On a stage near you soon: Story Shop

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is on August 12 to 28. It’s the 11th year of Story Shop, the strand I’m part of. Story Shop gives local writers a platform to reach audiences by reading stories. I’ll be reading The First Appointment in which Lynn and Audra go to the doctor. It’s not a usual appointment. Or maybe it’s Lynn and Audra that are unusual.

Story Shop is on every day of the festival and takes place in the Spiegeltent at 15:00. Sometimes, it’s really busy with people having coffee and cake, sometimes it’s Story Shoppers and their friends. If you’re anywhere near Charlotte Square at 15:00, pop in. Whomever is on the stage will appreciate your support. Read the announcement.

I don’t yet know what date I’ll be reading: update to follow.

Mad Scientist Journal Spring 2017 out now!

I mentioned that Mad Scientist Journal had accepted A Gift of Life and Death last year. The magazine is out now and available in paperback or Kindle versions on Amazon.

The story is also online – read it. The online version has the most beautiful art, a watercolour heart by Shannon Legler.

If you like my story, or any of the other stories on the site, consider supporting the Mad Scientist Journal Patreon.

Hector Kreeping’s Tales of Terror: Halloween-appropriate stories

Much excitement! The day before Halloween, Hector Kreeping is bringing fun and fear in equal measure. I really looking forward to getting back on stage. Scritch, scratch the armoire. That’s all I’m saying.

What is it? A night of spooky tales in a small, independent bookshop. The event if part of the Edinburgh Horror Festival.

When it it? Sunday 30th October, Otherworld Books, Dalry Road, Edinburgh. Tickets are £5/£3. Get tickets.

Who’s reading? I am. I don’t know who else yet, but keep an eye on the Illicit Ink event page.

I write about Bellefleur for 100 Bookpeeps

Blythe Robertson started 100 Book Peeps as a way to raise money for his part of Bookfellas, a project that hopes to get men and boys reading for pleasure.

Bookpeep’s aim is to get 100 people to write something about their favourite book and raise money. It makes for very interesting reading: all kinds of books are in the list. My choice was Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oats which I first read as a teenager. I’ve still not read anything quite like it. Read the Book Peeps post.

My tech is dying: a moan with a point

Last year, I experimented with writing using pen and paper, hoping that the slower speed would result in better writing and that the transcription stage would introduce a valuable editing. It didn’t: I transcribe first, edit later, making only slight changes to the hand-written text. So I went back to writing using keyboards. All was good. I finished a novel and settled in to edit another one.

Then my tech started dying.

Working on the bus: the things we do to write

As I write this, I’m on the bus. It’s a one-hour bus ride to the place I’m working. Cutting two hours off my daily allotment of free time removes a lot of options from my life and it puts stress on the weekend, turning it into my main writing time. The thing is, there are other things to do on the weekend, like sleep, spend time with my partner, run errands.

I’m not a morning person so getting up early to write isn’t an option. Staying up late is, but then I’d probably oversleep and miss the bus. There is only one bus. (Luckily, not a metaphor.)

I’ve been trying to use the time. First, to edit. It’s not the easiest thing in the world (the drivers are out to kill us, the tablet keyboard is tiny and I press mostly the wrong keys) but with practice I think it will become easier. Saying that, it took me six journeys to do what I thought would be a two-hour edit.

Next, I tried writing. First version writing: chuck it all in and see what comes out. At the moment, putting words in seems easier than refining them. That worked quite well and I now have a small handful of short stories to edit.

Next week, I’m editing again. This time, I’m not editing directly. Instead, I’ll read one or two chapters a day, mark them up and make the changes when I get home (or at the weekend if they are too extensive). I’m hoping to get through the first edit of one of my resting projects this way. It’s been waiting for my attention for a few months and with Anna I in fresh memory, now I a good time to work on it again.

If this approach works, I’ll have a proper first draft of Anna II in six weeks. If it doesn’t, it’ll take a lot longer. I’m curious to find out which it will be.

 

A Gift of Life and Death accepted by Mad Scientist Journal

Next year A Gift of Life and Death will appear in Mad Scientist Journal. The main character, Mira, is a character from a longer project I’m working on (the same one that Makiruku appears in). A story with her has sat in my digital drawer for a while. It never really worked until I had the idea, prompted by a call for submissions by Mad Scientist Journal, to re-write it in the first person.

I’m rather pleased to see Mira, a secondary character in the novel, take centre stage to tell us, in her own words, what happened last night and why she’s changing the bedtime ritual she’s followed for years.

This was, incidentally, the fist project that I edited on the bus. So what? It turns out that editing on the bus (at least on First buses) is much more difficult than producing new material. More on that next week.

Makiruku’s First Courtship accepted for New Writing Scotland 34

New Writing Scotland has a special place in my heart because it showcases current Scottish writing, from newbies like me to well-established writers. I also like it because it was the first print market to buy one of my stories. So, a couple of weeks ago, I was pleased to see a letter from them: they’ve accepted my short story Makiruku’s First Courtship for New Writing Scotland 34.

Makiruku is a minor character from a longer work I’m working on. This story was a way for me to explore his origin story. I’m rather fond of the guy, self-obsessed grump that he is.

The anthology will be released later in the year. Details to follow.

Finish one, start another

So I finished a novel: it took ages. Mountains rose and were worn down to pebbles.

Before I had finished project 1 properly, I started project 2, the sequel to project 1. That one I planned – unlike the first – so when I came back to it after a hiatus of 12+ months, having diverted myself with the completely unrelated joys of project 3, I had chapter notes and plot progressions that told me where I was going. That’s what we call a good thing: I don’t remember details like plot, characters and the point of it all between novel-writing sessions.

Over the last couple of months, ever since completing project 1, I’ve been working hard on the sequel. Three days ago, I reached a crucial milestone: I completed the toilet-paper draft. In my process, that’s the draft before the first draft: something that shows the bones of the story, and has a whole bunch of colour and cheerful exchanges but usually in the wrong places. The toilet-paper draft is plump with enthusiasm but thin on anything else, including grammar. It’s too rough to share.

Now, it needs to rest.