Leave a Comment · Posted on July 15, 2016
I’ve just got home from the last of six workshops I’ve been running as a project at the brilliant Darnall library. It’s half past eight and I am tired and I’m hungry, have been a little bit ill, and I think it’s about time I blogged (or at least started one). It’s been a while and not because there’s been nothing happening, but because so much has been happening I’ve barely had time to stop.
On Monday I was back at Media City, at the BBC – it’s always a lovely thing to be invited back somewhere, and it’s especially nice to see what amazing things the people there are doing. And, for me, it’s even cooler seeing that I had a hand it that.
Before that I was in Bradford for the launch of Appleton Academy’s anthology which is the result of the really wonderful work that Nick Toczek has done there under the banner of First Story. A big mention must go to librarian Gill and Miss Boyle who are both very wonderful too.
Here’s one of the stories. I absolutely love it (I’ve loved them all). It’s one that started life in Huddersfield in January and I was thrilled to see it in there (as well as a few others).
And, while I’m talking about First Story, I’ve been doing some work for them too at Leeds West Academy (hello!) as writer in residence and I’ve enjoyed it an awful lot. Some really, really excellent writing has happened there and that makes me very happy.
And not just there because I’ve been writing too. And stuff I’m really happy with. More on that soon, I hope.
And last, for now – I received my contributor copy of A Box of Stars Beneath The Bed – this year’s National Flash Fiction Day anthology. And I’m looking forward to having a little time, soon, to read it.
And I think that must be about it for now. There are lots of other things to talk about in due course but, right now, it’s almost nine o’clock and I’m even hungrier than I was when I started this.
1 Comment · Posted on June 30, 2016
It’s been one of those weeks (months) where day names have been replaced with cities I’m in or schools or libraries or academies I’m working in. So there’s no Monday or Tuesday and certainly no day of rest. This week it was:
Might actually get some sleep.
I half wish someone’d do me a tour t-shirt, to be honest.
And it’s been fun (well, all the ones I’ve done – Darnall and the wedding, I’m still, very much looking forward to).
And, as such, and along with a fair amount of editing work, I don’t actually have the time to write anything here on the blog about what I’ve been doing and how much I’ve enjoyed it. I will. It’ll come. Be patient.
I was reminded of this the other day though (while deleting photos from my phone) and it always makes me chuckle. It’s Not So Perfect on The Poke (more here) and, yes, it made me chuckle.
Because we all need to smile. Oh, and here’s me, on a train, being pretty fed up with the absolute shower that is the referendum and its result. I don’t care what your politics are – you have a right to an informed opinion – but mine don’t agree with what’s happened one bit.
More soon. Just make sure you’re kind to each other while I’m gone. Kindness isn’t quite everything, but it’s an awfully big and important thing.
4 Comments · Posted on June 17, 2016
It’s been a while since I published a short story. I think the last one was Carmine’s Fruit, my re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood, which won the Artificium competition last year (and is available here).
So I’m very pleased to be able to tell you all that a BRAND NEW STORY OF MINE is inside the latest National Flash Fiction Day anthology, A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed, which is out today in paperback, and will be out as an Ebook very soon.
And, as ever with these National Flash Fiction Day anthologies, there is a whole book’s worth of other great stories by marvellous writers. It’s something I’d be reading even if I wasn’t a writer. Go on, folks. You know what you need to do.
2 Comments · Posted on June 9, 2016
So, I’m sitting here at silly o’clock in the morning and I have been doing emails (there is a mountain of them and, if you’re waiting for something from me – and I know many are – it won’t be long). To be fair, I’ve been doing them most of today – that and phone calls and arranging and rearranging meetings and getting June and July confused. And making sure I’m good to go for the first workshop for children I’m running at Darnall library on Friday. It proved instantly very popular (I’ve been very lucky with that of late) and sold out almost within a week I think (but I am told that, if you’re quick, there might possibly one more place up for grabs…).
And then, in the midst of it all, Google alerts gave me this. A story I may or may not have written from Freaks! read, wonderfully, by the great Asher Black a few years ago. Click here to listen. It made me happy.
There is more I could talk about and I will do soon. But I have, as always, things to do tomorrow and so I shall sign off and go to bed and at least try to be half sensible.
Leave a Comment · Posted on June 1, 2016
So I’ve not been on here, or online, all that much, mostly, because I’ve been being busy. Writing has happened and teaching has happened and all’s been good on that side of things.
A couple of weeks ago I went to a wedding and it was all the things weddings should be. A celebration and fun and filled with good people.
(This is a tired me after it – it took a good while to get there but it was definitely worth it.)
I helped out with the photography which meant that I was just on the outside of things and that suited me perfectly. It’s probably my favourite place.
And then it was my nephew’s birthday and that was good too. I bought him a lightsaber. We duelled. For over an hour and a half, and then I played football with my eldest niece and I held and made faces at my youngest niece who’s still a baby and it reminded me that, really, that’s what life’s about. It’s about sharing and it’s about joy. And lightsabers. Life should always be about lightsabers.
2 Comments · Posted on May 22, 2016
So, the panel at Bradford Literature Festival is done. And it was brilliant. (It is definitely a festival to look out for – the programme is wonderful and interesting and diverse, and it’s been organised superbly – DO check it out).
The delightful Leah Moore (who, aside from doing wonderful and good things with comics, is also doing other Very Interesting Things with Electricomics – DO have a look), Taran Matharu (NYT bestseller as of last week – huge congratulations), and me talked about new ways of writing, and how we started (and continue in the industry) and a whole manner of things I hope were interesting or helpful and it was good. A huge thank you, as ever, to those who came – it was a shame I didn’t get to have more of a chat after. I hope you were all able to take something useful away with you (and you can always drop me a line here, don’t forget). And thanks, too, to Ralph Dartford for his splendid, chairing duties.
It was fun. Meeting good people, talking to and sharing space with people who love stories and make stories and read stories has always been one of the things I love most about what I do.
And, today, I even dressed up.
And here’s us after.
I remembered, as I was on the train heading back, that the last time (I think) I was in Bradford was when I was, I think, about eighteen and on a course for work (back when I had a proper job). It was the first time I’d driven on a motorway, and it was in a left-hand drive VW Lupo. I remember my colleague being, err, a little shaky once we stopped. (Graham, I am still very sorry.)
Later, after trains and things, I went for a walk and it was really quite lovely. It was the kind of light you seem to get at this time of year, and not very often at that. See?
It’s been a bit of a weird and busy (as ever) few weeks for me. I have been writing again and that’s been good, or was good, until I managed to get an infection in my finger (cellulitis, I’ve had it before but, thanks to our brilliant NHS and their walk-in services I have medicine) which, kind of stopped me dead. Isn’t that always the way? But it’s better now and, once I’ve finished typing this I shall be picking up my pen again and making words and worlds and, hopefully, they will be good. Or good enough to be made better later. You never can tell…
1 Comment · Posted on May 20, 2016
First up, a quick reminder that I’ll be on this brilliant panel at the Bradford Literature Festival on Sunday at 2pm. I’d love to see you there – if you are coming, and fancy a quick cup of tea somewhere afterwards, do let me know. I am always happy to drink tea with nice people and I know that everyone reading this MUST be.
And, onto the order of the day…
It’s a pleasure to have the lovely Suz Korb here for a little while, revealing something very exciting. It’s definitely not anything I’ve had here before, and I can’t remember ever seeing something like this. Curious? You should be. Read on…
Leave a Comment · Posted on May 12, 2016
I have been working as a writer for many years now and over the past decade or so I’ve been lucky enough to work with many, many talented people. Collaborating with editors and publishers and writers and illustrators on books and stories, putting together charity anthologies, teaching, running workshops and groups. My longest commitment has been a writing group at the library in the town where I grew up – that’ll have been going for ten years very soon. And, from that group, lots of really interesting and really good stuff has been produced by some very lovely and very talented people.
And, as such, I’d like to point you in a few interesting directions after seeing this is this month’s issue of Writers’ News.
Jenny’s are really terrific books, and are definitely worth checking out. I think my favourite, and probably because it’s the most recent is Night Light (you can see the full list here).
And here she is talking about Why Didn’t They Listen?.
And Jenny’s aren’t the only ones I’d love to point you towards. We have Barbara Challenger’s brilliant account of working as a volunteer in Ghana, By God’s Grace.
1 Comment · Posted on May 10, 2016
I’ve been really lucky to have worked with the fine people at Sheffield Library Service a few times now, and I’ve been absolutely thrilled with the work we’ve produced. It’s been a lot of fun too. So I’m delighted to say that I am running a six week after school writing group (all the details below) at Darnall Library next month. We’ll be learning how to write good stories, from generating exciting ideas to turning them into brilliant stories which, at the end of the six weeks, we’ll turn intern actual. proper, book. Places are going very quickly so you’re probably better signing up sooner rather than later.
Do spread the word. Hope to see you there!
And you can book my contacting the library either by email email@example.com or by telephone 0114 2037429
Leave a Comment · Posted on May 5, 2016
I’m delighted to welcome the brilliant, and long time friend of the blog, Tim Atkinson along today to talk about his next book, the Unbound produced, The Glorious Dead. Here’s what Tim has to say about it…
“My book hit something of a milestone recently. It’s now 33% funded on Unbound – one third of the way to publication.
In case you’ve never heard of it, Unbound (the world’s first crowd funding publisher) basically allows authors to pitch their ideas direct to the public. Readers then decide what gets published.
The company was founded in 2010 by authors Dan Kieran, John Mitchinson and Justin Pollard. They realised that traditional publishing had become – for writers and readers alike – a stale and formulaic business-driven venture. ‘Put simply,’ they said, ‘there are lots of potentially great books we’re not getting the opportunity to read.’
My book – The Glorious Dead – is a book about the Great War. But it’s a war book with a difference – because the action only starts when the guns stop firing. There are no battles, no set-pieces, none of the clichéd characters (absurdly young subalterns, hoary old sweats) that might populate similar books, nor any of the Olde England Arcadia that comes through Blunden, Thomas and even Wilfred Owen.
As such, it is unlikely to appeal to the traditional devotee of Great War literature. Instead of guns, the soldiers now have picks and shovels. The narrative is almost inverted – from the creation of the iconic war cemeteries as the men clear the old battlefields and bury the bodies of fallen comrades, to the action of the killing fields as it appears in reminiscences and dreams. But there are secrets hidden on these Flanders fields – including one that is revealed only when a visitor from home comes searching… for the grave of one of the survivors!
I’ve supported Unbound for a long time as a reader and I was delighted to be accepted by them as an author. But I’d be lying if I said that crowd funding wasn’t bloody hard word. It’s a bumpy old ride, having to market a book before publication. But I’ve found the engagement with the reading public has been a real pleasure (largely – there have been a few exceptions). And – and here’s the real bonus – I’ve actually had conversations with people about my book that have changed what I’ve written. I’ve hardly had any conversations with anyone before about any of my books. And now I’m having them almost daily, and before the ink is dry, when I can do something about them. It’s wonderful.
There are drawbacks, as I’ve said. It takes a lot of time. But then, so does any publishing model these days. There also seems to be some confusion about what crowd funding books is about. My MS was assessed – twice – by Unbound before I was allowed to sully their Booker-nominated imprint. But to judge by the reactions of some people (including some ‘friends’!) you’d think what I’m doing is a cross between vanity publishing and pyramid selling.
Well, you can’t win ‘em all. Except with Unbound, that is. Because as a reader (and this is where I started) the real bonus of crowd funding books is the opportunity it gives you to be part of something, to help get a project off the ground and to have the chance to ‘talk’ to the author as s/he writes the book. As well as to make sure, of course, through your support and involvement that the book you really want to read gets written.”