I’ve never done an awards eligibility post before, because I didn’t know they were a thing until late last month. But for regular(ish) readers, youse can look away. This is just a quick list of links to writing I’ve had published this year that’s eligible for the upcoming SFF awards season. As I understand it, nominators (who number in the squillions or more, probably) find these helpful to discover magazines/stories/issues they might not otherwise have come across.Continue reading “Awards Eligibility Post – 2020”
It’s that time again – the time I should be getting some freelance work done, so I write a blog post instead.
Last weekend I went to York for a friend’s birthday. Sorry we went, and had our first experience of being recent-test-passers on the motorway, in an old old (borrowed) car with no power steering which coughed and hrrrmed its way from 30 to 70 in about ten minutes. Speedsters.
Anyway, while in York, I had my fortune read for the first time in my life. For £1, by an old man with a monkey puppet, in the middle of the street. Definitely legit. Definitely accurate.
He did the whole ‘swing a necklace over my hand and it’ll answer a question’ thing, which failed dismally to move much at all. “It’s a very faint possible yes,” he said, as we all stared at the motionless pendant. My question was ‘Will I buy a better car than the one we drove down in?’ so, you know, hopefully he’s right. It’s possible the answer hinged on whether we survived the trip back.
Then the fortune telling cards, where card#1 claimed that I have a friend not to be trusted (is it you?). No one has noticeably screwed me over yet, but now I’m braced for it, untrustworthy one.
Card #2 says I have good news coming in the mail, apparently. “Definitely by post,” said the fortune teller. “Not by email.” Nothing’s come yet, mind. So far just a ‘leave’ leaflet, of the type we seem to be getting daily. I ripped up the last one and left it stuck out of the letter box on the other side of the door hoping whoever is dropping them in will take the hint. Rebellion fail: it escaped the mailbox and blew all over the garden. Really, though, campaigning is fine, and I’ll listen to factual information, though you’d better believe I make the effort to research that ‘facts’ I’m told (unless a fortune-teller says it. Then I’ll believe every word). But this is the sort of sneaky pamphlet that starts out with ‘You’re probably wondering how to vote. Here are some not-at-all skewed, completely unbiased facts that we have re-worded slightly and left out important details from’ and ends with ‘if you had this information before we even joined the EU, would you have bothered to join WOULD YOU WOULD YOU HUH IT’S A WASTE OF SPACE OBVIOUSLY VOTE LEAVE’. Not biased at all. No. *rolls eyes*
I will freely admit that I am biased on a totally personal level, and the clarified facts keep me that way. But beyond that the idea of the bunch of self-involved government wankers that actually were elected having total power – without the unelected folk from other countries enforcing useful things like human rights – scares the shit out of me. I could go on. I won’t.
Anyway. Cards three-to-five basically said I ought to be coming into some money. Lots of money. I’m susceptible enough that I actually started hoping maybe this meant I was getting a writing grant I applied for. Ladies and gents, I didn’t even get shortlisted. So. *sob*. But if you want to rebuild my dreams and faith in street-corner fortunes, please do send me some cash. Safe to say, by the way, that that particular no-win stung a bit. I wallowed for, oooof, at least half a day (am Teflon, these days. Feeling so brave that I even, in an email regarding music, wrote the words ‘I’m thick-skinned, I promise’ and then wondered if that really applies to the music stuff yet.)
The wound also healed quite fast courtesy of a couple of things. One – a new story out! On the brilliant Loss Lit site, no less, which is full of the sort of sad, strange, dark, lyrical writing I adore, so I’m pleased to be in it alongside such fab writers as Vanessa Gebbie and Josephine Corcoran. You should, of course, go and read the entire Bumper Issue 3.
And then the wonderful Georgia Bellas, of Mr Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon, got in touch to say she’d picked out a couple of previously published stories to read out on Boston Free Radio that evening. (You should listen to the podcast every week, by the way, if you like stories and poems. It’s a gem.) I was especially chuffed that she chose to read ‘Lost to Dolly’, which was written as a radio piece, really. The other story was ‘Sea Monster’ – it was a creature themed show (there’s links to the published versions of both stories on my stories page). God, but your words sounds different when someone else says them, don’t they? Sentences there that I’d forgotten I strung together, but they were just right. Anyway, have a listen HERE if you wish.
Back to the fortune: so, loads of money apparently incoming. Also an opportunity I should grasp immediately because it will not come again. This was translated as “you’ll see something I want to buy, but when I go back it will be gone, so you should by it straight away”. But I think fortune-speak is flexible, so I’m twisting it to my own ends and using it as a kick up the bum for things that I’ll save for later entries.
OR maybe that money comes from a change in jobs! A fork in the road, says the fortune teller of the seventh and final card, a new opportunity, a new job, a life alteration. I mean, this could just be that the Mega Project is at the printers now and will be in people’s hands very very soon, and if I’ve somehow got something very wrong I could be out of a job? [As I, perhaps unwisely, admitted to a board member, I’m torn between it being a success because I worked so bloody hard on it, and it crashing and burning horribly so that I never have to do that work again. (I want it to be a success, of course. My name’s on it for heaven’s sake – and that thought makes me feel a bit nauseous, so moving on…)]
Huh. I think that actually the fortune teller might have told my 2015 fortune. Job, money, opportunities, untrustworthy friends. Yup.
BOOKS: I have finally (after ekeing it out) finished Beastings by Benjamin Myers, which is so richly written I had to read it a bit at a time, then digest. The ending made me want to be sick and also cry. Hell of a combination. And I’m halfway through Terry Pratchett’s non-fiction stuff, and I’ve started The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. Can’t speak highly enough of that last one. I had to read the first three pages out loud because they are just so *nnnngh* (<noise trying to relay total perfection). I need two copies so I can underline stuff. It is also, unfortunately, the sort of book that’s written so much the way I want to be able to write that it’s simultaneously inspiring me and crushing me. (Sample convo with Coffee Monster, after I made him read the first three pages. ‘It reminds me of your stuff.’ ‘It’s exactly how I want to write.’ ‘It’s like how you write, but distilled, like the between parts are gone that aren’t like that.’ ‘You mean edited?’ ‘No. Yes? Wait…’ ‘But I DO edit my stuff!’ ‘Um.’ *sulk*)
MUSIC: I pulled out the Southway CD we bought off them on the street a couple of years ago and have been enjoying. Also very recent (like, this morning) discovery of There There, who are synthy and lyrical. Also more Eve Conway ‘cause she sang her EP a week or so ago at an open mic night and I adore her voice. And for Gothic ennui and historical, wonderful weirdness, The Black Sheep Frederick Dickens just shared their single Shrines.
I’ve been endlessly playing catch-up with my home and work life, never quite catching the will-o-the-wisp that is a completed To Do list and a clear mind. There have been brief respites (swimming at Brockwell Lido, no wetsuit, determined to develop into one of those double-hard winter swimmers (even as the sun continues to shine). Meeting up with friends. Meeting Sophie the sheep in Herne Hill – a woolly cutie who’s in training to be a movie star and wears a tiara) – but mostly it’s all been do do do, not sleeping, not writing, just about getting through the day. There’s been the odd purple day (that’s a day when the blues and the mean reds get together and throw a party just outside the blanket that I hide under when they come visiting). It’s been wearing. Continue reading “Launches, pretty things and anti-romance”
It’s lunchtime on a Wednesday, and as I write this I’m sat in the tiny bit of shade at the edge of the gloriously sunny courtyard of Somerset House. The fountains are splashing away and drowning out any conversations I might have been distracted by. It’s lovely. It feels like being on holiday.*
*When I post this, I will actually be doing it from home, mind. After work. Continue reading “Water, water everywhere”
A night of weird dreams. I know, I know – boring. No one likes hearing about other people’s dreams. But it was a night of weird dreams to round off a week that’s felt very out-of-time. I know by the dull ache of my jaw that I probably ground my teeth a lot. I suspect Ragnarok happened in my head, even if not out in the world. Continue reading “The children of an idle brain”
Yesterday evening I attended my first Word Factory Short Story Salon event. I almost didn’t go – the usual warm house v. wailing wind and rain v. spending two hours in a room full of strangers – but I’m glad I did. If you like reading stories, listening to storytellers, or writing stories, this is really an evening for you. Wine, enthusiasm and books abound.
Continue reading ““You have to bloody love it”: The Word Factory”
I wrote some really, truly terrible stories when I was younger. I’ve been going through the Folder of Old Stuff, which contains things written from age 19 or so upwards. I was looking for something in particular, but got bogged down reading, as you do. The folder is full of stories mostly written for creative writing classes at university (a very useful, career-oriented degree). I feel very, very sorry for my tutors. Nicholas Sparks ain’t got nothing on me at my most maudlin and over-sentimental. Sledgehammer sentences abound.