Published: The Second Christmas Book Of Ghosts

The Second Christmas Book Of Ghosts, edited by Michael S Collins and published by the Other Side Books [External Link] became available on Thursday 14th December, 2017.

This anthology is available in ebook formats only and direct from the publisher (follow the link above) or from Amazon. The Amazon.co.uk link is here: [External Link]

All monies paid will go to Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland [External Link].

My offering is actually a reprint – The Girl From Yesterday, previously published by the Ranfurly Review, back in December 2007. There is a background post here.

Short story, horror

Wednesday 13th December, 2017

Welp, I took last week off from the website and forgot to report a few things the week before, so, you know, really doing well at this correspondence thing!

OK, so unreported but with a post on the website, Fox Spirit Books [External Link] have officially agreed to publish the Alex and Conn short stories next year. This means the collection, provisionally entitled Dogs & Wolves, is in a holding pattern and we’re waiting to hear when the next window for landing will be. More news as and when.

Although I’ve not done a similar post for them, I’ve got a number of short stories being looked at by the Other Side Books [External Link], who have already accepted The Knight’s Daughter. Michael S Collins, the editor there, put together a Christmas collection of ghost stories last year that included my story Let’s Stay Together (one of those stories that never got a background post). Anyway, that story and a few others that haven’t been seen in a few years are being looked at for Other Side Books. More news, etc, etc.

Main WIP, Feintheart ceased for a bit and I’ve done my first keyboard tapping over it for about a fortnight today. It’s only a few hundred words but it’s definitely the “I Aten’t Dead” sign as there’s more bubbling away with it, I just need to get the words to come out. As it’s tai chi tomorrow evening and the work’s Christmas party Friday, it’ll be Saturday before we see much more.

On the plus side, Under Smoke City [External Link] rattles a long quite nicely. I work on it in chunks of various sizes when I’ve got a half hour or so and I’ve got ahead enough that I’ll be releasing an extra passage on New Year’s Say. (Passage 4 was released on Monday, Passage 5 will come out on Christmas Day, Passage 6 was ready a little sooner than expected.) If you have time, please do go have a read. Each passage is equivalent to a couple of pages of A4, so it’s not a long read. And it’s free! And let me know what you think. And back me if you think it’s a worthwhile project. And get involved if you want to have a say in where it goes.

Wednesday 22nd November, 2017

Someone set off the event klaxon: Sledge Lit is this weekend so expect a certain amount of quietness on the social media on Saturday – and the days either side for associated travel!

Which will at least be a decent excuse for why I only manage a couple of thousand words a week on the main WIP, Feintheart. Which means, for those of you who keep track of these things, that I’m now at 21,000 words. About half of which are new. The next chapter is an old one from the novella I’m ripping apart to make Feintheart but I’ll have to kill about 1,000 words of said chapter and fill the hole in with something better as we’re getting to the point where the plot(s) have more obviously diverged.

And, speaking of diverging from originals, I’ve changed the Patreon backing tiers for the Under Smoke City project. Basically, I’ve decided to make the passages themselves free to read as I’d rather people were reading it than not and, as it’s an unusual thing to be doing, expecting backers to pay when they had no idea what they were getting was a bit off. There’s an official announcement here: [External Link].

I’m still doing the Esfinges’ 30 Days of HEMA Study event [External Link] – we’re now on Day 22 of 30 – but the #30DaysofHEMA tags on Twitter and my personal Facebook wall have disappeared altogether. I’ve been spending more time with a rapier in hand muttering “If I do this, then he does that, and then I do this, then…” than I care to admit.

Accepted: Dogs & Wolves

Fox Spirit Books [External Link] has officially agreed to rehome the Alex & Conn short stories as a collection – working title “Dogs & Wolves” – in 2018. I’ll confirm publishing dates, etc, as soon as I have them!

As a reminder, the short stories are:

  1. Half-Breed (Short)
    Published: Twisted Tongue, Issue 11, 29/08/2008
    Podcast: Cossmass Infinities, Episode 5, 01/05/2010
  2. Heart’s Desire (Short)
    Published: Drops of Crimson, Volume 2, Issue 1, 01/11/2009
  3. Second Date (Short)
  4. Dog Handler (Short)
    Published: Title Goes Here, Issue 1.9, 02/09/2011
  5. The Grace of Wolves (Short)
  6. Three Swords (Short)
  7. The First Man (Short)
  8. The Last Kiss (Short)

Short story collection, horror / dark fantasy (in the Fur-Skins world)

Wednesday 15th November, 2017

Winter may not technically be here but the days are short enough that I’m starting to wonder why I just don’t go hide in bed for the next few months until the nights have drawn out again. I have problems feeling like I’ll never be enough at the best of times (I don’t put enough time into fencing or tai chi or writing or reading, and I don’t put in enough at work, and the dogs don’t get enough walks or fusses, and I don’t do enough to stay in touch with friends and family, and so on) but the restricted hours of daylight tend to make it all seem so much more… on a restricted timetable.

Anyway, in main WIP news, Feintheart continues to limp. With editing an old chapter, it’s now up to 19,000 words. I kind of know what the next new chapter should be like but I haven’t been able to start it. I suppose that constitutes writer’s block but I think it has more to do with brain space and getting other things done, and worrying about all the things i probably don’t need to. (See above about being enough.)

In Under Smoke City news, the teaser for the second passage and the second passage have both been released. You won’t be able to read the full passage unless you’re a backer, but the teaser is available for everyone and is here: [External Link]. If you want to get involved with Under Smoke City, you can help me work out the content or the overall destination of the project by backing me.

And yes, I’m still embroiled in the Esfinges’ 30 Days of HEMA Study event [External Link] – in partnership with my fencing instructor, Mark Hillyard of Academie Glorianna. We’re now on Day 15 of 30, although the #30DaysofHEMA tags on Twitter and my personal Facebook wall have dropped as Mark and I are now on the “re-reading and conferring to be sure we agree what we’re reading” stage, which makes suitable quotes and observations difficult to come by! At some point, there will be a recreating a play stage and there will be video, so there’s that to look forward to.

Wednesday 8th November, 2017

Feintheart has limped up to 17,000 – all new words, I’m proud to say – but has decided it needs to marinate for a while. I’m supposed to be editing an old chapter but, having read it through, I don’t think it really works any more. I just haven’t worked out why. I probably ought to read it again as I’ve been getting distracted with other things.

Not that Under Smoke City has actually been one of those distractions. It has been most well behaved and side-project-ish so that I’ve managed to do a little bit here and there. In fact, I have a teaser due out on Saturday and the second passage due out on Monday. Which all means the schedule I set myself of posting a passage every fortnight looks to be on course. I have a couple of passages in hand so I even have some space if I have a week or two where I can’t put any work in at all. But if you want to know any more about that, you need to go and have a look at my Patreon [External Link].

The main distraction is probably doing the fifteen to thirty minutes reading every evening for the Esfinges’ 30 Days of HEMA Study event [External Link]. Not that it’s hard work but the shift of mental gears from work to creating words to Saviolo is a bit more than I can cope with most week nights. As a result, there has been a little less creating. (To be fair, only slightly less.). However, we’re on Day 8 now and only 22 to go, so you can still expect some more #30DaysofHEMA tags on Twitter and my personal Facebook wall.

I also got side tracked by a flash fiction idea sparked by a post I made on my writerly Facebook page ([External Link]) and wrote a few hundred words called Black Dogs. Let me know what you think.

And, good news, I’ve started back at tai chi today, so maybe I’ll remember to breath occasionally!

Black Dogs (Flash)

Download as PDF

“It wasn’t Churchill that came up with calling depression the Black Dog, you know,” the concierge says. “It was Samuel Johnson and he was from nearby, from Lichfield.”

I picture a thickset, barking Staffie. I still feel upset that anyone could associate black dogs and depression. I suspect dogs are more likely to suffer depression than dole it out.

The concierge continues, “I like to think he … Continue reading

Wednesday 1st November, 2018

Lots of news for today’s round up – but let’s start with the main work in progress (WIP), Feintheart. I leapt forward just over 3,000 words this week to 15,000 – but that’s mainly due to moving across an existing chapter from the previous incarnation, City of Dreams, that didn’t need much editing. However, I’m half way through a new chapter and should get that sorted tomorrow evening.

Which, strictly speaking, I shouldn’t be doing but I haven’t made it back to tai chi since my holiday (two weeks ago, now) due to tattoo and deliveries and generally having things to organise before I can get out to it.

Anyway, you may have noticed I said “main” WIP up there. That’s because (drum roll, please) I have a Patreon! And it’s specifically to cover the Under Smoke City idea. I put an official reveal of what was briefly a secret project on the website, but this link will take you to my teaser post with the latest versions of the opening paragraphs for you to try: [External Link]

It precipitated a bit of a re-order of my widgets (to the right), so you should now have a sub-group of links called “Other Projects”, which includes Under Smoke City and the no-longer-updated-but-still-extent Otherworld Gazetteer.

The other things to mention site- and writerly-wise are that I’ve booked my tickets for FollyCon (EasterCon 2018) and Satellite 6 (in May 2018), so I may see you there. I’ve put myself forward for panels and more HEMA for Writers, so we’ll find out if I’m up to mischief nearer the time!

And if you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook (as oppose to following my Facebook writer-y page [External Link]), you’ll have started seeing the tag #30DaysofHEMA. This relates to a Facebook event [External Link] being run by the Esfinges group to encourage reading the sources we use to recreate the historical martial arts we study. Mark Hillyard of Academie Glorianna and I will be looking at the Saviolo treatise of 1595, specifically book 1. So expect comments, quotes and general snark with that tag! If you’d like to see what I’m reading, you can download your own pdf copy fromhere: [External Link].