Have You Seen A Spook, Spectre or Ghost?

  This is a special post for my fellow Guerns.

This wonderful island is famous for many things. Not least of all is its rich folklore. Everyone knows the tails of witchcraft and demons that have have haunted our shores over the centuries.

Even today, I bet all of you can think of at least one person you know who has a story of a haunting or a spooky experience. These modern day hauntings are what I am currently looking for. 

In conjunction with the Guernsey Ghost Stories Facebook group, I am creating a collection of modern experiences.  This is where you guys come in.

If you have any personal stories of hauntings, or if you have experienced anything at one of the many local haunted sites, and want to share it, I would love to hear from you. I have created a submission form (see the menu above) to make the process easier.

Submissions will remain open until March 30th, 2016.

I look forward to being terrified.

A Tale of Things to Come

Well here we are, a week away from the big move and as you can imagine, things are a touch chaotic here in writing land.  This doesn’t mean I have been resting on my laurels though.  A writer never truly stops after all.  As Halloween is approaching, I will be releasing a short story to chill the soul and haunt your dreams.

Once we have settled in and things are getting back to normal (or at least what passes for normal around here), I shall be taking a short break from fiction to work on a very special project.  During a recent tidy up, my Grand mother came across her fathers old war diaries.  She has given me permission to go through them and create a record of his journeys as a soldier during the 1940s.

I am very excited to be able to transcribe his journals.  I was unaware of this piece of family history until recently and to be given this opportunity is a great honour.   There is going to be a lot to do but I am looking forward to every minute of it.  It’s not often that one gets to do something like this.

So that, dear friends, is all for now.  I’m off to pack some more boxes with stuff I haven’t seen or used for about 4 years.

Rhetoric – For Arguments Sake

I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent with this post as there is something in social media land that has been bothering me for a long time.  Recent local events have seen a lot of people voicing their opinions on certain topics.  This is a good thing.  Debate of subjects that affect the greater population is always a welcome thing, and indeed the cornerstone of our society.  The problem comes when the debate is not some much well thought out and reasoned arguments, but more like a pack of angry baboons mashing on the keyboard.  The more I see, the more I realize there is a need for rhetoric to be taught as part of the English curriculum.  For the purpose of this post, let us define rhetoric as:

The art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques

There is a trend at the moment, that when one is angry and passionate about a subject or event, to immediately go on social media and slap down the first thing that comes into your head.  If you wish to change peoples hearts and minds, then this approach will definitely be counter productive.  A careful and considered argument will get you further than stringing a load of words together in a jumbled rant.  And by jumbled I mean a complete lack of punctuation.

I cannot tell you the amount of times I have seen a full paragraph of words without so much as a full stop to be found.  The worrying side of this is that people don’t seem to see the importance of using things like commas or full stops or even correct spelling.  But I ask you this: How are people supposed to hear your argument if they are unable to read and make sense of it?

That was a rhetorical question by the way.

So what can you do to make get your point across? Well I’m not about to teach a full on class but I will offer these few pointers:

  1. Consider your audience: Who are you trying to convince? Do they already share your views?
  2. Consider counter points: You are going to have people who disagree with you.  Try and consider beforehand what they think and why they may hold those opinions.
  3. Don’t rant: This is a very easy trap to fall into and one we all suffer from at some point.  Avoid name calling and try to be civil at all times.  This can be one of the most difficult parts of a debate.
  4. Spelling and Grammar: This might seem obvious, but I cannot tell you how often I see posts on important subjects that lose all credibility and coherence because of bad spelling or a lack of proper punctuation (or any punctuation).
  5. Proof read:  Before hitting the post button, read it back.  Does it make sense?  If possible, have someone else give it a look over for you.

Of course these are just guidelines and certainly not set in stone.  At the end of the day, you have to decide how important it is to you that your message gets across to people.  If you are just having a moan about how bad the traffic was on the way home today, then this is probably a bit much.  But if you are looking to affect actual change, then please consider the above.  Taking a little bit of extra time can make all the difference.

Autumn is Upon Us…And I’m Glad

The horrible, oppressive mugginess of summer looks to have gone the way of the Dodo, and the glorious coolness of Autumn is upon us at last.

I don’t like summer.  I’m well known for not liking summer or, indeed anything that involves me sweating like a politician caught with identical twins and a family size tub of tutti frutti ice cream.  Now Autumn, that’s a whole different kind of beast.  I don’t know what it is about the season that I like so much.  Is it the cool, fresh mornings? The incredible colours when the leaves begin to turn?  Or is it just that Halloween is just around the corner?

Whatever it is, this seems to be the season I get inspired the most.  Some people see Autumn as a time of ending and decay.  I see it as a renewal.  The old is coming to an end so as to make way for the new.  And with that comes new possibilities and new ways of looking at things.  Oh and pumpkin spice lattes.  I don’t who you are, that is some tasty shit right there.

So what the hell has any of this got to do with the ongoing task of writing?  Well it’s about renewal and rejuvenation. About looking back on the old stories and seeing what can be done to make them better.  And that is what I am currently doing.  As a part of my move to Scrivener, I have been testing out various features with old manuscripts and revamping a few old ideas.  This review of the old has turned out to be great for getting the creative juices flowing again.  I’ve found scribbled notes from long ago that never went beyond the “Hey, I should write that down” stage.  I look back at them now and I can now see directions that I would never have thought of at the time.  I’m very excited.  So much so that I’m hoping to have a little treat for you all by the end of the month.  I say hoping as we are going to be moving house shortly so things might go quiet for a while.

So grab that PSL, wrap a scarf around and don your woolly hat; Autumn is here and it’s going to be a whopper.

When Something Just Doesn’t Look Right

After a lot of back and forth, I have finally switched over to Scrivener.  And I have to say that I absolutely love it.  It’s so nice having everything in one place.  The big thing that I have noticed since the switch is how absolutely horrendous my layout skills have been all these years.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am working on (amongst other things) a rewrite of Maidens Song.  The Universe has expanded so much that it has become necessary to make some revisions.  But I digress.  As I said, I’ve move my editing platform and as such, I’ve been copying over the original text.  I’ve been shocked at the horrible formatting I’ve been using.   To be honest, it’s not something I’ve really put too much thought into it while writing.  My thought process has been more about getting the words down on paper (metaphoric paper that is).  That is how it should be of course; but as I am now having to dick around getting things looking right before continuing the writing, it will definitely be something that is always going to be a part of the process from now on.

Lesson learned for today.  Time for an early night as I am actually going to be braving the real world tomorrow and attend a formal, black tie event.  Sigh, human interaction….

A Little Bit of a Tease (Maidens Song)

Now this might just be the pain killers talking (my dicky knee is acting up again) but I think you lovely people deserve a little teaser.  As I have mentioned previously, I am working, amongst other things, on a rewrite of the Guardian trilogy.  It’s always amazing to me how you can look at a thing you wrote a while back which seemed so right at the time, and just go “Wow, what the hell was I thinking?!”

So anyway, here is a little bit of a teaser from Maidens Song for you.

The excitement was building within their ranks. It was small at first; just a whisper, slowly growing overtime into a great crescendo. They were ready; their return almost at hand. Soon the creature that called itself mankind would remember its true place in the great order of things.
A wave of energy passed through each demon and monstrous blasphemy. A new feeling, greater than an eternity of anger or the hunger for revenge. It was something more, something unknown to them; this was hope. A mighty cheer spread throughout the pit.

Soon they would be free…
…Soon they would be gods

Lovecraft and Racism: The Ongoing Debate

This week marks the 125th anniversary of H P Lovecrafts birth.  As you all know by now, Lovecraft is my number one author.  As seems to happen around this time every year, the debate over the evident racism in Lovecrafts work has once again raised its ugly head.  So let’s analyse this a little.

Call of Cthulu is often used as an example of the Lovecrafts racist views; and on the surface this would seem to be true.  Professor Angells death caused after he was “jostled by a nautical looking negro” would, by today’s standards, be seen as horrendously racist.  And in fairness, that judgement would probably be right.

Now I have just shown you part of a single line from just one story with absolutely zero context.  Now if you read the rest of this particular work and delve a bit deeper, you will start to notice something.  What initially seems to be racism is more akin to the agoraphobia that was commonplace within the U.S. at the time.  One needs to only look as far as the Chinese Exclusion Act for evidence of the attitudes of the time.

And that is really what it comes down to.  We can’t judge the attitudes of 100 years ago by the standards of today.  If Lovecraft was alive today and writing, his work would probably be very different.  In another hundred years how will our own work be viewed by the people of that time?  What we write is a reflection not only of ourselves, but of the times we live in.

So was Lovecraft racist?

Probably; but no more than anybody else of that time.  That’s not intended as an apologist statement, just a social observation.

Things to Come

Greetings fellow carbon constructs,

Well, where to start.

I have a lot of exciting things coming up over the next few months.  Not least of all will be the eventual moving to a larger abode.  And with that comes my own workspace once again.  It will be nice to have a writing cave again; well a section of a room that will become the writing cave anyway.  We’ve agreed to call it the craft room and each have a place where we can do our respective arty-ness.

Add to that, I have almost finished on the vague outline for my mystery/murder story.  I’m just working on fleshing out my main character.  More on that in the coming weeks.

The concept for the third part of the Guardian trilogy is also coming together rather nicely.  It’s the one that has been bugging me the most out of all of the three.  There will also be a few short stories set in that Universe that bridge the gaps between part two and part three.

You may have also noticed a slight change to the websites appearance.  The new theme is called Lovecraft.  Yeah, I pretty much had to change when I saw that.  Speaking of new things on the blog; I’m thinking about doing more book reviews on here in the coming months.  I’ll do a few and see how popular they are.  If you guys like them, I will make it a more permanent feature.

I’m signing off for now (as I’m actually at work doing this sneakily, MWAHAHAHA). May the force be forever in your favour.

Reading With My Ears

I recently noticed that there is a definite snobbery amongst the readers of the world when it comes to audio books.  Now, I can understand this.  The whole point of reading is that you actually use your eyes and your own imagination to visualize the narrative.  To be absolutely honest, until a couple of years ago I was one of those who decried the blasphemy of audiobooks; but then I started back at my job as an Electronics Engineer.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually do enjoy the work but it can get rather tedious.  Sure, when you’re fault finding it’s very interesting work.  But when things are going swimmingly..well, you need something to stay sane.  For me that thing is listening to books.  Again, I know that’s a bit of an oxymoron.

The thing is, I don’t get as much reading time as I would like these days; and being a problem solver I naturally looked to find a way to include literature into my daily life.  One thing I always have on my person at all times is my trusty iPhone.  Bingo, stick some audio books on there (along with a bizarre mix of classical, jazz and hardcore electronic Euro-rock) and I’m sorted for the week.  Add in apps such as Audible (well worth the subscription fee by the way) and you’ve got access to more stories than you can shake a diode at.  From a practical stand point, I’ve been able to “read” more in the past year than I ever would if I just stuck to eyeballs.

Surely that’s the point.  As a writer I want to get as many people as I can involved in my stories.  I’m sure most writers feel the same way.  So next time someone is bitching about audio book listeners “not being as smart as regular readers” (I’ve actually heard those words), point them towards this Electronics Engineer.  Read in whatever format suits your lifestyle; be it audio, e-book or dead tree.  Just read!

Antiques, Authors and…Applesauce?

There isn’t actually any applesauce in this post, I just needed another ‘A’ word to finish the title.

I love antiques. I love the history and the memory that an object can hold. And if the object has a link to writing then all the better. I wanted to share my latest acquisition from last weeks Antiques Fair. A lovely example of a Bourn-Denby stoneware bottle used for Stephens Scarlet Writing Fluid No.36.

I think it was the label that really grabbed me. I’ve looked around and haven’t found one this intact. The wording and the design are so indicative of that era. The language used so different from today.

There are days I wonder if I was born in the wrong era. Then I remember that toilet paper wasn’t invented until the 1880s. 

As someone who is surrounded by technology all day, everyday, little things like this help to keep me grounded. They act as a reminder of maybe not a simpler time, but of a quieter one.