Category Archives: books

My Week In Writing (13/08/17)

20170811_183900Well, first of all the big news: the book I’m in came out yesterday! Shoreline of Infinity Issue 8 1/2, available now in ePub, PDF, Kindle and print formats. Price starts at £3.50. Go grab a copy! I’ll be sure to shill it again once I’ve read it.

The launch is on Wednesday evening, and I’m very excited.

Otherwise: still settling into my new job, and looking for something more permanent.

I’m working my way through my novel – so far, I’ve only found one pressing issue with this draft, so I’m feeling pretty happy with it. I wish I had more time to devote to it but, work.

I’ve been listening to Doom Coalition 2, which so far I’m enjoying more than the first volume. Also, I only just now realised River Song is in it (spoilers!) – really excited to see what Big Finish does with the character, because I adore Alex Kingston. Otherwise, full review upcoming.

I’m still reading The Thirteen Guests, which is taking longer to get through than I expected – it should be quicker now, though, because the murders have started and I’m itching to find out where it’s going.

And I went to see a PBH Free Fringe production of Julius Caesar – now with pirates! I intend to review it when I have the time (preferably before the run finishes) so watch this space.

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My Week In Writing (06/08/17)

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It begins…

My first week at my new job went pretty quickly. I’m working for the city council, so there’s some somewhat confusing rules and regulations as to how much I’m allowed to say online about my work, so I shan’t chance it. Mostly what I’ve been doing is data entry and opening mail.

I also got my data back on Monday, which I’m absolutely thrilled about. I wasted a lot of time going through my writing folder re-reading everything I would have lost, if the recovery had failed.

Best part is, I’ve been able to start working on my novel again, so I’m doing a chapter-by-chapter read through. Main goal at present is to check the flow and look for suitable places to re-insert some key details from scenes I cut. After that I might have to edit it down some. We’ll see.

After that, test reading… and then querying agents.

Speaking of: my short story 3.8 Missions is going to be in Shoreline of Infinity‘s Edinburgh International Book Festival Special edition, which is out in less than a week! I may get royalties, so please grab a copy.

This week, I listened to the first volume of Doom Coalition, which I enjoyed very much, and finished reading A Song of Stone which I enjoyed a lot less.

I’ve started reading Thirteen Guests by J Jefferson Farjeon. So far it’s mostly been posh people being posh at each other, but it’s a murder mystery so there should be some murder soon. It’s very readable anyway, and I was very interested to discover that the author is the brother of Eleanor Farjeon, who wrote The Silver Curlew. It was a favourite book of mine as a child.

Apparently there was another Farjeon sibling who was also a writer – and the family was descended from Thomas Jefferson. What a fascinating bunch.

I’ve been watching The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo, a web sitcom that’s sort of… difficult to describe. It’s a romantic sitcom, very funny, highly recommended.

Next week: we’ll see.

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My Week In Writing (10/07/17)

20170706_112145Things are getting uncomfortably busy around here. Last week I was busy almost every day with temp agency registrations and volunteering, and this week I have four job interviews, with another one offered – it’s on the same day as one of the others so I’m trying to reschedule.

I had an interview this afternoon and it went reasonably well. Tomorrow I’m off to register with yet another agency.

It’s just as well really that I haven’t been able to work properly on Summer, because I wouldn’t have had the time. As it is I’m going over it chapter by chapter, trying to decide what the theme of each chapter is. The end goal is to right an epitaph of sorts for each – it should be really cool, if I can make it work.

My other writing projects are also in an uneasy limbo. I finished a short story I was writing – only it’s presently missing a chunk from the middle, so finished might be a strong word. Fingers crossed I won’t have to write it all again. I’ve started a new short story – it’s nice to have the entirity of an ongoing project again!

My new long-form project (novel? Maybe?) is working-titled Annique and is likewise missing several thousand words early on. I think I’d be coming up on the 10k mark now, otherwise. It’s proving more violent than I anticipated. I didn’t intend for one of my leads to be a serial killer but she keeps on murdering people…

Otherwise, I’ve been reading A Song of Stone by Iain Banks and working my way through the First Doctor Companion Chronicles boxset. I’m planning a full review for Wednesday’s update – the last story seems to be going somewhere very exciting, dying to listen to part two.

My new 2-in-1 is a vast improvement on my netbook, even if it took me a while to get Windows 10 set up in a way that’s usable – I’m still trying to figure out if I can disable Cortana while it’s in tablet mode. It’s an unpleasant operating system, to be quite honest, but it’s nice having a computer to work on that runs properly.

Anyway, as I said I’m off to at least three more job interviews next week. Fingers crossed, I suppose.

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My Week In Writing (11/06/17)

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Look what came in the post!

Just a short update this week – I continue to be trapped in job search hell. One of the application forms I filled out today felt eerily familiar – so much so that I had to go through my files, just to make sure I hadn’t applied already.

As it turns out, I had – way back in September. I’ve applied for all the jobs in Edinburgh, and now I’m going around a second time…

Settlement 359 is, sadly, stalling right before the climax. I know where I need to get but I haven’t quite figured out how to get there. I just don’t have the mental energy for it at present.

Good news, though – Wednesday is my last day at my job, so pretty soon I’m going to have all the time in the world. I’m taking a week out, then doing doing some social media volunteering.

I read Sirens by Simon Messingham, one of the books I’m reviewing for Shoreline of Infinity. It certainly wasn’t boring – I blazed through it – but I have some, hm, complicated feelings about it and I admit I’m a touch disappointed. I’ve read one of his Doctor Who novels (The Indestructible Man) and thought it was pretty good so I was expecting more interesting things.

I listened to Big Finish’s Fifth Doctor Boxset, which features two stories, Pyschodrome and Iterations of I.

Both stories feature Matthew Waterhouse reprising the part of Adric for the first time since the 1980s. I’ve heard him reprise the role before, for A Full Life, but this was the first time I’d heard him in a full-cast play, and it really was a joy.

Adric is (unpopular opinion) one of my favourite companions and a big part of the reason why I got into Classic Who. The two stories provide a lovely set of bookends for season nineteen, Pyschodrome adding some much-needed character bonding and development, while Iterations of I provides some more conventional Doctor Who action. If you’re into the Peter Davison era, I thoroughly recommend it.

I also listened to the first two installments in last year’s Master trilogy, And You Will Obey Me and Vampire of the Mind. I enjoyed them, but I’m reserving full judgement till I listen to the conclusion, The Two Masters.

And – as you can see! – I got The Doctors: The Pat Troughton Tale, a bumper collection of behind the scenes interviews. I made a start on it today, and I’m having a great time.

Next week, I’m going to leave my job. It hasn’t sunk in yet and probably won’t until it’s really over. We’ll see how that goes, I guess.

 

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My Week In Writing (04/06/17)

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Inspirational posters

Unemployment still looming. I’m trying to stay focused on the positive aspects, i.e. starting a week on Thursday, I don’t have to go to work any more.

My company’s already hired my replacement, which feels a little weird. It also means that he gets my desk, so I’ve been sitting at my line manager’s desk while he plays an elaborate game of musical chairs with himself. It’s a much nicer desk. The days have been going very fast – I don’t know if it’s being in better surroundings, the knowledge that it’ll be over soon, the fear that it’ll be over soon, or just that I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts!

Earlier this week, my new deskmate said to me, more or less out of the blue, “something something-seller?”
“I’m sorry?”
“I said, once you’re unemployed, maybe you’ll write a bestseller!”

To my knowledge I’ve never talked to her about my writing before, so I was a mite puzzled, but I told her I’m writing a book so… yeah, it’s a possibility. I’m closer to writing a bestseller than a person who has not written a book at all!

I’ve been taking a semi-break from writing this week – I can feel myself starting to burn out and unfortunately it’s the less essential stuff that has to go first. I did start a new story, inspired by listening to The Adventure Zone.

I got a thousand words in before it occurred to me that the premise could have some weird racial overtones if not handled very carefully, so it’s on hold already, which is probably for the best.

This week I listened to Tomb Ship and Masquerade, the latter two volumes in a trilogy featuring the Fifth Doctor, old companion Nyssa, and new companion Hannah Bartholemew. I’m a touch underwhelmed – they’re both decent stories, and I thoroughly enjoyed Masquerade, but I’d expected a trilogy introducing a new companion to… promimently feature said new companion?

Hannah doesn’t figure that heavily in her introductory story, doesn’t show up until episode four of Tomb Ship, and largely takes a backseat in Masquerade before suffering a very unpleasant fate. I’m disappointed but I knew it was coming, so I’m not that disappointed.

I also listened to Jago in Love and Beautiful Things, the first two installments in the fourth season of Jago and Litefoot. I still have some, hm, complicated feelings about the series as a whole, but this season is shaping up to be very enjoyable.

I’ve been listening to the new season of Alice Isn’t Dead, which continues to be super creepy and hauntingly beautiful, and working my way through The Adventure Zone. Catching up on the latter is a strange experience at the moment – the current arc has provoked some discussion, so it’s been difficult to avoid spoilers and every time I see people talking about it it’s like getting a glimpse of some dark and terrible future…

I finished reading The Bear and the Nightgale, which took me a while – I just found it hard to follow. I want to review all the books I read this year, but I’m drawing a blank on this one cause I just plain didn’t get it!

The last couple of episodes of Doctor Who have been a bit mixed – The Pyramid at the End of the World was, while not as good, an entirely worthy follow-up to Extremis but then The Lie of the Land, despite a really exciting trailer, was surprisingly bland. The ending was super disappointing. Ah, well. Next week’s episode looks like fun!

And I made maple syrup flapjacks, which came out pretty delicious!

Next week is gonna be my last full week at work, which feels really strange. I don’t think I’ll fully get my head around what I’ve done till I’ve finally left for good!

I’m going to be spending it working my way through the Doctor Who audios I’ve bought and not listened to and trying to get through as much of The Adventure Zone as I can before I leave my job – can’t concentrate on audio stuff unless I have something mindless to do with my hands!

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My Week In Writing (28/05/17)

20170527_203809I didn’t find a new job this week – not that I really expected to, but it would have been nice. I’ve applied for 15, though, and had an interview, so… hopeful?

I’m still struggling to process the fact that I’m leaving my job. It’s especially weird because my work is so repetitive and so thankless that it messes with my sense of time – intellectually I know I’ve been doing it for 2+ years, but it’s been the same working day over and over so it still blows my mind a bit that it’s been more than a couple of months.

So, I’m sort of simultaneously terrified at the prospect of the whole structure of my life changing – entirely of my own choosing – and feeling a bit like ‘phew, everything’s finally going back to normal’. This was always meant to be temporary, y’know?

On a lighter note, I’m just below the halfway point on reading through Summer and enjoying my new draft very much. Fingers crossed it’ll be smooth sailing from now on – so long as I don’t encounter any tricky problems while reading the second half (I found one fairly significant continuity error in the first half) I’m all but finished.

Settlement 359 is at 145k and climbing. And – brace yourselves – I actually started writing the climax. The actual, proper, climax. It’s now in progress. It’s all very exciting. I might even finish this thing before the end of June.

This week I’ve been reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, which I’m enjoying, but it’s been slow going – largely, I think, because the Russian names are confusing me so I keep losing track of which character is which!

I listened to two Doctor Who audios, The Burning Prince and Moonflesh, both Peter Davison stories.

The Burning Prince is the first volume in a multi-Doctor trilogy (I didn’t get the second two volumes – they weren’t on sale). It’s a rare solo Fifth Doctor story – he doesn’t travel alone on screen, ever, so expanded universe writers have to be creative if they want to get him by himself! It’s unpredictable and action-packed, all around a bit of a rollercoaster ride. It’s also one of those Davison stories that’s a full-on bloodpath. Brutal stuff. Not a classic of the range by any means, but solid.

Moonflesh is the first volume in a trilogy of stories featuring the Fifth Doctor, TV companion Nyssa, and new companion Hannah Bartholemew (I bought all three – they were all on sale). An enjoyable enough story, but I’m feeling a slight sense of trepidation, going into the rest of the trilogy – Hannah’s heavily implied to be a lesbian (and a butch lesbian – a first for Doctor Who, as far as I know) but best as I can tell her sexuality is never confirmed, and I accidentally spoiled myself for the ending of her last story, which is, erm, tragic. Hopefully it’ll all be handled well.

I finished the third season of Jago and Litefoot. My favourite season, so far, though that’s in large part because it’s the most Doctor Who-y, due to the addition of Tom Baker companion Leela to the main cast. A really strong run of stories, anyway, blending an ongoing story arc about rifts in time with some very strange, very sad human dramas.

I’ve also been listening to The Second Imaginary Symphony, a mini series from podcast The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air. It’s whimsical, melancholy show that blends storytelling with an ongoing plot about a lonely janitor who works in the Eiffel Tower. The Secondary Imaginary Symphony is a standalone story from the same world, with the same lovely, relaxed tone. I’d recommend checking it out.

And I just started watching Anne with an E, which so far is a beautifully done adaptation. Much heavier viewing than you might expect – there’s some scenes I think I could have done without, but it is what it is.

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My Week In Writing (21/05/17)

20170521_175211Well, first of all the big news: I resigned from my job this week. I’m still hoping to find an entry level position in publishing, but I can’t stomach staying in my current job any longer. Four more weeks and I’m out. Hopefully moving to some kind of temp job. I’m trying not to think about it too much, when I’m not actively job hunting – this level of uncertainty is a terrible thing!

That out of the way: I started reading Summer and marking it up for a final round of edits. So far I’ve found two glaring flaws I’d previously missed, one of which I’m pretty sure has been there since draft one. I have no idea how I missed it for so long! I’m on chapter three, and stalling to do some minor re-structuring.

Settlement 359 has passed 140k and despite my best efforts, I’ve started a part eight, titled Freefall. Things kept getting worse and worse for my protagonist, so I rolled with it and now she’s struggling to recover from mental time travel-enduced amnesia. However, I’m pretty sure part eight will be the last one… I’ve been saying this for a while.

I’ve started work on an entry for Big Finish’s annual short story contest. Torn between two ideas, not sure which is best, and as I don’t have to have a completed story to enter and I can submit more than one, I might as well try and do both.

Speaking of Big Finish, this week I listened to a William Hartnell era Lost Story called The Dark Planet, which was both a fairly typical sixties Doctor Who story, exceptionally dark, more or less impossible to do on film now let along fifty years ago. I’m not surprised it didn’t get made. It’s fascinating listening, though.

This week’s Doctor Who, Extremis, was absolutely phenomenal. Beautifully executed mindscrew and absolutely terrifying – my only concern is how they’re going to top it with the (by the looks of it, more conventional) follow up!

I started reading Darling by Jackie Kay, which is slow going because you can’t just rush through a poetry collection, you have to pause and contemplate, y’know?

Next week, I’m planning to listen to some monthly range Big Finish stories with the Fifth Doctor (my fav!) and start reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, the last of my birthday books. Otherwise, I’m job hunting relentlessly.

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