Monthly Archives: March 2018

My Week in Writing (25/03/18)

20180324_151527.jpgI’ve had the most exhausting week. But thankfully after getting some rest my productivity seems to be back! I finished a short story this week, which I’m calling The Glass Legs (or, it’s easier than you think). It’s about five thousand words, which is a good length, and I’m very pleased with it.

The Green and the Gathering Tide is now over 215,000 words and still climbing. I’m in a slower-paced, meditative arc now so it’s slow going.

I also for the first time this week sent the complete draft of Phases of Being, the first novel in this trilogy, to my mother. She’ll be the first person to read it in full so I’m a touch nervous as at present, it’s still an unedited mess.

This week, I’ve been reading The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, which I’m really enjoying. I’ve also started reading Emily Wilson’s translation of the Odyssey, but I only just today finished the introduction which spans some ninety pages.

I’ve also picked up Lord of the Rings again which I was re-reading a while back as I’m suddenly on a massive LOTR kick. I started listening to the 1981 radio serial this afternoon and this evening I’m going to re-watch The Two Towers. I’m not sure what brought this sudden Tolkien passion on but hey ho.

And I reviewed The Last Unicorn (five stars), The Breakthrough and The Missing Girl (four stars each) on Goodreads.

I also went to the Edinburgh Creative Salon, which now has a new venue, and had a good time as usual. Next week I’ll be at the Literary Salon, all going well, and heading down south to visit my family for Easter.

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My Week in Writing (18/03/18)

I’ve been visiting my mother this week and she’s still very tired from her surgery, so things have been pretty quiet. I read a lot: Wide Sargasso Sea on the train south and The Last Unicorn on the journey back north, plus two mini Penguin classics, The Break-Through by Daphne du Maurier and The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson. (I’m going to have to look up some more Shirley Jackson!)

I also read issue 10 of Shoreline of Infinity and as usual enjoyed it immensely! And I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the first time – I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss out on it before, it’s a really excellent film.

I reviewed We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Wide Sargasso Sea on Goodreads and I made a start on reviewing Scourge, the novel I’m reviewing for an upcoming edition of Shoreline of Infinity.

I finished listening to Shield of the Jotunn, a Sixth Doctor story from Big Finish. Fairly run of the mill stuff, but some solid Doctor Who and I’m always keen to hear more of companion Constance Clarke.

The Green and the Gathering Tide is now coming up on 213,000 words and still rising. And this week I finally sent the first book in the trilogy, Phases of Being, to my mother to read – no one has read the whole thing before so I’m a bit nervous!

Next week, I’ll be at the Edinburgh Creative Salon, and hopefully finally – finally – going to see Black Panther.

 

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Big Finish Review: Sixth Doctor Short Trips

He’s back! I confess: I was a little worried when 2017’s Short Trips lineup from Big Finish contained no stories for old Sixie. His place in the lineup seemed to have been taken by an assortment of (very good, for the most part) New Who based stories, and pleased as I am that BF are producing New Who content I was a concerned that some of their Classic content might fall by the wayside.

But for January and February of 2018 they put out two Sixth Doctor stories in a row, one for each of his TV companions (and there’s another one coming in August for BF’s own companion Constance Clarke). I listened to them more or less back to back, and had a great time…

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The Authentic Experience by Dan Starkey

Peri is a soldier in an unknown war, teased by his fellow soldiers for his sensitive nature and love of plants. He doesn’t remember how he came to be in the army, or even where his home is.

The Doctor and Peri Brown land in a drab, grey city in the future, drawn in by a temporal disturbance. They quickly track down the source… a travel agency.

I called the reveal in The Authentic Experience very early on, but fortunately the story doesn’t hinge too much on surprise. Once the initial mystery is solved it blossoms into something fun and globe-trotting and delightfully creative.

This is author Dan Starkey’s second Big Finish writing credit, and first solo story. (You may know him as Strax.) A really delightful Short Trips debut. The strengths of the Doctor and Peri’s relationship are showcased in spite of the story being light on characterisation.

The central idea of The Authentic Experience may not be the most original but it’s well-executed and, by the end of the story, made into something truly mind-bending.

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Mel-Evolent by Simon A Forward

One morning in the TARDIS, Mel finds the Doctor brooding in the TARDIS theatre. (She didn’t know the TARDIS had a theatre.) Exploring she sees, reflected in a mirror, her own face, but somehow twisted and sinister.

Something has invaded the TARDIS. Something has stolen Mel’s face. Something very old and very malevolent.

Mel-Evolent goes to some strange places. Like the best Sixth Doctor and Mel stories it’s superficially comic – the image of an evil version of Mel, one of the sweetest, most upbeat, most harmless companions the Doctor has ever had, borders on the absurd – but beneath the comedy and the trappings of fantasy there’s a sense of real fear.

The imagery is gorgeous, an eerie and surreal blend of science fiction and fairy tale. The reveal about the origins of the ‘Witch Queen’ is simultaneously some classic Doctor Who stuff whilst also being genuinely surprising and unsettling. The ending may take you by surprise.

The 2018 Short Trips lineup promises some really exciting and novel stories, including I Am The Master, written and performed by Big Finish’s original Master Geoffrey Beevers, and Erasure, an exceptionally niche story featuring the Fourth Doctor, Adric, and CIA Co-Ordinator Narvin of Big Finish’s Gallifrey.

But the quality of the range as a whole is best judged through more classic, more run of the mill stories like The Authentic Experience and Mel-Evolent. And both of these were a delight to listen to. Season eight off to a very strong start.

 

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My Week in Writing (11/03/18)

A short update this week, as I’ve had a very stressful few days. My mother has cancer and will be starting chemotherapy in the next couple of weeks. It’s an aggressive and unpredictable form of cancer and we don’t know what’s going to happen, long term.

However, I’m very aware (because she has repeatedly told me so) that my mum wants me and my sisters to get on with our lives. And at present, I’m feeling very motivated to focus as much as possible on my writing and in particular on trying to get my novel published. For me, writing is living my best life. To that end, I want to keeping blogging if I can but at some point I may put this blog on hiatus. We’ll see.

My other news for the week, such as it is: on Thursday I went to Shoreline of Infinity’s special International Women’s Day Event Horizon. Unfortunately I was only able to stay for the first half but still had a great time.

I picked up a copy of issue 11 of the magazine… but then realised when I got home that I never actually read issue 10. Whoops. I hate reading out of order so I’m holding off reading the new issue for now.

I also went to Inky Fingers at Lighthouse Books, where as always I heard some really good stuff.

I finished reading Scourge by Gail Z. Martin, which I’ll be reviewing for Shoreline of Infinity. I had a good time reading it but I’m still sorting out my thoughts for the review so no comment as yet.

And I spent much of yesterday reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and read a book in one sitting and this was an excellent one, though possibly heavier than I should be reading at present. Deeply engaging and very disturbing ride.

I also acquired a new number of new books this week: The Lathe of Heaven and Always Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, and Ghostwritten and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, bought with an Amazon voucher I got for my birthday; Bookworm by Lucy Mangan, a slightly belated birthday gift from my sister; a short story collection called A Short Primer in Vice by John Harrison, picked up at a book swap at work; and two miniature Penguin Modern Classics, The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson and The Break Through by Daphne du Maurier.

I’m hoarding a lot of unread books at present.

Next I’m going to be reading Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, which I’m looking forward to.

 

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My Week in Writing (04/03/18)

tumblr_p52bvkIlN61qkzjnzo1_500I turned 27 this week! I don’t like it. Had a pretty strange birthday – my mum was in hospital and while she went home on Friday she’s still very ill.

That aside: for my birthday I got Doctor Who: A Time Lord for Change: in an Exciting Adventure with the Drabbles which I’m very excited to read. I also got a lot of chocolate and an Amazon voucher with which I ordered myself more books.

I also went to the Royal Academy and had a look at some modern art. They had some really great stuff but the only thing that really stuck with me was a kitchen sponge with crab claws glued to it which personally I consider a great bit of comedy.

I’ve also been off work almost all week – we all got sent home at lunchtime on Wednesday, Thursday there were no buses, Friday I made it in for an hour and then was sent home. All in all I got almost a whole week off, most of it paid time off. And today I finally managed to lay my hands on a new fan heater – though probably just in time for the weather to warm up.

And for the big news this week: I’ve been longlisted for the Bumblebee Flash Fiction contest! (Again!) Very exciting – last year I made the shortlist, maybe this year I’ll make the top three.

The Green and the Gathering Tide is now at 210,000 words and rising. I’ve just started a new arc so I’m experiencing a sudden burst of speed. I’ve also started a new short story based on a couple of snippets I wrote for Inktober 2017, which I have working-titled ‘Breakable’.

I also reviewed Cadavre Exquis on Goodreads. I’m currently the only reviewer which I assume means my word on the matter is definitive.

Next week, I’m planning to go to both Inky Fingers and Shoreline of Infinity’s Event Horizon which this month is their International Women’s Day special. Very excited for that – and very sad to have missed out on being in their special edition of the magazine (couldn’t get the book I was to review in time). I’m also hoping to finally make it to Black Panther, which I still haven’t seen…

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