Saturday, 19 June 2021
Friday, 18 June 2021
Tuesday, 15 June 2021
I have a story coming out later in the year with Bridge House Publishing. I started entering short story competitions again this year after a long hiatus, and I've really enjoyed it and had some success. Bridge House sent some feedback to writers after the competition closed, so I thought I'd break it down and add my own tuppence worth. Just a few tips and tricks to give yourself a better chance of success.
Sunday, 13 June 2021
I picked this up recently. It's one of the rare occasions an author has tweeted me suggesting I check out their book for free, and I've done so. I was in the mood for a set of short stories and I liked the title.
A bolt of lightning. A crack of thunder. The lingering smell of ozone in the highly-charged air.
And the world has changed forever.
Welcome to Thunderlands. It looks the same on the surface, but there's just a hint that all might not be what it seems beneath. Even the most ordinary things may be just a touch off kilter.
Stewart Bint’s collection of 21 short stories ranges from the sublime, through powerful, puzzling, funny, horrific and different, to the unforgivably ridiculous.
The Kindle edition was free that day, but I noticed there was also an Audible version for only £2.99, so I bought that. It's quite unusual to find people giving away free ebooks that also have an audiobook version.
The stories were entertaining, and most of them very short, though there was one in there about a stamp collector, Money to Burn, that was probably the best piece of flash fiction I've ever read. It was so clever and so horrifying at the same time. One of those little gems that sticks with you and you find yourself still thinking about a few weeks later.
Now, I'd always thought of Santa Clause as a kindly old man who loved children. So, it came as a shock to find he was appearing in court, and the charges fair made me gasp. Cruelty to children, they were. Who'd have believed it?
An easy listen, and some interesting ideas. He's very good at changing perspective, so you think you understand what's happening and then you realise you don't. One moment you're looking at a steam train, the next at a model railway. Nicely done.
Saturday, 12 June 2021
Friday, 11 June 2021
I picked this up for kicks as it sounded fun:
A human diplomat creates an interstellar incident when he kills an alien diplomat in a most . . . unusual . . . way. To avoid war, Earth's government must find an equally unusual object: a type of sheep ("The Android's Dream"), used in the alien race's coronation ceremony.
To find the sheep, the government turns to Harry Creek, ex-cop, war hero and hacker extraordinare, who, with the help of a childhood friend turned artificial intelligence, scours the earth looking for the rare creature.
But there are others with plans for the sheep as well. Mercenaries employed by the military. Adherents of a secret religion based on the writings of a 21st century SF author. And alien races, eager to start a revolution on their home world and a war on Earth.
To keep our planet from being enslaved, Harry will have to pull off a grand diplomatic coup, a gambit that will take him from the halls of power to the lava-strewn battlefields of alien worlds. There's only one chance to get it right, to save the life of the sheep―and to protect the future of humanity.
Absolutely loved it. The wackiness of Yahtzee Croshaw's Jam with a definite dose of Douglas Adams. Space Opera at its very best, and narrated, incredibly well, by Wil Wheaton.
A joyous romp through the great beyond, with aliens who communicate through farting, another species whose pregnant females are banned from earth due to an extremely gooey and carnivorous procreation cycle, and a species of sheep with electric-blue wool. However, the character of Narf-win-Getag did appear in my brain looking exactly like Lrrr from Futerama, and refused to morph into anything else for the duration of the book.
It was all-round delightful crazy:
[The Church of the Evolved Lamb] preferred not to be noticed whenever possible and remained small both by selective inclination of its members and by the fact that it takes a certain sort of person to want to join a church based on the desperate manoeuvres of a second-rate science fiction writer.
Archie looked over to Acuna, whose face was a dangerous shade of blank.
There were no CC nations with more than one sentient species. In a world with more than one sentient species, one species would wipe out the other, or others, long before it developed starfaring technology. No exceptions ever recorded.
Every space-going cruiseliner with a promenade deck registered for service by the UNE had to be able to lock down the entire deck at least, and preferably the deck in sections, to ensure a hull breach on the promenade deck did not threaten the integrity of the entire ship or expose any more passengers than absolutely necessary to the risk of having their blood boil into nothingness as they unexpectedly toured the cosmos without a ship.
Really clever and entertaining. Highly recommend, and John Scalzi appears to have an interesting blog.
Friday, 4 June 2021
Thought I'd try and kickstart a BookCrossing campaign in Rwanda. Last tried this about fourteen years ago. Not sure it will work, but it's fun to try. Kigali Iwacu ('Kigali is home,' or 'feel at home in Kigali') T-shirt courtesy of my friend Valentin, who recently made me a gorgeous new sofa. I didn't realise it was so well colour co-ordinated with the BookCrossing logo until the edit.
Thursday, 3 June 2021
Wonderful news from the lovely Paul Magrs. He has a new gorgeous-enough-to-lick book out, a collection of his writing and art, featuring the legendary Art Critic Panda:
My news is out! I was waiting for the Bookseller to announce it, but it's up for order everywhere with the cover now, so I guess the story is out...!
Panda and his friends are on their way! Harper Collins are bringing out a hardback book of my Panda cartoons this September…! You can pre-order right now...! Please do go and buy it for everyone! x
Enter the world of me, Panda, plus my sometime-friends Cat and Teddy. You will find us living our best lives, trying (and occasionally succeeding) to be kind to each other. The cat is quite nice but can be a little bit selfish. Teddy can come across as very nice, with his squeaky voice and looking so tiny and helpless. But I must warn you, Teddy can be a vicious little backstabber, actually.
This is a book of nice illustrations and some words from which you will likely gain some sort of inspiration. Like:
‘Just because you’re struggling, it doesn’t mean you’re failing… But it might do.’
‘Nothing beats kindness,’ said the cat. ‘Gin does’, said Panda.
‘If you don’t stop saying inspirational things to me, I’m going to punch you up the hooter.’
‘You OK, hun?’ asked Panda, but he was just taking the piss.
‘We’re just so, so lucky to have each other as friends, and it’s going to make a marvellous book.’
Tuesday, 1 June 2021
High five. Made it to 120,000. though, I said before, that makes it the longest novel I've ever written - I was wrong. I thought Children of Lir was around 119,000 but it's actually 123,000. So... it will soon be the longest, in another 3,000 words or so.
And there is so much more left to write. I said earlier on I was thinking it'll probably be around 140k. I reckon now more like 140-60k. It's going to be a decent-sized doorstop. I know wordcount counts for very little, but it is kind of nice to know I can stay the distance.
This gives me hope...
I can see the end in sight. I've just fought a campaign all the way down from Akkad to the walls of Ummer, and once that city's taken, it's on to Uruk, which spells endgame for Lugal Zage-Si. Although, this being historical fiction, his fate was all sealed up thousands of years ago. Oh, well.
It is kind of incredible that Sargon managed all this. When you really start to look at the logistics, it's pretty amazing. Watching documentaries on things like the Battle of Gaugamela have really helped, though I can't seem to find how long that battle lasted? There's some really interesting research on the length of battles here. I was thinking days, but for an army of 30-40,000, which is probably what I'm working with (still figuring out the specifics), the average was more around four-and-a-half hours. I love people who get that detailed about niche trivia. Their time and effort is a treasure trove for writers.
Anyway, on to Umma!