Friday, 26 September 2008

I am blessed with the best of friends

Here's another image that fits my story, Tuesdays and Thursdays, which has gone down really well at Every Day Fiction. My thanks to everyone who read and commented on it. Special thanks to Kevin Shamel, just about one of the most upbeat and supportive guys I've ever met, who excelled himself this week as custodian of my self-confidence. You're da man, Kev.

A big shout out to Gay Degani who's been keeping me on track this week, writing-wise. Gay's a blazingly good crime writer and having her watch my back is a gift.

Thanks to Tania Hershman for suggesting the buddy business and for her all-round sweetness and enthusiasm, and to Vanessa Gebbie for not telling me to button it about the perils of writing porn when we met for supper earlier in the week.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Tuesdays and Thursdays

This flash of mine, Tuesdays & Thursdays, is Read of the Day over at Every Day Fiction. If you have time please do pop along and read and, if you're so inclined, star rate the story and leave a comment. Thank you!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

How to write fiction

This is a series of booklets published with The Guardian newspaper every day this week. It's also available online. Tutorials, feature articles, exercises and advice from writers including Robert Harris, Kate Pullinger, Stephen King and George Saunders. Well worth a look.

Other booklets in the series include How to write Poetry (Wendy Cope) and How to write Scripts & Screenplays (Ronald Harwood). A complete menu can be found here.

"Plot is the good writer's last resort and the dullard's first choice." Stephen King

Monday, 22 September 2008

The Random Things Meme

I was tagged by Shameless. Let's do this. First, the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Write 6 random things/unspectacular quirks about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is posted.

Six Random Things:

1. I never wear heels. I own no dresses and only one skirt. I had great legs, right up until I turned 35, and even now they're not so bad. But I live in jeans or moleskins these days.

2. In my late twenties I spent the best part of eighteen months working with the Royal Navy, as a researcher. I toured around, went on nuclear subs and slept in the room where Prince Andrew bunked as a Naval recruit. I learned to call Royal Marines "Bootnecks" and RAF pilots "CrabFats". I had a whale of a time.

3. I love horror movies. I used to sneak into X rated slash flicks with my brother when I was just 15. I'd memorise a false date of birth in case anyone quizzed me; they never did.

4. I used to write boy/boy porn. A lot of it.

5. I have a mild case of survivor guilt because I wouldn't have been born but for the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My mother was a child internee in a Japanese camp, sentenced to death by the Japanese just days before the Allies dropped the bombs. This bothers me in all sorts of ways I don't often voice.

6. I love being a mother. Deeply, madly. It changed me as a person, in ways I'm still finding out. My seven year old is an independent as they come but still it's like I'm missing a limb when she's not someplace I can reach out and hug her when I want to.

As for tagging others, I think everyone I know has already been tagged. If not, consider yourself tagged!

The Skywatchers

This flash of mine is published today over at Bewildering Stories. My first attempt at Magic Realism. Do please drop by and read.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Elvis in a trailer park

I got my copies of One Step Beyond, the Subatomic anthology which features my story, LoveFM. The books look fantastic, probably the best of any I've been in, funky covers, beautiful typesetting. They spelt my pen-name wrong, Hillary with two 'ells' but what the 'ell, I still love the books.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Watch the Hirst hit the fan

Whatever you think of Damien Hirst's art you have to admire the man's brass neck (and balls) for cutting out the dealers and taking his wares direct to the paying public. The middle-men must be cursing him all sorts of colours. Seeing them squirm is worth every penny of the publicity stunt. Apparently Hirst is now 'painting pictures', something he's never done before. I can hear the knives being sharpened already.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Cast a shadow, create a doubt

More from the man who photographed the rusting cans, David Maisel, who has the best website. I love the idea of this project, Oblivion, about which William L. Fox says, "The term “shadowland” that Maisel uses when discussing the Oblivion photographs is appropriate. When you cast a shadow on a fact, you create doubt. When you shadow someone, you follow them invisibly. Shadowland is what the military calls those blacked-out areas where they wish to operate unseen, whether they are testing an experimental aircraft or interrogating people beyond lawful means. It is a land of spies and spooks, a place where ghosts live, and what Los Angeles looks like in Oblivion. The city is almost recognizable in Maisel's negative prints and yet not quite, as if we are seeing both more of what we know and less." Spooks, spies and smoke. Brilliant.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Beauty in strange places

I bought a copy of The New Scientist to read on the train home from London yesterday. The article that intrigued me most was accompanied by this image, of a rusted copper can containing the remains of a patient who died at an insane asylum in Salem. So many stories suggest themselves from this one image. Thank you to Tania for reminding me to dip into The New Scientist from time to time. I'm resolved to buy a different magazine each time I travel home from London. If anyone has any suggestions for good reading matter that might spark story ideas, please let me know.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Two minute silence

The nicest thing that happened yesterday was seeing the final artwork from the illustrator who's been working on my story for Smokelong Quarterly.

The story opens with the line, 'Molly Cottle was burying stolen spoons in the garden.'

The picture is just perfect. I love it. The illustrator, Venetia Sarll, has captured the essence of my heroine and her story. Here's a sneak preview of the inked version. The final artwork features red poppies. Smokelong say they are honoured to be publishing my story. Well, I'm honoured to have it illustrated so wonderfully. Thank you, Venetia!

Friday, 5 September 2008

On the bright side

Today was a wash-out, as far as writing went. I had so many good intentions, had reached the start of a new scene for the novel, but work intervened and one thing and another, but I won't say nothing got done. In fact I'm going to record three good things about today. Firstly, the post brought Tania Hershman's The White Road, which I've been dying to read. Secondly, I found several great website links for visual images and ideas for this new scene I need to write. Thirdly, I cleared some office work out of the way in advance of next week when I shall return to the novel anew. Isn't this a amazing picture? It's of a swan under Kingston Bridge. I love the colours, and the swan's shape in the water. If you click on the image you will be able to view it in a larger size.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Refresh, Refresh

Woot! The latest issue of The Short Review is online. Another superb selection of stories and interviews to whet the appetite. I just loved reading the interview with Benjamin Percy whose book, Refresh, Refresh, I reviewed for the site. What'd I think? Find out here. A taster below.

I'm so proud!

Of my seven year old, who is one of only three children in her class of 30 at school who is reading at what they call 'stage 11' which, as far as I can tell, is about three years above the required reading for her age. Plus she's been given the job of trainee librarian at the school - a great honour as usually the school won't allow anyone below the age of nine to be responsible for the library. But she asked whether she could be a monitor and her new class teacher was so chuffed she created this trainee role. Way to bond with the new teacher.


Does anyone know how to block a specific "user" from these blogs? I've got a very obvious spammer who keeps posting "comments" (not even a real person, just an auto thing) and I'd like to block/ban based on their "name" without blocking other readers who come here. Any tips?

I've switched on Comment Moderation which means I now have to approve the comments before they appear. I don't like doing this but it looks like the only way unless someone can tell me how to block a specific user?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Ink Sweat & Tears

Have published a flash of mine, After a long illness, quietly at home, which I wrote for a challenge set by Tania Hershman. Can you guess the structural discipline she imposed? I loved writing this, the process, the story. Thanks, Tania! And thanks, Charles, for liking it enough to publish in IS&T.


This journal has just published its Fall issue, which includes my story, Gentian blue. It looks really lovely in situ, I'm delighted with it! This site has a facility to leave comments, but you need to register with a user name and email. I'm grateful for all/any comments, as usual. Thanks!

Ranfurly Review

This journal is available as a free downloadable pdf and features my story, What we did at half-term on page 8. It gets a special mention in the editorial on page 3 as it is one of two Editor's Picks for the issue. You can download the issue from here. It's a true story, by the way, every word of it.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Family tree

I'm in touch with a relative I didn't know I had. She is the great-great-grand-daughter of my great-great-great-grandfather. My great-great-grandmother was her great-grandfather's sister. Our shared relative (who worked on the railways) went by the fabulous name of Frederick George Rumble Olley (Rumble was his mother's maiden name). He died in 1912. His first wife, we believe, died in childbirth and his son later died in infancy. He married again and his second wife bore seven children, still managing to live until the ripe age of 90 years (no mean feat in that day and age). Anyway, my new relative (second cousin, much removed?) lives in the US and has for years been searching for someone who can visit Frederick George Rumble Olley's grave in Wolverton, to take flowers (and photos). She told me today that I would make her the happiest woman in the world if I could make that pilgramage. I have since emailed the church via their extremely useful website asking for confirmation of the burial and location of the plot. It's less than an hour and half's drive away from me, so I'll be going.

Every Day Poets - announcement

For the scribes amongst you. Oonah V Joslin (Managing Editor) says: Every Day Poets is a magazine that specializes in bringing you fine, short poetry. Starting on 1st November 2008, every day at 12:01am Pacific Time (8am GMT), we will be publishing a new poem of up to 60 lines/500 words or fewer that can be read during your lunch hour, in transit, or even over breakfast. Feel free to browse around the site, check out our archives as they grow, or even sign up to receive a poem in your inbox... every day! And if you are a poet, why not send us your best work? We are open for submissions now.

The White Road

Huge congratulations to Tania Hershman whose first collection of short stories, The White Road, is published today. I don't know when I last looked forward to reading a new book so much.

Enjoy your Big Day, Tania!

My first interview!

Those lovely people over at Every Day Fiction chose me as their first anniversary interviewee. Golly it was hard writing answers that didn't sound dull, dim or arrogant. I hope I pulled it off. You can read the interview here.