A Visit From Ethel

Philip HarrisNovel Number 20 Comments

Our normal weekend schedule has been disrupted this week because Sunday will be a very special day. To make room for that very special day we moved our long Sunday run to the Saturday instead. To my surprise, my muse, Ethel, turned up a couple of kilometers into the run and proceeded to feed me a very tempting idea for my next novel. She spent the next half hour helping me nudge the idea around my head until she realised there was still 12km left to run and disappeared into a darkened room to think about death. I was originally planning on starting a new novel in the New Year but I’m intrigued by this new idea and I have the opening few chapters pretty clear in my head so I may well start sooner. Of course, I need to do one more pass on The Ghost Smuggler and send that out into the wild first. Oh, and I need a title. The downside with moving our long run to Saturday was that I didn’t get as much writing done as I would have liked. I did write 876 more words of Rainshine bringing the total length to 2404 words. Clearly, I … Read More

Apex Magazine Subscription Drive

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The always excellent Apex Magazine have a great deal on a 12 month e-subscription at the moment – $14.95 for twelve issues plus two free ebooks plus a chance to win Apex’s Dark Faith anthology plus a chance to win a Nook. More details are available here.

It Means Nothing to Me

Philip HarrisChatter0 Comments

Our new Kobo Vox arrived yesterday. I resisted the eBook revolution for a long time but Ann persuaded me to buy her one for her birthday last year. I borrowed it to read William Gibson’s Zero History and was immediately hooked. She has her first generation Kobo, I have a 3rd generation Kindle. I see the Kindle as the Rolls Royce of ereaders, high quality and until recently, a bit expensive. The Kobo is nice, very light, although the first generation is a bit slow to start up, particularly compared to my Kindle. Maybe the newer ones have improved, I don’t know. Even though I have an ereader, I still buy physical books. I love the look and feel and smell of real printed books and I’ve spent over $400 on them over the last 3-4 weeks* but the ereaders have rekindled (do you see what I did there?) my love of reading. I’m reading a lot more books since I got my Kindle and I’m reading more broadly. In particular I’m picking up random self-published books by authors I’ve never heard of. Some of them I enjoy, some of them I don’t but either way I’m discovering authors that I … Read More

Introducing Ethel

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I have a muse. Her name is Ethel. I’ve never met her (she prefers to stay out of sight and just fiddle with the synapses in my brain) but I’m pretty sure she’s a very cool goth from the 80s. As if to prove my point about stories changing as I write them, Ethel has stepped in and made a suggestion for a new title for Rainshine, added a new scene and embellished the final scene of the story with what, according to her, will be some very effective imagery. The problem with Ethel is that she has such grand plans and I rarely manage to do justice to the pictures she puts in my head. This time I’ll try to do better. But, I’m sticking with Rainshine as the title for the time being, we’ll see how insistent Ethel gets. Anyway, 517 words on Rainshine yesterday. Finished off the second and third scenes and an opening line for the fourth. All signs point to me being able to wrap up the first draft at the weekend. I always let my stories sit for a week or two before I do the second draft to gain some perspective so this one should … Read More

Rainshine

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I was able to kick off a new story yesterday, a science fiction tale inspired by a line from an Amanda Palmer song. I always churn through any number of titles for a story, this one started off as simply Rain and then became Rainshine about halfway through yesterday’s session. No doubt it will change a few more times before I finally decide on a title. I clocked up 488 words in about an hour which is pretty much average for me. This one is fairly dialogue heavy and I think it will probably come in at around 2000 words, a bit shorter than my usual stories which tend to be 3-4000. Unusually for me, I have a pretty good idea what the entire story is going to be. I don’t outline and it’s pretty common for me to only have a very vague idea where the story is going when I start; I prefer to discover things as I go along. This time though, I think I understand the whole arc. No doubt it will still take some of its own twists and turns along the way so I’m sure there’s still some surprises in store for me. Other than … Read More

NaNoWriMo

Philip HarrisNaNoWriMo0 Comments

It’s November already and that means it’s time for NaNoWriMo. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month. Across the world, hundreds of thousands of writers are furiously scribbling away, trying to write a 50,000+ word novel by November 30th. That’s a lot of words in not a lot of time. For me personally, that means an average of four hours of writing a day for 30 days. If I managed to remove distractions like Google+, Twitter and Facebook then I might be able to get that down to three hours a day but even then, that’s a big commitment when you’re holding down a day job and training for a half marathon. Despite the challenge, thousands of people manage to finish their novels every year. Me, I’ll stick to a more modest goal – and fail miserably*. Maybe next year I’ll find a way to pick up the pace enough to join the fun. In the meantime, I’ll wish everyone taking part in NaNoWriMo luck, and keep my eye out for the next NaNoWriMo success story. If you want to find out more – and it’s never too late to join … Read More

Poison and Axes and Guns, Oh My!

Philip HarrisChatter

Last night my wife and I went on a two and a half hour Haunted Halloween tour of Vancouver. It’s one of the seasonal tours performed by the Vancouver Trolley company during the winter months when tourists are less prevalent. The tour takes in numerous haunted locations around the city, including The Fairmont Vancouver (haunted by the “lady in red”), Stanley Park (site of several haunted burial grounds and where the infamous “babes in the woods” bodies were found), Shaughnessy (home of Vancouver’s more wealthy inhabitants and the location of the murder of Janet Smith and its subsequent cover up) and Mountain View Cemetery (to visit Janet Smith’s grave, among others). Along the way the guide regales passengers with tales of gruesome and often intriguing murders, suicides, accidents and “accidents”. The tour also stops at the Vancouver Police Museum and there we got a lesson in how to perform an autopsy and a look at evidence  from a couple of the murders our guide had told us about, including the still unsolved “babes in the woods” case and a particularly gruesome crime involving a young man, his sleeping family and a double bladed axe.   The success of this type of tour depends almost … Read More

Chocolate Covered Eyeballs

Philip HarrisChatter0 Comments

Happy Halloween! I’ve just dropped my wife off at work, laden down with arm fulls of homemade Halloween treats. Highlights include demon claw cookies, cupcakes with spiders and worms and my personal favourite – chocolate covered eyeballs. Yesterday was a productive day, especially considering it started with a 16km run in the rain. After launching the blog, I finished the final draft of a new horror story, Amber, and submitted three stories to editors. That means I have twelve stories out in the wild although a couple of those have been out there so long they’ve probably been eaten by something nasty by now. No new words though, other than yesterday’s blog posting and a few changes to Amber. Tonight we’re going on a Haunted Halloween tour of Vancouver so no writing today either. Perhaps the “gruesome tales of troubled ghosts” will provide me with some inspiration.  

Some Kind of Stranger Come Inside

Philip HarrisChatter0 Comments

Another day, another new blog. Why? I hear you ask. The answer is very simple, for fun. I’ve been writing on and off for over twenty years now and it turns out I enjoy it. I’ve written non-fiction, mostly technical articles, reviews and comment pieces, including a monthly column on “online topics” that ran before everyone else joined the Internet party. I also have a blog dedicated to my day job – developing video games. My main literary love is fiction though, speculative fiction to be exact. I grew up surrounded by books and despite numerous attempts to kick my addiction, I’m still surrounded by more books than my shelves can hold. Given my love of books, it was inevitable that I would also try my hand at writing my own stories and I’ve been crafting strange tales for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I’ve written and had published horror, science fiction, fantasy and stories that sit somewhere between all three. I finished my first novel The Ghost Smuggler last year. It blends fantasy and science fiction into a fast moving tale set in the desert city of Karabar and a dreamlike world inhabited by the spirits of the … Read More