Website update

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

A time for… updating your website?

If you’ve stopped by 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!

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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!

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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

Marshal Law (NiaD 2015)

September 1867. Marshal Ben Wright is forced to take extreme measures to take back control of Flintwood, AZ, a mining town overrun by rowdy frontiersmen and outlaws in the long shadow of the Civil War.

This book was written as a Novel-in-a-Day on October 17th, 2015. Three versions were produced (one called ‘Blue’, one called ‘Red, and one called ‘Yellow’’) each written in just 24 hours by 22 authors.




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Faster than an infinite monkey

I’m a little bit pleased with myself.

I was sitting at my desk earlier today — trying my best to focus on the work at hand — when the postman arrived with a package.

You might not be aware if you only know me through, but if you’ve been active on the Novel in a Day section of the Scrivener forum then you will probably know that last September I was badgered into promising to rustle up a t-shirt to commemorate our annual writing event. Several people volunteered design concepts, which I dutifully ignored in favour of a slightly obscure reference to the introduction from the original NiaD (back in 2011).

After months spent tinkering with the design, and plenty longer procrastinating over how to get them made, the postman finally arrived today with the very first Novel in a Day t-shirt.

I like it.

I’m wearing it right now.

In fact… I’d be half naked without it.

If you’re interested, you can get one here. It is an excellent way to solve your own partial nudity problems, and has a nice picture of a chimp on it.

PS, you can also buy a mug.