Monday, 6 December 2010

Top tip - Topic sentences

I subscribe to quite a lot of writing newsletters, competition updates and writing blogs, and one of my favourites is Flash Fiction Chronicles on the Every Day Fiction website.

Earlier this week I had an update from the site with some writing tips from John Arthur Miller. One of the tips he gives is about how to construct paragraphs. It's one of those tips that when you hear it you think "oh yeah, of course!", and then go back and check your own writing to make sure you're doing it!

Here's the tip:
Top every paragraph with a topic sentence. The topic sentence should explain what happens in the paragraph. Don’t make the reader guess. Everything beneath the opening topic sentence should HANG from the topic sentence. Don’t describe a room first; have your character look around the room or enter the room. This adds clarity of thought, purpose and action of the paragraph. It’s grade school, but too many times have I purchased anthologies or novels in which the author doesn’t know how to use topic sentences for the reader’s benefit.
The rest of the article is here, and I really recommend reading through it.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Tips from Children's Author Catherine Cooper

A couple of weeks ago I interviewed children's author Catherine Cooper about her novel The Golden Acorn: The Adventures of Jack Brenin. She started off as a self-published author selling 1,500 copies in a year - a tremendous achievement for any self-published author. But then she entered the Brit Writers' Award and her publishing fortunes changed.

Here are the two halves of the interview: A Self-Publishing Success Story: Award Winner Catherine Cooper and Realising a Writing Dream: Children's Author Catherine Cooper

I don't know about you, but after reading a success story like that, I'm feeling inspired!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

50,000 words in 30 days? No problem!

I typed the final words to bring my story of The Last Sin Eater over 50,000 words this afternoon. It's a great feeling to know you've written so much on one subject, regardless of how good or bad that may turn out to be once you go back through it, becauseit proves that you can stick with a story for more than a few hours at a time.

Of course, the story isn't finished yet. Over the last few days I've thought of several places where the story should change direction, and looking back over some of what I've written, I can see a lot of places where I've just been world building or writing character profiles rather than moving the story on.

But the bones of the story are in place. I now know my characters really well, I know their world and their situations, and even if it's not all down on paper yet, I know where I want them to end up.

At the start of November quite a lot of people - and a lot of those were in creative writing forums on the OU website - said they didn't see what use NaNoWriMo was. They complained that you couldn't possibly write a good novel in one month, and that it was a waste of time.

Those people, I can't help but feel, have not grasped what NaNoWriMo is about.

It's morning pages gone into overdrive; it's an outflowing of creativity every day; it's getting a draft of a story down on paper that might otherwise have languished in your imagination for years; and it's a challenge to be overcome so you can look back and say, "well look at that, maybe I could write a book after all".

And there is nothing useless or un-worthwhile about that at all.

Monday, 22 November 2010

A quick update

I feel really bad for not having updated in the last couple of weeks, so I'm very sorry about that. I've been really busy with NaNoWriMo and with my creative writing course, and life in general has been busy as well.

The Sin Eater story is going reasonably well, although I feel that I haven't concentrated enough on the practice itself yet. Parts of the story I feel quite happy with, like a scene I wrote where Richard is having a panic attack over what he has done and his brother John is trying to calm him down and find out exactly what has happened. I'm happy with the character of the vicar as well, who is a secondary character but has some quite important scenes with Richard.

Richard's wife Ann, however, isn't coming out as well formed. I can't seem to decide if she accepts what has happened or if she's angry, and some of the things she has done will need fixing later. I can't imagine any nice Victorian woman laying into a respected doctor in a church at a funeral, even if he did suggest that her parenting skills weren't as good as they could have been.

I also keep tripping up over Victorian customs. I want it to be as well researched as possible, but obviously this is a work of fiction and not an historical text book. The funeral arrangements seem to have been very extravagant, but then that gives me scope to decide how much of that the Munslows would have had. Periods of mourning are something I have to remember as well, and trying to work out the timeline properly is still giving me a few problems.

That aside though, I'm enjoying the trip into Victorian England and I think, as a general rule, it's going well... Only 12,000 words to go!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Wow! Just... wow!

I had to share another cover design with you this evening. This, my friends, was created as part of the official NaNoWriMo 30 Covers, 30 Days project, where a whole host of incredibly talented professional designers pick one participant each to make a cover design for.

I got the email about it from the NaNo office at the end of October, but I didn't want to say anything because it was just that my title had been suggested and would be put in a pool for the designers to choose from:
We loved your title and synopsis. If you give us the okay, we'll send them to the designer team, and the designers may use them to create a cover design for your novel-in-progress (we say “may” because we’re sending the designers a few options to choose from).

These designers are donating their design time for this project to NaNoWriMo, so this is totally free of charge to you. You're under no obligation to do anything with the cover once you get it. In fact, the covers that the design team creates for the "30 Covers, 30 Days" program are not intended for commercial use. The covers will all be web-resolution images that will not be large enough for use as printed book covers. Think of it as a one-of-a-kind of NaNoWriMo souvenir that you can post on your Novel Info page, your blog, or website.
And so, without further comment from me, this is my cover as designed by the amazing Evan Gaffney.

"First of all I thought the synopsis was terrific, and I knew it would provide an opportunity to pore over old photographs, one of the great perks of working on book covers. The idea was to evoke spirit photography, in which the "ghost" of a loved one would be superimposed on an image in the darkroom. The little orbs were meant to suggest floating germs, as ineffable as the ghosts of their victims...

"This particular image, frame included, was in my files, and I'm glad I stepped away from the computer to rediscover it. The little glowing circles were added in InDesign--no lens flare involved, although I see the similarity. I must thank my dear studiomate for suggesting Archer for the title."

-- Evan Gaffney

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Sin Eater's family

Crisis over! I've tracked down some of the notes I'd got on the Munslows and I've managed to piece together the family tree again, so the only thing I can't find is the outline of the plot. Fortunately I can remember most of what I was planning, and it was always likely to change a bit when I came to put it down on paper anyway.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was planning to visit the church at Ratlinghope, Shropshire, where Richard is buried. The weather was beautiful that weekend, so I did manage to get out there, and after driving round in circles for a bit I found the church.

The grave has been recently restored by the church, but it is still difficult to make out the words carved on three of the four sides of the monument. The church was very helpful with extra information though, and they'd even printed a leaflet about Richard and his family, along with the inscriptions from the grave.

The main problem now is going to be not getting confused between all the family members who share names. There are two Richards, two James', two Marys (although one is Mary Ann) and two Anns (although one might possibly have been called Annie). At various points in the timeline there are also three Elizabeths, three Georges and three Thomas' - two of whom are around for most of the story!

Monday, 1 November 2010

How not to start NaNoWriMo...

My NaNoWriMo warm up - writing 750 words every day throughout October - was a success, and as a result the website rewarded me with this very natty turquoise horse badge for keeping going through the month. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is a great site to motivate you to write.

So what have I been writing? Well I sat down to start my story this morning and realised I couldn't find any of the notes I'd made. I'd collected information from Richard Munslow's family tree, about the practice of sin eating, a rough plot outline, the inscriptions on the grave at Ratlinghope, and various bits and pieces about Victorian life, and I couldn't find any of it.

I tried to read the inscriptions again on pictures on the internet, but they're just not good enough quality to be able to read anything. I did take pictures of the grave when I visited it, but I can't find the lead to get them off my camera and on to the computer.

I did find the family tree again, which I'd printed out, but now I'm confused as to whether a young Richard Munslow is the sin eater's son or nephew. If he's the son he must be a twin with Elizabeth, but she doesn't appear on the census when he does, and if he's a nephew then I've managed to lose one of the sin eater's seven children.

After all of these problems I did manage to get down to writing a few scenes where I didn't need to know all of the missing details, and I'm still hoping to have 5,000 words written by the end of the day (I've got 3,000 at the moment). Hopefully my notes will turn up on a memory stick or my PC...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Flash fiction competition and updates

Lots of updates here, so sorry for dotting around all over the place.

First, I found an interesting competition for flash fiction while I was browing the web this week. The 30 word story contest is being run by SmokeLong Quarterly to celebrate it's 30th issue, and runs throughout November. There's no entry fee, you can submit up to three entries, and the prize is publication in a special 30th edition of the magazine.
It says: "
This is what we'll be looking for in the stories submitted for our contest - very short gems that are sparse, yet evocative."

The creative writing course is going really well and the first assignment is due in this week. If you want to try out what we have to do, you have to do a 200-300 word freewrite on one of a choice of subjects and then use that as the basis for a 750 word piece of fiction. I'm not going to post up the topics here just in case it's not allowed by the university, but last year's themes have included a search; learning to swim; a scrapyard; hearing a piano; and a bunch of keys.

The final very quick update is that I've now managed to keep my streak on going for 39 days, and at 30 I became an 'albatross'. Lucky me. I get a phoenix if I can keep it up for 100 days.

Yes, it may just be a very small little image, but it's amazing what an incentive it can be!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Last Sin Eater - update

NaNoWriMo doesn't start for another couple of weeks, but I'm already stocking up ideas and research for my story. I've been looking into the practice of sin eating, trying to find out what the reaction of the Victorian church would be to the sin eaters, and if it doesn't absolutely chuck it down with rain this weekend I'm planning to visit Richard Munslow's grave to take some pictures and get as many solid facts about him and his family as possible.

In the meantime I've been browsing through the NaNo forums looking at other people's story ideas, and I came across a very talented participant called Teri King, who goes by the user name songbird0530, who offered to make covers for other users' potential novels.

After I gave her my quick synopsis she came up with this beautiful design for my story. I have to say it's nothing like I would have imagined myslf, but it's absolutely perfect.

It includes the farm, representing Richard's occupation, a grave to signify death, and the phrase "and for thy peace I pawn my own soul" from the sin eater's prayer. I love the way it's a very empty scene as well, with the grave just lurking in the foreground, giving it a strangely uneasy feel.

Teri's own story sounds very interesting and it's the sort of story I'd buy to take on holiday with me to read on the beach. Her story is called 'Learn to Love Again' and is about a cowgirl torn between two men.

Her blog is here and I'll be watching to see if she puts up any snippets of her story.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Song Challenge - Day 12

Day 12 – A song that you can dance to

I heard Wham's I'm your Man on the radio this morning and it brought back good memories of school discos when I was about six or seven. You know the kind of thing, when you got Agadoo playing and you did all the actions, and it didn't matter that it really didn't make sense (why did we 'push pineapple shake a tree'?), then everyone did the Hockey Cokey, and sung along with Startrekking. Then of course, all the cool boys would show off their breakdancing skills while the girls all gathered around to admire them. Boys take heed - girls like a guy who can dance!

And so today's writing prompt will be 'the school disco', with all its bright colours, 80s hair and silly songs.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Creative writing - OU course first impressions

So I started my Open University creative writing course last week and so far I'm really enjoying it and finding it interesting and very useful. The course book, commonly referred to as the 'Big Red Book' or BRB by students, is packed full of tips and tricks to improve the amount and quality of the writing you do, and includes lots of exercises to stretch you out of your comfort zone.

One of the things I haven't found much success with yet is the morning pages, which is basically what it sounds like - you write three pages of whatever comes into your head before you do anything else each morning. I'm having problems with this partly because I have problems getting out of bed in time usually anyway, and partly because my brain doesn't seem to want to work that early in the morning.

However, the freewriting from prompts has been brilliant, bringing up a few little ideas that might turn into something more later.

To combine the two (for the most part) I've been doing my daily pages on, which was born out of the idea of morning pages. So far I'm on a 21-day writing streak. That, apparently, means I'm a flamingo. In nine more days I'll be an albatross, but I really want to push for the 100-day-streak phoenix...

Monday, 27 September 2010

The sin eater's story

I can't believe it's almost NaNoWriMo time again! For the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month challenges writers to pen 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days - that's 1,667 words a day. The novel doesn't have to be complete at the end of the month, or even readable, but the idea is that you finish November with the first draft of something that you can edit and improve on, and that you'll have improved your writing by just doing it so much.

Fortunately, the Open University Creative Writing course doesn't have any assignments due in November - possibly because they expect many writers to take part in NaNo? This means that I'll be able to concentrate on my novelling for the month while using the techniques recommended on the course to hopefully improve my productivity, creativity and technique.

Of course, before I start I have to have an idea. I've been struggling for a few months trying to think of something interesting to write about for the challenge, and I think I might have finally found something. There was a story on the BBC website this week about the grave of the last sin eater in England being restored. His name was Richard Munslow and he lived in Ratlinghope, in Shropshire, fairly near to where I live. Not much is known about Richard, although he seems to have been something of an unusual example of a sin eater, so I started wondering about who he was.

As a result I think I'm going to write a fictitious version of his story based on the facts that we do know about him. I think this will be an interesting project because it will tie together local history, folklore and creative writing - all things I'm interested in.

As an aside the course starts next Monday, so I'll post up a preview of the course materiels and so on later this week.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Song Challenge Day 11

Day 11 – A song that reminds you of a certain event

Fleetwood Mac's The Chain is a classic for this. It's been used by the BBC for its Formula One coverage for years and years, and so it always reminds me of watching grands prix, especially the flyaway races where I'd have to get up really early in the morning to watch qualifying and the race live on TV.

This picture came up on the faithful Google search and it is, indeed, a chain. I've got no idea what I'll write about today. Perhaps a freewrite starting with this picture; perhaps something about a race; perhaps something based on one of my trips to a grand prix; or maybe aomething about getting up in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Newspaper blackout poetry

I really enjoy reading Austin Kleon's newspaper blackout poetry. In a nutshell, you take a newspaper article and cross out words you don't want until you're left with a poem.

These are my attempts at blackout poetry using an article from the New York Times (you can see the word 'blows' that I used in both). It's fun and challenging, and as a journalist I find it quite satisfying to know that the articles I write may have a future beyond their original purpose!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 10 & OU course

My OU course materiels arrived yesterday. Having a quick flick through the books it looks like it's going to be a very interesting course - more on that later when I've had chance to really have a read. The course starts on October 2...

On to today's song challenge - Day 10 – A song that makes you fall asleep

This song doesn't make me fall asleep, but it's on my playlist of songs that I play when I want some music to fall asleep to. It Looks Like Rain by Jann Arden is a beautiful bluesy type song with soft piano and relaxing vocals.

I'm not sure what I'm going to write about today, but I think I might just do a freewrite on the prompt of 'a singer in a club'. I can easily imagine this song being sung late at night in a club with dim lights and small tables. I'll see where that takes me and go from there.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 9

Day 9 – A song that makes you happy

This one's easy - I've been humming Fireflies by Owl City for the last few days and it's got such great lyrics that it always makes me smile. And who couldn't love 'Cause I get a thousand hugs / from ten thousand lightning bugs / as they try to teach me how to dance?

Today's story prompt? Getting taught to dance by a firefly seems like a fun thing to explore.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 8

Day 8 – Your favorite song

My favourite song at the moment is Shattered by Trading Yesterday. I found it while I was watching a Heroes clip on YouTube, and it was used as the soundtrack. It fitted beautifully with the video, and the lyrics create beautiful pictures, which are open to some very different interpretations depending on who is listening to them and what kind of mood they're in at the time.

Some of the lyrics I might use as a prompt are:
• 'Yesterday I died, tomorrow's bleeding. Fall into your sunlight.'
'And I've lost who I am and I can't understand why my heart is so broken, rejecting your love.'
• 'Let me go and I will run, I will not be silenced.'

Or alternately I could just indulge myself write a Heroes fanfic, perhaps based on Peter's opening lines in the video, which are some of the best lines in the whole series in my opinion...

Friday, 3 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 7

Day 7 – A song that you wish you could play

I love saxophone solos in songs, and one of my favourites is in George Michael's Careless Whisper. It's a beautiful song with a wonderful melody and touching lyrics, and then the saxophone comes in for its solo and it's just amazing. I don't play the saxophone, but if ever a song made me wish I did, it's this one, so that I could play the solo.

The lyrics talk about never dancing again, so I'm going to call the story I'm going to write from this 'Last Dance', and see where that takes me.

On a different note, my application to study the OU course in creative writing has been processed and I should get my course books at the end of next week. More on that when they arrive...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 6

Day 6 – A song that you used to love but now hate

I wouldn't say I hate this song, but The Flame by Cheap Trick used to be one of my favourites, but now I don't especially like it. There's nothing wrong with the song, but it brings back bad memories for me, so I don't like to listen to it any more... and I've lost the only tape I had it on, which doesn't help!

The writing prompt I'm going to take is from the lyrics, which mention fire, rain and lightning. I think I can come up with something along that theme without too much difficulty...

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Song challenge: Day 5

Day 5 – A song that you know all the words to

Difficult one this, because I know the words to a lot of songs! In the end I've plumped for Ain't No Sunshine, as sung by Eva Cassidy.

To inspire me for the writing I did a Google search on the song title and it brought up this image from Flickr, so I'm going to do something about this girl. She looks like she could be waiting for someone...

In case anyone is wondering where the stories are... well, I'm polishing them as I write and then submitting them to Every Day Fiction. Unfortunately one of the rules of submission is that they aren't published anywhere else - including on blogs - and so I can't post them here. If they get accepted I'll post the links, if they don't I'll post the stories.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Song Challenge: Day 4 & OU Creative Writing update

Day 4 – A song that you hear often on the radio

This one has to be All Summer Long by Kid Rock. I've heard it twice in the last couple of weeks, and I don't listen to that much music radio, so that's pretty impressive.

I'm going to cheat a bit on the story part of this test. Rather than use the song as inspiration for a flash fiction, I'm going to use the picture of the house on the single's CD cover, and use that as a setting for a story. I'm thinking kids exploring an abandoned farm house during the school summer holidays and finding something interesting...

On to a slightly different topic, I've posted off all my registration forms for the Open University creative writing course and now I'm waiting for my books and so on to arrive. All the course material is supposed to be sent out by September 10th, so when it arrives I'll post more about it.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Song challenge: Day 3

Day 3 – A song from your favorite album

I don't really have a favourite album, I just have lots that I listen to a lot. Among the dozens that I listen to a lot - ranging from Seal to Disney to movie soundtracks to Dixie Chicks - is Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway album. It's something I like to put on when I'm driving and sing along to.

One of my favourite songs on the album is Because of You, which I think is really beautiful. The faithful Google image search brought up this lovely picture of a young dancer dressed as a fairy, so she's going to be the subject of today's fiction. Just a short scene today, I think, about the dancer's preparation for her performance.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Song challenge: Day 2

Day 2 – A song that reminds of you of somewhere

The Dixie Chicks' Wide Open Spaces always reminds me of Indianapolis. I first heard the song when I was in a mall there, and when I went back the next year I made a point of finding out who sang it and buying the album. It seemed to fit very nicely with all the driving I was doing, the late summer sun and the feeling of freedom the place seemed to have.

Strangely when I typed 'wide open spaces' into the Google image search, as well as bringing up plenty of scenery it also brought up this colourful little guy, so today's fic is going to be something to do with lizards. And possibly Indianapolis.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Song challenge: Day 1

Day 1 – A song that you can play on an instrument

I've been learning to play Big Girls Don't Cry by Fergie on guitar so I can perform it at a charity concert later this year. It's not the only song I can play, but it's the first one that came to mind when I read the question.

For the scene/story/flash fic I'm going to write for this one I'm going to steal a scene from the music video where she's standing by the doorway watching her boyfriend do a drug deal (as in the screengrab here - click the link to watch the full video).

I'm going to delve a bit into her feelings as she watches him and what leads to her decision to leave. I might post it up here if it turns out okay...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The 30-Day Song Challenge

This musical challenge is apparently making the rounds on the interwebs so I thought I'd give it a go. The idea is to share a little bit about yourself by choosing one song a day, for 30 days, on certain themes - and because this is a writing blog, I'm setting the extra challenge of writing a short scene or fic inspired by each song I pick.

Day 1 – A song that you can play on an instrument
Day 2 – A song that reminds of you of somewhere
Day 3 – A song from your favorite album
Day 4 – A song that you hear often on the radio
Day 5 – A song that you know all the words to
Day 6 – A song that you used to love but now hate
Day 7 – A song that you wish you could play
Day 8 – Your favorite song
Day 9 – A song that makes you happy
Day 10 – A song that makes you fall asleep
Day 11 – A song that reminds you of a certain event
Day 12 – A song that you can dance to
Day 13 – A song that reminds you of someone
Day 14 – A song that you wish you heard on the radio
Day 15 – Your favorite song at this time last year
Day 16 – A song from your childhood
Day 17 – A song that is a guilty pleasure
Day 18 – A song that describes you
Day 19 – A song that you want to play at your funeral
Day 20 – A song from your favorite band
Day 21 – A song from a band you hate
Day 22 – A song that you want to play at your wedding
Day 23 – Your least favorite song
Day 24 – A song that makes you laugh
Day 25 – A song that makes you sad
Day 26 – A song that you listen to when you’re happy
Day 27 – A song that you listen to when you’re angry
Day 28 – A song that no one would expect you to love
Day 29 – A song that makes you feel guilty
Day 30 – A song that you listen to when you’re sad

Friday, 13 August 2010

Weekend ahead

This time last week I was on the train with 200 members of the Royal Navy. This week I'm sitting at my desk trying to get motivated to write and thinking about the 101 things I should do when I get home - starting with getting the washing out of the washing machine, and doing the washing up.

Somewhere this weekend I want to try to finish the first draft of a short story I've been working on as well, but whenever I sit down to write fiction at the moment I seem to come up with ideas for things that are entirely unrelated to the story I'm trying to write. I need to try to find the balance between getting the ideas down somewhere to work on another time, and making sure I don't get too sidetracked.

Maybe I should just start with an outline for the bits of short story I don't have, and fill in from there. Girl gets chased, girl gets caught, girl is dead, boy finds girl, boy's dad explains about the monsters, boy goes hunting monsters, and so on... I'll give it a try and let you know how it went on Monday.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Taking a creative writing course

I'm in the process of studying for a degree with the Open University and as I was looking through the prospectus for my next course I noticed they have a creative writing course. It looks quite interesting, because although I know my writing is generally good, I'm sure I've picked up some bad habits, and I'm sure there are a whole bucketful of good practice ideas that I could use to improve my writing.

The course starts in October and I'll post updates and useful things I've learned as I go through the work. If anyone else is doing this course then drop me a note - I can always use a study buddy!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Writing on the train

I've just been away on holiday for a week in sunny Plymouth and had to get the train there from Birmingham - about 4 hours either way. Fortunately I had a good book and my laptop with me, so I was able to occupy myself pretty well.

I actually found the journey was a good source of inspiration - I found myself on the same train as 200 members of the Navy who were all heading off for furlough. Listening to them chatting (nothing about what they'd been doing in service, just normal chatter) gave me a few ideas for scenes, and the reactions of some of the other passengers sparked a few character ideas as well. And then there was the guy who managed to get locked in the toilet...!

I only managed to write one short story during the journey, but that's better than none, and I finished my book as well as having the experience of meeting some great guys.

The book, which I highly recommend, was part of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. If you like dragons, swordplay or historic novels, read and enjoy!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Some thoughts on editing

Things I've learned from trying to edit my story:

• If you've read a passage 10 times through and still can't see where it needs changing but know it needs to be changed, highlight it and come back to it later with fresh eyes.
• A change of font can help you see things you hadn't picked up before.
• If you ask your family to proof read for you, don't expect them to pick up everything that should be changed.
• Make sure anyone you ask to proof read has a good grasp of grammar and spelling, and make sure it's the same spelling you use! If you're British and you ask an American to proof your story, don't expect them to pick up your spelling mistakes.
• Things always look different on a printed page than on a computer screen.
• Something that makes perfect sense to you may not to a reader who hasn't spent the past two years engrossed in the story...
• If you ask for honest feedback, don't be offended when you get it! (Unless it's completely useless, like 'your story's really bad, I didn't like it' with no suggestions to improve it.)
• Treasure the good comments but don't be afraid to change things.
• Always keep a copy of your previous draft, just in case!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

No motivation...

Someone please give me a kick up the backside to do some editing... Maybe I should bribe myself with something...

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Writers block & dreams

Some days the writing just flows and other days ... it doesn't.

For the last week or so writing has been a real struggle. My imagination isn't coming up with anything especially interesting, and my vocabulary seems to have shrunk whenever I try to get anything down on paper.

I've been trying to do some more refining of Dark Magic as well this week, and I don't know if it's because I've been looking at it too much, but although I know where I should be changing things, I haven't been able to find the right way to do it. For example, I know I want to turn one of the early scenes into a flashback scene rather than a memory, but I can't seem to find the right way to transition.

The only thing I seem to have written that was good - and which surprised me because the subject matter wasn't something I usually write about - was a very vivid dream I had. The following night I woke up at 3am and couldn't get back to sleep so I went to the computer and wrote down the dream - 600 words of blood, strange powers and healing.

Maybe I'll post it later, but I don't know... It was a dream about some of the characters from Heroes, and I don't want to do a Mary Sue (although helping Claire Bennet to heal Peter Petrelli was a nice dream to be in the middle of...!).

Friday, 9 July 2010

The sci-fi saga is over

After six months of frantic writing, Alive! finished this week. Reading back through it there are several things I'd change if I'd been writing it as a straight novel, not in parts, but generally I'm pleased with how it's come out.

For those who like stats, it finished at 34,500 words, was completed in 25 installments, filled 75 A4-type pages on the net and would be 189 pages of an 8.5"x5.5" book (I'm looking into editing it properly and making print copies available via Lulu or some other POD publisher).

If anyone wants to read the finished story click here - it's going to stay up on The Novel Factory site for the immediate future at least.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Doing big, scary things

I've been thinking, and I decided that I didn't like the idea of publishing with CreateSpace after all. The main problem was that it's based in America and I'm in the UK, so anyone I talk to who may want to buy the book will have to pay a lot extra for shipping.

So I was looking around the sites I have bookmarked and discovered that one of my favourite publishers, Wyvern Publications, is starting a new children's imprint called Pixiefoot Press. After a few days of dithering, and another day trying to make sure my synopsis makes sense, I've submitted Dark Magic to Wyvern for consideration.

Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The six word competition

I decided at the start of the year that I wanted to enter more writing competitions to give myself targets. The Arvon Foundation's six word story competition caught my attention today. Here are my attempts:
Competition entered, judges awed, prize given.

Rope knotted, chair kicked away. Goodbye.
I've also entered the Txtlit competition - write a story within the length of a text message. I seem to be veering towards microfic/flashfic at the moment...

Is fiction better with no dads?

An interesting article I read today says that fiction is often better when there are no dads in the picture. It's an interesting idea and certainly one that holds true - Harry Potter, Maximum Ride, Oliver Twist, Treasure Island, Jane Eyre, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, and dozens of folklore and fairy tales (Aladdin, Dick Whittington, etc) prove the theory.

Of course there are other stories where the father figure is prominent - Twilight being a good example. It has three good father figures in Charlie, Carlisle and Billy Black, and these all add to the story and make it no less intriguing for their presence. (The story wouldn't work without Carlisle, and why would Bella be in Forks if there was no Charlie?) But this does seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Love Whisper Of The Flowers

I've tracked down more information on that picture I want to use on the cover of Dark Magic. It's actually from an album called Love Whisper Of The Flowers by an artist called Mickey. I believe it's Taiwanese or Chinese, and the album was accompanied by beautiful drawings for each track, including The Sincere Happiness (not, as I'd previously thought, 'lincere').

According to this translated page, the album was released in Taiwan in 2003 as Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros Story and the images were drawn by illustrator 'Prince - William'. Unfortunately now I've hit a dead end. I can't seem to track down any more information on the illustrator or anything else about the album itself. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Dark Magic - finishing NaNoWriMo 2008!

I have finished my story from NaNoWriMo 2008! What started out as A Dark Faerie Tale then turned into The Dark Lady and has now ended up as Dark Magic.

The book is available here for US$8.50, which is about £5.80, and I'm really excited :)

I have to say I love the cover, which was one of CreateSpace's layouts. I found the picture online when I did a Google search on copyright free images. It was being used on three social networking sites by people who obviously really liked faeries, but I haven't been able to track down its creator. If it's you, or if you know who did design it, please let me know, because I'd like to get in touch to ask if it's okay to use it on the book and to find out if they'd like paying!

So now to answer a few questions about the book:

Why CreateSpace print-on-demand and not a traditional publisher?
Well I don't think I'm going to sell that many copies, to start with, and when I completed NaNo I got a code to use for a free proof from CS. I can still order more copies if I want to to sell elsewhere, and the book has its own website, so I figured there was no reason why I shouldn't sell it this way.

Faeries? Don't you mean fairies?
Nope, I like the spelling f-a-e. To me, a fairy is a fluttery little thing rather like a butterfly, while a faerie has more depth and more character. I wanted my characters to be real, solid girls who just happened to have wings and magic. I couldn't seem to fit that in with them being fairies.

Why doesn't Poppy get her own story?
I don't know... There didn't seem to be the opportunity to give her anything of her own, so she ended up being the nice helpful friend who's always there when you need her but doesn't like taking the lead.

Sum up the characters in three words each.
Columbine - shy, dark, powerful.
Poppy - fun, hungry, excitable.
Lavender - loyal, clever, quiet.
Persephone - cute, caring, happy.
Ginevra - fiery, brave, mouthy.
Lily - determined, imaginative, serious.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Character profiles: Jackson Brown

Name: Jackson Brown
Age: 35-40

Inventory & logistics and assistant engineer, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Can seem to be quite inapproachable at times as he prefers to keep his own counsel. He is always certain of his own mind and isn't slow to tell other people if he thinks they or a situation is wrong, bad, or being handled wrong.

Misc: A mixture of hired muscle and a steady mind, Jackson is in charge of dealing with port authorities, sourcing cargo, and dealing with any problems that arise. One of Dak's most trusted friends, he is also the one the captain turns to when something needs to be done.
“Jackson seems to be alright, and judging from the language he used when I told him he was restricted to the medical bay this morning I would say he’s well on his way to recovery,” Dr Rivers said, smiling slightly.
Inspiration & character creation: Jackson began as little more than an additional crew member but has become more and more part of the plot as the story has progressed. He has a sense of mystery around him in the story - partly because sometimes when I write him I'm not even sure myself what's going on. It was fun to give him a more key role in discovering the saboteur on board the Crazy Horse - especially as I'd noticed his main role up to that point seemed to be to get injured!

I didn't base his character on anyone in particular, and although I'd had his name in the back of my mind for use in a story for a while, he hadn't really got any personality to go with the name before Alive!.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Finishing a story

I'm reaching a few deadlines during the next couple of months. First, I really need to finish editing my NaNoWriMo story from 2008, The Dark Lady.

Lavender crept out into the passage, trying to ignore the feeling that the pictures were watching her. At the end of the passage she found a large round room, lined from floor to ceiling with shelves containing jars, scrolls, bottles, small wooden boxes and dusty old books.

Fascinated, she went closer to see what was in the jars. She reached out a hand towards one when a voice stopped her.

'I wouldn't do that.'

She turned to see Columbine standing in the doorway, arms folded across her chest and black and green wings held out wide, blocking the exit.

'Columbine!' she cried in relief. 'I know you said you want to be here, but this place isn't good for you!'

Columbine shook her head slowly. 'I wouldn't expect you to understand,' she replied. 'You have never been afraid of your own magic, scared that it will run away with you, and worried that you might do something terrible.'

'No, you're right,' Lavender replied. 'But there still have to be better places to learn how to control your magic than here, with that dark faerie.'

'She is my friend,' Columbine returned, coldly.

'I thought I was your friend too,' Lavender replied quietly, looking Columbine straight in the eyes.

Columbine paused, and for a moment Lavender thought she had got through to her. But before she could be sure, another voice cut in, and Lavender wheeled round to find the dark faerie had somehow appeared behind her.

'I'm impressed you got out, but you've caused enough trouble now,' the dark faerie hissed at Lavender, throwing a bolt of black magic at her.

This story has been lying around not doing very much for the past year. I did get it proofread, but never really got around to editing it. Now I'm finally getting the chance to edit, and I'm on the second read through now. On the first go through I fixed a section that didn't make sense and took out a large chunk that was really just waffle. Now I'm onto more nitpicky things. I'd like to get it finished by the start of June - I'll keep you posted...

The other story that's coming to an end is Alive. I've been doing weekly updates since January on this story and it's due to come to a close in July. There's no fixed date yet, but I'm already starting to tie up loose ends.

I reckon I've got about 6-8 more installments to find out the truth behind Delta the cyborg and figure out why she was sabotaging the Crazy Horse, figure out whether or not to leave Colonel Leonard and the missing child unsolved, and help Dak get out of trouble for taking a drug mule on board.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

100 pages in 30 days

I know I've been quiet for a while, and I'm very sorry about that. I've been taking part in Script Frenzy during April, trying to draft out a comic book script based on Alive! And finally, today, I managed to hit that magic 100 pages... then I validated the page count and found it was 135 - how did that happen?!

Of course, the story's not finished yet and so the comic script isn't either, but I'll try to get it finished once the story ends, and then maybe try to find an artist who'd be willing to draw it for me.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Not enough hours in the day

Why is it that when you think you've got everything sorted out and you know exactly what time you're going to have to spend writing (or whatever else you choose to do) something comes along to change all your plans?

In my case it's been a change of workplace that's added to my commuting time, giving me less time to spend doing other things, including writing.

I have still been able to keep up with Alive! though, and that story is due to end in July. I think the Crazy Horse might just have reached Mars by then...!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Character profiles: Elliott Macintyre

Name: Elliott Macintyre
Age: Early 30s

Second in command and helmsman, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Fairly laid back and experienced in startship operations, Elliott is the one Dak relies on to make sure paperwork is in order, timetables are kept and the ship is all working properly.
“Hey, Brown, open your eyes, look at me, Jackson.”

The voice sounded far away and Jackson wished it would go away. His head hurt like the worst hangover he’d ever had, although he couldn’t remember drinking anything.

“Brown,” the voice wouldn’t shut up, and now whoever it was talking was shaking him as well.

“Go ‘way,” he groaned, keeping his eyes shut.

“Hey, you scared me for a minute, Brown,” Macintyre said, sitting back on his heels as he opened the first aid kit he’d grabbed from the bridge. “Hey, stay put,” he added as Jackson tried to get up. “You’ve got a gash on your head and you’re leaking red stuff all over the place. Keep your butt on the deck ‘til I’ve cleaned you up a bit.”

Jackson made a noise which could have been taken as a grumbling assent or as a swear word. Elliott ignored it as he poured a liberal amount of coagulant powder onto the three inch cut on the hairline of the other man’s head, then wrapped a bandage around it.

“There was a hull breach,” Macintyre continued. “Looks like you were in your bunk when it happened, and you got thrown out and hit your head on that cabinet there,” he pointed to a low cupboard with a brown-red stain on the corner. “Don’t you remember anything?”

Jackson shook his head then winced in pain.

“You sit there a while longer before you try moving,” Macintyre told him. “You’re not bleeding any more, but you’d better let the doc see you to patch up that cut. If you can stay put for a minute I just need to check on Anna. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Monday, 22 March 2010


In mooching around the internet this week I found this article on top tips for writers. As well as some useful tips and tricks, it also started off with some questions which could be used as the basis for a story. One of them was: What if a young girl could start fires with her mind?
I think I might use that as a prompt...

Monday, 15 March 2010

Character profiles: Dr Connor Rivers

Name: Connor Rivers
Age: 45-55

Senior doctor, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Serious, intelligent and with a weakness for a good whisky.
Dr Rivers sat upright studying a hand held computer pad. He looked worried, but he often did when he had patients, thinking through every possible complication and treatment.
Inspiration & character creation: Dr Rivers was one of those characters that was necessary to create for reality's sake but didn't have a fleshed out character when I started writing. I knew it would be likely that people would need a doctor on a several-month-long interplanetary trip, but I wasn't sure how much he'd get involved with the rest of the story.

Of course, after Pilar Perez got ill, he became more central to the story, providing background information and eventually turning into something of a sounding board for Dak. He also seemed to be quite fatherly towards Anna, which was a nice development.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Character profiles: Anna Smythe

Name: Dr Anna Smythe
Age: 25

Trainee doctor, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Quiet and caring, Anna is a thoroughly nice person. She can be quite shy in large groups but she makes friends easily.

Misc: Not long out of medical school, Anna is working on the Crazy Horse to get experience in the field. She is eager to learn and very competant at what she does.
Although she is fully qualified she very rarely introduces herself as 'Dr Smythe', although she has been known to take refuge in her professional standing if she feels unsure or nervous in a situation.
She seems to be comfortable on board the MF Crazy Horse, although at first glance it would appear to be a station entirely unsuited to her character. Much of that seems to be down to Dr Rivers, who treats her with an almost fatherly manner.
“Mr Perez? It’s Anna Smythe. Are you alright?”
“Señorita Smythe?” Carlos went to the door and put his head against the cool metal. “My wife – is she...?”
“She’s doing just fine,” Anna replied. “I just thought you’d like to know Dr Rivers says she’s stable, though he doesn’t think she’ll be waking up before we reach Mars.”
Carlos breathed a sigh of relief. “Then... Can I see her?” he asked.
There was a pause before Anna answered. “I’m sorry, I can’t let you in to see her. Not without someone else to watch you. Captain’s orders, sorry.”
“But she is alright?” Carlos asked again.
“She still needs to get to the proper hospital facilities on Mars, but don’t worry, she’s fine at the moment,” the trainee doctor reassured him.
“Thank you, Señorita. And you will take good care of her?” he asked.
“I will, I promise,” Anna answered seriously.

Inspiration & character creation: Anna is in some ways a character who is still in development. Because I made her quiet and shy, she hasn't featured prominently in the story so far, and when she has it's been mostly professional.
Her inspiration was the traditional English rose - pale complexion, blonde hair, beautiful, refined and intelligent. I really don't know what path her character will take as the story progresses, but I like that. She's very much a predictable, stable character, whereas most of the other people in the story are liable to lose tempers, make rash decisions and get into arguements. In that way she provides the backbone and in some ways the conscience of the story, although the last thing I want is for her to become goody-goody.
In some ways she could be likened to KayLee in Firefly, but in other ways she's a very different character.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Goals for the next few months

Submission deadlines and themes I'd like to meet:
  • Two 500 word flash fictions on the theme of sci-fi and fantasy
  • Up to 5,000 words on the theme 'End of the Rainbow'
  • 2,500-5,000 words about werewolves
  • 3,500-6,000 words on the theme 'Zero Gravity: Adventures in Deep Space'
  • 1,500-15,000 words on the theme 'Whodunnit Halloween'
  • Up to 7,000 words about the exploration and colonisation of outer space and the solar system
  • At least 3,000 words of sci-fi set off-Earth
Don't know how I'll get on with this, but it's good to have something to work towards.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Character profiles: Shanran Dak

Name: Shanran Dak
Age: 45

Captain, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Grumpy, stubborn, smart as hell and very determined.

Misc: The captain of the MF Crazy Horse isn't always an easy man to get along with. He's conscientious about completing a job, but always wants to do it on his own terms. Because of this he doesn't get on well with people in authority, which can occasionally get him into hat water, and isn't shy of telling people exactly what he thinks.
If he's given options he will always look for the one which will benefit his ship and crew the most.
He trusts very few people, and even among his own crew there are few that he completely trusts all the time. Jackson Brown is probably his closest friend, although he has also been known to enjoy a drink with Dr Rivers and John Park. His loudly professed opinion of women in general is that they cause trouble, but despite this he carries two women on his crew, perhaps suggesting that his bark is worse than his bite?
“Major, what the hell are these orders about?” Dak snapped, taking the seat as Macintyre closed the office door and leaned against the doorframe. “You want me to carry passengers on our next run? Are you out of your fricking mind? You know we don’t have the facilities to do that, not to mention the inclination.”


“He won’t change his mind,” Macintyre stated, folding his arms as he watched John finish transmitting Keller’s schematics to the stranded ship.

“How do you know unless you try?” Keller countered.

Macintyre laughed and shook his head. “I’ve been working with Dak for long enough now to know a hopeless cause when I see one. Even if he thought he was wrong – which he doesn’t by the way – then you’d be hard pushed to get him to admit it. Trying to change his mind’s nearly impossible.”

Inspiration & character creation: It was fun coming up with the character of the captain. He started out as an idea for a first officer on a much more classy ship than Crazy Horse - think more Enterprise than Serenity. Something wasn't quite right about him in that position though, so Macintyre became first officer and Dak got a promotion.
His character was partly inspired by Joss Wheden's Firefly character Malcolm Reynolds, but I also liked the idea of having a grumpy captain and the challenge of trying to make him sympathetic and likeable. I hope I've succeeded!
His ethnicity is a mystery, even to me, but his name seemed more Indian-feeling than western. I'm probably going to get complaints from Indian people about that now, so sorry in advance, but if you think I'm wrong just remember that this is the 22nd century and Keller is a made-up western name...

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Character profiles: John Park

Name: John Park
Age: 38

Odd job man, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Laid back and likeable, John is good at finding information and tracking down hard-to-locate objects - as well as talking his way into free drinks at the bar!
John went into the kitchen area and Dak heard him open one of the storage cupboards and open a can.

“That’s coming out of your rations,” he called, going over to join John in the kitchen.

John shrugged, taking a swig from the can. “I’ll get us more at Mars,” he told the captain.
Inspiration & character creation: John wasn't Korean until I decided on his last name. Park seemed to suit him, then I realised there seemed to be a lot of Korean actors and actresses with that surname - Enterprise's Linda Park and Battlestar Galactica's Grace Park to name just two. I Googled it and what do you know - it's one of the most common Korean surnames. You learn something new every day!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Sci fi web comic - Crimson Dark

I'd like to introduce you to the wonderful webcomic that is Crimson Dark. I only found it this week but I absolutely love it.

It's drawn by an Aussie called David Simon and the story revolves around a space ship and her crew in the 27th century. The crew are all a bit odd, each with their own quirks, and the stories are really good.

I think the reason I like it so much is that it reminds me of Alive!, or at least, of how I'd like Alive! to be - whether or not it actually comes across with the same feel I'll have to leave to you to tell me. Feel free to leave comments on here.

The graphics are partly 3D and partly traditional, and they are amazing. If I could draw like this, Alive! would be a web comic!

To read the comic click here.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Character profile: Keller Anis

Thanks to the brilliant character creator in Star Trek Online I can actually show you how I envisage some of my characters. First up is Keller Anis, engineer of the MF Crazy Horse in my seriel novel Alive!

Name: Keller Anis
Age: 30

Engineer, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Stubborn, dedicated sometimes to the point of losing focus on other things, serious at work but relaxed off-duty.

Misc: Keller is a very talented engineer and looks on her ship almost as her child. She believes she can fix anything, given the time and equipment, and so far hasn't been faced with a situation to prove her wrong.
She can be stubborn and hard headed at times, and often butts heads with the captain when she believes her solution is better. They have a love-hate relationship where they both respect each other and can rub along quite well, but often find themselves argueing. The captain reserves his favourite insult - 'damned woman' - especially for Keller.
Keller enjoys playing basketball and has rigged up a net in the engine room storage bay.
Captain Shanran Dak frowned and punched a button next to the speaker. “Dammit Keller, could you try not to scrape the paint quite so hard next time?” he growled into the microphone headset he was wearing. “She gets enough battering through the asteroid belt without you adding more dents.”

“I’ve told you before, Captain, I’d have no problems fixing the dents up if you’d get me a proper repair kit,” Keller replied. “Besides, don’t blame me – you were steering,” she added.

Dak scowled at the speaker and swore under his breath as he punched buttons on the control panels to shut down the ship’s engines. “Damned woman, got an answer for everything,” he muttered.

Inspiration & character creation: I really don't know how I came up with Keller's first name. It just popped into my head one day when I was thinking about Star Trek - I know, geeky, sorry! Her last name came from the 'star anis' plant.
Her original incarnation was as a half-Betazoid half-Romulan counsellor in the 27th century in a Trek fan-fic, which was never designed to be read by anyone other than me. I didn't really flesh out her character very much to start with, although she's always had a stubborn streak. When I started writing Alive! I was looking for a strong female character and she came to mind. A few tweaks later and she appeared in current form.
The quote above was actually the first line I ever wrote for her in Alive! and once she'd said that it helped set her character even more for me.
I think Keller is now one of my favourite characters - strong, clever, argumentative, stubborn - and I'm looking forward to exploring her more as the story progresses.

Some inspiration

I came across a couple of really good reads on the net this week that I wanted to share. The first was a page of tips for writing fiction, put together by successful writers and published in The Guardian.

The second was a blog post about what expectations people have of writers and whether they're reasonable or not. Bottom line? Writers need a break sometime, so don't be afraid to take some time away from your writing if you need to to avoid burning out.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Writing with no idea where it's heading

I've started several new stories this week but have no idea where they're heading or what they'll turn into - if anything.

Well, that's not strictly true. One of them is going to be a short story about a teenage werewolf and her (yes, I said her) boyfriend, and I've got that pretty much mapped out. Now I just have to sit down and write it. If it turns out well then I might submit it for an anthology - I know Wyvern Publications is going to be doing a Fangtales anthology next year about creatures of the night, vampires and so on.

The other ideas aren't anything like as developed.

Oh well, on with Alive, where Dak is about to find signs of sabotage and Macintyre's tracking an odd smell...

Monday, 8 February 2010

Postcrossing - bring back snail mail!

Postcards ExchangeI've joined in with the postcrossing project, which seems to be gaining popularity with a lot of young people across the world. The project is very simple - sign up, get an address from the system, send a postcard. Once the other person receives the card they can post a picture of it on the postcrossing site so that other people can see it. And of course, you get postcards from all over the world as well.

This doesn't really have a lot to do with writing a suppose, but I find thinking about other places helps inspire all sorts of settings for stories, and reading letters from other people does give insights that can help flesh out characters.

And it's fun!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Writing stories for

Where do you get ideas from when you're writing stories, either fictional or features? This week I've been challenging myself to write 20 stories for and I've been finding story ideas in the most unusual places.

I've recently finished an Open University course in archaeology, and I suddenly thought 'if I've spent all this time researching and reading about the history of these cities and cultures, why not put that to use?'. The result was a raft of stories on Anyang, Meroitic religion, the Aztec empire, Rome and Teotihuacán. A few years ago I studied medieval history as well, so that gave me materiel for two more articles on 14th century women.

Other ideas come from people I talk to. I recently met a man who is a volunteer 'ancient tree hunter', which made a very interesting interview. Other people I know keep tortoises, make jewellery, own sheep and recommend hydrotherapy for their dogs, so that produced another four articles.

Another article came from a survey I read on healthcare myths that pregnant women believe, which I used as a basis for a healthy eating article.

My other four recent stories came from me. I'm involved in Guiding, which is celebrating its centenary this year; I like making things and I was looking into different styles of rag rugs; I've recently started playing Star Trek Online; and I was looking for story ideas.

And in case you'd like to read any of the stories, they're here:

Keeping Track of Your Tortoise
Anyang - The Last Capital of the Shang Dynasty
Hydrotherapy for Dogs
Etiquette when Visiting Farmland
Generating Feature Story Ideas
Meroitic Beliefs and Religion
Politics and Religion in the Aztec Empire
The Expansion of Rome
British Women in the 14th Century
The Religion of Teotihuacán
Women in the 14th Century
Rob McBride - The Tree Hunter
Healthy Eating for Mums-to-be
100 Years of Guiding
How To Make a Rag Rug
A Guide To Jewellery Making
A Guide To Star Trek Online

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Haiku and Alive update

Very quick updates today. First, a haiku that I threw together as an entry into a Star Trek inspired competition. (Excuse my Trekker-ness for a moment...)
Where I want to be -
Space, the final frontier...
Beam me up, Scotty!
In case you're not sure what haiku is, it's a three line poem with five syllables in the first and third lines and seven syllables in the second line. I used to really enjoy writing them when I was at school, so when I saw the competition I had a burst of nostalgia and decided to join in.

The second thing is that the third part of Alive! is online now - poor Pilar...

Friday, 22 January 2010

Alive - part 3...

Well this could be interesting.... As my editor said:
What a surprising turn and a bunch of dark readers :)
So what happens next? You'll just have to wait and see, and find out on Tuesday when the next part comes out!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Staying alive...

The second chapter of Alive! is up now - read the story and cast your vote on what should happen next by clicking here!

I'm really enjoying this way of writing a story. It's an interesting way of getting story prompts, but at the same time I know - and the reader knows - how the story is going to go in the big picture. The cargo ship is going to go to Jupiter to deliver its consignment and the passengers. But in the course of that happening there are nots of other things that could happen, and that's what makes it interesting.

A little hint of things to come at some point - look out for mining ships in the asteroid belt, Colonel Leonard's big secret, the real reason for Pilar Perez's journey, and find out more about the colonists on the Rim.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

A new project

I've just started on a new writing project which should keep me busy for a few months. This week I submitted the first installment of a seriel sci-fi story called 'Alive!' to The Novel Factory - a new type of website that hopes to get people reading again.

As it says on the front of the site:
Have you ever read a book that made you feel so alive that you wanted to jump right in with the characters? Have you ever come up with a brilliant idea for a book you’re reading that never happens? Well this is your chance to dare the impossible leap, to dream the impossible dream.

The Novel Factory is an online serial publication. Each week a new segment of a book is presented for your reading pleasure. Whether you’re a casual reader or a serious imaginer, The Novel Factory can open a door into the world of your imagination. Each section of each weekly installment ends with a space where your imagination can roam free. You can take an active part in the creation process with a choice of multiple plot twists, or a personal input box where you can enter your own ideas.
Read my story and vote on how the plot will continue by clicking here.