Tagged: Creative Writing

Flash Fiction Day 2017

Stories written for Flash Fiction Day 2017: I’ll be updating this post throughout the day if you want to keep up. If you’d like to get involved with this event yourself, you can sign up here! As long as it’s still June 24th in your time zone, it’s not too late!

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“Buttman to the rescue!”

“Wait, what?”

“Your friendly neighbourhood Buttman is here to rescue you. That’s what.”

“Yeah, I got that. The whole thing sort of came out of left field for me, though. I thought you just had a really impressive cleft chin or something.”

“Nope. My heroic visage is a sign to evildoers everywhere that they’re in for a serious ass-kicking.”

“Oh.”

“No ifs, ands, or butts.”

“But…surely there are butts? Surely that’s your whole superhero persona?”

“I guess…”

“And isn’t it a little unwise to bring up ass-kicking when your face is…you know…”

“Look, everyone has an ass, alright? I’m not the only person that can be flipped against. When other superheroes talk about ass-kicking, you don’t assume it’s going to be theirs that gets kicked, do you?”

“I think other superheroes just avoid that sort of pottymouth altogether, if I’m honest.”

“Hey! Don’t be cheeky.”

“Was that a butt pun?”

“I crack jokes. It’s part of my persona.”

“Oh.”

“When I said ‘crack’ just now, that was also a…”

“Yeah, I got that.” Continue reading

The Official Flash Fiction Day 2017 Blog Post

Welcome flashers one and all! During the 24 hours of June 24th (in their respective time zones), the people listed here will be attempting to produce as many flash fiction pieces (between one and one thousand words inclusive in length) as possible.

If you haven’t signed up already, it’s not too late! Just leave a comment on this sign-up post (no account or email required) letting me know you’re a new writer who wants to join in. You can then leave a link to your Flash Fiction Day pieces below. Separating sign-ups and submissions like this makes it easier for me to work out if I’m adding a whole new participant to the event or if I’m just pasting a link next to a name that’s already in there.

Here’s the plan for the day:

  1. The event begins at the very start of June 24th, your local time. You can start writing any time after that.
  2. Write your first piece of flash fiction. Maximum 1,000 words, minimum 1 word. (I have read every conceivable 0 word story and am now bored of the genre.)
  3. Submit a blog post titled “Flash Fiction Day Submissions” (or something more imaginative) containing that story.
  4. Comment with a link to your post on this Official Flash Fiction Day blog post. I’ll add a thumbnail next to your name as quickly as possible, but until then people can at least find it in the comments.
  5. Write more stories! Add those new stories to your FFD post (possibly with a note to say what time you started/finished them). You should end up with something that looks a little like this.
  6. That’s it! All your stories for the day are available right here so readers can easily find them.
  7. When June 24th ends, so does the event. Of course, you’re free to stop writing earlier if you like.

Continue reading

Girth Loinhammer Book Coming 2018!

Dungeon Lord lovers rejoice: I’ve signed a contract for another book, and this one features none other than Girth “Meatthrust” Loinhammer himself. Just look how happy he is!

Artwork by Joe Wright

If you’re subscribed to my newsletter or a regular at the open mics I read at then you’ll have known about this for quite a while, but Aperture Editions are now on board to publish Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure, the massively interactive Dungeon Lord story that I’ve been working on for the past year and a half. This thing’s huge: it’s currently 150,00 words in total and it’s still not quite finished. The version available online only includes half the content. There’s a lot I’ve held back. Continue reading

Upcoming Winchester Events (and other news)

I’ve got two fairly big events coming up next week, so if you’re anywhere near Winchester then do check this out. The first is the Hampshire Writers’ Society Gala Evening (Tuesday June 13th, 6pm in the Stripe Building of the University of Winchester), where I’ll be setting up with my books as part of the Members’ Book Fair. If you’ve been following since I posted about the event last year or the year before, you’ll probably have some idea what that’ll be like, but the speakers at the Society are different every month and this time around I think they’ve got some especially good people on board. One of the speakers is Claire Fuller, who I’ve mentioned on this blog on a few occasions already, and the other is Erwin James, a columnist for the Guardian.

If you check out this writeup of last year’s event, you’ll notice I mentioned that the other authors there really seemed to have put a lot into their displays and that it was all very professional. Well, I’ve stepped up my game this time around with some lovely swag! Continue reading

June 24th: Flash Fiction Day 2017

It’s that time of year again! On June 24th (this time to coincide with Calum Kerr’s previously unrelated National Flash Fiction Day) I will be holding a 24 hour flash fiction extravaganza lasting a whopping 48 hours. Time zones are funny that way. Here’s a run-down of the rules/guidelines that I’ve shamelessly copied from the 2015 and 2016 events (though you might notice that those links point to deviantART, but you’re just as welcome to participate here without an account or even an email address).

Before June 24th:

  1. Comment on this post letting me know you want to take part.
  2. I put together an “official” Flash Fiction Day post listing all the participants.

On June 24th:

  1. The event begins at the very start of June 24th, your local time. You can start writing any time after that.
  2. Write your first piece of flash fiction. Maximum 1,000 words, minimum 1 word. (I have read every conceivable 0 word story and am now bored of the genre.)
  3. Publish a blog post (or equivalent) titled “Flash Fiction Day Submissions” (or something more imaginative) containing that story.
  4. Post a link to your post on my official FFD post (not this sign-up one). I’ll approve it and add the link to the post itself as quickly as possible.
  5. Write more stories! Add those new stories to your FFD post (possibly with a note to say what time you started/finished them). You should end up with something that looks a little like this.
  6. That’s it! All your stories for the day are available in one place where readers can easily find them.
  7. When June 24th ends, so does the event. Of course, you’re free to stop writing earlier if you like.

That’s pretty much it! If you’re interested in the event, all you have to do now is leave a comment on this blog post letting me know and I’ll add your name to the list (so if you’re commenting without an account, please be sure to enter the same name you intend to use on the day). The participant count tripled between last year and the year before, so I’m hoping for an even better turnout this time around! Even if you only get one flash fiction piece written all day, that’s one more than you would have had otherwise.

Unearthly Sleuths

There’s a new anthology from JayHenge Publishing, and this one’s all about speculative detective fiction! It’s called Unearthly Sleuths, and it features two of my stories: The Card and Noise on the Wire. The former appears in OCR is Not the Only Font, my flash fiction anthology from 2012, but the latter is a brand new Alterworld story I’ve never shared before!

If that sounds like your sort of thing you can grab a copy in ebook or paperback right now! However, the editor has extremely kindly allowed me to offer the ebook as a reward for supporters of Ten Little Astronauts, so if you’ve pledged for that at the Audio Collection level or above (or the bargain Digital Bundle), you’re already due to get a copy when the book is funded!

You might also be interested in Phantasmical Contraptions and Other Errors, also by JayHenge, which has a steampunk theme and features no fewer than three of my flash fiction pieces.

Ten Little Astronauts at 30%!

Yes! Ten Little Astronauts has reached 30% funding through Unbound. The last little bit of that came very quickly indeed: pretty much just over this past weekend. You can find the update on their site here.

If you haven’t pledged already, this would be a spectacularly good time to do so. The book has had so much support these past few days that it’s currently trending on Unbound, and if that continues – particularly if it earns a place on the front page of books – even more people are going to discover it. If you’re one of the next 15 people to put in a pledge, you’ll also get your name in an interactive sci-fi story I’m working on as well as the regular rewards.

Harvest Moon, the folk horror story I was offering as the 30% milestone reward, will be going out to supporters soon. For the 35% milestone reward I’m planning to release a never-before-seen Face of Glass myth telling the origin of the elements and the creation of Man. If that takes your fancy, you might also be interested in Silent as Still Water.

And please, even if you don’t intend to put in a pledge yourself, consider sharing Ten Little Astronauts with anyone you think might enjoy it. That 100% mark is creeping closer and closer, but I can’t reach it on my own!

Free Shipping at Unbound Until April 30th

If you’d like to support Ten Little Astronauts but haven’t already, or went for the ebook and fancy upgrading to a sweet, sweet paperback for super cheap, now’s your chance! You can get free UK shipping (or £4 off international) with the code FREESHIPPING until April 30th.

Apologies for the shoddy video quality. I seem to have burned a hole in my only micro SD card and had to use an older camera.

I’ve left a slightly more comprehensive post about this on Unbound itself, but the main things to take away would be that if you want a physical copy of the book then this would be a really good time to get it, and if you’ve already put in a pledge for an ebook then you’ve now got the opportunity of upgrading to a first edition paperback for very little indeed. Not only that, but if you do upgrade then you’ll be doubling the value of your pledge (but not the cost) in the process which would really help me out.

This promotion is only running until the 30th, so it would mean the world to me if you could help spread the word about it. Most promo codes knock the value off the pledges themselves, but this one offers readers a chance to save money while still ensuring that everything they pay in goes directly towards getting my work into bookshops. If you’re reading this, please don’t just click away: share it on Facebook or Twitter or, even better, tell someone you think would particularly enjoy my sci-fi murder mystery. A personal recommendation means more than all the shares or retweets in the world (though naturally those help too)!

Announcing Project Pythias

It’s been quite a while since I had a new story to share online. It’s hard to be too upset about that given that it’s primarily down to some recent successes – crowdfunding Ten Little Astronauts takes up a great deal of my time, and I’m currently sorting out a contract for Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure with a different publisher – but still it seems like a shame.

Another factor in this (and it’s somewhat related to the whole Exponential Adventure thing) is that my work recently has taken a step away from self-contained, linear stories and towards more nebulous interactive pieces, whether I’m putting together Twine games all by myself or whether I’m approaching bigger videogame developers about the possibility of working with them. Amazing as it is to have a hand in something like Craft Keep VR, all the time I spend lining up opportunities like that is time I can’t spend knocking together a short story or chipping away at a novel. And that got me thinking: maybe I can use one of these things to tackle the other?

That’s where Project Pythias comes in.

Project Pythias isn’t so much a game or an interactive story as it is a piece of software. You might have noticed that my interactive work has been getting more and more tech-heavy over time, but actually this sort of thing goes way back for me. Although my BA was in English Literature, and much of that was focused on very old texts, I was studying at the University of Reading which is really big on scientific research. A lot of my friends were involved with neural networks at some point or another, and though I can’t put together anything of the same complexity they were, I’ve got enough of an understanding to bolt together something that, when trained on my own stories, can generate outlines of similar follow-up works. Twine lets you bring in pretty much any JavaScript you like, and if you’re willing to get your hands dirty you might be surprised what sort of functionality you can get out of that.

Essentially, though Project Pythias can’t “think” as such – it doesn’t actually aim to produce anything funny or surprising – it can grasp that Captain Redundancy appears only in stories in which his presence is redundant, and that Girth Loinhammer is supposed to be intimidating but ends up being sexy, and when stories follow some sort of formula like that, it’s reasonably good at identifying and reproducing it.

It’s also still pretty buggy, by the way: you might see an occasional error message, but I’m actually really struggling to work out what’s going wrong. For the most part, you can just ignore those. However, DON’T tick the box to “prevent this page from generating additional dialogs” if it appears. Those dialogs are necessary for Twine to run.

I’m putting this out there partly as a way of offering some new stories to you guys, but as well as that I’m hoping to further refine Project Pythias‘ output. At the moment they’re essentially just outlines, but with some feedback and a few weeks’ work I think I could have this thing generating stories approaching 1,000 words. I’m not exactly going to count on it to tackle Flash Fiction Month for me, but if time is short this July I might set it loose on the ordinary days and just focus on the challenges myself. I’m already relying on automation more and more. If you don’t believe me, consider this: I’m at EGX right now! Today! This very minute, even! WordPress posted this all by itself (under my instruction, of course).

Anyway, here’s that link again. Give it a try, and tell me what you think. If everything works out, there’s a good chance Project Pythias will be producing all my short fiction by 2018.

Places to Meet Me this Month

I realise we’re halfway through March at this point, but wow is that second half packed full of things to do! If you fancy meeting me in person, you’ll have plenty of chances over the coming couple of weeks (though it helps if you’re currently in the southern half of the UK). Here’s what’s coming up, in order:

Truth is Like a Lazarus Launch

(University of Reading [Van Emden Theatre, HumSS Building], 6pm Monday 20th March)

I got my BA it the University of Reading, and after getting in touch to let them know about my recent success with Ten Little Astronauts, I was invited to submit something to this year’s Reading Creative Arts Anthology, Truth is Like a Lazarus; or, A Roof Bursting with Stars. That something is in there now, and if you turn up in the Van Emden Theatre at 6pm you’ll hopefully have the chance to hear me read it!

As an added bonus, the HumSS building is worth a visit in its own right: think “Hogwarts as imagined by M.C. Escher.” In my second year I almost missed a class because it took place on a floor I didn’t know existed. Fortunately,  however, the Van Emden Theatre is up just one flight of stairs visible from the main entrance. Reading’s Whiteknights Campus is full of quirky things like this: it was very nearly declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest and has its own (obsolete) nuclear bunker. Well worth taking the time explore beforehand if you do decide to come to this event!

Winchester Comic Con

(Winchester Discovery Centre, 9am – 6pm, Saturday 25th March)

The first ever Winchester Comic Con is coming up, and I’ll be on the first ever author panel! I’m also one of the judges for the flash fiction competition, so if you fancy making a day of it then come prepared with a ≤100 word speculative fiction story. The competition is open to anybody with a ticket (which presumably you’ll need to get in there anyway, though it may be possible to pay on the door) and this is very much my kind of thing.

As you might expect from a nine-hour event, there’ll be lots going on. There’ll be guests from Harry Potter, Star Wars and Doctor Who, as well as the world’s leading Tintinologist (an expert on Tintin) Michael Farr. Also, it’s not certain at this point but I’m hoping fellow Unbound author Niall Slater will be there too.

EGX Rezzed

(Tobacco Dock, London, 30th March – 1st April)

After having a really great time at EGX in September last year, I’ll be returning for EGX Rezzed at the end of the month! I say “returning” but actually this’ll be a fairly different event. For one thing it’s in London rather than Birmingham, and for another the focus is more on PC and indie titles such as Craft Keep VR, which will be on display there!

For anyone who hasn’t been following for a while, I first came across Craft Keep at EGX and, soon afterwards, ended up writing for it. That was a bit of a dream come true, really. EGX was the first games event I ever went to, and standing in the massive crowd heading in at the start of the first day, I never imagined I’d have my own work on show in the next one I went to. It was only an outside possibility even at the point I was on the train back home! I met a lot of great people at the last event (and bumped into a couple of people I’d already met at the Brighton Global Game Jam), and I’m hoping there’ll be a chance to catch up with at least some of them at this one.

As the “VR” in “Craft Keep VR” might imply, this is a virtual reality title and you’ll need a VR headset and motion controllers to play it. For most people (including me) then, an event like EGX is your main chance to give it a go. Tickets are available here, and they’re actually not too pricy considering the range of games you get to see! I gather that Rezzed will be more low-key than regular EGX – I’m not expecting to grab quite as many free T-shirts (if any) this time around – but even so you’re looking at three full days of gaming for less than the price of one current-gen console release. It’s certainly cheaper than buying an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive if you just want a go at Craft Keep VR!

And that’s it.

I’ve got a few more things planned over the last little while, quite a few of them related to Ten Little Astronauts, but none of those involve turning up places in person. Or at least, none of the ones that do really offer an opportunity to meet up with people. If you are planning to head to any of these, though – whether you’re near Reading or Winchester or fancy a trip into London for EGX – then let me know! It would be great to say hi.