Wednesday 27th December, 2017

So I blinked, overslept a little bit and woke up to find out it was time for the end of the year post again. Don’t get me wrong, I was around for Christmas (Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it) but the last few weeks have been blurry, probably due to the long nights and not wanting to do anything but considering my own navel. I wish you all have a Happy New Year for Sunday night / Monday morning.

What I Learnt About Writing in 2017

Well, let’s get on with that annual tradition first inspired by Foxie (whose website is sadly no more). Here’s my stats for this year with last year for comparison:

  • Submissions = 7 (0, 2016)
  • Total pieces in circulation = 8 (8, 2016)
  • New pieces in circulation = 3 (2, 2016)
  • Rewrites = 1 (1, 2016)
  • Acceptances = 3 (1, 2016)
  • Published = 2 (3, 2016)

NOTE: These numbers do not include stories written for the website or published here. Attempts to rehome stories published here and elsewhere have been included.

This year’s submissions have been in three flavours. A couple of those items counted are actually submissions of long work A Fistful Of Feathers (first drafted in 2015) being submitted to potential agents. It’s not proving to be very successful, which suggests:

  1. It needs a rewrite,
  2. I should probably submit to more than a couple of people a year, and
  3. I should probably consider sending out something better.

More news on that next year!

Four of those items were requested of me. Well, sort of. The recently published Second Christmas Book of Ghosts from Michael S Collins (and his new ebook publishing company Other Side Books [External Link]) had a reprint of my story, The Girl From Yesterday. While he didn’t specifically ask for that story, he asked if I’d contribute a reprint and I sent along three stories for him to look at – including that one. The fourth incidence of a request was the collection of Alex & Conn stories – Auntie Fox / Adele Wearing of Fox Spirit Books [External Link] and I have previously discussed putting the short stories together and this year we started the process. Which also accounts for two of my acceptances.

The third acceptance, also by Michael S Collins, was for the more traditional unsolicited submission of The Knight’s Daughter to the Other Side Books. I first drafted that last year but finished off the basic version this year. I also sent the first drafts (something a writer should never do except, you know, when you do) of the other Greenwood novellas, because he might not be interested when it’s part of a linked theme. (These have not been accepted because not finished, not formally submitted, just drafts, etc.)

In wordage terms, I think we can say that my base line over the years I’ve been doing this is about 90,000 words. Some years I write more but I don’t think I’ve written less. This year I’m probably over 100,000, despite feeling like I’ve done nothing. My main problem in the last couple of years seems to be that I’ve had a few ideas that petered out and stopped or became a shorter work than I envisioned.

Writer, Editor, General Dogsbody

So, here are the plans are for the immediate future of my writing and editing career:

I am still looking for an agent (I may consider sitting on doorsteps and mewing woefully until someone opens a door). However, this takes time and concentration and I haven’t given it much of either as – as you all know – I have day job and dogs and actually want to spend some time writing. More news as and when, etc.

The folk-tale inspired works seems to have got out of my system but it may have left ideas for a return to the Fur-Skins world (but not with Alex, Conn or Elkie as a main character). However, that will have to wait until I’m done with the current WIP, which is only about a third of the way through.

And I’ve now taken on the challenge of having a public side project, which – weirdly enough – is currently being worked on more consistently than the main WIP. At the moment, said side project is Under Smoke City but, when I get to the end of that, I expect to pick up another side project to publish on my Patreon [External Link]. The key thing will be maintaining the trickle of work on the side project without letting it take over everything else.

Editing is unlikely to resurface any time soon.

The Ink Plan

Admitting to book numbers floundered last year as they were pitiful and unconnected to my donation to the NAS [External Link]. If / when I have numbers for 2017, I’ll add them together and do a post. However, I already broke things by getting a second tattoo. (Which does not prevent me getting a Journeymouse at some point, but the challenge element is kind of gone.)

What I Learnt About The Rest of Life

Dora and Rosie still fight over Dora not really being in charge. Dora is ageing disgracefully (Note to self: do not leave anything remotely edible or chew-able lying around) but will probably still be around after the nuclear holocaust along with the cockroaches. Finn’s paw cancer has only grown slowly this year but there’s now a second, very small lump on his other front leg. Diagnosis of this second lump would require a biopsy and I don’t think either of us can cope with that.

Work is going pretty well. They brought in David Stewart of Autism Success Formula [External Link] and the workplace is an even better place than it was before – for me, at least. Fencing is going pretty well and tai chi is as relaxing as ever.

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

Sunday 14th June, 2015

Back at the beginning of May, I included all my social media links in a site diary. However, since then I’ve made a slight change to the way I use BookLikes [External Link] in that I only post quotes (when I remember to note some down) from things I’ve been reading. I decided to stop quoting my works in progress, and deleted the ones I’d already made, when I realised it was probably tantamount to spamming with stuff that no-one wanted to see on a site about published books.

I’ve also updated my languages page to include the fact that I’ve started learning Norwegian – and am now getting to a stage where I’m prepared to exercise it on occasion. I’ve also tweaked the details for my Welsh learning as I don’t put as much effort into that as I should, at the moment.

The change you’re more likely to notice about the place, however, is the announcement of another acceptance. Technically, Let’s Stay Together has been accepted for some time but the editor, Michael S Collins [External Link], has onyl recently been in a position to announce the anthology. So, here’s to The Christmas Book of Ghosts [External Link], to be published in aid of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland [External Link]. They’re looking for submissions, so please take a look!

And news on my wordpress space! The Otherworld Gazetteer – based on (some more) behind the scenes notes for Hunting Unicorns – has come into being. So far, I have the about page [External Link] and the first entry [External Link]. The idea is to get a bit of a link-soup wiki-type thing going on, so fingers crossed that you all enjoy it. Of course, it goes without saying that I wouldn’t have decided to go with this particular project without having been talking to Djibril al-Ayad about The Future Fire [External Link], who picked up the original story in the first place. So, thank you, Djibril, for making me revisit notes and start making sense of them!

Sunday 29th December, 2013

Almost at the end of the year, so “Happy New Year!” for Tuesday night / Wednesday morning. We’ve got a couple of things to go through, so there’s headings today.

What I Learnt About Writing in 2013

I usually follow Foxie’s [External Link] “What I Learnt About Writing Post”, but it looks like I’ve beat him to it this year. So here’s my stats for this year with last year for comparison:

  • Submissions = 28 (26, 2012)
  • Total pieces in circulation = 8 (13, 2012)
  • New pieces in circulation = 3 (4, 2012)
  • Rewrites = 2 (6, 2012)
  • Acceptances = 5 (2, 2012)
  • Published = 3 (1, 2012)

NOTE: These numbers are a combination of Duotrope figures and some notes for submissions to non-listed destinations but do not include stories written for the website or published here. Attempts to rehome stories published here elsewhere have been included. This numbers also do not include non-fiction and scripts (I keep trying).

So, I’ve been slightly less productive but marginally more aggressive about getting work out there. Given writing is just my hobby with potential to be a retirement plan, I think that the numbers are so close to last year shows that my paid work / procrastination / hobby work balance is about right for me. Although, as with everything else in life, I continue to hear that little voice in my head that says I can and should do more.

In terms of what isn’t shown in the numbers, my blogging has fallen off a bit, I’ve had a 75,000 novel accepted for publication by Fox Spirit Books (due out next year) [External Link] and we’ve been editing it, I’ve written a couple of non-fiction pieces for Winterwind Productions [External Link], and written the first draft of another 75,000 word novel (with beta readers). I also have a few of ideas at plotting and drafting stage but haven’t got them to a stage where I’m happy to send them out.

Writer, Editor, General Dogsbody

So, I started writing non-fiction, having had a suggestion from Michael S Collins [External Link], writer and part of the editorial team at Winterwnd Productions. For clarity, Michael isn’t the person who says yay or nay to submissions, that’s Joseph Avery-North. Anyway, I’ve submitted and had accepted two pieces and it’s interesting stretching muscles that I haven’t realy used since I had to write essays and theses. Well, aside form blogging here, of course.

The most recent development is the recently announced “European Monsters” book [Exernal Link] from Fox Spirit Books. My co-editor (Margrét Helgadóttir [Exernal Link]) and I have been plotting on this one for around three months now. It’s invitational only and our table of contents is almost full. We have some great writers lined up and we’re only sorry we can’t include all of the writers that we know only, you know, we actually have to be able to put the thing together.

What I Learnt About The Rest of Life

This year seems to have been slightly less stressful. That I didn’t need to take any time off due to stress is kind of a give away. I continue to practice my ability to say “no” when people suggest I do things I don’t have time or ability for. It will hopefully continue to work.

I have also had yet another piece of evidence that life is what happens when you’re making other plans, but this time it’s a good thing as I appear to have found myself another half. (This may be the only time I ever mention the relationship on the blog, so don’t blink or you’ll miss it.) May I introduce Ole Andreas Imsen [External Link] who will be helping me work on my being a functional adult skills next year.

One Last (December) Song

To finish off December, here’s the Christmas no.2 from 1986 – recorded the week previous when it was still no.1: