Thursday, 5 December 2019

2019: The Year of Distractions


Vote wisely and do not vote Tory!

Anyway, now that I've got that important public service message out of the way, hello and welcome to my annual blog post on how this writing shenanigans is going. And the answer is, better than I'd thought.

A lot of this year has seen me distracted by many things in life and the world and I've felt that my writing has suffered for that. But, if I think on it, the following has happened:
  • Two stories sold - Back in the summer I sold a story to Shoreline of Infinity and, just yesterday, I sold one to Cirsova. Not got an ETA on either as yet but look out in 2020 for stories on intelligent alien starfish paying for their crimes and mad scientists undone by their hubris, as is right.
  • Went to Worldcon - I'm a con nerd, been going to them since the mid-Nineties and am first and foremost a fan, excited to see the guests and talk bobbins about books, TV and films I love. But, as time goes on I'm also getting a chance to hang out with the writing community at these things and Worldcon in Dublin this year was particularly good for that. Many an insight into the business (as much as that bothers hobbyist me) and a great opportunity to share annoyances with a huge number of lovely people.  
  • Also went to Eastercon and Fantasycon - As above, but smaller, and cheaper, but no less fun. Fantasycon also gave me the first reason to go to Clydebank this decade.
  • Novelling - A lot of my writing this year has been taking the critiques I got from the GSFWC over a year previously on my current novel project and working them in. I've set myself a target of the end of the year to 'kill' this off. Either getting it to a state where I can push it out to agents and the like, or setting fire to it in a ritual as old as time, and then starting something new.
  • Podcasting - It was back at the start of the year, and was recorded last year, but I was on a podcast, Speculative Spaces, talking Doctor Who based bobbins and reading a story far too fast. There is a link to it in the Free Fiction menu over yonder.
  • Bought too many books, actually read some - Oh how poor I am at reading these days.
So yes, all in, actually done quite a lot and exceeded my target of stories sold, if not published, in a calendar year. So that's nice. 
Just goes to show it is worth stopping to look back sometimes.

And now to the Christmas present tradition bit where I put up an old story of mine for reading. The last two years I've had the joy of linking to fresh, new stories just published on the internet but this year we return to the old ones and, in this case, The Writing Is On The Wall 
This is a story I had published in an anthology called Oomph: A little super goes a long way, which came out in 2013. There are many good stories in that, so if it still exists I'd recommend it. It is my only attempt, so far, to write about superheroes. 
Content Warning; there is a reference to Nitshill Bowling Club.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

A face for radio

This writing thing has led to many odd things but, in what is probably the strangest, today I find myself on a podcast. Speculative Spaces Podcast.

Local great person, Beth Faulds, has started doing a podcast where she chats to writers (local at present but she'd love to branch out so if you know anyone you think would be good for her to talk to, do let her know) about some aspect of writing before wandering off on to multiple digressions and then playing silly games.

It was great fun to record, although possibly a touch drunken towards the end, and I went on at length about my enjoyment of Doctor Who. Cause it's me. I also read a version of my story The Lodger. I babble a bit while doing so, sorry about that, but I hope you get the gist.

There is also some bonus material (if you chip in) in which I go on about the greatness of Nigel Kneale amongst other stuff.

I hope you like it and I highly recommend the other episodes, great writers and quality chat.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

2018: The Year of Distractions

Hello all and welcome to what was supposed to be an annual blog post, rounding up the year but, as it turns out, I've not posted anything since this time last year.
Oops, I've been distracted. So, what have I been doing?
First and foremost, I've had the joy of two stories being published.
Just out today on their website is Cleaning Up, from Fireside. It is a tale of those who protect our world and get no thanks for it.
Back in the summer I also had The Advantages of Unofficial Consultation published in the Magical CSI anthology by Otter Libris. This features, oddly enough, a couple of characters from Cleaning Up and their further adventures in getting ignored for the important job they do.
I'm deeply happy to see both of these stories out in the wild. It's a coincidence they feature some common characters, although it does tickle me.
I hope you like them too.
Other writing news has been less good. I've had many distractions this year that have stopped me getting stuck into a job lot of novel edits I have and the short stories I have written have not quite soared yet and I've struggled to get some consistent time on them.
My resolution, as much as you can make one, for next year is to mandate writing time and stop making excuses.
Of course, some of this year's excuses were brilliant. I got married in the summer, for instance, so I'm not going to lament that lost writing time too much.
Actually, getting married nearly derailed the publication of Cleaning Up. The lovely people at Fireside sent me edits on my wedding day and I had to do them while jetlagged in a Toronto hotel at three in the morning. Hopefully not so as you'd notice.
All in, a bit of quiet year, writing wise, coasting on the work I put in last year. Hopefully I'll put more effort in during the upcoming solar rotation.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

2017: The Year of the Step Up

Hello all and Happy Holidays.

Firstly, I have a new story out. Yay! Normally at this time of year I do a review of the year and post up an old story for you. But today I happen to have a new story out from the wonderful people at Fireside Fiction. It's called Rab the Giant and Witch of the Waterfall and it is available to read for free here  right now. It's a wee story about the monsters of yore and how they get on in the modern world. It features cake.

Go, enjoy, I'll see you later if you feel the urge to come back for more of my drivel.


Oh, hello, thanks for coming back. Hope you liked it. If you did, please do consider chipping some money towards Fireside to help cover their costs. It all helps towards them providing more and better stories.

I've been attending story telling events of late and a lot of their stories are traditional fairy tale type stories. They all start wth 'Once upon a time' and have a moral and this was my attempt to do something similar. With luck and some insightful critiques from the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle I'm feel I've got a fair way towards that.

Also, did you see the illustration they gave my story? How flipping wonderous is that? By Marianne Khalil and I'm not sure I can quite express how awed and overjoyed I am to look upon it.

Anyway, now that I've calmed down from my great excitement let's turn to my more normal end of year review thingy.

Until quite recently it was looking like a quiet year. I had a story out in KZine way back in January but there has been a wee flurry recently. Obviously there is this new story out but I've also been told another three have been accepted for publication. A flash piece on the dangers of ancient technology, a bit of far future action with musings on memory and a second story to Fireside featuring a university library janitor and his talking cat.
Expect to get spammed by me when those appear, hopefully next year.

Another thing of note is that back in October I celebrated five years since my first publication. That was The Greatest Rocketman, published by Sein und Werden and you can read it here as a previous year's Christmas present story. As such I thought I'd do a wee roundup of how those five years have gone, with a graph (ooo).

Mostly what this graph shows is that I hate Microsoft's Excel and can't get it to do what I want, but it does also show that, after my best year for number of publications in 2013, I only just got away without a complete Granny in 2014.
This being a good reminder to myself that one good year does not mean that the next will be similar. Those laurels must remain un-rested-upon.
Which, obviously, means I need to get my finger out and write more to hawk around next year.

Still, if, five years ago, you'd told me I'd have seen this much success with my wee writing hobby I'd have laughed right in your face. If you suggest I might even do similar in the next five years I will still laugh in your face.

Any roads, thanks to everyone who has helped me by reading or critiquing or publishing my nonsense. You're all lovely people.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Writing on the shoulders of giants

I've sold a story!

Very pleased to be able to say that Fireside Fiction have bought a story from me called Rab the giant versus the witch of the waterfall. They have an announcement here

It's a modern fairy tale featuring giants and witches (obvs) and is silly. I hope you like it when they publish it.

I'm pleased for many reasons. They are good people with a politics I like. They publish wonderful stories. It's a fun, daft story which makes me smile. And they pay at a professional level.

Payment is always nice, exposure gets you arrested, but there is a definition by the SFWA of what counts as a professional pay scale and this is the first time I have sold at that level. Normally it's a token fiver and a comp copy, which is always appreciated, but for someone to like something enough to pay the pro rate is such a wonderful boost and write the shock.

Probably the only time I'll make this level but, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to be smug about it for a bit.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

It's always colder in your memory

Hello dear people. In this time of strife and upheaval let me ignore all that for a moment and tell you of an incident that happened to me when I was but a wee child and growing up in Ayrshire, the land of Burns, cows and decayed towns. But not here, oh no.
Rather, why not pop along to KZine where, in their latest issue, I have a new story all about said incident. There is mystery, weather and half a dozen rolls. Can you spot the point where I may have slightly embellished the story from its real life origins?
KZine is a Kindle based magazine but I see that they have started on-demand physical copies, if that's your thing. May have to get one for my brag shelf.
Also, while you are there and if you have not already,  you could pick up issue 15 where I previously had a story about the apocalypse.
Sorry if it comes over as a bit too topical at present.
Anyhoo, hope you enjoy these. I now have the rest of the year stretching out before me as a blank canvas with no future publishings planned, so I'd better get my finger out and write more.
Ta-ra for now.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

2016: The Year we'd mostly like to forget.

Well, hasn't 2016 been a truly terrible year? War, politics, death have all been busy this year which makes me doing a wee review of my writing feel somewhat unimportant. I entirely understand if you have more important things on your mind.

That said, there has been the odd nice thing this year. I got engaged for one.

Another nice thing was my writing. It has been very patchy this year with the muse coming on me in fits and starts but I did get three stories published.

First, in January was The Past Does Not Watch Over Us, a story of science, General Relativity and willful stupidity. That can be found in The Speculative Book

Next up in May was More Certainty In Your Shopping, a story of how to cope with the apocalypse while not believing everything supermarkets tell you. It can be found in  Kzine Issue 15

Then, in September the Glasgow Science Fiction Writer's Circle celebrated their thirtieth anniversary with their anthology Thirty Years of Rain I managed to sneak a wee collection of passive aggressive letters into it under the title of The Lodger.

I'm deeply happy with all of these.

I also had a great time at conventions (waffling about writing rather than doing it, obviously) and even had a couple of reading occasions which were great fun, if nerve-wracking.

Looking forward, next year is due to start brightly as I have a new winter story coming out in KZine in January. Have no fear, I'll annoy you about it when it does.
Beyond that the aim is to keep on keeping on. I have a first draft novel roughly three quarters done that needs finished and several stories I'm hawking around the place so here's hoping that I can find the time for them.
I'll also be going to Worldcon in Finland and must say I am very much looking forward to it. A place I've never been.

As is now tradition I've added a new story to the blog for you to read. It's a story of fairy cakes called Unexpected Visitors that I got published a few years back and if you've not seen it before it can be read here. It includes a free recipe for some very nice cakes.

I hope you all have a good festive period and an improving New Year.