Sunday, 20 December 2009

A quick catch-up

Just a quick update.

Still working on the final few chapters of the novel, still hoping to finish Act Two by the end of this year / very early in the new one. Think I'm still in for a chance to manage it even though lots of Christmas commitments have slowed me down this past week.

There've been no new rejections but I need to put another couple of irons in the fire and make sure to send a couple of stories off to magazines as soon as I can.

Chris Wooding has recently been putting up writer's tips on his blog, which have been very good, I've been enjoying them a lot. Catch them here.

Now it's off to see Avatar. I'm not expecting another Aliens or anything but hopefully it should be fun.

Hope you're all enjoying No Longer Living on RevolutionSF. It's no longer on the main page but has been shunted down into the archives but you can still find it here.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Author's First 'Review'

It's been a couple of weeks since No Longer Living went live on Revolution SF. Unfortunately, it is no longer on the front page, having made way for even more recent stories, but you can still find it here.

It also got its first 'review'. It was written by Michael Bey (no, not that one), one of RevSFs Fiction Editors, so it might not technically count, but I've been writing so long and waited so long for a review that I'm counting it.

He says:

"This is an exceptional zombie story. I like how it focuses on the personal anguish of the main character who is left to suffer with the death of a loved one day after day after day. Freeman doesn't pull his emotional punches with this one."

Which is nice.

In other news, I'm fairly confident that Act Two of the novel will be redrafted by Christmas, which is nice. Might even have the novel finished this time next year.

Abyss and Apex Magazine turned down Earworm Turns saying: "It was well received here, but after some thought we have decided not to accept it for publication."

Which is a shame. I'm taking this to mean "Good story, but wouldn't fit in with the rest of the mag."

So, that's it from me, for now.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

It has Arrived

No Longer Living has arrived.

It can be found on the front page (for now at least) on


Sunday, 1 November 2009

A Glimpse of Sunshine in November

Strange Horizons sent me a rejection today for Earworm Turns. So, I know, that means the title is a little misleading but SH has an acceptance rate of 0.92% so I'm not that annoyed. Abyss & Apex are next, whom I've never submitted to before so that should be interesting.

But today, I finished another sweep on Act Two and think that this might be The One. I shall begin reading it again tomorrow and hopefully the new novel structure will stand, then it's a case of tidying it up and then on to the third and final act.

It's days like this that I think I might actually finish this novel. So my head is full of dreams of literary agents and publishing contracts.

So today, I love writing.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

On Praise

A bit more of the novel is done. I hope.

There was a lot of sitting and thinking, thinking about what I was going to write and writing whenever a thought of what the next line should be popped into my head. But this was happening a lot slower than I would have liked and I thought back to the time of the first draft when 2,000 words felt like they took a minute. I would think about how Richard Laymon says it takes an hour to write a page if an average author is having a problem.

I've been talking to a few authors recently, or maybe that's rather, friends who write. Of them, two others have said they're having problems. One who says the stuff they write now isn't as good as the stuff they wrote before and the other professed that their second novel isn't as close to their heart as the first had been.

I think it's something to do with experience. We know we're capable of writing a story or a poem but are any of us capable of writing a good story or poem? We know what we're capable of, we see it everyday, but is that good enough? Could we be better? We want to see in our own work what we see in other people's. We think it's good but is it really? There's plenty of overconfident amateurs who think their new piece is The Bomb and then find they're the only person to think so and writers, who pride themselves (sometimes) on being overthinkers can think 'Hey, I like what I've done. I'm pretty good' and then think 'that’s how one of those overconfident writers think. Ulp!'

There have been stories that I've written and then read months maybe years later and thought to myself, 'hey, this isn't half bad' and actually enjoyed it but when you try to see that in something you're writing currently that very rarely happens.

That's where praise comes in. I think right now, I need some. Just some sign that what I've written is at least readable, if not actually good. I would even like a 'it isn't there yet but it has potential. You should do this, this and this then it’ll be good.'

But who to get it from? There are always friends, colleagues and family members (if you can persuade them to sit down and read what you've written, which is sometimes tricky if they have other things on). And if they say it's good? Then you don't believe them because they know you and don't want to criticise or perhaps don't know how to criticise beyond an 'I like it'. So it's the praise of strangers you need. People with no stake hold in your emotional well-being. But how to get them to read it? Well, you either give it away for free or you get published and so there's the rub.

I suppose a writer at our stage needs to be strong, to just work at the novel, tell the story and let others read the good in it. To just keep going and hope that all those things you can't see are still there because in the end there are no words that scientifically make someone laugh or cry on command. You need them to bring the emotional content and enthusiasm for the story that you lament that you can’t simply write in for them.

At this stage you don’t write for what comments an imaginary person might give. You write in despite of them.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Don't be hasty...

Things are ticking along this week.

Ghostlight Magazine rejected Kids today but kindly informed me, "P.S. This one almost made it. Please submit again," which was very nice of them.

I'm still final drafting Outlined in Chalk at the moment, but I'm worried I'm rushing it in order to be ready to tackle the novel again in time for my week off. These things can't be rushed, even though I don't expect Outlined in Chalk to really see the light of day for a good long while.

So there we have. There's all the news that's fit to go to print.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

No, really, this time

I do apologise. Blog has been rather scatty these past few months.

The difficulty comes from having acquired a girlfriend this past year. I must say, having a girl is pretty fantastic and, with this particular girl, any fear I once had of it affecting my writing has proved unfounded. My blogging on the other hand...

Things have progressed a little. The novel is on a temporary hiatus. I need a little room to think on it and so I've been concentrating on other projects. Earworm Turns has been getting a new redraft, which I'm pleased with. I've just sent it to Strange Horizons, who, I have recently read, have an acceptance rate of 0.92%. Tough going!

I am also entering the final draft stage of Outlined In Chalk, sequel to Of The Father. The girlfriend has read it and described it as 'disturbing', 'upsetting' and 'harrowing'. This was kind of the feel I was aiming for but to affect her in that way makes me feel bad.

The difficulty with this story is that I won't be sending it anywhere. Since no one has taken Of The Father, due to it feeling like the start of something, which it is, Outlined In Chalk, is even less likely to be picked up, so I'm not going to bother. It was good to write though, try my skills on a fresh piece, and who knows maybe it'll all come out in a book of its own one day.

Revolution SF still haven't published No Longer Living. I'm beginning to worry. Though they haven't published any new stories for a while but I can't decide if that's more or less worrying. Would be just my luck if they decided to just stop doing it at all.

Anyhoo, soon I shall be returning to the novel, as soon as I can shift Outlined from my Incomplete folder to my Complete folder.

It's tough, this writing gig.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Fear of Success

I've just spent a while looking for the name of the phobia of success for the title to this blog. I couldn't find it, though I did learn that there was such a thing as a fear of corners.

Anyway, sometimes I think I have it or at least part of me does. Last weekend, I was approaching the end of the latest narrative restructuring of Part Two. What would follow would be printing out Part Two in its entirety and filling in all the little missing details that would turn a sketch into a picture.

But, as I approached the final scenes that needed fixing, my mind began to turn to mush. Words and inspiration stopped coming and though I knew what I needed to do, it simply wouldn’t take the step from my head to the page. It's like being so excited or intimidated by the oncoming next stage that my mind's hand started to shake, my mind’s eye began to blur. So, I had to stop and go back to some earlier stuff that I knew needed fixing, hoping that when I go back to the end I'll be in a calmer, more productive state.

There is little else to report. Magazines have yet to respond to / publish my work and life, as ever, is ticking along nicely, supplying me with what I need but keeping back many things that I want, which, in it's own way, is the sweetest life gets sometimes. It’s more potential than past.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Schrodinger's Publication Date

Planning is great. Other than the Saturday, on which I was working on a very hard scene, writing has been smooth sailing. It's been one of those weeks where, after all the weeks of worrying and stressing, writing has just come easy and you know exactly why this is the kind of thing you want to do (hopefully) for the rest of your life.

I've been writing and changing scenes in accordance with the new plan, some things have changes (for the better I hope) as they have occurred to me but the rest is ticking along nicely. I might even have finished by the end of the month!

Short story front is quiet. Murky Depths turned down The Old Factory Award.

"It's a very clever piece of wordplay. However, we're going to pass on this as it doesn't seem like a Murky Depths piece to us. "

So there that is.

Revolution SF have still to publish No Longer Living but I'm being patient and don't really mind not knowing when it will be. It's a philosophy that borders on quantum physics, Schrodinger's Publication Date, it is not defined or measured simply by the act me looking. It just is, whether I know the date or not.

Promises and Earworm Turns are going to get a bit of an update so I can start sending them again. Just re-read them recently and think they could do with it just to make sure that they're the best stories they can be. That's the worry about sending stories, you always wonder if they're turning it away because of a gaping plot hole they didn't bother telling you about, poor writing, the fact that you're a nobody when they could be publishing somebodies or a mixture of all of the above and more. This is just my little precaution so I can tell myself "It's all them, Tiger, it's not you. It's all them."

Thanks for reading

Sunday, 28 June 2009

All in the Planning

A long while since I blogged.

Househunting and subsequent moving kicked my ass but it feels worth it now. I have a wonderful view of Canary Wharf, the Gherkin and the London Eye from my bedroom window, which is nice. The room is smaller than my last but that doesn't really bother my, as long as I have room for my desk and laptop I'm happy.

I've spent the last while reading through the whole book and writing out notes for improving Part One. It's quite old and not up to my current standard but still pretty solid. I'm worried the whole thing might be like painting a bridge; once you've reached one end the other end needs doing again. I'll have to make sure that doesn't happen.

But I also made a few notes for the first half of Part Two and then I actually planned what needs to happen in the second half. I've never actually planned before and what I've done seems pretty good. Perhaps I should plan more often. During the actual writing I also came up with a keystone plotting idea that should hold the entire second half of the second act together, give it some authenticity. Good stuff.

On the short story front, Rev SF are still to publish No Longer Living, should be coming soon and Murky Depths are currently 'enjoying' (my word, not there's) The Old Factory Award. Here's hoping.

They have a great writing competition coming up with Mike Carey (legend). I was going to save Promises for it, a story I was sure would win it, but it turns out that Mike has written a story starter and we have to finish it. A bit disappointing but I might still enter and see what happens.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Life has its way

House hunting is a pain.

Suffice to say that due to the stress of house hunting, being sick (I'm not sure if these two things were entirely disconnected) and recovering from those two things, I've done very little writing this week.

I suppose life just has its own way sometimes and you have to stand back and let it. Hopefully, when I get back into it, it'll be with a clearer head and some fresh perspective.

I didn't win this quarter's Writer of the Future competition but that's alright, I didn't reall expect to. But I've heard that Murky Depths will be having a writing competition in a few monthsy judged by Mike Carey, so I'm going to hold back Promises until then. I'm sure it's the winning story.

Kids didn't get taken by Escape Clause, though I was told that it was given serious consideration, which was nice. Other than that, things are ticking along nicely.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Work, VIctory,then Work Again

So No Longer Living is now with Revolution SF. I have been told that there's a few other stories ahead of mine in the queue but that it should appear soon. Hurray!

The second publishing makes me quite happy, though I am of the personality that when I work hard for something day after day, week after week, year after year when I eventually get it I smile, nod to myself, say 'Good. Finally.' And then get back to work and yearning, though maybe now I'm aiming for a slightly higher profile magazine or whatever.

So I'm still working on the novel, the usual doubts and 'no one will ever think this is good' worries assailing me. I also took a stab at a new short story Back to the City, which might start seeing magazines in the near future, but perhaps not. I want this one to be a bit special with a certain feel to it and make it resemble the one I have in my head, which isn’t quite coming out onto the page yet. That might mean taking my time with it.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Pre-Pub Jitters

You see? I'm back! Just as promised!

It's been a fine week this week.

I sent the final, final draft to Revolution SF. I read it over and over again until the words lost all meaning, gave it to friends and relatives and then started the process all over again. I checked for plot holes, ironed out any creases or ambiguities in the phrasing. I plucked our errant commas and put them back where they were needed (wriggly little things) and still I stressed that as soon as it got published there'd be a glaring error staring me in the face. And then, years from now all by lovely Hugo, Bram Stoker and Nebula awards would be snatched from me as a result.

I've also become worried about Rights and worry that I'm a poor innocent author who's about to shafted. Not by Rev SF of course, I'm sure their lovely, but it has occurred to me that I'm easy prey. So I'm going to the bookshop soon to find a couple of books on the subject. No flies on this guy, they'll soon say!

Basically, I swallowed my fear and sent the final draft off. I was very much in danger of over-editing and employing a 'I'm not sure where the commas go anymore so I burning the whole paragraph down' mentality. That's probably the best time to let a story go, if not a mite sooner.

Other than that I've finished with chapters 27-29 which brings me to the half way point. Hurray! I'm very optimistic about the future of the novel.

I'm in the throes of house hunting at the mo. Not fun but there you go, that's like.

I've also finished Fever Crumb. Brilliant! A worthy addition to the series. I'd say it was aimed at 9 - 12 but it has swearing in it. Swearing! On page 167 to be precise. It has 'shit' Excellent. I love swearing in books. Kids books should have it sometimes. It makes things more real.

Anyway, that's enough from me.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Viva la Revolution

A long time since I blogged.

Much has happened.

Revolution SF (a fine, fine publication) has taken on No Longer Living. The suggested edits arrived last Thursday and I have agreed with most of the points. The story has been trimmed and I have ironed out the creases removing those pieces have left. Though there's no deadline I'm terrified of sending the final cut to them. It's the one everyone will be reading and I'm hoping there isn't some problem so glaringly obvious that it'll make me a laughing stock.

It's currently going around a few friends and relatives for proof reading just in case.

I'm reaching the halfway point of Act Two, and thus the halfway point of the novel, which is nice. Hoping I'll have the whole Act finished by September.

I'm house hunting at the moment, which is a pain in the arse.

I met China Mieville at a signing for his new book The City & The City. He was interesting and said something like 'maintaining fidelity to the paradigm’, which was odd. It must be hard to not seem pretentious when he's clearly so much better than the rest of us. I read the new book and found it enjoyable. Now reading Fever Crumb. Awesome.

I'm really going to try to blog regularly again. For reasons I'll explain another time it's just dropped out of my regular routine and along with the numerous rejections from numerous publications I've been getting I guess I was losing a little faith in this whole writing malarky. But Revolution SF have seen to that. Hurray!

Just need to be published one more this year and I'll have achieved my year's goal.

Best get back to work.

Thanks for reading. Hopefully, you'll hear from me again soon.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Being Jealous of Wooding

It's been almost a month! Argh!

Though luckily few things have happened. Chapters 24-26 are ready to be polished. Much was changed but what is now there feels streamlined and tight. Roll on 27-30!

Steve from RevolutionSF responded to a prod I gave him (they've had No Longer Living for five months now). He said that he remembered my story (hurray!) but thought that he had already replied (oh) but may have passed it onto Matt (hurray?). That was last week and I haven't heard back since. So, hopefully, that means their taking it seriously.

The same goes for Joe at Something Wicked, who have had Of The Father for seven months now. He assures me it is top of the pile, so I should hear from them soon too. Exciting!

At the moment, I am being relatively jealous of author Chris Wooding. First novel written at 16, agent by 18, published at 19. The jealousy that courses through me right now, you could bottle it. And I'm looking forward to his new book Retribution Falls. Grrrrr. I hate writers that I can't help but like.

Well, actually I don't. Good for him. I'm just jealous of his success. I'd like me some of that.

Here's hoping!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Books, the elusiveness of

I'm knackered.

I have this thing where if a new book comes out from an author I love I have to have it now. Not tomorrow, not in the afternoon, now. And so today I spent my lunchtime running to bookshops trying to grab a copy of Mike Carey's new book and failing to find it.

In one shop there was an author, a greying, grinning, wince-worthy glimpse into the future. With a smile on his face he was handing a copy of his book to every person who came in. "I'm the author," he'd say, "and I'm signing copies." This was on a Thursday lunchtime so I was left thinking a) most people are on their lunchbreak and probably know exactly why they were there, b) were in a hurry and c) might not be into the type of book he'd written.

This resulted in many people smiling politely, reading (pretending to read?) the blurb and then, as soon as his back was turned putting the book down and running hell-for-leather out of the shop. I was a tad more respectful, I put the book back on the shelf with the other copies.

There's fewer things more desperate than a new author, me thinks. Were it me I'd sit behind my signing table looking forlorn. I'd carry my lack of popularity with dignity, less sweaty enthusiasm. I suppose it's tough but well, he's doing better than me, I guess, but I wouldn't do that. Let me be the only one having a bad day, I'm not going to drag poor work-a-day civilians into my pariahdom.


Writing is going. And I still have lots of books to read anyway.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The House of Cards

Writing is plodding along. And I mean plodding. You can't rush these things but bloody hell better than slow would be nice.


I was caught in a bit of a fix yesterday. I gave chapters 21-23 a good going over and got them to what I think might be narratively sound so then I had to decide do I continue onto the next chunk, chapters 24-26, or do I finish 21-23 by third drafting them and making them read as smooth as smooth can be? I didn't want to do the first thing leaving behind shoddy prose behind because they would pray on my mind but I didn't want to work hard on 21-23 only to have to change them later on due to something else later on. Grrr.

I did the second one. Trust that I won't have to change them and at least feel good about those three chapters (I need something to feel good about at the moment). I've managed eight pages so far and, as usual, I like them more now I've third drafted them. Feels nice to have them polished now I just have to resist looking back unless I absolutely have to.

Which is harder than you think.

Oh well.

Onwards and... well, onwards, anyway.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


At the moment I'm remembering that there's a lot to remember about writing.

I have to remember that I'm allowed to write in short, descriptive sentences, not every one of them has to be some perfectly crafted epitome of the English language. Even Terry Pratchett (well down on the knighthood, old boy) spends most of his time just writing what he sees in his head, not fussing that the sentence is too simple. If it works it works.

I'm still working on Act Two. April will be a year I've been working on it and I'm getting sick of it. Felt I should have a finished novel by now, or be close to one at least. I might have been too fussy with it, trying to hard, but I think I might like what I have now and if I don't, well then I don't think I'm going to produce any better. I've got to stick with what my brain has given me. Neil Gaiman and other authors often talk of how the story in their head wasn't the same as the one that emerged on the page. I have to remember that too.

More practically, since I'm working on the middle of the book I have to remember everything that came before in Act One and what will happen in Act Three. Maybe this is simply the hardest part of the novel. I can't wait to get started on Act Three. I want this all to be finished so I can find out how this ends.

In the end, even if I keep working hard and produce a novel written to the best of my ability, it still doesn't mean I'll get published. All it takes is for a handful of people in charge to not like it or have schedules too full or have someone too tired to really read it and reject it and it's out. Luck counts for a lot and it counts for everyone. I have to remember that too.

Still nothing on the magazine front. I really want to be published soon, just a little wink from someone that I'm on the right track. For all I know a lot of people are rejecting me for one reason, like I over-describe or that my stories are too cliched and I'll never know that, so I might just be wasting my time. An idiot doesn't know he's an idiot, right?

Anyway, chin up. I'll just keep plugging away and hope for the best. All I can do is my best.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snowings and Signings

Yes, yes, you're right, you're right, I know I haven't posted in a while. But I'm here now, on the arse end of a snow day where London raised its head. mumbled and pulled the blankets back over with nary a grunted 'fuck it'.

To be honest there is little to report. The new new new new new draft of Part Two is done and this time I'm sticking with it. I like this one because it's more Theo going around doing things, rather than going around seeing people do things to other people. It's more personal. Great. I'm printing it out chapter by chapter and polishing it until it shines. I'm about five pages in : P

I went to the wonderful Forbidden Planet signing and encountered Joe Abercrombie who was a very pleasant man and was happy to chat, but I completely choked and ran away once he'd signed my books (complimenting me on my sideburns) in case I said something stupid. But he was very self-deprecating about his new book, the much anticipated Best Served Cold (which I am one of the many who are anticipating) and was very like me when it came to saying, "I'm writing something, it's no doubt rubbish."

Since there were ten authors there and I was only in it for Joe I also bought another book and had it signed by the lovely Alex Bell. Both Joe and Alex talked bitterly of their editor Gillian Redfearn but agreed that although she always made changes to their beautiful books she was always right to change it. That sounds to me like the mark of a good editor. She's someone you grudge a little but appreciate immensely.

I wonder if she'll take me on....

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Where did all my work go?

I'm so glad that I'm struggling with the novel.

The last few days I barely managed anything. I simply paced whatever room I was writing in, thinking, planning and trying to see my way clear of continuing this story. I didn't manage much actual words on paper but, do you know what? What I had, I liked.

So why, just when I've been starting to get back into a rhythm, did the file corrupt and I lost the last three day's work?

Bloody computer.

Anyhoo, all is well otherwise, stories are with people and Kids Today is finished and may soon be sent to people. Would very much like to be published again. The urge; she itches.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Back for 2009

Hello again,

I have been away for a while for the seasonal holidays and am feeling much refreshed. Over the holidays I finished The Old Factory Award, started on another (I know, again) draft on Act Two of the novel and Earworm Turns was rejected by Weird Tales. I also increased my material wealth, which was nice.

As before, it was the beginning to Act Two I didn't like. It just wasn't up to scratch. So I'm simplifying, concentrating on the more integral parts and doing things a different way. Old way just felt like the main character going around seeing things, this time I'm trying to personalise it, trying to keep it tied to the characters the readers know and (hopefully) care about. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, Promises, Promises has gone to Weird Tales, now. Really hope Ann Vandermeer likes it, and Earworm is off to Murky Depths. Here's hoping. I want two things published at least by end of '09. That's the aim, and maybe a finished novel. That's the other aim. Here's hoping.

Good to be back over the holidays.

Thanks for reading.