Monday, 30 June 2014

That's five things

Been tagged by Sarah Ellender to write 5 things about my Work in Progress.

1 - The working title is "Seven Deadly Swords"
2 - 7 word pitch is "Cursed crusader spends several lifetimes seeking redemption"
3 - So what's it really about? During the first Crusade in the 11th century a set of knights form together in a new order dedicated to the Seven Heavenly Virtues. They become cursed by the Seven Deadly Sins and the story is of one of them Patience/Wrath attempting to break the curse across the ages.
4 - I started writing this as a comic script in 2013. When it was passed over by a couple of comics folk I wondered if it would work as a novel. I'm now around about 45,000 words through the first draft and that's roughly half way I reckon.
5 - I wrote the first 20k pretty fast, easy as most of it was in script form anyway, however the rest has crawled along adding a few thousand words here and there. This is why I've signed up for Clarion Write-a-thon in order to try and crank out 40k in 6 weeks. So far I'm on track. If you fancy sponsoring this mad dash for the finish line you can do here

Friday, 27 June 2014

Tigerman review

Tigerman  by Nick Hakaway
Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

How does an author follow up an award winning book? By writing something completely different but equally compelling. This is the trick that Nick Harkaway has pulled off with this, his third book.

Lester Ferris is a sergeant in the infantry who winds up on the island of Mancreu after a tour in Afghanistan. This is a former British colony in the Arabian sea that has been given over to the NATO and Allied Protection Force of Mancreu (NatProMan). Technically Lester is the senior officer of the United Kingdom’s Mancreu command and senior consular member. But the whole island is imminently going to be demolished due to an extinction level threat from outgassing of toxicity and mutant bacteria from volcanic vents. Previous outgassings have had some unusual properties and are totally unpredictable.

Lester has established several fair weather friendships but none so important to him than with ‘the boy’, a comics book obsessed, internet savvy local youth who calls himself ‘Robin’. He is also friends with the NatProMan man in charge, the Japanese scientist studying the island and a local cafĂ© owner. The island has become a bit of a backwater, due to people Leaving (yes with a capital L) and the UK government basically abandoning it. This has led to a fleet of illicit ships floating just off the island, listening stations, black-ops and all  sorts of other shady dealings that governments can treat with plausible deniability.

Lester’s job is basically to keep the consulate ticking over and “not get involved” apart from to do some basic policing and representing Britain in a nominal way. When violence starts to spread and Lester gets more involved with the boy it becomes ever more difficult for him to remain aloof and he feels the need to become involved, which the boy encourages. It isn’t long before the legend of the Tigerman is born.

Tigerman, although ostensibly built like a superhero origin tale and drawing on comic book colour (“full of win”, “We are made of awesome”) is an endearing paternal tale and a complex character study. In fact Tigerman only just dips its toe into genre and if you’re looking for full on SF&F then this may not be the place to look. However it is a great read and  Mancreu and its colourful cast of characters is a great place to visit for the duration of this book. It has things to say about politics and the state of the world making It a more reflective book than the previous two, but all the more powerful for it. It is also a book, like Gone Away World where, when you get to the end, you are tempted to start all over again. That, I feel, is the sign of a great book.


Overall  -  Harkaway just seems to be getting better, if you like his other books go and get a copy

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Clarion Write-a-thon. What? Why?

Last week I signed up for Clarion West Write-a-thon and committed to write 1,200 words a day for around six weeks (which I’ve so far managed). The Write-a-Thon officially runs at the same time as the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Workshop at UC San Diego. From June 22 to August 2, 2014, Write-a-Thon writers and sponsors can tap into the creative energy of the renowned six-week Clarion workshop, encourage this year's Clarion students, and help secure the financial future of Clarion, all without leaving home.   

Why did I do it – I hear you ask?

Well it’s a write-a-thon, and I’m a writer so it seems like it’s something I can do. It’s also a fantastic course (that one day, I dream I may eventually be able to attend, just need to find my fortune first!) and a great bunch of folks. I did it last year and it kick started my first attempt at a novel. Now I’m hoping it will help me crank out the first draft of my novel in progress. If I manage to hit the 1,200 words a day I’ll end the write-a-thon with a book length draft (adding the almost 50 odd thousand words to the 30 odd thousand words I already have)

So it’s a good way to give myself a kick and raise some money for a good cause. So if you enjoy this blog, and my short stories and would like to see my debut novel at some point in the future then please do sponsor me. As Mr Tesco is fond of telling us – ‘every little helps’.

If you sponsor me $10 I will write you a flash fiction story of between 100 - 500 words
For $20 I'll do one of 500 - 1000 words
For $40+ I'll write you a short story of around 3,000 words

Mail BRSBKBLOG at GMAIL in order to get your stories (which will be written after the write-a-thon has finished.

All donations are made through The Clarion Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, EIN #20-3114945.

FAQs here:


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

NFFD - what I did at the weekend

Saturday was National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD) and in celebration Bristol Flash put on two rather splendid events.

The first was a Flash Fiction workshop given by Calum Kerr and Pauline Masurel where we learned what flash was and a undertook a number of interesting writing exercises. With a bit of work one of mine will see the light of day at some point.

After the workshop several of us took a long slow wander in the blazing sunshine to the Lansdown pub. Not just so we could enjoy a pint but also to share our flash fiction with a packed room.  There were 12 fantastic readers and also yours truly.

In order of appearance: Calum reading from Eat My Words,

then me – I read White noise/Black silence and Not Alone (as yet unpublished), 

after me were  Mazzy

Calum — reading his own stories this time. The final reader was 

Kevlin Henney, the organiser of this literary buffet.

It was an eclectic and entertaining bunch of stories and a great night. Would love to do it again next year.

The day also saw the release of the NFFD anthology, Eat My Words

Monday, 23 June 2014

Guest Post - Huw Powell

Today's guest post is provided by Huw Powell.

Huw grew up in the village of Pill in North Somerset, where he wrote his first stories for friends and family. He went on to study Literature and Art History at school and University. Huw started writing novels while working as a Project Manager in London. He now lives in Portishead with his wife and 2 energetic sons. When he's not sat at his computer, Huw enjoys watching films and spending time with his family. His debut novel, Rush Hour Rules, was a fast-paced conspiracy thriller. Spacejackers is his first book for children.

Huw has dropped in to talk about "The future"

Many thanks to Huw for a fascinating topic - please do add comments if you have any opinions on boys versus girls reading

Winners of the Book giveaway - Open Waters by David Gullen & new book giveaway!

Open Waters

Congratulations to Ade Couper and Rakib Khan who were chosen by our randomiser as the winners of the Open Waters giveaway. Books will be sent out very soon to them.

You could also win in a new book giveaway:

Nomad cover

Friendship dies in the face of cruelty; new loyalties are forged, blood merged into new life . . . In a single moment of defiance, driven by a rash act of compassion for a stranger, Rhodri turns his back on his unit, his country and his comrades in arms. Taken in by the Plains Hawk tribe, he finds compassion, love, and a new purpose for his unique memory. But just as he is beginning to accept his decision, an invasion from the east throws the tribe into chaos, and threatens to destroy the new life he has built. Rhodri must rally the tribes to take on his former comrades, his former friends, and fight the forces of the crown he swore to protect-and the sister he has never known. Thrust into the role of leader, he must use the very lessons he learned in the King's Third against his closest friends, and his most bitter enemy.
To win a copy of The art of forgetting: Nomad please mail with the answer to this simple question: What is the name of the first book in the Art of Forgetting series?

Winners will be announced on 11th July

Friday, 20 June 2014

Friday Flash - Werewolves are hairy on the inside

Werewolves are hairy on the inside

So why am I in detention
It's because of Mr Rimmer. They say that Mr Rimmer, is a werewolf.

It’s because he’s really hairy with a great big bushy beard. He even has hair coming out of his ears and the neck of his shirt. And he growls when teaching us football.

Stephen King says that werewolves are hairy on the inside.  I tried to imagine what that’s like. Won’t the fur be all manky with blood, snot, brains and stuff?

I had a hair stuck in my throat once. Couldn’t swallow without feeling it. Perhaps that’s what being a werewolf is like?

Anyway I tried to see inside his mouth when he was talking. He asked me what I was doing and it’s wrong not to tell the truth isn’t it. That’s why I’m in detention.

Guest blog - Amy Morse

Amy Morse, a local writer, dropped into the blog to chat about crowdfunding.

Amy Morse is a writer, novelist and entrepreneur. She regularly writes on business matters and is a columnist for Prowess Women in Business ( Enabling start ups in the daytime and penning random acts of creativity by night, she is the author of The Bronze Box (writing as Amy C Fitzjohn) and is publishing the follow up Solomon's Secrets in the autumn.
Twitter:        @TomCatDesigns
Author:         writing as - Amy C Fitzjohn -

Over to Amy

Monday, 16 June 2014

some reviews

Pure Julianna Baggott

Pure (Pure Trilogy) by Julianna Baggott

This was a book club read, I would never have chosen to read this otherwise. As you know I’m not a fan of YA. Although this has less YA tropes than I feared I did have large issues with it. However didn’t hate it & some of the imagery and ideas were very nice. So perhaps if you’re a YA fan you’ll enjoy it, several of the guys at the book club did. My main issues were with passive characters, a plot that relied on coincidence (and unbelievable contrivance), a very vague grasp of worldbuilding and weak understanding of science. The author seems to only be able to think of one way to put her characters into peril by using the dusts (see below)

In the future (?) there is a pseudo-nuclear war(?) called the detonations (a weirdly awkward word for everyone to call the event) which destroyed all the infrastructure of the cities, apart from “The Dome” and caused changes to the people left outside. Now there are the “pure” who live in the dome and the mutated “wretches” that live outside. The wretches have been scarred and fused to things: some to inanimate objects, our heroine has a dolls head instead of a hand, her grandfather has an electric fan in his throat, others are bonded to animals (one of the characters has birds fused to his back) and others are fused to people forming groupies and yet others are fully fused to the ground forming “dusts”. This grotesquery is, by far, the best thing about the book. When one of the pure escapes the dome everything changes.

Overall – Not for me, but didn’t hate it as much as some YA I’ve read

Godwhale by T. J. Bass

The Godwhale (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by T. J.…

Apparently this guy only wrote two books and this is the sequel to his first one, which I haven’t read. I bought this on the strength of it being an SF Masterworks and the blurb on the back, which made it sound right up my street, plus it was also recommended by Jeff VanderMeer. Covering several thousand years’ worth of history this is a bit of a mess structurally; new characters are thrown into the mix (seemingly at random) throughout the book, even towards the end. There are many lurches in time and sometimes these are confusing plot wise, although to be honest there isn’t much of a plot either. I’ve struggled to think how to summarise. In the future the seas are dead, most of humanity live underground in the hive, mechs farm the land, the Godwhale of the title comes back to life when the seas are re-seeded, the hive comes into conflict with the “Benthics”, outsiders who live under the ocean.

And yet, it’s never dull, it’s full of crazy interesting ideas and I enjoyed it a lot. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. I wish I’d read the first book, as potentially some of the mysteries wouldn’t be so mysterious?

Overall – some structural problems but an interesting read nevertheless

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Reading in public - out loud

Last night I was at the rather splendid Small Stories Bristol - @smallstorybris with a pretty eclectic line up

I read out my story - Roadkill and it seemed to go down well, although i perhaps should have saved my Lassie gag until the end!

Tomorrow I'll be at the wonderful Word of Mouth at the Thunderbolt reading with Joanne Hall & Scott Lewis.

And on 16th June I'll be appearing at BristolCon Fringe reading with David J. Rodger

I'm reading stories at all three events that are linked and I aim to bring out these stories in an anthology.

Later in the month I'll be appearing on the bill at NFFD Bristol where I'll be reading two stories that will not in the anthology.

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