Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Lovecraftian Longings

LovecraftShameful to say, I have never read a single work by H.P. Lovecraft – a classic  master of horror rated alongside Edgar Allan Poe.

According to Stephen King: “Now that time has given us some perspective on his work, I think it is beyond doubt that H. P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the Twentieth Century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” It is high praise indeed. I’ve only ever been mildly into the genre of horror, by why is it that I had never come across the actual works of Lovecraft until I stumbled across him in my research.  Shame on me, perchance. I had heard the name ‘Lovecraft’ bandied about, and like many unknown references, it was one I let lie. In my defence, I have never come across his books while browsing the sci-fi/fantasy/horror shelves in bookstores, or in libraries. Perhaps it was my personal oversight or a defiencies in the venues I frequented. Either way, I feel a little cheated.

His influence is wide ranging, for example the Arkham Asylum in Batman is attributed to Lovecraft. His fans include Neil Gaiman, Jorge Luis Borges and Michel Houellebecq. Not to mention, David Bowie, Metallica and Black Sabbath. An impressive fan base to be sure. So I will presently be embarking on my Lovecraftian horror adventure, I hope it will be as fulfilling as when I first stumbled across John Wyndham. The bonus is that all of Lovecraft’s works are out of copyright, so Project Gutenberg, here I come.

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Realism in Writing Goals

Reality Check aheadOK, I have an admission. Although I did enroll in Coursera’s Science Fiction and Fantasy course with the University of Michigan. I’m realising that it’s one commitment too far, there are simply not enough hours in the day for me to do this, my blog, my novel and all the other extra-cirricular activities that I am involved in. It’s one thing too many, lest all the balls that I am juggling come tumbling down.

The reading list is great (and I think it I will follow it), the course materials are great, but enrolling late and trying to launch myself into it was a little optimistic. I think that I will definitely enroll into another course where I have prepared myself  timetable-wise. In fact, Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative, a Coursera course with Vanderbilt University which starts in the summer looks particularly entertaining (one of the classes is held in the LOTR MMORPG), but I digress…

Progress with writing 4&20

As far as crafting long-form fiction goes, I am a slow writer. I spend hours agonising over every word and phrase. Constantly fact-checking and looking for better suited synonyms to make my writing just so. Although I would say that overall my standard of writing is fairly good, there isn’t very much of it and to put it frankly, a snail would easily outpace me.

Blog-assisted inspiration

I’ve been blogging for just under 2 weeks, and I really feel that it is helping me. Helping to give me focus in my writing. I have been in a writing slump for nearly half a year: I set aside my novel 4&20 and my fairy tale fantasy world, and they’ve been gathering dust in a shadowy corner. Although I have not yet added anything to my word count for Four and Twenty Blackbirds, it has been foremost in my thoughts this past fortnight. I have been world building and developing my characters, something that I have not done in an age. I’ve also signed up for a drop-in writing class this Thursday with the very awesome Anne Aylor, which I really think will help get my proverbial ink flowing.

100-Word story: jeffrey archer short story challenge

On other fronts, I have finished my 100-word story for the Jeffrey Archer Short Story Challenge, entitled FreeCycle. I will be going over it with my writing group WLWG on Wednesday, and will post it here after submitting it to the competition.

Happy writing, one and all.

Tor UK now accepting direct author submissions

Tor Books

Tor UK is the Pan Macmillan imprint specialising in science fiction, fantasy and horror. Until now, Tor (as with many other mainstream publishers) did not accept direct submissions. In a recent blogpost announcement, Tor Books has now opened its doors to the floodgates.

Tor’s authors include Douglas Adams, James Herbert, Robert Jordan and Amanda Hocking. I wonder if it was the acquisition of the self-published success story Amanda Hocking that inspired the move. The refusal to accept direct submissions has made most publishers more and more insular over the years. Brick and mortar publishers come to become over-dependent on their already established authors, as well as on literary agents to be their filtration system for submissions. This wider casting of the net seems to be part of the general trend of the larger publishers, who have begun to realise that the self-published market is becoming a real competitive threat. Especially in the SFF genre.

It does mean that Tor will be inundated, I wonder how will they sift the chaff? I know from my experience of working at a publisher who did accept direct submissions, anyone from the postroom staff to HR who volunteered to read through the slush pile can be a filter for submissions. The likelihood that it will get to the eyes of the editor is unlikely, as sadly, the majority of submissions are, for want of a better term, slush. Tor’s filtration system for submissions will be the true test of whether their bold move into the brave new world of publishing will work.

Tor will accept English language full length novel (95,000 – 150,000 word) submissions in the genres of science fiction, horror and fantasy only. Submissions need to be via email: TorUKSubmissions@macmillan.com.  Have a look on the Tor Blogpost for details of how to submit your work.

Free Coursera Course: Fantasy and Science Fiction

After finishing my second degree at law school, I swore to myself that I would never go back to university. Famous last words. As per the famed wisdom of Henri the Pigeon, from An American Tail, Never say Never, whatever you do…

Although my BF is impassioned about studying, the underground academic that he is, I did not think my passions lay there. That is until I took a closer look at at Coursera, which provides 9 FREE college level writing and literature courses. Most even come with a certificate when you finish them.

shhhhh-quiet-everyone-study-wallpaperCoursera is a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Through this, they hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few.

The course which caught my eye is one called Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World with Eric Rabkin, provided by the University of Michigan. It started on the 22nd January and is 11 weeks long, but I reckon that I can catch up. I am really quite excited about it. It shouldn’t be surprising, but to me when it comes to studying, it is:  it’s strange that, when it’s something that you’re truly passionate about, it doesn’t seem like work.

I’ll keep  you updated on my progress.

The Financial Reality of a Genre Novelist

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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.

Making Magic with Words

I do need to remember that it’s just about writing words, and loving them and cultivating them so that they make magic. It’s not about complexity, simplicity is often best, take the example from the science fiction writer Fredric Brown below:

The Shortest Horror Story

OK, so it’s a little gimmicky, but it’s also a little bit genius. It’s a reminder to practice paring down writing and ideas so that the magic isn’t hidden away by all the fluff around the edges. Every word should fight for its right to be there. Not unlike my day-job writing contracts. I love words.