Since the launch of Ten Little Astronauts by Unbound (in fact, more or less since it was first accepted), I’ve been planning to turn up at various places and talk about it. From the very beginning Fair Oak Library was more or less guaranteed to be the first, though in the end wasn’t because Charlotte Comley got in there really quick and invited me to a meeting of The Writers at Lovedean.
Fair Oak Library may be small – as you might expect for a village whose biggest landmark is a tree – but it’s special to me because I still remember going there for storytime when I was considerably smaller. It was the source of an awful lot of the books I enjoyed as a child, as well as the copy of The Well of Lost Plots I read in the run-up to the first Winchester Writers’ Festival that I attended, where the keynote speaker was Jasper Fforde.
If you’d like to drop in and say hi on Saturday, I’ll be there all morning: from 9:30 when the library opens until 1pm when it closes. I’ll have with me all my current books, plus a necklace of the sort I’m offering for a select few supporters of Ten Little Astronauts. I’m not sure how many people reading this will be in a position to just pop in, but if you’re not too far away then you might like a visit: the village is very pleasant, as are Stoke Park Woods just to the West of it. And if it sweetens the deal at all, the library itself is one of the area’s few PokeStops.
The Hampshire Writers’ Society Book Fair is coming up on the 14th of June. That’s this Tuesday!
I mentioned this in a recent blog post that focused mostly on the Alresford Literary Festival, but the Hampshire Writers’ event was such a success last year that I think it’s worth giving it a post all to itself. If you’re in the Winchester area, I’d really recommend going: there are a lot of authors who’ll be turning up. The place to be is the Stripe Building at the University of Winchester (on Sparkford Road): it starts at 6.
If you can’t make it, I’ll be aiming to write all about the event (and the Alresford festival) here. However, the Winchester Writers’ Festival is now less than a week away as well, so I can’t say for sure exactly when I’ll get around to it: June is a very busy month, and naturally I don’t expect July to leave me much more time!
Flash Fiction Month 2015, Day 25
Challenge #11: Joe Wright challenged me to write a story with a sequentially numbered word count (123, 234, 345, etc.) set under an object and starring a divorcee. It must also feature three different smells, an indescribably loud noise, and a red herring.
The frosted glass door creaked as Rick Rottweiler pushed it open. “Oh,” he said. “Is Mr. Haddock in?”
“You’re looking at him, kid.” Jack Haddock ashed his cigarette, adjusted his fedora, then poured out two glasses of whiskey. It was a trifecta of Private Eye clichés. Also the neon sign hanging over the building cast artsy shadows through the half-closed window blinds.
“Sorry.” Rick sat down in the proffered chair. “For a minute there I thought you were a herring, rather than a haddock.” Even to Rick’s sensitive nose, most fish tended to smell the same: fishy.
“I am a herring.” Jack Haddock tossed back his whiskey in one gulp. Naturally he drank like a fish. “A red herring. The ‘Haddock’ name was my ex-wife’s.” He sighed. “She insisted I take hers when we got married, and it was all she left me with after the divorce.” Continue reading
Last weekend wasn’t my first time at the Winchester Writers’ Festival, but thanks to a scholarship from the University of Winchester, it was the first year I managed to attend the entire event. That really made quite a difference, since the full range of day courses, talks and workshops offered far more variety than I could have got from any individual day. It was particularly useful to be able to get advice on both writing and publishing. Here’s how the weekend went:
Each day of the festival starts (if you get up early enough!) with coffee and an opportunity to chat to other delegates. For the first two days, this was also an opportunity to wander around the Book Fair. I was really keen to make the absolute most of the weekend, though most people didn’t turn up until a little later.
Being there at quieter times was pretty handy, because when it got busy (such as immediately after Sebastian Faulks’ keynote speech) it actually got a little difficult to move about the place. I got talking to Matador (on the far left) who were kind enough to spread the word on Twitter. Continue reading
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.
If you’ve been following me elsewhere online (particularly Twitter), you might have already got the news that P&G Wells, the Winchester University Bookshop is stocking my paperbacks. Well, now that the Bionic Punchline paperback is available, they’ve got the complete set on the shelf.
They also tend to go out on sale at the university’s public events. One of my modules this term focuses on publishing and involves a lot of interesting speakers–authors, agents, publishers–coming in to talk not just to the students, but to anyone who wants to come in and listen (the speaker today is Marcus Sedgwick). So I that’s pretty neat.
I also find it interesting to see how the design of my books compares to the vast range of others nearby. The spines of the flash fiction collections really do stand out as a series. That’s handy, since the books are slim enough that even I can’t rely on adding a title or my name on the spine. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the look of the series changes as the number of books grows. Seeing them displayed on a shelf like this, it’s funny to think back to June 2012, when I first decided to tackle Flash Fiction Month. Back then I had no idea it would turn into something like this. I didn’t even really expect to finish!
Well, it’s been a month (almost to the day) since I mentioned that I’d be attending the Winchester Writers’ Festival this year. With just under a week left before the event, I’m pleased to say that that month has been spent productively. Behold:
Brand spanking new Flash Fiction Month paperbacks with brand spanking new covers designed by the amazing JD McDonnel. The one on the right is particularly noteworthy because until just now Red Herring didn’t even have a paperback. Even though it’s been out for the best part of a year. Yeeeeeeah. I’ll admit, I kind of dropped the ball on that one. But since the ebook is plastered all over the internet for free, the paperback just wasn’t a priority. That said, if you do fancy getting one, they’re priced extremely low and the wraparound covers will look lovely on your shelf.
You can tell I’m a pretty big Walter Moers fan. You can also tell which book is OCR is Not the Only Font and which is Red Herring since the new cover design offers something other than a blank white spine. I’ve got plans to use the same design for subsequent instalments in the Flash Fiction Month series (not that you have to read them in order), and they’ll eventually form a pretty little reverse rainbow on the shelf. Apologies if you already have a copy of the original OCR, but on the bright side those are no longer being printed and therefore comparatively rare.
The cover image continues over to the back of the books, adding a colourful accent to the blurb. Though you’ll probably notice that I try to make my blurbs colourful even without the image.
But wait, there’s more Writers’ Festival swag to come!
Using my vast knowledge of fiddling with computers for several days until they eventually to do the thing I want them to do, I have produced a CD. This disc features a whole host of goodies! As well as some choice pieces from my steadily growing range of readily available work–that is to say, stuff anyone could get on the internet for free anyway–it includes the complete text of Face of Glass.
As the case insert might suggest, however, it doesn’t end there. The disc will also work as a regular audio CD, playing The Three Tales from Face of Glass. With a 40 minute total runtime, this is perhaps the main feature of the disc. This audio version of the three tales was originally planned as a nod towards the storytelling theme running through the novel, but the actual process of recording them made me realise that they form a substantial work in their own right. Though I will almost certainly make this audio version available online at some point, I think it’s really best listened to away from the computer, somewhere comfy. The CD is handy for this, though obviously sticking the files on an MP3 player would be just as good.
I’ll be handing out a limited number of these discs at the festival, so if you’re reading this and you’ll be there, let me know (in the comments, on Twitter, anywhere really) so I can save one for you. Otherwise, your best chance to grab one is probably at the open mic night on Friday: I’ll definitely be there, and there’s (almost) no chance I’ll have blown through my whole supply by that point.