An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction.

writer

At the movies

Hi readers!

Again, it’s been a while. Sorry about that. The Down Days blog has been eating up most of my time and I’ve found it such a refreshing writing experience that I just can’t help myself. Still, I’ve been up to some other things, too…

After taking a little break from the signings/events circuit last year to get Alan Shaw 2 finished and off to Inspired Quill, I’ve done a few more events. Some lovely Steampunk events, and planning for more in the future. That’s gotten me bitten by the bug again, as it always does. So many lovely people are asking for the Alan Shaw sequel now, that it’s quite a boost for my confidence which was waning, to be honest.

I’ve started work on a new novel, as well as the obvious sequel work and finishing off Emi (which is pretty much the bane of my life. I just can’t seem to get in a flow with the damn thing). The new book is in the cyberpunk genre, all synthetic humans and media overcrowding. It’s lovely and shiny and new in my head and that’s always an amazing feeling for an author. I’m hoping you’ll be reading it as soon as I can get my finger out and finish it.

What else?

Oh yeah, I’ve finished my first script! I’ve been asked by a small production company to send my ideas for them doing short films based on the Not Before Bed short stories. Of course, I started with the titular story. It’s a total of three pages long (inadequacy issues, eh?) but it was really fun to do. Let’s hope that they can do something with it. I’d love to see some of my short stories on a screen at some point. How cool would that be?

That’s all from me right now. I hope you’re all doing well and that your own projects are steaming along. Oh, and since I’m rubbish and haven’t done this yet… Happy New Year!

(Hey, it’s still January, so it totally counts)

 

Thanks for reading.


A shift in perspective

Hi everyone,

So, I think I’ve had a bit of a realisation moment regards the novel I’m working on. I wouldn’t call it an epiphany, as such, but it’s certainly kicked me in the backside.

Basically, I realised that I was writing my Cyberpunk novel from the wrong perspective. I think that 3rd person is the crutch I always lean on. At least, it’s the reflex direction that I tend to take. But, as I was reading through the last part of my current WIP, (the cyberpunk novel, that is, not one of the other thousand books I need to get finished) I realised that the perspective should be first person. What better way to describe life in Shika-One City than fro behind the eyes of my protagonist? Especially since I’m trying to get across a very particular speech pattern, colloquialisms and, as I’ve mentioned before, a completely gender-neutral society. Do it through Xev’s eyes! (Xev’s name will probably change, but it was what popped into my head from the first, so I’ll deal with it for now.)

The bad thing, of course, is that I now have to rewrite the first 25k of the book that I’ve already written. The great thing is that I haven’t written anything in 1st person in ages and it’ll be fun to do so. I have to admit that I love a challenge and this is a perfect one.

My other fore-brain project, Emi, is also going pretty well. I’ve just re-read the whole thing from the beginning and I think that it reads alright. It’s another of those challenging things to write so I guess the real proof will only come out when someone reads it. I don’t think that IQ will publish a novella, so I’ll have to publish it myself. But that’s ok. It’ll be a nice little thing to add to my signing table.

And Down Days continues to do very well. We’ve had over 2000 hits over there, from all over the world. Every post has some kind of interaction or comments and the followers are mounting swifter than I could have ever imagined. The posts are proving nice and easy to come up with, too. That’s probably because my depression rears its head in some way almost every day, but I’m trying to see silver linings. With plenty of experiences to share, there’s plenty to write about.

I hope all of your writing projects are coming to fruition, too.

Thanks for reading.


It’s been a long road…

Hi guys, it’s me again. Well, it’s been a busy time! Quick update, I guess.

Author First, my editing service, is going well. I have a few recurrent customers now, which is always lovely, and it’s managing to keep me from starving.

Also, the free e-book on living with depression, Down Days, is doing well. There have been a lot of supportive comments and lots of shares which is always appreciated and makes me think that perhaps I did the right thing by pouring my heart out on paper, although it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

What else? Ummmm….The Adventures of Alan Shaw Volume 2 is now with Inspired Quill. I’m just waiting for my turn in the editorial queue as they’ve taken on a lot of great authors lately who are itching to get their first books out. I don’t mind waiting, to be honest. I remember well what it was like to wait for that first book to be released, and the euphoria that came afterwards. They deserve it for all their hard work. IQ have also launched a training course for any aspiring authors that you can find HERE

In other news, my column over at Geek Syndicate is going well, too. Lots of D&D related fun happening there. While we’re on it, my D&D games are getting to be really fun. I think i’m getting into my stride as a DM and acting out characters is getting to be my favourite part, where roleplaying used to be the bit that I dreaded most.

As for writing…it’s going sloooowly. I quite simply haven’t had much time to write lately. Emi is still stuck in a rut that I can’t seem to get out of. I have started a new novel, though, a cyberpunk story which mixes the gaming and real worlds with questions about humanity and where we’re headed. That’s a lot of fun to write and I’ve decided to use only non-gender specific terms and names to show how gender equality has progressed even if the world is otherwise falling apart, a subject close to my hopes for the real world.

I have a signing booked at the Sandbach Author Event on the 5th of November. It’ll be the first one I’ve managed to attend in a while since my car exploded the day before my last signing (long story). Hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

That’s about it from me. Pretty boring, really.

 

Thanks for reading, anyway!


In my absence

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.


Post-Christmas Post

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.


After an absence (and added alliteration, apparently)

Hi everyone. Sorry I’ve not been around. I think I only missed one week’s actual blogging, but I’ve been slacking off for longer than that. Or, should I say, I’ve been busy. Busy busy busy.

Spookier on the outside…

Last week, for instance, I went on a ghost hunt. You heard. Me and an intrepid group of friends went to Knottingly town hall throughout the night to experience some ghastly goings-on. It ended up being extremely fun, and a little bit pants. But that was part of the fun. Wandering round in the dark with just our little group, torches in hand, creeping along like the Scooby Gang, was the best part of the evening. Although my inability to explain the table tipping comes a close second. If it wasn’t for the mediums and their total disregard for the laws of physics, I’d have been even happier (One fo them said that the grainy effect you see when you’re in the dark is “seeing the energy of the world”. Nothing to do with photoreceptors, apparently). But, I had my trusty talisman to protect me:

Who you gonna call?

And this little group of gems to act as ectoplasmic cannon fodder should the proverbial shit “get real”:

Ready for action with their Indian restaurant menus clutched tight. (From left to right) Lindsay, the top of Hannah’s head, James and Laura; aka Janine, Slimer, Venkman and Egon.

Other than that, it’s been business as usual. Plugging Greaveburn, looking for places to do signings or just to turn up and do a jig (I’m quit the Jigenator, when I need to be). I’ve also applied for a couple of jobs totally unrelated to my current Nursing career. Gasp. That’s right, folks, I’ve gone for writing jobs. Jobs that will mean that I write for a living as well as for fun. This could be either empowering or catastrophic. I’ll let you know how it goes. Cross your digits for me.

Other than that, it’s been full steam ahead (pardon the pun) with my next novel. As some of you may know, it’s being tentatively named The Chronicles of Alan Shaw (or just Alan Shaw for short), and it will be my first forays into Steampunk when I actually know that it exists. Unlike when I wrote Greaveburn and I had no idea. I’m not saying that I have any more of an idea now, but at least I’m going in with my eyes open and goggles firmly in place. Anyway, new project, new writing-high. It’s going well. I’m approx 75k words in, and only half way through as a rough estimate. It’s going to be an epic, I hope, with lots of juicy tidbits and complications and (without giving too much away) tie-ins, hopefully. We shall see…

Ooooh, let’s see…what else? I’ve been introduced to David Lynch films by the aforementioned James. I know, I know. Where have I been, right? Apparently buried under a laptop-shaped rock. As we finished our ghost hunting endeavours at 4am, we decided on a movie marathon the next day which consisted of Lost Highway, Hook, The Crow, and Monsters Inc. Quite the eclectic mix there, but it was a blast. There was Haribo and pizza, and many-a discussion about what Lost Highway actually meant. I don’t think we got very far with that last part. But any excuse to watch Bill Pullman play an adult character is fine by me (We shall not forsake thee, Bill, for the crimes of Casper).

Slob-a-thon

And that’s just a few reasons I haven’t been around. Others include decorating and starting my next Open University course, but they’re boring ones.

Don’t forget, folks, that the Greaveburn Competition closes at midnight tonight. There have been some great entries (even a saucy one) and I’ll post the winner next Saturday. If you’ve been slacking and haven’t entered yet, get on it! A few late entries will be forgiven because I’m not a totalitarian author by any stretch of the imagination, so there’s still chance.

Have a good week!

Thanks for reading


My favourite literary snippets

As we all know, sometimes you pick up a book/kindle/newspaper or whatever, and those words on the page just hit you. They soak into your blood, firing neurons of imagination and hooking you like literary crack. Sometimes it can be just a little snippet. The first line or a little description, perfectly written. Here are some of the snippets, quotes and excerpts that get my brain making that happy little noise inside my cranium. Enjoy!

Picture by Elle Ward

 William Hughes Mearnes – Antigonish (1889)

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

There is just something about this poem that reaches down into the animal part of my psyche and tells me to be utterly afraid. The first and last stanzas are often used in isolation and they’re the most evocative, but I think the whole poem really needs to be read with the lights on. And with this one in mind, there’s a quote from the eminent Stephen King which I think sums up that animal compulsion which gives the unfounded fear of the dark which we all have:

The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn’t real. I know that, and I also know that if I’m careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.

We’ve all been there right? We’d like to think that it was back when we were kids, with the covers over our head, trying to breath quieter so the thing wont get us. But you and I both know it was far more recent than that…

 

Anyways, on the back of Stephen’s awesome quote, I’d like to share one of my favourite lines from a book. The opening of The Gunslinger, which I think is a brilliant piece of understated genius:

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

They always say that you should try to intrigue your readers in the first few pages of any book. With this opening line, Stephen (I like to pretend we’re on first name terms. It’s creepier) managed to make me think “Shit, who is he and what’s he done?”. Good work, King, good work.

Picture by Elle Ward

I know I seem to be obsessed with Dark Towers (and I am, no doubt about it) this description from one of my favourite books, Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan, may have been one of the most influential sections of literature to ever grace my brain:

This tower, patched unevenly with black ivy, arose like a mutilated finger from among the fists of knuckled masonry and pointed blasphemously at heaven. At night the owls made of it an echoing throat; by day it stood voiceless and cast its long shadow.

Yowza. Creep-tastic! I want to go and read it all again now. It’s officially back on The List.

But I’ve been a bit dark so far so I want to share some Pratchett with you. However, as it turns out, everything he’s ever written (particularly in the Discworld series) is absolutely hilarious and I’m struggling to not only hold my stomach while reading, but to pick from the plethora of geniosity that is Pratchett. So here’s just a couple to tide you over. Hope you haven’t had recent abdominal surgery, because you’re about to burst your stitches:

“Sodomy non sapiens,” said Albert under his breath.
“What does that mean?”
“Means I’m buggered if I know.”

                                                                             (Mort)

“I’m not going to ride on a magic carpet!” he hissed. “I’m afraid of grounds.”

“You mean heights,” said Conina. “And stop being silly.”

“I know what I mean! It’s the grounds that kill you!”

                                                          Rincewind and his unquestionable logic (Sourcery)

Well, that’s it for now, folks. I hope that’s given you a little insight into what has made my brain tick over the years.

 

Thanks for reading.