• Clarion West Write-a-thon 2012

    In 2006 I attended the residential writing workshop called Clarion West, and can attest to it being a force for good as well as instrumental in my progression as a writer. This year’s workshop is now taking place in Seattle, and many of the CW alumni and teachers are setting writing goals for this period, and asking for sponsorship. We call this fund-raising drive the Clarion West Write-a-thon. All money from the fund-raiser goes to Clarion West – a non-profit educational organisation – so they can continue their excellent work. My goal during this period is to write ten short stories. I’m already writing story one. If you have the…

  • 2011 Shirley Jackson Awards Short-list

    Shirley Jackson Awards

    For the past six months I’ve been serving on the jury of the Shirley Jackson Awards. It’s been time-consuming and far more work than I anticipated, but it’s also been richly rewarding. I’ve enjoyed reading extensively across the fields of dark fantasy and horror, I’ve discovered new authors, and developed a deeper appreciation for firm favourites. At last, the 2011 Shirley Jackson Awards Nominees has been announced: NOVEL The Devil All the Time, Donald Ray Pollock (Doubleday) The Dracula Papers, Reggie Oliver (Chômu Press) The Great Lover, Michael Cisco (Chômu Press) Knock Knock, S. P. Miskowski (Omnium Gatherum Media) The Last Werewolf, Glen Duncan (Canongate Books, Ltd.) Witches on the Road…

  • the finish line

    NaNoWriMo ended yesterday, and I passed the finish line by writing 50,000 words in a month. I’m pleased that I hit the goal, and the challenge highlighted the fact that there is always time to write if I cut back on the time-wasting activities and ensure that writing is a priority. One of the problems I encountered with keeping to the schedule was a creeping sense of boredom began to pervade my day. I realised that I had to introduce some variety into my schedule, and having the same writing time every day just doesn’t suit my temperament. An interesting side-effect is that I hardly drank any alcohol during November…

  • accumulating words

    I took the above photo over a month ago, when we still had lush grass, and rainfall was gentle, not violent. We had a bad storm yesterday, which has left me with poor Internet access and no television reception (I get it from satellite, and the dish appears to have become mis-aligned from the winds). My Internet connection will not be restored properly until Monday, and the engineer will not be here until Thursday to fix the telly. All of this bodes well for my novel writing, but not so great for my sanity, since I live a rather hermit-like existence on weekdays anyway. I’ve already been strict about cutting…

  • three secrets of writing

    The picture on the right is Sir Terry Pratchett twenty years ago when he attended the first Octocon convention in Ireland as Guest of Honour. It was early in his career, and I remember him as affable, friendly and willing to socialise with the fans (not always the case with authors). The convention introduced me to his work, and I’ve been an admirer of his Discworld novels ever since. Today, Pratchett has sold over 70 million books worldwide and his hair is much whiter. He’s also coping with early-onset Alzheimer’s with rare honesty, as evidenced in last year’s two-part BBC documentary. Pratchett is currently in Trinity College Dublin for a…

  • NaNoWriMo Go

    November 1st has rolled around in Ireland and weather-wise it’s right on season: wet, windy and grey. Some of the trees are already stripped of leaves, while others are hanging on to their cover. On my drive to the woods there is a section on the last elbow of road that has a complete avenue of native, mature deciduous trees. Their branches create a canopy over my car as I pass under them. During the summer it’s a glowing green roof, and during the autumn it’s a russet net that shakes shining, wet gold leaves upon the path. It’s like goldfish drifting down to swim in the road flooded with their brethren.…

  • contribution by women in recent horror anthologies

    On the Black Static web site today regular columnist Peter Tennant has analysed the contribution by women to horror anthologies over the past year. I thought it might be instructive to look at how women writers are represented in the current crop of anthologies, using the thirteen anthologies I reviewed in #19, Lovecraft Unbound from #18, and three others that are waiting in the TBR pile (Haunted Legends edited by Ellen Datlow & Nick Mamatas, End of the Line edited by Jonathan Oliver and More Stories from The Twilight Zone edited by Carol Serling). Of course, this is too sparse a sampling to draw any hard and fast conclusions, and…

  • NaNoWriMo 2010

    NaNoWriMo is approaching. For those not in the know, this stands for National Novel Writing Month. Although, as Martin pointed out, it would probably be more accurate to call it International Novel Writing Month, since people participate from all over the globe. The idea is simple: it’s a collective push by writers to commit 50,000 words to paper/hard drive during the 30 days of November. That’s about 3/4 of the words necessary for a standard novel – well, depending on the genre. NaNoWriMo is about writing a fast first draft without over-analysing the quality. This is a system that works well since a lot of the fine work occurs in the…

  • old school

    A common topic of discussion about writing is whether one writes longhand or favours a computer. In my case it’s a combination of both. I took this picture this morning. In my hand I’m holding my current favourite pen of choice, the Mitsubishi Uniball Jetstream. The pen writes smoothly, the ink dries quickly and there are no clumps. It’s also an easy pen to find. I have several of them in my house at any one point. The biggest problem I think is that they run out quickly, but that might be because I’m writing longhand a lot more at the moment. Currently I’m writing several pages of longhand –…

  • for the love

    Primrose heart

    Since the New Year my writing has been going well. I’m almost afraid to type these words, as if it will cause the mysterious writing Genie that is my current companion and comic sidekick to disappear in a puff of multi-coloured smoke with a final sarcastic bon mot. This is ridiculous, of course, but yet I hesitate to tell people that I’m writing, meeting deadlines, ideas are flowing, and projects are being fleshed out. I should be celebrating this fact. Yet, sometimes I live in the fear that it will vanish. So part of what’s keeping me on track is the desire to tap into this creative spurt and to…