Monday, 19 December 2011

A white snippet


Beams glinting off cruelly-sharp crystals; she couldn’t see the particles, only white globular outline, archetypally familiar, but she knew what it was made of. Dagger crystals, broken snowflakes, crushed and reformed like her arthritic knuckles. Daggers that caused invisible punctures of cold stabbing straight to the swollen bones. Beauty and cruelty in coldness.

Once she, too, had those properties. The world was different then, better, even with the suffering. She was loved, adored, maybe worshipped; it was too easy to think it would last forever. So arrogant.

The snow-woman stood alone. The white was desert around it, barren. The sun moved higher and it began to melt.

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Sunday, 11 December 2011

My novel 'Turner' is now available


"Hello, dear reader. Please, come inside. No, don't be so jumpy - that howling is just the wind. Pray sit down. No, not on that chair, sit on the comfy one. By the fire. See how I make every attempt to put you at your ease? Please relax. Ha ha, no, the sword above the mantelpiece is just for show. Howling noises? What do you - ah! No, that's the kettle. I put it on so we could have a nice cup of tea. Do you take sugar? Why do you look so pale? Ulterior motive? Nothing bad, I assure you. I just want to try and sell you a copy of my book..."

Turner has now been published! Read a bit about the background here or watch my recent talk about the novel's genesis. As many of my readers will know, the book is a tense rural thriller / horror about an outbreak of apparent insanity on a remote Welsh island. The novel is a labour of love and a homage to my favourite horror tropes, films, novels, games and comics. It has been a stormy road, and there have been casualties along the way, but Turner is available for your delectation as an e-book - or in print, if you prefer. This page lists the main purchasing options, and I will keep updating it as it filters through to new distribution channels. In some cases, such as if you have a Kindle, you can buy the book through the device itself. Note the discounts I have included - 20% on the e-book at Smashwords; 10% discount on the print version at Lulu. I have also allowed people to read the first 60% of the novel for free at Smashwords.

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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Talking about Turner

I mentioned giving talks in my last post. Last night I gave a talk about Turner at the Aberystwyth University Book Festival. The focus was on the genesis of Turner, and I was one of four university-connected speakers talking about their books, as well as viewings of digital stories made by writers and mulled wine and mince pies. I even managed to place some copies of my book in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre Bookshop.

 
It took a long time, and great expense, but the massive video of my talk has squeezed through the data pipes to the multimedia reservoir of Youtube and is now available for your viewing pleasure

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Giving talks about writing

Me reading at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on the 27th May 2010

Last night I gave a talk about Turner at the Aberystwyth University Book Festival. It went well; the talk had the audience smiling, and I'll upload a video of it in the near future. However, giving talks on the topic of my creative work is strange. I am used to speaking to large groups in my role as a librarian, both to students and at conferences - last month one of the talks I gave (Plagiarism and Good Academic Practice) was to 265 first year undergraduate business students, the largest group I've ever spoken to. And I wasn't in the least bit nervous; in fact, I enjoyed it immensely. However, when I give talks about my fiction I do tend to get slightly nervous, since it feels much more like I myself am being judged, and my creative competency is bared, leaving no protection for the ego. What will friends, colleagues and family think of my work? It is so much more personal. Still, I am sure that, too, will become easier over time.

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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Promotion with business cards

 My Moo Cards selection

Writers inevitably have to promote themselves - to agents, publishers, and their (hopefully) adoring readers. There are various techniques for this and I'll discuss some in future posts. However, one of the easy things to do is to get some business cards made.

I decided to try Moo Cards recently. I liked their half-size business cards for their compact appearance, attractiveness and portability, and they can double as small bookmarks so giving them out to people is not as much of a waste as a traditional business card. They have a range of default attractive designs but you can also create your own easily - being a creative type, this is the option that appealed to me! Unfortunately their MOO Green Paper isn't available for the MiniCard size, which made me feel a bit guilty, but I have written to them to ask for this to be an option in future.

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Friday, 18 November 2011

Writing tips - structure


When it comes to writing there are various structures that can be followed. A conventional structure is covered on this Writers' Village blog post, How to write a gripping story. Then there is Nigel Watts' 'Eight-Point Arc' which breaks things down further. For another approach consider Randy Ingermanson's 'Snowflake Method'. Any of these can be used either to get started, or to map an existing story or novel against in order to see what the 'shape' of the structure is. One caveat - if everyone followed prescriptive structures then there would not be as much variety in literature, so unless you always want to follow a formula then don't feel you have to consider these for every work.

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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion


As my friends will attest, I like zombies. Zombie films, zombie games, zombie novels, zombie makeup and zombie women. As such I looked forward to reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. It is generally described as a zombie romance (zom-rom with hints of com) about a zombie who becomes more self aware as he falls in love, and comes to question aspects of his lifestyle (and that of other zombies). And as with most zombie works, it therefore isn't really about zombies at all. They exist as a mirror held up to contemporary society, a rotting subject matter hiding wider themes which become more visible as the flesh is stripped away.

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Monday, 31 October 2011

Creeping Jesus


I've decided to include one of my old cheesy horror stories for Halloween. It's called Creeping Jesus. One reader in the past described it as "almost Blyton-esque retro-style, but with a much darker ending". Another wrote on Authonomy:
"I liked Creeping Jesus, freaky and quite scary. There is an edginess to this one, the terror of being locked in there, gives me the shivers. I can smell the mustiness of the museum, a real sense of place. I hope you will upload more soon, please let me know if you do."
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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Help me to make things!

I am hoping to have my action horror novel Turner published within the next month, at least electronically, with a print version to follow. This is very exciting for me. Once Turner is out in the wild I can then focus on my literary novel Soft Collisions and some short story collections before starting a new project.

In the meantime I need some help!

Help me by picking a cover
I need to come up with a cover for Turner, so have been playing around with various ideas. A lighthouse features prominently in the novel, and I wanted to show it at its most creepy. The idea of a sunset combines the fading of light (hope) with ominous blood-like sunset colours, so I tried to come up with images that combined all those. Please have a look at the images below and then vote for your favourite cover (poll at the top right of the blog).

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Monday, 17 October 2011

In The Gloaming


To celebrate the run up to Halloween I have decided that the rest of my posts for this month will have a horror theme of some kind. See, no-one can call me "Sour puss, grumpy face".

In The Gloaming is a series of comedy-horror podcasts written and directed by Nathaniel Tapley, and produced by Raoul Brand. In 2010 they won the Parsec award for 'Best New Speculative Fiction Podcaster'. I thoroughly recommend either downloading them onto your phone/MP3 player/laptop, or listening to the episodes through their website - either way, you can get the episodes here. Episodes 1 and 3 are my personal favourites (lemon drizzle cake now has an interesting mental resonance for me after episode 3).

In their blog they give advice on undertaking similar projects yourself - well worth reading.
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Monday, 10 October 2011

Using 'E'

 "Tell me - you weren't thinking of using language incorrectly, were you? It makes me angry..."
[Image by ilco]

E-book, e-Book, EBook, ebook, e-book, E-Book, eBook, Ebook? Many words have the letter 'e' prefixed nowadays, denoting 'electronic', but there seems to be confusion about the standard way of dealing with that letter. In the last couple of weeks one of the academic mailing lists I subscribe to, LIS-E-RESOURCES, had a question about the correct way to write e-book. I responded with a link to a post on this subject I wrote when I was an e-learning technologist working for JISC RSC Wales. However, it seemed that more clarification was needed. As such I decided to update my old post in order to clarify the underlying rules for using the prefix 'e' with other words, since we in the UK have no equivalent of L’Académie Française.

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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Monday, 3 October 2011

Looking to the future

My victory handstand after Go Ape yesterday

I don't want to jinx things by saying too much, but at the moment some of my writing is on the shortlist for an award, and I may also be appearing on a BBC radio programme at some point in the future with one of my respected writing collaborators. I'll post more if either of these come to fruition. Fingers crossed!
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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Writers' Village mini-course



I may have mentioned this before, but there is a free course of tips on writing available through the Writers' Village site. I had signed up for it and have been finding many of the tips to be useful and thought-provoking. I appreciate the fact that they are not too long, so it is easy to read one and have a think about the implications without it taking a chunk out of your day.

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Two views

'Stone faces' in one of the temples of Angkor by eschu1952

There are a few scenes in my current work-in-progress Soft Collisions which appear twice, each time viewed from the perspective of a different character. The aim of this technique is obvious - to be able to show the misunderstandings that take place, and how an action may be perceived very differently from how it was intended. However, some early readers reports said that they felt this effect held the novel up so I've been tackling that issue today, on the two chapters (5 and 6) where this occurs.

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Monday, 19 September 2011

Snippets

 
As well as the writing that goes into major, 'proper' projects (novels, short stories, articles), writers tend to store many fragmentary word scraps. The thought hastily scribbled while on the bus; the overheard scrap of conversation; the dream written out in the morning once the darkness has faded and we can face our subconscious fears; the funny place name seen on holiday; the magazine article that caught our imagination etc. I refer to these fragments as snippets.

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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

"We meet again, Mr Bond"

At the local writing group last night we discussed dialogue and characterisation. As part of the discussion we tried some interesting exercises in writing dialogue with a partner, responding to what they write - akin the game 'Consequences'. In some ways it then resembles a real conversation in that you are not sure what the response might be; just as in real life you might try and lead things one way, but be stumped by the unexpected reactions of the person you are speaking to. It reminds me that I would like to co-write something with another person one day, based around a structure that could work well for two authors (e.g. each writes the scenes for one major character, or for one location or time period).

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Blog developments 2


Some of my posts can be loooooooooooong. It is one of the perils of being a writer - words spew forth from us like fountains of liquid light; or turgid streams of carroty chunks, depending on the genre/writer. Therefore, in the interests of compassion, I have started to make use of jump breaks, so that when browsing the blog you just see the first paragraph or so of longer posts, and a 'Read more >>' link to the rest of the text if it tickles your fancy, as in the image above. It makes it far easier to browse and see what I have been talking about recently. See, I do care.
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Monday, 12 September 2011

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Neuromancer



“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
— opening sentence of Neuromancer (William Gibson, 1984)

Do you wonder what the future might hold? Where technology in all its forms is taking us - genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, surgery - and how it will affect what it means to be human? What might it be like when mega-corporations have more power than governments; when the natural environment has been destroyed by greed and the only place to escape from the densely-populated planet is through drugs or virtual reality?

Welcome to cyberpunk.

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Friday, 2 September 2011

Writing groups


Image by hotblack

Not long ago I talked about writing courses, and how beneficial they can be. I only briefly mentioned writing groups, but here I would like to emphasise what a boon a supportive and constructively critical writing group can be. Back in March I joined one which disappeared shortly afterwards, but I have had more luck recently in going to one organised by Ali Cocks at The Treehouse in Aberystwyth. It is on Mondays, 6.30-8pm and I recommend coming along to join a select group (give Ali a ring on 01970 611133 if you want to know more).

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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Blog developments



I continue to develop this blog. Today I added two permanent pages, 'About me' and 'Buy my work!' to the navigation area on the right. Some of you may also have noticed the quotes that appear in the top right and change daily. This is based on some Javascript that seems to work well. The data is fixed for each date, so I need to go in every so often and replace old feedback with new in order to keep it fresh but it isn't too onerous. The original code I based mine on can be found here.
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Monday, 15 August 2011

The Warriors



The Warriors is one of the three great films of 1979. If you want to write something that is fast-paced and nail-biting then this is a worthy object of study. Its high concept of 'falsely-accused Warriors have to fight their way across the city past rival gangs to get home' gives us an unpredictable story with well-depicted and individualistic gangs, superb photography, and perfectly placed music.

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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2012 short story competition



Here are quick details of a Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook competition - go here for full details.
  • The prize is £500 plus a place on an Arvon Foundation residential writing course, and publication of your story on the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook website.
  • Stories of up to 2,000 words on the theme of ‘identity’.
  • Closing date of 14th February 2012.
Good luck!
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Monday, 1 August 2011

Sex versus gender

Gender and sex - two words that are regularly confused.
Gender either refers to a term of grammatical classification for nouns etc., or to socially constructed personalities. If the answer to a question is masculine, feminine, or neuter, then the question is asking about gender.

Sex when used to classify (as opposed to talking about sexual intercourse) refers to the division of living things into male and female. If the answer to a question is male or female, then the question is asking about sex.
It is not difficult to comprehend this useful distinction. Basically, when you’re talking about what biological wobbly bits people have, you are talking about sex differences.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Writing courses


Image by cienpies

We can always learn more. It is one of the joys and responsibilities of being a sentient being - an ability to improve right until the day when an eco-shroud is pulled up over our faces, our bodies are placed in a hole, and a noble tree or bush planted on top. (So much greener than the stupid and wasteful stone-hewn epitaphs). Do not abuse the powers of intellect, letting them rot and stagnate in a fog of unquestioning consumption!

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Monday, 18 July 2011

Some more positive feedback

In a previous post I mentioned some competitions, including one hosted by Writers' Village. I generally enter most competitions that seem like they fit with some of my work, and this was no exception. The bad news is that I didn't win (though the excellent winning entries can be read here). The good news is that one of the judges, Dr John Yeoman, gave some incredibly useful feedback, a rarity when submitting material (either to publishers, agents or competitions). He also pointed out that "Overall, your work is excellent [...] 42 points out of 45 ranks a story in the top league: you failed to win a cash prize only by a whisker." So my confidence is restored! Here is an extract from the competition feedback I received for my stories Waiting and Just A Little Bit Of Freedom, then the full text of one of the stories so you can see if you agree with the description by the judges.

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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Moving stories

Lykke Li is incredibly watchable and charismatic. This video, directed by Tarik Saleh, stars Lykke Li and Stellan Skarsgård. The visual style, deft and unexpected portrayals of emotion, expressive dancing and music all combine to concoct something that is familiar to us all, a feeling universally recognisable whether we have experienced it or not, archetypal reactions employed as part of the universal interplay of relationships. Another way in - to stop being pompous for second - is to ask "What is the story?" There are more interpretations than you might first think.

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Monday, 11 July 2011

Monday, 4 July 2011

Turner - an exercise in suspense

Cover used for my Authonomy draft

I haven't yet done a blog post about my novel Turner. It is time to make up for that oversight.

Turner is a tense rural thriller which follows a single night in the lives of a small group of people trying to survive an apparent outbreak of insanity on a remote island which has a history of disappearances. The suspense builds up until terror bursts out, from which point onwards it is a non-stop thrill ride. However, the subtext of the novel is about the power of words and names (the novel's title being tied into this), and issues of cultural invasion and control. Or, as the blurb says:
An isolated Welsh island seems the ideal place for four unconnected individuals to seek refuge from their own demons and to escape from the rat race. However, on Ynys Diawl they face a night of horror and madness. If they don't work together none of them will see the light of day.

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Monday, 27 June 2011

More work on Soft Collisions


As I said in my last post about Soft Collisions I am currently letting some incredibly kind people read the current draft to get some honest feedback, and to give me guidance on whether some of the potential ideas and changes I am playing with could be worth implementing. As well as general editorial improvements that can be spotted I am asking questions such as the following:
  • Do the themes and premise come out in the novel?
  • Do the main two stories support each other or distract from each other?
  • Should I restructure the stories and move an important event (won't give spoiler) to earlier in the novel?

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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Jargon


In communication it is usually best to use the simplest word that does the task required, unless a special effect is being sought. This is something that is forgotten by specialists in many industries. Sometimes people want to sound 'intelligent' and think that using unnecessary words makes them appear more so; other times it is just laziness or ignorance. In Edge magazine, June 2011 issue, one article seemed to be full of irritating marketing-speak. There were many examples, I'm just going to pick up on two of them: note that all the references below are from a single page article.*

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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Two more competitions to consider


Two options below

Tenby Arts Festival
They are holding a creative writing competition – open to anyone. The closing date for entries is 15th July 2011. Short stories of up to 1,500 words, poems of up to 40 lines, both on any subject. More details and entry form here (scroll down to the bottom).

International Rubery Short Story Competition
Entry £7.50 per story, see their webpages for more information. Stories up to 3,000 words, deadline of 30th September 2011. Make sure your cheques don't bounce (groan!)
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Friday, 10 June 2011

Final report to Literature Wales


Working in the cafe on Consitution Hill - they have soya milk, yay!

I've just submitted my final report to Literature Wales as part of the requirements for the bursary they awarded me to work on my current novel Soft Collisions. My previous report can be read here and includes lots of background information on the novel.

Since my last report I have been doing lots of further editing and corrections (how did I miss those handful of pesky typos even after re-reading the whole thing twice?). It has also been looked over by an editor and we had a profitable discussion yesterday about some further changes to consider. Some I agree with completely, and they are hopefully straightforward and fairly easy to implement. Others are interesting twists or changes that I am going to think about in more detail before making any radical alterations.

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Friday, 3 June 2011

One of my stories to appear in 'Sarasvati'


I promoted some writing opportunities recently, including the literary Sarasvati. That same day I submitted a lyrical prose piece called Our Life: An Oil Painting, a sensual portrayal of an enduring relationship which I hope resonates. The good news is that it was accepted, and should appear in the September or October issue! Excellent news. I have had a really positive feeling about this year as being one that is full of opportunities for me, and so far I have not been disappointed!

Of my story one of the editors, an ex-librarian with a huge passion for the profession, said: "Thanks for this submission which I enjoyed hugely. Sensual indeed!"

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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A mixed bag



Magazines are a great source of knowledge for specialist topics. Writing about a woodturner? Pick up a magazine on the topic to learn the terminology and concerns. Ditto for writing about a bodybuilder or model railway enthusiast or cyclist. It is a good way into the subject.

I recently bought four magazines in one uncharacteristic splurge.
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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Saturday, 21 May 2011

'Wreckage' by Niall Griffiths


I have just finished this condensed slice of life which criss-crosses Wales and Liverpool as it follows the hopeless protagonists whilst also switching perspective to other characters and perspectives to create a full experience. At first it gives the appearance of a crime caper, but soon it becomes clear that the focus is lives and locations: people and places and the way they shape each other. However, the crime committed does drive every action, the fruits of the crime a cursed chalice that brings bad luck to each possessor.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Monsters everywhere


I've just finished David Wellington's 'monster' series: Monster Island, Monster Nation and Monster Planet. I had bought them on a day trip to that world of books, Haye-on-Wye.

Together they make up an interesting and innovative take on the zombie apocalypse genre. Monster Island shows us a world over-run by the undead, set in New York a month after the zombie outbreak began, and introduces the concept of supernatural variants such as resurrected mummies, intelligent zombies, and ghosts. The mission to find AIDS drugs for a Somalian warlord is an effective device for sending the protagonist on this dangerous quest, since it brings the themes of decay, danger and disease to the fore. The tone is bleak right from the start: on the first pages the protagonist reaches Manhattan Island and sees the lines of 'waving' people, but it is soon clear that they are not survivors.
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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Mid-term report


Image by hisks

I have just submitted my mid-term bursary report to Literature Wales. So, how far have I got since my first draft a long time ago in a land far far away, where the teapots stay warm forever and the monkey children play? (I am talking about Manchester.)

Years ago I paid for an Academi Reader's Report (Academi being the old name for Literature Wales). The report was really well written and a mixture of praise and constructive criticism delivered with a wicked sense of humour to sweeten the pills. An example of the yummy praise:
"Despite a fair smattering of laddish banter, sex, drugs and rock and roll, the overall tenor of the story is essentially romantic: all the main characters, male and female, can have sex when they feel like it but find love harder to come by. ... It takes us a while to get there but the scenes in bed are one of the best aspects of the novel: believable; passionate; even desperate."

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Friday, 22 April 2011

Friday, 15 April 2011

Using two computer monitors for writing



I'm currently looking after someone else's PC, and for an experiment I hooked up the second monitor for an extended desktop. Over the last twelve months this seems to have become the habit at work - in a number of offices now a single monitor is an exception rather than the rule. The only time I had tried this in the past was with a laptop, spreading the desktop space over the laptop screen and an external monitor.

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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Rewriting takes a long time

For the last two days my work on Soft Collisions has mostly been re-writing first person scenes in the third person, and using it as a chance to edit the content at the same time. One of my editing problems in the past was cutting material: I couldn't. I'm getting a bit better at that, stripping out sentences and words that are unnecessary padding. I still have a long way to go to really develop this skill though.

Another problem is that some sections are just wrong, but I'm not sure yet how to fix them. Perhaps in those cases I will totally re-write them. Sit down with a blank sheet of paper under the apple tree and see what comes out. Never be afraid to start again. You can always go back to the old and see if there were some fantastic word combinations that are worth keeping.

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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Literature Wales Writers' Bursary



The names of successful Literature Wales bursary recipients were announced today, and can be viewed on the new Literature Wales site (the organisation name changed from Academi last Friday). I'm on the list! Yes, it is thanks to the bursary that I can make progress with the writing project detailed below. Diolch yn fawr iawn, Llenyddiaeth Cymru! (Amounts awarded can be seen here.)
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Soft Collisions, the background

A long time ago I wrote a novel in the first person, following the inner lives of three young people in Manchester who were all desperate for love. The original seed was a story I wrote called Last Day, about a young man who cared for a girl at work and never admitted it until the night of her leaving do. They slept together but it turned out that his interpretation of the sex was wrong and she had been using him. Much as I liked the story, a thought kept nagging at me: what would things look like from the girl's perspective? Why would she act like she did? Had I been unfair on her in portraying her as selfish? Could there be things below the surface that the lad was unaware of? Eventually I gave in to these thoughts and wrote a companion story, covering the same events but from the girl's viewpoint. It was an exciting experiment for me, and I found that both protagonists were mistaken about each other. It was their own misunderstandings that kept them apart. When I came to write Soft Collisions it was the theme of misunderstandings that I wanted to focus on, so I based the novel on these two stories, plus I added another couple's relationship to mirror them, which had its their own baggage and misunderstandings. However, for reasons of a plot twist (which I was later informed was corny and an insult to the reader) I only focused on one person from the second couple, so as to hide the motivations of his love interest. Hence three first-person perspective stories.

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Thursday, 31 March 2011

DRM part two

On Wednesday night I met Niall Griffiths and was pleased to discover that he's a very down-to-Earth bloke with lots of traveller's tales (and a massive collection of books). We were both part of a small group having drinks and a meal to say bon voyage to a mutual and vibrant Finnish friend who impressed me with a happy hardcore penguin dance: sadly, not captured on video. Niall's new book Ten Pound Pom is out soon via Parthian, keep an eye out for it in any good bookshop, I am sure it will be really popular.

One thing that was discussed during the evening was electronic books versus physical artifacts and some of the issues involved, including DRM. It reminded me to provide an update to my last blog post DRM will kill us all, so here it is. Big news: we're not dead yet, but this topic is definitely part of the zeitgeist at present, and an enduring interest of mine. I had even touched on it in an article I had published in Sconul Focus 49: E-book readers: what are librarians to make of them? (As an aside, the article must have been so good it was reprinted in the next issue too which is a first for that journal, as far as I know.)*

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Sunday, 13 March 2011

DRM will kill us all


image by rebopper

Harper Collins have been in the news a lot recently due to their plans to apply limits to e-books, preventing access after those limits are reached. This has led to boycott calls, lots of discussion, and even attempts to try and set some kind of standard on what is actually being sold.

The problem is that DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) is a hassle for librarians, e-book users, even publishers. DRM creates a barrier, and many publishers and distributors seem to underestimate the importance of goodwill in their customers. DRM doesn't stop people copying things (whether e-books, films, music or games): it encourages it.

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Sunday, 6 March 2011

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Brooker's wordsmithery

Not all wordsmiths are rampant novelists; some work in other media, and we should learn from them. Charlie Brooker is an idol of mine. If you are into words and books and humour then he is the man to watch/listen to/read. His current caustic series How TV Ruined Your Life (latest episode on iPlayer here) packs more inventive wordplay and humour into half an hour than I have experienced in a long time. There are similarities to the great master of irreverant darkness Chris Morris.

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Something to desire

Decision made, bargain found, HTC Desire Z ordered from Handtec at a bargain price. The great service has to be mentioned. It is easy to complain about many things in this world but it is important to also point out when things go well. The Handtec postage was only £3.99, yet the item arrived the next day, and the package included a free official bluetooth headset that hadn't even been mentioned in the description. I was impressed by Handtec.

It got better. Even full time writers leave the house sometimes. When you order items online you should count yourself lucky if you are told the day of delivery by the courier: even more lucky if you are given an indication of AM or PM. The reality for many people who work is then having to attempt redelivery at a later date, possibly using annual leave to be in the house all day. However, Handtec used a courier called DPD. Not only did they deliver the item the very next day, before 1pm, but they actually sent an email in advance and gave a very specific one hour slot when it would be delivered, making it easy to pop home, take the delivery, and get back to work. Amazing service.

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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Writing on the move

What are the best tools for writing when away from the comfort of your perfectly laid out office and powerful PC? I have to travel occasionally for work or pleasure, and always do so on public transport. It should be an ideal opportunity to catch up on reading and to do some creative work. What are the best tools for the job?
  • Laptops and netbooks enable power-creation but can be overkill for the bus, and the battery life of these early 21st century devices leaves a lot to be desired.
  • The classic of pen and paper can be used anywhere, and is the ultimate in low-power versatility. The downside is having to type everything up afterwards. I once handwrote a whole novel in a week: it took almost six months to type the thing up. My writing is not very neat, and a jolting bus renders it almost illegible. Trains work better for handwriting.
  • Now we face a new generation of smartphones, devices that are portable but with the ability to do limited typing. The notes can then be downloaded to a PC later. Their small screens are not much good for editing projects but for straight outpourings of imagination they can be good capture devices, and have the added advantage of being with you already.
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