Tuesday, 4 July 2017

James White Award Winner

So I didn't win the James White Award in the end, but it's still a great thing to have been shortlisted in the first place so I take heart from that.

The winning story, 'The Morrigan' by fellow Glasgow Science Fiction Writers' Circle member Stewart Horn is an excellent and well-deserved winner. I'll look forward to seeing it in print in a future edition of Interzone.

Monday, 19 June 2017

James White Award Shortlist

This morning I awoke to some good news - my short story The Dying Glass has been shortlisted for the 2017 James White Award.

The stories that have made it through to the final selection are:

Don – Steve Dubois
May the Pain Guide You Home – Daniel Roy
The Morrigan – Stewart Horn
Skin and Bone – Beth Plutchak
The Cut – Elsie WK Donald
The Dying Glass – Cameron Johnston

My short story has some really good company on that list :)
We should find out soon who the winner will be *fingers and toes and eyes all crossed* *falls over*

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Special Effects

I am finding myself a little bored of all the CGI special effects in movies at the moment. It feels like they are all too often sacrificing character, plot and dialogue for whizz-bang spectacle.

While I enjoyed Wonder Woman I was switching off during the third act with all the lingering on big fancy explosions and magical effects. I would much rather have seen more of that screen time devoted to the Amazons and more of Diana exploring the modern world. It was the same with The Avengers, which I loved, and the countless CGI enemies in Avengers: Age of Ultrabore - I'd much rather have had more character interactions than yet another mashing of an anonymous metal face. Man of Steel was interesting to begin with and then quickly descended into a one long, drawn-out duel with buildings exploding everywhere. Lots of spectacle and some amazingly cool visuals, but at what cost?

Practical special effects and clever puppetry have always appealed to me more than CGI, things like Gremlins, The Terminator, Aliens, Dark Crystal and Robocop. Heading further back, I will always watch Ray Harryhausen animations.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

On Submission

The editing and rewrites have all come to an end annnnnnddddd my agent has sent the manuscript out on submission.

Phew! So, what now I hear you ask? Waiting...mostly waiting...and hoping...and trying not to check my email every now and again...knowing that realistically very, very few books ever get picked up and published, but also that hoping bit is back again...

I'm finding this wait a little different to my short story submissions. Partly because there is a much larger chunk of time, effort and imagination invested, and partly because if this novel does get picked up then I'll have books in shops and libraries - something younger me had dreamed about ever since I first set foot in my local library. I frequently left that hallowed hall with shaking arms holding ten books at a time, and I would be delighted to find my own writing fuelling other people's imaginations in the same way.

I suppose we will just have to wait and see, and hope.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

John Constantine LEGO

So my latest dabble with LEGO has been building a John Constantine minifigure, bottle of booze in hand, ready to glass the sodding demon in the eye. From Hellblazer thanks for asking, not the Keanu Reeves movie, you vile heretic! (Actually, it was an OK film)

Now if only the TV series had taken off and been allowed to go darker. *sigh*. I thought Matt Ryan was pretty good.

So here it is, with a little help from the Dr Strange set:

"I'm the one who steps from the shadows, all trenchcoat and cigarette and arrogance, ready to deal with the madness. Oh, I've got it all sewn up. I can save you. If it takes the last drop of your blood, I'll drive your demons away. I'll kick them in the bollocks and spit on them when they're down and then I'll be gone back into darkness, leaving only a nod and a wink and a wisecrack."

Hellblazer was bloody brilliant!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Ancient Sites

It's hardly a secret that I'm a huge fan of archaeology and history, as anybody who has ever glanced at my Twitter feed will notice. Whenever I have a few days off I like to visit museums, stone circles and standing stones, castles, hill forts and the like. Anything ancient I find utterly fascinating.

Last weekend I took the ferry over to the island of Arran and explored some of the wonderful sites. Amongst the many well-preserved monuments I enjoyed two the most. We walked up the forested hill to view the Glenashdale Falls, and then visited the Giant's Graves on the way back down.

These are actually neolithic chambered tombs that were once mounds. All the earth and turf scoured away by the elements, and heaped stones taken away for building materials. The stone bones of the tomb have been left exposed to the air. The passage you can see in the bottom picture is the entrance passage to the heart of the mound, and the burial cyst.

We also revisited the Machrie Moor stone circles, standing in eerie silence on moorland with sweeping views all around.

Whenever I visit ancient sites I can't help but imagine how they were used by our ancestors and what their rituals were like. What human hands touched these stones so very long ago...

Food for thought.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Editing Editing Editing

I've been busy the last few weeks. Really busy. Neck deep in edits on my novel actually.

My fine agent Amanda Rutter at Red Sofa Literary sent me back my edits and as I readied myself to open the files I knew damn well what was coming. Still, it hit me like a well-aimed half brick to the face to behold a sea of comments, corrections, suggestions and advice. Where do you even start? For me, it was a little paralysing at first, but then I got to work on the quick and easy changes: typos and word choices, clunky bits of prose, clarifications and eliminating confusions. Gradually that mass of edits was whittled down to manageable chunks I could wrap my head around.

Who ever said that writing a novel was the hard part? Re-writing and editing are far trickier, and yet also as - if not more - satisfying. It feels good to trim away the fat and build up the muscle, making my novel a leaner, fiercer, and more emotional beast.

The end is in sight!

And when it gets picked up by a publisher I get to go through the editing process all over again. Yay?

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