Welcome

Welcome to my blog. The home page will always display the most recent blog post so please use the tabs to navigate your way around. Keep up to date by visiting the 'News' area. The 'Short Stories' area and the ‘Flash Fiction’ area contain everything produced thus far, and comments would be much appreciated! Be sure to check out the 'Three Words' area that will explain how you can get involved in influencing the written work to come, or for details on contributing your own artwork visit the 'Artists' area! You can read my 'Blog' (in the truer sense), additional content is also available via the 'Other' section and don't be afraid to leave a comment in the 'Guestbook'. Thanks for visiting!



Sunday, 15 December 2013

Blog - 15/12/13

Hey! Not much to report on this month I’m afraid! I’m still waiting back to hear the results of the latest competition and therefore can’t start work on the subsequent three-thousand word version of the story. I have to hold out some positive thoughts that the current version is good enough to have at least made the shortlist after all! In the mean time I’ve been typing up old works and generally feeling nostalgic, anticipating the wonders to come if I ever get around to finishing a project! 

The ‘Mistborn’ series continues to impress. I’ve started on the third of the trilogy and am truly captivated. Brandon Sanderson is a very talented writer. It is scary how similar some of the plot lines follow my own though, I have no doubt I shall be accused of pilfering at the very least when my own series finally sees the light of day! I can declare it here as much as I like however, the only way to really prove I’ve not at least incorporated similar ideas as heavy inspiration is to actually finish and produce something of my own, we know that’s a way off! It is inspiring to see such similar things work though, I’m enjoying the series thoroughly, it’s nice to know my ideas should at least make for good reading if the time should come! 

Merry Christmas people! I hope it’s a good one and I’ll be back in the New Year. Until then, buh-bye! 

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Friday, 15 November 2013

Blog - 15/11/13

Hello! So I got the results back from the latest short story competition, and unfortunately I didn’t make the long list. Pretty disheartening to be honest, but you have to take rejection as it comes. I feel like I was scuppered by the perils of the open themed competition. Without an indication of what the judges are going to be looking for (and the committee that decide the long listing for that matter) it really is equivalent to a stab in the dark. You could strike it lucky and find the judge’s jugular, they are people - each will have their own tastes and a key feature of said people as opposed to an automated computer system is that they are wont to change their mind often. Obviously writing skill comes into it, if you DO happen to find that needle then execution is paramount. You don’t want to be giving them that red shirt they wanted only to have it fall apart in their hands because of your dodgy stitching! I just think specific themes give you a much better chance.

 Having said that though, a little research could be your ally here. Looking back at previous winners’ entries for example, if they are freely available. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a host of back issued anthologies, it just seems an unjustified outlay for a slim chance of small returns. Having looked back, I don’t think this particular competition was the right place for my story. Previous winners all seemed to be light hearted and every day, whereas my story is darker and out of the blue. Again though, who’s to say they didn’t want a change this year? You just can’t be sure.

 Sounds reasonable right? Haha, I’ve had a few days to reflect. At the time in a fit of injustice I immediately found another competition with the same word limit and entered it straight away. None of my above suggested checking or screening. So let’s see how that goes... Fingers crossed for a bloody mess. If it doesn’t turn out how I want I’m going to give the story one last chance at a different word limit before scouring the competition lists and periodically entering both versions in a few free entries. It may just be that I’ve found myself a bit of blueprint. All of writing is learning, don’t you know. In an unrelated matter I’m thinking of coining a new catchphrase...

 In terms of reading I finished Dan’s Purdue’s anthology ‘Somewhere to Start From’. The review I gave it on Goodreads is as follows:

 
‘Solid works with plenty of variation. That goes for the lengths of the works too, I think it was a good idea not to group them by size because the shorter pieces form a nice break in between the longer stories.

Overall I think I'd say that 'Are "Friends" electric?' was my favourite, but other highlights include 'Featherweight' and 'One Street Corner Too Soon'. Also, 'Falling from Grace' is probably my favourite super short piece I've ever encountered.’
 
I gave it three stars. And I’ve been thinking about that. It’s difficult to rate a collection of stories on the same scale as fantastic novels and ongoing series’. I feel like there should be a separate rating system. I mean, who could honestly give a random collection five stars in comparison to their favourite books? It seems illogical. I will say though, I was going to give it four, thinking on a separate scale, but on reflection there were little problems I found with most of the stories that prevented me from naming them as specific recommendations. There’s no doubting his writing skill, it’s just the stories themselves that irked me sometimes. Also, (cover your ears lads) size is an issue. I don’t think it’s any coincidence my favourite works were the longer pieces. There’s more time to build an affinity to characters, worlds and situations. I’m keen to read longer pieces of his when the time comes, but unfortunately a couple of months ago he declared his ongoing novel was going to be put on hold!
 
I’ve also been tucking into the ‘Mistborn’ series. I’m about two thirds of the way through the first book and enjoying it thus far. The magic system is interesting. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant when it was described to me beforehand by friends. It’s described in a lot of detail. I guess the writer is just making sure that the reader understands it fully at this early stage and will gradually pull away from so much guide lining and hand holding the further I get into the series. Much applause though, it’s good once you get to know it. Also the way it’s introduced is something akin to perfect writing in terms of technique/systems. There is a character that doesn’t know much about it at the start and as she’s schooled by the more experienced characters we get to learn alongside her, and wouldn’t you just know it? She gets to learn all the variations whereas most people are only lucky enough to have one. A few months back I was complaining that the unabridged version of ‘Moby Dick’ was putting me off because the explanations of equivalent things such as equipment were instead reflective and detached. Well here’s a better way of doing it. Also, it’s that much easier without such a restrictive word limit.
 
Not much sporting input this month other than a tip of the hat towards Novak Djokovic for winning the Tour Finals and a bit of nail biting as Arsenal went into the international break with a reduced lead at the top after an unfortunate result at Old Trafford. Until next time, buh-bye!

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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Blog - 15/10/13

Hey! I sent off my competition entry this month and have been battling a case of post project blues. Motivation has been tough to come by and it’s not just affected my writing. True it’s only a short story, but I’ve worked particularly hard on it and sending it away had left me in a bit of a funk. I’ve got plans to turn it into a larger story of course, but I didn’t want to dive in straight away, and I’ve got other projects snapping at my heels for attention. I eventually found solace by working through some of the new plots in my fantasy series and the focus has got me back into shape. If I’m getting this invested in a short story then imagine the blues lurking behind the completion of full novels? You might think me masochistic for looking forward to such an experience, but at least it’d mean I finally completed something of note! I should know the results of the competition by the next blog post, so at least the turnover won’t be crippling! 

I mentioned last month that the hardest part of the story was getting it to fall within the word limits. It wasn’t just a little bit over, like pinching a few words here and there to scrape the last hundred or so words - I’m talking three-thousand words for a two-thousand word limit, ouch. For the mathematicians out there, if you were to express that as a percentage it’d be ... a lot of percent! What it meant was structural changes and a choice between two different ways of telling the story. There are three-thousand word competitions out there. So the question is, should I have saved the story for one of those? 

 Umm, yes? The answer seems obvious, but all of writing is learning. Having to take a critical look at my story made me tap into a new skill set of judgement and storyboarding from a reader’s perspective rather than just writing it for myself. Some things that work well in your head don’t translate to other people because you’re too close and know all the residual information you haven’t actually put to paper. It’s one thing to let the reader do some of the work but another to expect them to understand it if they aren’t informed of the parameters, and writing to smaller word limits makes you decide how much is needed to get by without the luxury of dedicating entire sections of world building anytime something slightly ‘irregular’ is encountered. Again, this may seem obvious. But you can do most things in theory. It may be that the fuller version of the story would have stood better in competition, but without forcing myself to break my story apart to meet the lower word limit I would have missed on practising this particular discipline. Writing these short stories is like sparring for me, ultimately it’s the longer projects that will define my success, and I need to practise some moves before I can unleash them in the big fights! 

So I finished reading the ‘The Broken Empire’ series, which was, for me, El Fantastico to a point. Without giving too much away, my main gripe is that I think it’d work purely as a fantasy series, without all the tech that gets incorporated. I can appreciate the story would be different and it is after all up to the writer’s vision but I’m not a big lover of sci-fi, and the world he’s built and the characters created could easily have stuck to fantasy alone and left me much happier. That’s my problem with it though, we’re all different. I just think it’d be strong enough to stick to fantasy alone, but then the writer has a background in science so the deviation could probably be expected. And who am I to even call it a deviation? It’s his story, I’m the one choosing to read it. The writing style is gripping to me though, I like the fact that every other line has a sentiment to it. As a budding writer it’s very inspiring to cram so much of that in with finesse and I’m wondering now whether writing in first person might be a key facilitator to that. It’s not something I do a lot for longer stories, so maybe now is the time for some first person writing practice. I guess one of the biggest compliments I can pay Mark Lawrence is that I now think of some of my new prospective characters as ‘Jorg-like’. He certainly left an impression on me. 

With the end of that legacy starts a new one. I’ve been lent the entirety of the ‘Mistborn’ series by Brandon Sanderson, which I’ve heard continual good things about so it’s time to get stuck in. Mark Lawrence is working on another trilogy set in the same world as ‘The Broken Empire’ which he says is slightly more humorous than the previous. I had the same plan for my fantasy series if you remember, two stories set in the same world, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Regardless though I look forward to eventually returning to that broken world from a different view point. 

Also this month I finally got a copy of Dan Purdue’s anthology ‘Somewhere to Start From’. I said I would, but I never actually got round to it until now. It shames me to say that it probably was the 99p price tag, because when you’re as tight on funds as I am any non-essential expense seems unjustified. But hey-ho I’ve got my copy because for a short time only he’s made it available for free! I haven’t read a lot yet because I’m aiming for one story a day. It’s free until Halloween. 
 
You can take advantage of seasonal offer as well and get it here - tinyurl.com/eSoToStFr
 
Just use the promotional code : BB82C 

Over to Paul with the sport – ‘NA NA NA NA GIIIIIROUUUD!’ They say you should sing when you’re winning and now is a very good time to be a Gooner. Top of the league and going well in the Champions League! Long may it continue. I very much enjoyed the gymnastics world championships this year as well. Max Whitlock has a very bright future ahead of him. Until next time, buh-bye! 

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Sunday, 15 September 2013

Blog - 15/09/13

Hey! Still slogging it out with my short story entry this month. I’ve finished another couple of drafts and am on course to finish another later today or tomorrow. As I said last month, it forked out into two different directions and when I finish the latest draft it’ll become crunch time, sitting down to decide which one is the best and then spending the last week or so polishing it. They have the same second half and I’m happy with it to an extent but I’m worried by the front of each version. They’ve turned out so disjointed and sort of ‘this happens... and then that... and then this’ that I’m worried I’ve not left enough time to bring either one up to standard and therefore the entry is going to come out back-loaded. This needn’t have happened if the word limit was a little higher, but I’ll talk more about that next month.

To say music is one of my inspirations in writing would be a colossal understatement. One new album from one of my favourite bands this month and the ideas centre in my brain exploded. From it I’ve developed two entire stories/series, plugged the gaping hole in another and got an idea for my main fantasy series that could work as an independent story if it doesn’t fit. The latter then set the ball rolling and I now have another main plot in the main fantasy series sorted, something I’ve been struggling with for a long time! All this from about 25 plays and I can definitely feel a few more ideas lurking in the background waiting to be dragged through. I’ve said before that I consider myself a story teller before a writer and music is just another medium. I’m sure there are a few of us frustrated musicians who count ourselves amongst the ranks of the writer, and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear it worked the other way round as well!

Of course, the US Open stalled my progress somewhat but not so much as usual. Vamos Rafa! Sail on Serena! Who can forget that iconic photograph taken of Usain Bolt at the World Athletics Championships either? And Christine Ohurougu’s dramatic win? Arsenal have delivered as well, Mesut Ozil! I’m delighted! Haha, had to squeeze some sport in there somewhere! Until next time, buh-bye!

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Thursday, 15 August 2013

Blog - 15/08/13

Hello! Slow progress this month. I had an idea for a change in my short story entry in the redraft that I wanted to look at which has resulted in practically rewriting the whole thing, which slowed me down a lot. I may not even use it, but until I read the end result I won’t know which version I prefer. This can happen sometimes. It’s time consuming but anything you can do to potentially improve your entry should be pursued in my opinion. It could lead to me improving both versions alternately to see which turns out best which will take up most of my time. 

I’m looking forward to reading ‘Emperor of Thorns’ at some point this month. 'The Broken Empire’ series has been a fantastic read so far and was heading in a good direction at the end of the second book. As friends have caught up it was interesting to hear their opinion on the ending. Without giving too much away, it definitely divided opinion. I found I liked it because initially I sort of didn’t. You’ll have to see for yourself. I’ve been skipping over Mark Lawrence’s tweets in case of spoilers and can say the reviews are exciting me even further! A friend of mine has been kind enough to offer to lend it to me after he’s finished so I can continue the journey despite my extreme lack of funds! Thanks Chris! And thanks to Craig for recommending the series in the first place! 

Short and sweet this month! I’m eager to get back to the Athletics World Championships in Moscow! Looking forward to the start of the new season in the football as well! Although as an Arsenal fan I hope we can deliver on a couple of big name signings soon! We’ll have to see! Until next time, buh-bye! 

__________

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Monday, 15 July 2013

Blog - 15/07/13

Hello there! The main thing I’ve accomplished this month is to finish the first draft of my next competition entry. I’m fairly happy with it, though it will require a lot of work if it’s going to trouble the upper echelons of the competition. The plan now is to redraft it a couple of times this month and then leave a little bit of a gap before working on it again as I find distance from a project to be healthy upon return. Of course, the fantasy series is ticking away slowly in the background and then I’ll be starting work on another short story.

What about Andy Murray eh? In truth Djokovic never really showed up for me. Not taking anything away from Andy, you can only beat what’s in front of you, but it just felt a little cheap. So many injuries and withdrawals early on as well! And Bartoli winning! I missed the women’s final paintballing and Lisicki seemed to suffer from my absence, she’d been doing so well whilst I was watching her and then it all fell apart when I wasn’t there! Sorry Sabine! Anyways the US Open is a little way off and athletics can only take up so much time (What a bummer to hear about Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell though) so more work will be done. But then the Ashes... Haha, I do watch it sometimes, usually final day stuff when it’s all a little more tense, so don’t worry!

Bit short this month! Until next time, buh-bye!

__________

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Saturday, 15 June 2013

Blog - 15/06/13

Hey! As mentioned last time I’ve spent this month working exclusively on the epic fantasy series. I’m fairly happy with the progress I’ve made, there’s not too much actual writing but I’m pretty much done in terms of planning and initial plot construction. Part of the challenge has been that most of the ideas I had happen much later in the series. I’ve had to come up with the plot for the book based around about three key events I had already planned to include. This framework has been done now for the initial version, with a few options already evident for the second, so now the writing should pick up pace... at least it would if I wasn’t changing direction again. 

There’s a couple of other pieces I’m going to be working on alongside the fantasy series now as I’m slightly nervous about the time I have to finish them. We all know deadlines are not my thing so I’m going to make an early start on them and hopefully balancing three projects off against each other will turn out to be a winning formula that keeps me focussed but also caters to my easily distracted nature. 

On the topic of distractions, if you’re a regular you may have guessed that my writing has slowed due to the French Open. If you’re not into tennis you might not realise just how time consuming watching the grand slams can be if you let it. Wimbledon is also just around the corner. In addition to this though I’ve been preparing for my theory test, which has meant I’ve not been reading much or researching because I’ve felt guilty that I should be reading my theory books if I’m going to read at all. It was worth it in the end though as I passed my test and am now one step closer to becoming a driver! Road users of Britain beware. 

A month and a half after its release ‘Comeback Kid’ has received fewer views than last month’s blog post - so I was right to be concerned. I don’t know if people aren’t too keen on flash fiction or if I should take it as evidence that I need to start posting more regular content if I want to keep the views up. I’ve always favoured my longer projects though and can’t see myself suddenly releasing new material at an improved rate, so I guess I’ll just have to accept the situation as it is for now. Thanks for sticking with me. Until next time, buh-bye! 

__________

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Blog - 15/05/13

Did you see it? Did you? A new piece of writing made its way on to the blog this month! It’s a piece of flash fiction called ‘Comeback Kid’ which was originally written for a competition revolving around the central theme ‘start’. Looking back it’s the first new piece of new material I’ve had available for over a year so hopefully you’ll enjoy it, even if it is short!

Looking at the stats though not too many people have seen it yet which is a tad worrying. I know it’s only been out for a couple of weeks but I’m comparing it to previous works in the same initial phase. Obviously much can be attributed to that aforementioned absence, but you could also counteract that with things like not having as much media platforms to announce the arrival of the earlier pieces. How much should one really worry about these things at such an early stage in their career technically? People write for different reasons, but I’m pretty sure having a captive audience is something that everybody wants, even if they won’t admit it openly. It’s that reassurance that what you’re doing is worth it and the encouragement you get from it is invaluable. Forgive me if I seem a little desperate; writers have active imaginations and paranoia forms a large part of that! For me at least!

In terms of writing I can tell you that this month I’ve officially started work on my epic fantasy series! I’ve been gathering ideas and thinking about it heavily for a long time, but I’ve finally had that breakthrough moment of inspiration, that one ‘big idea’ that allows me to start! You see, I’m not sure if that’s how it works for other people, but for me I’ve been waiting for one key idea that hopefully ‘qualifies’ as good enough to make the series worth writing. It’s all very well having a multitude of plot points and good ideas, but I was waiting for the show stopper, the absolute jaw dropper that would act as a green light! Of course it’s only my opinion. There’s a good chance many of you won’t think it as big as I do, many people might not even like it! But a good deal of writing comes from within and seeking your own approval, and I finally think I’ve found it! (I tell my brother everything about my writing, and he was as excited about it as I am!) So I’ve officially started! It’s a daunting prospect though, at the moment it’s roughly thirty books long! I’m not expecting it to stay that way, it’s mainly grouped that way to isolate particular points. As I work more and more on it things will be changing all the time, things will be dropped, merged... In the future it’s going to be a constant back burner project that runs parallel to other things, but right now it’s front of the queue as I ride this euphoric wave!

In non writing news I managed to finish the Bracknell Half Marathon in 1:51:29! One second within my target time! For a while I was pretty down, thinking I’d missed out by 53 seconds because I was going by the race time. After thinking about it though the chip time is probably the important thing because everybody was bunched up at the beginning and queuing to run over the blue strip that activates it. The race time was probably calculated from the start time, and there were a lot of people in that queue! On my way round I saw one of the chips on the floor, so gutted for that person, they could have run a personal best but there’d be no proof of it! My mate showed me the link to the official photos taken by the photographer and it was pretty interesting to see the results. One photo is of me about three miles in; good body posture, leaning forward into the run, a determined (if puggish) look on my face. The second is about eleven miles in... I have the face of a one-thousand year old man. My posture is properly sunken and you can see I’m probably a little dehydrated with a desperate ‘kill me now’ plea to my eyes. In truth it’s a pretty fair reflection on my race! I started off well for the first six miles, but I’ve had a few problems with injury in training and, as anticipated, my leg gave way a bit. From the eight mile point my entire being wanted to stop, but I found the will power from somewhere to keep going (albeit slowly) and I didn’t stop once! And I still managed to finish within my target time! Just imagine if I wasn’t injured! I’d show you the difference between the two photos but I just can’t afford luxuries like that at the moment and I didn’t want to post the stolen print screen versions I’ve kept because I didn’t want to risk any infringements! I shall leave you instead with a picture of me with my medal afterwards! Until next time, buh-bye!


Don’t forget to check out ‘Comeback Kid’ if you haven’t already! – http://bit.ly/13LKo3U
 
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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Comeback Kid

Flash Fiction
Length - 497 words

Originally written for a competition that was using the central theme 'Start'.

Coming back from injury can be the hardest part of a young athlete's career, and it's something Jamie has had to put up with more than most. Now it's the start of the new track season and he's donned his spikes once more. Will things finally go according to plan?

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Comeback Kid
 
Spend a day walking the streets of London and you’ll sneeze the city’s ink for a week, but the running track forms a clearing in the concrete jungle and the air is thick instead with sweat and anticipation.
                Today is the first round of the regional qualifiers for a place in the national meet to be held in Birmingham in a few months time. The start of a new season means the crowd is swollen with first timers, chattering away and applauding nonsensically at anything their babe minds pick out as a cue. I can feel their vacuous encouragement clamouring for attention on the back of my neck as I warm up, carried on a strong tailwind that’s already thrown up some pretty quick results today and given wings to the lucky losers.
 
They call me the Comeback Kid. I’ve already had numerous career defining injuries during my short time in spikes. As a junior I’d break records every time they cracked the pistol, until one nasty fall took me out of the game for four months. I count it as one of my greatest comebacks even though it was more challenging mentally than physically. A lot of the best potential athletes are lost at this tender age of educational uncertainty, the time out makes them concentrate on different areas of study and new career paths open up inside their distracted minds.
 I, however, remained committed. The setbacks never cease but I keep coming back faster and stronger than before.
 
‘...one to watch is Jamie Underwood in lane five, coming off the back of another serious injury, but I hear he’s been posting personal bests in training. What are your thoughts, Edward? A talented runner if he can keep his body in check.’
                ‘Oh undoubtedly John. His record as a flat runner is prestigious for one who has spent so little time actually competing. He will insist on hurdling though, claiming it’s his favoured discipline.’
                ‘And there he goes, bursting out of the blocks at some speed! He couldn’t have asked for a better start.’
                ‘You’re right John, and you can see he’s just added an extra stride to his pattern as he approaches the bend and leaves the favour of this stiff wind that’s been-‘ 
                ‘Oh no! It’s happened again! Terrible scenes here as the leader’s foot catches on the barrier and sends him crashing to the ground.’
                ‘A familiar story for this young talent I’m afraid, and by the looks of it, this could be another bad injury for him...’
 
They’ll say that it’s unfortunate it happened on the first race of the season - but I operate in reverse, and am instead celebrating a spectacular climax. ‘DNF’ might mean ‘did not finish’ to you, but to me it reads victory. I get to start over from zero, fighting my body’s quit calls against this state of perpetual rehabilitation I set it. And this time, as always, it will be harder. My season starts here.
 
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Monday, 15 April 2013

Blog - 15/04/13

Hello there! This month has been a bit of a strange one.
 
The first thing to report is that Chapter One Promotions have been in contact. It was my first professional-ish phone call as ‘a writer’ and I have to say it was quite an experience. They apologised for the delay (they were moving office at the time) and we discussed what to do about my intentions to publish a version of the story. I’m glad I got to someone speak directly rather than go through a process of lengthy written correspondence as it meant we got to iron things out there and then and negotiate a solution.

The result is that my story will be included as part of the anthology. I wasn’t fully sure so it was nice to find out I’m going to have my first piece of writing up in print! Making the anthology can be a lengthy process though and I’ve been warned it could take up to two years to see it. The knock on effect is that I’ve agreed to give them first publishing rights. It makes sense, seeing as the competition was for previously unpublished works. If I were to put the story up on my blog before they produced the anthology it only takes one person to then read the anthology who’d already previously read my blog to start asking validity questions that could easier be avoided. Consequently it’ll be a while before you guys get to read it. Sorry about that.

It was an incredible feeling when I did eventually put the phone down. My heart beat was crazy and I was proper light headed, I just sat there for a long, long time trying to calm down! I think I managed to hold it together for the duration of the call though! Hopefully!

In terms of writing this month I’ve been going through a lengthy process of transferring my notes from my Blackberry. I’m the kind of person who’ll whip out his phone and take the note at the time inspiration strikes. You have no idea how many notes I’ve accumulated over the two years I’ve had this phone, it’s unreal – at least I’ll never have that problem of not having something to write about, I genuinely think I’ll die before I get to use half of it. Now of course you might say I’m being an idiot, and that I could just email it to myself or take the files off via usb, but you’d be wrong. As I’ve entered the last month on my contract my Blackberry has started to fall apart at a rate of knots and I’m basically losing functions by the hour! It’s a miracle I can even use the notepad, it’s one of the only programs that still opens without causing the phone to crash. Opening each file and transferring it by hand is the only way. I’m sorry Alicia Keys, but Blackberry? Never again.

Part of the reason it’s taking so long though is my own fault, looking over old notes and ideas causes one powerful nostalgic trip, from visually remembering the dreams they came from to working out if they could be applicable to a current piece of writing. I must look so dozy as I do it, sitting there all dream like, and it’s definitely taking at least five times as long as it would anyone else. It’s really quite enjoyable.

Then there was a sad point this month to hear that James Herbert, author of ‘The Rats’ series has passed away. When I was first getting back into reading he was one of the first authors I took a liking too. If I ever write any good horror stories he’ll be one of the reasons for it. His stories about David Ash, the paranormal investigator, have had a direct influence on a series I plan to write myself (It’s come from one of the ‘Three Words Post’ suggestions, see if you can guess which one.) and have been my favourite of his works. Sleep easy fella.

Also this month in non writing news I’ve been deep in training for the Bracknell Half-Marathon. It was going really well until a few injury problems started to crop up and at time of writing I’m not one hundred percent sure where I am. Injury has come at a crucial time because the race is only two weeks away so I’m tapering and can’t run the full distances. It’s all a bit of a mystery as to whether I’ll be able to finish it in my target time so wish me luck. I only mention it of course because I’m knackered and time writing has also coincided with time potentially sleeping... I like an excuse me.

And finally I got an email last night informing me that my Flash Fiction attempt didn’t make the short list (there goes the one hundred percent record) so at least you will have something new to read! I’ll be posting it on here May 1st so be sure to check back for that! Needless to say I was pretty down about it, after all it was my first formal rejection, but one man’s junk is another man’s treasure right? Hopefully a few of you may enjoy it. I’m probably only so chirpy about it because I received a copy of the contract from Chapter One Promotions this morning, which turned out to be a particularly good remedy! Until next time, buh-bye!

__________

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Friday, 15 March 2013

Blog - 15/03/13

Hey! So I’m still waiting to hear back from Chapter One... It’s looking like I might have to consider sending them a letter as well as my fortnightly email reminder, which is a bummer as I was hoping I wouldn’t have to spend any more money on  resolving the situation. The way I saw it before was that by looking at other anthologies they’ve produced the entry fee for the competition matched the price, and short listing meant a free copy, so in a way I’d be making a profit by not having to pay for postage. If things work out the same with this competition turnaround I’m going to be negating that by sending a physical enquiry letter. Boo.

In other news I’m just putting the finishing touches to a flash fiction I’ve written for another competition. It’s free entry this time and the top two stories win a free entry into the main short story competition amongst other things. The main competition is much cheaper than the previous one I entered so I’m pretty much mentally committed to entering it anyway. I’ve made a start on my entry too so that’s something else I’ve been doing. Again, I’ve got plans to write a full version of this too.

The good news is that the judging period for the flash fiction competition is quite short and this time I checked and the author retains all rights, so regardless of the outcome I can post it here on the blog afterwards. Which means by May I can guaran- (maybe I won’t use that word just in case, haha.) you some new content! And obviously if Chapter One get back to me I’ll post that short story in the meantime. Until next time, buh-bye!

__________

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Friday, 15 February 2013

Blog - 15/02/13

Where's this short story I was promised then, Paul?

Trust me, I'm as frustrated about this as you are. I know you’re used to me letting you guys down but usually it's because projects overun and I'm incompetent at meeting deadlines. The difference this time is that the story is finished, I'm now waiting to hear if I can post it.

Last month I talked about starting being the hardest part for some writers. A while ago I was searching for a short story competition that would fit my recently completed draft for another story I wrote, when I stumbled across a competition that provided the first paragraph of a story the entrant had to continue. Having read the paragraph out of curiosity I left it alone, put off by the fairly steep (in comparison to other competitions I was looking at) submission fee. Sure enough, the ideas started to trickle through a few hours later when my brain was idle and I quickly found myself putting pen to paper and making notes for my entry. I felt my idea was too good to throw away and it wouldn’t work elsewhere because of the exclusive nature of the competition, so I committed to writing it. That same principal of difficulty getting started actually suckered me in.

I’d been looking forward to the results for months, eager to see how my first competitive entry would fare. Then, the night before the results, things changed.

Building up to this point I’d been doing a lot more online reading around writing than is normal for me. I had so much initial content for the story that I’d been looking into releasing a “full” version of the story as an Ebook and was researching self publishing, formatting etc. I had so many tabs open from link after link of useful information I’d found but so far I’d resisted the short story tip links, thinking (foolishly) there couldn’t really be much to gain. I mean, you find a competition, submit your entry and wait to hear back about your glorious victory right?

Wrong. It was literally the last tab I had open, and I’d clicked it by mistake. The advice was generally about being wary about who you’re dealing with; vanity publishing winners (and anthologies that aren’t distributed beyond the website and with such poor quality that it comes as no surprise), extra critique services and or contact from an “agent” (claiming to see potential in and asking to sign you up for a small fee, regardless of the fact you’d sent in the first error-riddled copy by mistake that also contained sudden bouts of a Mandarin you’d had no conscious memory of learning), retaining rights and such. One thing it suggested was to research the company providing the competition before you enter it, which to most conscientious people would be a natural first step but one that I’d completely overlooked. So I did. On the eve of the results, into my search bar went ‘Chapter One Promotions’...

What a crushing blow that was. Aside from their own pages, horror stories started spilling down my screen from several different sources and with the grim resolve of somebody called in to identify the body of a loved one I read them all. Tales of late, unflattering or nonexistent payments to winners, anthologies that never made it to print and of poor quality, bad communication and general unprofessionalism got me down, but more worryingly with my own plan for the full release I desperately scrabbled to find what rights I’d signed away in entering. They’d taken down the terms and conditions for entry page and replaced it with ‘results coming soon’. I checked the terms on other competitions from the same website but again, these are replaced as soon as competitions close. There is a page available for rules to the novel competition, and it gives me hope in that ‘The copyright of the work remains with the author who gives Chapter One Promotions permission to display it on the website’ but I’m worried it’s different because the format of the competition I entered in the writing is based on something they’ve provided in the first paragraph, so it might alter what they’d consider ‘theirs’? Especially as I plan to earn money from it. I tell you, it’s a weird feeling after months of hope and anticipation in your maiden competition to sit there wondering whether it might be better, and at this point slightly hoping, that you don’t make the shortlist...

And typically, I did! So mega happy on that front, but also slightly sickened, haha. I finished in one of the runner up places which complicates things even more as this is the first time they’ve run this particular competition and I don’t know whether it’ll make it into an anthology as there are no previous results to look at. I’m happy though, at this point in time I can boast 100% success rate for short listing in competitions I’ve entered! And until I’ve entered two more I shall continue to do so :p . (I shall boast so long as I’m above 50%.)

I’ve emailed Chapter One enquiring about the rights of my story and complications about selling my own full version in the future. As yet I’ve had no response. Two weeks might not seem a long time on the face of it, after all this could be a busy time for them, but I’m panicking more each day with regards to the future of the full version. I’ve stopped work on it altogether fearing it might be a waste of time. One of the reasons I’m concerned is that I contacted them before when there was a problem with the entry and they got back to me on the same day – quick to enough get into contact when it’s about giving them money...

So we’ll have to wait and see. I’m loathe to post the story here until I get a response. Aside from being really unprofessional I don’t want to risk being forced to retract it and souring potential negotiations over the future of the full version of the story.

Aside from short listing in the competition there has been another positive outcome from all this. Whilst trawling the horror stories as mentioned from earlier I came across a writer called Dan Purdue. He was the outright winner of the International Short Story Competition run by Chapter One in 2010 and blogged about his experience dealing with the company. Whilst reading though I had a look around on his site and was astonished to see a sort of future version of myself in terms of writing. Not to sound creepy, but the way he’s mapped his career is very similar to how I project mine heading; entering short story competitions, short listing and winning, then bundling them into a collection for sale - it’s like we’re reading from the same blueprint. Dan has an impressive list of all his short story achievements to date and I think (if I’m not going crazy) I read somewhere he’s now working on a longer project. You may argue that it’s a blueprint shared by everyone in the game, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it from a personal level so it hit me harder. The list of credentials is also good for me in that I now have a preapproved list of competitions to enter without much fear of reliving my current dilemma. Again, it might sound creepy to follow in another person’s footsteps so closely but I see it as a target now. I wonder if as my list builds I can provide the same, safe competition list for someone else in the future? I might make it standard practise now to only enter competitions that others I have a little familiarity with have entered.

I haven’t actually got round to reading any of Dan’s work yet, but I intend to. To read his blog about his experience with Chapter One (it’s the initial one I found from the search results) go here – http://lies-ink.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/when-big-prize-means-even-bigger.html

It wasn’t all bad though and did reach a natural conclusion. You can read about it in another blog post here – http://lies-ink.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/us-retrospective.html

At this point I would like to point out that the dubious results I found were dated a few years back. Like with Dan, the rest of the ‘missing’ anthologies seem to have been added to their bookstore and it all looks up to date. I don’t know if this is just a case of them finally getting their act together after a bumpy start but it does give me hope with my own situation.

Bit of a long post this time as I actually had something to talk about! Obviously I’ll get the story posted on here as soon as the situation is resolved - you’ve been starved of fresh content from me for far too long already! Here’s hoping it will be sorted soon! Until next time, buh-bye!

__________

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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Blog - 15/01/13

Happy New Year then people!

This month I’ve been looking back at the first novel I started, code named WTR. I’d written ten of projected thirtyish chapters that had been redrafted a few times. I have to say, the sheer size of it was enough to inspire me – I’ve been flitting between so many different smaller projects recently that it was nice to handle something with a bit of weight to it! The first time I sat down to read it I was feeling pretty tentative, just how far had I come in my progress as a writer?

I remember the very birth of this story, sat on the floor in the hallway outside my room, blinded from a setting sun shining through my window as I squinted vacantly at an empty pad of paper and twiddled a pen in my hand, challenging myself to just write something, anything down. A lot of people will tell you the hardest part of writing is in the starting. This was a perfect example of that. I’d decided I wanted to be a writer having just dropped out of university and not really knowing where my future lay. I knew I didn’t want to do something conventionally nine-to-five for the same reason I dropped out, so something alternative was needed. It happened to coincide with a time I’d fallen back into love with reading after a lengthy absence, so I guess it just seemed to fit. I’ve always considered myself a story teller more than a writer, knowing how I want the journey to go in my head but worrying about how competently I could paint the picture, and this read through was a chance to see it firsthand.

Overall, I was fairly impressed with it! Obviously there was some uncomfortable, cringe inducing moments that left me squirming through sections at a time, but you’d expect that. At the same time I actually caught myself laughing aloud at moments of humour (I’d describe it as a light hearted crime thriller) which can only be a good thing right? My descriptive work was the biggest surprise to me though, I definitely think it’s something I’ve lost in later projects. This throws up two damning questions.

1.       Has my writing style changed so much that it’d be noticeable and therefore unworkable in completing the story?

I sure hope not, though there’s going to have to be a fair amount of tailoring to ensure it reads fluently as one entire project and not some bit part session piecing. Some of the notes were dated at September 2009. Gulp.

2.       Have I gotten worse?!

Practice is supposed to make perfect, but I found this story far superior to anything I’ve produced recently. I have to factor in the affinity for a first love / first car effect, but some of the technique and layering I’ve used just makes me wish I still naturally wrote like that. I started writing short stories as a way to improve and gain some basic level of following for my writing but I’m starting to fear it may all have turned out to be detrimental. Not so much room for layering, description and retrospective clues when you have a (for me) miniscule word limit, I hope I haven’t lost them as a natural element in my writing. Some reassurance that my writing hasn’t gone to pot in the comments would be welcome here guys ;) haha.

I can see why I took a break from writing this story though. I stopped drafting because the plot ahead got really tangled and confusing, with missing elements and things that weren’t quite working. A fresh perspective has been good though, just as I had planned, and I’ve figured quite a lot out now behind the scenes. Starting actual drafting again is not too far over the horizon. As always my attentions will be split between this and something else though. I’ll be releasing a short story I entered into competition a while ago and will be developing the full version of it for actual purchase! The short version will be available on here for free some time before the next blog post! New content! Can you believe it?! I hope you’re all hitting 2013 as fast as I am! Haha. Until next time, buh-bye!

__________

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