No rules please. We’re fiction writers.

So I came across an article in the Guardian recently called Elmore Leonard’s rules for writers and saw red. (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration given all the things currently happening in the world I could get angry about. Let’s say I saw carnation pink.) Anyway, I felt compelled to write an anarchic response for writers and readers everywhere.

As always, before I move onto that, I have a handful of updates to share regarding Million Eyes.

Million Eyes — just 4 chapters to go

At the time of writing, I’m on page 248 of 291 of the final edit of Million Eyes. My copywriting work has quietened down a little over the last month, so I’ve used the time to make good headway with the edit. Now that I’m numbering each chapter (which I didn’t do before), I’m about to start editing Chapter 28, which means I have four chapters to go and the final book will have a total of 31 chapters.

My August 31st deadline for finishing is still ages away, so I’m more than on track to hit it, even as my copywriting busyness is now on the up. In fact, I’m hoping that I might have the book finished and proofread by then. I have two lovely volunteer proofreaders — my bookworm girlfriend and a fellow member of Rushmoor Writers. They tell me they’re fast readers (unlike myself), so let’s see if Million Eyes grips them enough to rattle through!

The Million Eyes Short Stories

No major news to report this month. I’m still submitting the Million Eyes Short Stories that remain unpublished, and the ones that have been published are being submitted to publications that accept reprints.

I had a particularly frustrating rejection from one publication that shall remain nameless a couple of weeks ago. It was a story called “The Bisley Boy” (regular readers of my blog might be able to guess what it’s about). The editor told me she “really liked the story” and got me to confirm that it was unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere. Then, hours later, she sent a further email saying she just wasn’t “comfortable” publishing it, but that the story was good, the writing was good, and she was sure other editors would love it. This magazine has done this to me before, telling me how much they liked The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller and saying they wanted to publish it before ultimately rejecting it.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate constructive feedback, and what writer doesn’t love praise and kind words about their writing. This magazine has given me both over the last year or so. But when a writer is told these things while an editor is still considering a story, it makes the eventual rejection so much harder. My friend at Rushmoor Writers said the editor was a “lit-tease”. She’s right. It was some serious carrot dangling.

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Happy new year mystery and conspiracy fans!

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Good day readers! And a very happy new year to you all! I hope you all had exceptionally merry Christmasses.

So, the blog is back after a Christmas break, and I’d like to thank all my loyal readers and followers for sticking with me and enjoying the blog for, crikey, nearly two and a half years now!

Anyways, there is a lot more murder, mystery, conspiracy and cryptozoology on the horizon. In addition, I’m steaming ahead with my conspiracy thriller novel, Million Eyesand the accompanying Million Eyes Short Stories, which I’ll be continuing to publish this year.

I will also be continuing to write monthly blogs with Million Eyes updates and advice for fellow writers (and I hope my previous articles about writing have proven useful).

My new blog, coming tonight, is about a very real conspiracy, right in the heart of the Roman Catholic Church…

My short story “Paul” has now been published by Storgy Magazine

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My short story Paul is now available to read! It was published today by online magazine Storgy.

The story is based on a famous pop culture conspiracy theory. The image above (used by Storgy for the publication) is a rather obvious clue as to what that might be, but if you’ve not heard of it, read the story first and then have a read of this blog article about the conspiracy. (I also wrote a follow-up article that you might find interesting.)

Click to read the story! And if you enjoy it, please do like and share it on social media! 🙂

Paul was originally shortlisted in the Aeon Award 2015 and reportedly very close to making the top six. It’s the fourth Million Eyes Short Story to be published, after Who is Rudolph Fentz? (Scribble Issue 68), The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller (Tigershark Issue 11) and Rachel Can See (Metamorphose V2).

Just like those other stories, Paul is set in the Million Eyes universe.

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Tomorrow: is Osama bin Laden really dead?

 

Commercial fiction vs literary fiction + story updates

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Good evening Earth. This week I’m talking about a popular conspiracy theory that President-elect Trump was assassinated by a coalition of Western governments before he could destroy Mexico’s economy, give guns to toddlers, and nuke the Middle East.

Wait—what? There’s no such conspiracy theory, you say? President-elect Trump hasn’t been assassinated?

Ah, okay. Sorry, must’ve been a premonition/dream/desperate hope I had.

Instead, I’ll give you a round-up of story updates and some tips for writers on understanding the differences between literary and commercial fiction.

Rachel Can Still See wins the Hyde Cup 2016

hyde-cupYesterday I received a nice little boost for my recently completed short story, Rachel Can Still See. It won the Hyde Cup 2016, an internal Rushmoor Writers competition, organised and judged each year by the members. The story got great feedback, so my plan is to start submitting it immediately to publishers and short story competitions.

This story is one of the Million Eyes Short Stories and a sequel to Rachel Can See (though it can sensibly stand alone). Rachel Can See has just been published in Metamorphose V2 (more details below).

I won £25 and a little cup for my mantelpiece. Whoop! 😀

Million Eyes

I’m down to the last couple of chapters of my novel, Million Eyes. My copywriting busyness has skyrocketed, so I’m getting through it slowly. Planning a good old sesh over Christmas, so my hope is that I’ll have reached the end by the time we draw the curtains on 2016. Then I’ll be ready to start the final edit next year.

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Time traveller spotted in Charlie Chaplin DVD extra

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Whoops. A time traveller has made an epic boo-boo and got themselves caught on film in 1928. And now filmmaker George Clarke has exposed their clumsy arse to the world.

I’ve mentioned this particular urban legend a few times recently. That’s because it inspired my short story, The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller, which was published last month in Tigershark Issue 11. In the story, facts and fiction are mixed, so let me now present the uncooked facts.

In 2010, Belfast filmmaker George Clarke posted a video on YouTube explaining that he had discovered evidence of time travel in a Charlie Chaplin DVD extra. The extra was a short behind-the-scenes clip of the premiere of The Circus at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood in 1928. The Circus is one of Charlie Chaplin’s most popular movies, the seventh-highest-grossing silent film in cinema history, and still attracts high praise today. So it’s a wonder it took seven years for someone to notice this (the DVD came out in 2003).

Anyway, 20 seconds into the clip, you see a bunch of circus animal statues outside the Chinese Theatre. Walking behind a fake zebra is a large woman in a hideous dress, hooded coat, pointed shoes and a black top hat. But her terrible fashion sense and looking a bit like a man in drag is not what caught George’s eye. It was the item she was holding to her ear and talking into.

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“The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller” now available to read in Tigershark Magazine

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My short story, The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller, has now been published in Tigershark Magazine, Issue 11! You can download the PDF of the issue for free right here! Just click the link below. (The story starts on page 18.)

Tigershark Magazine Issue 11

The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller is the second of the Million Eyes Short Stories to be published, after Who is Rudolph Fentz? in Scribble, Issue 68 last year.

The story is based on an urban legend about a extra on a Charlie Chaplin DVD, an extra containing something rather out of place. Irish filmmaker George Clarke made the discovery and released a YouTube video about it, which became a runaway hit and was discussed and debated by the world’s media. At the time of writing, the video’s attracted more than 6,870,000 views.

The story stars a fictionalised version of Clarke as he investigates the mystery and embarks on a potentially dangerous journey to find the truth…

Here’s Clarke’s original video. See what you make of it!

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Writers who try to write masterpieces + story updates

man-1454744_960_720Evening all! So I’m totally going to steal Alan Carr’s catchphrase: What a week it’s been!

I climbed the O2 in London on Tuesday night and got to see the sun setting behind Canary Wharf. Yesterday I did mountain biking, high rope obstacles in the trees, climbing, canoeing, assault courses and a bit of free-falling on a giant swing. Oh, and I got to pretend to be Jon Snow for a bit and do some archery.

Today I’m back at my computer, exercising nothing but my typing fingers so I can tell you about some story updates and a fiction writing bad habit: trying to write a masterpiece.

The Million Eyes Trilogy

I’ve been extremely busy with copywriting commitments since January, but now things have quietened down a bit, giving me more time for my novel and short stories. I’m editing the last third of the first novel in The Million Eyes Trilogy as we speak. I’m now thinking I’ll probably finish reading it to my writers’ group and getting their feedback by early next year, if not before.

I said in my last story updates blog that I’d be ready to start the final edit by June of next year, but I reckon I’ll be starting much earlier than that. In the past, I’ve found that January and February are good months to go on long writers’ retreats, so that’s when I’m planning to book a two-week retreat and hopefully get the bulk of the final edit done.

Million Eyes has gone down particularly well with my writers’ group of late, and the fact that increasingly the feedback tends to be minor nitpicks is quite telling about how much my writing has improved over the last year. It’s really exciting to see it all starting to come together.

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My short story “Who is Rudolph Fentz?” will be published in the winter edition of Scribble

December greetings to all!

ScribbleIssue53CoverIt’s now confirmed that Who is Rudolph Fentz? – the first of the Million Eyes Short Stories  – will be published in the winter 2015 edition of award-winning short fiction magazine Scribble.

Who is Rudolph Fentz? will be readers’ first insight into the world of Million Eyesmy trilogy of novels about a colossal time travel conspiracy.

This story is based on the urban legend of Rudolph Fentz, which I plan to do a more in-depth blog on soon. (I covered the legend previously in my article on time travel in Downton Abbey, and my article about alleged time traveller Andrew Carlssin.)

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