Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Why is there so much vampire porn?

I'm getting later and later in writing these.

This week I've been having fun writing Outlined in Chalk, the sequel to last year's Of the Father. I can't say there was anything I really liked about the story itself but writing it was fun. The characters aren't right, the scenes aren't right. It all needs a lot of work, basically, but that's a worry for another time. Going to go back now and start redrafting / editing Old Factory Awards next week. Should be fun.

Other than that not much is going on. I'm a little annoyed at Amazon. I like to look through their Presellers lists especially Fiction, SF&F and Children's Books but SF&F is always so full of Manga, character stuff (Star Wats, Star Trek, Warhammer 40K etc) and vampire / werewolf erotica with names like Deep Blood and Dark Awakening that I rarely see anything I like. *Sigh* If that's what people like to buy, I guess...

Oh, well.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

To Write or not to Write?

A productive week has gone by, I feel.

I finished the latest go on Act Two and put it away for a bit, allowing the dust time to settle before I look at it again. There's a lot I want to change but I want to see how the changes I've just made settle into the story first.

To keep my mind occupied, I've made another pass on my new short story, The Old Factory Awards, and written the fast draft of Kids Today, which came out rather spiffing, I'd say. What I'm going to do tomorrow, I have no idea. I might try writing another story but I don't want to end up with a massive backlog of unfinished stories when I go back to the novel. Or do I? I don't want to take a break, I'm enjoying myself but a lot of unfinisheds can be irksome.

Anyway, it's been nice working on some new pieces for a while.

Friend Rob read The Old Factory Awards. He said he liked it, thought it was clever, enjoyed many lines from it and thought the beginning needed tidying up. I agree with him on that last one, at least. I don't know if I'm getting better or he's getting softer on me. Oh, how I long for some harsh criticism just to reassure me that I'm actually quite good and the people who read my stuff aren't just being polite!

No magazines have got back to me yet. Damn. I'm getting itchy. Nothing makes me feel better then sending something off. It beats waiting.


Thanks for reading.

Monday, 1 December 2008

And just when you thought you were done...

Words cannot describe how happy and relieved I was to finally break the back of Part Two. Oh, actually they do. 'Very' is the answer. Late last week, I wrote a final big scene before the finale and now I just have to write a couple more small scenes before getting to the end.

I was very pleased with myself that day.

But bugger me if another even bigger hill didn't appear from right behind it. My mind suddenly filled with Part Three, also a big task, and as I thought on it I thought of a dozen ways Part Two could be improved. Bugger. Back to the drawing board.

Oh well. Keep going forwards. Blasted thing can't hold out on me forever. More I keep working, the happier I am with it.


Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Reading and Recovering

I lost a couple of day's worth of work this week. Something buggered up on my memory stick, corrupting my latest novel file. It was beyond saving so I lost a few hours worth of work. What made it worse was that once I had got over my initial frustration I couldn't rewrite what I had lost. Every time I tried my brain was too intent on remembering what I had written before and reproducing it verbatim. So, I put it aside and got to work on the first draft of a short story instead.

It's finished now and I'm back to work on the novel and everything is progressing again.

No news to speak of otherwise on the story front, magazines are all very quiet.

In June, I mentioned an argument I had had with housemates about what a writer should read and one of the arguments was that a writer should read the classics. I don't agree. I see where my housemates are coming from, if you want to do something start at the beginning, but to me reading the classics is very much like a racing car driver having a go in a Ford Model T; interesting, but hardly conducive to better driving skills.

But, I acknowledged to myself, I can't just dismiss the classics, perhaps they do have something to teach me. They are, after all, the classics. So last week I finished reading A Tale of Two Cities and what did I learn? Bugger. All. It was a fine story for its time as I'm sure are many of the classics but I picked up no real tools that would help me with my own writing.

Perhaps I chose the wrong classic, I don't know. Maybe if I read War and Peace I'll learn something that will make me a better writer. But maybe I won't. Well, how about Great Gatsby? How about Wuthering Heights? Why don't I just spend the rest of my life reading books everyone else tells me are great hoping I'll find in them something I could just as easily be searching for in books I actually enjoy?

The problem I feel with people who insist on only reading the classics is that their reading lists all look the fucking same. Who decided these books were 'the classics' anyway? Dickins doesn't seem all that to me. Wodehouse wasn't that great. To Kill a Mockingbird was fantastic, I did love it, but I didn't feel there was anything to learn from it. Harper is simply more talented than me. Or at least more talented at writing that kind of book, don't know how she'd fair writing sci-fi for teens.

Anyway, rant over. I'm reading The White Tiger, Booker Prize Winner. It's ok so far. Nice in a look-into-modern-India journalism way. No real story to speak of. Classic? Probably not.

Also feel I should mention this. Hannah was a close friend and I miss her a lot and her death coloured my writing a lot. News story seems a bit divorced from reality for me. I never met the guy that killed her and never will. Hard to hate someone you've never met.


Thanks for reading.

Monday, 17 November 2008


A delayed post again.

Luckily little has happened. I'm working hard on a scene in chapter 31, hasn't quite come together yet, just haven't found the right mixture of things to add to it to make it sizzle yet but I'll get there.

This week, before launching into chapters 30-39 I made a book plan. Now, normally I don't do plans, I just like to add ingredients and see how they work, I like to go with the flow, following my finger, find out what the characters want to do and steer things a little by just adding the right ingredients to alter their courses to where I want them to go, it is a very subtle manipulation that I hope will work out. But at the moment I needed a book plan, to lay out on paper all the themes and events I need to happen so I can set them up, add hints, think them through, sometimes it's nice to just brain dump onto a single A4 sheet of paper and make sure all the important things have been considered. So far it's worked quite nicely and once I've got past this scene I hope that chapters 31-39 will be fairly smooth sailing.

And now I've just jinxed them.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Middle of the Road Revisited

Right, I mean it this time. I am now half way through the whole novel. Huzzah!

Chapter 29 was wrapped yesterday and I'm well into number 30. The next ten chapters are quite intimidating at the moment, all that clutter to be tidied, rewriting to be done and such but I'm sure once I get stuck in it'll be rather fun. Plus, the final 50 pages are pretty much set in stone. I know exactly what I want from these chapters, hopefully they'll play ball and allow themselves to be those things.

The short story front is quiet, things still with mags so now there's nothing else to do but sit back and play more Fallout 3.

Life is good.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Like a Red Rag to a Bull

Today I thought I would talk about clichés.

From early on in my writing career (if I can call it that), and in most people's writing careers, I'd imagine, it was drummed in that clichés are to be avoided at all costs. Like the plague, if you will.

As I have progressed, I have found that this is not the case.

Case in Point. This morning while writing I conveyed my main character's anxiety by describing how he was taking his water in very small sips as it felt as though his stomach had 'shrunk to the size of a walnut'. Now, you might agree that the walnut analogy is a cliché. I think it is. But, you see, the thing is it gets the point across. Quickly and succinctly the reader will know what I mean. Walnuts: small, wrinkled, wouldn't fit much water. Anxious stomach, possibly small, possibly wrinkled, doesn't fit much water. Quick. To the point.

I could have tried to avoid the cliché. I could have sat and strained my brain for another way to say it, found another thing that it could have been as small as, but why, when there's perfectly good walnut phrases standing idle? Why strain over this small sentence when I have anxiety-ridden events to be describing? Clichés have their place, they've become so well known because they work, because everyone who has read them know instantly what it means, it conveys something everyone relates to.

There are books that avoid clichés at all costs. Though I haven't read many, the Star Wars books are good for this. "Cut through a ferrocrete bunker like a neutrino through plasma." Pardon me? 'Hot knife through butter' works just as well, better in fact. The reader will go 'yup, know what that means, what happens next?' instead of stopping midway through the action to think 'ferrocrete? neutrino? plasma? Oh! You mean like a hot knife through butter!'

There are of course better writers that will think of something better than a stomach the size of a walnut to describe my character's situation. I can't right now, and I'm too busy making sure the story works than putting in a clever little, original line that might jar the reader's attention from what's happening. Rather a good story that lasts in the mind than a good line, read, admired and discarded in the space of a half-second.

Ahem. Anyway.

No real news this week. F&SF rejected Promises, Promises with a standard rejection. Grrrr. I'm going to wait until Weird Tales rejects No Longer Living before I send it again. The novel is going fine, just put chapter 28 to bed and working on chapter 29.

Oh, and I came up with a title for my third novel. It's going to be called White Rose. I came up with it on the way to the shops and it works on a lot of levels for what the story will be about. Hurrah!


Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Life on the Fast Lane

I can only apologise for missing last week's post.

Luckily, there is little to report these past two weeks. Things have been progressing very nicely with the novel with chapters 21 - 25 now complete (until draft three, that is). I still have niggling feeling about them. There's still a lot of stuff I want to put in on the theme but I think any more might be too much, these things need a delicate touch, I fancy.

All stories are still with magazines, especially hopeful about RevolutionSF and F&SF, either one of those on my credits will be a godsend.

Should check my logs and see when I sent Of The Father to Something Wicked. They did say they have a long response time but maybe I should just double check. Hmmmm.

Anyway, back to work.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Rejection with Comments

A slightly late blog this week.

Well, the twenty-fifth birthday celebrations are over and what fun they were.

Amanda Palmer was utterly amazing and who was on stage with her for a bit? Neil freaking Gaiman!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! How's that for a birthday treat?

As predicted, twenty-five is feeling pretty good and has been off to a good start.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, after two years of blogging I can't remember and can't be arsed to look, but for each story I write I put it in a file of its own along with a small excel document to track where I've sent it. Each has a status. There's 'pending', 'rejected', 'accepted' (this, of course, appears only once) and the much loved 'rejected with comments'. In the past few days I've received two of these bad boys.

RevolutionSF (who have published the likes of Gene Wolfe and Ray Bradbury) rejected Earworm Turns saying:
"I like your writing style, and the story kept me engaged to the end."

Which was nice.

And I received my first non-standard rejection from F&SF (Stephen King, Daniel Keyes, Ray Bradbury again) who rejected No Longer Living while saying:
"There's nice writing here."

So there we go. I seem to be impressing the right people, now if only they'll bloody accept something I've written.

Oh, well, Promises, Promises is off the production line. Let's see what they make of that.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Almost Something

This time next week I'll be 25 and 25 is feeling like the next chapter of my life.

I'm not one to worry about my age. I look back and find a number of short stories behind me, a novel that is progressing, another waiting in the wings and four aborted ones; a time of skills being built, groundwork being done. I don't see my youth as wasted and know there's still a good few years of youth ahead of me that I plan on turning into something to be proud of. I look forward, almost, to turning thirty and seeing what I've achieved in the next five years.

Two of the track titles of Amanda Palmer's album have been haunting me this week.

A Short History on Nearly Nothing
A Short History of Almost Something

I know which one of those I want to be able to call my life and though right now I find the redrafting a bit tedious, tiresome etc it's still groundwork that needs to be done and I'm determined to have something at the end of it that will make the past five years make sense.

In this new injection of passion (thank you, Amanda) I gave my new short story Promises, Promises to some people at work who said that they enjoyed it and gave a few pointers and some helpful criticism. I've spent the past week implementing them. Hopefully, it's near completion, I'm putting it aside one last time to see how the changes I've made settle into everything else, make a few changes and then it's off to Weird Tales.

The novel is still going. I've just bought a new printer. This one plugs right into my laptop! Before, I had to save my stuff on the memory stick, go to my old laptop and then print it out as my printer couldn't connect with my current laptop. But this one does! And it prints so fast! How did I survive without it?

My mind is still plagued with doubts about the first chapters of Act Two, I see things I don't quite like and I'm annoyed that there's still changes to be made and then get more annoyed when I don't sit still and make those changes because I want this thing finished. I feel I'm getting to that point where if I edit these parts anymore I'm going to start damaging it. I think they're almost as good as they're going to get. I need to move on to the next part but I'm terrified that they're not good enough.

Man up, boy, I tell myself. Don't be afraid of sending stuff out into the world, you've sent out worse and these days your worst is another person's 'not bad'.

Need to get back to work. 25 is looming and I'm going to use the last of 20-24 as something to look back at, nod and think Almost Something.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Rejections and Promises

A fairly productive week this week.

I finished working through the second draft of the first half of Act Two. The last two chapters aren't great and may need to be redone but that's because I'm setting up things for the second half. As soon as I get a new printer I'll print out chapters 21-30 and do a third draft read-through and see how it stands.

I was rejected by F&SF and Weird Tales this week, which was nice. Those stories are going elsewhere now and this weekend I'm doing a final draft of Promises, Promises which is looking to be a very strong story if I can just get the ending right.

Joe Abercrombie has a great entry on his blog about his second drafts. In a word, Intimidating.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

My Own Little World

For the past hour I've been writing with the light off. The only light comes from the glow monitor and the only sounds are the gentle rush of traffic outside, the hum of the heater beside me, heating my cold room and my fingers on keys. Nice to be in my own little world for a bit.

But now it's time to switch the light back on. Grrrr. But this week has been good. I'm roughly half way through Act Two and its ok. I'm a bit apprehensive about the second half but I'll deal with that next week.

No new rejections and I still haven't sent RWBW to Black Static. My printers out of ink and I just want to get a new one. I should also get a couple of lamps.

What do you get the man who has everything? Lamps, it would seem.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Meeting with the Man

All is going well, this week.

Still in the swing of Act Two, a wobble here and there, there are still bits I'm not happy with, that I don't find convincing just yet but I feel I'm coming to a point that for some scenes I'm going to have to move on, leave them alone and see to them in the third draft. That the story and everything that happens in them is fine, it's just the language I don't like and that's what draft three will be about. Draft two is about the story, Graeme, let draft three sort itself out when the time comes.

Cemetery Dance rejected me with a standard letter, which is nice. It's been a while since I've heard from any mag, I was beginning to worry. RWBW will go off to Black Static next, I reckon.

And, of course, yesterday, I went to the Terry Pratchett signing and was so excited about talking to himself I almost cried. It was a bit weird because after all he's just a guy but I asked him why his bog computer had six monitors and he told me it was like having a big desktop (I'm paraphrasing here). Instead of all that minimizing windows and such it's just easier and more intuitive to have the window on another screen. Plus, when you have six big screens with the Matrix screensaver it looks awesome. He signed my book, we both agreed we disliked editing and left it at that.

Was nice to have seen him. Will hopefully have more news next week, maybe I'll even be working on a new bit of the novel I haven't before. That'd be nice.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Buggerallto Report


little to report this week. Now that I'm sort of back in the swing of novelling I was hoping for a relaxing weekend writing. Instead, I had a relaxing weekend of sleeping and being ill.

Doubts still linger with the book, blah, blah, blah, I'm not enjoying this why would the readers etc, etc. But I'm shoving all those deep down and just getting on with it.

The magazines are quiet. Kinda worried that they just haven't received the stories. I can't wait to get a good old rejection.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Reconciling our differences

You are now reading the blog of a published author. Twisted Tongue # 11 went out Friday night and I couldn’t be more pleased. I’ve got the free PDF version and am going to get a couple of printed copies for prosperity. I can’t believe how a short a piece it was, barely over a magazine page. Looking back, it seems quite raw and I find that almost cute.

Other stories are still with mags, haven’t heard back from them yet, should chase up a couple today.

For those of you who are regular readers (or have been in my vicinity at any time these past few months) you’ll know I’ve been in a crisis, worrying about my writing, especially about my novel. I’m slowly getting back to my old self, trying to just sit and have fun with it rather than angsting over every word. It’s slowly beginning to work I think, but it would be nice for those magazine editors to write back and tell me my most recent stuff is quite good. I need a bit of a morale boost.

Just playing about with Promises at the moment, trying to make it a bit better. As usual these days I don’t think its great but can’t for the life of me really see what’s wrong with it, I just wish it was better. I’ll just have to submit it and see. Will hopefully have a draft done in the next couple of days then back to the novel.

Just need to keep my nose to the grindstone and hope it all comes out fine in the end.

Thanks for reading.

And I suppose I should mention it. A friend of mine from work died last week and I miss her a lot. She was always there to smile and enthuse about books and things with me in the tea room. Things just won’t be the same without her.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Thinking Hard, Thinking Soft

Been a while since I posted.

I've been on holiday the past week. By holiday I mean from my day job. Been staying at my parents in the country writing for about 5 - 7 hours a day. Can't say I got as much done as I'd like but I at least got some done.

I was givcn some nice advice about writing a couple of weeks ago in Bloomsbury Bowling Alley of all places. Well, actually, the girl was talking about bowling but it all boiled down to the same thing. The amateurs, she said, start off better than the pros because they don't care. The pros over think the ams just have a laugh and do well.

Though I don't want to call myself a pro (rumour is that Twisted Tongue # 11 starring your truly is released tomorrow) but I think being published has caused a change. Now I look at everything I do, especially the novel, and ask will this we published? Always the answer is no. I see a small error, get pissed off and end up rewriting and being annoyed that that isn't perfect either. But the truth is, and always has been, nothing I write will ever be word perfect, nothing anyone writes is ever word perfect. I have to reacquaint myself with that fact.

I've been trying to keep that in mind while I've been going back to the novel. it's worked to a degree but I just have to try and go back to enjoying myself, knowing that it isn't perfect but it's still damn good (in my opinion). All I can do is my best and hope its good enough, not my best and tell myself is shit and start over again.

Everything else is fine. Something Wicked have Of The Father and Weird Tales have No Longer Living.

Thanks for Reading.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Sweet Blessed Relief

Well, it turned out that there was something wrong with Do All Prey Dream, just as I had foreseen. Everything, everything was wrong.

So, I've worked my way through it, gave it the usual third draft treatment of pacing up and down my room, reading it aloud and making changes. I took out long pages and almost halved the bloody thing, changed the ending and changed the entire sentiment. There's a lot there still intact but a lot has changed. And it's now called No Longer Living. I'll start sending it out soon, I haven't yet decided on a first but probably one of the biggies. I'll get started on redrafting Promises, Promises tomorrow.

The novel is sitting on the sidelines, waiting patiently. I look forward to going back to it and enjoying the fresh look time apart will give me. Also, spending time doing a third draft of a story has reminded me how much I'll change in that draft so it's reassuring that though much of the novel's second draft is pants that'll get fixed in the third. Aaaah, sweet blessed relief.

Another rejection this week from Revolution SF:

"There's a lot of good writing here but the story just didn't grab me."

So, standard fair there. I'm going to send it on to Something Wicked next.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

On a Break

Me and the novel have decided to see other people for a month.

I've just been struggling with it for so long (the past 3 months!) that I think it's best to put it aside for a month and have another crack at it later. It's quite disappointing to have to do that but hopefully it's for the best and I'll go back and see exactly what needs doing and all will be well.

In the meantime, I've had a look through Do All Prey Dream? One of my short stories that's been sitting on my To Do pile for months. I've always been suspicious of it as it's the one story that came out near perfect in the first draft. Reading it again, I'm worrying if it's not a little bit boring. Really going to have to get some second opinions before I start sending it out to magazines.

Also written the first draft of a new story Promises, Promises. I'm happy with the first third but the rest needs work. It's not just the story it's the feel I really want to nail in this one. I want it bittersweet and I'm not sure as yet if I can achieve that.

Anyway, back to it.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

First you get the credit

For those of you that kept up with the Waterstone's What's Your Story competition, it was a surprise to no one that I didn't win. I did quite like the winners, especially The Day a Robot Appeared in the Vegetable Patch.

But, I did promise to post up my entry on the blog if I didn't win, so you'll be able to find it at the bottom.

The novel is still going. Really tired of it at the moment. "What? It needs even more work?" I cry. I really, really, really want to work on something else but I really, really, really shouldn't. Yes, there's still a lot of work to be done, yes, I could never get a penny from it in the end. But it needs to be done. I just need to man up and slog on.

Of The Father is now going to Revolution SF. I went through a long list of mags suggested by the Horror Writers Association, starting with the pro mags, then the pro zines, then the semi-pro mags, then the semi-pro zines. I judged all the ones I thought might like Of The Father on the following criteria a) who else have they published? b) How much do they pay? c) does the mag look good?

Revolution SF pays nothing and looks, well it's just text on a screen pretty much, but they have published Gene Wolfe in the past and it's kudos like that I'm looking for. Cash is nice but it's credit I need, I just hope cash will one day follow.

Anyway, here is the story. I hope you enjoy.



By Grey Freeman

I was waiting for you to leave, a small smile touching my lips as I watch the last of you switch off the lights, slipping the bookshop back into dark velvet.

The books began to talk; the sports biographies catcalling from their shelves, wolf whistling to the blushing romance novels.

My friends, the children’s books, whisper “DON’T!” as I sneak out from between my pages and the shop falls into horrified silence as my pen begins to murmur across the card left behind on the dark shop counter.

It is not our place, we books, to create. Ours is to perform, to re-enact our stories for you again and again. But tonight, I am free to read and to imagine. While you are gone, I am free to write.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Stone in my Hand

A late post. I was in Barcelona, dancing it up.

I've just finished a rather bad book. It's not out yet but it will be (in the US at least). I won't name names, I'm not that mean, the author spent time making something and I'm sure they loved doing it. But I hated it.

I thought the idea was mediocre and the characters under developed. I didn't care about them and never actually understood their motivations or anything about the world they inhabited. It was lazy and ill-conceived with characters doing odd things and making odd decisions just so they could progress the plot along, their choices leading to capture or stumbling across important plot points they wouldn't have found otherwise. Anyway, it was very bad and it annoyed me that it actually has been picked up by a large US publishers.

What's worse is that after I finished it I picked up my own manuscript to work on it. I'm currently rereading chapters 21-25 to give them a polish. But when I looked at it it was like 'The dirt's still on me! The dirt's still on me!' I became terrified that I might be making all the same mistakes. I don't think I am. I hope I'm not. I try hard to get across my characters points of view, I rewrite whole chunks according to how I think my characters would react, letting them drive the plot, not the other way around.

I suppose there's a thin line between good writing and bad writing. Maybe, what I didn't like about the book was the author's flimsy grasp of story structure and not their actual writing. In short, I'm not sure if I can throw stones, I'm checking my walls to make sure they're not made of glass.

I'll just have to have confidence that what I'm doing is better.

Anyway, the novel is progressing, heard nothing from TT so I assume that's progressing nicely and I haven't heard from Waterstones. I'm beginning to think I haven't won. Oh, well, I'll post my entry on the blog as soon as its confirmed I didn't.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

The Joy of Admin

Hello again.

Another short post.

Things are ticking along nicely, writing (a bit too slowly for my liking) some new scenes for Act Two at the mo with an eye for cutting out a whole bunch later on when I reach them. After watching Hancock, which I thought could have been amazing but it didn't develop its ideas, I decided to lose an entire character from the story so I have to go back and rewrite bits of Act One to omit them.

Now I have to go write a short bio for Twisted Tongue.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Middle of the Road

Hello all.

As of this morning, I semi-officially reached the halfway mark of the novel. I still need to look back over my last stint of work and much will still need to be changed but I'm happy with what I've done (I said that about it in the first draft, but still).

Looking into the second half of Act Two now. Much needs to be done, things set up for part three and generally cutting out bits that have been altered by new events in the first half. It's all very daunting, but hey, I'll worry about that in the morning.

Nice to reach a landmark.

Other than that, I've not heard any more from Twisted Tongue. I'm assuming that means that everything is fine and Waterstones have yet to get in touch but haven't declared the winners yet so I'm also thinking of that as a good sign.

I'm all about the optimism.

Also, friend Rob has another poem in the TLS this coming Thursday. Bravo to him. I may poison him at the barbeque next weekend. Someone has to stop that poetry-writing juggernaut.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Back on Track

My internet was down last week, hence no blog.

Which is nice since I didn't have much to say last week.

This week however has been a good one. The novel feels like it's back on track. I completely stormed it this weekend and got lots done and I'm feeling my usual happy self again.

I was rejected by Murky Depths, yesterday, which is a shame. They said it was good and that I'd done a fine job getting into the head of the main character but they're not looking for a story like it in that length. Or as Roy Walker would have put it "It's Good But It's Not Good Enough."

I think the problem is that though I am now good enough to be published, I am not published enough to be published.

Which makes my next piece of news very contradictory as I am being published. Twisted Tongue got back to me and said that they would love to publish me. Aces. I shall be in their August issue and if I make editor's choice I'll get £10! Hurrah! I'm happy more for the kudos of course, to have one publishing credential on my covering letter shall be a right feather in my cap and no mistake and editor's choice would be even nicer.

They've asked for a short bio but I meekly requested to hold off until I find out whether or not I can also put Waterstones WYS competition winner. Let's see people talk that Roy Walker smack at me if I win that!

Right, I'm off to bed. A friend was kind enough to get me a copy of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (out in October *scoff* *scoff*). I'm really enjoying it, the beginning was excellent but I'm only two chapters in. I shall report more next week.

Thanks for reading,


Grey Freeman (soon-to-be-published-author *scoff* scoff*)

Sunday, 15 June 2008


Hello again.

you can now read my short story Paperbound on the Waterstones 'What's Your Story' website. Just type in 'Williams' (my actual surname) under surname and there it shall be. Now I just have to sit and wait and will hopefully get an email beginning of next month telling me I've won. I'm cautiously optimistic about winning, I think it's a fair piece I've entered but it only takes two people to be better than me I suppose. Oh, well, here's hoping.

I'm tired this week. I've put a lot of work in. I tore down the beginning to Act Two (again) and have rewritten about 40 pages from scratch. It seems to be working. The beginning was too complex in its original incarnation, now I've simplified it and suddenly the whole thing seems more streamlined, will hopefully be able to start linking it up to later parts and just get on with the whole thing.

That's it really, not much to report. Stories are still with mags and I'll get some replies soon. I have a good feeling that some things might start going my way. But then that's no different than all the other times.

Got a load of new books to read, so I'd better go and make a start on them. Yan Martel's Life of Pi for starters. Nice.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Adverb Users Anonymous


My name is Grey and I am an adverb user.

I've known for a long time now that using adverbs is wrong in prose. That 'shouted loudly' and "Piss off", he said, angrily" are near cardinal sins in the profession. Using these blunt, clumsy adverbs are an addiction I had long ago thought I had conquered.

Alas, it seems that what I have done instead is hidden my addiction to them even from myself. I have merged my aversion to adverbs with the treatise of 'show not tell' creating lines such as "Piss off" he said, waving his arms in the air' I do this a lot and it is only recently that I have realised how wrong I am to do it. These bits of description in dialogue are unnecessary and I hereby vow to remove them, creating a more confident sounding novel that trusts that the readers know what my characters are feeling.

I still have a lot to learn.

In other news, I'm moving on to chapters 25-30 of the novel. 21-24 aren't done yet but I just can't see what's wrong with it, I only know that it's something fundamental. I can't see the paragraphs through the words. I'll go back another time and hopefully the answer will be right there waiting for me and I'll be able to fix it.

Short stories are still all with mags and I'm awaiting responses soon and the Waterstone's competition still hasn't posted my story on the site yet (they post all of the entries, I think).

Right, that's it from me. I'm tired and frustrated and need to relax.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Learning by Degrees?

Just had a very awkward converstaion/argument in the pub.

The beauty of being an unpublished writer is that until you actually are published everyone feels qualified to tell you how to do it. And even when you are published I doubt that'll change much.

It's like people who assume they're good at music because they have loads of CDs or can boom out advice at the football players on television even though they themselves are fat, drunk people who have never really left their armchair in twelve years.

As you can see, the argument has riled me a little. But that doesn't mean I didn't listen to their points of view. They're comments have given me pause for thought and made me rethink my position on writing. Sometimes when this happens I rethink my standpoint, in this case I just came back to the same conclusion I had before but thought of all the things I should have said at the time (always the way).

The girls' stance (baring in mind that they have never read anything I've written) was that to be a good writer you need to learn philosophy and psychology, possibly even to a degree level. One so you can broach interesting issues, the other so you can understand what makes people tick and write how they would react.

When asked to name famous author's that have done this names were few and far between. No, that's being too diplomatic, one name came up: Jostein Gaarder who wrote Sophie's World subtitled A Novel about the History of Philosophy. I'm not sure if they knew that that was the subtitle or just hadn't considered it.

The stance I take is this: learning about these things don't make you good at writing novels, they just make you good at writing about psychology or philosophy. Yes, I imagine that learning psychology would make you better at understanding psychology. But how much do you really need to know to write a good story, make deep, interesting characters? If a character is punched around the face do I need to crack open a basic text book on psychology to find out how they would react? Or would they hit back, run away, cry or do any of a million things depending on the context, who hit them, who that person is etc?

Of course psychology and philosophy will make you better, perhaps, at writing some things, but I suspect they'll only really make you better at psychology and philosophy. Should I also study biology to have a better idea of how a frog hops or a sheep bleats? Or shall I just say what I just said knowing full well that the reader will know what I mean when I say 'the frog hopped'.

There's no doubt that research needs to be done on subjects to create a good novel, to make them live and breath but research is secondary to writing. Research is a tool, not an end in itself. When I'm writing about someone who is psychologically disturbed I'll do the research (hell, I have done. RWBW had someone suffering Munchausen Syndrome and I did my research). When I'm writing from the point of view of a philosopher I'll look into philosophy. At some point I'll have to look at farming techniques for my novel.

The point I think I have to make in the end is that you write the books you want to read. Gaarder (I'm reading here) contributed to textbooks on philosophy before he went near fiction. In the end he wrote a book he wanted to read and he did it well. Good for him.

Now, I'm going to write a book I want to read. It won't be about psychology or philosophy, it'll be about what I'm interested in: people and hopefully all that they entail, lovely, wondrous creatures that they are.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

The Form and The Function

It's been all about the desk clearing, this week.

I've had so much on my plate with adminy type things to do that I've been finding it difficult to concentrate on the novel. I suppose being a writer does involve some small amount of paper work but where's the justice in that? I'm meant to be sitting pontificating over a big mug of tea creating believable characters and worlds not writing the covering letters and synopsise to go with them!

Well, that's exactly what I've had to do. So a couple of days were put aside writing covering letters for Earworm Turns and RWBW to send with my submissions. I really don't like writing synopsise, feels like you're sucking the life right out a story exactly when you need it most. This was especially difficult for Earworm Turns as the concept is really quite simple. Man hears song on tube, thinks its the best thing he's eve heard, goes mad trying to find it. See? Not exciting at all but it makes sense if you actually read it!

Anyway, they're done now. Earworm Turns is off with Interzone. RWBW hasn't gone to Cemetery Dance yet as they insist on you sending an SAE complete with US stamps. Of course, you can't get US stamps in the UK and USPS (which the mag suggests) no longer post stamps outside the US. So, I'm asking a favour of a friend from work to bring some back for me after she's gone to Boston. (Thanks Audrey!)

I did get a little break, however. Waterstones is doing a big writing competition 'What's Your Story' where you submit a very short story on one of their special postcards.
If you win you'll have the story printed in a small book of postcards alongside some big authors who have done the same: Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, Nick Hornby, Margaret Atwood and such and runners up have their cards displayed in the shop windows nationwide.

So, I've already written my entry but I've been obsessing over how to present it. Shall I handwrite it? Type it up and stick it to a card, submit electronically?
I think the story in itself is fine but for something so short (134 words) it needs a little more atmosphere; more form. So I went through all the fonts on Word and chose the one that looks like it a) was written by hand because my handwriting is rubbish b) looks like it was written in pen and c) makes capital letters look bigger than lowercase letters.

I chose Freestyle Script in the end and I'll send it off next week after people I've sent it to give me back comments. If I don't win I'll post up the story on the blog. Can't say fairer that that!

As for the novel, I'm really not enjoying it still. Finding it really hard to get to grips with it. I'm hoping that now all the adminy things that needed doing are done it'll free up some headspace and I'll be able to dedicate myself more fully to it again. I'm printing it off now to get a different perspective on it. *Sigh* I think we need some kind of marriage counsellor.

Well, that's all from me!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

All in front like a wheelbarrow

Well, what is there to say?

Still editing the first few chapters of Act Two. It's going well. Think I'm a bit faster at the whole process now I know what I'm doing.

Rob returned the first chapter of Act One, complete with scribbled notes. The gist is 'the story is fine, just needs a polish' which I knew already. Quite a relief, really.

The Earworm Turns is now complete and I'll send that off to Interzone sometime in the next week after I've written a good enough covering letter. Finding that a bit difficult as it really is quite a simple premise and I don't think it sounds interesting unless you actually read it (and even then, I'm not so sure).

Murky Depths got back to me after I sent them the synopsis for Of The Father. They said they would like to see it. The Managing Editor even remembered I'd sent in something before but he suggested that I give Of The Father one last look through and see if I could cut it down before sending it as he thought that RWBW was a little overlong. I was a little miffed at that. I'd spent all that time editing it in the first place and he thought it still might need more? So I looked the story through; 1,400 words came out. It was a whole scene that came out plus about three other sentences. Anyway, that's been sent.

I also gave RWBW another look through before I send it to Cemetery Dance (again with a covering letter, I hate covering letters). About 700 words came out of that as well.

I suppose that's what editors are for. To make us writers look good.

So, hopefully, I'll be getting an acceptance for something soon.

Here's hoping.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Finely Polished Words, in the pursuit of

A slightly late post this week.

It's been a fairly busy week this week. After the initial flurry of activity editing Act Two has frankly become a bit of a bitch. It's like starting a roll of sticky tape; I've just been skimming the surface unable to get my nail back underneath where it needs to be. It's getting easier, however, and I'm slowly getting back into it as I go.

I've written in new scenes I thought were needed, there's one I'm not sure will remain, there's a good chance it will get cut. Truth is I've never been sure about it, it breaks the flow of the story a little, I feel, but I really like the message it gives, I enjoy its juxtaposition with the status quo of the rest of the story, how human it is. So right now it has to stay until I either a) give in and delete it regardless or b) manage to fit the message in a different way. So that means it's just a massive A4 post-it note reminding me to try and get that message in.

In other news RWBW was rejected again. This time by Future Fire who said (and I quote):

"This was a well-written and convincing horror story, with nicely fleshed out characters and clever, well-paced narrative; the finale was especially chilling. However, the theme and content are not really what we are looking for in the magazine."

So that's 2 mags that loved the ending to 1 that hated it. A victory to me (for now).

That's all there is to report really this week. All there is left to do is copy and paste this section from Neil Gaiman's blog (link here to the full thing) which I found especially comforting and useful about the second draft stage.

"On the second and subsequent drafts, you do four things. 1) You fix the things that didn't work as best you can (if you don't like the climactic Rock City scene in American Gods, trust me, the first draft was so much worse). 2) You reinforce the themes, whether they were there from the beginning or whether they grew like Topsy on the way. You take out the stuff that undercuts those themes. 3) You worry about the title. 4) At some point in the revision process you will probably need to remind yourself that you could keep polishing it infinitely, that perfection is not an attribute of humankind, and really, shouldn't you get on with the next thing now?"

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Business and Pleasure

Good morning,

it has been a busy week this week. I am back on form and continuing to write away.

I've started to look over the first chunk of Act Two. It's as thin as the paper it's printed on and makes me cringe so I seem to be basically rewriting it and a new character is going to be inserted to replace an older one that I don't feel fits in with the story anymore. It's annoying to have to do so much rewriting but I guess it has to be done. I can't believe I was really that shit a year and a half ago when I wrote it. Can't wait to improve even more and say that about the stuff I'm doing now.

Today, Sunday, I'll be taking it easy. I'm taking three hours to look over Earworm Turns and hopefully it'll pass inspection and I'll be able to send it to Interzone.

At the moment I've been finding it difficult getting my work / play balance right. You see I write an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening and so if I go out for whatever reason on a weekday then that's an hour of writing down the plug hole. That means that I get a bit panicky even though I'm having a good time that I haven't been keeping up with my writing.

I've been out twice this week; once to go on a pub crawl and the other to go see Iron Man (very entertaining) so that was two hours behind. So I've had to make it up to myself this weekend.

It's very much a damned if you do damned if you don't kind of thing. I feel annoyed when I don't have any plans to go out and when I do I'm worrying about my writing. The only two logical courses of action are 1) give up writing (yeah, right) or 2) become a best-selling, rich author so I can quit my job and have my evenings free. I'd best go for the latter, though there's the massive chance it will never happen and so I'll have to live like this forever.

Decisions, decisions.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Another Day, Another Adjective

Well, the weekend is almost over, thank god.

The Earworm Turns is almost finished, I think. I haven't been in the best of moods the past few days so it's hard to say. I think it's come out quite well, a few little bits might still need changing I think it's just my black mood stopping me from seeing the story and it's faults clearly.

So, I'm going to put it to one side and look at it again next weekend. I should hopefully be in a better mood by then, it's more a case of bruised ego rather than a shattered one so a week of work and a couple of nights out should wash the bitter taste of this weekend from my mouth.

Printing off Act Two as I'm blogging. Again, I should be excited about going back to work on it. I was on Thursday, but the mood I'm in now is clouding that.

Right, what I need now is to go downstairs, have something nice to eat, watch some good telly, play a good game, have a nice chat with someone who thinks I'm a good guy and generally start to recover.

Oh, and watch the clock tick down closer to the release of GTA4.

Thanks, as ever, for taking the time to read this.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

A Weekend of Two Halves

I'm completely shattered.

Camden Crawl was a real blast and I had a really good time running around seeing bands, celeb spotting, drinking, dancing and laughing with a good crowd of friends.

Managed to get some writing done. The redrafting of Earworm is going very well and I should hopefully manage to finish it by next week.

I received two rejections from magazines this weekend. Here's the first:

Dear Mr Freeman,

Thank you for submitting "RWBW" but I'm afraid I'm going to pass on it. This tale didn't grab my interest, I'm afraid. Good luck to you with this one, and thanks for sending it our way.


Fantasy and Science Fiction

A bit harshly worded I'm sure you would agree but this was word for word the same as their last rejection so it sounds like their standard message.

Here's the second one:

Dear Graeme,

Many thanks for submitting 'Of The Father' for consideration by The Future Fire. We enjoyed this story very much, but have regretfully decided not to take it for publication.

Although this is a very moving, convincing, and well-crafted horror story with an ominous and poignant twist developing gradually (rather than slapping the reader in the face at the end as many cheap and patronising stories do), ultimately it is not quite in the social/political vein that we are looking for in The Future Fire at the moment. This is not a criticism of the story, and we hope very much that you will consider sending us more of your work in the future, as I strongly suspect we will find something appropriate that we can use one day.

Many thanks again, and hope to hear from you again.


The Future Fire

Much more encouraging. I read this one over a few times. So what now? Easy. RWBW will go to Future Fire (once I've double-checked their submission requirements) and Murky Depths have started asking for stories up to 10,000 words long so I'll send Of the Father to them. Brilliant.

Back to work.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Back Behind the Laptop

And I'm back from a lovely trip to Singapore. Feel quite strung out at the moment from jetlag but that'll pass and I've had a quiet day to recuperate before I go to the Camden Crawl festival tomorrow.

I saw lots of nice things, enjoyed the nice weather and friendly people and read a couple of nice books. I read Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill on the plane. I really enjoyed it, I found it a good story and thought it a very competent first novel, I'd like to think it was written around the standard I'm writing now, it may be I'm talking arse but it was encouraging and I'll definitely get the second book Twentieth Century Ghosts to see in what ways he's improved between writing the two.

Like I said I did a little work on the plane there and back on some short stories, I got my Mum to read them and tell me what she thought, summarised below [my thoughts in these brackets]:

The Red Samaritan: Interesting, felt sorry for the main character, didn't quite get the world they were in though and didn't quite get the ending.

[I need to change the tense from past to present, the general idea is good, needs a good work through to add details to bring it to life and bring it up to my current standards. I'm glad Mum liked the main character because I wasn't so sure, I need to make the secondary character more interesting. I've been too subtle with the 'plot twist' and need to explain some things a bit more blatantly].

Do All Prey Dream?: [I've been worrying about this one. When I read it through I could barely find a thing wrong with it. This made me very suspicious. it has to be wrong, I said to myself, it has to be. My Mum's thoughts can be put in the following conversation]

Me: So, what did you think?
Mum: It was alright. It was a bit sick in places, like he had a thing for his wife.
Me: He was sick, he did have a thing for his wife, that was the point.
Mum: Oh.

Later she went on to say she liked the way I did one scene and thought the perversion parts needed to be embellished and needed a slower build. I agree with her unreservedly.

Earworm: My Mum loves this one. [I don't think it's my best but I've decided to single this one out for finishing. A few changes to scenes, a few details added and embellished and I could hopefully have it ready within a week. Possibly the first that might get picked up, it certainly appeals to a wider audience, I reckon.].

So that's it. I'll have to go back to the other two at a later date.

Mum and Rob have started reading Act One (so they tell me). I'm glad I've given it to them, since I have I've started to argue with them in my head, thinking on what points they could raise and whether or not I agree with them. It's raised a couple of small issues from my subconscious that I need to work on but nothing big, we'll just have to see what they actually say, hopefully some very useful things.

Right. Back to work. When I got back I was so glad to be properly writing with everything I need to work on these projects I almost cried. It's so, so good to be writing again. The holiday was a good chance to recharge and taught me a couple of important things.

a) I absolutely love writing and couldn't be me without it
b) but it's ok to have a break from it every now and again.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Live from Singapore

A very quick post.

I'm in Singapore.

It's mostly made of shopping malls and Starbucks. Will make a proper post on my return.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Feeling Strangely Fine

I think Act One is nearly done. Yes, I've said that many times before but this time I mean in (no, really, really).

Today I just have to add some final details to a couple of scenes I don't think are quite done and then tomorrow I'm going to read it all through and hopefully declare it 'good enough for the time being' and then I'll return to it in a few months after I've finished with Acts Two and Three.

So hopefully on Sunday afternoon / evening I'll be able to email the results to my copy-editor Judith (more commonly known as Mum) and my all-round reader and criticiser Rob (poet extraordinaire, who was nice enough to sign a copy of that book he's in New Writing from the Royal Holloway Creative Writing Programme Bedford Square 3. Foreword by Andrew Motion). Hopefully they shall read it and find it good and I can get on with Act Two.

I'll be taking a little time off, of course, I'm off to Singapore for a week. I'll take some of my half-completed short stories with me to see if I can finish them off (titles: Do All Prey Dream?, Earworm and The Red Samaritan). That means when I do finish the novel I'll have a bit of a cleaner slate to start on some new projects.

Also have to be sure to print off another copy of RWBW to send to F&SF Magazine before I go.

Right, back to work. I'm feeling a bit groggy today, I think someone spiked my drink at The Roxy last night. But that's another story all together.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

So much for make-believe

I have to give it to them, Shimmer Magazine were very quick to respond when I sent them RWBW. I only wish that they had accepted it. Editor Beth sent it back with the comment

"I've read quite a few stories where priests consider their faith; it's really hard to make such a classic story feel fresh."

A fair enough comment, I suppose. If that's how she felt about my story then that's how she felt. It was only to be expected as they have a long list of things that they don't want to see which will make me scrutinise their magazine much harder next time to find out exactly what it is they do want. They seem awfully picky (would I be saying that had they accepted? Perhaps not.).

The worrying thing about the comment, I guess, is that her comment which can be summarised as 'your story isn't original' is near the opposite of what Murky Depths said about the same story 'fairly original,' (or something).

It's strange having my work getting such mixed comments, so which of them is right? It's bringing a lot of worries to the surface about the novel. How will agents and editors look at it and decide whether it's good enough? All these writing tips pages say to get it as good as you can. But how good do they mean? I can keep writing and fixing and drafting but will it still get rejected if it has, say, 15 minor errors like typos and misplaced punctuation? Will it then get rejected, commentless, leaving me to wonder why it got rejected when all it needs is a slightly better copy edit rather than an extensive rewrite? Is it like a driving test? One major mistake or fifteen minors and you fail?

I can only try my best in the end but still it's causing me some concern at the moment. Plus, as each rejection comes and goes I'm becoming less and less enamoured with the stories doing the rounds at the moment and I don't think the next batch are any good either. Maybe the third generation shorts will have potential....

Oh well, bugger it. Back to work.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

So that was Easter

I blinked and I missed it!

Posting a little late this week, I spent the holiday at my parents. Nice to be with my family again and see a few friends I've not seen in a while, but I always get stressed because I don't have a writing nook, a little quiet sanctuary to hide away in when I need to get my writing done.

The novel is getting along, a few more chapters as good as I can make them for now. There are still a few scenes I'm not 100% on but hopefully if I look at them again in a few months I'll either have forgotten why I didn't like them or have come up with a solution. Anyway, I'm hoping Act One is almost finished (I mean it this time) and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into Act Two.

Weird Tales rejected me, perhaps I'm aiming too high submitting to these high-end mags... Nah, you gotta aim high otherwise what's the point? So RWBW has gone to Shimmer Magazine.

Only a quick post today. Things are simply ticking over.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Shake it all about

There's nothing much to report at the moment. The weekend was very productive, scenes were rewritten and now I'm reading through them adding in a few details here and there, taking out or replacing a few words that I didn't feel were exactly right.

I got to use an amazing new word, auscultations, in a sentence that makes what the word's meaning very clear from the context, this has made me feel annoyingly smug.

Near the end of the weekend I had to get out of the house, even though the weather was miserable. It was either go outside or go insane, so I went for a walk.

Ann Vandermeer, editor of Weird Tales, has been ill recently, that's why she hasn't got back to me. Give it a week, maybe two before I get the rejection.

I'm about two-fifths into the final book of Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. I have to say when I started the first book Blade Itself I wasn't all that impressed and once I put it down I told everyone 'I liked it, I did, but ask me to tell you a single thing that happened.' But then I bought the second one Before They are Hanged and I loved it and I think I love the third one Last Argument of Kings just as much.

But in a strange way I wonder why. Sure the characters are well written, vivid and I have to find out what's happening to them in each of their personal adventures and get excited when I know two of them are about to cross paths. Sure it's well described, its clever, its funny, its astute. (A particular favourite line today. "They say that luck is a woman. She's drawn to those that least deserve her.")

But it's nothing I haven't seen before. There's nothing wrong with that, don't get me wrong, I love it, but why do I still get such warm and giggly feelings now when the common man underdog gets one over on the overbearing, unbearable toffs? I've read scenes like these more times than I can count but how come I'm still grinning like a nutter while I'm reading it on the tube? Because these are different toffs getting it in the ear from another underdog, I suppose. I guess it's like it is with people. Just because I have one friend doesn't mean I won't go out looking for more, it's those small variations that make things interesting. God is in the details.

Well, enough musing from me, back to work.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Too Hard?

Good morning!

At least it is while I write this.

I was having a lot of difficulty with editing recently. I was reading each line, cursing because I didn't think it was very good and then trying to exchange it for something better. It was all taking a very long time even to get a page done and I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it all.

Now here's a strange thing you didn't know about me; most of my epiphanies happen in the shower. When I was younger they happened when I was brushing my teeth, now its the shower. It's like my brains been working hard on something without consulting me and hands me the results with a rather self-satisfied smile on its face while I rub shampoo into my curly locks.

So here was the epiphany I had on Wednesday. I'm trying too hard. Editing needs a gentler touch than the one I've been giving it. I could sweat over a single sentence for hours over how Theo opens the door but I shouldn't be. If the sentence says clearly and concisely what needs to be said that's all that matters!

No matter what kind of story you're writing or whatever scene, horror, romance, comedy the sentences themselves don't matter. They need to be clear, of course, they need to give that crucial bit of info to create the image in the reader's head, but the horror or romance or comedy comes from the paragraphs, the story, not the sentences.

I recently finished reading Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay and there was one scene in particular that sent a chill down my spine. Now ask me to point out the one word or the one sentence that made that scene scary. I can't, of course I can't. It was the scene being described I found scary, the situation itself. I imagined myself in that situation (someone trying to break into your house while you're still inside, unable to see out the windows because your own reflection obscures the glass) and I got scared. That's how you write. That's how you make the reader feel what you want them to feel. Pretty, well chosen words are great and help to enhance but clear, well thought-over description beats all.

Right, with this newfound idea on editing and redrafting (which is working wonders) I have to go rewrite a few scenes.

Weird Tales still has my story RWBW. If they haven't got back to me by Wednesday I'll chase them. Also I'll be sending Of the Father to Shimmer magazine if I have time today.

Well, that's it from me.

No wait! I had a strange dream last night and the last thing I remember before my alarm woke me was a song. It had a kind of samba rhythm and the only lyric I recall was "I played my Xbox but it was a Kiss Box." Not the best lyric ever but it seems so... not like something I'd think I'm near convinced it's part of an actual song but can't find it anywhere on Google. Can anyone conform its real or am I just nuts?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Week Off Concluded

And what a week it was,

I had my first ever filling at the dentist and experienced my first ever earthquake. Nice.

I decided to have today off from writing.

At the stage that I'm at of the novel the creative part is very much over and it just feels that to get it done is simply a case of time and effort. This being the case I try and work as hard as I can for as long as I can but I do start to get exhausted but it still takes me a couple of days to pry my fingers off the pen.

Well, today I managed it. It really is the right thing to do, I'll go back to it tomorrow or Tuesday feeling refreshed and hopefully get another chunk done, hopefully, wrapping Act One completely. I've decided to rewrite the last two or three chapters of it. I want it to have a small feeling of climax at the end, a small victory for the good guys. Then, once Act Two starts I can start the build again to end in a bigger climax and then end Act Three with the Big Finish. That's the plan anyway.

I was really hoping to have Act One finished by the time I went back to work. There are two sides of me it seems, one wants the thing out the way as soon as possible, done and dusted so I can find out if people like it while another part of me wants everything to be perfect and wants to take its time and really make it something good. I seem to see-saw through them but in the end I think I'm grateful to 'perfectionist Grey' because all my favourite authors and directors and such are the same, they take their time and try to make something the best they can.

If only it didn't take so damn long.

Monday, 25 February 2008

The Week Off

There is very much to be said in this whole 'having time off from work' thing.

Today, I managed to have a whole 5 hours writing done, making a significant dent in reading through Act One, wandered into town and had a look around, bought Stardust on DVD (which also ticks the box 'remember what it was to love') and booked an appointment at the dentist.

I know what you're thinking. 'Wow, Grey, stop before you give yourself a heartattack!' Well, I enjoyed it, so get stuffed!

The read through's going well, Now have 12 chapters behind me that I'm pretty damned pleased with and I think is actually in a state to be sent off to an agent.

I won't, of course, want to have the whole thing finished before I send it but it has given me a sense of accomplishment, which makes a nice change. There's still a long way to go yet but I am, at least, going.

Two of my friends have sent me info on short story competitions, which was very kind of them, always nice to be thought of. It's just a pity I don't have any stories within the word limits at the moment.

Interzone rejected a story. They're either very efficient or didn't read the story at all. They didn't even bother to write the full title of the story at the top of the formal, standard slip. Most vexing. I'll have to look into finding a new home for Of the Father, I for one think its quite good.

On the other hand I'm still waiting on hearing back from Weird Tales. In two days they'll have had it for a month and in my experience they are good with rejecting stuff after long enough to make you think they read it but promptly enough so you don't chase them. If they don't reply soon I might start getting excited and start hoping that they're liking it and giving it some hard thought towards publication. Murky Depths liked it, maybe Weird Tales like it better (please, please, please).

Anyhoo, back to enjoying my week off. I wonder if all this writing and no actual work is what it feels like to be a real writer. I'm guessing not but it's fun to pretend.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 16 February 2008

A Lonely Business

The redraft of part one is printing as I type, so that means I'm a third of the way through the book. I decided that now is a good time to go back and edit so for the next few weeks I'm going to be reading through the print out and trying to make the whole piece as good as good can be before moving on to Part 2.

Things have been moving so slowly recently to be bordering on depressing. My head's full of doubts is this any good, is it too long, am I wasting my time? All that jazz. I tried reading some online writer's advice pages to see if I could find anything that would cheer me up, convince me that all these hours I could be out having fun at the pub / generally bumming around isn't actually a complete loss. If anything they depressed me more; talk of how some agents don't even read the manuscripts they're sent, how unlikely it is to get picked up by an agent at all, they get hundreds of manuscripts a week. It does make me want to scream. It's like being one person in a vast herd, all of us screaming 'I'm different!' to the agents up on their balcony, just another face in the crowd.

But I suppose I've just got to have faith in myself. I'll never know unless I try, eh? Plus, I've worked a slush pile before and a good 90% of the stuff was quite rubbish, sloppy and only half finished. People who have written the first draft and been so excited at finishing they've sent it off already. So, I'm convinced that sitting here taking my time over it is going to pay off.

Well, I'm not convinced really. There's still the chance this is a pants novel and no one will like it and I really aren't that great. But I think that about all my work and those nice people from Murky Depths seemed to like it.

Argh, tis a lonely business this writing malarkey.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Back in Black Font

I'm back.

My computer died quite unexpectedly last week. It just gave up and stopped working. I spent some time fearing for my files managed to have someone get them off the hard drive and was told the computer was beyond redemption. So now I have this rather spiffing new laptop that I hope will serve me well in the writing years to come.

Writing, as ever, is ongoing. I lost perspective last night on editing. I was only seeing the words in front of me and not what was had happened before and what was going to happen next. Luckily this seems to have happened just at the time when I'm coming to the end of redrafting the last few scenes of Act 1. So, I'm going to spend the next few days just re-reading the entire act to see how it holds up. I've read five chapters so far and it seems to be holding up quite well. Worried it might be a little dense but maybe that's just me. Remember that feeling when you see a film for the second time and it seems shorter than the first? I think that's what's going on here.

Got a few more ideas for the next novel which is exciting and still waiting to hear back from current magazines with my stuff.

Well, it's been a long weekend. Now I need to sleep.

Peace out.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Thirty Percent

While I'm writing this the third chunk of the novel is printing out for a final read-through. If it makes it past my inspection then I'll be 30% of the way through my second draft which feels a lot better than being 0% but not as good as, say, 70%.

I've found a small source of inspiration to keep on plugging away at it from Neil Gaiman's journal.
There's a big section on the archive harking back to when he was going through the final stages of writing American Gods which i think has one of the best beginnings to a novel ever. The journal only begins once it's actually been picked up and now he's going through the copy-edited manuscript and the reason it doesn't go back sooner, he says, is that it would be a very boring read.

"Feb 13th: wrote some stuff. It was crap."
"Feb 14th: wrote some brilliant stuff. This is going to be such a good novel. Honest it is."
followed by
"Feb 15th. no, it's crap"
and so on.

Which I can really relate to but makes me wonder about writing this blog... Hmmmm...

Anyway, I'm also ill. Those first few days of a cold when it really nails you so I've been sleeping quite a lot which is annoying. I've got pages to edit, dammit! And I've got to get dressed and do the shopping because I've got no food.

Oh, what a hard life I have! Writing and I have to go buy food! People in the third world have it so lucky!

Right, perspective-giving sarcasm over, I need sausages.

Monday, 21 January 2008

The Subtle Art of Being Rejected

Mixed feelings today.

Those of you with the canniness to read the title of today's post can probably already hazard a guess about what I'm going to be talking about.

Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine rejected my story Of The Father with a semi-polite slip of paper informing me that the story didn't really 'grip them' but urging me to continue sending my stuff to them. Pretty standard fare for a rejection note really and it has been added to the pile.

Murky Depths then wrote in soon after to, this time by email, to tell me that they too were going to pass on a story I sent them, RWBW, but with a more interesting response.

A bit of background needed here, I think.

I sent Murky Depths the story Contract a few months before, they rejected it but the editor who took the time said 'You have a gift for dialogue and I'd like to see more of your work.' Very encouraging, I grinned for about a week and told anyone who would listen (that's a lie, I just told everyone) what they had said.

With RWBW I tried to Utilise My Contacts in the Industry and sent the story straight to that editor instead of to their submissions email address. A month went by and still I didn't hear anything, their promised response time is 4 weeks. I chased but still received no reply until I sent a strong worded email to their submissions email. Not too strong worded just a 'look guys, still not heard anything, going to have to assume its a no' type message.

I got a reply quite quickly from Terry Martin the Managing Editor telling me that I'd been wrong to send it straight to an editor and should use the submission email like everyone else. So much for utilising contacts, I thought, feeling a bit of a prick. He did say though that he was feeling kind and would put my story at the top of the slush pile and I would hear within the week what they're decision was. That was two weeks ago.

So now they've rejected me and the lateness was understandable as the email came from Terry himself with notes from some of the other editors as the story had been good enough to go around the desks and hadn't just fallen at the first hurdle.

Here's what they had to say:

"This is really good. Very tense, the ending unexpected. Though I'm not sure if the theme is right for MD."

"This one seems to set up the tension well and the ending, though perhaps sudden, is a little different, but I don't know that it's a Murky Depths story."

"This has a good idea, but it takes an awful long time for it to play out. It might be better if the story started with the man coming in. Plus, it's very dialogue-heavy, and a lot of the narrative feels like it's just to pad the dialogue out. I'm not sure it's ready for publication at this time."

So there you have it. Very encouraging and some food for thought.

My only regret when I'm rejected is that really there are so few places to send short stories. There's maybe five big magazines and one story doesn't necessarily suit all of them. So say you have a story that appeals to only one of them, either by genre or subject matter or even word length, then it just takes that one person to reject it and the story feels sunk because you hardly have anywhere else to turn. Does anyone know of any good shorty story mags out there?

It's sad that short story publishing just isn't the industry I've been told it used to be.

But those are the breaks, I guess, I can either piss and moan or get back to work...

Back to work it is.

Thanks for reading.

Peace out.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Allow Myself to Introduce... Myself


So this is my new blog. For the past year or so I've had a blog on Myspace but thought that maybe I should move to having one on Blogger for the following reasons...

1. It reaches more people, not just the people who use Myspace. That's the point of a blog right? Getting lots of people to read it?

and 2. Doing it this way let's my blog screen look like author Neil Gaiman's. Brilliant! It's like being a real writer already.

Anyway, so what am I going to be talking about, some background.

I'm 24 years old, male and live in North London. Ever since I was around 7 I've been writing little stories on and off and adulthood has finally given me some discipline to actually try to write every day and get something published. I thought a blog would be nice to talk about what I'm writing, what I'm learning as I fumble my way through the process and maybe if I make it big then people will be able to look back at this and see what I was like back when I was just starting out.

So we're clear, I have no big dreams of stardom. Well, actually I do, who doesn't? But I'm prepared to take my knocks, I have a neat pile of rejections under my bed and all I really want is to be able to make a living doing what I love and perhaps give some reading pleasure to a few people out there.

Now, time to talk about more current events. At the moment I'm busy working on a novel, a science-fiction (I guess) for young adults going by the name These Twisted Designs. The title's not set in stone, I've changed it about once a month for the past three. This is the fourth novel I've written but the only one I've begun to build up the nerve to consider sending off to agents. The first draft is done and I'm currently stumbling through the vast forest of editing, try to turn my story into a novel.

I've also written a few short stories in recent times, which are currently sitting on the editor's desks of a few magazines. Of The Father (which I think was my best work of 2007) is on it's way to Fantasy & Science Fiction in the US, RWBW is with Murky Depths and Contracts is with Twisted Tongue. I've never been published before. I came close once but the magazine folded before my big debut.

I've also got a load of other stories in first draft form on the back burner but I'll talk on them as and when I get around to completing them.

Well, that's it from me for just now. Thank you very much for spending a few minutes reading my blog, I hope you come back soon and if you ever have questions or comments then please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Peace out, y'all.