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
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
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.
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
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…
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.
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
I’m a big fan of Angry Robot Books – Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City is one of my favourite books so far this year – so I was pleased to see their announcement of not one but two debut authors they discovered during the open door reading month, both of them signing two book deals. Casandra Rose Clarke gives an entertaining account of her reaction to the news that she’d sold her books to Angry Robot here and Lee Collins gives a less exuberant but no less entertaining account here (at least, the first part of it. Angry Robot received over 990 submissions during their open door month and are planning to repeat the exercise next year.
Sunday is Long Slow Distance day which also makes it not really do much else day. Yesterday was a 20km run – our longest before the race we’re doing at the end of November – which meant the rest of the day was given over to resting and a handful of random chores. We did watch the third episode of Grimm though and I’m still not sure whether I like it. I’m used to genre TV shows taking a while to get going (Battlestar Galactica being the notable exception) so I’m going to keep watching for a while longer but so far it seems like a fairly average show.
Movie day yesterday, three movies – two of them excellent. We started off with Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous – the story of the political and royal intrigue that forced a talented Elizabethan playwright to hide his identity behind that of an illiterate actor called William Shakespeare. Very entertaining, even if the theory that Shakespeare is not the real author of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet etc. is considered nonsense by most scholars. Next up was Drive. Based on the book by James Sallis, starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, it’s a stylish thriller filled with meaningful silences and sudden bursts of graphic violence. Just my sort of film and I’ve just added the eBook to my wishlist. Last of all we watched Simon West’s remake of When A Stranger Calls. This was actually better than I expected and there were some genuinely creepy moments although advances in telephone technology rob it of some of its effectiveness. If you’re tempted, I recommend you watch the Fred Walton original from 1979 over the remake. Either way, if you’re not familiar with the twist that comes towards the end of the film, don’t watch the remake’s trailer – it includes a spoiler. Movie day took up … Read More