Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chili, Chili, Chili.

I went out into the garden yesterday morning and picked lots of chili from my vegetable patch. Ended up with over a kilo. So I made my world famous Sweet Chili Sauce that I end up pouring on just about everything I eat. It's a pretty good sauce, even if I do say so myself. My wife's boss has a standing order for it. While I pottered around in the kitchen, pretending I was on MasterChef,  I listened to some XTC - Apple Venus. Some might think this an obscure album - it's certainly under-appreciated. (yeah Paul, my copy is autographed!)

And I've been writing lots. Subbed two stories last week, rewrote another, started writing a new one, and generally feeling good about it all. The mentorship I undertook with Paul Haines last year (through the AHWA) really seems to be paying off. I'm drafting less, and getting to the final product a lot quicker. The stories flow a lot better, and have a lot fewer irrelevant parts within.

And then it's back to school tomorrow. Busy time ahead, with lots of marking coming up as we approach the mid year.  We have our athletics day this week too. A day I don't ever look forward to, but usually end up enjoying. And film club tomorrow night - Coen Brothers' A Serious Man. I always love going along, if only for the social aspect. I managed to convince a few friends to join and we go out for dinner first.

I believe it's mixed grill this week.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Panels At Continuum.

Continuum is only a few weeks away, and I'm on a few panels. What's incredibly cool is that I'm on some of these panels with people I admire - like Aurealis Award winners Richard Harland and Karen Healey. Yep, both these writers picked up awards on the weekend. Congratulations!

I've put together a panel on Philip K. Dick, and how his work has been translated onto the screen. I'm really looking forward to that one.

Elsewhere I'm included on panels about Young Adult fiction and another on Young Adult media, and an Improv session. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

But the whole thing should be a lot of fun. And I really hope lots of people make it. There are a few faces I'm really looking forward to catching up with.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I've had an excellent two weeks writing - extremely productive - with two new stories on the go. I don't know whether the dreams of last week, or another dream I had this week, were the impetus for the sudden burst of activity, but when I'm in this frame of mind I make sure I stay that way as long as possible and write whenever I can.

The second of the stories I've written, is dark - darker than anything else I've done. And, in fact, even has some bad language in it. Now this is something I don't really write, and I surprised even myself when I saw the words on the screen.  But I plead "Not Guilty" on the following grounds.

Firstly: Last year I was extremely fortunate in having the amazingly talented Paul Haines as my mentor for three months. Not only did he improve my writing, workshop a story until it sold at an excellent market, force to me to consider aspects of stories I had never really consider before and make me doubt myself continuously, he also corrupted and twisted my mind and was generally a bad influence on me. Anyone who hasn't yet bought Slice of Life and The Last Days of Kali Yuga should do so immediately. Read these, then you'll understand what I mean.

Secondly: The character said it, not me. As I said this is a dark story, and under the circumstances it would have been incredibly unrealistic for her to say "Gosh", or "Jeepers". The story and the character cried out for it.

Thirdly: It was fun to write.

Surely no jury in the land would convict me. And no, this is a story not meant to be read by my junior students.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chimneys, Dreams And Goals.

A couple of dreams this week that stand out. One that I had, and another that a friend of mine had about me.

And yet they they held a number of similarities that suggest a few things to me. One of which is that I need to start aiming my sights slightly higher. I suppose that applies to my writing and publishing, but there are a couple of other areas where this holds true also.

I'm in the fortunate position of knowing a few people who have set goals and taken risks that I would never have dreamed of doing myself. And these people are achieving.

As an old friend of mine used to say, "Aim for the stars - even if you only hit the chimney."

I think sometimes I aim for the chimney, and then seem surprised if I don't always hit it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back Again.

I've been overseas for the past few weeks.  Four days in Paris, and the rest in the UK.  I went over for a wedding in Sheffield, but spent most of my time in Lincolnshire. And one day in London.

I was fortunate enough to get tickets for Frankenstein at the National Theatre, written by Nick Dear,  directed by Danny Boyle, scored by Underworld, and starring Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch. Amazing!

In Lincoln I saw Feast of Fiddles, with the incredible Dave Mattacks on drums (I should have brought my Nonsuch CD for him to sign), Peter Knight from Steeleye Span, Chris Leslie from Fairport Convention, and a bunch of others that were incredibly talented, if unknown to me.

Paris? Well, that simply fulfilled a dream of mine - and I was able to eat my way through the entire four days.  Oh yeah, I can also recommend a great indie bookstore called I Love My Blender.

But the highlight of the trip? The wedding party up in Sheffield.  What fun that was, and everyone just had a wonderful time.

But now it's back to work.  Sigh.