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!
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!
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.
The answer, dear friends, is very simple. Not much at all. But that wouldn’t make for a very long blog post, would it? And so, in an effort to look like I have a life away from the Cursor’s ominous blink, here’s a week in the life of me…
This is a good time to write this post since I’ve been on holiday from work recently and so have had time to pack lots of other things in. Apart from editing (again) my novel, Greaveburn, hopefully for agent consupmtion very soon, I’ve been taking a little hiatus from writing anything proper and so had to find something else for my itchy hands to do. The first thing which I dont get to do as often as I’d like, is cook. I actually enjoy cooking, even if I always deviate from the recipe at some point. However, whether fortunately or unfortunately, my ‘better half’ Laura also ikes to cook and so I rarely get allowed in the kitchen. Except, strangley enough, when her parents are coming over and I undoubtedly end up preparing the meal. I think she just likes to put me under pressure. Anyways, as proof that I can cook here’s a picture of my latest endeavour, a chicken and leek pie:
Yes, that’s my own pastry. No pre-bought rubbish in MY kitchen! Looks pretty damn tasty if I do say so myself. Thankfully no humans were harmed in the consumption of the aforementioned pie.
Other than that, I’ve been hanging out! Regulars will know how much of a movie fanatic I am and how I love bitching about the crap ones. Well, other than Laura, I have a regular movie-going companion in the form of Mr. James Pearson Esq. He works with Laura in a secret goverment bunker underground Doncaster (kind of…not really) and is one of those people that likes David Lynch movies. But don’t hold that against him Here he is, chilling in his garden with a pint of the good stuff:
Congratulations to James and his newly fiance’d partner, Lindsey. He proposed on top of a bloody mountain! Beat that! I know I certainly can’t. If you want to wish them congratulations, he’s on Twitter at @JRMPearson. I’m sure he’ll be super-amused that strangers are contacting him. It’s better then the sweaty-faced man from Thailand who’s been following him since he sarted the account hahaha
I have a confession to make…I’m wierder than any of you ever suspected. But I’m at home with my ailment. I have an urge sometimes. An urge that can only be fed in a very particular way. An urge that leads to things like this:
That’s right, I’m a closet crafter. I love making things. The wierder and more impromptu the better. This tv-head was a box left in the office at work, some industrious cutting and a red marker pen. It took about ten minutes to make but ages for me to get bored of pretending to let people tune me in to random stations. It then lived in my dining room for about a month before I really had to throw it away. But it was a good month…
And last but not least, I like camping! Some who read my recent post on Inspiration might already have caught on to that little fact. But anyways, on a trip to Aysgarth in the Yokshire Dales last week with Laura, her brother and his girlfriend we found the best damned festival in England. Forget Glastonbury or Leeds-Fest. No thank you, ‘T in the Park’. Something far better than all of them combined was the Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival. Yes, we drove for 40 minutes through rugged terrain to get there, yes there were sheep in the road who had little regard for Natalie’s right-of-way, but it was worth it to see a Dalek scarecrow in someone’s back yard:
This seriously cracked me up. Any Dr Who fans will appreciate it too, I’m sure. There weren’t just Daleks. In fact, i could post so man pictures of scarecrows that your head would spin and then you’d be calling the authorities to have me ‘sectioned’. There were a whole host of contemporary, literary and musical characters made into straw-people, some fantastic and some utterly creepy. You can find a few more pics HERE if you’re interested. Basically, it was one of those afternoons of good, clean fun that you just dont get anymore. We certainly had a laugh spotting them all. Laura and Nat got a little TOO into it though:
And so that’s what I’ve been up to, and why there is no more Hallam-based fiction lying around the internet of late. I’ve got plenty of inspiration from our camping trip is particular, though. Lots of scarecrow, tent and rain oriented ideas. Now I’m back at work, I’m sure the seriousness will leak back in again. But I sure hope not.
Thanks for Reading!
Apologies for the title, I couldn’t think what to put, so I randomised my brain. While it has nothing to do with the content of this post, I may have inadvertently come up with the greatest movie title in history But in order to deliver SOMETHING of the title, here are some zombies:
This week, in Pseudo-writer news, I’ve had another rejection slip for Greaveburn. Again, it was a nice turn-down. Apparently the writing was good but it simply “wasn’t for them”. Ah well. Since submitting the novel to all and sundry, though, I’ve had more ideas. Does anyone else get this? You finish a book, it’s been alomst a year since I did, and I still get ideas for blistering scenes that would make it so much better. To be honest, the word count has always bothered me. 54,000 words is a meagre size for a novel, imho. And so I’ve always wanted to stretch it a little further. After long discussions with myself and my primary editor (and long suffering reader, Laura), I’ve decided to add a couple of chapters. We’ve discussed each character in turn, how they develop and what could possibly be missing from their emotional journeys. And, thanks to some byproxy soul searching, I’ve come up with at least two palces where Greaveburn suffers. Lucky for me (if you can see it that way) it hasn’t been accepted yet and so I can tinker to my heart’s content. Unlucky for Abrasia and the other characters, they’re coming out of retirement. As you read this, I’ve added a whole new scene for the heroine and I’m planning another for the poor disfigured Darrant.
Meanwhile, the eminent Pill Hill Press have replied to my submitted short story, The Fly Man. It’s the first time since I started writing (about six years or more) that I’ve touched on my real life in any way and used my Nursing “knowledge”. Emphasis on the quotation marks. It’s a story of a man with Locked-In Syndrome, a terrible affliction where the mental faculties are in tact bu the body just won’t do as its told. Now imagine you’re stuck in a hospital bed with no way of communicating or escaping, and you’re repeatedly visited by a dark, silent figure.
While writing it, I think I might have shat my pants a few times which is always a good measure of whether the stoy has gone well or not. I did the same thing with the opening story of the Not Before Bed collection. Or maybe I’m just a chicken-poop. Anyways, Pill Hill Press said they liked the story, but the style needed work. I split the story into sharp chunks; some only a few sentences. I was supposed to be showing the phasing in and out of consciousness of the MC, Philip. It worked, just not very well. And so PHP have let me fiddle with it and resubmit. Nice folks, that they are. Stay tuned for updates on that!
And finally, my foot-in-mouth situation. Letting my fingers run away with me, I got myself into the pseudo-competition last post. Lucky for me, no one reads the blog and so I think I’ve got away with it. Only the true believers have posted any suggestions (Thanks to Shea, Aggy and Lizzie for their continued support and interest) and so unless some random internet glitch dumps thousands of people my way by Sunday, I’ll only have a few options to choose between. This has turned out great, actually, since I never know how to reward the nice folks who drop by regular (other than with more horrible self-promotion) and so this is turning into a nice way to do that. If reward is the right word
Anyways, we shall see what Deathworm, Space Zombie, Cthulhu-based pic I’ll be drawing by Sunday night. And, of course, I’ll post updates as the doodle progresses. But, until then, here’s one I prepared earlier. The guitar-totting rock chick I intended to post last time!
Thanks for reading!