Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Final Submissions for Epic Fantasy at Dark Fiction Magazine! (plus one small celebratory short story)

So, I finally finished the first draft of The Snake House! Huzzah, hooray, calloo callay and so on. I’ll do a proper blog post about that over the next few days, detailing the highs and lows of writing about a haunted Elephant and Castle, but for today I wanted to draw your attention to the date. It’s August the 31st! This means you only have until midnight to get your submissions in for Dark Fiction Magazine’s Epic Fantasy Flash Competition of Epicness!


So in celebration of finishing my first draft, and to show solidarity to all of those brave fictioneers putting the last bit of polish on their flash fiction stories, I present to you the little story I wrote when inspired by the competition myself. Beware: this story is the woobiest* thing I have ever written.


*Shhh, I’m not sure what it means, but it feels right.


Skin_and_Scales.doc Download this file

Friday, 26 August 2011

Free Short Story at Hub Magazine!

Snoopy dancing and general rejoicing! I am very proud to tell you that my short horror story “Wallflower” is in the current issue of Hub magazine. As I’m sure you know, Hub is totally excellent and totally free to read, so please do pop along here to have a butcher’s, and if you feel like making me super happy today, pop back here afterwards and let me know what you thought of it.


“Wallflower” was one of those oddly blessed stories, the ones that come out all in one piece and in a hell of a hurry, so that I found myself scribbling into a notebook on a train coming back from the SFX Weekender. I was hideously hungover and tired, but the story didn’t care if my brain was trying to crawl out of my ear, or that my mouth tasted like a dead badger’s armpit. If only all stories were so persistent.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Epic Fantasy Competition at Dark Fiction Magazine, and the Art of the Very Very Short Story

Pop on over to Dark Fiction Magazine and you'll see a rather nifty flash fiction competition has just been announced: they’re looking for epic fantasy stories of a thousand words or under, and there are actual cash prizes! So you are cordially invited to dust off your broadswords, polish up those magical artefacts and get your dragon on. Full details (and a rather excellent picture) can be found here.


I do love the perversity of fitting an “epic” fantasy tale into less than 1000 words. I was lucky enough to have my flash fiction piece “Milk” selected for DFM’s Twelve Days of Christmas Special. I had to work really hard to get the story down to a very zippy 1000 words and because of this it remains one of my favourites- it’s as tight as it can possibly be, and every small piece of it pleases me. It doesn’t hurt of course that the very lovely Kim Lakin-Smith read it out for me and did a fantastic job. If you’d like to hear it (don’t worry, it isn’t actually that Christmassy) nip over here and press play.


Being a big fantasy fan I’d love to give this competition a go myself, but since I’m helping out DFM with their slush reading at the moment, I suspect I’m not really allowed. ;) However, I am very excited to see what people can cram into that neat little word-space, and I think we’re going to see some very interesting stories.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

News From Dark Fiction Magazine


As some of you will know, I've worked with Dark Fiction Magazine a number of times in the past, both as a narrator and as a writer with stories featured in a couple of episodes (the flash fiction short "Milk" read with grace and aplomb by Kim Lakin-Smith remains one of my proudest moments). These days I'm helping out a bit more, so I'm here to tell you that the magazine is open again for submissions of previously published stories- fantasy, horror, science-fiction, weirdness and terror and thrills, they're after them all!

I also have this message sent direct from the Dark Fiction offices themselves (carved into the bare rock of a mountain, you know, and staffed by the evil flying monkeys who thought the Wicked Witch wasn't wicked enough)

You already know that Dark Fiction Magazine are always on the look out for fiction of the creepy and fantastical variety- did you also know that we’re after artwork, too? And voices. Not in a steal-your-voice-in-exchange-for-a-nice-pair-of-legs way (we’re not Hans Christian Anderson) but we do like to have a good variety of interesting voices for our stories, so if you’re an artist or a narrator who could see their work being featured on DFM, please do send us examples of your work via our submissions site.

Hurrah! Get submitting.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly

I had plans for a sensible update today but the violence and nastiness happening in London at the moment has pretty much consumed all my attention. Anyone who knows me will know how dearly I love the city, and it pains me to see it put through the wringer like this. Here’s hoping for a quiet night and a better tomorrow.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A Number of Small Updates Ultimately Signifying Nothing


It occurred to me that I haven’t done one of those straight-forward, what’s going on at the minute sort of posts for a while, so here we go; prepare your ears for my latest escapades!




At the weekend I went to see Spirited Away on the big screen with my lovely friend Jenni. Spirited Away is one of my favourite movies (and I suspect one of Jenni’s too) so it was a real treat to see it in all its glory, and with an audience full of equally appreciative fans. Obviously Studio Ghibli have produced a lot of truly excellent films, but Spirited Away remains special to me for reasons that I can’t really put my finger on. Part of it, I think, is demonstrated by the picture above- the film makes me feel oddly peaceful, even in the midst of stink gods, No-faces eating everyone, and other weirdness. It’s impossible to watch this film and not feel quietly happy at the end of it.


Also at the weekend, I finished Camp Nanowrimo with a day to spare. Hurrah! And I appear to be doing the whole thing again this month, because I apparently want to test my sanity to the limits. This is good though, because it means I’ll have a complete first draft of The Snake House in two months, which I’m pretty certain would be something of a record for me. Dead Zoo Shuffle was almost that fast, but I wrote a Steampunk novella in the middle of it and that confused matters somewhat.


As for The Snake House itself, I will cautiously say it is going well. I’ve had to write about some very dark and nasty stuff, which has been more challenging than I expected, and in many ways I miss the freedom that straight-up fantasy books give you in terms of world-building and making up your own rules. However, my three old lady characters have been enormous fun to write and I’m finding out more and more about them every day, via that wonderful habit characters sometimes have of going off and doing whatever they like, or saying the wrong thing at exactly the wrong moment. This seems to happen even more with old lady characters.


I’m re-reading A Song of Ice and Fire. I know, I know, I only just finished A Dance With Dragons, but after a brief break to read Full Dark, No Stars (which was pretty good) I’ve decided to throw myself straight back in. There is a certain delicious fangirl joy in knowing what will be significant later, so you can pay extra special attention to certain events, and what this character says to that character at this time. I’ve got the first four books all together on a kindle edition, so I’ve been reading for a day and a half and I’m still only 1% in. Hmm.



And that’s it for now. There is other stuff to talk about coming up on the horizon, but I shall leave it where it is for the time being, like Chihiro’s distant lights. See you on the other side of Nano!