Thursday, 28 October 2010

Weekend blog

Evening all,

Just wanted to post a blog tonight - I'll be away over Hallowe'en weekend, locked up with eight other people in a remote cottage in the middle of Derbyshire. Actually, put like that it doesn't sound like such a good idea, especially bearing in mind at least one of our party has shown a liking for the chainsaw :-)

Anyway, it's been quite a week of freelancing this time, which has seen me flitting around aplenty. Monday was my day at home, doing a bit of marketing and planning, while Tuesday I was off to Nottingham in the morning for a podcast with Adele Harrison of Un:Bound, and my old jobshare and new line manager at Writing East Midlands, Catherine Rogers. We talk all things Alt.Fiction at

After that it was off for a rehearsal for Christmas Spirits with Ben Spiller of the tremendous 1623 Theatre Company. Having previously been a bit nervous about my role narrating 'The Signalman', after this I was really excited about it. Such a great story too... still sends a chill down my spine. We've also had some nice developments for the atmosphere on the night, so it should be a fantastic night...

Then it was off to Tamworth for an evening meeting, which at this stage I can't talk a whole lot about, (I know, sorry to be a tease...) but all very productive and a nice way to end the day.

Wednesday it was off to Sheffield, with a vague feeling of having been on some kind of East Midlands tour, for another great meeting with the Showroom. I should be able to post some news on that one pretty soon (oh no, I'm at it again. I like to retain at least a bit of mystery...)

Today was a mix of preparing for our weekend away, and getting ready for Other Worlds next weekend. It's getting to that point of looking at the minutiae, so it's buying raffle tickets for the prize draw, creating signage, making sure everyone taking part is happy with everything and basically anything and everything inbetween. The support from QUAD and Tor has been great, and made it pretty much stress-free. So far, at least...

So, assuming I return from our Hallowe'en weekend in the middle of nowhere, I'll be back Monday with all the latest. In the meantime, here's the song that has been keeping me occupied... - Crazy on You by Heart. I seem to be going through a real classic rock phase right now.



Monday, 25 October 2010

Scribal Gathering and Other Worlds

Morning all,

Moving into the second week of freelancing, and two events to talk about - one just gone and one coming up!

This Saturday was the Scribal Gathering at the Nottingham Contemporary and Alt.Fiction took part with a panel on sci-fi and fantasy writing and art. I was able to chair a great panel featuring author Damien Walter, graphic novel and cover artist Neil Roberts and author and art commissioner Darius Hinks. It was an interesting angle to come in at, as the genre obviously has a strong visual element with its otherwordly and fantastical elements, so it was good to have the chance to explore this. Topics included art as inspiration, book covers, graphic novels and e-books, so you can certainly say we covered a lot in half an hour! Thanks to James and Aly for inviting us along to be part of the programme, and to Neil, Damien and Darius for taking part.

Next on my horizon, just under two weeks from now, is Other Worlds. This event is a collaborative effort between Alt.Fiction and Tor UK, and I'm pleased to be welcoming authors Peter F Hamilton, Mark Charan Newton, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Tony Ballantyne for the day. I've attached the full booking details below, but if you're interested in a great afternoon of SF and fantasy discussion, signings and freebies then come and join us!

Tor UK and Alt.Fiction present
Other Worlds
Derby Quad, Market Place, Derby,
Saturday 6th Nov, 1pm-4pm
Tickets £8 (£6 concession) from QUAD box office on 01332 290606 or at

Other Worlds offers panel discussions, giveaways and signings and is an ideal event for both readers and writers of science-fiction and fantasy. Authors appearing are the UK's best-selling SF author PETER F HAMILTON, Shadows of the Apt writer ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY, rising fantasy star MARK CHARAN NEWTON and author of the Recursion trilogy and the Penrose series TONY BALLANTYNE. For the latest updates visit Derby Quad's website at

Other Worlds workshops
Sat 6th Nov, 11am-12pm
Tickets £3. Numbers are strictly limited so book early to avoid disappointment.
Other Worlds is also proud to present a pair of writing workshops. Both workshops will take place at 11am-12pm at QUAD and can be booked at the box office details as above.
Science-fiction writing workshop with TONY BALLANTYNE
Fantasy writing workshop with MARK CHARAN NEWTON

Alt.Fiction is a trading name of Writing East Midlands. For more information visit

Hopefully I'll see at least some of you there!

Thanks a lot


Friday, 22 October 2010

Impressions on week one...

Afternoon all,

Well, as I'm coming to the end of my first week of freelancing, I thought this'd be as good a chance as any to think about some first impressions. It's been a bit odd adjusting to working at home - I've perpetually had some music on just to avoid sitting about in utter silence. But it takes time to get used to anything new, so I'm sure in time it'll be second nature.

The week on the whole has been very 'formative', in that I've been sending lots and lots of emails, booking a host of meetings and just trying to make connections with a range of venues and organisations out there. Lots of promising links at the moment, so hopefully many of those will come to fruition. I'm trying to get myself into some teaching and workshopping, which has been going pretty well, and am also looking to continue on with my proofing and editing work, so those are threads I'm very much working on.

Last night I was at the Gollancz annual party down in London, which was a really good night - a great chance to catch up with a lot of folks including Ben Aaranovitch (who will always be first on any alphabetical list), Sandy Auden, Alex Bell, Mark Chadbourn, Mark De Jager (and his terrifying contact lenses), Amanda Foubister, Graham Joyce (who made the train journey back great fun...), Stephen Jones, Paul Kane, Marie O'Regan, Sarah Pinborough, Rob Shearman, Michael Staton (of Cola Factory), James Swallow (a great writer I worked with at Black Library) and no doubt more that I have criminally forgotten here. It was cool to see so many familiar faces, and indeed meet a few people I've not managed to do so before.

Friday winding-down time sees me planning another lesson for an 8-week course, which is currently four down, four to go. I'm considering shifting things around a bit to take in a session on editing your work, which I tend to think is an under-rated skill on behalf of writers.

I've also managed to finished off the first draft of a story for a historical Lovecraft story, which I was pretty pleased with - all very Victorian :-)

So for now it's back to the grind, until tonight at least. I'll be putting up some more events news up here over the weekend and into next week.



Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Writing news...

Just got a nice bit of writing news this morning - the anthology Vermin, which features my story 'Humanix', is now available to buy as a physical product after its initial ebook release. The book is published by Rymfire, who've also accepted another story of mine, 'Quality Control', for the upcoming I, Executioner anthology.

As part of my freelance work, I'm determined to get back into my writing - other than the two mentioned above, my only otherr upcoming publication is going to be coming very shortly in the October issue of Morpheus Tales with 'The Missing'. I've always preferred short story and novellas as a read, and I'm tending to find that's very much where my writing is leaning. Luckily that also presents quite a wide range of publication opportunities, so hopefully I'll be able to post some more good news on this front in the future...

Right, back to events for me...



Monday, 18 October 2010

Freelancing - day one...

Afternoon all,

Well, today has marked my first venture into the world of freelancing, which thus far has been pretty exciting. Kind of weird setting the alarm an hour later and not having to jump on a bus, and still a bit unusual setting up office in my dining room...

So, what has day one brought? Well, just back from a meeting with Ben Spiller to hammer out some details on an even I'm very excited about... On December 17th we'll be hosting a night of Christmas ghost stories at Derby QUAD. These are proper classic tales, performed by some excellent actors (and in part by me, although I'm still not quite sure how that happened...) with a healthy doso of Victorian atmosphere. This'll be a real treat - you can check out all the details at

I've been working on some sponsorship ideas for Alt.Fiction as well, which will be a really interesting job for the next few weeks. With arts funding being cut, I think that cultural activity will either have to adapt and become more business-like or most likely die out. So for Alt.Fiction I'm looking at running profitable events and getting private investment in as a big part of the revenue. How's that for behind the scenes :-)

Rest of the day looks like being mainly marketing - with so many events between now and the end of the year, there's going to be a good bit of that to do in the near future...

More tomorrow...



Thursday, 14 October 2010

A brief update...

Hi All,

Just a few bits and pieces for today...

As I leave my old job at Black Library tomorrow, I worked my last day with a lot of good friends and acquaintances today. Quite emotional about it really - it's a great bunch of people, and even though I'm really looking forward to freelancing it's still going to be tough tomorrow to head off for the last time.

Still working hard on a few events prior to the end of the year - will be posting some more details on those pretty shortly.

Got a few bits to write in the near future - something I definitely want to be working on much more once freelancing kicks in. Included in that are a historical Lovecraft story and working on a novel I started a while back, but haven't touched on for a bit.

Also been reading some classic ghost stories ready for an event later this year - something I've been trying to put together for a very long time! Always a pleasure to dip back into MR James and Edgar Allan Poe.

That's all for now, will get something a bit more thorough up shortly.



Monday, 11 October 2010

Events update 1 - Hockley Hustle, 23rd October

Evening all,

After a fabulous NewCon, it's time for me to look forward to a host of events taking place in the very near future. So I thought it was about time I passed on the news of the first of them - as part of this year's Hockley Hustle at the Nottingham Contemporary, Alt.Fiction will be hosting a panel on writing and art at 4:30pm. I'll be joined on the panel by writers and blogger Damien G Walter, author and design guru Darius Hinks and comic book and cover artists Neil Roberts. We'll be talking book covers, how much influence art can have on writing and no doubt a wide range of other topics, so come down and join us if you can! I'll be around for a bit before and after as well, so if you want to talk anything Alt.Fiction just come and say hi!

Lots more events news to follow here - the end of 2010 is certainly going to be busy!

Thanks a lot


Sunday, 10 October 2010

NewCon - live blog 2

Afternoon all,

I did mean to blog again yesterday, honest, but you know how convention are... you get talking to a few people and before you know it it's 2:30 in the morning and you really should be getting to bed. So to summarise yesterday and the very early stages of this morning...

A very good young adult fiction panel, which is an area that really interests me on the whole. General summary was that the quality of ya fiction had gone up, and the differences between adult and young adult were less than they ever have been. Also fascinating to hear that publishers are often seeking to get things under the YA bracket, because it makes them easier to sell and the genre distinctions are much less marked.

Following that it was a WordPunk podcast with Del Lakin-Smith, Simon Gilmartin, Paul Cornell and Tom Hunter. As is often the case e-books and e-readers were a hot topic. I can't see that i't something I'll ever go for - I love the book as a physical object far too much to ever desert it for a reader - but it's interesting to see the advances being made, including illustrated and animated e-books for the IPad. While I say I wouldn't ever have a kindle or anything like that, there's no point in burying my head in the sand about it - a lot of people prefer them, as it makes it easier for them to read on the move and so on, which is all good. The key thing is that people are reading, it often just seems that authors and occassionally publishers haven't quite figured out where they fit just yet.

That was all my panels for the day, so then it was to the bar for drinks before heading out to dinner. Good to catch up with some more old acquaintances as well as meeting quite a few new friends as well. Dinner was out at Mem-saab, a great Indian restaurant which was about a million miles from the conventiion but worth the trip. After that it was back to the hotel bar to talk gaming, movies, events, books and more in great company throughout. I also wound up playing three games of pool on a wonky table that had 6 reds and 8 yellows, which certainly made the matches more interesting...

Sunday morning came around too soon as always, and after a heart breakfast it was on to a poetry reading with Cardinal Cox, Susan Sinclair and Donna Scott. It's been a while since I've been to a poetry reading, but it was an entertaining mix of the comedic and quirky. It worked well in the Nook cafe bar as a space too.

Right, that brings us about up to date - full report to follow tomorrow...


Saturday, 9 October 2010

NewCon Live Blog 1

Afternoon all,

Taking a quiet moment in the Nook cafe at Newcon after a busy morning, so thought I'd take the chance to have a live blog!

Arrived about 11am to jump straight into the first panel - SF in Other Media. Nice to see a bit of love for Games Workshop and a good bit of computer game talk to boot. Ultimate conclusion - science-fiction has won, having infilitrated every aspect of the media. Also some really interesting points about viral film-making and how YouTube has opened up all those kind of possibilities. And remember: the cake is a lie...

Short break, so took the chance to say hello to a lot of familiar faces - Kim and Derrick Lakin-Smith, Sam Moffatt and Paul Skevington, Donna Scott, Neil Bond and NewCon chair Ian Whates, all of whom were in fine form. Second session was a reading from Kim Lakin-Smith, Sam Stone and Jaine Fenn. Kim read from her upcoming title Cyber Circus, Sam Stone read form a forthcoming short story collection and Jaine Fenn read a short segment from her novel Guardians of Paradise. A very mixed variety of interesting readings.

And for the last half an hour it's been sat in the bar topping up the caffiene levels and resisting the temptation to buy cool t-shirts (which I will eventually succumb to). Two or three panels planned for the afternoon, so more to follow.



Friday, 8 October 2010

NewCon 5

I'll be heading over to NewCon 5 this weekend, Northampton's annual SFF convention taking place in the Fishmarket. I went two years ago and had a great time, so thoroughly looking forward to getting back there. It's always good to catch up with old friends and enjoy some discussion on the genre. You can check out all the details at

My laptop will be coming with me in the hope that I can do some blogging throughout the event, wi-fi permitting, but even if not I'll be putting together a convention report early next week.

Until then, here's an interesting one I caught a few days ago on io9, a site I really recommend checking out. I knew 3d was popular, but I never thought it would ever reach books...

Business Cards

It's been on my mind for a few days that I need to get myself a business card, when lo and behold I get sent the following link. I might not go quite as extravagant as this, but you never know...

Monday, 4 October 2010

2 weeks till d-day...

In fact, it's slightly under two weeks now, but I'll be starting freelancing on the 18th October. I've freelanced on a part-time basis before, back when I was Literature Development Officer for Derby, but at least then you know you have the security of a nice wage-packet from the Council. This is going to be the full freelance experience, with all the joys and miseries that accompany it.

Nervous? Yes, naturally. I think if you're not nervous then you don't have a healthy respect for what you're getting into. Rather than going into a cosy office every day you're going to be sat at home, canvassing people for work or trying to get some of your own projects off the ground, neither of which is an easy thing to do.

Excited? Yes, naturally. The expansion of Alt.Fiction is a great project, and I can't wait to see what I can get going as part of the year-round programme as well as how the weekend event is going to look. I'm also involved in next year's FantasyCon as Associate Chair, which will be a great experience too. Other than that it's a blank canvas just waiting for me to paint something on it...

I've never had a blog before, but for me this will be a space to talk about current projects and ideas, link to cool stuff that I've found around the place, talk writing and reading at large and share war stories from the world of events and conventions. I hope you'll all head back to see more as time goes on...