Unexpected Flash

Philip HarrisFlash Fiction, Stories0 Comments

Some unexpected writing yesterday, 100 words worth to be exact. I happened to catch a tweet directing me to a Tuesday Tales challenge on the Glitter Word blog. The challenge was to write a one hundred or less word piece of flash fiction inspired by the image below and including the word Twist. It happened to be lunch time and I was taking a break from my day job so I noodled around for ten or fifteen minutes and wrote a story called Aftermath. This was the first time I’ve taken part in this type of challenge and I really enjoyed it – it was a nice to be able to take a quick creative break in the middle of the day and the one hundred word limit forced me to keep the writing focused. The Tuesday Tales challenge takes place every week so I’ll be dropping back next week to see if Ethel the Muse has anything to say about next week’s photo. You can find my story, along with the other entries here.

Vancouver Historic Half Marathon

Philip HarrisRunning0 Comments

You get some amazing autumn mornings in Vancouver. Crisp, clean air. Clear blue skies. Bright sunshine reflecting off the sea with snow capped mountains in the background. Wonderful. Yesterday was not one of those days. It was cold, wet and grey. It was also the day of the first ever Vancouver Historic Half Marathon and the fifth half marathon that my wife, Ann, and I have run. Medal for the Vancouver Historic Half Marathon The route started at the naval base on Dead Man’s Island and followed the seawall around the edge of Stanley Park, looping round twice before finishing back on the naval base. As well as the half marathon there were 5km and10km races along a subset of the Half Marathon route. It was raining heavily when we arrived but although it stayed pretty gloomy for most of the race, the rain eventually died off and it wasn’t as gruesome as we’d initially feared. It was a fairly small race, roughly 400 people with 250 of those running the half so as the race progressed the field thinned out nicely which meant we could focus on running not dodging other runners. The seawall is a beautiful place to run, … Read More


Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler0 Comments

It turns out I was actually working on Draft Number Ten of The Ghost Smuggler, not number nine as I originally thought. Whichever number it was, I finished it yesterday morning after a final check of a couple of chapters I’d reworked – just to check flow and continuity. Some stats about Draft Number Ten. The manuscript is now 169 pages long (single spaced) and comes in at 87,000 words. Yes, exactly 87,000 – weird huh? The double spaced manuscript clocks in at 390 pages. Editing Draft Number Ten took 774 minutes (give or take an hour or so for random digressions onto the Internet) and overall I removed 447 words from the story. That’s probably a good thing. Next step is to send it off to Jeff VanderMeer who offers a critique service. I’m a fan of Jeff’s writing (in particular the ridiculously inventive Finch) so the opportunity for him to cast a critical eye over my manuscript was too good to pass up. I was a little concerned that my aging LaserJet would collapse under the strain of printing out the whole manuscript so I batched up the printing to make sure it survived. And survive it did, although I almost ran … Read More

Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011)

Philip HarrisAuthors, Writing Advice1 Comment

I was very sad to hear that Anne McCaffrey died on Monday. As you would expect, there are lots of great tributes across the web. Random House Locus Obituary Geek Out! Girl Meets Lightsaber io9 Author Chris F. Holm For my part, I grew up reading the Dragon stories. Inspired perhaps by my brother’s suggestion that I was a bit too young to read them, I devoured them all as quickly as I could. Even now, many years later, they still hold a special place in my memories and I’ll never forget the world of Pern. My wife was equally entranced by Anne’s books and I think she’s read them all, including the spin offs, the non Dragon stories and those written with her son Todd and other collaborators. I remember reading some writing advice from Anne McCaffrey that really stuck with me. I’m not able to find the full quote anymore because the original website is no longer available but I’ll paraphrase here. She suggested that if you were writing a scene with a chest of drawers in it, you should know what was inside it. Not that you had to tell the reader, just that you, as the … Read More

Page 153

Philip HarrisNovel Number 2, The Ghost Smuggler0 Comments

More edits to The Ghost Smuggler yesterday and I reached page 153 out of what has now become 170 manuscript pages (I’ve been cutting a few extraneous bits and pieces). I’m hoping to finish off the final revisions tonight but it’s also training night so that may be a stretch. Particularly as there’s a section I want to remove and that means reconnecting the story either side and rereading relevant chapters to make sure I haven’t introduced any continuity errors. Then I’ll be printing it out and sending it off for a critique. I need to do that by Thursday at the latest so training may have to wait. I’ve also been chatting about the new book with Ethel the Muse and we may have come up with a title – I just need to let it roll around in my head and see if it sticks. I also reached the conclusion that I’m going to need to do some planning of the main characters for this one. Most of them will appear in the first few scenes of the book so it will be difficult to add new and interesting characters as I think of them while I’m writing. I need to … Read More

Monday Monday

Philip HarrisChatter, The Ghost Smuggler0 Comments

I’ve had a somewhat cultural few days. Friday evening saw another gig – this time Feist. She brought with her the holder of the world record for longest piano concert and a self-proclaimed musical genius – Chilly Gonzales. This is the third time we’ve seen Feist, and the second time we’ve seen Chilly and they didn’t disappoint. Great fun. On Saturday we went to see a production of the British musical – Blood Brothers. Not a happy go lucky tale but very enjoyable nonetheless. I spent Sunday revising The Ghost Smuggler getting to page 119 of 173 (that’s manuscript pages, not finished book pages). I’m making changes on pretty much every page and I think it’s definitely improving the book. The goal is to finish the entire manuscript by end of day Wednesday so that I can get it sent off for a critique. I also picked up a parcel from the post office – my copies of Two Worlds and in Between, the new Caitlin R Kiernan short story collection from Subterranean Press. More on that later.    

Book – Flicker: A Novel

Philip HarrisBooks0 Comments

I finally finished Theodore Roszak’s Flicker: A Novel on Thursday night and as I posted on Twitter, it’s not quite the worst book I’ve read this year. I think what appealed to me about the book initially were the similarities between Flicker and one of my favourite books – The Book of Illusions: A Novel by Paul Auster. Both deal with reclusive characters from the movie industry who have mysteriously disappeared (or in the case of Flicker, died) and a protagonist intrigued by their story. Throw in a mysterious religious conspiracy and I should have been hooked. Unfortunately Flicker read like the unwanted love child of The Da Vinci Code and a turgid dissertation on film history. Even the ‘twist’ was a non-event and although I have yet to give up on a book, it was touch and go with this one. Not that it’s badly written or even a bad concept, I was just waiting for something to happen and it never really did. Basically, it started off slow and then tapered off from there. To give it at least some benefit of the doubt it’s a long, slow paced book and a lot of the novels I’ve read recently have … Read More

Draft Number Nine

Philip HarrisThe Ghost Smuggler0 Comments

So, change of plan yesterday. What was going to be a start-a-new-story session turned into start-a-new-draft session. More specifically, start the ninth draft of The Ghost Smuggler. That’s not to suggest that each draft is a full-on heavy rewrite, the last few have been fairly minor tweaks and corrections. This time round I’m looking at the story again after several months away from it to see if there’s any more tweaks I want based on the things I’ve learned over the course of the year before I start sending it out. I’m also investigating the possibility of a professional critique so I want to make sure I have the cleanest manuscript I can for that. The problem is, I can always find something to change. I covered the first twenty one pages last night and made a fair number of revisions. Some of them were definitely improvements and fixes for typos – some of them…I’m not so sure. Overall, though, I think I’m making it better. Time will tell…  


Philip HarrisChatter0 Comments

I’ve been battling a cold for the last couple of days which has sidetracked any writing I was planning on doing. On the plus side, working from home did allow me to clear off a huge amount of day job related tasks. I’ve not been living in a total creative wasteland though, I submitted a story to Garbled Transmissions and Ethel the Muse visited last night (well, 2am this morning actually) and I now have a new idea for a short story which I’m going to try to kick off tonight. More on that tomorrow.  

NaNoWriMo – Half Full or Half Empty

Philip HarrisNaNoWriMo3 Comments

Okay, it’s the halfway point of NaNoWriMo, or thereabouts. How are you doing? By now you should be at about 25,000 words, give or take a few thousand. If you are, congratulations, keep up the good work. If not, don’t panic and certainly don’t give up. There’s still plenty of time. You’re obviously not writing now (after all, you’re reading my blog) so take a few minutes, step back and think about where you are – or aren’t. Assuming you really want to complete your novel…what’s stopping you? I don’t have time – What can you give up for the next fifteen days? Television? Movies? Shopping? Work? (Okay, maybe not that last one but if you’ve got spare vacation days perhaps now is the time to use them). How about sleep? Can you get up an hour earlier, go to bed an hour later? It’s always possible to find something to give up or postpone – if you really want to. It’s not good enough – Are you giving in to your internal editor? Are you spending too long crafting the perfect sentence? Don’t worry about quality yet. There’ll be time to revise and rewrite later, NaNoWriMo is an excuse to vomit whatever you can … Read More