Monthly Archives: May 2013

Some Good Old Pro-Writing Propaganda

I shamelessly nicked this from the excellent blog of Tessa Sheppard. It’s all writery and you-go-girl, which some people need sometimes. If you’re a writer you shouldn’t be reading this though, you should be WRITING!

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May 22, 2013 · 1:59 pm


Previously on Personification-Ridden Faux 16th Century Writing Parodies, our intrepid hero, the younge gentle-mann of leisure, set out on his quest to find and vanquish the dreaded ay-gent, accompanied by his four totally not imaginary friends, Hope, Determination, Despair and Desire! But will he heed the warnings of that infamous travelling wisdom-teller, Old Mann Lyfe? Read on!

Imagehe gallant bande sette off from the Castle gate, Determination leading them onwards. Only Despaire lagged behind.

“Wherefore can we possibly fynde this ay-gent,” he was heard to mule.

“I know of an certain knowledgeable fellow,” said the young gentle-mann. “A keeper of many spyders who resides nearby. By consulting his webbs, we may assuredly find the lair of the ay-gent.”

So they journeyed on, unto the noisome abode of the Webb Keeper.

“The place you seek lies fare unto the north,” he said, having consulted the weave of his sorcerous spyders. “A verie mountainous place. They call it Ay-Gent Kuerie. Many such ay-gents may be found there. Yet you will required great strength to tame even one.”

The gentle-mann and his band bade thanks unto the Webb Keeper, resisting his urging to abide with him longer and regard the many amusing visions of young catlings and strange bloggposts his webbs were able to conjour up. They turned north, towards the distant, mist-shrouded peaks of Ay-Gent Kuerie.

Twas a long a wearisome journey, and for an time, sheltered from the rain in a copse of trees aside the pathway, the little band halted. As they ate their meagre rations, an old, stooped figure in rain-sodden garbe joined them.

“You are Old Mann Lyfe,” Despaire said instantly, for he recognised the wizened figure, as did the gentle-mann’s other three companiones.

“Send him on his way,” they urged the young gentle-mann. “We have no time for him!”

“We are at rest,” the gentle-mann said. “And we is welcome to join us for a while.”

“Thank you, kind sire,” said Old Mann Lyfe, sitting beside the young master and setting aside his crooked walking-stave. “It seems this rain may keep up an little while yett. Shall we speak, you and I, to more assuredly pass the time? Wherefore do you venture?”

And so the young gentle-mann told Old Mann Lyfe of their quest, to gain entry into the Castle and learn the fair maiden’s name, firstly by confronting an ay-gent.

“Tis an noble quest,” Old Mann Lyfe conceded, nodding slowly. “But mayhaps you should hear what I have to say afore you journey further.”

And so Old Mann Lyfe told the young gentle-mann of many and divers things. He told him of jobes and worthy employment, of earning and of paying taxes unto the king and his court. He told him of family life, of the need for a spouse and the strains and joys of raising younglings. He told him many bawdy tales of comradeship with close friends. He told him of duties to parents, and to all manner of familial relations. He told him of a thousand and one things he had yet to achieve.

“Think you notte,” he said, “that there be many more pressing matters for you to attend to afore you seek out this ay-gent? Is this quest you embark upon truly what you seek? You know your chances of success be so little they can scarce be said to even exist? There is much else to be done. Yet I have spoken overlong – look, the rain hath lifted.”

And upon those words Old Mann Lyfe took himself off on his way, saying only that they would surely meet againe.

“What he spoke was true,” Despair intoned, for the others had been listening in.

“I know Old Mann Lyfe,” Determination snapped back. “He has oft impeded me. He is notte to be trusted. Do not heed his words.”

“We may yet achieve the many things he speaketh of,” Hope said, “and still maintain this quest.”

The young gentle-mann sat and frowned and spake little, for Old Man Lyfe’s words weighed heavily ‘pon him. There was indeed much to be done, much that would not be helped by this foolishe and vain quest.

“Have we not come this far,” Desire then said, laying a light hand on his shoulder and whispering in his ear. “Be not the completion of our quest not what your heart yearns for, young master?”

The gentle-mann grimaced, yet nodded. Desire, moreso than any of the other companiones, most often spoke for his heart. He rose, and drew his cloak tight about him.

“We carry on,” he said, pointing through the trees towards the mountain-peakes. “There is no more time for dalliance. The ay-gent awaits.”

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Paper Vultures – A SITREP (Part 5)

If you think I’m not being genuine when I say $2.30 really does make me joyful, I’m afraid you’ll probably never be a writer.

School’s out for summer! Or, like, University is out for summer. Basically the same thing, except the latter is less work. Whatever, the point is I have three and a half months of summer holidays to look forward to. Possibly my last ever summer holidays if I don’t carry on with a Master’s Degree after next year. Now that’s downright sobering, and as a Uni student that’s never an enjoyable sensation.

So what’s my summer got to do with you? Well, nothing really, but it means there’ll be more writing, more blog posts about writing, and more of these Situation Reports, wherein I divulge my latest writerly adventures in the half-baked belief that anyone will get anything from them. Hey, you may pick up info for a few easy-to-publish-with markets and small presses along the way!

The past few months of keyboard-abuse have brought SUCCESS – the SUCCESS of a few dollars worth of cash from my writing thanks to Books to Go Now (see, already namedropping the small presses, you attentive fledgling writers can go snap ‘em up now), and rather more than a few dollars courtesy of Jukepop Serials. Your support of Werekynd got it firmly to the top spot, and considering the site has near on 200 ongoing stories that’s a damn fine achievement. Couldn’t have done it without you and all that.  

I also recently (three days ago in fact) got interviewed about why I give my characters the names I do, courtesy of an old amigo’s blog. He’s a top-notch reviewer, so go check his site out.

The past few months have also brought FAILURE – the FAILURE of writing rejections galore. I think the current number stands at three short stories and heaven-only knows how many agent query refusals. All expected of course, but if even the saltiest sea-dog writer tells you he doesn’t get a teeny weeny downer when he opens the email to that monstrosity of a NO, he’s a lying salty sea-dog. On the bright side, with agent rejections for my novel Crucible of Faith hitting the 30ish mark I’ve been thoroughly reworking the whole thing since February. Yes, I know we’re not supposed to query the agent-folk until our work is already at its very bestest. It just takes clear repeat rejections for me to accept that my work really isn’t at its bestest. Character pruning, plot tightening and adjective deletion here I come!

The plan for the next few months. Well, probably take my driving theory test. Hopefully I’ll get that part time job at the Culloden battlefield visitor’s centre. Take a trip down to London… oh wait, you mean writing plans? Well that’s easy, imma resubmit those three rejected short stories, continue to hammer-hammer-hammer Crucible of Faith at people/things, and write more of these blog post.

Sorry about that.

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Howdy blog followers/visitors/hostages! The sun’s shining, University exams are over for another year, and I’m looking forward to getting back to some summer writing! I’ll save the SITREP for, well, a SITREP post and crack straight on with today’s topic – it’s another Writing Workout!

Don’t worry, Google Images have an inexhaustible supply of artsy-writery images for this post series.

So, last time we explored the importance of exercise in your training regime, focusing particularly on the need to stick to your workout schedule, even if that schedule is as light as “write 1000 words a month.” Today we’ll look at another technique for building that writing muscle – character mashups.  

Whilst most writers enjoy throwing in a little tribute here and there to friends and family, many acknowledge that character creation isn’t simply a case of plonking every work colleague and cat-rewritten-to-be-a-dragon into your story. But you know that, because a) you’re a writer and you don’t need no “this is how to do it” beginner’s handbook and b) you’re read this post

Today isn’t going to be about me waxing verbose on character creation (again). It’s just a simple little exercise, so simple in fact that you’ve probably done it plenty of times. This humble post’s purpose is merely to sharpen your concentration and get you out there doing it.

Out there, I hear you wonder. Yes, I know, ‘tis a fearful place beyond the musty shelves of the Writer’s Attic. But our stories are full of Characters, and Characters are Pretend People we trick Real People into believing are Real too. Your only way to trick them is to study the Real People. A lot.

So, out you go, to the nearest coffee house. Starbucks or an indy with cashmere rugs and bead drapes instead of curtains, I don’t discriminate, and don’t pretend you don’t like cafes. You’re a writer. Plant yourself down in a seat with a good view – you know, the Shady Writer’s Seat reserved for you in the corner. Set your laptop in front of you. But wait! This isn’t just your standard “stop writing in my house so I can go outside and write instead” moment! The laptop’s just a cover! And so you can keep reading this article.

Observe the people around you. Don’t make eye contact, and don’t let the eye wander – this is a writing exercise, not a stalker’s 101. Regard passers by, their hair, their facial features, their posture, their expression, the way they walk, the clothes they wear. All can offer so much insight into character creation.

This is all getting very airy-fairy, isn’t it? Oooh, the Real World people, they’re all so insightfully dressed and expressive! Well, chances are they’re not. But they don’t have to be, because you’re not using any single person to make your characters, are you? Chances are most folk won’t have anything immediately stand-out about them. But some will. The limp, how did they get that? The bleached blond hair. The snort-laugh. A sudden palm smack against a table in anger. The eyes that narrow almost imperceptibly as they meet yours – why are you making eye contact?

These are the things you can use. Cut them off from their owner, it’s not like they even realise they have them half the time. Take them, mash them up, and give me a character. Even if it’s a limping, blond-haired, snorting, angry man who is good at catching emaciated writers staring at him from a corner.

It’s a simple exercise, intended as merely a jump-start to bigger and better character things. And it’s gotten you out of the house. What can I say, I’m a genius. As a reward for reading all this way here, have a random name generator for your new character creations. The “hillbilly” ones are amazing. Next time we’re going to chew through writing workout numero four – settings. Between now and then watch out for a proper SITREP and another installment of the pen-adventures of a certain anonymous yet dashing hapless writer-knight.

Until next time! 

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NANP: Gossip Castle

The excellent Abhinav Jain interviews me on naming conventions and, well, the Gossip Castle…

Shadowhawk's Shade

Stopping by the blog today for the latest Names: A New Perspective post is Robbie MacNiven, a fellow Boltholer who got published last year and has been going all out with his love of writing. I haven’t had a chance to read any of his work yet, but it is on the reading pile for sure. As with most other posts that I’ve had a chance and the pleasure to feature on the blog so far, Robbie’s take on names is just as interesting and varied. Here’s what he has to say on the topic.

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