Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Guest Post: Nik Perring

Today Nik Perring, author of Not so Perfect and Freaks, co-authored with Caroline Smailes, agreed to pop over for his blog tour for Freaks. Here is his guest post about his writing process. Enjoy!
 How I Write
Nik Perring
There are loads and loads of different processes we can use to write stories. In fact, there are probably as many different processes as there are writers. In my teaching I’ve never told anyone that they should follow one particular method or another, and I’m not going to start here – I firmly believe that you need to find out what works best for you. What I’ll do here though, is tell you what works for me.
Stage 1
The first draft. Pretty much everything I write starts life in a notebook. Once I have an idea, or the beginnings of one, I’ll set about writing the story with pen and paper. I use a fountain pen (so I’m being kind to my wrist and tendons) – a Pelikan, with ink that looks kinda like the colour of dried blood (I just like it) and I use either a Moleskine or a Rhodia notebook. I like how writing longhand slows me down, and how it makes me consider each and every word. When it’s words that make a story it’s essential we give ourselves the best chance of finding the rights ones and putting those in the correct order.

 Stage 2
The next stage for me, after that handwritten first draft, is to get the story onto my computer (a HP laptop, for the moment). This might be the most important part of my whole process because when I type it up I change things. The story, then, gets a very natural half-edit. And what I’ve found is that, while I’m giving it that half-edit, I don’t really notice I’m doing it – I’m just altering as I go, and doing what feels natural, rather than telling myself ‘I am going to edit now!’

Stage 3
Once the story’s typed up I’ll print it off, and give it its first ‘proper’ edit (that’s when I do say, ‘I am going to edit now!’). That means lots of pencil-scribbled notes and crossings outs. And I mean lots. Loads. Really.
Then I’ll type it up and I’ll print it off again, and I’ll repeat that process until I’m pretty much certain that I’ve done all that I can with it…

Stage 4
…but I’ll not stop there. No sir! Then comes the next big stage. I’ll read it aloud (you’d be surprised how much more you can see doing it this way – it’s ace for getting the rhythm right and you’ll probably find yourself spotting typos easier). Again, this process will be repeated until I’m pretty much convinced that there’s nothing more I can do. And that’s, roughly, when the story’s finished.

Of course, with Freaks!, I was writing with the great Caroline Smailes, so we’d discuss the stories as we went, so her feedback and suggestions would find their way inside my usual process. But that process, despite being altered slightly, rarely changes.

So, that’s what works for me. I hope you can find something useful in it, whether that’s identifying what you don’t want to do, or by taking something from it.
Nik Perring is a writer and editor. He’s the author of Not So Perfect, and the co-author of Freaks!. His website’s and he’s on twitter as @nikpering.

Thank you Nik for popping over!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Book Review: Terminal Romance

Terminal Romance
By Niki Aguirre
Published by Flipped Eye

Terminal Romance by Niki Aguirre is a carefully constructed short story collection with interlinking characters. In these 16 stories, Aguirre sees if her characters can survive virtual love in the real world or if real love exists on the internet.

Each character turns to online dating out of frustration but then they soon realise that people can be who ever you want them to be and it is not until you meet them in reality that you find out who they really are. Some characters find connections but once reality kicks in so does the frustrations and disillusionment.

"The version he's telling me is the one I want most to believe."- Jillian, Keeper of Memory.

Aguirre explores the idea that even though the internet is a controlled environment but love can not be controlled in the same manner.

In the second story, Moving In, Jillian compares her relationship with a team building exercise. Jillian finds she can not fall into her teammate's arms even when they all cheer. In her relationship, she finds she can not lose control and fully trust the man she has met via the internet. This is a good metaphor for all of the characters throughout Terminal Romance as they try to work out if they can trust virtual love.

The dialogue is razor sharp and brings a realistic quality to the characters. I felt like I was eavesdropping on the conversations between the characters.

Nina Parks, Journalist and dating expert, is a one of the recurring characters. Throughout Terminal Romance, she struggles to keep up with her 365 day challenge by meeting up with strangers from the internet. She features in many of the stories, either as a secondary character or as the protagonist. She becomes entangled with a college geek who sends his friend to the date, a man with a foot fetish and tries to seduce her old college professor. I could have happily read a longer piece about her adventures and I especially enjoyed the interludes between stories from Nina Park's book,  'The ultimate guide to finding love online.'

Every story has a boy meet girl or girl meets boy but these stories are not about love or even happy-ever-after endings. These stories are not sentimental but tell the truth about finding love. This is way Terminal Romance is a successfully constructed short story collection. Aguirre cleverly delves into the uncertainties of dating and taps into the universal anxieties felt by anybody who has dated either online or offline.

You can buy the Kindle version via Amazon.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

National Flash Fiction Day Anthology

Today I found out that Blackhole, my little story (official term is flash fiction) will be included the first anthology for National Flash Fiction Day. The book will be launched on the 16th May along with events happening up and down the country (and worldwide).

My story will appear alongside household names and authors whose blogs I adore.

Initially I wasn't going to enter a piece of flash fiction because I was trying to give my novel another spit and polish, there were wedding preparations needing my attention and I had my writing eyes on a different short story.

Then I heard Ali Smith had contributed a story. I love Hotel World. I could miss the opportunity. I had an idea, scribbled on a post-it, meant for a later date. I pushed aside the novel editing and wrote the story, redrafted the story, edited and sent. Not many stories are written all in one session but I knew where this story was heading.

Congratulations to the other writers too. I'm looking forward to reading every story.

Here's the full list of contributors.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Harry Potter And The Casual Vacancy

Yesterday, J.K. Rowling announced her new novel. The world (erm, Twitter) went crazy. Rowling has come to the rescue and will save the publishing industry. Booksellers are already planning their midnight-opening activities and costumes. Then people read the synopsis - no wizards, no magic, no Hogwarts. Oh dear.

Don't worry. I have taken the press release from the Little Brown website and made the necessary changes. I have tried to make it more wizard friendly. To be honest, I don't like the idea of Harry Potter fans crying and being upset.


Little, Brown (Bear) Book Group announces that the new novel for adults by J.K. Rowling is entitled (Harry Potter and) The Casual Vacancy.  The book will be published worldwide in the English language (and Wizard language) in hardback, ebook, unabridged audio download and on CD on Thursday 27th September 2012.

(There will be extracts in The Daily Prophet and the book launch will be at Hogwarts. Reviewers and journalists will travel on the Hogwarts Express).

(Harry Potter and) The Casual Vacancy

When (Harry Potter) Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of (Hogsmeade)Pagford is left in shock. (He was a vital part of the community even after the break up of his prog-rock band. The marriage of Ron and Hermione made touring hard when the twins arrived. Harry fell into a spiral of decline, divorced Ginny and lost custody to his owl. Harry became a born-again politician. Ultimately, he found it hard to escape the shadow of Adrian Mole). 

(Hogsmeade) Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils, (Wizards at war with muggles)...(Hogsmeade) Pagford is not what it first seems. (Gringotts are refusing to fund mortgages and are squeezing the purses of the wizarding world. Recession lurks in the shadows and is know as 'the crash that no one is allowed to name.' Everyone is panic-buying petrol, sausage rolls, mini eggs and postage stamps).

And the empty seat left by (Harry) Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? (and did Harry Potter fake his death so he could claim the insurance?).

Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, (Harry Potter and) The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

(Don't forget Harry Potter and The Woman in Black is currently showing at your local cinema).

You can read the original press release over here. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Book Extract: Freaks

Today I am taking part in the online launch of Freaks, a flash fiction collection of stories by Nik Perring, Caroline Smailes and illustrated by Darren Craske. The stories within Freaks are about original flaw human beings getting an unusual superhero power. Think Heroes crossed with Chronicle.
Nik and Caroline have agreed to share of the stories:

[Super Power: The ability to make oneself unseen to the naked eye]

If I stay totally still,
if I stand right tall,
with me back against the school wall,
close to the science room’s window,
with me feet together,
pointing straight,
aiming forward,
if I make me hands into tight fists,
make me arms dead straight,
 if I push me arms into me sides,
if I squeeze me thighs,
stop me wee,
if me belly doesn’t shake,
if me boobs don’t wobble,
if I close me eyes tight,
so tight that it makes me whole face scrunch,
if I push me lips into me mouth,
if I make me teeth bite me lips together,
if I hardly breathe,
if I don’t say a word.
I’ll magic meself invisible,
and them lasses will leave me alone.

Freaks is published on Thursday 12th April by the Friday Project as an ebook and print book .

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Reading Habits

The other day Alex Thornber posted a picture of his to-read pile on his blog. And when I say pile, I mean drawer. I have never considered using drawers for books. I think it's because I have too much stuffed into them already - leads for broken gadgets, paperclips, address books, undies, receipts and random toys from crackers.

This is my current to-read pile, on my desk and in no particular order.

My pile doesn't look too monstrous. But I do have books that need reading shelved on my bookshelves and there are around ten on my Kindle too. I keep the pile small so it feels okay to buy more.

I tend to read books that need reviewing as soon as possible or after my current read. But other than that I just pick from random. The other day I added Hunger Games and Bed to the pile and took Hunger Games straight off  and put it by my bed (the place for current-reading books). I know there are 'rules' about reading books that are now films/TV shows - the number one rule is read the book before the film. If you do then you are a real fan. Well, I broke the rule. I saw the film the other week and now I am reading the book. I jumped on the bandwagon and I'm pleased that I did. The story is engrossing and I love the main character, Katniss.

Last night, while planting my tomato seeds, I listened along to the Vintage Books March podcast. It is definitely worth a listen as my lovely friend, Kerry Hudson reads an extract from her forthcoming book, Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma. I can't wait to get my mitts on a copy. You can listen to the podcast here.

I saw this Waterstones poster the other month:

Monday, 2 April 2012

Book Review: The Scent of Lemon Leaves

My review of Clara Sanchez's The Scent of Lemon Leaves is up at The View From Here Magazine.

You can click through here to read the review > The Scent of Lemon Leaves.