Tag Archives: undead

An outdoor festival… and it’s sunny… almost seems too good to be true!

Steampunk Nerf Gun - N-Strike BarricadeSteampunk isn’t exactly something I’m that familiar with or that involved with from the point of view of dressing up, but there is certainly something about the combination of old, new and futurism that appeals to me as a writer. Taking many apparently disparate ideas and mixing them together produces such surprising results and leads to all new avenues of thinking, so it has to be said that I’m really looking forward to our trip to the “Steampunks in Springtime” festival, event thingy over in Laddock today, organised by our friend Seraphina Sprocket-Twitcher (who also goes by the name “Abby,” but in a community it’s good to have a name that immediately announces what you’re about when people first hear it, especially when you’re trying to organise things.)

I don’t think I’m ever likely to dress up in as intricate a fashion as some of the community do, but it does present an interesting opportunity for self expression and having a bit of a laugh, possibly at my own expense, so I’ve dutifully put together a costume that at least shouldn’t make me stand out too much while being far more interested really in seeing how everyone else dresses up, hopefully giving me a little inspiration for future writing projects and characters. It’s also given me an excuse to paint a Nerf gun up in Steampunk fashion (I think, I’m certainly no expert) and it’s come out very nicely indeed as I’m hoping you’ll agree.

For those who may be interested, there is a very slight Steampunk vibe in my novella “Spares,” which I should be self-publishing in the next month or two and a considerably larger Steampunk vibe to come in the three novels that follow on from it. I decided that rather than throwing myself into that style of writing from the get-go my protagonists, faced with being cut off from resources and modern technology, turn back to basic industrial ingenuity in order to prepare for a war that they have no chance to avoid. So if you like the idea of the undead combining some incredibly unpleasant surgery with the sort of thing Brunel would have probably kept in his tinkering shed, they may well be for you. If not you may want to block this blog, my FaceBook page and my Twitter account, as when they’re written and I’m trying to get them published, I’m going to be talking about them A LOT.

Enjoy today, because this weather isn’t going to last!


To milestones. Hip-hip, somethingorother.

Today is a milestone day for me. Well, the milestone itself technically came yesterday, but while the completion of a project might make you want to celebrate, it also sometimes makes you want to slump. I chose the latter, in as much as it’s possible to slump a few hours before waddling off to my Thursday evening Muay Thai class.

As usual, I digress. I’ll probably do so again in a moment.

I completed a full chapter-by-chapter plan for my first novel, currently entitled “Lucher,” yesterday afternoon. So ok, it’s a part of a project as opposed to the project itself, but there is a very good reason for this being a milestone for me that is perhaps greater than the completion of a piece of writing in and of itself: I never plan anything.

Beyond a swirling vortex of notes on paper, my computers at home and at work, my laptop and my BlackBerry, there is never anything resembling a structure on which to pin my ideas, an idea of where I’m going or how I’m going to get there. I’m a disorganised mess in many aspects of my life and it has served me very well, or at least it did up until the point where I had a family and decided that somehow, more was expected of me. This has rubbed off on me from my wife who is super organised, makes lists, keeps large sections of my brain in her diary and generally is the scaffolding that holds our family together. I won’t gush but she’s brilliant and, thankfully, quite tolerant of my slightly erratic nature. Very fond of my wife. I’ll probably name the planet after her once I take over.

It’s not all bad though; it isn’t that I don’t get things done it’s just that I have a very direct approach to things in general. Life’s planners are often highly valued and rightly so, as they make the world go around and keep the buses running on time (har-de-har-har) and that is a strength that my wife has in abundance. I, on the other hand, have an entirely different skill set. If you want to organise a music festival (for example), Kat would find a way. She would remember to book the porta-loos, would get estimates on the numbers expected and how many cars to prepare for and would have ample first aiders on hand. All the required permits and licensing would be dealt with and for every eventuality she would have a contingency, within reason, that would make the whole thing a success. She’d also have organised a clean up crew and would leave the place as she found it, with everyone having been paid and having fully enjoyed themselves.

But what if aliens invaded during Iron Maiden’s encore?

That’s where people like me come in. I would probably make a reasonable go at the organisation if I put my mind to it, but it would cause a major headache for me as it goes against my nature. Kat would have it all running smoothly until the first mothership loomed overhead, and then she would phone me. I’m the sort of person you drop into the centre of unmitigated chaos and then stand back and let them get on with it. I think on my feet, deciding on solutions and dishing out tasks to other people and shooting from the hip, grabbing anarchy by its dreadlocked testicles and pounding it with sheer determination until it gives up and does as it’s bloody told.

When things go wrong, I’m your man. When you want to plan something so it probably won’t go wrong, Kat’s your lady, and between us there is nothing we can’t manage.

But, ever eager to improve myself, I thought I’d give this planning thing a go, and I have to admit that it has gone fairly well.

It isn’t the super-anal, well thought out and bullet-pointed sort of a plan that some other people seem to swear by, but it’s certainly a happy medium that will make writing this novel considerably easier for me. It’s very “stream of consciousness,” not a little disjointed and quite scrappy in places, but it undoubtedly plots the entire story from beginning to end with all of the appropriate stops, character points and even some “witty” dialogue options inserted along the way. It isn’t the sort of thing I would send to an editor who insisted upon seeing one (let’s hope I can avoid that for the time being) but it represents a point of personal and, hopefully, professional growth for me as a writer, and as a person.

This may be the last of these that I ever write but it might well also be the first of many. This could mark a failed experiment in altering my approach to my work or it might represent an epiphany that leads to a smoother, more productive creative process for me. I’m betting on the latter, and it has to be said that I have my wife’s example to thank for that.

While I’ve got you here…

Quick blog-plug for all-round good egg and Mslexia runner up Nichola Vincent-Abnett, who is celebrating her 100th blog post! She’s written a blog every day for the last 100 days and I think you may enjoy them.


Progress report on “Spares” and the following novel.

Well I’ve been busy, to say the very least. The novella is very nearly complete and I am simply awaiting feedback from a couple of truly wonderful people (cheques are in the mail, honest) before I can get it totally polished, completed, formatted and ready to publish, which I intend to do via the self publishing route.

Other projects have been leaping up and down in my field of vision but I’ve swatted those aside in favour of going straight into the novel itself, so that when I come to actually publish the novella the novel will be very much in progress. I get the feeling that it won’t take too long to write either, given the level of information and inspiration I have for this book, and I hope to be able to make it available to agents and publishers at some point in either late 2012 or early 2013. The novella will be on sale and will serve as an introduction to the world I’ve created but, of course, the novel will be written in such a way that you won’t have to have read the novella for it all to make sense. I’m doing this in the main to ensure that when I approach an agent or publisher, they won’t be given a product that makes no sense without something published elsewhere, from which they will possibly never see a penny. If I can persuade them to include it as a promotional download or similar than I will, because the novella is a story in its own right and adds something to the story, but no-one’s going to be scratching their heads if they don’t ever see it.

Cool, huh?

In the meanwhile I’m busily planning away and have the beginning of the novel plotted and ready for writing, shifting everything forward several years and shifting the focus of the novel away from the first person and into more familiar third person territory.

Over the next few months I’ll keep you all posted with updates, samples and any news I have about the progress of the novella reaching the weird, digital shelves of Amazon and the like.

You never know, this could just work.

Here’s to the future.

Well, my novella is basically finished from a writing point of view. Sure it needs further editing and this may or may not require a certain degree of rewriting once it’s back from the beta readers, but the story is there. It needs tweaking and finishing but it’s back onto the back-burner for a while as I await the judgement of my fellows, and that means that I have to get on with some other projects.

Now with regards the novella, I do have a comment and a slight retraction to make. I’m not going to be giving it away. I’ve listened to a great deal of feedback from people who think it’s a good idea and those who hate the idea, and given the time to mull it over I’ve sided with those who believe that you shouldn’t give your work away. I place a fairly high value on my own work, possibly through a certain degree of artistic arrogance, and I believe that the story is worth a small amount of your hard earned money. If this annoys, upsets or pisses anyone off (which I doubt, I’ve got a blog readership of about six people) then I apologise, but them’s the breaks I’m afraid. I could have just deleted the post where I discussed this, but at least I’m being honest with you.

Right, and on to the projects.

First of these is a novel set in a less futuristic setting, one that I’ve had bubbling away in the back of my head for some time. It’s a quest based story (groooooan) but one with a little potential I think, and it feels a bit like a process that I need to go through in order to improve my writing. There are many, many linear quest based novels out there and that style is perhaps a little over done in the genre, but as with anything else the real test is to do it and to do it well. Yes it involves a small group out to journey across the world, uncover secrets and some horrible truths and ultimately take down a powerful witch. Yeah yeah, yawn yawn fucking yawn, but you’ll just have to trust me on this, it will not suck and you will enjoy it.

After this will come the novel length sequel to the novella “Spares” which will take the concept, setting and characters and go large scale with it, hopefully with the view to be pimped out to publishers as soon as it’s reached an acceptable level of quality.

I have other plans beyond this, including but not limited to a vampire story (by the time it’s done people will be receptive to a genre faithful tale rather than one that tears up the rulebook for kicks and crowd pleasing) and one that I started and put back down, featuring the angelic hosts and the Grim Reaper.

Throw into the mix my potential (but unconfirmed) attempts to gain access to the Black Library’s open submissions window and I’ve got a busy few years ahead of me. I’m still not decided on whether or not I want to continue the pursuit of writing in the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K universes, but I’m not ruling it out. This isn’t to sound arrogant or dismissive but success with them would mean a greatly increased workload, which would by necessity mean pushing my other projects into the background in the meanwhile. Now obviously success is far from assured and is indeed quite unlikely for a huge number of reasons, but only a complete dickhead would approach something like that without attempting to succeed and consideration as to what that would actually mean.

I have a lot to think about it would seem, not least of which being finishing this blog post and doing something more productive.



Everybody’s got one, or so they tell me…

What I would like, kind sirs and siresses, is an opinion. Not just any old opinion though, before you give me your views on Miliband’s leadership, Kim Kardashian’s arse to brain ratio or the loaded flight capabilities of various breeds of swallow. What I would like to know is your view on naughty language and how it applies to the novella I have in the pipeline.

Now make no mistake, this is not a children’s book. The themes are adult, it contains violence and “scenes which the viewer really bloody well should find disturbing,” including but certainly not limited to dismemberment, physical violence and at least one scene that would put Hannibal Lector off his Chianti. Now I would personally deem foul and often abusive language to be well suited to the environment that I am attempting to portray, but in such discussions in the past it has to be said that I have often found myself in the minority. People seem to have a high tolerance for gore, sex, violence and even gory sexual violence and yet, somewhat oddly I think, not for naughty language.

Now I am certainly, definitely not going to hack the novella apart for the sake of it but I have started to wonder if a slightly “abridged” version might be warranted so as not to alienate some of my potential readership. What I am quite willing to do however is to concurrently release an edited, curse-free version alongside the full novella for those who feel differently to me about what is and is not acceptable. I won’t do this if no-one thinks it is justified and so there, I am asking for your opinion.

Whether via the comments feed, my Facebook account (for those who know me in that twisted vista that we call “real life”) or via @Vampiricchicken over on Twitter, please let me know what you think I should do. Should I stick to my gut feeling and release it as I see it, should I be sensitive and release two versions or should I take my Encyclopaedia Profanica and throw myself into the nearest wood chipper?

Answers on a postcard, please. Or, you know, practically anything BUT a postcard.

The vital first edit/second draft.

A huge thanks to Jonathan Ward this week, that’s him down there on the blogroll if you were wondering, who has returned some absolutely spot-on advice to me about my novella “Spares.” It’s fair to say that there was a fair amount wrong with it, what with it being a rough first draft, written stream of consciousness style and all, but I’m pleased to say that there seems to be a great deal right with it too!

So now I’m onto the first editing process, which I can largely compare to that picture at the top of this post. The majority of what I am doing is cutting out sections and pasting them into a “cutting room floor” document of ideas, quips, dialogue and other bumf that, while not dreadful, simply either doesn’t fit, doesn’t work or interrupts the smooth flow of the story. Now, flow is something that I personally hold to be vital to a story. I like a story to grab you and drag you along for the ride, occasionally dumping you on your arse when there’s something to learn or listen to. I like snappy dialogue, insults that cut to the bone and people that are as real as I can possibly make them. Now in order to maintain a pace that accelerates you towards the finish and then dumps you hard on the other side, gasping for breath and reeling from what you’ve just witnessed, a story needs kicking, chopping, hammering and generally pummelling until it’s in the right shape. At the moment, I don’t have that. It’s tangential, overly introspective at points and a little prone to waffle. Now that’s ok some of the time, but at the moment it simply doesn’t have the clout that I want it to have and I want this story to be the literary equivalent of a haymaker to the temple.


Besides that there are points where I got stuck, didn’t have the right idea and so ploughed on regardless, leaping forward in order to keep going until I reached the end. Now of course I have to go back and sort this out, inserting chunks of story that fit and can be welded in place to strengthen the narrative arc that I’m going for. I have a sub-plot to weave through the story, a whole new scene that I’m writing whenever I’m not working, revising, blogging or preparing my Black Library Live army so I can carve my way through my friends’ armies with gay abandon. That’s like regular abandon, by the way, only with a lot more cushions.

In short I have a lot to do, but have all the time in the world to do it. I’m still tempted to say that this could be done within the month, though probably not ready for release as I simply can’t state categorically that those who have agreed to read it through will be done in time, or that they won’t uncover something dreadful that needs my immediate attention.

For now, I must plough onwards. I have a lot to do in order to fulfil my promise of a free ebook for you all and I like to keep my promises, though deadlines are largely something that happens to other people. The key point there, however, is that the wait should always be worth it.


I just couldn’t ask for something without offering something in return…

So, I’ve got a plan…

How does a novella sound to you? Specifically, how do you like the sound of a novella that will cost you absolutely nothing to buy, is yours to keep and to pass around with the only requirement upon yourself to be a gentleman’s agreement that you will pass it on, will tell other people about it and perhaps (if you would be so kind) use your own blog, Facebook page or Twitter account to link back to here? Sound good? Sound fair? Then please, read on…

I am a wannabe. There really are no two ways about it, I’m a gainfully employed wannabe-writer who isn’t actually employed as a writer and, like many others, I have a dream. That dream is to gain a readership, to write books and stories that people love and to be worshipped for it. Well alright, not worshipped, but the odd “Nice one, dude! Would you sign my face?” wouldn’t go amiss, nor would enough money to purchase the odd bottle of JD and to keep myself in biros and notebooks. I’m not seeking fame, fortune or glitz and glamour, but I am looking to get my name out there as a writer and be taken sort-of seriously, or at least as seriously as my writing deserves. And this is where all of you (that’s like, what, six people?) come in.

I got to thinking recently about how to get my name out there, how to garner interest in my stories and how to pimp myself in general without involving money, agents or having to quit my job. Don’t look at me like that, I’m a parent and have certain responsibilities that my wife has kindly informed me I’m not allowed to shirk. So there. What I’ve decided on, with no input from anyone else so it’s bound to be a bad idea, is that I am to become a garage band. Or rather, the literary equivalent. Way back when, before you would get sued so hard your balls would turn to raisins and you would crumple into a pathetic heap of dust, people would record themselves as best they could afford, hastily cobble together some “artwork” (bribe an arty type and take the result to the nearest photocopier) and pass around the resulting tape at their gigs in the full knowledge that it would be copied, passed around and with it the name of the band would spread. Of course this means that if the novella stinks, my name either won’t go far or it will go a long way with the suffix “is a talentless bellend.” That’s a risk I’m willing to take as I have a lot of faith in this story and the novel(s) that will follow on from it.

So, in the next month or so, once the edit is complete and I’ve done the aforementioned cobbling of artwork, a link will be appearing here, there and everywhere for my novella, currently going by the working title of “Spares.” A full teaser, blurb and sneak-peak at the cover will be posted in the run up to the day when I freely give away something that has been very close to my heart for the last few months.

I’d love to have you onboard.