OK, so Tumblr has eaten my soul. I've always loved graphics, photo editing, photo manipulation, playing with colour and texture, and fan art, which is probably evident from my occasional icon batch post here on LJ. But I've been getting into bigger fan works lately and Tumblr is such an amazing venue for it—both posting your own and finding pretties that others have shared. So far I've put up a number of fan graphics I've fiddled in PS based on The Hobbit
, and there are now a couple of things on my Sherlock
and Teen Wolf
tags. I'm still getting to grips with posting text entries on Tumblr—it feels odd to mix the heavy visuals with the thinky stuff—but I reckon I'll grow more comfortable with it over time.
That's not to say I'm leaving LJ. I'm just spending more time on Tumblr at the moment.
In writerly news, I'm probably not going to Winchester Writers Conference this year, even though last year I had a terrific time, got some amazing feedback on the first few chapters of my novel, and made a couple of important connections. I don't have anything new to take this year, novel-wise, and I feel I'd only be resubmitting the stuff I've already submitted before. Plus the conference is not cheap, not even for the single day pass. So I think I'm just going to let this year roll over and go next year, hopefully with either with my current novel ready to go on submission, or a brand new novel that needs feedbacking.
Instead, I'm putting my squee into the 2014 Sci-Fi Weekender
. Graham McTavish (Dwalin!!) will be there, as well as Robert Rankin who was so entertaining last year, and Royd Tolkien the great-grandson of J.R.R. I have a feeling it's going to be a Hobbity weekender, at least for me. ;)
♫ Another Round
, by Foo Fighters.
I'm so pleased aigooism
is playing Final Fantasy XIII
. It means I get to bombard her with my knowledge of the game. Ahh!
Tuesday night was the Jaine Fenn and Suzanne McLeod author event
at Storyslingers. We were extremely lucky to have them, and both Jaine and Suzanne were excellent guests and friendly, fun and encouraging authors. They each read out short fiction and answered a load of questions from us eager n00bs. I also got my copies of Principles of Angels
and The Sweet Scent of Blood
signed. I hope they'll come back to us in the future and do another talk, maybe even a workshop.
In more k-poppy news, I'm now annoyed at EXO. I had this amazing dark atmosphere going in my YA novel, but then EXO went and released their new album
and ruined everything with their upbeat pop-heaven straight from outer space goodness. Grr. Yeah, I'm really angry about this. Really.
I am trying to get back into the Victorian era groove, but Wolf
is making it difficult.
♫ Get Lucky
, by Daughter (Daft Punk cover). momebie
linked this on Tumblr the other day. It is superb.
A lot of folk have mentioned Welcome to Night Vale
and I'm going to add my voice, because it is unique and clever and just plain rollicking creepy fun. This is the blurb: Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events. Turn on your radio and hide.
Great thing about Night Vale? It's free to download. Other great thing? It's extremely well produced and acted. And did I mention rollicking creepy fun?
I've had an idea for a new novel. Cheers, brain. I'm not done with the current steampunk novel and I've only just started outlining its follow-up, but now I have this third monster—a YA sci-fi about celebrity culture and self-identity. It was originally a short story I wrote last year that never quite came together or felt complete. And now I know why.
And it got me thinking: Sometimes you have a fully realised world and you try to work it as a short story, and you're sure there must be a way of showing what needs to be shown super subtly, in a condensed form. But some stories can't be pushed into small packages, and I think you have to go with your gut rather than struggle with them. Writers agonise over keeping things lean, but it should never be to the detriment of story
Occasionally I would try to squish a story to fit the guidelines of my favourite magazines, but not so much these days. It wasn't healthy, for me or my fiction. Now I go with my gut, and try not to freak out too much if I realise that short story I've been bouncing around is actually a novel. :)John Scalzi's Convention Harassment Policy
- That the convention has a harassment policy, and that the harassment policy is clear on what is unacceptable behavior, as well as to whom those who feel harassed, or see others engaging in harassing behavior, can go for help and action.
There's also a post where you can co-sign this policy
I've never been harassed at a convention, but I've been inappropriately grabbed before, and I would hate for something like that to colour a fan's enjoyment of an event that should be a safe, welcoming and exciting environment.
♫ Ashes to Ashes
, by David Bowie.
On Tuesday 16th July, 2013, fantasy and sci-fi authors Jaine Fenn
and Suzanne McLeod
are coming to my writing group, Storyslingers, to talk about their books, read us some of their fiction, and answer questions. Both Jaine and Suzanne are published by Gollancz, and have lots of experience in writing and publishing.
Jaine is a science-fiction writer, author of a number of short stories and the Hidden Empire
series of novels. From Jaine's website: Most of my fiction is set in a seven-thousand-year future history. During this time mankind falls and rises again—with help—leaving human-occupied space as a largely stable area of several hundred semi-autonomous systems, no two alike. Unfortunately humanity's dark past won't stay dead and the future holds threats worse than any faced so far.
Find Jaine on Twitter: @JaineFenn
Suzanne is the author of the popular urban fantasy Spellcracker.com
series of novels. From Amazon: Genevieve Taylor is a Sidhe, one of the noble fae, and she's unusual, even in present-day London where celebrity vampires, eccentric goblins and scheming lesser fae mix freely with the human population. Genny is a rising star at Spellcrackers.com, where she finds the M' in magic - and that invariably leads to mischief, malice and - too often - murder.
Find Suzanne on Twitter: @suzanne_mcleod
I'm so excited to meet them and hear them talk about their work and writing in general. My group is really energetic, so it's probably going to be a fun night. If you happen to be around the westcountry, UK, on the 16th, why not drop by
. (Artwork for the promo poster by Dan Morison, who illustrated our amazing Story Slam posters back in 2012.)
♫ Dark Horse
, by Kidneythieves.
How to Report Sexual Harassment, by Elise Matthesen
, via Jim C. Hines. A lot of people will have seen this, but for those who haven't, it's worth a read.
Making career-changing, life-changing decisions can be scary, but they can also give you a clearer focus, a more obvious and solid goal to push towards. That clarity helps your work grow stronger. Having a direction gives you more confidence.
Last week was the Chalke Valley History Festival
, which ran all week and was jam-packed with historical goodness (low in calories, high in fibre). Me and some friends went on the Saturday to a History Writing seminar. This was backdropped by the sound of distant cannons and gunshots, but don't worry, it was just part of the WWII reenactment taking place across the field. I really liked the panelists—author Charles Cumming, publishing director Eleo Gordon, literary agent Mark Lucas, and publishing director Bill Scott-Kerr. The floor was opened to audience questions, and at one point Fifty Shades of Grey
was brought up (obviously).
But something I've been finding with the writing events I attend is the advice is almost always beginner-focused. Most of it I already know. It's great to be encouraged by professionals—that never gets old—but the tips themselves are generally generic, and sometimes audience questions feel a bit like a waste of precious time. I think I'm going to take a step back from lit festival seminars and workshops for a while. They're great for beginners, but they make me wish there were more seminars aimed at mid-to-pro level writers. Plus, sometimes they're not cheap.
Other than that, the festival was fab. There was a lot of reenactment, some cool aerial displays, steam engines, and stalls selling all kinds of nifty things. I got a couple of pics of ( historical dudes being historical )
, by Blackmill. Been listening to this beautiful, melodic dubstep while doing edits on the novel. I love Blackmill right now!
Winchester Writers' Conference
was exhausting, but in the informative, busy, fun way. The opening speakers were Julian Fellowes (who wrote this little British TV show called Downton Abbey
) and his wife, editor Emma Kitchener-Fellowes. ( I only took one photo, mostly because the day was so packed with workshops and talks and meetings that I forgot to take more )
Fellowes is entertaining and inspiring and has so much energy. His enthusiasm set Saturday off on the perfect note.
The day consisted of discussions, workshops and one-to-one appointments. I went to five talks: ( Settings to Die For, Self-Editing Before Publication, Means to an End, Making a Drama Out of a Crisis, and Not Another Vampire Story )
The one-to-ones were probably my favourite part. I got great feedback and each one was extremely encouraging. I came away thrumming with writerly delight.
It's not the cheapest conference in the UK, but in my experience it's definitely worth going to if you can.NASA’s Sci-Fi Vision: Robots Could Help Humanity Mine Asteroids
- from Universe Today. More sci-fi future nerdery, but an exciting prospect. So if Armageddon
really does happen like the movie, we won't have to send Bruce Willis up there to blow it up. That's a relief.Losing You
, by Phaeleh.
Neil Gaiman's book tour for The Ocean at the End of the Lane
kicks off tomorrow in Bath, UK. I didn't realise it's the first venue on his tour. He'll only be signing copies of his new book—understandably, considering the volume of the crowds he can generate—though it's a bit of a shame I can't get my copy of Good Omens
signed; I managed to get it signed by Terry Pratchett a couple of years back. (At some point, I will get them both. It is a mission!) More info about the UK side of Gaiman's tour on his blog
.When Sci-Fi Crime-Prevention Tactics Aren't Actually That Far-Fetched
- how likely is RoboCop? Well, according to this article, pretty likely! "We're now producing airborne drones that have the automated intellectual ability where they are able to pick out a terrorist and make a decision whether to kill them or not."
Saw this book meme on someone's journal months ago, copied and pasted it, but neglected to note who I snagged it from (nobody on my f-list, I remember that much).
On this list of 100 popular fantasy and sci-fi books: Bold
the ones you've read.Italicise
the ones you want to read.( This reminds me of a load of books I still want to get my hands on before I, you know, die )
, by Hans Zimmer. From The Dark Knight Rises
OST. Been listening to this lately while writing action scenes.
I can't remember if I mentioned my writing group was putting on an event at our local Arts Festival this year, on June 1st. Usually we just do a hand-made book stall and desperately try to peddle our short stories and bookmarks to people who haven't heard of us and aren't really interested, but this year we went elaborate and did a workshop, followed by an open mic reading, and then a creative people meet-and-greet. I lead the workshop which was to the theme of "Other Worlds", and recycled some of the material I used at the Year 10 workshop from January
. We came up with intriguing ideas and I hope some of them will be developed into stories.
For the open mic segment, I read out a new flash fiction I wrote in May. I struggle with flash fiction the most, so it was nice to actually complete a piece and share it. I'm still not sure if it's submission worthy, but I like it and might post it here at some point. Mostly I wanted to read something live again, to get used to standing up in front of people and talking into a microphone. This reading felt far steadier than my first (at the Story Slam last summer
), but that might be because there was a much smaller audience this time. ;)
The festival also marked our gallery of fictional maps that were submitted as part of our Map Making Competition
(now closed). We had some stunningly imaginative maps come in from all over the globe; the competition got a lot bigger than we expected. I took a few pics of the shortlisted entries, which you can see ( under the cut )
Some links of interest:Your Age on Other Worlds
- just fill in your birth date and this website will calculate your age on all the planets in our solar system. On Earth I am 33.2 years old, but on Mercury I am 137.8 years old. Mars says I am only 17.6 years (which actually feels more accurate a lot of the time).Iain M. Banks Update
- posted on May 20th.
, by Foo Fighters.
On Saturday I went to a steampunk extravaganza market of curiosities with friend and writer Beth Stewart
. It's the first time I've seen anything like this in my area, and it was amazing, as we walked in, to find so many steampunks and people into Victoriana gathered together. A lot of the vendors had come from all over the country to sell their wares and show off their creations, and there were loads of beautiful stalls and very friendly people.
I took a few pics, which I'll pop ( under the cut, featuring jewellery and dresses, and a cool guy with a steampunk electric guitar )
I bought stuff from Skewwers Steampunk
who had a stall chocked with broaches and earrings and pendants. Unf. I could have spent a lot more time ogling the clothes, too, but the clothing sellers were popular and the stalls packed. There were also a couple of authors promoting their books, though I didn't get close enough to pick up any info. It's something to keep in mind though, if I ever manage to get my novel published.
Hopefully the popularity of the market means they'll put on another one soon.
, by Tricky.
My writing group is holding a map making competition
that will tie in with our summer Arts Festival this year. We have maps coming in from all over the world—even from members of the Cartographer's Guild (which totally sounds like it belongs in Skyrim
) who make some of the most stunning fictional maps you'll ever see. Check out their website here
. We're announcing the winners on June 1st and holding a writers and artists party, where I'll be leading a workshop on writing Other Worlds (adapted from my workshop
with the year 10 students from January), followed by an open mic flash fic reading event, and ending with a general meet-and-greet (and drink-and-eat, hopefully!). We'll post the results of the competition on the blog after June 1st.
In the same vein, there's a cool website called Urban Geofiction
where people create maps of fictional cities and countries, but maps that could easily exist here. From their site: But they all have in common that they do not strive to create fantastic worlds with its own physical and natural laws like Tolkien did, for example. Their aim is to imagine new combinations of all variables that affect our daily (urban) life on this planet in a spatial way.
There are many possibilities for stories here.The Map Room
- a blog about maps by Jonathan Crowe. "It covers everything from collecting to the latest in geospatial technology from a generalist’s perspective."
I've also bought my ticket to the Historical Writing Seminar that I mentioned before. Alas, I really can't afford to go to all of the talks, even though I still want to. The history one sounds like it'll be most useful.
I've whittled my novel synopsis from three pages down to one and a quarter, so I'm nearly there on the length. I'm not sure about how it sounds yet, but I still have a couple of weeks left to polish it. It's kind of like writing flash fiction; you have to be so concise while giving enough detail to be intriguing and create atmosphere, plus maintain a decent pace. Nyugh.
♫ Be A Man
, by Hole.
I've been umming and ahing about this for weeks, but I finally decided to sign up for Winchester Writers' Conference
, taking place 21st—25th June 2013. While pricey, it's an amazing opportunity to have work seen by agents, editors and authors, and hopefully get some helpful feedback on the state of my novel. I've picked a single day pass, which entitles me to a host of talks and three one-on-one consultations with aforementioned agents, editors and authors. It's exciting and scary at the same time! Last year one of my friends went and an agent expressed interest in her novel, so it's definitely worth it. The talks look good, too, representing mainstream, genre, short story, crime fiction, commissioning agents and editors, poetry, publishing books, ebook publishing, marketing, writing for children and writing for the media. I will try and take notes so I can post anything of interest here.
There's also a History Festival taking place locally soon, and I'm trying to whittle down the number of talks I want to go to (mostly because I can't afford to do them all). So far I'm leaning towards: Victorian morals, prejudice, hypocrisy and women's rights; a history of the British Empire between 1850−1945; the drama of the 1832 reform bill; a history of writing seminar; and love in the world of Jane Austen. But realistically, I will probably only be able to do two or three of these. Argh, so difficult choosing!
And I've started reading number9dream
, slowly, very slowly. I find with David Mitchell I need to read it carefully and savour every single line. I'm always blown away by his stuff.
After many friend recommendations I finally succumbed to WhatsApp
on my iPhone, and OK, I see what all the fuss is about now. Since getting it I've been texting with a friend in Canada for free and it is awesome. :)Steampunk Weapons Useless Against Fists
- via one of my writing group friends. This is a short article on The Daily Mash, so not to be taken too seriously. Made me laugh.
♫ In the Middle (Nero Remix)
, by The Streets.
The excellent Topping & Company Booksellers
in Bath are hosting an evening with Neil Gaiman on 14th June.
Neil will be promoting his newest adult book The Ocean at the End of the Lane
. The evening will consist of an interview on stage, followed by a book signing where audience members can pick up advance copies of the book and get them personalised (which is so very, very cool). I have booked my ticket and I am excite! Find out more about the event here on the Topping & Company website
There's also a Raymond E. Feist event on 10th May listed here
that I'd quite like to go to, but I'm still not sure if I can afford to do both at the moment. Sadface.
♫ Four Kids To A Glockenspiel
by Brigade. Been listening to this a lot recently while writing.