Posts Tagged ‘Novels’

I am in a quandary, a dilemma.  I am wracking my brains and thinking.  This is a recent phenomena and one that I am not accustomed to.  Hodderscape, the Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror wing of Hodder & Stoughton are opening their doors for a 2 week open submission window.  This is a fantastic opportunity and one I fully intend to take a firm grasp of.  I have been working to complete my novel, Salvation, as you are aware, and it is going well.  For the submission I am rewriting the opening chapter, re jigging the story and editing the shit out of it.  That is not the dilemma.  The dilemma comes that they are accepting multiple submissions and I want to write a horror story that I have in my mind, that I think would blow their socks off.

There is time to write enough of it to submit and I have the plan of the book in my head, so will be able to write a synopsis.  My dilemma is do I divert attentions away from Salvation.  I have already heavily edited that work and I think that further tinkering may be detrimental.  There is just over a month until the submission window ends, Midnight on the 16th August, that is so much time its unreal.  I have worked on the story, I can see how it would play out, I can see nearly every scene.  Do I just say, ‘Right, just write you fool’ or do I just focus on the one piece that I have spent so much time on.

Surely 2 eggs in the mix is better than one?  if my writing and storytelling is good enough with Salvation is that enough?  What if the second story, lets call it ‘Tortured Souls’, (I have just thought of that and actually quite like it), is actually brilliant.  The story I have in my head certainly is.  BUt, 1 month, 1 short month is that really enough time to write 15000 words.  I write at about 2000 words a day currently so would take just 2 weeks to prepare a submission.

But, I really ought to just work on Salvation? Tortured Souls can wait for another time.  But, I might be missing a great opportunity!

You see my dilemma.  This has been my thought process a lot of the last few hours.  I need to make a decision as my mind is arguing with itself and as a result I am not writing anything. 

Wow, reading this post back through I can suddenly a see how jumbled my mind is.  I have just poured onto the page what comes to my mind.  Probably wont make sense, I often don’t.  But, it’s a nice position to be in and I promised myself with competitions etc that when opportunity comes knocking I would open the door and welcome it with open arms.  Maybe I need to crack on.  Yes, I think that is what i will do.  Time to write!


I have often spoken of my admiration of my favourite authors.  Stephen King and Terry Pratchett are amongst two I have spoken of fondly.  I am sat on the night shift at work and it is 03:45 in the morning and the tiredness is hitting me hard.  I have tried to write on the projects I have spoken off, the problem is tonight is that I am running n empty.  My boys woke up this morning at 5:30 and I got up with them.  I attempted to sleep this afternoon but it was a restless sleep, and only for a few hours.

So I have set aside writing for the night.  It really is not happening for me.  So, I am reflective, thinking of who has influenced me, what authors have really made an impact on my life, and the two I have mentioned are way up there.  But there are others, and one of the biggest, and most engaging authors, now lost to us, is Michael Crichton.  I challenge anyone not to know his work, whether you have read his novels or not, you will have seen something of his vast array of works.  I am going to start by talking about his novels, for they are superb.   His first novel was ‘The Andromeda Strain’, and what a way to introduce oneself to the literary world.  Based around Dr’s trying to find a cure for a pandemic, it is just 6 characters locked in an underground installation.  A theme he would revisit with the superb time travel odyssey, ‘Sphere’.  What Crichton does best is take ordinary people, and in small numbers and place them up against nature, technology but mostly up against themselves. 

Crichton is known as a ‘Techno’ author, using technology as a protagonist and often as a vehicle for the story.  But some of his best work is just thrillers, like Disclosure or Rising Sun.  His prose is engaging and entertaining and often moves at  a brisk pace.  So, if you havent read his work (and I have no idea why you wouldn’t) then do so, and I suggest you start with his magnum opus work of man v’s technology v’s nature, Jurassic Park! (Yes it was a novel first).

Crichton did not just stop at writing good books, he wrote a TV series, ER, which launched George Clooney’s career.  A world-wide phenomenon that was unprecedented.  He was a successful film director with Westworld and Runaway.  Runaway, by the way, is a fantastically intriguing thriller set in the near future and focuses on a Police unit dedicated to robotic crime and dealing with ‘Runaway’ robots.  Starring Tom Selleck, it is a fantastic movie and often overlooked.  Watch it if you can find it, utterly brilliant, but it has dated.

If all that was not enough, he wrote non-fiction as well, his book Five Patients and Pirate Latitudes are fascinating. 

Crichton was a gift to us all, his life cut horrendously short.  he died in 2008 aged just 66.  

Would you like to know more?



A writer’s life is not an easy one.  I have spoken in the past of how a wordsmith is beset with rejection.  But there is another issue, and maybe I am alone in feeling like this.  Every writer has a fierce protection of their work.  They spend hours, days, months working on things, even a short story can take so much time and mental agility to reproduce.  from idea to concept to finished article, it is a process that at any stage the ice beneath their feet can crack.

That is the best analogy I can think off.  Imagine a writer’s journey is getting from one side of a frozen lake to another.  Some, take a sensible option and walk around the edge. tentatively writing their work, checking, stopping for lunch, reviewing.  The issue with walking the water’s edge is one does not dip their toe in, and the lake could turn into an ocean and they never produce anything for the public to see.  Most, however, take a more direct route.  They walk straight across.   This is a tried and tested path.  The writer will sit and observe others walk across the lake, they make it look so easy.  Sitting on the bank and watching as the successful wave to you from the other side, beckoning you to join them.  So, you have an idea and take the first steps across the ice.  Your footing is solid, very firm underfoot, confidence grows so you take another step and another.  The idea develops and you start to write.  The ice begins to creak, that artificial straining and cracking sound all around you. So you cautiously walk further.  It is too late to turn back, some do though, they then take the long path, but you don’t you bravely carry on.  Nearing the centre of the lake, which to me represents the end of a first draft.  This is where it gets very precarious.

At the middle is often where the ice breaks for me.  And I am using the ice as a metaphor for confidence in my writing.  I show my draft to someone, doesn’t matter who it is, I show the draft or enter a competition, and when the inevitable criticism comes the ice cracks a little more.  I listen to the help that is offered, and crack, crack splash, I have fallen through the ice.  The water is cold, as is my mood, I feel like I cannot get out, so much effort went to get to the middle of the lake, the water is full of writers in the same situation.  Eventually you get back to dry land.  The process starts again.

This is what happens to me, it is how we react to the ice breaking that determines how successful we are.  I wouldn’t change the criticism I receive because at the end of the day, each bit of advice I get makes the ice a bit thicker.  I do, however, react badly to the advice.  Why?  because of the effort I have put in.  it seems that someone is attacking me and that I have wasted my time. But I look down on the ice and I see my reflection, I see all the hopes, dreams and aspirations in that ice.  I look up, and I see the writers all on the other side of the lake, waving, beckoning me and again I take those steps out on to the thin ice.