RIP Iain (M) Banks

I didn’t think it right for me to write an obituary as I did with James Herbert as I have only read one of his books (with one more in my “to read” pile). I did meet him at a book signing about twenty years ago. Having only heard his name before, I didn’t have any questions to ask him. Instead he asked me whose name to put in the book and I told him. That was it so I’m afraid I have no anecdotes to prove what a lovely bloke he was (I don’t doubt for one minute that he was!)

Somebody who did know him though was Neil Gaiman so I’ll leave it to his heartfelt words to mark the passing of this writer with such a darky and quirky writing style.

Read it here.

A tougher nut to crack – story 3

The third story I’m editing is A New Age Exodus.

A post-apocalyptic story set somewhere in the Scottish Highlands, it is about a small community of villages landlocked in the valleys between the mountains. They believe that they cannot leave the valleys due to a sickness that people in their distant past had brought back into the communities. Each village is ruled by a council of Elders and they worship the Goddess of the Mountains whom they believe protects them from sickness and demand they do not leave the valley. This is a problem for our protagonist (Kirsten), a restless 16 year old who wants nothing more than to see the world beyond and this leads her to clash with her father and some of her peers. Continue reading

Competitions and long term goals

All of this rewriting of old material and recognising how much my writing has improved has created a new hunger to create new material. I do miss it right now despite other things that take up my time. I know I’m planning to release my compilation for the end of the year but I’m ever conscious of the two major competitions I have entered before and how much I want to keep up with the game by continuing to enter them.

I’m thing ahead already to the James White Award (deadline January) and wondering whether my dinner date story which I had initially intended to send to the Arc 1.1 competition could be suitable. It has the right feel based on their guidelines and my understanding of previous winners.
Continue reading

Margaret Atwood on Wattpad

Margaret Atwood stunned the literary world by defending Wattpad this week. For those who have not heard of it, it is an online story sharing community that has a reputation for being full of YA romance fiction and thinly-dressed-as-original-yet-clearly-fanfic. It has not been considered a viable vessel for spreading your written work, until now.

I discovered it when I got my first smartphone (BlackBerry) and downloaded it. I had it for a few weeks and saw that the quality of work was pretty poor. I didn’t have the patience to give it more of a shot than that. Continue reading

“Like” Spamming

I am getting a little fed up with receiving lots of likes on posts. Great, I enjoy good feedback like any other blogger and I appreciate that you appreciate what I write. However, there seems to be a growing trend on WordPress for “Like” spammers. That is, people who trawl hundreds of blogs in a day liking every post that they see yet never post a single comment. These people are not engaging with the content or using the feature in the spirit in which it is intended. It seems that the majority are not actually reading the posts they are liking.

How have I worked this out? Firstly, several times in the last few months I have acquired several “likes” on posts that have (at the time) registered zero hits. Secondly, I turned off “likes” on 2012 and all that several months ago yet I still get them. It is clear what is going on here. Using the reader (which shows only the first 50 or so words of the post) these bloggers are scrolling through a subscribed topic and hitting “like” on everything. Thirdly, I am seeing the same gravatar icons appearing on a wide range of blogs covering a multitude of subjects and in each case, they have not commented. So as of today, I have turned this feature off on this blog. Continue reading

Expanding my reading scope through Kindle

One of the great advantages of having an ebook reader is the volume of stuff that you can download free. That is always a good selling point in itself but out of copyright work can be obtained in masses without having to part with hard-earned cash.

Today, while flicking through an old edition of SFX magazine, I saw a name that meant nothing to me: Ambrose Bierce. Intrigued by the quick summary in the “Penny Dreadful” horror column, I switched on my Kindle and went straight to the marketplace to download a collection (Present at a Hanging and other ghost stories) for free. Continue reading

Twelve Writers I’ve Never Read

Following on from the last two weeks, here is a list of 12 writers I have never read and would like to read. I have made an effort with my Kindle to download lots of free books, some of which includes work from the following:

1. Edgar Allan Poe (on Kindle)
2. H.P. Lovecraft (on Kindle)
3. Thomas Hardy (on Kindle)
4. Jean Paul Sartre (though I have read stuff about him)
5. Peter F. Hamilton Continue reading

Copyright and the writer – the case of Marvel Comics

Gary Friedrich has lost his case to wrestle control of the creative rights to “Ghost Rider”, a case that has gone on for four years (mobile link).

As writers we like to think that our creations are our property and that the full weight of the law will come to bear on anybody who attempts to profit from our creations. And mostly this is the case but if we sign a contract signing over our rights then we have no leg to stand on.

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Come to my Red Room

I’m all set up. Come and take a look guys!

My page at Red Room. I will most likely submit all of my short fiction here in future and may even post some of the better earlier work currently collecting dust at Elfwood. I’ve been losing confidence in Elfwood for a while and the distinct lack of comments there isn’t helping.

I’ve submitted The Weight of Reason so go and take a look. I know it is 15,000 daunting words but I put a lot of effort into it for the competition and I would dearly love some comments on it. Even if you don’t want to comment there, come back to this post and comment here. Once it is up I will post a discussion piece on it and give you the opportunity to ask any questions about it.