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My Year in Review – 2021

29 Dec

It’s been an up and down sort of a year. It started during a miserable winter lockdown and has ended with lighter-touch restrictions back in force and the threat of more (thanks, Omicron), but there has been quite a lot of good stuff in-between. I found a lovely wee flat and moved back to Glasgow, which was great (because however nice East Kilbride is, it’s not Glasgow) but then got new neighbours with some seriously anti-social dogs. The year was bookended by failing to get two writing/editing jobs that I wanted and that would have paid decent money, but on the other hand I finished the novel I was working on and had a few smaller pieces published.

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Christmas Mythbusting

22 Dec

I am hoping to get another post written before Christmas about my favourite Christmas pop songs, but with my current workload I’m making no promises. Fortunately, a couple of articles I wrote last month have just gone live, so you can enjoy those instead.

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Smashwords end of year sale 2021 – your go-to for free presents!

17 Dec

All my books on Smashwords are free in the Smashwords End of Year Sale (as they usually are), and there are also many other books by inferior writers (kidding!) that you can get for free or cheap too.

BUT…

this year they’ve introduced the ability to give them as gifts! Meaning you can now give all of your friends and relations my books without spending your own cash. So what are you waiting for??

Have a lovely Christmas, and don’t forget to read.

Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale

13 Jul

As it’s about halfway through July already, I should probably mention that throughout July my books are available for free at Smashwords, the e-book publisher-cum-shop. That doesn’t include all of the books I’ve written, but there are five available on Smashwords, including the perennial favourites Leda (shortlisted for the Scripture Union New Fiction Prize) and Office Life (and Death), a short story collection that includes the prize-winning story “A Recipe for Summer”.

The front page of Smashwords is dominated by raunchy ‘romance’ novels with half-naked muscly men on the covers (Who buys all that stuff? It’s really not my jam.) so you might want to go straight to my profile page instead. Or check out all the books in the sale (gazillions) and pick your way through the forest of shiny flesh.

(By the way, Smashwords is not confused about what time of year it is, it’s just that they have customers all over the world, so the summer sale to Brits is the winter sale to Australians.)

Pop-Up Submission Success

31 May

Ages ago I submitted my novel The Gates of Janus to Litopia’s Pop-Up Submissions, and yesterday it was finally included in their live YouTube show. The useful but terrifying idea is that you get to hear what literary agents and the like think about your submission, rather than just guessing when they send you a generic “not quite right for us” response. I have had many of those responses for The Gates of Janus so I thought this might be helpful – but I didn’t tell anyone ahead of time because I was afraid they would tear it to pieces!

Anyway, they didn’t tear it to pieces. In fact, it did rather well, so now I am telling you about it. You can see the whole episode here, and this link should take you to where my bit starts (my entry was last).

In a sense it’s unhelpful that GoJ did so well, because it doesn’t uncover the mystery of why it has been rejected so many times. However, it does give me the encouragement to go out and get it a few more rejections rather than giving up! Encouragement is something writers badly need, after all.

If you have your own project that you would like to hear literary types discuss then you can apply for Pop-Up Submissions yourself, although there is a significant wait. But what else are you going to do during the pandemic? Alternatively, if you have no idea how this whole submission thing works, then you can read my wee book How to Get Published, which is available free if you sign up to my extremely infrequent newsletter.

My year in review – 2020

31 Dec

It seems redundant to say that this year has not been what I expected. Unless you’ve been living in an isolated Amazon tribe (in which case I’d love to know how you’re reading this) you already know that 2020 was the year that said ‘no’. If you want to read about my experiences of the first lockdown, click the link. This winter lockdown feels much less new and exciting and much more of a dull, dark slog. However, life goes on regardless, so I will give you a quick review of my year as a whole.

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Being topical, accidentally or otherwise

19 Nov

One of the worries when you are writing for magazines is that your article will already be outdated by the time it’s published. It takes longer than you might think to put an edition of a magazine together, and articles are usually commissioned weeks or even months in advance. When I wrote my latest article for Christianity magazine about the effects of Covid-19 and associated lockdowns on vulnerable children throughout the world, we were in lockdown. By the time it was published, we were in that beautiful period of semi-normality between the first and second waves of the virus.

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Somewhere behind the rainbow

7 Jul

My latest piece in Premier’s Christianity magazine is about the effects on children of coronavirus and associated lockdowns around the world. If you think things are a bit pants here, what happens when you add in war, famine, pestilence and other assorted horsemen of the apocalypse? (And isn’t 2020 the most apocalyptic year you’ve ever experienced?? It certainly is for me.)

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There was a young woman from Glasgow…

15 Jun

Very quick post to say that I have a limerick about lockdown published in On the Premises, a fiction e-zine I subscribe to. And they paid actual money, which is always helpful in these straitened times. If you want to read it, and the other winning entries, click below. If not, move on with your life.

Reducing your misery footprint

9 Jun

It seems quite appropriate that, just after the statue of a man who profited from the slave trade is pulled down, my article on modern-day slavery comes out. I started writing it way before the incident that kicked off the recent protests, of course, and even before lockdown (although it’s been edited to reflect the new situation) but the problem has not gone away.

There are more slaves now than there have ever been.

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