Monthly Archives: December 2017

My Week In Writing (13/12/17)

20171213_225307.jpgIs this post several days late, or early for next week? Who knows!

I’ve not been super well since NaNoWriMo finished – I missed some time off work and would have liked to have missed a little more, if I’m going to be honest. It doesn’t help that we’ve just moved to a new office so I’m feeling a bit unsettled.

I am, however, still very much working on The Green and the Gathering Tide, which is coming up on 170,000 words (including the pre-NaNo 2017 material, naturally). I’m also still working, somewhat piecemeal, on Annique but seem to have written myself into something of a corner. Boo.

I went along to Event Horizon, now at Frankensteins and in an underground venue that has the ethos of a mead hall. I wasn’t shortlisted for the flash fiction contest so it was a pretty relaxed evening for me and I was curious to hear the winning story – you can read more about the winners here.

I finished reading The Time Hoppers by Robert Silverberg and posted a quick review on Goodreads. I also read Come Close, Penguin’s 80th anniversary edition of Sappho’s poems, and re-read The Little Prince in a very shiny hard copy (previously read it on Kindle) that I bought a while back on Transreal fiction.

And I read Shoreline of Infinity 9, finally, and had a great time. I’m now working my way throught the issues of Pulp Literature I got as part of my subscription (which I got for entering their flash fiction contest).

I also re-read Settlement 359, my own sci-fi novel. I’m still pretty pleased with it! Needs some quick edits for continuity but once that’s done I might be able to send it to some people to read! I’m dreading editing it properly though.

And I did most of my Christmas shopping. So, that’s a pretty big achievement, hopefully.

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I Collect Tiny Books

20171206_195508.jpgIt’s really very simple: I love books, and I love miniature things. I can’t resist tiny books. I buy them whenever I find them in charity shops and whenever they have them on the counter at Waterstones (or else, I have to restrain myself from buying them… I would have liked to buy the entire Penguin 80th anniversary range but couldn’t justify it!)

It is, after all, a great way to read things you might not otherwise have read, or even heard of. At the moment I’m reading a tiny collection of poems by Emily Dickinson, and I just finished re-read The Little Prince (second book to the right, in the pale blue and gold jacket).

I fully intend to buy more, and soon!

So for this mid-week post, I thought I’d take a quick look at a couple of my favourites from my collection…

20171206_195719.jpgThe Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Gilman-Perkins

I read The Yellow Wall-Paper for the first time in school – like many people, I’m sure.  It’s a classic for a reason, and I was really pleased to be able to own it – in a tiny book all of it’s own!

Re-reading it from an older perspective, it’s just as good and as chilling as I remember and I’m really glad I came back to it.

Also in this mini-collection, two further short works: The Rocking Chair, another truly chilling story of jealousy and inexplicable horror, and Old Water, a thriller with a delicious final twist.

Of all the mini-books in my collection, this is the one I’d most recommend checking out.

20171206_195730.jpgThe Machine Stops by EM Forster

Talk about ahead of its time – I can’t quite believe this story was written in 1909! And by EM Forster, who you wouldn’t expect to find writing science fiction.

The Machine Stops is set in a distant future where every human lives in a single room, communicating with others entirely via the machine. People live pampered lives, the machine attending to all their needs. No-one lives without the machine. In time, they come to view it as their god. But as the title suggests… it can’t last forever.

It’s a fascinating and startingly prescient story, with an unusual and interesting voice. I’d really recommend looking it up, if you haven’t already.


20171206_195657.jpgThe Signalman by Charles Dickens

Here’s a confession: I picked this one up because of Doctor Who. This scene, specifically! This is a story the Doctor called ‘terrifying’ – must be pretty good, right?

And yes, as it turns out. It’s a brilliant story, the right level of scary for me, and I still think about the ending sometimes. The cover calls it a ghost story, but is it, strictly speaking?

The apparition in the story… isn’t a dead person, exactly. There are no explanations as easy or comfortable as that. I don’t know how much thought was put into the above Doctor Who scene, but it’s very plausible to me that a story as ambiguous and disturbing as this would frighten the Doctor. Spooky stuff.

20171206_195739.jpgThe Wall, the City and the World by Eliot Weinberger

I found this one in the Fruitmarket Gallery bookshop, together with another little volume from the same series. I found the other one fairly forgettable, but this one stuck with me.

There’s three essays within, themed about the title words. All three are good, but what really stuck with me was The Wall: a series of short reports of activity at the Berlin Wall. Not attempts to cross, exactly, but brief true accounts of people holding conversations, throwing things and shouting over the Wall. It’s a strange and curiously enlightening read.

And a beautiful little book, to boot. Definitely one of the prettiest wee books in my collection!

It’s only just now occurred to me that I keep it just behind my piece of the Berlin wall. How’s that for irony?

Anyway, those are my favourites (tonight, anyhow) but as you can see, I have a bunch more 80th anniversary Penguin Classics (all of them by women – largely by design), and an assortment of other curious little books, including some 70th anniversary editions.

I recommend picking some of these up – so short and sweet, you can read them cover to cover on your lunchbreak.




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My Week In Writing (03/12/17)

20171201_171146.jpgOverheard at work this week: ‘this has been the fastest year of my life’. And it really has. I honestly can’t believe it’s December already – which is odd, because I’ve done a lot this year! More on that later, I suppose.

I finished NaNoWriMo on Thursday at (drum roll!) 104,074 words. Hopefully I’m more or less recovered, at this point – doesn’t help that I missed a couple of hours last week and the week before and had to work a bunch of longer days to play catch up.

I was pretty pleased with the result and now I have both parts of this novel in one document, which was very satisfying. Hoping to get back to it soon as it’s still a WIP and I want to at least finish the arc I was on.

Not surprisingly, I haven’t been doing much other writing this week, other than updating this blog. I also didn’t get shortlisted for the Shoreline of Infinity Flash Fiction contest – you can check out the shortlist here and it looks pretty great! I’m slightly relieved not to be there, though – I think if I made the shortlist it would have just stressed me out!

I also applied for a job with the Book Festival and sent a story to Pulp Literature (thoroughly recommended magazine, by the by).

In short, my week has been alternately hellishly busy (with NaNoWriMo) and very very quiet. And now I’m off to get some rest, and watch the new Dirk Gently.



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