Science fiction predictions

In my last blog post, I talked about science fiction ideas and how they can come about. As a follow-on, here's a video on the same topic from PBS digital studios project called 'It's Okay to be Smart'. I found out about it from a recent Brainpickings article:

The video is lots of fun and it does a good job of celebrating how many predictions such science-fiction authors as H.G.Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Douglas Adams got right about our modern world. As the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Nils Bohr once said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." :-)

The novel is complete!

I’ve finished the novel. Hooray! It’s called ‘Simon’s Brain’, is 82,000 words long and is a comedy thriller about one young man who is the sole person on the Earth who notices that the entire human race has been infected by an alien parasite, due to his unique property of having almost no brain whatsoever. I’ve submitted it to the Terry Pratchett / Transworld ‘Anywhere but here, anywhen but now’ competition and my fingers are crossed until Spring next year, or at least until cramp sets in. The novel is very much in the style of the science fiction short stories I wrote this Spring.

Unlike earlier novel-length work I’ve done, I made a special effort to write a comprehensive synopsis - 8,000 words long - for ‘Simon’s Brain’ before I started writing the novel itself. This has been a life-saver. In the past, I often tried to make the story up as I wrote the novel and I soon got into terrible difficulties, having to re-write entire chapters because I’d strayed so far from my original idea. This time, with a detailed synopsis on the desk, so to speak, I never strayed very far and therefore had to do very little re-writing, which kept the prose fresh and kept me away from the ‘tearing the hair out’ situations.

I’m very pleased with ‘
Simon’s Brain’. I think it’s the first truly professional novel I’ve written.

That’s it for now, enjoy the rest of November!

Ray Bradbury on rejections

Here’s another gem from the Brainpickings website. This one’s from an article about writing tips and includes a quote from Ray Bradbury about getting rejections. It’s succinct, personal and very encouraging:

The amazing Blackstone came to town when I was seven, and I saw how he came alive onstage and thought, God, I want to grow up to be like that! And I ran up to help him vanish an elephant. To this day I don’t know where the elephant went. One moment it was there, the next — abracadabra — with a wave of the wand it was gone!

In 1929 Buck Rogers came into the world, and on that day in October a single panel of Buck Rogers comic strip hurled me into the future. I never came back.

It was only natural when I was twelve that I decided to become a writer and laid out a huge roll of butcher paper to begin scribbling an endless tale that scrolled right on up to Now, never guessing that the butcher paper would run forever.

Snoopy has written me on many occasions from his miniature typewriter, asking me to explain what happened to me in the great blizzard of rejection slips of 1935. Then there was the snowstorm of rejection slips in ’37 and ’38 and an even worse winter snowstorm of rejections when I was twenty-one and twenty-two. That almost tells it, doesn’t it, that starting when I was fifteen I began to send short stories to magazines like Esquire, and they, very promptly, sent them back two days before they got them! I have several walls in several rooms of my house covered with the snowstorm of rejections, but they didn’t realize what a strong person I was; I persevered and wrote a thousand more dreadful short stories, which were rejected in turn. Then, during the late forties, I actually began to sell short stories and accomplished some sort of deliverance from snowstorms in my fourth decade. But even today, my latest books of short stories contain at least seven stories that were rejected by every magazine in the United States and also in Sweden! So, dear Snoopy, take heart from this. The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.

Sci-fi short stories are go...

blogEntryThumbnailJust a quick note to say that the graphic novel has had to take a back seat (again) as I'm now working on some humorous science-fiction short stories in a similar vein to '18% happier'. That story has had a lot of good feedback (more on that soon) and so I feel I should go with the flow and write some more of that ilk. Hopefully, I'll come up with a dozen or so and put them together in a collection.

Until then, here's the emblem/logo I came up with for the collection: Read More...

My writing mistakes - volume 1

I thought it would be good to write about all the writing mistakes I’ve made. When writing is done well, it looks simple and effortless. Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ is a good example, along with anything by John Steinbeck. The problem is that a fledgling writer can easily think that excellent prose is simple to do because it looks simple. I made that mistake. In fact, I made so many mistakes that I’ve lost track of all of them. Writing good prose is like having a slim, fit body. A lucky few can develop one with even seeming to try. For the rest of us, it’s an endless effort to keep off the flab.
Here is a list of my most memorable mistakes. If you’ve read about them in an earlier blog of mine, I apologise. I also mistakenly repeat things.


Feedback from Cornerhouse theatre

I've got some feedback from the Cornerhouse theatre in Surbiton about the play I sent them entitled 'Can't see, won't see'. You can read it here: Can't see, won't see. Unfortunately, they won't be putting it on. This isn't much of a surprise since I only spotted at the last minute before submission that they were after family friendly plays!


Writing advice

Is there something I've learnt from all this writing? I think I've learnt a few things. Here's a list, using Copper Book as a reference work:

Write a lot: If you haven't written a lot of prose before, you'll need to write a hundred thousand words of prose and get that prose regularly assessed before you even start writing the prose for the novel! I know that sounds terrible, but that's what I effectively did in the end - write 100k of text and then write the whole thing again. Read More...

Copper Book just keeps on developing

There's nothing like chatting to people about your work to really get you interested in it again. I visited the london expo last sunday at the Excel centre in docklands. During my meanderings around the comic village stands, I struck up a conversation with the owner of the Mogzilla publishing company. They publish novels for a young readership and were happy to take a lot at Copper Book. They couldn't promise anything and didn't take on too many authors at a time, but they were willing to see what I've got. Read More...

Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story competition

When the Arvon graphic novel course finished, I was all ready and motivated to do some comic work. Unfortunately, a very sad event occurred on the way back which I won't go into in a blog. Suffice it to say, that strongly affected the whole of the next week. What I was able to do though was get together an entry for the Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story competition. The competition had been recommended to me on the course by Hannah Berry and I checked the details on my return home. I had a little over a week to produce a four page graphic short story. Yikes! I decided there wasn't time to think up a new story. I would have to use one I'd already written. In the end, I went for the frog poem I'd submitted to a climate change competition.

Here's what I produced:

It's catch up time... (with fun pics!)

Many apologies, but I haven't added a blog entry for months. It's been a hectic two months, for both good and bad reasons, but I'm going to try and catch up today.

The first entry that springs to mind is from the 18th September. I had booked to go on an Arvon Writing week ( The subject of the week was Graphic Novels and the tutors were Bryan Talbot and Hannah Berry. Since the week would be about creating stories with both text and images, I thought it would be good to get down and do some drawing. I had done drawing and painting before, but I'd only produced a few illustrations. I decided to dedicate the whole week to producing some fun black and white illustrations for Copper Book. In the end, I only got about three days of work done, but I did produce work I was very pleased with. Here's what I came up with: Read More...

My journey to work

I might not have my own flat nowadays, or be able to go on a fancy holiday, or buy the latest kit (have you seen the new 11" Apple MacBook Air? It's very nice...) but on the plus side, I don't have to commute into London every weekday. Hooray! Instead, I cycle the following route...

First off, it's into Bushy Park through Hampton gate. Read More...