Monday, 27 July 2009 Cold Turkey

Home again from an incredibly wet week in the sticks. No TV, no pc, no phone – the silence would have been unnerving were it not for the near constant bickering and squabbling from the kids and the beating of the torrential rain.

Happy days.

It was almost like being back in the 70’s again, except I didn’t have my favourite Spiderman t-shirt. The one that was tight enough even on my (then) skinny frame to make breathing a chore. It was a lovely shade of bile-yellow with lurid green piping and a peeling transfer of Spidey webbing some hapless thug.

There’s a faded Polaroid of me in this infamous shirt, shivering on a Summer beach-front somewhere and sitting astride a rather miserable looking donkey, but, don’t worry, I won’t inflict such rose-tinted 70’s nostalgia on you.

Anyway, I digress, but it was weird to be away from the 24 hour instant access world, even for just a few days. In a good way though… I think.

Of course, that means I have a hell of a lot to catch up with. Hopefully, my inbox will be inundated with acceptances and other glorious things to celebrate. I’m nothing if not optimistic.

First thing the kids did once we got back was turn on the TV (SpongeBob is a God to be worshipped at all times) and ask for the laptop to be booted up to speak to their friends on Live Messenger (u up 2?; nthn mch u?; nthn mch).

Normal service is resumed.

Friday, 17 July 2009 Picture This

The new issue of Morpheus Tales hit the shelves a couple of weeks back. I’m not sure exactly where or in what sort of quantity, but you get the idea. It’s out…now.

My contributor copy made its way past the bio-hazard tape, the high stone walls, the rusted gates and the fearsome Boneyard security system and into my ink-stained hands yesterday. A nice looking thing it is too. What could be nicer than seeing your name on the cover alongside Joe R. Lansdale? I’m pretty sure that’ll never happen again.

Check out one of the illustrations to my story below.

A big thanks here to the artist, Robert Leija, who’s done a great job. I couldn’t be happier with the artwork he’s provided.

Now, if only I’d put as much effort into the story.

Friday, 10 July 2009 Rated and Slated

I’ve always been a little wary of critique services, but I came across one a while back that sounded OK and I was curious. I’d just finished a story that I thought was pretty good, but seemed to be missing something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

It was an 1800 word story, the fee was negligible and they promised a quick turnaround. What did I have to lose? Other than my pride and dignity, that is, but I lost those a long time ago anyway.

So I dipped my toe in the water and sat back, waiting for the words of wisdom to come in.

Two months later, I sent a polite query asking if they could give me an idea of when to expect my critique.

A month after that, I finally got my ‘full service critique.’ It’s presented here in all its glory.

Now, that’s what I call a full critique. I have a cool looking chart showing exactly where the story succeeds and where it fails. What could be better than that?

I scored fairly high in most areas, but my presentation let me down a little. They asked for it to be sent as plain text in the body of an e-mail, not standard manuscript format. I duly obliged, so where I failed in presentation I really don’t know, but I’ll take it on the chin and move on.

Still, money well spent, I think you’ll agree.

But wait, there’s more. Not only did I get this rather fancy looking chart, I also had a bonus comment. Free of charge, no less. Now, that’s what I call a deal.

‘You clearly can write,’ it said.

Yes, I can; I learned at school. They taught me to read too. On a good day I can also clean my teeth, get dressed all by my own and, albeit at a push, I can even do myself a nice little packed lunch. Although it has to be said, I make a mess with the peanut butter.

Never, ever again.

I think I’ve since found the missing element that eluded me for a while with that story, but I still haven’t sold it. Come on editors – it scored 7 out of 10 for originality. That can’t be bad.

Friday, 3 July 2009 How (Not) to Deal with Pesky Kids

I recently caught ‘The Ring’ on TV and was reminded how good it is. Most Hollywood versions of j-horror tend to be pretty lame compared to their original counterparts, but this one really got under my skin the first time I saw it. Second time around, it did exactly the same. There’s a great sense of creeping dread throughout the whole film. Very dark, very disturbing.

Of course, the original is great too, but it’s been a long while since I saw that and I wanted to do a quick compare and contrast. Especially of that scene – you know the one.

Like most things these days, the whole film is on You Tube for your viewing pleasure (albeit in 10 minute chunks) but I also came across this. Dark, disturbing? Or is it just plain cruel?

Gave me a chuckle anyway. Those poor kids.