Category Archives: books

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 (16/10/17)

20171013_120515.jpgA short update this week. Between various things I’ve been having a pretty exhausting time.

I’ve been doing some training at work, which has included getting sent to what I can only descibe as the filing jail. I’m probably going back tomorrow. And will need to take comfortable shoes this time.

I’m still working on Inktober – I’m all up to date and only missed a couple of days. Looking forward to expanding some of the drabbles I’ve written into full stories.

I finished Quiet, Loud, my very strange werewolf story. I think I managed to get it to a stage where other people would understand it, but there’s only one way to find out, I suppose!

I also finished Anita and Me, which means I’ve hit my Goodreads goal of 45 books! I decided to shoot for 50 a while ago, though, so I’m still going. I’m now reading The Time Hoppers by Robert Silverburg, which I confess I bought mostly for the aesthetic.

And I finished Doom Coalition 4, which I have somewhat complicated feelings about but mostly enjoyed! There’s teasers out for the upcoming Time War boxset, which I was pleasantly surprised to find in my library – they came with the newest Time War-themed short trip.

The Outliers is also out, which I’m very excited about… but probably won’t have time to listen to till next weekend. Oh well.

This week, I’m hoping to finish my final read through of my novel. Tomorrow I’m going to the Creative Salon at the Traverse Bar, and next weekend my mum’s coming to town! So, busy week.

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My Week in Writing (08/10/17)

20171007_150822.jpgIt’s been a long week. Very stop and start on my writing projects, thankfully slow at work – we’ve finally cleared the backlog of work that’s been there since I arrived, and I was personally thanked by the manager for my contribution to said backlog clearing, so that was nice. Next week I should be training on something new, at last!

I’m partway through chapter seven on my novel. Slow going, it’s not the most engaging task and I don’t always have the energy to do it properly. Annique is sitting at 39k which continues to seem unnaturally short for how long I feel like I’ve been writing it!

My new short story has, conversely, turned out a big longer than I expected. It’s at 6k and rising, but (I hope) very nearly done. Hopefully it’ll make sense to people who aren’t me.

I’ve also, on a total whim, decided to do Inktober for Writers. Inktober is a drawing challenge that runs every October on tumblr (and presumably other sites, I don’t actually know!) and this year someone put up a set of writing prompts.

I’m trying to do at least a hundred words for each prompt, alternating between sci-fi and fantasy, and I think I’ve produced some good material, so far. Certainly some completed flash fiction which is a rarity for me!

I’m reading Anita and Me, which is heavier than I expected – I saw the film years and years ago and I’m getting the feeling that it softened the story a bit. I also reviewed. The Greengage Summer on Goodreads.

I went on an outing yesterday in search of further books! I went to Lighthouse Books in Newington to check out their LGBT section and picked up Stonewall by David Carter and a very tiny Penguin anniversary edition of Sappho. And I went to Transreal Fiction for the new edition of Shoreline of Infinity.

Also, as of yesterday I am (for the first time since leaving home) a public library card holder, which is exciting. Really long time coming because I am very much running out of space for books.

Anyway: I have a novel to edit.

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My Week in Writing (01/10/17)

20170930_151417.jpgI can’t quite believe it’s October already! This year has flown by. I really wish it wouldn’t.

On the flip side, this has been a slow week. I’ve been trying to do a final read-through of my novel but things will keep getting in the way and progress on my other projects has been slow too.

I did, however, finish and submit my story for the Shoreline flash fiction contest and I was pleased with the finished product. It took some editing but I finally managed to have at least one reader get what I wanted from it so hopefully the judges will too!

I finished listened to The Night Witches and listened to Songs of Love, the second installment of Doom Coalition 4. Both were pretty excellent and I look forward to reviewing them!

I finished The Greengage Summer and toyed with watching the film… but I, do not like the sound of some of the changes they made for it, so I think I’ll give it a miss.

Next up I’m reading Anita and Me by Meera Syal. And after that, I only have one book left on my to-read stack… a terrifying prospect. I may have to actually go book shopping.

I also went to the Edinburgh Literary Salon, where we heard a bit about Book Week Scotland (coming up this autumn) and I got introduced to Charlie Stross. Very strange experience as I wasn’t sure how to bring up the fact that we were recently in the same book. Thankfully Noel from Shoreline helped me out!

And I started watching Red Dwarf.


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My Week In Writing (24/09/17)

shrink final

I’ve been busy! The above is where my novel is currently sitting, roughly speaking – it’s shrunk down a little more since then (about another hundred words) but you get the idea. I’ve renewed my subscription to Agent Hunter, and I have… a variety of query letter resources tabbed. It’s on!

In other news: Annique is sitting just shy of 35k, which is surprisingly short, given how long I’ve been working on it. It’s a strange project and while I’m determined to finish it, in all honesty once it’s done I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything with it.

I also started two new stories: one is tentatively titled Quiet, Loud and is about a werewolf who becomes an interdimensional police office. It’s part of the collection I’ve been working on and of all the stories I’ve written so far, it’s the one that I think would make the least sense to, um, people who aren’t me.

The other one is for Shoreline of Infinity’s flash fiction contest and it’s 371 words long, at present. I’m remaining hopeful that I can get it written in 1000 words or less by the end of the week – I’ve already had to scrap one idea for being too complicated.

I’m three episodes deep into The Night Witches, which is very enjoyable, so far. It’s what Big Finish does best – four episodes of solid Doctor Who. Looking forward to finishing it off.

I listened to the first episode of Doom Coalition 4, which was very strong and I really hope the rest of the boxset follows through.

I finished reading The Shock of the Fall (review forthcoming) and started reading The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden, which I’ve been looking forward to. I also reviewed Room on Goodreads.

Next week I’m off to the literary salon (hopefully – I didn’t make it to the creative salon) and settling back into work after a short and impromptu holiday.

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My Week In Writing (17/09/17)

20170905_185544Whoops, I took a bit of a, er, unintentional week-long hiatus there. I’ve been busy! But not with anything interesting, sadly.

First off, the big news: my short story The Pit is going to be in Microtext 3, an upcoming anthology from Medusa’s Laugh. They’re open for submissions right now (750 word limit) and you can tell they have great taste cause they accepted me, so go send them something.

Anyway, getting accepted generally puts me in the mood to submit more short stories, so I’ve sent something off to F&SF and I’m planning to submit to another anthology in a couple of days.

This week, I’ve been listening to more Doom Coalition. I finished volume 3 today and I’m super pumped for volume 4. Definitely the best volume so far, absolutely phenomenal cliffhanger. I’m working on a full review, so watch this space.

I also started listening to The Night Witches, which is a release I’ve been looking forward to for… literally years. As yet it hasn’t disappointed! Wonderful concept for a historical and it’s always a joy to listen to a story narrated by Anneke Wills.

And there’ll be another one next month! I didn’t love the last run of Second Doctor adventures so I’m trying not to get too excited but the last season of the Early Adventures (featuring the First Doctor) was really strong so hopefully this season will be something special. The summaries are certainly tantalising!

I finished reading Strata and reviewed it on Goodreads and then I blazed through Room in two days flat. I also read Doctor Second, which was a delight and totally a necessary purchase.

Next up I’m reading The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, a charity shop impulse buy. I’ve also picked up a couple of miniature volumes of poetry (Robert Burns and Emily Dickinson) which I’m planning to read pretty soon.

My novel is shrinking down nicely:


My goal is 125k, so I’m getting there! 26 more pages to edit.

My other project, Annique is sitting at 33k and rising. Still not sure it’s going to work out. I’ll probably use it for my NaNoWriMo project this autumn, so if I haven’t figured it out my November adding another 50k to it should help. Prooobably.

Since my last update, I’ve been to Inky Fingers at Monkey Barrel Comedy and to Shoreline of Infinity’s special Event Horizon with Ken Mcleod. Great stuff.

And I’ve been watching the new season of Rick and Morty, which for all its faults (there are many) has been putting out a really phenomenal run of episodes. I’m excited for the finale.

Next week: I’m going to finish Night Witches, and on Tuesday I’m off to the Creative Salon at Summerhall. I’m also probably going to get my novel down to size, which means I’ll be moving on to the next stage… the dreaded query letter. I have no idea how to write one of those. Oh dear.

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My Week In Writing (03/09/17)

Well, September’s here. I don’t feel ready.  August’s been a strange month, what with starting a new job – it’s only my second time doing that! The good news is, my contract will probably be extended by another twelve weeks. After that, I don’t know.

There’s a big reshuffle coming up and I don’t know if my job will survive that, and honestly, that thought comforts me a bit. I don’t want to get stuck in another document processing job.

So, my week: I finished my round of edits on Summer and can now, with zero fanfare, announce that the final title will probably be The Summer Masque.

I’m calling this ‘The Wizards of Albion Trilogy’:

  1. The Summer Masque
  2. The Standing Stone
  3. The Bridge City

I’m excited! And since the final draft was, um, 147,000 words, I’m now working hard to get it edited down to a more reasonable length. Current progress:


How I have more characters on the right, I have no idea. Ah, well. It’s getting there. I’m hoping to get it down to 125k and that’s looking doable. And then… querying.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on my new WIP which is… unfocused and honestly I’m struggling with the main character in a big way. But it’s sitting just shy of 30k and I have a good idea where I’m going with the next act.

This week, I’ve been reading Strata, which is slow going, but enjoyable. Reading it right on the heels of The Dark Side of the Sun might have been a mistake!

I also listened to The British Invasion, a brand new Second Doctor era story from Big Finish. Good stuff. Full review forthcoming, hopefully.

And I’ve been listening to Doom Coalition 3, which is shaping up to be my favourite installment so far. Absent Friends was just gorgeous. Plus, more River Song, and for some reason she’s dressed like a nun.

So, that was my week! And now, I’m going to go and update my current projects page.

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