Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Another Sale.

It's been ages since I've sold a story, although until about six weeks ago I hadn't submitted one for a very long time. So you can imagine how thrilled I was last week to receive an acceptance email from a publisher in the U.S. It is an anthology with an interesting theme and I was fortunate enough to have a story sitting here doing nothing which I felt would be a good fit.

Now this is a story I really like. And it's a story which came close at a couple of pro-markets, receiving personal rejections and fabulous feedback. I rewrote and slashed away at the story based on those comments and I believe it was an even better story because of it. I am so pleased I have finally found a home for this piece.

Don't forget I have a story in Sherlock Holmes: The Australian Casebook which is due for release in November. This is going to be a fantastic publication and I can't wait to get nmy hands on a copy. The names in here are fabulous, the stories are great and the artwork looks wonderful. I am truly excited to be in this one. Keep an eye out for it in your local Australian bookshop. Hopefully it will do well enough to warrant an international release.

I have a few other stories out at the moment. Again these are good pieces, and I have a feeling at least one of them will sell. Of course I have my fingers crossed for all four - but publishing rarely works that way.

I shall, of course, keep you informed.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Seeking New Opportunities.

Have you heard of the hidden job market?

It is believed as much as 80% of jobs are never advertised. These positions go to people through other means - usually networking, headhunting and referrals.

Of course this can make life difficult for someone like myself who has only been in the UK a short time and doesn't really have a local network. There are ways to grow a network and I am taking those steps. But it can be a long, slow process.

I have decided to take the slightly unusual step of promoting myself as a potential employee. No, I haven't splurged out and bought time on one of the TV stations, instead I've created a web page. Check it out here.

And if you know of anyone who needs a hard-working administrator, please don't hesitate to share the page with them.

Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Still Rock 'N' Roll To Me.

As I posted recently, most Tuesday evenings I wander down to the local for their open-mike night. Regulars, for the most part, play a variety of both originals and covers - blues, folk, 50s, 60s and 70s. Lap steel guitars, banjos, mandolins, acoustics, electrics, keyboards and even full bands are dragged out. The quality varies, but the passion is there. Always. These folks do it because they love the music.

It's a fun evening. I get to chat to friends, have a pint or two, and listen to some tunes. Every now and again something special happens and the music transcends the time and place. And those performances are the ones I long for.

It's inspired me to pick up my own guitars and play more often - a habit I'd long fallen out of. At the moment I play an hour or more every night, re-honing my skills, learning new songs and toughening up my fingertips. It's a lot of fun.

I've also been inspired to listen to a lot more 50s rock. A couple of rockers play a 50s set, which I thoroughly enjoy. Mark jumps up and sings a couple of numbers. And he's good. He's gotten me into Charlie Gracie who I'd never heard of before, but had a few hits here in the UK. Fabulous and Butterfly are wonderful songs. My listening at the moment includes a couple of fantastic 50s compilations, as well as albums by Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.

I knew some of these songs already, but I feel like I'm hearing them with fresh ears. And there have been some surprises along the way. Elvis Presley's B-side, Mess of Blues, is just amazing, and should have been a hit.

Hey, hey, my, my - rock 'n' roll will never die.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Most Roads Lead To Helsinki.

Summertime here in the northern hemisphere, and we're rapidly approaching Worldcon. For those not in the know, Worldcon is the World Science Fiction Convention, held annually around the globe. This year, the 75th con, is to be held in Helsinki in mid August.

A year or so ago I had hopes I would attend, particularly since I was now in the UK and so close. Alas it was not to be. Scheduling and other factors worked against me. So I'll be here in my cottage, sitting at the computer and watching with envy as my friends from around the world converge in Finland for fellowship, discussions, beer and more beer. Oh, and possibly even some networking and pitching of stories.

It's the fellowship I enjoy, the sitting, chatting and getting to know new friends.

I wish you all well as you start to pack.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Recent Scribbling.

It's been a good month for writing.

Not only have I submitted four stories in the past two weeks, but I have started another story and written an article. This week I was commissioned to write another couple of articles which will be published shortly.

I love writing, when I can manage to make the time. And I wish I had more time in which to sit and focus my energies on getting words on the screen. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be a full time writer? Maybe not for everyone, but it's what I desire and should I win the lottery I think that's what would happen. Of course winning the lottery would actually require a great deal of luck; even more since I so rarely buy a ticket. But I can dream.

Writing these articles takes a great deal of research. A lot of time spent looking at documents, chasing links and leads, and formulating clear, concise paragraphs that are easy to follow. My feedback from editors suggest I succeed at delivering on this.

My fiction writing is improving as well. I plan on selling four or five stories by the end of the year. My Sherlock Holmes story is due for release in a couple of months, and I think I have another story out by Christmas. All I need is the confirmation and I'll be able to share those details with you.

It's time I found a writing group here in Lincoln. I need to mix with other writers. But finding the right group for you can be tricky. Ideally it should include writers at a similar and higher level than yourself. I've been in groups consisting of only beginner writers, and it was of little benefit to me. They don't have the experience and skills to critique your work as required. A mix is ideal, with new writers and some old hands.

I'll start looking around soon, see what's happening. There should be a group that meets my needs. After all, this is a university city. Surely there are fellow writers geeks.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

All I Know Are Sad Songs.

There's no doubt I'm rusty. I've hardly played my guitar for the past few years. I'm not really sure why as I love making music. Time, other plans, life. The truth is I would make the time if I really wanted to.

And this is exactly what's happened. My local pub has a weekly open mike evening and I attend quite often. The musicians are mostly regulars of varying styles and abilities, with the occasional newcomer or irregular visitor. Some are good, some need more practice, but they all love the music. I always enjoy the evening.

I haven't been game to jump behind the mike, mostly because I am so rusty. But they have inspired me to drag out my guitar and play more often. Actually, I practice about an hour a day at the moment, and it's coming back to me. My fingertips are hardening, my fingers are moving more freely, and the old skills are returning.

There is only one thing that concerns me. Much of the evening consists of 50s rock and 60s pop. Happy, jangly tunes. The songs I would play are sadder alt-country. I'm not sure if I want to be seen as a downer playing songs they don't know.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Good Ship, Fandom.

Continuum 13, an annual sci-fi convention, was held in Melbourne over the weekend. Obviously, having moved to the UK last year, I wasn't able to attend. It felt a little weird missing it as I have attended every year since Continuum 5.

From all accounts it was a great convention. Well organised and attended, with interesting panels and workshops. I'm really pleased by this, as I must confess that over the past few years I haven't gotten as much out of the convention as I would have liked. There has been a gradual shift in the focus from the science fiction I like towards pop culture, most of which I have little time for.

Now this is where I am in danger of being misread. I really need to emphasise I'm writing here about my tastes, my preferences, the things I enjoy. Give me old school sci-fi and fantasy any day. I'm not big into superheroes, anime or most other pop culture. I found fewer panels and sessions I was interested in attending each year. Fewer spaceships and robots, and more people with capes. Fewer discussions on classic books and more on TV shows and superhero films. And I'm just not interested in them. Honestly, I couldn't tell you your Magneto from your Brian Mannix.

Over the past few years there have been panels where I struggled to see any connection to SF, fantasy or horror at all. But that's fine. It doesn't matter. The convention isn't solely about me. It's about fandom, and what they want.

You see, if I had my way rock bands with guitars would rule the Top 40, science fiction films would be more like Arrival than X-Men, and reading would be compulsory for everyone. Conventions would have more panels on classic books alongside the newer ones.

But, as I said, it's not about me. There are lots of things that generally don't excite me at the moment. I've already mentioned superhero films. Let's add to that the current trend in retelling fairy tales, urban fantasy, and more vampires. Maybe I am getting older, but like the music I like, I know what types of fiction I like.

If we stick with the music comparison, you'll soon realise I don't have to like it. There are plenty of alternatives for me. And if I dig around I can find plenty of new bands I do like. I don't want to buy a Beyonce album. She doesn't speak to me, and the music leaves me cold. But there are plenty out there who love her music. Me, I'd rather buy the new Roger Waters album.

Yes, I do read new SF books. I have to be a little more discerning in my hunt for them as they're usually not the same books that appeal to my friends. I've tried many of those, and I often find them underwhelming. Taste, again, I suppose.

We all don't have to like everything. Or even the same things. There's room for us all in the good ship 'fandom.' But remember, I don't deserve name-calling or abuse because my interests and tastes lie elsewhere.

Having said that, I've been quite excited about the impending release of Wonder Woman. And I wasn't disappointed. I thought it was fantastic.

You never know. Maybe someday someone will play me a Beyonce track that I actually like.