Category Archives: Writing

The desire to bleed


I have a short piece called Blood up at Danse Macabre’s DM du Jour today. I don’t know why all the pieces I’ve written lately are so dark. But I enjoy them. Hope you do too. Have a read, feel free to comment if you like it and enjoy your weekend.

A comma splice sounds like a delicious dessert

writing remindersBut it isn’t.

I’ve started leaving myself little bullying notes about grammar. It seems I have developed bad habits with our friend the comma. This is in addition to my existing bad habits with switching tenses and being too brief with the proofreading. Eventually I’ll just be a walking bad habit.

The thing is, I feel I’ve learnt a lot of grammar as I go, rather than ever having foundational knowledge. Perhaps I skipped that day at school. I distinctly remember learning spelling, but commas? It’s like the dark secret of the writing world.

All of that aside, this is why, in my opinion, paying a professional to edit your work is worthwhile. I am helping promote International Book Promotions editing service. It’s specifically designed for indie authors and is actually quite affordable. They also offer ebook formatting.

Here’s the deal, I’m doing this on a commission basis. This may work out badly for me, or not. Contact me if you’d like a price list and more information about the service. I don’t bite. Email leatherboundpounds [at] gmail [dot] com.

I met a man that wasn’t there


Is there anything more satisfying than a creepy house? Countless stories, real or imagined, lurk in the shadows.

On my way to the dog park I invent stories about the normal suburban houses I pass, the one with the friendly witches, the one that’s haunted, the one that’s home to a grumpy old man.

I’m thrilled to tell you that some of the stories from my over-active brain have found homes in print. Both are scary tales, which is one of my favourite things because I scare easy. The Beast is now in print at Riding Light Review, you can read it online or purchase it here. Lived In, about one of those houses on the way to the dog park, will be in the December edition of Ghostlight: The Magazine of Terror.

Hope you’re well and your imagination is home to delirium aplenty.

I’ve started to crave rejection letters

offfice2A writers website I frequent has a page where fellow travelers can post their submissions, rejections and acceptances. It’s a habit for folks to say they haven’t received a rejection in a long time, they must send more submissions. So few submissions receive an acceptance and in a weird way it doesn’t seem the point anymore. Of course, I want my writing to appear in print, it would be lovely, but more lessons are learned from failure. I read a writer’s bio that expressed a morbid fear of rejection letters. It stopped me in my tracks. It’s like a house painter being afraid of cleaning brushes. No-one loves it, but it’s part of the gig. I file the emails under “declined” because it sounds more civilized than rejection.

Hi blog land. I’ve been busy. Has my tone changed? I wouldn’t be surprised.

I’ve been doing some paid work, I have changed my spell check to US English for it, I have invoicing software. I wish I had more invoices to write. I have created myself an office. I fear the joy my writing space gives me – do I enjoy the space rather than the work? But it is a peaceful place, the only place in my house where I crave order. The morning light makes it airy and golden, when I wake up I immediately want to be in it, to bathe in it, open my laptop, or notebook and see what happens.

officeAt the moment too little is happening. I feel I am in the early stages of a long pregnancy. The glow hasn’t worn off yet but I can see that it will. Soon.

In my paid work I write about tires. My partner gets a certain satisfaction from the contrast. I study high theory, complicated artsy concepts, and then I earn money writing about where the rubber grips the road. It’s a fair analogy for a writers career, I suppose. I love it. I feel I have purpose doing it. And I love the rejection letters because they remind me I have lots of pots on the stove. After spending ten years in a job that was a dead end after five, I revel in the multitude of options I suddenly have. None of them pay well, most of them don’t pay at all, but I have freedom.

Every rejection letter is one step closer to acceptance. But the most important thing is for me to accept myself, my work as it is, constantly evolving, always growing, ever developing. And I’m getting there.

I hope you’re well blog friends. Don’t be a stranger.


Being a good literary citizen

future_books5I love reading about the careers of authors; the behind the scenes parts of the stories that aren’t bound in a pretty cover. Something I particularly enjoy learning about is how readers and writers are part of a community, and how they can support each other. I loved this post by Hugh Howey, that clearly navigates the confusing world of ebooks, what authors get out of it (honestly I feel guilt ridden whenever I buy a novel for $9 because how can an artist live on that?), and how to best support them. I really loved this post by Walter Mason about ways to be a good literary citizen. Spoilers: both posts suggest reading, reviewing, recommending novels is a key plank in the community. Who would have thought?

I feel so strongly about this dialogue. It’s why I review books, after all. Partially to share my passion for what I’m reading, but also because I feel how much of the act of writing occurs alone. Years of work, some of it exciting, a lot of it dull, very many “how’s the novel going?” questions that are difficult to answer because, like birthing anything, it isn’t always easy, often it’s painful, sometimes the novel is like a recalcitrant teenager and the less said about it the better.  Then years later it’s out there, in the world. And who knows what the world might think of it. I can imagine how heartbreaking, how anticlimactic, it would be to hear nothing but silence. I write reviews because there are so many beautiful pieces of writing released into the world, even the ones that aren’t lauded in national papers, that are iridescent treasures, or sometimes like taking a can opener to your brain, so rare and almost better because they feel like a secret that only you know about. Someone needs to tell the world about them. Even if it’s just these little whispers in this quiet corner of the internet.

But then. Recently I’ve picked up some novels through Net Galley and review requests that I haven’t especially loved. I even couldn’t finish one of them. So I hesitated to review it. Every time I review a novel with anything less than gushing praise I put myself in the author’s shoes. I think of the reviews I one day may request. I cringe and mince my words and find positives and negatives and consider readers who aren’t me, whose perspective I can never know. Should I bother? Should I just email those authors back and suggest that my review may not be what they want to hear? And then, what do I get out of reviewing? Satisfaction, I suppose. Reviewer and writer Damien Walter recently posted that he will begin to write paid reviews at his site. His post is a evaluation of the ethics of the issue and I trust that he will find a way to make it work both for readers and authors. But it still makes me uncomfortable. And what of the authors who’d pay for reviews? Thorny issues abound.

So many changes in the industry, proliferation of content, of platforms, who knows how artists, writers and reviewers will make the best out of it. I drove by Planet Books today and noticed the empire continues to thrive having rebranded slightly to focus on books, movies, music. Who would have predicted that books would outlive CD sales and movie hire? (Me. I would. But no-one asks me.) I renewed my magazine subscriptions recently, not just to Bitch Media,  long term favourite, but to Kill Your Darlings and Overland. There’s something wonderfully old school about getting fresh writing, hard copy, delivered by snail mail. How can you not love it? And that investment surely means the future is solid for writers, those writers whose novels I devour, and myself.

How do you participate in the literary community? How would you like to see readers, writers and publishers engage with each other? Should I write negative reviews?

The terror of eight vacant hours


So, let’s talk about time management. Because over the past four years or so I’ve been able to get a phenomenal amount done,  though none of which was what I intended to accomplish. In a few days (!!) I won’t have a full time job to keep me honest and I won’t have a full time income either. I need to carefully manage the oodles of time I suddenly will have so it doesn’t end up being spent watching trashy TV (my current favourite is Inkmaster) and making giant squid cushions.

I find when I’m at home writing I am able to get more done than I would have thought. I have written for eight hours straight in the past. But will that continue? What schedule do you keep? How do you ensure you actually finish things?

(But seriously, giant squid cushions for the win.)

A dog named Self Doubt


People recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, or any addiction I suppose, experience a phenomenon referred to as the “pink cloud”. A time when their sobriety seems better than they could have imagined, everything is going so well. It is considered to be a dangerous time because when reality comes crashing in, which it will, it will be a harsh lesson that will test their resolve.

I suddenly feel a hit of reality, like the sting of a face full of cold water, about this new future I’m carving out for myself. And it hasn’t even begun yet.

I have experience with what they call the black dog – depression. If you could draw it it would be a long, black Labrador, draped over your shoulders, weighing you down. Growling in your ear. Sitting on your chest in the early hours of the morning.

This is a whole other dog. Self doubt is a tortured rescue dog. Cowering at every sudden movement. Ears flat against its head, tail between its legs, saucer wide eyes. It is blind terror in the night. It is the violence of a winter storm, the urge to change everything, to erase every footprint, to take it all back. I take it all back! I never could be a writer! I never was this brave! With every thunder bolt cliche in my work I cave back into myself a little more. I likely have no talent at all, I think as I creep, trembling, deeper into the shadows under the bed.

But everyone feels like that, right?

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