In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Friday, 19 June 2015

Do Not Fold The Corners

 I'm getting ready to move house at the moment. Some of my things have gone to a friend's place to be stored for a few weeks, which presented me with a bit of a dilemma - which books to keep with me?

 I can't keep them all. So that meant hard choices. The reference books have to stay, of course. I can't write without the dictionary and thesaurus, the mythology and history books, and the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. But beyond that anything's up for grabs. Do I keep the Stephen King and store the Guy Gavriel Kay, or the other way around? Store the Sheri S Tepper? Keep the Iain M Banks?

 You learn a lot about your preferences when it comes to the crunch. All the Robert Jordan went into boxes, which is a shame, because I loved Wheel of Time for the first six volumes or so. It went very flat then, tailed away, which was disappointing. But all my Terry Brooks stayed with me, and that's odd because I think Brooks is very derivative, with narrative like treacle. Badly written versions of other people's work, really. Did I keep him because it's just so long since I read it? Or was I by that stage so panicked by losing loved books (for a few weeks, anyway) that I was just throwing them into the Pack/Keep piles at random?

 Rhetorical question, that. I was in a terrible tizzy.

 I don't like being without my books. Any of them, really. I'm the sort of chap (like most writers, I think) who believes there's no such thing as too many books, just not enough shelves. I don't lend out my books except in very exceptional circumstances, and even then instruct the borrower to avoid chocolatey fingerprints and folded page corners, and leave the book out of direct sunlight so the pages don't turn yellow. I am, in short, a bit of a book bore.

 And you know, I'm not going to apologise for that.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A Lot of Oomph

 Well, I made it. Submitted my entry for the Yeovil Prize one day before the deadline, and I'm pretty happy with it.

 Partly that's because I've taken the advice Rebecca Alexander gave me, and the result is a tighter story. Mostly though, it's because I didn't expect to be able to write much for a while, after two years buried in the story of Troy. It's always a delight when a story flows easily, and doubly so when it wasn't expected. In fact things are going so well that I keep revising even as I write. I've dropped one character completely and also renamed the book - it's no longer The Cold Kingdoms but has become The Death of Ghosts, which I think has more oomph. Important thing, oomph. Central to any story don'cha know.

 On another note, I found out this week that a chap I play pool with has been reading my books, without knowing I was the author. He thought it was just a coincidence of names. He also likes the books a lot, and there's no buzz quite like hearing that. Shame he's not a judge at the Yeovil Prize really.

 All this gives me a bit of extra pep when I'm planning submissions to agents and publishers (a little more oomph). A writer's desk is a lonely place when rejection letters keep coming in, so anything that offers some cheer is helpful. I'm hopeful that something will happen soon. Meanwhile, I'm not forgetting the work already published, so I'll just add that three novels - A Brand of Fire, Heirs of Immortality and The Gate of Angels - are all free on Amazon until Wednesday 3rd June. You can find them here

You can also find the third and final volume of Troy, called The Ancient Dead, if you're of a mind. It's only $0.99. Go on. You know you want to.