New month, time for update!

Going to check in the first of every month, just to see how I’m going.

Diet, okay. Exercise not so much. Gotta do better.

More importantly, I have finished the short story collection, bang on target. Okay, I had to drop one story, and I might be able to introduce a replacement in a week, when I’ve had a break from it, but basically, it’s done. And it has a cover.

Which is fabulous, as you can see :) I’m hoping to get it released by end of April. There will be a rafflecoptor giveaway, for a copy of the print, and ebook, so stay tuned! The page with info about the book is already up, so check it out under the Fiction: short story tab.

And on with book 3. :)

 

Two more stories done!

Hecuba was finished last night and today I knocked out another flash fiction story, based on the myth of Dryope. And here it is, as a taster.

This is very rough, please remember that!

 

IN SILENCE

Amy had been going to the woods since she was a child. They backed onto the back of her house and, growing up, she had seen them as an extension of her parent’s neatly tended garden. It was an ancient wood, vast and silent, home to monsters and faeries, and Amy roamed them freely. The woods were hers and she knew every corner of them. She took treats to the faeries that lived in the clearing, and talked to them for hours, even though they never talked back. She fought dragons and ogres with swords made from branches, snapped from trees. And when she was ten she built a den, with leaves and branches woven together around the frame her father had built from her. The sound of her laughter and chattering voice always carried easily in the quiet.

When Amy was fourteen she started taking boys to the woods. Sometimes they carved her names into the rough bark of ancient trees, other times they would chase her around, and she would shriek and laugh, as she ran. And when they caught her, they would fall together to the ground and roll around on a blanket of crunching leaves.

Amy got married when she was twenty, to a young man called John, and when she was twenty-two they had a child. She took John and their baby to the woods one crisp autumn day and showed him her old den and all the places where boys had carved her name into the trunks of the ancient trees. But when she broke off a twig, to show him how to slay a dragon with a sword, she found her feet stuck fast.

She laughed, at first, supporting herself on her husband’s arm, as she tried to pull her feet out, but the more she pulled, the more stuck she found herself. She reached down to try and free her feet that way and found that they had, somehow, become tangled in some roots. Amy yanked at them until she managed to snap one off, sending a sharp ribbon of pain, shooting up her leg. She cried out, swore and rolled up her jeans to rub her leg.

Rough brown bark covered her calves like some sort of vast scab. Amy picked at it with her fingernails and managed to peel away a small chunk, which stung painfully, as though she’d peeled away a small piece of her own skin. She swore again, more from the surprise of it, and tried again, peeling away a larger bit of bark. It came free with a painful tug, but already the scabby growth had spread its way up to her knees.

John knelt down in front of her and, reaching around their baby strapped to his chest, he tried to help, peeling and ripping chunks of bark from her skin. But it carried on growing, spreading, creeping up her body, faster than either of them could tear it away.

It reached her arms, fixing them in place, as it continued to spread along the length of her fingers, turning them from flesh to wood, from fingers to twigs. Tears streamed down Amy’s face, becoming knots of wood as the bark moved up her throat, across her jaw, along her nose, covering her eyes, until, finally, a tree stood where Amy had been a moment before.

And once John had stopped screaming, and swearing, and crying, and had finally left, clutching his baby tightly to his chest, the silence returned.

New year, new review!

Got a new review on Book 2 from fellow writer Joanne Hall. You can see it here:

And I have promised her, and other readers, that book 3 will be finished by the end of July. Six months. I can do it, if I push myself. The problem so far was getting the beginning right, but I think I have that now (though I had thought that before!) And as soon as my short story collection is done, it will have my full attention.

Short story collection is also coming along. End of Jan is my deadline for that. I have two more stories to go, Echo and Cassandra. I had to leave out Philomela and Daphne, because I just couldn’t seem to come up with the right way of doing it, but I’ve not ruled them out entirely. When the ones I can do are done, I will brainstorm and see if I can come up with something for the last two. In any case, it will be done by end of Jan, and out soon after, so it will be certainly ready for this years Scardiff Convention.

Three days in!

Well, three days into a new year, and I’ve been mostly tired, due to not sleeping, and stuck, trying to get the short stories organised. It’s not going so well! It’s hard to think of ways of bringing some of the myths into the modern world because their settings are so very specific, or because some of them are so similar. So I’ve been having a break and working on Children of the Shadow instead, while my excellent web designer fiddles with our payment system so that I can offer discounts with vouchers and things like that :)

And now this:

http://thesuspendedcoffees.wordpress.com/

I love coffee. And as a writer, I drink a fair bit. This idea, buying a hot drink for someone in need, rather than giving them cash they might use on booze or drugs, is lovely. So I’m sharing it. :)

And hopefully when I’ve dared to go outside in the cold and the wind, and jogged my brain, I’ll be able to share another short story, or the completion of the collection. As I’ve already planned my reward for doing so, I really should mush! :)

New year: resolutions and whatnot

Ah, new year approaches so it’s that time to make plans for what we want to do in the New Year, and then never do them.

Mine, pretty much the same as last year.

1. Lose weight. But this year I’m doing it for charity. I’ve set myself 6 months to lose what I can, sponsored for every half stone, by anyone who cares (my mum mostly!) and then in 6 months, I’ll do it for another charity. There are just so many charities that I support, that this way I can give something to lots of them. And hopefully, doing it for charity, will guilt me into continuing. We shall see. I have a lot of weight to lose, so everyone should get something :)

2. Finish book 3. Have had this one for two years now, but it’s been difficult getting the start right, knowing what I want to say, whether what i want to do is actually the right thing for the book, for the characters. I still have no idea, but I want to finish the rough of this by July. (6 months, same as the weight loss thing) So i can get one with the other book i have in my head.

3. Finish my short story Greek Myth collections. I wanted to do it by the end of December, but have run into problems setting the scenes and working out how to deal with the last 4 of the myths i have. These are: Dryope (woman becomes a tree) Hecuba (woman kills the man who killed her son, for money) Cassandra (woman foresees her and her lover’s death) Echo (woman fades into nothing)

4. Read more. For the first time I have a to be read pile. This includes some horror, some fantasy, and a nonfiction book about women’s experiences in mental asylums! I want to read these, and then read more :) At least a book a month :)

5. Keep the house tidy. I’m such a slob! Be nice to have a house I can bring guests into :)

So we shall see. These are my plans, and hopefully I can do them. They’re not too hard.

I also hope to spend the year happy, with my cats and my friends :)

A short story taster

Well, I tried to write a flash fiction, which can be anything under 1000 words, depending on who you talk to. I wanted to keep it under 500, but it’s 569, so, close but no banana. Here it is, all the same. A rough flash fiction (my first) part of my Greek myth rewrite collection. This is based on the story of Circe.

A NICE CUP OF TEA

She was singing in the kitchen downstairs. Tony could hear her from the bathroom above, as he worked to fix the broken boiler. It was a sweet sounding song, with a catchy tune, but no matter how hard he tried to make it out, the words would just slip out of his mind. But he found himself humming along, all the same, as he changed the pump and slurped the hot, sweet tea she’d brought him.

Then he dropped the pump. It just fell out of his fingers, disappearing beneath the sink. He swore and dropped to his knees, reaching out to get it, but his fingers were thick and clumsy and he couldn’t seem to get a grip. He swore again and stretched a little further, until a painful spasm forced him to snatch his arm back. He rubbed at it until another spasm seized his calves and then his stomach, causing him to cry out and bend double.

It was the last thing he remembered. After that there was just pain, burning cramps in every single muscle in his body, spasms as those same muscles twitched and contracted, a pounding in his skull and the taste of blood on his lips. He couldn’t see. His vision was all blurred shapes and bright, dazzling stars. But he knew that his eyes were open. Somewhere, in all the pain, he knew that at least.

And then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the pain stopped, his vision cleared and everything was still.
Except . . . except he couldn’t feel anything. His whole body had gone numb, as though it had fallen asleep. Desperately he struggled to move, to wake his body, but to no avail. He was stuck.

Footsteps and then a pair of sandals and the hem of a pink dress appeared in front of him. Tony tried to open his mouth, to say something, to beg for help, to make a sound, anything! But he couldn’t. Nothing would come. Tears burned his eyes.

“Oh,” a voice said, the woman’s voice, sounding delighted. “You’re a pig! I don’t have any pigs.” Hands gripped him and, incredibly, he felt himself being lifted, held, carried, gently out of the bathroom and down the stairs. “You never know what people will become. I thought that it reflected their inner self, at first, but then I ended up with a two-headed snail and who is a two-headed snail on the inside?” She laughed, as she opened a door, and Tony was hit by the smell of fresh air and the brightness of the sun, before the ground rushed towards him, so fast it left him dizzy, as she set him down. “There! You look great and I’m sure you’ll be very happy here in your new home and you won’t be lonely. Here’s Mr Frog and Mr Badger to keep you company.” She moved backwards so that he could see the frog and badger garden ornaments, hidden behind her skirt.

A foot high, the two creatures were painted in ugly colours, reds and blues and greens, like cartoon characters in a circus. But their eyes were normal, a brown and a blue pair, both looking at him, both shimmering with tears.

And then the brown pair blinked and Tony knew what she had meant by them keeping him company.
Inside, he started to scream.

Hope people like it! :)

December already!

Somehow we have reached the final month. No idea how that happened! But I have set myself a target, 1k a day, at least, until the end of the month, and then I should have my short story collection at 40k and all finished and ready to go to publishers in the new year. I have three done now, Hylas and the nymphs, Lamia and my Orpheus story and am working on Circe. The collection will probably be about 12 stories long, which is certainly more short stories than I have ever written in my life, let alone in such a short space of time. Of course it helps that the myths are already written, I know the beginning, middle and end, I just have to put them into a modern setting.

On the selling front, my short story collection, Rules of War, does really well at face to face things, so hopefully the horror greek myth collection will too! It doesn’t do so well online though, but that’s where marketing and promoting comes in and I SUCK at that sort of thing. Give me a table I can sit behind, with my books out in front, and I’m happy. But targeting people online is hard. You can’t be too pushy, you have to find the right audience and it takes up so much time when I could be doing something else. I do worry, though, with every sale, that people will hate it. I guess because I’m not a fan myself of at least two of the stories in the collection. But different people like different things, and a magazine liked them well enough to publish them, so that’s what I have to keep telling myself.

Oh well, year almost done, no more selling occasions until 2014, I guess I better mush with the writing. :)
Have a good xmas and New year, if I don’t write anything again before Jan. :)