One Hundred Voices Volume Two is now available for pre-order! Following up on the success of One Hundred Voices Volume One, there is a brand new collection of short stories and pieces of flash fiction from one hundred unique authors. While a good amount of the authors who will be published in Volume Two were also published Volume One, there are also many new authors from around the world (including me!).
I attended Milford shortly after my first publication came out in John Klima’s now legendary “Electric Velocipede”. This was in 2006, a year when things, in writing terms, started happening for me.
Foremost among these was Milford. I submitted the two requisite pieces of work – a surrealist fantasy piece called “A Doom of My Own” (later published in John Klima’s “EV”) and a short story called “BleakWarrior Meets the Sons of Brawl”, now the first chapter of a recently released novel entitled BleakWarrior.
When I look back, it seems to me that “A Doom of My Own” gained the most favour in terms of its reception by the Milford group. But it didn’t cause as much of a reaction as the other piece, which is the basis for a very important and inspiring lesson for me.
I was nervous about submitting “BleakWarrior Meets the Sons of Brawl” because…
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One Step Beyond is an anthology that came into being in the minds of a group of SFF writers–more specifically writers that have survived the gauntlet of the Milford experience (and clamoured for more)–who are also members of the ‘One Step Beyond’ writing and critiquing group.
It was decided that each member would donate a story (a reprint) and that all proceeds from sales (bar minimum admin costs) would go to the charity English PEN, which supports writers facing legal problems around the world.
Many thanks go to Vaughan Stanger, who has done all the hard work of organising and editing the anthology; and to Jaine Fenn who is publishing the ebook via her Tower of Chaos imprint. The excellent cover art was created by Tony Hughes.
The official launch of the anthology is on 17th November, but you can get hold of a discounted copy if you pre-order now. Support English PEN and enjoy a raft of great stories!
Order at Amazon (UK) for £0.99
Published by New American Press, MAYDAY Magazine presents new poetry, fiction, nonfiction, translations, commentary, and visual art to an international community of readers. And this issue has one of my stories in it! Hurrah! Not SFF though. But hey, I’m allowed to write other stuff. Hope you enjoy reading.
OK, so this isn’t an SFF story. Who said I could only write in one genre? This story was inspired by an emotionally charged moment, the subtle reaction of a crowd that both surprised and disappointed me. It stayed with me. And then found expression as a story:
London Journal of Fiction: Not This Time.
The Parsec Awards are accepting nominations for the best speculative fiction podcasts.
I have a few favourites:
Cast of Wonders – the best audio magazine aimed at the YA market.
Get your nominations in now at Parsec Awards.
Make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to nominate a short story from your favourite podcast. I admit to a vested interest as I have a short story on the Cast of Wonders podcast entitled ‘Patterns’.
All the stories are great. Have a read/listen and remember to nominate!
There comes a time when I just can’t look at it any more–and by ‘it’ I mean my dissertation. So, I took a break and wrote a fun (but interesting!) article for Astronaut.com. I found my self decidedly cheered up by their return email and the posting of ‘On The Coat-Tails of Science Fiction’ to their site that very morning.
Refreshed and reaffirmed… I guess it’s time to get back to IT.
Around this time last year I participated in a series of workshops that explored ways of engaging with the city of London via writing. Entitled ‘Write Around Town’ and facilitated by writer Shaun Levin, each workshop took place in a different venue. I found myself writing in galleries and museums, department stores and cafes. All fun, and more importantly, great prompts for creativity.
As a primarily science fiction writer, I surprised myself by writing a couple of pieces of fairly decent ‘general’ fiction. The work generated during the adventure of ‘writing around town’ has now appeared in an anthology, published by Tree House Press and edited by Shaun Levin. The anthology is entitled ‘Writers in the Crowd’ and can be found both on Amazon, and more pertinently on the Tree House Press website.
My story: Junction 13: There and Back Again is, believe it or not, about driving on the M25. Sounds dry, huh? Well, to my surprise the piece really took hold of me; it wasn’t exactly a pleasure to write, but the damned thing wouldn’t let me go until I’d finished it.
Fortunately for me, I am within spitting distance of completing my MA in Creative Writing. This means that I am at liberty to sign up for the next ‘Write Around Town’ course, which starts in October this year. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, and writing for fun in interesting places. And you never know, some of the work may well appear in print.
Over the last five years I have participated in a variety of writing workshops. Some focussed on character, plot, point-of-view: the ground work of all creative writing. My first experience was with a beginners class offered by The Complete Creative Writing Course run by Maggie Hamand. This experience gave my confidence a huge boost and I progressed through the intermediate and advanced courses offered by the same company.
By the end of this process I had living, breathing, compelling characters, a world that I’d created from scratch which felt pretty real (and which has continued to gain shape and definition over the intervening years), and a solid stab at my first novel.
I realised that there were other approaches to writing workshops that allowed for more discussion and investigation of the approaches and methods used by established writers. These groups are usually smaller, 6-8 participants, and often focus on a particular author for each workshop. Here, the time is usually skewed slightly more towards discussion than writing exercises. Once or twice I found myself with serious ‘resistance’ issues around a particular writer’s style or approach, but once I got over that I was very pleased to discover elements that really strengthened my own writing.
One fun and creative way to approach writing is to use a variety of locations, for example art galleries and museums, in which to write. I do, on occasion, wander off to the South Bank with notebook in hand and come back with at least one piece of inspiration for my book (often more). If you’d like to do this sort of writing activity in a group, in a more directed style, then workshops like those run by Shaun Levin are ideal.
I have attended a number of Shaun’s workshops over the last two or three years, all of which have been very useful (and fun). In fact I have recently signed up for his next round of workshops entitled ‘Writers Around Town’, which start in October this year. I’m looking forward to writing in the Tate Modern, White Chapel Gallery and the Wallace Collection.
Stepping away from structure and towards practice, I regularly attended a weekly workshop run by the playwright Diane Samuels. In these workshops the focus is entirely on the ‘practice’ of writing: relaxed, free form, opening up and really listening to our inner voice. It might sound a bit ‘out there’, but trust me those workshops really made a difference to the quality and depth of my writing. I’ve had to take a break from these and other workshops while I work my way through my dissertation, but I can’t wait to get back to Diane’s workshops.
Ah, and that’s what I should be doing now, working on my dissertation. I started my MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University in October 2011 and will finish in September this year. I chose Middlesex University as it offered an MA with a Science Fiction and Fantasy strand. It has been a real boon to work with other writers and tutors in the SFF field. It is a real pity that my cohort is the last to go through this excellent course.
Taking the plunge to do an MA seemed the next logical step after whetting my appetite and my skills on the range of aforesaid external workshops. I’m well on my way to finishing my first book, Crystal Flight, and have out outline for the sequel. (Hurrah!)
One of the BEST and most USEFUL aspects of all the above course and workshops was the element of critical feedback from other participants and tutors. Feedback might be scary at first, but it is essential for a writer. If you want your work to shine, you need to dig out the grit and polish up the rough edges. And sometimes, well quite often, other eyes are better at spotting those tricky smudges.
Patterns is a short story that arose as part of a group writing exercise. The writing prompt was ‘and she looked at me again.’ The phrase conjured an image of a teenage boy watching his girlfriend walking away from him. As she reached the exit of the school hall she turned to look back at him. There was such a strong connection between these two characters that I had to discover who they were and what had brought them together. Thus, Kate and Mikey walked into my head and onto the page.
As it turned out, the bond between Kate and Mikey could not be broken by the mystery lurking at the bottom of the archaeological dig at the bottom of the school playing field: the place all the kids have nicknamed ‘The Pit’.
You can listen to this story on the Cast of Wonders website (a YA audio magazine).