Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Competitive writing - it's the new jogging

A good friend of mine, (and great writer) Lily Childs, is working on her novel as I work on mine. We found that we are about the same way through in terms of word count (Lily has just hit 50k and I am just over 48k as I write this). Now the interesting thing is that we have been 'racing' each other to see who can hit the 50k mark first (curse you Lily for beating me). Whilst word count is just a number and it is the quality of the writing that matters as well as the strength of the plot plus a hundred other things people might want to throw into a debate, this provides a good motivator.

Writing is potentially a lonely business, just you, a computer screen and your own, twisted imagination to keep you company. As someone without a book deal lined up, there is no one out there waiting to know when the next piece from me is coming out and no deadline to pressure me other than those that are self-imposed. I have a life away from writing, family commitments, work commitments, the need to eat, sleep and, well, you can fill in the blanks. All of those distractions that can pull you away from your writing when you are tired and just want to crawl into bed at the end of a long day. Knowing that there is someone else out there that I am 'competing' with in terms of word count provides a fun motivator and I have definitely seen my word count increase greatly in the past few weeks. More importantly, it means that my novel is developing and getting closer to completion.

So, why not find yourself a fellow writer to push against; almost like a buddy that you go jogging with who drags you out of bed on those miserable, wet winter mornings. It is quite fun, if done in the right manner (the writing, not the wet jogs). I don't think either Lily or I cared who got to 50k first (well maybe a little bit) but it really worked for me and now it's a race to see who cracks 60k first. Watch out Lily, I'm coming to get you!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Elephant Words

A few weeks ago, I was invited to go and play over at the excellent Elephant Words website run by the talented Nicolas Papaconstantinou. As the site says:
The premise of the site is simple: Every Sunday, one writer will post a picture, and every day for the next six days, they and five other writers will interpret it for your entertainment. The writers can be as literal or as “out there” with how much they allow the image to inspire them, and their brief is to write whatever they want, as long as they do it interestingly and on time, so you as a reader may get to enjoy prose, poetry, maybe the odd cartoon, in genres ranging across the board, from fiction to anecdotal autobiography, science-fiction to period drama… Really, the possibilities are only limited by our contributors’ imaginations. I want the creators here to have as much fun as the readers, and stretch their wings a little, so we can’t guarantee that you will always get to read what you expect, but then, who would want to?
I've thrown up a few stories so far and they can all be found here. All are 800 words or less. Go take a look and let me know what you think.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

200 pages!

Not the biggest news in the world but just wanted to note that today I hit the 200 page mark in my novel. I'm really chuffed with that and am about 60% through writing this bad boy. Onwards, ever onwards!

Friday, 19 July 2013

The Warrior's Journey

Visitors to this blog may have noted that work on my own novel stopped for a couple of months recently. One of the reasons for this was I agreed to do some editing work for Anarchy Books owned by author Andy Remic. I have had the pleasure of working on Edward Drake's forthcoming fantasy novel The Warrior's Journey which is due for release on 1 August. 

The Warrior's Journey is an epic fantasy set in a mystical dark age where monsters roam the plains, mages wield powerful sorcery and arguments are settled by the honour of the blade.
In the land of Castille, Garrick Chilver is a soldier trained in combat by his honourable father, Sir Nickholi. The tale follows Garrick and his companions, an enslaved pair of outcasts, an old knight returning home to his family, an imprisoned murderer, a young innocent marked for great power, and a mysterious sorcerer – as their land is struck by a series of terrible and catastrophic disasters. As demons and dark sorcerers roam the lands wreaking terror, chaos and death, Garrick and his companions find a common goal in their struggles against the corrupt Brotherhood of Guardians and the evil Paladins of the Gods.
When the person closest to Garrick is slaughtered by the leader of the Paladins, Garrick’s journey of vengeance brings him to the capital of Castille where, alongside its rulers, he will face the true evil that stalks the world...   
The Warrior’s Journey is an epic tale of champions and honour, showing what it truly means to be a hero - a shining example of a bright flame ranged against the darkness of chaos!

As I said in the intro, it's due for publication as an ebook on 1 August so do check it out when it is released.

Halfway there!!!

Bloody hell - just realised that I am halfway there to completing my first novel. Still a long way to go but I'm quite proud of that. Also just two thousand words from officially having a novel length story (40,000 words). Whilst it's quality of writing and not quantity of words I'm still using this as an indicator.

Sunday, 5 May 2013


Just a quick note to say that I had a short story I submitted to a publisher accepted a week or so back now. Not sure when I can say more about it but it was great to have someone enthused enough by something I wrote to want to put it in an anthology.

It's been a while since I've actively been putting short story submissions out there but it really helps with that lonely working away at a novel which you know no-one will see for several months until finished to get that boost. Without it you can get to wondering if your writing is any good or not.

Will give more detail when I can.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Writing since The Prediction

Well, it was a tough decision to give up on hosting The Prediction, having loved every single word presented by the vast array of talented writers that would visit my humble blog each week. My reason was to concentrate more on my own writing. So, was it worth it?

I do have to say that I have missed being host but, in the end, it is looking like it was the right decision. In the time I hosted The Prediction I managed about 14,000 words over about nine months on my novel. In the two months since, I have added another 12,000 words; a total of 26,000 against my target of between 80k to 90k. Whilst word count can be meaningless, it's more about how good the writing itself is, I do feel like I am now making progress on something I have put to the side too often.

I plan to be finished writing my novel by summer 2013 (see the way I avoid naming a month there) and then start the lenghty process of trying to find a publisher willing to take it on.

In the meantime, for anyone reading this, do take the time to visit the new home of The Prediction (http://www.predictionfiction.blogspot.co.uk/) and catch up with some of the writers who used to grace these pages.

Keep writing friends!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Prediction - thank you my friends, thank you

And so it is here, my last time to judge the entries, a task made so hard week in, week out through the sheer quality of writing which has been poured forth onto these pages.

My winner this week is an absent friend who returned this week. That friend is Crimson Archer with his entry Try and Try Again. Paul - I thought that the writing was exquisite. That opening line "A whole shattered into fragments becomes an enigma." was just beautiful and there were so many other phrases to admire. And then that shock of an ending. Wow. I do hope you won't be a stranger to The Prediction at Colleen's place with writing like that.

No runners-up but, and this is the second time of me doing this, a more than honourable mention to RR Kovar and Colleen for their Nate and Seth series. I have become seriously addicted to this series and am not sure if it will continue at Prediction Fiction. It feels like there is still a bit more to come and I would love to read it.

Now this is where I would normally pluck words forth but Colleen will be doing that in a matter of hours so I want to use this space to say a few words if you will allow me before you go to Prediction Fiction (http://predictionfiction.blogspot.co.uk/) to continue playing this addictive little game of ours (and do remember that there is a time difference as Colleen is based in the USA whereas I am in the UK.

So, my final words to you, my dear friends.

What I have loved most about The Prediction is the community which Lily built and I have been pleased and honoured to be able to host over the past months. And what an international community it is. We have had visitors from the UK, USA, Russia, Bulgaria, Germany, Canada, Australia, Ukraine, Poland, Spain, India, Latvia, Sweden, Romania, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Maybe not all writing but definitely reading the wonderful tales that are presented here every single week.

And the writing which has poured forth for our visitors to read, let us talk about that, such sweet, sweet writing. I would like to recognise each and every person who has submitted a tale, the writers, my friends, who come here to play, all who I mention in no particular order and forgive me if I have missed anyone:

David Barber, Shaun Adams, Sandra Davies, Lily Childs, Nick Robinson, William Davoll, Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, Antonia Woodville, John Xero, Marietta Miles, Helen Howell, Dex Raven, RR Kovar, Colleen Foley, Zaiure Grey, Geraghty10598, Chris Allinotte, Anthony Cowin, Cindy Vaskova, Matt Farr, Zoe Farr, Dion Winton-Polak, Andrew Clark (aka Keehar), Kevin G Bufton, MuckieDuckie, A J Hayes, Aidan Fritz, Asuqi and Paul Richardson.

Everyone is so incredibly talented and so inspirational to each other. It has been a privilege to read your words, follow your writing outside The Prediction (several of you have published books) and an honour to choose a winner each week. I give you all my most heartfelt thanks for visiting and playing with the simple words I poured forth each week. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Before I go, a few months back I met up with Lily at FantasyCon in Brighton. I promised I would post a picture of the two of us together on this site and I have failed to do so up until now. If you look below you will see two former Prediction hosts who both know that it rests in the safe hands of Colleen going forward.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Prediction - shall we dance one last time?

Well, this time next week I shall be posting up the winners for the final time before rushing on over to Colleen's place at http://predictionfiction.blogspot.co.uk/ to find out what the new words will be. Exciting times. I for one cannot wait to continue the party over at her place!

But, before I announce this week's winners, I have some news to share. I was greeted with a rather wonderful package in the post today. Sandra Davies has collated her tale The Blacksmith's Wife, crafted at The Prediction (both under Lily's and my watch), into a wonderfully illustrated printed version and more can be found out about it on Sandra's blog. Thank you so much Sandra - a pleasure to be re-acquainted with her and to see her in print.

Now this week's winner I suspect will not come as much of a surprise to anyone looking at the comments made. With a runner-up spot in his last visit, David Barber goes one better this time round with God's Work. Dave - you made me weep at the end of this tale of a man cursed to live out each day as the last, all for the crime of saving his wife's suffering. And yet I think he would do it again without a second thought. I feel sadness just thinking about it again. Such a great tale in 100 words.

Just the one winner this week, I fear that I would have six runner-ups easily this week otherwise, so comparably well written were the other entries!

So, congratulations to Dave and my continued joy at reading the amazing entries from everyone else which we see week in, week out. Such inspiring writers, the lot of you.

Now, onto next week's words. But, oh my, what is this? For those who read this blurb, you may recall a gluttony had crept upon my tome recently, his body slowly threading with gossamer. I went to disturb him for the words one last time but all I was greeted with was a cocoon of some kind. Oh well, I shall package it up and send on to Colleen. I wonder what form he will take from now on - especially as this is the book's first time overseas.

So what about the words? Well, on 7 May 2011 I posted my first Prediction entry at Lily's place. As always, we were given three words and here are the very same words I was given then for you to play with. Thought it might be kind of poetic:
  • Jigsaw
  • Capture
  • Pimento (and yes, I had to look it up at the time too)
The usual rules apply: 100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction. All variants and use of the words as stems are fine. Just have fun!

You have until 9pm (UK time) Thursday 31 January to get your entries in and the winners will be announced shortly thereafter on this site. New words will spill forth at Colleen's place on Friday 1 February but remember that there is a different time zone to contend with. Speaking of time, my time as custodian of the tome has passed now and I look forward to seeing what new words Colleen will pluck forth when she takes ownership.

If you can, please tweet about your entry using the #fridayflash #100words or #flashfiction hashtags and blog if you feel like it. Please tell your friends and do give feedback to your fellow Predictioneers - everyone appreciates it!

Let's see what tales you can piece together at Phlambler's World for one last time!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Prediction - opportunity knocks

Gosh, it's getting closer with every day now. In two weeks time I shall be switching off the lights for The Prediction at Phlambler's World before passing the baton to Colleen Foley over at http://predictionfiction.blogspot.co.uk/ from 1 February. If you've not visited or favourited her site yet then do so (but not until you've seen who the winners are this week). Before we do that though, a couple of opportunities to plug.

Kobo are holding a competition to win free enrolment to a Curtis Brown online novel course. The Jeffrey Archer Short Story competition requires entry of a 100 word piece (hmmm, sound like something you guys can manage). More details here and thanks to Chris Allinotte for flagging it to me. Do take note of the eligibility criteria as it is restricted to certain countries.

Secondly, check out the post below this one for details of how to submit to Siren's Call Publishing for their female horror writer's month in their monthly publication. A possible substitute for February Femme Fatale maybe if Lily doesn't run it this year? Men can enter pieces in April. 

So, this week's winner and runner-up. Who will it be from the delicious entries this week?

My winner is.....well, I'm trying to decide between three pieces and I just can't make up my mind so have made up a larger winner's platform instead.

In first place is Helen Howell with A Misunderstanding. Helen - I really loved the malice and threat seeping through this piece. At first we thought our protagonist the victim but I suspect he will be the one sitting pretty at the end of it. One of those pieces that deserves to be expanded upon.

In first place is Matt Farr with There is always a reason that we do what we do. Matt - a cold, calculating piece with the feel of a ticking clock. At first it felt like a narrative on the human condition and then it became something much more sinister. Very good sir.

And in first place is John Xero with Rise. John - this just grabbed my imagination with it's steel plated crabs crawling across the rooftops. A wonderful piece of sci-fi that had me picturing far of planets ravaged by war waiting for a saviour to come. Excellent stuff.

So, my congratulations to this week's winners and my gratitude to everyone else for sharing your wonderful tales with us for another week.

Now, onto this week's words. My tome has stopped his gorging, for which I am grateful as he was eyeing me up funnily earlier in the week, and seems to have some light covering of gossamer. Hmmm, I wonder... But enough pondering, let us see what words he will share us this week. And we have....
  • History
  • Oak
  • Eccentric
The usual rules apply: 100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction. All variants and use of the words as stems are fine. Just have fun!

You have until 9pm (UK time) Thursday 24 January to get your entries in. New words will spill forth for the final time at Phlambler's World and winners will be announced by 9am Friday 25 January. If you can, please tweet about your entry using the #fridayflash #100words or #flashfiction hashtags and blog if you feel like it.

Please tell your friends and do give feedback to your fellow Predictioneers - everyone appreciates it!

I am looking forward to reading your works. Let's make history together!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Submissions to Siren's Call - closes 1 Feb 2013

Hi all,

I'm not sure if Lily is going to have time to do her February Femme Fatale (FFF) this year as I know she has oodles of things she is working on (do correct me Lily if you are though).

However, I came across this open submissions for female horror writers which closes on 1 February for Siren's Call Publishing http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/open_subs.htm (details at the bottom of the page). Similar to FFF and they have a version for men in April. Go check it out and good luck to anyone who enters.



Friday, 11 January 2013

The Prediction - the saviour is here

For those of you that haven't clocked it in the comments section of last week's Prediction challenge, I have great news about the future of The Prediction. Colleen Foley has kindly agreed to take on hosting The Prediction from 1 February 2013 and has even set up a new place in anticipation. Do go and take a sneak peak at her new site here: http://predictionfiction.blogspot.co.uk/ . I couldn't ask to hand it over to a better person, with her great serial about Seth and Nate (written in a tag style fashion with RR Kovar) and her always supportive comments, I am sure that The Prediction will continue to florish under her watch. Thank you Colleen for accepting the next watch.

Right, I still have a few weeks left and have judging duties to do. So, here are my winners for this week.

In the top spot I have chosen Shaun Adams with A Pit of Yellow Stars. Shaun - you captured the bleakness of war here with a man lying in an open grave surrounded by death. You teased us with a brief glint of hope as he sensed life amongst this anguish only for you to snub it out with that final sentence. Well played sir, well played.

By the way, do go and click on Shaun's name above to check out more about his latest literary release Evil in Mind. Shaun's pieces are always worth reading and I am sure I will be picking up a copy to digest in the near future.

My runner up this week is David Barber with Their Nightmare. David - an excellent incite into the evil that men do via indifference or, even worse, repulsion. Our protagonist's only crime was to become crippled and yet society shunned him. That closing line captured so elegantly the guilt which welled within those who simply walked on by. Their nightmare indeed. And I forgive you the slightly errant use of the word hoard ;-)

So congratulations to Shaun and David with two stunning pieces of writing. And my thanks as always to everyone who submitted tales this week. Such great quality. Always delicious and always hard to judge.

Now, on to the words. My tome has started to act funny, he's eating more and getting plumper. Must be something to do with the changes acoming. However, this makes life easier as he is more docile than usual so I think I can pluck those three words with not too much effort......
  • Vent
  • Clock
  • Save
Such simple words but where will they take us.

The usual rules apply: 100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction. All variants and use of the words as stems are fine. Just have fun!
You have until 9pm (UK time) Thursday 17 January to get your entries in. New words will spill forth and winners will be announced by 9am Friday 18 January. If you can, please tweet about your entry using the #fridayflash #100words or #flashfiction hashtags and blog if you feel like it.
Please tell your friends and do give feedback to your fellow Predictioneers - everyone appreciates it!
I am looking forward for what will vent forth from your vivid imaginations this week!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Prediction - decisions, decisions

Firstly, may I wish you all a happy new year. May it be full of opportunity and joy for you all.

Secondly, I have news this week, something which I have been pondering for a little bit and something which I hope you will understand.

I have decided that I will retire from hosting The Prediction, having taken it on from Lily back in May last year. Whilst it has been a great honour to host such fine writers over the past eight or nine months, I am finding that my time is getting more and more limited in life and my own time for writing has dwindled greatly. Something needs to give and, unfortunately, it is The Prediction. Please be assured it is not a decision I have taken lightly and I have changed my mind a number of times (even whilst writing this) but this feels (kind of) the right decision for me at this time in my life. My biggest concern is letting you all down and I apologise that I will be unable to host this wonderfully supportive group in the future.

If anyone would wish to take over hosting The Prediction then do come forward and let me know. Who knows, maybe The Prediction will become a trusted gift passed from person to person over time. I quite like that idea. I intend that the last Prediction to be hosted on this site will close on Thursday 31 January (31.1.13 - a nice palindromic date). So that gives us four more weeks to play together and five more winners to announce as I need to crown this week's winner.

My winner this week is Marietta Miles with a late entry entitled Purpose. Marietta - this piece reminded of the atrocities that man commits. Very reminiscent of tales of the holocaust with a supernatural element mixed in. A dark mirror to be held up against the evil that men do which made me tearful as the purpose was revealed. Chilling.

My runner's up slot this week goes to Antonia Woodville for her tales of a zombie as a whole. Antonia - I really like the way that you have managed to instill a personality into a zombie, something which I have never seen before, and kept it going for so many installments. Whilst there is a lighthearted side to these pieces which frequently makes me chuckle, there is a subtle undertone of mental breakdown going on which makes these much more than may appear on the surface. Keep them coming.  

So, congratulations to Marietta and Antonia with thanks to all of you who were able to find time over the festive period to drop by with an entry or a comment.

So, my tome is getting agitated, he can sense that there is change afoot. I fear that I shall have to don the metal gauntlets and tweezers to pull forth the words this week. Let's see what they shall be....
  • vine
  • oddity
  • hoard
The usual rules apply: 100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction. All variants and use of the words as stems are fine. Just have fun!
You have until 9pm (UK time) Thursday 10 January to get your entries in. New words will spill forth and winners will be announced by 9am Friday 11 January. If you can, please tweet about your entry using the #fridayflash #100words or #flashfiction hashtags and blog if you feel like it.
Please tell your friends and do give feedback to your fellow Predictioneers - everyone appreciates it!

Come tangle me up in your words this week!