My Week In Writing (23/4/2017)

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Also I made lemonade

Settlement 359 is still trucking along. Part 6 is sitting at about 10k, so I should probably find a way to wrap it up and move on to part 7, which (all going well) should be the climax. Hopefully. Maybe. Then there’ll be an epilogue. I think.

I’m now 10 chapters (out of 13) into editing Summer. Unfortunately I’ve spent most of this week too tired to substantial re-writes so I’ve just been marking passages to come back to later and then realising that I can’t re-write a related passage in the next chapter till I do the earlier passage so I just highlight that one too… you get the picture.

I’ve started working on a story for The Temporal Logbook II, a charity Doctor Who anthology. No idea if I’ll get my story finished in time for the open submission day, though – I decided to take some advice from one of Big Finish’s writers (I forget which one) and try to come up with the best possible Doctor Who story, so I’ve ended up with something very ambitious that might not be doable in <8k. We’ll see. I’m making a spreadshet.

I went to the Creative Salon at Summerhall, where we heard some poetry, which was a nice change of pace. Lot more writers than usual, so I got to chat to some people about my novels.

I finished reading The Snake Wand and reviewed in on Goodreads. Now I’m reading the newest issue of Popshot (which I submitted a story for and didn’t get into, boo). The artwork is gorgeous as ever and the theme is ‘future’, which means the stories are right up my alley.

I’m really enjoying the new season of Doctor Who. Smile was sincerely frightening in that paranoia-inducing way that New Who’s so good at, though I had a curious sensation of deja vu – I’m sure I’ve seen almost that exact premise in a Doctor Who story before, but I can’t place it. But on the up side, Matt Lucas was barely in it, which is a plus.

I listened to two Doctor Who audio plays, both from Big Finish’s Lost Stories range: Point of Entry, a very gothic piece about Christopher Marlowe (which was originally to be scripted by the author of one of my favourite Fifth Doctor serials, Enlightenment) and Crime of the Century, the first in a trilogy of stories featuring the Seventh Doctor and Raine Creevy, the companion who would have been introduced had the show now been cancelled.

Point of Entry does a really good job of capturing the tone of the Sixth Doctor era (it’s got this grungy, rough around the edges feel to it), though in many respects it harks back to the Hinchcliffe & Holmes era. I don’t think I know enough Christopher Marlowe to properly appreciate it, though. I was a bit less taken with Crime of the Century, which I found oddly dull for a story that features the Doctor’s companion sword fighting a giant insect…

I’ve also been listening to The Adventure Zone by the McElroys, ie, listening to a group of very funny and creative people play D&D. I gather the plot goes to some very exciting places (I know a lot of people who are really invested) but I’m still trying to get caught up.

Next week I’m planning to start reading Slade House by David Mitchell (which I literally JUST realised is a companion piece to The Bone Clocks – which is fine by me because I’ve read it and loved it, apparently threw some people!), finish listening to the Raine Creevy trilogy (I’ve heard mixed things so we’ll see how that goes) and make a proper start on writing this Doctor Who story. Just as soon as I get it planned out. It’s gonna need a very detailed plan.

I’m also hoping to go to Edinburgh’s Literary Salon – no idea who the feature is and don’t especially care, I jsut like getting to hang out with some writers for a few hours.

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Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events

5db16efdb30f9cd831a2484f3af36cad6cb97ee7A confession: I didn’t think the 2004 film of A Series of Unfortunate Events was all that bad. Sure, a lot of the changes it made irritated me (Klaus doesn’t have glasses! Why does Klaus have no glasses?) but compared to some book-to-film adaptations… it was pretty okay?

As such, while I do prefer the new Netflix series, I just don’t see as much to choose between the two. In my head they’ve already turned into a sort of Unfortunate blur. Doesn’t help that some elements in the series are actually from the film rather than the books!

Anyway. The aesthetic and tone of the series are absolutely perfect – they really nailed it there. Including Lemony Snicket himself as a character was a masterstroke. And I love the theme song!

I also loved all the new material. Introducing the VFD arc earlier was definitely the right way to go and it was really nicely done. I especially liked the whole Zombies in the Snow sequence, which is, if I recall correctly, a dramatisation of a very strange chapter of Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorised Autobiography.

However, the big downside of the extra material is that it does sometimes diminish the Baudelaire siblings. Ideas they came up with themselves in the books are now indicated to have been orchestrated by VFD agents. It makes the children into less smart, less active protagonists, and it kind of takes away from the ‘you’re on your own now’ feel of the books.

And, I admit, I’m still not sold on Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf. He does a perfectly good job – it’s just that Neil Patrick Harris is such a distinctive actor that I can’t see him as anyone other than Neil Patrick Harris. I never found his Olaf fully convincing or, to be honest, threatening enough. Similarly, Patrick Warburton is a fantastic narrator, but he’s not how I imagined Lemony Snicket.

It’s not perfect, and I’m not as excited as a lot of people seem to be. But it was a very enjoyable and very faithful adaptation and I look forward to the next season.

 

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My Week In Writing (16/4/17)

20170415_151222My novel’s now sitting at 111,200 words exactly, which is an attractive looking number. Slower progress than I would have liked this week as well – hopefully can play catch up next week.

I’m also four chapters into editing Summer, adding a new plot thread, and just started a part that requires some fairly extensive re-writes. Oops.

I went to Event Horizon, where I heard some Scottish hip-hop and some very strange and intriguing sci-fi poetry. Unfortunately, had to leave early because I had a job interview the next day – I had two this week, which meant I also had to miss my book group and my writing group. Ah, well.

But, I did finish the book group book, Fear: Essential Wisdom For Getting Through The Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh, which so far I’m finding helpful. I’d recommend it.

And I went for a very fancy afternoon tea at the Scottish Portrait Gallery (courtesy of my mum – got a voucher for my birthday!).

Currently reading: The Snake Wand by Mavis Gulliver

Currently watching: Voltron: Legendary Defender

 

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Books To Read – April 2017

20170411_2231311 – 4: The Circle Opens quartet by Tamora Pierce. I’ve actually read the first two (Magic Steps and Street Magic) already, but I’d like to re-read them before reading the second two. They were actually my first Tamora Pierce novels if I recall correctly – I read them before the Circle of Magic, the series they’re a prequel too, which in hindsight was a misake.

5: Thirteen Steps by J. Jefferson Farjeon. Impulse purchase in a charity bookshop, because I liked the cover and I’ve kind of been craving some vintage murder mystery lately. Hopefully I’ll still be up for it by the time I get around to reading this!

6: The Snake Wand by Mavis Gulliver. The third volume in the fantasy trilogy I’m reading at the moment. On a break from it just now, but I’ll be reading it next.

7: After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry. Another charity shop impulse purchase, this one just had such an intriguing blurb, I couldn’t resist!

8: Slade House by David Mitchell. I’ve only read two David Mitchell novels (Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks) but I already consider myself a fan. Picked this up with an Amazon voucher I got at Christmas, and I’m planning to read it after The Snake Wand.

9: A Song of Stone by Iain Banks. A charity shop impulse purchase, and I’ll be honest, I bought this mostly because I really dig the vintage Iain Banks cover art.

10: The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin. Also bought with my Amazon voucher. I’m on a mission to read more Ursula Le Guin sci-fi.

10: Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay. A birthday gift, from my mum. There was a theme! (See below).

11: The Doll’s House by Rumer Godden. I’m very excited about this one! I’ve read it before, many times, but this is a new edition, part of a children’s classics range with a foreword by Jacqueline Wilson. I’ve felt for years that The Doll’s House was severely underrated so I’m really pleased to see it getting some appreciation.

12: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. A further birthday gift, from my sister. I don’t know much about it, but it’s certainly very pretty.

13: Darling by Jackie Kay. The other half of my mum’s birthday present.

14: Bed by David Whitehouse. Has a very interesting cover, an intriguing premise, and by total coincidence, it’s signed – and made out to me! Had a good laugh when I got it home from the charity shop and saw that.

15: Popshot Magazine: The Future IssuePopshot Magazine: The Future Issue. Squeezed in at the bottom – the newest issue of one of my favourite literary magazines. I submitted to this one. They didn’t want my story. Still wanted the magazine.

So, that’s my reading for the next, hmm, two months, at least. I’ll be back with more pictures of books once I’ve read these ones!

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My Week In Writing (9/4/17)

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A space station & and setting

Slower progress on my novel this week – I’ve had a lot going on! But I did start part 6, which is weird because I was pretty sure part 5 was going to be climax. Oops. 6-7 parts, I think. Wordcount is currently around 108k.

Still cracking on with Summer. I’m going over a chapter a day, so I should finish this edit and be ready to move onto the more fun business of writing chapter epitaphs in about two weeks…

I finished Cry at Midnight, and its sequel, Clickfinger, and reviewed both on Goodreads. Putting off the third volume, The Snake Wand because I’m reading Fear: Essential Wisdom For Getting Through The Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh for a book group meeting on Tuesday.

I workshopped a short story called The Procedure with my writing group on Monday and it went down pretty well, I think. I haven’t look over it since I wrote it so I actually forgot how squicky it gets. Sorry, writing group.

I went along to Inky Fingers with my flatmate, where we heard a love poem delivered to a block of lard, a poem about shower gel, a story about a world where chicken korma is illegal, and we all sang head shoulders knees and toes, so that was a fun night out. Couldn’t stay till the end, unfortunately – I have to be up at six every morning for my job.

Next week I’m going to Event Horizon at Banshee Labyrinth, which is always a highlight. Will probably have to give my writing group a miss because I have a job interview the next day (yay!) but I’m hoping to get back to my book group. If I can finish the damn book…

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Shoreline of Infinity – spring ’17

Shoreline-Issue-7-Cover-1000wThis month marks the seventh of what’ll hopefully be a very long run of Shoreline of Infinity, Scotland’s finest (and only) science fiction magazine. And it’s an especially exciting issue, because I’m in it – twice!

I really love Shoreline, and not just because they bought my work. I’ve been going to their monthly open mic nights (now at Banshee Labyrinth – second Wednesday of the month) since last summer and I own all seven issues in print format. I’d subscribe, but I like the experience of picking them up in person!

Unlike a lot of magazines, they have a somewhat loose and open-minded definition of sci-fi, publishing stories all over what one might call the SF spectrum, generally with a focus on character drama and emotion rather than science, which I really appreciate.

They also publish an ongoing comic about the history of science fiction, called The Beachcomber, and a great column on Scottish sci-fi history entitled SF Caledonia which is always a fascinating read, plus interviews and a selection of book reviews.

Issue 7 features one of my short stories, plus my review of The Girl with Two Souls by Stephen Palmer.

It’s more than just a fiction magazine – it really is a magazine for the Scottish sci-fi fan community, and I can’t recommend it enough!

This quarter’s line-up:

The Walls of Tithonium Chasma by Tim Major – a bleak and rather cold story set on Mars, in a future harking back to classic sci-fi.

An Infinite Number of Me by Dan Grace – one of the more abstract, less conventional offerings, this one’s the kind of story that could be taken as a metaphor, up until the final lines.

Brother’s Keeper by Shannon Connor Winward – I’d call this a character drama with a side of SF, rather than SF with character drama. Despite the time travel involved, it feels very real, very down-to-earth.

Message in a Bottle by Davyne DeSye – I confess, I’m not sure what to make of this one. A short and strange piece, perhaps more of a prose poem than a short story, I look forward to re-reading it.

Anyone Can Ask About Enhancement by Terry Jackman – a chilling and perhaps darkly comic tale set in a Brave New World-esque future.

3.8 Missions by Katie Gray – here’s my story! I shan’t toot my own horn, but it involves mostly cyborgs.

Quantum Flush by Daniel Soule – a very silly and very funny time travel story, if a little heavy on potty humour for my taste.

Something Fishy by David L Clements – a strange and unpredictable story about a singing fish on an alien world.

This issue’s Beachcomber is short and irrevent history of Martians, from Edgar Rice Burroughs to Marvin, and it’s probably my favourite entry in the series to date. SF Caledonia covers 19th century novel That Very Mab by May Kendall and Andrew Lang, a fascinating and hard to classify book about Mab the fairy queen returning to Britain after a long sojourn in Samoa.

Issue 7 is dedicated to author and poetry Jane Yolen and features an extended interview followed by a selection of her sci-fi poetry (with an introduction by poetry editor Russell Jones). Finally, there’s Ruth EJ Booth’s regular column Noise and Sparks, which discuses Mervyn Peake and the importance of the arts in these interesting times.

It’s a really great and well-rounded magazine. You can pick up a digital copy through the Shoreline of Infinity website for £2.60 or a hard copy for £5.25, and you can also buy copies at their monthly Event Horizon sci-fi open mic for £5. Check it out, and read my story while you’re at it!

 

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My Week In Writing (2/4/17)

settlementI hit 100,000 words on my sci-fi novel, so I’m feeling pretty proud of that right now – even if it’s 90% trash. Here’s a taste of what I wrote this week:

“What’s that word, indigenous?” said Saara.

“The natives,” said Doctor Yen. “The people who live here.”

“We are not indigenous,” said Saara. “We make our kesh here, but we are not native. This is not Marikesh.” They lowered the tablet. “We go through this cavern. After that there is – the symbols call it an old warren. There will be more symbols to lead to the waystation.”

“And the rangers? You can call them from there?” said Cobey.

“They might already be coming,” said Saara. “They might have – seen.”

“You’re a native,” said Doctor Yen, clearly not following the conversation. “But the rest of you – you’re human?”

A difficult question. A frosty silence. At length Six said, “no.”

I also started editing Summer in earnest – this should, fingers crossed, be the final draft. But first I need to make some cuts, add a new character thread, and probably re81kc5sE9pVL-organise the chapter breaks.

I finished reading Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children: Library of Souls and I also read Steven Universe: Too Cool For School, because I’m the kind of nerd that likes to watch cartoons for children. You can read my reviews of both over on my Goodreads.

I started reading Cry at Midnight by Mavis Gulliver. It’s the first in a trilogy of children’s fantasy novels set on Tiree. I got all three as a holiday gift from my mum, who thought I might be interested in the publisher – Cinnamon Press, an independent publisher based in North Wales. They’re not actually taking submissions at the moment, but they do have a novella competition that I might look into.

I finished watching Netflix’s new A Series of Unfortunate Events adaptation and have some mixed but generally positive feelings about it – more on that soon.

I went to the Edinburgh Literary Salon, which this month had speakers from the Edinburgh Society of Independent Authors and Shoreline of Infinity, Scotland’s own sci-fi magazine. I particularly enjoyed the Shoreline of Infinity talk, from editor Noel Chidwick – I really love the magazine, so it was great to learn more about how they were founded (also, they published my story – buy it here!).

Also, I made chocolate brownies for my flatmate’s birthday party, and they were delicious.

Next week, I’m going to be pressing on with my novels (should be hitting 110k soon, fingers crossed), heading along to Inky Fingers and workshopping a new (ish) short story at my writing group. It’s a very serious near-future sci-fi about abortion. It also has a super-intelligent wonder dog. It’s, um, a difficult piece to describe, and hopefully my group will enjoy it!

 

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