Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Well, it’s the last day of 2015 and I’m still enjoying that Christmas holiday bubble where the days are still dark, we stay in a lot, see a lot of friends and family and also consume a lot of story. I’m reading and writing avidly, getting used to my new tablet (birthday present) and getting around to a lot of “writerly” work the day job often doesn’t leave time for. Lots of submissions, marketing and updating web pages.
On a personal level, we’re still getting over the rather nasty burglary we suffered in November. We lost two cars, cash, a passport, keys, a folder of music, a Kindle - and a bath towel! I say we’re getting over it but it’s been more interesting than traumatic. No, I’m not traumatised that they came in the middle of the night through a front window whilst we were asleep. I almost admire them for that. I do feel slightly uncomfortable because I think they were watching the house and they’d got our movements worked out and because I am convinced they cloned my bank cards. My handbag was found ten miles away from our house. It was on a footpath going up to a house. They’d left my memory stick, my work ID and my credit card very visibly in the wrong part of the bag.  They’d wanted it to be found and they wanted me to think my bank cards were safe.

Guys, we’re not daft. As soon as we’d contacted the police we stopped the bank cards.       
Anyway, now, we can change car dealer and I’ve got a new Kindle that I like more than the one that was stolen. I had two short stories accepted that week and I was happier about that than I was sad about the cars. We noticed the theft at about 6.50 a.m. By 5.00 p.m. I had a crime novel worked out in my head. It may well get written in a couple of years’ time.                            


Girl in a Smart Uniform is trundling along quite nicely now. I think it will come in at just over the 60,000 words I mentioned last month. I still think that it’s probably the most difficult book I’ve ever written. I’ve actually just reached an important turning point.    
I’ve now also had a third story accepted on the new Cut a Long Story Short web site:  Duplicated. This is a story about a promise to attend a funeral.  Only, in the end the protagonist has to be elsewhere. Maybe.
I do like this web site.  It’s a really great platform for writers.  

Bridge House

We start the New Year tomorrow and so the new call for submission for the Bridge House anthology opens.  This year, we’re concentrating on snowflakes. Real ones? Perhaps but more likely stories that are like snowflakes. Unique and perfectly formed. As they melt into the psyche they bring a life-sustaining force. Snow can be beautiful and it can be treacherous. It can swing from one extreme to another in seconds. It is an important part of the nature cycle. Read more here.
Light in the Dark is now out and is selling steadily. People tell us they like the cover!  

Creative Café

I’m steadily bringing new cafés into the project and I’m always on the lookout for more. So, if you know of one, do get in touch.  More and more people are now engaging with the project. Take a look  here I’m also looking for more articles on Writers in Cafés – see what’s involved here.
As promised, I’ve moved from listing cafes to making them searchable, though I still list Creative Café Project activities. Take a look here.   
Don’t forget as well we’re always looking for stories for CafeLit.

School visits

I continue to offer free school visits, details below.      
These visits are up to 90 minutes long and are focussed on my books.
In addition, many of us from the university are going out and offering presentations on what is on offer on our programmes. I’ll generally throw in a creative writing exercise.    
I’ll reiterate straight away that authors should be paid for school visits, but these free ones are actually part of the work I do at the university.
I offer readings for 14+ of Veiled Dreams, Scum Bag, Spooking, Fibbin’ Archie and The Peace Child Trilogy (The Prophecy, Babel, The Tower) a short question and answer session and a creative writing exercise for your class. For primary children there are Jason’s Crystal, The Lombardy Grotto and Kiters. Read more about my books here. There are of course also my stories in various anthologies. All other visits are at the rates suggested by the Society of Authors. Schools can mix and match these visits. I do ask that travel expenses are covered.    
I’m offering visits and talks specifically about my The House on Schellberg Street project for a donation towards the project. I’ve devised a whole interactive workshop for this. The book is now out and selling steadily. It would be a real asset for any school teaching the Holocaust at Key Stage 3. Even if a school can’t afford a donation, I’d be happy to run the project.
Query for a school visit here.

The Red Telephone
We’re still working on marketing Shanta Everington’s XY. You can still join in the online launch here. She has run a very successful blog tour.
 Cyan Brodie’s, Dream Girl is now out and we’re also promoting that.
I’m working on Kathy Dunn’s The Demon Magician. This has a fast-paced plot and some delightful characters.
There will be a new call for submissions shortly.  

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