Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Financial Reality of a Genre Novelist


GalleyCat today has posted a mildly depressing article about the Financial Reality of a Genre Novelist. It specifically mentions those who work in the genres of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Essentially the GalleyCat article relates the obvious truth that we all know (or at least suspect), that it’s really hard to make a living writing books. So I guess I won’t be giving up my day job any time soon.

I do still hold out hope that mine will (once finished) be the next big thing. Don’t we all.

But these are all distractions. The cart is way before the horse. Finish the book first, that will be a feat in and of itself.


Happy Belated-Resolutions Day!


Ah, the sweet sight of resolutions falling by the wayside.  They say that 88% of resolutions fail before the 6th January. So this year, I resolved not to make any firm resolutions until 31st January. The reasoning for this was two-fold. The first was so that I wouldn’t be part of a statistic for the masses (I would have a far more exclusive statistic of my own devising), and the second was that the hype of new years resolutions would have died down, and perhaps that would make me look at it more like creating a new habit that making some grandiose gesture. It’s fuzzy logic I know, but that’s how my mind works.

So, this being the case, happy belated-resolutions day, one and all!

I had a working list of resolutions over Christmas, so here are the new habits and a few specific aims for 2013:

1. Bloggety blog blog blog: Start blogging, and  post at least one entry a day for 100 days. Thereafter post frequently and consistently.

2. Finish that novel: Write 1,000 words a week for Four and Twenty Blackbirds.

3. Slam it! Start performing poetry again (it may even get the poetry flowing once more.)

4. Exercise is necessary for the mind and body: get fit, and keep fit, exercise 3-4 times a week to get into good shape.

5. Excess baggage: eat well and lose those last few pounds.

6. The great balancing act: analyse working life and make sure that its going in a direction that I want to head into.

7. A penny saved: Have a look at finances and draw up a budget.

8. Catching the first worm: Get up early in the morning (or stay up all night) to watch the sunrise over the sea with BF.

Who Reads Ebooks?

The future is ebooks. The future is women readers. The future is people who have cash to burn, as long as they don’t have to spend a lot of it. Figures are scary.



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20 Inspirational Quotes from Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors


 I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
Douglas Adams

OK, so the  first quote, above, is not so much an inspirational quote as much as it is a highly amusing one. The following are some great lines and advice that I have come across on my procrastination occasions. I’m sure that there are several other wise words from esteemed authors of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy vein. If you have any, please add them to the comments, it would be great to hear from you. I have taken the liberty of including E.B. White in the list, because anyone who writes about a talking mouse is writing in the realm of fantasy…

1.  Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter. – Neil Gaiman

2.   The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story. – Ursula K. Le Guin

3.    There are two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail. The gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up. – George R.R. Martin

4.     Don’t be afraid to discard work you know isn’t up to standard. Don’t save junk, just because it took you a long time to write it. – David Eddings

5.     No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing. – E.B. White

6.     Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very;” otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. – C.S. Lewis

Read. Read. Read.

7.      If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King

8.     The most important thing for any aspiring writer, is to read! And not just the sort of thing you’re trying to write, be that fantasy, SF, comic books, whatever. You need to read everything. – George R.R. Martin

On Characterisation

9.      Get inside their skin. That includes even the ones who are complete bastards, nasty, twisted, deeply flawed human beings with serious psychological problems. Even them. – George R.R. Martin

10.      I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose. – Stephen King

11.      Listen to the way people talk. If your characters sound real the rest is easy. – David Eddings

12.      First, find out what your hero wants. Then just follow him.  – Ray Bradbury

13.     If you want to be a writer, you must do two things about all others:  read a lot and write a lot…reading is the creative centre of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you. – Stephen King

On Inspiration:

14.      Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. – Stephen King

15.      Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any. – Orson Scott Card

16.     Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way. – Ray Bradbury

Perseverance: Get Started and Keep Going

17.      Keep working. Keep trying. Keep believing. You still might not make it, but at least you gave it your best shot. If you don’t have calluses on your soul, this isn’t for you. Take up knitting instead. – David Eddings

18.      There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write. – Terry Pratchett

19.      It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish. – J.R.R. Tolkien

20.      You fail only if you stop writing. – Ray Bradbury

Good Reads Reading Challenge 2013

2013 GRR ChallengeIf you haven’t already, it’s time to sign up to the Good Reads Reading Challenge 2013.

I did the 2012 challenge, and I was a little overly ambitious with 100 books. This year, I’ve put myself down for a rather more conservative, though still ambitious 52. That’s still one book a week. Although sometimes it may well be a novella, but hey, so long as it stands on its own as a work of literature, it’s a book and it counts. Sadly, the same applies to the epic ones – so if I do venture towards that copy of war and peace gathering dust on my shelf, that I keep promising myself I will read, it still only counts as 1 book. Ah well, rules are rules, and you will only be cheating yourself.

In any case, some of the best way to get inspiration is to bury yourself in words, so get reading!


London Super Comic-Con 2013

OK, slightly off the topic of writing appaand books, but still in the fairy tale, fantasy zone (somewhat), my charming and rather indulgent BF has bought me tickets to a day at London Super Comic-Con 2013 on February 23rd. Although I am a hard and fast fantasy/sci-fi/superhero geek of the highest order, the only comic-esk convention I’ve ever attended was when I was interning at SFX magazine many moons ago. And I didn’t even get to attend the main convention in that instance, so I’m not sure that that counts.

In any case, I am very excited, and although BF’s tastes differ somewhat from mine, there are mutual geek-grounds that we can meet on. One point of order is that we’ve agreed to do a little dressing up for the part of the comic convention (a must do, methinks). We have not yet sourced our outfits, but we’ve decided on Avatar: The Last Airbender (the TV series, not the movie), specifically we’ve both decided to go as Appa, the Avatar‘s flying Bison, the show’s secret star.

We need to get into action sorting out our respective outfits. We are not going all-out crazy with dressing up, but we are looking at getting the hat below for my BF and the dress for me (Hat and Dress both available via Etsy). I am so excited to go, and hope that it goes some way towards getting inspired to write.

Appa Hatappa dress

Extreme Short Stories: Jeffrey Archer Writing Competition

The advent of ebooks has breathed new life into the short story, but a new competition by Curtis Brown and Kobo has given it a new twist. The Jeffrey Archer Short Story Challenge,  judged by Jeffrey Archer is for writers in the UK, US and Canada in any genre, submissions: 100-word max.

Rather short, n’est-ce pas?

The prize is a rather yawning free enrolment in a Curtis Brown online novel-writing course, but the proposition is intriguing. Having recently pondered the art of sentence-making (NB the shortest horror story Knock), I’m inspired to enter. For the second time today, challenge accepted!

(FYI, by way of example, the article above is 100-words).


Fairytales and Nightmares: Liar’s League HK

Liar's League HK

The support of my writing group WLWG is invaluable, and it’s amazing to know that even after fellow members leave they still provide support and opportunities from across the globe.

I’ve been struggling to write for ages, and this blog is a tool to get me back on track to finishing my novel Four and Twenty BlackbirdsYsabelle, a former WLWG member, has got in touch since I set up and started tweeting about it in earnest. She’s set up Liar’s League in Hong Kong, huge respect to Ysabelle. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Liar’s League, it has been running in London for about 5 years and has branches in New York and Leeds. It can be simply described as a live literary night, occuring monthly, where trained actors read out original short stories. There are two separate focus points: to mentor and train actors to read out dramatic monologues as opposed to scripts, and to mentor and train and pull in talented new authors from around the world. Liar’s League accept submissions from anyone, anywhere, every month. Each monthly event has a theme, and the next theme for Liar’s League HK is Fairytales & Nightmares (very apt for my genre of writing, Ysabelle noted). The deadline is 8th February and the submission must be between 800-1200 words (essentially flash fiction).

It may be most of the way across the world, but it fit’s my writing meme so well that it seems almost fated. I’ve never written flash fiction before, but I have a lot of mini-dramas that need to happen in 4&20 and and the 8th February deadline is doable, so, challenge accepted!

More updates on my progress (undoubtedly) to come.


Minimalist Fairytale Art

Rowan Stocks 1

I am a huge fan of new takes on old tales. I’ve recently come across the artwork of Rowan Stocks-Moore. He uses a limited colour palette and takes advantage of the negative space in an image to create a stark picture, sometimes coupled with an optical illusion (NB the Snow White image above – with the lovers and the apple core in one). His clever, often darkly humorous takes on classic tales gives a new perspective and new life to well trodden tropes. A path I hope to emulate and perchance equal in Four and Twenty Blackbirds.

Rowan Stocks-Moore’s work is available for purchase via Esty.

Rowan Stocks 2


Writing in a Fad-Driven Market

Recent Book Fads

For the last couple of years, it’s been Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and (heaven-forbid) Fifty Shades of Grey (and yes, I have read all three of the books, but that’s an exposition in itself). Before that, it was Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Twilight. Looking back at this list thus far, I realise that have read them all, bar Twilight (NB Twilight has been recommended to me as a great trashy read, but after only managing to stomach watching half of the overly teenage-angst-ridden movie, I have no impetus to read it – perhaps a classic example of should have read the book first. No offence to Twilight fans intended, I know that my younger self would have been relishing the world that Stephanie Meyer created). Before Twilight, there was Harry Potter. ‘nuff said.

But this is just the thing. The entire book and film market has become hugely fad-led. One big thing that turns the tides of commissioning for all the publishing houses. Who in 2005 would have understood an entire section of a bookstore being dedicated to Paranormal Romance? But there we go. Yes, to a degree, the market has always gone in the direction of the big thing. The children’s market sees it a lot: one year it’s aliens, the next it’s cowboys, the next it’s dinosaurs, who can keep up? Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t feel that the adult market had this sort of tunnel vision until the last decade or so (man, that makes me feel old). Not that there is anything inherently wrong with these books as fads. Some of them are brilliant works of literature, as well as being thoroughly entertaining. It’s just that it makes the market more volatile, and tending towards a singlular pursuit for a given time. Which basically means that if you are not of the correct trope, you’re unlikely to be published, and if you are of the correct trope, you’d better get busy finishing off that novel (my personal debilitating issue).

The particular reason it worries me is the fact that fairy tales are hot right now. Really hot. Look at the movies that are out: Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and Red Riding Hood (2011) (as well as the upcoming Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), which looks dire btw), and much more prominently the TV series Grimm and Once Upon a Time. Granted, except for Once Upon A Time, none of these has made a huge splash, but they are indicator of the fas. I really enjoy watching Once Upon a Time and recommend it highly, but it does hugely dilute my material. It is pretty much a parallel of the work I’ve had in the pipeline for years. Yes, true, there’s no such thing as an original story, and far less so when you are rewriting existing works. The worry is still there though. I have to get my arse in gear, finish and publish my book Four and Twenty Blackbirds in time to latch onto this window, because it may be a decade or more before it comes around again. My only saving grace (thus far) is that I have not yet come across a new fairy tale-esk novel of note. But it’s only a matter of time. More application of arse to seat and pen to paper is required, methinks.