Friday 20 February 2015

Glass Future: Un avenir si prévisible

Delighted to see my Nature story: 'Glass Future' in French translation as 'Un avenir si prévisible' in Galaxies Science Fiction. This is my first French translation. 

Check me out, hobnobbing with some fine French and international writers. If you'd like to read 'Glass Future' in English you can see it find it on the Nature Futures website.

Thursday 19 February 2015

How Far Would You Go To Complete Your Collection?

'Good for Something' has been published in my favorite venue: Nature Futures.  You can read it here. 

Nature are also publishing guest blogs from the authors. I always love these. I wish more venues did them. You can read my story behind the story here. 

Saturday 14 February 2015

Twice Upon a Time Anthology

I'm pleased to see my reprint story 'Traveler' ( a retelling of Jonah and the Whale) appearing in the Twice Upon a Time anthology.

Fairytales don’t always happen once upon a time. Fables don’t always have a happy ending. Sometimes the stories we love are too dark for nightmares. What if waking Sleeping Beauty was the worse thing the Prince could have done? What if Rapunzel wasn't in that tower for her own protection—but for everyone else’s? Assembled by The Bearded Scribe Press, Twice Upon A Time combines classics and modern lore in peculiar and spectacular ways. From Rapunzel to Rumpelstiltskin, this unique collection showcases childhood favorites unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Both traditionally-published and independent authors will take you on a whirlwind ride through fairytale and folklore, myth and majick. Cherished stories are revisited and remastered into newly-treasured tales of hope and heartache, of adversity and adventure. 

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Sometimes the Voices Are Right

Today I welcome writer and editor Vicky Pointing onto my blog with some wise words on writer feedback.

Sometimes the Voices are Right

I'm currently studying for a master's degree in Creative Writing. It may sound daft, but I've found that one of the most difficult things about the course is the amount of feedback you get, or rather, the number of people who offer you completely contradictory opinions on your work. It’s enough to make you chuck your laptop out of a window.

I’ve seen people crumble under the weight of their own indecision when one tutor tells them that a certain bit of writing is fantastic and another tells them to delete it and start again. With much tugging of hair and gnashing of teeth they wail: “But what should I do? Who’s right?” And the answer is – you, the author, are right. When it comes to your own work, you have to learn to go with your instincts. That doesn’t mean sticking your fingers in your ears and refusing to listen to any of the advice that you’re offered. It just means learning to pay attention to the wise inner author voice (you do have one, honestly) that says: “actually, I don’t think that’s going to work”.

Now, just a note on recognising your wise inner author voice. This should not be confused with your unkind inner critic, your sulky inner toddler, or any other dubious inner voices, especially if they suggest something that could land you on Crimewatch. I reckon that the best way to get to know your wise inner author voice is to write as much as you can, and also to experiment.

By experiment I mean follow the suggestions that people make; try deleting that scene or re-writing that character and see what you think of the result. Save all the different versions of your work so that you can compare them. Reflect on the feedback that’s been most helpful. You’ll soon get a feel for whether the criticism you’re being offered rings true or not – and just because you know it’s right, that doesn’t mean you’re going to like it, especially if it means masses of editing.

If you get to know your inner author you’ll become less precious about your work – which is definitely a good thing – and more confident about your own opinions of what you write. You’ll also start to see the problem areas in your work before anyone else has to point them out. This is definitely starting to happen for me, although I’ve got a long way to go yet.

I’m just happy to be gnashing my teeth far less often…

Tuesday 3 February 2015

'First Foot' published in Mad Scientist Journal

I'm pleased to announce that my reprint story 'First Foot' has been published in Mad Scientist Journal.  I'm loving that cover candy. 

Monday 2 February 2015

Ray Bradbury's Bedtime Reading Diet

Today I welcome writer Ian Rose onto my blog. Ian's writing has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Plasma Frequency and other venues. Ian's also the founder of QuarterReads, a site that offers readers the chance to buy a story for a twenty five cents. Ian talks about the Ray Bradbury Reading Diet. I've always admired a person who can stick to a diet. Little by little you can get the job done.

Readers, do you follow a reading diet like Ian?

In addition to giving us classics of science fiction like Fahrenheit  
451 and The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury was never short of advice  
for budding and aspiring writers. Perhaps his most famous assignment  
is to write one short story a week for a year. He claimed that he had  
never met the young writer who could do this and produce 52 bad  
stories in a row. That one never quite landed with me. I’m a variable  
speed writer, sometimes producing three stories in a week, sometimes  
one in a month. But another one of his prescriptions always interested  
me, and a few months ago, I started doing my best to follow it.
Bradbury advised new writers to end their day by reading three things:  
a short story, an essay and a poem, as a way of generating new ideas.  
“At the end of a thousand nights, Jesus God, you’ll be full of stuff!”  
he said. Although idea generation has never been a huge problem for me  
(sorting and choosing, more so), I always kept this idea in the back  
of my head, and in November decided to give it a serious try.
These days, finding short stories is easier than ever. Selling them  
for a reasonable price - that’s a trick - but there are abundant  
sources of free online short fiction, whether you prefer genre  
(Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, etc.) or literary (McSweeneys, The  
Barcelona Review), more stories than ever are available to anyone with  
an internet connection. I tried to mix it up between screen and print,  
making use of my local library and bookstore for the latter, but often  
fell back on the multitudes of online fiction.
Essays are trickier these days. I would argue that where the internet  
has led to an explosion of available short fiction, the online medium  
has diluted the essay to a shadow of its former self. Where does one  
draw the line these days, between an essay and an article? Creative  
nonfiction in the traditional sense - and in more recent and  
interesting permutations - are out there, but they are surrounded on  
all sides by think-pieces and opinion blogs, and these are not the  
same thing. I struggled for a while to find sources of what I  
considered to be true essays, and that struggle has turned out to be  
one of the most worthwhile parts of this exercise.
Again, I turned to the library, checking out two books of classic  
essays. Though I don’t concede that the form of the essay is dead by  
any means, I wasn’t finding what I wanted in the new markets, and so  
fell serendipitously into the warm and comforting arms of some older  
ones I had previously missed. I read Chesterton and Booker T.  
Washington, Margaret Atwood and Thoreau. I supplemented these with  
some entries from the most recent “Best American Science and Nature  
Writing”, figuring that though many of these counted more as articles  
than essays, if that line really did have any meaning, at least they  
were excellent articles.
Bradbury was cleverest to add in essays, I think, because especially  
for a science fiction writer but really for anyone who writes, there  
is no limit to the value of reading nonfiction. The real world is  
either the place where we set our stories or the first and most  
complete template we have for creating worlds of our own. Aside from  
the value of understanding it as an educated human and citizen, the  
reward to better knowing it as a writer cannot be overstated.
Then came the poems. I must admit, I’ve never been a big reader of  
poetry. I’ve never argued that there are beautiful, wonderful,  
important poems, but my interest has always been firmly focused on  
prose. So the addition of a poem a night was maybe the biggest change  
to my reading diet. I discovered great poems by Oscar Wilde, Emily  
Dickinson and T.S. Eliot, while also digging into online markets like  
Goblin Fruit. My fallback, when I couldn’t find a new source for  
poetry on any given night, has been my fiancee’s copy of “The Treasury  
of American Poetry”, which should last me quite a bit longer if I  
don’t go back to it every night.
After a few months, I firmly recommend the Bradbury Diet, as I’ve come  
to think of it, to anyone who will listen. One of my worries about  
upping my short fiction, nonfiction and poetry reading was that it  
would cut into my limited time for reading novels, but my speed of  
getting through the big fantasy and science fiction doorstops that  
litter my house has, if anything, increased. And true to Bradbury’s  
promise, new ideas have flowed as freely as ever since starting the  
diet. I have a document I use to store ideas that aren’t yet stories,  
and it has been bursting. My short writing has improved, too, I think,  
with the infusion of a more crowded set of voices in my daily reading.
In short (if that’s possible at this point), give it a shot. You may  
not be able to write 52 stories in 52 weeks, but most of us have time  
for a few short reads as we settle down each night, and if you’re  
anything like me, the rewards will far outweigh the cost.