I’ve tried to impart a little knowledge on this blog to other aspiring authors, and I now have my second novel finished and submitted to my publisher (Inspired Quill) for the first round of edits. I’ve also helped to put together the literary area of next weekend’s Steampunk Doncaster convention, which was a great honour.
In short, I’ve been very fortunate and very lucky. That’s certainly how I feel.
But am i really an author yet? I suppose I may never feel like one, because I don’t know anyone who can describe to me what it feels like. Maybe I’m already there. Maybe I’m a mile away. Maybe I should stop asking stupid questions and just get on with the writing. But it took writing this blog post to realize that last option even existed. And so, with that in mind, I’m going to throw on my goggles, and enjoy the Steampunk Doncaster festival next week. Then I’m going to work on my comic book script, short film screenplays and other little projects while I wait for the novel to come back from the Editor. Then I’ll edit it…then it’ll be published and the whole signing/marketing awesomeness will start again. Then…who knows?
I think I’m trying too hard and not enjoying it enough. It’s time to have some fun. And perhaps bu myself a “Do not feed the Author” t-shirt.
What do you guys think is the point when you become an author?
Thanks for reading
That’s right, it’s finally official. Just about every waking moment of my existence has become embroiled in some kind of cog-based awesomeness in one manner or another.
The Steampunk Doncaster festival continues to grow at an exponential rate (and there’s still room for more to get involved!), particularly my own section, the Litarium where we now have not only a stack of author signings and workshops, but graphic novelists, poets, competitions and the like going on. Brilliant!
We’ll also be shooting a video for a kickstarter campaign which might help us cover the costs of some of those brilliant things that’ll be going on. As Steampunk Doncaster is a non-profit kind of thing, we’ve begged and borrowed all we can so far, but to make it extra special I’m afraid cash is necessary; if only for posters, leaflets and to get our hands on some cool prizes for the competitions. So keep your fingers crossed, everyone,a nd I’ll post the vid as soon as it’s done.
Elsewhere, work on my next novel continues. The Adventures of Alan Shaw has almost had its first full edit and will soon be ready for consumption by Inspired Quill and a few trusted honest folk to let me know if it’s utter tosh or not.
And I’ve been making things again! As always, with festivals and the like coming up, I’ve been tinkering with some doodads for my outfit including some elbow pads (I’ve torn too many shirts falling off my velocipede) and a sidearm just in case things get a little bit hairy…
I’ll show you the final result sometime later in the week, I hope. Any ideas on improvements that you gusy might have are more than welcome
I’m also gearing up (hardy har) for my appearance at the Doncaster Turn The Page literary festival next week where I’ll be expected to string together coherent sentences for a whole hour infront of a crowd. Trying to figure out what people will be interested in hearing about from a little squib like me is baffling and I’ve had to turn to Twitter for suggestions. But not much has been forthcoming. Again, any suggestions are welcome! Otherwise the festival may be the last place I’m ever seen alive.
But that’s about all for now. Not a long post, but a succinct one, I’m sure you’ll agree. See you all soon!
Thanks for reading.
It’s been insane lately. And brilliant.
I’ve mostly been working on contacting authors for the Steampunk Doncaster festival in June this year. As regulars will know, I’m the festival’s “Man of Words” which mean that I’m organising everything that goes on in the Litarium, a section of the fest devoted to words whether they be written, spoken or performed.
And the interest in attending the event has been brilliant so far. In fact, we already have several authors confirmed. Among the brilliant talent we have attending are L.M. Cooke, author of the Automata Wars novels, Meg Kingston who has written an intriguing premise with Chrystal Heart. Anna Chen, poet of the renowned Opium Wars saga will be performing her work with the aid of a guitarist. As well as all these authors doing signings, talks, and other activities, we’ll also be hosting a discussion by Allegra Hawksmoor of the eminent Steampunk Magazine!
Not only that but we have copies of a true Victorian classic called Hartmann the Anarchist. Written in the 1800s, Hartmann may have been the first book ever to use dirigibles in a science fiction story! There’ll also be fiction competitions for adults and children, and a Limerick jam just for fun where people can turn up and share their humourous or interesting little ditties with us. I can’t wait for that bit.
And it continues to grow. Other areas of the festival have artwork, displays, a HUGE trader’s market and other fun stuff going on.
So that’s what I’ve been up to recently. As well as the usual uni assignments, day job and trying to find time to write. Which brings me to my next announcement. As part of the Steampunk Doncaster event, a new blog has been launched. Starting as a bit of fun, the idea for the blog soon grew and grew until we now have a fully-functioning serialised story being posted on a weekly basis. Following Her Majesty’s Airship Deedworthy, the story will chronicle the adventures of the crew, including interviews with the airmen and women, and lead up to a landing in June in Doncaster just in time for the festival…unless their adventures take them elsewhere.
As you might of guessed, it’s me who’s writing the story, and I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m not planning ahead, not thinking about a plot, I’ll just see how it turns out each week and hopefully it’ll be a rip-roaring good adventure! The first installment is already up there, so go take a look and let me know what you think
Hope to see you there!
Thanks for reading.
In order to celebrate World Poetry Day, I thought I’d share some of my favourite ditties with you! I know that poetry has a reputation for being an elitist pursuit, but that really has gone the way of the Dodo. With poets like Roger McGough and Mike McGee bringing the humour back to poetry, there’s really no reason that everyone can’t enjoy it. With that in mind, here’s a few of my favs for you all to peruse.
Antigonish by Hughes Mearns
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…
When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door… (slam!)
Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away
(Click to listen)
Christina by Louis MacNeice
It all began so easy
With bricks upon the floor
Building motley houses
And knocking down your houses
And always building more.
The doll was called Christina,
Her under-wear was lace,
She smiled while you dressed her
And when you then undressed her
She kept a smiling face.
Until the day she tumbled
And broke herself in two
And her legs and arms were hollow
And her yellow head was hollow
Behind her eyes of blue.
He went to bed with a lady
Somewhere seen before,
He heard the name Christina
And suddenly saw Christina
Dead on the nursery floor.
I Am Not Sleeping by Roger McGough
I don’t want any of that
“We’re gathered here today
to celebrate his life, not mourn his passing.”
Oh yes you are. Get one thing straight,
you’re not here to celebrate
but mourn until it hurts.
I want wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I want sobs, and I want them
uncontrollable. I want women
flinging themselves on the coffin
and I want them inconsolable.
Don’t dwell on my past but on your future.
For what you see is what you’ll be
and sooner than you think.
So get weeping. Fill yourselves with dread.
For I am not sleeping. I am dead.
Thanks for reading!
Hi everyone. Hope you all had a good festive period. Mine was quiet as I was working the night shift and sleeping the rest of the time, but for an old Scrooge like me, that’s no big deal.
In writing news…
With the first draft of The Adventures of Alan Shaw in the bag, I’m going to let it simmer a while, which means I’m at a loose end. And so, a few little side projects have sprung up for me to tinker with. Firstly, I’ve decided to try something completely new and out of my realms of experience in writing a graphic novel script. The basic premise can only be described as a cross between Evil Dead and Hellraiser, and who knows what means, right? I had the idea originally as a horror movie screenplay, but I just can’t make the jump to the writing style and all that formatting etc. Not yet, anyway. I’m afraid the project doesn’t have a title yet (Let’s just call it “the comic” for now) but I’m enjoying it. Thinking of how to move the action along in snapshots instead of in prose is proving a challenge and it’s keeping me entertained. Also fitting the story to the set boundaries of what would fit into a single issue of a comic, and then the story arc into a graphic novel’s length is a tough one. I’m jut winging it so far. We’ll see how it goes.
Also, I’m working on my non-fiction a little more. Some of you may know that I’ve written movie reviews for a long time now, for all kinds of different websites, and that recently ishitonyouraocalypse.com has taken me in to do exclusively horror-based reviews. Since I’m a huge horror fan, this is pretty much an invitation to disaster since I’ll just end up watching even more films than ever before. I’ve also taken a complete tangent away from that and started to use my nursing experience to write opinion articles. Coming up with ideas is really challenging, and I doubt they’ll ever get published because they’re a tad…unusual. But they’re great fun to write. I think I might be pitching the concepts a bit high, though, since my first one was about nurses having an existential crisis in the current NHS climate. I might want to break that one down a tad.
I’ve also been editing, as I may have mentioned before, someone else’s novel. And THAT’S an interesting experience. It’s so hard to edit your own work, to see it objectively rather than as your little paper baby, but editing other people’s is pretty fun. I’m mostly sticking to grammar and punctuation at the minute, but keep branching out to suggestions on how to enhance theme, character, dialogue and all those other lovely little nuggets that make a good story. I think I could do this full-time. Definitely. In fact, I’ve been looking into it. What do you guys think? Would anyone be interested in my opinion on their work? Or am I getting ahead of myself? With one published novel and a flurry of short stories, I’m hardly Stephen King. But even if I haven’t won the Booker Prize, I do know a hell of a lot about writing. I think I might even know more about that than nursing, which is potentially quite scary…
And so, as you can see, I’ve been busy. I’ve also been reading for my uni course, a load of T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf at the minute, which is kind of interesting and it’s leading me toward reading things that are more up my alley. I’ll leave it there, because I feel a subsequent blog post coming on.
Thanks for reading.
January 19, 2013 | Categories: author, epublishing, horror, learning, Literature, Movie review, studying, Work in progress, writer, writing | Tags: reading, Studying, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, writing | 3 Comments »
It’s finally time for my favourite holiday of the year!
I love Halloween. It’s the time of year when everyone gets in the same mindset as me (if that’s possible). I think it probably started when I was a kid, watching horror movies that I shouldn’t have at that age, and all the best ones seemed to be shown at Halloween. I think it was probably some late-night marathon that first got me hooked on B-movies like The Blob, and then hammered home the “being scared is awesome” vibe with The Exorcist, The Thing, Alien, Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. Of course, these are staples of any horror lover’s childhood. And they probably sparked off me watching every other horror movie since to the point of addiction. To the point of writing my own horror stories, in fact!
Anyway, what I really love about Halloween is the tactile element to it. Those of you who are regulars will know I love tinkering with things. I’m a maker and a doodler underneath my writerly exterior. The costumes, the pumpkin carving, the baking, the scaring little kids when they knock on your door. It’s all brilliant. There’s nothing I like more than going all-out on a costume to make sure it looks really cool. I’m a cosplayer at heart, it seems.
Unfortunately this year no one will be dressing up. There will be no ordaining traffic on Doncaster’s York Road while dressed as Jesus (long story for another time). And so I won’t be dressing up, either. However, I have carved my first pumpkin; something I’ve always wanted to do and never got around to. I call him Eddie after one of my favourite vampire movies, the original Fright Night (You’re so cool Brewster!).
In other news…
Speaking of making things, I’ve decided to embrace my Steampunk soul a little more and mod(ify) myself a gun for the next convention. After some research, I decided on the Nerf Maverick, which seems to be a popular favourite. After a few false starts, and marking all the bits as I took it apart, I’ve finally got the base coats done. Just have the details to paint in, but here’s what I have so far:
Not bad for an amateur, eh? Also, if I haven’t mentioned this yet, I have another signing! This time I’ll be in my home town, Doncaster, nestled away in our local Waterstones branch in the Frenchgate centre. I’ve got my books, my sign, myself, and hopefully plenty of people will get curious enough to wander over. The lovely folks on the local radio and papers are plugging it for me (Thanks guys!) and if all goes well I won’t just be sat there on my own for hours on end. If you’re feeling adventurous, I’ll be at the above location from 11:30 this Friday (2nd November), until I get lonely and go home. Fingers crossed!
And that brings me to my last bit of news; perhaps the most exciting (at least for me). I have finished the first draft of The Adventures of Alan Shaw! How has this come so early? Well, as you may remember, Alan Shaw is a series of short adventures chronicling the life of the eponymous character as he grows up from a street urchin in the Age of Steam. As I’ve written these adventures, I’ve realised what an epic book this was going to be. I was half way through and already well over Greaveburn’s final word count. And so I realised that breaking the book into two volumes would not only be prudent, but pretty darned cool. And so that’s what I’ve done. And volume one is now sitting on my desktop, ready to edit.
Of course, with me being me, I’ve already started the edits, already made huge changes, added whole sections and fleshed out characters. That’s how I roll on my second draft. And I know it’s early days, but I’m really liking it. Generally if I’m enjoying writing it, I know it’ll be the best I can possibly do because I’ll put the effort in. Of course, whether that best is good enough is another deal altogether. I’ll just have to hope that I can get published again, and that you guys enjoy it. Time will tell. And in the meantime, I’d better get writing volume two. Although, I’ll be giving myself a little break before cracking on with that. I have uni work to do after all.
And that’s it for this week, folks. Hope you’ve enjoyed this wild ramble.
Thanks for reading!
October 31, 2012 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: books, Cosplay, costumes, friday the 13th, Fright Night, halloween, horror movies, horror stories, Nightmare on Elm Street, Pumpkin Carving, writing | 2 Comments »
I apologise in advance, but this is going to be a rant. As regular readers will know (I hope) I don’t go “off on one” about subjects very often. But this article in the Guardian has really got my goat.
One of the dreams that so many people share is to write a book. I honestly believe that this comes from a deep-rooted compulsion that was instilled in us at an early evolutionary level which compels us to tell stories. That’s why oral traditions from ancient civilisations are still told today, why cave paintings exist and heiroglyphs were invented. We all love to tell stories, to be heard and enjoyed, and to be passed on to others. A story is a little slice of immortality for us finite beings (if you want to go existential about it). And that’s why we write. Our books are our stories, our gift to others, our legacy. As long as a print copy of Greaveburn exists somewhere in the world, someone might read it, and enjoy it, and then pass it on. It’s a positive virus (I’m seriously mixing my metaphors here, apologies).
And, whether this is arrogant or not, I see myself as a professional. I am an author. I write things. Sometimes they’re poo, sometimes they’re ok. But I craft words and that makes me an author none-the-less. Therefore, I will conduct myself in a professional manner. We’ve talked about the quality of some self-published works in previous posts and how people do themselves a disservice with impatience and a non-professional approach. But we who have taught ourselves to be authors have very little guidance and so it can be forgiven. However, what I expect from people who write for a living, is an ounce of decorum.
And so we’re brought to the subject of this most dispicable “sock puppetry”, as it’s been dubbed. I won’t go over the content of the article as I’ve linked it above and I’ll let you come to your own interpretation of it. But I’ve seen this happen elsewhere and my heckles are officially up. Goodreads is a fantastic platform. The forums, the reviews, the ability to find books that you might like. A great idea. But what it also allows you to do is to review your own work…without even needing a pseudonym. Who came up with that? Just today I’ve been scanning through some potential reading material and caught a few authors (who shall remain nameless, but you know who you are) not only reviewing their own work, but rating it as well. With five stars!
Now, as an aside, you will note that Not Before Bed has a review from myself stating that it is, indeed, the new edition with new stories. However, that review has no bearing on the star rating. It’s for information only, and doesn’t affect the stats. I made sure.
Readers, writers, friends, we have a decision to make. What do we do about this blatant deception? Without sounding anti-establishment or revolutionary, the larger companies will do absolutely nothing to jeapordise their cash flow. They’ll never get rid of an author’s listing as long as it’s bringing in the green. But we have power online. You’ve seen it happen with memes and virals and petitions and forums. We can do something about this.
I in no way want to sway any of you. What you think about this “sock puppetry” is your own opinion. This is mine. This is what I’d like to see, but not what I expect from you. I can’t imagine that any of us would go and buy these people’s books, now, anyway. So there’s the statement made already. And the fact that the authors involved in the Guardian have apologised is surely enough. But others are still out there, schemeing and engineering their ratings for the sake of cheap appreciation.
And (IMHO as the kids say) but I say we douse these sods with negative ratings. Show the world that we, as readers, have integrity and won’t be lied to. What I DON’T want to see are derogatory or negative comments. Don’t lower yourselves. We’re not Trolls, or virtual rioters and looters, but people with opinions that count. We can make a statement with a silent but glaring one star rating to show our distaste. Then we leave, knowing that millions of others will see and understand what we’ve done, and why. We go back to the authors who deserve our adoration and respect because they work hard, and write well, and tell us stories that live and breathe.
What I will say is keep your eye out, folks. Let’s make sure we maintain the high values that Literature has always stood for.
As always, thanks for reading.
Oh yes, it’s the weekend, and we all know what THAT means. It’s blog post time! I figured I’d do a general catch up post this week since I’ve been attempting to be useful with my post subjects lately and I don’t think it suits me
First of all, lets drop in on Greaveburn. The edits are pretty much done now, I think. My marketing Womble, Lea, is doing the last read through (first read for her). So I should have a polished final product and some juicy comments on the content headed my way pretty soon. Hope she likes it. Hell, I hope YOU LOT like it, too. But we’ll cross that Rickety Bridge (check Greaveburn out to explain that reference) when we come to it.
We’re still looking for a cover artist as far as I know. The last couple of people who were slated for the cover haven’t come through with a product. Who knew that this could be the hardest part of getting a book out? At first I thought it would be the writing, then the editing, then the finding a publisher, but al that pales into comparison to getting someone to do a suitably creepy image for the cover. We’ll keep at it, anyway, and you loverly readers will be the first to find out what it looks like when we’re done. But that aside, I think we’re still on for an August release date. Every time I think about it, I get this odd mix of sensations. Pride, excitement, finger-knawing fear, performance anxiety. You name it, I’ve got it.
In other news, the marketing drive has begun. I’m hitting Twitter pretty hard with teasers, you might have noticed an uptake in the posts on the blog of late and (insert drum roll) I’ve started a Facebook Page! I’ve avoided doing it until now but the time has finally come. It shows my timeline from first pen on paper to present day, trials and tribulations, blog posts and the few successes I’ve managed to scratch together along the way. It’s worth a quick look if you have time. Lots of pretty pictures etc. And if you feel inclined, please Like it. I don’t want to be a Like-whore, but every little helps in getting Greaveburn noticed. It’s much appreciated, as always.
What else? Well, the writing has taken a back seat at the minute as I’m revising for this year’s OU final exam. The last time I did an exam was…dear lord, about a decade ago. I’m pooping the proverbial bricks. I think after this I’ll be sticking to making things up.
My Steampunk outfit for the Weekend at the Asylum convention in Lincoln is coming along nicely. Got my goggles this morning. For a budding Steampunk, this is a very important time. Think about the first time a Trekky gets their pair of plastic Spock ears and you’re in the right arena. I’m starting to really look forward to this convention and meeting all the awesome folks there. Expect photos. Lots of photos. Preferably without me in them!
This has been a brief but wonderful interaction. Expect greater things next week, folks. I’ll think of something…
Thanks for reading
It strikes me that I don’t talk about my writing process very much and, contrary to popular belief, I do have one. While I do most of my plotting in my head, only setting it down in notes when it’s exceptionally vivid to me, the rest of the idea-to-page process is pretty normal. One of the things I think are incredibly important, possibly beyond all others and especially for writers of Speculative Fiction in all its glorious forms, is research.
If you’re going to make your story/novel/flash fiction/novella as realistic as it can be (and by realistic, I mean believable despite the wierdness) then research is where it’s at. As an example let’s use my current WIP, The Adventures of Alan Shaw. This is a very different beast to Greaveburn. Alan Shaw is an Alternate History/Steampunk novel based in the very real Victorian era of England, albeit with some technological flights of fancy. But in order to make my Neo-Victorian elements work, I had to understand what the victorian era was really like. If I had a motto, it’d be:
Learn the rules before you break them.
And so I do research. A lot. Of course, the internet is your friend. There are sites or wikis on every subject known to humankind somewhere in the unending virtual vaults. But call me old fashioned, I still like my books now and again.
As you can see, there’s quite a mix in there. Let’s break down what I think is important about researchas the groundwork for your writing:
1. Know your genre
When writing Greavburn, I had no idea that I was actually working on a Steampunk novel. I was aware of the Gothic literature sub-genre and loved its aesthetic. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake is one of my favourite books, and that was the kind of grand darkness I wanted to instill in Greaveburn. But Steampunk wasn’t even on my radar. And so, when I discovered that it existed, and that Greaveburn fit the bill, I panicked. What if someone had already done what I had? How restrictive to Greaveburn’s reception would that be?
I learnt my lesson for working on Alan Shaw. I’ve read James Blaylock’s Homunculus, J.W. Jeter’s Infenal Devices and pretty much memorised The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer and co. And now I can confidently say that I know what to do and what not to do, what’s old hat and what’s relatively new (hey, that rhymes. I should write that down). Knowing your genre makes sure that you hit your demographic while avoiding any “it’s all been done” style comments.
2. Go simple
Finding reference books that are quick to read, while still being representative of the subject you’re researching, can be a real struggle. People love to bash on about their expert subject to the point of mind-numbing boredom. But you dont need a huge tome, reaching 3000 pages across four volumes about Victorian London by Lord Cyril Fanthorpe the 3rd esp. to know your stuff. In order to make your story realistic, all you need are the little touches. Those little details make the difference between just some woman in a dress and a young governess wearing a crinoline pinofore. You never have to mention it again, but that’s the kind of period detail that shows you’ve put the effort in.
But as I was saying, there’s an easy way to find those things out. Go for children’s books. They’re brilliant! They have pictures to help get the right feel in your prose, they hit only the important topics and give you great overview of any subject. The Eyewitness series is brilliant for historical stuff, if you’re interested in that stuff.
3. Get your facts right
If you’re writing about a certain place, be it a city or town or foreign country, get your facts right. Never forget that your readers know their stuff. Don’t think you can flim-flam them with sweeping references to places. With Alan Shaw, I have to evoke an image of Victorian London that rings true to someone who’s never been to London and someone who walks its streets every day. Google Maps can take you anywhere you need to go, and even tell you the quickest way for your character to walk/drive around their environment. You dont have to give an itemised list of corners turned between your Detective’s home and the mortuary, but it helps if you know how long it would take and what’s in between so you can describe it if need be.
While Google Maps is great for the present day, historical settings pose a little more of a problem. And so I got myself some maps:
They came in four pieces, originally, but with a little industrious folding and one of those frameless plastic frames (contradictory, I know) I now have an easily accessible map of Victorian London. What’s better than that, with the plastic covering, if you get some dry-wipe markers, you can plot routes, circle areas or points of interest to your heart’s content without ruining the source material for later use! (This is an Art Attack!)
4. The Counter-argument
Just remember: There’s another side to research. Don’t get too bogged down with it. Learn what you need and move on. It’s a tool to help you write, it’s not words on the page.
Well, folks, that’s it for now. I hope this post has been as useful to you as my researching endeavours have been to me. If you have any researching tips of your own, then feel free to share. I’m always looking for new ways to do what we do.
Thanks for reading!
April 28, 2012 | Categories: author, flash fiction, horror, indie author, short fiction, short story, steampunk, writer, writing, YA | Tags: author, creative writing tips, Gothic literature, horror, J.W. Jeter, James Blaylock., mervyn peake, speculative fiction, Steampunk, Tips for writers, writing | 8 Comments »
As you lovely folk are reading this, I’m taking a trip. I know, it’s just another reason to be separated from my laptop and doing NO writing whatsoever, but I think this might have some great research potential. You see, dear friends, I’m off to Budapest today.
I know NOTHING about the city. Nothing at all. And I think that’s why I’m so excited. New York last year was incredible and I can;t wait to go back, but one of the main problems was that I knew too much about it. Being the utter Film-Geek that I am, I knew where all kinds of movies were shot and OBVIOUSLY had to visit them, then hitting the tourist attractions because there’s a compulsion to at least see the big stuff. And then I absolutely had to see the National History Museum. It was great, but there was a lot of pressure to run around and not much time to chill.
Budapest should be the exact opposite. There’s no pressure to see anything or be anywhere, nothing I really must see. And so it’s going to be an utter chill out. More than that, I have a real love of going places which have a completely different culture to ours. Again with New York, it was great, but the culture is so similar, and the language identical, that I didn’t really feel like I’d left home at all. It was lovely and warm and cosy and friendly. Now and again, I like a bit of cultural and linguistic discomfort. I like struggling to get by. It makes me feel like an explorer, if only in a diluted way and for a few days.
And then there’s the research. Being in such a wildly different place with its own architecture and styles (and from what I’ve seen, quite a gothic style) will be a great boost to my creativity, I’m sure. Alan Shaw’s next adventure might even be based there. Who knows? We’ll just have to see. But you know I’m a sucker for a gothic facade and a network of alleyways. they make me go all gooey and goosepimpley Expect dark things to be walking abroad when I return.
Another reason for going somewhere different is to drop off a whole bundle of my writer’s business cards. Lets see if it works! By this time in a month, I might have a whole new bunch of Hungarian readers! Probably not, though…
Anyways, folks, I’ll see you when I get back, and regale you with tales of Hungarian adventure. I hope you all enjoy your week!
Thanks for reading.
This should start with an apology. I’ve not been around of late, and for that I am deeply sorry. This poor blog has been neglected and, by extension, so have you. Since I’ve been slacking off I figure you all deserve an explanation as to what it is that’s keeping me from your loving embrace.
Every aspiring author, and probably some established ones, will know exactly how distractions can have an effect on your productivity. And they can be anything at all. Family responsibilities, the day job, and any number of variables. But we’re talking about what has kept me from you specifically. Here are my greatest distractions over the last month:
I’m a major Book-geek. And it’s one of the many factors in my geekdom that I’m particularly proud of (Unlike my hatred of people spelling Spider-man without the hyphen). And apart from my enjoyment of a good, engaging book, there’s a deeper philosophy to this one. I firmly believe that in order to be a good writer, you have to be an avid reader. Anything will do. Not just in your favourite genre, but outside of it, too. The best novels you will ever read won’t fit into a genre at all, but straddle several. How can we, as writers, do the same thing if we don’t assimilate all the books we can?
Exactly, you can’t. And recently, I’ve been reading all kinds of stuff. My fellow Inspired Quill author, Matthew Munson has released his debut novel called Fall from Grace. Read it. The increasingly-popular Hunger Games. Read it. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Read that too. And it’s been great to give myself time to read again. I’ve missed it with all the work I’ve been doing lately.
As some of you will know, I’m curenty taking two Open University courses with a view to getting my English Literature degree (to accompany my Nursing degree. I know, I’m mad right?). And since I’m doing two courses at once, and we’re getting toward the end of the year, the ante has been appropriately upped. this month alone I have three assignments due in. One hs just been submitted. two more to go. Bad times. Or good times, depending on your perspective. Learning more about Literature and the Arts in general has caused some great flashes of inspiration. New stories, characters, places and scenarios. All kinds of juicy stuff. The ideas are coming faster than I can scribble. And I love it. But it still keeps me away from the blog. And so does…
I’m not a massive gamer. I avoid TV as a rule (although I watch loads of movies). Things like this just seem to be waste of my brain, which is very easy to overpower and needs regular oiling and periods of rest for cooling before it overheats. But now and again I need something nice and brainless to give myself a break. Something to help switch off. And MMORPGs are the way to do that. This may be controversial, but I dont like WoW. There’s too much of a hard-core people-without-priorities or eyes that can withstand sunlight feel to it all. And so I play Runescape. Sure, the graphics are shoddy, but it’s huge, diverse, and easy to play with only half a brain. You can also dipp in and out of it as you see fit. The fact that it’s a fantasy world like the ones I love to create is just a bonus
And then there’s the worst distraction of them all. That essential evil…
Twitter is my choice of poison here. I love it. Short, punchy, regularly hilarious, and everyone on there has been so good to me since I hit it with my writing presence, I can never let it go. Unfortunately, it can also be so immersing, and the sense that you’ll miss something so strong, that it can eat your day in a single swallow.
And somewhere in between all these things, I’m supposed to write the next novel…
and eat, presumably.
Such is the curse of the modern writer, I suppose. But I wouldn’t sacrifice any one of these for another so I’ll just have to learn to juggle. Anyone have their own distractions that they can’t/dont want to avoid?
Thanks for reading
April 5, 2012 | Categories: amateur writer, indie author, kindle, writing | Tags: debut novel, english literature degree, gaming, haruki murakami, hunger games, Inspired Quill, kafka on the shore, writing | 8 Comments »
With one thing and another, editing Greaveburn and working on my Open University assignments, I’ve not had much time to write lately. The problem, of course, is that my current WIP isn’t going to write itself either. I think there might have been an issue around my character development that I haven’t been confident enough to tackle just yet. My main character (Alan Shaw, see the WIP page for more) has to fall in love with another character; enough to get hurt later. Now, for regular viewers of this particular blog channel, you’ll know that romance isn’t exactly my forte. Creepy beasties from the netherworld, fine. Falling hopelessly in love, not so good.
And so I’ve been putting it off, telling myself that I need to think about it more. That I don’t understand how to write simple romance, never mind the complicated love/hate divide necessary for this part of the plot to really work. What’s an author’s favourite word? Procrastinate! So the assignments and Greaveburn work has been a happy distraction. Until last week.
Finding that I hadn’t taken my alloted amount of holidays this year, and that I have to take them by April or lose them, I ended up with Monday through Thursday off last week. Laura was at work all day. I had just finished the latest round of assignments and no more are due for a couple of weeks. Basically, I was in the perfect position to get some serious writing done. All I could think was “shit, I’m going to have to write that romance section”.
So, I set my jaw, opened my notebooks to the copious amount of research and plotting I’d done over the last couple of months when nothing else was forthcoming, and started to type…
And, as always, I was proved wrong by my own lack of confidence.
My fingers couldn’t type fast enough. The images were coming thick and fast, the dialogue made sense. What my main character found compelling about his love interest was the very thing she hated in him, but they have so much in common despite wildly different cultural and social backgrounds. Where was this stuff coming from!?
Suffice to say, by the end of the four days, I hadn’t exactly broken any word count records, but a good chunk of work had been produced. And, when I read it back, it was actually ok! I’ll leave the final decision as to whether it works to you lovely readers when The Adventures of Alan Shaw (working title) is released eventually finished. But for now, I’m happy with it.
The next step…ripping out my main character’s heart. Now that I can do!
Thanks for reading.
That’s right, kids, I don’t just write short stories. And, to be honest, I avoid poetry like the plague. But Haiku are nice little snippets that I can get really engrossed in. Sorting them into syllables is like a little creative writing brain-teaser. A crossword for authors, if you like. And so I can’t get enough of them! Now, I know that traditionally, haiku are supposed to reference a season at some point, and theyre supposed to follow the 5/7/5 syllable rule, but some of these don’t. What can I say, I’m a callous, literary rebel. But anyway, have a look. I hope you enjoy them.Meteor Shower Sparks shed a trail. Atmospheric Grinder. Wormwood coming home. The Beautician Above a crest of plastic breasts and Matalan tan, not much goes on. Guitar Poor dusty Fender, Missing a string, out of tune. I’ll pick you up soon. Made-up words If there is one thing I absitivley hate, it’s comboined words. Woman on the train New haircut, old face. New bagm new shoes, new coat. Same old face. View from a frosted window Trees expose themselves, despite Winter’s bitter bite. Rough, naked skins.
That’s enough for now, I reckon. Hope you enjoyed them.
Thanks for reading.
I mentioned this a while ago, but it was a whiiiiiile ago and so I’ll recap. While doing my Creative Writing courses with the Open University, I met some great people with a real passion for writing which rivalled my own. Since then we’ve met up every month or so to chat, share ideas and encouragement, and drink too much coffee. In the course of these meetings we decided that we should form a writing group and get an ebook compiled with our short stories in. Hence was born…
Of course, I’d already released Not Before Bed, then re-released it and hit every hurdle it’s possible to hit along the way. So it seemed like a good idea to use that experience for the good of mankind (see the gravitas I’m trying to instill in this project?), and it would be much easier than doing it all myself this time. Apart from that, it was an opportunity to sandwich my own work between some great pieces of fiction by other people. And so, the project began.
The Brief: Two short stories and a poem from each member of the group.
And so, without any more of a preamble, I would like to declare that our short story collection is now available absolutely FREE from Smashwords…
That’s right, kids! The first collaborative work from the Steel City Writers is finally here!
Now it’s a very different beast to what you’re used to from me. There are some twists, some thrillers, some humour, and…some poems. I’ve even avoided going too dark with my own entries (yeah, I can do that if I want to. I just never want to :D). But it really is worth a read. We’ve even started a blog so you can find out more about each of us and drop us some feedback if that floats your boat. It’s HERE. And don’t forget that Goodreads is great place to share your reviews!
Thanks for reading.
March 14, 2012 | Categories: epublishing, indie author, kindle, short story, Uncategorized | Tags: creative writing courses, ebooks, Goodreads, self publishing, sheffield, short stories, writing, writing groups, yorkshire | 6 Comments »
Thanks to the very kind H. Conrad Miller, Not Before Bed has had another great review! Take a look:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A great collection of horror short stories ranging from Lovecraftian to werewolves to that thing that goes bump under your bed. Each story is finely crafted by Craig Hallam in an enjoyable and easy to read way while still having each story have it’s own voice and feel. I think that is one of the most remarkable things about this collection. While it is easy to see how all of the stories came from one author, each story was told with a voice all it’s own that was perfect for that specific sub-genre of horror.
Craig out did himself with his variety of stories. The dark sci-fi in Mandy in the Jar-O have an alien abductee’s horrific realization that her wildest dreams of being wanted are not so wonderful. The Lovercraftian tale of Albert that has little dialogue but such gripping description that every pool of water larger than the size of a drop suspect from harboring tentacled elder gods. These stories have the ability to catch and hold a reader’s attention. After every story I was left asking “When can I read a full story about this?”
I highly recommend this to anyone who loves horror. But I especially recommend it to anyone who wants to look into horror for the first time. It will give you a great primer for the genre and help you find a niche inside of it you will like.
Good job Craig
Well, I could hardly have asked for a better review than that! Let’s hope that it hitting Goodreads and the web in general gives Not Before Bed another little jolt of downloads. I think this is probably the appropriate time for me to give you some updates on the collection itself, too.
Since moving the collection from Smashwords to Kindle Direct Publishing, I’ve forced myself to NOT constantly check how many downloads I’ve been getting every month. And, because of that, I actually forgot to check altogether. Until today. And so, I can now inform you all that in the last year Not Before Bed, Amazon and Smashwords combined, has had a staggering…
I have no idea how this happened, but July last year showed a massive surge which then frittered out to just a few a month. And since I’ve only been looking at the last few months, I almost missed the huge 12,000ish downloads from middle of last year.
I think this causes for a huge thank you to everyone, whether they’re reading this or not, who has taken the time to download Not Before Bed. I never thought my shoddy little short story collection would be such a (relative) hit. I have no idea WHY this happened, but I’m not going to argue. If I can get but a portion of those downloads for Greaveburn, I’ll be a very happy camper. Special thanks, of course, go to those who went the extra mile to review it, too; you’ve all been extremely supportive and helpful in your feedback.
And with that, I think it’s time to put Not Before Bed to….well, to bed. It’ll still be out there to download for all those people who still manage to stumble onto it. But for me, it’s been a great experience that’s over now. I’m going home to concentrate on the next project. From here on in, it’s all about Greaveburn’s release later this year. And so, I’d like to bid a final thank you to everyone who made Not Before Bed a huge personal success. Stick around, there’s more writing to come!
Thanks for reading.
February 29, 2012 | Categories: amateur writer, author, epublishing, flash fiction, ghost story, horror, indie author, kindle, short fiction, short story, steampunk, writer, writers, writing | Tags: alien abductee, author, conrad miller, ebooks, elder gods, flash fiction, Goodreads, horror, kindle, Kindle Direct Publishing, monsters, not before bed, short stories, the supernatural, vampires, werewolves, writer, writing, zombies | 8 Comments »
Well, it’s finally that time I’ve been waiting for since November. The stars are aligned. In the dark treeline, the black mass is on the lips of the hooded monks. And on the central dais, hog tied and with fear in her eyes, is the sacrifice. We are about to invoke the spirit of The Editor…
Luckily for me, my Inspired Quill editor, Peter Stewart, doesn’t really need any of this. So, I send the monks back to their day jobs as civil servants, cut the sacrifice free and give her a tin foil blanket before making sure she’s home before 10 pm. The sacrificial athame goes back in the kitchen drawer with the spoons and pizza cutter.
The point of this elaborate introducion is this…
The edits for Greaveburn are finally back!
The last few months have been a steady stream of flop sweats and half-believed self assurances as my mind flits between ‘they’re going to tear my book apart and salvage its parts for the black market’ and ‘it’ll be fine, they like it enough to edit it, so they won’t be too cruel’. The former has definitely been winning in terms of brain space. In fact, when my inbox pinged, I froze. Do I really want to read this? Can I take the beating if the result is a complete rewrite/cutting of beloved characters/stylistic overhaul? The answer, as I’m sure you’ll guess, was ‘we’re about to find out’.
Email open, file downloaded, hovering of finger over OPEN.
Like some rabbid lipstick merchant had taken slashing across the pages, there was red text. EVERYWHERE. My heart sank. But I decided to read the actual words before checking the tensile strength of the light fittings for noose-application. And you know what? It wasn’t so bad. Hell, the comments are GOOD! Useful! I find myself nodding, whisking through the pages focussing on just the comments rather than overthinking what I’ll do about them. They all make perfect sense. Little things I’ve missed with grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, all easily fixed with Peter’s expert suggestions. A few little vocab comments where words could be changed for better effect.
And all of a sudden, I was at the end.
What the hell had I been worried about? This guy knows what he’s doing. I didn’t find a damned thing that I disagreed with or anything I couldn’t easily fix. There were just as many positive comments as negative (although none were really negative, more like necessary highlights). It may have been preying on my mind for the last few months, being the first and last things I think about on a day to day basis, but it’s all come out ok. To be honest, as I read through the suggestions and comments and tweaks, I realise that with Peter’s help, this novel has the potential to go somewhere!
I’ve always been told (as have you, for that matter, fellow Writer) that Editors are essential. They know their shit, if you’ll excuse the French. You should take their comments seriously and take them without offence or that horrible knee-jerk reaction that makes us scream “WHAT DO YOU KNOW!?” and stomp off to sulk. But you don’t really believe it until you’re on the receiving end of a bloody good Editor.
The point of this blog, dear friends, as well as to throw on the net whatever oddments cross my mind, is to teach. Looking back over previous posts, you’ll see all the mistakes I’ve made. All the assumptions and diversions that have led me not only down the wrong path but into the soul-sucking quicksands of Indie Writer Hell. And I want you to make these experiences your own. Learn from what I’ve done wrong and don’t bloody do it yourself (using Createspace if you’re not from America, for example. Waste of time and money, folks). But sometimes, just sometimes, I get to tell you about something I’ve done RIGHT. Not very often, mind. But here’s one of those times. Submitting my work for a proper read-through and commenting may just be the scariest and best damn thing I’ve ever done. INDISPENSIBLE is the word I’m looking for.
And now the hard work really starts. The revision stage. I’ve never hit this part before. Taking someone else’s thoughts on my work and moulding them not only as they suggest, but keeping with my own style and intention toward the novel. This is going to be a lot like a collaboration. I’m out of my depth again, folks. But I’m actually looking forward to it! Stay tuned for how well/badly this next bit goes And when all’s said and done, this has made me realise something which, at the back of my mind, I’ve still doubted; that Greaveburn is going to be a reality. These edits are going to sharpen it up, make it really rock, make it a book that YOU might read soemtime soon. With discussions on potential cover art going on (more on that in a later post), things are rattling along at an alarming rate. Sometime this year, my book, my words, my characters and plot twists and dark descriptions are going to hit the public. It’s fantastic, and I’m suddenly petrified all over again, with a big old grin on my face
Thanks for reading.
It’s been one of those weeks, faithful Blog-Readers. I never thought I’d say this, but it’s been a week full of interviews!
Thanks to Magda at the Bulletfilms blog, you can read one of them HERE. Telling you all about Not Before Bed, the upcoming release of Greaveburn and…oh yes, there’s an AND…little tidbits about my WIP and other random information that I’ve never put into interviews before.
But the interview, I’ve been REALLY excited about is my spot on my hometown’s local radio station, Sine FM. What I was expecting to be a quick “fifteen minutes of fame” turned into an hour long grilling about everything from where I was born to what my (estranged) father used to do for a living. Awkwaaaaard! Then, on to the principles of Flash Fiction and eventually back round to a brief mention of Not Before Bed. It was extremely fun, extremely nerve racking, and you can listen to the whole thing right here:
Tip: Listen to part 1, and skip the first ten minutes
But before you listen, I’ll give you a little context to some of the things you’ll be hearing. I wasn’t the only person on the show, of course. In the small 10ftx6ft room, there were 9 people. That’s right. Here’s a run down of who else was there:
- Craig McCann – Local lad and Olympic level fencer.
- Steve – Mortage Broker
- Another guy who’s name I forget – Tasked with finding Louis Tomlinson (another local lad and one fifth of One Direction) and getting him to come on the show.
- Andrew Isaacs - The show’s presenter
- “Negative Nigel” – Andrew’s co-host and apparently a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
- And two “Private Investigators” who’s real names we weren’t allowed to use on the show.
A summary: A sword expert, a martial artist, two detectives, a solicitor (Andrew), a man who stalks Louis Tomlinson and a writer of Speculative Fiction. Does that sound like the set up for a Miss Marple adventure to anyone else? It was a bloody dangerous room to be in, I’ll tell you!
Now, this is where the pressure started The “P.I.s” didn’t want to use their real names. And, since Andy thought that Writers have an inbuilt name-generator in their cerebral cortex, he gave me the task of coming up with a name for the female PI seconds before the show started. Asking her quickly what she was after, I got an unhelpful shrug and so I was heavily in the shit and expected to think of a name while balancing a ball on my head and riding a unicycle (or that’s how it felt). With nothing forthcoming from my nerve-paralysed brain, I went for the code-name Stiletto. I thought it was pretty funny. She, however, was not impressed hahaha. If you listen to the show, you’ll hear my explanation to the crowd of why I chose stiletto (double meaning, anyone?), and the awed silence afterward that I think proves that no one got it. Never mind
Anyways, since I’d already done my part, and Andrew had got me to mention my lovely partner, Laura, on the show as one of my prime supports to my publishing, it comes about that he chose her name to give to the female PI. So, if you listen to the podcast above, you’ll all understand the conotations of every time he calls her Laura Hall. Suffice to say, Laura herself (the real Laura) was highly amused that her name was used over and over again. She was pretty giddy about it when I got home and kept chuckling to herself.
It was a complete mind-f**k of an evening, and an absolute blast, too. I’m hoping I’ll get to do it all again when Greaveburn is ready to be released later this year. Who knows who I’ll end up int he roo with this time!?
Thanks for reading!
As you can see, my little blog has had a make-over. I’ve retro-fitted the whole thing with a slightly Steampunky edge in a homage to the recent acceptance of Greaveburn to Inspired Quill (IQ) publishing. In the true Steampunk tradition, I’ll no doubt be tinkering away at it for quite some time but the rivets and stanchions are there for now.
Speaking of Steampunk and Greaveburn, I’ve recently bought tickets to the Asylum Weekend Convention 2012 in Lincoln’s historic city. A whole weekend of ‘punkery with loads of great exhibitions, entertainments and of course the fabled Bazaar Eclectica where ‘punks fence their wares. I’ve been in touch with Tinker, the convention’s organiser, and he’s been kind enough to offer me a spot in the exhibition area. So there’ll be me (in my neo-victorian gear, by Jove!) and copies of Greaveburn for sale and even signing if you’re that way inclined.
But there’s more…the enthusiastic and very helpful Tinker has also offered me a spot on a panel, potentially alongside the likes of Robert Rankin, Toby Frost, Sam Stone and others! Of course, I accepted, but I’m PETRIFIFED.
It strikes me that the good thing about going nowhere with my writing is that I always know what to do. All of a sudden I’m very far from home with no map and the nagging sensation that I’m going to make an ass out of myself! Still…I’m excited enough that I’ve completely forgone sleep since signing to IQ.
In other news…I’ve re-released Not Before Bed in print (only from the american Amazon, I’m afraid) but it’s also now available for your Kindle (all over the globe). I know, the sensibility isn’t very Steampunk but than again neither is Not Before Bed. I think those short stories deserved one last flourish of attention before I pass it into the hands of fate entirely. While my Horror writing has served me well with some great publications that I’m very proud of and practice with submissions etc. I think I’ve moved on, now. Not Before Bed was an earlier me, one who was still finding his feet. Greaveburn is the next step in the journey, not away from those much-loved old stories and everything they taught me, but moving a little down the road to where there are whole new set of things to learn.
And I can’t wait to start!
Thanks for reading.
December 8, 2011 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: author, authors, automaton, books, clockwork, cogs, Craig Hallam, gears, gothic, horror, indie author, neo-victorian, short stories, speculative fiction, Steampunk, writer, writing | 4 Comments »
Recently on Twitter, I had a rant (if that’s possible in 140 characters). It was regarding my three cardinal rules of Vampirism; rules that, for me, should never be broken no matter what. They are:
1. Vampires go cripsy in the sunlight.
2. There is NO cure.
3. They’re hungry and you’re what’s for dinner, not their BFF.
A follower replied with a good counter argument, the fact that the most famous vampire in the world breaks one of those rules. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the eponymous character does indeed walk around in the daylight. I argued the toss, of course, and pointed out several factors which exempted Dracula from that rule but I wont discuss them here. Maybe a later post, if anyone’s interested.
But the debate brought up a good question. How far can a writer remove their characters from the existing tropes before it becomes TOO removed?
Let’s stick with the Vampires for this one.
As far as I’m concerned, this is a Vampire. Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi are creepy, scary and will nosh on your neck as soon as look at you. Vampires are supposed to be scary. And I’ll admit that these films are responsible for much of feelings toward the Vampire trope. When Lee clutches his hands to his face against the sunlight and turns into something resembling the contents of a men’s Working Club ashtray, it hit me as petrifyingly cool. But their source material, the original Dracula novel, breaks the Rules. Bram Stoker took the myths/legends/folk tales and warped them to the benefit of his book. Dracula is seen on several occasions throughout the day. Also, he isn’t killed by a wooden stake (which Stoker states as the weapon of choice) but by knives.
Now let’s think about Stephanie Meyer. I personally don’t rate the Twilight saga very highly. Sorry. But I’m firmly in Team Stoker. It isn’t the romantic element. Dracula is a gothic romance itself (especially if you watch the Gary Oldman movie version). Anne Rice’s awesome Interview series is more sex than scare and I still love those first few books (lost interest after that, mind). But Meyer breaks my cardinal sins twice. Edward Cullen not only shines like a fairy in sunlight, but manages to be an utter nonce in the blood-sucking department too. Bella should be lunch. A thousand times over.
But now I’m going to argue against myself. Is Meyer’s vampiric interpretation any worse that Stoker’s? He makes vamps able to walk in the daylight, she makes them sparkly. Is there such a difference other than aesthetically?
Not really. But those two novels split readers into opposing camps.
Since I’m obviously incapable of answering this one myself, the question goes to you. How far can a writer take something away from the original material before it becomes a bastardisation, or a renewal of tired tropes? Are we bending the rules to keep it fresh or ignoring them completely? I can think of examples which do both. Let’s see what you lot think…
Thanks for reading