Final resolution – REVIEW MORE

I nearly forgot my final goal for this year. REVIEW MORE. I read a lot, as any writer should. Our house is one giant library, and there are stacks in my currently-reading and to-be-read piles. I have, however, been very BAD at reviewing the books I read, and the best way of supporting a writer or publisher is to review their output. This is such a good thing to do for the writers you want to support that I thought I’d add it as a separate post. So, if you’re a reader rather than a writer, or a writer who …

Turning the page – 2016 writing goals

Towards the end of January last year, I posted a note of my writing goals for the year. I declined to review the year that had just been because it had been a particularly difficult one. I’m not going to dwell on 2015, either, because I want to keep my focus firmly forwards. Still, there’s no point setting targets unless you review how close you came to meeting them. How did I do? I didn’t manage having something out to market at all times. Not quite. The process of moving from draft to fully polished piece is still taking longer …

Hypergraphia — bleeding inky thought onto paper

I have no fixed process for writing. Stories come the way they come. Sometimes that means a single scene from which I have to uncover the rest of the story like an archaeologist digging up a pot or an ancient skeleton; other times it means sitting down with a pen and paper as soon as I’ve dragged myself out of bed, scribbling furiously while someone tries to ask me what I want for breakfast and whether I’ll be making coffee any time soon. I keep what is probably some kind of commonplace. In fact, I keep several, and carry all …

Navigating distraction

While I’ve been doing pretty well at keeping up with my short story target, I’ve not been doing quite so well at everything else. It happens. Life gets in the way. Holding down a full-time job, writing, editing and participating in crit groups, as well as the other things like house hunting, riding my bike and getting out into the sun occasionally for the sake of my sanity all take time. Not to mention eating, sleeping, reading… As important as a social media presence is to the modern writer, I think it’s important to cut yourself some slack. Of all …

When the time comes, move with the seasons

It’s a new year already! I can hardly believe how long it has been since I last updated. Last time I posted anything here the weather was still relatively warm and we’d just had a glorious weekend sea-kayaking off the Banffshire coast. Today the snow is falling, there’s a thick layer of ice outside and we’ve just finished taking another wood delivery. Keil’s Den at Christmas I’ve been submerged in a number of projects (and life), deep down past where blue turns to black, and it has been impossible to come up for air. At the end of a year …

When short stories aren’t

Although I’ve been putting words on paper since I could hold a pen (I shall dig out some of my earliest journals sometime), I have written purely for myself, not with a view to submitting to market. I started doing that only recently, and I’m still finding out where my strengths and weaknesses lie when writing for others. Some of them are obvious, such as the struggle I face balancing too much exposition with confusing prose, when part of what I want to do is conjure ambiguous worlds where nothing is definite. My crit groups are invaluable for dealing with …

NOT AT WORLDCON STOP NEED COFFEE STOP AM WRITING AGAIN DON’T WANT TO STOP

This weekend I should be in London, with thousands of other writers and fans of genre fiction. I’m not. I’m still at home in Scotland, where Summer is packing up the last of his bags and preparing to head south, while Autumn stands on the threshold tapping her foot in her impatience to get onto his wonderful carpets and cover them in kipple. Back at the beginning of April, my Dad was killed in a motor racing accident in Hockenheim, Germany. I was — am — devastated. The effect has been emotionally overwhelming. For the first time in my whole …

A 2013 retrospective

I know it’s traditional to look back on the year somewhat closer to Hogmanay, but I never seem to manage it. I’m either early or late, so this year I’m going to be early. It has been an amazing and exciting year. I’ve had two stories published in anthologies that have put my work on the same ToC as some great authors (Looking Landwards and Fish), and my work has been reviewed positively. On top of that, I’ve gained experience of the business end of editing and publishing, with a stint as slush reader for the Whitecat Publications science fiction …

Good manners are free

I have a few ambitions as a writer, some predictable, some maybe not so much. There is one I wouldn’t have predicted when I was considering stepping into the big, scary world of submitting to market, but which is now very important to me. I want to be a writer other people find it pleasant to work with. I want to be the kind of writer who pays attention to submission guidelines, reading periods and deadlines. I want to submit my work when it’s as good as I can make it, and respond promptly, politely and with good grace to …

A triathlete’s guide to dealing with rejection

I’ve been submitting a lot more this year, which inevitably means handling an increased number of rejections. Rejection is never fun, but it’s part and parcel of writing life. There was a time, back in the dim and distant neon glow of the past, when I believed my first story sale would be some kind of watershed. It would mean I’d learned how to write and everything flowing from my pen from that moment on would be finest prose, to be snapped up by eager publishers. I would dance around in an ecstatic haze surrounded by fluffy unicorns, and I’d …