Here is an abbreviated list of hoops that a trade published book often jumps through (apologies to those for whom this familiar); finishing agent querying pitch to publishers request & first reads second reads acquisitions (itself a multi-stage process) offer & contract negotiations At every stage the book can die. For writing, it might never... Continue Reading →
I wrote this as part of a general info post for a Facebook group I'm in. The level I’ve aimed at is introductory, so my apologies to those who are already well into the querying trenches; you can probably skip this. ### Basic Query Structure Info The query should be about a page in length,... Continue Reading →
I participated in my local Leeds Writer Circle “Anything Goes” competition this summer. Results are below!
Monday, Sept 10th saw the adjudcation for our own “Anything Goes” competition. Judge Andy Humphrey gave excellent feedback on all the entered pieces of writing, which was much valued by everyone attending. The winner was Sunyi Dean for her story “Ice Cream and English Summers”. Since entering the piece for this competition she has succeeded in getting a version of it published by Flash Fiction Online. Read it here. Double congratulations are therefore in order. In second was Jason Heppell, also winner of the Annavation Prize. Third was Peter Richardson. Full details on the Competitions Page.
Sunyi will be a familiar face to those in the Novelist’s Group. Members will be delighted to know that she’s on something of a roll at the moment, having just secured an agent for her adult speculative fiction novel “Anchor (To Your Other Self)”. There is an online interview here that gives…
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A new publication of mine in FFO: Ice Cream and English Summers I wrote a little bit about this on Twitter but basically, this story has a Dramatic History. The short version: I wrote this, got some feedback that burned because I was oversensitive about the content of the story itself, and I nearly trashed... Continue Reading →
My form interview with Querytracker
A random tea-related rant from a couple years ago that I wanted to salvage before closing down my previous FB profile. It also happens to rhyme. You’re welcome 😛 FYI, the original version was written on paper, and pinned meaningfully to the cupboard. *** My dear Gareth Dean I cannot help but observe The vast tons of... Continue Reading →
New publication of JOHN KILLS JENNY via Sub-Q, a magazine of Interactive Fiction. Every choice matters, so pick your options carefully. A convicted murderer must play through a "rehabilitation game" to earn his own release.
I remember greedily hunting down as many of these kinds of stories as possible when querying for the first time, so perhaps someone else will find my data points useful. Warning: this is a little bit long and has some of my usual swearing.
About this time last year, I started trying to figure out how to write short stories (inspired in no small part by reading Darby Harn's short fiction via Absolute Write.) I wanted to know they worked, how the fit together, how writers managed to put complete arcs in such low word counts. Since last July,... Continue Reading →
Metronome by Oliver Langmead My rating: 4 of 5 stars Relative to the wider population of fantasy books available, literary fantasy is in short supply. Partly this is down to readership; most readers prefer a touch of literary at most, but many more don't seek that sort of discussion within their novels (which is, of... Continue Reading →
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro My rating: 3 of 5 stars I originally started this novel awhile back, and gave up about a third of the way in because I wasn't enjoying it. However, I restarted it once more on the recommendation of a friend. My overall experience of the novel was one... Continue Reading →
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer My rating: 5 of 5 stars If I could define Too Like the Lightning in a word, it would probably be "overwhelming". That perhaps seems at odds given my rating, but it is fully immersive, carefully thought out and planned, densely written, complex, layered, intelligent, powerful. There aren't... Continue Reading →
The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton My rating: 4 of 5 stars Clever and detailed, not to mention elegantly written, but ultimately the narrative is constrained by the very strictures it sets out to explore and (I felt) a little lacking in emotional depth, despite being in first person. I have a pretty high tolerance... Continue Reading →
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky My rating: 4 of 5 stars I found this surprisingly good. Surprising because I tend towards the soft and literary end of SFF, and also because I bloody hate spiders. So much hate. I looked up the author and was not at all surprised to see his roleplay interests.... Continue Reading →
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins My rating: 5 of 5 stars Ambitious and dramatic--a riveting story of how a group of people are changed by their traumatic childhood, told through the filter of a speculative fiction novel about a woman who is trying to become God. To understand my review, let me... Continue Reading →
Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb My rating: 2 of 5 stars Some good dialogue between the characters, but seriously poor overall. The narrative was feebly constructed, and events seemed to occur mostly as a vehicle for fitting in as many series cameos as possible even though it made little sense for those people to be... Continue Reading →
The Etched City by K.J. Bishop My rating: 5 of 5 stars Simply brilliant. It does require a lot of patience, this novel, since around 60% of it is setup for a series of events which, at the beginning, seem to bear no relation to anything else that is going on. My advice is to... Continue Reading →
On Blue's Waters by Gene Wolfe My rating: 5 of 5 stars Retro Thursday, you cry? Well, I've studiously avoided anything to do with Blue/Green/Whorl for years, out of a deep-seated but legitimate terror that I'd discover Patera Silk had actually died, either at the end of Long Sun or in the intervening time. He... Continue Reading →
I have a growing hatred of active voice at all costs mantra. It started with betas - not all of them, and always well-meaning - correcting my writing into active voice, but to the point where the sentences were sometimes bizarre or downright unreadable (e.g., missing verbs entirely). Lately, I find myself rebelliously writing in... Continue Reading →
Everytime I think about deconstructing why I dislike Name of the Wind so much, I end up just coming back to re-read this post. It says everything better than I could do, anyway.
The Ballad of Dirk Oxenhammer: An Origin Story in Three Parts
Dirk Oxenhammer, veteran literary editor, sat back in his zebra-skin armchair and surveyed the pile of manila envelopes on his desk, each one adorned with a large red REJECTED! stamp. The exclamation mark wasn’t strictly necessary, but Dirk though it made the job a bit more fun. Sometimes he liked to imagine a loud buzzer went off every time he sentenced a manuscript to the trash pile. He’d have to see about getting one installed.
But for now, it was bourbon time.
Dirk opened the bottom drawer of his desk and selected a 92′ New Jersey Amber. He poured it into one of those round glasses with the flat bottoms that he’d seen on Mad Men and lit a cigar, letting the smoke curl around the glass in a way that seemed particularly gritty and hard-boiled. It was at…
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The Power by Naomi Alderman My rating: 3 of 5 stars I'd give 3.5 but Goodreads doesn't really do half stars for individual reviews. Generally speaking, I prefer subtle meta discussions and clear plots. The Power is part of a trend/subgenre of slightly dystopian spec fic that likes to have those things the other way... Continue Reading →
Dear Mrs. Voigt, I am writing to you in the hopes of being able to express how much I cherish your Kingdom series, in particular the third book, The Wings of a Falcon. I first read Falcon when I was eleven, in a small and recently-established private school in Hong Kong. (We had... Continue Reading →
There's very little left to do for sections 1-3. Even my paid editor isn't making sweeping changes, and my betas are only doing tweak corrections as they go. And now, today, since my kids are sick and the baby's slept almost the entire day, I've somehow managed to complete a rough draft for the entirety... Continue Reading →
Dark Eden by Chris Beckett My rating: 4 of 5 stars Like a lot of reviewers, I'm not sure how I feel about Dark Eden. It didn't bore me, which is always a good thing - the question is whether the total sum reactions are positive or negative. In the end I came down with... Continue Reading →
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab My rating: 2 of 5 stars This book ends with the supposed good character (not all the POVs are "good" per se) committing an act of pure selfishness - it ends up being tantamount to murder. How the hell did that get past an editor? It's inconsistent... Continue Reading →
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey My rating: 5 of 5 stars I would describe this book as "masochist woman with slightly magical vagina conquers the world". Note - this is not a criticism. It's well written, amusing, intricate, interesting. It's nice to read a book where people don't have sexual hangups, which is straight faced... Continue Reading →
Uprooted by Naomi Novik My rating: 5 of 5 stars Much like the heroine herself, this book should not work. It has all the ingredients for something foppish and cliche and yet it is a very good fantasy novel. Confidently written, well paced, enjoyable (even funny in many places), with refreshingly angst-free protagonists. View all... Continue Reading →
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin My rating: 4 of 5 stars Like many LeGuin books I wasn't sold on the beginning; the psychiatrist stuff is quite dated and poorly done. However the book is excellent conceptually and many of the "dated" concepts can be explained away by the narrative functions existing... Continue Reading →
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand My rating: 1 of 5 stars I can't say enough how much I disliked this book. It's so bad I felt physically ill after finishing it (and yes I did choose to finish it anyway, because how else could I form a comprehensive opinion, especially if I don't at least... Continue Reading →