“Rachel Can Still See” has been published in Phantaxis Issue 7

My new short story, Rachel Can Still See, has been published in Issue 7 of science fiction and fantasy magazine Phantaxis.

Rachel Can Still See is the sixth of the Million Eyes Short Stories to be published, after Rachel Can See, Paul, The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller, The Home Secretary is Safe and Who is Rudolph Fentz? 

All these stories are set in the same world as my forthcoming sci-fi thriller Million Eyes and feature the same mysterious conspirators who take centre stage in the novel.

Rachel Can Still See is a direct sequel to Rachel Can See, which was published last year in Metamorphose Volume 2. It continues the story of Rachel Evans, a girl who experiences troubling alternate memories about world events and her own life. Both stories can stand by themselves, so you don’t have to read the first one to understand the second. However, I’d advise doing so in order to get a full picture of Rachel Evans’ journey.

The first story was longlisted by Inktears in 2015 and won an honourable mention in MetamorphoseThe sequel — prior to being accepted for publication by Phantaxis — won the Rushmoor Writers Hyde Cup Competition in 2016 and was later highly commended by Writers’ Forum.

Click on the cover image to buy the magazine from Amazon, or click here.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

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“Million Eyes” makes it into the top 20% of the Grindstone Literary Novel Competition

As I continue my tireless search for a literary agent for Million Eyes, it’s great to get some good news from a competition I entered the book into some months back.

It was the 2017 Novel Opening Competition from Grindstone Literary Services, into which I entered the first 1,000 words of Million Eyes. While I didn’t make it into the top 5, I learned when I got my personalised feedback (which every entrant gets in this competition — a great bonus) that I’d made it into the top 20%.

I was super-happy with the feedback I got too. There was a little bit of constructive criticism, but I actually think the recent rewrite I did of the opening remedies most of these points. Some of the highlights from the judge’s feedback were:

One of the most original entries I’ve seen.
This is an intriguing idea, and from what I’ve read so far, seemingly well done. 
Overall, it’s very impressive.

All fantastic to hear. 😀

Next week: did a Japanese department store confuse Jesus with Santa?

“Million Eyes” updates and the soul-destroying search for a literary agent

I wonder if I write about time travel because of a deep-seated longing to skip the utterly soul-destroying process of trying to pummel into the publishing industry and travel to a point in the future when I’m already there. Dunno. Maybe.

It. Will. Happen. That’s what I have to keep telling myself. It’s what all writers who want to be successful have to keep telling themselves.

Anyway, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, my search for a literary agent for Million Eyes has been—so far—fruitless. I’ve submitted to 40 or so agents, nothing positive yet. I could still hear from a few of them because their estimated time for responding isn’t up (and I have the patience of a small child).

I’ve been through a few weeks of tearing my hair out, thinking the book is crap, and doubting that it’s ever going to happen. But then, we all go through that. Even the biggest, most successful authors have gone through that.

Nevertheless, I stopped submitting Million Eyes and took stock. I sought advice from my fellow scribblers at Rushmoor Writers, read them my query letter and opening pages and asked if there was any way I could improve them. Perhaps they’re just not catching agents’ eyes?

The advice I got was great. Mostly they recommended small tweaks to up the intrigue and grab the reader earlier in those opening lines and early pages. They also offered some much-needed words of encouragement: the book is good, and there’s a market for it.

So here I am, confidence resurged, ready to start submitting again. Will this next round of submissions yield any success? Heaven knows, but I’m keeping my chin up and everything crossed.

In other news…

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I’ve joined the team at ‘Time Travel Nexus’ as a contributor!

I’m super-excited to have been chosen to become one of three new contributors to Time Travel Nexus, a website for time travel enthusiasts.

It covers movies, books and TV series in the time travel genre, as well as discussion about real world research into the possibilities of travelling in time.

Apart from my own writing in the genre (my forthcoming novel, Million Eyes, and its accompanying series of short stories), one of the reasons I was chosen is because of my research into real-life time travel conspiracy theories and urban legends. Stories like Rudolph Fentz, Andrew Carlssin, the Rendlesham Forest Incident, and the Vanishing Hotel. I’ll be helping Time Travel Nexus to explore these stories and debate the evidence for whether time travel is already happening all around us. Cue some lively discussions!

I’m also scheduled to be doing some serious geeking out over my favourite time travel episodes of Star Trek and Doctor Who, as well as movies like Looper, The Butterfly Effect and Back to the Future.

Looks like my life’s about to get a lot more wibbly wobbly. Can’t wait.

Did Rudolph Fentz time travel? My short story about the famous urban legend is now published in Storgy Magazine

Who is Rudolph Fentz? was the first of the Million Eyes Short Stories to be published, way back in 2015 in Issue 68 of Scribble Magazine (and it won 3rd prize in their quarterly comp too).

Since that issue of Scribble is long out of print, I’ve been looking for a magazine to re-publish it. Now Storgy Magazine, who published Paul last November, have published Who is Rudolph Fentz? online — which means you can all read it for free!

The story is based on the famous time travel urban legend of Rudolph Fentz (who you can read about here) and centres on a man, Forrest Thomson, determined to get to the truth of who he is and how he ended up in the middle of Times Square in June 1950. But could Forrest be entering dangerous territory as he investigates those responsible?

You can read Who is Rudolph Fentz? by clicking this link to Storgy.

Enjoy, folks, and thank you Storgy Magazine for publishing another of my stories!

Coming soon: Princess Diana had a secret daughter?!

My short story “The Home Secretary is safe” is now published in Phantaxis Issue 6

A new Million Eyes Short Story is now published and available to read in science fiction and fantasy magazine Phantaxis!

The Home Secretary is safe is included in Issue 6, which has just been released. (I’m even named first on the cover – think it’s just alphabetical but still – WHOOP!)

In the story, Cody Evans is taking the train to visit his cousin Rachel (the eponymous star of Rachel Can See, published in Metamorphose Volume 2, and Rachel Can Still See, which will be published by Phantaxis in November).  When bizarre things start happening on the journey, Cody finds himself at the centre of a heinous plot and the unwitting target of assassins…

Click on the cover image to buy the magazine from Amazon, or click here.

Enjoy!

Coming soon: Princess Diana’s secret daughter

TWO “Million Eyes” short stories to be published by Phantaxis Magazine

What a month! After a very slow first half of the year in terms of publication news for the Million Eyes Short Stories, my story Eryl Mai’s Dream just got shortlisted by Dark Tales, and Who is Rudolph Fentz? got accepted for re-publication by Storgy Magazine. Now, within 3 days of one another, I’ve had two further stories accepted for publication by Canada-based science fiction and fantasy magazine Phantaxis!

Phantaxis rejected both The Quiet Invasion and Operation Loch Ness previously, so I certainly wasn’t expecting them to suddenly accept two of my stories. Obviously these ones struck a chord.

The story to be published first is called The Home Secretary is safe and is about a teenage boy who experiences probably the strangest train journey of his life before becoming the unwitting target of assassins. I’m told this story will appear in the August issue of Phantaxis — so not long!

The second story to be published is called Rachel Can Still See, which won the Rushmoor Writers Hyde Cup 2016 and was highly commended by Writers’ Forum a few months later. This, as you might guess, is a sequel to Rachel Can See, which was published last year in Metamorphose, Volume 2. You don’t have to have read Rachel Can See to understand the sequel, but I’d definitely advise doing so. (There’s a sneak peak of Rachel Can See on Metamorphose’s website, and Volume 2 is currently available to buy half-price.)

I’m told that Rachel Can Still See will be published in the November issue of Phantaxis. So a bit longer to wait for that one but hopefully it’ll be worth it!

Hope you all have a fabulous week! I’m off to Disneyland Paris! 😀

How I deal with writer’s block + “Million Eyes” updates

Wikipedia calls writer’s block a “condition” and an “affliction” and the Wiki gods are absolutely right. Writer’s block is an illness that only writers suffer from. To recover from an illness, you either need to ride it out or combat it with various treatments and remedies. It’s a perfectly curable illness, but some writers are more successful at beating it (Stephen King) than others (George R. R. Martin).

This month I wanted to write an article about how I cope with writer’s block, something that affects me a lot more now that I’m a full-time professional copywriter as well as an author. Next month I’ll be writing a sequel article about some of the best/weirdest/funniest writer’s block cures that are available to poorly wordsmiths.

But before all that, let me share with you a handful of Million Eyes updates…

Million Eyes is complete! Currently being proofread…

The final edit of Million Eyes is complete and being proofread in its entirety by two of the writers at Rushmoor Writers, and by my bookworm girlfriend. One has already come back to me with a ton of positive comments and a handful of minor changes to have a think about. Another has very helpfully pointed out a few minor historical inaccuracies (with all the research I’ve had to do for this novel, it’s very difficult to catch them all, so I’m very grateful to her for spotting them).

One of my proofers has also pointed out that because further changes will be required, I shouldn’t be calling this the final edit. However, the reason I’m calling it that — and still calling it that — is because I am at a point where I am happy with the plot, the characters, and the style. I have asked my proofreaders for error-spotting, sense-checking, and overall impressions, but I’m not planning to make any fundamental changes to the characters or plot at this point. That’s what the final edit was for. Taking all the feedback I’ve received over the last 2-3 years and producing a new draft.

At the end of the day, an author can edit the same novel forever. When I started the final edit at South House Retreat in February, owner Tracy Willoughby made a very good point: at some point you have to stop. Otherwise you’ll just never finish, and no one will ever publish it. She’s right.

So this is me stopping. Once my proofers have finished, I’m expecting to have a slew of corrections to make and minor changes to think about. And yes, if there’s a whopping time travel-related continuity error or logistical problem that I’ve missed and has a major overarching effect on the plot or character arcs, it’s something I will need to work on. I’m just hoping I’ve caught most of those!

In short, Million Eyes is nearly there. Nearly ready to be pumped out to literary agents, with fingers, toes and tongues tightly crossed that one of them recognises Million Eyes as a book people want to read.

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