00NiaD will return in…

Well, October is nearly over and you may have noticed that there hasn’t been a call for participants in a Novel in a Day this year, and there isn’t a nice shiny new ebook for you to download and enjoy for free.

Real life kind of got in the way this year, making it not possible to pull something together of the standard you’ve come to expect. So, I’m taking the opportunity to reset the timing to what will hopefully be a less hectic bit of the year for all of us. NiaD should be back some time in January. Follow here or on one of social media sites listed in the menus above and I’ll let you know when dates are confirmed!

DIY icons in Scrivener for Mac

Tomorrow (July 20th, 2016) sees the long-awaited release of Literature and Latte’s iOS version of their popular writing software, Scrivener.

Don’t get excited. This isn’t a review. I thought about writing one, but other people with far bigger readerships than me have done that already (9to5mac and sixcolors spring to mind). In any case, the only useful information I can impart is a couple of screenshots and the fact that it’s really good, and you’ll find all that out yourself tomorrow.

Still, the impending release means that the jolly good folks at Literature and Latte have provided an updated version (v2.8) of their Scrivener for Mac software to add the mobile sync functionality that makes the desktop app compatible with it’s upcoming iOS little brother, and a new Scrivener for Mac release means I need to go through my regular upgrade ritual. Continue reading

Website update

So it’s April. Spring. A time for renewal.

A time for… updating your website?

If you’ve stopped by pigfender.com over the past few days you might have noticed various “closed for maintenance” messages on the site. You’ll probably also have noticed that most of the site was changing, adapting… polymorphing(*)?… right around your eyes. This is because I’ve been playing around and updating the site whilst munching on my sandwiches at lunch for the past few days.

It’s got pretty much the same look and feel that it used to but with the features subtly nudged and reconfigured, like the old site’s more attractive sister.

Hope you like it.

* – this is the danger of gaining all your science knowledge from episodes of Red Dwarf.

8Qs: Hugh Pile

Eight Questions is an occasional series of interviews that I’m including on the site. Being a naturally gifted (read: lazy) interviewer, I will be using the same eight questions in every interview.

This time, the questions are being answered by journalist, Hugh Pile. Hugh’s career has seen him covering current events in print and on screen, including working the news desk for papers such as The Times and serving as a producer and later editor of ITV’s long-running current affairs series, Weekend World.

He lives in Surrey, England.

Welcome, Hugh!

Continue reading

How to plot

I have been sharing a series of pictures on Instagram over the past couple of weeks that outline the process I go through to plot out a story for the Novel-in-a-Day events each year. If you’re a ‘pantser’ who likes to just wing that thing, then the rest of this post will probably give you a bit of a chuckle. It might also give you an interesting framework to retrospectively apply after you’ve done that first draft to test how strong / focused your tale is. For the rest of us, it’s a helpful way to develop a story from scratch. Continue reading

8Qs: Johnny D. Boggs

Eight Questions is an occasional series of interviews that I’m including on the site. Being a naturally gifted (read: lazy) interviewer, I will be using the same eight questions in every interview.

This time, the questions are being answered by genre writer, Johnny D. Boggs. Johnny’s craft spans a broad spectrum in the western genre, including novels, short stories, non-fiction tales and articles, as well as reviews, interviews, and photography. His work has appeared in magazines such as True West and Wild West, and he’s also a staff writer at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s Persimmon Hill magazine.

Johnny’s fiction has earned him six Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America across numerous categories(A) and he’s also a Western Heritage Wrangler Award winner for “Outstanding Western Novel”(B). If that didn’t make me humble enough, Johnny has been honoured with True West magazine awards for “Readers’ Choice Best Living Historical Novelist” and “Best Living Fiction Writer”.

If my count is correct, he’s written forty-nine novels as well as two books on the portrayal of western outlaws in movies(C). It’ll come as no surprise that he lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Welcome, Johnny!

Continue reading

Lessons on writing from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air

For those that don’t know, Save the Cat is a book (and a computer application, an iOS and Android app, a set of workshops, and two other books) by screenwriter Blake Snyder. It’s aimed very firmly at other screenwriters looking for a bit of script-doctor type feedback on structuring their stories. Whilst it’s been criticised by some[citation needed] for its formulaic approach, and I wouldn’t advocate using it religiously to structure your work, I do recommend it (and the sequel, Save the Cat Strikes Back) both for a fun read and for providing a great vocabulary to use when talking about story structure… even if you’re only using it to talk to the nagging voices inside your own head.

What’s this got to do with Will Smith? Well aside from the fact that he literally saves some cats in his movies (the above shot is from 1998’s Enemy of the State, and the Internet[citation needed] pointed out that he saved the Scientist’s cat “from the demo-bot” in I, Robot), the theme tune to his 1990s sit-com, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, declares itself to be a story (“Now this is a story all about how, My life got flipped, turned upside down…”). So, I wondered whether the rousing ballad that Will wrote with Jazzy Jeff followed the “optimum” structure set out in Save the Cat.

In short, would Blake Snyder have thought the theme tune from the Fresh Prince was a “good” story…? Continue reading