Probably the biggest news for me is that two of my stories are heading for publication. The first is a reprint of Gecko, my tale of heroic failure that was Commended in the 2012 Seán Ó Faoláin Competition. That's going to be included in a new textbook (to be entitled "Expression") published by Forum Publications, for second-level students in Ireland. I'm not 100% sure when the book will be published, but it's likely to be within the next couple of months. It's a strange and exciting thought that my story will be used in schools in some way. I'm particularly pleased with this, as I'm very fond of Gecko, and it's an all-too-rare example of a humorous story that's done well in a 'proper' competition, so it's great to see it get another outing. I hope the students enjoy it too.
The second publication comes as a result of winning a runner-up prize in The Fiction Desk's Flash Fiction Competition last week. My story The Guy in the Bear Suit, an odd and hopefully creepy tale of long-forgotten misdeeds coming back to haunt somebody, will appear in a forthcoming anthology alongside such writers as Nik Perring and Cindy George, who wrote a story about rollercoaster fanatics I particularly enjoyed in an earlier TFD anthology, Because of What Happened. If you're not already familiar with TFD books, they're well worth checking out - nicely put together and an interesting mix of styles and subjects.
This prize represented my first result (of any kind - I've been without a shortlisting, a longlisting, anything) for well over a year. It's true I did a whole load of other stuff, including moving house and doing a lot of day-job gubbins, so the number of competitions I entered did drop off considerably, but I don't think the quality of what I was sending out had dipped. Time will tell on that front, I guess; if I can home some of last year's stories I'll know I was just unlucky. If I can't, well, hopefully getting a prize at The Fiction Desk signals that I'm climbing back out the other side of this apparent slump.
In more mundane news, I've been up to my neck in the novel. This is the unglamorous side of writing, the hard slog when day after day the wordcount creeps up but you never feel like you're actually making any progress. It's been hard to keep on track, and I've had to grit my teeth and watch some very enticing competitions slip by, but my more disciplined approach has paid off: I've written another quarter of the book over the last three months. If I can keep the momentum going, I'll be on track to finish the first full draft by the end of March. Early April at the latest. Words can't express how much I'm looking forward to being able to type "The End" for the first time. Many redrafts and edits lie ahead, I'm sure, but from that point on, I will at least be able to claim that I genuinely have written a book.
And now, for no reason other than the fact it's getting spring-like outside and I've been out and about getting to grips with my new camera, here's a photograph of a slightly pensive-looking squirrel:
Congratulations with the publications. Sounds cool the kids in the schools reading your stories. Nice!
Good luck with the novel. It is a long haul to get to that 1st draft but it will feel so satisfying in the end.
Glad to see you are back and up and at it :)
Congratulations on those publications. Having your story in a school book sounds good - you know it will have lots of readers.
Jen, Patsy - thank you! There will be as many as 6,000 copies of the textbook printed, so it'll have the potential to reach plenty of new readers. I hope it being in a textbook doesn't prove too off-putting for them!
Congratulations - that is terrific news. Hope all those young readers will enjoy your story.
MY ABSOLUTE CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU DAN!!!!!!
I've been emailing OFSTED for quite some time now with extracts from my poetical works in the hope that they will include some of them on the GCSE syllabus. I just feel very strongly that the 14-16 year age group would benefit massively from reading and studying and my words, in particular the critically acclaimed poem 'TOMMY' - a real think-piece about poverty in both Dickensian AND contemporary Great Britain.
Just writing about this here has encouraged me to keep on at OFSTED, to really continue breaking down barriers as I do very naturally anyway.
SO I am really pleased that your short story GECKO will be used to expand and infiltrate the minds of the children of Ireland. Such responsibilty! And such an honour. I can imagine you being knighted in the not too distant future.
I hope you'll invite me to see that happening!
ALL THE BEST
///~~~~ Bella ~~~~\\\
PS HIYA SQUIRREL!!!!
Hiya, Bella! You must continue to badger OFSTED. With the nation's schools in the state they are I think the door should be wide open to the kind of rule-breaking, genre-defying, free-thinking works of genius that seemingly flow from your pen so effortlessly. To be honest I can't see those young minds achieving anything of any importance without it. Good luck!
P.S. I'm VERY excited about the knighthood! And of course you'll be at the top of my guest list once all the formalities are dealt with. See you at the Palace!
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