Flash Fiction Month is proving a challenge this year, largely because I’m also sinking a lot of time into my Creative Writing dissertation. It’s a little strange having to come up with a tiny story every day while also chipping away at an umpteen-thousand word project. Still, it’s manageable, and I feel as though I’ve done some good work on both.
I was pleasantly surprised recently to discover that The Fermi Pair o’ Socks had been featured as a Daily Deviation over on deviantART, meaning that it was displayed prominently in a few places around the site: kind of a day in the spotlight. That’s happened with a few of my other stories before, and it’s always good to know they’re reaching new people: especially when they’re stories from Flash Fiction Month that might encourage other writers to get involved with the event. It was also quite a boost to have that story featured in particular, as it was the first time this month that I’d just had to take an idea and run with it, rather than writing a story I’d either had in mind for a while or piecing something together specifically for a challenge.
The way stories come together over the course of these events has always interested me. Each one of my Flash Fiction Month anthologies includes a statistical analysis at the end looking at how various things (though mostly word count) changed over the course of the month. Recently, that got me thinking about different ways to display that sort of information, and that led up to this:
You may have noticed this image in my Flash Fiction Day post last month, where it was included pretty much just to add colour. However, there’s more to it than that. Each band of colour—orange, red, and purple—represents one Flash Fiction Month event: 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively. In turn, each of those bands is made up of 31 lines of colour, each one representing a single story. The strength of the line represents the length of that story, with the maximum 1,000 words being a bold coloured line and the minimum 55 words being almost white. You can see at a glance how the stories from 2013 (the red band) were typically longer than the stories from 2012 (the orange band), especially towards the end of the month.
I’ve since started using this as the header for my email newsletter, where, again, it’s nice to be able to throw in some bright colour. However, I also figured I’d take the opportunity to stick it on a mug, just because I can.
It took a little bit of work to stop the bleed area from chopping off the lines at the edges, but actually wasn’t too hard to set up. I kind of wonder what other things I could represent graphically in this way, and how else I might use the images I get out of them. I don’t really draw or paint, so it’s interesting to have a go at doing something visual like this.
With the Hampshire Writers’ Society Gala Evening just a week away, my table space is more or less sorted. I’ve got multiple copies of all my paperbacks, with the Flash Fiction Month anthologies all lined up on one display and all the Face of Glass copies on another. You wouldn’t think that hours of experience selling handmade jewellery or shelving videogames would ever help with preparation for a literary event, but actually putting these displays together felt like a little of both!
In addition to the paperbacks, I’ve also assembled some new discs. The Face of Glass CDs aren’t actually new: I tend to have them on hand at craft events. However, most of the ones here are freshly assembled as my original batch had been whittled down to the last two.
These Face of Glass discs contain both the ebook itself in multiple formats, and audio recordings of The Three Tales from the novel. I’ve now assembled a desktop computer that makes burning the discs considerably simpler, and (though a somewhat smaller investment) I’ve got a set of scalpels and a cutting mat that make for some very neat case inserts.
The process of putting together these ebook CDs is now straightforward enough that I’ve also brought out a very small number of Flash Fiction Month discs. The ebooks are still free to download, but I figure that for anybody who wants a token physical version the disc could be a fun option. The colour scheme of the covers looks pretty good laid out this way, and the clear clamshell cases do a good job of showing it off.
I’ve still got a few more bits and bobs I’d like to sort out, but with the books on hand and the discs put together, I think the display is just about ready to go. I’m even planning to bring along a couple of chunks of raw obsidian to place alongside Face of Glass, since it’s always interesting to be able to connect the imaginary world of a book to something more tangible. I had the larger of the two stones on hand most of the time I was first writing Face of Glass, and though most of the actual research into Stone Age cultures came through books, museums or the internet, having that one bit of black glass to hand was useful too. It’s a fascinating material, both beautiful and practical, and seen in person it’s not hard to imagine why it developed ritual significance.
If you’re interested in turning up, the Gala Evening starts at 6pm on the 9th of June, in the Stripe Building at the University of Winchester. Further information is available on the Hampshire Writers’ Society events page. Their website also lists all the authors who’ll be at the members’ Book Fair alongside me.
Fans of big purple bionic boxing gloves rejoice! My third free collection of flash fiction stories, all of which are readily available on this very website, is now available in a non-free paperback format!
I’m really pleased with how this turned out, because the boxing glove took the most editing out of any of the cover images so far. It was also the first cover made without the direct assistance of JD McDonnell, though given that he left me with a very solid format to follow, I’m nut sure exactly how much I could screw up on my own. Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to buy myself some business cards for absolutely ages. Conveniently, I no longer have to, because I’ve been doing a little bit of work for a local printing company and they did these for me in return. I think that turned out pretty well for all involved: they don’t have to fork out any money, and I get many more, much nicer cards than I would have online. And sooner or later (though probably later), I would have bought some online.
Marketing-wise, this may seem like a pretty strange move to make–“Oh, business cards? How quaint! I use this thing called THE INTERNET.”–but at the same time, I bump into a lot of people in the real world. Old friends, new friends, weirdos on public transport, you get the idea. We’ll get talking, and there’s a good chance I’ll mention books at some point. The problem is that typically when I mention that you can find my books on the internet, well…unless you fancy whipping your phone out right then and there, the internet’s not around. So yes, hypothetical snarky person: business cards. They make sense even with the internet.
On the left here you’ll see the front of the card. You may recognise the text in the background. I picked that passage purely because it had an extremely high density of interesting phrases. I figure that something like “…just some punk with a gene lab?” is the kind of thing that’s likely to make people want to find out more. And if they do, they can turn over to the back of the card, shown here on the right. That offers a tiny bit about who I am (I’m a guy who writes stuff. Lots of it is speculative fiction.) and a few ways to find out more. There’s my Twitter, the web address of this very site, and a QR code in case you actually do fancy whipping your phone out right then and there. The for-real version of this card has my email as well, but I’ve edited it out of the photo just to avoid having it floating around online.
I feel like this design works pretty well. It doesn’t make for the flashiest business card in the world, but I think it’s sort of elegant, it offers all the information it needs to and it’s basic enough that it’ll be relevant (hopefully) forever, which is handy because I’ve got 500 of these things. Also, it was the only way I could think of providing a sample of my writing in such a small space. Also, it’s worth pointing out that not all the cards are the same: some are printed on thick white card, some on thinner ivory card. And there’s more! As you’ll be able to see in the following photo, some of them are laminated.
I didn’t think about any of this when designing the front of the card, but I really like how the different versions look: the white ones are kind of crisp and clean, the ivory ones a little more interesting and sophisticated. Also, for practical purpsoses laminated cards will stand up to being carried around a lot better, while the unlaminated ones will be handy for scribbling down any extra information. Even if a multi-variety stack of cards like this is an option with big online printers, it’s just not something I would have done on my own initiative. In that respect, being able to talk to someone who really knew what they were doing was absolutely invaluable. And if you’re anywhere nearby, I’d definitely recommend checking out Printline specifically.