Sunday, 31 October 2010

Godzilla Finds Home in Battered Suitcase

Don't worry, this blog hasn't been hijacked by a headline writer from the Sunday Sport. My story, A Night In with Zil, has been accepted by The Battered Suitcase, a magazine published by Vagabondage Press. They haven't given me a publishing date yet, but I'm very pleased to have placed this story as it's one I'm very fond of.

So I've been filling out the paperwork (contract, author profile, etc) to make it all official. I'm still at the stage where all this kind of stuff is quite exciting. I'm sure eventually it'll become a tedious chore, but for the moment I'm happy to enjoy it. The thing I like best is that they invite their contributors to answer a few questions about their writing - so I'm regarding it as my first writing-based interview. I've no idea if they'll use what I've sent them. I'm already a bit concerned that the things I've said will make me seem like a complete idiot with no idea what I'm doing. Ah, well...

Oh, and I didn't get anywhere in the Biscuit Publishing Flash Fiction Competition (results out today). Maybe next year.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Status Update

Having mentioned progress on my novel in my previous post, and finishing Chapter Ten today, it seemed like a good time to take stock. I've copy-&-pasted everything into one file (I tend to work with each chapter in a separate file, to try to make sure if any get corrupted it's merely annoying, rather than the end of the world).

Anyway, the rewrite currently weighs in at a respectable 23,000 words, spread over 82 double-spaced pages. I'm not sure if 2,500ish words per chapter is a bit on the short side. Originally the chapters were coming out at around 6,000 words - which seemed far too long. I'm hoping the shorter style suits the fact it's more of a thriller than a ponderous, philosophical musing on the human condition.

23K seems like a good chunk - it's enough to feel like the rewrite is actually happening now, it's not just something I'm tinkering about with. Having said that, it's early days yet. There's still another 60,000 words to go before I catch up with where I was before I decided to go back and switch it all to first-person. And then I can press on and write the end, which I'm starting to panic about already. There are going to be a lot of loose ends to tidy up.

The aim is to write somewhere between 90-100K in the first draft, and then trim it down by at least 10%. 85,000 words seems to be an industry-standard acceptable length for a first novel. It would be good to have the first draft finished before the end of the year. In fact, seeing as I've just written it, that is officially my goal. You're all witnesses, so now I have to do it. Thank you. I think.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Recent Acquisitions, Routine, Rejection...

I haven't blogged in a while. Don't think that I have reached a rather feeble milestone and settled back to rest on my laurels. Oh no.

The thing is, I haven't really had much to blog about. I've been plodding along with the novel re-write, adding about 800 words a day on average to the word count. Reasonable, steady progress I guess, but unremarkable. It feels good to have a routine of sorts, although in actual fact my daily output still varies from a couple of hundred words to a couple of thousand. I've just come out of a fairly heavy-going portion, which I've struggled with, and into a more exciting section that's got a lot more going on, some snappier dialogue and more movement. I definitely find this kind of thing easier to write. So, that's good.

I've had a couple of pieces turned down, most recently by Vestal Review. This is a nice-looking market that I'd like to get a story into, but their rejection (although very polite and encouraging) confirms some of the doubts I have about my ability to write flash fiction - a form I still haven't entirely separated in my head from 'regular' short stories. A lot seem frustratingly incomplete, some have characters so slight I'm left wondering why anybody cares what happens to them. Some are excellent, and have stayed with me as indelibly as my favourite novels. I'll keep trying to write decent flashes, and keep reading them, in an effort to understand more about the form.

And I've bought some books this weekend:

'All My Friends are Superheroes' by Andrew Kaufman - I bought this because I found it in a secondhand book shop near to where I live and thought the title rang a bell, although I can't remember where I'd heard about it. I've read it (it's very short) and it's one of the quirkiest, most charming stories I've read in a long time. It's basically a love story - Tom is a regular guy in a city where just about everybody else is a superhero. His new wife, The Perfectionist, has been hypnotised by her jealous ex, Hypno, into thinking that he is invisible. When he touches her, she flinches or hiccups, but she can't hear anything he says. Tom has the time it takes to fly to Vancouver to find a way of convincing her he is right next to her, as she is convinced he's left her. It's a clever idea and it's very well executed.

'The City & The City' by China Mieville - I've been meaning to read Mieville's work for a long time, and I decided that this would be a good place to start, seeing as it won this year's Arthur C Clarke award. That suggests it's a science fiction story, although I tracked it down in the Crime section of Waterstones. I get the impression it's the kind of story that's hard to classify, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

'The Space Merchants' by Frederick Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth - I don't know a lot about this, only that a friend of mine was talking about it one night (I'd never heard of it before), and the very next day I found it in a secondhand bookshop - not just on the shelf, but actually perched on top of a row of books as though it had been left out specifically for me to see. I can't resist coincidences like that, so I bought it.

'Not So Perfect' by Nik Perring - This ties in nicely with my aim of getting a better grasp on flash fiction, as Nik's stories are regarded as fine examples of the form. Plus, he seems like a very nice bloke, and it's always good to support an up-and-coming authors whenever you can.

So, that's it for now. Back to the reading and writing...

Thursday, 7 October 2010

A Bicentenary, of Sorts...

I've reached a milestone today. Hoorah! Well done, Lies, Ink, you're well on your way to being a proper blog or something. Perhaps.

Admittedly, it's all a bit arbitrary because it was more than a week after I'd set up the blog that I added the counter, and it was a good few days after that before I found out how to block my own IP address so I didn't artificially boost the viewing figures. But, still, I've always believed in celebrating the small things in life, and even a quasi-accurate blog counter hitting 200 views deserves an acknowledgement.

By the law of averages, at least half a dozen or so of those 200 visits are from real human beings rather than web-trawling robots, and there's a sliver of a chance that some of those are people I haven't actually met. If you're one of those, Welcome, it's great to have you aboard. I hope you're finding the blog to be interesting / helpful / a handy cure for insomnia.

***As you can probably tell, I've been at work all day and have nothing writing-related to comment upon. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.***

Monday, 4 October 2010

Exciting New Content!

As you can see by my shiny new tab bar across the top of this blog page, I have added a section of the blog that I hope will be of interest to my fellow writers - a listing of short story competitions.

I've put this together after trying to get more organised about entering competitions and finding it difficult to navigate my way around other competition listing sites, which - understandably enough - don't tend to focus on short story competitions of the kind I like to enter. So, it's partly here for my own reference, but with a bit of luck it will also be helpful to other writers with a competitive streak.

Putting this list together has shown me a few things:
  • There are a lot of competitions out there. I found 45 closing before June 2011 in my first couple of searches. There were others that I missed out, for instance because they aren't yet accepting entries.
  • Competition organisers really need to make their webpages as straightforward as possible - on several occasions I had to navigate my way over three or more pages just to get all the information required to send an entry that complies with all their rules.
  • Blogger does really odd things with paragraph breaks once you start putting tables into a blog post.

Anyway, I hope it's of use / interest. Good luck!