The e-book version of Turner is temporarily available for free from many of the sites here. If you avail yourself of this sugar-frosted offer, and enjoy the novel, then please leave a good review on the site you got it from (or Amazon, or Goodreads). I will send good karma your way via the miracle of technology.

Passages from Turner [Spoilers]

I've recently started to get involved with the Goodreads community (my profile). Since Turner has an entry there I decided to also add a quote from my novel to its record. Selecting just one turned out to be a difficult decision! So I gathered a long-list of my favourite short passages from the novel before making my final selection. Since I only posted one on Goodreads I thought I'd include the full long-list below. Obviously these may contain spoilers, so don't read them if you intend to read the novel in the near future.

Let the quotage begin...

Velocity. It was like flying three feet above the tarmac. Wind rushed against him, roared in his ears, and he let out a whoop of excitement. This was living: taking the turns in the road at high speed, every one a risk and a reward.

He had cheated on her and she felt doubly betrayed, because it was one of her own sixth-formers he was sleeping with.
Why? Megan was athletic and had a small, tidy body; she thought she was fairly attractive. She worked hard but loved affection. She was intelligent, and could speak German, French and Spanish (as well as English). She admitted that she could be quick-tempered sometimes, but couldn’t everyone?
Her conclusion was just this: she was thirty years old; Janine was seventeen.
Men. She was better off on her own.


An assault on the psyche

I enjoy reading my work out to my writing friends, and hearing their stories in return, as we try out new voices and styles. In a class last week I had a go at portraying a human monster via monologue. My friend Simon Garrett wrote this in his blog:
"Another interesting thing was that Karl read a powerful, challenging story [...] Karl’s story was an assault on the psyche of everyone in the room. It was vile, repugnant, out of control, despicable - and deliberately so. At the end of the story, the response was not an intellectual one of “I like what you did with X, but not so keen on Y,” rather it was a coming to terms with the emotions we were each feeling, and why we were so appalled, and what it mean for the person in the story. It was an important lesson."
It was difficult to write too! I may do a video reading of it at some point and put it on the blog, with suitable warnings, though it wouldn't have the same visceral impact as reading it when sat within a few feet of the listener.

Simon's blog includes details of where you can buy his first novel, Teddy and the Darkgate.

Paypal's censorship

Latest news: Paypal has now adopted sensible policies! Thanks to everyone who pressured Paypal over this. Dianna (in the comments below) pointed me to the new Paypal policy, which no longer bans legal works: it will only prohibit using Paypal for items that are potentially breaking the law, which is a thoroughly reasonable compromise that everyone should be happy with. Smashwords has covered the new situation here as well as sending an email to all their authors, so thanks to them for their work in protecting the rights of creative minds to write - and publish - legal fiction. If you don't know what I'm talking about then read the post below for background. Is it coincidence that Paypal retracted their plans to censor works almost as soon as my post went up? (Actually, yes, it was coincidence, but it still make me happy).

Paypal has been criticised by many writers recently for their decision to refuse to work with some publishers if Paypal don't like the content of any of their books. The further twist is that the stated rules they claim to be basing things on are peculiarly arbitrary, and applied selectively (e.g. they are not applying them to large publishers, or to publishers of works that break their rules but which are well-known).

Writers' Village first brought the issue to my attention; then I came across this parody which imagines a world where this approach is taken to its extremes on the Smashwords Blog. Dianna Hardy makes some good points, and the National Coalition Against Censorship also covered the topic, stating: "Most telling is PayPal’s refusal to address the real problem – which is that the policy, no matter what its basis or motivation, has the effect of shutting down sales of legally-protected expression."


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

This is not a novel but a musing, a diary, a philosophy forming; it is based around the running that Murakami does every day. The book is a combination of biography and extended metaphor. Running is used as a metaphor for life, and for writing. Train, persevere, adopt routines, dedicate yourself, learn to do things alone for extended periods: these are all good and noble.

Murakami achieves amazing things with his running. Perhaps he does not feel it when comparing himself to other marathon runners or triathletes, but compared to a normal human for whom a marathon would be impossible (let alone doing one every year) we have to respect the author. He earns it. He is affable and thoughtful, and spending time with his thoughts feels like a privilege and a chance to learn. A good example is from this section towards the end of the book:

"Thus the seasons come and go, and the years pass by. I'll age one more year, and probably finish another novel. One by one, I'll face the tasks before me and complete them as best I can. Focusing on each stride forward, but at the same time taking a long-range view, scanning the scenery as far ahead as I can. I am, after all, a long-distance runner. [...] what's really important is reaching the goal I set myself, under my own power. I give it everything I have, endure what needs enduring, and am able, in my own way, to be satisfied. From out of the failures and joys I always try to come away having grasped a concrete lesson."

I approve of the focus on fitness, and the book left me wanting to run more. That's got to be a good thing.

A touch of the vapours

Starlings and sunset: the view as I left The Old College
on 10th January after the first day of my new courses

I think it is really useful to go to writing courses or join writing groups. I've said so before. See here, if you don't believe me. See, I was telling the truth. That's the kind of guy I am.

From September to the end of December I was writing with my friends Ali Cocks and Emma each week, always finding that it led me to write something, even on the most mentally barren of days. Little things that it pleased me to write, and things written by my friends that it pleased me to hear.

Then I signed up for two courses, both on a Tuesday, which started in January. Developing A Voice In Writing was taught by Annette Ecuyere and took me through the morning section of this lovely day of creativity; then in the afternoon I would go to Writing In Genre taught by Jemma King. A few of my fellow writers would also be in both classes. Again, I was gently led to the field where I could run free, and rapidly filled a folder of short stories, extracts and story ideas. A few of them have appeared here, usually only the ultra-short experiments. Annette's class led to The Jug and The Runner; in Jemma's class I played with memories and bad words and was led back to The Vampyre as research for a class on the horror genre. The handful of 'proper' short stories I wrote (but haven't posted) will definitely be useful in the future when I come to put together two collections, covering topics as diverse as hurtful relationships with children, cycles of cruelty, and kidnap. What a cheery bugger I am.


Comments from an ironing board

I know, I know: it wasn't long ago that I was gushing over some lovely comments from people who had bought Turner. However, I can't restrain myself... hands, reaching out... must type...

The writer Bec Zugor is my lovely person of the week. Positive words from fellow writers mean a lot, and Bec is an established writer of literary fiction, horror, poetry, sci-fi - she captures the sadness of ghosts and the fast pace of the future. Therefore, when she wrote a review of Turner I couldn't resist linking to it. The summing-up sentence of "This will do, for visiting remote islands, what Jaws did for swimming in the sea" made me smile for a long time.

Links for buying some of Bec's work can be found here.

Are e-books fairly priced?

I just read an interesting article on Mobiledia, Are e-books fairly priced? (part 1, part 2) I don't agree with everything in there, but it does provide a concise summary of some of the battles taking place between traditional publishers and intermediaries such as Apple and Amazon.


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