My Literary Confessions

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  • My favourite first lines are not ones that you’ll find on top ten lists:

“When a day that you happen to know is a Wednesday starts off by sounding like a Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” – John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids

“It was a dazzling four-sun afternoon.” – Issac Asmiov and Robert Silverberg, Nightfall

“In defense of Althalus, it should be noted that he was in very tight financial circumstances and more than a little tipsy when he agreed to undertake the theft of the Book.” – David and Leigh Eddings, The Redemption of Althalus Continue reading

Self-Editing Tricks to Tuck up Your Sleeve

Whether you’re writing a short story, blog post, poem or working on a novel, at some point you’re going to have to look back over your own words. This comes at different stages in the process for many of us, but we all have to do it eventually. And its a buggering nightmare, most of the time. Mainly because deep down you know you’re never going to catch it all. There’ll be the odd spelling error, a mistyped phrase, an unnecessary adverb or heaven forbid – a misused semi colon.

To be honest, I’ve been caught out so many times now I tend to laugh it off. Discovering all these things and more days or even weeks after some of my work has gone live is always rather  embarrassing. Fortunately, I’ve only ever found myself in the most gentile company of fellow readers and writers, and most of them are very forgiving about obvious mistakes.

But when it comes to my more serious ventures – the ones I intend to make money from, I do everything I can to make sure the text is as polished as possible. And while line and copy editors are a service I think all writers should take advantage of, it never hurts to do as much as you can before handing it off. So here are a few tips and tricks I use to help me weed out even the most easily overlooked mistakes in my prose. Continue reading

Hidden Below

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In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge over on the Daily Post, here’s a piece by photographer Andrew Brooks.

It’s a part of his ‘Hidden Cities’ collection, and was taken during an exploration of Manchester.

I have a lot of his worked saved and hidden away, because it has often served to inspire and save me from more than one bought of writer’s block.

The reason I love this particular picture so much is because I found it when trying to research locations for Underground, back when it was still a short that took place almost entirely inside a series of abandoned tunnels.

Whenever I’m having trouble writing that story, taking a look at Brooks’ work often helps me get back on track.

Be sure to click-through for the full-sized image and check out the rest of his site too!

Camp NaNo: Victory Lap

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Please excuse me while I collapse into a pitiful heap, surrounded by empty wine bottles and snapped pencils, scattered between piles of paperbacks and notebooks. I’m here! I did it!

I think I became some weird form of literary zombie during the month though… But don’t worry, I probably won’t try to eat your brains*.

And you’ll have to forgive me for being so utterly, unabashedly pleased with myself. I’ve been dipping in and out of the NaNoWriMo scene since I was at uni over a decade ago, and I’ve never once managed to cross the finish line.

Until today!

Continue reading

Swamp Night Delight

Swamp Fever by Andree Wallin

Swamp Fever by Andree Wallin

There was a shotgun in my left hand. I remember the weight of it keenly. I knew how to use it.

Which was odd, since I’ve never laid eyes on a gun before.

It may have been dusk, though the trees curling above made it impossible to really tell. There was a green tinged mist in the air, a smell of moss and sodden dirt on the breeze. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked around and seen something so unfamiliar. Continue reading

Fooling the Trickster

Dark Deeds in London, by kirillart

Dark Deeds in London, by kirillart.

I could feel it, seeping out and soaking the green cotton of my dress. Sticking the cloth to my skin as it spread. I imagined the contrast as warmth blossomed across my chest and my heart began pounding. I wondered, bizarrely, if he was smiling.

What Came Before

The Ideal Bookshelf, Based on an original painting by Jane Mount.

The Ideal Bookshelf, based on an original painting by Jane Mount.

For the last month or so I’ve been helping out a friend with a sci-fi story he’s been working on, but never really done much with. I’d heard him talk about it multiple times, saying he had all his characters and a complete outline. But although he was more than happy to talk about it – he seemed a little hesitant whenever I prodded him to actually write it. Continue reading