Category Archives: books

My Week in Writing (22/04/18)

It’s been a bit of a slow week. I haven’t made much progress on The Green and the Gathering Tide or on any of my projects for the simple reason that I’ve been writing Lord of the Rings fanfiction. Hopefully it’s at least good fanfiction.

However, a little progress is still progress. I’ve also been rejected by the last few magazines I submitted short stories to, so I’ll most likely be submitting next week.

In other news, I’m now almost at the end of The Two Towers in my re-read and I’m at a part which has full-time hobbits so I’m happy again. Theoretically I’m also reading The Blind Assassin but I haven’t picked it up all week.

And I’m twelve episodes into the thirteen-part radio series. I plan to finish it at work tomorrow afternoon and I’m looking forward to it – I assume the final episode has the Scouring of the Shire, which I haven’t seen/heard dramatised before.

I also listened to Turn of the Screw from Big Finish, a short that I’ve been very much looking forward to – though I confess, not quite as much as I’m looking forward to this month’s Erasure which I’ll be listening to next weekend!

I’m also in the process of applying for some very exciting job vacancies, so I shall optimistically say ‘watch this space’.

 

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My Week in Writing (15/04/18)

20180415_201657.jpgI’ve not have the most eventful week. I’ve done a fair amount of writing, but to be honest, I’ve mostly just consumed various forms of Lord of the Rings related media!

I’m still really enjoying the 1981 radio series, though since I’ve started listening to work I’m finding it a little harder to follow. I’m now into The Return of the King and finding it a bit rushed, but they have a lot to cram in to thirteen episodes. Very close in tone to the books and with some outstanding voice acting.

I also watched the Rankin Bass adaption of Return of the King, because I’m a completist, and I honestly think it’s a little underated. Though that might be because I watched it on the heels of the Ralph Bakshi version so I was just pleased that it had a consistant animation style!

Anyway, it’s entertaining and if nothing else very compact for a take on Lord of the Rings (about an hour and a half long). We had a good time watching it.

Otherwise, I’m still re-reading and am now a fair way into The Two Towers and, as ever, missing Frodo and Sam.

In non-Lord of the Rings news, The Green and the Gathering Tide is 224,240 words long as of right now and my new short story is coming along nicely. I’m also about done with my next review for Shoreline and in the process of applying for a job with Canongate – I’ve applied to them before but never made the interview stage. This time around I have more experience so fingers crossed.

 

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My Week in Writing (08/04/18)

I took a bit of a hiatus there and now it’s April. Whoops!

I’ve been having a busy and somewhat stressful time so I haven’t got as much writing done as I’d hope. The Green and the Gathering Tide just hit 220k (mere moments ago!) and I recently typed the words end of part one. This is going to be a monster novel!

And I’ve started a new short story, presently untitled. Broadly speaking high fantasy, and a concept I’ve been sitting on for a while. It doesn’t have an ending but I’m hoping one will arrive before I finish.

I reviewed The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, A Time Lord for Change and The Lathe of Heaven on Goodreads. I’m now reading The Blind Assassin but not as often as I’d like as this past couple of days I’ve been vorariously re-reading Lord of the Rings.

I’ve also been pressing on with the 1981 BBC radio series (highly recommended) and watching Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaptation (don’t bother). I will probably be making some Lord of the Rings themed posts in the near future so watch this space.

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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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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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μtxt 3

micro3_coverμtxt 3 (Microtext 3) is a new anthology from Medusa’s Laugh Press, and it’s very exciting because I’m in it! (You can find my story, The Pit on page 47.) It’s the third in a series of miniature anthologies of flash fiction and poetry. The upper word limit was 750 word; some pieces are as short as a few lines. Mine managed, predictably, to be one of the longest.

I am absolutely enchanted by this book, and not just because I’m in it. I love Miniature Books and μtxt 3 is an especially tiny one, with a beautiful finding to boot. I sat down to read it and finished it almost in one sitting, and I have to say I’m delighted to be in such good company.

This is a fascinating (and beautifully bound) collection, with pieces ranging from the tiny found poems to miniature epics. There’s an enormous variety of style and genre, and with the pieces being so short you can’t possibly get bored.

My only real complaint is that it’s a bit fiddly to read – the pages are inclined to stick together – and being as tiny as it is, it’s very easy to lose. I put it down and lost track of it half a dozen times over the afternoon I spent reading it!

There’s far too many pieces in this book to review all of them, but I’d like to share a couple of quick highlights:

Father Daley’s Dilemmas by Lee Reilly: one of the longer pieces in the collection, a story about a 1930s priest taking confession. It packs an enormous amount of story into a tiny space, which in my opinion is exactly what flash fiction is all about.

Little Torvald by Jennifer Giacalone: another of the slightly longer pieces, a short and sweet story about a man and a penguin. A delightful and surreal little read (especially if you like penguins).

Everybody Poops Katherine Montalto: my curiosity was piqued as soon as I saw this one on the contents page. I was not disappointed. It’s a million times stranger than I expected – and it certainly made me think. I won’t spoil it!

Inside of Myself by Hillary Colton: without a doubt the most gripping piece of flash fiction I’ve read it. This is a story that will have you on the edge of your seat in under a thousand words. I think it’ll stay with me for a while.

That’s only a tiny sampling – there’s a lot of gems in μtxt 3. You can get it from the Medusa’s Laugh Press website, as part of a limited run of 200. If you enjoy flash fiction, I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s a beautiful and fascinating book, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

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My Week In Writing (26/02/18)

I’ve had an extremely stressful and difficult week, which I don’t feel up to blogging about (or not just yet).  So a quick update this week and hopefully back to regularly scheduled blogging as soon as possible.

This week I finished reading Alias Grace and reviewed it on Goodreads. I’ve started reading Scourge by Gail Z Martin, which I’ll be reviewing for Shoreline of Infinity.

I went to see The Shape of the Water, which I enjoyed very much. A strange and beautiful film – thoroughly recommended.

And I finished my literary agent longlist, which is currently 36 agents strong – I’m going to have to make a start on cutting it down to 10 or so.

Next week, I’m hoping to go and see Black Panter (since I missed out this week) and I’ll be going to the Edinburgh Literary Salon. I’m also really hoping for some good news, so please cross your fingers for me.

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Books To Read: February 2018

Seems it’s been almost a year since I posted an update on my to read shelf! So: here’s the unread books I have right now.

Actually a fairly modest selection, for the time of year – I didn’t get that many books for Christmas, though I did buy five more afterwards with my Christmas book token. So, here’s what I’ve got sitting around unread right now:

The Odyssey translated by Emily Wilson: I’ve read the Odyssey before (several times) but when I heard about this new translation I had to have it asap! I was also very surprised and a little upset to learn that this is officially the first published translation of the Odyssey by a woman. Should be a good read, anyway.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle: this one’s been on my to-read list since I was in school, when a friend recommended it to me in very warm terms. I’ve since heard glowing things about the animated film… but never did get to watching it. It’s better to read the book first, anyway!

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: another one recommended warmly by a friend. I was originally down to review it for Shoreline of Infinity but unfortuantely they couldn’t get a review copy in time. Very much looking forward to this one.

Cadavre Exquis from Medusa’s Laugh Press: an anthology of fiction and poetry that well… well to be honest it looks like a fairly normal anthology it’s just that it consists of loose leafs ‘bound’ with a ‘burial shroud’. Quite hard to take apart and put back together again. Hopefully will be interesting.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys: another one that’s been on my list for a very long time. (Let’s make 2018 the year of cleaning out the to-read list!)

We Have Always Lived In the Castle by Shirley Jackson: I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about this one going in but picked it up on impulse in Waterstones. I’ve been curious about Shirley Jackson since reading some analysis of The Haunting of Hill House but ultimately too much of a scaredy cat to read it so I figured I’d go for something else!

A Story Waiting to Pierce You by Peter Kingsley: a (slightly late) Christmas gift. I’ve heard some odd things about it, reading reviews, but am keeping an open mind for now.

The Doll’s House by Rumer Godden: I’ve had this one on the stack for a while – because I’ve already read it, and love it very much. I picked up this new, very fancy edition last year and haven’t got around to re-reading it yet.

I’m reading Alias Grace at present, and after that I’ll be reading Scourge by Gail Z Martin for Shoreline of Infinity… so it may be a while before I get to the above books. But I’ll get around to them.

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