Thursday, 31 December 2009
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
"No no, nothing like that. Just got nothing to say really..."
Not a lot going on really. In a sort of Christmalaise - not really got all my shopping done; not really got all my work done; not really got that much writing done although I'm getting bits and pieces done. Just, you know, not getting stuff done.
I blame the weather. And the mince pies. I don't actually, really, like mince pies but I keep getting them given and, you know, it's sweet pastry. I'm a bit of a tart for sweet pastry...
I did almost get to meet Bill Bailey though, which I admit is not as exciting as actually meeting Bill Bailey but, still, s'quite good. I almost sort of supported him at the Sage last night too. Again, it would have been far more impressive to have actually supported him but hey, not many people have even managed to almost to that have they?
I tried going in the performers entrance too, but was told to go away. So I had to pay for my parking., although I got mince pies (iced for extra Chrismassy goodness) and free drinks and attention and, well, that's me sold really isn't it?
Me and Bill and Sheila Quigley - rocking the Sage up right nice, how.
We had a reading event thingy on the same night, in the same venue as Bill. We decided to let him have the main hall though, he'd come a long way, plus he had instruments and stuff so needed the space. Obviously that left hundreds a little upset that they couldn't fit into the library space we were using but I hear that Bill was pretty good - hopefully they still had fun.
S'a good laugh doing events with Sheila, she has this great thing where she asks the audience questions if they go quiet; rather than my trick of sitting in a quiet corner staring at my feet. She's good value that woman.
Twas was a good laugh and actually was the first time I'd been in the Sage. S'big. And sort of wobbly, you kind of want to go around hugging the walls cos it's all so friendly looking.
Anyway, got some work to pretend to do now I think, try and shake off the spirit of Lazymas for a bit and, you know, look busy.
And boil up DK right nice too I think. Got some mince pies to dunk...
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Student: Well, the question said to draw the monster.
Student: ... So I am.
Me: Yeah, true but what are you basing the picture on?
Student: ... The description of it in the story.
Me: Great. So what're these?
Student: Well the story said it was a bit Octopussy so I've done eight of them.
Me: ... Yeeeeeesssss...
Student: And it said that it had evil eyes so I've done them all red.
Me: I like the eyes, they're good. But why are these hairy?
Student: Oh, I know, I wondered about that cos it's says they're like leather doesn't it?
Me: It does yeah, so why do them hairy?
Student: ... Well... Because they are hairy aren't they?
Me: ... Um... Are you sure?
Me: ... Could you, um, could read that word out for me please?
Student: That one?
Me: Yes, yes please.
Me: (Trying not to giggle) ... Um... No. No it says tentacles.
Student: (After a long pause) ........................................ Oh.
Student: Can I start again please, sir?
Me: Yes. Yes that might be a good idea.
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Yeay for me! It's got some writers I know of and they're kick ass cool. Shanta Everington and Fiona Robyn are in it and I'm really quite keen on reading those - even more keen on being in a collection with them. Makes me all chuffed inside being included in stuff with writers like that.
I've been sending out short stories since I was 14 and have quite the collection of polite "No" letters as well as huge gaps where no one could even be bothered to send out generic "No" letters or emails.
When I was younger and (even) lazier I sort of assumed that Short Stories were going to be my only route into being published. I couldn't be bothered to stick at novels and, if I'm honest, short stories required a skill I've been lacking I think.
Until now (giggles).
I'm so pleased, and so chuffed for everyone else who made it in and so gutted for all those who didn't.
I know how you feel.
If you want I'll give you TontoStu's address so you can send him poo-in-bags.**
*Not actually in way true, not even slightly, although I did once meet someone at university who thought Shithole was an actual place after which horrible places had since become known.
** Not actually at all recommended, or very fair, as I hear the competition was tough to judge due to the quality of the entries. You should have done what I did and bribe him with beer BEFORE the results were decided.***
*** Not actually in way true, not even slightly, although I did once meet a bloke who dressed up as a woman and stripteased his best mate in exchange for beer.****
**** Not actually TontoStu. Really really.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
NOT AS OLD AS OLD LADY WITH BAG BUT STILL QUITE OLD LADY: 9987?
She frowns and replaces the book.
OLD LADY WITH BAG: One of those hi-fi things is it?
NOT AS OLD AS OLD LADY WITH BAG BUT STILL QUITE OLD LADY: Hi-fi things?
OLD LADY WITH BAG: Yes, those future stories.
NOT AS OLD AS OLD LADY WITH BAG BUT STILL QUITE OLD LADY: Oh, you mean sky-high?
OLD LADY WITH BAG: Do I?
NOT AS OLD AS OLD LADY WITH BAG BUT STILL QUITE OLD LADY: Yes dear.
*Story may have been stolen from events not at all connected with the writer or the book club.
But I did get coffee.
Friday, 2 October 2009
Alreet then, since I'm still transmitting (as far as I know) I may as well keep myself distracted. It is, certainly, better than the marking that I am staring at at the moment.
So. I've been asked to admit to 5 obsessions. Megan seems to have cheated a bit I think on hers but I see her point.
Do I have obsessions anymore noteworthy than the average non-radio-frazzled mortal? Hmmm. I dunno.
See my brother used to have an obsession with clothing labels. Not, you understand, in a fashion conscious sense. No. Rather in a tactile stroky sort of sense. And no, I don't even mean the quality of materials of the clothing.
I mean the actual, physical label.
He used to wander up to people, put his arms up around their necks (he was quite small at this point) and make a "hug-me-cos-I'm-small" type face. Then he'd fondle the label of their tops.
So, obviously a little disturbed by this, my gran then cut the labels out of all our clothes to try and stop him.
He cried until mam cut up one of satiny scarfs for him.
He wore that through over the next six months...
See, now that's a good obsession.
And I used to have a friend that was obsessed with picking at the skin on his finger-knuckle-joint thingy when he sucked his thumb. (Again, this was a little while ago.) He spent so long sucking his thumb and picking at the skin that eventually created a fleshy sort of build up of skin on that knuckle that he would prod into shapes.
It had to be cut off.
He now plays with Bluetac.
And again, I can't top that.
However, I've been challenged, so I've got to get something down don't I?
2. The phrase "juggling monkeys"
3. Discovering who stole my Woody Wood Pecker T Shirt
4. My Saturday night Chinese (172 & 174 with Crispy Spring Rolls) with my Geet Mint PR Guru.
5. Finding new ways not to mark; to plan lessons; to teach lessons and to spend more time with my Geet Mint PR Guru...
Oh... And so now I have to tag people don't I?
Rachel the Recording Lady
B the Suspiciously Absent Lady
Stephen the Short Story Writing Man
Jen the All Over Crazy Lady
and, but of course:
My Geet Mint PR Guru Lady
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
And it's pretty mint, mostly, but recently it's been getting a bit crackly. It's getting on a bit now and after an awkward first date with DK it's not really very talkative anymore. Tends to just be a bit ... well... staticy, I suppose.
It's ok when it's in conversation, as long as it's not straining it's voice. Me and my Geet Mint PR Guru take it with us on picnics onto the moors (pronounced moooo-ahs, by the way, as they are the Durham Dale ones) and it tells us stories. All very nice, even if my car smells of sausage roll and chilli crisps for days afterward.
But, on my way to (work) in the morning I find screaming is a good way to get myself prepared. I could do what some of my (colleagues) do, I've seen them scribbling away in huge geet big books, organising themselves and (planning). But I'm not into all that. My geet huge book is red and full of scribbles. Some of which look like spiders which I then see, much later, out the corner of my eye and terrify myself with. There is no planning.
Because I prefer to scream my way to work.
Problem is of course is that the radiotransmitterythingy can't do it. It's all croaky and rubbish when it yells.
Except, sometimes it isn't. I have discovered that, like most things, all it needs a bit of love.
I have discovered that if I hold it I can breathe new life into the machine.
Either I have magical electronic healing powers, or I'm a half decent conductor of radio waves, I dunno which, but I do know that it makes the shouty music sound better.
I know that Faith No More, on a Monday morning is now playable at high volume.
Only problem of course is driving one handed: generally frowned upon. So this morning I tried a new solution.
This morning on my way to (work) I wanted Shouty Dropkick Murphies. And I got Shouty Dropkick Murphies. By sitting on the transmitter.
This makes makes me fear for my ability to sire children now.
I don't like the thought of my crotch transmitting...
It cannot end well...
Monday, 21 September 2009
Monday, 17 August 2009
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
S'been a while yes?
But I've been busy not marking. Something far more exciting has been happening instead. It appears that I am writing things again.
I've not wanted to jinx it by announcing it. In fact I still don't want to jinx by announcing it but, ya knaa, I've missed you and my blog was going a bit stale.
Besides - I wasn't entirely sure how to follow up on chapter one.
Chapter two I suppose but that really isn't a habit I want to get into. As much as I'm obviously in this writing game for the women and the glory the money is also quite good so chucking a novel on my blog for free isn't a great plan.
I'm hoping my royalty cheque covers a service on for the car. Novel two might get me some new brake pads or repair the front grill maybe. Or, oh, and this would be a luxury, a valet for it. There is a chip stuck down the side of the driver's seat which I really need to shift.
Anyway - what was I doing?
Writing, yeah, that's it.
I've (almost) got a short story ready for Tonto and Caroline and it's not bad. I'm not a natural short story writer I think, they tend to be scenes rather than 'proper' stories. I know scenes can work really well as short stories and they always sound geet literary like but mine are... well... a bit crap usually.
This one I'm more confident about. (I hope)
Currently I'm hiding, again. Closed me door, stuck a poster over the window, typing really quietly. I've got no more lessons today so I'll be writing then too. Just waiting for Art Kettle to boil (DK had a bad time at school, he's a bit pot bellied see, suffered a bit as you can imagine. Particularly in ball sports. No hands see, although not bad at lassoing. Not that there was a lot of that at school mind.)
Ahha, I hears a clunking whine which can only and inexplicably be the Art Kettle. Time to dash commando style down the corridor...
Wish me luck...
Monday, 22 June 2009
Grey, unfocussed eyes stared out from the mirror. The irises, smeared with red, formed a tight shuddering ring around black and empty pupils. Swollen eyelids hung low over clouded eyes, sweeping in toward the nasal bridge and dangling, purple and bruised below.
He did not blink. The phone kept ringing.
From the mirror, through the early morning haze, loomed a face. Like the eyes the skin was grey, like the eyes was smeared with blotchy red. Like the eyes the mouth turned down, the lips dry and cracked.
He did not blink but raised one trembling hand to his chin, rubbed at ripe stubble. The phone kept ringing.
The hand pulled roughly at gaunt skin, scratched through stubble. Stretched the face. He pulled down hard from coat hanger cheekbones, dragging his mouth into a cartoon frown, pulling the skin around the eyes. Slowly, wet grey eyes rolled down to examine still white teeth, unnaturally bright against the dead flesh around them. He released the skin and it snapped back into place, shaking fingers leaving long white streaks which faded to red, faded to grey.
He did not blink but his head fell back and his eyes moved with it, were stung by sharp twists of hair, a range of an unkempt mane. Dark, damp, shot through with whispering white. The phone kept ringing.
It took an effort to pull the face into focus, oversized pupils sucking in the dim light from the room, the toothpaste speckled mirror, the beaten wooden shelf on which the mirror leaned. The single, spread bristled tooth brush. A voice behind the eyes whispered slowly, each syllable tasted and tested: Who is this?
He did not blink but instead raised one unsteady hand to his neck, twisted his chin toward the light and watched the razor catch the light. The phone kept ringing.
The blade sparkled, a tiny window of light skittered across the surface of the mirror, exposed the blotchy skin, the bruised bags, the almost blue lips. He breathed deep, clutched the handle tight. He felt his hand steady.
The phone stopped ringing.
A spider, frozen in the spotlight cast by the angled razor, stopped dead somewhere behind his head. He stared with weary eyes, watching its reflection. He stood in the vacuous silence, the bathroom suddenly bigger without the phone pressing on his air. He watched the spider, its courage returned, creep across the bathroom wall. He lowered the razor and placed his hand on the mirror, cupping the spider. The spider crept upward toward a damp corner.
The phone had stopped ringing but he held the razor again and dragged it slowly down one cheek. Someone knocked on the front door.
He swapped hands, held the razor in his right hand and dragged it slowly down his left cheek. He hissed, paused and watched a thick, dark bead of blood dribble into the sink. Someone pounded on the door. He turned slightly, staring the length of the corridor from the bathroom, past the open bedroom door toward the frosted glass of his front door. Two fat fists beat at the window, two silhouettes desperate to get in. He rinsed the blood from the razor and held it to his throat.
Someone was yelling through his letterbox.
The razor felt cool, he listened to the drip drip of blood into the faucet, heard it splash as it landed. His cheeks burned, raw. He breathed deep, felt his chest heave, pressed the razor to his neck.
‘Sir?’ the voice was angry, frustrated. ‘Sir!’ The words burst from the letterbox, shattering the rhythmic bleed. ‘Sir! Sir, we need you now.’ He pushed the razor into the flesh beneath his chin and stared at the eyes in the mirror, watched the already inflamed pupils bulge.
‘DS Delphin, sir. Please, open the door.’ Delphin met his eyes in the mirror; saw himself deep inside the cave-like pupils. He sighed, dropped the razor and it clattered into the sink. ‘Sir, there’s been an incident. Please. You have to let us in.’
Mine was... Well. It was. And I think that past tense is the best thing for it. But anyway, enough of that.
My new look blog... It's got nothing to do with anything that happened over my weekend. Nor anything that happens to me daily. This is not a substantial change in my mood nor even a new beginning.
Quite simply it is this:
Watching 9987 was set up for me (and you. Not you, no, nor you - you were here for the Lesbian Nurses) to follow 9987 from happy birth to learning to walk and, more recently, to branching out on it's own. I think that now though I'm spending too much time simply Watching. And this is no good.
9987 is doing quite well. It's part of the Read Regional Campaign and it'll kicking about some festivals this year I hope. Plus, it's even getting some new clothes soon as it heads for a second date with the printers.
But I'm a bit too smug.
And a bit too lazy.
And I need a kick.
So here it is.
I will continue to watch 9987, of course I will, but - and I'm actually quite excited by this - it's time to get back to work.
Second novels will not write themselves.
Two hundred words a day from now until my summer holiday. That's a month away. That's (counts on fingers... starts again...) 6,000 words.
Then a thousand there after over the summer.
And DK will not stop fzzt-ing. DK will stand by me and support. DK will, undoubtedly be flirting with the microwave...
And this time you can watch.
And this time the conception will be recorded.
And this time I will welcome all you voyeurs (no... no, once again, not you, you're on the wrong site. Again.)
And there is Someone Who Really Should Stay Lost...
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Even More Tonto Short Stories
And even better news to announce … author Caroline Smailes will be judging the competition and helping to put the collection together.
The competition is open to new writers as well as experienced writers, as long as the work has not been published. Please click here for full details of how to enter.
Entry fee is £6.99. Everyone who enters will receive a FREE COPY of the book."
Thursday, 11 June 2009
It appears I have succumbed to adultery.
Last night, I am ashamed to say, I accepted free coffee from a different kettle.
I've not yet told Disco Kettle this. I am hoping that, perhaps, me broadcasting it to the world will help ease the blow. It'll give DK time to reflect and, of course, it'll give me a chance to offer my explainations without interruption or scalding.
See, the thing is is this.
Last night was truely terrifying. Truely honestly truely. I was shaking and sweating and generally minging with fright and well. I just didn't think.
It was all instictive and although I'll admit that at the time it was wonderful, that for a brief moment it meant the world to me now I just feel - well. Dirty. And guilty. And I can't quite shift the taste of the chocolate bourbon, the haunting tingling in my fingers from the curve of that mug...
And I am sorry. Deeply sorry.
And I'm blaming the libarians.
They tricked me.
"Let's show you round" they said.
"It's really a beautiful building" they said.
"Have doen this sort of thing before?" they said.
They were right of course. They did show me round. It is a beautiful building. And no, I'd never done this sort of thing before.
I passed the poster on the stairs on the way down to the public library:
"Middlesborough Central Library
Two first-time young authors read from their new novels and talk about their publishing experiences so far.
Alice de Smith’s new novel Welcome to Life is a coming of age novel set in the 1980’s.
Nik Jones’ first novel, 9987, is a dark menacing drama about young man who works in a video
shop who goes off the rails.
The authors are part of New Writing North’s Read Regional 2009
And, DK, before you start arguing I haven't done this sort of thing before. I've never had to appear at a library before. I've never had to talk to people about my experiences as a published author before.
I've never had to read my work in public before.
I've had an actor do it, and he was really good.
I've done it on the radio before. But that was over the phone. At early o'clock. And I had slippers on and my Magic Dressing Gown. And coffee from you, DK. Coffee from you. And no one was watching except for the cat. Who, I'll admit, seemed less than impressed.
But reading in public?
And I was nervous. And I didn't know what to say. And I was garbling. And it was awful. And I couldn't hold the book open and stand up. And I couldn't turn the pages. And it was all going so horribly wrong.
And one of the lovely librarian ladies handed me a coffee. And I spied a plate of chocolate bourbons.
And I just didn't think.
I am sorry, DK.
But, if it makes you feel any better I think it helped. As awful as my beginning was I think I got better. I got polite and much appreciated applause after each mini reading I did. I almost managed to stay on track when answering questions.
And I brought you back a signed copy of Welcome to Life.
Do you forgive me?
Can you forgive me?
I could descale you...
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Admittedly they're coming along thick and fast due to my ineptness at meeting deadlines, rather than a hard hitting journalistic desire to hunt down and stalk authors but hey, what to do?
So for the next week it's all about An Ungodly Child, the debut novel by writer and poet Rachel Green.
An Ungodly Child follows Harold Waterman, an unlikely hero, and his summoned demonic familiar Jasfoup. When Harold is infected by an incurable disease when he meets Jedith, otherwise known as the Angel of Pestilence, he turns to the black arts to find a cure. Jasfoup is only too happy to help, as long as Harold can pay for his services. Meanwhile, the three angels of destruction are out to prove that there could be an antichrist, if only Harold would believe it. Gillian, Harold's vampire girlfriend, is not so sure.
Described by Amazon reviews as being "Intelligent, imaginative, and Very funny." and "warming, amusing and insightful. The use of imagination is inspired " this is a another must buy novel.
Luckily Rachel was able to take some time out from her (very) busy writing day to let me pester her.
Me and DK do another Wossy
1. At what point, or do you at all for that matter, begin thinking about yourself as 'a writer'?
I do think of myself as a writer, despite Nathan Bransford declaring it a reference to this somewhat controversial blog entry by Curtis Brown agent Nathan Bransford. Ever since I started being published regularly I have said: “I am a Writer.” It defines me. It's what I do. I used to be an Artist and to be truthful, I still make more money from painting than I do writing. "An Ungodly Child" has cost me around £400 in review copies and postage and publicity and freebies and the printing of postcards and the like.
People still look at me and say "but what's your real job?" A visitor to the house once said "Hi Rachel, are you writing something interesting, or just your book?" (To be fair, she also looked at my painting and said 'Is that some kind of art?') Now I answer them: Writing is a real job. Look: Here is my book. That’ll be £8.99 please.
2. If you're anything like me then completing that (hopefully) final draft was truly glorious. The process immediately after that, so often littered with rejections and hopelessness was not so fun. Can you talk us through how the process went for you?
It wasn’t easy. “An Ungodly Child” was my first novel and was truly rubbish. It was originally cobbled together from a series of connected short stories and had no arc and virtually no development. I sent it to a few places and had it rejected, then sent it to WordWise Edit in Sheffield for a professional opinion. Miranda gave it a glance through and sent me a few notes back. I completely re-wrote it, using the original as a series of plot points and surgically added a spine, a major plot and several subplots. Then I left it for six months, edited it again and sent it of to the Undiscovered Authors competition in 2006. It won the runner-up prize of publication plus £1000 after publication. It took another two years and several more edits, but appeared on Amazon in December and in a few bookshops in February. It didn’t get the publicity I was hoping for, however, and was never officially ‘launched’ by the publisher.
3. Your book, like much of my own work, seems to be about isolation. Isolation and a desire, a need perhaps, for acceptance. Is this a common theme for you too? And what came first? The theme or the story?
The theme, I think. My first novel (that I never count because I never finished it) was about an immortal woman searching for a home after hers is destroyed by the 5th legion of the Roman Army in 438AD. She was very much a loner. In some ways Harold’s childhood reflect my own (though my father wasn’t the Devil) in that I was something of an intelligent-but-lonely child too. I found acceptance and a huge extended family and so did Harold. I wish I had a Jasfoup, though. In all the books I write (and I’ve written four sequels) there is the element of a loner gaining acceptance (or a spectacular failure of it.)
I will also throw in 3 questions from my blogbuddy Disco Kettle. They will go like this:
In aviil psstngg. *chuckles* Ocibibibib narloop.
2.Fzzzt fzzzzzzzzt fzt wheeeeeeeeeeze?
Bloogning, Abibabin nawr, pssingssin drenooootish
3. Fzt gurglrgurglrgurgle click?
Ah! Earrlybip Greyinganizzt, os gringing babbbylizzt.
I also write a feckbucket of poetry. I start the day with a cinquain, a haiku, a tanka, a fib and a senryu on my Livejournal and at some point in the day I generally post a photograph and a poem to my dogsbite blog. I also write Jasfoup’s blog and a short vignette to Laverstone Tales . After lunch I work on the current novel, editing or whatever. Sometimes I take the afternoon off. I generally stop working at 6:00 PM
Plus another kick ass cool Competiton
Did I, or did I not say I was far too good too you? I think I did you know. And now look. Hot on the heels of one competition I now have a new, equally EditTastic competition for you.
In no more than 50 words (always fun I know) a flash story regarding someone needing or wanting or getting or being denied acceptance. Tough eh? I'm a mean bastard I know, but hey, it's something to play with. Physical and social acceptance like the example Rachel has had a go at or, you know, try something a bit different. Be a bit weird.
You know me, I like a bit Weird...
Harold dropped his coin in the slot and pushed against the barrier. It didn’t move. He rattled the release lever and tried again. Still no result.
“Why can’t I get in?” he asked the attendant of the Savoy Gentleman’s Conveniences.
The porter scowled. “I don’t like your faeces,” he said.
Monday, 1 June 2009
Apologies for my general crapness of post over the last week or so. Damien Duff broke my laptop.
Luckily (?), now that I’m back at work, I can make good use of school resources and post from here instead.
The Sue Guiney Competition results.
It was a really close run thing, we had some excellent entries and I’m impressed that so many of you had weather rubbish enough to warrant sitting in front of a computer screen trying to edit your way down to 50 words.
Well done all you pastey pastey people.
In the end it came down to two which Sue and I debated for a while.
“Lauri’s is “right scary,” and Jamieson’s is heartbreaking. How to choose? Do we have to?” Was Sue’s thoughts.
But she’s nicer than me.
I think not.
There can be only one.
And so, like I said, it came down to “right scary” or “heartbreaking”.
And, well, you know me.
There are two routes to my heart.
And “Right Scary”
So, without further ado, the winning entry:
“An arm in the corner, a leg in the truck bed, the headless torso folded in the pink blanket- like a human slaughterhouse or a fun fair for serial killers, she smiles thinking unsuitable mother thoughts. The baby screams and she dreams about the silent deception of her first doll.”
A worthy winner so congratulations Lauri.
Lauri chose pages 155-160 as she chosen excerpt and so anyone interested in a pdf copy email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace remembers a special birthday dinner she had alone with her husband in London. Years later she can still recall each dish, each taste, and the important role that meal had in the realization of the shift in her relationship with her husband.
As I said, it was really close, so close in fact that, even thought there can be only one excerpt choice Jamieson’s entry was indeed so heartbreaking that I think it deserves to be seen by all too.
“I was twelve when my grandfather died. My grandmother jokingly said to him: Lets play 52 Pick Up! When he went to pick up the cards, my grandfather fell and an ulcer burst. He died instantly. I haven’t played any card games since that day. They remind me of death.”
Congrats to Lauri and to Jamieson and thank you to all those who entered, don’t worry if you didn’t quite manage it this time, tomorrow I’ll be started a new competition you can have a play with.
Tune in next time for another exciting Blog Tour:
Rachel Green and An Ungodly Child
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Friday, 22 May 2009
The competition closes midnight Saturday and the winner announced and published Sunday night (relegation issues allowing. Wins for Hull and Sunderland will not be appreciated and will mean a delay I'm afraid as my laptop is a long way from the bottom of the bottle).
We've already had a good response, including a few international entries, and the quality is very high.
But, y'knaa, shy bairns get nowt and all that.
It's only fifty words remember...
Monday, 18 May 2009
As promised this week I am hosting the muchos talented Sue Guiney.
Sue is a writer, poet, playwright and, occasionally, a teacher of her From Words to Notes workshop. So, obviously, is quite busy and it is this, as well as her wonderful writing which makes this week such a pleasure.
So, without anymore adoing (I know you all love an ado but DK and me spent geet ages putting our questions together and so I want them read. Cos they are mint. Obviously. As are Sue's answers of course)
Me and DK do the Wossy:
1. At what point, or do you at all for that matter, begin thinking about yourself as 'a writer.'?
I wanted to be a writer from the time I was 8 years old, but I didn’t dare start calling myself a writer until I was about 50! I still have trouble saying it out loud as if it’s a title I don’t quite deserve. For me the change came with the publication and production of my poetry play, but I wish that wasn’t the case. I do believe that if you choose to spend your time writing, and if you see the world through those sorts of eyes, then you are a writer. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve published or if you’ve published at all. It’s a testimony to my own hang-ups that I couldn’t apply that to myself.
2. If you're anything like me then completing that (hopefully) final draft was truly glorious. The process immediately after that, so often littered with rejections and hopelessness was not so fun. Can you talk us through how the process went for you?
It was a very long and arduous process but I’ll try to be brief. “Tangled Roots” was actually 2 novels woven together, so I had a first round of “good” rejections (ie publishers who loved it but couldn’t market it for whatever reasons). When I realized that the “sequel” I had been writing was actually part of that same first novel, I pulled the first one and waited until the combo novel was ready to go. We then shopped that around to the “big boys” in New York (my agent — unfortunately now retired — was American) but had the same results. I was getting more disillusioned (not to mention older) by the day, so I eventually gave it to bluechrome to consider. And although he urged me to first show it to larger UK houses, I was fed up and agreed to let him publish it. So it was a real roller coaster of a process spanning several years, with incredible lows of hopelessness, as you mentioned, followed by one or two big highs. But I must admit that now that I’m finishing up my second novel, I’m not expecting the process to be any less arduous this time. But that’s the game, isn’t it?
3. Your book is (as I read it anyway) concerned with what makes us who we are, the quirks of fate and genetics that make up our personalities. Is this a common theme for you? And (a two parter here I'm afraid) what came first? The theme or the story?
It seems that my first impulse for any piece of writing is character rather than theme. I imagine characters and find myself needing to place them into fictional surroundings. The themes follow after, but soon after. There are many themes that run through “Tangled Roots” I think. Many of them appeared during the course of the writing. The theme of identity, though, was indeed the first one that I felt the need to write about. The experience I am having with the novel I am completing now is different, though. When I began to write this one, I understood I would be devoting several years to the project so I knew the theme had to be something important to me, something I felt compelled to address in my own life. So this time, the main character, setting and primary theme all came together at the same time. Once again, the theme of identity is involved, but it takes a back seat to ideas of guilt and responsibility.
And now for the important questions:
As often as I can but only in the mornings.
2.Fzzzt fzzzzzzzzt fzt wheeeeeeeeeeze?
Usually not, or at least not that I will admit to.
3. Fzt gurglrgurglrgurgle click?
By hand and surrounded by as much quiet as possible.
Me, personally I'm almost finished Tangled Roots and have been enjoying every page - I'll be treating you to my review toward the end of the week - I know you're all very excited.
But, if you remember from waaaaaaaaay back at the top of the page we've got a competition for you too.
And it's a bit of an odd one.
It will require your writing pencils to be sharpened and your typing fingers to be flexed. It will, I'm sure, also require your big red editing pen to be fully charged and ready to go...
So, here we go:
The Tangled Roots Writing Competition
Right. Sue has, very kindly, offered us descriptions of a number of excerpt from Tangled Roots. She has carefully selected some of her favourite sections and is now putting one of them up for grabs.
What you need to do is to select the excerpt you want to see made downloadable and include it with your entry. The winning entry gets to choose the download.
Cos, you know, I like putting a maximum word count on things. It makes you all work harder.
In no more than 50 words:
Write about an event that sparked a memory or shaped an identity.
How tough is that?
I mean really? That's harsh no?
Entries to email@example.com please and please include your choice of excerpt from the list below.
1. pp 66-70 John goes to a baseball game with his best friend, Marty, and Marty’s 2 kids. Sitting next to Marty’s 8-year-old son, John finds himself remembering the painful summer of his adolescence when he did nothing but play baseball as a way to avoid the troubles between his parents. 2. pp. 155-160 Grace remembers a special birthday dinner she had alone with her husband in London. Years later she can still recall each dish, each taste, and the important role that meal had in the realization of the shift in her relationship with her husband. 3. pp 233-235 John attends a High Holiday service in Moscow’s old synagogue. Sitting next to his friends and hearing them tell about their ancestors and the generations of their family that had attended that very synagogue, John finds himself reconnected to his own past, a past he had hardly known about. 4. pp 263-267 Grace goes back to her parents old home, her childhood home, to clean it out after her mother’s death. While there she remembers a card game she used to play with her parents and sister, a moment in her childhood that helps her understand who she is as an adult.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
In the mean time though have a look at this and see if you can guess which page I found the most interesting and entertaining...
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
I've being hospitable today. And for a few days after too, hopefully it will distract you all from my secret for a little while until I can unveil it. Possibly with some sort of blog based drumroll. We shall see.
Anyway, enough about me.
I'm hosting two geet properly talented authors on my blog this month; first (and I'm bit late hosting her, so sorry Sue):
Sue Guiney, author of the really rather mint: Tangled Roots
Two people, an aging son and his mother, roots forever entangled. . .
John, a forty-year-old Professor of Theoretical Physics, finds himself
alone and stuck. Unwillingly, he faces his event horizon, a turning point where
he must confront his past and accept it.
Grace, his mother, sits in her
living room telling stories of their lives and so reveals her own view of “what
In Tangled Roots, two voices interweave to carry us
from Boston to London to Moscow and back again. Through physics, religion,
travel and even baseball, they express the often unknown, yet undeniable,
influences one life will have on another.
I've so very nearly finished it. It is, I must say, quite special.
More on this soon, complete with an interview and a little competition, so stay tuned.
Not long after I've also got the pleasure of hosting Rachel Green, author of "An Ungodly Child" and, oh yes, more competitions too.
I am so very, very popular.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Come on then.
Is it you?
Are you the one? Or, more accurately, are you one of the many, many who've come here by mistake?
Cos, see, I've just had an email from my Googlebot. It tells me things. Things about you. And it tells me today that a huuuuuujjjjjjjjjjje geet wodge of you, particularly from the States it seems, are here by accident.
It seems you typed in a search request.
And then clicked to come here (if you'll pardon the pun).
And now you'll be disappointed.
And I know what you typed.
My Googlebot knows all.
And you know what my most common keyword referrals are?
Course you do. Cos it brought you here. Didn't it?
And I'm not lecturing. Your business is your own, you are, I assume, an adult and of course have every right to pass your time in any way you choose.
You're not doing anything illegal are you?
So why so shame faced?
Why so embarrassed?
For my part I'm a little surprised. Yeah, ok, so one of the most common keywords I could have guessed. Fairly obvious, even if it is a tiny bit misleading.
But I own up to that. I've never hidden from it. Even, once, in an interview (an interview which later made it on to the school bulletin board before someone actually read it) I said it. Straight out.
"What's it about then?" They asked.
And I, oh so sweetly, with my bestest smile, said:
And so, yeah, I can see why you're here. But how you got here I have no idea. I've been checking the blog see, and I can't find it anywhere.
I have no idea at what point I may have mentioned it. But still.
And like I said.
I don't blame you for being disappointed here. I don't blame you for wondering what on earth this has to do with your search query.
But there it is.
The most common keyword search referral for my blog:
And so your guess is as good as mine.
But while you're here:
Wanna buy a book?
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Plus I've had some biscuit issues recently. All week in fact. And yes, I know it's only Wednesday. I am not hopeful for the week.
On Monday Rob's voice echoed down my little slash of tile and parquet flooring. It's good for an echo is Rob's voice, especially in those surroundings. His demand was still bouncing around when I poked my head out the door.
"What? I'm marking" I yelled back. In the far distance Rob's head hover from his own doorway.
"No you're fucking not! Come have a biscuit."
I paused. Suspicious.
"What kind of biscuit?"
"Get fucked then"
And that was that until morning break. By then Rob, having suffered a similar response from heads hovering in doorways all along our corridor, had bought some chocolate ones. In fact he must have been feeling particularly chastised because they were Chocolate Caramel ones.
He's a good lad is our Rob.
Except, somehow, I was in trouble.
"Here, bastard, since my biscuits weren't good enough for you."
"Wumummah?" I said, my mouth nicely caramelised.
"Yes." Said Jason, helpfully, "I don't see your problem. Everyone needs a Hob, and certainly everyone needs the occasional nob."
"This is true," Claimed Rob, "Biscuits and sex. Exactly the same. Both necessary."
"Well yes," I agreed, "But without chocolate a biscuit is mere procreation. There's no love there. No passion."
"So... the Chocolate Caramel you're eating now..." Jason seemed intrigued. "That's like - "
"Yup. This here," I was waving my half eating biscuit, "this, is all about seduction."
Not surprisingly the bastards have stolen all the chocolate digestives.
Monday, 6 April 2009
Friday, 3 April 2009
So no, My International Event Of Monumental Import is nothing to do with that, and far more important.
Far more important. Say it with me kids "Far. More. Important."
I am signing books. Internationally. Oh yes. I have looooooong arms.
12:00 pm, Fri 10th April 2009
Nick jones will be instore signing his new novel 9987. 9987 is a jagged, tragic crime story set in a disturbing, uncaring world where only three things are constant: fantasy, lonliness and love."
And so yeah, ok, they spelt my name wrong, but in all fairness I spell it like."I'm a tit! I spell my name like a tosser!" so I won't hold that against them. I'm just really excited to be there.
And it will (WILL) be great! The Wetherspoons signing was. A dozen copies sold and signed, one gang of slightly druk blokes heckling me and Stu and wanting cheapass copies of the book. And a pint. And two, count 'em TWO free coffees for me mam.
Oh yes. Twas good.
And this one will be too. My most mint PR Guru has already formed plans to have me advertised BEFORE the event actually takes place. I mean, Borders will have a few posters and stuff, but really, who reads them? Most Mint PR Guru has some effective sounds plans. Which, actually thinking about it, I still ahven't put into action.
Best be off, got some phone calls to make...
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Back in the saddle after the Sunda Apathy session, and - to an extent - back on home turf.
Yup. That's right.
I admit, it's odd. Yes - the opportunities for disaster are huuuuuuuuuje. But, ya knaa, at least this time if it goes wrong I can have a pint.
So, if anyone fancies buying a book/having one signed/buying me a pint/having me sign a pint and happen to be in the area:
Wetherspoons, Consett, CO. Durham.
6 - 8pm on the 1st April.
And no... It's not a joke.
Monday, 30 March 2009
Getting Beaten About The Head With A Real(ity)ly Big Stick And Not Even My "Award Winning" Sales Pitch Can Save Me
But, healthy eating aside a waffle is what you're getting while I try to figure out exactly why I'm in need of such comfort food.
Nothing has happened that I did not expect. At all. In fact, like all those proper writers I spend my time reading about, the weekend was - probably - perfectly normal. And also, I have to remind myself that people would kill (have killed, some of them. Actually, really) to be a published author and that I am very lucky. Very lucky. I am sure that many (well, some) people will have read my book now and thought "Yeah that's ok, I could do that." And they'd be right. Like I said. I am very lucky.
Or jammy - as my Gran would say. A Jammy Bastard to be precise. Bit like a dodger, but obviously not as tasty.
But, yeah, the weekend.
On Saturday I got a review. It wasn't a bad review, but it wasn't great. It's over there, on the right. Up a bit. Yeah - the Isolationist one.
It is a perfectly reasonable review, some good points, some not so good but well balanced and, I admit wholly fair. Now, this is the first review I've had that isn't a good one. Obviously this was bound to happen. I know I'm not a pioneering writer, nor am I a particularly literary writer. I write slightly odd stuff which I find entertaining. Or creepy. One of the two.
Ok, so, I didn't really agree with some points, I felt there was more happening in the book than it was given credit for, but - if the reader doesn't see these things then really, there is no one to blame but me. The reviewer didn't get me the way I wanted to be got, so to speak, but why should they? They see what they see, if they miss stuff then it's my fault for not presenting it better.
I was not annoyed with the review. At all. Honest. The review was perfectly reasonable, as I said. I was annoyed instead with my reaction to the review. I was annoyed that I couldn't just shrug it off.
And then the Lazy Sunday happened. Or at least Sunday happened. It was, well, a disaster? No, not really, no one was killed or maimed or robbed or starved to death in the queue at Starbucks, no child got scolded or bruised or lost.
It was just that no one. And I mean no one, was listening.
Had I possessed the sheer stubborn bravery of Sarah Shaw and actually stood up, as she did, and read to a crowded room full of people not even pretending to be interested I might have felt better.
She sat to tumultuous apathy from the surrounding tables. I waved my book in the air. Yelled out my best sales pitch:
"S'got Lesbian Nurses in..."
Nothing, not a flicker of interest.
"And a Zombie..."
The queue at the counter counted out the brownies.
"Premature ejaculation... Anyone?"
A nervous blush from the guy in the corner. Otherwise... Nothing.
I suppose this is one of those things. I've heard other writers telling these stories, of turning up and being the only one there and such like. I had been expecting it. I knew that rapt attention was unlikely.
It was, surprisingly, painful.
Luckily me and Vix had been Disco Kettling. Between the two of them I was ok. I'll be honest though, it was more Vix than DK. He was too busy dancing...