Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Short story sale

Don't know any details yet, but I've had confirmation of a short story sale to Dark Discoveries

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Doctor Who

Well, the new series of Doctor Who aired last night (although some people have already seen it as episodes have been available for download from some nefarious sites). On the whole, I enjoyed the first episode. Christopher Eccleston played the Doctor character tongue in cheek with a slightly frenetic pace, but it worked. And Billie Piper was surprisingly engaging as his new assistant, Rose Tyler. The first episode was a self-contained story with a beginning, middle and end, but I'm hoping that the other stories in the series will be multiple chapters, and that the first episode was just an opener to introduce the characters. The old style cliff-hangers used to be one of the things I liked about the series, so I hope they continue with that scenario. So it'll be cushions at the ready as I wait for next weeks episiode.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Signed copies of Evilution

I have some copies of my book, Evilution available at the moment that can be signed if anyone would like one. I can only accept payment by paypal, and the cost including p+p is:

Destination: UK second class = £7.50 Takes about 3 days to arrive.

Destination: US using Airmail= $19.50 (£10.50) Takes about 5 days to arrive.

Destination: US using Surface mail= $17.50 (£9.50) Takes about 8 weeks to arrive.

Please query for other destinations, and to check the above prices are still correct.

I would sign the copy of the book, but if you wanted a personal inscription with your name included (or anyone else's name if it's for a gift), make sure you let me know in advance. The only other thing I would need from you is the mailing address, which you can include with the payment info on paypal (specifying whether you require surface or airmail - you could also put on the notes there whether you would like an inscription, or just a signature). I hope all that makes sense. If anyone is interested, please email me to make sure copies are still available, and I'll supply the paypal email address to make payment to.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A pause in the writing

Yet again, I've had to stop work on Fangtooth. For some time now, I've been in talks with a movie tie-in publisher who contacted me for ideas. The original proposal that I submitted was well received by the editors, but the publishers themselves thought it too gory. I reworked the proposal, and the editors emailed me today with their views, stating they think it's an even tighter story line with a better ending. I've been asked to expand on it slightly, add a one sentence selling point, and then it will be resubmitted to the publishers. I'm loathe to say much more about it until it gets the green light, but I'm confident that it will eventually be accepted. So for the next few days I'll be busy revising my proposal.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The power of a good book

I have to admit, my writing has suffered over the past few days, and for that, I blame The Cheltenham Festival. Not adverse to the odd flutter, I've been waylaid by one of the greatest horse racing events in the calendar. During the meeting, I recalled one of the earliest books I remember buying from the school book shop, 'Mylor, The Most Powerful Horse In The World' by Michael Maguire. The book concerned a group of inventors racing to create a robot horse that could win the Grand National without being detected as being a robot. The story has stuck with me to this day, and it reminds me how powerful and long-lasting fiction can be, especially to a young, impressionable mind.

I still have the book, tucked away in a box somewhere (our house grows more like a bookshop by the day). When my my two-year-old son's old enough to read books on his own, I will open my treasure-chest, and I hope that he too will be as enchanted as I was when I discovered the power of a good book.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Scrapbook snippet

I came across the following website about designing rings with bioengineered bone tissue, which I thought was perfect scrapbook material that offers countless story opportunities:


Some will think it a romantic gesture, others will find it grisly. But one willing couple in the UK is about to get the chance, thanks to a government-funded project intended to promote awareness of the issues surrounding tissue engineering, to have bone rings grown from their own cells. The rough bone circles will then be given to the designers, who will consult with the couple and shape the bone into customised rings. Each partner will give the other the ring grown from their cells.

"It's for people who want to give a bit of their body to each other," says Nikki Stott, a jewellery designer at the Royal College of Art in London.

On another note, I was informed of a review of a new magazine featuring one of my stories. Usually people misspell my surname, in this review, it's my forename. I've yet to see a copy of the magazine myself, but I hope my name's spelt correctly.


Saturday, March 12, 2005


I love incorporating cliff-hangers into my books (the word alone conjures up an image of people hanging by the tips of their fingers as they wait to be rescued.) A good cliff-hanger makes the reader want to turn the page to see what happens next. The celluloid equivalent was the old Flash Gordon series, where you had to tune in the following week to see if Flash and Dale survived.

The cliff-hanger is another way of maintaining suspense, but it can become jaded if overused.

Fangtooth is going well at the moment. I've started reading my research books, and have already picked up a few tips that can be incorporated into the story. The hard part is making the factual pieces flow, and not seem as though they were copied straight from a book. But then that's what writing is all about.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The horror

Work on Fangtooth is going slower than I planned, mainly due to needing to do more research than I thought.

There's a saying: 'Write about what you know', which is all fine and dandy, but it's a very narrow way of looking at things. If that was the case, how would a horror writer be able to describe a murder in gruesome detail (assuming they've never gone out and committed the crime), or how would anyone who's never left the planet be able to describe such alien landscapes. In my own novel, I've got to research the life of a trawlerman, and also life on board a submarine. In both instances, I've had to order books that I've now got to read through and take notes. I love researching as it imparts completely new ways of life, new ideas, and new knowledge, but I love writing the story more, which is why I'll keep skipping chapters that need too much study. By concentrating on chapters that don't require a lot of research, I can keep the story flowing. If I stop, I have difficulty taking up the reins again for a particular project. Obviously, this will mean a lot of back-tracking when I've got the information that I need, but as long as I keep note of what's missing/required (which I note in capitals on the manuscript as I write to remind me), it shouldn't be too difficult.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Show, don't tell

What does the above saying mean? "Telling" is a way of delivering facts to the reader—the wrong way. "Showing" involves the reader, giving them information through the use of action, dialogue, and the five senses.

Here are a couple of examples:
Telling: Jim was so angry that Susan was afraid.
Showing: Jim flexed his fists and his face flushed. He grabbed the front of Susan's blouse and slammed her into the wall. Susan fought to breathe, her heart hammering.

Telling: Jack was scared.
Showing: The footsteps tapped closer and closer. Jack felt his stomach muscles go taut. He flattened himself against the wall, the bricks cold and sharp against his body. Sweat trickled down his brow. He started to shake.

In the first example we see Jim's anger. In the second example, we live Jack's fear, rather than merely being told of it.

By showing and not telling, we show the characters experiencing events rather than telling about what happened to them. When we tell something, the reader isn't involved.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Scrapbook snippet

Urban and underground exploration is a subject that fires my imagination. If you have never heard of it, the practitioners want to explore abandoned buildings, they want to know what's behind all those funny little doors that you may have seen in canal bridges, railway bridges, public parkland, private walls, public places, road bridges - they want to know what's behind the doors marked private.

One such place they have 'discovered' is a buried street in Bristol in the Laurence Hill area. Supposedly you lift a man-hole cover, and in you go. There you'll find old victorian shops with intact gas-lights. Unfortunatelty, the man-hole cover is outside a pub, on a fast main-road, so access is not supposed to be easy. Other reports say the access is from inside the pub itself.

But there are lots of these types of hidden/forgotten places. One story that intrigued me was when Police in Paris recently discovered a fully equipped cinema-cum-restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern underneath the capital's chic 16th arrondissement.

Members of the force's sports squad, responsible - among other tasks - for policing the 170 miles of tunnels, caves, galleries and catacombs that underlie large parts of Paris, stumbled on the complex while on a training exercise beneath the Palais de Chaillot, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

After entering the network through a drain next to the Trocadero, the officers came across a tarpaulin marked: Building site, No access.

Behind that, a tunnel held a desk and a closed-circuit TV camera set to automatically record images of anyone passing. The mechanism also triggered a tape of dogs barking, "clearly designed to frighten people off," the spokesman said.

Further along, the tunnel opened into a vast 400 sq metre cave some 18m underground, like an underground amphitheatre, with terraces cut into the rock and chairs.

There the police found a full-sized cinema screen, projection equipment, and tapes of a wide variety of films, including 1950s film noir classics and more recent thrillers. None of the films were banned or even offensive, the spokesman said.

A smaller cave next door had been turned into an informal restaurant and bar.

The whole thing ran off a professionally installed electricity system and there were at least three phone lines down there.

Three days later, when the police returned accompanied by experts from the French electricity board to see where the power was coming from, the phone and electricity lines had been cut and a note was lying in the middle of the floor: "Do not," it said, "try to find us."

There's a wealth of material in this subject, and I've got an idea for another novel brewing away.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Words paint a picture

The saying goes: 'A picture paints a thousand words', but my palette is words, so I have to paint a cerebral picture. The key is finding the right combination of words. When you read something that's well written, you hardly notice the words. Instead, everything comes alive in the mental cinema. You can actually smell the coffee percolating in that old log cabin; you can see the four young teens, can almost feel that you are in the room with them, joking and throwing sexual innuendo around like confetti. There's a sharp knock at the door - you can sense their unease (it's night time, the sky's blanketed by thick cloud, the cabin's miles from anywhere); you can literally taste their fear as they pluck up the courage to answer the door ... So a picture may paint a thousand words, but words can also paint a picture.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Conflict 1. a struggle between opposing forces; battle. 2 opposition between ideas, interests, etc.; controversy. 3 Psychol. opposition between two simultaneous but incompatible wishes or drives, sometimes leading to emotional tension.

In real life, most people try to avoid conflict, but in fiction it's vitally important if the story is to progress and keep the readers interest. The need to overcome the conflict is often the focus of the hero. If nothing in the story forces the character to see something in a new light, to confront their worst fear or greatest personal challenges, then there is no conflict and no character growth.

Whether it be through internal conflict: guilt at cheating at a test or on a partner, a phobia etc., or external conflict: arguments, a fight, being pursued, being ditched at the altar, create conflict.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Plotting and saving a story

Because the novel, Fangtooth that I'm working on has quite a few subplots, I'm having to spend a while plotting it out. Some of the subplots didn't appear until I was already writing it, so to stop me losing track of them, I'm having to work out the scenes first. Some people write novels off the cuff without plotting; others plot. My first novel, Evilution was written off the cuff, which is like flying by the seat of your pants because you don't know what to expect next. Now, I prefer to plot a story. Fangtooth started out with a basic plot, but now as it's becoming more diverse, I'm having to spend more time plotting the various threads. For me, plotting a story consists of a brainstorming session, imaginging a lot of 'what ifs', and then seeing which ones work best or seem more appealing. Eventually, an uncanny sort of rhythm seems to take over and things fall into place.

On another point, it's always a good idea to regularly save your work. As well as saving to a seperate disk, I have found it useful and reassuring to save my work to a hotmail account (made all the easier now they offer 250mb of space.) Now there's no worry about losing everything if the worst case scenario happened.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Point of view is an important consideration when telling a story.

There are basically three points of view you can use:

First person, in which the main character experiences everything directly, using the words 'I' and 'me'. 'When I walked into the bar, all hell broke loose.' etc. What makes this difficult is that you can only see everything through that one person's eyes.

Second person is hardly ever used when writing a story or book (except when quoting a character). When writing in second person it gives the reader a certain 'feeling' in which they are put into the actual situation. The reader then responds more openly about the situation. Second person point of view is something most writers have a hard time dealing with. It is used by the word 'you.'

The last point of view is third person. There are actually two separate third person points of view. The 'regular' type and the omnipotent. The regular type is when the writer uses 'he' or 'she' or directs the question/statement to a particular thing or person. This is one of the most popular styles of writing.

Omnipotent is like a 'god.' The narrator knows everything about the circumstance and knows exactly what everyone is thinking at any given point of time. Using this style gives you the chance as the narrator to fill the story with ominous foreshadowing: They had no idea that by the end, only two of them would live.

The choice of viewpoint is an important one to the tone and style of the story. In third person POV, the choice of which character's viewpoint to use is important too. There may be a whole stage of characters, but which one is going to have the best viewpoint to tell a particular scene? It's like imagining each character has a camera on their shoulder, and you can only see what they see.