Wednesday, 24 November 2010


My tiny story Graffiti is over at The Pygmy Giant today: Bristol, graffiti and the eternal turf war between good and evil in 150 words.

Thanks to for this Banksy image found on the side of the Thekla boat/club in Bristol harbour.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Happy National Short Story Week!

This week (22nd-28th November) is the UK's first National Short Story Week! To find out more about events, stories, authors and the like, go to their website.

To celebrate (ok, entirely coincidentally) I have a tiny tiny short story coming out in The Pygmy Giant on Wednesday. It involves Bristol, graffiti, and the eternal battle between Good and Evil. In 150 words.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

NaNo Day Sixteen

So, halfway there and how are we doing? I've just opened my rather beautiful Excel spreadsheet (created in a fit of procrastination, naturally) to find:
Words written during NaNo: 18,062
Novel total: 93,723

I'm going to utterly fail the NaNoWriMo task of writing 50,000 words during the month of November. BUT I actually think I might finish the novel by the end of the month, which, after all, was the task. I didn't do any NaNo-ing today but spent the afternoon writing a short story which was hammering to get out. Also, we do have things like a trip to New York and Thanksgiving (which we're hosting again) getting in the way of writing, but really, if I finish my novel on, say, December 3rd I'm not going to be too unhappy.
Then, of course, LoEdShiFiDra begins (Localised Editing of the Shitty First Draft) begins.

In other news, I've just had a poem accepted into the stunning Inkspill Magazine for their next issue in January.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Three-Lobed Burning Eye

The latest issue of speculative fiction magazine Three-Lobed Burning Eye (Issue 20) has appeared today, and will soon also be available as a PDF and an e-book. I am delighted that it contains my story The Birdstories of Jaywalker. Also, I just love the artwork.

This has to be one of my favourite stories I have written. It was inspired by a writing prompt over at WriteWords for a story involving a member of the crow family. I hit the books/internet and discovered that jays, one of my favourite birds, are a type of crow. In myth Jays take stories and news down to the underworld and they are slightly feared because of this.

Thinking of stories, the scene jumped straight into my mind: my husband and I had been to the Welsh Storytelling Festival with my father-in-law, John Roberts, who was performing one of his beautiful puppet shows there. What a good place for collecting stories. His famous storytelling rug makes a cameo in this.

I moved the action to Scotland and shamelessly pinched the word 'dreich' I had heard from Highlands writing friend Caroline because it is such a wonderful and evocative word. Use it three times and it is yours.

There is some hint that the Three-Lobed Burning Eye Anthology will be out at the end of the year. I am very much looking forward to that.

Friday, 5 November 2010

50 Stories For Pakistan Arrives and Other Good News

This is my very own copy of 50 Stories For Pakistan sitting on my kitchen table.
And look! Here is my story, Lines.

And here is me holding my book.

I've read about half the stories now and they really are very good. You can read one in about the length of time it takes for a kettle to boil, which suits me very well.

In other news, I've had a story accepted by the wonderful magical realism/speculative fiction magazine, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, which will be out in their latest issue and also in their next anthology, apparently. I am very happy about this, although I don't know if it will be as suitable for elderly relatives as Christmas presents as 50 Stories For Pakistan.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

NaNo Day Three

Day three in the Big NaNo household. Jen is making a cup of tea.

Total word count so far: 4,056.

What have I learned?
Well, that I can write 2,000 words in a day perfectly easily. But I knew that already. Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day without a NaNoWriMo stat counter showing him a little blue bar. It's quite normal for a writer.

The difference now is that I have to write 2,000 words a day (I am busy most weekends in November so I have to do that little bit more each weekday).

When I hit a snag usually I make a cup of tea, chat to the cats, check Facebook... The procrastination kicks in. Now, I have to hit that target or the NaNo Stat Counter will shout at me and so I make that cup of tea, go back into Word and write through it. Turning off the internal editor, I plough on and - miraculously - the snags untangle.

Yesterday I literally found myself jumping for joy as I thought of a plot device that not only got my MC from A to B, but solved a lingering problem in a perfectly natural, unstrained way. I actually whooped.

I don't plot. I have my characters and I have a rough outline of main plot points on a few sides of A4 paper, some notes about my fictional world to keep place names/infrastructure points straight and that is it. It's up to the characters to find their way.

The problem with this approach is that, whilst I am perfectly capable of writing 2,000 words a day, I often get stuck and only nudge in at less than 1,000. What I am hoping to get from NaNo is the discipline to write through the tangles and let them sort themselves out, rather than being discouraged by them.

I can always take out the rubbish parts later. I am aiming to overwrite the novel by 10% at the very least so that I can do just that. (Another tip from Stephen King. Really, if you haven't read Stephen King's On Writing it's one of the best 'how to' books I have read. Whatever you think of his fiction, he is immensely successful and must be doing something right.)

I do have an advantage over the NaNo-ers who are doing this completely properly in that I am already three-quarters of the way through my novel so have momentum and characters who have learned the drill by now. It's the bit from 10,000 to 30,000 that is by far the hardest.

Good luck to all my fellow NaNo-ers this month, especially those doing this with full-time jobs, kids and Salsa classes. Hats off to you.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Happy November!

Happy November everyone! I have a poem called November Gift up at EDP to celebrate the darkest, rainiest, most huddle-inside month... perfect for writing!

This month I am taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for anyone sane enough not to be taking part). The aim is to write 50,000 words by the end of November. I'm not doing it totally properly as I am using it to finish the first draft of my novel (now at 75k words) rather than writing a new one, so I probably won't be doing the full 50k but enjoying the camaraderie for that final push. So although I'll have technically failed, it won't feel like a fail to me! I'll let you know how I got on.