Low-frequency newsletter about stuff I'm writing

Well, that was 2018, and I did get to 100 story ideas by the end of it. Out of the hundred ideas, I wrote 11, submitted 9, had four accepted, of which three were published within 2018.

Forecast was accepted by Altered Reality magazine, Bright Carver by the Shards anthology, Yet Here We Are by the Wavelengths anthology, and my first clumsy attempt at a ghost story in the form of a radio play, Quicksilver Spirit, has been accepted for the Shadows at the Door podcast and should be out some time this year.

2018 was a good year, for short stories if nothing else.

I've also polished and submitted a couple more since then. We'll see how that goes.

The experiment of submitting a lot of stories, not often really expecting that they are good enough, has given me thoughts and opinions.

Firstly, it's fun, and a great way to get used to gracefully accepting and learning from rejection. But also, against all odds, sometimes they are good enough and that's the kind of validation I crave almost as much as caffeine.

Another thought I have is about markets. If you have a lot of stories and a lot of markets for stories (I use there is more chance of finding some odd little hole that is the right shape for one of your odd little pegs. But it's not guaranteed. I think the right market for some of my stuff is “self-pub collection of my stories that were hard to place.” This is a different market than “trash folder on my computer,” even if it only has a slightly larger readership. A piece can have some merit, add a little colour and context beside the other stories it grew up with in your head, without doing enough to stand alone.

I'm going to keep on writing, polishing, submitting, taking rejections to the face and walking them off, for another reason. It's a kind of pre-networking for WorldCon. I can never really open conversations with strangers; I'm terrible for this. But if I can start with the equivalent of “hi, you accepted/rejected my story about the goat, this is me in real life, nice to meet you,” then I think I can maybe hold it together for a solid 2 minutes of conversation before I retreat.

I finally filled in my spreadsheet of 100 story ideas today, just in before the end of the year.

The last two were generated by a twitter poll asking my followers which partial ideas I should use, taking four likely candidates from a large secondary sheet of things that while interesting, weren't quite a whole story idea yet.

(A full story idea being, for the purposes of the challenge, a setting, a main or viewpoint character, a problem, and a resolution.)

The results are provisionally titled: The Nightmare Stork and The Goat Who Respects NO Man.

On my website there's a summary page showing how the writing and submission of stories based on these ideas is going so far.

Happy New Year, everybody. I'll set myself some completely different challenge for 2019, and it might not even relate to writing. We'll see.

I'm busy editing again, and this means completely overhauling some scenes, either because the POV has to change, or the scene has to do something different.

I realised I had no idea how to do this properly, but while I was procrastinating on actually doing it, I scribbled down some lists of questions under different headings. My theory is, when I have good answers to these questions, I will know how to proceed.

Here goes:


Who are these people in the scene? How do they feel? What do they want? What do they choose? How do they act? How do they react?


What is here in the scene? What can we see, smell, hear? What changes? What is added? What is removed? What is revealed?


What matters? Where is attention focused at each beat of the scene?


Where are we? Where do we go?


When is this, relative to the previous and following scenes? When is it relative to when it's being narrated? What tense are we in? How does time pass?


What is this scene for? What are we setting up for later? What are we paying off from earlier? What questions is the reader asking? What answers are we giving them?


How are we going to meet the “why”? What techniques or moves are going to create the effect we want?

I guess that last bit is the hard one. But you can get quite far attacking whichever item on the checklist unblocks you from the bit you're stuck on now.

I have more news: the Wavelengths Anthology accepted my story Yet Here We Are, and it is now available on Kindle.

Once again, this is one that my writers group helped knock into shape. They are an insightful and encouraging bunch. Thanks, guys!

Happy to have placed this one, because it's idea #27 of my attempt to come up with 100 story ideas by the end of 2018, and not all of them have been solid enough to build a proper tale on. But FORECAST kind of worked.

I've also added a new tweak to my website where I can mark new things with a little label (just a span with inverted colours and slightly rounded corners, old school) and I've put one beside FORECAST. I probably ought to add a box for new announcements at the top of the page, because most of them will probably be about short stories, and they are way down at the bottom. I'm not a web designer.

More news as soon as I get details. There is some pending.

My author website is not particularly good (although it is cheap to run), but every now and then, even if there isn't anything very interesting to add to it, I like to mess with the HTML and the CSS to freshen up the look a bit.

So this time, I played around with a simple grid layout for the list of books, and changed the colour scheme from brownish to greenish.

It's OK. I hope to add more actual content to it soon.

The Silk Mind – What the fuck was I thinking? ====================================

This is a little promo/apology for my first novel, The Silk Mind which was born from the combination of a few accidents and personality defects.

I felt like having a go at NaNoWriMo. I'd written some shit short stories and taken a stab at the start of a longer one with no real idea where it was going. But there was something I specifically wanted to write, for the sake of it existing outside my head.

You see, I'm kind of lazy about following through on projects, and there were two hanging around unfinished (barely started really, in retrospect) that were never going to get done in their original form.

I had long ago been running an AD&D game, which was a lot of fun, but the party ran into a carelessly-rolled phase spider and not enough of them survived to pursue the campaign all the way through to the story reveal, or get to the place I wanted them to reach for the next thing to happen. Disappointing, but there was no enthusiasm to get back to it with another party right away. Other friends DMed other games and eventually that tailed off.

But I had a deadly forest to explore in my imagination, and a dangerously clever empress to put my friends in harm's way.

The other project was apparently unrelated: I was trying to write a computer game in Python. It was going to be a simple 3D RPG with an adventuring story line and some humour. This was back before most of the convenient 3D graphics libraries for Python were available, so I spent a ridiculously long time teaching myself OpenGL 2 and writing my own scene graph wrapper around it. Blender wouldn't write any formats I could read and render with my limited understanding, so I wrote my own really stupid 3D modelling tool called skeled. It was not great.

Eventually I realised progress was way too slow and I'd never get the game itself written, and now OpenGL 3 was out and all the code I'd written so far was now the Wrong Way To Do It™. I used the library for 2 or 3 PyWeek game jams, and then kind of gave up.

But I had an imaginary adventuring party needing put in harms way, an empress needing a very dangerous job done in a very dangerous forest, and a giant badger. I wasn't going to just throw all that away.

Hence, NaNoWriMo.

I sat down, and I wrote a little over 50,000 words of utter nonsense. It was the best fun, and I've been hooked since. I knew in my heart, in my bones this was never going to be published by or for anyone else, so I knocked it approximately into shape and put it up on the internet. By me, for me.

Then when I got slightly better at writing, I looked at it again, shrieked in horror, took it down again and made it at least mostly OK. And put it back up.

It is in this form ( that The Silk Mind is now available. I made the paperback later because I'd learned how to do that for my 2nd book Miasma and I needed to provide a reward for the kickstarter for the Shadows at the Door horror anthology.

What can I say about this, my stupid first book? It's fairly cosy, it steered away from fantasy tropes whenever I saw them looming ahead, and I like the characters. There are a few non-canon chapters in the middle that were just me being daft, so if you happen to read it, it's OK to skip them. You will know which they are. You can read it for free on, and you can get the EPUB from Smashwords for “name your own price” which in practice means 0.00 (

It's entirely possible this was just me transferring my skill at doing computer graphics The Wrong Way to the field of novel writing. It is life's most transferable skill, I find. No regrets, though.

This anthology, which has my story Under Shiel Croft, is now reduced to £9.99, which is great value for a quality hardcover containing 13 spooky, creepy and dark tales each with an atmospheric illustration.

This is my first post on, so it's not going to be very interesting.

I discovered the site via their mastodon group, and decided it'd be worth taking out a year of (on the lowest non-free tier) as a way of throwing a few quid in the tip-jar to help keep that running.

I think the most likely use of this blog is going to be news about what I'm writing and if I should be lucky, when and where it's being published.

For now, just about everything I've done that's worth mentioning can be found linked from my equally-low-budget author website