Monday, 27 June 2011

Review - Not so Perfect

The other week I won a Nik Perring's 'Not so Perfect' short story collection over at Dan Powell's blog. It went straight to the top of my mental to-do reading list. And over the weekend, I devoured the whole thing. I gulped down the 22 stories and even re-read some of my favourite ones. My particular favourites are 'When You're Frightened, Honey, Think of Strawberries' and 'The Mechnical Woman.'

This pocket-sized book is ideal for lovers of small handbags. I really love the square coaster shape. I have been thinking of putting all of my published pieces in one place and I think a small square book would do them nicely.

Most of the characters are on the fringe of society and are mostly looking for acceptance or who are wanting to find a way forward with their lives - a stalker watching a mother in a library, a woman who vomits animals, a shark boy who has to always move. In a few carefully chosen words, Perring can make the read care for a character who vomits lemurs.

I like short stories where things are hinted at but not fully told. This collection does that.

Not So Perfect is ideal for someone who only wants to dip into a one page story, maybe while they wait at the doctors or waiting for a train but it is also ideal if you want to read a book from cover to cover.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Editing in Wonderland

Some times editing this novel is very much like Alice in Wonderland. You tell the long chapters to 'drink this' and then they start shrinking. Descriptions shrink and then head off to the naughty bin and boring speech disappears.
You tell the short chapters to 'eat this' and they start expanding at a rapid rate. The characters start talking and a whole section about a major part of the plot needs adding because one silly little sentence isn't going to cut it.

I'm over half way with the redrafting of this novel. A lot of the chapter openings are being sliced and diced. I need to get to the important stuff. This version is definitely going to have a smaller word count. But I think this is a good thing.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Days Out For Writers - Out Of This World Exhibition

Last Sunday, on a drizzly morning the Mister and I drove off to Cockfosters (parked the car for £1 all day!) and got the tin can to Kings Cross and then a quick walk to the British Library, trying to dodge puddles and people dragging suitcases on wheels.

The Out of This World Exhibition at the British Library is a showcase of science fiction through the ages. The atmosphereic room (along with sci-fi sound effects) is split into catergories, helping to link together books with a simliar theme. Future worlds, alien worlds, parallel worlds, virtual worlds, the end of the world, perfect world led us through a visual reading list of books right back from 2AD, right up to the present.
One book was even about getting to the moon by Swan. Brilliant. Even the Brontes tried their hand at writing science fiction. Something I didn't know until I went to the exhibition. And their writing - blooming heck - so so so so tiny. I remember being told off at school when my writing took a shrinking pill but their writing is very 'Honey, I shrunk my notebook'.

Even some of the ideas expressed by writers back in the 19th Century and early 20th have come true - going to the moon, the internet, communications, etc. As yet, no time travel machine. Even the tardis was there but it seemed the doctor wasn't - maybe be he was trapped in one of the reading rooms.

It was great to see some of my favourites on display - Margaret Atwood, Philip K Dick, George Orwell, Huxley, Time Traveller's Wife.

I found the exhibition very inspiring. I now want to read 'The Female Man' and 'Zoo city.' Even the mister felt inspired to read more fiction. It was fasinating to see how literature from the past has influenced our modern world about science fiction - whether in books, art and film.



The exhibition is on until September.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Short Story Playlist

Short Story Playlist is a Tumblr site I have set up so I could put the links to some of my favourite short stories all in one place. In the past I have printed them off and kept them in a folder and then lost the folder either due to moving or my over zealous spring-cleaning. I then used my favourites tab to collect them but that just cluttered up my browser. So Short Story Playlist will keep them in one place and I will end up with my own ultimate collection.

I'm also going to put some of my writing quotes on there too.

It's a work-in-progress.

The link is http://jessicapatient.tumblr.com/

Feel free to recommend any of your favourite short stories.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

I Really Should be Writing but...

'I really should be writing but...' is a new blog series. I am currently reading 'Taking Reality by Surprise' and one of the exercises in the book is called 'I've always wanted to write but..' which looks at the things we put in the way to distract us from writing. The exercise is meant to confront and dismantle the blocks that stop us from writing. 

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Box Sets

Coming home, slumping down into the cozy chair, pulling down the blinds to block out the evening sun and chain-watching episode after episode of Mad Men, BSG, West Wing or what ever Amazon has posted to you. Before you realise it, it has gone half nine and the washing-up still needs doing, you need a shower and your eyelids need some major shut-eye.
Box sets are addictive. There is no need to wait for next week's episode because it's waiting for you on the main menu. After staring at a computer screen at words all day and then torturing your muscles at the gym, your body needs to have a sit down. The eyes are craving something that doesn't involve an ISBN. You do want to write because there is a new desk upstairs and it's your novel. You know it has been rejected by one or two agents but one of those offered some really great feedback so you should be spending every minute polishing and pruning to send it back to them.
But the box set pulls you in with its four episodes per disc. Watch every one and you get a prize. Its the satisfaction of knowing that you can chain-watching without needing a break. While upstairs, chapter thirteen is in need of a major-major-major redrafting and chapter fourteen needs a read through before adding paper notes.
You come up stairs after watching Don Draper drink ten billion whiskeys, still win the girl and get an award for an ad campaign that he wrote down on the back of a fag packet. You give your manuscript a little pat and promise to work on him tomorrow. You promise one episode. Because you need to wean off a box set slowly...


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If you want to write your own 'I really should be writing but...' post then feel free to either write a guest post for here or send me the link. I would love to know your distractions.