Friday, January 27, 2012

No time...

I realise I've been neglecting this blog the last week or so but there's a good reason for that. Last Friday I spotted a call for submissions from a publisher which might be right up my street, for a theme that I wrote a story about many years ago. The story needed a complete rewrite but I figured I could do that, and get it to the length the publisher was asking for. The only problem? The closing date is 1st February, which was only ten days away.

Writing a 10,000 word story from scratch in only ten days is a tall order, especially for me as I tend to work more slowly than some writers. Nevertheless, I've parked my bum in my study chair every day this week, and have made remarkable progress. Luckily, because I'd already written a version of the story, I knew where it was going which has helped. Now I'm only a couple of thousand words or so away from finishing it, and hoping against hope that I'll have time for that next week.

In the meantime, I shall reapply nose to screen and get typing again. Sorry for the silence. I should be back soon!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kindle charges

This post is really aimed at any writers out there thinking about publishing their work on Kindle; the information has filtered down to me (via a writer friend) from the head honcho at electronic publisher Untreed Reads.

Apparently, for any work priced at less than $2.99 (or the £ equivalent in the UK, presumably), Amazon takes back a hefty 65% on every sale. For titles over $2.99, Amazon check regularly and if they find it for sale at a lower price anywhere else they will automatically reduce the Kindle price to match and only pay royalties on the lower price.

It's worth bearing this information in mind, especially for anyone hoping to put out single-title short stories on Kindle, as it will have a big effect on the amount of income you can expect from your sales.

There's always a downside, isn't there?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Houston, we have a cover...

And here it is - the brand new, just-announced cover for Radgepacket 6, the latest volume from Byker Books.

The book itself is due out in March (I've already blogged about the launch party) so there's not too long to wait before you can get your sticky mitts on another great collection of gritty 'industrial-strength' stories from authors established and new. Including yours truly, with a tale about a man jumping out of a birthday cake in his... birthday suit.

I hope that snippet, and the cover, whet your appetite!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Scribbling again

Ooof, that was a long break from writing over Christmas and the New Year. First there was a two to three week period in December when I seemed to do nothing but plan for presents, shop for presents, wrap presents, pack presents, and heave presents up the high street to post them.

Then there was the whole holiday period, which dragged on even longer because both Christmas Day and New Year's Day fell on Sundays, so we had to have extra bank holidays to make up.

And then there's that 'first few days back at work' when you're itching to get going again but your brain has been idle so long it's effectively shut down and you have to scrape around for every word.

However, I'm delighted to say that the scraping is over and I'm starting to make some decent progress again at last. I've picked up an old ghost story for now and am having a go at re-writing it since it had some Major Issues I need to work out. Let's hope I can keep the momentum going long enough to actually work them out.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Currently reading

Right now, Dicken's 'Great Expectations', which we watched a brilliant BBC adaptation of over Christmas and enjoyed so much I decided to dig the book out again. I haven't got very far with it yet but I must admit I'd forgotten how funny Dickens can be. Funny, but also caustic. Last night I was giggling over his description of a village school where the children paid twopence a week to watch the elderly teacher fall asleep!

It's quite a contrast to the last book I read, 'The Brutal Art' by Jesse Kellerman, which is far more modern in style and content but in its own way no less good. The book is mostly narrated by Ethan, a rich playboy art dealer who discovers some artwork by a tenant in one of his squillionaire father's properties. The artwork is original, brilliant and holds clues to a series of murders decades ago, but the artist himself has vanished and Ethan sets out to discover who he is, where he is, and whether he had anything to do with the murders.

Ethan is a lot more entertaining than you might expect, with a good line in caustic humour of his own, and his search for the truth is intriguing. The book also features interludes from the past as we follow Ethan's family from their first arrival in New York up to the present day. Some of these are beautifully written and surprisingly poignant. One or two include dialogue which is reported strangely without the use of quotation marks (something I usually hate) but in this case there's a very specific reason for that and it's actually rather clever.

The ending is possibly the weakest part of the book; part felt slightly 'bolted on', and there was one (mercifully short) 'Dear Reader' bit which stuck out like a sore thumb. But on the whole, it keeps you guessing right up to the end, with some very unexpected twists and turns. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Passive explained

Lately I've been seeing some increasingly odd statements from editors about the use of passive in writing. Chief among these are that passive is a tense, not a voice, and that every single instance of the verb 'to be', especially when used in past tense, is an example of passive.

So I was delighted to come across writer Pat Wrede's delightful, simple yet intelligent blog post on the subject of passive and the sudden passion for 'de-wasing'. She puts it so much better than I ever could (I can never remember the names of all those past tenses!) and it's well worth popping along for a read.

If we spread the word, we might be able to stop an entire section of the English language being put 'off limits' for the wrong reasons.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Radgepacket 6 launch party

Byker Books have just announced the date, time and venue of the launch party for their latest volume of 'Tales from the Inner Cities', Radgepacket 6. As with several of the previous parties it's being held at The Back Page, a spectacularly well-stocked sports bookshop in Newcastle upon Tyne (England, in case you weren't sure!), and this time it's on Saturday 10th March 2012 between 12pm and 3pm.

I have a story appearing in the book, but this far ahead I can't say for sure whether I'll be able to attend the launch or not. We do so much travelling these days that I never know where I'm going to be more than two weeks in advance, so two whole months away is a step too far. If I can be there I will, though, and I'll obviously let everyone know a little nearer the time.

In the meantime the book's editor and an assortment of authors will be there, and there'll be free drinkies and nibbles on the house, so if you've got a spare Saturday afternoon and want to get a signed copy of Radgepacket 6 for your collection, do pop along to:

The Back Page
56 St Andrews Street
Newcastle upon Tyne

You never know, you might even meet me there!