A New Story

Philip HarrisChatter, Writing0 Comments

Ethel the Muse struck this morning, just as I was getting up. I’ve had a new story sitting in the back of my mind for a couple of weeks now, and today Ethel decided to provide me with an intriguing opening to get things going. I didn’t want to lose the words so while I was eating my breakfast I fired up Scrivener and wrote the first few sentences. Here they are, unedited and unexpurgated. It wasn’t until the fifth doctor appeared that I really got concerned. Even then, it wasn’t just that there were five doctors clustered round the scanner pointed at my leg. That was to be expected. After all, I’d come to the Medical Centre specifically to get a scan, in an effort to find out exactly what was causing the rapidly growing lump on my shin. My concern was triggered by the child-like look of delight on all five of the doctor’s faces. I don’t have any idea where the story is going, whether it’s a short story or a novel, or even what tone it is, but those things will sort themselves out eventually. For a limited time, I’m giving everyone who signs up to my mailing list 5 free books, … Read More

Out Now – The Girl in the City

Philip HarrisBooks, Indie Publishing, Out Now0 Comments

About a year ago, I discovered Michael Bunker’s Amish science fiction series – Pennsylvania. The story really intrigued me, and I blasted through all five books and really enjoyed it. I thought that was the end of it but my muse, Ethel, had other ideas. She started sowing the seeds of a story in the darker recesses of my subconscious. Just a title and an image at first, a scene from the life of a young girl living in the city from Michael’s book. That image, and the story behind it, stuck with me. It grew bigger and more detailed. More scenes materialised and the girl got a name – Leah. With some encouragement from Michael Bunker himself, I eventually gave in and decided to write the story. It quickly took on a life of its own and became a novella, gaining a fantastic Jason Gurley cover and interior art by Ben Adams along the way. Now, finally, The Girl in the City is available from Amazon for the low low price of 99c/99p (US UK Canada). Here’s the description… With the oppressive Transport Authority controlling every aspect of their existence, Leah and her father do what they can to carve a good life for themselves. Leah spends her nights scavenging in the rural zone around … Read More

Glitch: A New Novel

Philip HarrisGlitch, Writing0 Comments

I appear to be writing another novel. I wasn’t planning to, it just worked out that way. As I wrapped up the first draft of The Ghost Smuggler I started mulling over what I could do while I let it fester. I had a few short story ideas but I wanted to continue my writing streak and even writing just a few hundred words a day, it wouldn’t take me long to get through them. I’d also been trying to think of things to post on this blog, beyond word counts and random ramblings. Somewhere along the line Ethel the Muse suggested I combine the two and write a weekly serial to post here. As a kid, I loved watching the old Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon Saturday morning serials. They seemed to be on TV every summer and at Christmas (along with the old Tarzan movies) and I never got tired of watching them. So, I decided to write a Flash Gordon style serial and post it to the site, one chapter a week. Initially the plan was to write ten chapters of around 1,000 words each. Then I decided that ten weeks wasn’t really long enough for people to discover … Read More

Thank You, Captain Insomnia

Philip HarrisChatter, Writing0 Comments

I have a nasty tendency to wake up early in the morning. It seems to coincide with our evening training runs. Whether it’s the late night endorphin rush or the increased fluid intake, three or four times a week I wake up somewhere close to 3am; a slow drift into consciousness immediately followed by the sickening realisation that I’m not supposed to be awake for at least another three hours. It’s at that point that Captain Insomnia kicks in and I start thinking about work or stories or the keynote speech I have to give next month. Sometimes I manage to get back to sleep, usually about twenty minutes before I’m supposed to get up. Sometimes, like today, I just stay awake until I give in and get up This morning, Captain Insomnia had clearly teamed up with Ethel the Muse because my mind was flicking rapidly between: The game concept I’m putting together at work. The story for the above concept. A new game concept that fits nicely with the first. The story for the above concept. The science fiction story I’m hoping to start this weekend. The closing scenes of The Bone Boy. The monster story I outlined yesterday but … Read More

It Hurts How Much?

Philip HarrisChatter, Running, Writing0 Comments

The snot monkey has packed its bags and is saying its last farewell’s and today is a holiday here in Canada so I decided to try a short 6km run. Ouch. The run itself was fine and we kept a reasonable pace but as soon as we stopped I felt a bit light headed and even now, a couple of hours later, my body is still complaining. There’s less than six weeks to our next Marathon so this is “not a good thing”(tm). Progress on The Ghost Smuggler continues apace (I’ve always wanted to be able to say apace)  – mostly because I’m most of the current chapters are brought over from previous drafts. That said, Ethel the Muse was on fine form at 4am this morning and she’s insisting that I need to weave two characters from early chapters into the final act (actually four characters, but three of them are a related group) and add a sprinkling of technology. No idea how I’m going to do that but it shows that the outline isn’t stopping me from continuing to write like the Simpsons. Oh, and I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the key characters needs to change … Read More

An Innsmouth Valentine’s

Philip HarrisChatter, Writing0 Comments

I took the day off from work on Thursday. Not because I wanted to prepare an epic Valentine’s Day surprise for my wife but to go to the dentist. Thankfully, it doesn’t take an entire day to go to the dentist (unless you’re really behind with your flossing) and my appointment was early which left me the rest of the day to write – and write I did. I’ve been hitting my head against the outline for the rewrite of The Ghost Smuggler for a few weeks now and I’ve got it to the point where I’m almost ready to start writing again but with a whole day of free time available to dedicate to writing I wanted to actually write rather than just think about writing. It was time to call Ethel the Muse and hit the ideas folder. I’ve had an idea for a Lovecraftian story sitting around for a couple of years but for some reason that particular idea really grabbed hold of me on Wednesday evening and by the morning I’d fleshed out the story and was really excited about writing it. I’ve been pretty pleased with how the seven point story structure and outlining has been working … Read More

Seven Point Story Structure

Philip HarrisRunning, Stories, Writing, Writing Advice0 Comments

Fantastic run yesterday. Our route took us from False Creek, along English Bay, up through a fog shrouded Stanley Park, across the Lions Gate Bridge, back down to the seawall to the little pier at Dundarave and back again. The weather was perfect for running and I wish I’d had a camera with me. If I had I would have got some fantastic shots of the mountains rising up out of a layer of very low cloud. That’s a long way though, either 28 or 29km depending on which gadget you believe so I spent the afternoon alternately reading Justin Cronin’s vampire apocalypse novel, The Passage, and lying on the bed thinking about the plot of The Ghost Smuggler. I’ve been gearing up to restart my rewrite and last week I decided to try the Seven Point Story Structure that’s often talked about by Dan Wells. The results I got by going through that exercise have made a huge difference and reignited my enthusiasm for the rewrite. I heard about this system on an episode of Writing Excuses and followed that up by watching the YouTube videos of a presentation Dan gave about the system at Life, the Universe, and Everything (you can find the first video here). … Read More

Winter Wonderland

Philip HarrisChatter, Stories, Writing0 Comments

Thankfully, the Arctic inspired storms that have engulfed Canada over the last week didn’t really hit Vancouver. It did get cold – down to -11c and not that much higher in the day. There were a couple of days of snow, just enough to cause chaos on the roads but it’s pretty much gone now. Plenty off snow on the mountains though, which makes the skiers and snow boarders happy As demonstrated by my lack of blogging, this week has been dedicated to day job work – we’re just wrapping up our latest project which means lots of planning for the next project. There was also two trips to the dentist (one aborted, one actual) and lots of running. I did manage to scrape together a spectacular 292 words on Monday though. Not an auspicious start to the writing year but still…better than nothing. That was my meager attempt at the story Ethel the Muse dropped into my lap a few days ago. I’m happy with those words though and the story is pretty short so I’m hoping to get the first draft wrapped up this weekend. No title yet though. Oh, and I fixed our bathroom tap.

Nurture Your Rabbits

Philip HarrisMeaty Mondays, Writing Advice0 Comments

This is the second in a series of Meaty Monday posts – longer posts where I ramble on about writing related topics. You can find the first Meaty Monday post here. Today, I’m talking about ideas. You’re probably familiar with this quote. “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” – William Faulkner Or this one. “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscripts to press. Murder your darlings.” – Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch Or how about this?  “Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.” – Samuel Johnson They’re all variations on a theme – if you think a scene or a sentence or even a whole subplot is the most wonderful piece of writing in the world, you should cut it. Some people take this literally and remove their favourite bits from their work just because they like them so much – apparently director Danny Boyle always cuts the single best shot from his movies. I take it more as encouragement to examine those “particularly fine” pieces of writing and consider whether they might be too … Read More

One Week Down

Philip HarrisChatter, Running, The Ghost Smuggler1 Comment

So, one week into 2012 already. We started Marathon training this week with a 6km tempo run on Tuesday, a 10km tempo on Wednesday and a 10km slow run this morning – which was a shock to the system. Our instructor seemed like a nice guy, but we discovered this morning that he quit and it’s not clear who is going to lead the group now. They didn’t say why, so perhaps he has a good reason but it was very sudden and it’s left the shop scrambling to find a replacement. I spent yesterday taking the next step in an ongoing attempt at making space on our bookshelves by moving our DVD collection into binders. Over Christmas I did the same with my videogame collection and it’s tedious but does free up a lot of space. Yesterday, I covered all the TV DVDs, mostly Buffy, Farscape, The X-Files, Millenium and The Simpsons plus a selection of newer stuff like Dexter and The Big Bang Theory. That little lot came in at three binders (350+ discs). Not the most inspiring way to spend the afternoon but still, it’s good to have a bit of empty space on the bookshelves. Of course, a friend at … Read More