clhollandwriter: (Default)
My February #12for12 piece "Essence" was published over at Riddled with Arrows. It's a market that specialises in meta-fiction - writing about writing - so the story is little more than an extended literary joke, but I like it. Not least because I was experimenting with different formats earlier in the year, something flash makes easy to play with, so it's told through the medium of an internet chat log.

Very little writing done in March, other than getting the other oubliette piece out, as mentioned before. Towards the end of the month I wrote a poem, then finished it off and submitted it over the weekend so it counts for April's #12for12. I'm supposed to be spending the next six weeks writing a novella at the rate of 400 words a day, but I had an otherwise rough weekend so I'm already two days behind. It doesn't help that I don't have a name for my main character yet (or even an idea why they're the main character, I'm not sure they are), or an opening scene. I've a good idea where I'm going, just not where to start.

At this point it's still possible to catch up, but I'd better get started soon.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I seem to have forgotten to mention that the Flash Fiction Online Anthology 2015 came out in January, and contains my story "Your Past Life Interferes with My Very Important Studies". This story is one of my favourites, and came from the combination of random prompts at Codex Writers' Group - the title "Your Past Life Interferes with My Very Important Hobbies", having to use one of Shakespeare's characters or plots as inspiration - and the first line "Your past life drank all the milk again" landing in my head. At first I tried to resist writing the story. I thought it would be too silly, which just goes to show you should write the story that wants to be written instead of what you think you should be writing.

I've just started another story and I'm having the same problem. At this early stage I'm not sure the whole idea isn't going to come across terribly corny and contrived. Unfortunately, being a discovery writer, I won't find out until I write it. Another problem was I couldn't start until I had the main character's name. Placeholder names don't work for me, I can't change the name later as the character grows into it. One day it might be fun to start with a silly character name and see where it takes me. For now I've got this story to keep me going.

I'm trying to decide about doing NaNoWriMo this year. I'd like to, in that it's done wonders for my productivity in the past, although I'm not sure I have the mental energy to sustain it this year. Probably it's the idea of doing it I'm finding attractive, since I remember how much I enjoyed previous years. Perhaps I'll sign up to a shorter project instead, a half NaNo or a story a week. I certainly need to get some momentum back up again.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
"When the Harlequin Dances" has been podcast at Far Fetched Fables.

Some small bits of writing done this week, mainly notes on my phone on the way to work. I've decided to rework an unsold flash piece as a poem, and I'm trying to come up with an idea to plan out as interactive fiction. This will involve plotting, which is not my strong point as I usually pants everything. Except poems, oddly enough. You'd think they'd benefit from the more organic approach of pantsing but generally I outline them, fill in the blanks and [insert image here]s, edit for word choices, and then prune.

I've spent a couple of hours today updating my website, mostly reorganising pages and fixing links. It also included a panicky search to find the header image I'd somehow deleted. I was supposed to be writing today, but at least this was related. Maybe I'll get a stamp tomorrow instead.
clhollandwriter: (Moogle)
I managed to forget that my flash story "Paying for Death" was published by Sorcerous Signals. Things have been a little bust lately, what with broken bones (not mine!) and overtime at the day job. Here's a link!


"You're sure you want to do this?"

That was it. No greeting, no discussion. Mirri nodded and swallowed around the lump in
her throat, proffering a lock of golden hair tied with a thread.

Habit RPG

Apr. 28th, 2014 06:33 pm
clhollandwriter: (poppy)
I've been woefully neglecting my blog lately. So much so that I even forgot to post about the awesome Toasted Cake podcast of my flash story "A Primary Function". This story remains one of my favourites, because it's just plain evil.

This blog isn't the only thing I've been neglecting. From writing, to eating my five-a-day, to getting the stairs instead of the lift, it's very easy to take the path of least resistance. Especially when you spend all day at work, come home to cooking and cleaning (more work), and still have to write something (which by then feels a lot like work). In an effort to make the things I'm supposed to do more fun, I've joined a site called Habit RPG.

It's basically a website where you make a list of all the things you need to do, then check them off as you do them. You can have Habit, which are things you want to get in the habit of doing or not doing - which can have a positive or negative value (for example taking the stairs versus taking the lift). You can have Dailies, which are things that need to be done every day or on specific days of the week. Or you can have To Dos, which are things you really should get around to doing at some point, like your taxes. You can set these up with checklists too, which is ideal for long-term projects.

The reason this is better than just keeping it all on a piece of paper, is that it's also a game. Specifically, as the title suggests, a roleplaying game. You start as a little warrior avatar, and checking off your tasks gets you gold to buy equipment, and XP to level up with.  If you click a negative habit, or fail to check off a daily, you take damage. At level 10 you can choose a character class (warrior, healer, wizard, or rogue). I picked rogue, because I know myself well enough to admit I'm mostly in it for the random drops, which rogues get more of.

Every so often checking off a task will drop a random item on you: eggs, from which you can hatch cute little pets, and hatching potions which determine the flavour of pet you get. Combining a flying pig egg and a zombie hatching potion gets you an ugly yet amusing zombie flying pig. I'm personally waiting for a shade potion so I can hatch an evil panda. Because why not?

It also fosters a sense of co-operation. You can join a Guild, which is a bunch of people with an interest in common, or a Party in which to do quests. Some quests are "drop quests" where your random drops include items the party is trying to reach a particular number of, and boss fights where doing your tasks causes damage to some random evil you're trying to defeat. The other side of this is that your missed dailies go towards the damage the boss does and so can hurt the rest of the party.

So far it's got me eating my five a day and climbing the stairs, stopped me eating crisps, and helped me organise a massive house clean. I currently have writing and submitting down as habits, but I'm about to switch some of them over to dailies for that spot of extra motivation. Since my main problem is remembering to do the things I've decided I need to do, having them all in one place and getting rewards for doing them is really helping.

I know some people will look down on using a game as a motivator, but frankly we're not all super-organised and saintly, and able to do all of life's Shoulds without a bit of help. I'm not interested in the kind of outlook that says life should be all about being sensible and adult. And neither is my zombie flying pig.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Once again I've been a bit lazy on the internetting this last week. Although that's not necessarily a bad thing.

There's an interview with me over at Anaea Lay's website today - Telling Lies for Fun and Profit. Some of the answers may seem a little odd: the clue's in the title.

My story "The Message" went up at Kazka Press last week. And my copies of Cucurbital 3 arrived as well.

My one and only "Link I Like" collected last week was: Three Signs You're Renovating a Condemned Novel.

And my BF and I finished a four-part metal jewellery course yesterday, so there will probably be posts about that in the near future.
clhollandwriter: (Matter)
Anyone who's more up to date than I've been this week will already have seen, but my story "This is the Way the World Begins" was up at Daily Science Fiction on Thursday.

Also Steven Wittenberg Gordon posted some nice comments about it over at his blog.
clhollandwriter: (Moogle)
I'm visiting family this week, and short on internet time, so I've decided to lump my shameless self promotion and links round-up (a day early) into a single post.

Cucurbital 3, the anthology built around the prompts madness, darkness, mattress has now been announced for publication.  It has an immensely creepy cover.
Officially it's released on 26th November but the editor, Lawrence Schoen, is launching it at Capclave and will have copies on hand.

And finally, links I like from the last week:

Alethea Kontis - "Embracing Self-Plagiarism" - a great post on writing process.
Cory Doctorow - "Why Science Fiction Movies Drive Me Nuts."
Gareth Powell - "All First Drafts Suck" - another great post on writing process.
clhollandwriter: (Moogle)
Now that I've got your attention, shameless self-promotion first - I have a new e-book, "A World in Clockwork and Other Stories", up at Amazon today.



It's a collection of previously published works - the title story, "Mr Bad Man", "When the Harlequin Dances" and "In Search of Camanac".

And to celebrate, "A Primary Function and Other Flash Fiction" is free today and tomorrow.


Yesterday, I sat down and did the first exercise of my proofreading course. It was fairly simple, only two symbols to work with (insert, and substitute), but I still made some fairly basic errors. Fortunately only one of those was something I missed. The rest were down to inexperience - forgetting to circle a marginal note, for example, and using a "close up" symbol when I didn't need to.

I really enjoyed it, even if all the mistakes in the text did make me want to grind my teeth - I kept having to remind myself they were the whole point. This weekend I intend to work my way up to the second exercise. There are four in each unit, and then a marked assignment. Lots of work, but so far enjoyable, and hopefully worth it in the end.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I have another story out today, "The Empty Dark" in the first issue of Fantasy Short Stories. It's one of my few shamelessly sword and sorcery stories, and I'm glad it's found a home. The magazine is available from Amazon and Smashwords, and if anyone's interested in leaving a review at those sites I can provide a free copy.

Also, Twitter is fun! I hadn't realised until I saw the "My tweets" posts just how much I'd been posting. I may have to stop the cross-posting though. Anyone who's interested in seeing it is already on Twitter, right?

We went to see the Avengers movie on Tuesday. It's even better than I thought it would be. I did spend a lot of time wondering just how dumb SHIELD could be, but overall it's more fun than annoying. The characters are really well done, dripping with testosterone in places, and of course it's full of sparkly Joss Whedon dialogue. He even managed to sneak an absolutely filthy word past the censors, in true Firefly fashion.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I feel a bit bad for mostly posting writing promotion on here lately, but honestly my life's not been that interesting lately. Between getting over a cold, work, and writing-related procrastination I've not been doing an awful lot. So here's even more of it: my poem Meeting Before Breakfast is up at Every Day Poets today.

The two e-books were part of the procrastination (I'm supposed to be writing a novel) and I've got a third at the editing stage. With websites going down and content cycling out of archives, I figure it's a way to at least keep my stories available. This weekend I also joined Twitter, as @clhollandwriter, and am enjoying it more than I thought I would. It's less work than writing a full blog post, and more interesting than Facebook.

Yesterday I went to play Arkham Horror with some friends. It's a great boardgame and seems to be infinitely variable, given that the enemies and events you encounter are different every time. I ended up playing a doddery old man who moved like treacle but kicked arse in a fight (yay, magic!), but Man of the Match has to go to the friend who went-toe-to-toe against Cthulhu and won.

Yes I am a nerd, why do you ask?
clhollandwriter: (Moogle)

For those of you who aren't subscribers and haven't already seen it,  my flash story "After" is up at Daily Science Fiction today.

Writing-wise, I'm plodding on with my goal of a mere 267 words a day. Making it so far, but it's early days yet and the plot holes are starting to make themselves apparent. The story seems to want a third protagonist, although I don't know who, and I may or may not have missed out an entire scene. At some point I may start posting snippets, but at the moment it's full of [use better words] and [finish this conversation] so it's not exactly coherent - but it is there, which is the important thing.

clhollandwriter: (Default)
"Conversations with Dragons" is now up at Kazka Press. There are some really good stories up there this month - I particularly like "Surge Domine" by Rebecca L. Brown.
clhollandwriter: (block)
I've been offline for a couple of days, in a sadly failed attempt to get ahead with my November not-quite-NaNo project (a 20-40k novella), so I forgot to post up a link to "The Noise" over at Kazka Press:


I should get back to writing - so far I have characters, settings, backstory, and nothing is happening. :(


clhollandwriter: (Default)

It's not-quite-but-almost-out - The Best of Every Day Fiction Three, which contains my story "Beauty Sleeping" is available for pre-orders, although apparently already for sale by Amazon.com and B&N.

The main consensus I found so far on e-book readers is that everyone who's got a Kindle loves it. It certainly seems to be great for convenience, apart from whole not supporting other platforms thing. However there's something a little creepy and Big Brotherish about Amazon being able to delete books from it whenever they feel like it. It's like someone from Waterstones breaking into my house to steal my paperbacks.

Today's adventure in TV dinners: Waitrose mushroom and chestnut risotto for the BF - I hate risotto, and things overly flavoured of mushrooms, so it's not something he'd get at home and he said he really enjoyed it. I had chilli prawn linguine, which was nice but could have done with a little bit of veg adding - say a bit of sliced pepper or something. We also did an experiment in microwaving asparagus, which turned out better than we expected.

Today we invested in a cheap George Foreman-style grill and a microwave egg poacher, and tomorrow or Monday a friend is giving us an electric steamer, so hopefully pretty soon we'll be able to cook properly, albeit a bit haphazardly.
 


Answers

Apr. 28th, 2011 09:46 pm
clhollandwriter: (Default)
So not on the ball today, that I almost got to bedtime having forgotten that my story "Answers" is up at Every Day Fiction today.

They completed the summoning in silence. Grey-robed and blindfolded, the adepts moved through steps they’d carefully rehearsed for weeks. All their hopes were pinned on this.

If they were successful, perhaps the Lords of Order would tell them why no children had been born since the end of the Gods’ War.
 

It's hard to believe that we're now just over halfway through our break. It's mostly been great. We've got a lot done in the garden, with pea plants in pots, and runner bean, courgette, and pepper seeds in to germinate. We've also planted a lot of bedding plants out in pots (violas, geraniums, and two other things I can't remember but that we thought looked pretty). We've also ripped up a lot of weeds and eked out a sort of "border" along the fence, and planted jasmine, clematis, and honeysuckle, in the hope they climb the fence and give the weeds a run for their money.

Other than that, we've done a bit of clothes shopping to replace some things that have suffered from age or too much cat. We also went through every item of clothing in the house, and anything that we don't like any more or doesn't fit has gone in a box for charity.

Tomorrow is the Royal Wedding, so most places will be shut. The plan is to get a lot of laundry done, and a friend might be bringing his little boy over to say hi, since they're in the area. We won't be watching the wedding, since we don't have TV in our house. I might also get some writing done, since with everything else all I've done so is get a couple of subs out the door and do a flash challenge, although I may have to flip a coin between that and Dungeon Siege.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

My first sale and publication of the year: my flash story "And a Cup of Good Cheer" has been published in the January issue of 10Flash Quarterly, the theme of which is Santa Claus Ain't Coming to Town.

The magic was all in the hat, of course.  It had to come from somewhere and it certainly wasn’t him.


Fairly unproductive weekend, just making the most of the time off before going back to work. Mostly spent playing on games or watching DVDs. On New Year's Eve we did what we always do and stayed in to watch films with a friend. First was The Fall, which is a very odd mix of The Princess Bride, Big Fish, and The Usual Suspects and is probably the best film Terry Gilliam never made. We followed it with Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, the Ian Dury biopic which was, frankly, a bit rubbish. The narriative jumped around all over the place, relying a bit too much on viewers already knowing the story, and from all they hype it seems they were going for "loveable rogue" - except they forgot the loveable part so instead it was a portrait of a man with no redeeming features. 

Lucifer brought us a starling yesterday, still alive and screaming. Unlike Gabriel she still tries to bring her prey in the house - her sister has worked out we don't like it and prefers to play with them in the garden instead. I honestly don't know why Lucifer does it, since it's obviously not to present it to us. Usually she pauses in the doorway looking stupid and runs away when we spot her. This time we managed to get her to drop the bird in the kitchen, and once she was safely out of the way we caught it in a towel and released it into the garden. It flew away in a hurry, which was a big relief since I've lost count of the times she's brought home birds beyond saving.


clhollandwriter: (Default)
It's been a productive week. Since getting the broadband sorted out, I've written a story, and sent three submissions and a query. It's amazing what not having to wait 20 minutes for a computer to load will do for your motivation.

Stats for the year are as follows:

Currently there are four submissions pending, and one under query.
Submissions - 30
Sales - 5 (including 2 reprints)
Publications - 10

It was eight, but I've just checked and the anthology The Best of Every Day Poets One was published on 10th December, and contains "Plain English" and "The Charge of the Lightweights".

Off now to update everything, and then get on with a story for which I actually have a market in mind and a deadline, for a change. I seem to struggle the most with open-ended projects, so I'm trying to start the year with specific goals in mind.



clhollandwriter: (Default)
Somewhat oddly, given that they were sold months apart, I have a second clockwork-themed story published this month: "The Girl with the Clockwork Heart" is up today at Every Day Fiction:

Once upon a time there was a girl whose heart had broken from grief. Such was the pain of her broken heart that she went to a kindly watchmaker and asked him to make her a new one out of clockwork.


Writing is continuing, slowly but surely, on my current "holiday from serious writing" project. I'm learning a lot of things about the world and the characters as I go, and reminding myself that starting a story with little more than an idea, or character, or situation, is not necessarily a bad thing. For me, it's like reading - I discover the story as I go, and suddenly things I wasn't sure about earlier make perfect sense.

It's re-energised my writing batteries, so now I've got several other projects clamouring for attention, including some short stories I'd very much like to get finished. I'm not going to jump into anything just yet though - we're currently having a big clear out in preparation for a house-guest at the beginning of next month, and battening down the hatches for winter.

We've just finished watching season five of Supernatural on DVD. It used to be very much my show, but during season four it became a guilty pleasure for the BF too. He thinks that the end of the season looked very much like they weren't sure they were getting another, which is why it has such an air of finality to it. I have to say, I agree, although I have my suspicions about the direction season six will take: getting Adam out of Hell if he isn't already, back to the monster-of-the-week format of the first couple of seasons while they round up all the nasties that escaped Hell with Lucifer. Oh, and Castiel getting promoted to Archangel. Don't tell me if I'm right!
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Having previously been accused of burying the lead:

"A World in Clockwork" is now up at The Lorelei Signal. I love it when there's artwork for my stories, especially when they nail the character like this one does.

And "Of Corn and Crows" is available in the latest issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly.


Not much going on otherwise. It's getting harder and harder to persuade the cats in of an evening - you'd think it would be the opposite with the nights coming earlier, but instead they seem to feel they're being cheated.

And not much writing this weekend, as the BF and I spent it playing Army of Two. I read a review of this that accused it of being a macho fantasy - well duh. Isn't that what all these first-person-shooters are? It's good fun, probably all the more so for being brainless.

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