I’m in Australia now

…well, not physically, but in a way.

All right, mystery was never my strong suit: I’ve been published.  More specifically, we’ve been published.  A small community of writers congregating on the website ‘Needle In The Hay‘ have yet again managed to pull a real, working product out of the complicated mangle that is a collaborative artistic product.


I wasn’t at all sure that my story would make it into the list.  As usual, I was playing around, this time experimenting with 2nd-person viewpoint, which is usually forbidden.  But if you know me, you know I don’t like doing as I’m told, so Grafton Leigh happened.  The big man, Mr De Biasi, liked it.  Ms. Macdonald did, too.  And after several tweaks from my old pal Chinthaka, Macdonald, and De Biasi, too . . .

Nothing seemed to happen for a very long time.

A very long time.

Apparently this is normal.  By the time the contract arrived at the beginning of the year, I’d almost forgotten about my story set in the countryside in South West England.  After that, things started happening pretty quickly, and now my name is on the cover of a book.  In Australia.

That’s here, by the way.

So there you go!  Follow THIS LINK to download the ebook – or, if you’re feeling saucy, order your physical copy HERE.

Wow.  This is probably the high point of my year in writing, and it’s January.  Talk about peaking too soon . . .

. . .

Read it!

. . .

Oh, all right, here’s a preview:

The days dragged by and – like a bystander at a crash site – I was unable to help, yet at the same time I couldn’t look away. I watched in morbid curiosity as you became less and less human, even as the villagers’ love for you grew. They claimed you could understand every language, even that of the wind and water. Who left the six-pack plastic in the river, which caught a sheep’s foot and caused it to drown? The river told you the culprit’s name; you brought him to justice.

You had always been bright: at seven years old, you came home from school moaning about the irrationality of star signs and horoscopes. And yet, at your Council, I was there to witness how you used the alignment of Saturn to explain a pensioner’s stomach upset – still more inexplicably, the ailment actually cleared up.

Your most ardent supporters sewed sunset patches onto their clothes. Some of them left offerings on your doorstep – as if at the steps of a temple – though I never saw who. Did they think you were a god? I’m sure some of them believed it.

But then you made the classic mistake: you started believing it too.

Now go on and read it!

Emblem Black (2)

all change

I’ll get right into it: this has been a fun little experiment for the past few years, but I think it’s time I faced facts, and the fact is I’m just never going to keep to a blogging schedule and I’m just never going to keep to a writing schedule.

I’m still writing, of course, both short and long stories, but I’m focussing more on the long stories now.  The novels, in fact.  More specifically, I want to publish my novels, and I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to upload here before turning off any potential publisher.  This year my goal is to finalise and edit at least one of my first draft novels.  That’s going to take up a hefty portion of my time, so expect blog posts to become even more infrequent.

In other news, the experiment that was this blog hasn’t exactly yielded the fruit I dreamed of.  I’ve got a few followers now (thank you, by the way), but of course what I wanted was to reach out, become part of a community, make contacts, get feedback, and – eventually – get my undeniable genius noticed by a big publisher.

(Which is why I shelled out the money for my own URL year after year.)

Realistically, though, it’s not going to happen, so the address of this website is likely to change rather soon.  I’ll keep the website anyway for the occasional stories I do upload or for news relating to this or that, but I’m not going to lose any more sleep worrying about my inactivity, and therefore my loss of traffic or followers, and all the other social network rubbish.

There is one positive announcement to make, but I will make that in a separate post, just to let you get the taste of this one out of your mouth first.

Much love in 2018


Emblem Black (2)


Editing Tips Tuesday – Editing Dialogue

Once again some great tips from Chasing Dreams. Stay tuned for flash fiction from yours truly.

Chasing Dreams Publishing

Today we’re going to look at editing dialogue. I’m making the assumption that you already know how to write dialogue, have written a fair amount of it, and now need to edit it.

Let’s first look at some common mistakes people make while writing dialogue:

  1. Assuming that every character is going to speak in the same way. We’ve all done it. Monotonous dialogue happens when you write it as though it is still the narrator speaking. If you can remove the dialogue tags and it sounds like a single person having a conversation with himself, you’ll need to edit this.
  2. Using dialogue tags instead of the dialogue itself to express the character’s emotions. Telling readers that a character is angry is far less effective than allowing them a few expletives in their dialogue.
  3. Talking heads. There are instances where reading dialogue is like watching a tennis match. You bounce back…

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as long as

“You can make your character kind, caring, generous . . . as long as he stays the top toy

As long as certain conditions are met.

After that, all bets are off.”

Thus spake Andrew Stanton, the writer behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E and others.

It’s widely agreed that every character needs a flaw to make them interesting.  For Woody, it’s that he’s selfish.  But what happens if you make him just selfish?  Well, according to an abandoned storyboard, he doesn’t across very well.  In fact, you find yourself not liking him at all.

I mean, do you like anybody who’s just selfish?

Probably not.

But that’s the beauty of the story: Woody is a really great guy – as long as he’s the top toy.  Do you know anyone like that?  Someone you can’t decide whether you like them or not?  Someone who’s only nice as long as?  The chances are you do.  In fact in all probably you are someone like that.  There has to be some point past which all bets are off.  That’s what makes us human.

That’s what Stanton’s stories teach us.

But what about your stories?  Have you made your character likeable and relatable or simply detestable?  Are they a person you would like to know or is their flaw just too visible?  We’re all trying to hide our flaws.  The great moment in your story is when you choose to reveal your character’s flaw.

When will they reach the point where as long as no longer cuts it?

When are all bets off?

That’s the magic.

Emblem Black (2)

believe or die

When the fictional world colonises the real world, magic can happen.  No, it isn’t just lying; it’s something else entirely.

A fictional world, yet familiar . . .

Let’s start at the beginning.

The way my mind works is, at times, painfully logical.  Infuriatingly logical, if you ask friends and family, with no room for compromise unless those compromises are just as logically presented.

Then there are the other times.

For example, when I first announced my crusade for didacticism, my plan was to present first the clearest arguments for, and the clearest examples of, before working my way outwards to show that, at its essence, everything is a lesson.  That would have been logical.

Instead I got inspired, and then it didn’t matter what was logical any more, I only knew that I had to show you this thing, and I had to show you why I thought it was great and interesting, and then I had to think about why I found it great and interesting, and in the end it all came back to teaching and learning.

OK, watch it now.  It’s long enough to eat with, and a better lunch partner than most.

When Nico grows up and realises he probably didn’t talk to a real whale, he’ll be reminded of a beautiful childhood memory.  What he probably won’t realise is that by perpetuating myths of faith, such as Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, or [insert preferred fictional figure from your faith tradition here], he’s actually helping himself, and society.

Take justice, for instance – or Justice, if you like.  Way back when, such concepts were understood as real things of substance, truly existing somewhere we couldn’t see them.  The phenomena we experienced were simply reflections of those forms.

Nowadays, we can believe in concepts without having a potential physical manifestation somewhere; we can believe in Justice for Justice’s sake; we can believe in Goodness for Goodness’ sake.

We can believe in Father Christmas for Father Christmas’ sake.

Because if a child can believe in keeping a pet whale in a fjord in Norway, maybe as adults we can believe that somewhere out there, there really is Truth, and Love, and Justice, and Law, and everything else that lifts us out of our primal instincts.

Where would we be if we didn’t truly, firmly believe in those?

Emblem Black (2)


how do you stay relevant?

If you’re dynamic, you’re moving. You might be moving forward or you might be moving back, but if you’re not dynamic, you’ll be irrelevant pretty soon.

Julian Stodd’s advice to listen to “stories of dissent” can be adapted to many situations.

When i’m asked “how will we know if an organisation is Socially Dynamic“, my off the cuff answer is that it will be able to hear stories of dissent. Perhaps i should add, “and it will recognise that it can learn from them“. Too often, stories of dissent are driven out of earshot, hidden, or […]

via To Hear Stories Of Dissent — Julian Stodd’s Learning Blog

i’d like to know what she bases these predictions on, but having never thought about it before, i have to say i thought it very interesting – a clear winner for PoE in the ‘longest-title’ category

by Lauren Sapala About ten years ago I worked for a startup that launched a social media site for published authors. This was the first place where I really started to meet writers and come in contact with people in the industry. In the spring of 2008 one of the topics being bantered about […]

via The Future of Books: 3 Audacious Predictions for the Next 20 Years — A Writer’s Path