Posts filed under WIP

Idle Hands

I have a problem. Every time I have a baby I start a new business and begin a new book. Well, by "every time" I mean: both times this has happened. Still, coincidence, or something more sinister? Perhaps a touch of "oh my god I'm enslaved by a tiny overlord and desperately need some sort of creative outlet" syndrome. Perhaps just a surge in hormones. Either way, it makes for a busy and none-too-restful life, but exciting nonetheless.

I've been sending out more book proposals, short stories and flash fiction pieces. I've started outlining my next book AND a screenplay. I've signed up to train to be an antenatal teacher/birth educator. My maternity leave ends in a mere week and I don't feel as if my feet have really touched the ground since kiddo #2 was born. Still, there's a massive smile on my face, so I'm not complaining. I'm just very ... very ... extremely ... super ... tired.

Oh yeah, and we've crept into 2012. I must have missed that too. Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year!

So far this year I have one shiny acceptance for a piece I wrote for the flash challenge at Show Me Your Lits (my favourite way to exercise my writing fingers/procrastinate from novel writing).

Guess who took it?

Go on, guess.

I've kind of been obsessed with getting something published there for a year and half.

They're my Holy Grail.

And I BROKE them. Finally.

SmokeLong Quarterly, baby.

<insert slow motion running along a beach, culminating in an impassioned embrace between myself and the magazine here>

My story, Lacrimosa, will be live on the website at the end of March, I'll add a linky when there is one.

So - Happy February to one and all. I have good intentions for regular blogging/submitting stories/querying and generally being A Good Writer this year, so feel free to slap me if you find me slacking.

(SmokeLong, baby! Woooooo!)

Posted on February 29, 2012 and filed under Flashes, Novel, Publications, Screenplays, Short Stories, WIP, Writing.

The Truth is Stranger (or at least more interesting) Than Fiction

These are the bookshelves in my living room. Except, that picture was taken when they were newly filled. To imagine a modern-day image, add in double-stacking, books jammed in horizontally wherever they will fit, my son's measly shelf (bottom right) spilling out all over the floor... (Don't feel sorry for him, he has four more shelves in his bedroom, also full to the brim. Like mother like son.)

A friend of ours made these for us and they still make me drool. They're overflowing to a stupid degree, but for some reason my husband doesn't see the benefit in turning every wall in our house into a bookshelf. Odd man. Luckily, there's always space for books, even if they take over windowsills and floors and create hazardous stacks on the stairs. I can safely say I'm not ever going to stop buying them, so our book storage will just have to become a little more creative...

Possibly the most exciting part of the whole bookshelf-building process was shelving my collection, alphabetising the fiction and sorting the non-fiction. I tend to buy second hand books for the most part, not only because it's all I can generally afford, but because I love a pre-loved book so much more than a spanky, shiny new one. And over the years I have a small collection of bookmarks, notes, dedications and even love letters that I have found inside the used books I've bought. One, inside a Vonnegut, was a heartfelt (and brilliantly patronising) letter from a young man to the girl he was evidently trying to woo, describing the intellectual and spiritual benefits of this life-changing book. But although the book was old (there was also a receipt inside from the 1960s), the spine was intact and it looked unread. I can only assume his intended lady never read the book or the letter. I wonder if he ever managed to get into her pants good books.

But fiction treasures aside, this post was meant to be about non-fiction, in all its varied glory. I don't have as much as I'd like, but I still have an eclectic little collection. Most of it's made up of the history section, from Tacitus to WWII, and an assortment of psychology, anthropology and philosophy. My first novel was about schizophrenia and I did years of research into treatments and institution and the history of the illness. PIECEMEAL deals with dementia, so a lot of that initial research crossed over but there is always more, more, more to know about any subject you write about. My next book is going to need a slightly ridiculous range of research material; from cryptic crossword compiling to Noah's ark, to faith healing, to Greek myths, to vegetative states... Don't ask - it's complicated.

I also have a lot of books on smuggling and my local area, for a historical drama I'm writing as a TV screenplay. The nice thing about this is that I can physically visit a lot of the sites mentioned and try to imagine and recreate the landscape as it was just a few centuries ago. Already I've found that much of this kind of history dregs up truths which are much, much stranger than fiction... Incredible stuff, like the entire police force of my town having to be sacked after they were (knowingly or stupidly) bribed off duty with free tickets to a visiting circus show ... while smuggling ships brought in tonnes of contraband onto the empty beaches. The suburb I live in used to be a separate little hamlet to the main city, and lay on the route smugglers would take from the beach all the way to London. There are cellars and tunnels connecting our local pub and a large manor house, and a gravestone from the late 1700s mourning the death of a local smuggler who was shot in the head by excise men as he tried to sneak out of an alleyway. I love walking down the old part of the village and imagining who lived in the poky little 15th century houses and whether they took part in, or turned a blind eye to what went on here.

So, much as I love my fiction, I have a deep urge to help my non-fiction collection grow - I just need to transform a few more walls into shelving...

Posted on August 22, 2011 and filed under Novel, Projects, Reading, Research, WIP, Writing.

Weekend of Bliss


I'm having a writing weekend - fuelled by copious amounts of white tea. Today was spent editing my shorts, flashes and micros (NOT a euphemism) and finding a possible sub-home for them all. Grand total out there, waiting for a response, comes to 17, with 3 more needing some serious editing and 5 more half-written. When I started subbing a few months ago, I thought the rejection would be hard - cringeworthy - devastating. But really? It's ok. What it means is either A) the story just isn't good enough or B) it isn't right for the market. It doesn't hurt my feelings - the answer to both those reasons for rejection is: Keep Trying.


I generally re-submit to somewhere else as soon as I get the rejection, after a fresh readthrough. If something during the read niggles at me, I'll shelve it for another edit or a rewrite. It's a perpertual work-in-progress and I kind of like the wait, the bait, the slap in the face - be it a 'yay' or 'nay'. I like shopping around the many wonderful lit mags out there, reading story upon story, getting a feel for tone and style and sense of humour and working out which of my stories will fit where.

And tomorrow... is a full on novel editing day. My favourite cafe opens at 10am - they staff are used to finding me standing there outside on the dot of ten, or sifting through the orgasmic second hand book shop that lives opposite. If I roll up at lunch time they know I'm happy to wait, typing away in a corner until they've finished the lunch rush of food orders before they get me a coffee. They've seen me progress from laptop, to print out edits and back to laptop again over the last year. I've slowly achieved the lung-screaming trophy of being able to cycle up the entirety of the mahoosive, near vertical hill that leads to the cafe's door - arriving on my knees whispering, "water please..." They sidle up to my table and murmer about the red velvet cake or the double fudge brownies (NOT a euphemism) they've had delivered that morning. I should probably just live there.

So that's my weekend planned out, except in case of heavy snow (predicted for Tuesday), acts of Small Child (such as the vomiting bug that is creeping around our local area, toddler by toddler), death of bike or similar apocalyptic occurences.

If I could do this for a LIVING....? Fucking bliss.

Posted on November 27, 2010 and filed under Editing, Flashes, Novel, Short Stories, Subs, WIP, Writing.