An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction.

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Writing projects

I always wonder how those authors do it. You know, the ones who start a book and get all the way to the end in one concentrated slice of…concentration. I’d love to be able to do that. But I just can’t. Maybe I’ve gotten into bad habits. Mixing shift work with writing means that I have to take what I can get when I can get it. That also leads to writing whatever pops into my head when I get a spare moment. Hence, I always have a few projects on the go at once.

At the minute, I have a few things going on. With The Adventures of Alan Shaw part 2 being finished (subject to publisher edits) I’m working on part 3. I’m also officially back on with Emi (check the WIP page if you’re interested). However, there’s a secret third project that seems to be eating my attention right now. I’m calling it Down Days. It’s a POV book on what it’s like to suffer with depression.

It’s a strange beast in a few ways. I’m writing about myself, and some pretty personal stuff at that. I’m going for complete honesty and I’m not editing anything out. That’s scary. Secondly, I have never written anything like it before. I’m not just out of my comfort zone, I’ve been separated from it by generations of warfare. It’s turning into a great cathartic experience, though. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much while writing. A sadistic part of me must be enjoying it as I’m already at 11k words. I have no idea how long something like this needs to be. I usually say that a story will be as long as it wants to be, so I’ll stick with that.

In other news, I’m doing a column for geek syndicate about Dungeons and Dragons! Take a look over HERE. I’m having a lot of fun writing it and, once more, I’m doing something that I’m not used to. Prose is my usual thing and all this non-fiction and article writing is keeping me on my toes. Never a bad thing.

So that’s what’s happening with me.

How’re you guys doing?

Thanks for reading.

Curse of the Ginger


There’s no wonder the ancient Greeks thought that redheads became vampires after death. No other manner of people are so adverse to sunlight as the common garden Ginger.

The weather has been glorious in my hometown the last few days. This has meant two things:

  1. My Pokemon Go adventures have been blessed with sunshine
  2. My ginger blood has reached boiling point on several occasions.

I’m an author, a Ginger, and a Geek. All three things have led to me being almost transparent when viewed in direct sunlight. As such, I seek shade like some seek oxygen. Even then, I’ve managed to get sunburnt knees. KNEES! Even with the SPF 3k at my disposal.

But enough of the complaining. The weather is glorious. My knees will heal with time. And I just spotted a squirtle on my radar.

Life is good.
Thanks for reading.

Tools for writers: Do we need them?

So I’ve just got back from meeting with a couple of fellow writers. We descend on The Showroom in Sheffield now and again (we try to be more frequent but it never seems to work out that way) to talk about what we’re up to.

How’s that sequel coming along? How many days in a row have you procrastinated over shiny things on the internet? That kind of thing.

Today’s discussion mostly revolved around writing tools and technology. Pete and Christie are hardcore into their technology. They both use Scrivener, which is a writing tool that let’s you organise your manuscript with all manner of virtual post-its and bookmarks to make moving around your work easier. It sounds great. Anything that makes editing your own work easier is a surefire hit.

But, I don’t use it. For anyone who can remember my previous “planner or pantser” post, I don’t even plan that much.

I get an idea for a story, cook it in my head until it’s nice and brown, then hit the keyboard with nothing but the images in my head and a notebook, just in case.

It’s strange to think that we’re all striving toward the same thing. We all want to write stories. But we come at it from such diverse directions. And I don’t think any of them are wrong. My friends love their gadgets. I’m probably considered a minimalist. We all get the job done in our own way. So why am I so jealous of their ability to be organised? 😁

What’s your method? Let me know if I’m a complete literary mutant or not 😊
Thanks for reading

How D&D helped my writing

I’m totally addicted to Dungeons and Dragons.

I’d always wanted to play and never had anyone who knew how but, after dropping into someone else’s game for just the one session, I gave myself Gygax.

Since my exntded shore-leave from the blog, I now run two games, both very different, as Dungeon Master, and I play in another. I really can’t suggest it strongly enough. Especially for writers. There is no end to the creativity you can play out in the games. The story can be sci-fi, fantasy, horror, thriller, you name it!

I’ve found it’s a massive help to maintaining creativity. When my books are stumbling (all talk about the several projects I’m working on in a later post) and I can’t get my Auth-on, D&D has been exactly what I’ve needed.

Not only do I get to come up with ideas that don’t have to have every detail planned out, but the players do half the work for me! With a brief set-up, the players drive their own plot based on whatever they want their characters to do, often coming up with paths through the story that I would have never come up with

I would never straight-up novelise the games I run. Those are for me and my friends alone, to enjoy spending time together and having fun. But those little sparks of inspiration that playing gives me; those are priceless.

Being forced to think on the fly when a player takes a tangent, having to ad-lib and (my favourite part) playing all of the NPCs (non-player characters) is not only immense fun and such a rush, but brilliant for my story and character-generating skills.

Let me give you an example.

So, the players, who are a crew of a ship, have been attacked by an undead pirate and all of their belongings have been stolen. Limping to the nearest island and left to their own devices while their ship is fixed, they decided they wanted to head to a tavern.

While in the tavern, one player picks an arm-wrestling match with a local (who I had to make up) but the true moment of excellence was Eugene. A player asked if there were any locals at the bar, as he intended to fleece one of them out of some money (the players didn’t even have money to eat).

Anyway, I said there was indeed a young elf at the bar. He seemed out of place, nervous, with a large backpack at this feet. This, as it turns out, would be Eugene. Over the next few minutes, the player decided to tease me by asking Eugene’s entire backstory (which I didn’t have prepared) but the funniest part was the voice that came out when Eugene spoke. Because I hadn’t written this character before hand and, perhaps because of his name, the poor NPC ended up with the voice of Professor Frink from Futurama.

I could barely hold it together. Eugene tickled everyone around the table. And every time they go into the bar, they ask if Eugene is in there. Probably just to mess with me, actually.

The moral of this story, is that D&D is a GREAT writing tool. You should try it.

 

Thanks for reading.

Pokemon Go in Doncaster

So, I caved.

Well, to say I caved would imply I actually tried to resist. I didn’t. I’ve been waiting for some kind of real-time Pokemon game since I chose my first Charmander back in 1996. And now that it’s here, there was no way I was going to let it slide by.

And so, I did the thing to get it in the UK before the release date and, finally, I feel like a real Pokemon trainer!

Now, the amusing part. Pokemon GO is smarter than I gave it credit for. Advertising suggested that the wee beasties that you could catch would depend on where you were in the real world at the time.

“Surely it isn’t that good,” said the adult cynic that I have become since I first spoke with Professor Oak.

Turns out, it’s too damn good.

Pokemon GO has my home town down to a T. I’ve had nothing but Pidgey, Ratata and Weedle for hours at a time with the occasional Psyduck if I head toward the river. So…rats, pigeons, bugs and ducks. That sounds about right!

At this rate, the only way I’ll catch anything more exotic is at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

Wait…that’s genius! I’m going this weekend, for sure. Also, I’m yet to try out the local gym and see if I can catch a Machop. That’s a job for this evening.

The other thing I noticed is how much work they’ve put into making your home town’s landmarks important. The local church around the corner from my house is a pokestop (not sure why, but hey-ho). And all around the town centre are little things like statues and clocks that all have their names pop up in the app.

Now, you can tell that Niantic were struggling for landmarks of interest in Doncaster because some of the pokestops are things like “mushroom statue” and “street corner”. But, by God, they’re in there with a little photograph s you know when you’re in the right place. And that gives me a little shiver of excitement despite the lacklustre attractiveness of my home town.

Anyway, I’m off. There are baseball caps to wear backwards and backpacks to be filled with snacks for my next journey into the unknown territories of Doncaster. Stay safe, fellow trainers.

 

Thanks for reading.

A quick catch up

So, since I’ve been woefully absent, what have I been up to? What’s my raging excuse for abandoning you all? Well…..life, I guess.

I’m going to drop in a few random highlights to get you all up to speed. So here’s number one:

I had a painting done of me by Terry Chipp!

IMAG0037_1.jpg

I think he managed to catch every one of my terrible features hahaha

 

Guess who’s back…

This place is a little dusty…it can’t have been that long since I…

TWO YEARS!

I’m so sorry, guys! I’m afraid this blog fell down the back of the radiator in the spare room and I’ve only just found it.

Oh my. What’s happened in two years?

Well, I’ve still been writing, if that helps. I just today finished the last strokes on The Adventures of Alan Shaw volume 2. It’s a doozy. I hope you’ll all like it.

Oh, and I finally did give up the day job, despite people telling me not to (or was that because of my singing? I forget.). Anyway, you are now looking at a full-time author. Which is how I’m thinking about it, rather than as a complete lack of direction or plans or financial support or…I think I need  moment.

Anyway, here I am. I’ve started up a little editing/proofreading service to make sure I can still eat. That’s going well. I just finished editing a great Steampunk Children’s book called Verity Twigg and the Da Vinci Quill Mystery, which I’m sure you’ll all enjoy when it hits the shelves. I’ve also just done a foreword for an upcoming collection of anecdotes about playing RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons. I was asked to do it as the editor knew I ran my own games, so that was nice of him.

What else?

Oh yes, you can get in on some of that juicy experience, if you like. I’m adding a new page to the blog with some reviews of work I’ve already done and a contact. Feel free to drop me a line if you are in need of editing, proofreading or general assistance with your stories or manuscripts. Hell, I’ll proofread your business’ menus if you like (Don’t you hate ordering from a miss-spelled menu? Just me then).

Oh, my next writing project is a book called Down Days, which is a first hand account of someone with depression. Me, that is. I’ll talk about that a bit more in another post, I think.

To clarify, I’m back. Hopefully with more than a bi-annual visit. I hope you’re all still there, and all still well. This is going to be a tough ride so I appreciate your patience.

 

As always, my friends, thanks for reading!

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